Capability-Immobility and Other Causes of Stalled Home Renovation Projects

PHOTO: This was what my husband and I were up against during our own major renovation. We did as much work as possible ourselves, but left what we couldn’t handle to the experts – like the sheetrock!

Capability-Immobility and Other Causes of Stalled Home Renovation Projects

Submitted By: Carrie Oesmann 

I can’t tell you the number of times I have walked into a home where there are numerous painted swatches on a wall waiting for someone to come, select a paint color and finish the job! To make matters worse, this situation can last for years—5 years, specifically, is the record to date for one of my clients who has now become a convert to Bailiwick Interior Design!

This is a perfect example of what I’ve described as “Capability-Immobility” – the phrase I’ve coined for the debilitating problem home owners face when they can’t move forward with a project because they just know they can do it themselves, so they don’t want to hire someone else to do it for them.

It’s the most common excuse I hear to explain why people procrastinate on doing a home renovation project. Here are some other causes of stalling a project AND how I can help!


I approach the dilemma of budget in two ways. First, most people really don’t have any idea how much something is going to cost. In this way, ignorance is NOT bliss and what you don’t know can hurt you, or at least stall you, sometimes in an inconvenient place like an incomplete kitchen or bathroom! The result of actually estimating the cost of a project can either give you a savings goal OR show you that another solution needs to be found.

Even if you need to hold off on a project so you can save for the cost, wouldn’t it be better to walk into your home with a plan and know where you are going rather than to continually look at a problem in frustration? I help my clients develop the concept and make all the selections of product and materials, so that when they are ready to proceed the plan is simple to implement – even offering options of how to complete a project in stages. One of my clients wanted to renovate their kitchen, but budget was a concern. I was able to guide them into starting the process by taking down a non-structural wall leading into the Dining Room where we created an island with an eating area in a contrasting wood tone to their existing cabinetry. We will complete the kitchen renovation when they have the budget to replace the remaining cabinets, but for now they have solved many of their spatial problems AND stayed within budget!

She Says Tomato, He Says ToMAto—What if Couple Can’t Agree?

This is a common dilemma where neither person wants to “give in”. But there are ways to solve these issues and part of what I do is listen to the needs of both parties and help develop the plan that solves all the issues and offer choices that both parties can appreciate. Often this can simply be a matter of coming up with the best design that also incorporates the priorities of both husband and wife. When both parties can agree that a design plan (often something neither of them had thought of before) is the best solution, then it’s not about whose plan was implemented but that all ideas were incorporated! A perfect example of this would be how I designed a kitchen plan with two work zones, so that each “chef” had a space that worked with their individual cooking style in mind.

Overwhelmed by the options!? We don’t even know where to start!

Many couples become incapacitated and the project goes nowhere. But that’s exactly where a professional like myself can be your advocate and guide to getting the project off the ground, guide you to the best options considering both form and function and manage the project through completion!

You may still be saying to yourself “ but I CAN do it myself!” and I will surely agree,  but why not make sure you are doing it right and have considered all the options, even ones you did not know existed. I have many clients who I meet with every few months for a simple consult and sanity check. We meet and review their choices, talk about what they should work on next and what will give them the biggest bang for their buck! Let’s face it, there are myriad decisions to be made, and nothing is more frustrating than completing a DYI home renovation project, only to discover you should have done something differently or perhaps not at all.

This reminds me of a kitchen renovation project I was asked to consult on where the couple was sure they needed to blow out the back wall of their house to achieve their dream kitchen. After a careful review of their wish list, I came up with a layout that worked beautifully within the existing footprint of the house saving them thousands of dollars. The husband was thrilled I was saving him so much money and the wife was thrilled she was getting her dream kitchen – within budget – so when she asked for the appliance upgrade her husband agreed!

No matter how you look at it, whether I am called a negotiator, marriage counsellor, project manager or my personal favorite, “interior designer”. I can help you solve your “capability-immobility” issues! And finally get those long awaited projects off the ground and completed.
In other words I can:
– Keep you sane
– Save your marriage
– Help you find yourself
– Help you find all the stuff you’ve been looking for all these years because your home always feels like a bomb went off….
– Keep it fun!

Bailiwick Interior Design

About the Carrie,

Carrie Oesmann is the ASID, CAPS and AKBD certified Interior Designer of Bailiwick Interior Design, a business she has owned and operated in New Jersey since 1999. Last year she had the pleasure of expanding her business and relocating to the Lehigh Valley, so she now lives in downtown historic Bethlehem with her husband John, a great guy who at times suffers from “capability-immobility” himself. Carrie reminds John and all her clients that life is short and there should be time for other things besides home improvements—which is what lead them to the Lehigh Valley! The couple agreed that Bethlehem provided that perfect microcosm feel of NYC, without the hustle of the big city. Carrie’s home also doubles as Bailiwick Interior Design’s Pennsylvania office and unique lifestyle showroom, a place where her clients can experience a variety of options in a real home—it’s unlike anything we have seen in the Valley! Call Carrie for a personal tour of the lifestyle showroom.