With summer in the air, many people find themselves with a refresh of their homes on their minds. Some of us might even get the urge to go beyond a deep clean or closet clutter clear-out, and start thinking about knocking down walls and tearing up tile. New collections have debuted in lighting and home furnishings, and Pinterest boards and wishlists are crammed with ideas.
Because of their frequent use, technological innovations and trends seem to turn over faster in kitchens and bathrooms. Updating fixtures and appliances that see daily use is instantly satisfying, and there’s no shortage of time—and effort-saving upgrades—to be made in these spaces. But before you dive headlong into a small DIY project or a full-on demo, there are some key questions you should answer first to keep your home renovation project as hassle-free as possible.
What’s my theme?
It can be easy to get overwhelmed in a market where we’re spoiled for choice. There are thousands of new designs in lighting and home furnishings each year, not to mention the various options available for any given single design.
Deciding on a theme for your home (or even for just the room you’re redoing) helps to keep you focused and your ideas on track. Your theme can be a design era, a color scheme or just the general “feel” you want to impart in your room. Once you’ve decided on a theme to stick with, narrowing down your choices is simpler.
How much is my budget?
If you’ve budgeted to the penny for every foreseeable expense, the law of home renovation projects dictates that an unforeseen expense shall arise. OK, so that law is made up–but approaching your project as though a small financial disaster is inevitable helps you keep it quite real. Tackling utilities-heavy rooms like the kitchen and bath can be complicated jobs. And the more involved your idea is, the more potential there can be for problems to arise.
DIYers might hit a snag only a pro can tackle, and even contractors can uncover structural or code issues that require extra hours and materials to fix. Put aside a chunk of change in case of emergency; if you don’t have to spend it on a fix, you can use it at the end of the project to splurge (or seed your next adventure).
What results will personally make me comfortable?
Sure, that ultra-modern stainless steel kitchen looks glossy and gorgeous in the magazine–but if you have pets and toddlers, you have to ask yourself how much time you want to spend wiping off nose-prints and sticky little hand smudges. Don’t cook? Then don’t waste space on a six-burner stove, no matter how sleek. If you haven’t had time to linger in your (perfectly usable but ugly) bathtub in the last year, is a bath built around a fancy clawfoot tub really your best bet?
Instead, focus on what you do expect to accomplish and enjoy and build up those aspects of the room. Be realistic about your lifestyle, and plan your renovation accordingly.
Pro tip: Data shows that on average, the resale value of kitchen and bath renovations is a bad return on investment. So go into these projects with only your family’s lifestyle and desires in mind.
How much time will this take?
Any major home renovation comes with inconvenience if you are living in the home you’re upgrading. The degree of annoyance depends on the project and layout of your home. So be prepared to spend a bit of time thinking realistically about your living habits.
Are you redoing your home’s only bathroom? Consider what it means to have your shower or toilet out of commission even for 24 hours. Does power or water need to be cut to any part of the house for any length of time? Do you have the budget allotted for eating out once you’ve hauled off your old fridge and the new one’s delivery is delayed? (This last one is easy if you’ve planned financially for contingencies.)
Contractors will typically think of most of these timing issues, or work with you to create a schedule you can live with. But if you’re handling the renovation yourself, it will take a bit more effort to stay on track.
Am I being realistic about the project?
While you can’t actually plan for the unplannable, a genuinely positive attitude really will help you pull off your project with aplomb. Try to have realistic expectations for the duration, cost and inevitable setbacks a major construction undertaking will deliver. If you’ve budgeted well, planned with care and are practical about the possibilities to begin with, your home renovation project will come together beautifully.