Renovation Realities: The Learning Curve

The learning curve for a DIY renovation is steep. This is not a form of entertainment. This is not HGTV. This is not Pinterest.


The constant state of dust my kitchen has been under

I love Pinterest. I really do. And I love HGTV and DIY Network. A lot. It’s so easy to think that, after pinning hundreds of kitchens and watching many walls torn down on TV that you can take on the DIY renovation thing…and that you can do it as a hobby.


A DIY reno is NOT a hobby. It’s NOT a weekend warrior’s pursuit. It’s not even a second job. It’s a second life. You are going to blow off your friends and family. You are going to spend every spare minute working until you are so exhausted that you cannot possibly go one second longer.

We’ve only just begun and I can already say with absolute certainty that this is just a short list of the things I’ve learned so far in our journey.

It’s not glamorous. It’s not weeks of chaos. It’s not months of chaos. It’s years of chaos. And dirt. And challenges. And commitment. It’s not for the faint of heart. For the faint of heart, there’s Pinterest and HGTV. I can’t even look at Pinterest without feeling resentful. All those pretty pictures and beautifully written blog posts of the renovation journey. LIES. They don’t want to show the messy parts of their lives and that’s fine for them, but I just can’t bring myself to make y’all think it isn’t TOUGH.


Our "temporary" kitchen for the past 4 weeks

Your renovation journey will bring out the best and the worst in you. This is especially true if you’re doing it with a spouse / partner. You’re going to be stressed out of your mind about money, time, expertise, design decisions. And did I mention money and time? A DIY reno is a black hole of both of those things. You’re going to be biting your tongue. A lot. You’re going to learn things about yourself (and your spouse) that you never knew. You’re going to have major fights and Home Depot parking lot meltdowns. There’s going to be [a lot of] mistakes and there’s going to be [many] injuries. On the opposite side of that, you’re going to learn things about yourself that are surprising. As someone who has struggled my entire life with perfectionism, OCD, and anxiety (for real, not just because it’s something “cool” to say you are now days), I’ve found myself holding it together when something goes wrong. I’ve let things go that were less than perfect so that we could move on to the next thing. I’ve been more understanding of the limitations of my husband (because let’s be very clear about this: neither one of us are “qualified” to be doing this) than I thought I would be. I’ll be the first to admit that, while it’s not something I’m proud of, I can be quite unrealistic and demanding in my expectations of others. Especially him. Maybe it’s because I know what a huge thing we have taken on and I know he’s just as stressed out as I am, but I’ve really found that I’m much more patient and tolerant than either one of us thought I would be.


So much dust even Leroy can't sit down without getting covered in it.

When faced with the choice of either liking what you already have, or having to go without, it’s amazing how quickly you decide to like what you have.  While in the planning stages of this renovation I had a pretty little list of all the things I wanted to do / change / update. We’re only 6 weeks into the actual work and most of those plans have already been abandoned. Tearing down half the foyer wall to have a more exposed stairway? No longer important. Moving the sink from the outside wall to the island? Not that necessary, after all. Moving the washer and dryer from a laundry nook off the kitchen to the mud room? Why bother.

The concern about what other people think fades away, simply because you can’t afford to care what people think. Those days of feeling like I don’t add up, like my house can’t compare to those making their way around Instagram and Pinterest? They’re gone. In the beginning, I was a little worried about showing the “after” pictures, much less the “during.” First of all, we live in the real world and I’m not even going to pretend like we can afford a $50,000 kitchen. That isn’t even our budget for the entire interior reno. The bottom line – and most important thing – is that *I* am happy with the end result. If others don’t like it, they can just scroll on past it. I’m no longer living my life wondering what other people think about me, my choices, or my house. I’m in a good place and it’s all because I can’t afford to be in any other place.