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  • Writer's pictureBren Petrunick

A Guide to Planning a Successful Renovation

If you have been dreaming about a kitchen remodel, expanding your existing home, or any other type of major renovation, read this before you endeavour to make those dreams a reality. We’ll walk you through the essential planning steps that can mean the difference between a dream renovation and a nightmare. 


A room in a house that's being renovated

We understand the temptation to leap into action, to start picking tiles, lighting and décor for the new space you envision in your mind. However, renovation projects are riddled with challenges, delays and misadventures, and without a well-established plan, you could be headed toward timely and costly mistakes. 


In this post, we’re sharing the five critical steps that will ensure your renovation runs smoothly. But first, a word of caution. These important planning practices are not a shield to ward off the inevitable pitfalls of remodelling, but they will set you up to understand what’s ahead and successfully manage the process and mitigate mishaps. So, let’s dive in!


A beautiful dining room designed by Simply White Interiors, Niagara on the lake Ontario

Gather Inspiration

If you’re even contemplating a renovation, you are probably knee-deep in inspiration photos! This can be an exciting and overwhelming stage, but it’s very important. We often advise our clients to gather images of things they like, and things they don’t like. Understanding what’s “off limits” is equally important to the design process.


So, scroll away, pin, pin, pin. And when you’re done, here’s the really important step: edit! Narrow your inspiration photo gallery to a handful of the images; the ones that really tell the story that’s in your mind’s eye. The takeaway here is that too many images will make it difficult to hone in on what you’re really looking to achieve. 


Determine your Renovation Goals

Setting aside time to sit down and itemize a list of needs and wants will be the foundation on which your renovation plan is built. This is the ideal time to enlist the support of a design team to guide your project. Having another set of eyes on your inspiration images and the current state of your space will help identify the biggest areas of concern and opportunity. 


Goals are often aligned in two categories: form and function. Let’s start with function because this is most often the breaking point. A room can look great but if it doesn’t function well, it will always be a source of strain. Take an inventory of the things your home isn’t doing for you currently, this will help identify areas to focus on during your renovation planning. Some hot button issues are often storage and flow, as well as the need for space to entertain or accommodate a home office space or a growing family. Whatever your needs are, itemize them and prioritize them. Chances are, not everything on your list will fit into your project scope, so knowing the difference between a want and a need is important. 


When we begin talking about form with clients, that’s when those insta-worthy photos appear. Form can be described in many ways but most often it comes back to a feeling. Take time to consider how your current space makes you feel (we usually hear things like “stressed” or “anxious”). Then, ponder the mood you’d like the new design to evoke. Are you looking for something that makes you feel relaxed, or perhaps inspired and engaged? The conversation about form also starts to get at the quality of finishes you’ll put into the new space, which is important from both a design and budget perspective. 


Finding a balance between form and function is the sweet spot, and the goal. An experienced design team can guide you toward a finished project that checks all the right boxes. 


Bren Petrunick Creative Director Simply White Interiors Niagara on the Lake, ON looking at a laptop

Hire the Right People 

This step cannot be overstated. Having a dedicated, honest, trustworthy and experienced team around you will make for an enjoyable process, and a successful result. Take time to formally vet everyone on your list, from prospective contractors and tradespeople, to architects, suppliers and designers. Ask for references. Talk to previous clients. Visit homes they’ve worked in if you can. The more you know about their past work, the better you can make an informed decision. 


Hiring a design team to oversee your renovation can be the glue that holds everything together. Think of us as project managers, rather than just designers. Our experience can be invaluable to you through every stage of the project, from conception to installation. A design team can play the role of your point person, fielding questions from contractors, architects and tradespeople, and only bringing questions and issues to your attention when the need arises. In this role, we can take a great deal of stress off your shoulders. 


No matter how much you plan and anticipate, there will be unforeseen issues along the way. Having an expert team by your side will help you save time and avoid costly mistakes, steering you safely through stormy days and right into the space of your dreams.  


A beautiful entryway designed by Simple White Interiors, Niagara on the lake Ontario

Establish a Realistic Budget and Timeline

Once you have a renovation plan and the right team assembled around you, it’s time to dig into budgets and timelines. The research you’ve done in previous stages will help with this process, but your team of experts will be your best resource. 


This stage may require some time as you gather estimates and delve further into your desired finish selections. But it is absolutely necessary to spend this time so there are no surprises in terms of the cost of your project and the time it will take to complete it. 


With careful budgeting, and adding some contingency funds, you can avoid the need to cut corners, remove portions of the plan or sacrifice on finish selections midway through the renovation because unforeseen circumstances threatened the bottom line of the project. 


Transparency is critical when dealing in budgets and timelines. When in doubt, remember that if something seems too good to be true, it probably is. If someone says they can deliver in half the time and half the cost of all the others, steer clear!


Urge your team to be upfront about timelines, especially if you have a firm deadline. Not only can delays be frustrating, but they can be costly. Consider all the expenses incurred due to delays, including your living costs if you’re renting during renovations.  


Understand the Process 

Beyond the budget and timeline, it’s important for owners to understand what lies ahead with a major renovation. Your renovation team, led by your design team (aka project managers) can give you a thorough appreciation for what to expect throughout the process. For many of our clients, the project they’re embarking on is the largest renovation they’ve ever encountered, and that comes with its share of uncertainty. Our job is to bring clarity, continuity and communication. 


The full team at Simply White Interiors gathered around a table with textiles and books on it.

We have all heard horror stories of renovations gone awry, but yours need not conform to that stereotype. You should feel engaged and involved, but not overwhelmed. When you enlist the support of a design team like SWI, we will expertly manage the details of your renovation, guide you through the selection process, and communicate progress and pain points, so you can experience the simple pleasure of watching your dream come to life!


To reach out for a consultation, click here


Simply White Interiors

Niagara on the Lake, ON Canada


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