Six ways to keep your home refurbishment on track
Sort It: Follow these steps to simplify a renovation project, so it doesn’t overwhelm you
Instead of continually gathering images, try to review your boards and idea books regularly and eliminate anything that is no longer relevant.
A renovation project can require so much decision-making that the whole experience can be overwhelming. Here are six ways to simplify the process and avoid decision-fatigue.
1. Choose some hero images
Social media has opened up a world of inspiration for home-improvement projects. It’s easy to lose a couple of hours surfing, pinning and collecting beautiful images. But too much choice can actually hinder our decision-making ability. Inspiration-gathering sites like Instagram, Pinterest and Houzz, while an excellent source of information, can leave you with too much choice.
Instead of continually gathering images, try to review your boards and idea books regularly and eliminate anything that is no longer relevant. Try to identify themes in the pictures you’re collecting and if possible whittle them down to one key, or hero, image for each area of space you’re revamping.
2. Find a trusted adviser
Find a trusted adviser – this might be your spouse or partner, your architect or designer, or a family member or close friend. Have someone you can run ideas past who you trust and who will constructively challenge your thinking. Don’t go looking for too many opinions. Just like having too many decisions to make, too many viewpoints will leave you feeling confused. Once a decision has been made, be prepared to move on. The worst thing you can do is to start second-guessing and changing your mind.
3. Get organised
Have a schedule for when key or important decisions need to be made and plan well in advance. There is nothing more stressful than having to make important decisions under pressure. This is a recipe for making mistakes and spending more than you’d budgeted for. Ask your contractor for a programme of works before the project starts and to identify when key decisions will need to be made. By sticking to this, you’ll always be one step ahead.
You don’t need to make absolutely every decision. Certain things are best left to the professionals. By getting involved in these decisions, you end up micromanaging and exhausting your decision-making ability. Prioritise the important decisions that only you can have the final say on, then focus on these. By all means give your input, but trust the people you have hired to do the job.
5. Trust your gut
Believe it or not, our instinctive reaction to anything is a more accurate prediction of our emotions than logical thinking is. Over-deliberation can lead to poor choices and going with your gut is always the best bet.
One study offered a group of volunteers a choice between a reproduction of an Impressionist painting and a poster of a cartoon cat. The group was split into two and the first group asked to think logically about why they might like or dislike each of the posters before making their choice. The second group was asked to make a quick choice based on their gut reaction.
When researchers followed up later with each of the volunteers, those who had thought logically before making their selection were the least satisfied with their choice. Instead of choosing the picture that made them feel happiest, they had ignored their gut reaction and made a choice based on how they thought others would perceive the picture in their homes.
The part of our brain that makes these gut decisions doesn’t use language, so it can be hard to articulate why we like or dislike something, but it shouldn’t be ignored.
6. Take your time
Not all decisions have to be made immediately. Prioritise what work needs to be done and, if the budget doesn’t allow everything to be done in one go, carry out parts of the project in stages.
When establishing a plan of work, it’s essential to think about the future. It can be easy to design your home in a way that works for small children, for example, but pretty quickly you’ll find yourself with a houseful of teenagers, and your completely open-plan layout might not work so well.
Rushing to have everything finished quickly can often lead to hasty purchases you may regret. You could end up spending too much money on an item you later dislike but feel you can’t ditch it because of how much it cost. Sometimes, it isn’t possible to find the perfect mirror for your hall or the right lamp for your living room, but it’s far better to wait until you stumble upon it than just buying something to fill the gap.
Denise O'Connor is an architect and design consultant @optimisedesign