Renovating your home. Getting into the mental game.


Getting into the mental game of renovating your home

Living on a construction site or in the midst of a major renovating job is not fun. It is not just the dust and the inconvenience of workmen coming and going at early and late hours, it is having to decide on every little detail.

These disruptions, inconveniences and decisions go on for months and months. You want your home renovation project to be successful and you want to have your mental health, you bank balance and your family in good shape at the end.

Most games have both a physical and mental component. The home renovation game is no different. Today I would like to provide advice on the best ways to fight against “mission creep,” home-decor obsession, second-guessing your decisions and more.

It’s all connected

A few years ago I decided to paint my living room. Since it is connected to my foyer, I painted that too. Then I had to paint the stairwell and the hallway upstairs. One room led to another and I couldn’t seem to find a great place to stop. I painted half the house!

This phenomenon of “mission creep” — a slow and steady broadening of your job’s extent means  you’ll certainly need a bigger budget and more time to completion and loss of privacy and regular life conveniences for a longer time.

What can you do? Realize that just like “Rome wasn’t built in a day”, home maintenance is never really finished. There is always more! Plan the work then work the plan. Don’t let one thing lead to another unnecessarily.

Of course sometimes one job does lead to another, and that other job must be done. When that happens there is a couple of benefits

  1. It is usually more cost effective to do one big job than three little jobs.
  2. Doing one big job instead of several little jobs gets work out of the way faster so you can get on with your regular life.

Fixation with the fixes of others

Although it’s wonderful to discover ideas in the stunning homes of your good friends, it can likewise cause you undue pressure and unwanted anxiety, especially midway through a reno when you might start to question some of your decisions.

Comparing yourself to others is never a good idea. One of my favourite quotes goes something like this. “Life is a race you run against yourself. Sometimes you’re behind and sometimes your ahead. But in the end it never really mattered.” The same goes for home renovation jobs. In the whole scheme of things, they are not important enough to take over your life.

What can you do? Before you begin, go ahead and visit the homes of your friends and ask them about their choices. And, think your design choices through. After the project has started, try not to make too many unnecessary changes. Remind yourself that there are limitless numbers of ways to decorate and furnish any space.

Changes that need embracing

But sometimes plans change. That’s ok. You can’t be completely inflexible, especially when new information comes in mid-project. Maybe, for example, you realize the the paint colour you’ve chosen is a little too dark, or that the layout is “awkward”.

Changing your mind isn’t really an issue if you do it early. In truth, it might really be an advantage — much better to do so quickly and decisively rather than live with forever with remorse. Be decisive but open to change, is my advice.

Should I stay or should I go?

Living a normal life during a renovating job can be challenging.  There’s the dust, and loud, irritating sounds. Sometimes your water, electricity and even heat are off for long periods of the day. Sometimes you can’t use your kitchen sink or one of your bathrooms! Personal privacy will be lost, as contractors, electricians and plumbers are around and often in the way. (You are in their way too!)

If all that is too much, you might want to consider staying in an airbnb or if it is the summertime, going camping.

Either way, don’t panic. It will all be over soon enough and then you and your family can and will enjoy your new home improvement for years to come.

Time out for takeout

When we did our kitchen renovation a few years ago, there were a few days when we had no workable fridge and stove, not to mention countertop. Meals became simple (sandwiches) or takeout.

It’s OK to go off a healthy diet for a few days. If the reno is going to be longer lasting, a bar fridge and a portable electric or gas cooktop might be a great investment and something you can use after the reno is long over.




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