Home renovations: We Pin for them, pine for them…and make ourselves sick with worry over all the expensive decisions we may later regret. But planning for your next project will be infinitely easier if you know which common pitfalls to look out for. Below, our friends and family spill on their biggest reno lessons learned.

hard wood flooring


When Wood Is a Wouldn’t
“We decided to get real hardwood plank floors installed in our new kitchen rather than laminate flooring and it was honestly the worst decision ever. The real wood was supposed to be able to hold up against everything, but it dents and dings and scratches like crazy. Meanwhile, the faux hardwood floors we installed in the office have lasted ten years and still look like new!” –Rachel, NY

Dirty Dancing
“I wish I had known that no matter how clean your contractor keeps things, dust still gets everywhere. I ruined a pair of suede shoes by leaving them in the work zone.” –Martha, MN

Cabinet Disappointments
“When it comes to kitchen cabinets, get the best quality you can afford—plywood boxes and solid wood fronts with high-end closers, rollers and hardware. Our inexpensive stuff started to wear out day one.” –Andie, NY

black claw foot tub


The Bathtub That Never Was
“When we redid our upstairs bathroom, I let my husband convince me that adding a walk-in shower would be a better use of space and money than the antique claw-foot tub I’d been pining for. Every time I walk into that bathroom, I think, I wish I had a bathtub. Splurge—and in some cases, fight—for your dream pieces.” –Nancy, MA

DIY Oh Why
“Never take on a task without knowing what you’re getting into. I decided to remove grass cloth off the wall on my own and the entire plaster wall underneath fell apart. I had to learn how to plaster and skim…and eventually hire a handyman to finish the job. In the end, SO much extra time and money to DIY!” –Katy, CA

Counter Intuitive
“In retrospect, I regret my butcher block countertops. They were gorgeous and cheap AF, but over by the sink, it’s really hard to keep them dry (and, in turn, rot and mold-free).” –Jill, PA

staineless steel appliances


Stainless Isn’t Painless
“I chose classic stainless-steel appliances for the kitchen (fridge, oven, etc.), and while they all look stunning immediately after they’ve been cleaned, the second someone touches them, there are visible fingerprints, like, everywhere. In retrospect, I wish I’d picked a more low-maintenance material.” –Abby, TX 

Lonely Island
“We had a shiny new island installed in our kitchen, and while useful and beautiful, it gives us so much less space to move around in. Ultimately, it wasn’t worth the trade-off—and we’re stuck with it!” –Corley, LA

Natural Selection
“Our soapstone countertops are very high-end, but very high maintenance—they need regular oiling/waxing, and without the maintenance they can look very splotchy, old and discolored. The oil looks oily, the wax looks waxy and it’s very cold to the touch in winter. I’m a purist, but the fact is synthetic is sometimes the best decision for counters.” –Mallory, NY

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