Taking the Stress out of Planning a Remodel  

Remodeling can be wonderful. You get a brand-new space AND you can do whatever you want! The bonus news is that you don’t have to move to achieve this (which is a big deal when you live in a tough real estate market, like Columbus). But, there are drawbacks too. We’ll get into those in a minute.  

I’ve been planning my Mom’s house remodel… I say house as it seems like everything needs touched in some way. There’s a heavy focus in her kitchen, dining area, and great room which are wide open to each other. Being a contemporary home built in the 80’s and no real upgrades since, it needs some modernizing. Her kitchen is small and there are no cabinets for storage. Everyone hits their heads on the corners of the uppers due to a silly angle on the counter. She can’t open her drawers because it hits her dishwasher… These are only a small sample of the problems that I’ve trying to solve for her!  

The inside look for her home as it stands. Curious, aren’t you?

Here are tips for you front what I’ve experienced so far in the planning process….   


First step is deciding what you want to remodel and figuring out your wants/needs.  

Wants and needs are different. For example, you can’t really have a functioning kitchen without a fridge, sink or stove—those are needs. Wants…. well, that really lies in the finishes or the “special” things aka custom (cha ching). This would be something like a pull-out spice drawer… unless you are a person that cooks gourmet meals every night (ps… I want to meet you if you do!), you probably don’t need it nor should you commit the money nor the real estate to get it.  

Can you do the kitchen without having to change up your great room? The scope of the project will dictate everything that follows. With my Mom’s house, there’s no way that I could just do the kitchen. Some of you may be able to get away with it. There’s ALWAYS more that you think that goes into it.  

The second things on your to-do list are to commit to how much you think you’re willing to spend & decide of how you’re going to pay for it! $$$  

There are a lot of things that you will need to buy or pay for up front, such as securing a Contractor and building materials that require a deposit. Some people will take out lines of equity, others refinance. The lucky ones have the cash lying around (which isn’t the case for the majority of us). There’s no right or wrong answer and that’s for you to make a decision on. Whatever you’re comfortable with is usually the best option.  

Now, budgets are tricky. Whatever you’re dreaming of add at least 10% for incidentals. Once you get a quote from a Contractor (I’ll help you decipher that in a moment), use that as your guide. I would suggest holding some funds of the budget back for décor and the finishing pieces. The best part of that is that you can shop around for deals! You can’t enjoy your newly remodeled space if you can’t afford anything to sit on, now can you? 

Number 3! Interview Contractors & Secure Quotes.  

This will probably be the longest step. Most Contractors are notorious for not returning phone calls promptly (or at all). I recommend asking around from friends to neighbors anddddd your Realtor! Get an interview with at least 3.   

Remember step 1? Some contractors may try to talk your wants into needs and vice versa. Stick to your guns! You know how you are going to use YOUR space not the other way. But, hear them. They are professionals and are there to make you think. Bounce your ideas off them and come to an agreement. 

There are Contractors you’ll meet that you’ll immediately write off as a “no”. It’s a good rule of thumb that if someone is eager to start “next week”, then they probably aren’t the match for you. I can’t speak to your area; however, in Columbus, the majority of Contractors (that do heavy remodels) are anywhere from 4-7 months out on jobs. You can take that with a grain of salt, but it’s been my experience.  


You have to make sure that you click with your Contractor. They are on the ground for you day in and day out. A few will make it through the cracks of the interview process and provide quotes. And, quotes are a great guide to have! They have real numbers attached to your project, not just ballparks or estimates. Hound them until you get something in WRITING!  

Once you have a quote in hand, it typically comes with dimensions and renderings of your space. You need to decide what makes sense for you! Do you want to save yourself money? Do the demo! Do the installation of flooring or backsplashes. Those are pretty simple DIY things you can do to get some sweat equity. I don’t recommend you DIY anything that you would need heavy experience and apprenticeship for, aka electric and plumbing! Talk it over with your chosen Contractor. Most will be open to this, it saves them time and subs!  

The fun step! Decide on your style! 

It’s a good idea to not be so “trendy” in the things that cannot be changed easily, like CABINETRY! I always like a classic shaker cabinet. It will never go out of style! A high-gloss resin cabinet… may. Pinterest is a great starting point but man, the finishes featured on there can be expensive! I suggest using it as inspiration only.  

A mood board would be a perfect idea to do! Print out from online and tear out of catalogs/magazines to get a great idea of how the space coordinates! I also recommend going to Sherwin Williams and buying a color wheel! Even if you aren’t going to use their paint, the colors are great to have in hand in the space or at retailers. This step can be so fun, but stressful too. I hope that you keep an open mind when it comes to materials. Take your time, don’t rush to make a decision, and have fun with it! 



See the end of the tunnel in the planning stage? Remember that budget? Revisit & Start Shopping around!  

Before construction is the time to get it rollin’ (quite literally). Visit different retailers and/or wholesalers and look for materials based on your inspirations. Typically, if you shop around, you can find a better deal for your budget! I shop a lot online because it has opened the whole US, not just focusing on my area. What I may pay in shipping from California may be minimal compared to buying a more expensive product in Ohio. I always make sure the product is returnable though! Please don’t buy the first thing you see… take your time. You have it, don’t you?  

Facebook marketplace and buy/sell/trade sites, Architectural Salvage places, and Antique stores are GREAT places to look for off-beat items that can be reused or changed for your space. It may require a new set of hardware or a fresh coat of paint, but if you bought new…. it’d cost 3 times that price.  Something to consider! 

Remember, it’s your space. You live there. You need to like it at the end of the day, not anyone else. Take their opinions lightly…. the worst thing you can do is not have your personality in the space; and in not just the finishes, but the decor pieces. Those are easier to insert personality without making it too “loud”. I think you can tackle any project you set your mind to! Hope these tips help. It’s a lot to take in and decipher, but you can do it! 

Until Next Time

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