While walking the dog the other day, I overheard a couple talking about some houses being built across the street. “Those went up so fast,” he said, “and now it looks like nothing is happening.” “Maybe it takes more time to work on the inside?” She wondered. Or maybe the subcontractors are busy on another job. I can relate. We are 27 days from scheduled project completion and over the last two weeks you would think that absolutely nothing has happened.
So yes, I did miss your house update last week. This was not only because there was nothing to report but because I was trying so hard to finalize lighting and hardware. I can tell you that my kids get an award for patience because they are so over me sitting at my computer trying to make selections for our house or taking them to shops to look at samples. They are actually over everything about the house. The tile is finally going up in the kitchen right now, and when I stopped by yesterday to check on progress, the kids didn’t even want to go inside. Our move can’t come soon enough.
But back to the progress. We have now selected all of the things that the builder needs for installation and most of those things have been ordered. We have specified all of the paint, including finishes, and have wallpaper going up in three rooms. We actually ordered a sofa for the media room last weekend, which means we are moving on to the furniture phase. Now seems like a pretty good time to talk about things I’ve learned in this last couple of weeks.
When the builder asks you to select lighting so early in the process that you can’t even think about it – like when there aren’t even walls in your house – do it.
It can feel almost impossible to think about light fixtures when you can’t visualize a space, but doing the work early to select your fixtures will make your life easier down the road. Wiring happens very early in the remodeling process. And good lighting is so important to a room. If your builder isn’t asking you about lighting from the beginning, be prepared to request a change order or make do with your wiring.
Let me be clear that this is not about cute fixtures. I mean, yes, it is about that too, but you can always find good fixtures with the right budget. This is about determining the direction of your light and the statement lighting can make in a room. Think about how you live in each space that you will need to light. Do you have lights that you love? Hate? Where is the natural light? What do you do in each room and how do you use light?
What would I do differently in round two?
1. My master vanity has sconces placed over the two mirrors. This will create a direct down light. Not exactly how you want to see your face in the morning. If I had thought it through more, I would have requested electrical for three sconces, each to the side of the mirror, for indirect side lighting of the mirrors.
2. I hate, and I don’t use that term lightly because it just isn’t kind, but I really hate canned lighting. I was so overwhelmed when we started and then switched walls and plans and ahhhh! that I let myself be talked into can lights for my entry way. And I really want lantern pendants.
3. My living room has only canned lights. This is because we originally planned to keep a table for everyday eating near the kitchen, and that table would have a light over it. When we changed our flow, we needed to change our lighting, but it was too late. The venting for the HVAC was smack in the center of the room where the light should have been. Now I dream about this floor lamp.
4. The vanity in the powder room has no sconces, and the pendant fixture is square in the middle of the room rather than square on the window and door opening. The no sconces bit was a conscious choice because I didn’t like the look of sconces on side walls and I didn’t think I could fit both a mirror and sconces on the vanity wall (the room is only 37” wide). In retrospect, I could have spent the time to find the right sconces and mirror to fit the narrow wall, which would have completed the bathroom visually. The location of the pendant junction was a result of not being clear enough with the electrician. I'm going to try to not let it make me crazy. I am also going to reiterate for the umpteenth time: what is obvious to you is not obvious to everyone. In fact, it is probably just the opposite. Communication is the key to all the things, even bathroom lighting.
5. We originally selected a ceiling fan for the flex space outside of the kids’ rooms because Houston. The room is only 9’ wide, we ended up having to completely change the HVAC system and now have an entire unit just for the back of the house. A fan in a space this small would be silly. I have no idea what we were thinking.
Learn from my mistakes, folks. Have a plan for your lighting.
Hardware is expensive. Don’t skimp on budget.
There is a lot of hardware on the market. Knowing what look you want is only half the battle. Did you know that there are designers who specialize only in hardware? These people rock, in my opinion, because I can’t tell you how many hours I spent looking at hardware. I'm not kidding when I say there is hardware for every budget. You can buy a $4 knob or a $145 pull (PS this is equally true of lighting so keep that in mind). When you need 29 pulls, and your remodel is making you feel like you may never be able to afford to go on vacation again, you are going to freak out if the pulls you like are $145 each. Set the budget high here from the beginning. We killed our entire hardware budget before we even got to cabinet hardware. Door knobs are not cheap. And it is all in the details, folks.
Give yourself time for this one and order samples in advance so that you can make sure the color and finish are what you want. Gold is a different thing to every person. Just because it is called champagne or french gold does not mean it won't look like your definition of brass. Take your time.
Consult with a paper hanger before ordering wallpaper.
This one I already knew from past experience with wallpaper, but I had to convince my builder that it was necessary. I was vindicated when I saw an article in House Beautiful about the same topic. It's possible I cut it out for him.
Wallpaper comes in standard roll sizes, but every pattern has a different repeat, which impacts how much paper you will need. Like fabric, print lots can vary, so you want to make sure that you have the right amount of paper for the job before you order it to ensure no variation in color between your rolls. Wallpaper installation will be one of the last things that happens in your house but many papers have a long lead time. This is especially true of luxury wallpapers, which can have a month plus lead time between order and ship date. Select early and measure twice.
Give yourself more time than you think you need to make selections.
See above. It takes a lot of time to manage a project and even more to find what you want. This is the benefit of hiring a designer to help you. He or she will have sources readily available and will know where to get what you want without you spending countless hours in a hardware or lighting or wallpaper black hole.
If I haven't scared you off on your possible remodel, and you'd like some help, I'm ready. Especially if it involves wallpaper or lighting. I know a few things about both of those topics these days. Let's get to work.