27 Things I’ve Learned About Remodeling (So Far)

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Above: a friend’s kitchen, sadly. Not ours. Soon?

I’m crabby and sick of having no kitchen. But it will all be worth it, right? RIIGGGGHHHHTTTT? In the meantime, I thought I’d compile a list of things I’ve learned from remodeling. You know, in case you are crazy like me and considering one.

1. Loribeth was right – hire a designer. Most have active Pinterest accounts, and looking through their pins is a great way to see if their style is a fit for you.

2. Our designer is like a mind reader. She comes up with ideas that are SO us, and yet we would never have come up with them on our own in a million years.

Our designer is also a blogger, and she has a sneak preview here, if you’re interested.

3. According to our friends at Remodelista, the average kitchen remodel entails over 2,000 decisions. We’re doing our whole living area. It’s…overwhelming if you are a perfectionist like me who needles and agonizes over any decision.

4. There will be dust. A lot of dust.

5. You should enjoy the take out food while you can, because once the remodel is over? You will never be able to afford to eat out again.

6. The best way to deal with the chaos – pretend it doesn’t exist. I’ve never watched so much Netflix.

7. The twins, on the other hand, think this is a cool adventure and love our work crew.

8. Don’t take a trip to get away and expect the house to magically transform like HGTV while you’re away. Our house looked exactly the same after a week. I’ve watched to many House Hunter remodel episodes, clearly.

9. Try to keep your mind open to things you think you hate: your contractor and architect might know things you don’t.

10. On the other hand, trust your instincts too. You’re the one who will live here after everyone else leaves.

11. Double the amount of time in your head you think the project will take. That old cliche has been true, sadly.

12. Try to stay true to the style (ranch, villa, Victorian) of your home. Chances are you loved it for a reason when you bought it or decided to rent it.

13. On the other hand, bring in things you love. We, uh, appropriated an old London street sign from our neighborhood years ago, and it may actually be displayed somewhere.

14. Try to be timeless. Trends come and go. You may hate that chevron pattern in 6 months, so maybe don’t get a whole couch in that fabric. A pillow, yes.

13. Really, truly think about the space before you embark on a remodel if you can. We spent four years planning, thinking and saving. I remember being very impatient and annoyed that we were considering everything, and now I’m glad we explored all options.

14. There are things you can, and should, cheap out on: window treatments (IKEA has awesome roller blinds for example), cabinets (lots of great pre-made options), tile.

15. Buy your appliances from the same place if you can. They usually give you a discount if you do.

16. Consumer Reports has a lot of useful reviews and advice. Worth the subscription just for a project.

17. Places you should spend your money are not usually visible. Plumbing, wiring, etc. That kinda sucks.

18. Work with a contractor who knows the codes and how to get permits. Our does and it made approvals in our notoriously difficult city pretty painless.

19. Think holistically about a space. We’ve had to, because it’s an open living area.

20. Create a space you will use every square inch of. Design a space for the way you ACTUALLY live, and not the way you WANT to live.

21. Things that will be terrible – taping and sanding walls.

22. Don’t start a design by thinking about what other people will think when they come over.

23. Don’t think that a remodel will necessarily increase your home value. Most remodels don’t do much, unless you are flipping a house and making the design broad to appeal to everyone’s taste.

24. DON’T get marble unless you are good with stained and chipped countertops.

25. Reuse furniture. You can always reupholster or paint it and make it look new.

26. Pinterest is invaluable. We used it as a way for our designer to get feedback on what we liked, and didn’t like. Check out our collaborative pin board here.

27. The biggest difference of opinion with your spouse will probably be over something ridiculous, like the faucet in a powder room. Not that that’s a real example. 😉

Are you remodeling or thinking of a remodel? Agree with me or disagree with me? You know I love to hear from you…

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7 Comments

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7 responses to “27 Things I’ve Learned About Remodeling (So Far)

  1. Lol @ 27! That is *absolutely* true!

    28. Expect the unexpected. Like finding not-to-code shortcuts somewhere that have to be fixed.

  2. I was?? (right? about hiring a designer? lol) Glad you think so! 😉 Checked out your designer’s sneak peeks, and I am looking forward to seeing photos of the finished project! (Eventually, lol — no pressure…!)

    I do think there’s some truth in #8… I don’t think most people are prepared for how long a renovation will take & how messy things can get. Life and HGTV are two different things, unfortunately…!

  3. We’re considering buying a house that will need a new kitchen … and there’s a lot here that resonates with me. Also the complete terror of going into debt and then even more debt. But heck, what’s a little more debt on top of ridiculous debt?

    🙂 I’m glad you’re making this space your own, though!

  4. Mel

    We’re almost starting work on the kitchen remodel. My stomach has been in knots. I hate living like this, with everything chaotic. And it’s so much money. I will be so relived when the kitchen is done. We started with the most stressful room. After that come the bathrooms. And after that are bedrooms, which are the least stressful since we’re just painting.

    I clicked over to see the sneak peek. Cute choices!

  5. #17 is especially loathsome.

    I like the sneak peek, too!

  6. re: #12 – I hate it when a house looks all old-fashioned on the outside, and then you go in and it’s all modern. Partly because I like old-fashioned, but also, what’s the appeal in having it not match?

    It seems like you have put so much thought and energy into this remodel, and after looking at the designer’s blog, I am looking forward to seeing the finished product.

  7. nonsequiturchica

    We bought a house that needed to be totally rehabbed because nothing had been done to it in 45 years (seriously). Some was just cosmetic (awful wallpaper/paint colors), painting trim, etc. but we also had to rip out all of the plumbing, wiring, etc. We spent over a month without a kitchen (even a fridge) which was EXPENSIVE. All of these are spot on.

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