Updated: Jul 14, 2020

I love working with clients. We form friendships over the course of a project, and I get to know their taste, style and we form a bond, problem solving together around finishes, styles and site challenges. One thing many of my clients commiserate about is making final decisions, and the conversation I have time and time again is "my friend says...", "My Mother-in-law thinks...", or "My husband thinks we should consider...":

I don't like that floor color

won't it scratch?

isn't that dated?

I wouldn't do that,

It's just my opinion but...

what if you change *everything*

have you considered *a completely different direction*

It's not my taste....

And my client is left with a feeling of defeat and lose confidence that they are making the right decision. So, how do you overcome this in your project? How do you know what advice to take with you on your renovation journey, and what to ignore?

Here are three things to consider before you take that advice;


1. Believe in yourself! Believe that you know what you like. That you are making the right decisions, that you are the expert on your own amazing taste! When Aunt Julie tells you that the dog is going to scratch the hardwood floor you chose, and you should do tile because that is what she did 10 years ago, say thanks for the advice, and then quietly discard it if it doesn't resonate to you (because seriously Aunt Julie, you have a 90lb Rottweiler, and I have a 20lb lap dog)

2. Consider the sources taste and background. Do you love everything about their home and would you love to live in it? do you covet their pinterest boards, and instagram-stalk them for ideas in inspiration? no? then they may not be the best source to tell you what YOU like. Remember, your project is a reflection of who you are. I'm not saying pursue your project in a vacuum, but rather than open the doors for the friend to pick your project apart, frame it as presentation of what you love, by using language that communicates how excited and confident you are in your choices. IF this is a friend you know and love, and trust to know you as well as you know yourself, then confide that your not convinced that you are making the right choice by choosing that white tile for your shower walls and ask if they'll brainstorm with you.

3. Trust your design professional. OR, if you just can't get Aunt Julie's concerns out of your mind, ask for a second opinion from someone else whose work you admire. I work with interior designers all time that my clients bring in to be a second pair of eyes on a project, and love to refer out to a trusted list of my favorite design professionals when my client needs a bit of extra support. I am a strong, strong believer that the best advice you can get is the advice you pay for, and the best professionals will recommend additional support and work with other professionals seamlessly and professionally.

So, are you ready? lets talk about your project and come up with a way to put your worries at ease and make some decisions.

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Imagine you are lost in the woods and need a few basic needs for survival.

1. Food

2. Shelter

3. Clothing

The good news? You're not lost in the woods! You're renovating!

Here are some tips to address your basic needs, as well as a few wants that probably feel like needs.


Living though your renovation is tough. You have two options- move out, or live in it. Here are some tips to make the most of the situation;

Moving out?

Seriously, if you are looking at a major renovation involving hiring contractors, re-configuring floor plans, building additions, etc etc, you should find somewhere to stay. This is going to be messy, dusty, dirty and your quality of life will suffer. Beyond that, the trades, and contractors will work less efficiently if you are doing a load of laundry while they are talking about how to reroute your bathroom water lines. So what are your options?

  1. AirBNB- This is great if you need to be out for a set amount of time. A week or two while the trades tackle demolition, framing and drywall is reasonable, and money well spent.

  2. Sublet an apartment or House- If you are in a student city like Halifax, there are often short term sublets up for grabs. This is a great solution if you need to find somewhere to stay for 3 months or more. Options can come furnished or not, which could save you storage fees if you need to move everything out for a complete re-fit!

  3. Renovate during vacation- If you have a good contractor and design professional involved, you can take off and just let everything happen in your absence. This involves very clear design concepts and planning, as well as a great deal of blind faith and trust, so it is not for those who need to see daily progress, or be in control of the process.

Staying put?

There are some things you can do to minimize the impact on your life and family while you tear into your home. Here are my tips for keeping your sanity through the process.

  1. Dust Control- This is so important! the trick is to mask off the area where the work is being done completely, while also creating negative air pressure. This means that air is being drawn from the rest of the house, toward the exterior, rather than being pushed through the space being renovated, in to the untouched parts of your home... taking dust and contaminants with it. This can be accomplished with a simple box fan in a window!

  2. Establish a temporary kitchen- This is so essential to keeping your sanity. If you are renovating your kitchen, set it up somewhere out of the way from the area being worked on, and be mindful that you won't want to move it around. A spare bedroom, hallway or family room is a good option for this.

  3. Set Boundaries- Clearly establish where the out of bounds areas of your home are for contractors and subtrades. This may mean supplying a porta-potty, masking off areas of the home that are out of bounds, and being present to let the trades in and out of the house... without distracting them from their jobs.

  4. Give trades space- Most subtrades are paid by the hour, which means they would love to stand around and chat about your dogs favorite color on the clock. The key to getting your job done efficiently, and on budget is to stay out of the way. If you think a mistake is being made, or are not confident your subtrades, reach out directly to the contractor to talk it out. IF you are the contractor, ask questions that take the subtrades to the same conclusion you have made, and remember to be polite. Being short or rude with your trades won't get your job done better. You can be firm if you don't like how something is done, but if you hired reputable professionals, who had good references, and you supplied clear drawings of the details, they should be able to execute the job with no issues.

No matter how you swing it, having other people in your house, working on it can be stressful, whether you are in it or not.

Do you have any tips from surviving your renovation?

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Imagine you are lost in the woods and need a few basic needs for survival.

1. Food

2. Shelter

3. Clothing

The good news? You're not lost in the woods! You're renovating!

Here are some tips to address your basic needs, as well as a few wants that probably feel like needs.


Now is not the time to learn how to make a risotto. If your project involves making any changes to the kitchen, or losing kitchen function for a few weeks (months?), you'll need to plan ways to nourish your body without adding additional stress to your life. I strongly recommend setting up a temporary kitchen. This can be kind of like camping, or it can be kind of like living in a dorm again. Here are my tips for eating well while your living in a mess.

  1. Make Good Choices. This means not eating fast food every night for the next 2-6 weeks. Eat food that nourishes your body, pleases your palette and gives you the energy to push through the renovation.

  2. Temporary Kitchen. A temporary kitchen requires only a few components. A fridge, Sink (camp style or temporary hook-up) microwave and hotplate.

  3. Eat Out. If you are going to eat prepared food, you'd might as well escape your project and sit down somewhere that is not dusty, dirty, and noisy. Take advantage of this time to invite friends and family out for a nice meal to break up the chaos of your renovation. Take everyone up on their invitations to feed and entertain you in their homes, and enjoy their company. You'll return the favor when you get back into your own space.

  4. Embrace BBQ cooking- Pre-made salad from the grocery store + a nice steak= a really great dinner. Your BBQ has the benefit of not requiring a pan for cooking meats while keeping the smells out of the house while you don't have a range hood.

  5. Go easy on the dishes- Compostable paper plates are a great way to cut down on dishes while you are working in your temporary kitchen. There are also options for cutlery, but honestly, it's not much work to wash a few forks and spoons, so its probably not worth investing in compostable forks and spoons.

  6. DIY Meal services. All the ingredients for 3-5 meals a week come in one box, with just enough of everything to fully prepare your dinner. Bonus-If you are cooking for two, order the meals portioned for 4, and you have lunch every day for a week too! I really like Hello Fresh for this.

Do you have any tips from surviving your renovation?

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