Getting Ready for a Reno? Check Out These Design Resources First

Check out these online tools and apps to help with your renovation.

By: Erin Loechner

You know the idea that a goldfish only grows as big as his bowl allows? In a world full of massively large fish bowls, my husband and I decided we wanted to keep our goldfish teeny weeny. And by goldfish, we mean (a) our mortgage, (b) our household duties and (c) our clutter. And although there may be very little glamor involved in owning a tiny home, it’s certainly the right lifestyle for us.

Victorian Front Porch With Colorful Molding and Small Garden Space

Colorful Victorian Home With Porch and Small Garden

A mix of red, green and yellow paint colors create a charming exterior on this Victorian home with ornate molding. The front porch is surrounded by a decorative, colorful railing and looks out over a small garden with shrubs and topiary.

Photo by: Photo by Janet Loughrey

Photo by Janet Loughrey

With that said, small spaces present their own set of design dilemmas, and Husband and I embarked on a research-heavy adventure to find out exactly how to utilize the space that we did have. One of the incredible benefits to renovating is the amount of information available online. From kitchen planning to renovation checklists, the opportunities for a feasible and efficient remodel are incredible.

Table Styling
Pairing high-end books with vintage books found at flea markets.

BPF_original_glam_livingroom_table_styling_h

Table Styling Pairing high-end books with vintage books found at flea markets.

Photo by: Brian Patrick Flynn

Brian Patrick Flynn

Of course, we began our research the old-fashioned way with a few great books on the subject. On our recommended reading list:

I can’t sing the praises of these books enough. The knowledge we gained from reading about real homes, real spaces and real lives was enough to make me fantasize about living in a home a quarter the size of ours — just to see if we could handle it.

Luxury Mobile Cabin With Wood Exterior

Luxury Mobile Cabin With Wood Exterior

The crew at Escape Homes has been constructing cabins for many years and recently decided to go mobile. The result is the Escape Traveler, a luxury cabin that qualifies as an RV.

Photo by: Escape Traveler

By far, the best advice we received from each of these books was this: Every family is different, and every home should reflect these differences. I’m not talking personalization, although I do love a good monogrammed pillow every now and then. What am I talking about? Customization.

If your family is crazy busy and rarely sits down for a meal, why do you have a complete dining room set in your kitchen? If your entire roster of friends and family lives close by, why do you need a guest room? Ask yourself questions about your lifestyle and answer honestly. Whether you desire a long stream of guests or a sit-down dinner with your family each night, the presence of the space alone won’t change your lifestyle. Yet, by catering each space to your activities and thinking in terms of areas rather than rooms, your livable space will increase tremendously.

Living Room With Fresh Paint and Furnishings

Living Room After

After the renovation by the Property Brothers, this family living room has a bright, sunny look.

From: Buying and Selling

Photo by: Jessica McGowan/Getty Images

Jessica McGowan/Getty Images

Once you’ve settled on your general floor plan (based on your needs, not wants), it’s time to start planning. Here’s where the internet comes in. Online tools have been incredibly instrumental in the continued success of our renovation.

Laptop Displaying Evernote App

Digital Document Storage: Evernote

When we humans move from point A to point B, the most important papers can sometimes get lost in the shuffle. Scan the most important documents and use Evernote to store and retrieve them effortlessly. Now you'll never lose your movers' contact info, the contract you signed with them, your new cable account number or other vital pieces of information.

I’ll do my best to break down my favorite tools in terms of use, i.e. space-planning, organization and home inspiration. Here we go:

Space-Planning Tools

Kitchen Planner
Self-explanatory and worth its weight in gold. We’ve planned (and re-planned, and re-planned again) our layout multiple times with this handy tool.

Wood and White Traditional Kitchen With Chalkboard and Chandelier

Traditional White Kitchen With Wood Accents and Iron Chandelier

The three points of the frequently mentioned work triangle are the range, sink and refrigerator. Appliances can be broken up with the classic shapes; for example, the cooktop and wall ovens might be in different areas. Two sinks are important for a two-cook kitchen. This white kitchen is accented with a marble backsplash and a wooden countertop on the island highlighting the bar stools and exposed ceiling beams.

Space Planner
Not sure if your sofa will fit in that tiny living room? Craft a basic floor plan and layout your existing furniture to get a feel for the space you have and what you need to make room for. Genius!

Silk Sofa Highlighted by Bird Patterned Pillows

Silk Sofa Highlighted by Bird Patterned Pillows

Carpet Calculator
Find out how much product you’ll need in two super-simple steps.

Carpet Samples

Plush Carpet Samples

Choosing wall to wall carpet is a challenge with samples of this size.

Photo by: iStockphoto

iStockphoto

Paint Calculator
Another simple tool to calculate how much product you need to buy. Enter your room measurements, heights and preferences and receive an instant estimate.

Organization Tools

Checklist and pencil

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Checklist and pencil

Photo by: Creatas

Creatas

Home Renovation Checklist from Real Simple
I love this checklist, mostly because of the final line item: “Carve out an oasis for you.” This is key during a renovation, so if you can’t phase your project to avoid construction dust, loud noises and general interference, I’d suggest staying elsewhere in an effort to sustain any sanity you may currently possess. Trust me on this one.

Budget Checklist From Renovately
Want to get a breakdown of how much your renovation will really cost? Follow a few simple tips, along with a helpful budget template you can download to track your own progress.

Home Inspiration Resources

Pinterest.com
Need a landing pad for the endless inspirational images found on blogs, sites and the like? Keep your finds in one spot with an easy, visual pin board at Pinterest.com. (You can see my favorite interior images at my pin board right here!)

Polyvore.com
Fashion gurus flock to Polyvore.com to pull together mood boards of their favorite outfits and accessories, but this also makes a great inspiration resource for your dream home. Craft an online inspiration board (for free) with a few clicks of your mouse.

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