Renovation Mistakes & Design Nevers

The most recent update on the flip house revealed our flooring installer cut the edge of the flooring in the master bathroom too short. I had plans for a floating vanity, and he assumed we were installing a cabinet base, so the vinyl planks were trimmed to where he assumed the vanity base would sit. I didn’t make it crystal clear to my installer that the flooring was to go all the way to the wall which means I have to have him come back and redo the flooring.

These things happen with any renovation. There was that one time I had a contractor remove a soffit for cosmetic reasons only to discover it was there to cover necessary pipes and I had to pay to have it built again. Oops!

Every space remodel teaches me something new. I have yet to experience a perfectly smooth renovation where expectations are met from start to finish. Some of the lessons I’ve learned over time? Budgets are key, but often I go over the budget with unexpected expenses (ahem, that tile I simply must have) so with that expectation I add an “extra expenses” column to anticipate it. Remodels never ever finish on time so I relax, breathe deeply, and expect that when I’m given a date it most certainly won’t be done by then.

Last year I came across a great article on Houzz called “design nevers” with tips from readers sharing their personal renovation and decorating experiences. For any of us who have lived through a remodel, we have stories to tell, some of them headaches or mistakes, some are success stories.

Some of the tips I agree with in the article: “Never ever do something because it is a trend. Do it because you love it”. Yes to that! Wood beaded chandeliers and ikat fabric? Yep, still loving both.

Another good one: “Never ever sign a contract/agreement without reading it. Read the whole agreement — each and every clause. Understand what you are reading/signing. If you don’t, ask someone. Make sure everything you were promised verbally appears in writing.” I’ve been burned on this before, so these are wise words.

Some of the tips in the article I don’t agree with. “Never paint a bedroom until you’ve picked out the bedding”. Not necessarily. If you’re painting a bedroom (or any room) a soft neutral with muted undertones you should be fine most of the time, and you can layer later with the fabrics you choose (like in this shelter family room.) However if you’re opting for a bold hue on the walls, then the textiles in the space should be considered.


Another tip I don’t agree with? “Never put the kitchen sink in a corner.” On the contrary, a corner sink can totally work, especially one that sits underneath windows; my brother’s kitchen remodel is the perfect example of that.




Never leave subcontractors alone on a renovation. Try to be there 24/7.”  Not always true and often impractical. Yes, I’ve heard horror stories from friends about how subs have gotten things way wrong, so yes constant communication is soooooo very important but I think breathing down their neck 24/7 is a not necessary. Give clear instructions, let them get started on the work, and check in every few hours or at the end of the day.

I love being a part of the conversation in the design and home improvement community. As much as I await the glorious final reveal of a space, some of my favorite posts or comments are always the lessons learned. Perhaps you have some insight to share or a story to tell?

What’s one decorating or renovation lesson you’ve learned on your home improvement journey? If you’ve written about it, feel free to share the link!


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