My Biggest Design (or renovation) Mistake So Far

Happy 2010 everyone. Since everyone seems to be looking back at the past year or so, I'm wondering if there's anything you did to your house, either decor or reno related, that you'd change if you had the time and money to do over again. I ask because there are choices that I made that were super duper dumb, and I thought I'd share just in case people were considering making similar decisions. Please email me yours - the criteria is super loose. Just share your "what I know now" knowledge with your fellow homie bloggers. Feel free to create your own post and send me a link, or email me the description and photos and I'll post it for you.

Here's mine: picking wood flooring with a beveled edge for the kitchen floor. Sure, a painted floor DOES look historically accurate. and sure, the beveled edge adds tons of interest. But it also ads a gross ditch to collect dirt and dropped food etc. This ditch always looks dirty despite mopping and vacuuming. To remedy it we will be caulking the ditch to lessen the depression somewhat, and painting the floor a much darker color than the cream it currently is. But if I had it to do over again, I'd chose a smooth surface. This was such a bad choice - and it's funny because I was so adamant about it. I just had to have this floor! So embarrassing.

Here it is unpainted:

And here it is primed:

I have made lots of other silly choices (which I'll post as the week goes on), but this one was the most flat-out frustrating. Please tell me I'm not alone and that you, too have screwed up here and there.

UPDATE: Here's a great, totally helpful response post from Decorno - one of my very favorite blogers. Thank you so much for this lady!


us said...

Here's one that came in Via meal from the fabulous Jean at IloveUpstate, I totally relate to the first part of her response.

"My biggest mistake:


I was in such a hurry to get some projects done that I selected things that I knew I wasn't totally in love with due to time and price. In particular, it might have been cheaper for me to hire a professional decorator/seamstress to help me with my windows. I've spent more time, energy and money trying new things out than if I had just gone with a professional from the get go.

I also regret the side-by-side fridge. It's awkward. It's like a narrow cubby. It's annoying to clean. Frankly, I resent the bastard."

Renovation Therapy

us said...

via email rather...

Anonymous said...

Biggest mistake was selecting tile rather than hardwood for kitchen floors. There was a reason at the time and it related to sound insulation from our furnace room in the basement, but in hindsight, the reason wasn't worth it. Standing on tile for long periods of time is very uncomfortable. I have a French table in my breakfast room that collects breadcrumbs just like your floors. Beautiful table - not worth the trouble, however.

kottagekara said...

Letting DH push me out of marble and AB granite for the kitchen. I like my choice, but, my heart still sings for marble. From now on DH will not be given a vote!;)

nikinikinine said...

found you through Decorno -

I had custom drapes made for our LR. to the tune of $1400 for 6 panels. They hung for 2 weeks before I fell on the floor crying because I hated them SO much.

I loved the pattern just not THAT much of it in my LR. Lesson learned, custom is permanent...I am probably better off taking store bought panels and embellishing them for a custom look.

Also any COM fabric piece in the future I will go ahead and spring for a large sample or a yard (depending on pattern) and hang it in said room before moving forward. $50 is better than $1400.

Velvet and Linen said...

Oh, I have a list....
1. The very soft limestone in our Oxnard kitchen. It chips, and it turned really dark when I sealed it.
Lesson learned: always seal a sample piece of the stone you are going to use. The stone may change even if the sealer bottle says it won't! Other lesson learned: bang the stone sample around a bit to see if it's hard enough to stand up to your kids banging pots and pans against the edge!
2. The fugly brown cork floor that Steve convinced me to use on the floors in the kitchen. Like Jean, we were in a rush, plus the cork was really reasonable. Lesson learned: Go with your gut. Don't be convinced to do something that feels wrong, even by the one you love.
Oh, I could go on and on. Fortunately most of my mistakes are made on my own home and not my client's!


us said...

Oh you guys - these are SO useful! Thank you and please keep em coming.

modernemama said...

Also flooring... and rushing: Letting the fact that I had a spare box of bamboo flooring, a hole in the indoor/outdoor carpet where we'd removed a wall in the mud room and several guests coming for the hols lead me to "temporarily" replace the floor and override my better judgement when the flooring guy said glue was the way to go. If I'd insisted on nailing it down that puppy would have flipped right up come real remodeling time. As it is the combination of cheapness and dread of waste on my part means it will take much longer and may damage the subfloor. The "professional" guys also did a terrible installation...

Anonymous said...

Unless you have an unlimited budget and who does, think investment pieces. There will always be trends in color and style, but the classic never goes away. Come to terms with what you like and don't let a decorator talk you out of it. Choose multi-functional pieces that can move from room to room. Perhaps a round breakfast table today, becomes a beautiful skirted table tomorrow in a master bedroom between two windows for morning coffee. Choose fabrics that wear well in colors that are always in fashion. Run as fast as you can from anyone who tries to put slipcovers on your sofa and chairs. To see what I'm talking about visit Cote de Texas Christmas blog and look at the sofa Joni is sitting on in the last picture. That says it all. Make your husband a part of the decorating process - he will be willing to spend more because after all, it's his place too. Sounds like you really are off to a great start both in your home investment and your point of view.

debbie said...

I've really only had 2 regrets. One was the white 6x6 ceramic tile kitchen counter with a subway tile backsplash. While I still love the subway tile and it's historically correct for our 20's bungalow the 6x6 is a nightmare as far as looking clean Every little crumb shows plus everything settles in the grout lines. The other was polished brass hardware and fixtures. Doorknobs, faucets, hinges it's everywhere! Slowly I've been replacing it. Even dh agrees it. has. to. go.!

Jenni said...

Oh my goodness. Mistakes, No, Never, Not us.

Ummm there are so many.

Like others... letting people pressure me into something I was not sure about.

Not standing up more to the terrible electricans who did a messy job at the re-wiring. Not having the confidence that we could have done it ourselves.

Finishing patching dryway and plaster, before husband decides he can do a better job at re-leveling the house.

Tossing some window stops. Who knew they did not make that style of wood trim anymore.

Having the ducts re worked but still using the 10 year old gas furnace, not knowing the price of gas would skyrocket.

Not insisting on undertile heating in the bath.

Removing a built in chest, uncovering a fireplace and then having the hearth fall thru to the basement crawlspace.

I guess the good part is.. since the economy fell our projects came to a halt allowing a lot of time to think things thru before projects are complete.

Kate said...

Wow, such a great question! Coincidentally, I am exploring this topic in my blog using my own "mistake" as an example: the dirt backyard of a brand new house and what a hurry I was in to do something, anything to it. Should have lived with it for a while, learned from great blog sites like Tara Dillards, and Garden Porn and should have done a lot more homework. Could have saved myself money and a trip to surgery on my hand!

Cote de Texas said...

well,i look at the primed floor and it looks gorgeous to me - crumbs or no crumbs. makes me jealous!!! I wnat to paint my hardwoods so badly.

last mistake = my daughter's chandelier - the new one was too wide for her room, so it went in the guest room. the 2nd one - i decided i didn't like it so i ordered a third one which is so long a tall person has to duck in her room. the 2nd one might go in my bathroom - so it sits in the bathtub right now. i spent a fortune on three cheap chandys - for the money i wasted = i could have bought a beautiful antique. urrrggghh! thanks for reminding me!!

Cote de Texas said...


the obnoxious anon anti slipcover lady has struck again! I see the crazy lady who left over 50 anon comments on my blog has left a comment here about my sister in law's slipcovers. she always left a disgusting comment - a sexuallyl perverted comment about my husband on vvamp. she thinks she is so clever. why not go to bother Rachel Ashwell instead of everyone else if you must warn the world against slipcovers? She might be more inclined to have you arrested.

Anonymous said...

Cote de Texas, haven't you attempted to make your point on every blog you can think of. It's you who is beginning to sound like a crazy lady. Give it a rest and move on and don't bring your distraction to Holly.

hallie said...

Seriously you guys - I need to print these out and make a mistake bible for myself. Cote de Texas - I too have been guilty of "I can't spend $1,000 on an item, instead, I'll buy 5, crappy $200 versions that don't quite work." Arg!
ps: I was wondering about the weird slipcover comment. So funny that in blogland (in decorating and interiors of all places) there are even little bitchy online wars:) Hilarious. What is this, Gawker? Chin up CDT. Eventually all bullies drop out of highschool and move down by the river. Yours will to.

Anonymous said...

Hallie, I just read through the "biggest mistake" list and it will be very easy to download and remove any post that are not to your liking.

CDT has taken her dust up with Anon to every portal that will allow her to enter. I have to say that she is beginning to look like the bully here, but we all read and look at things differently. Good luck with your scrapbook.

hallie said...

To the many (or one - Anons)I tend to be suspicious of anyone who comments anonymously - even though the rest of the comment in question was innocuous enough.

Cote de Texas said...

See what I mean? She left that message about slipcovers to dis me, dissed my sister in law then when I call her out she leave more anons pretending to be different people. Troll bordering on stalking. I'm thinking of calling the police. My husband wants to. Sorry you had to get involved. When I left my first comment I didn't read the others. Google alerted me she dissed me again here. Three times now on this blog. I aplogize to you. It's amazing how far a hatred of slipcovers can drive you.

us said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
us said...

CDT - please forgive me for saying this, but the whole idea of a blog battle over slipcovers is truly hilarious. Am I being had here, or is this real? Assuming it is (real), I can see that this person has driven you nuts, and I'm so sorry. But your reaction is definitely going to stoke the flames. Calling the police?! Just the idea that that even entered your mind is funny! I would do one of four things if I were you:
#1. erase this person's comments as they come in. #2 stop accepting anonymous comments in the first place. #3 stop responding to this person's comments when they do come in. #4 all of the above.
Or learn to love it - at least it means someone is reading - right?

Anonymous said...

CDT, for what it's worth - the police are for reporting threats and crimes. That someone disses your grandmother's slipcovers and you report it to the police or to google is more that ludicrous, it's pathetic. You write a blog. You must then accept that some will love it, some will hate it, and some will fall in between. If you can't stand to have your posts critiqued by your viewers, don't post or delete those posts which do not applaud you. Eventually your readers will decide if what you are doing is reasonable. If no one threatens you, and certainly not loving your slipcovers is not a threat, you have no cause. You are beginning to look ridiculous. Be big enough to accept that there are those who strongly disagree with some of your posts. If you can't handle that, quit posting. Otherwise, put on a seat belt on and enjoy the ride.

Anonymous said...

One efficient way to save floor space in your kitchen is to have a butler's pantry close by. A friend has one at the end of her kitchen counter. It is a walk in closet, not very big actually, but with shelves on three sides. This eliminates the need for a lot of upper cabinets and when you have a walk in closet, everything you need in the kitchen for baking, food prep, etc. is right at your finger tips. What few upper cabinets then required will showcase your pretty dishes, glassware, etc. It also does not eliminate the work surface.

One can never have enough storage space. If you are now restoring all of your Christmas stuff, you know what I mean. Can you find some additional space for a closet that is convenient for out of season clothing and those items you don't need on a daily basis.

The advice about having a vision is an important one. How do you plan to live in your home? Do you want large open spaces or more private ones. Do you entertain frequently so that you may want a kitchen to be your gathering space, rather than a living room? Someone once said "how do I know what I think until I hear myself say it". That is so true. Talk out your vision and it will become a reality.

Anonymous said...

These comments have made my day. I needed a good blog war to tickle my funny bone and get me laughing in the new year.
After all you went through with Joe's illness and the subsequent financial worries you had over the past year, who knew the bigger issue was: slipcovers!!
I am still giggling.
Lest anyone think I am one of 'those' anonymous posters, let me point out my name is: Sara.

Lettered Cottage said...

Hi there,

We opened up a wall without getting a pro to make sure it was not load bearing. We realized about a week later that it was load bearing when all of the trim started to seperate at the corners. :(

We had to call in a pro to put up a header beam. It was scary!!

Kevin and Layla

us said...

Oh my god Layla and Kevin! Now I know why you guys get so much done in a day. You obviousley have huge cahones. For Joe and I to knock down a wall we'd have to have like three hundred meetings about it and conference a contractor friend (or two) in via video. Love that you did that! So funny. Makes me an even bigger fan.

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Jennifer said...

Hmmm... our stupidest mistake was hiring our mason, who despite promising to use lime mortar,and using it on the first part of the house SWITCHED and then LIED to my face about it. It looks like crap, as it's grey instead of white against the other white mortar, and it is actually HARMING my house. SHould have hired the guy from Denver who only works on restos. :( Will cost me a lot of time chipping out the old mortar and putting new it...

us said...

First of all Jennifer - that is my worst nightmare. That someone I hire will think I'm just being ridiculously picky and totally disregard my instructions. We rarely hire anyone but still!

Second: this just in via email from one of my faves - Holly, at Life In The Fun Lane
"Hi Hallie!

I LOVE your painted floor and how it turned out~ Definitely doesn't look like a mistake to me! My biggest mistake has totally been getting ahead of myself and ripping things out LONGGGGG before I have the time, energy or money to make them right. Yeah, turns out living with a nasty pink bathroom is better than living with subfloor splinters in your feet.
But you live and learn, right?
All the best with your continued renos!!"
ps: Joe and I are SO guilty of this one - or to be more honest, I am. in fact Joe has made a rule - no more demo or ANYTHING until the day before we renovate that room. Ugh!

Sandra said...

I can think of two off hand.

First, going with the cheaper yellow pine where we had to infill some flooring and for our stair treads, rather than heart pine. It looks fine and we stained it to match, but it is a softer wood and scratches/dents easily. Bad if you have a big dog that tends to get excited and scramble around.

Second, not putting in some sound insulation batts in the ceiling between our 1st and 2nd floor while we had it open (before we put up new drywall). If someone is walking around in the master bedroom upstairs, you can really hear it from the den downstairs. Boo.

Sarah said...

My biggest mistake are the horrible paint colors that I painted all over the house when we first moved in. Two bedrooms even have stripes... All that waisted time.

I also have a big problem with time management. I seem to think that projects will only take about 70%. So there are several projects that are only mostly done in our house.

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Green Fairy said...

Our biggest renovation mistake? Buying the house in the first place! Seriously, we love our house, but there are days I wish it wasn't quite the fixer-upper.

My biggest problems include a short attention span and jumping into projects before I'm really ready to do so--which is why our medicine cabinet has been lying in pieces for over a year, and test patches of paint color mar the walls in every room. I'm getting better, though, knocking off the occasional project helps.

Otherwise, there hasn't been much we've regretted (yet); a small budget keeps us from screwing up too badly.

Terrence Flendersen said...

Thank you for the tips! We've been doing some kitchen remodeling in tempe az, and it has been slow going.. Plenty of mistakes, but thank you for the help!