Published on August 12, 2019

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photo by jessica antola

Every remodel comes with its ups and downs. The ups, of course, are when you score the kitchen countertops you’ve been eyeing for half the price or learn that an ugly pillar isn’t structural. The downs? Mold, faulty wiring, roof damage…you know the drill.  

An important part of taking on any home improvement project, whether you’re renovating an entire house or giving the kitchen a much-needed makeover, is accepting that there will be inevitable issues and tackling them head-on. Of course, some mistakes are simply unavoidable, but the more prepared you are, the more likely you’ll be able to avoid the missteps that will cost you the most. To help you get through your reno tears-free, we took some of our most pressing concerns to interior designers. Here, the pros share the best lessons they’ve learned from remodels gone wrong. 

Get the Critical Stuff Out of the Way First

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Photo by Amy Bartlam; Design by Katie Hodges.

Veneer Designs’s Natalie Myers’s biggest pet peeve: “Neglecting roofs or plumbing in need of repair to focus on the interior finishes, then watching beautifully installed wallpaper or wood flooring get damaged by leaks and needing to be replaced.” Ouch. It’s easy to put off dealing with the unglamorous issues, but they’re the glue that holds everything together.

Let Wood Floorboards Settle

Hardwood floors instantly warm up a space, so we don’t blame you for wanting them in your home. But don’t rush the process—the boards will look wonky if they don’t have enough time to adapt before installation. “If the wood isn’t natural to your climate, you need to make sure that it acclimates to it surroundings before it’s put in. If it hasn’t adequately acclimated, it will buckle and warp,” warns Kahi Lee, one of the designers on TLC’s Trading Spaces. “I have seen contractors leave wood floors in a home for days before installing it to avoid this costly mistake.”

Leave the Tiling to Your Contractor

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photo by JASON FRANK ROTHENBERG

Unless you have had plenty of practice, don’t use your bathroom or kitchen refresh as an opportunity to DIY tilework for the first time. “It pains us to have to rip out new construction,” says Atlanta designer Tavia Forbes

Triple-Check Your Measurements

You spent hours piecing together the perfect kitchen layout and, finally, it’s installation time. But wait, why does the knife drawer keep bumping into the wall? “I had a client who splurged on custom cabinets, but didn’t take into consideration important design elements. The dishwasher wouldn’t open unless a cabinet was shut; the fridge couldn’t open all the way; the traffic paths were not large enough, etc.,” says Utah-based designer and blogger Sarah Gibson. Before you get caught up in picking out paint finishes or hardware, determine how you move about your space on a day-to-day basis. 

The same rule applies to every room, really. “Any time measurements aren’t properly taken (measure twice, cut once!), you end up with a costly mistake…curtains that are too short, a sofa that is too big,” explains Dee Murphy of Murphy Design

This story was originally published on August 9, 2018. It has since been updated. 

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