How to renovate your home in six easy steps

Paula Brown

I reached the point of living in one place long enough that I was really, really sick of it. It was clear that this house was starting to look dated and needed a facelift. We were faced with the dilemma that only an ’80s punk band would truly understand the angst of: Should we stay or should we go?

I wanted to go. I like a good change of scenery every now and then and a little more land to call my own was just what the doctor ordered for me, and it’s important that I mention that because later it means I can say I told you so. Alas, my wanting to move was vetoed and we chose to sink some money into our existing place instead. Since I’m knee-deep into it right now, I figured that would make me an expert at giving renovation advice.

Step 1: Don’t renovate your home. Move. Burn it down. Live in your car. Whatever. Just don’t do this.

If you insist on ignoring Step 1 because you are an HGTV-addicted, highly delusional person, then please refer to steps 2 through 6.

Step 2: Laboriously research someone you want to do this renovation, complete with pictures of work and awesome reviews. Then just throw a dart at a list of names because in the end it won’t matter, everything will go wrong no matter what and you’ll end up crying a lot.

Step 3. Come up with a budget. Be very detailed with your budget because even things you don’t ever think of will end up being on a 14-mile-long list of things that will cost you money. For example, you’re renovating your kitchen? Be sure to budget for a new driveway. It’s always a good idea to add about 20 percent to your budget for these unexpected costs. Once you have that number, look at it for a good while, laugh hysterically, add about 11 zeroes to the end of it and there you have it — your budget!

Step 4: Spend about 23 hours a day obsessively scouring Pinterest for the perfect look you’re going for. Your house will not end up looking anything like this, but it’s a good way to get out of doing housework and to really set those expectations so high the crash on the way down might actually end up killing you, which may come in handy depending on how horrible your reno is going and how often you try to wash dishes in the one functional bathtub you have.

Step 5: Remind yourself of Murphy’s Law, which states: “Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong, and I told you renovating was a bad idea and I hope you have good homeowner’s insurance.” Here’s what I discovered about my house these past few weeks: it is seemingly held together by dust colonies and those little circle reinforcement stickers. Touch one thing on this and the whole mother-ship starts to sink. New problems, old problems, problems you never knew were lurking under the surface … they all decide now is the perfect time to come to the party. The money-burning party.

Step 6: Regrets. So many regrets. Delete Pinterest and remove HGTV from your life. The Property Brothers are dead to you. Take a long hot shower and try to regroup. After you remember you don’t have a shower anymore, wash your hair hunched over your kid’s tiny bathtub and think of a few more regrets.

Paula Brown is a writer, mom of two boys, recovering HGTV-addict and honestly has no idea if she’ll ever have working shower, floors or her sanity again. She can be reached at unless her internet breaks which come to think of it should happen any moment now.

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