Reno Notebook / By Jennifer Malise / March 26, 2018
Things I Wish I’d Known…
Sweeten homeowners share their best reno advice
Homeowners Marsha and Adam with their two daughters
They say the best way to learn is by experience. If that’s the case, then the second best way to learn is by talking to the people who have been in your shoes before. Sweeten homeowners emerge from the renovation process with more than a few “Aha!” moments and generously share their hard-won knowledge with our readers on the blog. We’ve gathered some of their most meaningful advice below. Wherever you happen to be in your renovation journey, we hope this insight will help guide you while creating your very own home sweet home.
The original cabinets in this homeowner’s kitchen were too shallow; in fact, closing the cabinet doors had chipped most of her plates. When it came time to renovate, deeper cabinets were a must. If you’re planning a kitchen renovation, this homeowner shares the following advice: “Measure all your cookware and then use those measurements to design your kitchen cabinets. It made us feel a little OCD to do this, but it really paid off.” Even if you plan on buying stock cabinets, rather than having them custom-made, measuring the interiors to make sure that all of your cookware will fit is a smart move.
If you want to make a tight timeline work, Nate and Michelle recommend that future renovators order materials as soon as possible. “Make sure you have all the pieces before starting. That includes the tile, fixtures, vanities, toilets, and even the little things like towel hooks and toilet paper holders. That way, your project isn’t held up while waiting for some piece to come in,” Nate said. Purchasing stock items versus custom or special order will make it easier to stay on schedule. At Sweeten, we see homeowners placing orders for materials without consulting with their contractor on the timeline, which can cause major project delays, so this is sage advice.
One of the major lessons that Brooke learned while renovating is that paint colors never look the way you expect them to look once they’re on the walls of your home. “I had eight swatches of gray and greige paint on the [kitchen] walls for weeks and finally decided on Wickham Gray from Benjamin Moore. The day the contractor was painting the kitchen, I was working from home. I came downstairs to see a neighbor, and she immediately said, ‘I didn’t know you were going green in the kitchen.’ So we turned around and went with Gray Owl [another Benjamin Moore paint] instead,” Brooke said. The takeaway: if there’s a tint, or a hint of another color, visible from the paint swatch, expect it to have a much bigger effect on your space when your walls are painted.
Soundproofing is rarely noticeable—it’s essentially invisible—but the role it plays can have an enormous impact on your daily life. “Paying more for soundproofing the bathroom (so you don’t hear anything from your bedroom) is worth every penny,” Marsha said. “We really appreciated our Sweeten architect telling us that we ‘needed’ those more expensive items—she was right.” Of course, you don’t have to soundproof your bathroom, but if you can fit it into your budget, this extra step will elevate the comfort of your home.
Sticking to your budget can be difficult, especially when quality is your top priority, but doing so pays off when something unexpected happens—such as finding out that you need more materials than you initially budgeted for. When considering brands of non-toxic paint, Sarah looked at high-end options first before choosing a budget-friendly brand. The economically priced VOC-free paint turned out to be a smart decision. “Our plaster walls drank up the paint and we ended up having to buy 25 gallons when we originally budgeted for ten,” said Sarah. Since she chose an affordable option from the get-go, the extra gallons of paint didn’t break the budget.
See how 5 couples (and first-time renovators!) tackled remodeling their homes together.
Refer your renovating friends to Sweeten and you’ll both receive a $250 Visa gift card when they sign a contract with a Sweeten general contractor.
Sweeten handpicks the best general contractors to match each project’s location, budget, and scope, helping until project completion. Follow the blog for renovation ideas and inspiration and when you’re ready to renovate, start your renovation on Sweeten.