Bluewater Interiors Designs by Roxanne

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There is nothing more expensive than messing up a renovation.

It’s amazing to think that, up until well over a year ago, our homes were simply places to escape the hard ships of a long day. Over the past 12 months, however, homes have become so much more. And many people are turning to renovations; specifically, DYI renovations.

And I gotta say what upsets me most is when people spend a lot money on a renovation that isn’t designed properly from the beginning. And there is nothing more expensive than messing up a renovation!

So before you tackle a renovation, it’s important to prepare and plan — especially if you want your project to succeed from the get-go. The more decisions you make up front, the more chance you have of your project being a success. I think I have said this many times! So let’s make sure you do it right the first time.

Here are the key mistakes DIY renovators typically make.

Setting an unrealistic budget

Renovations often cost more than expected. People do not realize how much things actually cost! So be sure to add an extra 20% to your budget to be better prepared for any surprises.

Not complementing the original architectural style

Additions don’t need to be the same style as the original structure. However, they do need to complement it in order to look and feel great while you’re living in them. Don’t create a disconnect by ignoring the architectural style of your home.

Sacrificing function for form

I spend a lot of time with my clients in creating a functional plan (link to blog) for their home. Consider how you’ll actually live in and use the space first….the pretty stuff comes later.

Selecting new appliances last

A MUST in kitchen design: Choose your appliances first to help make sure the overall design accommodates the items you want.

Buying furniture and home décor too early

Wait to buy flooring, furniture, and other materials until the project plans are finalized. Otherwise, you risk buying the wrong quantities of materials or ordering furniture that won’t fit.

Focusing on what it looks like

Remember – function first; form second! That includes addressing any structural or safety issues – such as updating the electrical system or ensuring foundations and subflooring are sound. This will help you avoid damaging your new finishes to fix potential problems later. So deal with the ugly stuff so you can enjoy the pretty stuff.

Not considering how you use the space

Can we talk about kitchen design AGAIN? Workflow is particularly important in kitchens. I see too many people post in DYI groups about their kitchen design they are doing themselves (using some free online platform) and I want to scream! Instead, I write a 1000 word essay on how to improve their design! You really need to ensure you enjoy the functionality of the new design and can use the space efficiently. You can’t do this without a professional.

Buying cheapo materials

Select durable, high-quality materials that you won’t need to replace within in a few years. Building materials aren’t the place to economize. Trust me on this one.

Focusing on the wrong things

Renovating your home is emotional. You want to make it look perfect. But focusing on updating the wrong things is a waste of money. Focus on elements that add long-term value to your home, such as storage and elements that aren’t just cosmetic. For example, installing an expensive wall treatment but skimping on flooring may not be the best option.

Ignoring the details

You’ve heard it before and I’ve said it before. Design is in the details! When planning your renovation, it is the details that make all the difference. For example, pantry pullouts, toe-kick storage and pull down racks make your kitchen more functional and enjoyable to use. Ignoring details like this can lead to you really not liking the end result of your renovation.

Ignoring lighting

Lighting is just another one of those details that are ignored in a DYI renovation. Lighting makes or breaks a space. So consider doing a lighting plan to identify the 4 different types of lighting – task, accent, ambient, decorative. A combination of these creates a well-lit, welcoming and usable environment. 

Impulse buying

Buying flooring on sale because it is a good deal; going to the paint store to select (and buy) paint that you haven’t even tested at home; and buying shower tile before the shower is designed. All very bad, bad ideas. Impulse buying is the death of designing a renovation. You really must consider the entire project — the floor, wall color, cabinetry, lights and other elements — and how these pieces all work together to create a cohesive look.

I recently launched an innovative self-guided online design process that helps you avoid a lot of these mistakes! It’s called Design Your Renovation and it is at a fraction of the cost of my full design service. Want to learn more? 

Design Your Renovation brand


Not doing things right

Doing a project right the first time requires preparing properly, whether that means re-taping, spackling and priming walls before painting or doing structural work before re-flooring. Doing it now saves time and money later. So get to work!

Using the wrong paint

When choosing paint finishes you may need a different finish in each room, depending on what the room will be used for or exposed to. Matte finishes usually are used for ceilings; satin finishes work well for walls to reflect some light (my fav is the pearl finish by Benjamin Moore), and high gloss paint for trims and doors.

Well there you have it folks. I’m sure there are a lot more mistakes being make by renovators all over the world.  Did you make a big mistake in your renovation? I’d love to hear about it. Send me an email at


Until next time, stay safe,


P.S. If you want help with your renovation check out my Renovation Design Plan service. The best thing about this service is it is tailored to YOUR needs. 

The next best thing is that I work on a flat fee basis. You pay only what the flat fee is, no more. I do this because I do not want my clients to worry about escalating design costs; I would rather we all focus on the plan and the design. 

Set up a 20 minute chat with me to see if it is the right fit for you.

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The Definitive Guide to Renovations

A solid overview of what you need to consider when when renovating.
PLUS Bonus Content including checklists to help you through your renovation and a Renovation Planner


Hi, I am Roxanne

Interior Decorator + Designer

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