How to Manage the Chaos of Transformation

  • Someday Lesson: When change creates chaos, counter it with a little bit of order.

IntangibleArts on flickr.comWhen it comes to self-development, it’s not just your internal thoughts and emotions that are up for change. Nor just your body either. We are highly influenced by our environments and where we live has a huge effect on us.

For that reason the home renovation business is huge. And having a house you love to come home to is one of many people’s top Somedays. Because houses never stay in perfect condition forever, every homeowner at some point faces the question of renovating their home. Your kitchen may have harvest gold appliances and faux-oak cupboards; your bathroom was built for people under 5’6”; or you have to dress in the hallway because your master bedroom holds your bed and nothing else.

When faced with these challenges, people ask themselves two questions: Do I sell? Or do I renovate? If you like your neighborhood, and have a strong attachment to your home, you are likely going to answer “Renovate.”

Then the questions start flooding in. To what extent will I be renovating? Will it be a new addition? Is there demolition involved? Do I get a designer? Can I do the work myself? Can my relationship stand the stress? How do I get a contractor I trust? What about permits, and demolition debris removal?

It’s enough to stop many people from ever considering renovating. Maybe just a new coat of paint will be enough!

If you have an older home, starting to renovate one area, often leads to changes in another, then another and soon the whole house is torn up and your initial four week little bathroom reno becomes a six month whole-home gutting.

As with most projects, the keys to a successful renovation are planning, preparation and monitoring. By knowing what you want to do, knowing who you want to do and what your budget is, you already minimize the potential for disaster. In creating clear limits, expectations and desired outcomes, you stop the project from taking over your home and your life. And by monitoring the progress and maintaining as normal a life as possible throughout the project, you keep project-fatigue at bay and lower stress levels for everyone involved.

For me the biggest challenge isn’t picking the architect or contractor, nor doing the work yourself and wondering if you’re getting it right. No, the biggest challenge is surviving the chaos a renovation creates.

I grew up in a home under constant renovation and my parents taught me how to survive the chaos – by not letting the chaos reign.

That’s right. The trick to living in chaos is to not live in chaos. While that may sound like a contradiction, it actually makes sense. When the big picture is chaotic, keep the day to day details of life as organized as possible.

Also pamper yourself. A renovation is chaotic by nature, and it’s all about change – something most people tend not to cope with well. If you feel your stress levels rising, remove yourself from the home for a bit. Go out for dinner or spend some time at the gym.

If your stress levels are rising, however, because of problems with the contractor or designer/architect, raise the issue as quickly as possible. If you have gone through the planning process, you should have a comfortable enough relationship with the contractor and planning professional that you should be able to raise concerns without tempers flaring or miscommunication occurring.

To minimize stress, stay out of the construction area except during planned meetings. Don’t be a micromanager – that’s why you’ve hired a professional!

Other ways to create comfort for yourself including making sure the rest of the home stays as normal and as organized as possible. For example, if your living room is being renovated, collapse the dining room table and set up the living room in the dining room. It’s unlikely you’ll be entertaining much during the process, so why have the dining room?

And this advice doesn’t just apply to physical renovation projects. Any big change in your life will create chaos of some sort or other during the transition. Apply the same rules for home renovation to whatever Someday you’re working on and you’ve find the chaos becomes quite ordered and ultimately manageable.

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7 thoughts on “How to Manage the Chaos of Transformation

  1. Iain Broome says:

    It’s our dream to one day build our own house or renevate an old barn/church/castle (!), although I think we may be some way off yet. Of course, as a writer, by far the most planning will have to go into the design of my wonderful new office/library!

    Ah, dreams. Someday.
    .-= Iain Broome´s last blog ..Introducing the ATM for books! =-.

  2. Wow, Alex, once again you have addressed a subject that affects me directly. Since we are no longer homeowners, we don’t have to deal with the stress of major repairs and renovations, but we’ve avoided even painting our apartment, just because we don’t want to deal with the chaos of having everything out of place. I know it’s time to get past that, though, so I’ll definitely be referring back to this post for motivation.
    .-= Janet Barclay´s last blog ..News You Might Have Missed =-.

  3. Am going through so much chaos at the moment – mostly with a new job and new apartment, so this was extremely helpful (as are all Someday Syndrome posts). How did you know this is just what I needed?
    .-= Laura – The Journal of Cultural Conversation´s last blog ..Nurture Born Killer =-.

  4. steph says:

    Hey Alex,

    Long time, I know. I saw this post and right away I thought, this is for me. I’m not doing a home reno of any kind (unfortunately, because that would be sooo exciting to me, even after reading all the stories in Can. House & Home about the gory details!), but as you said, this can apply to anything in your life, be it emotional or mental or physical, etc. I’m in a stuck position and I think it’s because I’m in a state of chaos mentally and emotionally. It’s leading to physical chaos and I am finding out that addressing the physical first isn’t really working, while at the same time, I’m balking like a frightened and very stubborn horse from trying any self-help techniques. I just can’t make myself move forward or do what I feel I should. I guess I need to find a way to step back and organize my steps as well as calm myself and find the right head space.
    .-= steph´s last blog ..We Are Live! =-.

  5. […] How to Manage the Chaos of Transformation, Alex Fayle explains that Renovating the soul has more in common with renovating the home than you […]

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  7. Alex Fayle says:

    What a wonderful dream! When I used to want to live in Scotland I imagined living in a castle. Now my dream is a stone house here in Spain, all done up with warm wood and comfy furniture.

    I’m the same way with my apartment – after so many years constantly renovating I’ve taken a big break on even decorating. The pendulum swings back and forth until it finds the middle point…

    It’s because I read your mind 😉 – Actually it’s because September is typical time of change for people, but glad I could help you directly!

    Welcome back! I hear you on resisting the self-help techniques. I compare it to a baby fighting falling asleep – it knows sleep is good, but won’t go down easily (or at all) until all possible options of battle are exhausted (literally) and then sleep comes easily like there was never a battle.

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