Whether you are undertaking a small DIY project or a major renovation or new home build, there are so many components to consider. Arguably, the most important things are planning and attention to detail. So, what are some of the mistakes I’ve seen happen when remodeling or designing a home?
Mistake #1: Poor space planning
Whether you are remodeling an existing home or building a new one, space planning is key. I have gone into many homes that have too small of a kitchen, minimal storage space or tiny closets, or just a generally poor design layout. When planning your remodel or build, make a list of your top priorities and make sure they are incorporated into the final design. That means, if you love to cook, make sure you have lots of counter and storage space in your kitchen and that the layout is conducive to moving around easily. Or maybe you love to entertain; then you need to make sure you have a living or family room large enough to accommodate a big group of people. You might even consider some outdoor living space for overflow. Try to minimize dead space in your home, as well. I’ve seen landing areas that never get used, bathrooms that are too big and just have tons of empty floor space or bedrooms with sitting areas that end up becoming closet overflow. Make sure to maximize the floor space in your home so it makes sense and is functional.
Mistake #2: Bad lighting
Another thing I see often is bad lighting throughout a home. The top offenders typically are kitchens and bathrooms. Maybe there is just one dim light in the center of the room, or worse, fluorescent light. When planning your new space consider the three main types of light: task, ambient, and accent lighting. Task lighting includes undercabinet lighting, sconces, pendants, or lamps. These offer direct, brighter light in work areas. Ambient lighting, or low lighting, is used to light an entire room, like recessed lights, ceiling lights, or sometimes lamps. Finally, accent lighting is used to highlight an area such as a fireplace or gallery wall, or may be just decorative. Good design incorporates a mix of all three types of lighting.
Mistake #3: Incorrect scale
This may pertain to furniture, lighting, appliances, and so many other things. You see it often, the sofa in the living room may be too big that you can barely walk around it, or the rug may be too small and is always sliding out of place. Builders are notorious for putting in tiny pendants over an island in a kitchen. Scale is so important in home design, as it can have a huge impact on the feel of the home. Incorrect scale often has the effect of making your home feel smaller. When everything is to scale, your home will feel balanced and larger. Working with an interior decorator can help a lot. But if you don’t have the budget or time for that, I always recommend shopping in person, so you can truly appreciate the size of things. Ordering online can be very difficult to know if the size is right, and you don’t have any assistance like you do in a showroom.
Mistake #4: Mismatched style
This one is especially true for remodeling but can also apply to new home building. If you are only remodeling one room in your home, make sure it is cohesive with the rest of your home. No, that doesn’t mean if your home was built in 1974, that your remodeled bathroom needs to still look like 1974. But if the rest of your home is traditional, don’t go ultra modern in one room, and vice versa. The home won’t feel unified and if you decide to sell your home in a few years, might make it harder to sell. There are, however, ways to incorporate newer finishes or style in a room, that can still tie in with the rest of the home. There is something called transitional style that is a good mix between traditional and contemporary. When it comes to a new home, this can apply to the finishes you choose. If you select more traditional cabinets in the kitchen, try to stick with that throughout the rest of the home, as well.
Remodeling or designing a home is no easy task, but you can learn from others’ mistakes so that the process and experience is smooth and you minimize regret in the end. Your designer, builder, or even friends and family who have been through the process can all help.
Photo: courtesy Tracy Tesmer Design/Remodeling