January 23, 2017
My husband and I bought our home four years ago. It’s a small South Minneapolis bungalow, a home that we said we would be in for no more than five years. Well, we are already at the four-year mark and don’t see ourselves leaving anytime soon.
The neighborhood checks all of the boxes. We can walk to restaurants and shops, there are a number of lakes and parks nearby, and it takes a whopping 15 minutes to get downtown, where we both work. It doesn’t get much better than that, right? The only problem: Over time, the space has started to feel cramped even with just the two of us, let alone when our large families come to visit (goodbye privacy, hello in-laws). Take a plethora of wedding gifts, one rambunctious dog, and four years of accumulated stuff, we are now realizing that our funky home layout we deemed “filled with character” is proving to be quite inefficient.
It’s funny how when you buy your first house, there are so many things you are oblivious to. Like the fact that our entire upstairs isn’t insulated, or that one very small bathroom just won’t do regardless of it only being the two of us. And… other than its convenience for a midnight snack, having the master bedroom directly next to the kitchen is just an odd setup. However many quirks our home may have, it’s funny how connected to it you can become. From the work you’ve put into it to the memories created there, all of a sudden it becomes a lot harder to just pick up and move.
Realistically we aren’t going anywhere anytime soon, so we started thinking about a remodel. We love our house and yes, it has its shortcomings, but it also has a lot of amazing qualities and potential. I can’t stop thinking about how great it would be to make our home exactly what we want it to be and to do it now, allowing us to benefit and enjoy it for the next five years. Of course, there are daunting thoughts that come with a remodel, like “Do we want to live in a construction zone for the next five months?” or “Will we get our money back when we go to sell?” How do you make sure you have the right contractor for the job? As with many big decisions, there are a million “what-ifs,” but there are many ways to get creative and remodel within reason and within budget. My philosophy is that if we don’t do it now, we will only regret it in four more years when we are still in this house, crammed on top of each other. So why not take the plunge so we can enjoy our house to the absolute fullest?
If this finds you contemplating a home renovation yourself, or if it’s something you might want to embark on in the future, you’re in luck. I’ve tapped into friends, family and a number of home-remodeling resources to compile a hit list of things to consider and think about as you kick off your project.
Do your research: There is a ton of information out there, so get smart before diving in so you know what you expect and can be involved in the process. Questions will come up and the better prepared you are, the more productive your conversations will be with the people doing the work. This is also an opportunity to get a handle on what your personal style is, what you’re looking to get out of your new space, your “must-haves” and your “nice-to-haves,” so you can prioritize along the way and be in lockstep with your contractor.
Consider your home’s architectural style: The last thing you want is a traditional home and an ultra-modern interior renovation. You will not be pleased with the result. Make sure you understand your home’s style and lean into that when planning your new space. It’s okay to add some personal flair and on-trend elements here and there, but building on the existing architectural foundation of the home will ensure a cohesive look and feel throughout.
Don’t over-build for your neighborhood: It’s important to balance the amount of money going into the remodel to ensure you don’t price yourself out of the neighborhood. It’s okay to do things for your own enjoyment versus always thinking about the payback, but in the long run you don’t want to be stuck with a $500,000 home in a $300,000 neighborhood.
Be realistic about budget: It’s important to be up-front about what you want and can spend on your remodel. The beauty of this process is that you don’t have to break the bank, as there are a lot of creative ways to make your money go farther. For example, if you’re renovating on a budget, there are a lot of ways that you can get involved to save on labor costs, like assisting with demo, painting or helping with some of those finishing touches.
Anticipate the chaos: A home renovation can be stressful and is most definitely messy and chaotic, from contractors and workers coming and going all day to the loud noises and unanticipated mishaps that seem to pop up more frequently than you’d like. It’s going to be a hectic process no matter what. But if you prepare yourself and embrace it, it won’t come as such a surprise.
Get creative with your space: A home remodel doesn’t have to mean busting down every wall in the house. You certainly can, but sometimes finding clever ways to simply increase the functionality of your home can make a huge difference (and stretch your budget). Consider things like built-ins under the staircase or converting an attic into usable space.
Consider when it makes sense to go trendy: Consider which areas of your home remodel make sense to incorporate that fun trend you’ve been obsessed with on Pinterest. But remember, trends are short-term, so be selective. Don’t be afraid to add some of those personal touches and flairs, but balance that with classics that you know are sure to stand the test of time.
Make sure your measurements are accurate: Not having accurate measurements at the beginning of the project can be cause for some major setbacks down the road. Even half an inch can make a difference in ensuring you get the result you planned on. If this isn’t something you’re comfortable doing yourself, make sure you tap into your contractor for this portion of the process.
Be patient: A home remodel takes time — there is no getting around that. It’s important to remain patient. Going through all of the necessary steps and not cutting corners will guarantee a successful project in the end. Before you know it, you will be in your space enjoying it to the fullest!