Renovating your home in 2019? We’re here to help. Starting a home renovation can be daunting, but with a few insider tips and tricks you’ll be on your way to making your home improvement plans a reality. From setting a budget, to finding the right team and preparing for setbacks, we spoke to 13 interior designers who shared their top home renovation tips…
I’m a naturally creative person, but would struggle in my work if I didn’t keep organized. An interior designer’s secret sauce is not just a flair for aesthetics, but it’s in the way we plan.
Often potential clients call, saying that they feel their house is “halfway there” but need a designer to complete the room. This can be a red flag for designers because it can mean they’ve assembled a group of basic furniture and materials, without considering how they fit in the grand plan of what they wanted for their finished home.
When approaching a renovation or selecting furniture: plan for the design as a whole, then prioritize what you need. Purchase the right pieces, as you can, instead of buying something that you end up wanting to replace in a year.
Lists and inspiration boards are your friend. They help you to gather the totality of a project, see if it works visually, and then break it down to manageable tasks and actions. Use schedules to help organize your orders, contractors, and other details that make the design happen; down to the last tiny drawer pull. The best designers make this part look easy, but it’s definitely hard work!
A truly successful renovation is as simple as four words: research, planning, budget, and patience. First, seek out inspiration for your project, and do your research to identify a team of experts who can execute your vision (designer, architect, contractor, etc). Hint: referrals are a great idea! Put together a plan with your team, including goals, realistic expectations, and timeline. Always communicate your budget from the start, and remember – patience is imperative with any home project. You never know what’s going to be behind that wall! Be prepared for hiccups or small timing setbacks… it’ll be worth the wait!
- Fully planning the scope and schedule for your renovation can be a big time and budget saver. Here design professionals can help tremendously.
- Consider long term decisions. Planning the right layout and even spending more on the right finishes can result in adding value to your renovated home.
- Incorporate smart technologies into your renovation plan, including a new lighting scheme, a security system, a hidden sound system that brings music to each room. And make sure that all are operable from your smart phone.
- Always get the details right. Here the right designer and contractor are critical.
- Create open spaces that allow easy traffic flow and permit natural light to travel easily throughout each space.
- If choices need to be made for budgetary or scheduling purposes, prioritize. For example start with kitchen and bath renovations, which will add ease and comfort to your home and ultimately lead to a bigger return on your investment.
- Integrate additional sources and levels of lighting, deftly mixing direct, indirect, ambient lighting and adding dimmers throughout.
- Set realistic timelines for each phase of your renovation. Remember that it will always take longer than you think it will. And filing architects plans, obtaining permits etc can in themselves be a time consuming process. This should be done in consultation with your contractor, architect and designer who will all have a good idea of how long each process should take.
Insist on a comprehensive contract!
Make sure the contractor includes specifics in their written contract. They should include a start date, a completion date, a detailed list of what is going to be done and what is not. Have them include a list of building materials that are included and also provide a list of what is not included. Have them provide another list of finish materials that are included and those that are not. If they are giving you an allowance on finish materials shop for those ahead of time to ensure that what you are selecting is included in the budget and if it isn’t update the contract. Believe it or not, I’ve seen contracts that didn’t include basic building materials like doors and trim.
My biggest tip would be to hire a seasoned designer or architect. Our firm likes to start the remodeling process with clients as soon as possible. That way, we can assist clients not only in specifying how the shell of the home will be re-structured, but what the best finishes will be for the space (cabinetry, plumbing and lighting fixtures, paint colors and floor coverings, etc.)
The home owner should never start the demo process until they have a very clear understanding of what the finished product will be, and all of the component pieces that will create that vision. There are a lot of moving parts to a renovation: scheduling, budgets, sometimes even changes to design once the walls are opened up and we see the “bones” of the space. If you are not working with a professional designer or architect, tracking all of these moving parts in a “renovation journal” is imperative. You’ll want to get everything in writing so that you can refer back to emails or onsite meeting discussions throughout the process.
Lastly, showing up to meetings and having that face-to-face time with the building team at the project site is very important. Don’t assume that everything will go according to the specified plan just because it’s in a contract or was agreed to in an email.
Homeowners should have a budget in mind, or an amount they know they are comfortable spending, or not spending for that matter. By providing a budget, a qualified builder, designer or architect will be able to tell you very quickly if your dreams can become reality. Discussing this up front will save you a lot of time and resources. Once you have allocated a budget, discuss your goals with a qualified architect, designer and builder. Forming this ‘team’ in the first phase will save you time and money in the long run.
Be prepared to wait. Just about everything involving a renovation or remodel will take longer than you or the builder will anticipate. Hiring a designer who is qualified in project management will help alleviate some of the stress and ensure the proper planning is in place for timely delivery. A designer who is project managing on your behalf can also serve as a direct contact for the builder so that he or she can make quick, educational decisions on the project site as complications might arise.
Overall, it’s imperative to plan, build the right team and be patient during a renovation.
Anyone can knock down a house and create a new space, but enhancing an existing space and its unseen beauty is what makes a home and your story. DIY resources abound with a little internet research, but it’s important to know your limitations and that means knowing when to hire a professional. Especially when it comes to old rehab projects: Be true to your home, embrace its idiosyncrasies. It doesn’t always have to be straight lines and right angles to be beautiful design.
Proper planning is key. Create a timeline for your project, factoring in receipt of items like cabinets, tile, light fixtures, flooring, etc. Demolition shouldn’t begin until the majority of items are available for pick up or delivery, or on their way. This will ensure the project moves along with little to no downtime.
With so many wonderful design sources, spend some time to research and save images that catch your eye. Finding inspiration photos for your project, can help to create an overall vision for the space, making each of the design decisions, a little easier.
I like to get the most out of renovation projects by combining cost effective updates with more significant long-term improvements to create impactful transformations. My top 5 renovation tips are:
- Match your vision with your budget.
- Prioritize rooms to renovate based on your personal wants and needs but also consider the potential resale value (think kitchens & bathrooms).
- Utilize unfinished spaces such as attics and basements to maximize usable square footage.
- Try to create an open floor plan in the main living areas. Not only will you enjoy the flow and connectivity between the rooms, but it will also make it feel more spacious.
- Be creative!! Look for opportunities to refresh, update or relocate finishes and furnishings.
Wendy Lepkoff, Wendy Interiors
Renovating a home is a lot of work, especially for the homeowner. One of the best ways to make sure a project of any size stays on task is to stay organized. I recommend starting with a binder. Devote a section to each contractor/vendor. Keep your contracts, your notes, your pictures, your receipts – anything and everything that has to do with your renovation neatly organized in this binder. I also strongly recommend that you have weekly team meetings with all of your contractors and vendors. You want to make sure that everyone is on the same page, including yourself.
Sometimes you only need to renovate one room to make your home feel refreshed. The bathroom is a relaxing space for cleaning and prepping in solitaire bliss, however maximizing the potential of this room can be a difficult process. Ensure consideration of your needs, the layout, fixtures and finishes happen otherwise your dreams of an oasis of escape to de-stress and relax in can be easily diverted. Here are my design tips for sweetening your en-suite:
- Let in as much natural light as possible to maximize the sense of space. Install windows or French doors were possible to match the glass shower door.
- Use open shelves to reduce door opening and promote a fresh transitional design.
- Create a theme and keep to it. Having a bath with a uniform design influence will keep the continuity of the space.
For a successful kitchen remodel, I suggest:
Remodel to reflect the architectural style of your home. However, you can still have the new modern appliances in a traditional home. The days of clunky commercial style appliances are becoming a thing of the past. Today, behind a traditional cabinet front, can lie a genius piece of technology. I’m dying over the new refrigerators with built in camera systems (for grocery shopping), LED lighting, stainless steel interiors, touch screens, push to open doors, and dual ice makers for cocktail and sonic style ice.
Take note to remodel your kitchen to age with you. Touchless faucets, safe induction cooktops, microwaves at lower heights, push to open items, drawers instead of cabinets, apps to operate appliances, voice activation and more efficient and environmentally friendly products.
Lastly, wait for appliances to go on sale. Often manufacturers will give you a free appliance with a package purchase.
“Plan ahead” is the best recommendation for a smooth renovation. Whether large or small, having the necessary components in place is essential to a timely and cost-effective remodel. Have your plans and ideas organized, the better you can communicate with your designer the easier the project will be to implement.
Know that your tradespeople are lined up to perform the work specified. The area under work should be closed off to keep dust down. A breakdown plan after work is completed is important, vents cleaned, walls and windows washed is part of the process.
A solid team is worth its weight in gold. Seasoned professionals will give you the best results.