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March 22, 2021
The renovation of our office space is rounding the corner and the end is in sight! It’s been weeks upon weeks of nothing but reno for our CEO Olga Vilkova: it’s been a huge learning experience and a great opportunity to get really hands-on with some of our favorite products. We leapt at the chance to make a ton of content, including videos on installing the flooring and painting like a pro, and we can’t wait to share it with you.
In the meantime, we’ve got a whole lot of insight from Olga about the process of the renovation: things she wished she’d known before she started, installation tips she picked up while doing some of these things for the first time, and some thoughts about undergoing an undertaking like this during the pandemic.
BE PREPARED: before the real work begins!
First and foremost: it’ll take longer and cost more than you thought. Building in time and financial buffers will save you a whole lot of grief. Keep in mind that TV is TV, and the idea of a “weekend renovation” is just that - an idea that’s only possible with the manpower and budget of HGTV!
If you’re planning on large-scale renovations that involve tearing anything down, take the extra time to get your hands on blueprints and get familiar with the codes. Any kind of wall construction can be made very complicated (and very expensive) by the electrical or plumbing in the walls, so make sure you know where everything is and what can or can’t be moved. A lot of this is also subject to code - for both commercial and residential renovations - so double check and make sure all the changes you’re planning follow all the regulations.
When you’re thinking about what DIYs you can execute and where you’ll need to call in the pros, keep a couple of things in mind.
Electrical? Don’t even try it. That’s definitely something to leave up to the pros - and remember that it’ll need to be inspected before you can count that chapter closed.
Some DIYs may be less wallet-friendly than they appear; before you jump into doing a project yourself, make sure that all the necessary tools and equipment won’t incur any surprise costs. Olga thought refurbishing some cabinets would be a good way to cut some costs, but between the paint sprayer and the air compressor, the savings went right out the window. (Alas!)
Less is more. Don’t try to fit in every single DIY on your Pinterest board; instead, pick a few and give them the time and effort they’re due. Actually, cut yourself off from Pinterest once you’ve made your decisions - bombarding yourself with more new things and ideas will just give you FOMO.
RENOVATION IN THE TIME OF COVID: some pandemic-specific findings.
We’ve all been living in unprecedented times and adjusting to things that never would have occurred to us. Executing a renovation while a pandemic rages on is one of those unprecedented things. The tl;dr of this section boils down to - if you don’t have to, don’t, but read on to find out some of the things we learned the hard way, so that you don’t have to!
Be aware of chain of supply disruptions. Pretty hard not to be right now - grocery and big-box stores are still experiencing this all the time, so think about how frustrating it’ll be to deal with this in terms of your renovations. A lot of materials aren’t as available as they once were, and in many cases, they’re sold out with no indication of when they’ll be back in stock.
Supply and demand is just as serious an issue. The cost of materials, especially anything involving lumber, has shot way, way up over the course of the pandemic, and a lot of retailers have had to adjust their prices accordingly. Adjust your budget to the increased costs, or wait until prices stabilize to execute your renovation.
Online retail takes longer - seems like a no-brainer, but it’s definitely something of which to be conscious. Not being able to shop in-store, as was the case for a lot of the more locked-down periods of the quarantine and is an ongoing issue for anyone who is immuno-compromised or especially careful, draws out the waiting period and makes each step take longer. And don’t forget: with the increased pressures on the various mail carriers, delays in shipping are still occurring, so be sure to build in extra time.
In that light, one of the biggest tips we can give you is MAKE LISTS. Make lists of your materials and where you can get what, and use those to consolidate your supply runs - this is useful all the time, but especially during the pandemic as we’re still working to limit contact with others. Keep track of your ship dates and tracking numbers, and sign up for automatic notifications. Make note of the “little things” that you’re leaving for last, because those will pile up and will take longer than expected. Write absolutely everything down! (A notes app or a dedicated reno notebook will definitely come in handy here.)
STYLING: tips for going from blank to beautiful
Plan your decor around your space, and not the other way around. Prioritize the elements that have the longest lifespan - such as the flooring and the paint - and make sure they look great in the space and together before you start picking your decor. As easy as it is to focus on one dream piece (like that gorgeous velvet couch you’ve dreamed about for over a year), furniture is far more transient than the bones of the space.
If you aren’t planning to renovate constantly, go with classic elements that won’t go out of style. Geometric wall art might be hot right now, but unless you’re sure you won’t get sick of it or that you’ll be able to build the time and money in to change it when the trend has passed. Keeping the main elements of the space neutral or simple will make sure you don’t find yourself itching to make changes constantly; besides, you can accessorize with bold textiles and art to keep the space dynamic.
If spatial awareness is not your forte, consider this: to see how a piece will factor into a space, tape it out. Creating a visual layout with tape makes to much easier to see how different pieces will interact and what the best orientation for each piece will be - without having to have the piece in front of you!
And once you’ve planned your space out, step away. Let it settle for a couple of days (a week, if you can swing it!) and then come back to it with fresh eyes - you might have some new ideas!
INSTALLATION TIPS AND TRICKS
Consider the way your space will be used - if it won’t be high impact, you can invest in something luxurious and beautiful like a hardwood floor. If it’s high traffic and use, or if pets or kids will be a-romping, consider something more durable and practical, like an SPC.
Less is more, part 2: keep the different finishes/colors to a minimum. There are so many colors and options out there and it can be tempting to try to incorporate everything you like when you’re at the helm of a remodel. Keeping the varying finishes to a minimum will keep everything cohesive - and it’s better for your wallet, too.
Multi-tasking is a no-no. Try to finish a whole space or a whole element before you move onto the next. Bouncing around might be easier for the more distractable types, but it’ll take longer and you’ll probably miss something important.
Dust. You won’t be able to avoid it. It’ll be everywhere. Just - be ready.
When you’re starting an element - getting ready to install a floor, for example - make sure you’ve got all the necessary materials and tools you need to execute every part. Have your trims and baseboards measured out and ready to go before you lay that first plank. If you execute in pieces, your measurements won’t be right, or you won’t have the right tools - plan ahead!
And first and foremost: don’t forget to allot as much attention to prep and clean-up as you do for the actual work portion. They’re the longest, least exciting bits, but they require just as much attention. Be sure to check what can be disposed of curbside and what requires special care.
We hope these insights into our renovation save you time, energy and money - they certainly would have helped us if we had a crystal ball beforehand! If you’re a reno-master and you’ve got other points or handy tricks you’d like to pass on, let us know in the comments - we love to hear from you!
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