Home Renovation: Lessons Learned

You could easily find a million articles online with advice and tips for completing the perfect remodel and picking the perfect color. Because of that, I won’t give my two cents about what gray to pick or what backsplash to order. Instead, this is a list of lessons learned the hard way through years of renovation experience as well as watching other people in their renovation journeys. In no particular order, here you go….


        • Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Once you’ve been bitten by the renovation bug it’s easy to want to start ripping everything down and doing a full sweep across your house. Keep in mind that construction almost never keeps to a set timeline and there is almost always something unexpected that rears its ugly head. Because of that, it’s usually best to start and finish one project before heading on to the next. It may help keep some sanity in your house and give you at least one place to retreat to that isn’t a “construction zone”.


      • Plan, plan, and plan some more.  This is something I really like to emphasize to people who are thinking of making a change to their home – especially a large renovation. Plan it all out and then don’t be afraid to scrap it and start again. The most fluid and practical layouts usually come after many revisions. For example, if you’re thinking of finishing your basement, tape off where you want everything (furniture included if it helps) and then every time you walk in your basement, try to visual yourself walking through the space and using it to have a game night, watch a movie, or host a birthday party and see if the spaces you’ve laid out would work for all of the needs you think you might have. Sometimes a small revision like moving a door or adding some storage can make a huge difference when you start using the space on a daily basis. Also, don’t be afraid to start over!I had massive plans for a farmhouse kitchen remodel with an apron sink, exposed wood, bronze fixtures, the works. But when I began choosing finishes for my kitchen I fell in love with a countertop that wasn’t the typical farmhouse look and it had a large, bold pattern. It just didn’t work with the farmhouse feel, so instead of trying to make it work, I scrapped it all and downplayed other kitchen elements so my counters could be the star. In the end, I went with almost the exact opposite of my original plan, but I don’t regret it one bit. I was glad that I was willing to forfeit the kitchen I had in my head because what I ended up with was really the kitchen of my dreams.


      • Think of the present and also the future. This goes along with point number two. When you are planning out your renovation, be sure to think of where you might be 3-5 years from now or if it’s your forever home what your life might look like in 15+ years. Although you might have a toddler that you need to keep in constant view right now, down the road that toddler will turn into a pre-teen who wants to hang out in their own space. The other part about planning for the future is to be sure to avoid short-lived trends for your big-ticket updates. You know the type that I’m talking about – the new fixture color that’s all the rage on HGTV now could possibly disappear or even work against you in a few short years. It’s best to lean on classic elements for your large items and play around with trends when it comes to less expensive items or paint colors.


      • Pay attention to your neutrals. Neutrals are a staple in home design and often aren’t given enough weight. You may not think about it, but there are so many elements in a room that could be considered white but they work against each other if you don’t pay careful attention. For example, your cabinets may be white along with your ceiling, trim, outlet covers, light fixtures, etc. If your cabinets lean toward cream, but your ceiling and/or trim color is a cooler white, you might end up making your kitchen cabinets look yellow instead of off-white. I know this sounds silly, but there are literally hundreds of different whites in the paint swatch book, so just be sure to give careful consideration to your undertones and make sure your neutrals complement one another instead of working against each other.


    • Paint and Light. This one again goes along with point number 4. The lighting inside a design showroom or a Home Depot aisle is likely very different than the light you have at home. Be sure to bring samples of everything back to your house to see it in YOUR natural light and in YOUR home’s artificial lighting. Neutral colors are usually changed the most by different lights, but SOO many paints, cabinet doors, sinks, wood finishes, fabrics, etc. can look drastically different under different lighting. Just make sure you know what you’re signing up for. Another word about paint and light is to make sure your paint choices are appropriate for your space. A charcoal wall color that might have looked spectacular on a Restoration Hardware model room might not be the color you dreamed of once it’s at home….but what changed? Well, the model room may have had 20′ ceilings and massive windows and your basement rec room only has 8′ ceilings and one small square of daylight. Make sure that your color is working for the outcome you desire. Dark colors tend to make rooms feel tighter, but can also add richness so while you may not want a dark, flat color in a kid’s playroom, the same color may add just the right amount of elegance to an intimate dining room or home office. All that to say, think about how a color will look in YOUR space, don’t just pick colors because it looked good on the swatch or in an example room.



While I have plenty of other opinions on various things, I’ll leave you with this. Your home is your place: your place to live, to rest, to enjoy, and to love. Your number one priority should be to make sure that your spaces make your life better and more enjoyable. If design just isn’t your thing and you need some guidance, don’t hesitate to contact us. We are here as your real estate resource long after closing and we’d be happy to lend a hand!