Use the Holidays to Focus Your Remodel Plans. Yes, really!

13 min read Use the holidays to focus your remodel plans.

I want you to use your holiday prep time to plan your remodel. 

Okay, Before you tell me, Della, that’s crazy. I can’t plan a remodel right now. The holidays are when I’m busiest.

You’re right. Of course you can’t. You know me. I wouldn’t ask you to make your life harder when it’s already full. But … what if I told you that you could also use this time to focus your remodel planning and make real progress without spending time picking out tile or making phone calls?

Instead, make your future life easier by harnessing all of the satisfactions (and frustrations) that are part of the celebratory times in your house.

The holidays are a great time to dream about what would make next year’s gatherings and visits more delightful. You see your home with fresh eyes when preparing to host. (And you have guests who bring a new perspective and may be willing to share ideas.) You can channel holiday energy and creativity to dream up amazing plans for 2023!

In Today’s Episode You’ll Hear:

  • Why the holidays are a perfect time to put some thought into what your ideal home would feel like.
  • My two pronged system for capturing holiday energy that you can infuse into future remodel planning.
  • How to involve your guests in your planning on the sly. 

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Read the Full Episode Transcript

Hey, friend, I want you to use your holiday prep time to plan your remodel. Okay, before you tell me, Della, that’s crazy. The holidays are when I’m busiest. I can’t be picking out tiles and solving problems and calling contractors during this period. You’re right. Of course you can’t. You know me. I wouldn’t ask you to make your life harder when it’s already full. Instead, make your future life easier by harnessing all of the satisfaction and frustration that comes naturally with having celebratory times in your house with just your family or with hosting extra guests during this once-a-year time of madness and fun. Today’s episode is for you. If you have any plans at all to improve your home in 2023. This is the cheat code to supercharge your process for next year, and it’s for anyone who’s ever made it through the holidays in the past and thought that’s it.

This is the last year we live like this. We need a new kitchen, an added guest room, a finished basement, an expanded den before we host another holiday, and then you didn’t actually make those changes happen. Hey there. Welcome back to Mis Mod Remodel. This is the show about updating MCM Homes, helping you match to 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 nine, or in the new system 1009. Okay. Our resource of the week this week is that I want you to check out my free masterclass. You used to have to wait for us to relaunch the ready to remodel program to watch it, but now it and the ready to remodel program are ready when you are.

So go ahead and watch the class now on your own time to get the big picture of what you will think about as you completely plan your remodel after the holidays, and to hear me remind you in more detail than I can in this episode, why it’s important to start your remodel planning, not with a contractor’s phone number or with a fully fleshed out Pinterest board, but by getting fully in touch with how your house does and does not suit your life and what your ideal home would feel like to you. Grab the link to watch the masterclass on your own time and the transcript for this episode at midmod-midwest.com/1009.

All right, so I told you I want you to use this holiday to plan your remodel, and by that I do not mean that you should be pricing finish products while you try to lay out the menu for your next holiday meal. By the way, I’m recording this episode and talking to you now about the holiday season of 2022, but you can use this advice for any out of the ordinary or special occasion time in your life. Hosting a family member or your own wedding, a string of family birthdays, bing, bang, boom with a lot of guests coming over every weekend in a row, or just having friends come and stay for a particularly long time can be the kind of occasion that lets you look at your home with a fresh perspective.

But why we’re talking about this now is that holidays are naturally a pinch point. They’re also an annually repeating event that you can check yourself with on how long it’s been since you first thought we have to make this change in our house and then let life get away with you. So we’re gonna discuss the magic that’s possible, possible when you use the holidays to plan your remodel. This is our chance to work on and create your vision for your overall remodel. In fact, the driving force behind my making this episode today is that I feel like one of the biggest mistakes that gets made planning a remodel any time of the year is to skip over or rush through a crucial phase of planning for success, asking yourself what your home really needs added, subtracted, or adjusted in order to suit the life you wanna leave in it with your family.

This is the make or break factor that determines the difference between remodels that look good, but don’t satisfy you and the ones that really fit your family to a T. I don’t want you to end up living in a house for someone else, so skipping over the fit your house plans to your life stage, aka the dream stage, happens way too often. This is what goes wrong on most remodels in my experience, and it always results in scope creep, so you’re spending more money or in spending more time, energy and money on the wrong things for you. Watch out. Look, I get it, this feels like a fast track. Skip over too much worrying about what you want the house to feel like so you can get right down to the important things like choosing tile, but in the long run, it will cost you.

It doesn’t take that much time, especially when it’s guided, so use the dream phase interspersed with your regular life, like right now as you plan for the holidays, to help you plan your ideal home update well. Making sure you take time for dream is also the best possible way to fit your project to your budget. Yes, I’m gonna tell you to dream big dreams, consider outrageous things, but then figure out what matters to you most. This goes back to the budget and planning episode we had just before the holidays, and that was talking about how important it is to set your whole remodeling scope to know what matters to you most before you figure out what a reasonable budget for that scope of work might be. And it will really help you actually to plan the most efficient use of a big remodeling budget or to make the most use of a micro remodeling budget.

Either way, if you’ve started the process by asking yourself what the home really needs in order to be your ideal home, all the answers you create along the way of the process of planning are gonna be better answers than if you don’t ask yourself why in the beginning.

All right, so I actually want you to fit some of that “why thinking” right into your holiday festivities. While you’re experiencing them or after the fact, keep an open mind to things that could change your house for the better in the next holiday season or through the year in between holidays. You can do this in one of two ways, actually, I’m gonna recommend you do it in both. The first one is use the fresh eyes that you get when you’re preparing to host. Now as you’re preparing to host other people in your home, or even as you’re just preparing to make your house for your normal family a little more festive than just its day-to-day life, you will naturally take a fresh perspective on rooms, objects, and the overall house in a way that’s easier to gloss over or blur your eyes across in daily life.

Now, this isn’t a time when you wanna berate yourself or over anything that’s not exactly how you want it to be. In fact, it’s a great opportunity to keep an open mind and think about what’s rubbing you the wrong way as a useful item and add it to your design to-do list for the future. Your focus right now is just having a good holiday this year, but if something starts to annoy you, and this could be anything from a repetitively hard to clean surface like a countertop that always needs repolishing every time a new guest is scheduled to come over, or the fact that it feels like there’s nowhere to get away and have a little alone time when you have one extra guest in the house and they’re occupying the guest room that you usually use for your morning meditation, make a note.

This is actually a two for one. One, you’re winning future planning thinking for free without having to sit down later and rack your brains and try to consider how this could work. What are the problems you have with your house? They’re not even in your face right now, so you’re not thinking about them, so you’re saving yourself future work. And two, this is a redirect from holiday annoyance to problem solving. Isn’t that a nice added benefit? This can actually reduce holiday stress because every time you identify an issue, you can file it away and know that it’s something you want to address later. I think it really works well on both levels, and I do this myself all the time. Perhaps you’re familiar with the feeling of using a little bit of anxiety of company coming over, whether for dinner or to stay overnight, as a reason to extra clean your house to a standard you haven’t managed in a minute.

By the way, if you don’t find this relatable, then my hat’s off to you. You are a better person and a better housekeeper than I am. I actually love the process of knowing I have to host someone and thinking, oh, that pile of stuff that always sits by the front door, it’s been there for a month. I haven’t touched it, it’s just actually gathering dust. Now I’m gonna make it go away, not for me, although I’ll enjoy that later, but for my guest, you can use the same energy in the holidays, and I’m sure this sounds like something you might do. It’ll help you also see your house in a whole new light. Just knowing that someone else is going to come in and look at your spaces will help you examine the corners, the unfinished projects, all the little things that just didn’t get done in your last burst of DIY energy.

You can see how they lose urgency during the course of the year. And it’s not the time to go in and do those things now, although if you feel the energy to fix a small DIY project with energy from the holidays, more power to you. It’s just the time to make a note. Now, I’m not gonna give you a right answer as to how to capture these thoughts as you’re having them. Other than to say that I want you to choose a method that is easy for you. Jot them down in a notebook, start a fresh Google doc and write them down on your phone. Begin a checklist, put them in your notes app, write them in your journal, or just say them out loud to someone else in your family in a constructive way, not a critical way, so that you both have it in your head for the next time you sit down and really start on a remodel planning process.

You can also use, like I said, that Oh no, people are coming over energy as a motivation to move forward on a couple of small projects and home improvements. And if that works for you, I salute you. Don’t hold back, but if you don’t have time to actually do any of the things that are coming up as you start to prepare for the holidays, that’s okay. Just writing them down is a positive action that will help you feel better about hosting this year and make this time pay for your own future energy in the new year.

All right, that’s part one. Part two of using your holidays to plan your remodel is the post game analysis, the post-host analysis, if you will. This can actually happen while you’re in the middle of hosting. Two, after you’ve hosted or even when you’ve got a packed house, use that same documentation process we just discussed, whatever might be notes, app jotted down lists stuck to the fridge, what have you, to capture your thoughts about how the house is working to either hold extra holiday people or even just to hold extra holiday energy.

Now, a word of warning on this, I highly do not recommend that you think about how full your house feels at the holiday, and then use that as a reason to justify expanding your house physically to fit the maximum number of people who could ever visit or stay with you. This is something I see all the time happen with empty nester parents. They’ll often want to build by or remodel a house in order to fit maybe not even their own current adult children, but any number of future grandchildren all at the same time. I love visiting my parents and having all of us together in their house. I fully support the idea of planning for togetherness, but I urge you not to plan a giant house for the two to four weeks out of the year that you might be hosting everyone when most of the year it will just be two people or a few people living and rattling around in a big empty house.

That’s a recipe for excess and expense. It’s a way to bust your budget, burn out your energy, and it leaves you with just a whole lot of house to keep clean. Instead, my advice in this episode and across the board is always gonna be about finding the right balance of a home you can live in all year round that still works to hold whatever number of guests you personally aspire to during the holiday season and other times of gathering through the year. Now, that number also is very dependent on you, your family, and your preferences. For some that just mean mean expanding the house that’s normally the right size for just two to hold one or two extraneous beloved relatives. For others, it might mean making room for a regular holiday crowd on a Saturday of 70 with 10 extra staying the night. Whatever it means to you. That’s the size we’re planning for, so be reasonable.

I’m not talking about how to make your house hold five times the number by adding on extra space for all of those people to stay in home comfort. I’m talking about making your house feel expandable and flexible In general, I want you to notice challenges, not try to solve problems. I just want you to think about that later, but you might feel a burst of inspiration, which is well worth capturing now. So if you are noticing these things and coming up with great ideas, jot them down, or if you’re chatting them through with your trusted confidant visiting for the holidays, your mom, your sister, your brother-in-law who works in design, your older kids. Take time to brainstorm with them in real time. If that feels fun, how can we in this moment accommodate a crowd and how can we later modify the house in the future to do that job even better?

You might come up with some great ideas on the spot, and so might they so ask around, I just told you to think about problems, not solutions, but here are some examples that might come to mind. One would be, how do you sit down enough people for a holiday meal in a space that’s normally meant to hold just your family without a formal dining room with a, which many mid-century houses lack, and that’s not a problem. Now, this is not where I recommend that you need to build on a separate, enormous dining room, but it might be where you want to think about how your furniture and your built-in elements are open to a little bit of special use flexibility. If you generally eat in the kitchen with a comfortable corner bench and a small family sized dining table pulled up to it, what if the adjacent space is open to the next room so that you could put in more tables or add leaves to the table, grab extra chairs and expand that same eating space to fit instead of four, ten or even just eight?

Could you expand out by having extra tables in adjacent spaces? Remember, the holidays only come once a year, so you don’t need to plan for enough space to sit down 12 every night if you’re only gonna have 12 in your house two nights a year. However, you might wanna think about busting outside the boundaries of the house for hosting a large crowd to sit down. Here in the Midwest, it’s unlikely you’re going to kick your guests outside fully, but could you entice them outside? Could you create a space in your yard for a wonderful bonfire that will actually draw guests voluntarily outta the house? Could a three season room be turned into a three season plus two days over the holiday space with the investment of proper space heating or vents that are used only a few times a year?

When you’re thinking about how to accommodate your overnight guests, there’s a bunch of handy solutions available to a mid-century house. You can think about how to arrange, arrange the furniture in your existing spaces to have bunk beds in your kids’ room. The bedroom that’s typically an office during the year could still have a daybed or a built in sitting quietly all year round that turns into a handy space to put up an unexpected overnight guest. Or the basement. I always recommending finding space for a legal and safe bedroom in a basement in a house that has one that means proper means of egress through the stairs, doors, or an egress window well.

This is maybe not the place where you actually wanna put one member of your day to day household, although basement bedrooms are really fun places for teenagers and even more so for bounce back to the household young adult children to have a private space and for elder relatives who still have good accessibility. It can be a private sort of in-law suite to put a bedroom away from the other bedrooms in the house with access to its own bathroom, but basement bedrooms can be a perfect guest space. Allowing everyone to get up and and go to bed on their own schedules, have a little bit of privacy before easily coming back together.

I will also suggest, this not to make any judgements about your family, but you might also choose on purpose not to expand the number of sleeping places in your house during a remodel. Because hosting guests in your house is not your favorite part of being a host or is even actively something you don’t like. This is what Airbnbs were made for. Have a place for everyone to come over and stay around til drinks o’clock, and then identify several good local Airbnb options where they can toddle on off to their own space at the end of the night and come back after coffee in the morning. Just a thought.

All right. I want you to remember that this is a time of stress, but it’s also a time of positivity and hope. So take all of your holiday energy, all of your creativity, everything that’s going into thinking about the fun mid-century vintage decorations you can bring into your house, and how much fun it is to show off the work you’ve done or even the plans you have for your house to your beloved relatives who are coming over and use all of that energy to think about what your plans are for 2023. In the end, I wanna make sure you also remember that taking the time to do this, planning to do this, what my home means for me, how it’s good for hosting, and how it’s good to be undecorated for the holidays and to be holding just the regular household members really matters will set you up for the best possible remodel and the lowest possible budget, bottom line.

I would love to hear from you about how this process is working for you. If you’ve already had some thoughts pop in your head while you listen to this episode, then immediately please go to Instagram, pop into my dms @midmodmidwest, and tell me what’s in your mind. If more ideas come to you as you’re hosting through the holidays, I would love to hear about them and share them with some of my fellow clients and students. Or you can pop into the mid mod remodel Facebook group where there’s a running chat thread that’s talking about what you have learned from hosting during the holidays or decorating during the holidays. Reconfiguring your home to hold more people inside rather than spreading out to outside as we have to here in the Midwest and in most of the Northern States climates.

I’d love to hear what hosting a holiday is helping you see in your remodel plan this year. Happy holidays and I’ll catch you next week.