It’s easy to get excited about a home project at the beginning, when the work seems theoretical and you hear yourself saying things like, “Oh, we could just knock all of these walls out, no problem!” Then reality sets in. The workers you hired go AWOL, your budget is blown and you can’t find your good shoes under the pile of scrap wood and duct tape. It’s time to take a deep breath and make a plan. Read on to find a dozen ways to stay sane while you are creating your dream home, no matter how long it takes.
Sanity Saver 1: Richard Bubnowski Design LLC, original photo on Houzz
1. Have a plan A … and a plan B and C too. Even when you set what seem like perfectly reasonable goals, things have a way of coming up unexpectedly to bump your project completion date further and further back. Having a back-up plan (or two) is key.
I find it helps immensely to think of your goal in three parts. There is the ideal goal — if everything went right and there were no snafus, this is what you would want done by a certain date. Then there is your plan B, where you pare down your list to the essentials. To make a plan C, pick just one thing that if you got done would still make you feel somewhat accomplished.
Sanity Saver 2: Soorikian Architecture, original photo on Houzz
2. Take “before” photos. In fact, take lots of photos throughout the process. When you feel motivation beginning to falter, take a look at pictures from early on in the process to remind yourself just how far you have come.
Sanity Saver 3: Young House Love, original photo on Houzz
3. Start a blog. Just like many diet and exercise programs recommend sharing your plans with supportive friends and family members, I advocate starting a blog as a way of holding yourself accountable during the renovation process. After a rough day, when nothing went as planned, at least you can vent your frustrations in a blog post and get kind words of support in return from readers all over the world.
They did it: Sherry and John started their blog Young House Love while they were fixing up their first home, and it became a wildly popular and award-winning site that attracts many visitors each day. Realistically, most of us won’t become the next Young House Love, but starting a blog can still be a worthwhile project and documentation of your home progress.
4. Focus on making it livable first. This may sound obvious, but it is all too easy at the beginning of a project to take on too much. By saving some of the cosmetic changes (like decorative tilework) for later and choosing to focus on essentials (like plumbing) now, you will make your life much easier.
Sanity Saver 4: Richard Bubnowski Design LLC, original photo on Houzz
5. Schedule your renovation in stages. During an extensive renovation, be smart about the order you work on things if you are staying in the house at the same time. Work to finish bedrooms and a bathroom first, so you can have a comfortable area to live in while other changes are going on.
6. Set one small, attainable goal each week. Tasks like putting up new house numbers, ordering something you need online, or patching holes in a wall do not take very long, yet being able to cross something off your list — and see visible improvement— will help keep you motivated.
Sanity Saver 5: Holly Marder, original photo on Houzz
7. Help the pros by doing your job: Be decisive. Yes, contractors, architects and designers can sometimes go beyond the original schedule, but each time you change your mind or put off key decisions, know that the process will take that much longer. The best thing you can do to speed progress is to maintain a clear vision of what you want and communicate it clearly to all of those involved in the project.
8. Stay busy during downtime. It is inevitable that there will be times it seems that nothing is happening. Whether due to a tight budget, workers vanishing midproject or simply a stretch of bad weather, it is important to keep your spirits up when work stalls out.
Try keeping a list of simple tasks that you can do anytime. Then, when you start feeling antsy, pull out your list and get to work. Cleaning, organizing, decluttering and doing small repairs are all good places to start.
Sanity Saver 6: decordemon, original photo on Houzz
9. Pitch in and do some work yourself. Even if you’ve hired pros to do the bulk of your renovation, consider taking on a small DIY project of your own. Using your own hands to pitch in and improve your home can be incredibly satisfying.
10. Make your bedroom a refuge. Even if outside your door is quite literally a disaster area, having a calm, relaxing spot to rest and recharge can do wonders for your spirit.
Sanity Saver 7: Mykonos Panormos Villas, original photo on Houzz
11. Use your outdoor space. If the weather is good and your project is taking place indoors, setting up a comfortable outdoor living space is a wonderful way to get away from the noise and chaos of the renovation. I’ve heard of people setting up full outdoor kitchens to use while the indoor kitchen is being remodeled, and I think it’s a wonderful idea.
12. Remind yourself why you are doing this … Clicking through your inspiration photos is a great way to get juiced up about your project all over again. You can also try simply closing your eyes and visualizing your home project completed, vividly imagining every little detail, and how wonderful it will feel to have it all done.
… and know when to get out of town. Of course there are times when it’s best to admit it’s time for a break. When the entire house in in utter disarray, taking a spontaneous weekend getaway can be just what the doctor ordered.
By Laura Gaskill, Houzz