Monday, October 20, 2014

How to Survive a DIY Home Renovation

When we were discussing our plan to add on to and renovate our home, I went a-Googlin' for tips to survive a home renovation-- specifically an almost wholly DIYed home renovation. There was a dearth of information out there for home renovators. LOTS of blogs on home renovation, but few about actually surviving without having a complete nervous breakdown, so I thought I'd create a list for you. This list is by no means an exhaustive list, nor have we completed our renovation by any stretch of the imagination, but to date, here is my list of tips for surviving a DIY home renovation.

1. Embrace the dirt
Drifts of it will settle on everything. Floors, shelves, windowsills, your dishes, you name it. Minutes after you vacuum or sweep, dirt will show up again. I'm not kidding. This photo was taken almost immediately after I swept and mopped our kitchen: 

And this one is of the dirt that settled overnight/during the work day when no one had been in the house (and I had vacuumed and mopped the night before);

To soothe my jangling nerves, I like to quote Charlie Brown in A Charlie Brown Christmas to myself: 

"Don't think of it as dust. Think of it as maybe the soil of some great past civilization. Maybe the soil of ancient Babylon. It staggers the imagination. [It may be] soil that was trod upon by Solomon or even Nebuchadnezzar."
Perspective. So soothing. 

2. Let go of the notion of curb appeal
In the movie The Money Pit (which I find myself quoting more often than I care to admit) Walter Fielding pulls up to his destroyed home and says "Ahh. Home, Crap Home." I have a lot of these days. In fact, I once described our house to someone as the following: "just look for the house that looks like squatters have moved in and might be cooking meth in the back." 

Just roll with it. Your house won't look like shit forever, they say. It is all temporary.

Bonus? My 6 year old has pointed out we don't need to decorate for Halloween this year because our house already looks scary and spooky. 

3. Understand that accidents happen
What's that? You accidentally smashed a hole through the living room wall with a sledge hammer? The living room wall that is supposed to remain intact? No biggie. It isn't like our child was sitting on the couch underneath said hole and the photo frame that you knocked down landed on his head... 

Like I said, no bigs.

4. Invent and embrace a new style of home decor
I call ours "Rubble Chic." It involves a lot of plywood and gaping holes. Plywood is so hot right now. 

5. Learn to scream internally/throw up in your mouth when making large purchases
Generally speaking, home improvement stores don't really appreciate it when people have full-on panic attack freak-outs in their aisle. Just do your level best to swallow the terror. 

I find smiling like a deranged beauty queen helps. Sure, it unnerves the clerk a little, but it is much better than being hauled out of the Home Depot in a straight jacket. 

6. Create a Sherlockian Mind Palace
This is your happy place. The place where your house is perfect and lovely and tranquil. Mine is mostly comprised of Pinterest pins and Houzz ideabook photos. 

It is designer perfect and always smells like freshly baked brownies and sunshine. Go to your Mind Palace when you are on the verge of losing your shit. SO HELP YOU GOD. Retreat to your bathroom, lock the door, enter your mind palace.

7. When all else fails...



  1. Invaluable service you are providing here!

  2. So much important advice for surviving any type of home renovation. I always say, "The finished product will be well worth every amount of stress you endured," and it always is. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Embracing the situation is a definite key to surviving the whole ordeal. I'm a little OCD myself so letting go of what you can't control, or at least during the renovation process, makes everything less stressful and overall enjoyable. Thanks for sharing!


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