I recently wrote about my kitchen renovation for Home Cents, detailing how I managed to keep my budget under $25,000 while still ending up with a functional and beautiful room.
There were a lot of comments (thanks for those, by the way) - some people thought I'd paid too much, some thought I'd paid too little. But there did seem to be a consensus that the post demanded some photographic evidence. So, due to popular demand, of my kitchen renovation. And please note: I took them myself, so excuse my not-quite-awesome camera skills.
Although I'm enormously pleased with how the renovation turned out, I certainly wouldn't say the project was free of mistakes. In fact, there are some small things I might do differently if I had to do it all again (you may spot a couple of those in the photos, in fact).
So how can you avoid renovation missteps before they happen? HGTV has put together a useful collection of the 25 Biggest Renovating Mistakes. It's quite a comprehensive list, but here's a sampling of some of the factors I could relate to:
Gutting Everything It can be tempting to want to just tear everything out - including the walls - and start from scratch. But that is where the additional costs can come creeping in. My contractor wisely elected to take a look inside the wall we were going to take down before totally ripping it out. Once we found out that tearing the wall would add challenges and money to the job, we changed the plan and kept the wall.
"I see this time and time again where people just start, and they think they're going to pull a piece of wallpaper off, and by the time the process is over, they've completely gotten themselves into a deep, dark hole that's very difficult to get out of," says Mr. Eric Stromer, host of home reno show Over Your Head.
Inaccurate Measurements I measured once, twice, three times and then again before ordering cabinets. My contractor was also meticulous with his measurements, but I could see how things could go quickly off the rails is someone was sloppy or rushed.
When dealing with countertops, always choose a company that will come and do the measuring for you, preferably using a cardboard template. That way, the onus is on them to ensure it fits correctly. That also allows you can take a look at the template and make sure you're getting the shape you want. When you're talking about a slab of stone worth thousands of dollars, you don't want to take any chances.
Going Too Trendy "People often make the mistake of wanting to be too hip and trendy in their new home by picking the latest, hottest, coolest things," says Ms. Carmen De La Paz of HGTV show Hammer Heads. "What they don't take into consideration is that trendy means that it's short term."
Five years ago I had my heart set on aqua-coloured glass tile for my kitchen backsplash. Sure, it would have looked good for a couple of years, but take it from someone who really loved her royal blue and bright yellow kitchen when she painted it 11 years ago – your taste will change. Unless you've got the extra cash to redo your kitchen, the best thing to do is keep it classic and simple. I think our choices will stand the test of time, but you can be the judge of that.
Ignoring Lighting Hammer Heads carpenter Ms. De La Paz put it this way: "Another mistake that homeowners will often make is not taking into consideration the lighting in their home. The lighting in your home can completely change the colors, the feeling, the ambiance."
In other words, ignore lighting at your peril. When I first planned our new kitchen, I completely forgot about lighting. Our old kitchen had one overhead lamp that cast a lot of shadows. Thanks to our contractor's suggestions, we've got a number of pot lights on a dimmer plus under-cabinet lighting, and the difference is vast.
Failure to Anticipate Chaos
Now that it's over, I can look back on our renovation experience and think, "It was a piece of cake." But around week three, our kitchen was an utter mess. For readers that wondered why my family and I spent $2,200 to rent a condo instead of sticking it out at home – that place was a dust pit. Moving out was essential for our sanity and our health - drywall dust is not good for anyone.
Your reno might go smooth as molasses, but just in case, it's a good idea to assume it will be dustier, messier and more annoyingly inconvenient than you ever could have imagined.