In an ideal world, you could buy a house and fully renovate it before moving in, which is actually what we did for our first home when we bought it in 2014. G and I were living in a small apartment at the time that allowed us to rent it month-to-month, so we could be flexible about a move-in date (without carrying two mortgages). Buying a house while owning one is a completely different ball game and requires a lot of juggling, and zero flexibility, in terms of move-in day. While I recognize how fortunate we are to be able to renovate the house to be the exact home we hope to spend our lives in, I also anticipated that living through a remodel would be less than ideal, from the inconvenient work hours to paint fumes and the constant coming and going of people. So far, here's what I've discovered: For the number of annoyances that come from moving in pre-renovation, there are so many benefits to moving in before we change a thing. The first phase of our construction will focus on the kitchen and the master bath, and living in them has taught us so much about how we move in the space. Here are some of the biggest design takeaways we've learned only through living in our home pre-renovation (along with some photos G took the day before we moved in!):
Before we moved into our house, I envisioned matte dark grey cabinets. But the thing is: Our kitchen doesn't get a lot of light. It's in the back of our house and surrounded by trees, so it can be incredibly dark in the morning. After living with it, we're opting to go with a much brighter color scheme than we'd initially intended!
Geoffrey's ultimate "we've made it" dream has been having two dishwashers. The pure luxury of always having a place to load dishes has appealed to him for as long as I can remember. He noticed our house had two dishwashers about five seconds into the Open House. But here's the reality: Having two dishwashers just means each is perpetually half-full. We've decided to sacrifice one in the remodel for more storage space!
I went back and forth on the idea of having a dedicated baking station off of our kitchen, until a follower rightfully pointed out that one of the best things about baking is being able to fully spread out across the kitchen. Any time I bake, I have bowls, my stand mixer, cookie cutters, and rollers spread across my kitchen islands—the space where I would have put the "station" is better used by a second pantry!
Our kitchen currently has two built-in trashcans, but only by living in it, we realized they're really too small. We're considering either expanding them or buying a compactor.
Some other things we know we want in the renovation are a larger sink that isn't divided into two sections (why are sinks often divided?), and a sink in the center of the kitchen island, so it's more easily accessible from the stove!
Admittedly, not too much of our design has changed in our master bathroom, but there are a couple of things I definitely wouldn't have noticed, had we not lived in it first:
One of my favorite things about our new master bathroom is the vanity. It feels so luxurious to sit and do my makeup in the morning, I had no idea how much I would enjoy it! But here's the thing: It's in the wrong place. The vanity is in one of the darkest areas of the bathroom in the morning, so I often end up doing my makeup on the opposite side of the room. We're planning on keeping a vanity in the renovation, just moving it!
We have a yacht-sized built-in tub that could fit my entire first apartment inside of it. I'd initially wanted to ditch the entire thing for a chicer, free-standing tub. However, it's incredibly convenient to have a ledge where you can put your towels, body wash, a phone or book, and everything you need within reach. We're looking at some designs that hit somewhere in the middle!
Because the toilet is separate from the bathroom, and doesn't have any windows, it's essentially a black hole as soon as you close the door. We're definitely planning on adding a skylight in there!