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Along with a ring of keys, lots of possibilities and a bunch of mysterious light switches, homeownership comes with a bucketful (or maybe more like a truckload full) of “Aha!” moments.

Gray Cedar House From Above

Signs of spring at our house

At just four months in, we’ve had a few of these moments. Exhibit A: We now know every project takes twice as long as we thought it would. (I’m talking to you, master bedroom.) But many things are still yet-to-be-discovered. Luckily, I have all of you to thank for some stellar advice gleaned from your own years spent living with bad carpeting, remodeling dust and wood paneling.

As I kick my bedroom project into high gear (color palette picks coming soon), I thought I’d share some of the best advice I’ve gotten so far — from you!  Then tell me: What do you wish you’d known when you bought your first house?

Start Small
“Fix the cheapest, fastest issue first so you will begin to build your momentum.”
-Mary W.

Don’t Rush Into Big Projects
“I have owned 3 houses and it is a mistake to do big renos until you’ve lived there for at least a year. I hated my current kitchen so much that it was our first project. Had I lived with it awhile, I would have made different choices.
- Lee

Create a Dust-Free Zone
“Take care of your master bedroom first! It is your sanctuary and your place to go when you can’t stand the mess in the rest of the house. Who cares what the visitors think when they walk into your kitchen? Make your bedroom beautiful 100 percent, right down to the sheets before you move on to the next room. Which, by the way, should be your master bath. It will get your through it! Just sayin.’”
- AspenKate

It’s Worth It…Really!
“My house was built in 1950; I purchased it in 1998. The remodeling has been a labor of love as it continues.I would pick a vintage home with good ‘bones’ over a new one any day (I have had both).”
- Fay via HGTV’s Facebook Page

“Every home I’ve ever bought entailed an entire rehab. I know what will be dealing with but I also know the satisfaction you will gain from “making it your own” and seeing transformations you can be proud of…There is so much opportunity for improvement it will be an adventure and things can only get better (that’s the upside).”
-Frugal Interiors

The Remodel Never Ends
“Don’t think this list will ever end. Once you get through your initial list, a brand new one will pop up unexpectedly. Things that you never noticed will suddenly start making you shudder with distaste every time you walk past them. I am 3 years, countless projects and over $20,000 into my first home, and my list of “to dos” is longer than when I moved in. ”

Read Liz’s previous House Diaries posts here and follow her home inspiration board on Pinterest.


House Diaries

14 Responses

  1. [...] House Diaries: Best Tips So Far (From You!) HGTV Design Happens Fri, March 9, 2012 5:15 PM UTC HGTV Design Happens Rate Share (function(){var [...]

  2. Rachael says:

    Great advice. I am a first time and new-ish (3 years this month) homeowner and would definitely say that the best advice is not to rush into any projects.
    If you find paint colors and test them on a wall, you don't *have* to pick one of them, its ok to go back and keep looking till you find the perfect color. This does drive my hubby a little crazy, but in the end, he sees the method to my madness.
    It just means that we have a huge stockpile of paint samples, so many, that family members borrow them for their projects!

    Rachael http://www.thethriftypicker.com/

  3. As far as space planning, I find it much more effective to plan a room before I get any furniture in there. Once something has landed, usually placed by the helpful neighbor or in-law into an arrangement they think works best, it's hard to visualize the room any other way. Your eye gets comfortable with the way things are. And having a plan before-hand will quickly solve the "where do you want me to put this?" question that you'll be asked a thousand times.

  4. Rainiers daughter says:

    Great advice about completing the Master Bedroom / Master Bathroom first — and to perfection!! TO KEEP THE DUST DOWN: Cover the doorway of the room where the projects make dust — use wet sheets and keep a spray bottle of water nearby to maintain the wetness. Replace the sheet every day or so. Keep a small rug on the floor to help keep feet clean as they leave the room. These simple steps make a tremendous difference.

  5. Laurel says:

    Totally agree with living in the house for awhile before you make any major changes. But we've renovated 6 houses while we've lived in them and never put the master bedroom first. After all, you're only in there to sleep! My advice is start with a room that you'll spend a lot of time in…..it will help keep your sanity (and maybe your marriage, LOL). In our 1900 Victorian, we're starting with the first floor and it's so rewarding to walk in the front door and see progress! http://sopocottage.blogspot.com/

  6. laurion says:

    Sorry laurel- I meant to give a thumbs up!!!! Stupid iPhone :-p

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Liz GrayLiz is a senior editor at HGTV.com and an co-editor-in-chief for Design Happens. She lives in a midcentury tri-level that’s stuck in the ‘70s…for now. When she’s not working on...


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