What is the Real Difference Between Remodeling and Renovating?

If you’re planning a major overhaul of your home, you may be unsure about what to call it. Is it a renovation? Is it a remodel? Aren’t they the same? Though the two terms are sometimes used interchangeably, they actually are two separate things, depending on how deep into your house’s structure your changes go. A remodel means you’re changing the actual structure of your home, while a renovation is making surface changes while keeping basic structure intact. While it’s possible to overlap these a bit, these two general definitions should cover the bases nicely.

Now, if you’re not the DIY type, or even if you are but just need to hire another set of hands, you can get a general handyman to help you with most renovation projects. However, unless you’re really experienced and confident in your skills, we wouldn’t recommend trying to complete a remodel yourself. Once you start tearing down walls or cutting windows, you can easily make a mistake that will cost you thousands of dollars to fix. Best to hire a small company or team of professionals to handle it for you.

These differences in labor and depth of work should give you some concept of cost disparity between renovations and remodels. Renovations can often be completed on a budget, while remodels are going to cost you a little more money. This is especially true if you are adding something to your home that will require a permit, which is sometimes an unexpected extra $1,000. Also, if you got an estimate from your contractor, make sure you have some extra set aside, not only for if you go over budget, but also for extras like appliances, flooring, paint – all kinds of little things that contractors may not have factored into their price. So if you don’t have the big bucks, a renovation may be more your speed. However, if you have the cash, a remodel can really transform your home in a significant way.

Why No Staircase is Complete Without a Banister

When modern architecture came in fashion, a lot of decorative elements of homes fell by the wayside. One of these was banisters, which at their base-level are handrails for your stairs. They’re finally experiencing a comeback, which we we are so excited about because while they may seem simple, this diverse little bit of built-in furniture can really add style and flair to almost any home-type.

From curved to blocky, wood to wires, a banister can change your staircase from a utilitarian element to a thing of beauty. Updating your banister can be costly, however, depending on the materials you want to use. If you’re going for a classic wood look, it should only run you between $700-$2,500. While wood banisters look beautiful and even regal, you can instantly make a staircase a more modern piece by using metal, wires, or even hanging your banister from the ceiling!

However, if you do decide to update or install a banister, make sure that it’s done to code. The requirements vary depending on where you live, but they typically have to be between 30-38 inches, the hand grips have to be consistent so people who need to grasp them can do so continuously up the stairs, and they’ll also have to support a certain amount of weight (usually around 200lbs). There’s also certain requirements for how far apart the bulstrodes have to placed. That being said, if you can navigate all the red tape, banisters have the potential to completely transform the look of your home and the impression it gives to visitors.

How to Make Your Home Smell Amazing

Smell is often one of our most overlooked senses; because we rely on our eyesight and sense of touch so much, scent can easily get brushed aside. However, different smells have the ability to transport us, to change how we feel about a space immediately, and to make us recall crystal-clear memories within seconds of inhaling. The power of scent is so strong that ancient civilizations like the Egyptians and the Romans used to use essential oils both for pleasure (like in baths and in their hair) and in spiritual rituals.

These days, we’re a lot more relaxed about our scent use, but some experts still believe that essential oils can do amazing things, like aid in the healing process or help muscle relaxation. Luckily, there have been a ton of cool technological innovations that allow essential oils to permeate the air in your home, so it always smells (and feels) relaxing! One fairly low-tech method is a reed diffuser, which uses these delicate sticks to help the oils evaporate. They also look really interesting and add a natural element to a bookcase or shelf.

Source: Young Living

If you’d like something less earthy looking, there are candles and heating diffusers, which both melt scented wax, releasing the scent into the air along with the smoke from the wick, for candles. One of the more fun innovations to pop up in recent years is the ultrasonic diffuser, which looks like a modern sculpture or vase and releases water vapor as well as delightful smells – bonus! And for an extra buck (or several), you can purchase a “smart” diffuser which can be controlled by an app in your phone, allowing you to turn it on right before you get home, so your house instantly smells like an oasis! Sign us up for that one!

The Do’s and Don’t’s of Home Rennovation

If you’re looking to renovate your home anytime soon, good luck and Godspeed. It can be a challenging and trying process, and while good results are definitely worth it, disastrous home renovations have broken many people. Check out our list of Dos and Don’ts so you don’t make a major misstep.

Do make a decorating file, keep a notebook, or have a pinterest full of ideas. Plan, visualize, and plot it out to make sure all your choices will work well together in the final product.

Don’t paint first. Paint covers all manner of small mistakes, and should be done dead last.

Do interview your contractor, as thoroughly as you would a new babysitter. Your home is in their hands, after all.


Don’t just throw up your hands and not clean. Just because one room of your house is torn up does not mean that you want to leave the others a mess. Trust us, it’ll make you feel better.

Do know that all renovations go over budget and over schedule. Plan ahead and don’t freak out when things get a little more expensive or take too long.


Don’t leave floors exposed. Cover all your floors during a renovation, because even without any accidents, the sheer volume of people coming in and out of your home will ruin your carpets.

Do map out where furniture is going to go with butcher paper and tape, so you know everything fits and you don’t spend the first two weeks rearranging everything.

Don’t forget to breathe. Something will go wrong. Accept it, and plan for it, even if that plan is simply reminding yourself not to freak out.

Do learn the lingo. Being able to understand what your decorator and contractor are talking about immediately is going to be super helpful.

Don’t throw out receipts. Seriously, keep everything. You may not find a problem until much later, at which point having a receipt will be crucial to getting it fixed.

Do have fun! This one is self-explanatory. Enjoy the process and enjoy your new home!

Martha Stewart’s Suggestions To Make Your Home Feel Less Cluttered

Some of us really struggle with keeping things in their place and having neat, organized homes, even though we’ve grown out of that teenager-throw-everything-everywhere phase (okay, okay, maybe we’re trying to grow out of that phase still). However, even if you have a place for everything – and everything in it’s place – sometimes a home can still feel cluttered, even though it isn’t. Well, the indomitable Martha Stewart has 5 easy solutions to this problem, and used together, they will instantly make your home appear clean, styled, and organized.

Source: Pinterest
  1. Stop using so much open storage. Bookshelves, movie shelves, free-floating shelves… if they’re all lined up next to each other, what was supposed to be a functional accent starts to look like a lot of junk. Instead, put those items that don’t bring personality or style to your home in some cute woven baskets, which do!
  2. Put items you want out, like candles, magazines, or plants, in defined and deliberate places. Have a decorate bowl for your keys or a tray to hold the remotes and a cute succulent, anything that insinuates to the casual eye that this is exactly where you want these items.

    Source: Martha Stewart
  3. Open those windows up! When your home gets more natural light, it always appears bigger, and that can trick the eye into thinking it’s less cluttered. Swap those dark patterned curtains for some breezy white ones and the space will instantly feel more open and cleaner.
  4. Hide those wires and messy outlets! This one is a given, and there are so many products on the market now that camouflage or completely mask the mess of cords and wires that come with modern living. If you don’t feel like purchasing something so frivolous, however, no need – simply use some well-placed tape and hide the tangle behind furniture.

    Source: The Kitchn
  5. Finally – and you knew this was coming – get rid of some stuff. Doesn’t matter what, simply periodically donating anything you don’t use will make your house (and you, for that matter) feel lighter and more refreshed. Think of it as anti-retail therapy!