June 10, 2021

Your Renovation Regrets & Rejoices.

white kitchen Renovation Regrets Rejoices Not the best image, but it’s the best one I have at the moment. 

As some of you may know, a few months ago, Keith and I purchased a lake house in Lake Ariel, Pennsylvania. For anyone whose been following me for awhile, may recall me mentioning what a major vision board goal it was for us so here’s renovation regrets rejoices.

After my father passed away, I vividly remember taking a solo walk around the lake and feeling a sense of calm come over me. I sat on a rock and thought “we’re going to own a home here soon.” It’s been a goal for awhile, but after the last year, I wanted to do everything in our power to make it happen sooner rather than later.

Why Lake Ariel, Pennsylvania?

Two of our closest friends have a home out there and we’ve been lucky enough to visit for the last ten years! We have some wonderful memories prior to having kids, memories with just Nate and now, with both Nate and Sasha. Whenever we’re there, it feels like the most needed escape from the city. We’ve always dreamed about investing in a property that would provide us with a temporary escape from city life. As much as we love living in Brooklyn, things, especially with two small children, can get pretty wild.

A few people asked me if we looked into other areas like The Hamptons or Upstate New York.

As far as the Hamptons, that was never an option simply due to price alone. The Hamptons are EXPENSIVE. And while I love heading to the Hamptons with my girlfriends, Keith is not really a Hamptons guy.

We did look into upstate New York, but again, we were a little late. Over the last few years, prices got incredibly expensive. We also knew we wanted to have a lot of access to lakes, pools and to be surrounded by trees. We’re getting all of those things in Lake Ariel.

Your Renovation Regrets & Rejoices.

The House:

We started actively looking last March and found the house we purchased almost a full year later. With Covid and so many people having the same idea, homes would be listed and off the market 1-2 days later. When we saw our house, we didn’t jump on it right away. In fact, we went up to PA to look at another house and figured we had nothing to lose by looking at this one. Needless to say, it felt right in person and while it needed a lot of work, we saw the potential.

Renovating:

We’re about 6 weeks into renovating and should be done soon. It’s been a bit challenging managing everything from afar, but thankfully, we haven’t had any major hiccups that have made me want to pull my hair out. A few smaller ones here and there, but that’s to be expected with any renovation project.

We do chat with the crew on a regular basis and have been driving up  for checkins every week or two. Sometimes Keith will go on his own and when we’re able to get childcare or my final approval is needed, we go together.

The only other home I’ve really renovated has been our Brooklyn one and from that experience alone, I’ve learned a lot (like don’t let contractors bully you)!

When I took a poll on Instagram on what your renovation regrets and rejoices were, I got so many helpful and informative answers that have already helped me and in turn, I hope they’re able to help some of you when you’re in a similar renovating situation.

Before I jump into it, here’s a before and a current situation of our bathroom and kitchen. Already such a massive difference! 

kitchen with yellow walls for Renovation Regrets Rejoices

Renovation construction of a kitchenappliances will be updated

Renovation Regrets Rejoices for bathroom with bath tub

shower construction in a abthroomIt’s definitely come a very long way! This past week, we painted the exterior from a yellow to a darker grey/black.

But enough about that for now….

Based the feedback and what many of you wrote, here’s a compiled list of what was mentioned. If there’s something you’d like to add, please leave it in the comments and I’ll edit as we go.

Renovating Regrets

Not planning all of the electricity. Think about where you want sconces and certain light fixtures. Plan where you’re going to plug in your phone in each room,  your coffee machine, your appliances, your television and everything  else that needs an outlet. Also make sure you have enough outlets. Easiest to do it while the electrician is there.

Not enough lighting: When we renovated our Brooklyn kitchen, we didn’t put recessed lighting and that was a huge mistake! I’ve learned, there is never enough lighting, especially recessed lighting.

Not adding dimmers on recessed lighting. 

Again, not putting lights in closets: Something we didn’t do and I regret it.

Not adding lights under kitchen cabinets: Adding under cabinet lights is one thing we did and I cannot recommend it enough.

Black floors or black tiles: While they may look good in a Pinterest folder, they show every ounce of hair and dirt.

Pure white grout: Looks good at first, but then becomes a pain to keep clean.

Not getting heated flooring in the bathroom: Mentioned a lot! We didn’t do this during our Brooklyn renovation and I really do regret it on a cold winter day.

Marble: I know this is purely a matter of opinion, but many people mentioned regretting their choice of marble. Very high maintenance and hard to maintain.  Side note: we opted for quartz in our Brooklyn home and have zero regrets!! We did the same for the lake house.

Not installing a boiling tap: lots of mentions for this!

Choosing aesthetics over functionality.

Doing bits and pieces at a time: If budget allows, try to do everything that’s on your list at once. It’s very easy to say “I’ll get to it later,” but then you never do. We didn’t renovate our main floor powder room (that lives in the kitchen) when we renovated our kitchen and I really regret it. Now our kitchen is updated, our bathroom is not and I’m simply not in the mood to deal with dust, dirt and workers again. Really wish we would have done it the first time.

Cheap flooring: This was mentioned a lot! Particularly regretting not getting 100% wood or engineered wood.  Wood is a bit pricier, but it’s something that lasts a life time, a point that many have mentioned.

Cheap cabinets: When we renovated our Brooklyn kitchen, our contractor gave us cabinets that I did zero research on. Three years later, they’re chipping and it would have been way most cost efficient to do my research and spend the money on quality cabinets off the bat.

Painting cabinets instead of getting new ones:

So there were a lot of different opinions about this. Many mentioned that they painted their cabinets and regretted not just getting new ones. However, when I shared that we did the same – painted the wooden cabinets in our lake house, I had a lot of messages telling me that they’ve done the same and have zero regrets. I realize that the quality of the cabinets make a difference. So, if you’re painting high quality, wooden cabinets, that will yield a better result than painting a lower quality cabinet.  At least with our painted cabinets, we have the paint color and can touch it up as we go.

Not getting new flooring: In the same vein, many of you said that you wish you spent the extra money on new flooring rather than refinishing old flooring. Flooring is such a pain when you’re already living in your home. It pays to really do it right the first time.

Not having more fun with the design: A few mentioned they wished they took more risks and didn’t play it so safe.

Not hiring a designer: This was also mentioned several times. If budget allows, this can be an incredibly worthy investment. If not, look into Havenly. We used Havenly for our Brooklyn bedroom (still in the process) and it was a wonderful experience.

Not speaking up: If something bothers you or is not the way you want it, don’t be afraid to speak up. You’re paying a lot of money and you don’t want to regret not saying something while the workers are there. Speak up! 

Rejoices:

Heated floors in the bathrooms: This came up a lot as something most of you have been thrilled with. There were the occasional “don’t do it because if it breaks, it’s a bitch to get to…” but for the most part, but for the most part, 90% of the replies were that it’s a must if budget allows.

Under kitchen counter lighting: while we didn’t add recessed lights in our kitchen (again, major regret), we added lights under our kitchen cabinets and they’ve saved our kitchen from getting dark. Huge plus and would recommend in a heartbeat. It’s the best feature!  I’ve also had people ask me what kind we got and our contractor installed them, but I’m almost positive he used these. 

Dimmers to all overhead lights.

Panel ready appliances so they blend into the cabinets for a built in look.

Mudroom: if you have the space for an entry way or a mudroom, think about where everyone is going to drop their stuff.

Built in Sound System: This sounds like a dream considering we always have music on. Especially when we entertain.

Upgrade Molding: Gives a more luxe feel to the room/home.

Second Floor Laundry Room (rather than in a basement): Saves you the hassle of having to bring everything to another level. We have our laundry room in the basement. If I were to ever renovate another home, I would 100% move it to the second floor for ease.

Asking cable company to install wiring before closing walls.

Pull out garbage and recycle bins. 

There you have it! I would absolutely love to add more to the list in hopes of helping others. If there’s something that you feel I should add, whether it’s a major regret or rejoice, please share in the comments.

Share

4 comments

  • Katya

    Wow! Thank you tons! This is the most honest and useful post I have read about renos. We are about to start ours and I am terrified and excited at the same time haha. Would you share places where you bought tile/quartz etc for your lake house?

  • Fashion and Frappes

    This is so useful. we had to change the cabinets in our case since due to the glaze of the wood it wasn’t possible to paint it. The original cabinet were wood which honestly, I would have loved to keep if I could paint. The point about the quality makes so much sense.

    I have to say I am surprised no regrets on style. Pinterest makes it so difficult to choose a style since everything looks so lovely!

  • Fleur

    Thank you for these tips! Your lake house is going to be very beautiful.

  • Beth

    It’s going to be so lovely — good for you! I’m headed to Lake Ariel for the first time this summer with my husband and kids! Any favorite places, tips, advice?

Subscribe
to the newsletter