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Marriage + Home Renovation: Tips To Survive

We have big things going on at our house! Like, down to the studs- living in dirt type big! Right now we are essentially gutting our downstairs (kitchen, living and dining room) and fixing the bones of our poorly flipped home.

Even though this renovation is bigger than anything we’ve ever taken on, and there are two kids added to the mix- somehow we’ve remained very calm thus far. Don’t get me wrong- there have been debates- many of which are still up in the air, but the way we handle projects has changed a lot over the years.

Friends keep asking me in a whisper, “Do you guys want to kill each other yet?”- Well, yes- but not because of the renovation! (…it’s funny because it’s trueeeee) But seriously, I thought it would be fun to share some tips we’ve learned from duking it out over the years, and finally arriving at a place of zen-ish. Here goes!

  • Set expectations: Before you make the decision to start a renovation, talk about your expectations. Who is going to handle what? A lot of time is spent tied to the home while people work- who is going to “babysit” the workers? What are your schedules like? Are you comfortable with giving up A, B and C while the house gets done? What is your timeline? Talk about everything! One thing we agreed on before we started was we weren’t going to complain. The living situation isn’t ideal, naps flew out the door and it’s not easy- but we are working towards our dream house, and we are blessed to be doing so. I think having that conversation and setting that intention has really been a game changer in our attitudes. Also, be very clear about what you want to hire out and what you want to DIY. We used to do a lot ourselves, but now with the kids running around, I want things done as quickly and as safely as possible- so we bring in the big guns for more time consuming jobs.
  • Have a clear vision of the big picture: This one is HUGE! This was learned in our last home, and I swore I wouldn’t let it slide again. Before you start ripping anything apart, sit and talk about your vision for your ENTIRE home. I am a very visual person, so I like to show my husband Pinterest images and send him Instagram accounts that inspire me. He likes to use software to create a 3D visual of layout. It’s so important to get on the same page about the look and feel of your home, so as you pick away at the little things, you both have the same vision for big picture. My husband and I have very different tastes, but I’ve found that when we sit down and look at things together, we can find things we both like.
  • Know which things you’re willing to let go: Everything is give and take. There are some things I’m really passionate about- like color! And then other things I’m willing to let go, like appliances or hardware. Yes, I use these little things like tokens and cash them in, and yes I remind my husband incessantly the things I have let him win on- it’s part of the fun! Know the things you’re willing to bend on, and allow your partner to make those choices. One person cannot control everything.
  • If you can’t agree on something, keep looking: Oh my gosh- the area rug in our old home. THE FREAKING AREA RUG, YOU GUYS. We fought at Living Spaces, we fought at Ikea…we wanted to kill each other. We waited and waited, and looked and looked- and then finally a miracle happened- we found a rug we both loved (on RugsUsa, fyi). There is no formula for decisions being less frustrating- but if there are things both parties feel strongly about, sometimes the only option is to keep looking until you find something you’re both ok with. This still happens to us a lot, and inside I’m screaming, “WHY DO YOU CARE SO MUCH, JUST LET ME GET IT!”- but I am able to keep a somewhat calm exterior knowing that eventually we will figure it out. Some purchases take time.
  • Pick out the little details at the beginning: We assume the little things like knobs and fixtures can be last priority, right? But by the end of your project you will have made so many big decisions, that the little decisions will make your brain melt. You will want to light the entire hardware section on fire. When you’re sitting down and going over those big picture plans, take note of the little details you like and decide on them then.
  • Don’t let things snowball: This is HARD! Renovations have a way of getting out of control. You get in a groove and just want to keep going. Some examples going on here are: We’re replacing the flooring in 3 rooms- should we just keep going? All the appliances are new besides the dishwasher, should we just replace it? Let’s replace the door while we’re at it! And so on, and so on. Make a list of what you’re doing, or create a budget- and stick to it. Inevitably surprise costs will come up- so save any extra cash for those expenses and avoid financial stress.

I hope these tips help you- they’ve certainly helped us! We still disagree and have our moments, but I think we’ve come a very long way! I’d love to hear your tips (or cautionary tales) in the comments!!

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