Home Design

12 Top Tips for Renovating Your Home

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Whether you just purchased a fixer-upper or are looking to sell your home, renovation is a project that can get a little overwhelming for a first-timer. Check out this guide to help you avoid some common mistakes and make the best decisions for renovating your space.


  • Set up a game plan

Take your time to get a feel of your home and the natural flow of things. Which rooms get the most natural light, and which ones get the least? Which parts of the house get the most or least traffic? How convenient is the current location of your mudroom? Be sure to get a sense of what kind of changes will optimize the functionality of your rooms before you start working on anything. Consider hiring a designer if that is in your budget. A good designer can help you with ideas you haven’t even considered yet and can help smooth out the planning process by providing valuable professional advice. Be sure to communicate effectively with your designer and any other professionals you hire, so that your vision can be executed appropriately.


  • Work with a budget


Create a budget and stick to it to avoid running out of resources before you can finish your project. Compromising on style elements towards the end in order to save money will all but destroy your overall theme and turn a once sophisticated concept into a shabby pile of last-minute decisions. Try to add 20% to what you think might be your total costs and use that as your overall budget. Also, allocate at least 10% of your budget to unexpected expenses. Especially when renovating older homes, you need to be prepared to face some unforeseen challenges. You never know what might be lurking behind those walls you’re planning on breaking down.


  • Know your timeline


Work with your contractor to map out how long each subsection of your project is going to take and create a start and end date with some allowance to accommodate delays. When creating your timeline, take into consideration how long it will take to ship certain materials and prepare an area for renovation. Without a timeline, you risk allowing a renovation project to drag on for ages and eat up your finances along the way.


  • Pay attention to curb appeal


Especially when preparing to sell a home, you need to pay close attention to the first impression your home gives to visitors. Potential buyers will obviously notice things like an unkempt lawn or dirty walls, so you’ll definitely have to make sure your yard is well-manicured, and you have a fresh coat of paint on your walls when you’re ready to list your home. But other elements such as cracked driveways, unsightly trench drain systems, and uneven eaves can cause your curb appeal to plummet and lose you good business. Address such a problem to ensure that you’ve put your best foot forward for a successful sale.


  • Consider an open concept floor plan


Open spaces are an increasingly popular way to modernize your home and make it more livable. Having a seamless flow from your living room to the kitchen and dining area adds immense value to your home. It also makes it easier to socialize with family and guests in a large, welcoming, and multi-purpose space.


  • Careful with the kitchen


The kitchen can be one of the most labor-intensive and expensive parts of the home to renovate. So, take the time to plan to the last detail. What material would be best for your backsplash? Will it clash with your theme? Would you benefit from a kitchen extension? There is so much to consider when renovating a kitchen. Make sure that your choices are aligned with your budget so that you don’t end up going overboard with last-minute additions. Also, consider setting up a temporary kitchen with a microwave and refrigerator to take care of the inconvenience of having a kitchen under construction.


  • Save up!


If you’re working with a tight budget, try to save money wherever you can without compromising on the quality of the job done. Consider paying for the renovation in cash to save on interest you would have to pay if you take out a loan or use a credit card. A loan might make more sense if you’re renovating to sell since you will be more likely to pay off the loan quickly after the sale. Otherwise, you’ll save a significant amount of money by using financial resources that are already available to you. If you’re unable to afford your project now, it may be prudent to wait and save up for the renovation before you even begin.


  • Aim for bigger rooms


This does not have to mean blowing out walls and constructing entire extensions. There are other simpler ways to make a room appear larger than it is. Hanging mirrors is a popular hack for creating the illusion of a larger space and also has the added benefit of spreading natural light more evenly across a room. Also, using very light colors together with very dark colors creates contrast in a room and gives it more depth. Be sure to paint the ceilings a couple of shades lighter than the walls to make your ceilings look higher. Another way to make your ceiling seem higher is to hang floor-to-ceiling curtains. Hidden storage spaces are also excellent for getting rid of clutter and can help you free up square footage in your home.


  • Watch where you step


Flooring is a big part of your home design concept. These days, wall-to-wall carpeting is considered a no-no because it is more difficult to clean and will easily accumulate dirt and dander. Consider ditching the carpet all-together and instead refinish the flooring underneath. Wood flooring is an excellent touch, especially in open-concept designs. However, try to opt for tiles or luxurious vinyl flooring in areas of the home that are more prone to moisture, such as basements, kitchens, and bathrooms. Hardwood floors are a terrible idea in areas where they are likely to get wet often.


  • Pay attention to lighting


When renovating your home, aim to get as much natural light into the house as you can. Natural light helps to make your space feel more open and welcoming. It can also do wonders for your mood and improve your sleep. It also boosts your overall health by warding off seasonal depression and providing you with a good dose of vitamin D. There are several ways to invite more sunshine into your home such as installing larger, south-facing windows, getting skylights, using lighter window treatments and trimming back trees and hedges around glass windows and doors. Patio doors, such as the bifold variety, are a great way to incorporate an entire wall of light into your space. Lastly, make sure your artificial light complements the natural light in your home. Avoid brilliant white light, which can make a space seem cold and clinical, and rather opt for warmer light sources such as warm, white light-emitting diode(LED) bulbs.


  • Avoid common DIY mistakes


If you’re determined to take on certain aspects of the remodeling project by yourself, be sure to do your research to avoid some common mistakes. It doesn’t hurt to also ask for advice or help from friends, family, or neighbors who have recently completed a remodeling job themselves. They may be able to give you some great insights about specific brands for materials, paint, and décor pieces. Also, be sure to know your measurements, document them, and keep them with you at all times. You never know when you will come across an excellent piece of furniture only to realize you cannot fit it through your door. YouTube can be a great resource for DIY enthusiasts,  so take your time to learn new skills using the numerous tutorial videos available. Be careful about respecting your limits, though. Jobs such as plumbing, electrical wiring, and installing load-bearing beams should be left to licensed professionals.


  • Be more eco-friendly


Making changes to your home that make it more energy-efficient will not only reduce your carbon footprint but will also save you significant amounts of money otherwise spent on utility bills. So, replace old, rundown appliances such as dishwashers and refrigerators, which waste huge amounts of energy. Also, search for brands with an Energy Star label to ensure that your replacements are more forgiving to your electricity bill. Seal gaps and cracks in your windows, and insulate your attic to cut down on heating and cooling costs as well. If you still have incandescent light bulbs, consider replacing them with compact fluorescent lamps(CFLs), Halogen bulbs, or LED bulbs, which last longer and are more efficient. 

Your home renovation project does not have to be a nightmare. Make informed decisions about what you want by planning ahead and getting the right help when necessary. Do this and avoid wasting your time and money on a project that will leave you unsatisfied and several dollars short.




Maudie Banta is a fashion and lifestyle blogger in Columbus. She is building her brand by sharing her philosophy on looking good while saving money and closet space. She has worked for various magazines in Los Angeles and Ohio styling and writing and is an associate writer for IL Moda PR. Follow her on Instagram: @MaudieLloyd or Twitter, or see her website for more information

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