Less is more when renovating
Going it alone when you’re doing up your home can be a hard slog. But there are ways to make it work, finds MikaelaWilkes.
‘‘I found the sheer volume of choices and decisions quite overwhelming at times.’’ Jeremy Gray
The paradox of choice is that consumers think having more of it makes them better off. A wealthy person with access to the wares of the most expensive stores is thought of as better off than someone who can only afford to shop at a select few. But, according to psychologist Barry Schwartz, too much choice makes us feel the opposite.
The more options we have, the less satisfied or happy we tend to feel about a final decision, and sometimes extra options paralyse us into not making one at all.
When someone holds up two outfits, artworks, or paint swatches, you could easily say which you like best. Given 10 options to consider, you are more likely to have doubts.
Couples taking on a home renovation project together can share the decision-making load. If you’re undertaking a kitchen or bathroom makeover alone that’s great, because there’s no need to compromise on your artistic vision. And also probably terrifying, because all the big (and little) choices rest firmly on your shoulders.
‘‘Quite often, clients describe me as interior designer/marriage counsellor,’’ said Christchurchbased designer Kate Carter.
Couples have the advantage of validating the thought process behind each choice with one another, but on the flip side, their design aesthetics and opinions may not be totally aligned. ‘‘That has its own challenges.’’
Carter said singletons often fall into the trap of overcompensating by approaching lots of family and friends for their opinions.
‘‘I have an older single woman as a client. She wants each decision to be validated by all four of her adult children,’’ Carter said.
‘‘The problem is, everyone has a different opinion. My advice is to carefully choose one, or a maximum of two, people who you really trust, or who have a similar aesthetic to you, and lean on those people for the entire process.’’
Builderscrack.co.nz spokesman Jeremy Gray has renovated homes on his own and with his partner, Alana Shinn. ‘‘I enjoy the renovation experience more as part of a couple than as a single. I think, like most people, there are aspects of a renovation I’m more attracted to than others,’’ he said.
‘‘For example, I’m not particularly concerned with a specific shade of colour, but I amvery interested in making sure the lines and space of a room feels balanced and comfortable.
‘‘As part of a couple, I find it liberating to be able to invest less energy in the aspects of the renovation which my partner is more excited by than me.’’
Identifying where your strengths lie is a great place to start. Gray is strong at selecting materials from a functional perspective, and in the sizing and design of the spaces and flow of living areas. Shinn has amore sophisticated eye for detail and designing a palette of finishes and decorations.
‘‘When renovating on my own, I found the sheer volume of choices and decisions quite overwhelming at times, especially in areas which I didn’t have a lot of strong feeling in, such as decorating.’’
This is where he would seek advice from friends, family and outsource to professional consultants. ‘‘Whether you are DIYing, using a project manager, or project-managing the reno yourself, having a close team you can chat to and weigh decisions with is essential. If you’re taking a DIY approach, make sure you include peoplewith renovation experience,’’ he said.
Second to your close team will be your professional consultants. Depending on your approach and size of renovation, this may include your architect/designer, interior designer, project manager and tradespeople.
The fewer aspects you wish to be deeply involved in, the more you will need competent professionals to take care of those aspects.
Always meet professionals before adding them into the mix. Have a coffee together and ensure there’s good chemistry, advised Carter. ‘‘As a renovator, you need to feel safe in that relationship to push back on the designer when you don’t agree.’’
She asks people to put together a visual style guide for their dream result. Verbalising what we want and like is hard, but pointing to a picture and saying yes or no is not.
The idea is to spend a good chunk of time honing in on the overall look and feel you’re going for. ‘‘If you can nail that to start off with, it creates a blueprint for all the little decisions later on.
‘‘Then all you need to do is refer to the mood board when you’re nervous to see if a particular handle, or colour, or light fixture is on the right track,’’ she said.
Without a partner to share the mental, physical and emotional load, amoderate-to-large renovation will be a big job. Even a simple redecoration will involve many evenings researching, prepping, sanding, and painting.
Although some people thrive on working to their own timelines, it is likely there will be the need for at least some work to be undertaken by appropriate licenced professionals.
‘‘If you’re taking a DIY approach, anyone prepared to help, provided you have good chemistry – and even some you may have to grit your teeth with from time to time – will help lighten the load,’’ Gray said.
‘‘Once you begin to delegate work to professionals, the pace will pick up, and the quality of finish in most cases will be better.’’
In the grand scheme of things, try not to get too stuck on individual decisions rather than the big picture. Whether you are renovating in a partnership, or going it alone, there will always be compromises.
‘‘I don’t say this to put people off, but it will be stressful,’’ Carter said. ‘‘There will be days where you feel like you’re nailing it and others, not so much. That’s all part of the process.