Rookie Renovation Mistakes to Avoid

Rookie Renovation Mistakes to Avoid

I’m not the most knowledgable person when it comes to renovating a house. But I have done it, and experienced it first hand.

We ourselves made plenty of rookie renovation mistakes. No matter how much research and preparation you do in advance, you’ll always come across problems you weren’t expecting, problems you might not know how to solve. This is completely normal, and we definitely did our fair share of rookie renovation mistakes.

From the moment you buy your first property, even if you don’t intend to ‘do that much’, home improvement becomes a big part of your life.

Without proper guidance, you’ll find yourself learning on the go. Jay had never fitted a kitchen before, but he did ours. Obviously he learnt as he went along, but it was still a long process. You’re definitely better off leaving some of the big jobs to the professionals, if you can afford to do so. But realistically, you also have to keep costs down.

You might choose, like we did, to renovate yourself, saving costs on tradesmen and labour. If this is the case, here are some of the major rookie renovation mistakes that you should be avoiding.


Not Having a Plan

You might think you know how big your room is or that you can judge whether a piece of furniture will fit in your lounge or not just by looking at it. In reality, you need a clear and detailed plan of the room.

The plan serves a number of purposes. Firstly, you’ll need it because it will tell you the measurements of each wall, each window, and where the doors are. This is SO useful when buying furniture, or wondering if a sideboard will fit in that space. Take a picture of the plans on your phone, so when you go shopping and fall in love with something, you’ll know if it’s too big or small. 

You can also use your plan as a guide for your colour palette, trends and decor choices.


There’s DIY and DIY

Everyone wants to keep budget to a minimum. Sometimes this can be a rookie renovation mistake in itself. You might be trying so hard to keep costs down, that you’re sacrificing too much.

It also doesn’t mean that you should do everything yourself. You should avoid tiling a bathroom if you’ve never tiled before. If it goes wrong, you’ll only be spending more money having to buy replacement tiles. So it’s a good idea to get a quote from a handy man with a van.

Not all renovation projects require a professional. But it’s fair to say that when transportation and equipment are necessary, it’s often cheaper to trust a white van contractor.  

Colours do look different on the walls

When choosing colours for your walls, you might stumble across a nasty surprise. The sample you’ve painted on a piece of paper doesn’t quite match the colour on the wall. Or maybe, even if it does match the colour on the wall, you find that it doesn’t really work with your decor.

Ideally, you need to paint sample colours in at least three different spots on your walls; in the shadow, in a corner, and in the middle of a light-bathed area.

You can see the difference below when we did paint samples (excuse the bad picture quality).

Paint samples on a white wall


You’ll need to put the samples on white walls (plastered walls, or walls already with colour on won’t have the same effect). So either paint the whole room white, or just paint white the places you want to put samples on.

The colour we actually chose is the third one from the left on the top row. It looks so much lighter than it does in the above picture.

Painted wall with no skirting boards or flooring


It also changes depending on the light. Sometimes it has a lilac tinge, other times it’s more grey, and sometimes it even looks a sort of taupe brown. Weird.


It’s a place to live in, not a museum

Everyone wants to invest in expensive, solid furniture that is good quality and will last for years. But don’t buy something so expensive that you’re afraid to use it. The furniture you buy will be used every day. Therefore you also can’t commit to the purchase of impractical items. If you have pets or young children, you need to consider how this affects your choices.


Rookie renovation mistakes are precisely what turns a harmless renovation project into a costly nightmare. Don’t be fooled into thinking that you can do everything better and cheaper than professionals! You can’t. But with the appropriate guidance and practice, you can do a decent job of your DIY renovation.



    • sarahaelsley
      Oct 8, 2018 / 2:57 pm

      Thanks Brooke!

  1. Nov 20, 2018 / 1:41 pm

    Thank you for writing about common mistakes and sharing your tips

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