7 Golden Rules For Any Homeowner's DIY Project

An editor’s bathroom renovation story, and useful tips for any DIY project at home.



Every home, no matter how new or how new to you, has projects. Whether they are big or small, there’s always something to keep homeowners busy. My husband and I are big DIYers, meaning I love to tackle the design myself and he loves to get his hands dirty doing the manual work. He grew up learning (from his dad) how to change out electrical components, handle plumping, and build houses from the ground up (although I don’t recommend any person do this all on their own, if you have the knowledge, do it).

One of the big projects I wanted to tackle in my home was the upstairs bathroom. We were faced with a lavender-soaked room (including a lavender tub and toilet) speckled with green, black, and white tiles. Although I love some things retro, everything had to go based not only on the look, but also because tiles were damaged, the subfloor was not up to code, and neither were the walls around the shower and tub.

Working with designer Debra Funt, who consulted on this project, we went with a much more modern design. I love contrasting the charm and character of my 1928 colonial home with a modern design aesthetic.

We chose a light gray for the walls (Silver Reflection from Behr), a white, transitional vanity with plenty of storage from Restoration Hardware, a gray porcelain tile for the floors, and white subway tiles for the shower/tub.

Our tub, which we believe was original to the house, is a 5.5-foot cast iron tub, and would have been both difficult to remove and hard to replace. So, we decided to have it refinished. I was pleasantly surprised at how well it turned out.

We added sconces from YLighting, a new toilet, a new radiator that’s much more sleek than the one original to the house, and a simple medicine cabinet for more storage. The end result feels spa-like and makes me (happily) feel like I never had a lavender bathroom to begin with.

After going through what I consider to be a big renovation (we thought this would take two weeks and it took six), here are the seven things I think a homeowner should consider before and during a renovation, no matter how big or small.

Hire help

Even if you can’t afford a start-to-finish designer, hire a designer to consult like I did. Debra was fabulous in helping to pick out all of the details that came together to make a cohesive look.

Start with one piece of inspiration

Whether it’s a vanity you love or a paint color, find one thing you love and work around that.

Budgets and schedules are meant to be broken (but not too much)

You always run into unforeseen problems, which can cost more money and take more time. Go with the flow, but be realistic.

Plan before you get started

Whether it’s with your designer and contractor or your designer or your contractor, make a plan before you start. Trust me, you need a plan!

Get samples.

Get samples of tile, paint, fabric—whatever you can—and bring it into the space. Then, look at it during different times of the day to make sure you like your choices round the clock.

This is not a time for trial and error

When in doubt about something, hire a professional. We had already blew past our deadline and my husband was reluctant to tackle the tile work, so we ended up hiring a professional. It was the best money we spent.

Take before and after pictures

You’ll be glad you did when you’re (finally) all done!

 

 

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