There are a few specific events in life that seem as if they are designed to test a couple’s relationship. Going long distance is one, having children is another, and remodeling your home is a third.
Renovating your home together may seem like a great idea, with rehabbed homes typically selling twice as fast as those that are in their original condition. However, nearly any home renovation project comes with at least a few setbacks. While many of the stressors are related to money and the general chaos of turning your home upside down, even the smallest design details can cause strife between partners.
Luckily, there are strategies you can use to prevent problems before they begin and bring a heated argument to a peaceful resolution. Let’s dive into the steps you can take when remodeling your home with your significant other to ensure that your relationship stays out of the demolition zone.
Although your mind may immediately start racing with all of the small touches you want to see in your finished product, remember to first focus on the big picture. Before you start any physical work, sit down with your partner and share your grandest goals for the project. These goals should be several levels above details like paint colors and decor styles.
Think about how you want the new space to feel when you’re spending time together there and the activities you envision happening there. In the same way that the average couple starts the 14-month long process of planning their wedding by deciding on the atmosphere they want to create, your home remodel should start with the desired vibes. Once you’ve crafted this overarching vision together, it can serve as a grounding point you can return to when you disagree over the smaller stuff.
Once you have a unifying goal to guide you, you can start focusing on the important details. Start by each making a list of your top priorities for the renovation. These lists should have three to five items on them and you should each only star one as the number one priority. This will allow you to give major importance to one thing while revealing that it’s possible to compromise in a variety of other places.
After specifying your top priorities, couples therapist Dawn Michaels suggests fleshing them out into longer lists of about 10 home-design ideas and swapping them. On your partner’s list, circle items that are similar, check ones that you can compromise on, and cross out ones on which you completely disagree.
For instance, if your partner wants exposed lumber on the ceiling — which comprises over 40% of building materials — and you can’t stand the look of wood beams, cross off that item. Then, have a conversation with the goal of truly learning why your partner prioritizes those exposed beams. Discovering the why behind each other’s thought process can help promote empathy and a rewarding remodel experience.
A major part of working together on a renovation project is compromising. However, partners who compromise for the sake of making the process easier often end up feeling like their wants were ignored. This can then lead to resentment that lasts much longer than the remodel itself.
Staying quiet can also result in costly mistakes that could have been avoided, like becoming part of the 20% of insurance claims that are related to water damage when you knew the placement of that sink wouldn’t work. Instead, speak up before the minuscule issue grows into a resentful beast of a problem.
With these tips in mind, you and your partner are ready to begin the exciting journey of remodeling your home. You know how to communicate about the big and small things to get you to the ultimate goal of a renovated home. Even if an important permit joins the 15% of all paper documents that get misplaced, you have the tools to realize that this is a fixable problem. As long as you’re in it as an unbreakable team, you’ll end the process together in the home of your dreams.