Are you quarantined at home and still looking at that remodel project you were planning
to do, but COVID happened and you became preoccupied? Moving forward in these
crazy times might seem unrealistic, but I assure you design does not have to wait!
You might not be ready to take on a remodel just yet, but you CAN start the planning
process and even start the design layout and finish and fixture selections. You just
might be surprised at how much can be accomplished up to the point of starting
Here are a few strategies to get you started…
01 | START AT THE END
It might sound counter-intuitive, but your successful project is all about the dreaming,
planning, and preparing. If you don’t know what you want to end up with, how will you
know how to get there? I’ve worked on many projects and one common denominator is
that being in a hurry and not putting a solid plan in place will leave you with nothing but
headaches and heartache. Potential clients will call me and say “we’ve been thinking
about remodeling for the past year and we’re ready to start and we need it completed in
3 months.” And they often have no idea what their budget is, they aren’t sure of their
style, they might not even agree with their spouse about the end result, and they don’t
have a contractor. Don’t get me wrong, being enthusiastic and ready to start are great,
but you want to be sure to allow time to really prepare so that construction moves along
as smooth as possible.
Here are some things to ponder and get you started:
- What is your over-arching goal? Do you really need more space, or do you need your
existing space to be more functional?
- Is your family growing or shrinking?
- How long would you like to stay in your home?
- Do you need accessibility now (or in the near future) so you can stay in your home?
- How will these changes impact your life? Will you feel more at ease, comfortable, happy?
- What is currently working in the space you want to remodel? More importantly, what’s
not working? Is it crowded or arranged awkwardly? What’s the flow of the space? Is it
the catch-all space?
- Don’t forget to think about your budget. While no one wants to reveal their number
out of the gate, by doing so will help your designer/contractor guide you to the right
- Don’t limit your ideas out of the gate, assuming you can’t afford something. Dreaming
is free. Once you have your must haves and start putting a price to each of those
things, you’ll start asking yourself ‘how important is this to my project goal’. If you have
to let it go, so be it. Because when the project is finished, you’ll know that what you
have is what you wanted and were willing to afford, resulting in no regrets and
wondering at the end of the project.
02 | HIRING A CONTRACTOR
One might think that time and money are the most important factors when it comes to
hiring a contractor. But really, it’s accuracy, integrity, and communication.
- If you hire a contractor and it turns out they don’t pay attention to detail (accuracy),
you’ll pay to fire them and hire someone else. Or you’ll pay in time to have them redo
it, resulting in a delay in the project schedule.
- If you hire a contractor who says they’ll show up but don’t (integrity), you’ll pay in the
form of time it takes to track them down to complete your project.
- If you hire a contractor who can’t communicate the schedule or why you’re getting
change orders, you’ll pay both in time and money.
This stage can be challenging and frustrating, but is oh so important. Trust me, I’ve
done my own remodel project and I also ran into issues. But what I learned has been
invaluable to understanding what you might go through on your own remodel, and can
help you navigate the project path. If there are three things I know for sure: 1) I’m
human and I don’t know everything…how frustrating is that?!, 2) anything can
happen and usually does, and 3) it will always cost more than you think and if you try to
skimp in the beginning, you may not be happy in the end. For all these reasons, that is
why you want to be sure that the team you hire are all working together for you. Then
create a plan. Start by dreaming of all that you want, get the costs for that and then if
needed you can reduce costs based on importance vs price.
I’ve been involved with many remodels for my clients and some have gone better than
others. If I’m honest, I learn something new on every project. Every. Project. Some are
new ways of how to design and build. Some are about the process. All of which I take
forward with me into the next project.
Finding the right contractor is no simple task. Ask your designer for recommendations.
Ask for referrals from friends, family members or neighbors who’ve recently completed a
project. Post something to Facebook and ask for recommendations.
Start by interviewing first and forget asking them about how much they think your
project will cost and their timeline. Until you have most, if not all of your finishes and
materials selected, it will be a ballpark guess at best. Treat it like a job interview, your
first question out of the gate is not ‘how much is the pay’.
Instead, ask them about their process, how they handle upsets, do they have a crew of
employees or vendors they use consistently, will they provide a schedule for the project
from start to finish, how do they handle notifying you of surprises once demo has
started, how do they communicate progress. And above all ask for referrals!
03 | PREPARATION & TIMING
Don’t be in a hurry. Both from a design perspective but also from starting demo and
construction. Your house is going to be dust zone; you might even consider moving out,
depending upon the extent of the remodel. If you have kids, prepare them for the
interruption and what the new routine will look like.
If you’re hiring an interior designer, give yourself time to look through magazines, Houzz
or Pinterest to collect images of homes and spaces you like and be able to
communicate those to the designer.
Start packing things up and getting rid of items you no longer want. This way when you
are unpacking you know that everything going back into your kitchen is what you
need/want. Remodels are time-consuming and an energy suck and by the end you’ll be
tired of strangers in your home and want to collapse and enjoy the final product, not sift
through all the junk.
04 | WHEN IN DOUBT, HIRE IT OUT
These above strategies are often overlooked or rushed through in the excitement of
starting a remodel. If you already feel uncertain, overwhelmed and or downright
frustrated, consider hiring an interior designer to help you navigate, plan and design
your successful remodel. Yes, it will cost you money, but it will save you money in the
long run. You will know that you are selecting the right finishes. You will know that
everything works together to creative a cohesive design. You will save time, which in
turn saves you money because your designer and contractor will be working together as
a team so you don’t have to spend time micromanaging the project.
Whatever your design dilemma, I would love to hop on a call and talk about the
possibilities for your project and get you started with a plan to move forward. Send me
an email firstname.lastname@example.org and schedule your complimentary consultation
Melinda is the Principal Interior Designer and Owner of Slater Interiors in Mill Creek, Washington. She specializes in helping clients fall in love with the home they already have, as well as helping boutique businesses bring that extra personal touch to the office, employees, and their clients.
Through her interior architectural space planning and design work, she helps clients discover the potential hiding in their home and work – no matter how cramped, outdated, or non-functional it may feel right now. With a combination of values-driven creative thinking, collaborative planning, and an emphasis on sustainability, she can help transform any space into a sanctuary.
She doesn’t believe in a magic design bullet or quick fixes. What she does believe in is listening, learning, and encouraging her clients to dream big!
With 15 years in the industry, Melinda knows what’s possible for your home and can help you see it too.
Melinda has an AA in Interior Design from Bellevue College. Prior to becoming an interior designer, she worked as a licensed massage therapist for 12 years, the last two years focused on helping hospice patients find comfort and relaxation through touch. It was through this work with people at the end of their lives that Melinda became focused on the importance of the environment we live in and the need to be surrounded by beauty and inspiration as we live – and as we die. She has taken this philosophy and approaches every project with it in mind – working with clients to build a home that is representative of who they are and how they want to express themselves.
Melinda grew up on a small farm in Moscow, Idaho and her deep love of animals and the planet remains to this day. Her motto: ‘a girl can always dream!’
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