even luxury interior designers aren’t immune to our own homes getting a bit dull, dated, and in need of a renovation. in fact, we might be some of the worst offenders. since we spend our time daydreaming about others’ high-end spaces, we sometimes forget to give our own nyc apartments a little love. (yes, i’m talking about yours truly…)

like many people i’ve spoken with recently, my husband, daughter, and i have been trapped indoors throughout covid, staring at our once-beautiful walls more often than normal. i’ve spent several blog posts (like this one and this one) sharing why now is the best time to renovate your nyc flat or suburban home, and in the process, my family realized that our home was in need of a renovation of its own.

like many of our clients, this reno has been on my to-do list for a few years, but it was never a priority until now. and with murmurings of a second wave of this awful virus on the horizon, i decided to take my own advice. if we are going to be stuck inside all winter, we might as well do so in an apartment that is rejuvenated and updated, fresh and fabulous, right?

(photography above by v. carvalho)


and then the renovation started…

as we removed our existing base mouldings, picture railing, window frames, and door casings… and started installing all new features… and as we skim-coated the walls to smooth everything out (so there are no ripples, indentations, markings, etc.) in preparation for fresh paint, i had quite the “aha!” moment…

as the designer, i get to see projects from start to finish, but i don’t really have to live through them. this time around, as the client, so to speak, i’m seeing “the other side” firsthand, experiencing the dust and chaos, but also reaping the benefits of a well-planned and thoughtfully-executed renovation. in summary, i’ve learned a lot!

you may have heard that living through a renovation has zero saving graces until the final reveal. not so! today, i thought i’d share my newfound wisdom about 5 really good things that happen in the renovation process..


photo by will ellis photography


1. your home will never be cleaner than post-renovation

you should know by now that i’m not one to sugarcoat anything (who has the time?). i prefer to tell like it is… and, well, a renovation is messier than i ever imagined it could be. dust will literally get anywhere and everywhere, and there will be at least one moment when you’re ready to pull your hair out because you can’t possibly live in these conditions any longer. just know that. but there is also a bright side…

now that you know to expect the dust, you can prepare well in advance. i suggest you pack up all of your belongings, preferably in boxes that are sealed tightly with packing tape, and send them off to storage. simply covering your furnishings with old bed sheets or plastic drop-cloths absolutely does not cut it. you can thank me for that tip later. 😉

when the project is complete, and after the post-renovation cleaning company you hired has done their job (yes, they are worth every single penny… trust me!), you’ll dust off your belongings as you unpack them into your freshly updated home. and, you will soon realize your space has never looked or felt cleaner.

savor that moment… take a deep breath… and enjoy your spotless, spectacular home.


photography by v. carvalho


2. you may very well receive your entire wishlist at once

you guys, scope creep is real! and even designers fall prey, as evidenced by my recently completed home project. what started out as a simple replacement of railings, mouldings, and a new paint job, quickly turned into electrical work, additional lighting, a new fuse box, running cable wires and channeling them into the walls, relocating a door, and removing two feet of a wall to allow for a more open floor plan.

yes, you read that right…our project, which was estimated to take just over a week given the initial project scope, ended up lasting five weeks. oops! haha.

but the upside? i got to check off my entire wishlist with a single renovation, and i encourage you to do the same.

enter the renovation conversation with your entire wishlist, not just the things you think you want to do right now. be honest with yourself and your designer or contractor. stand firm on your investment amount and what you have available to spend. don’t forget to allow for additional fees that will pop up as you progress through the renovation. and know that one renovation is less costly than two… so if you can swing the whole wishlist at once, do it!

you’ll end up saving money in the long run, and you will be enjoying your dream home sooner than you ever imagined possible. win win!


photography by v. carvalho


3. your family will learn to be flexible and gracious

the truth is that renovations always take longer than the timeframe initially quoted. this does not mean your contractor is doing a poor job… it usually means that unexpected issues have popped up or there is a delay in the shipping of certain materials needed for the job. (which is normal but certainly happens more often since covid.)

case in point, we had to wait three extra days for the picture rail we selected because we didn’t like the proposed alternative. also, roughly three days before the project was supposed to be completed, it became apparent that we needed to have the electrical box replaced (even though we were sincerely hoping to avoid it). that added two days and a couple thousand dollars to our job… sigh… but it had to be done.

in order to mentally prepare for the flexibility you’ll inevitably need throughout your project, planning ahead is key. and the best planning takes time! while most clients want to jump in and get started before the planning phase has been completed, history has taught me to stand my ground, because if you take your time during the planning phase, the rest of the process runs so much more smoothly.

allow two full months for planning before beginning the project… and honestly, even after all of that forethought, depending on the size and scope of your renovation, you can count on it taking anywhere from six weeks to six months to complete... sometimes even longer.

but the best part of all of this? despite the careful planning, as well as expecting the unexpected, there will still be surprises throughout your renovation, which may sound like a bad thing, but it isn’t…

those unanticipated delays and disruptions showcase your family’s true character… and you’ll learn just how resilient, flexible, and gracious everyone can be when you’re working toward a common goal and looking forward to the same glorious home reveal, together. it has certainly brought us closer!


photo by emily gilbert photography


4. you’ll declutter your whole home in no time

sure, it is a bit of an inconvenience to pack all of your belongings away and then have to get them out again post-renovation, but it also means you have the opportunity to declutter and downsize in the process.

when putting our apartment back together after our project was complete, we carefully considered each item. i kept asking myself, “would i purchase this now for my refreshed apartment?” if the answer was anything but a resounding yes, out it went. which meant we tossed and donated quite a bit. i figured, why keep things around that don’t bring me joy or serve a purpose any longer?

and once we had decluttered and reassembled the rooms that had been renovated, i was prompted to clean out the other areas of our home as well. i didn’t just want one neat and tidy and joyful space— i wanted an entire apartment that felt spacious and clutter-free.

in a very short amount of time, with this new-found enthusiasm for decluttering, our whole home was cleaned out, pared down, and rearranged in a way that felt as inspired as our recently renovated spaces.

i can absolutely guarantee that your home renovation will motivate you to do the same… declutter like nobody’s business in order to achieve the light, bright, airy, and curated home aesthetic you dream of.


photography by v. carvalho


5. you will fall in love all over again

there will be days during the renovation when you wonder if the chaos is worth the final result. you’ll feel fed up with the process and consider the what-ifs. what if you had just learned to live with the space? what if you had looked for a new apartment instead? and what if you opted for cosmetic updates that didn’t stir up so much dust?

i’m living proof that when all of that dust has settled and your home is organized once again (and with a celebratory glass of champagne in hand), you’ll look around and smile.

you’ll understand why you invested so much time, money, and emotional energy in updating your space. you’ll remember what you loved about your home when you first bought it… the character, the charm, the feeling. and you’ll find yourself so head-over-heels with the completed design that the tough moments fade away, giving rise to the joy, peace, and contentment that you now feel in your chic, sophisticated new space.

so, if you’re reading this thinking that you are ready to reap the benefits of your own home renovation in the new year, please give us a call.

the dhny team specializes in full-service luxury design from concept to completion (which actually means far less time invested for you). our end result is always an individualized, bespoke, turnkey interior you will be proud to call home!

cheers ~ darci

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