Making Informed Decisions for Home Renovations

Making Informed Decisions for Home Renovations

Blueprint ToolsThough exciting at first, the process of home renovations can start to take a toll on us homeowners who are eager to finish a long-awaited project.  For my own experience in the DIY world, over the years my husband and I have worked on lots of parts of our house together.  From upgrades in the bathroom and kitchen areas, to refinishing materials all throughout the interior and exterior of the house, virtually every area in our home has been reworked in some way.

Our renovations have not been invasive, they have mostly consisted of cosmetic changes and replacement of fixtures, which have allowed us to take advantage of the bones of the house and breathed-in new life through the various changes in finish materials.  We have lived in the house throughout all repairs, so the livability of spaces has always been a main focus.  Here are a few field notes that we’ve learned along the way to help you plan for and cope with the process of moving into a home and renovating its interior:

  • Be real with yourself, your goals and your needs:  We toured our house in the winter when there was still snow on the ground.  Once we made it to the backyard we realized its full potential and decided it was the home for us.  Up until then, we were strictly considering purchasing a condominium.  Our realtor had great instincts and as he listened to our conversations, he realized that a condominium would not have been a long-term solution for us then and showed us the house we eventually purchased along with a mix of condominiums.  From the moment we put a bid on the house, we were fully committed to the process, knowing and accepting that there was a lot of work that needed to take place in order to turn the house into our home.  Our plan was to live in it “as-is” for a while and eventually start upgrading once our schedules freed up and we felt more “ready” to tackle the challenges.  However, once we began to move-in, we began to feel and see the urgency for everything that needed to be addressed and began to create space in our timelines and budgets to support the growing list of concerns.
  • Accept the inconveniencesWith the goal of living in a house throughout any renovation, it’s always important to accept the inconveniences that will come with it, such as living out of one room, using main rooms for storage of materials, lots to constantly clean-up, being willing to having parts of your house unavailable for an extended amount of time, and potentially eating lots of take-out (which in the beginning is so much fun but after a while maybe not so much). 
Don’t underestimate the importance of feeling
comfortable with the people working in your home.
  • Do your research and ensure your comfort level:  When evaluating the construction end of a project, we often tend to focus on the financial end and want to make decisions strictly based on the bottom line.  However, don’t underestimate the importance of feeling comfortable with the people working in your home, after all, a home is your most personal of spaces.  Take the time to review a contractor’s project qualifications.  Ask to see photos of completed projects (along with before photos if available) and inquire about the process, challenges and resolutions the contractor faced while working on the project.  Take an honest interest in the contractor’s work and evaluate for yourself if the end result is a quality service that you would be happy with and consider how your project fits into their construction expertise.
  • Consider the basics:  When selecting materials, consider what attributes are most important to you.  Is it ease of installation or the wow-factor?  Is it durability or environmental stewardship?  With the varied products in today’s market, environmental stewardship does not mean you have to sacrifice durability or have to pay higher prices.  Materials so powerfully speak for themselves, take the time to consider how their look and performance will benefit your home.

With home renovations, you have to embrace the process because it truly comes with long-lasting benefits.  The interior renovation process can be overwhelming at times and test your patience, but as long as you have taken the time to explore your options and make informed decisions, it’s well worth it for many years to come.

  • Know and stick to your budget:  Shop around and really think about what aspects of the project you are willing to compromise in.  For example, examine your project and determine which areas you really want to showcase.  Perhaps the materials for the areas you want to showcase are more premium in cost, while more general area selections can help keep costs in check.  To keep a budget in balance, it doesn’t mean you can’t splurge here and there, rather it’s the balance between premium and the broader spectrum that keeps the bottom-line in check.  Remember, a way to incorporate savings into a design often leads to further customization of a style or product which when done thoughtfully and carefully, can lead to a more personalized solution which in turn adds more to the design.  As you decide on finish materials, it’s important to consider the quality of your materials, even when in a fixed budget, because materials truly make a big difference in the look, feel and style of your rooms, and in the end can cut down on how much material you will waste and how much you will actually use.


Wendy is a Professional Interior Designer and a Retailer, she owns and operates Modern Ornament LLC in Livingston, NJ, which houses an interior design studio and a home boutique specializing in modern home accents.  Her store features gift items, housewares, fair trade certified products, furniture, lighting, kids decor, petware and more.  Through Modern Ornament, Wendy's goal is to create a store that is unique to the community and features a distinctive, global and modern aesthetic that allows her customers to express the design personality that is distinctively their own.  Learn more:


Blueprint Tools photo by Sarah Pflug
Painting Purple photo by Sarah Pflug

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