Tips for DIY-ing or Renovating With Your Partner, Even if They’re Skeptical

April 4, 2022

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Chris and I have been renovating our homes, side by side for the last 13 years. We’re currently on our 4th home and not only are we still alive, but we love each other more today! Of course there’s been bumps along the way, but here’s a few things we’ve learned about renovating or doing projects with your partner, even if they’re a bit skeptical.

1. Find inspiration photos to help your partner visualize your idea.

First and foremost and above all, be prepared with visual examples of your ideas. It’s likely you’ve been pinning things to Pinterest, scrolling Instagram, maybe gathering inspiration for years and you’ve got a few ideas. Other people not so much, and there’s nothing wrong with that! Your partner hears you want to paint the balusters black and they can’t picture that because they’ve never seen it. If they didn’t grow up with that being “normal” then they might have no idea what that would look like. So show them! Do a bit of research, gather some inspo photos, or maybe draw out what you want. I promise you’ll spend so much less time trying to convince them if you come prepared with visuals!


2. Have all the money (plus 20%!) saved before you start.

You have to have a budget, period! And there needs to be room for your partner to have a say. In our very first apartment, we budgeted $25 a month for home decor and projects. It was small, but we were able to let the budget rollover month-to-month and with time the budget grew! Not everybody wants to spend money on home projects, but they might feel better about it if there’s a clear budget. Make sure they have a budget for what they want to do as well!

3. If you don’t agree, keep searching for a solution you both like.

It’s not about winning because you’re on the same team! When Chris and I got married, our furniture preferences also merged. I valued style, he valued function, and together we decided to not compromise one over the other. Style and function can co-exist and we make that a priority because it matters to the both of us. Compromises will have to be made but don’t think of it as a loss. I would also suggest only speaking up for what you truly care about. You can’t have a passionate opinion about everything, so take a backseat on decisions that you aren’t as important to you. Subsequently this will give more weight to your voice over decisions that are more important to you!

4. Communicate any unexpected hiccups immediately.

Whether it’s budget, something found, a problem, a delay, communicate immediately! Both of you should be kept in the loop about any bumps along the way. Also, just a good life rule is to NOT shoot the messenger! Again, you’re on the same team and you’re figuring this out together.

5. Create a place of refuge in the house.

Home renovations can be quite the cause for contention! It’s important essential to have a space in your home to retreat to during this stressful time. This is how you’re going to feel grounded and connected amidst the chaos. One of the many reasons why we didn’t work on our bedroom until after the dust in the kitchen settled, so to speak.

6. Celebrate (and take photos!) at every stage of progress!

You don’t have to post any before and after photos if you don’t want, BUT I’m telling you it can be easy to lose sight of how far you’ve come. Take pictures of every stage to keep a positive perspective when you’re really feeling defeat mid-renovation. Also, be sure to pause, take it all in, and allow yourself to celebrate along the way! It’s easy for negativity and skepticism to creep in, but celebrating progress can keep up the positive momentum.

7. Have fun.

There, I said it. You have my permission to play loud music, order takeout, make a date out of it. If you don’t make it fun, then what’s the point in any of it?

8. Plan days off together!

Pack up a picnic basket, head to the park, and leave it all behind. Don’t speak of it, don’t think of it, and just be present taking time off. I promise it will still be there waiting for you.


Tips for Skeptical Partners

I would say if your partner is skeptical about making any home updates whether DIY, or hired out, you might have to work a little harder. Here’s some advice I would give to someone dealing with a partner full of doubt.

Try asking for their input! Try saying, “I’d really like to rearrange the living room, is there something you’d like included in that?” Be willing to listen to their feedback and troubleshoot together.

Do the heavy lifting or find someone to do the heavy lifting. Recently I wanted to move the piano and I knew Chris was going to be less than thrilled about it, so I found movers to do it! Of course he had no problem because he didn’t have to break his back. I’ve spent many days painting walls and while Chris was out working because sometimes I wanted to paint more than he did so I took matters into my own hands.

Lastly, I would try to present a game plan of all the steps that will need to happen to do a project. List it all out and decide which steps you’re willing to do, which steps you’ll need help with, and which steps you’re hiring out.

Hope this helps!

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What do you think?

  1. Patricia says:

    I first got ‘buy in’ from my husband that we needed a new couch. Then I did the leg work and found three to five great options. My husband was looped in at that point and got to sit-test the furniture. He helped us make a good choice and we were both happy. After years together, he grew to trust my taste (or he got tired of shopping) and told me to just go ahead. But we both had input on the final choice.
    This same technique worked on bigger projects like a complete kitchen remodel, adding a dormer and bedroom and finishing our basement. We both loved how the projects turned out and they added so much to our home in the 32 years we lived there.

  2. Laura says:

    Ha! shared living spaces are always tricky. There’s so much baggage that comes along with a lot of the decisions. My solution is always just to do it when they are out of town. Sometimes it even takes them a while to notice when they get back. When I took the wall out between the kitchen and living room they noticed immediately but loved it. They would’ve never agreed to it because, like you say in your post, they couldn’t have imagined it.

  3. Christine says:

    My husband and I have a trick that works out so well for a lot of decisions in our life, including renovations — I would give him 3 options or designs to choose from. It’s a win because I like all of the designs, yet he still feels like he is involved and has a choice. We do this for simple stuff too, like deciding where to order food from!

    • Bre says:

      This is how we do it too. I come up with options and ask him to help pick, or to just pick one. He can usually decide within a minute. Similar to what Julia did for Faye’s bedroom wallpaper. All the options are Julia approved, so there’s no wrong answer, but the other person feels involved and helps shape the design.

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