Homes - Renovating

Renovating reminders

Remember these tips when planning your next home renovation.

When the dust finally settles, there's going to be at least one little thing you
wish you had thought of before the renovations started. Take advantage of the benefits of hindsight to get the results you really want.

Every morning, I find myself mopping up a little pool of water in the corner of my bathtub. It’s an ongoing reminder to me that a soaker tub isn't compatible with a built-in shower stall. If only I'd known about this bathroom mop-up issue before choosing a tub-and-shower system.

Planning any renovation is an overwhelming task, and everyone -- even a seasoned pro -- is apt to make a mistake now and then. To help minimize your makeover mishaps, we talked to designers and contractors about blunders they’ve seen clients commit or have been guilty of themselves. Here’s their “If I knew then…” list to help make your own renovations as problem-free as possible.

"I wish I hadn’t selected my colours in the store." "Don’t buy anything under the fluorescent lights in a store," says Carol Garrow of Garrow Interiors in Port Elgin, Ont. Lighting can change the way colours appear, and you may get a totally different look than what you were going for. Take paint samples home and ask retailers for fabric swatches. Garrow also suggests borrowing a colour wheel from the library to help you choose a palette.

"If only I’d placed my orders sooner." It can take up to three months to get the stone tiles you ordered for your kitchen floor. Custom cabinets? Expect to wait at least 10 weeks. "While You Were Out doesn’t happen in reality," says Samantha Farjo, a Toronto-based designer. Waiting for items to arrive can turn a three-month renovation into a six month undertaking. To keep delays at a minimum, place orders two to three months before work is set to start.

"I wish we had talked more about our individual tastes." Before you start any renovation, go through magazines and catalogues to find at least five items you and your partner can agree are beautiful. It sparks a great conversation and will ensure you’re both happy with the design direction of the project. “Just saying you both like traditional isn’t enough," says designer Céline Pitre of Céline Interiors in Vancouver. "Traditional can mean very different things to different people."

"If only I'd been more specific about how I wanted my wall-to-wall carpet laid." Before it’s done, discuss where you would like the seams to be. “I’ve made the mistake of assuming installers would think like me,” says Toronto designer Jennifer Worts. But "they [often run] the seam through the centre of the room instead of where it would have been covered by a cabinet." It happens that seams in high-traffic areas will flatten and wear with time. It’s equally important to be specific when laying tiles. "Don’t assume tradespeople will lay tiles lengthwise," says Farjo. Have your tile installer do a mock layout on the floor so you can agree on their direction and where partial tiles will lie. You want to be just as specific about grout. "Ask your contractor to show you the colour of the grout, as well as the distance between the tiles, so you can visualize what one-eighth or one-16th of an inch looks like," she says.

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