Design Mind: Taking the Guess Work Out of Home Renovation

You’ve had your mind set on a home renovation project for a while but after years of pinning, you’re still not sure where to begin. Your wish list includes slab countertops, updated tile, and a brand-new color palette. The catch is you and your partner are not in agreement on the style and the budget is an issue, too. If this sounds about right, you’re not alone. One thing I know about renovating is that having a plan that both of you are excited about is key to a successful project.

A little-known fact of renovating is that sometimes the arguments over which tile to use in the bathroom is not actually about tile at all. The heart of the matter probably has more to do with how you each want to spend time in the space than it does about which specific tile is being selected. How do I know this you ask? That part’s simple – a career full of experience and the advice of some exceptional professors.

Now let’s get back to your home renovation plans and where to start. You have a few options — go it alone as a DIYer or hire a professional to do the work.

Which one is going to be the best option for you? There are a couple of questions I like to ask clients about this idea.

  1. Do you have the time and energy to take on the project?
  2. Have you determined your budget?
  3. Will you stay in your home during the renovations?

If you answered no to more than one of those questions you might want to dig a little deeper before you decide on that piece. This is where a designer might come into the picture. Bringing in an Interior Designer right from the start of your project can benefit the overall flow of the process and the timeline.  Many designers offer hourly consultations where you can discuss your plans for your renovation and the wish list you’ve been pouring over for years. Remember that board you have filled with 100’s of ideas? Now is the time to pick your favorite inspirations from the bunch.

Fresh Space Redesign Hunter Douglas Kitchen Remodel Inspiration Example

In addition to gathering inspiration photos from a client, I like to interview both partners before getting started on the layout and specifications for a home renovation project. This saves a ton of time in the long run because it is common for each person to envision something different for their remodel. Here’s an example, both partners know they can’t stand their current kitchen. For one of them, it is the lack of pantry storage and constant dirty dishes in the sink. For the other, it is out of date appliances and being disconnected from the family while preparing food. Knowing ahead of time how a space will be used and by whom is probably the most important step in the process.

My attitude has always been that it doesn’t matter how pretty a space is if it doesn’t function for your lifestyle.

Home Remodel Planning Fresh Space Redesign

This next part is going to take some time and is where the greatest benefit of hiring a designer for a home renovation project kicks in! Now that you know who is using the space and why a design plan will need to be developed.

A good plan will contain:

  • updates to your existing layout
  • a list of finishes
  • the contact information for any tradespeople you plan to work with

This is the part where the budget gets flushed out and a timeline can be put in place. If you have the time you can visit local supplier showrooms and meet with a variety of product specialists to determine which materials will be used in your space. Most kitchen remodels include cabinetry, countertops, appliances, lighting, plumbing, flooring, and accessories. When clients retain my service for a project, I make the rounds to a variety of showrooms and select products and finishes that work best for their design plan. The time saved by this approach is significant and oftentimes the convenience of having a paired down set of samples to look at can be a relief. If you have ever had option overload you know why I say this.

Jennifer Opatz Interior Designer Fresh Space Redesign

The last phase of your renovation is construction. After years of waiting, your wish is coming true! This is when the test of being displaced from your home for a remodel begins. It can either be a pleasant experience or one of dread. Honestly, which one it will be for you is much more determined more by how much planning was put into place rather than each person’s ability to deal with stressful situations.

The design plan you’ve worked on up until this point is your roadmap for the construction. The more details in the plan the better off you will be. Surprises will come up in every remodel because there is only so much anyone can know about a space before the existing materials are removed. The condition of underlayment, plumbing pipes, and electrical connections will be reviewed as the project moves along. A good rule of thumb with any project is to set aside an additional 10% of funds for unexpected finds. This goes for time too. Let’s say that when your existing dishwasher is removed damage to your walls is discovered. The cause was most likely a small leak that was just slow enough to go undetected for quite some time. You know you’ll need some additional funds to pay for repair materials, but you most likely need a bit more time too. If you have hired a designer for your project, you will have an ally on your side to coordinate the ins and outs of the construction phase.

Having the opportunity to see a project from inception to completion is by far one of the most gratifying parts of my job. If you find yourself considering a remodel in the near future I recommend reaching out and seeing if hiring an Interior Designer would be a good fit for you.  Between hourly consultations and full project design services chances are your remodeling dreams are about to come true.


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