Home renovation projects surge as more people work, stay at home

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Home repairs and renovations are booming right now as people spend more time inside, but the high demand is creating new challenges for people looking to fix up their spaces.

Many of us are spending more time inside our homes than ever before. That's prompting many people to finally take on the home projects they've been putting off for years.

"I kind of took this period of time to settle into my place and notice the things that I didn't like as much," said Kelly Dorfman, who has been working from home in her West Loop condo since March. "The bathroom is definitely an eyesore for me."

She said she couldn't take it anymore, so she hired interior designer Lindsay Fink Dewolf to help give her bathroom a makeover

"We've all been stuck at home staring at our four walls and focusing on the things that we don't like about them, and I think people are just sick of everything they've been looking at," Dewolf said.

Dewolf said kitchens and bathrooms are the most common redo requests.

"I had a client call me the other day saying he's been ignoring his bathroom for years and since he's no longer going to the office, it's driving him crazy because he's looking at it every day," Dewolf said. "That, plus we're not spending our extra dollars on travel and eating out so those disposable dollars are going towards making our homes beautiful now."

But some projects have become more challenging in the pandemic due to shortages and backorders.

Experts said cuts, layoffs and a reduced workforce may cause delays on items like furniture, appliances, kitchen and bathroom materials.

Some contractors are even seeing a lumber shortage, which could mean price increases.

"Lumber is extremely expensive now. Before the pandemic a regular 2 by 4 I'm getting for $2.20 or so. Now, that same 2 by 4 is almost six bucks," said Camille Johnson Marcus Johnson with Lotus Home Improvement.

The Johnsons said homeowners should follow these important steps before starting a home renovation with a contractor:

  • Do your research, get referrals and see what your contractor's work looks like in person;

  • Have backup options in case the product or materials you want are delayed or out of stock;

  • Always sign a contract;

  • and communicate with your contractor to make sure you're both on the same page.


  • Meanwhile, Dorfman is happy the bathroom that she once loathed is now a room she loves.

    "I love it," she said. "I open my eyes and I'm like, 'Wow, is that my bathroom.'"

    Home renovations can get expensive, but if you are looking to spruce up your home without breaking the bank, try these affordable options:

  • Switch out the handles on your kitchen or bathroom cabinets to help the room pop;

  • Add new pillows to your couch to add color to your living room;

  • Try swapping out your area rugs;

  • and add small plants or flowers to give the room new life.


  • Sometimes subtle changes can make a big difference.
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