Home renovation can be a source of great stress, and is often undertaken for the wrong reasons.
Preoccupation with products, with finishes and furniture, colour and style encourages homeowners to discard one noisy cluttered interior for another.
When considering renovation, you should first put the whole messy, confusing, complex, expensive process including anything you might have to buy aside and just meditate upon that light-filled Zen refuge of tranquility you hope to occupy one day.
Focus on the objective of your renovation. Start by thinking of the room in your house and your life in it in the most abstract and practical terms. Of course you should take pleasure in improvements to your home but ultimately you want to be less consciously engaged with your personal environment, not more. Your house, like a good servant, should anticipate your needs, your tastes and desires and gratify them in an entirely inobtrusive way.
You might think that sounds like an unaffordable, elitist ideal. It isn’t! And it doesn’t have nearly as much to do with money as most people think. Big house or small house, the same principle applies. Renovation is about setting the stage for your life.
You don’t have to reach the point where the roof is leaking – there comes a time in the life of every house when maintenance is not enough and renewal is necessary. It doesn’t generally dawn on you overnight so much as creep up on you: you begin to think of the derelict charm of your older home as more derelict than charming; you find yourselves reluctant to entertain friends at home; you start to feel you have evolved and your house hasn’t kept up with you.
Of course most renovations are undertaken in the middle ground between personal whim and absolute necessity. Often there is a difference of opinion between members of a couple. Usually there is a convergence of opinion as a plan materializes, and after the dust has settled, unanimity…
…because when a renovation is well conceived and well executed, beyond the visual enhancement, you often discover daily pleasures you wouldn’t have imagined: your couple discovers the joy of cooking together in a practical kitchen for two; the morning / evening bathroom rush hour congestion becomes a thing of the past. You find yourself asking, why didn’t I do it before?
Probably because you thought you couldn’t afford to. If you are like most people, if you don’t have a leaky roof or mould creeping up your bathroom walls, the renovation of a part of your house will be one of many priorities competing for their share of the household budget.
And there are many things to consider more important: investments in your future like the education of your children and providing for your retirement, family travel and recreation.
At the risk of being overly dramatic, renovation is an investment in your present. It is not frivolous. Shelter is essential, building or rebuilding your house, it’s all the same thing.
Renovation should be motivated not by an obsessive concern with a house and its presentation, rather for reasons which are less obvious and more personal (at the risk of repeating myself) to make your home more practical and supportive of family life in a discreet way, so that it enhances your enjoyment of your brief time on earth and does not distract you any more than necessary from the more essential aspects of your life.