The things you learn by doing it yourself

The final chapters on my ridiculously long bathroom renovations are coming to a close, the final touches are being installed and I could not be happier. Like the shoemaker’s children who never had shoes, this designer’s home was always last on the priority list at the end of my creative days. It was like I gave all of my ideas and energy to my clients and went home not willing to put the effort into my own renovation project but now things are coming together. Flooring is being installed, walls are painted and tile and cabinetry will be installed next week. Whew!

As much as I think I know about renovations, there were a few tips I learned this time around as I did some of the work myself. There is nothing like doing to teach yourself a new perspective on something you think you know. Please allow me to impart my wisdom on you with my eye opening learning experience in the world of bathroom renovations.

Removing tile is an extremely satisfying experience. With the right tools and some great 80’s tunes you can radically change the look of any room by changing tile. Let me caution you, I have never removed floor tile and I know from my installers stories that it is an awfully messy task but the removal of wall tile is actually kind of fun.

If you are removing said tile and want to put new tile in a different place, you will have some wall prep to deal with including sanding, mudding and sanding and mudding. The professionals know to create a barrier by putting up poly and covering heat vents. The amateurs just end up wiping drywall dust off of everything in the house. My red leather couch was almost pure white except for the dog shaped area my pup left behind.

Have all of your tools at the ready. Nothing is more frustrating than having to stop in the middle of your project to make one more run to the home improvement store. This type of frustrating may encourage you make poor decisions like ‘I probably don’t need a mask to sand drywall mud’. The result of these poor decisions may include inhaling much dust and trying to remove unspeakable amounts of drywall powder which has the potential of packing itself into your nasal passages.

Be prepared for the unexpected and possibly the revolting. Once you begin you are in it for the long haul no matter what happens. You may find unspeakable things behind your walls and underneath existing flooring but just dive in and clean things up, the renovation will be worth it in the end. My installers have brought many a scary tale about items they have found while removing carpet like cigarettes, gloves, newspapers and even underwear!

If you are about to embark on a renovation project, take a deep breath (put your mask on first) and take the plunge. It will get so much worse and you will get to that point in the project (like when your toilet is sitting in your hallway) that you wonder what on earth you have gotten yourself into but the end result will be worth every bit of dust and mess you have to endure.

Kim Wyse is an interior designer with Carpet Colour Centre in Red Deer.

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