The Zen of a Home Renovation Project

Are you thinking I am out of my mind?  That Zen and Home Renovation are oxymoron’s!  I can assure you that a home renovation project does not have to be a stressful experience if you follow a few simple steps.

This is a lesson I learned last year when I participated in the One Room Challenge and renovated our living room last year, complete with DIY plywood plank floors!  I made the entire experience far more stressful than it had to be.  I am surprised my husband is still talking to me!

Here a few tips to ensure your next DIY home renovation project is more Zen-like experience than a project leaving you wanting to pull your hair out and not speaking to your significant other.

I will be using our den as an example, as we have just started to renovate that room and reclaim the space as living space instead of the storage space it has morphed into.

1.  Have a realistic (and somewhat flexible) timeline

 den before

I really, really wanted to do this room for the One Room Challenge this year.  The problem is that the challenge requires you to complete your room in six weeks.  (at least finished for the most part).

When I had a hard look at the space I knew there was no way could we finish in 6 weeks given the scope of work required.  To do it right, we realized the room is far too cold and not properly insulated.  This is going require that we tear out the exterior walls, re-insulate and re-finish.  Trying to get it done in six weeks was unrealistic and would have surely made it less than Zen!

2.  Have a Plan 

Reno list

Until my living room reno last year I was a “fly by the seat of my pants” kinda girl.  I had a vision in my head of how it should come together but never took the time to right it down.  We had more than a few disagreements along the way. Lesson learned.

Our plan for this project has come together with little notes I have jotted down as I think of them, and then Tim and I sat down and put each task in order that made sense to us.  This will serve as a road map from start to finish.

3.  Have a vision and create a vision board

 Den Vision Board

1.  Pottery Barn  2.  Ikea  3. Dash & Albert  4. Ikea  5.  (shiplap walls)Apartment Therapy  6. Magnolia Farms  7.  School Electric & Supply Co.

 Since this will be Tim’s space (or so I am letting him believe!) I want to keep a rustic, industrial, cottage vibe.  Not feminine but not overtly masculine either.

Having a vision board keeps me focused on the end product and it gives Tim an idea of what is going on in my little brain.  In the past my vision has not always made sense to Tim when he couldn’t see it too!

While I love the table I have pictured here from Pottery Barn, it likely won’t fit in our budget but it keeps me on the look-out for something similar that will be more affordable.  In this case it may even be another DIY project.  The shelf from Magnolia Farms is a must as I will use it to hold the television modem and Tim’s Play Station.  It really matches the look and feel I am going for.  The television itself will be hung on the wall to save floor space, so the shelf can be mounted right below it.

Having a vision board takes the stress out of last minute decisions.  It is okay if it evolves as the project progresses but getting the major decisions out of the way before you start is must to keep things stress free.

4.  Establish a realistic budget before you begin.

Den Budget

 Before you begin your DIY decide on a budget and stick to it.  Our budget is another reason why we could not meet the 6 week time frame of the One Room Challenge.  We plan to spend cash for our reno and have to budget timing accordingly!

It is important to resign yourself to your budget to keep things stress free.  And, when you budget one amount for something and find it (or something similar) for under budget it will put a big smile on  your face!  Isn’t that what Zen is all about!

5.  Communicate!

If you are working on this project with your spouse, a friend, or relative make sure you are always on the same page.  If an issue comes up address it together immediately.  There is nothing worse than letting something fester until it comes to the boiling point.

This includes respecting each others time and capabilities.  I know there have been times when I have been way too eager to see a project finished that I completely ignore Tim’s plea for rest, which makes for a very grumpy husband.

6.  Expect the Unexpected!

Be prepared for little surprises.  No reno ever seems to go without some unexpected expense, repair or delay of some sort.  Give yourself some grace and know that it is just a set back.  Get back on track as quickly as you can, but don’t let it define the entire project and completely ruin your mood.  Find a solution to the problem and work to solve it.

Untitled 1

We followed these tips when we added our pea gravel patio last summer and it made the job so much easier, and actually a bit faster than we anticipated.

We are implementing them again as we embark on this renovation project.

As a rule Tim is on board with whatever ideas I come up with, but I really took the time to involve him in the planning process.  It is a big project for us given we are ripping the exterior walls right back to the foundation and rebuilding.  I didn’t want to stress Tim by making him bite off more than he could chew and he assured me he is capable and eager to get this done.  We looked at Pinterest photo’s together so we could agree on the décor style, which made him happy.

If you are planning a DIY home reno in the future, I hope you take these tips into consideration to ensure that Zen and Home Reno really can fit together in the same sentence!

I will update our progress on the den weekly and have given ourselves a very generous timeline of 3 months since our work and activity schedules keep us busy and downtime is essential element of Zen!

What tips do you follow to keep your reno on track and stress free?  I would appreciate you sharing by leaving a comment!

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  1. This makes so much sense Maureen. When I start renovating my bedroom this spring I will certainly be following this plan, rather than just jumping in willy nilly as I usually do. Thanks for posting.