...because home doesn't happen overnight.

From a renovation standpoint, we aren’t completely finished with this house. We have another bathroom to tackle. The garage is a mess. We’d love to do more outside: new driveway, more landscaping, a small kitchen garden, new garage door and mailbox upgrade. Among other things. But the light at the end of the tunnel is getting a little closer and brighter every day. It feels good.

Still, we can’t help thinking about the things we would have done differently knowing what we know now. Fortunately, there aren’t too many things we would change if we had the chance to do it all over. Can you guess our biggest renovation regret?

dining tile 1

It has something to do with this room.

Any ideas?

Give up?

Okay. I’ll tell you.

We wish we would have installed radiant floor heating under the tile in the mudroom / dining room / laundry room.

At the time, we were feeling the pressure to finish things up so we could move out of our interim apartment and into the house before our third baby was born. We seriously considered installing an electric radiant floor heating system in this room but, in our haste, decided against it. HUGE REGRET.

We didn’t move into the house until baby #3 was two months old so taking the extra time to install this upgrade wouldn’t have been that big of a deal in the whole scheme of things. If you’ve ever survived a full-on renovation, you are probably familiar with the pressure to get things done in a timely manner. Every added project pushes subsequent projects out on the already lengthened schedule. Sometimes you make decisions in the heat of the moment that aren’t the best decisions long-term. Choosing to forego radiant heating in the mudroom was one of those decisions for us.

dining tile 2

The wall on the left is a cinder block wall. On the other side of it is the original garage. It’s one of the few walls we didn’t insulate during renovation. Thus, on cold days the tile in here is frigid. Seeing as how this winter is one that will go down in history (crazy cold, tons of snow), we are realizing the consequences of our hasty renovation decision for sure. Our piggies are freezing whenever we step (bare)foot in this room!

I guess if you want to look on the bright side, the cool tile feels refreshing in the summer?

space heater

We’ve resorted to using a small space heater in the room when we spend longer periods of time eating meals or playing board games at the table. It’s actually a very affordable, effective lil’ heater with many nice features (remote control, programmable thermostat, timer, oscillation, small footprint, overheat protection, etc.) and if you’re in the market for one, we’d highly recommend it. It’s quiet and heats the room quickly and evenly. But, of course, radiant heating would have been the better solution here.

Yeah, we’re kicking ourselves.

dining tile 3

One thing we don’t regret is the tile floor. From a design standpoint, I was on the fence about using tile in this room. We have engineered hardwood throughout the rest of the house and I was afraid that having a tiled room (besides the bathrooms) would look out of place or feel less cohesive. But I can’t imagine having anything else.

We normally enter / exit through this room and it’s a dumping ground for shoes, coats and bags. It sees the bulk of dirt, mud and snow that our house is privy to. The travertine is the perfect “dirt” color and super easy to clean. The light gray grout still looks new two years later. No regrets there.

Keepin’ it real so you can fully appreciate how hard this tile works…

mudroom tile

…complete with tennis shoes, un-hung coats, un-zipped backpacks, laundry in-progress and library books stacked in the laundry nook waiting to be returned. #lifewithkids

dining tile 4

So there you go. Our biggest renovation regret. Maybe you can learn from our mistake. We have. Next time (ha!), we’ll install radiant floor heating. Or we’ll move to New Zealand.

What is your #1 renovation or home improvement regret?

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

52 Comments

10.February.2014

We’ve been toying with installing radiant floor heating when we tear out the bathroom in the Dream House. It seems like a big expense and maybe quite a splurge, but hearing your regret makes me think that it would be worth it. If only to avoid having regrets later!

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replied on February 10th, 2014

Luckily, our bathrooms have heating ducts that run through the slab so when the heat is on it feels like we have underfloor heating! If you’re in a climate that experiences a cold season and your bathroom tends to run cold during said season, I would seriously consider radiant heating.

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10.February.2014

It’s so hard to know if you want some things until you actually live in the space for a while! Oh well! I have no renovation regrets, because we have never renovated! ;) BUT, I will say as we finish our 13th year of medical training/renting, I do know a few must haves if we ever build/renovate!

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10.February.2014

I’m sure you have already answered this before but where did that light fixture come from? I love it!

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10.February.2014

will you sell when you have finished all the projects in this house or is this the house that you will raise your kids in?

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replied on February 10th, 2014

We have no plans to sell this house at the moment. We’ve never considered it our dream home or our forever home. It’s always been a personal goal to be mortgage-free (completely debt-free) by the time we’re 40. This affordable fixer-upper is a means to that end. We’re set to pay it off in less than 3 years. After that? Honestly, we don’t know. A lot of it depends on my husband’s job which has relocation opportunities. As long as his job in this area though, I don’t see us selling anytime soon. It would be nice to enjoy a finished home for a while and just live in it!

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replied on February 10th, 2014

i think it’s an amazing idea to be debt free by the time yuo’re 40. i love your home just the way it is. i could be happy there with just me and the hubs. we currently have what you had before the underdog. i’d love a 1-floor open floor plan ranch. as you get older – who needs to be trucking up and down stairs. think it’s a smart plan and see where the wind blows in a few years with hubs job.

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10.February.2014

“Sometimes you make decisions in the heat of the moment….” Seems to be a painful pun here about a decision made in heat that led to absence of heat? (Sorry!) Anyway, is there a chance that insulating the wall adjoining the garage, from the garage side so you don’t disrupt a finished wall inside the house, might warm things up enough to make it worth trying?

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replied on February 10th, 2014

Maybe!

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10.February.2014

We put a heated floor in our recently renoed bathroom. It’s amazing and we’ve agreed that we will no longer go without in any other bathroom/tiled area, if we can help it. One regret we have, is not taking the time to plan our overhead lighting in our main family room downstairs. We just stuck pot lights in, spaced them evenly and left them. Stupid, stupid.

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10.February.2014

We put radiant floor heating in our bathroom and it was the best decision ever. My husband has remarked multiple times about how he wishes we’d done it in our kitchen, but the square footage for the tile floor in the kitchen would have made it too impractical (plus electrical issues in the kitchen).

Plus, our cats LOVE the heated bathroom floor. In cold weather like we’ve been having, they just sack out on the bathmat on top of the heated marble.

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10.February.2014

That we didn’t change the entry into the kitchen/dining room when we were originally knocking out walls and windows. Now it’s lost in the list of ongoing updates instead of feeling “finished”. Someday we’ll turn that window into french doors and floor over the current ridiculous inside stairs.

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10.February.2014

I’m sure you’ve mentioned this before, but can you remind me where you got that rug? It’s beautiful, and works so well with the tile! We’re renovating a basement room, and it has a tile floor. I’d love a similar rug in our room!

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replied on February 10th, 2014

Etsy! Try searching “afghan kilim” or “afghan rug”.

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replied on February 11th, 2014

Beware :) Dana suggested the same to me (to search etsy) for a little kilim pillow and I wound up with a $500 rug instead. WHOOPS!!

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replied on February 11th, 2014

Sorry? ;)

10.February.2014

Thanks for the great advice, i was on the fence about installing RH – you have convinced me for good! Thanks again!

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10.February.2014

We’re building our home right now and I’m trying very hard to minimize any future regrets! Thanks for the post to remind me to think every decision through with the long-term in mind.

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10.February.2014

How do you like your new house numbers? Also, I’ve been wondering if you moved your patio furniture and grill inside to avoid the ice and snow, or covered it in place?

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replied on February 10th, 2014

No room to move any large pieces inside. I did launder the outdoor sectional cushion covers, seal them in plastic bags and stash them in the attic in the fall. The outdoor cushions are in the attic as well. The outdoor sectional base, coffee table, dining table, dining chairs and grill are covered and we placed them against the back of the house under the overhang. Maybe I will take a picture to share.

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10.February.2014

Thanks for this post! We are looking for woven shades in our dining/living rooms and I love yours! Where are they from?

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replied on February 10th, 2014

Overstock! Ours are the “petite rustique” style but they tons of different options.

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10.February.2014

The only tile we have left in the house is in the bathrooms – not terribly enjoyable in the middle of a (winter) night. We replaced lots of tile with wood downstairs – and although I love the look of the wood I had NO idea how much easier tile was to maintain. Still so smart of you for laying tile in the room!

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We’re planning to replace the flooring on our open concept main floor and will be installing in-floor heat. The main floor sits on top of a basement crawl space, which we had insulated when we moved in, but the main floor still always feels cold on the feet (and it’s amazing how that chills the whole body!). We’ve gone back and forth over whether it will be worth the extra cost, time and inconvenience, but your post is a nice reminder to really think long-term (seems obvious, but when you’re planning a renovation it’s always tempting to go with the quicker, easier, cheaper option).

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10.February.2014

I have the same space heater and it is MAGIC. Best space heater I’ve ever had. I back the recommendation :)

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replied on February 10th, 2014

As far as space heaters go, it’s great isn’t it?!

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10.February.2014

Great post! I’m glad you’re able to look at the situation and let us know what didn’t work out 100% perfect.

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10.February.2014

We have the same regret! We just (as in, 2 weeks ago) finished a bathroom renovation. Our budget and an existing subfloor/toilet/tub spacing issue ruled out the idea of a heated floor. But… it’s REALLY cold in there now. (We had hardwood in the bathroom before… horrible to maintain but warm at least…). My daughter won’t even go into the bathroom unless she has “socks and slippers” and makes me carry her to the tub. Guess we’ll hold off on potty training until the warmer months…
However, our tiles are beautiful, like yours, and I’m hoping we’ll appreciate their coolness in the summer months.

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10.February.2014

My biggest regret with our home was not installing more potlights in the kitchen. At $200 a piece through the builder, we limited ourselves to four plus two pendant lights. The amount of lighting we have is functional, but we could stand to have a few more. I think when we (eventually) install under cabinet lighting, I may (hopefully) feel differently! It was definitely a moment of being a total cheapy that I regret.

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10.February.2014

Do you have a crawl-space or is your house built on a slab? With a crawl-space, installing radiant heating is absolutely still an option! We had a house with tile throughout most of the main floor. We couldn’t afford to install a heating system up-front, but planned to go back and install it simply by going under the house and installing it between the floor joists. It’s certainly worth looking into…

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replied on February 10th, 2014

Nope. We’re on a slab.

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10.February.2014

We nearly remodeled our master bath before moving into our current home. We decided to wait, mainly because I was afraid of making a decision we would later regret. Now, after using the bathroom for more than a year, I would design and build out the space completely differently than if I had done it right away. Radiant heating is something we would have passed on (for time, like you) — but now that we’ve waited it will be a must-have!

PS love your willingness to show the kid shrapnel in you our mud room.

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10.February.2014

I remodeled my bathroom this summer, and hemmed and hawed about whether to put radiant heat in under the marble hex tile. Finally the decision was made to go ahead with it, and WOW, am I glad. Best investment I’ve ever made. I say this not to rub it in, Dana, but to encourage anyone else considering it to go ahead. It’s absolutely worth it. :)

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10.February.2014

You’d love it here in New Zealand. I faithfully read your blog & think the transformation of your house been amazing. I especially like the cathedral ceiling in your living room and the spacious feeling it gives the room. I am also a fan of keeping things a bit on the smaller side. We have chosen to do that when we renovated about 10 years ago & know with our 3 children on the verge of leaving home, we can afford to stay put rather than downsizing. In fact it’s proving a bit difficult to get them to leave. Thank you for all the enjoyment you have given me following your progress.

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10.February.2014

We made the same mistake on our recent master bath reno. And we live in Mississippi! Our bathroom has exterior walls on 3 sides, so I guess that explains why it’s cold. We also put in a space heater, which helps, but I still wish we’d sprung the extra couple thousand for the heated floor. Bat we do have a towel warmer, which helps make it somewhat bearable!

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10.February.2014

OMG- I just had that same discussion with my husband this weekend! we installed tile plank in our house (whole bottom floor) this past summer. The cool tile is awesome for those hot hot hot austin summers but it has been terrible this winter. I had one of those space heaters like you got but it wasn’t enough so got another brand from amazon that works much better- it heats up the tile not just the air.

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10.February.2014

Hello. Just curious if you ever consider built in’s around that window. It seems that you would gain a bit of storage space, and with a storage bench/window seat, it would be very clean lined. It would be interesting to know how you came to the stand alone closet/bench conclusion, which also looks nice.

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replied on February 10th, 2014

Freestanding pieces (versus built-ins) are just our preference in this mid century home.

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10.February.2014

We are (relatively) close to tiling our laundry room, and I’ve been considering radiant heating. While we don’t hang out in there, it is where we enter and exit the house and is the coldest room by far. Thanks for the nudge to look into this more!

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10.February.2014

Here’s a good solution to your radiant heat miss: http://www.zappos.com/minnetonka-cally-slipper-grey-brown-white

I have these and they are awesome! Keep your “piggies” nice and toasty :)

Love your blog! Thanks!

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11.February.2014

We. too, did not install radiant floor heating in our bathrooms as many have recommended simply due to cost. They would be lovely, but not my biggest regret! Biggest regret is installing a tank-less water heater. I believe that 5 years ago we simply did not hire the right person for the job and have struggled with it ever since. Extremely expensive upfront, we have to run the water for what seems like forever to get the hot water to kick in. We didn’t need to do it for space reasons, just thought it would make sense for energy efficiency. Not finding that to be the case, and VERY pricey to have a service call. May be replacing it when funds allow—grrrr….

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replied on February 11th, 2014

Interesting! We considered a tankless water heater due to restricted space but opted out. We’ve been wondering if it was the right decision.

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12.February.2014

Related to this, we bought a Suntouch radiant heat mat for the bathroom, but forgot to install the thermostat wire when tiling, so we can’t use it! It ends up, the tile floor isn’t that cold here in CA, so it’s not my biggest regret (but learn from our mistake!) My biggest regret is not having the butcher block counters refinished in the kitchen before moving in, when we were having the floors redone. It would have been very reasonable in terms of price, and the prospect of the dust and disruption now that we are moved in has meant that this is one project we just don’t seem to want to tackle.

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[…] Dana just posted about how not adding heated floors to the tile in her “everything” room was one of their biggest regrets–and I definitely cringed. We hope we don’t end up feeling the same way, but our confidence is coming from the fact that we currently have a lot of tile and it is the dead of winter and the tile is pretty warm.  This Saturday, we have a crew coming to help move all our furniture downstairs and the demo will begin. We’re a little behind schedule, but not laying the heated flooring system actually shaves quite a bit of time off our time table anyway–so fingers crossed, we’ll still have it all done by the end of March. Even still, we decided laying flooring in the nursery’s direction first was probably the best way to go just in case. […]

12.February.2014

My bathroom (rental) is not heated at all so it makes showering in the winter extremely painful. This morning my floor was so cold that my feet hurt when I was trying to do the bend-over-the-tub-and-wash-my-hair thing and my thoughts shot right to this post. I have made a mental not to make sure that I instal heated flooring if I’m ever fortunate enough to do a renovation.

Thank you for sharing your regrets. It always helps when bloggers share what they would do differently if they were to do it all again.

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12.February.2014

So wish we would have done the radiant floor heating in our kitchen before we tiled the floors. In all actuality I wish we would have not done tile in our kitchen, rather have kept the original wood floors, but at the time we didn’t know how to get all the goo off. The realities of renovations and time lines….

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13.February.2014

i have the SAME regret for our master bathroom! we had it gutted right after we moved in even though it wasn’t supposed to be our irst project– fate had other plans when the shower starting leaking through the kitchen ceiling below a week after we moved! we knew we would eventually redo it anyway, so instead of just redoing the shower, we did the whole thing. at the time, i thought a heated floor seemed too extravagant since we HAD just moved and it felt like we were hemorrhaging money. i am seriously kicking myself now. how i would love to step out of the shower onto a warm floor! i think we will splurge for it when we gut our girls’ bathroom sometime in the next year or so… and i will be JEALOUS!

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15.February.2014

I know you are a real DIYer, would you have done the radiat floor yourself? We are trying to figure out if we should attempt it.

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replied on February 16th, 2014

Yes, we would have done it ourselves – or at least attempted it.

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23.February.2014

HI!!!
loved the post, love all of your work.
BUT New Zealand acutally has seasons and winters and does get very cold. So moving there wont solve your heating problem.
<3
Beth

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07.July.2014

Would love to hear how your travertine floors are holding up! We’re strongly considering them our DC 1920s bungalow kitchen, and I see such mixed reviews about durability, slipperiness, etc. Thanks!

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replied on July 7th, 2014

The travertine is holding up well! It looks the same as the day we installed it and seeing as how the mudroom is our main entry / exit on a regular basis, that means a lot. It is slippery when wet. In the winter I usually keep an old towel by the back door to catch muddy and wet shoes so that really helps to avoid falls. I find the towel is much easier to throw in the wash than a rug. It doesn’t necessarily look pretty but it works.

My favorite thing about the honed travertine is how easy it is to clean. I sweep up loose dirt and rocks with a broom and if things are especially dirty I’ll wipe it down with a wet microfiber cloth.

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