Top 10 List for Staying Sane during Remodeling and Home Improvements

Ok, let’s talk remodeling, home improvements, DIY fix ups, HGTV inspirations, and all forms of re-imagining the spaces that you live in and call home! Especially after the coronavirus pandemic forced most of us to stay home a lot more than usual, I know that so many of you have also spent time thinking (fantasizing?) about how to maximize your usable room, re-define living areas, add tranquility, upgrade your outdoor living space, and more. Let’s talk about all of it! This is the first post of an upcoming series where I will share pictures and project-specific stories from my past experiences.

I will confess, remodeling is a bug and passion that hit me a long time ago, well before 2020. As a child, my parents were both hands-on participants in working on home improvements and remodels, exposing it all to my sister and I along the way. This has given me a lifelong appreciation for the art of remodeling, and a solid understanding of how a house works. As an adult, it feels like I have been involved in remodels and home improvement projects constantly – at least whenever the spare time and money allows, or when other forces forcibly intervene…

What is the most important thing I’ve learned about home remodeling?

Considering all the home improvement projects I’ve helped with or taken on myself, I think I can come up with a top 10 list of recommendations and tips from the top of my head. [Edit: Yes, I can! Also it turns out that most of my advice seems to have to do with paint, which is great because that’s probably the most widely used tool in any home improvement DIYer’s toolbox!]

10. If you are working with a contractor, or your spouse, have a clear alignment when it comes to the end results that you visualize. Share pictures, build a Pinterest board, PowerPoint presentation, whiteboard it – whatever it takes! This may actually be a candidate for #1, but I’ll leave it here.

9. If you are cutting into drywall, tiles, grinding, sawing, or otherwise causing lots of dust, cover your heating/cooling system’s return vents or turn off your system, to prevent dust from blowing out into every other room and closet. Because more cleaning isn’t fun, right?

8. If you’re painting and think it won’t drip and there’s no need to cover anything up – it will drip. And you’ll probably spend more time cleaning it up than it would have taken to cover and prep the area originally.

7. As fellow HGTV devotees would know too, expect the unexpected. On most projects, budget for 10-20% more than you think it will cost, and more time than you think it will take. This is also akin to my dad’s adage that a home improvement isn’t really a project unless it takes 3 or more trips to the store to get everything you need to finish the project!

6. Know where your water shutoff valves are inside to your sinks and toilets, and where your main water line shut off valve is. Turn the water flow off before removing any faucets! For the water main in particular, know how to turn it off and on again. Channel lock pliers are most useful for this if you don’t have a key tool specifically for turning your water main’s valve handle.

5. If you have pets or kids, have a plan for how to keep them safely outside of work areas – and away from wet paint! My dogs have ended up with temporary stripes more than once from getting too close to wet paint while sniffing around the work area.

4. A coat of white ceiling paint really won’t completely cover water stains or other dark marks on your white ceilings, and it won’t cover evenly over unsealed drywall repairs. I find it’s well worth my time and money to prime, and then paint. Don’t hesitate to use a gray-based primer if you’re painting a dark color over it, it will add more richness and depth immediately to your first coat!

3. I also love the new latex paint + primer all-in-ones on the market now, although paint pros may disagree. While they are definitely a premium price, it saves me time and paint since I need fewer coats to finish a wall. Tip: still use a base primer, such as Kilz, to seal and cover over any stains or wood knots before painting with your more expensive paint.

2. Do you prefer the features of an oil-based paint for your baseboards, crown moulding, doors, and other interior trim? Consider a waterborne alkyd paint instead. It’s the best of both worlds – smooth finish and hardness like an oil-based paint, and easy application and clean up of a latex paint.

1. Be patient with the process. Ultimately you are going to have more enjoyment or return from your space, even it takes a little more than expected to get there!

Last but not least, don’t save all your great ideas for making the space better for the next residents! While I endorse investing in certain home improvements before listing your home for sale in order to maximize your offer prices, from personal experience I also wholeheartedly encourage you to make home improvements for yourself to enjoy for years to come. Happy improving!

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