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RENO Survival

A full master bathroom suite renovation project; designer survival in a pandemic era!

RENO 101

Welcome back to the blog! It’s been almost an entire year since my last post. Instead of an EOY reflection post, I wanted to dedicate the one post for 2021 to our biggest project to date; of which the second space install is still a working progress. Because it’s so much I‘ve been wanting to share about this renovation, I decided to start with the basics for newer interior designers and future clients. I’m going to keep this short and bitter sweet with a few key points:

1- Renovation and full design are not the same. They can play well together with solid planning, but they are not twins. Just related. Gutting an entire space vs adding wallpaper and new drapery with new furniture; huge difference. In the case of a bathroom, the design planning gets handed over to a contractor to execute your vision as designer. After you successfully executed your client’s vision and your creativity with an approved rendering. Sounds simple enough right? Hell no. It is not. Why?? I am so glad you asked. Because project management suddenly grows two heads. You’re now attempting to manage contractors and possibly subs if you don’t have a GC managing it all. And you’re also manage your part of the project tasks like ordering tile, dealing with back order delays, and tradesmen/ subs pushing back on parts of your design work. This is just a glimpse.

2- Time is not on your side. After DEMO, you get to see if any of your grandiose design plans have to be changed. For this project mine did. A pocket door I wanted to give my client for her water closet quickly changed. Oh the builder hid some electrical wiring and a stack in that cute little wall. So, there was that. I received footage saying “this is a no no”. I called those contractor love notes. *rolls eyes* Nonetheless, we moved on. Time moved in slow motion primarily due to waiting for materials. RENO rule #1 is you cannot place orders until DEMO happen in case changes are needed generally. Unless, you’re lucky enough to have the original plans and drawings for the house. Unlike design, we’re ordering as soon as concepts are approved.

3- Tile play means grout play. And because I’m a visual person I need to see it in real life. Period. So, the grout was almost home free until I showed up for a site walk through and hated it in the shower floor. It was changed to black. I won that battle pretty easily. Point is. Grout matters!

4- Your client will most likely be more involved in RENO projects. Embrace it. But future clients, be kind. Trusting the process comes in right about now. Collaboration is ok to a point. I will leave this here. Thankfully this client was an angel! Truly!!

5- Don‘t allow delays to make you change your plans. You will regret it. Delays will have you sear for whatever is “ready to ship”; which sounds sexy in this pandemic era. It is not. It’s convenience, and we’re not here for that. Creativity has to stay on the forefront. I love the soaker tub we ended up with, however the one I originally sourced is now the man that got away.


This was tougher than I anticipated. My client asked for tranquility (summed up). Aesthetics were at her request, but the styling was to my discretion. Minimal, spa aesthetics was my approach in styling. The towels and accessories were complimentary. Why? God loves a cheerful giver, plain and simple. But. The bench was used to hold items and beyond a photo prop; it’s strong and functional to serve multiple purposes.

I should also mention the logic behind the vanity here. Previously there was a wall to wall vanity with double sinks and a vanity seat area totally not being used. We decided to replace it with a double vanity and got rid of the almost 10yr old one. Oh the wall to wall mirror went with it. Now is a good time to pivot to the a little design development sharing.


Like amazing photos that develop from negatives; amazing design for a RENO develops from outdated fixtures plus instant home upgrades. So, we talked about the vanity but about the mirrors. After my client was accustomed to looking at a wall to wall mirror over the sink, I had to come correct with large individual mirrors in the new design. The round oversized mirrors did not disappoint. Next, the shower and whirlpool jacuzzi tub. We left that in 2021; with the old windows & shade as well. Shout out to our client for seeing the value and power in getting brand new windows. I mean why not? Investing $20K + in a new bathroom calls for new windows if it’s feasible. Especially when they’re private frosted windows! Wink!!

The bedroom (the 2nd space/part II) attached got all new windows as well. The bedroom RENO is complete too. However install is still taking place as mentioned and the final install is strolling into 2022 with us. More on that to come soon. A back ordered item and one damaged item is the cause for delay. Oh there’s more. But we’re here for the bathroom today!!


Life would be boring without one! The plot twist in this bathroom is that we’re adding wallpaper in the water closet. As soon as humanly possible as I await a callback from our preferred wallpaper installer. In the interim, we‘re here for it and did not charge our client for the add on. Why? A few reason. One, I pitched it in the beginning and hoped she would. I should mention this client reached out after seeing my fall 2020 One Room Challenge powder room project photos on Instagram. She loved it and loved the wallpaper. Two, we’re still working in her home anyway. So, I’m here for it and plan to have it photographed again (fingers crossed).

This RENO project stretched me as a designer. In real life I stretched myself beyond, simply in that real life was happening in clusters! This client went through me taking time off after losing my father. Then patiently waiting for me to snatch it together to get married. DEMO then started in August instead of July. Grace was needed, and it was extended. Bottom line, we made it to the finish line in reasonable time all things considered. The timeline breakdown for perspective is listed at the end. The before and after photos seem more pressing to share first!




Consultation- April

Project Kick Off- May/June

DEMO- August

Sourcing/Procurement- August/September

Execution/Styling & Photos- October/November

Total Bath Project from Kick off- 6 months

*This also included a pause on work for clients new windows to be installed in the bath & bedrooms and the bedroom RENO work; carpeting removal, new flooring installed, new door hardware (hinges & handles) for all doors, lighting replaced, and paint. Different trades used, on some days at the same time.

All during this timeframe, there were a few other projects being worked on and the real life mentions. Oh and a trip out the country that felt like a blur. Moral of all of this shared is that I survived with no regrets. Just a stronger designer for the next one and a list of a few changes being made in our process. Let’s bookmark this part for now as services are being revised as well.

Pandemic life is not a game in our industry for sure. The silver lining is that the increase in the demand proves that clients are still making the wise decisions to hire Interior Designers and investing in home improvement; and essentially a better quality of life at home!

-xx Kelly

‘O taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed is the man that trusts in Him.’ -Bible

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