As the current creative director of Homepolish Los Angeles (not to mention one of Emily Henderson’s besties and her former design assistant), Orlando Soria has major sway over our interior design decisions. So, we’re downright giddy to have him here on Glitter Guide today offering his professional tips for making it through a home renovation. His advice and the stunning finished photos of his newly made-over pad are below!
For me, home renovating ranks up there as one the most fun things in the entire universe. Watching a space transform from “fugly” to “fantastic” is so incredibly satisfying. And then, once you’re done, you can look back at the before pictures and pat yourself on the back for the good job you did. Plus, if you’re the homeowner, you have the added benefit that you get to live in your dream house instead of the dated shack you moved into vowing, “I will make this mine.” That I love renovating is probably a good thing considering it’s my job to help people renovate their homes.
However, home renovating does have its downsides. It’s one of the more stressful activities you’ll willingly engage in. It’s expensive, messy and—for most people—fraught with anxiety about whether they’re making the right decisions. But there are many ways to avoid losing your mind while updating your space. And that’s what we’re here to talk about today.
Be realistic with your budget.
OK, so this is a big one. There are a lot of TV shows, websites and social media accounts that make home renovation look easy, cheap and fun. I hate to be a huge downer, but it’s none of those things. Unless you’re going to Home Depot on your own and you have incredible handy skills, you’re going to spend a lot of money on renovating your space. Luckily, this usually coincides with adding value to your property (and improving your quality of life). When you go into your project, keep in mind that most (not all) home renovation projects go over budget. Keep a little padding in your budget with that in mind so when the time comes and your contractor says he needs to replace some beams or add some other unexpected labor costs, you’ll be covered.
You’re designing a house; this is not life or death. If you screw up, you will almost always be able to fix your mistake.
Mentally multiply your contractor’s timeline.
It’s very rare that I’ve encountered a home reno project that starts and finishes on time. When a contractor gives you an estimate of when a project will be finished, they’re normally giving you an estimate of how long the project would take in an ideal world, without hiccups. It doesn’t take into account that your kitchen tile might be three weeks late, that it might rain throughout the two weeks when the roof was supposed to be installed or that your vintage wiring might unexpectedly need to be completely redone. As awesome as they might be, contractors are not psychic. Most home renovation projects bring with them unexpected delays, so when your contractor tells you he’ll be done with your project in two months, expect it to take four.
This is not a possibility for everyone, but moving out will dramatically decrease your stress level. Most people don’t anticipate how stressful it is to live in a home while it is under construction, but it can be very distressing. Firstly, there is visual chaos everywhere, not to mention dust all over your clothing. Second, spaces in your home may be completely inaccessible. You might not have any place to sit and relax, which makes relaxing literally impossible. If you are doing a large-scale renovation, and can afford it, I’d recommend vacating the premises while you renovate your home.
One thing I constantly tell myself (even as a designer) is that there are one million correct solutions to most design challenges. So stop asking yourself, “Is this the right thing to do here?” over and over and over. Yes, be intentional with your design (or hire a Homepolish designer to help you), but once you’ve weighed your options, be confident in your decision. I see people killing themselves over the most minute details and it drives me nuts. You’re designing a house; this is not life or death. If you screw up, you will almost always be able to fix your mistake. Make a decision and move on!
Communicate constantly with your contractor.
Not in an annoying way, but in a way that keeps the dialogue open. I’m not big into bugging and harassing people to try and get them to work harder. I’d rather hire the right person and give him full reign of the project. But, if you stop by your renovation frequently, and have time to chat with the contractor on a regular basis, it keeps things moving more quickly. He might have a question for you that needs an immediate answer. He might need to chat with you about something site-specific in person. Bottom line: You being around and accessible will help keep things moving along smoothly.
Don’t cheap out.
If you don’t already have a relationship with a contractor, you should interview three to five before you choose one. That way, you can get an idea of their personalities, their strengths and weaknesses, and their taste level. Usually, I’d recommend against choosing the cheapest contractor (or the most expensive, unless you’re way rich). This is because, in my experience, the cheapest contractor tends to be the one who will go the furthest over budget. I’d normally choose the middle bid, because he or she probably has the most foresight into actual costs without being overly inflated.