Wednesday, February 10, 2016


We have been renovating our new (well new to us) Farmhouse that we purchased last fall. It was built in 1996, so it has good bones and all the electrical and plumbing is up to code (we didn't want to get into that big of a mess). Our home was filled with orange and yellow wood, cheap finishes, NOOO storage, and had been finished like a ranch style home, rather than a farmhouse. As a designer I could see that the original design of the home (aka the exterior) was that of a farmhouse. It has a wrap around porch, and sits on an acre. It needed some TLC in some areas, but mostly just needed a big face lift to get it up to modern day standards and back into it's original Farmhouse design. My husband came in dragging his feet, but now he loves it almost as much as I do (and I'm so glad because I couldn't do this without him)! He calls himself "the builder" and me "the creator." But living in a renovation is tough, and if you don't know what you're doing it can be a REAL BIG MISTAKE. So here are 10 things we've learned:
1. KNOW YOUR STYLE: Determine the design style that you love! Is it modern, contemporary, traditional, farmhouse, cottage, french, industrial, eclectic, etc. Find pictures on Houzz or Pinterest that you love and that speak to you. As you pin or save things that you love start noticing WHY you love them. What are the common threads? Are there lots of metal, a certain color of wood, a favorite color or pattern, a certain flooring, or lighting? This can help you decide what your style is. Try to steer away from what "everyone else" seems to like, and steer towards what you LOVE! If you find the design you love, you are sure to love your home for a long time. Knowing your style will help clearly define what sorts of things you want to do in your home. You want to be consistent throughout your home so don't forget your home's exterior . Notice the style of your home, you can either try to design with it (if you love it) or improve the exterior to match your particular style. My style is Industrial Rustic Farmhouse. I love rustic woods mixed with dark metals, I love neutral colors mixed with pops of colors, and lastly I LOVE texture. Put together some of your favorite pictures from Pinterest or Houzz to help you stay consistent and make good design choices as you renovate.
2. KNOW WHEN TO HIRE OUT & WHEN TO DIY: Some jobs are better for a professional, but if you can find a good "how to," sometimes you can save a lot of money doing something yourself. We hired someone to build our big shop, but we did our kitchen back-splash and fireplace. Talking to professionals at various contractor stores can help you know how to do something on your own also. Decide with your spouse, significant other, or other family members what jobs you want to take on and what jobs you'd rather hire out. Planning this beforehand can save you a lot of time when you begin your renovation. Schedule contractors to come and make sure you're ready for them when they arrive so you don't have to set back your project.
3. DON'T EXPECT PERFECTION, BE REALISTIC: When you are renovating you are using imperfect people, and imperfect walls, floors, etc. Have realistic expectations. Mistakes will be made, be forgiving and come up with good solutions. Things are always going to take longer than you think, so plan extra time for each project. Don't worry if every line, every cut, every joint, etc doesn't line up perfectly. We live in an imperfect world, nothing is perfect. Set that expectation at the beginning and don't freak out when things go wrong, or take longer than expected. Just expect it to. 

4. EXPECT A MESS: Living in a renovation is messy.  Living in a renovation with kids is even messier.There is a lot of dust from all the projects. Don't unpack everything (or pack up valuables). Plan to get a storage unit or use your garage to store items that you don't want getting dirty or potentially ruined or broken (I've learned this the hard way). Don't take the plastic off new appliances until that whole room is done so you don't get scratches from tools or contractors (I've learned this the hard way too). Tell people you are renovating so you don't feel stressed about the mess when people come over. Have one room that your kids can keep all their toys in so they can find them when they want to play (it's ok if this room changes as the renovation goes on). Allowing your children to know their toys aren't going anywhere (far away) will help them through the renovation process too.
5. DON'T PAY FOR WORK UNTIL THE JOB IS DONE: This is a BIG one. If you hire someone to do a job for you, NEVER agree to pay in full upfront...and NEVER pay in full until the whole job is completed and you are SATISFIED with the job. 


6. HAVE A TIMELINE: Set a timeline of all the things you want to do and the time you think it will take. Then add extra time to each project. Having a realistic timeline can help you cope with the crazy. You can tell yourself "it's ok that it's a disorganized, dirty mess. By such and such a date I can clean my home and it will be beautiful." Then take a deep breath. Having a time line can also help you decide when a subcontractor can be scheduled.

7. DON'T GET ANGRY, GET INVOLVED: Working with other contractors has been a bit of a nightmare on our renovation project. So many nights my husband and I have struggled to sleep because we're fuming about this or about that. We have found that getting angry about it doesn't help it get done. So, be nice. If you aren't happy with the way things are going, get going yourself. Do some projects that you know how to do or learn how to do something you may not have been planning on doing to help the work move forward. When work is being done, it feels better.

8. KEEP GOOD RECORDS:  This can be hard to do in a mess, but when someone says they will do something, or tells you it will cost a certain amount, write it down. My husband has saved us over $600 by writing stuff down. When a contractor comes back and says to pay the wrong amount, you can show him what you wrote down. If he/she wasn't present when you wrote it down, make sure you take a picture of your notes and text it to them. Just keep good records.

9. PLAN FOR PROBLEMS AND SURPRISES: As you begin your renovation you will find things that you didn't expect. Make sure you have a contingency budget. I'd recommend an extra 10% of your total renovation cost. If you don't end up needing it, that's awesome (go buy some new decorations and furniture for your beautiful new space) if you do bump into some unexpected things, you'll be soooo glad you were prepared for it.

house beautiful
10. DON'T SHOW EVERYONE ALL THE IMPERFECTIONS: You'll find as you are renovating, and especially when you've finished, that people want to come and see what you've done. Don't point out all the mistakes, chances are they would never have noticed them. They only see how amazing it is, don't spoil it. And chances are if you focus on all the good stuff, you'll notice all the imperfections less too.

No matter what part of your home you're renovating or how extensive your project is, just be grateful you get to renovate. It can be fun! Focus on the things you enjoy about it, take deep breaths when things don't go as planned and keep moving forward. You're making a home, make it a good experience.

I'd love to hear from you! What projects have you taken on and what things did you learn?

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