7 Things I Do Before Every Renovation

This list of quick and easy tips will help you navigate your next remodel like a pro
How to Prepare for a Renovation + What To Do Before Renovating Your House

I feels like I renovate or remodel a room every month lately! I’ve lost track of how many rooms we’ve renovated at this point. Even for the smaller makeovers, they are still a massive undertaking. I’ve been asked what is the first thing to do when renovating a house a few times, so today I wanted to share my process with you for that. So if you’ve ever wondered how to prepare for a renovation, this is the post for you! I hope you find it helpful, and as always, leave a comment with any additional questions you have!

How to Prepare for a Renovation + What To Do Before Renovating Your House

When it comes to how to prepare for a renovation, the process is really, truly up to you. But if you’re stuck with where to start (especially if your home is a fixer upper or you just moved in), these tips should hopefully get you started.

1. Create a secret pinboard + a moodboard

As I outlined in my post about my entire interior design process, I always start with a Pinterest board that’s secret. I treat it as a dump for anything that visually inspires me for the specific space. So, for example, with our recent guest room makeover, I noticed that I kept pinning mid-tone blue bedrooms. That then inspired me to select a similar hue for the walls.

You can also use a pinboard to save furniture, lighting, and other decor pieces that you’re considering purchasing. Once you’re satisfied with the amount of inspiration you have, create a moodboard so you can narrow down your findings. I create my moodboards in Photoshop — read all about that process here. This helps me to visualize how it will all sit together.

2. Order swatches and samples

It is next to impossible to truly know the color and feel of things like fabric just from looking at a photo online. I always recommend ordering swatches whenever possible. This practice is crucial in helping me make design decisions for each of our renovation projects. There’s nothing worse than spending thousands of dollars and then having something show up that looks different than anticipated!

3. Review with your partner

Because of the nature of my job as a content creator who documents her renovations, I tend to start renovation projects without Sean. Often, he knows that a room is next on the list, but doesn’t really care to participate in the design stage. To ensure he’s on board or that I am not missing something crucial to day-to-day life in the house, I review my design plan with him. We also take this time to discuss the project timeline and budget.

It’s worth noting that I am not asking for his permission — I’m just looping him in! He pretty much trusts me with designing a home he will love, so that helps a ton.

4. Establish a timeline and budget

This step is probably the most important when preparing for a renovation — and the one I get asked the most! How do you establish a renovation? How do you budget for home renovations? Both are great questions, but also ones where the answer varies wildly based on the project. For example, we don’t have a timeline for our bedroom suite makeover simply because we’re still learning about what we want the space to provide for us. And the same is true of budget. That renovation doesn’t have a budget because it’s so piecemeal. But we did establish a budget for replacing the flooring, adding insulation, and paneling the walls (more on that here).

For larger projects, like our previous kitchen renovation, I created a spreadsheet to map out when each component (cabinets, appliances, etc) would arrive, when they’d be installed, etc. This would help me sort of stay on track with what needed to happen before we could move onto the next step of the remodel.

As for a budget for a larger renovation, that’s where working closely with a contractor comes in quite handy. They should be able to provide estimates on what it would take to make your design plans come to life. I recommend taking that number and then adding 25% to it for anything unexpected that could arise. That definitely came in handy for us as our kitchen renovation spiraled out of control (more on that here).

While establishing your budget, I also recommend thinking through where you plan to splurge and where to save. I wrote a whole blog post about that topic, but identifying this is a major help while renovating.

5. Consider the color palette and materials in the rest of the house

I keep a folder dedicated to the paint colors, finishes, and swatches in our home. That way, when I select a new paint color, I can see how it sits with the rest of the decor in the house. If you’re worried about your home feeling cohesive, this is a great place to start.

6. Lay out furniture plans with tape + make a floor plan

I use a free program called Homestyler to make floor plans for each renovation project. It’s so easy to use! Once I have a floor plan of the space, I drop in furniture to make sure it will fit virtually.

I also recommend measuring and mapping out the furniture in the room itself, then putting tape down to define the footprint of the piece. This helps you to understand the flow of the space and the scale of pieces with in it.

7. Decide what to DIY and what to hire out

And finally. renovations for us are DIY projects because we’re pretty handy. Sean is a boat mechanic which includes electrical wiring, so that’s huge for us. We’re also good at figuring things out from YouTube or a solid google search. But if you don’t feel confident in DIYing the entire remodel, the planning stages are when you should define what you’ll hire someone else to do. Not only does this factor into the budget estimate, but it also helps to determine the timeline.

So those are 7 suggestions for how to prepare for a renovation… what do you think of these tips? I hope you found them helpful!

Photography, styling & design by Jojotastic.

Behind The Blog

Joanna Hawley-McBride is a Pacific Northwest-based social media strategist, content creator, and former textile designer. Joanna is the founder and editor-in-chief of Jojotastic, a lifestyle blog focused on Joanna’s work-in-progress cabin, finding the best pair of underwear through #UnderwearThesis, and empowering women to explore nature — all in her signature unfiltered style. Her work has been featured in Domino, CNBC, and Eating Well.

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Leave a Comment


  1. 7.26.23
    Hazel Avery said:

    Wonderful article. These are fun ideas. I want to renovate, but my home is so cluttered right now.

  2. 7.22.22
    Jessie Holloway said:

    I love how you recommend both DIYing and hiring out during a renovation. Hiring can save you so much time and effort, but DIYing can save you money and make the renovated area feel more special. I love the idea of doing both for a project to ensure you don’t get burnt out but still have that personal touch.