5 Renovation Regrets

5 Renovation Regrets - roomfortuesday.comI get questions like this all the time… How do you decide on something super permanent for your home when renovating? Do you ever make a mistake or choose the wrong thing? What do you do when you make the wrong selection? I renovated or made an update to my home recently and don’t love the outcome- now what? If you’re wondering about the answers to these questions, you’re not alone. There are many big, stressful decisions that come along with updating and renovating your home. I’m a very confident person and designer, but I’m also human… everybody makes a mistake from time to time. This is how I handle and admit defeat when I make a mistake. I’m also sharing 5 renovating regrets I’ve experienced over the years! Click through to read all about them… maybe my mistakes will save you a headache in the future. 

I bet you thought the #1 regret was going to be stacked laundry units, because of the intro image. WRONG! Haha. You guys know me better than that. These are the perfect height and I took photos for the big reveal to prove it, but it’s one of the most asked questions I get. I can totally see why you’d think I couldn’t reach the dryer, because my old laundry room sort of gave a weird optical illusion in photographs. I’m not a record-breaking tall person (I’m 5’6″), but the ceiling height tapers toward the cabinetry in the laundry room and makes me (and the laundry units) look gigantic. Not only did that make installing millwork a real headache, but it also made people think I couldn’t reach my dryer because of its proximity to the crown moulding, if I wasn’t pictured alongside it for scale. That’s one mistake I know better than to make, but I digress…

5 Renovation Regrets - roomfortuesday.comHumans are not perfect- that’s all there is to it. Even the most renowned designers have missed the mark once or twice. My point is this… if you’re renovating or making over a room and don’t love the outcome- it’s not the end of the world. The good news about homes and interiors is that they change, grow, and evolve with you. Even if something feels very permanent, you can always make adjustments and updates. Will it likely cost you more money time, energy, and money? Yes, but it’s not a life or death situation. Keeping that in mind, this is how I know if I’ve made a mistake…

My interior gut instinct is honestly pretty good. I can immediately tell if I like or dislike something right away. Sometimes people have to live with a room for awhile to determine that, but I’m one of those gals who just knows… I’m either into it- or I’m not. If it’s the latter, the worst part for me is admitting defeat. Emmett is my biggest fan, but also my biggest critic (and vice versa with me toward him). We push each other which helps us grow, but it’s also tough to admit when one of us is wrong. Sometimes I’ll feel disappointed in myself because “I should’ve known better”, but mostly I hate letting my partner down. As I mentioned, there are bigger fish to fry in life, so we move right along, but that’s step one for me- admit that I made a mistake.

Next, I figure out how to fix it (basically a do-over), make it better, or live with it. Those are the 3 options I give myself. Get creative- because sometimes it takes a lot of brainstorming to find a solution!

Trust me when I say, I’ve had some renovation regret over the years. Hopefully my mistakes will help you avoid similar situations in the future, or give you peace of mind knowing that even professionals and designers mess up… and that’s ok.


#1 – from our Ohio Bungalow // The Countertops … I’ll start by saying, this was the very first kitchen I designed. I had no idea what I was doing, I was young, and I followed trends like my life depended on it (bad idea, Sarah!) at that point in time. I’ll admit- that’s not a promising combination for a well-designed kitchen. Ha! I will say, the countertops were the only thing I regretted in this kitchen, but still- I wish I would’ve opted for natural stone instead of the basic quartz I selected.

5 Renovation Regrets - roomfortuesday.comThis was also before all-white kitchens were a giant thing or trendy craze, but I think this space would’ve been SO so much better if I would’ve installed real marble countertops with lots of natural veining and movement. The look alike quartz was super boring and basic… quartz hadn’t evolved very far at this point in terms of mimicking natural stone. Not to mention, I chipped a giant hunk out of the corner the first week we moved in, by dropping a glass olive oil bottle right onto the corner of the eased edge. I just felt let down by the look, as well as the promised durability of “quartz being indestructible”. What did we do? We lived with them and I was happy… I just learned that I prefer natural stone. It was a good lesson for me, as a designer. Ready for a throwback photo? Emmett and I took this right after we finished the kitchen for a Design*Sponge feature. Finn baby was NOT having it.

5 Renovation Regrets - roomfortuesday.com#2 – from our Utah Rambler // The Bathtub … We renovated our one and only bathroom for the One Room Challenge and it was a fast and furious renovation. Having no toilet or shower to use will really motivate someone to get things done, FYI. The bathroom turned out absolutely gorgeous (see the reveal here), but I do have one regret in the space- the bathtub. We ended up keeping the original cast iron tub and had it reglazed or refinished (see that process here). It looked really nice, but after crunching the numbers, going through the process, and discovering how easily it became dirty with just a few scrubs in the tub, I regret going that route.

5 Renovation Regrets - roomfortuesday.comWe could’ve purchased a new tub for around the same price that would’ve been easier to clean, would’ve looked a little more updated, and would’ve saved me time and energy airing out the house the week after. In this scenario, I didn’t begin regretting this decision immediately, but 4-5 months after… Emmett and I both agreed we would’ve taken a different path if we had a do-over. What did we do? We lived with this one. It still looks great- it just required frequent cleaning, and time spent immediately after making our house smell fresh (and not overtaken by fumes) again.

5 Renovation Regrets - roomfortuesday.com#3 – from our Ohio Bungalow // The Living Room Paint … Choosing the wrong paint color is a very easy and a common mistake, BUT- it’s also a simple fix! I’ll never forget Emmett’s face when he walked into our pink hued living room. I had the day off work and decided to “surprise” him and finish painting our living room. Our move-in day was just around the corner and we had been working tirelessly on this reno. Against my better judgement, I was in a time pinch, and picked a paint swatch from my local Sherwin-Williams store on a whim (at the store- right then and there). I didn’t even look at the swatch in the space (who was I?!). I made a decision in about five minutes, thought it looked like a pure, neutral white, and ordered two gallons. I started painting and thought it looked a little too warm, but blamed it on the morning sunlight. As it dried and I finished the room, I knew I screwed up BIG time.

5 Renovation Regrets - roomfortuesday.comIt dried with a pastel pink undertone and it looked like our living room was a soon-to-be nursery for a little girl. Here I had graduated with degrees and class completion in color theory and I couldn’t even choose a paint color! Emmett came home, bursted out laughing, was a little mad (because our budget was depleted), and still teases me about picking the right paint color to this day. What did we do? I ordered a swatch (like the designer in me KNOWS to do), pinched my pennies, made a better choice, and painted the space a beautiful, clean white. Sometimes a do-over is necessary. You live, you learn.

5 Renovation Regrets - roomfortuesday.com#4 – from our Ohio Bungalow // The Bathroom Vanity … I had a lot of trouble finding a bathroom vanity for our first home. I showed photos to Emmett, outside contractors, and nobody seemed confident that they could build what I wanted. Obviously, our skillset has matured with age and Emmett would gladly tackle a project of that caliber today, but I basically ran out of time for this one. That led to a frantic trip to IKEA, where I grabbed a basic double sink vanity. Knowing what I know now- for the price I could’ve came up with an amazing option… vintage or new, for the same dollar amount. I didn’t have resources, I didn’t do research, and I settled. I also made an impulse buy, which is never good for home fixtures. I brought home a bulky IKEA vanity and swapped the faucets. It was the lazy route, and it sort of worked. It was our first house and I was fine with it.

5 Renovation Regrets - roomfortuesday.comWe had plenty of storage, it served a good purpose, and it looked ok… but just ok. What did we do? I painted it twice before I felt happier with it. As I mentioned, I swapped the faucets, and I tried to add charm and character elsewhere. I don’t think it looked bad and I have nothing but love for IKEA- I just didn’t execute my vision and that was disappointing.

5 Renovation Regrets - roomfortuesday.com#5 – from our Ohio Bungalow // The Bifold Doors … Lastly, another project from our first home. I was hell-bent on creating a similar bifold door to one I had previously clipped from a magazine. I finally convinced Emmett to help me build them for the guest room, we went to a whole lot of trouble to do so, they looked great, and for some reason- looking back, I wish we would’ve just purchased a similar or better option. I’m pretty sure we didn’t save any money and I now know there are plenty of affordable and beautiful bifold doors on the market that would’ve made me even happier.

5 Renovation Regrets - roomfortuesday.comI also did a terrible job choosing the hardware for those doors. I have no idea what I was thinking with those agate door knobs. Haha! It’s clear they need a long, skinny appliance pull or something, right? Regardless- we lived with them. I loved them for a long time, but I would definitely do it differently today. I was so much happier with the closet doors in our rambler home.

5 Renovation Regrets - roomfortuesday.comI know that was kind of a trip down memory lane- especially for those of you who have been following from the very first house! It’s interesting to see the difference, the growth, and I can almost see my confidence and aesthetic growing stronger with every project. I feel like I finally came into my own, while inhabiting and renovating our previous house. I experimented, I ignored trends, I kept it classic, and stayed true to myself. I can only hope that mine and Emmett’s growth and exploration continues in our current home. We both feel so happy here and I can’t wait to make it our own! My bet is that we’re going to get attached to this one and not want to leave- Emmett isn’t convinced yet. Regardless, the next few years renovating are going to be FUN. I’m sure there will be victories and mistakes.

5 Renovation Regrets - roomfortuesday.comIt’s true that you become wiser with age. More life experience means more learning. I know I’ll continue to make mistakes along my journey, but that’s ok- as long as I learn from them. I try to keep that positive mental note in mind! I’m not the type of person who will make the same mistake twice, and I think that’s even more impressive than nailing something from the very beginning.

Would you be interested in seeing my top 5 proudest design moments in renovating? Or maybe even Emmett’s? How many of you have had renovation regrets? It’s totally normal friends- you’re not alone!

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  1. Hmmm. I’m thinking there’s maybe a difference between a regret and a mistake? I’d say choosing a paint color too quickly might count as a mistake. Your other examples, though, just seem like natural “live and learn” situations. (OK, maybe the agate knobs…😉) Like the perms I got in the 80s…we can’t let our past haunt us. I would definitely love to hear your proudest renovation accomplishments!

    1. Ha, you’re probably right Peggi! I also had a bad perm- and yes, that’s exactly what I’m talking about. I’ll have to work on the accomplishments posts now :)

  2. Interesting post! And yes, I would love to see proudest moments, from both you and Emmet.

    What’s also noteworthy here is that two of the regrets were born from deciding too quickly – so a big lesson here it to not rush. I had a big reno/design regret averted by not rushing – with our kitchen/living areas renovation, I had planned with our contractor to not have outlets installed in the marble backsplash, instead there would be outlet strips underneath the upper cabinets. Well, at the tail-end of this reno (note: 3 months I was kitchen-less), I was presented with the option to throw up the backsplash WITH the outlets, or wait one month more and they’d be outlet-free. I was soooooo over the reno (we were at month FIVE) and ready to give up (to me, time seemed more important than design), but my contractor kept his eye on the design, and urged me to wait – and boy am I SO GLAD he did! One month of waiting in relation to the YEARS of enjoying the design – right decision, no doubt.

    1. Thanks Karen! I’ll definitely roundup our proudest moments- that should be a fun one. I totally agree- the lesson here is to not rush. Kudos to you for taking your time. In my experience, that always gives the better result. So glad to hear you made the right decision! xox

  3. Ok, I actually laughed out loud at the paint color one because I did the EXACT same thing. Husband was out of town for the weekend and I had an amazing coupon for Sherwin Williams, so it just seemed like the perfect time to repaint the kitchen. But the coupon was about to expire, so I felt rushed and I picked out a swatch in store, trusting my gut. While it was better than what was on the walls before (barely), it also had a pinkish undertone that drove me crazy.

    I’m living with it until we get our countertops and backsplash put in at the end of the month (which now you have me freaked out about the quartz!). But after we get that installed, I’m buying paint samples first haha

    1. Ha! It’s an easy mistake. I ALWAYS always always get a swatch and I have no idea why I thought doing that on the fly was a good idea. No reason to be freaked out about quartz- it’s a great, super durable product- I’m just a natural stone type of gal… it’s simply a personal preference. I think you’ll be happy with your choice :)

  4. I’d love to see your proudest moments! My biggest renovation regret is hiring based on the cheapest bid. I ALWAYS end up spending more to fix a bad job than just hiring one of the other contractors in the first place.

    1. I added that one to the calendar. YAY! I’m excited for that post. Hiring the cheapest bid sometimes works out, and other times- you pay for what you get. Sorry to hear you had to deal with the latter. I’m pretty sure this is why Emmett and I never hire anyway- we have crazy standards and we’re both OCD. haha!

  5. Great post. Curious to know what the paint color from Sherwin Williams was?

    1. Thanks Megan! I honestly can’t remember- it was years ago. xo

  6. I feel like hearing regrets/mistakes is super useful to round out an understanding of what DOES work (and why). I’d also love to hear what the proudest moments are! Sometimes these are things that no one else would have picked IME because they don’t know the process/story behind it.

    1. So true! In those instances of regret, I now know what I like… and clearly what I don’t. It’s all one big learning experience, as well as getting to know yourself and your preferences. xo

  7. I love posts about design regrets for some reason!

    My biggest regret is the roman shades in my master bedroom. Our shade guy was on site doing the measurements. I explained that I wanted a greek key ribbon detail on them. He asked me to draw that out and for some reason I totally messed up the greek key design. Additionally I decided to get “creative” and bring the design across the top of the shade because they would be down most of the time. Well, now when you bring the shade up you cannot see the design on the bottom of the shade but you can on the top, so it looks upside down.

    Another mistake made from rushing. Why did I not have this drawn out properly ahead of time!?

    1. I do too! I think it’s fun to see people’s preferences. What I might consider a “mistake” or “regret” might be a big win for someone else and vice versa. I think it allows you to get to know someone better.

      The roman shade ordeal sounds like something I would’ve done. I HAVE to make a little mockup for everything… Emmett makes fun of my little paper projects, but I’m a visual thinker and sometimes that’s the best way for me to wrap my brain around something three dimensional. When I’m sewing or adjusting drapery, I have to make a pattern for everything. Ha! I feel your pain. xox

  8. I would love to read about your and Emmett’s proudest moments!

    Question about the refinished tub – why exactly did it get dirty faster? Did the coating being slicker attract more gunk somehow? We have a cast iron tub we are considering having refinished, but feeling less clean quicker is a major downside that could make us splurge for a new cast iron tub.

    1. Maybe since lots of you are interested in that, we could do a video sharing them within a blog post! That sounds like fun. Emmett will be thrilled, haha! He’s working on not being camera shy.

      I am stumped on the bathtub! I’ve recommended this for clients in the past, and not a single person complained. Obviously it looks amazing… but this is the first time I’ve personally lived with it- and I was not impressed. The texture is definitely slick and at first I thought it was my bath products, but after trial and error- it was the tub. I know different companies use different coatings, so maybe I just went with the worse material? Not sure. I do know, in the warranty, only certain cleaners were recommended. I probably wouldn’t go this route again (or recommend it).

    2. PS: I’m talking like… every two showers, I would see grease / dirt that wouldn’t wash away, then I would feel compelled to clean. Then again… we were renovating, so I’m sure mine and Emmett’s showers were grosser than the average humans. Hahah!

  9. Rose Dykema says:

    I loved this post! We are still in the demo phase of our Tudor renovation and let me tell you…I’m struggling with the fact that I have to make major decisions in one trip when I fly in a few months. The thing I’m stressed about the most is my wood floor stain and my bathrooms selections. I have to have certain things finished before we sell our current home in Seattle and move our life back to Michigan. This was incredibly refreshing to know if I make a mistake no one is perfect and I’ll just have to work with it ☺️

    1. Thanks Rose! I dream of renovating a Tudor someday- I bet your home is gorgeous and will be even better once your renovation wraps up. My advice is to look at everything in person (finishes, samples, swatches, etc). Making decisions on the fly is hard enough- no need to overcomplicate it with making selections online. Just take a deep breath, follow your intuition, and know that nothing is forever permanent- you’ll do amazing :) xox

  10. Would love to see both of your proudest moments! I really enjoyed seeing you go through your past projects and what you’d do differently.

    1. That’s definitely happening and I’m excited to share more :) Thanks so much Jessica!

  11. I absolutely love how you illustrated this post on regrets with something that was NOT a regret — very tricky there!!! This is a super interesting post for those of us without all this experience to see. Gives me lots to think about.

    And yes of course would love to read posts about your and Emmett’s favorite things you’ve done/accomplished between all your renovations and projects.

  12. It’s so funny, those bifold doors are the thing that brought me to your blog! I actually DIYed my own version, and it ended up being super budget friendly! I still love mine so much. Love reading your blog so much and so excited to see this next big project! Xoxo

    1. That makes them totally worth it!! I’m so happy to hear that. Thanks for following along this entire time Casey :) xox

  13. Viktorija says:

    This was a fascinating post! My husband and I are in the middle of fixing up our first home and it’s definitely a live-and-learn process. I try to remind myself that I learn through my mistakes—but that doesn’t always make the mistake easier to swallow. Can’t wait for your post on proudest reno projects!

    1. Thank you! It’s definitely a live and learn process… sometimes the time and money make mistakes difficult to swallow though- you’re totally right. Sometimes the only thing you can do is laugh- just like we did about the pink paint. Haha! xox