How to refurbish your home without falling out with your partner

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As a couple, it can really test your relationship when you agree to refurbish your home.

The daunting aspect of refurbishing a home takes a lot of patience and perseverance and can be an emotionally stressful experience for a couple. Chances are, you’ll be at loggerheads somewhere down the line.

Here, experts share their top tips on how you can improve your home and preserve your relationship…


  1. Make a plan

“In any renovation project, staying organised helps avoid unnecessary stresses and arguments,” says Victoria Harrison, editor of Houzz. “The more time and effort you invest in the run-up to your project, the better.”

She says planning the scope of the project early on will help in the long run, suggesting online resources can help you build a clear picture in your mind of what you want to achieve.

However, it’s important to leave room for second thoughts. Omar Bhatti, director of Space Shack, says: “Your ideas, designs and circumstances may change throughout the project.

“Be prepared for this, and keep an open mind when starting and planning.”


  1. Hire the right professional

“A good professional can take a lot of the stress out of a renovation, and make you feel more confident going forward,” notes Harrison.

And Bhatti adds: “Be sure you both have a good energy with the professional you hire – after all, they’ll be on this journey with you and it’s crucial you all connect on a design and personal level.

“They’ll be the person in between, helping you make important decisions – and helping you come to a compromise if you both have different design ideas.”


  1. Communicate

To ensure a renovation project goes smoothly, Harrison says clear communication between you and your partner will be important to keep you both on the same page.

She recommends deciding on key elements as early as possible, to avoid rushed decisions or arguments later on. Being able to compromise is vital too.

For important discussions with tradespeople, Caroline Nicholls of Slightly Quirky suggests having both parties involved. “It’s important nobody feels left out of the decision-making process,” she explains. “A partner who tries to engage later on can be problematic, as some important decisions could have already been made – and any changes may incur extra costs or delays.”

Even for couples who are great communicators, Harrison says it can be surprisingly difficult to convey your design ideas to one another. “If this sounds like you, try using images to help you communicate the elements of a design you like,” she suggests. “Include notes that highlight why you like a particular design, to help your partner better understand your vision for the space.”


  1. Stay organised

During a project, you may be balancing a budget, communicating with multiple tradespeople and trying to make decisions on design details.

“Keeping on top of it all can seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t need to be,” says Harrison. She says having everything centralised will really help. You could do this by setting up folders where all communication and designs are stored, or explore online options.

It could also be helpful for couples to delegate tasks to each other throughout the project. “One person could manage and talk directly to the designer about design-related elements and the other about the costing and payments,” suggests Bhatti.


  1. Take a break

“Renovation projects can sometimes feel all-consuming with decisions to be made and dust pilling up,” says Harrison. “It’s important to take time out to do things together that don’t involve renovations, to keep everything in perspective.”

Bhatti suggests taking time away from the design and project process. “Have a date night and try to not talk about the renovation at all,” he encourages.


  1. Keep the big picture in mind

Despite the relationship strain, Harrison says more than 90% of homeowners said the result was worth the effort, with almost two-thirds adding they felt happier in their homes thanks to the project, plus more comfortable and more organised.

“So, don’t forget to think about the reasons for undertaking the renovation,” says Harrison. “And remind yourself how it could improve your lifestyle once completed.”

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