Living through a remodel isn’t the easiest thing. We spent months working on our Willow House, making it livable, before we ever moved in. But even with all that time and hard work spent on making this house something we could move into, there were so many different items that would still need finished after we moved in. Now that we’ve lived here for over a year, we’ve both learned several lessons about what it’s really like living through a remodel.
Today, I wanted to share five tips for living through a remodel. It’s not always as glamorous as what it’s made out to be, but it is worth it!
Five Tips For Living Through A Remodel
Tip # 1: Be Patient
I think it goes without saying, but it takes major patience when living through a remodel. Things get messy, the dust floats around everywhere and the floors are never clean. As a clean and tidy person who enjoys cleaning and having a clean home, it’s taken me some time to adjust to things being dirtier than what I’d like. If I’m honest, I still have an internal battle going on when we work on big projects, like our master bathroom.
Even with as clean and tidy as our contractor was, which I appreciated more than he’ll ever know, it’s hard to feel like you have to constantly wear shoes around the house, or always lay out protective blankets, cardboard or floor protectors. It’s all completely necessary to get to where you want to be with your home, but that doesn’t mean getting there and living through the mess is fun.
I’ve found that setting up realistic expectations for myself is best when it comes to large projects. For instance, when we were knee deep in the bathroom remodel, I’d tell myself everyday all the mess would be worth it, and it was. I’d also give myself a little bit of a break in dealing with the dust at the end of every day. Todd would probably laugh at that statement as he watched me pull out my vacuum and go over every inch of flooring once the day was over, but in my mind, it made the house that much more livable. I did allow myself to let the dust settle on end tables and things like that, only giving the house a big clean on the weekends when the workers were gone.
Here’s a look at our bedroom while they were working on our master bathroom…
Every night, I’d take down all the protective sheets and give the room a good vacuum. I’d also wash the protective sheets they were using every weekend, just to make sure they were clean for a new week.
Bottom line, just know it takes major patience, but that the end result is worth it.
Tip # 2: Pick An Area To Make Your Own
In our case, there are several unfinished spaces and projects just waiting to happen, with many rooms not being put together or organized. In fact, most of our rooms still have full boxes waiting to be unpacked. Knowing that would be the case for quite a while until more of our projects were checked off the list, I set out to create one space, free from boxes and major unfinished projects where we could relax and just be.
For us, that space was our living room. We were able to set it up without major things needing to be done, making us feel like we could relax at the end of a long day. Do I still have projects I want to do to this space? Absolutely! But the good thing is, none of them are screaming at us to be done. They’re all bonus type of projects that will really bring the room to a different level, but we can still enjoy resting together when the day is over.
Having a space like this is crucial when you’re surrounded by a mess in all the other rooms. We’re slowly making progress, and taking over those rooms as well, but after over a year of living here, we still have boxes that need unpacked with nowhere to put the items until we finish certain projects.
Tip # 3: Prioritize Your Budget
Living through a remodel also means working on the house and projects as your budget allows. It’s not always the easiest pill to swallow when you look around and see so many areas you just want to have finished, but it’s the reality of the situation, especially when you’re working on things as you go along.
We’ve found it easiest, and best, to create a monthly budget knowing exactly how much we can spend on projects. It allows us to prioritize the items that need done first, and work our way from there. I’ll admit, it’s hard to put a priority level to certain things when you want all of them done, but it’s essential to making everything work. Every month, I sit down with my planner and list out all the projects I’d like to see us accomplish in the month. From there, I start putting a dollar amount to each item. If there’s a certain item where we’ll go over on spending, we’ll either make it a priority the next month, or take it from another household budget to finish things.
Doing things this way, really makes us have a solid plan for the month, where we can purchase our supplies and have most things on hand for when we need them, or for when we decide to start working on a project.
My biggest piece of advice, is to sit down and make an actionable list you can work toward to in the year, or months ahead. Earlier this year we sat down and made our house project list, which you can read all about here, and it’s helped keep us on track as we plan out our monthly projects.
Tip # 4: Set Aside Designated Time To Work On Projects
My biggest fear when we took on this house and moved in with pages of unfinished projects, was that we wouldn’t finish those much needed projects. I know so many people who take on house projects, make good progress, but never finish them. They either become tired of working on the house every spare second, we get it, or a project becomes “finished enough” to get you by.
I really didn’t want that to happen to us, so at the start of each week we sit down and make up a list of what needs to be worked on throughout the week. Doing this, allows us to know exactly what all we need to get done and which projects are more of a priority. Obviously, some projects take longer than anticipated, or something goes wrong, but for the most part, we’re able to stay on track and work toward checking off items we’ve prioritized for the month.
Doing this also allows us to schedule any free time or weekends off where we do something other than work on the house.
Now again, I’ll admit, I’m not always the best at not filling every spare second of my time, or Todd’s, with projects that need finished. Just the other night, Todd sat me down and set me straight. We can’t constantly be doing house projects in every moment of spare time. And he’s right, but that’s a lesson I’m still learning, especially as baby girl is due in July and I’m in full on nesting mode, which has only increased my normal motivation to get things done.
Bottom line: If you don’t ever make time for projects, they won’t get finished. But you also can’t fill every spare second working on the house or you’ll become burnt out and the house won’t feel like home. Find what works for you and go from there.
Tip # 5: Focus On Your Ultimate Goal
Admittedly, it can be hard to focus on where you want to go when it feels like your project list is never ending. Sometimes, you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, but I promise, even if you’re making small strides, you’re still making progress. I find it easier to stay positive when I can focus on our ultimate goal for an area of our home and work from there.
I would also encourage you to take pictures or a video of every stage of your home as you work on projects and make progress. There’s nothing sweeter than looking back on old pictures or videos and seeing just how far you’ve come. Sometimes we forget where we started, but when we take a minute to look back, we can see just how far we’ve come! It puts the wind back in our sails and we can see that all the hard work, late nights, blood, sweat and tears is paying off.
Know what you’re working for and keep making progress to get where you want to go. With that said though, it’s guaranteed you’ll never really be done with your house, and in my mind, that’s the fun part of having a home. It grows with you and changes as your needs change. You’ll have new inspiration strike, and projects come up that you never saw coming.
A house doesn’t become our home until we bring ourselves into the space and spread our love and creativity through the walls of each room. Only then does it really feel like ours.
If you’re working on, or struggling with your own fixer upper, or even if you’re working on a one room remodel, I hope these tips help you get through those uncertain times when you wonder what on earth you were thinking when you decided to take on this project. Just keep swimming my friend, it will all be worth it in the end!