The One With The Renovations

Post Demo: Kitchen/Dining
After: Kitchen/Dining
What a whirlwind of happenings lately since my last post.. shew! 

Our home renovations are almost complete. There is a dwindling list of items that needs to be done, but we're in pretty good shape for the most part.  It's pretty remarkable how far this house has come. Let me tell you... white pant is MAGIC and can change your life. Well it did mine, because color is the devil. This house had a lot of wood paneling. A lot a lot. It was plentiful and smacked you in the face when you walked in. At first, we discussed covering it all with drywall. After some time, I thought maybe painting the wood paneling white would keep some of the character of the house, and save on some $. It truly did, on both accounts. I'm very happy with this decision. I love our white paneling. It's precious. 

Renovations are tricky and stressful. But living through renovations was absolutely unnerving. We made the hard decision to move out of our Downtown Decatur condo and move in our before the house was finished and holy crap holy crap. Not for the faint of heart. And, if you're thinking it was the noise and the in and out of crews that bothered us -- nope. That was welcomed noise. It was when there was a lack of workers. It was the silence. And, trying to answer to Jimmy why workers weren't here.  It was difficult for me/us to understand that ours wasn't the only house being worked on. Took me longer than it should have to grasp how it all worked.  Didn't make it easier, but at least I was starting to figure out the how and why. 

Although, if they told me "there's a lot of moving parts" as an explanation to delays one more time, I probably would have vomited.   

Even still, my builders were extremely even-tempered and responded to nearly all of my meltdowns and millions of questions along the way.  Probably super dumb questions. I mean, they definitely were dumb questions. Our Project Manager would call to ask me about my preference on things.  I think my answers were one of more of the following: 1) I don't know what that means 2) I don't know what that is 3) Why are you asking me this? 4) This is so exciting! 

The hand-holding abilities of these guys was spot on. I had zero clue what I was doing. Seems like it wasn't their first time dealing with a first-timer.  

And honestly, along the way, I had pretty decent people guiding me. I had a ton of decisions to make, and a million things to pick out. My house doesn't suck by any means. I think it all sorted out nicely. There are a few things I'd do differently, having had to do it over, but not many at all. 

What tips would I pass along from my journey?

1) Knowledge, research and bargain hunting is power:

At the beginning, I knew NOTHING other than the loads and loads of information that people were pouring on me all at once; friends and family and anyone who had recently renovated. They were giving me all of the tips from all of their experiences. All appreciated but couldn't obtain it all that quickly. But the key is knowing who to reach out to and when. 

Here's an example: the lady at the fancy bath and kitchen place was really trying too push me on a $5K tub. That's right, $5K. For one tub. It was pretty amazing, I will admit. Had she had it filled and allowed me some singular soak time in it, I might be telling a different story. But she could tell I loved it, so she kept trying. On the inside, I was saying "uhm, DUH. I'm never going to be getting this tub, but you do your thing lady and I'm going nod my head and smile and make you think I might actually buy this." I ended doing a lot of research, and reached out to a friend who likes to bargain hunt and found that an acrylic soaker tub from Wayfair would do me just fine. So so much cheaper.  Like, marriage-saving, cheaper.

2) Knowing when to cut corners:

We chose to scale down the scope of work for the cabinet maker. The designer used ALL of our space and drew cabinets to fill it. Cabinet guy's work, I knew, would be super quality. But, we decided against a extravagant and extensive design (drawn with resell in mind, I'm sure) in the master.  I came in with an all-or-none mentality and when I freaked out upon the estimate, my contractor talked it out with me and suggested we simplify the designs a bit. In the end, we went with: 1) a way more basic design in the master built by the cabinet guy.  2) A Home Depot vanity for Spencer's bathroom (not as good quality, as many would warn me) and it's F I N E.  3) An old pedestal sink for Jimmy/nurses bathroom and did some make-shift cabinetry for the nurse's utility area all with updated plumbing and hardware 4) And decided against a front door mud area altogether and opted for fireplace built-ins instead. 
master bath cabinets
3) Being okay with imperfections:

This one, a lot of people will not agree with. Renovations are sooooo expensive. I get it. But, at some point, it's humans, not machines working on your house. Unless they jack some shit up, I'm gonna be okay with some little things here and there. Some folks are not okay with these things and need complete perfection. For me, it's about choosing battles and how long I want all this to go on. Again, I'm probably in the minority on this opinion. But whatevs! If I can't live with something, I'll speak up. 

4) Knowing when to use a designer:

I didn't think I would need a designer. I was up for the challenge. EYEROLL. I needed a designer.  She was not cheap and, yet, worth every penny. 

A designer gives you options beyond what you can imagine in your own little cute head. And also, this is what they do. They've dealt with a lot of weird little spaces. 

I would never have known where and how to stack cabinets in my kitchen, where to place can lights throughout the house, island features that were good for our needs, ideas on how where to take down walls and do it where it truly makes sense, etc.  She helped me a little with paint colors, and came stacked with white and grey samples because she gets me. 

5) Enjoy it:

Getting to pick stuff out is fun! New things are fun! You're not throwing your hard-earned money down the nice, shiny new drain. You get new fun things out of it! 

We got a better smelling (newish!) house. A lighter, brighter house. We got accessible features which were a must. We got a more affordable electric bill. We got a house with good bones in a good area that we made our own. 

It wasn't a complete waste of dollars.  You get stuff!

6) And finally, Jimmy's advice on renovations? 

Drumroll...  don't do renovations. 


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