The folks at HGTV have a new show, Life Under Renovation.  According to their website,  “Five extraordinary families… capture the real-life experience of renovating with all the struggles and successes that lead to breathtaking reveals.”  Working on various renovations with clients over the years and having survived a few ourselves, we definitely understand the “struggles and successes” involved.   Here are a few thoughts and pics from a recent bathroom renovation we helped design and implement.

NEED VS WANT…. that’s always the dilemma.  Do you need a new kitchen or bathroom?  In the strictest sense, probably not.  “If it ain’t broken, don’t fix it” is a common argument.  But, as we often tell clients, kitchens and bathrooms are usually, “tired in 10 years, dated in 15 and dead after 20!

Paint and other cosmetic touchups can definitely buy you some time.  However, like you’d get rid of a 20-year-old sofa, there comes a time when you need to “re-furnish” your kitchens and baths.  Current styles and your own taste will likely have changed in two decades.  Keeping up with those changes is easier when you do it a little at a time.  Everyone knows, renovated kitchens and baths help maintain your home’s value.  Rather than waiting to renovate just before selling, why not do it sooner so you can enjoy the changes too?

Whether you’re just redecorating a room or doing a full-on renovation, it’s always “ugly before it’s pretty.”   There’s no way around it.   Here are some helpful tips:

    1. Plan your work and work your plan.  The more you think about and plan in advance, the more smoothly the entire process will go.  Good planning helps speed up the renovation and minimize the amount of construction ‘ugly’ you endure.
    2. Work with a contractor who communicates well, answers questions, listens to your concerns and who pays attention to detail.  Put things in writing so there’s no misunderstanding.
    3. Coordinate with your contractors and order every single element in advance so it’s on-hand BEFORE demo day.   Yes, there are bound to be unexpected issues.  But, the last thing you want is to get into your project only to realize you don’t have one little thing which brings your project to a protracted halt.
    4. Assume you’ll be a little over time and budget.  The unexpected happens.  Job scope- creep happens.  If you factor in a little wiggle room, you’ll take the unexpected in stride.
    5. Don’t sweat the small stuff.  Construction is not an exact science.  As much as you want it to be perfect, if you look closely enough, you’ll always find something that isn’t.


Now you’re ready to begin your life under renovation.


As ugly as it sounds, demo is somehow therapeutic and goes surprisingly quickly.  Like decorating a Christmas tree, it takes much longer to put up than take down.  Depending on the scope of your renovation, a couple workers can have your space stripped down to the studs within a few hours.  The raw potential of your space will be laid bare and any hidden issues will be exposed.


With a clean slate, it’s time for any behind-the-scenes changes.  Infrastructure isn’t pretty but it’s the necessary, next step.  If you’re adding new walls, now they can be framed.  Plumbing and electrical upgrades follow soon after.  Once complete, drywall additions and repairs can happen along with surface prep for tiling and painting.


Finally, the pretty can really get under way.  Flooring changes and tile work are a time consuming and expensive part of any kitchen or bath project.  Avoid the temptation to skip these changes.  Both create a fresh new palette for everything that follows.


Now that your flooring and tile are done, fresh paint finishes the backdrop for the “furniture” phase of renovation.  Light and bright paint colors contrast nicely with darker cabinets and other fixtures.  While more saturated colors enhance white cabinets, appliances and trim.


Time to add the “furniture”.  Cabinets and countertops are the closest thing to furniture you have in a kitchen or bathroom.  Custom cabinetry requires some planning to make sure you have the right combination of doors and drawers to suit your day-to-day use of the room.  If you are making substantial changes, especially in a kitchen, working with a professional specializing in kitchen design can help you maximize every aspect of your new design.

It’s not uncommon to have a slight pause in your progress now.  Custom countertops are measured once the base cabinets are installed.  Depending on your source, fabrication can take 10 days or more before they’re ready to be installed.  NOTE:  Countertop suppliers are NOT plumbers.  They will usually attach your new sink to the countertop.  But, you’ll need a plumber to hook up the supply lines and drains.


By now, you should really be able to see your dream coming to life.  And while you might think you can coast to the finish line, the last phase is just as important as the first.  The fixtures and finishes bring function to your refreshed space.  In addition to being useful, faucets, tub fillers, shower heads and controls, toilets, tubs, shower doors, lighting, cabinet hardware and more all bring personality and pizzazz to your space as well.




Last, but not least, the finishing touches are the icing on the cake.  As with any other space, accessories are a crucial add that give the room its unique personality.  From artwork, to kitchen & bath accessories, towels and bath mats, to rugs and more, you finally have a chance to add softness, pops of color and cohesiveness to your creation.  Repeating bedroom colors in an adjoining bath or family room colors in the kitchen will make your new space feel like it belongs to the rest of the home and has been there all along.







While renovations can be overwhelming, you can help by taking time to formulate a detailed plan and following it, step by step.  Knowing what to expect, along the way, can help you avoid surprises.  And before you know it, you’ll have a beautiful, new space to enjoy.

Here’s to new spaces and a happier life under renovation.  Decor Designs, Inc.  815-245-2433