How to Embark on a Stress-Less Renovation

This series is dedicated to homeowners who are looking to achieve healthier and happier homes as a result of their renovation. Over the months, I will share what I know with you to help ease you through the process of your renovation. There is a lot of emotion and energy that goes into a renovation, and unfortunately, the process of renovating can become the opposite of what you are hoping to achieve – a better space than what you had before. Ironically, the space I’m actually referring to is your headspace. I will help you keep things in perspective as you embark on a renovation in order to progress with your project in a positive way and be happy with the results in the end. Your home renovation may likely be one of the most expensive things that you will invest in over the years. It’s important that you partake in the right practices when taking on such a substantial endeavor.


Over the years I have seen many people truly struggle with their home improvement projects. I have seen renovators become utterly obsessed with the seemingly “big picture” and the ‘tiniest details’ while embarking on their renovations. I’ve actually witnessed the thickness of a grout line drive someone temporarily insane. I often wonder what it is that makes people obsess over things in their own home that they would never even notice in another person’s home. I even have to warn my clients that there will come a point in their job when they lose their mind and feel compelled to call me or the contractor in the middle of the night to discuss lining up the veins on their stone tiles. It doesn’t matter how cool or calm you are, no one is immune to the emotional havoc a renovation wreaks on someone’s psyche. Starting a renovation project from a point of stress and anxiety will inevitably reflect on the final results of your renovation. So let’s ensure that you have the essentials in order to make the right decisions regarding your renovation with confidence.


Is the panic and stress warranted when renovating? Absolutely not. There is a lot to know and tons to consider when you’re undertaking a renovation – and that is why it makes sense to hire professionals who can help you plan for your renovation. Don’t stress about how much it will cost to hire a designer, instead, think of it as a necessity for your project to run as smoothly and economically as possible. Every project will benefit from the expertise of a designer. And the cost is relatively low considering what the gain is. Whether it’s an architect, interior designer or design-build firm, you will not regret investing in your ‘road map’ for your project before you hit the road running.


Now that know you need to engage professionals to help you with your renovation project, it’s important to take a few breaths and focus on the essentials when thinking about the design of your home. Before there were architects, interior designers and sub-divisions, we managed to live in small communities within small shelters that served our needs well. You actually ‘need’ very little to make you happy within your home, but the problem is, most of us have lost sight of what’s important when it comes to our living spaces. Excessively large houses aside, we have become transfixed on the most lavish finishes, the most sophisticated gadgets, the greatest architectural details, the latest high tech appliances, and not to mention the most beautiful furniture, lighting, and accessories. With so much access to online design sites and pinboards, as well as the most alluring ‘before and after’ tv shows, it’s hard not to get swept up in all the interior design hoopla!

The problem is, all of this is actually adding to the renovator’s stress level and we’re actually moving away from living within spaces that nourish our souls, as opposed to photographing well.

Having so many options with virtually no limitations is confusing and muddles a solid picture of what we actually need vs how everybody else is renovating their homes.


Next, you have to consider how you are going to get the pertinent information to your designer so that they can do a great job for you. The challenge is that there are many things that may influence what you want in your home. Sometimes it’s the familiarity of what we know or what we grew up in. Sometimes the allure of current trends plastered all over the Internet and home improvement shows gets us very excited about implementing trendy and current styles in our new homes. And sometimes it’s sheer competition that drives what we want in our houses. Seeing what our next-door neighbor has, can impact what we put into our own homes and how much money we spend.


We spend an immense amount of time in our homes. Especially those of us who live in colder climates. We wake up every morning in our homes, we come home at the end of every day to our homes, we eat in our homes, socialize in our homes, raise our families in our homes, relax in our homes, and a lot of us also work within our homes as well.

We need our homes for shelter, we need our homes to keep us safe and warm. In short, we need our homes to live in. We don’t need our homes as a means to collect and show-off our possessions.


Every home renovation project should be approached with a practical and authentic plan for how a home should be designed. There are fundamental things that can be brought into every project in order to ensure happiness with the final results. It’s a very simple approach that taps into our basic needs and requirements. It also means letting go of trends, traditions, and envy.

It’s very easy to get sucked into trends these days. With all the amazing websites featuring beautiful architecture & interior design, it’s almost impossible to choose which direction you’d like to move in with regard to your design. Trends in design are fluctuating faster today than ever before. It’s actually easy to see how trendy finishes actually follow fashion and jewelry trends. I caution anyone who plans on relying on trends to select finishes for their home with trepidation. Trends in design will change every few years if not every year – and your renovation will last a lot longer than a trend. It’s important that you don’t get sucked into the polished pics and instead choose items that are classic and will stand the test of time or items that speak to you on a visceral level. Don’t try to intellectualize your choice. Go with your gut feelings, and choose finishes that sit well with you and make you feel at ease.


Sometimes it’s difficult for someone without a trained eye to determine what a classic design is and automatically default to what they grew up with as ‘classic’. But the truth is, we’ve always been subjected to trends and it’s likely that you grew up with trendy designs that are now considered to be quite dated.

So how do you choose?

Evaluate how you live your life now. Chances are, your life situation is different from how people lived 100 years ago. Seriously assess what’s important to you: Do you really want to live in an open-concept space? Or would you prefer a mix of open concept and some private, quiet spaces? Is your kitchen the hub of the home? If so, how do you accommodate everyone who is spending time in your kitchen? Do you really need 2 dining areas? And so on… When you ask yourself these questions, don’t think about what you had as a kid growing up in your house, and don’t think about what your friends have. Think about how you live and what you truly need. Try to be as modest as possible with your wants/needs so that you don’t over-build or spend more than you need to on your renovation.



The following are questions you should ask yourself before renovating. Your answers will help you prepare. If you can honestly answer these questions without being influenced by trends or your friends, the answers will come easy to you, and the process will start off on the right foot. You can do a simple google search for the items listed in the questions below if you need a better understanding and a visual reference.

1) How much can you realistically afford to spend on your renovation? Bear in mind that there are costs in addition to your construction costs like tax, permit fees, consultant fees, and potential rent expenses.

2)  What problems do you have in your current design that you want to solve? What do you envisage in your new space that your current space lacks? Realistically assess your current problems. Not having what your best friend has in her new home is not a real problem.

3). What type of storage do you require? Decisions on storage will likely stem from other questions, like how often do you entertain, and how much stuff do you have?

4). Is there anyone in the family with a disability or do you envisage staying in the house for a long time, where mobility callings of aging may need to be considered?

5). How much disruption in your life will you tolerate to renovate your home?

6). How soon would you like to be settled into your renovation or new home? Are there rigid time restraints or expected deadline dates? You will need to consult experts to get an accurate idea of timelines for your project.

7) Are environmental choices and considerations important to you?

8). Which do you like best: Open concept spaces? Divided spaces that allow for privacy?  A combination of the two?

9)  What are your appliances preferences?  Think gas vs electric cooking.

10)  What cabinet style do you like best: Slab doors? Shaker doors? Glass doors? Bi-fold doors?

11) Which tile options do you like best:  Stone slab? Porcelain tile?  Subway tile? Glass tile? Mosaic or stone tile? Penny round tile? Hex tile?

12) What are your color preferences:  Minimum amount of color in the space? Or lots of color in the space?

13) What type of material do you prefer for your countertops: Quartz? Granite? Marble? Butcher block?

14) What type of flooring do you prefer:  Engineered hardwood? Standard hardwood? Stone tile? Porcelain tile? Laminate? Vinyl? Concrete?

15) What materials do you like to see in your space? Dark stained wood? Light, natural wood? Stainless steel? Concrete? glass? Shiny, lacquer surfaces? Matte surfaces? Stone? Other?


If you can start your project by answering all of the questions above, you have started off on the right foot. Ensure to pass this information onto the designer you’ve hired to help you with the process. Designing your new home should be a fun and exhilarating process. If you find yourself getting stressed out, you need to step back and assess if you’re taking on too much.



If you liked this post, make sure to stay tuned for the upcoming blogs in my ‘achieving a healthier and happier home’ series:

-Space planning




-Art & beautiful things

-Choosing materials (hard and soft)

-Architectural features

-The purpose of your rooms

-Feng Shui & Finishing touches (plants, scents, etc)

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