Wouldn’t You Love to Avoid These 10 Remodeling Mistakes?

Note: We are JUST embarking on a major remodeling project. Over the next few months (and I really hope it’s not that long!) I’ll be sharing photos, videos, and stories about how it goes. I’d love to have you follow along! All of the stories will be in the “Makeover Mondays” topic on coachdawne.com. Enjoy!

Three Things to Know as We Get Started
  1. I’ve been dreaming about this project for years, and I’ve got ideas saved all over the place – in Pinterest, Houzz, computer files, emails, and an actual binder where I’ve been collecting images of “stuff I like” forever.
  2. I’ve made the ten mistakes below before we even start. I’m somewhat confident that by the end of this project, I’ll have a new post, one titled “Wouldn’t You Love to Avoid these 99 Remodeling Mistakes?”
  3. Until this post, my YouTube channel contained exactly zero videos. You’ll find links to the post videos below. Clearly I’m new at videos, so be kind!
In the beginning…

I’ve always fancied myself a somewhat creative type, and I’ve had some fabulous design ideas along with some hideous failures. One of my better ideas is pictured above. This is peel-and-stick tile; it was inexpensive, goes right over your existing tile, and took us about three hours on a Saturday evening. It’s also just about the only project I’ve ever done that cost as much, and took as long, as we expected. Drop me a note if you’d like to see the “before”!

Overall, I’ve gotten pretty good and knowing instinctively what will work and what won’t. We bought our current home, a delightful two-story condo near the beach, in 2010. I knew that the kitchen would eventually have to be redone (it was as old as the condo, built in the early 1980s) and the floors – oh, the floors! Yes, everyone has unique taste, but still. The kitchen cabinets were the most in need of a refresh. I asked a contractor friend to take a look to see if we could replace just the door and drawer fronts (in other words, reface them). “Haha!” he laughed. “The underlying boxes are in such bad shape, they would just collapse.”

On to Plan B! It’s amazing what a little Con-Tact paper will do. I might be their biggest fan.

Fast forward to now

The cabinets, dressed up though they might be in their festive Con-Tact paper, have about had it. I’m waiting for the day when one of them just commits suicide and flings itself off the wall. And I’d rather be ahead of that, thank you very much. The issue (and this is good or bad, depending on whether you’re me or my awesome husband, Gene) is that we want to change the kitchen layout, which requires updating the flooring at the same time. It’s exciting (me) or terrifying (Gene).

The first ten mistakes – and what to do instead
  1. Remember those “vision” collections I mentioned earlier? The styles are so varied you’d think that these belonged to someone suffering from multiple personalities. They’re a random mix of modern/contemporary/mid-century modern/futuristic styles; they’re all over the place. So the first thing to do is narrow down your style. Not only will this save you from hours of fruitless internet searching, but it will help you find what you want within the style much more quickly.
  2. Don’t underestimate the cost. You may wonder how I already made this mistake since we haven’t even started. Trust me, I did. My imagined budget went out the window the first day our contractor arrived. My advice: Whatever you think it will cost, add 50%. That way, you *might* even be in for a pleasant surprise.
  3. Don’t trust yourself. Really, just don’t. Unless you’re an experienced professional – and maybe especially if you’re an experienced professional – get a few other opinions from people whose styles you love. The ideas I thought were fabulous don’t bear repeating.
  4. No, you cannot have eight different colors in your color palette. I’m talking here about cabinetry/flooring/etc., not soft goods like throw pillows. Personally, I love all.the.colors. But that doesn’t mean that I can have them all in the same room. I’m not exaggerating – I honestly thought about a blue fridge, a white floor (idiot), yellow walls, and cabinets in four different colors – orange, pink, turquoise, and green. It looks great in my head, which is exactly where it needs to stay. Even once I controlled myself, I wasn’t close. We have a neighbor who’s an interior designer with a beautiful home, who I thought would be a great person to show my floor choices to. I was so proud of myself for having narrowed it down to four (you can see them in the video link below). She came in and her eyes immediately widened. “Oh, my!” she said. “When you said you’d narrowed it down, I thought you meant to four similar things. These are…all very different.” Choose one or two (maybe three but no more) colors and/or styles that you love, and stop looking at everything else. Your sanity will thank you.
  5. Don’t underestimate the importance of your flooring color. Incredibly, I didn’t realize this until our contractor mentioned it. I don’t know what I was thinking. In #4, I mention a white floor (see #6), but that was really an afterthought, a backdrop to my Kitchen Kaleidoscope. This lasted until he told me that I had to choose the floor first. Duh! It’s obviously the biggest surface area in the house, and the one that will set the tone, so to speak, for what else we do. It’s also, obviously, the hardest thing to change if you hate it. We’re going with luxury vinyl tile (LVT), which I’ve lusted after forever, but we haven’t yet chosen the exact one, although we’re down to two choices from, like, 28 (see #3 and #4). One thing I knew was that I didn’t want ceramic tile; we’ve lived with it for years in several homes, and while it’s certainly hardy, in my experience nothing falls onto ceramic tile and doesn’t break. N-o-t-h-i-n-g. I also want low-maintenance floors – actually, I want no-maintenance floors, and LVT is perfect if you’re uninterested in maintenance. And trust me, you might think you’ll maintain your flooring, but unless you really love self-torture, you won’t stick to any sort of recommended maintenance schedule. Choose your floors first, and choose wisely.
  6. Do not get a white floor. Do not get a white floor. Do not get a white floor. We had a white ceramic tile (see #5) floor in our first house, and it was like living in a giant shower. Also, it looks nice for about five minutes after you clean it, if you’re lucky. I was almost tricked (by myself) into getting a white floor (again!) until my adult daughter brought me to my senses. Choose a floor that will look nice for at least three hours after cleaning (anything beyond that is probably unrealistic).
  7. Do not underestimate how long this is going to take. At this point, I have no idea how long this is going to take, but I can tell you this: choosing the floor (which is still not done!) has, so far, taken a month. Take the standard “how long does it take to…” and add 50%.
  8. Don’t ignore the crap priceless treasures you’ve got stashed all over the house that you want to store in your gorgeous new kitchen. We’re hoarders inveterate collectors, and I’ve envisioned these finally coming out of their current hiding places and being shown off proudly in our new space. Because they’re currently all over the house (we have entire sets of dishes and silverware in the bedroom closet), I had no idea how much of it we had. Before you finalize your plans, unearth all the stuff you’ve got stashed all over the place (including your storage unit – I know you have one – if you can even find the key) and take a good, hard look at it, vis-à-vis your new layout. If it’s not going to fit, either change the plan before it’s too late or get ruthless and purge. At the moment, I’ve got two days left to do this. I’m not optimistic.
  9. Don’t count on anything being available when you need it. I was so excited to find what looked (on my screen, anyway) like the perfect kitchen countertop. I checked that off the list and ordered a sample. Current expected delivery date of the sample: six months. Be sure that whatever it is you want, you’ll actually be able to get enough of it when you need it.
  10. Be patient! OK, I’ll admit. I have no idea what that even means. At this point, I’m still in the starry-eyed dreamland of “this will all go perfectly and cost LESS than we expected!” because, just like many of you, I can’t help it. Because if I had to really face what this experience is probably going to be like, I’d be more like my husband, head buried in the sand, confident that those kitchen cabinets will last another 100 years.

Here’s a video of our kitchen in its current state

And here’s a video of my four “narrowed down” (not) flooring choices

Stay tuned!⧉

What about you? If you’ve got remodeling mistakes – or triumphs – to share – let me know in the comments!

If you’re just starting the series and would like to binge-read and get caught up on Makeover Mondays, here’s the series:
Week 2: 23 Questions for Your Contractor
Week 3: The Countertop Contenders
Week 4: How Many Flooring Choices Can There Be?

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4 thoughts on “Wouldn’t You Love to Avoid These 10 Remodeling Mistakes?”

  1. Exciting! You’ve got 10 good points here. Its good to be realistic. Plan, plan, plan… Best wishes on the project, you’ve got this! I’ll be watching it develop.

  2. Hi David, thanks! And I haven’t watched too many of the TV ones recently, but I’ve been collecting pins/photos/sites magazine clippings for almost as long as we’ve owned our home (almost nine years). My husband’s nerves are already shattered. Haha!

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