The Not So Pretty Side of Renovation

After years of renovation, remodelling, designing, and building, I can definitively state that the process of a remodel can be fun, daunting, and exciting! However making your house functional while operating properly is the most important part of any reno. Although it may seem like such a large task for little reward (and quite frankly, a bit boring compared to the exciting things), functionality is such a necessity for a well run home, and many times it’s what’s inside the walls and floors that counts when it comes to function.

Moving walls, the proper electrical plan for your space, and good plumbing choices make a world of difference when done by experts the correct way. Timing of these componets is everything when tackling a big remodel, and while they might not be the “pretty part”, they are definitely a necessity for you to be satisfied with the end product.

In the midst of my own big remodel, I got to thinking about how important these necessary, functional decisions are early on in the design process. Bypassing a new HVAC unit or water heater can easily become a huge regret later on down the road. Choosing not to re-texture walls that have a dated texture definitely affects resale value, your overall aesthetic, and so very hard to do once you have moved into your new home. If your wood floors need to be repaired and refinished, it’s best to tackle now while there is no furniture in the way.

Photo by Victor Aguirre

I realize that pretty tile, beautiful fixtures, and gorgeous countertops are the “fun” part, but it is equally important to get a solid foundation for function and allocate the appropriate amount of money towards that goal.

Moving Walls

Moving walls can be a tricky. Are they load-bearing? Will moving this wall open up a space but compromise another? How will the flow of the room function with this new layout? What’s behind that wall you are digging into? There are so many questions to address when demoing any wall in your home, especially in an older one.

It’s also really important to remember a very specific rule when knocking down walls. Always expect to find the unexpected, and add an extra amount to your budget, so you endure less stress and fewer surprises.

Another very important note to remember… moving walls doesn’t always have to mean blowing them out completely. Sometimes you have to work with the existing architecture or layout and come up with solutions that work well with the inner workings of the structure.

For instance, instead of moving my entire HVAC system, I opened up my kitchen layout by creating a pass through bar opening, and I am adding an extra sink and dishwasher in the process. A great area to serve my kids breakfast or entertain friends, and it’s even over-sized, so it’s a win-win.

I am removing and relocating an unnecessary wet bar (not much functionality to a wet bar in a kitchen for entertaining purposes), which is allowing me to move my refrigerator over and create a fantastic space that is super functional as well. Taking the hot water heater out of the kitchen space and replacing it with a tankless one made it even better, and allowed me space for a small desk to use as my kitchen command center.

Really understanding your needs and expectations of your home is so important. Spending time thinking it all through is simply essential to get it done the right way and the best way.


When it comes to electrical there are so many elements to consider. When I received my bid from the electrician and GC, I thought ugh! I don’t want to spend this much money for that. The reality is, electrical after sheetrock, texture, and paint is 10 times more difficult and more expensive in the long run. It’s really best to do it early on in the construction process and do it right.

Another very important point to remember is that you must walk your house, meet with your contractor, make changes and redirect at least once daily. The direction you give often changes once your contractor gets to work. If you don’t want them to make the decision for you, then you need to be around and available so you get exactly what you want and save time and expense in having to re-do. Corrections before the final installation are a budget saving necessity.

From moving a light to center it, to changing light fixtures so the lighting fits your aesthetic and design, lighting affects your daily life almost more than anything in your home. Looking at each room and deciding how you want to use it and live in it is key to a great electrical plan.

Rewiring, new switch plates, dimmers all make your home more livable in the long run. Also, remember the outdoor lighting you have always dreamed can be an expense but one that pays off instantly and for a long time to come.


Powder Bath Before

When it comes to plumbing, especially in old homes, there is no telling what you will find. More importantly, getting the proper plumbing in place is key to creating the perfect kitchen or bathroom. Having a knowledgable and efficient plumber is an absolute must. Plumbing tends to get a little complicated and tedious. It is one of those things that also typically ends up costing you additional funds once you get behind the walls and see what you are working with, so it’s always smart to allocate an overage for any plumbing project.

The powder bath that came with this home was small, dated, and quite frankly almost unusable. I had to expand and relocate all the plumbing in order to make it not only more aesthetically pleasing, but functional as well.

It’s very important to make sure and select your plumbing fixtures early in the process of your remodel. The valves make a difference and all plumbing brands’ valves are usually unique to the fixture. Make sure and select first thing so you are able to have the correct valves installed and don’t have to rip out any more sheetrock.

KF Tip ~ Utilize Pinterest! It is a fantastic way to formulate your aesthetic and is super useable to help convey your design choices and ideas to your GC. It’s also a great way to find items and resources. Want to see a preview of my aesthetic. See my New Home Inspo board.

The biggest thing to realize about any remodel is it can be fun. If you expect the unexpected and understand there will no doubt be challenges, you can relax a little more and enjoy the process. Getting to make a home just like you want is a blessing, so dig in and have a little fun!

xo, KF

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