What I Learned From My Home Renovation: House Obsession

Posted by Paige Thomas ~ February 17, 2009

Here's the second installment of our new feature from fellow home bloggers talking about what they learned from embarking on their home renovations. Last week we got some insight from the interior design and home renovating wizards at ThisYoungHouse, and today we're happy to have Leah of HouseObsession.

Leah has a historic home in the seeming-to-get-hipper-everyday city of Philadelphia. With corporate headquarters for pop culture mega store Urban Outfitters in the city, trend setting is woven into the lifestyle here.

Leah is managing to create a home that intertwines current designers and patterns (Orla Kiely wallpaper), with classic historic features. The final product (like this kitchen) is both modern and timeless -- a difficult feat to accomplish.

Read on for Leah's take on doing your own window installation, removing old paint, and the one thing that totally irks her about her gorgeous kitchen:

1. What has been your greatest accomplishment while working on your home?

Installing my living room windows myself. I hired someone to do several windows when I first purchased the house, but now I've learned how to do it myself, and I wish I'd tackled it on my own beforehand. I'd have saved a lot of money.

2. What is one thing you wished you would have done differently?

I think there are always things you wish you'd done differently. There are quite a few things in my bathroom I wish I'd done differently...but one small thing that constantly bugs me involves my kitchen countertop. The seam in my marble counter is right in the center of my sink. Because it's right there, it is very small...as opposed to being on the side and being quite large. However, it drives me nuts that it's right there in the front. My eye always goes to it. I sometimes also wish I'd gone with Corian. (Oh, wait...that's two things.)

3. Has there ever been a project you started where you realized it might have been way over your head? Trying to remove the paint off my banister. I thought it would be easy to remove. We purchased Peel Away, and although we got down to the wood in many places, it's not been so easy to remove overall. There is still a ton of pain left on it, and I finally gave up. I need to get back to that soon. It's horribly ugly at the moment.

4. If you had one piece of advice for someone starting out on major renovations, what would you tell them?

I'd tell them to meticulously budget every single detailed item they can think of to get a sense of what the costs will be, then I'd tell them to expect to add another 20% on top of that for things they didn't see coming.

5. What are some of your favorite remodeling resources?

Charles & Hudson blog, Re-Store Philadelphia for recycled house parts, HGTV for fun projects and inspiration, my local True Value Hardware Store (never underestimate your local, small hardware store!), Apartment Therapy for inspiration.

Thanks Leah! Good luck on your continued remodeling and renovating!

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