Renovations and the art of compromise

I recently said to my Mom that I feel like I haven’t compromised on the garage and mudroom reno. I did exactly what I wanted, and it’s turned out great.

Not so great for the bank account, but it does feel great to get what I want.

Renovating our first house, I was always thinking about resale. It was our starter house. We weren’t going to be there that long. We didn’t want to spend very much money.

It was a very different experience to move to the farm and think only about ourselves and what we wanted for the long-term. We’re still thrifty, but it’s all for us.

(On the topic of thriftiness, when Chris Loves Julia shared their budgeting philosophy it was an ah-ha for me. Allocating a budget to a project gives you freedom to spend that budget. Splurge in some places. Save in others. For me, this releases me from the “renovate for the least amount of money possible” philosophy.)

When it came to the garage and mudroom, I decided that I didn’t want to have any regrets (and we’d saved the money to make it possible to approach the project like this). We’re only doing this once. It has to last for Ellie and me for a long time. It’s a space we’re going to use every day. I want to like it every day.

So we added on. The pool would have made a comfortable two car garage. Or a generous single car garage with a big mudroom. It wouldn’t do both. But I wanted a two-car garage, and I wanted it to be big. Extra space on the side for recycling bins. Ten foot doors, so I didn’t feel squeezed driving in.

I wanted a big mudroom with details–heated floors, paneled walls and ceiling. A wide opening to the kitchen that matched the one in the living room–meaning a beam to raise the header.

Of course, with any reno, I realized once I thought about it that there have been compromises.

I decided not to go with the expensive overlay garage doors. I still love that style, but our doors are just fine. I chose another tile rather than waiting for my back-ordered first choice.

Certain things that may seem like compromises are just how I do things, and I’m not sure they’d change even if I had a bigger budget.

I don’t like to spend a lot on light fixtures. In fact, when I was shopping I sorted the light fixtures by price from low to high and stopped looking when I hit $200. Fortunately, I had already found fixtures that I really liked (for less than that).

I patched the drywall in the living room and kitchen myself, and I’m handling all the painting myself. I like DIY.

I thrifted a mirror and have some hand-me-down dressers that I’m planning on refinishing for the mudroom. I like reusing and repurposing.

I’m not finishing the mudroom with built-ins and cabinetry yet. Nor am I paving the driveway this year. I always planned to phase this project slightly to give the budget a break–and figure out exactly what I want.

Renovations are about a lot of different things. Better function in your home. Prettier appearance. Budget. Resale. It’s important to think about what matters most to you. That helps to guide the decisions–and compromises–as you go through the project.

What compromises have you made when renovating? How do you budget for home improvements? Have you renovated for resale? Or for yourself?

2 thoughts on “Renovations and the art of compromise

  1. It’s so exciting that you went with most of your big plans! We have made lots of compromises over the years, usually trying to accomplish more than one aim with renovating dollars. For example, when we got married, we decided to spend money on fixing up the backyard instead of renting a venue because we knew we would have to sell the home within a couple of years. We had a flagstone patio put in with a pond and fountain, and added an irrigation system ourselves, just buying the parts and instructions. Sometimes I think compromising really fuels creativity. But other times it’s more fun to go ahead and get the thing you really want.

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