It’s easy to look at people’s finished home remodel photos and imagine yourself living it up in your own freshly transformed space. But the question of how to get there from here can be enough to keep people from starting a remodel of their own.
Although a lot goes into a home remodel, by carefully planning and embracing the process, you’ll be ready in no time to take your own “after” photos and enjoy your refreshed space.
Here are some tips for launching your own home remodel.
Scope your project.
Not every room may need a remodel—at least not to the same extent. So, first think about what you want to change in your home and why. For example, if your bedroom feels dated, you might want to renovate. If your kitchen is too dark, updating the paint and lighting may do the trick. Bored of your master bathroom? New, fresh décor could be all you need to revitalize the space.
If you have more than a room or two on your remodel list, decide how much to tackle now and what can wait until later. Also, assess your time, budget and comfort level to determine what projects you wish to do yourself versus hire a professional to do. You might be willing to replace a faucet, for instance, but not work on the plumbing behind the walls.
Spark your imagination.
If you haven’t been doing this already, now’s the time to peruse pictures online (check out our hundreds of design ideas on Instagram and Pinterest), thumb through design magazines and binge-watch home improvement shows. Home in on the styles that speak to you, and collect the images that capture the vision of your new room. Note what you like about each space and why—what draws you to it, and which elements most exemplify your imagination. Also, make a note of what you don’t like. This exercise helps you define your personal design style and can help a professional designer, if you’re working with one, to create a space you’ll love from floor to ceiling.
Your style might be considered traditional if you’re drawn to warm, rich, inviting colors and soft, tactile textures. Or it could be contemporary, which is marked by minimal decoration, ample open space, crisp lines and high-contrast colors. Maybe you’re more transitional, a blended style that borrows from both traditional and contemporary design—for example, neutral colors on the walls and splashes of personality from modern furniture pieces. When you know the look you’re after, it will be easier to pull together the elements of your home remodel.
As you’re dreaming, keep in mind that you want your new space to suit your lifestyle, functionally and aesthetically. If you have children, make sure your guest bathroom remodel can grow with them. If you like to have people over, design your kitchen and dining space to coexist happily and make entertaining easier.
Set your budget.
Detailing all of the expenses of your remodel will give you a clear picture of what the project might cost. Itemized tracking also will come in handy if budgetary surprises happen during your remodel and you need to pivot on some products.
For example, a freestanding copper tub amid a sea of travertine tile might have been the original plan, but if you find yourself needing to scale back, you may be able to find equally stunning, lower-cost ceramic tile instead. Perhaps some aspects of the remodel can wait longer than others, to give you time to grow your budget, or you can conserve in other spaces to make the most important rooms reflect the design of your dreams. Determine from the start what matters most to you in your remodel and then work in the other pieces.
As you put together your financial plan, make sure it has room for contingencies, such as unexpected plumbing repairs—industry experts say contingency funds should be about 20 percent of your budget.
Determine your timeline.
Interior remodels average four to eight months for planning and 2½ to five months for construction, according to the 2017 Houzz & Home study, which had input from more than 95,000 U.S. homeowners. The report says kitchen jobs take the longest, with more than seven months of planning and five months of construction.
Every remodel is different, and a professional can give you an idea of how long your project will take. Even if timing isn’t a major factor for you, you don’t want your project to drag on unnecessarily. Set deadlines for yourself during the planning stages. And before construction begins, make sure you have the contractor’s approximate start and end dates in writing (along with other details, such as a description of the project and payment terms).
Consult a pro.
By this point, you’ll have a good idea of the scope and projected costs of your remodel, as well as the design style you desire for your new space. Or you might need more guidance in these areas, and that’s OK. In any case, consider visiting your local showroom or design center for advice and inspiration—or to get a gut check on your direction.
Design professionals may be available for individual consultations but also could play a larger role in your project, working with you and collaborating with other contractors throughout the renovation. The cost for these services can be well worth the line item in your budget.
By remodeling your home, you’ll be improving your space so you can enjoy it more, while also adding value. It might seem like a big undertaking, because it is. But with an appropriate plan, a practical budget and a reasonable timeline, you’ll be setting yourself up for success—and that’s a beautiful thing.