Home Renovation Tips & Tricks


My husband and I bought our dream home right outside the city three  years ago – a tudor style house with 6 bedrooms, 3 baths, a huge backyard and pool.  Sounds, amazing, right?  We joke that it is a mansion, straight out of 1986!  The dark floral wallpaper, forest green carpet and mauve pink tub that dated our home allowed us to get an awesome deal on the house.  Since then, we have renovated our home one room at a time; often times, doing the work ourselves.  There are still a few projects on our ‘to do’ list, but we have learned to work together to transform our house into a home.  

Home renovation projects are not for the weak nor weary.  They can take twice as long and cost twice as much as planned.  Whether you are a weekend warrior or contracting the work to others, you need a lot of patience and planning.  Luckily, I married a man that is pretty handy around the house so we have had our share of home renovation projects!  We enjoy putting our personal stamp on our home and doing a lot of the work together, but I can’t say we have never disputed how to remodel a staircase.  I have some home renovation tips to help you survive your next project and keep your marriage in tact. 

Our once dark and dated entry way is now light, bright and feels just like home!

Do your Homework 

Research the options and cost of materials, tools, and scope of the job.  Get estimates from several contractors.  This will allow you to determine if it is better to do it yourself or contract the job to an expert.  If you do the work yourself, find out what you are working with prior to the project and create a plan.  I remember when my husband and I removed the carpet to paint the staircase.  We puttied and sanded the risers for hours and hours, before realizing it was easier, and fairly inexpensive to just replace the worn risers with new wood.  If we had done our research, we could have saved many hours of hard work.   ‘Measure twice, cut once’ is great advice too.  If you have done any home remodeling or 10th grade science projects, no elaboration is necessary.  

Set a Budget

Even though unforeseen circumstances can pop up at anytime as a homeowner, setting a budget for each home renovation project is important to avoid surprises and direct you into what materials you can afford at that time.  Flooring options vary a few dollars per square foot, which doesn’t seem like much until you calculate the square footage of the entire space.  After moving in, my husband and I replaced our dingy carpet with engineered wood floors in our dining & living rooms.  We determined what our total budget was, the square footage in each room in our home, and the average cost of flooring with padding and materials.  According to our set budget and square footage, we looked online for flooring options.  After finding a flooring style that we loved, we were happily surprised to find room in our budget to do two additional rooms if we did the work ourselves. 

Set a Timeframe 

A contractor should be able to give you a rough estimate on the time involved, but just know your husband may overestimate his abilities to retile a bathroom in one weekend.  Give yourself a few extra days in case something unexpected pops up.  For larger DIY projects, a list of tasks and estimated timeframe helps maintain focus and motivation throughout the project, especially when working with your partner.

Choose Quality Materials 

Quality materials will save you more money in the long run!  Would you rather spend $400 on an appliance that lasts for ten years or $200 on one that needs replacing every two years. Don’t skimp on the quality of materials, because your home is your castle.  If you can’t afford quality materials, wait to remodel until you can.  I remember two pendant lights that my husband found online for about a 1/3 of the price of lights that I had seen and showed him.  While I am all for saving money, why do you think I DIY so much, some things don’t need skimping on.  Those lights made my new marble countertops and freshly painted cabinets look cheap.  Needless to say, those lights are now in the garage, not hanging, just sitting in the garage sale box.  We live and we learn.  

Stay Classy

You want to make changes to your home that update the look, but avoid products or styles that are super trendy.  Love stripes? Go with horizontal striped wallpaper, but avoid chevron.  Love subway tile?  Keep it classic in a white or grey.  When we moved into our current home, the shower tile in two bathrooms had just been replaced before the house was put on the market, yet the previous homeowner chose a burgundy red tile.  I assume he was trying to keep with the colors of the rest of the house.  While not so trendy, it is brand new tile, yet needs updating.  Honey, did you put that on the ‘to do’ list?

Follow your Home’s Style

I think it is important that the interior style of the home stays true to the exterior of the home.  If you like the farmhouse look in your kitchen, continue that style throughout your home, and add barn door shutters to the outside windows. Having a continuous design style throughout your home creates a cohesive look.  Your personal style doesn’t have to fit into one box; mixing a few different styles creates personality, but just continue that same style throughout your home.  Using the same or similar hardware is an easy way to do that.    

Paint your Dreams

Paint is a fairly easy and inexpensive fix to transform a room. If paint and new hardware can quickly update old furniture, imagine what it can do to your walls, ceilings and floors! Just cruise Pinterest to see all the wonders that paint can do!  From the look of faux wallpaper, faux shiplap, faux concrete, faux brick walls, to stenciled tile floors, it is amazing!  Don’t let the options of paint overwhelm you, just ask your local paint dealer what would work best for your project. Or google.  

Working with a Contractor

Use a contractor that you can trust.  Ask friends for recommendations, check the Better Business Bureau or look for companies with a long standing reputation.  Perhaps, start with a small project so that you can familiarize yourself with the contractor’s work, time frame, safety and organization standards.  Getting a written contract with the cost and timeframe will eliminate any miscommunication or headaches down the road.  

                Goodbye 1986 yellow linoleum! Hello Chicago open faced brick!!