I am one of those rare people who get excited about a renovation. I know that it’s messy. I know that life will feel displaced. I know that fighting with your spouse over things you never thought would come between you (like grout color for the mudroom floor) is inevitable. But somehow, I still look forward to it! If you don’t feel the same way that I do, know that you are not alone! Renovations can be very stressful. There are a lot of to be made in a short time, a lot of money is being spent in a short time and if you aren’t the type of person who can visualize the end result, you’re putting a lot of faith in your professional team. How many of my clients do you think have the same taste and decor vision as their spouses? I can tell you that it is very few! They say that opposites attract, and I can attest to that!
In many ways, it’s a great time to be a home owner in the beginning stages of a renovation because you have so many resources at your fingertips. You can flip through picture after picture, each one giving you a different idea, inspiration and dream list. But that has its downside too. There are SO many options out there that it’s hard to narrow down what is and isn’t worth the investment.
My number 1 upgrade that I always think is the right choice is granite or stone countertops in your bathrooms and kitchen.
Stone brings the luxury level up a notch. It’s so nice to look at and adds a lot of texture to your room. And, if you choose a non-porous one like granite or Quartz, it is very easy to maintain. It is more expensive than laminated counters, but it’s worth every penny. If you’re also considering the resale value of your home, stone counters go a long way.
Heated floors in your bathrooms and kitchen are also an incredible addition.
Although this isn’t as expensive as you may think, it does add up. Electric radiant-floor heating systems are easy and affordable to install, but can be more expensive to operate. If you’re budget conscious and don’t want to invest in heating your whole kitchen, I highly recommend it for your bathroom. I can’t think of anything better than waking up on a cold winter morning and stepping onto a warm bathroom floor. Materials like ceramic tile, stone, or concrete, conduct, transfer, and hold heat effectively so they are the best matches for radiant heating. It can be done with solid wood floors as well, but wood expands and shrinks with the rise and drop of temperature so make sure that you have an experienced wood-floor installer who will be able to manage potential shrinkage if you choose to go that route.
My clients often tease me that I have this thing with crown mouldings! Also called Ogees, they are an often-overlooked detail that I think have a huge impact on a room.
The feel of your room will often be translated by the style of your crowns. A more modern space will have more square and clean lined ogees, whereas a more traditional space will be more ornate. The bulk of your cost isn’t the material but rather in the installation. There’s a lot of cutting and measuring involved as well as making sure that everything is level. Since most ceilings aren’t 100% straight, it can be time consuming to do them properly. With that in mind, I will often use MDF vs wood or plaster. In the old days, they were always done in plaster and were considered pieces of art. Plaster is rarely seen now because it’s very expensive (but stunning!). Wood can be almost twice the price as MDF, but when it’s painted and on your wall, you will never know the difference. Whichever form you choose to do them in, just make sure you do them! Tip: Try to make sure all of your crowns are the same. It will present more cohesively. If you cant match exactly, make sure all your open spaces are the same and never have 2 types meeting up against each other. Also, don’t forget your bathrooms – especially powder rooms since they’re often on the main floor.
Lastly, always try your paint colors before you commit to them.
You can buy small sample bottles at any hardware store and generously paint it on a white Bristol board. The great thing about a Bristol board is that you can walk it throughout the house, tape it on different walls and see how it will look at different times of day, in different light etc.
Most importantly, take a deep breath and remember that this is a very finite amount of time! At the end of it all, you’ll be living in a beautifully renovated and decorated space!