8mistakes everyone makes during a home renovation

Taking a sledgehammer to your outdated living room may sound like fun, but realistically, reviving your home is a process that requires a lot of time and care. Deciding to gut the bathroom and add a master walk-in closet is a great idea until you realize you need to do a plumbing update throughout the house and you already blew your budget on a heated floor, clawfoot tub, and those lighted closet bars you had to have. Focus is key, as is a bit of thoughtful planning. Interior designer Nicole Fuller, whose designs are as thoughtful and practical as they are covetable, has a keen sense for upgrading a space. Below, she explains the eight most common mistakes that nearly everyone makes before and during a big renovation, and she shares how to avoid them before making that huge, gaping hole in the wall.

Overlooking the most-used rooms.
“People often do not invest in the rooms that are the heart of the home, like the kitchen or living room. It’s important to prioritize these spaces. It is extremely important that functional spaces like the kitchen and bathrooms are up-to-date, especially when considering resale value. Only after these rooms are in great shape should you move onto less-crucial spaces like the bedroom or an office.”

Spending too much on the wrong things.
“If you’re going to invest in higher-priced items like kitchen appliances or bathroom fixtures, you can always balance it with more affordable items somewhere else. Just avoid doing the reverse: spending a lot on an accent wall and then economizing by installing laminate floors instead of hardwood. Think about what will make the most impact when you go to sell the home. It’s a give-and-take process.”

Ignoring the bathrooms.
“It is so important to renovate the bathrooms in your home so that they are always up to date—this is very important for resale value down the line. You can keep the renovation super simple by replacing outdated tile with classic stone or swapping in beautiful new fixtures. It doesn’t have to be a complete overhaul.”

Forgetting about the landscaping.
“This is the prelude to the interior. It sets the mood and creates an atmosphere, and it should tie into what is happening with the interiors. There should be a point of view in regards to the landscape, no matter what room you are sitting in. They all relate to create the most dynamic spaces inside and out.”

Not respecting the bones of the house.
“Mixing and layering different styles and time periods is great, but you should always know and understand what the bones of the home are and respect the original architecture. Not sure what to do with your space? Hire a designer or architect for their expert opinion.”

Choosing a contractor on a whim.
“People who are renovating often choose a contractor too quickly. It’s best to take time to research and go with a referral. If you don’t have a referral, I would suggest bidding out a few and comparing prices to find the best match for your budget. I would also ask that contractor to speak with previous clients of theirs or try to go see their work in person.”

For a serious renovation, hire an architect and designer.
“This is definitely one place to splurge in my opinion. Having an architect and designer on board will help to streamline the project and give you the best version of what you’ve envisioned for the home. They will also have relationships with vendors to make buying fixtures and furniture both more affordable (with a designer discount) and less stressful. DIY is great in theory but you never want to bite off more than you can chew when it comes to home renovations. All hired help should be welcome.”

Setting a budget without overages.
“You should budget for approximately 15–20 percent in overages. But don’t tell anyone in your camp—push your “hard” number, but know that you have a bit of room if something goes wrong. Things will definitely run over—there are almost always unforeseen issues once you start to tear down the walls!”