• hilaryridge

How to Make Your Renovation *Easier* to Live Through.

For some reason I always decide to renovate when I am pregnant. It is like nesting on steroids. You may think the worst part about a renovation is not having access to a major room on your home, like your kitchen.  I will tell you that what is worse is having a house without a kitchen that is additionally coated in construction dust. Having gone through several renovations myself, here are my tips to make your project more bearable to live through. 






Prevent a dust cloud from coating your home. 

This is one of those times that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of time. Construction dust has a magical ability to travel through the air and coat everything in your home. You may think the clean up is done, but in the days after the work, just walking through the space will re-circulate the air and dust will be whipped back up.  You need to contain the dust to one area and keep those barriers in place several days and several clean-ups after the work.  


In my experience, preventing dust in non-work areas is not something contractors make as their top priority. Their goal is to complete your project quickly. Your goal is to have a clean house. I recommend that you make masking off your home your responsibility so you can be sure it is done to your standards.


My favorite way to mask off a space that is under construction is by making a two-part entry. If you are taking down walls or sanding, this is highly advisable. You can purchase thick plastic sheeting and use painters tape to seal off a room totally. (Test first to make sure the tape will not damage surfaces.) Enter the room through one of the corners and then replace it back down. Then a few feet in front of this barrier, tape a second plastic sheet to the floor, walls and ceiling and cut a long slit in the center that you can walk through. This way you are entering first though the plastic sheet with the center slit, but since it is taped all the way to the floor the dust is much more contained. 


There are other ways to mask off as room as well, including adhesive zippers for tarps and tarp walls supported by poles, but the above two-part entry is my preferred method. For the adjacent rooms, seal the doorways with painters tape and plastic sheeting to ensure dust does not enter through the bottom and sides of the door. Because trust me, it can. 


Declutter first.

Get everything off of the surfaces in the space you are working in as well as the adjacent rooms. This way if you do have to clean, you are not wiping down many individual items, you are instead quickly spraying large surfaces. You also don’t want your contractors having to move things out of the way. Make their job easier and they will be able to focus on the work they need to to do so they can stay on schedule. 


Move out during key times.

If you can move out during the renovation completely, that is great. But for many people they need or want to stay in their home. The times that I decided to leave were during demolition, floor refinishing and painting. I find these to be the times the air quality is the worst. Do good preparation work in masking off your home before you leave, and then come back to your home when it is safe. 

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Work on the air quality before moving in.

I know you are excited to use your newly renovated room, but those VOC’s in paint and new installations stick around. You should plan on waiting until the air quality has improved before using the space. If is temperate outside, opening windows is an easy first step. How long you have to wait depends on what materials you installed and who will be using the room. 


Play the long game and have a delay plan. 

Say it with me, “I’m okay with delay”. Delays happen in renovation projects. Period. And if you can’t change it you might as well embrace it rather than making compromises that don’t really work for your project. With our third child, we didn’t meet our ambitious timeline for adding a bedroom and three bathrooms. And it was okay. We sectioned off our home and just didn’t use the part we were renovating. We took our time, finished it to a high level and didn’t make compromises on project materials. Even after finishing we didn’t move into our new bedroom for several months until we felt good about the air quality. Trust that the time will come for you to enjoy the fruits of your labor, even is it isn’t when you originally planned for. 


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Happy designing!


Hilary