Things I Wish I Had Done Differently: Home Renovation Edition

I may design homes for a living, but that does not mean I’m immunized against making mistakes.  Actually, I make the most mistakes when working on my own homes- mostly because I’m overwhelmed by options and ideas and make decisions on the fly instead of with careful consideration, as I do when working for someone else. “Ehhh, that’ll fit- we don’t need to measure” is a phrase that now gives me chills.

This weekend I began cataloguing some of the things I wish I had done differently in my renovations.  Most of them are from our first phase of the renovation right after buying our house, I think I had learned a lot by the second phase (still obsessed with my master suite).  But in life some of the best lessons come from examining your failures as to not repeat them again! So here we go:


1) My Kitchen Faucet

From the beginning Andrew wanted a pull down spray faucet with a single lever instead of the separate hot and cold handles.  I, of course, love the look of widespread handles and went that direction- beauty over function, a common designer downfall. Now with a baby (and after a couple years of use), I fear I maybe should have listened to Andrew. The issue still stands that finding an attractive single lever, pull down spray faucet is very hard- but there are some good options here, here and here.  This is tough to remedy now that we have four holes drilled in our countertops so I think I’m stuck for now. At least it’s pretty (and MAN do I still love my Blanco sink– the BEST!)

My Lowe’s Basement Renovation Reveal!

We completed the renovation of our basement the week before Henry was born, but it’s taken me until now to get it really ready to show you- obviously I’ve had a lot on my plate! We are SO, so happy with how this turned out- aesthetically and functionally! Andrew is no longer working from home as of next week, but having a home office is so wonderful as is creating a little playroom/ den for Henry. He’s not using it much now, but I know he will! And if Andrew wants to watch a football game with friends (and I don’t), this space is awesome. A big thanks to Lowes and DM Painting & Carpentry for doing the dirty work with a smile (they are GREAT).

You might notice a similar color scheme as our living room upstairs- and this is because I re-homed our pillows from the sofa down here as I prepare a little update to that space (going with blues!) But for down here we needed to be budget friendly so we re-used items we had in other rooms/ storage and got the rest at IKEA, Target and Etsy mainly!

So here it is!


rug // coffee table // sofa // wall color- Sherwin Williams for Lowes-Modernist Gray

Front Walk Update

As I mentioned I’ve been Extreme Nesting- some of it totally just because I want to and some of it necessary. One renovation project I wasn’t planning to tackle right this minute was our ugly, old front walk and stairs.  But then our brick stairs basically crumbled to dust. And I figured, well that can’t be too safe with all our visitors coming to see the baby, so let’s see if we can just repair them.  Turns out, the crumbling old brick and concrete was so far gone we would have to rebuild.  And since we would have to rebuild them it made sense to do it how we’d like them- in granite slab, and replace the purple and maroon walkway stone with bluestone.  Not a easy nor affordable “surprise” fix, but as I always say to my clients- why do it cheaply when you KNOW down the road you’ll want to do it right and then you’ve ended up spending more!  If you can, just rip the band-aid off fast and do it right the first time.  But this one stung, as you know, masonry work is NOT cheap. Not by a mile!


(I also love how my chartreuse door looks with my leopard stair runner!)

Basement Progress & Design Concept

We are closing in on the end of the construction phase of our basement renovation with Lowes Home Improvement!  It’s been awesome working with DM Painting and Carpentry on this- total pros with a can-do attitude, which I love (highly recommend these guys).  We had some big projects- like the addition of our egress window which involved some insanely big saws to cut a big hole in the foundation- but when building code calls for it, you must answer!  We’ve added new electrical, lighting, windows, plaster and today and in the next few days they will install the vinyl plank flooring, little “bar” area and paint the space!

IMG_1023 IMG_1024

Our Basement Renovation Project with Lowes!

When we bought our house we were glad that half of the basement was “finished”.  Well, turns out “finished” was using the term lightly. Not truly habitable, we basically use it as a storage space for our crap.  After we got rid of Andrew’s office to make way for our master bathroom- he had to move his desk down there too.  He works from home, so this kinda sucks for him is BIG way.  So when Lowes wanted to partner up to do a basement makeover with me I jumped at the chance (like, frantically scrambled).  With little Baby Gates on the way and visions of piles of toys in my future, I thought this space could make a great den/playroom and office for Andrew.

Turns out we have to build out the walls a bit for proper insulation and wiring (the wiring right now is super shifty and exterior) so it will be a little but smaller than this, but here is our overall plan to make the space usable.  A spot for a sofa (sleeper?) and media center, a small bar area for drinks and stuff and an area for a desk.  Obviously when the baby gets bigger and actually plays down here we’ll add some more storage for toys.   To keep things contained (and quiet) I want to use a cool reclaimed wood barn door on a track to close off the door opening to the room.  We also have to add an egress window into the space to make it legal (since we took out the basement door when we did our first renovation upstairs).
Gates2 1