After renovations, everything is new, nice and shiny. There are no more decisions to be made, so you can now relax a bit and enjoy your home. Soon, though, you start noticing the good and the bad of your renovation decisions.
Based on my experience renovating a Victorian end of terrace house in Oxford, I share a few things that didn’t quite work and that I’ll avoid in any future renovation project.
My 7 renovation lessons
White grouting is generally a bad idea
I wanted dark grouting in the bathroom but ended up with white grouting instead due to miscommunication between me, Husband, and the builders. We had been renting a place during renovations and had to move back in as soon as possible. To avoid any further delays, we just went with it. As expected, white grouting was a lot of work, as it gets dirty quite easily. Never again.
The bigger the tiles, the better
Small, patterned tiles are all the rage in hallways and bathrooms. We chose small square floor tiles for our new bathroom because it was tiny (around 3sqm). There was simply not enough floor space for more than a couple of medium tiles, which would need cutting and would look weird. It made sense to go for small tiles. The thing with tiles is that the smaller the tiles, the more grouting you have. The lesson I learnt is that, when choosing tiles, don’t think about tiles but think about grouting first. If space allows, I think it’s best to go for big tiles and dark grouting. Or no grout at all (I’m very curious about microcement for a future bathroom renovation).
Beware of flat taps
Despite their stylish yet simple and minimalistic look, flat taps may not be a good idea if you live in a hard water area as we did. I didn’t realise that (of course!) you close the tap with wet hands and water drops stay on top, leaving horrible limescale marks. The only way to avoid a permanent dirty wet look, you would need to be cleaning the tap with a limescale remover after each use, which, in all honesty, you won’t do.
Keep wood far from water
This is one of my big home renovation mantras. I know that wood softens the ‘hard look’ of a fully-tiled bathroom and it gives a homely rustic feel to traditional kitchens, but I’m not a fan. No wood near water for me. That said, I gave in on this one in our bathroom and we made a countertop out a varnished plank of wood. A bit of water and cleaning products would seep between the tiniest gap between the countertop and the tiles. It wasn’t the easiest surface for cleaning water and soap marks, the odd toothpaste stain or hair either. Over time, it’s also quite common for wood planks to warp a bit, creating gaps and allowing dirt and water in. I certainly won’t be choosing wooden countertops or bathroom units again (wooden kitchen worktops have always been out of the question for me).
Black worktops and hard water is a terrible combination
I love monochrome kitchens. When renovating our former house we chose a chunky black matte granite worktop and vintage white cupboards. The worktop was beautiful but very hard to keep clean, especially in such a hard water area like Oxford. A single drop of water would leave a mark. Method Daily Granite & Marble Cleaner was my best ally for regularly cleaning the worktop, but I found it almost impossible to keep the sink area limescale-free.
In-framed grained kitchen cabinets aren’t cleaning-friendly
I found it hard to choose kitchen units because I value the practicality and ease of cleaning that come with super-modern and minimalistic kitchens, but I often find minimalistic styles too… minimalistic. In our former home, we chose in-framed grained kitchen cabinets in a vintage/old-white tone. I loved the general look of the kitchen, but I won’t be choosing that type of units again, as in-framed units with grainy textures attract and accumulate dust.
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Irene Corchado Resmella
I'm a Spanish freelance translator living in the UK since 2011. After fully renovating and selling a Victorian end of terrace house in Oxford, I recently relocated to Edinburgh with my Scottish husband.
In The Home Reporter I share everything home and lifestyle – from renovation stories and interiors inspiration to tips and anecdotes about buying a house, working from home and relocation. Lover of bright spaces, wooden floors and matte finishes.
Find me on Instagram.