The first time I laid eyes on the old, modest-sized white house, I was not impressed. A tour of the inside made my impression go from bad to worse. The two-minute (or was it less?) tour featured outdated bathroom fixtures, a humble kitchen, century-old wallpaper and grungy carpet. At least the house’s inside matched its outside!

When my husband, a home renovation expert, expressed interest in the house, I vowed, "I will never live in such an ugly house!" But his vision for what the place could be convinced me otherwise.

Four completely transformed houses later, we’re living through a fifth ugly-frog renovation. While waiting for our house to be renovated into a Prince-Charming-like finished state, our family has taken "vows" to help us endure the renovation process. Repeatedly living through the financial and emotional strain associated with renovating, we have learned the importance of making our family life a priority over the finished product. These vows help us stay family-focused and minimize stress.

If you’re about to commit to a home renovation, whether big or small, consider these vows before beginning, or even create your own. Prayerfully contemplate the impact a home renovation will have on your family, seeking your heavenly Father’s guidance and asking for input from those you love. Your family will be sure to benefit from these vows during your season of renovation chaos!

We vow to stay on budget

Make sure you plan a renovation that is within your financial means – and stick to it! If you don’t have the money for hardwood floors, settle for a nice laminate. If you can’t afford the finest porcelain tile from Italy, the ceramic tile on sale at your local home-improvement store will do. The last thing you want to do is add undue financial stress to your family. Having the "best" is not worth needing a second (or third or fourth) job to pay for the upgrades or depleting your children’s college fund for luxuries you don’t really need.

We vow to keep one room a sanctuary

Life can feel like it’s out of control when your house is in upheaval, even if it is for a good cause. Having one neat and organized room in your home to flee to can help maintain your family’s sanity. You need a room you can relax in without requiring a crane to remove drywall debris from furniture and where you can read without having to organize a search party to locate your favourite book. This room will make a world of difference in your family’s ability to cope with the well-intentioned chaos around you.

We vow to take retreats from our project

You will need a break from the disorder and stress that go hand-in-hand with renovating. Retreats can be as simple as going to Grandma and Grandpa’s for supper or as extravagant as staying at a hotel for a week. Planning your renovation during a warm season makes escapes even easier. Try swimming at a nearby lake or camping for a weekend. Friends of ours planned an addition during the summer months so they could live at their trailer part-time. Other wise friends went on vacation for two weeks while someone else (my husband) completely renovated their kitchen.

We vow to keep our eyes on the finished product

No renovation is easy, but reminding yourself how much you’ll enjoy the finished product makes the inconvenience more bearable. Say to yourselves, "Okay, we have to do the dishes in the bathtub for now, but in a couple weeks (or so), we are going to absolutely love cooking and entertaining in our new kitchen." As you near the end, plan a party to celebrate the completion of your renovation project. Sharing the fruits of your labour with family and friends will make the sacrifices worthwhile.

We vow to trust God when plans change

Even the best-planned renovations experience hiccups, ranging from minor irritations (a wrong-size patio door) to major delays (a held-up building permit). Whatever the trouble, God promises to help us through life’s difficulties. Trusting God to be your refuge and strength brings much-needed peace in the midst of the unexpected.

I thoroughly enjoy seeing my husband transform unsightly, awkward houses into attractive, functional homes. It parallels the "makeover" God gives us when we become His children, tearing down our sinful state and building us up for good works. Home renovations are useful for the comfort of our family, but their importance fades in comparison to our family’s spiritual "project" of becoming more like Christ.

Sandy Youmans lives with her husband and two young children in Inglewood, Ontario, where, at the time of publication, she was also a teacher, researcher and freelance writer.

© 2008 Focus on the Family (Canada) Association. All rights reserved.  

If you liked this article and would like to go deeper, we have some helpful resources below.

Our recommended resources

Join our newsletter

Advice for every stage of life delivered straight to your inbox