Taking a break from the weekly C’s picks this week as a flu hit us – hard. Appetites are low and we’re munching on saltines, rice, and baked potatoes. Not super blog worthy.
Design though? That’s something I can stomach! As you know if you follow me on Facebook, we’ve done a bit of work around our home lately. For any in the same boat I thought I would pass on some words of wisdom. Stuff I wish I had known – done differently because hey, it’s all a learning process. Especially if you’re doing it without the help of a designer and/or architect. Here is my live and learn list:
- To begin, find a contractor you can somewhat get along with, especially if you will be home with him full time. Fully accept that, like any person in your home all day every day, he will make you annoyed – especially when he is demolishing walls.
- On a similar note, find someone you can communicate with well. I’m a huge email/text/picture gal – so, I needed someone that understood that. Don’t attempt to call me on the phone and ask me about grout. That’s just not a conversation I want to have with a 32 lb. toddler on my hip. Also, what’s grout? (I kid – now I know).
- Once you’ve established your guy, sit down with him face to face, and hash out budget. And then when he says ‘no surprises’ mentally prepare yourself to go over anyways. If you can’t go over, don’t do the project. Agree on what will be paid when in writing.
- If demo-ing, talk about how other areas of your home will be protected. I
almostburst into tears the first day of our master redo when dirty construction boots were walking along my new(er) foyer marble floor dragging large pieces of wall. Hey – NOT ok! Clean it up and tape down a tarp, please.
- My sister in law gave me these words of wisdom when renovating: ‘it will get much much worse before it gets better.’ Exactly. You think hey, we are remodeling, woohoo! It’s going to look so nice! The key word is going. For a while it’s literally going to look horrific.
- We gutted our entire foyer and I honestly barely blinked an eye. Why? It was the dead of summer. If we were awake, we were outside. The master? Well, that took place during polar vortex 2014…i.e. children apparently don’t attend school. A much different feel. I would never do a large project in the winter ever again. Ever ever again.
- Take a deep breath. Pour some wine…
- Design wise, Pinterest is your friend. I can’t tell you how many pins I sent my contractor that said ‘can you make this?’ I took bits and pieces from different pins and sort of formed them together in my head. Then I hoped and prayed that it would look somewhat decent.
- Think about saving money in unique ways. For instance, I wanted this RH vanity more than life itself, but it was just not going to work for the measurements in our bathroom. I sent my contractor the link and asked him if he could build it for $500 less. Bam – custom vanity, that turned out better in my opinion, and saved us money. And our contractor was happy because money went to him instead of RH. Everyone wins.
- Paint is tricky – go with mini sample options and put them on the wall. It’s insane how it can look different on the wall in your own home. How are there 50 (distinct) shades of white (and yes, gray)? Blows my mind.
- Stock up on new bags for your vacuum. We went through them weekly.
- Also, vents for your furnace. Change them a lot and when the project is over, get your ducts cleaned otherwise you will continue to just blow old dust through your home. Ew.
- Safety is a major concern especially if you have little ones. There would literally be massive power tools and saws sitting openly in my living room. Not ok.
- Go with your gut. We were told over and over that little tile is ‘out’ and big tile is ‘in’. What’s ‘out’ and ‘in’ is so relative and so personal. My only advice is to not lean towards anything too trendy. Think classic, timeless, with a bit of personalization. You have to find your own style.
- Add two weeks to the estimated end date. Always more money and always longer. Repeat that.
- If you are designing the room yourself expect to run an excessive amount of errands. Whenever I thought I was ‘done’, suddenly I had a list of 10 more items to pick out, purchase, etc. It’s a lot of work but can save a lot of money.
- The relationship between wife+husband+contractor can get tricky. I have a weird issue with asking people to do things even if I am paying them for it. M would email me a list in the am of things contractor would need to do. He would get home from work and ask why it wasn’t done and I’d say ‘yea, I didn’t ask him’. It’s literally too awkward for me. And then we would fight. Early on we figured out husband to contractor is the best form of communication. I tried to stay out of it.
- If you can swing it, plan a vacation in the middle of it. Progress is gradual day to day, but if you can remove yourself for a week, you will be surprised when you come back. Plus, it will get you away from the stress (and the dust).
- Don’t be afraid to change it up mid-way through. We were initially going to put our shower behind the sink, but then when the room was demoed and we looked at the spacing, we weren’t sure we wanted the mirror above the sink to display the naked person in the glass shower. (yikes!)
- Above all, when it’s stressful stop and think, ‘hey, I’m remodeling my home. That’s a good thing,’ I had to stop and remind myself quite often how blessed we were that we could.
Hope a tip or two can help you out if you have a project on the way! What’s next for us? Time will tell. I think I need a month (or two) off.
Meanwhile, if you like what you see, want to vote for us? ‘This Old House‘ is searching for America’s best remodel and our home is in two categories:
Just click on the links and you can rate each picture, multiple times if you want. It also shows the before pictures which are always fun to see. Thank you so much for your support and time! Truly appreciated.
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Great tips! I design and redesign a space a million times before I’m ready to dive in. Its definitely a labor of love. I heart home updates.
Tia @ Gilded TBags recently posted…Frugal Friday: Motion with the Lotion
I have no design sense at all – what a gorgeous job you guys did! (and I like the part about pouring wine!)
Biz recently posted…Sunday Funday
You should go into design consultation, you have seriously great taste!
The whole list is great but #17 is fantastic I can so relate! I have to leave the room when S negotiates for stuff it makes me that anxious. Asking people to do things is so on that level.
I’m dying – that is so funny, and SO ME….! I get so uncomfortable I literally start to sweat.
It is so fun to see pictures of the house! It has gone through a few renos since we have loved there, yours is gorgeous. Love that house and you have made it even more beautiful.
Erin, thank you so much – how kind! It must be strange to see your home so different and yet the same. We could not love it more.
These are such great tips! Wish I’d found them before we started on some remodeling of our own 🙂 How much did you guys do on your own, and how much together?
Kelly recently posted…House Tour: Window Boxes
Thanks Kelly…! Our contractor did a majority of the work. We did 100% of the design, lay out, etc. My husband is handy – but, not like install new plumbing handy, ha!