Reno Regrets, I’ve Had a Few

4 Things We Learned

15 September 2017

Reno Regrets, I’ve Had a Few

RENO REGRETS?? As our two year long house reno comes to an end, I wish I could pour myself a champagne, sink into a comfy chair, and belt out (albeit badly), Edith Piaf’s “Je Ne Regrette Rien.”. However, while I do love almost every inch of our basically brand new house, if I had to choose a theme song for our reno, it would more likely be Sinatra’s “Regrets, I’ve Had a Few.”
In the interest of saving you from the worry, domestic drama, sleepless nights, and visits to your reiki practitioner often associated with a reno, I have created a list of my own personal regrets. My hope is that you can consider these things BEFORE you start your reno, and not say AFTER you start your reno and find yourself creeping HOUZZ and PINTEREST in the middle of the night looking for solutions to problems of your own making. So here we go,- 4 THINGS WE LEARNED DURING OUR RENO.


Go Towards the Light …But Not That One
We looked for lights forever. And I mean forever. I can’t count how many trips we made to the city or acted on a tip from a friend about some cool lighting store in a suburban strip mall. In the end, we found some fantastic lights. Kohler bathroom lights, for example, were outside our budget, but I purchased some that are just as beautiful at half the price. The light above our dining table also continues to thrill me with it airiness and with the weaved shadows it casts across the room.

But here is where this sweet little lighting narrative takes a turn for the dark (bad pun intended).
Enter the light above our stairwell. He seemed so sweet when I first saw him: retro but modern,
orb shaped like I love, dare I even say fun … but after he was up a few months I had to clean

Our cute little glass fella is a freaking dust monster. There is almost always a dust party in its hipster little belly and then my husband or I have to climb a very tall ladder to clean it. So here is my advice, gentle readers. Unless you have the budget to hire cleaners every few weeks or have a partner with a light cleaning fetish, think about how you are going to clean the light BEFORE you buy it. Sorry my glowing little light buddy, but I regret the day I met you.
I think you can extend this concept to just about anything you buy for a reno. Yes, it looks bedazzling in the store, but will it be easy to take care of? Do not be tempted. Stay strong and even though you may be bedraggled keep looking for something that meets both your pragmatic and aesthetic needs.


Inspect The Work for No Reno Regrets

We have used the same window replacement company for years. Even though the company is big, the owner still personally comes to houses to do the estimates. He makes excellent style recommendations and is willing to work with any budget. I trust him. In fact, I trust him so much I failed to check the work his company did when they replaced the exterior French doors in our bedroom. They look fantastic — from the inside. But months later when I was sitting on the deck I realized that they had used exterior trim work that did not match the frame and structure of the door.

So here is my (admittedly unsolicited) advice. When you have any work done or anything installed: perform a full inspection. Look at it from top to bottom, from side to side, from different angles. Get on your knees and stretch out on your tippy toes to take a critical look. And use the thing right away. Turn the handles, open and shut the doors, flick the switches if there are any.
These final inspections often come at the end of a lengthy process when you are just tired of having workers in your house and are suffering from general reno fatigue. But trust me. Buy yourself a Monster or a Rockstar or whatever energy drinks the youngins’ are into now and get it done. It’s far easier to get an issue addressed while the contractor’s truck is still in in your driveway than to call months later after you realized that a whole piece of trim was missed by the trim company.


Think A Step Ahead No, Make That Two
I love our new kitchen. I mean I really love it. Some days I wake up and say to myself, “Girl you must have been super awesome in another life to deserve the kick-ass kitchen you done got yourself here.” But as much as I am knee deep in full-on Kitchen Love, sometimes a wee exasperation sweeps across my brain and for just a fleeting second, I have a regret. That regret comes in the form of what is often the last decision the battle-worn home renovator makes: which back splash to choose and where to place it.

First off, we visited no fewer than seven tile stores looking for the perfect back splash tile. You would think that after we had narrowed it down to a colour (white) and shape (enlarged subway tile) it would be easy to find what we were looking for. But no. Many lunches were spent over a bowl of restaurant ramen as we took a midday reprieve from our quest to source the perfect tile.But even after leaving Olympia Tile on a first name basis with the kind folks at their samples counter and a tile order placed, another issue emerged.

In a kitchen with wonky lines, where do you start and stop the back splash? I know for most people, this decision is easy. You have a counter and you have the bottom of a cabinet and you put the tile in between. Voila. You are done. Thank your lucky stars and pour yourself a congratulatory martini.
But the decision is not so easy when you have a kitchen with 1) a vaulted, angled ceiling, 2) open shelving and 3) windows and range hoods appearing at inconvenient locations from a design perspective. At the end of the day, we took the path of least resistance and placed the back splash in a place that, while not eye-catchingly deal-breaker bad, is far from perfect.


But even now its location still irks me sometimes. So here is my advice to prevent reno regrets: think ahead. It was really at the design phase of our kitchen reno when I was working with our kitchen cabinetry company that I should have thought, “Hmm.. and what am I gonna’ do about the back splash?”
In my case, it was the back splash that troubled us, but in any home reno there are similar decisions to be made which have repercussions on other decisions down the line. Again, when you are doing a reno it is hard to force yourself to think in the moment let alone ahead a few steps because in most cases you could be diagnosed with a case of Chronic Decision Fatigue. But book a massage, renew your brain energy, and think ahead. You will ultimately save yourself money and lots of trips to the liquor store.


We Must, We Must, We Must Discuss the Loo

Toilets really are the centre piece of the bathroom. If you think about it, we can survive without just about anything in our lives — except for a functioning toilet and Netflix. But because the porcelain god has, let’s face it, a poopy function and lacks the physical beauty of the freestanding tub or the romance of a rain shower, we simply fail to discuss it. But discuss it we must, for when we fail to discuss it we risk getting what I have in my newly renovated bathroom — the wrong toilet.

Yes, I know this is an annoyingly First World Problemo, but I am going to declare my toilet manifesto right here, right now: close-coupled toilets are worth the extra bucks if your toilet is in a room where its side profile is exposed. If you do not know what a closed-coupled toilet it, do not worry, but take heed now.
A closed-coupled toilet is a toilet that is one piece, so the outline of the pipes are not exposed. They are sleek, have nook and cranny less sides that are easy to wipe down, and they are just plain beautiful in particularly a modern or transitional bathroom. And I forgot to put one in our guest bathroom where the side of the toilet is in plain view to all who visit the chamber pot.

My low cost solution to the error was to buy a really nice wastepaper basket and position it beside the toilet so no one sees its side. Is the current toilet and the decoy garbage can a disaster? By all means no. In fact, I am probably the only person on the planet who would notice. But gentle reader, I was this close to getting it right, and I simply did not. But there is hope in you. Please take this torch of toilet knowledge and go forth in your reno world with it.



At the end of the day, for a person with no design background I am very fortunate to have so few regrets at the end of a huge and lengthy renovation. We were blessed with a fantastic contractor, amazing sub-trades, a kitchen cabinetry company that understood our casual style, and a decorator-advisor who each in their own way stopped us from making mistakes of a greater magnitude. But in the next reno if there is one, I’m gonna’ do it right. And hopefully if you are about to embark on a reno of your own there is a shred of wisdom here that helps you out.
Happy reno to you all.

PS If you are reading this and have your own reno advice or wish to share regrets you have about your reno, please post them below. Please share your hard-earned knowledge with the newby-renovators and reno-junkies of the world!

A word from Penny:

A very special thanks goes out to my sister for sharing RENO REGRETS ! Anyone in the process of a reno surely has their stories and some reno regrets. So, do share with us so we won’t have to sing Sinatra’s “Regrets, I’ve Had a Few or Edith Piaf’s “Je Ne Regrette Rien!!

Below is a couple more  pictures of the kitchen. Also, you may want to read another article by Amanda on  5 TIPS for Bathroom Reno- On a Budget

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