Renovation is a popular idea these days whether the day dreaming version while watching HGTV or living the dream and updating your own home or business. If you haven’t done it, be warned, it brings out the best and the worst in people.
After a little backstory, I’ll let you in on a few things that we were never told about renovation but have since learned.
We purchased a 1955 house three years ago. This came after a 12-year process of renovating a 1912 home. We were young, childless when we bought it and did the work ourselves (with help from friends). It was a learning process from the beginning. We wanted to hold on to the character of the house, like the dark woodwork, stained glass and claw foot tub. The largest part of that remodel was the kitchen…of course, we’re both chefs. We had just completed it when we admitted to ourselves that having two adults, two babies, two cats and two big dogs in the home was becoming too difficult. We sold it and bought our 1954 home.
The new house had the space, the Mid-Century vibe and was architect built, which showed in every nuance, design choice and layout. We found out through some digging that the house was designed by John Polivka. As you may well know, that is a huge name in architecture so when we decided to renovate the kitchen (chefs, remember?) we hired a firm to help us to ensure that the design met Polivka’s standards and cuddled right into the existing floor plan. In this we had no choice. The exterior of the home is stone and floor to ceiling windows in most rooms.
We lived in the house, as I said, for three years deciding on what could be done. We consulted with three firms on the renovation before we selected one and we began the process last August. We began demo at the beginning of February. In mid-March we were here.
As we near the end of April we now can see our design choices...
Things we know at this point:
- Have a design or elements of your design prepared for your meeting with your chosen designer. We used Houzz. It’s a perfect way to create a folder for all the macro and micro details that tickle your fancy. Philip had his folder and I had mine for a few weeks then we compared them to see what overlapped to enable compromise. This info can all be shared with your designers.
- Choose your firm carefully, do your homework on their design galleries, pricing, reviews and don’t feel that you must stick with this company if they don’t feel right for you. Consider it an interview.
- Be clear with your expectations and especially your dislikes. Once you get to a place where they start drawing up real plans you will have to give them a deposit for their time and it is better when they understand your needs and wants.
- Be clear with your budget. Just like in the television shows, problems will pop up and if you are already at the top of your budget where will that money come from? We opted to save some money by doing the demo and painting ourselves. Tell them this AFTER you get the bid.
- Ready yourself for making decisions/choices daily. Make sure you and your spouse/partner are on the same page. Our firm has us each sign off on change order separately to ensure we both know what is on the table.
- This will not be a 6 or 7 week process, most likely (unlike TV). Your stuff has to go somewhere. If you are going to store it, ensure that is part of your budget. This is also a great time to purge the unnecessary items you have accumulated. Where are you going to make dinner? What equipment will you use? Where will you do your dishes/laundry/sleep until the renovation is complete? We set up a make shift kitchen in our basement where there is an existing bar. We have a butane burner and a toaster oven to do all our cooking. Luckily, we own a restaurant where we can do all our dishes.
- Prepare your family for chaos. We prepared our children, but how do you prepare your animals? That was one thing we overlooked. Our two dogs have suffered more than we expected. Even though they are both adults, their potty training has regressed. We kennel them in our room so workers can come in and out freely. This has eased their stress but our room smells of dog and is always fluffy with fur.
- If you are an organizer, be prepared to be….uncomfortable. You will not be able to find everything, know where items are all the time, put things away as you like. Everything will take a longer, but you will adapt.
- The changes may take place slowly, but revel in the progress as it happens. This should be exciting and FUN!
- Watch when you can to learn. Ask questions if something doesn’t seem right. Bring up issues as they arise and document them with photos and correspondence. A good company wants to make you happy.
Our schedule says that we will have a kitchen in May. I will update the blog with photos as the checklist grows smaller. One day at a time, one day at a time…