photo by will ellis photography


you’ve seen the sexy dining rooms, sultry lounges, elevated living spaces, and drop-dead gorgeous kitchens. you’ve seen custom furnishings (looking at you, holly hunt), killer fireplaces, and the celebratory cocktails that go with them. i’ve even shown you behind the scenes of the design and renovation process. 

so, what haven’t we covered yet? one of the biggest questions i hear as an interior designer… 

how long does a renovation take?

i wish i could give you a single, definitive answer to that question, but there are a whole host of unique variables that contribute to your renovation’s overall timeline. the only way to know for certain is to speak with a design professional about your project. but…since we’re not face-to-face right now, let’s see if i can do my best to point you in the right direction. 😉

today, i’m sharing 3 of the most common misconceptions about home renovation timelines, several of the variables that may impact yours, and a helpful chart to get you started. let’s pull back these sumptuous curtains and take a look…


photo by emily gilbert photography

misconception 1: timeline can be calculated by project

most people believe that all “like” renovations are created equal. after all, you would think that renovating your nyc apartment’s living room should take just as long as your coworker’s living room, right? well, not exactly. there are several other factors that must be considered when calculating your renovation timeline, such as…

basic building restrictions

there are many buildings, especially apartments in nyc, that only allow a certain number of renovations to be happening at any given time. if there are numerous other projects taking place in your complex, you may be waitlisted until further notice. (a bummer, yes. but that just gives us more time to design.)

apartment alteration agreements

most city apartments require an “alteration agreement” package through their board approval process. depending on the building in question and the scope of work designated by your designer or contractor, this can take mere days, a few weeks, or many months. 

the market for materials

the market for materials may also impact your renovation timeline. the past year is a perfect example: high demand during covid has increased the wait for appliances, shipping takes longer, items may go out of stock, etc. if your items become backordered or unavailable (after all, mother nature makes stone – and sometimes the quarry is depleted for good), it may impact your overall timeline.

however, rest assured that if availability becomes an issue during your project, we will always present you with a suitable solution: either an acceptable alternative or the flexibility to wait until the material in question has been replenished.

your propensity for project decisions

hate to break it to you, but yes, even you are a factor in your own project’s timeline. if you approach your project with decisiveness and a clear vision (after all, we will ask you to make some key decisions along the way), your renovation or re-design will go smoothly… no surprises there!

organized & experienced leadership

a renovation involves multiple moving parts, a team, and thousands of little details (yes, thousands). any project of this complexity requires top-notch leadership to achieve success. this means high-level organization, efficient systems, trusted processes, and impeccable communication. 

i highly suggest finding a designer with a track record of success and a preliminary process (such as a questionnaire and interview) that factors all of the above elements into the final timeline estimate presented to you. the right leader is far more likely to keep your project on time, or if needed, adjust it as efficiently as possible.

photo by emily gilbert photography


misconception 2: when you’re ready, your project begins

many homeowners assume two things:

(1) that as soon as they are ready to start their project, the designer and trades will be immediately available, and

(2) that once they sign a contract, work will begin right away.

unfortunately, neither of these things are true. (don’t shoot the messenger!) here’s why…

availability of professionals

the best-organized, scrupulously-trustworthy, and impeccably-detailed designers, contractors, and trades almost always have a waiting list. their client roster reflects their experience and success. they may also see higher bookings based on the time of year, trends in the home industry, or other external influences (*cough* a pandemic).

because of this, you’ll be ready to start the project before they are…but trust us, the final result of working with high-quality professionals is always worth the wait — for feeling at ease during your project and for achieving the elevated result you desire. 

note: at dhny, we’re currently booking projects 6 weeks out due to high demand.

your project commencement

lots of planning and conceptualizing needs to happen before anyone starts ordering materials or moving walls. the time between signing your contract and seeing visible work happening in your home is going to feel long, but it is far from idle. this is the critical planning stage that makes all the difference between a mediocre makeover and a breathtaking final reveal.

pro tip: proper planning is what separates amateurs from professionals. contact your design professional at least 2-3 months in advance of your desired start date, and look for those who have a detailed planning phase built into their process.


photo by emily gilbert photography


misconception 3: the project will follow the renovation timeline exactly

as much as i’d love to tell you that the above is true, i pride myself on complete honesty and transparency. projects almost always take longer than the contractor estimates, and it isn’t because your contractor is afraid to tell you the truth. why, then?

this is because something will always come up that adds to the time of the project. that “something” can take various forms:

  • maybe you, the client, want to add to the scope of the project, which happened when i renovated my own home…
  • we may unearth surprises during construction (like new wires that need to be run because the old ones are about to disintegrate…or the gas riser not being where it was initially thought to be per the building’s drawing packet *gasp!* true story.)

any of these factors can significantly alter the estimated timeline of your project… and none of them can be predicted beforehand. the good news? if you’ve hired professionals, you can be certain that any of these situations will be handled as efficiently as possible.

pro tip: plan, plan, plan some more…and then prepare to adapt. having open communication with your designer and contractor, along with a graciously flexible attitude, will make all the difference in how your project feels as it progresses.

contemporary interior design spiral staircase outdoor patio hamptonsphoto by jean allsopp


what does a typical renovation timeline look like?

to start, a quick disclaimer. remember the first misconception i shared with you above? well, i’m about to do exactly what i said not to do and give you some estimates based on project type. however, you’re so knowledgeable by now, that i trust you to take these numbers with a grain of salt… 

these are starting points and not an actual estimate of your project. it is impossible to accurately estimate your timeline without speaking and meeting with you to discuss your project.

however, i know you’re looking for some numbers, and i love to deliver. the chart below provides a basic framework for homeowners who are in the idea stage of their remodel.

these timelines include planning, sourcing, labor, product ordering/production/shipment, etc. essentially every detail from first conception to fabulous completion. also, you’ll notice that current timelines are much longer than pre-covid timelines. while these are the current realities, we anticipate a return to the pre-covid timelines in the hopefully-not-too-distant future.


pro tip: it is important to consider the source of your project’s materials and furnishings — anything coming from overseas ships much more slowly these days. in the u.s., most factories are working at only 50% capacity, which means materials, fixtures, and furnishings take longer to make. even in-stock items see delays because shipping departments aren’t at full capacity (thanks, covid). fortunately, we’re now seasoned pros at navigating these limitations!

looking to renovate in 2021?

we’re here to make it easy and stunning. our team specializes in full-service luxury design from design concept to delightful completion. your end result is always an individualized, bespoke, turnkey interior that you will be proud to call home.

contact us here and let’s bring your home goals to life.

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