10 Tips on How to Live Through a Home Remodel

March 9, 2011

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These are just a FEW of the lessons this Home Remodel Project is teaching Me!

1. Be Patient:

Before we bought our little two bedroom home we met with three contractors and began drawing-up plans for gutting the kitchen and adding-on a new master bedroom/bathroom. The first 6 months after moving in we tackled our DIY remodel projects with both nail guns blazing. (Well if we owned any nail guns they would have been blazing.) We gutted the kitchen, tore down a wall, mostly gutted the kids’ bathroom, tiled the kids’ bathroom floor, laid unfinished hardwood flooring, stained and sealed the flooring, and we painted, painted and painted some more!

Then everything came to a screeching halt! We don’t know how to pour a concrete slab or build a frame for a room addition. It was obviously time to call in a professional but two years later we just hadn’t gotten around to it.

I’m still trying to learn how to be patient and to just embrace our little two bedroom “wacky shack,” as we like to call it. Even after this new room addition, we’ll still have the kids bedrooms to remodel and all of the landscaping. Note to self: Be patient! Be patient! Be patient!

2. Ignore the mess!

Say hello to my kitchen during the demolition phase. Down goes a wall and in comes a big mess and loads of dust throughout the house. See my brand-new, gorgeous stainless refrigerator. It sat smack in the middle of all of the remodeling chaos throughout the kitchen renovation. I’m not sure how it survived without one scratch but it did. And yes, we ate out of it throughout the remodel. I wish I had a picture of our dining room and living room during the kitchen remodel. Everything from the kitchen had to go somewhere! Consequently, it exploded into the other rooms. I’m learning to just ignore the mess!

3. Communicate with your contractor:

Our contractor is very good, but he’s not a mind reader. And since  my decorating mind is always on the run, it has been extremely important for us to explain to our contractor exactly what I want. I mean we, yeah what we want.

4. Ignore the mess:

Who cares if you have an old toilet and shower hanging-out in your backyard. Your neighbors will understand. And if they don’t, they’re not very nice neighbors.

5. Be prepared to make a million decisions:

I’m not exaggerating! Every day our contractor gives us another enormous list of decisions we have to make. I like this because the communication is so key. However, the decisions can become overwhelming. There are wall heights, outlet locations, water heater choices, water softening devices, the list goes on and on . . . and this doesn’t even include the fun stuff like the counter top, paint colors and tile! And just so you know, each of those little counter top samples above is a slightly different sparkly white design. And getting the perfect one is very important to me! I mean us, very important to us.

For the past two years, I’ve been collecting pictures of bedrooms and bathrooms. This includes pictures of sinks, faucets, etc. and also samples of tile, counter tops and paint colors. On my computer, I’ve bookmarked website pages by tags: lights, mirrors, faucets, sinks, tile, etc. This makes it much easier to return to my great finds. All of this work before you start construction will make some of your decisions easier. But trust me the decision making still might give you a migraine. Be prepared!

6. Did I mention, ignore the mess:

Welcome to the current condition of my laundry room. It was gutted by MacGyver; however, we are still using it to wash our laundry. One day of drizzly rain and my laundry room became a mud-stomped, nasty mess. Our contractor has been shockingly good about cleaning-up every day. But these muddy footprints have just stayed. So I figured what the heck, I’ll just ignore the mess and clean it all up when they’re done.

7. Shop around:

I’ve learned not to just head on down to my local big-box, home improvement store. They do not carry the unique finishes I see in my favorite home design magazines. Yes, you can run across some good stuff there, but I’ve found that you really need to search the internet. I’ve found really great bargains on beautiful sinks, faucets, furniture, tile . . . You name it, you can find it. One of my favorites is overstock.com. You have to spend some time searching but you can find really high quality furnishings. I always read the reviews of any item before I purchase it.

I shopped locally for my shower tile. Then I went online and guess what, I found it for a quarter of the local price.

When all of this is said and done, I’ll go room by room and give you links for shopping.

8. And don’t forget to ignore the mess:

When the master bath / laundry room combo was gutted, all of the junk had to go somewhere. So now it’s all over our office. Our office is also acting as a holding place for sinks, faucets, lights . . . it just keeps multiplying. It looks even worse now. Actually, way worse!

Our whole house pretty much looks like a tornado. Nothing is where it should be and everything is covered in a layer of dust. I’m just trying to ignore all of it. I’ll clean-up when the addition is all done.

9. Stick to your budget:

This one is really hard! But I’m learning how to splurge here and cut back there. When we did our kitchen remodel, we hit IKEA and came out like a bandit on our kitchen cabinets. We mixed our IKEA cabinets with splurges like our custom island and high-end appliances. Well, at least high-end for us! In the kids’ bathroom, we combined an inexpensive IKEA sink with a higher-end faucet.

We’re doing the same in the new master bathroom. We’re spending less on some items so we can splurge on other items.

Nothing will make your remodel more stressful than watching your budget go out of control.

10. Don’t argue with your spouse:

We like the same style, modern with an eclectic twist (emphasis on eclectic), so that’s good. But we both have our own ideas. It’s all about compromise. I’m still learning how to compromise! If he hates my idea or just can’t see the beauty in my creativity, I try to persuade him. If that fails, I just let it go and we pick something that we both like. Remodeling is stressful, so try to be nice! :) That last sentence was kind of like a little note to myself.

* Get up early in the morning, shower and get dressed for the day.

This is just an extra tip for those of you who are stay at home Mommies. You might not want to be caught in your hoddie fottie, or less! You never know who will be in and out of your home throughout the day. And you never know when they’re going to politely knock on the door with a warning that they’re going to turn off the water or electricity. So you  might want to be showered and dressed.

We bought a little home built in 1952, on a big lot, in a great neighborhood: Follow our never ending HGTV episode!

Life with Jeannine

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Deb March 10, 2011 at 9:58 am

Oooh, I can’t wait to see the After photos!

I bought a lot of stuff online when we redid our kitchen too – backsplash tile was WAY cheaper (even with shipping), and I got our sink and faucet on Overstock.

If I had to add a tip – make sure you read your contracts and material specifications VERY CAREFULLY. When we redid our kitchen, I chose a white quartz countertop. I carried the sample around for months, and every single material decision I made centered around that white countertop.


The kitchen salesperson did NOT write down white, she wrote down cream. Even though she acknowledged it was her mistake and tried to get the owner to replace it with the color we ALL knew I ordered….I put my signature on what was basically a clerical error and now we do not have white countertops.

We have cream.

Which is not white.

But I try not to let it bother me.

I will not make the same mistake again, though.

Jeannine March 10, 2011 at 10:21 am

Oh how heartbreaking! Cream is definitely not white! Thank you for adding that tip. I will use it! :)

maryanne March 10, 2011 at 7:10 pm

That faucet is gorgeous! I can’t wait to see the finished product!

Alice March 11, 2011 at 2:47 pm

So pretty! How nice it will be to have it all done. I dream of the day we can make this place our own…..

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