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:
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!)
Apparently I just blew it on the faucet. :) I was scared to go with brass for my kitchen faucet and now I wish I had been ballsier and listened to my inner voice and not the other people who thought it was crazy to do a brass faucet. I’m glad I went for it in my master bath, because daaaaaammmnnnn do I love it. But trying to find a single lever antique brass faucet with a pull down spray is like trying to locate and capture Nessie. The only one I found that comes close is this one (aptly named The Henry), and it probably costs the same amount as a Honda, and still has a side spray.
I still love my white subway with grey grout but I wish I had done two things- 1) run the tile all the way to the ceiling around the doorway to the mudroom and around the window above the sink. I also forgot to specify the spacing I wanted (assuming things makes an ass of–well, just me) and they did it way tighter than I had wanted. I wish I had said something and had them redo it instead of just feeling too guilty to ask them to make it right.
Speaking of that, I also let a lot of the punch list items go because I was so sick of construction and just wanted all the workers out of my house. And now all those little things (a poorly patched ceiling, a busted baseboard, crooked light switches) really drive me crazy. I’ll have them all fixed at some point, but I paid for them to be right and I should have stuck to my guns and made sure the details were all taken care of.
When renovating our guest bathroom (at the time, our only bathroom) we found out our tile in the tub was a “mud job” which means the tile was set into concrete in the walls, which makes for a pricier demo and replacement. We also have a cast iron tub in there where is harder to get rid of. So instead we kept it and just had the tub and tile re-enameled. And now it looks like this (and also, my life is 90% baby toys):
I SO SO SO wish I had bit the bullet and just replaced it all when the bathroom was gutted. The plumber even said “are you SURE you don’t want to do this now?” I don’t want to re-enamel the tub again because the fumes are brutal and with Henry around I’m more cautious of that sort of thing. And replacing it will mean I have to redo the bathroom floor which doesn’t really need to be redone. Bummer. Lesson learned. Sometimes spending a little more up front means you will save down the road. Rip the bandaid off once, people!
OMG, never, ever do bright white grout on a mosaic floor like I did in my now guest bathroom (you can see some of it above- nasty). Yes, it looks so fresh and clean for like , the first hour its in, and then it turns dingy and dirty instantaneously. Since it looks like I will be redoing this floor anyways, I will get a do-over on this bad choice. Light grey or beige is always a safe bet!
One thing we’ve run into is that the old portion of our house runs on one central air/heat zone (after we added it when we did our second phase of the renovation, the addition is on it’s own zone and works great). We were grateful that the existing ductwork in the old part of the house was wide enough that we didn’t have to redo it all for the new central system to work. However “good enough” has turned into an issue in that the two upstairs bedrooms don’t get enough cool air in the summer because the system shuts off when the downstairs is cooled to the proper temperature. I wish we had upgraded the venting when the walls were open or created an additional zone for the two bedrooms. Drat. We’re looking into adding a smaller system to cool those two room but placing the condenser is turning out to be tricky and I don’t really want those big wall units because, well…design.
Luckily, most of the big ticket things we did- the floors, cabinets, counters, lighting, etc all still make me very happy! And from making these mistakes I am a better designer for it! What was your biggest renovating or decorating mistake? Let’s commiserate!
Photos by Sarah Winchester, Michael Partenio and my stupid cellphone.
Thanks for the update – it’s a great help to know what worked and what you’d change. I must say i do love my single lever faucet – now that you are juggling a toddler, i’m sure you get the beauty of being able to turn it on/off with one hand (or elbow!) .
In the “i’d love to see a post on / your opinion of” blog idead – Current Trends – specifically wood look tile -is it a fad, a good idea, crazy, fun, why would you want tile to look like wood? I’d love to hear your take on the issue.
And while we’re at it – floating shelves – i.e no brackets holding them up. (esp. with subway tile) in the kitchen – I like it, and am thinking of using it on a job, but again, will it look dated? Love your opinions! (and that adorable husband and baby…)
I am renovating a home and would love to see a shot of your kitchen that includes the range! I know so many people who want this as the jewelry of the kitchen and would love a post on what you thinks makes for a high-end look? Do you like legs or no legs, etc. Just an idea for another blog post! LOVE all these kinds of “process” and mistake posts! Thanks!
I LOVE this post! I always appreciate your transparency, Erin. We rushed to complete some mini-renovations before moving into our home two years ago, and there are a few things that bug me daily. I think I’ve learned my lessons for the next reno, but I’m sure I’ll find something else when the time comes. I’m afraid I’m just wired to find something to fix! It’s why I can’t hang my own artwork in my home… I always want to change or add to it after it’s on the wall! Us perfectionists are our biggest critics after all. (Thank you so much for sharing Henry with us. He is just the sweetest!!)
we remodeled our kitchen/family room 2 years ago…total gut, down to the studs, up to the rafters…the whole 9 yards. i love everything except the paint on the cupboards. it is very expensive lacquer. smelled horrid, very tricky to apply (most was done at the cabinet shop). 2 years later and our beautiful custom cabinets are scuffed and peeling. i will never ever EVER use lacquer again. the fix will be difficult and smelly and i don’t look forward to it. now we’re in the midst of a 2 bathroom gut and remodel. same contractor — good guy, high standards and great subs. this time, the paint on the new custom cupboards is a gloss latex and it’s great. if it ever chips, it’s a quick touch-up. thanks for all the great suggestions from everyone.
I have to say I love that old tub and the lines at the base and how
“built-in” to the wall it is. I’d do anything to save it. I tried to save our old cast iron tub from our original 1947 house when we renovated but my builder told me it could not be moved (which it had to be as our old bathroom is now a laundry room). The new tub I bought, well it’s just a tub. Also we had the tile you speak of and boy was it tough to get off by those in charge of demo. So sad the enamaling didn’t work but as a nurse I agree no fumes in the house w/ a baby or even a mom and dad . You all matter too much! So I’ll just keeping looking at the lines at the base of that tub in your original picture… swoon!
Re: The problem with the air con being inadequate upstairs. We bought a freestanding floor unit that fit in a corner of the bedroom. Yes, it’s unattractive, but not anywhere near as bad as a window unit and much easier to manage in the off season. Shove in the corner and ignore. It was worth for the sleeping comfort in the summer.
i’m just finishing up a 7 month renovation. every single decision i made was agonizing. things i regret (without having lived in the house yet lol)- i told the person helping me pick plumbing fixtures at ferguson that i wanted a huge single basin sink. i got a 30 inch one. big, yes, but last night i was at a friend’s house and hers was 35-40 in. i now have sink envy.
my cabinet person ditched my corner lazy susan. she put in 2 regular cabinets. after my final order was put in… she just changed it without discussing it with me. now there’s just a big dead space under the counter. while the 2 cabinets may function better, i had stuff designated for that cabinet and it is going to bug me FOREVER knowing that there’s unused real estate.
i wish i had done a dish pantry. i have a lot of dishes. i also converted a charming old dresser into a vanity for my powder room. but bc i haven’t picked a wallpaper yet, i didn’t refinish it. now i’ll have to paint it installed (they can’t move it bc the backsplash is set). not ideal but oh well.
i am going to love my spice cabinet, oil and vinegar pull out (8 feet tall). i sprung for quartz counters, a steam shower in the master, a free standing nugget ice maker and a 36 in sub zero fridge with a 24 in freezer- NO REGRETS.
Super helpful post for someone just starting a reno project! Thanks for sharing and would love more of this in the future!
What a refreshing and honest post! I feel like so much of what we see in “blogland” is never talked about again once it is installed and the after photos are put up. I agree with you, learning from your mistakes makes you a better designer for your clients and a better advisor for your blog readers :) Thank you!
[…] wrong. If you’re looking to renovate or remodel, you must read the home renovation edition of THINGS I WISH I HAD DONE DIFFERENTLY. […]
Great post- always important to speak up. Just now finding your blog, and looking forward to reading more!
Look at Waterstone
Contemporary PLP Pull Down Kitchen Faucet
Model No. 5800
Available in Antique Brass – Stunning !
This is such a refreshing post, Erin and I can totally relate! I don’t always speak up with my own home renovations, because I also want it to just be over. But with my clients, every detail is checked. I will definitely speak up more for my own home in the future and it has made me better with the details, learning this lesson. Great post!
I was also scared to use brass for my kitchen faucet but I’m glad you eventually saw the light as did I.
When we re-did our bathroom we also didn’t replace the tub – I didn’t want the hassle (which doesn’t really make any sense because the bathroom was already ripped down to the studs). Big mistake. So then we had a nice new bathroom with an old tub.
The “we don’t need to measure” statement always backfires!
Loved this round up- but these are all things that I think only you notice while you’re living your every day there– to everyone else and especially on this blog- your home looks absolutely beautiful!
These comments really reinforce the idea that speaking up is key. My grandmother actually had a family member do her renovations, and even then, she ended up with regrets about things she let them talk her into/out of. It’s simultaneously sad and empowering to realize this is something so many of us struggle with. I’ll definitely keep it in mind as I plan for the future.
Ha ha, it’s toughest when it’s your own house, and you’ll notice things and keep seeing them for years to come. I’ve spent years looking up at ceilings and wondering about the geometry of the light fixtures vs. the paneling. Nobody else seems to have ever noticed. Fortunately I never told anybody about it either, or somebody might’ve thought I was crazy.
Seriously, do you really think the faucet and the light fixture in the kitchen need to be the same metal? They seem to have different functions, and I’ve seen perfectly nice kitchens where one is ultra-modern and the other very traditional. But then again, maybe their owners are looking at them every day and wondering: Huh….
Erin, I REALLY really love this post because it reminds me that we are all human and making mistakes and learning. I especially love the pic of the crack in enamel in bathroom. I have something similar in my 1960 Colonial. I actually just did a blog post on some of the funky things in my home I am digging my way out of… http://www.annaversacidesign.com/blog
But as for mistakes, I would say whenever working with new contractors I’ve learned to always hover a bit and immediately spot a problem so they know I am on it and won’t let things slide. I know I’m slightly (or highly) annoying to them but it helps me figure out who the good ones are and who gives up too easily or gets lazy. I learned the hard way when I ran out for grout once while my tile installer was putting up a backsplash (It was going to be a charcoal gray on white subway tile) and apparently he was on some heavy stimulants because when I got back the entire backsplash was up AND grouted in WHITE (he just decided) because I “took too long” – about an hour??? – So I am now extra annoying with all subs so they know I won’t tolerate any shortcuts.
Hi – what spacing would you recommend for the subway tiles in the kitchen and bath? I plan to use as backsplash and also the inside of the shower? Thanks!
YOU are SO the REAL DEAL!!! Good Luck!! franki
I still have a punch list in my bathroom, 1 1/2 years later! The contractor rushed me through process saying they would be done within a month!!! Two 1/2 months later, I was stuck with a floor color that I was not committed to, a tub that was not my first choice. Needless to say I’m living with it! I’m also in the middle of remodeling my friends kitchen and let me just say…you are right!! I will definitely make sure everything is done correctly. Stay true to my ideas and not worry about the taking a risk for what I really love!
Not speaking up!!! I had that problem in my teeny tiny bathroom and ended up having to patch a crack in the wall (and repaint) and take a dremel to the floor grout where it wasn’t wiped off properly. Ugh! So many other “shoulda coulda woulda’s” but I think most of them are just due to more/better taste/resources now. Since it hurts too much to live with all this regret I just try to think that I made the right decision given all the information available at the time.
Hi Erin – Great Post. I have an idea about the faucet situation. First of all having a pulldown faucet is a huge life improvement. Its not really a HUGE splurge (like most home updates :) but has made a huge difference for me. For the other cutouts in your counter top you could consider a hot water dispenser and a soap pump. Both have been wonderful additions to daily life. I’m a big tea drinker so instant hot water is a-maz-ing. And a pump soap dispenser keeps everything tidy and is actually cheaper bc you can buy bulk soap in an ugly jug! I’m not sure what you would do with the third cut out, maybe a lotion dispenser? You could also get a faucet with a cover for the extra cut outs :)
You could use one of the holes for the garbage disposal air switch button, too!
I wish we had put insulation in the ceilings of the rooms with TV’s. It is a maddening afterthought when we have crown and pot lights – and no popcorn ceilings. Because of joists, I had to compromise on my master bathroom layout. The costs were ridiculous, but now I wish I had found the money to get what I wanted.
Thanks so much for sharing, as always. I have to say that I’m surprised about your tub peeling. In our hall bath I had the tub reglazed 5 years ago and it looks brand new, still. This bathroom takes a lot of abuse from 4 teenage girls who treat it like they are football players in a school locker room. The white grout between the marble tiles is the only thing showing the abuse and I’ll likely have to remedy that somehow.
If you live in MA, would you mind sharing who reglazed your tub? We have an antique clawfoot tub that needs to be redone. Thanks!
Totally not related but I am headed to Boston and didn’t know if you had a post of your favorite restaurants/ must dos! If so can you let me know!
Here’s a lessons learned from a designer of several years and literally NEVER heard of this until my own home: oil based paint in a white will most definitely yellow if not exposed to enough natural light! Especially if it sits next to a white tub or tile,etc… You will notice it yellow within a few months. Not an easy fix to sand down old cabinets or moulding, but if you want a “fresh white” you can’t use a latex over it :(
I found out the same lesson the hard way re the oil based whites. However a very experienced painter told me the way around this is to tint it very very slightly black to eliminate the yellowing.
I totally hear you about refinishing bathroom tub and tile, rather than replacing. My house was purchased with a reglazed tub and tile, which is now chipping/peeling just as yours did. Talk about a short term fix (been in the house 2.5 years, no kids so minimal wear and tear)! Can’t wait to rip it all out and make it clean and new. Thanks for sharing your lessons learned.
Just finished a new build, and man, do I relate to this post!! i had good luck with Kohler faucets, and they have a BEAUTIFUL brushed bronze:
This is our kitchen faucet and I am in love with it!!! The brushed bronze is a ‘cool’ gold ; the website doesn’t do it justice. Plus, functional!!! With a house full of boys, that is key!!
Your home is beautiful, I would never notice the grout spacing, just how lovely it all looks together. I laughed at your comments on white grout: I chose white grout for the small hex tile floor IN MY BOYS BATHROOM?!?!? I may be insane, but it just looks so pretty……
If you can, try to seal the grout. It will change the color of the tile a little, but it will save you from staring at dirty grout.
I LOVE posts like this. Thank you for sharing as well as everyone who commented! Love learning from other people and I’m taking notes as I am a relatively new interior decorator and wanting to avoid as many mistakes as possible!
Would you mind making a post about kid/pet friendly furniture? We will be replacing a couch, rug, coffee table, etc. and will hopefully have a bambino in the next year. I would love your advice on materials that will hold up to spills and drool, while still being stylish.
Great post. Your comments, Erin, and the readers’ comments make this a truly helpful, design-inspiring post. I don’t have the money or home to renovate (ha!), but I’m itching for the day I can start. Also, the pull down sprayer on the faucet – YES.
I love your list of regrets. Everyone has them. My single biggest dislike is dirty grout. All the beautiful floors tiled with small tiles and lots of grout always make me moan! I dream of bathtub walls and bathroom floors sheathed in sheets of beautiful marble and NO grout. I hate grout because it never stays clean looking.
Any one want to share some advice on renovating a Master Bath? I’m just beginning to tackle the project. I want to take out the Jacuzzi tub, make the shower larger and expand the closet.
If any one has any photos they’d like to share, I’d appreciate it.
We renovated our master bath a couple of years ago. We had our designer do the interior elevations, and I had everything picked out in advance down to the wall paint color and the cabinet knobs, and it enabled our contractor to come in precisely on budget and on time. Completely gut the space while you can. Our contractor initially ripped everything out except the ceiling drywall, but my husband insisted that he rip that out as well. We took everything down to the studs, even though we weren’t increasing or changing the bath footprint. Might as well start fresh with everything while you can! Like you, we got rid of a jacuzzi and replaced it with a large soaking tub, which I love and use all the time. One thing that makes me happy every day is the electric outlet inside the center cabinet where I keep my hairdryer plugged in. Love that it remains plugged in but out of sight. Also happy that I insisted on hardwood floors. Our contractor was pushing porcelain tiles that look like real wood, but I knew that keeping the flow of hardwoods from our bedroom into the small master bath would be important to me, and it hasn’t been a problem maintaining the wood floor at all. Plus I liked the contrast of dark-stained wood floors against white cabinets, tile, and tub. We had four sconces installed in the mirror above the double vanity, which is a look I like, but that was a tricky install, and I find that the sconces get loose, revealing the cuts in the glass, and have to be tightened from time to time. Finally, I am very happy that I went with a white quartz marble lookalike countertop and tub surround (by Caesarstone). I have marble in my kitchen and a different marble lookalike in my laundry room (by Cambria), and I love the look and easy maintenance of the quartz vs. the marble. Don’t regret that choice a second, especially when nail polish or remover drips on the countertop!! Best of luck with your project!
Jody, just finished our master bath remodel. The Jacuzzi whirlpool HAD TO GO. I hated it. The bathroom is large and I was prepared to install a freestanding tub, to the tune of $9,000 plus the “pot filler”. My contractor, bless him, suggested a built-in bench with back, and storage drawers underneath. Best decision EVER! More storage, a place to sit and it looks really pretty with a custom made cushion. And a lot cheaper! We already have a nice new acrylic tub in another bathroom (yes, we took out the cast iron tub!) , so we didn’t need another tub. We increased our shower by 18″ deep for a bench. Plenty big and easy to keep clean (definitely use that “super grout”). Good luck.
If the expert made mistakes now I’m really nervous to tackle my own kitchen reno next summer (without any designer help). We are only changing countertops/sink, painting cabinets (which are honey toned maple, but now I don’t know if that’s a good idea even if its done professionally? I just dislike the circa 2007 color of them), changing the kitchen island (adding seating at the end cap versus the side where it’s too close to the fridge and pretty much just makes me insane everyday), and refinishing floors/painting walls. We are hiring a contractor, and have no plans to do anything ourselves other than picking things out. Because it took me almost 2 years to convince my husband we should renovate the kitchen (which is huge and nice enough, just very dark), I’m scared of picking the wrong things. This is a one time reno (and being planned while we are still living in London through next June), and once we move back to Seattle, we don’t plan to sell until our youngest goes to college in 8 years, I know my husband will be all about resale appeal. I’d rather love what I will be spending the majority of my day in! I only have a year to figure it all out, maybe that’s too long!
I want to paint my cabinets too, but I am worried that it will hold up. What have you heard about it?
I once had a client burst into tears when her oversized plates didn’t fit in the upper kitchen cabinets (it was a stressfull remodel and this was the last straw). needless to say I always make my uppers 13″ deep now.
Redid upstairs carpet and happy but settled for basic cream for stairs. Really wanted a pretty wool blue stripe but family members discouraged me. Now that my entry is all cream I regret not added this dose of personality!! Live and learn! (May change it anyway!)
I’m with you for grout spacing and color… And tiling bigger areas such as a whole bathroom wall and not just between the vanity and mirror… Next house (if that ever happens lol)!
We have one zone for our central air and heat, too, and our bedroom gets so hot in the summer while the rest of the house is freezing. We had a ceiling fan in our room before we installed the AC, and I stupidly gave it away. I’m tempted to buy a new one and go that route again. They really work, and it’s so much cheaper than fussing with all the other systems.
Hi Erin! After seeing your beautiful bath makeover in your book, I did the same in my 1940s home … reglazing tile and cast iron bathtub. So far so good, with exception to a few dings that happened when my shower curtain rod fell down and into the freshly reglazed tub. Ugh. I also installed the exact same marble tile on my floor with the white grout and am having similar issues with the grout looking dingy. I had a contractor visiting my house recently and he suggested marblelife.com. I have no affiliation with this company and have not checked out but will soon, based on his recommendation. Just a heads up if you want to check it out.
Great tips! I put a waterstone goose head faucet in my house. The quality is amazing! Very pricey though. Check them out:
I have the traditional PLP in chrome. I only have three holes in stone but they do have 4 and you might find this a solution! Good luck!
OMG YOU SAVED ME!!!! I also am renovating my only bath in my 60 yr old home and had decided to re-enamel the tub and mud tile based on your reno. My tiler is skeptical and wants me to rip out everything and do a carrera walk in shower (she said the re-enamel would bubble or peel) but I was refusing. UNTIL NOW!!! Thanks so much!!!
DO IT!!!!!!!!! 100%. Phew!
I love a pulldown faucet. Actually, I like a pullout. I know you feel like you can’t change b/c you have four holes, but I have four holes: air switch for disposal, hot water dispenser, faucet and soap. If I were you, I would change. You will love the convenience. Your house is beautiful. You made great choices from what I can see.
I have to agree about just wanting contractors out of your house. Sometimes I know there are things I want fixed, but I think I’ll deal with it later or it’s not that bad. Of course it’s going to drive me crazy! Forgetting to mention something I want to a contractor is also another issue. When I see clients I write down everything, but I make mental notes that I later forget when it comes to my own home.
We built an addition to extend our kitchen, which we love, but there are several mistakes we have to live with:
1. Not listening to the HVAC contractor who suggested that we do heated floors. Our kitchen is located over a garage, and in the winter, the floor gets super cold. Doing heated floors would also heat the room better.
2. I regret using the custom cabinet person we ended up going with. He seemed so likable and confident during our meeting, but ended up screwing up a few things…like giving us a narrow corner cabinet that folds out instead of pushing it in (attached to a lazy susan).
3. Same cabinet company built a kitchen desk for us which is absolutely ridiculous. I can’t fit under the desk if I sit on a chair with a cushion…my legs will brush against the top of the middle drawer. All the drawers (except for the bottom file drawers) are so small (like an inch depth). I should have sent it back, but it was at the end of a year-long renovation and I wanted it done. They couldn’t install our granite for the entire kitchen until that desk in place, which is why I approved the stupid thing. I wanted counters!
4. To save money, I had a different contractor install cabinet crown molding, but the paint doesn’t match the cabinets and after my addition settled, I needed to touch up the cracks between the cabinets and molding.
5. Same cabinet company designed a vent hood cabinet to match the shaker style doors, but the proportions are off. I’m used to it now, but it still gets my goat when I think we paid so much for these custom cabs and we’d have been better off going with a nicer line from Home Depot.
We are about to tackle a master bedroom and bath reno and I’m dreading it.
Doing a whole house reno and ordered the Waterston 5300 unlacquered brass finish and I can’t wait!!! Thanks for the tips!
Erin, just wanted to say that I found this to be a really great post. Would love to see more like this!
Love this post as I am in the midst of a 6 month gut reno and addition. Grout colors – noted. Thank you!
Funny, I was JUST thinking of blogging about this same subject. I think learning in our own homes – though rough – is better than in a client’s. For me, it’s probably not speaking up when I wasn’t happy with the quality of a particular area of workmanship or material bc our contractor was soooooo reasonable. I just figured I had to suck it up bc I was “getting what I paid for.” Most people can’t tell the difference, but I know it, and it bugs.
FYI, I have this single-lever pull out from Hansgrohe in polished nickel and LOVE it!
My best reno advice is don’t give up on what you really like. Keep looking. I really wanted a Newport Brass faucet, but is was like three times what I could pay and there was no way hubs was going for that. I found it on eBay for $300! Best find ever. It is beautiful and I will have it forever.
Great article! Would love to know where you got the kitchen pendants!
Great question!. OK, one of my worst decorating mistakes was talking my husband into painting our exterior frame house pink! Yes, pink! We lived in SC at the time and I was wanting a soft coastal Charleston pink with Charleston green shutters & door. But the paint I picked ended up looking like a Pepto Bismol cousin. Eeeeks. Yeah, we finally sold that house and lesson learned.
California Faucets (available on efaucets.com) makes a wide range of attractive brass single lever pull-down faucets – in case it’s helpful!
All very good lessons. The one I can relate to is the punch list. After a big project I know the feeling of just wanting to enjoy what I created and not deal with contractors anymore, but you are right, it will hit you later. I have a few things on my punch list for my backyard and have considered letting them go, but this was a timely post for me, so I am calling my landscaper today!! Thank you!
Thanks for this post! My husband and I are planning on building our house, and are trying to make a lot of decisions upfront without the need to change them (since I hear that is how the budget often gets blown). For the grout, I thought there were sealants to protect it from staining? Or is your complaint that the surface dirt needs constant attention? Thanks! Love the blog.
I am so thankful to you for posting this! I just recently asked my plumbing showroom guy about reglazing my old cast iron tub and he warned me that it was a very temporary fix. It’s very helpful to see what it looks like after such a short amount of time. Sorry you’re dealing with it but hey, now you get to design a new bathroom! ;o)
AC temporary fix – try the Ecobee. We have the same issue and can’t do much about it so we have an Ecobee system. You can add as many temp sensors as you want and then tell it which sensor to read from when. At night we have it read from my daughters room since it is the hottest and during the day, when everyone is gone, it reads from the downstairs where it is cool. It will change your bill but it does get the job done for the time being.
As for the white bathroom grout–I just re-grouted a shower floor (white tile, white grout) with Spectra Lock epoxy grout. It is fantastic!!! Would never use anything else in a bathroom in the future. Getting the old grout out was seriously painful, but the epoxy was easy to use, not smelly as I expected, and just bomb proof. It is sanded, so probably can’t be used with more delicate tiles that might scratch, but I’m guessing those won’t be in a shower or on the floor anyway.
I also have the Delta Trinsic faucet in Champagne Bronze in my kitchen (actually two–one for the main sink, and a smaller version without the pull-down sprayer for the coffee area sink). It works great.
I agree on taking the tile up to the ceiling. I have two original frameless windows in the kitchen and took tile around them up to the ceiling. The edge around the window was done with white metal Schlutter strip–it is perfect.
As for subway tile, I did white/white too, but with highly textured Walker Zanger Cafe tiles in milk crackle. OMG every time I see it I love it more. It reflects light so beautifully. Want to tile everything.
I did 2 kitchen renovations in 2 years (we renovated, then sold, and bought a house and renovated immediately). I sell tile and stone for my JOB and I hate the countertops I put in our current (forever) home. Black Absolute Honed shows every single crumb, water spot, streak, etc. I had honed Venatino in my last kitchen and loved it and should have just done the same thing, but I didn’t want to do the same kitchen twice. I also loved my pale blue 2×6 subway backsplash but again wanted to do something different and went with white painted brick in a herringbone, which is fine but kind of blah. I should have just done the same kitchen over again, because I already knew that I loved it.
I’m looking at similar issues in our house – like who puts white tile with white grout in the most-used bathroom?? – but we’re not sure we want to spend a ton because this probably isn’t our forever house. Always better to spend more up front, though, and not deal with issues later!
Alyssa @ Feathers and Stripes
Awesome post, Erin! It’s so refreshing to know that we all make mistakes!
One of my biggest ones to this date was ordering a sofa that didn’t fit in the elevator of our apartment building or the narrow stairs up to the 7th floor. Luckily, I could sell it and make a better choice but sometimes we get so focused on what would look great in a room, that we forget how on Earth will it get there! We’ve since moved but lesson learned!
My biggest mistake was hiring a guy to level our kitchen and breakfast area walls after tearing down wallpaper that was applied to drywall with no primer. Oh…. he did a great job. My mistake was hiring him by the hour rather than by the job.
And I agree with the punch list. Do not let up on the punch list because you will regret it later when that dent in the ceiling is all you see while eating breakfast or that crooked vent in the bathroom is all you see when cleaning up for guests to spend the weekend.
But my 83-year-old dad says don’t sweat it… because even if you think you’ve found the perfect home or renovated your home into your perfect home it will never really be perfect. Nothing and no one ever is. Once we learn this one simple truth we will breathe easier…
Thanks so much for sharing. Will keep your bathroom tips in mind as we are embarking on our own bathroom remodel
My parents live in a 1920s Tudor home and they also reglazed their tub. They have the same issue… It started chipping. Meanwhile, no one uses that tub so there is no reason why it should be chipping. The guy also told my mom, are you sure you don’t want to get a new tub? Her response was the same as yours.
I also redid my bathroom with the same tile floor that you have and also have those dirty areas that never seem to get clean :(
If it’s any consolation, I completely disagree about the faucet! I think that the aesthetic superiority of a widespread faucet vastly outweighs any loss of convenience. I really hate the look of basically all pull-down faucets. They just cheapen the look of the space, there’s no getting around it. I went with a Perrin & Rowe widespread gooseneck with separate sprayer, and I think it’s beautiful and that it would be a real loss to the overall look of the space if I had a pull-down, single lever faucet in its place. It’s elegant and weighty and I wouldn’t change it. I think you made a great choice!
I agree! I hate look of pulldown faucets…..for functionality I have one in my laundry – to deal with messy things that dogs and kids get up to…..and for washing dishes I love my widespread faucet….another great supplier is Rocky Mountain Hardware- right here in Idaho- solid construction and endless color choices- also the price of a Honda though- like waterworks! But huge discount to designers for their own homes…..
I wonder whether you could switch out the handles for single levers to each side? I have a Perrin & Rowe polished nickel gooseneck faucet, with single levers to the right and left, and I have perfected the art of using the back of my wrist to turn the water on and off without actually touching the lever with messy hands. Works for me!
My biggest regret is not speaking up while the tile people were starting and having the grout lines larger/wider. I think they are too thin and it bugs me. It’s my kitchen floor and I love it but still regret this mistake. I was being nice. When we had an upstairs bath floor done you better believe I spoke up!!!! Sorry mom, being nice is not always the way to go!!!
I made the opposite mistake – should have had contractor re-do subway tile with gray grout when they put in too wide of lines. So expensive to re-do at this point. Plus now it looks even worse because we had a plumbing leak a year after reno and had to remove and replace some tile to access the leak and fix it. So now those tiles are all wonky. YUCK.
LOL…my husband had the same insistence on the pulldown/single handled kitchen faucet. It was a good choice, but the area under the single handle makes me crazy because it always seems to be wet from our compulsive hand washing habits.
We renovated our kitchen first and some things were not straight/correct when the contractors were finished and I didn’t want to complain because I just wanted to be alone in my house for once – but the things that were wrong bug the crap out of me now. For instance, I ASKED that they use BM’s Chantilly Lace/Decorator’s White when repainting the entire house, but they had the colors matched using another brand of paint…and it was all too warm/too yellow. Guess who has spent many weekends repainting trim?
With the bathrooms, I learned my lesson and included the brand specifics and that labor milestones/payments would be based on my approval in the contract. There hasn’t been one bit of rework and I love them.
if you ever decide to change up the kitchen faucet, I would consider installing an instant hot faucet. We have one and it is amazing! We can have hot tea instantly, it’s great for rinsing things out quickly (not waiting for hot water out of the main faucet) and it’s great for heating up bottles. I don’t know if they make them in an antique brass finish, but it would use up one of your ‘extra holes’.
Also for extra holes, soap dispenser and air button for the disposal.
Regarding the AC zones issue, look into a handheld thermostat. My mechanical contractor mentioned that this would be a good idea for our home (which has the downstairs kitchen/den and upstairs master suite all lumped into one zone) so that you have the temp reading in the living space downstairs in the daytime and then you can bring it upstairs with you when you go to bed at night! Could work?!
Also, it’s so refreshing to heard from other designers that have regrets over decision making along the way. It happens to us all!
Great post, and thought-provoking question. We have done three phases of renovation on our 1920 Colonial, and I can completely relate to that feeling of just wanting the workers out of your home! My main regret is fairly small, and it relates to lighting. We had an architect design our plans, and he specified recessed lighting in a few places where we thought it was unnecessary and decided not to put lighting in those spaces to save a little money. And now of course we have dark spots in a few places (think back hallway) where recessed lighting is really the only lighting option. Also, I chose new lanterns to flank our front door that I think are slightly too small. They are the correct size according to the formula (a percentage of the height of your front door), but people are using oversized lanterns today, and the “correct” sized ones now look a bit small. Wish I had sprung for gas lanterns as well instead of electric, but I do use spun thread bulbs that supposedly emulate the look of gas. I think this is why some folks are serial renovators — gives them the chance to do over again and again!
Great post! Appreciate it as we just wrapped up our first renovation in our home … A guest bathroom and so glad we did that before tackling the kitchen, our next project. Oh did we learn a lot!
My biggest mistake was not firing my designer right off when I realized he was not listening to me. My husband liked him personally and would not let me. I would never allow that again.
Have you tried getting someone to balance your HVAC system? If the air flow (CFMs) are adjusted to be higher upstairs and lower downstairs it may alleviate some of the problem (also waaaay less that redoing or replacing). Good luck! Love the blog you are one of my favorites (and now Henry too)!
At the bitter end of a Reno currently and really appreciate the part about the punch list. My husband thinks I’m being unreasonable and I know our contractor thinks I’m a client from hell but every switch, outlet and light fixture will be straight or hung correctly. And all of the paint errors will be remedied… Thank you for writing to stick to your guns because I need that encouragement right now. And good to know, to err is human… We all make mistakes.
If you ever bite the bullet and switch out that faucet–I have Delta’s trinsic faucet in champagne brass in my kitchen and love it. Affordable, works great and has the pull down spray and one lever.
We JUST finished a DIY reno of our full bath and while most of the spur of the moment choices we made turned out to be correct, there is one wrong choice that I’m reminded of every day. During the framing phase we put the blocking for the glass shower door hinges on the same side as the shower head. There is a built-in shelf on the opposite side and during framing it seemed to make sense. BUT NOW when you open the door to get in you are underneath the water spray – as opposed to stepping into the back of the shower and walking into the water at your own pace. As a designer (and NOT a morning person) it’s brutal.
My husband absolutely insisted on a pull-down touchless faucet when we renovated our kitchen and he wouldn’t let it go. I was so grossed out by this aesthetically but just decided to let him have ONE thing. I am so glad I did because it rocks and the good news is these have gotten sleeker and better looking. I now recommend these to all of my clients who are renovating!
I assumed that the Repose Gray paint color we used in some other rooms would look good in my son’s room, as well. It doesn’t. It looks dirty and now we have eleventy other projects that need doing before we go through the hassle of repainting and temporarily relocating a 2 year old.
The worst part is I knew better. I was just in a rush to provide a list of colors so we could buy all of our paint with our contractor’s discount, and should have put some sample swatches in his walls too. :(
We have the zone problem in our house currently. The upstairs gets Sahara hot and I get super cranky and blame Corey. Because, duh. We are staring down the barrel of either a $3500 “cheap fix” or an $8,000 redo. Shoot me.