A long time ago, in one of my comments, someone asked me to do a post about what I learned from doing a kitchen renovation. I'm bossy by nature, and love giving advice, so you all get to suffer through this--I think you have Jaime R. to thank!
Lesson #1. Prioritize. Everyone told me you will fall into the trap "As long as we are doing x, we might as well do y." So true. Our whole reno started because my husband suggested putting in wood floors and of course we couldn't put in dark wood floors with our oak cabinets so we had to paint the cabinets and then we couldn't have white appliances with white cabinets..you get the drift.
Now that the reno is done, if I had to pick only one thing to do, I would get new appliances. They are great for resale and they instantly update the kitchen. And guess what is the one thing everyone compliments in my new kitchen?--the fridge--go figure. (But I do totally love my cabinets and floors.)
Lesson #2 Accept that you can't do everything at once. This is an off-shoot of lesson #1. I really really wanted to paint. But after doing the floors, Sam wasn't going to do another dang thing in the house and I don't blame him. I also really wanted to replace our track lighting with cans and some cool pendant lights...and replace our blinds with shutters. But you can't do it all. You can do it little by little:
Bad track lighting
Lesson #3. Get a ton of bids. You never know how much something is going to cost until you bid it out. Some things were way more than I thought--like the granite counter tops. Other things were a lot more reasonable than I thought--like a new banister. You never know until you get the bid. Also, I loved asking all of the contractors for advice. You never know who is going to have great ideas.
Lesson #4. Sometimes you should hire the contractor who gave you the first bid and look no further. This is a direct contradiction to Lesson #3. The first guy that gave me a bid on my tile was awesome. He called me back immediately and his prices were amazing. I knew I liked him. I didn't need to shop around. Additionally, sometimes your time is worth more than saving a few bucks.
Lesson #5. Go with your gut. I really struggled with some of the choices in my kitchen. Do I do a white island or a black one? Everyone told me I had no black in my house so I shouldn't do a black island. I knew I always wanted a black island. I did it anyway and I love it. On the railing, my contractor told me to do a stained end post. I saw a white one in Pottery Barn Kids and decided to go with that. I really love it and I'm glad I didn't let a contractor talk me out of it.
This is our banister before the floors were finished.
My granite guy tried to talk me out of the black granite sink. I'm so glad I didn't let him. Sometimes contractors have good advice, sometimes they are just looking for the easy way out. Go with your gut.
Lesson #6. Break up with bad contractors. You know the ones--flaky, dishonest, etc. There are too many contractors out there right now looking for work. Don't waste your time with anyone who doesn't call you back or doesn't show.
Lesson #7. Demand perfection or ask for discounts. I can be a real be-atch. I always get my way. My motto is: If I wanted a job done half-way I'd do it myself. I got a sweet deal on my granite because it wasn't the slab I spent hours picking out. Don't be afraid to pick up the phone and get a little crazy.
Lesson #8. You can save a lot of money doing things yourself. You can also end up in divorce court. I love Sam. I also love my new floors. But I'll be honest--I don't love that we are going on five months and the trim still isn't completely finished. (Hi Sam!) The husband works a full-time job. We had a preemie. A million reasons the job took forever. I'm so glad we saved so much money and the floors are beautiful but if you can afford it, pay a professional. You may just come out even on what you save in therapy:
Sam getting 'er done
Lesson #9. When you are in the middle of the reno, it will feel like forever. There were some dark days when I was walking around on sub floor with no appliances and no counter tops and I wanted to pull my hair out. In retrospect, it doesn't seem that bad. Keep your eye on the prize. And thank the good Lord for fast food.
Lesson #10. Don't sweat the decisions too much. You're not curing cancer. You are picking out granite and new appliances for crying out loud. Whatever you get will be so much better than what you have that you will love it. I have a whole file on my computer of pictures of kitchens I love. I also have a binder of pictures I've pulled out of magazines. It is easier to show someone what you like than to tell them.
Lesson #11. I couldn't stop at 10. The job will take twice as long and cost twice as much as you anticipated. Bank on it.
I could go on and on. I'm no expert but I feel like I know so much more now that when I started. Is anyone still here? Thanks for indulging me!