What You Wish You Knew Before Your Home Remodel

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  • October 28, 2020

With all the time we are spending in the house these days, the opportunity to really SEE our homes has become even more visible. The time in the kitchen cooking three plus meals a day, working from home and having adult children returning to their childhood bedrooms highlights what’s working and what’s not in your home. Which brings me to the purpose of this post: home remodeling. More specifically, what you wished you knew before you started your home remodel. 

Have you done one? Want to do one? Still cringing from the experience of a past renovation? If you are like me, you are watching HGTV and home remodeling shows more than ever. My list of projects has grown tremendously these last 7 months! I see the dents in the wall, scratched floors and inefficient use of space and am ready to get to work. 

So, let’s say you want to do a home or room renovation. Where do you begin? This post is designed to help you accomplish your project with the least amount of mistakes. Feedback from designers, contractors, manufacturers and homeowners are all included to provide guidance for your project.


First things first. While YouTube, the internet and advice from friends and family are helpful, talking to those trained in the field whether interior designers, architects, plumbers, or electricians shouldn’t be ignored as you don’t know what you don’t know.

Truthfully, if you are planning to switch out your bathroom faucet, you probably don’t need to hire an interior designer. But we are talking about more complex projects than this here.

remodel mistakes bathroom

I had the opportunity to talk with Jarret Yoshida of Jarret Yoshida, Inc. Interior Design, about what he’s seen in his business and what suggestions he has for me to share with you. Our conversation was entertaining, loaded with design expertise and filled with stories of “what not to do”. Here are some of the lessons he shared with me.

Home Remodel Do’s and Don’ts

Tip 1: Expertise 

“Not that I take my work hints from Judge Milian on the People’s Court all the time, but as she says, “that which is cheap is dear”. In other words, there is no such thing as a free ride. Sooner or later, you pay.  

When it comes to construction, this tenet is painfully true.  Worse yet, looking for “free rides” usually costs you more money in the end than had you paid fair market in the first place. Choosing a contractor because his price is so much lower than everyone is often a certain path to inconsistency and unreliability. You might get lucky and get great work in a timely fashion. More likely, you get work that ends up costing you more in the long run. I can’t tell you how often we get calls asking us to fix what some general contractor screwed up before or how he left the job mid way with money or major mistakes to remedy that require redoing the whole electric system or even gutting all the work five years later.  Always choose your contractor based on solid references or seeing the work first hand yourself. Hopefully both.”  Jarret Yoshida

Tip 2: Trends

“A big mistake I see is choosing architectural items that are too trendy: Grey washed woods, bead board, accent tiles in bathrooms.  Don’t do it. Your architectural choices should be timeless. If you don’t see it lasting twenty years, avoid it entirely.”  

purple decor
(photo courtesy of Jarret Yoshida)

When it comes to trends, there are a few ways to look at it. First, it’s your home. If designing with trendy tiles and cabinetry is what makes you happy, then go for it. But consider that when you are ready to sell or even in ten years with no intent to move, your home’s look may be dated. Using paint and home decor like rugs and pillows will allow you to more easily and less expensively make a design statement that reflects your tastes. And is not difficult to renovate when you want a new look, unlike this 1970’s family room. 

Tip 3: Paint

One of the most common mistakes people make when choosing color is not sampling the color in the space before painting the entire room. We always recommend painting a small board or piece of foam core and evaluating the color in different parts of the room and throughout the day. This will enable you to see how the color looks with consideration of the light (both natural and artificial) and other surroundings (such as artwork, furniture, etc.), ensuring that you’ll love the color in all scenarios”.  Andrea Magno, Director of Color Marketing & Development, Benjamin Moore

Paint is one of the easiest ways to improve a space. It sets the mood depending on the color you choose. It can make a room feel “clean” and airy or warm and cozy. 

Choose Paint Last:

“For the love of all things beautiful, choose paint last. There are infinite colors of paint. Use paint to harmonize your existing colors not to dictate what your upholstery and woods and stones and tiles should be or you’ll end up needlessly limiting yourself when it comes to material selection and spending time to search for the exact shade of color when all you need to do is tweak your paint slightly for a great complement. Also, stop asking your friends for what paint color they used. It looks good there because of their material palette and light, not yours.”  Jarret Yoshida, Interior Designer

paint colors home remodel mistakes

Home Remodel Quiz

When doing a remodel, think through the real time use of the space. The details really do matter. If you are doing a bathroom remodel and adding a large shower to the room, here’s a quiz for you. Look at the photo and tell me what you think the problem might be with this design.shower design home remodel

Did you guess it? I bet your eyes were drawn to the space size, the cut-out and the fixture placement. But, did you notice that the only way to turn on the faucet is to go all the way in to the shower?  So, unless your plan is to hide in the corner of the shower while the water heats up, you are going to get wet trying to turn the water on and quickly exit. Solution? Have the shower door opening in the middle versus the end of the shower stall.

Since doing a home remodel has more variables than one can imagine, owners’ experiences are also quite diverse. But their messages are very clear and apply to everyone in some capacity. The following tips are a summary of conversations I had with homeowners who have done remodel projects themselves or hired experts at some point in their renovations.

1) Blueprints. Critically important that these are exactly what you want. Review them carefully taking a break from them and then come back a day later. You may notice something you didn’t see the first time you studied the plans. Talk them through with someone who may bring up points you hadn’t thought of.blueprints remodel mistakes

2) Timeline:

  • The order in which you do things is really important. Paint before installing flooring, appliances, kitchen cabinets and bathroom vanities. Easier to touch up paint than have to tape off everything in advance of painting.
  • Know what you need to buy to get your purchase orders in to assure they arrive in enough time to confirm they are the right pieces and in good shape. Open every box when it arrives, not when you plan to install it. 

3) Cheap isn’t the best. You will pay for it in quality, design and workmanship. Interior Designer, Jarret Yoshida, shared the same message above.

4) Decision making. The hardest thing is making decisions on the project from the layout to the materials. If you aren’t on top of this, there will be delays in the work. You will be making what appear to be trivial decisions as well as major ones. Do everything you can to place yourself in that specific space so you can envision yourself cooking on the island. Where exactly will you be using electronic devices that will need an outlet? Make sure you install them in the most usable places. Cabinet with standmixer pop-up, counter-height shelf? Put an outlet in there.

5) Be prepared when it comes to choosing a white paint color. There are hundreds of shades of white paint! These are just a small sampling of Benjamin Moore white paint colors.

six shades of white paint home remodel

6) Get paint samples and bring then to your home to evaluate how they look in the light that you have throughout the room. It won’t look the same in the store, magazine, paint chip or your friend’s house as it does in your space.

“Another factor to consider in your choice are the undertones of the color and if/how they complement other colors in the space that might draw those tones out. In addition to sampling the color in the space, compare similar shades that have different undertones (e.g. warm vs. cool) to help determine the best choice for the space.”  Andrea Magno, Director of Color Marketing & Development, Benjamin Moore

pink paint shade with light

(photo courtesy of Benjamin Moore)

7) Do your homework on your contractor even with reviews.

8) Technology is your friend in a renovation. Use software to help you manage the project. In fact, you can use sites to help you plan your design like Homestyler and Room Sketcher.

9) Change orders. Make sure you have this written agreement in place regarding your approval of any additional work to be done or changes to what was in the contractor’s original budget. You want to know what this will cost you in extra costs beyond the work itself that had been signed off on at the beginning of the project.

10) While you have to have many items for the build, there are some design pieces that you may want to wait on that are easy additions. Give yourself time to live in the space to consider what you really want/need. For example, do you want a pendant light to go in the kitchen or will it block your view?

11) DIYers. When out of your element, hire someone. Think it would be easy to remove popcorn ceilings? “How much time do you have? What’s your time worth? Let a Pro do it. Money well spent.”

12) Doing a bathroom remodel? Make sure your shower floor is not totally flat so the water pools in the corners instead of flowing to the drain. 

13) Countertop edging. While the bullnose look is sleek and beautiful, any liquids will spill off the counter with ease. No straight line edge to slow the impending mess. counter top edging

Lifestyle things to think about:

  • If you are remaining in your home while renovations are going on, consider your pets. All the noise and activity may be too much for them. 
  • Assign a bathroom in your home for the contractors to use while they are working to prevent all bathrooms from being affected by the dirt, dust and debris that comes from working in this environment.  
  • From a design perspective, if your kitchen and bathroom cabinetry are not going to the floor, be prepared to be sweeping and cleaning under them. Having a vacuum system installed is one helpful solution.

Hopefully all these tips and lessons learned will inspire you to create a home that you love being in and are proud to show off. Take advantage of all the resources available in the marketplace to help you with your home remodel and all will go smoothly. 


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