Five Dumbest Renovation Fads: Are You Guilty?

Just in time for home-improvement season, Money Magazine came up with a list of the five dumbest renovation fads. Anything that compares Paula Abdul to a “dim” home feature deserves a read. “The result [of no fixed lighting] was that as night fell, rooms became as dim as Paula Abdul at a Council on Foreign Relations meeting.” In case you missed it, Paula proves her “Straight Up” dimness during her last Seattle visit.

Adhere to the list unless you want your family and friends to compare your cooking arena to the Iron Chef’s Kitchen Stadium or your garage to a small Costco. Don’t get me wrong, I love the 30-minute battle to concoct a five-course meal with ingredients like lobster or liver (including dessert!) and I love Costco, but I wouldn’t want my home to resemble a big box … unless that means there will be food samples in every room.

Cliffs Notes of the renovation dos and don’ts:

  1. The great room craze: How do you light such a space without it looking like a lobby in a Marriott?
  2. The kitchen stadium: It’s crazy to think that a kitchen longer than 20 feet is easy to use – you’d need Rollerblades to get from one end to the other.
  3. The garage that ate your home: The things that give your house character don’t work on something the size of a small Costco.
  4. Porches in the wrong place: … can make the rooms inside feel like caves.
  5. Built-in lighting: … the end result of such an installation is a pockmarked ceiling that looks like a meeting room at a convention center.

Are you guilty? We’d love to hear about your home-improvement flubs.

Here’s one our Seattle Sweet Digs blogger Marilyn found that failed the Titleist test.

Happy renovating!


  • kristi

    i agree with the first 4 renovation mishaps, but their view on built-in lighting seems to be analyzing most “builder-grade” installations and not the ideal “thought out” solution. lighting is one of the most critical things people should address in their home, and without doing the research or talking to a professional, it’s easy to do the wrong thing.

    recessed lighting can be a very effective solution if you select the right fixture (ie. a small aperture or trim that tucks the lamp completely inside the ceiling plane instead of the typical 6″ recessed can that looks like an illuminating eye protruding from the ceiling).

    i do agree with their “solution” that not all light needs to come from the ceiling. you need overall illumination (overhead, ceiling) and task lighting (lamps, sconces) in a space depending on the functions and amount of light needed for those tasks. for instance the kitchen needs a different light level than the den.

    the easiest thing to help control the light level is to incorporate dimmers on groups of fixtures (the living room cans on a separate switch from the dining room cans, and the the accent lighting separately from the overall illumination fixtures). this way you won’t feel like you’re at a “convention center” as they mentioned.

  • Shaun McLane

    In regards to Kristi’s comment – One of the best tips I learned was to use rope lighting on top of, or under, cabinets. It’s a simple, cheap solution, and adds a very nice touch to a kitchen.