You just bought your 1st home. Congratulations!!! Like many new home owners, you have big and not so big ideas of how you want to make your house your own - repaint the living room, take down wallpaper, remodel the kitchen, sledge hammer a wall. Many of those ideas will be wonderful. Some of you will research EVERYTHING from the best flooring for a house full of pets, to how to reface your fireplace, resulting in a plethora of choices. Others are DYI'ers who might dive right in following YouTube videos, and a few of you will hire a professional design team.
Whichever route you take, there are a few simple things to consider so you can AVOID THE OOPS.
Slow Your Roll: It is suggested that any new home owner live in their home for a minimum of 3 months, but ideally 6-12 months, BEFORE making any changes. This doesn't mean that if the hot pink wall in the kitchen is not your cup of tea, you shouldn't paint it a different color. It means if you can live with it for a little while, leave it alone.
Take Notes: It takes time for a new homeowner to understand the flow, form and function of a home. The longer you can stand still and figure out the specifics of your house the better it will be for for you in both time and money. While cooking in your kitchen, pay attention to the design features you like. And of course, take notes of what you don't. Do you find that you prefer the dishwasher on the left or right side of the sink? Is your current island too big or do you need more storage? Are you tired of opening and closing cabinets for your everyday reach items (dishes, glasses, bowls) and would prefer open shelving? Do you have open shelving and can't stand looking at the mess?
Think Outside the Box: Once you figure out what you like and dislike about the flow of your home, then you can start to make some wise decisions on how to go about making those changes. Imagine if you thought you wanted an open floor plan and knocked down some walls to create that space, later to find out that having a bit of privacy while the kids are playing would have been better for you. It costs more to build a wall than to take it down. Or maybe you decided that you want a large walk-in shower, remove the tub only later to find that you now need a tub because of changes in your family. This is not the most cost effective way to make your house perfect for you.
Bring in Resources: Hire a designer to design your big changes and an architect when doing anything structural. You want to minimize costly mistakes. The cost is minimal compared to trying to fix a bad decision. Contractors will typically do the labor, but they are not designers or architects. If you want to cut some costs, there are many services that can do design for you online.
Look to the Future: Lastly, think about how long you will be living in your home. Do you have a five year plan? Is this your forever home? If you know you will be staying in your new home for at least five years or more, then make changes to your home that are pleasing to you. Often times, buyers will choose a backsplash or room color or an architectural design based on what they "think" future buyers will want. Make the changes that will make you happy. You are the one living there. The next buyers will most likely have big and not so big ideas of how they want to make their house their own.