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3 simple exercises to get what you really want from your renovation

Have you made your wish list? I bet it's long. If it's not, go back and dream bigger, neighbor. Making an extensive wish list will help make sure you've thought of everything, and this step is about deciding how important each item is to you.

But this post isn't about dreaming big, it's about getting clear about what you want. Crystal clear. By now you've made a wish list and found your design style.


How do you get what you want? You have to prioritize your wish list.


If you missed a step, these are the first 2 prior steps to getting your renovation plans started:

Try one of these simple exercises to prioritize your list:


1. Have a post-it party

  • Put each item on a post it note.

  • Choose 2 to 3 must haves.

  • Group the wish list by room or project category (e.g. kitchen, bathroom).

  • Don't forget the unsexy must haves like updated electrical and new plumbing.

2. Play the game of war

  • Write each wish list item on a note card.

  • Give your spouse, partner or a friend half the cards.

  • Play two cards at a time and decide between the two of you which card is most important.

  • Play until you have a only a handful of must haves.

3. Use the spreadsheet method

  • Put your entire wish list into a spreadsheet.

  • Rank each item on a scale of 1 to 10 (1 is nice to have, 10 is must have).

  • After you've ranked every item, use the sort function to move must haves to the top of your list.

4. Give each item a label

  • Label it a must have

  • Label it a nice to have

  • Look for dependencies (e.g. getting AC may require overhauling the furnace too

Even if you have a big budget, you have to make choices.

Making it a game is fun, but the most important thing is to recognize that not every item on your list is a must have. Renovation projects can easily snowball. Choosing a nice to have early in the process can make a must have out of budget later.


I've seen homeowners decided to make a few small updates to their kitchen and spontaneously decide to rip everything out. This approach can be painful and is a recipe for busted budgets and project schedules. Writing down your wish list and thinking carefully about what you really want will help you stay focused during your project.


Use your list to communicate with your architect / designer

Once you've written everything down with rankings, you have a great tool to communicate with your architect, designer and / or contractor. Print a copy. Every time you are tempted to make a project change ask yourself these two questions:


"Is this a must have or a nice to have?"

"Does this help me accomplish my project goal?"


Looking for more? I wrote down 5 renovation regrets from my own remodeling project and what YOU can do instead. Get the guide below.




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