how to remodel without going crazy

There is no way around it: you are going to face a LOT of decisions when it’s time to remodel or redesign your home. Which color do you want? Which cabinet style do you prefer? Which couch is cutest? Did you want feather down or polyester? Piping or a topstitch? Double pane windows or triple? Did you decide on door pulls??? It goes on… and on… and on!

Unless you thrive on all things design, and can stop parenting your kids or working for a living while you design your space, you’re going to have to come up with ways to edit down all the decisions. And a *big* part of that is actually making a choice, feeling great about it, and then not looking at any more options. This can feel downright scary. What if there is a prettier countertop? What if there is a cheaper faucet? What if there are better/stronger/faster drawer glides, base moldings, ceiling fixtures, dimmer switches, dual-flush toilets….

You get the idea.

Every choice is a rabbit hole that can drag you under and suck the hours from your life faster than #facebook.

Whether you’re working with a professional, or doing the design plans on your own, you have to have some way to cut through all the noise. Let’s take a lesson from one of my most favorite books – Greg McKeown’s “Essentialism.” His solution to facing too many good options is pretty simple (if not easy) – it’s just a matter of “cutting out some really good opportunities.” It just means saying “no,” “not right now,” and “nope, I’m satisfied with what I’ve got.” It can be tough to do it, but of course he’s right.

To do this effectively you need three things: a target, an organizational system, and a habit of contentment and trust.

First, your target: you have to know what you are aiming at in the first place. With a clear target it’s easier to know if this tile, or that couch, is the right fit, and whether you can move on to the next decision. My favorite way to do that is to begin every project with a ten-image ideabook on houzz.com. I have my clients choose ten pictures of rooms they would absolutely love to come home to, and we analyze what the images have in common. This way we know what kind of room we are trying to create, and that becomes our quick filter for knowing if this faucet, or that rug, would be a good fit for our ideal room.

Second, a system. You need a tidy, organized spreadsheet or other system so that you know what you need to choose, when you need to choose it, and whether or not you’ve completed that task. Some contractors will create a list for you, but if they don’t, or if you are doing a simple refurnishing of a room, create your own. It’ll help you not only stay sane, but also on budget.

Third, and maybe most important, you have to let yourself be satisfied by a great, “good-enough” plan. One that you can execute with relative ease and appropriate cost so that you can get back to living in your space. That was the whole point, right? And if this doesn’t come naturally to you, I highly recommend reading McKeown’s book, or something similar. It’ll help you keep perspective when you are tempted to look at “just one more page of lamp options” at 2 a.m., and it’ll help you keep your sanity when your contractor springs a decision on you that’s going to cost you thousands of dollars.

Drama-free, successful remodels take both trust in yourself, and restraint. It doesn’t mean you don’t speak up if you don’t like the design, or if you see something amiss during the construction process. But it does mean that you can stop at the fifth (or maybe tenth) page of lamps on the lamp website. And if you’ve assembled a great design for your living room, it means not letting yourself get sidelined by a brand new sofa or rug option, because that will mean you have to start over from scratch (since, just like in cooking, every ingredient affects every other ingredient).

To be happy you can’t look at ALL the options. You just can’t. (Though you CAN look at all the squirrels, and if you would rather not get anything done today, I highly recommend the distractions of Tin Tin the Squirrel!) 😜 So whether you are remodeling your kitchen, finding a birthday card for your best friend, or choosing a new lipstick, find an option that satisfies your need, and move on to other things that need your attention.

Like squirrels.

May your home always be happy, and your remodel stress-free!

Hi! I’m Rebecca West.

I’m not your classic interior designer because, frankly, I don’t care if you buy a new sofa. I do care if your home supports your goals and feels like “you.” Remember, happy starts at home!


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