6 tips for surviving a property renovation

It’s easy to underestimate the potential havoc property renovation has on your home. Plaster dust, exposed outlets, and tradesmen letting the dog loose are a few issues that could occur. After having lived through a number of property renovations, I wanted to share my tips on how to survive them and not repeat the same mistakes I did.

We’re currently on week 5 of our 8 week kitchen renovation. And so far it’s not been too bad. However I can’t say the same for previous renovations!

Tip 1: Box everything!

packing boxes

One mistake I made from a full house renovation I did back in 2006 was to unpack boxes when we moved in. Don’t!! Leave everything in boxes (as much as possible) whilst you’re doing the renovation. Otherwise things get dusty, you have to keep moving things from one place to another, and it’s just stressful.

Also consider what you are going to need whilst you are packing up, and leave the commonly needed items at the top of the box pile, and make sure to label them. This will help you find that must-need item when rooting through your piles of boxes!

Tip 2: Don’t do the whole house at once

Another mistake I made on that same renovation was to attack all rooms at the same time. This leaves you with no safe haven to escape all the dirt, dust and mess. I’d recommend completely finishing a room first that you can use to relax in. The master bedroom is probably a good bet.

Tip 3: Set up a mini kitchen

Whilst you’re renovating the kitchen area make sure you have a mini kitchen set up somewhere else in the house, preferably with running water. This is much easier to do in the US than it is the U.K. as laundry rooms are more common and often have a sink. I’d also recommend buying an electric skillet, mini fridge and microwave. That way you’ll be able to cook a variety of healthy meals without always having to get take-out.

Tip 4: Buy a chest freezer and meal prep

meal prep

To be even healthier and more prepared, you could even buy a chest freezer and do a whole load of meal prep before the renovation. We’ve done this on our current project and it’s been great. We literally cooked all day Sunday for a few weeks before the project started and froze about 100 meals in disposable containers. Now all we have to do it reheat them in the microwave and throw away the container!

Tip 5: Cover everything!

What little you do leave out of boxes, make sure you cover otherwise you’ll be dusting for weeks!! If you’re knocking walls out or sanding plaster it’s also a good idea to put up temporary plastic sheet walls to contain the dust, as it literally gets everywhere! Make sure the walls are completely sealed and stay sealed. Much to our disappointment one of our sheet walls wasn’t sealed and I literally spent an entire day dusting every single item in the room.

Tip 6: Clean up regularly


It may sound counter intuitive, but clean up regularly, even if it is a building site. I recommend buying a Shop-Vac or Karcher so you don’t ruin your vacuum cleaner. But make sure to get as much of the dust and debris up throughout. A tidy site is a safe site and will make the renovation a whole lot more bearable.

I hope you find these tips useful. I wished I’d known about some of them for my earlier renovations instead of having to learn the hard way! Hopefully you can avoid those same mistakes.

Comment below what tips you have for surviving your home renovations.

Thanks for reading!

Jo (@britflipper)

Five challenges you might encounter when starting out as an interior designer

So I took the plunge a few weeks ago – jumping in and starting my first real interior design job for some friends. It started when I posted on Facebook about finally getting my diploma in Interior Design and asking if anyone was brave enough to let me practice my new found skills on them. Low and behold someone stepped up!

A friend from our gym was wanting some help to refresh some rooms in their house and make it feel a little more coastal and pulled together. They had lived in Florida for a while and loved this style. They showed me pictures of room styles they liked and it was all very comfortable, light and bright. But this first project was not without its challenges.

1. Working with the existing.

Whilst their house had great bones being relatively new, and had a great amount of natural light. The challenge was the fact that their floors, kitchen cabinets and furniture were all dark. Most coastal styles have white or very pale wood furniture. Painting the cabinets white would be the obvious choice but understandably they weren’t keen on this when the kitchen was so new.

2. Making it child friendly.

This would be fine, except coastal is all about the pale fabrics. Not a good combination with black home-made slime projects! So I had a challenge to find hard wearing fabrics but still achieve the bright and fresh look.

3. The budget.

At first I thought I had a healthy budget for the three rooms they wanted redesigning. But it turns out that performance fabric sectionals are pretty expensive! I found the perfect linen loose cover style sectional for them from Pottery Barn until I realized I’d blown 70% of their overall budget on one piece of furniture! I learned a valuable lesson here, research the prices as well as the styles before proposing ideas to clients!

Sullivan Sectional, Pottery Barn

The other challenges I faced were more from a process standpoint rather than the design.

4. Underestimating the time it takes.

One thing that was a big learning experience for me is how long it takes to do these projects. Literally hours searching though websites to find the right products then putting it all into PowerPoint presentations with links to the actual products. I’m sure there must be better ways of doing this, and that’s something I need to find out from more seasoned Interior Designers.

5. Not having the right tools.

I also don’t have the right tools to do this job professionally, such as SketchUp, Revit or even Photoshop anymore. So I’m cutting pasting and cobbling together a design with PowerPoint and using free online 3D tools to try and visualize the design ideas as best I can. But it looks unprofessional in my opinion. So at some point I’m going to need to invest in the $1000’s to get the right tools and learn how to use them.

These are just a few of my initial learnings and challenges I’ve faced in starting out on my Interior Design side business. I definitely have a long way to go and am gaining a huge amount of knowledge and experience from helping out my friends. Keep reading my blog to find out how I work through these challenges to deliver a design they’ll love and streamline my processes.

Thanks for reading!