We were in and out of Home Depot in 23 minutes. “Itâ€™s not my first rodeo,” I joked as I pushed the stroller out the exit. My husband and subcontractor were pushing my tile, backsplash and grout selections through the checkout isle. Trips like these with one-or sometimes all three-kids in tow are actually pretty fun, though they werenâ€™t always. Kicking off our sixth fixer upper in eight years of marriage, here are a few things I keep in mind.
Visualize where you want to be. Our current project is a rustic, wood
-paneled, 1940s home. Just say the word “rustic” and think about what pops into your head. I canâ€™t tell you how many times (I think) Iâ€™m describing something perfectly to a sub or my own husband only to find out the hard way we are not on the same page. Houzz is biblical to me. I reference it daily for ideas and products. I also take pictures of my space and upload them to the app, so everything is in one space. When at the store picking out kitchen decor, thereâ€™s no second guessing the cabinet colors or how high the backsplash should be above the stove.
Go slow but set limits. When we gutted our ski condo in western New York, I thoughtfully created an ideaboard of what I wanted (this was pre-Houzz). Then I bought samples-too many to count. While itâ€™s important to take your time and pick what you like, I limit myself to four. Four tile samples, four backsplashes, four different grays for the wall. Iâ€™ve watched friends become paralyzed over their selections, forcing their contractor to stop dead in his/her tracks.
Pick a focal point. This will actually save you some money. For
our current reno, my granite guy had a high level stone that a customer ordered and never used. Itâ€™s killer, and will also be the first thing people notice when they walk into the kitchen. The floor tile, backsplash and grout all complement the granite. I donâ€™t need to spend a pretty penny on everything thatâ€™s going into the same room.
Respect your roots. This is not a first-time build, so we have to work within certain parameters. The farmhouse has an iron staircase, dark wood floors and mahogany walls. While I love balancing modern with rustic, this home has more of a warm, cabin feel. Since we are starting with the kitchen, I chose light, textured tile as a nod to the worn-in theme. The backsplash is masculine but reflective to bring in more light.
Learn some new tricks. Nick youtube-taught himself how to install sinks, toilets and even a skylight several projects ago. My friend Jessica rented a sander and refinished her floors while her husband was serving overseas. While not a trick, ripping out your own countertops or flooring can save you hundreds. Bonus: all the smashing, pulling and ripping will actually relieve some stress.
Leave it to the experts. My husband shocked himself once installing a light in a century home, so he always brings in an electrician. Since this home is old and will eventually become a rental, Jack (weâ€™ve been on a first-name basis since reno three) will ensure all fixtures are safe. Matt, our floor subcontractor, helped me pick out a quality, cost-effective porcelain tile. These guys have mastered their trade over the years, so despite how much I love a fixture or sample I always trust their judgement.
We arenâ€™t Chip and Joanna Gaines just yet, but weâ€™ve leaned enough to tackle these projects with gusto. Nick is a financial guy and Iâ€™m in the creative field which balances quite well when we divide and conquer the to-do list. Though building that trust took a great deal of fine-tuning (and beer). Fingers crossed this helps some other renovators breathe a little easier and share whatâ€™s kept them sane along the way.