What You Can Decide in an Hour

14 min read In just one hour you really can make big or small decisions that put your remodel on the path for success.

In just one hour you really can make big or small decisions that put your remodel on the path for success. 

Taking a whole remodel from start to finish is a big undertaking. Just planning to start your remodel sometimes feels like it’s taking forever…and it really can be a black hole that seems to absorb as much time and energy as you have to put into it. However, it is possible to set yourself up for bursts of decision-making that shift the momentum in your process. 

Taking time to mull has its value. Doing your research is important. BUT, if you’re feeling stuck in analysis paralysis, today’s episode is for you. It’s all about what you can decide for your remodel in an hour.

In one hour, you can look at the macro scale of your remodel and orient the big picture of everything you want to accomplish. Or you can focus in on the necessary details and knock off a whole array of troublesome choices in one hour.

On the macro scale, you can decide between a whole house remodel or targeted tweaks. You can decide whether you’ll hire the work out or DIY it. You can decide what order the work will get done in.

Even making small decisions can be a big relief. And in one hour you can set yourself up to be read for all the small decisions required by a remodel. An hour spent making a few high-level style decisions –  what type of wood grain, which types of metal, what range of colors, cool or warm tones – will simplify your life down the line. 

In Today’s Episode You’ll Hear:

  • How to focus an hour of decision making by applying a mini-master plan process to a question or problem. 
  • What kinds of questions a one hour design consult call with Mid Mod Midwest can help you answer.
  • Which tools can help you gather insight and information to make the most of your remodel planning power hour. 

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Read the Full Episode Transcript

Taking a whole remodel from start to finish can take a long time. That’s hard for me to change for you, but it’s the job that never gets started, that takes the longest to finish. Thanks, Sam Gamgee’s dad. Planning a remodel can feel like it’s taking forever too, and it really can be a black hole that seems to absorb as much time and energy as you have to put into it. However, it is possible to set yourself up for bursts of decision-making that shift the momentum in your process. Taking time to mull has its value. Doing your research is important. If you’re feeling stuck in analysis paralysis, though today’s episode is for you. I’m gonna be talking about what you can decide for your remodel in an hour. Hey there. Welcome back to Mid Mod Remodel. This is a show about updating MCM Homes, helping you match a mid-century home to your modern life.

I’m your host, Della Hansman architect and mid-century ranch enthusiast. You’re listening to season 10, episode five, or in the new system 10 0 5. Hey, if you already know that how you want to make tracks on your remodel is by scheduling a Power Hour zoom Design Consult with Mid Mod Midwest, get right on that. There are only three more spots open for consult calls in November and just five in December. That’s the holidays for you, so get ’em all their hot folks. By the way, these make excellent holiday gifts for the mid-century lover in your life. 

All right, our resource of the week in the spirit of quick decisions is my room recipe workbook. Use this easy 1, 2, 3 element framework to kickstart a small but mighty mid-century room. Upgrade anywhere in your house. Listen to season two, episode three. Wow, that’s a throwback. To hear more about how it works or just go grab it at midmod-midwest.com/roomrecipe.

One more reminder, we are still looking for just the right designer to join our team. So if you think you are or know the person who is going to help us keep up with our pace of designing fantastic master plans for mid-century homes, reach out and say hello.

Find all of the above in one place and get the transcript of this podcast at midmod-midwest.com/1005. 

All right, what can you decide in an hour? Let’s look at this from two angles. There are two very different types of things you can successfully decide. In one hour, you can look at the macro scale of your remodel and orient the big picture of everything you want to accomplish and or you can focus in on the necessary details and knock off a whole array of troublesome choices in one hour. Let’s start big. It can be incredibly useful to get a couple of big picture decisions right off of your mental to do list at the beginning of a process, and it doesn’t have to take you long to do it.

Note in this scenario, I want you to be decisive and also note that your decisions can change. Macro choices at the start of a project are a little bit like flipping a coin about a tough decision, looking at the answer and then giving yourself a gut check. The trick is to give yourself insight into your subconscious leanings, and honestly, it’s not a bad way to choose between two nearly identical fixtures, finishes, or colors or other options. You’ve been belaboring try it. But here are some types of big picture questions you can ask yourself or yourself and your remodeling leadership team and then decide on. 

You can decide your scale. Is it a whole house remodel or are you just tweaking? You can decide who will be doing the work. Are you going to DIY or hire it all out, or are you somewhere in the middle you’d like to help a handyman with some projects and get some parts that seem too complicated? You can decide who will be the decision maker, the leader on your remodel, and how that person will lead. This goes right back to our topic from a few weeks ago about how to lead your remodel successfully. And you can decide what you’re gonna do first, next, and last. 

Now, in this case, I’m just saying put a stake in the ground. Take an hour and decide what order you wanna tackle your home improvement projects in. What will come first and why. What can wait until next year and why you may find it beneficial to get the advice of a helpful expert, like for example, myself. If you want that help, you’re not alone. The fact that people often reached out to me in the past asking for help and figuring out what they could reasonably accomplish in updating their home, what order to go in, et cetera, is why I have a dedicated type of consultation devoted to this exact question.

It often looks like a tiny speed run through the major steps of the master plan process. Those are dream, discover, distill, draft, and develop. I call this type of consult a remodel jumpstart call. I recently had a call like this with Jennifer about her post mid-century raised ranch in Woodbury, Minnesota.

Her family is planning some updates, but they were juggling a kitchen update, an un spacious main floor layout that meant their personal bathroom also doubles as the one used by guests, not enough storage, not enough access to their backyard, and their hope to generally create better outdoor spaces, starting with a deck. We started by discussing her family’s priorities and most pressing concerns. This should sound to you like the dream phase. Then she then walked me around the house with her camera flipped and we took stock of structure that might get in their way or be usefully modified. That’s discover. We considered the house’s current lack of mid-century style, and what was her vision for what would be mid-century charming, what that means to her. That’s distill, and then I had time to throw out some starter layout solutions for the bathroom.

It actually looked to me like there might be space to borrow room for a powder room without an addition. On the other hand, they could make a micro addition to bump out a bedroom and keep any rearranged plumbing inside the current footprint to keep costs down. We rounded out the hour by summarizing the order of operations that would probably best meet their current pinch point while leaving the way open, not blocking off future options over the next couple of years to plan an update that would not all the items off their wishlist. Sometimes these jumpstart calls turn right into future master plans. 

For example, when I sat down over Zoom with Patricia and Chris about their sweet 1968 rancher in Columbia, Maryland, they were trying to nail down their plans. They had just purchased a house and then begun by having a series of subcontractors walk through and give them advice about necessary updates and upgrades. All of their advice seemed a little bit in conflict and it added up to a lot of work they were struggling with. Where would we stop once we started remodeling? So much so that that had turned into the indecision of where do we even start?

So for them, I dug through their entire wishlist of open plan kitchen, improved stair location, better arrangements for home office, more privacy for the owner’s bathroom, and we took a little video tour of the house. Their style was easy to nail down. Their daughter lives in Palm Springs and they love that California modern vibe. I could easily hear that they wanted to make a bunch of changes at once and we were able to determine that for them, a one and done remodel would work much better than piecemeal updates over several years.

At the end of the call, we scheduled their mid-century master plan to begin, but selling people on my services is not my goal. It just turned out to be the right answer for them for their goals. If this type of conversation, the where do we start conversation seems like the answer to your current stress, then this might be the kind of power hour you need to schedule either for yourself and your family or just on your own calendar. Block out a clean undistracted hour to do this alone or schedule with me so that I can help you make these decisions and ask the questions that will walk you through a micro master plan process to simplify and clarify your remodel process in an hour. It is possible. You’ll be amazed at what we can decide together.

Now on the macro level, we look at the whole house. On the micro level other clients come to me because they’re bogged down in the decision making detail process. This situation can also really benefit from a solid decisive hour of just making choices and locking them down. John and Erica came to me with their fifties ranch in Seattle, Washington. They were struggling with choosing paint colors for new siding and accents to go with their light red roman brick. They knew they wanted to keep them in century vibe, but they were struggling to find colors that they felt would flow well with the brick. They also wanted to know that they were making the right choice for their siding material, think about how they could paint and trim their windows and doors. They wanted to think about front entry details like house numbers, mailbox lighting planters, and they also had some questions about what order to take things in as they were locking down what the next steps would be after the house painting took on.

We took a quick spin through their dream, discover and distill moments, we jumped right down to nailing down details. So we settled on a pallet of colors for their soffit, their front door, accent color, and their siding, all to coordinate well with the existing brick. We talked about choices for fencing, how they could create a micro sitting area off their front entry, the right spot and size for new house number, and whether to paint a concrete retaining wall. Spoiler alert the answer there was no. I’m gonna swing by and see how it all turned out. The next time I’m visiting my BFF in Seattle and I can’t wait. They ended the call confident and ready to move forward. Fortunately, that was the perfect place to be since the painters were coming the very next week.

Now, one of my favorite examples of this type of call is the one I had with Emily and Matthew about their sweet little 1951 hybrid ranch cottage in dc. It had so much charm potential, but was looking a little chaotic in the photos they sent me with stone, brick and siding, trim and roof, all in different colors and styles. So we had a macro look at how to tie the whole exterior together and really it came down to a few simple color choices, taking down the cottage style, high contrast white window trim and paint on the siding to something a little bit more stone blending – taupe was probably their power choice there.

Then we got down to what was really stressing them out. They wanted to invest in a new mid-century style front door from Simpson’s doors, and they were feeling overwhelmed by the customization options. This is the easy part for me. We knocked out the door style, the frame surrounding the windows, the glass type, the brick mold shape, the door handles the hinge metal, the stain for the interior trim to tie in with the Mantling living room, how it could coordinate with their existing security grate and the best fit for a video doorbell design. They had been going back and forth over this for weeks and I was able to ask them some questions and then narrow down the right answers for them with enough time to still cover house number placement, exterior lighting updates, and even take a pass at their tricky kitchen layout.

This kind of stress to satisfaction transition makes my freaking week. Um, it was just such a pleasure to help them go from a place where they were so locked in. They were actually really close to making a lot of the right choices themselves, but they weren’t feeling confident about their decisions. And by the time we were done with the call, they not only had my suggested answers, but the reasoning behind them. So they knew they were making the right choice for their house and for themselves. Now, let’s talk about how you can simplify some of that stress.

The style guide process is really meant to take your micro decisions to a macro level. And while sometimes you may need to make real world decisions one by one in an emergency, I love recommending a style grind approach. You can make a few high level decisions. What type of wood grain, which types of metal, what range of colors, cool or warm or picking up something already in the house to simplify your life down the line. So one of the things you can decide in an hour is not which particular products to buy, but which types of things you’re going to buy, which types of things you’re gonna choose. Those style guide examples that are going to be the early decisiveness that can cut down on your stress as you go through the process of choosing everything else for your remodel. It’s not thus that you’re gonna spend one clean hour to make a few actual decisions.

It’s that the decisions make in this hour if you’re working on your style guide, could then ramify through simplifying your entire remodel. So rather than spending a whole hour to pick a single light fixture, I would advise you to try to spend an hour to pick a style of light fixtures for your home. If you’re planning a power hour of making decisions for your home yourself, you need a couple of ingredients for successful fast efficient decision making. One thing you need is buy-in fast. Successful decisions require that every person who’s gonna be involved in the decision is on the same page and is ready to commit. You wanna make sure you’ve got all the necessary information you both need, or you all need to come to a decision. You need a commitment. You need to personally decide to decide. Set a time limit and lock it down.

Now, the real world common example of this is you have to make a decision because someone is coming to do the work. Almost immediately, this will happen in any remodel. You’ll get a call from the contractor saying, The plumber was gonna come in two weeks update. She’s coming tomorrow. You need to decide which faucet we’re gonna install for you. This kind of crisis moment decision making can be really fast and sometimes effectively feel great when it’s done. However, I recommend you create that same concept of time, urgency, without actual urgency in your life. It will be less stressful to simply make an hour of decisions well in advance of the crunch moment when you have to have a thing to install.

The third thing you need for quick decision making is information. You’ve got the internet at your fingertips, but beware about information overload. You don’t want to go down the rabbit hole and you don’t wanna get distracted by questions that aren’t on your docket. So it may be important to outline what is the parameter of decision you’re trying to make. What’s more important than knowing the facts of the world is knowing yourself. So set and stick to your priorities.

Now, if you’ve been listened carefully, you’ll see that the further you are through the master plan process, the more easily you’ll be able to make rapid fire decisions. And if you are just at the start of your remodel thinking, your master plan process is still in the forward view, you can use these steps in microcosm. Ask yourself what really matters about the thing you’re trying to decide, and then hang on to that decision. Figure out what you need to know about your house. Do a mini discovery process applied only to the area you’re trying to decide about. Focus your style. The fastest way to do this is to take my style quiz, which you can find on the Mid Mod Midwest website at midmod-midwest.com/stylequiz.

It’ll take you three minutes and give you a decisive answer with some suggestions. So like I said, both of the types of my typical one hour consults, the big picture jumpstart or the design details sos, are really versions of the develop phase. Getting to that part requires a mini master plan process. What matters, knowing where we’re starting from, your style choices, considering your options. Both of these consults fall under the developed category and their snapshots of what happened after you have done a successful master plan. But you can also treat them as microsurgical strikes into that area. The big picture question looks at how you’ll pull your entire remodel together. Will it be done in phases? What type of budget range and scale are you looking at? That 5,000 feet view still benefits from a master plan approach. And if you really wanna get into quick decisive answers on finishes, you will start with a mini pre-designed phases of dream, discover, and distill before you can easily make rapid decisions.

So to recap, if you’re trying to figure out what you can decide about your remodel in an hour, then I want you to think about are you looking at a big picture question or are you focusing on details? Make sure you’ve got the necessary predesigned information relatively lined up, or set a timer and do the focused work of dream, discover, and distill applied just to the question you’re asking before you start to get to this decision making process.

Believe me, there’s a lot you can cover in just 60 minutes. And if you’d like proof, you can always sign up for one of the Mid Mod Midwest consultation hours. Or you can walk yourself through a mini version of the master plan process using my free master plan workbook, which you can grab at the website at mid mod-midwest.com/framework. Read a transcript of this episode, get the resources I’ve mentioned, and think about how you can make your decisions quickly, effectively, and flexibly.

Know that sometimes you’ll make a decision at the start of the remodel and eventually when you’ve thought about it more, you might change that decision. But having made a decision rather than leaving it up in the air the entire time will help you sleep better at night and will actually make it easier to respond to the developing nature of a project. As you go through. I encourage you to be decisive in your remodel rather than saying you could do any tile under the sun. Pick a tile for your kitchen, change your mind later if you need to, but build around that item that you like. You can do a lot by starting with one spot, and this is why I wanna point you back to that first re resource that I mentioned at the top of the episode, the room recipe. This is a great example of how to start from one place and allow the decisions made there to ramify out until they’ve answered all the questions in your remodel.

All right, friends, that’s all for this episode. I would love to hear what you have effectively decided for your remodel and how quickly you were able to get it done. Send me a DM on Instagram and tell me the best decision you made for your home and how long it took you to make it. Or, okay we’re not that far past spooky season, tell me the most horrifying, dragged out, long term or problematic decision making process you’ve had or that you’ve heard of. Maybe I’ll put those into a future episode. For now, stay cool, mid mod remodelers. I know you can make good decisions, especially if you set a timer for an hour and see what you can lock down within that limit.