Home Makeover Tips & Tricks

Kitchen Reno Renovation Gray Grey Subway Tile Carrera Marble White1

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We purchased a new home last month and are in the process of updating the interior (read paint, refinishing the flooring, installing some new tile, new fixtures, etc).  I hesitate to call what we are doing a “renovation” because we aren’t knocking anything down or moving walls around, but our work has definitely ballooned into a much more significant endeavor than initially anticipated. After a poor floor tile selection necessitated ripping up a portion of freshly laid flooring (totally my fault, I have the world’s most patient husband and general contractor), I now have a kitchen floor that I adore and am counting down the days until we move.

As someone who has always had a difficult time committing to permanent design decisions, I’ve played it pretty safe throughout the little facelift we are giving our home, but even my conservative decisions have been stressful (like every other person out there, I was blown away by how many shades of gray and white there are).  Below are a couple of the tips and tricks I used/wish I’d thought of before we cracked open our first pale of paint:

  1. Swatch, swatch, swatch: I was so conscious of picking light colors because our new home has relatively low ceilings that when we swatched our first selections, we could barely tell the colors apart.  I ended up picking colors that definitely looked too dark (to me) on the swatch but ended up being the perfect color on the wall.  Some people have the opposite problem, so swatch, swatch, swatch.
  2. Sample, sample, sample: Along the lines of the above tip, I recommend purchasing a number of flooring samples (tile, wood, etc.) and placing them in various locations on the floor before making your final choice.  Also, beyond the color and texture of the flooring, consider how it will be laid (I was floored (ha) by how many different ways tile could be laid).  Evaluate how flooring will look from every perspective, especially if there are a number of access points to a room, like a kitchen.
  3. Buy Local: As much as I wish this tip was to purchase fixtures, etc. from local craftsman, I actually recommend buying fixtures from stores with local brick & mortar locations so that you can return what doesn’t work in your space.  While I really wanted to save some money and buy fans on Amazon (which is a great tip if you are confident in your choices), I went with Lowes, Home Depot and other major retailers who readily accepted returns of every poor call I made.
  4. High & Low: Our old house is ridiculously close to Ikea, which makes popping over during their quiet hours very convenient.  Although I ended up majorly splurging on refinishing our original hardwood floors and selecting expensive tile, I was able to balance my budget by making some more economical purchases at Ikea and other lower-cost retailers.
  5. Great People: Our GC has facilitated every stage of the process.  He helped us save money where we could and advised us on work that really need to be performed (in our case, our roof needed some TLC).  And our real estate agent who is selling our old house was a wonderful resource in selecting colors, flooring and fixtures.  Because she stages the homes she sells, she can quickly identify when we were veering off the path and confirm when we were doing well.  Working with these 2 individuals has given me great comfort through a stressful process.
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