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My One Year Rule: Tips for new homeowners eager to renovate - and why waiting is ideal

Pile of moving bcxes
Stock Photo via Pinterest

You recently bought a house – yay!

Congratulations, that is a big deal.

Maybe you love its location; you like some of the interior finishes; the kitchen is in good shape but outdated; the layout works but there is room for improvement.

In other words: the home is in good shape and is completely livable, but you already have a laundry list of things that you want to change to make it yours. A new kitchen maybe, updated bathroom, new entry door, new furniture, adding a powder room, etc. You are just itching to renovate and make it your own.

We are bombarded daily with beautiful images on social media, or home reno shows that make things look easy breezy and quick to do. No wonder we feel pressured into a sudden rush to change it and buy new things to turn it into the home we’ve always dreamed of.

Trust me, from personal experience in my own soon-to-be-partially-renovated home, I feel the same way! But as an Interior Designer, I have a personal rule that I often share as a professional recommendation – you should really live in your home for a full year before committing to any major cosmetic renovations.

I know – probably not what you wanted to hear – but it’s the truth!

(UNLESS of course the home is NOT functional and safe for your day-to-day needs, that is an entirely different story!)

There are 4 strong reasons why I make this recommendation. I’ve used them personally to help me settle into my own home and create solid renovation plans for the future – and I wanted to share them as pieces of advice in what can be an overwhelming venture!


New Home Tip #1:

Treat your new home like a new relationship

Home-shaped sign that says 'we said yes to the address'
Photo via Etsy

Why you ask?

Because moving into a new home is like getting to know a new person for the first time, and the only way to do that is through time.

Like a new relationship, you can’t always identify things that are quirky or aren’t working for you at the beginning – those nuances are not usually obvious right away. Over time your home will reveal its strengths and weaknesses, its hidden charms and things that you’ll know you want to change.

Not only will you learn about your new space – you’ll also learn about YOURSELF. Your own and your family's habits, preferences, routines, likes and dislikes will become clearer with time. All of this is important for you to understand, and know well, when you go to design for your renovation.

And who knows, sometimes parts of your home might surprise you; what you thought you originally wanted to change may be a blessing in disguise. But only time will tell!


New Home Tip #2:

Establish short-term goals that will help you get to your long-term goals

If you’ve followed along on my personal new-home journey, you’ve seen what I lovingly refer to as it’s “lemons.” Which means you also know that I am all about taking those lemons and making lemonade – so let’s talk about how you can make your new home sweeter, sooner!

Short-term goals are bite size projects that help you personalize your space without a huge financial or time investment.

Think of them as small “refresh” projects, and there are so many inexpensive and quick ways to do them that have a huge impact. Simply replacing or adding decorative light fixtures can alter a space dramatically. Painting is the most common one I share with clients, it’s a great way to feel as though you are moving into a blank slate.

Swapping out the existing flooring treatment (or covering it with an area rug) can further neutralize the home, setting the stage for your unique design to form.

These short-term fixes help make you feel more comfortable in your new surroundings, while you continue to build the relationship with your home. I live in Canada, so I recommend giving yourself a full year (to live through all 4 of our changing seasons) before committing to any major renovations. By doing this, you give yourself plenty of time to identify the things you like and the things that need to change.

Check out our Design Consultation Service where we spend time with you in your space and give you tangible takeaways for short-term goals and plant a seed for the long-term ones too.


I don't know about you, but I love to write things down - even when I think I'll remember the thought.

So grab a paper and pen or open up a new notes tab in your smart phone, and use it to make a running list of things that you like and dislike, what works and what doesn’t, as it comes up. Keep a log of things that you find yourself wanting and needing to make your day-to-day easier.

Slowly creating these notes will really help determine which areas you should prioritize for your renovation. It also will inform your Interior Designer when you are ready to renovate, and you’ll feel confident moving forward with future decisions on the new design of your home.

There are six design elements that I consider extremely important to assess and take note of when living in your home. You should use these are sections in your journal to keep note of throughout the year to help conduct your research. For a full breakdown of these sections, check out my blog post here.

1. Natural light + Window Views

2. Layout + Lifestyle

3. Mechanical + Electrical Systems

4. Finishes

5. Storage

6. Special Occasions + Holidays

(I will point out now that there are obvious elements like hazardous material tests (asbestos) and structural concerns, that can’t be overlooked – but I don’t want to belabour those points in this post – make sure those areas are covered in your home inspection!)

Making notes about all these items will help you make informed decisions about how to shape your home renovation. It may seem like a long time to have to wait, but thorough observation takes time – and this research will prove invaluable in the long run.

New Home Tip #4:

Hire an Interior Designer

Portrait of Adriana standing in front of design board
Adriana - Founder + Principal of Adriana Pietropaolo Design

A home renovation is going to be one of the biggest investments you make in your whole life. Having an Interior Designer guiding your through that investment should be integral to help bringing your dreams into a reality! All the problem areas you’ve taken a year to identify – we will ensure to craft solutions to address all of them. Leave your investment in expert hands – read more about how an interior designer can help you here.

Ultimately by waiting a year, you will really know what you want and what you need when it comes time to renovate. That kind of experience-based knowledge is better then immediately diving into a reno without the foresight. With this valuable insight in your back pocket, you’ll save yourself stress, money and often hidden surprises - because now you know your home like you know your best friend instead of an acquaintance.

The result will leave you in a dream home that is thoughtfully and intentionally designed with you and your Wishlist at the top of mind, giving you a the best result than ever imagined!

So when? When to hire an Interior Designer? Right away! Yes, right away, even without waiting a year. We can show you the big picture that much faster and start you on the right trajectory for your project by the year-wait is up!

I’ll be here when you’re ready!



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