How to Un-hack Pandemic Renovation Mistakes

Wednesday Mar 24th, 2021

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After a year of being stuck at home, lots of us turned to home renovations as a way to keep busy. For some it turned out to be a success, for others they’re looking for ways to turn back the clock and undo some of their mistakes.


The kitchen-turned-office

As nine-to-fivers swapped suits for sweats, home office spaces adopted a new look too. Most people opted to work from their kitchen or dining room tables. But by mid-summer, temporary arrangements were readdressed for the sake of ergonomics and privacy. Despite the cat’s attempt to be heard (and seen) during Zoom meetings, it was time for another swap—this time trading in uncomfortable wooden chairs for a real office setup. 

By mid-November, IKEA sales spiked as the company sold 631,800 desks, including 45,000 sit-stand desks. If you’re still figuring out your at-home office layout, keep these things in mind:

  • Don’t underestimate the power of a real desk. 
  • Find a spot with privacy and low household foot traffic.
  • Try setting up near a window for natural light.
  • Keep the space devoted to work.
  • Invest in good-quality headphones to stay focused.
Children drawing on the wall
Image via Flickr @yoshiyasuNISHIKAWA

Colouring outside the lines

Some of us thought, “why not let the kids express some creative freedom?” Afterall, there are prodigies out there yet to be discovered—like the two-year-old “pint-sized Picasso” featured on Good Morning America. Lola June’s uninhibited paintings have been sold for thousands of dollars! 

In reality, not everyone is that lucky. “Creative freedom” can quickly turn into “pure disaster.” For anyone who gave their kiddos similar free reign with a set of brushes or crayons, what seemed cute and nostalgic might require five coats of primer in 2021. Those who find themselves with spontaneous “wall murals” created during the pandemic, try these crayon removal techniques for a fresh start.

Child drawing

Some parents also let their teens try DIY graffiti in their bedrooms, and while it can be done right, it can also be done very wrong. If this is ringing any bells, a professional colour block paint job might resolve your random decision. You could also try turning it into an accent wall, adding wallpaper, choosing a wall mural, or something else creative. 

Splatter walls were also considered whimsical at first glance, but for a future timeless choice, why not encourage the potential pièce de resistance on canvas instead!

A man building a deck

Decked out

Some of us were simply overwhelmed by the projects we thought we should be doing. With the endless stream of YouTube tutorials and HGTV reno programming, it’s impossible to make excuses. Well, until the lumber shortage in August! Overwhelmed contractors and delays slammed the brakes on a few dream deck plans and left many with the “open concept feel” longer than anticipated. There’s no immediate fix if you tried (and failed) at a deck this past year, but it’s worth taking the time to really consider all that building a deck requires. 

Wood

Impulse decisions

After everyone had a solid fix of baking bread and doing puzzles, budget-friendly home upgrades were next on the to-do list. In September, an “Adventures in Real Estate” article in Toronto Life began trending for unexpected reasons. Vivian Hua, 27, was photographed painting her couch! She had just moved into her first “big-girl apartment” and was doing “fun chores” like painting her couch. Perhaps this eliminates the need for Scotchgard?

If you need to add a little levity to your day, these quarantine fails will slap a smile on your face. From misbehaving Roombas to banners advertising husbands for sale, it delivers. For those who need some reassurance they’re not alone in your reno goofs and overambitious demolitions, here’s proof. From upside-down kitchen cupboard installation to No More Nails glue incidents (that resulted in no more fingerprints), we all tried to be more self-sufficient and proactive with varying results.

Image via Alex Knappenberger, YouTube

Basement blues

With our houses being turned into offices and classrooms, we all raced to find space to set these new spaces up. Some people also saw family members move back home, and suddenly the house that used to be “just right” is now a bit tight. 

It didn’t seem worth it at the time to build an addition, so most of us turned to the basement as the next best option. However, without proper planning and foresight, a basement reno can quickly turn into a nightmare. Whether you were trying to create a basement apartment for a family member, or just wanted a quiet space to take Zoom calls without interruption, lots of people are now left with a half-finished basement, which might be even worse than an unfinished basement! Discovering unwanted mould, unfinished flooring, biting off more than you can chew—lots of people are now left with a disaster. 

If you really went for a full basement reno, your first step to fixing it will be calling a home inspector or contractor, especially if you made some structural changes. You need to know what you’re working with and what is a need-to-fix-immediately problem. Your next step is to create a plan on what you want to do with the space and stick to a budget. Once those two things are done, it’ll be a lot easier to accomplish your basement renos and be left with something you actually want. If you’re turning the space into a basement apartment, consider these tips on brightening up the space. 

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