If you are about to buy a home, or you just bought a home I want you to take some time before you decide to dive into any DIY remodeling projects or hire a contractor to do a project.
Don’t Dive In
First things first…if you are purchasing a home that can be lived in for a while before you start making changes, I advise you to do just that, live in it for a while. Especially if you are a first time home owner.
I think when we first see a space we have an “idea” of what we want to do with it…some of those ideas may be “needs” or “wants” to be done to the home… But until we live in the space and feel the flow of the space, understand its quirks, you don’t really know what you want to do with it. You may take on a project right away, but later regret it because in hindsight it wasn’t as important, or it was the wrong choice for that home.
Here are a few things to consider before you make any BIG decisions on the space that you now call home.
Live in the Space for a While
Before deciding on what BIG things you want to have done, live in the space for at least 6 months. Understand and feel the flow of the home. Learn all the weird quirks of it. The beauty and charm of an older home is the weird quirks, and honestly decide what you can live with and see as “charming” and what things you’d like to change.
Too often I think people destroy the charm of an old house with a full remodel, removing all that was charming and weird about the space to begin with. Understanding the home and how it flows, and what your true needs are to make the space practical for living will really help you weed out what truly needs to be done to it, and how.
After living in my home for over a year I realized my initial ideas of how I wanted to restore the back area wouldn’t have been the best choice for the flow of the home, and now I have a better understanding of what I want done and the style in which I want it to be done.
Restore Instead of Remodel
Consider maintaining and restoring the original style of the home back to it’s GLORY days, instead of remodeling, try to think more in terms of restoring, especially if you have a historical period home.
If your home is from the depression like ours, research what it may of looked like, or try to discover what it did look like before it had various owners and additions or changes made to the home. Or if it is a Victorian home, try to restore the home with fixtures and woodworking that will fit in with the rest of the home but still include all the modern amenities and conveniences.
Try to discover the history of your home. Because I love to talk to anyone everywhere I go I was able to discover some of our homes history through a neighbor after I went to a Easter sunrise service at towns cemetery last spring.
Our neighbor Louise was so sweet to invite the former owner Beverly who lived in our home from the early 50’s to the late 80’s. Her husband’s family purchased this home shortly after it was built in 1945. Beverly and Louise came over for tea one afternoon. She brought photos which was super fun, to see the home and how it had changed throughout the years.
Outline Needs and Wants
Make a list of needs and wants – what really needs to be done, as in you can’t live unless these things are completed or changed, and then make a list of wants.
For example, I’d love to have our kitchen ceiling opened up and the back porch made into a breakfast nook. In addition I’d love to rework the root cellar underneath the kitchen with a new entrance. But for now, I realize that’s not in the budget. A new fridge, some shelving added and a bucket of paint will do wonders for the space. I can live with that until we have the budget to do what I really want done. I’d also love to have all the fireplaces restored and rebuilt and wood stoves installed, but again, that’s a want and not a necessity.
When you do go to remodel/restore, carefully consider the materials. Sometimes it’s best to wait longer for the better quality items instead of just doing the quick fix for right now changes. Instead of spending the money to do it quick and cheap, just wait until you have the money you need to do it right with the materials you really want to use. Consider trying to use recycled items as well, finding vintage items to add into your home, or more sustainable/green options that will be healthier for you and your family.
Living in the space, getting a feel for the space, and learning the history will really help you make better choices. Often I feel like we rush in too quickly to make changes to a space before we fully understand it, and then later regret the choices. Remodeling and restoring a home is a big investment, so you want to make wise choices that you are satisfied with, it brings value to your home, while maintaining the home’s charm and history. and making it a practical home for you to happily live and love doing life in.