Author's Note: This is part of a series of blog posts are aimed at avoiding renovation woes.
After the Cherry Hill Kitchen renovation was complete, I asked my client what she wished homeowners knew before starting the renovation process. I asked because as a professional designer I know what to anticipate during a renovation and sometimes I take that for granted. I believe that the more you know going into a renovation project the more successful it will be because you will have a better idea of what to expect.
"Consider all the things you have no idea about such as codes, common practices, layout suggestions. Work with a design professional who will work these things into your design. Otherwise, you will be surprised and possibly unhappy by the time you're in the middle of construction" - Carla, Homeowner, Cherry Hill kitchen renovation
Nobody can be an expert in everything. When you are unsure about a design decision do not be afraid to reach out to a design professional. Many people make the mistake of thinking that professional interior designers are there to purely address aesthetics. However, a significant portion of our expertise is related to safety - we just do not broadcast that as much because it is not as glamorous (but it's necessary!). For example, I helped a couple select a new tile backsplash to brighten up their kitchen. We chose a subway with accent tiles. As we were discussing a layout, the client suggested that we remove one of the outlets so it would not disrupt the pattern. I knew right away that would not meet the electrical code because kitchens need to have over counter outlets every two feet to eliminate the use of extension cords in the kitchen. A typical homeowner might not know this but a certified interior designer or licensed contractor almost certainly would. In this case, we adjusted the pattern so it would not be interrupted while still meeting code.
I worked on another project where the client had beautiful marble slabs on the walls of her shower. While doing a construction walkthrough, she made it clear that she wanted a slab shower floor as well. We immediately told her that was a safety issue. You should NEVER do a marble slab on the floor of a shower, that is an invitation to slip and fall. We suggested doing a marble mosaic tile. Grout lines help create friction, allowing steadier footing.
The bottom line is, you don't know what you don't know. At times a homeowner may not know the questions to ask. Many people do not realize that both interior designers and contractors spend a lot of time making sure that occupants of a space will be safe, which is why there are certification exams, permits, and licenses. A visually beautiful space is the icing on the cake. Pool your resources! Professionals are there to point out what you may have overlooked.