A big-ticket renovation – whether it’s a gut job on the house or just the kitchen or bathroom – is an expensive and arduous experience. The costs, the frustrations, the upset to your life – all of it combines to transform your excitement at refreshing your home into a desperation to just get it over with. Of course, once the contractors have packed up and left, you’ll be able to bask in the gorgeous, fresh look you’ve given the room or the whole place – unless, of course, you realize you don’t like it at all. In fact, you hate it.
This is what happened to my wife and I. We tore out our only bathroom in our charming house and got bold: we decided to tile the room from floor to ceiling in mosaic glass tile. We were excited. We had the usual sorts of delays and problems with the renovation, but we persevered and when it was done we were excited to show off the new room. And then, slowly, my wife became less and less happy. The tile was too much, the room was too busy, and all that glass tile proved to be too difficult to clean. The gorgeous image in her head had become a less-than-perfect reality.
This is more common than you think; few people have the ability to take their imaginings and line them up with the reality – at least not until they’ve actually put everything in place. After spending all that money and time, few people would decide to tear out a brand-new renovation and start from scratch, even if they could afford to do so. So what can you do, besides live with it for ten or fifteen years and try again?
Change the Finishes
Start simple: Every room has finishes that can be changed very easily and inexpensively. Yes, you spent time and money on the original finishes, but a little more time and money might be just enough to push the room over the edge. Change faucets, lighting, handles – be creative! Lighting can be the most powerful tool here. In our case, I changed the ceiling light and the type of bulb it took, going from harsh, bright white light that highlighted every flaw and problem to a soft, diffuse light that played off the glass tile magically.
It sounds too simple, but the fact is, anywhere you have paint in a room is an opportunity for an inexpensive but dramatic change to the room. Changing the color of even a small portion of a room can have a huge impact on the rest, and if your choices aren’t working for you, try them against a new color palette before you give up. In kitchens and bathrooms, if you hate the cabinetry you’ve installed, try painting them and putting new hardware in place! The transformation can be mind-blowing. In our bathroom, I re-painted the door from bright white to a dark, smoky grey, and instantly my wife thought the tile looked better.
Change the Accents
Your room is the sum total of its parts. Changing furniture, trim, and rugs can make the room wholly different. If you renovated your living room around existing furniture, perhaps it’s time to update the seating? In the kitchen, maybe you can compromise and tear out just the backsplash and replace it with something new and bold. For us, it was as simple as changing the towels and rugs we had bought originally. By bringing in some bold patterns we found the whole room was more balanced – and my wife fell in love with it again.
Not every renovation turns out. Sometimes our bright design ideas grate on the eye after a while, or our sense of scale is off by a tiny increment that isn’t obvious at first. If this happens to you, don’t get a third job and take out a second mortgage to go through the renovation again just yet – try one of these strategies first, and see if you can’t remake your renovation for pennies, first!