DIY

How We Live Through Home Renovations As a Family

January 11, 2024

We believe we should all love where we live.

We’re a couple of homebodies, working to uncover the home our home wants to be. And we’re so happy to have you here. 

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“How do you live in a house under renovation, as a family?”

Chris grew up building houses with his family during the summers, and I grew up doing lots of DIY projects with my family. My sisters and I still talk about the summer we hauled railroad ties from the driveway to the backyard and helped our parents build a tiered garden. We also installed our own above-ground swimming pool. My point is — Chris and I have never known any other way. We both grew up in families that did home projects together, and wouldn’t trade the lessons we learned from it for anything.

Finished Bedroom

There’s almost always a project going on in our house — whether Chris and I are working on a room, or we’ve hired contractors for a full renovation — and I’ve never felt *bad* for our girls that they live in house that’s a work in progress. There was a moment in our last house where I asked myself, “Is this what I want their entire childhood to be? Rooms under construction?” We made the decision to take on a lot and sped through a ton of projects in a short period of time (about a two-year period). I’m here to tell you — that was worse. In 15 years of renovating and DIY, we’ve learned a few things about what works and what doesn’t for our family. Maybe something here will work for your family, too:

Finished Closet

Designate one construction zone at a time

We try to only have one off-limits area at a time. If the mudroom is papered off, the downstairs bathroom won’t be, too. If the kitchen is under construction, we’ll wait to start the dining room. This means we’ll be renovating longer, but it’s a lot easier to live through the renovations. Especially when it comes to the girls, it’s a lot easier when there’s only one area of the house that’s off limits. This is especially true if we’re rerouting them from an entrance or a normal traffic area.

Finished Backyard

Include Your Kids in the Process

Our girls love to see the mood board. We’ll lay out tile colors we’re choosing from and let them pick their own favorite. We narrowed down wallpaper samples for Faye’s room and gave her the final say. They love to come home from school and see what changed in the rooms that we’re working on. Chris and I used to work on our home projects after we put our kids to bed. Now, they know which tool we need when we ask for it (and where to find it). They’re invested, and sometimes that makes all the difference.

Get Away For a Bit

When there’s a really big project happening (i.e. new windows going in, floors being refinished, a roof being redone…), we’ll go somewhere as a family, and make it something fun. Everyone’s out of the house on a little vacation and not feeling displaced or in the way — or numb from all the noise! It doesn’t have to be Disney. Sometimes, we’ll drive out to the beach for a day. When our floors were being installed, we stayed at a hotel with adjoined rooms. Even though the hotel was just down the street from our house, the girls still talk about how fun that was (and even though we have a pool now, they still talk about that pool).

Try to Stick to Your Routines

Our girls love take-out (don’t all kids?), but we still try to keep it for special occasions. Even during a renovation, we try to cook at home and sit at the table to eat. This preserves a sense of normalcy. We’ve instituted Friday Night Movie Night, and it’s something our girls can count on. We’re not going to cancel it even if we’re working on a project in the bonus room. Everyone would just pile into our bed!

Some projects take months. Some take years! You can’t leave your house or put your life on hold for all that time. Keep your rituals as much as you can. It’s easier for the kids *and* the grown-ups :)

Finished Living Room

Have the Endgame in Mind

It’s hard to have the patience to change something when the project is already taking a long time. It’s sometimes scary to speak up about a change you want to make when it’s going to set things back. So remember to think of the long-term. I have to remind myself, “I’m doing this for our teenagers one day.” Or, “We’ll be hosting dinners here for years to come.” Ultimately, you have to make home design decisions that are right for your family, decisions that will help your family to love where you live. Then, it doesn’t feel as much like “enduring” when there’s so much dreaming excitement involved.

Living through home renovations as a family

Finished Kitchen

The main thing is to stick together, and take care of one another through the process. If the kids start feeling unsettled, spend one-on-one time with them in a quiet area, snuggled and reading a book or watching their favorite show. If your partner is having a stressful day, send them out for a few hours and take care of dinner. You’re creating this space for your family to enjoy, and you don’t have to sacrifice the feeling of “home,” as you work on your house.

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What do you think?

  1. Melanie F says:

    Love these words of encouragement and advice. Especially as we are finishing up our kitchen/ upstairs flooring that is 2 months overdue 🫠🤪

  2. Judy Chamberlain says:

    Love it , everything I would and have done , stress is hard on everyone knowing how to take care of each other strengthens the long haul

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