Recently, a question was asked in an interior design Facebook group- “What is the Smartest thing you did When Designing your House?”.

This question, which can also be covered  in a 900-page book (which I will surely buy), is great because there is no one smarter than someone with experience, especially someone who spent a lot of money, and got disappointed by a certain choice or, alternatively, realized that this was a well-spent expense.

With more than 300 comments to this post, written by people with hands-on experience, we bring you the ones that repeated themselves most often (because the law of large numbers is the supreme law).

Recommendations from people speaking from experience.

 

1.  A garbage disposal

A garbage disposal is a device (usually electric), installed beneath the kitchen sink, between the sink’s drainage opening and the pipe system.

The device grinds leftover food to pieces small enough (usually less than 2 mm) to pass through the water pipe system.

So why yes? Mostly because when we place dishes in the dishwasher, we don’t need to use our hand to lift the wonderful mixture that drains to the sink’s drain.

You also need to take into account that there are large pieces of food that pass through the sink’s drain and cause clogs.

So why not? Well, it turns out that garbage disposal configuration is very sensitive, so even its smallest piece breaks, you need to go to the store and buy a new one (with no option to fix the old one). We still think it is worth it.

Cost? Between $200-$751

 

2. An outdoor gas and water line

There is no need to explain in detail what we are talking about, but it seems that many people have noted that they regret not installing them, especially when they wanted to buy a gas grill or to fill up a pool installed in their yard after a few years.

Even if you aren’t quite sure how much you will really need them, it is probably worth preparing the infrastructure anyway, so that it will be placed under the floor and the installation will be less of an expense in future renovations (‘decreased marginal cost’ as economics say).

 

3. Wide door openings

Most of you can probably relate- who hasn’t experienced at least once in his life the situation where he wanted to move a piece of furniture in/out of a room only to discover that he will never, but never! no matter how much he/she will engineer this item of furniture, it will not go through the opening #rosscan.

Moments of real tears and a deep sense of failure. The struggle is real.

So what is considered a wide door? Well, we can tell you what is not a wide door. A standard door has a height of around 82 inch and a width of 31 inch.

Any extension of these measurements is naturally a door with wide openings.

The advantage is the ease and the removal of furniture, as discussed above, but there is also a decorative advantage, which makes the entire house less standard and more high-end.

The disadvantage is an acoustic problem because walls block sound waves better than doors.

 

4. A Laundry room

Wow, how often this was mentioned! of course, if there is a place in the house to install a laundry room, we would strongly recommend making one.

The question is for those who do not have extra space for a laundry room, what can they do to solve this?

There are several really good ideas. The best idea is a laundry closet, that the most genius of them include a side/ lower drawer for the actual laundry, thus saving the need for a separate laundry basket which you may not even have room for.

laundry room scandi
Image: zephyrandstone.com

 

renovation tips laundry room
Image: homestolove.com

 

5. An air conditioning switch next to the bed

It turns out that many of us lose remotes or get into bed only to discover that the remote is not within reach.

How frustrating! Just for that, there is a built-in controller for the air conditioning. Advantages: no remote issues. Disadvantages: None. See also ‘A Smart House’ below.

 

6. Central vacuum cleaner

Another very common recommendation but it requires a clarification and explanation.

A central vacuum cleaner is a system that is installed during the building stage that allows us to pull out a suction pipe installed in the wall that can cover up to 459 square foot.

Advantages: You can vacuum the rooms without getting wound up in the vacuum cleaner between rooms, but most importantly- there is no noise because the suction unit is located outside of the actual house.

The upkeep is rather simple- changing the bag every few months.

Disadvantages: The installation itself is rather complicated- mostly recommended for those building a new house or doing a complete renovation, and even then, if you don’t have a big house with several floors, it isn’t really necessary.

Here is a YouTube video to get a visual of it- because nothing is better than seeing it with your own eyes.

 

7. Floor Heating

Walking barefoot in the winter on a warm floor is lifestyle goals. You need to feel it in order to believe it!

There are two types of floor heating- water-based heating and electricity-based heating.

 

Electricity-based heating

How does it work? Installing electric heating elements under the floor so that when they heat up, they transfer the heat through the floor.

Advantages: They are invisible and are simple to run, there is no noise, little up-keep, and doesn’t dry out the air.

Disadvantages: Slow acting- it takes 1-2 hours until the house heats up, bringing us to the second disadvantage- we are talking about a significant use of electricity and your electric bill will reflect this.

And if that isn’t enough, it also gives off radiation that even legally approved- it is still radiation and is not at all healthy for babies or children who are closer to the floor than grown adults.

Therefore, we would recommend passing on it. And anyway, wool socks in the winter are part of the fun!

 

 Water-based floor heating

This heating system is based on hot water flowing in closed pipes that heat up the floor, and it has almost the opposite advantages and disadvantages than electricity-based floor heating.

First of all, there is no radiation. The disadvantage is that the installation price is several times the price of the electricity-based heating installation. The reason for this is that the pipes are made from special materials.

 

8. An electric outlet with a built-in USB port

This is for anyone who consistently charges his smartphone using his laptop. The box is separated into a regular outlet and a USB port that is regulated to use less electricity (1 Ampere) and its installation is the same as a regular outlet.

Before you plug your device into the charger, check the smartphone’s original charger to see how much electricity it needs.

Most will be above 1 Ampere, meaning that the charge will be slower but safe for the device itself.

 

9. Built-in soap hollow in the bath

No additional explanation is necessary, but the main advantage here is that you can get rid of all the shower caddies that you hung on the shower door and damaged the aesthetics of your bath.

A shower caddy just adds up to the elements that need to be cleaned every now and then and just take up space in an already small space.

The hollow also allows you to play with the type of tiles you choose to install in the bathroom, make it interesting.

renovation tips the jungalow bathroom
Image: The Jungalow

 

10. Sunken panels

Panels, oh panels. The small difference between good and great.

And while greatness is something we are always striving for, its maintenance may be a little frustrating at times and is reflected in the dust accumulating on a weekly basis on the top of the panels.

The advantage to sunken panels is that they don’t accumulate dust because they don’t jut outwards, and there are those that would say that they are much more aesthetic.

The disadvantage is that they don’t perform the main job of regular panels- to protect the walls from furniture bumping into them.

Obviously, you can just be careful, but we don’t know how much we can rely on it.

 

11. A kitchen pantry

Nu, nu, really! of course if there is room in the kitchen for a pantry, we’ll make one! Come on!

A pantry is the dream because you can go inside and close the door and be surrounded by food from head to foot.

So, some advanced recommendations for making a pantry. First of all- you can have deep shelves at the expense of standing space – this is not a showcase but must store as many things as possible, even if it may be a mess.

 

Second of all- we wouldn’t recommend having many built-in compartments, but to take the opposite approach – build wide shelves where you can shift portable compartments based on need like in the image below.

renovation tips kitchen pantry
Image: talinegabriel

 

12. A double shower head

Here, we mean one static shower head that is attached to the ceiling or high up on the wall and a second shower head that is attached to a cord and sits in a location that makes it easy to maneuver.

Of course, from there, the sky is the limit, and there is the option of two static heads and a mobile one but in this case, we would recommend thinking twice to save water (and on the water bill).

 

13. A large coat closet at the entrance to the house

Because it is a true friend and can hold more than just coats.

It is important that it will be aesthetic and nice because it is right by the entrance.

You can also take advantage of its presence for a true design touch.

The price range varies and derives from the closet material. Formica is the cheapest choice and epoxy and wood are the most expensive. You can also consider veneer, which is somewhere in between.

 

14. A drawer under the washing machine

Truth be told, we had never heard of this but after we saw several pictures, but it’s definitely a winning hack.

The reasons for this are clear: it optimizes storage, it’s pretty, and it prevents back pain caused by reoccurring bend-overs to the machine’s opening.

An excellent recommendation to apply.

 

15. Two bathroom sinks

Two is better than one and it’s also true for sanitary wares.

Especially when there is more than one child waking up at the same time.

two sinks bathroom renovation tips
Image: Sarah Sherman Samuel

 

16. A Smart House

The Smart House technology is a control system that controls all the home’s facilities: turning on and off lights, heating up water, watering the plants, contorl electrical appliances and electronics, doors and gates, the security system, kitchen appliances, and more.

There is also the option to initiate automatic instructions. For example, when the interior’s temperature reaches X, turn the heat on to 30˚C.

This algorithm can create much more complex instructions.

Advantages: Unimaginable comfort. Imagine yourself turning on the heat/air-conditioning or the hot water boiler before you get home.

There are also systems that work with an automatic GPS system that times the activation of the relevant appliances based on your location and estimated time of arrival.

Disadvantages: If the system is connected to internet in one way or another, it is vulnerable to cyber-attacks, allowing intruders to control it, and as part of that to control of the entrance to your house or to the gas pipe. A risk which is less desirable to take.

 

17. Choose your materials altogether in advance

If you hired an interior designer, then you can skip to the next section, because this is basically the core of what they do.

If you haven’t, work like your are an Interior designer- choose your theme and palette in advance. That way, the items and appliances will speak in the same language creating a harmonic atmosphere.

Create a mood board that contains patterns and colors that you like, and set it as the basic guideline for any product or item you intend to purchase.

Alison Giese mood baord
Image: Alison Giese Interiors

 

18. Don’t finish paying the contractor until he finishes the job

The reason is quite clear. But this is a recommendation that is worth applying to other areas of your life- if you are the customer, don’t pay the entire sum until you receive the product that you are paying for.

 

 

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