Most of us love to tackle a DIY home project every once in a while. Maybe we do it to save money or to feel that sense of accomplishment that comes from a job well done. Maybe we do it because design TV makes it look so easy. Even though it can be fun (and sometimes stressful), there may come a time when you’ve messed it up and want to know how to avoid costly mistakes on your next DIY project.
As an interior designer, I often get the SOS call to fix it. You know what I mean. The sofa from an online store that looked great in the photograph, but feels like a rock when you sit on it. Or the window shades you ordered without help that don’t fit the window. These mistakes can be costly, both in money and the time it takes to fix them.
I know because it’s happened to me when I wasn’t paying attention, and then waited to long to examine my purchase. What started out in my mind as a fun window treatment sewing project soon became an energy vampire, sucking my time.
Because I know how to avoid costly mistakes that can happen on a DIY home project, my ego was more than a little bit battered. I was embarrassed to admit that I messed up. And now my goal is to help you prevent it.
Rule #1: Have a plan in place before you start…and follow your plan.
- Know what you’re goal is and write out all the steps in the process before your begin.
- Do your research. What will it cost? What quality of product are you looking for? How long will it take?
- Check all the dimensions before you order anything online.
Rule #2: Measure twice, cut/buy once
- Double check all dimensions before you cut/order the wood, fabric, or blinds.
- Custom orders can not be returned
- Will the piece of furniture fit through your doorways? Will it fit in the room?
Rule #3: Pay attention when making your purchases.
- Watch as fabric is unrolled
- Read the sales receipt before you commit to the sale. Don’t assume that the sales associate has written exactly what you asked for.
- Read the fine print, and be sure everything you’re expecting has been included
- In the image below, I hate to admit that I was so excited about getting a great price on this normally expensive fabric, that I didn’t follow my own rule. Notice how the design is printed crooked on the fabric. Fortunately there was just enough fabric to make the window treatments so the pattern matches all across the windows.
Rule #4: Have a Designer On Your Team to help you avoid costly mistakes.
- gives you advice before you make your purchases
- validates your choices…or guides you in a better direction
- tells you how much fabric, paint, etc. you need to order, as well as all the parts and pieces
- can place the orders for you
- connect you with trusted trade partners
Costly mistakes seem to be broken down into two categories. I like to call them the “Oh no! What was I thinking!!!” mistakes. Let’s take a look…
Purchases you regret later because you realize you don’t like them:
- You had a “love at first site” moment and just HAD to own it
- You didn’t really love it, but had a “hole” to fill and thought it would work. You were in a hurry to just be done with it!
- Oops! You forgot to measure.
Purchases and decisions you made because you didn’t know better or didn’t think it through:
- Appliances that will be placed against a wall and the impact that will have on opening and closing doors and drawers.
- Adding expensive new counter tops and then realizing you should have purchased new cabinets too.
- Not checking the specifications of appliances to see how they will affect the cabinet.
- Buying on line,which we all do, and realizing you don’t have all the parts and pieces to finish the job correctly.
Here are just a few examples of DIY home project mistakes (sources unknown):
Bathtub at the top of the stairs?
A mantle over a pedestal sink, complete with a towel ring
Exterior door hung upside down
A chandelier not installed in the center of the medallion or tray ceiling.
Your Design Action Steps:
1. If you’re in the “information gathering” phase of your project, remember to study everything. That means look over the plans when you have them.
2. Review the specifications and dimensions of each item you hope to purchase.
3. Hire an interior designer to be a part of your team. The peace of mind you’ll get from relying on someone you trust will be well worth the investment.
Have you ever taken on a DIY home project that really excited you? You know, the project you saw on Pintrest or Facebook that motivated you to rush out and purchase all the supplies, and filled your head with visions of how beautiful it would look? You started working on it with enthusiasm and a lot of energy, spent a few days focusing on the end results, and then it happened…..DIY home-project burnout! Has this ever happened to you?
DIY Project Burnout is a state of physical and mental exhaustion when the work demands constantly exceed the amount of energy that you want to give on a daily basis. Complete project burnout usually happens when overwhelm takes over, your productivity declines, and there is a lack of motivation/boredom.
That is exactly what happened to me recently with a project I started this summer. I love chalk painting with Amy Howard Home products. And I hate knowing that nine million tons of furniture goes to landfills each year. So I’m an advocate of either donating or repurposing. But what began as a fun way to repurpose our 25 year old kitchen table and chairs, soon became a daunting task that I wish was finished.
Chair after and Chair before
My first goal was to finish painting and reupholstering one chair a week. We have six chairs, so that should have been an easy goal. Until some problems popped up… along with the boredom! This project has been on my To-Do list for weeks, and I get excited each time I can place an updated chair around our kitchen table. I know it’s going to be beautiful when it’s finished. But I admit that I have DIY home-project burnout.
Stuff that gets in the way:
- not having a step-by-step plan before you begin
tools that aren’t easy to operate
not having enough supplies to complete the project at once
- not having the right supplies to get started
setting unrealistic goals for completing the project
- life, work, family commitments
Re-focus your mindset and your energy
Set an intention to finish it…NOW! Playing energetic music helps.
- Make a step-by-step plan. (ex. do you want to paint all 6 chairs at once, then wax all of them, then cover the seats)
Watch any videos you can that will help you before you start
Purchase all of the items you’ll need before you start so you won’t have any starts and stops
Make an appointment with yourself to work on your project when you know you’ll have the most energy…and keep that appointment
If you feel yourself getting bored or overwhelmed, take some time off to take your mind off of it. Quiet periods aren’t negative. Sometimes stepping back, can lead to fresh ideas and renewed motivation.
Moral to the story:
DIY Home Projects sound great when you start out
Be realistic about the time and cost involved
Be realistic about your skill level
Be honest with yourself about why you really want to do this. For me, it’s the satisfaction of turning something old and outdated into something beautiful and useful. And doing my part to save the environment by re-designing, repurposing and re-using outdated items.
When you’re dreaming of a beautiful kitchen, and know that buying new cabinets is more than your budget will allow, maybe it’s time to consider a makeover that includes new countertops. If your cabinets are in good condition and the the space plan works well for you this might be your perfect solution!
There was a time, in my old EXPO Design Center days, when I was known as the Queen of Countertop Remodels because I helped so many clients with them. And because of that, I learned exactly what to do, so that stress was kept to a minimum.
Let’s take a look at my list of Designer do’s and don’ts that will help you with your own countertop remodel.
Do: One of your first decisions to make is what material do you want to use, because you have a few options. There are natural stone products (granite, marble, quartzite) and there are quartz composite products (Cambria, Caesarstone, Silestone, etc.)
Do: Know what “look” you want to achieve in the space. The material you choose will help you get there.
Do: Decide if you want a lot of movement (veining) in your countertop material.
Quartzite Mont Blanc
Don’t buy a slab that has a lot of movement and imperfections if you think it will drive you crazy. Stone is a gift of nature, and definitely not perfect. Also, if you need to have a seam because of a large area to be covered, the veins will not match. If that is a problem for you, then choose a slab/pattern that has less movement and a quiet pattern.
Do: Decide on your fabricator (the person who will template, cut and install). They often display granite, marble, and quartzite slabs in their warehouse. But sometimes they’ll send you to look at a larger showroom that has more to offer. These showrooms typically do not sell directly to you, the consumer. So this means they won’t be able to quote you a price. They’ll give the price to your fabricator who will then factor in the additional labor costs before giving you a quote.
Granite Colonial White
Don’t visit a granite showroom without a designer, contractor, or fabricator name. They can call ahead to let the showroom know you’re coming, or they can go with you to help you select. Sometimes a showroom will recommend a fabricator if you don’t know who to use. A few showrooms/warehouses will let consumers come in to look without an appointment. Your fabricator will contact them for pricing.
Do: Find out your fabricator’s price levels before you visit a granite showroom. Since most of them don’t sell directly to the consumer, they won’t give you a price. But they can point you to the slabs that will be in your approximate price point. Many large fabrication companies have enough space to have countertop slabs on display. In that instance, they’ll be able to give you a quote.
Don’t: Assume that the initial quote is the final one. Your fabricator will send someone to make a template, and that will determine the final cost. But before they schedule you, they will need a countertop plan with the shape of all your counters, and the dimensions.
Do: Make sure that you have your sink, and sometimes faucet, when they come to make your template. They will take it with them back to their shop.
Do: Know that some fabricators require you to purchase an entire slab, and some will only charge you for what you use. Be sure to check this out in advance. Quartz composite products seem to require purchase of an entire slab. But this is also at the discretion of the fabricator.
Don’t: Ordering less than 25 square feet is not acceptable to most fabricators. Sometimes they have a scrap yard to choose those pieces. If they do, it’s your luck day!!!
Don’t: Order countertops when you’re in a rush to have it installed. From the time they make the template, until the time it is installed could take anywhere from 5-15 business days.
Don’t: Have your heart set on a slab too early in the process unless you’re prepared to make a deposit so they will hold it. Also, make sure that your fabricator is going to hold onto the unused part of your slab. I have had slab “scraps” sold before projects were installed, only to be upset when they made a mistake cutting. Time was lost while they waited to find another slab to match.
Don’t hang on to a sample that you love and expect it to look the same in 6 months. The look of natural stone is determined by where it’s mined in a mountain. Even though it has the same color name, it can look completely different in pattern and color.
Granite sells quickly in certain markets and new shipments aren’t always cut from the same area of a mountain. Always inspect your slab before purchasing! If you need more than one slab for your countertop, make sure that there are more in the stack. Sometimes they’ll be labeled by the order they’ve been cut.
Do: Know that there are options to choose from for your countertop edges. Standard edges are included in your quote. Non-standard edges are sold by the linear foot.
There are a lot of things to think about when making your countertop selection. And it probably seems like a lot to remember. But Do’s and Don’ts are meant to guide us in the right direction and keep us from making painful or costly mistakes.
If you’re still confused and unsure of what to do next, feel free to leave a comment below, or email me at Randi@RandiDestefano.com with your questions. I’m here to help!
I don’t know about you, but I tend to procrastinate on holiday preparations. Sometimes it’s because I’m too busy with other things that were more important when I said “yes” to them. Other times, the perfectionist in me keeps thinking “what if?” What if a better table decorating idea comes to me later? What if there won’t be enough variety of food? Crazy, right?
With Thanksgiving just around the corner, it’s time to think about what can be done right now that will bring more joy and less stress to the holiday. Remember, we want to avoid holiday chaos and focus on enjoying our family and friends. The answer could be discovering the ONE THING you want to accomplish with the preparation and the meal. For me, that would be enjoying our time together, staying calm, and living in the moment. When I focus on this….and how long it will take to pull it all together…it’s time to get real and make a plan.
Let’s take a look at some simple steps to avoid holiday chaos:
What can you easily accomplish in the time you have?
Remember that people typically come to a gathering for two reasons: food and fun. YOU are hoping to create lasting memories. But be realistic about the amount of time you can spend planning and preparing. When you’re completely exhausted by the time you sit down to dinner, it’s hard to enjoy the meal and your guests. Take it from me…been there, done that! My little Thanksgiving secret is that one year I went on strike in cooking the meal. But that’s another story for another day! LOL!!!
As you plan your meal, remember to delegate a dish or two to anyone who offers. Your party will be easier that way. And the bonus for your guests is that it lets them try a new recipe as well as feeling helpful.
What should you buy? What should you DIY?
Sometimes you just can’t do it all yourself. So you need to decide what can you buy and what can you realistically do yourself. Costco, Trader Joe’s and Fresh Market have delicious, prepared food that can fill in for side dishes you don’t have time to make.
This same mindset holds true for the table decorations. Most of us dream of having our Thanksgiving table decorated with perfectly coordinated china, colorful linens, and beautiful centerpieces. With a peaceful walk in the woods and a quick “shopping trip” around your own home, you can easily create a look that will wow your friends and family.
How to handle the clutter when guests are staying overnight?
I like being neat and tidy (most of the time), so a house full of overnight guests, luggage, and cramped quarters can feel a little crazy and chaotic.
Some of the ways I’ve managed to keep clutter to a minimum is to make sure everyone has a designated area for their family’s “stuff”. At my house that means all coolers are stored in the room off the garage and toys are kept all together.
Creating an out-of-the-way private space for guests to keep their suitcase will make them feel welcomed and keep the clutter to a minimum.
We all want the holiday to be a joyful, fun-filled and stress-free time. We want our guests to feel welcomed and comfortable. And most of all, we want to create cherished memories that last a lifetime as we give thanks for all of our many blessings.