I’ve been thinking about doing a post like this for a while- because as much as we love to see pretty pictures, life isn’t always pretty… especially when you’re living it in renovations! BUT I do think that you can maintain normal life even when renovations make things a little crazy. So here’s what our house is really like ‘behind the scenes’ as we’re working our way to a finished home.
I know a lot of people do renovations in one big push- which would be awesome! I chatted before about why we’re doing our renovation in phases (hello cash flow!) and because of that, we’ve been living through it for over a year now. But that hasn’t stopped us from using our home the way we want to. When we bought our new place, we had a vision to entertain- we wanted it to be a home full of life and people. We didn’t want to keep it for ourselves and we didn’t want to wait for it to be perfect to use it. In fact- the very first week we moved in we hosted a friends daughter’s 1st birthday party. For 30+ people. We had plywood stairs leading up from the entrance way, no backsplash or window coverings and trim hadn’t been painted.
One year later (and a few months) we still haven’t finished painting our trim and we’re slowly working on window coverings for our windows. Our stairs aren’t completely finished and there’s 100 other things that are waiting to be ‘done’. But we haven’t been doing nothing! We’ve been replacing our bathtub, building a deck (and table!), tiling our landing, drywalling our basement, and building a shed- and probably 100 other little things I’ve forgotten about (so much ducting!). And even though we aren’t ‘done’, we’re still using our home like we would if it was. Parties? They’re important to me. I think we’ve had 11 ‘big’ ones since we moved in last year. Yep, decorations up right beside the work in progress. That nautical baby shower I shared was two feet away from the patio door- before the drywall was put up around it. Think tuck tape and studs- classy.
We’ve found that we have had to let go of our need for our house to feel ‘finished’ and just accept that we’re working on finishing things. We try to keep our home clean (which is ridiculous with so much construction dust!) and relatively tidy because that’s the only thing we can control. We aren’t taking every night to work on projects because we’re busy living our lives! We worked hard for three months before moving in, then hard to get the basement suite finished. Now? Yes, we’ve got lots left- but we have lives to live too. So we’re picking priorities and deciding what we can ‘live with’ while we do.
We decided there are a few rooms we want to have ‘finished’ to better enjoy our lives. The kitchen? We live in that thing- we wanted it done, and it felt amazing to cross it off the list. Next is the kids bedroom. And then maybe our living room. There’s some things that we started on that probably should have waited (I’m looking at you, fireplace!)- but for the most part, we’re being pretty strategic. I would have loved to tear out that bathroom vanity while we had the flooring out, but we’re waiting. I really want to get my trim painted- but finishing the basement so we can unpack the rest of our boxes is taking priority.
If you’re getting discouraged about your renovations (will they ever end!?) or are anxious about starting- here’s the things we’ve found have helped us the most.
- Prioritize! And be realistic about when your lower priorities will get done.
- Live your life- one year from now you’ll be ticked if you skipped all the fun stuff just to get done a week or two sooner. Plus… it will keep you from going crazy and hating your house. Unless you’re nothing like us and are willing to skip 6 months of your lives.
- Try keep your construction mess separate! Put things away as often as you can. Done with that saw? Get it out of the kitchen. Then wash the floors. This has been the biggest challenge for us, but by living our life and inviting people over- it gives us the kick in the butt to get our house back in order a few times a week (before they walk through that door!).
- If you’re getting really discouraged, pick a room or space to ‘finish’ and go hard at that. For us it was the kitchen. We didn’t need the backsplash or the window shade to live, but it feels so good to walk into that room now and have it DONE! And those were small potatoes compared to what some of the other spaces in our home need.
- Learn to let things go. Our yard? We had hopes of nice gardens and around June realized we were just so frustrated trying to keep up with the watering the dying flowers and pulling the weeds and the housework and the renovations (did we mention life?). The yard work had to take back burner for our sanity.
- Don’t wait to be ‘finished’ to pull out decorations… if that’s what makes you happy. I love my plants and photos on my walls. We put off hanging pictures because we weren’t done renovating for way too long. Hanging pictures? 1 hour… maybe! Painting allllll that trim? So. much. more. And having pretty things on my half torn apart mantle gives me something to look at other than how in progress it is.
- Learn what is your trigger. If everything is in chaos but the kitchen counters are clear- does that make it feel more manageable? How about a made bed? Whatever it is- try recognize it and work together to make it happen. Work together because yours is probably different from the other people in the house!
- Kids around? Safety first. Seriously, though. The most stressful part of deck building was having the railing off the basement stairs. It made going outside no fun for me when I was alone with them (of course that was their favourite place to be!). Having power tools left laying around? Makes me want to take the kids to the park and never come home (because power tools are way cooler than toys!).
What are your tips for living through renovations? We by no means have it figured out… but we’ve been doing it for almost a year and a half now and this is what’s working for us! And hopefully this #reallife snapshot is refreshing for you :)