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9/22/2022

How To Stay Married During a Remodel

You don't need to contemplate divorce when you're remodeling. You need the right vocabulary to help you navigate a complex and emotional process!

I’ve lived through too many home design disagreements with my own spouse that I’ve lost count. But we've learned a lot of valuable information along the way. 

We've become too familiar with the dynamic between couples that we've seen on HGTV and other home remodeling networks.

She Says: “Oh no, you installed that cabinet too low.”

He Says: “But this is how you’re supposed to install it.”

She Says: “But that’s not my vision. My vision is (insert creative idea here).”

and He responds, “Okay, I’ll fix it, I love you.”

Now let's take a pause for a reality check.

Let me tell you about how things typically go around my Portland, OR house.

I say: “Oh no, you installed that cabinet too low.”

He says: “But this is how you’re supposed to install it.”

I say: "But I explained to you my vision. Don't you remember?"

He says: "Yeah, but a vision doesn't show me how to do something, I'm not a mind reader..."

And then the big disagreement commences, the project stops and you will find two grumpy people staring at an unfinished project for days!

In my work I’ve witnessed a lot of home reno disagreements between couples and not to mention I’ve lived through too many home design disagreements with my own spouse that I’ve lost count.  

Jake and I in our first home pre kids
Saturday mornings in our remodeled kitchen (we someone remained married after that fiasco!)
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Here are my 5 tips for staying together during a home remodel. 

1. Before you start any project-list your EMOTIONAL WHY. Write down on the page why you feel passionate about a decision.  Passion comes from an emotional space.  For example, you want an island not for looks, but because you’re envisioning your future family sitting around it making cookies.  What do you dream of having? Now ask WHY it is so important to you. Do this BEFORE you dive into the nitty gritty design details!

2. Now turn that paper over. Write down everything YOU HATE. Again, HATE is so emotional.  It usually reminds us of something super weird, or a strange memory you don’t want to be reminded of everyday.  We all have them, and we need our partners to be aware of them.

3. Agree on how many vetos each of you get.  Jake and I allow two vetoes a piece.  If I LOVE something but he can’t live with it, he can use his veto power and vice versa. (Light pink walls anyone? I’ll never have them in our home, or Jake would divorce me.)  Use these carefully my friend :)

4. Plan for the unexpected.  It always happens. From shipping delays to mold under the shower pan, we only have control of about 80% of the project on a good day and 65% during a global pandemic.  Whatever you have budgeted for, add 20% to it--OR on the reverse, subtract 20% and leave a 20% buffer for the unexpected.  Similarly, whatever completion date you've been given, at 20%. DO NOT GET ATTACHED to the first date that a contractor or designer throws out. We try our best to estimate, but its always a good idea for everyone involved to be transparent about the real timelines.

5. And lastly, build in your budget time spent away from the house while work is being done! You're’ already spending a lot of money-- I know.   However, disruption of normal routines is really draining and hard on a partnership and kids.  When you’re in the thick of a fight and having to wash your dishes in a bathtub, trust me, you will say, “I don’t care how much it costs, get me out of this frigg'n house for a few weeks.” 

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Jake and I in our first home pre kids
Saturday mornings in our remodeled kitchen (we someone remained married after that fiasco!)
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