Live in your space before remodeling

By Cathy Lee Posted in: Celebrate StyleImprove
January 22, 2017


The new year is a time for new beginnings, new resolutions and sometimes, new spaces. But while it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of a renovation or decorating project, I have an important tip for you: Before you undertake a major overhaul, if at all possible, give yourself time to live in the space first.

Getting to know a space before you transform it will give you a much better result. You realize where the sun comes in, where you spend the most time, how you actually utilize the space. Many people who buy a house immediately start planning the remodel. Later they regret it — they may end up not using a room much, or need far more storage than living space. The time to make those changes is in the planning stage.

This applies as much to a major decorating project. Even if you have already been living in the house, sit in each room and take in the light. How does it feel at night? During the day? You can get paint swatches and samples of flooring, tile and fabric and see how they look in a room at different times of day.



If you cannot live in a space before you start an overhaul, keep in mind that things look very different on a floor plan. Get some blue tape and lay it out on the floor to feel the size of your planned closet or bathroom — and stand in there. Better yet, build up some “walls” with whatever is lying around — I’ve used boxes and ladders to mock up spaces for clients — to get an even better feel for your remodel.

In coming weeks I’ll be going more in-depth about how I applied this to my own home. By the time I started our nearly year-long remodel project, we had already lived in our home for a year, which was the best thing ever. I was able to sit back and understand what changes I really wanted and needed.

So remember, sometimes the best start may actually be a slower one. Happy New Year and happy planning!

Cathy Lee is a home style expert, speaker, president and designer of Cathy Lee Style. Her redesigns of residential and business spaces have been featured in local and national publications and on HGTV. For more info and inspiring photos of design projects, visit And keep up with her photo blog, Homefront.