The Architect's Blog

Renovations and Relationships: Mark Grisafe Offer’s an Architect’s Perspective for Article

In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, I wanted to share with you a recent article that I was able to contribute my thoughts to. It was featured on the popular real estate site,, and it’s all about home renovations and marital relationships. The article, written by Senior Editor Rachel Stults, is titled, “Until DIY Do Us Part: 6 Home Renovations That Can Tear Apart Marriages” and it highlights some of the specific remodeling projects that bring about the most strife between married homeowners.

One of the things I never expected when I went into the architecture field is that I would also have to become somewhat of a relationship expert! Because, apparently, a home remodel is one of the most stressful things you can do in a marriage. As the article states, “12% of couples consider divorce during home renovations.” In my years as an architect in Long Beach, I’ve definitely seen my share of heated exchanges over renovation decisions!

However, since I’ve been doing this for a while now, I know some of the common arguments couples face when it comes to a home renovation, and have come up with a few ways to keep them from becoming major issues between husbands and wives.

One of the points of contention I mentioned to the article’s author is the finishes involved in a remodel. Finishes are very taste specific, and opinions about them can vary quite dramatically between spouses. One spouse might want hardwood floors throughout the entire house, while the other thinks every bedroom should have carpeting. There can be differing opinions (and ensuing fights) on any number of finishes from cabinets to lighting to countertops.

Because I know choosing finishes can be an issue between spouses, one of the things we make sure to do at our Long Beach architecture firm is bring in an interior design consultant early on in the process.  By doing this, we get some of the decisions made before the stress of a remodel has a chance to add fuel to the fire. This definitely helps the entire process to move forward more smoothly, and keeps some of the arguing at bay.

Another important issue that I made sure to mention for the article, and one that can bring about significant marital strife during a residential remodel, is when one spouse is more budget conscious than the other. As I said in the article, “The person in the relationship who pushes for the inexpensive contractor—or the one who wants to do his unemployed buddy ‘a solid’ by hiring him to do the work—usually ends up being the recipient of periodic and ongoing (negative) comments,” especially when things start to go wrong or fall behind schedule.

At M. Grisafe Architect, we are all about staying on budget and doing things in the most cost-effective way possible, but we never want homeowners to sacrifice quality for the sake of saving a few bucks. Hiring an inexpensive contractor is rarely worth the money saved, which is why our architecture firm has put together a short list of general contractors who we recommend to our Long Beach clients, all of whom are experienced, honest, and deliver projects on time and on budget. Of course, you can always go with your own contractor, but make sure that the low price he has quoted you isn’t the only thing he has going for him.

A third relationship-stressing home renovation project that I mentioned in the article—and the one I find the most fascinating—has to do with master bathrooms. More specifically, where the toilet is positioned within the master bathroom. It usually isn’t until a couple begins a project that involves a master bathroom renovation that they realize they have very different (often strong) opinions about their master bathroom’s toilet.

One half of the couple will want the toilet in it’s own compartment, complete with a lockable door, while the other half will say something like, “What do I have to hide?” The latter won’t want to incur the extra expense involved with building a separate room just for the toilet, and an argument usually ensues. Like with decisions about finishes, this is a topic we like to bring up early in the architectural design process at M. Grisafe Architect, so we can get a decision made in the beginning, and then move on to more pivotal aspects of the home’s design.

I want to thank and the article’s author, Rachel Stults, for allowing me to offer my thoughts on this important topic of marital relationships and home renovations. At M. Grisafe Architect, we aren’t marriage counselors by any means, but we have picked up a few tricks along the way to help couples navigate the home renovation process so they can end up with both the finished product they had dreamed of, and a marriage that is still intact!

If you’re ready to get started on a home renovation project of your own, contact our Long Beach architecture firm today!

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