Renovation Diary

Danielle and Austin’s Kitchen & Garage Remodel: Real-Life Lessons from a Real-Life Renovation

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(Image credit: Adrienne Breaux)

Name: Austin & Danielle (of Forage + Fodder)
Type of Project: Kitchen & Garage Remodel
Location: Austin, Texas
Type of building: One story, Single-Family House, 1250 square feet

We’ve been following along with Danielle and Austin’s kitchen and garage renovation every step of the way, from its ‘Texas suburbia’ style beginning to the beautiful new kitchen and master suite they have now. Now that the dust is settled and all the work is done, they’re sharing with us the lessons they learned along the way.

Now that the project is over and you’re looking back on it, what are the most important lessons you learned through the remodeling process?

  1. Know what you can and can’t live without. Sure, we anticipated that losing our kitchen would be inconvenient, but we had no idea just how important cooking was to our lifestyle. Having to eat out more took a toll on our bodies and our budget, and it feels so incredible to be making fresh, healthy meals again.
  2. If you’re going to act as your own general contractor, make sure that you’re comfortable with being assertive. I don’t know how many phone calls it took us to get refunded for our broken kitchen cabinet, and the only way we were able to maintain good communication with our subcontractors was by calling them constantly. Also, don’t be afraid to ask stupid questions. There’s a lot of assumed knowledge out there, but when it comes to your home (and your money), keep asking questions until you’re sure everyone is on the same page.
  3. If you can afford it, pay someone to deep clean your home once the remodel is finished. It seems small, but it lifted such a huge weight off of us and literally transformed our space.
  4. Everyone says it, but your project will take longer and cost more than you expect. We began our project with this fact in mind, but still were so surprised when things got delayed for one reason or another.
  5. Determine what’s more important, your time or your money. For us it was our money, so we did a lot of the work ourselves. If this is the choice you make, be prepared to spend a lot of time, not only doing the work, but researching how to do it yourself.
  6. Last but certainly not least, try to avoid spending every minute at home working on your project. Remember to find ways to enjoy your space, otherwise it ceases to really be a home.

If you were to do this again, what would you choose to do differently?

Honestly, although everything took longer than expected, it turned out better than we ever could’ve imagined. Looking back, the only thing we may have done differently would be using a different cabinet maker, because it was months of endless hassle trying to get the right item, that wasn’t broken, and then finally get our refund. Oh, and I wish we would’ve researched the lead time on items from the beginning so the timeline would’ve run a little bit smoother.

Did your schedule go as planned? What took more time than you thought it would? What took less time?

Ha! Not even close. Our project took almost double the amount of time we expected it to. And that was even with the “modest” timeline given to us by our contractors. Honestly, the pouring of the new floors in the garage, the new plumbing, and the framing were completed faster than anticipated, which was a pleasant surprise. I’d say towards the end, the last finishing projects felt like they dragged on forever, but that could simply be because we were ready for the remodel to be complete.

What is your next project going to be?

Finishing our courtyard out front! We want to build a community fence and get some patio furniture out there. We also still need to paint the front exterior of the house, but we’re going to change the colors, so we’re waiting until we have enough money to paint the entire house. We’d also like to add a window in the laundry room for some exterior symmetry around the front door. We looked into doing this during the project, but it wasn’t in the budget. Eventually we’ll replace the floors in the rest of the house to match the new ones, but no more major projects!

Anything else you’d like to share?

It’s going to get rough at times. If you’re anything like me, you’ll cry, throw a few fits, and drink more wine than usual, but just remember, the importance of a home is not the tile, or the fixtures, or the square footage, it’s the memories you make in it with those you love. Also, never forget that being able to remodel your home is a luxury, and although it can be frustrating as hell sometimes, it’s a ‘hassle’ of those fortunate enough to have a home and the means to improve it, so get over yourself already. How’s that for a Hallmark moment?

The Renovation Diaries are a new collaboration with our community in which we feature your step by step renovation progress and provide monetary support towards getting it done in style.

Image: Adrienne Breaux