Most of us love a good DIY project every now and then.  I mean, who doesn’t love the challenge of planning a project and seeing it through to the end?  And then there’s the added bonus of saving a little money.  But lately, I’ve been hearing from a lot of Design-It-Yourself’ers that they’re disappointed in the way their remodels are turning out.  As I listen to their concerns, one common thread stands out loud and clear.  The biggest mistake they’re making is not communicating EXACTLY what they want to the people who are helping them. 

Being over-the-moon excited with your finished design project is what you dream of.  The vision you have in your head is sometimes the only thing that keeps you going when the dust and drilling is getting on your last nerve.  But unless you get that vision out of your head and onto paper, you might be headed for disappointment.  No one can read your mind, so communication is the key to your project’s success.

Somehow, in the rush of our crazy lives, the small details seem to get lost in the shuffle.  We assume  “they should know that”.  But they don’t.  Everyone working for you has their own idea of how something should be installed.   It might be standard in their industry, but not how you want it to look.

Here are just a few of those little details you need to consider:

 1. The height of your shower head.  Where do you want it?  Be sure to tell your plumber or contractor.

2.  The height of the tile in your shower.  Do you want it to go to the ceiling?  Is there crown molding?

3.  Garbage disposer…Do you want it on the small bowl side or the large?  On the left bowl or the right?  There is no right or wrong answer here, but you need to communicate this with the plumber.  If you think about how you like to work at your sink, and plan accordingly, incorrect installations won’t happen.

4.  Counter top overhang.  Standard is 1 1/4″ – 1 1/2″.  Make that clear with your counter top people.  Check it for consistency once it’s installed.  In my own kitchen, the first installation had different overhangs all around the island and had to be re-done.

5.  How high do you want your window treatments hung?  To the ceiling?  To the top of your trim?  Somewhere in between?  You need to decide this before they’re constructed and then communicate this to the installer.

6.  Placement of pendant lights.  Size of the pendants and size of the island usually determine how far apart they should be.  Your installer may have a different opinion than you do, so make it clear ahead of time.  Also, ceiling beams or joists may throw a wrench into the plan.  Keeping an open line of communication with your installers and contractor will make these last minute changes less stressful.

7.  Exact placement of mirrors and vanity lights.  This is determined by ceiling height, backsplash height, size of the lights, etc.  Plan and ahead and then communicate this plan to everyone involved, especially if you can’t be there when they’re installed.

To avoid miscommunication on your design project:

  • Ask a lot questions about the little details so you know what to expect.
  • Understand that, if the details aren’t spelled out in advance, you’ll get calls for last minute decisions.  If you’re not available to answer, something might get installed where you don’t want it.
  • Plan out every detail of your project before construction begins and make sure your contractor and subs are on board.
  • Arrange to have daily or weekly updates on progress.
  • Hire an interior designer to handle these details for you.  A designer will make sure they’re installed according to your vision.

Always remember that how well you communicate your design vision determines how happy you’ll be in the end.  And that’s exactly what everyone wants for you!

If you’re finally ready to begin your own home makeover, contact us today to schedule a Design Success call and get your project started in the right direction .  Info@RandiDestefano.com  





Whenever I work on a project,  I am so motivated and excited to get going that I could work on it all day and night!  As the project moves along, and my short attention span kicks in,  I start anticipating how wonderful it will be to have it finished.  Does this ever happen to you?  Sometimes, though, I discover that  all the enthusiasm in the world won’t carry me through to completion once the Interior Design Project-Killers enter my mind.   And guess what? It can apply to any project you want to tackle, not just your DIY projects.

This all started when I decided that creative projects were missing in my life.  So I decided that every day for a month my focus would be on quilting.  It used to be my first love after all. 

Immediately I started feeling a little stressed.  What if I make a mistake?  What would I make?  Which fabrics should I choose from my stash?  Wow!  I was in overwhelm already and nearly gave up.  It was time for a deep breath…and a plan. 

And that’s when I realized that these project killers are the same for quilting, gardening, and even interior design.  Let’s take a look and see which ones might apply to the way you approach a project.

 Afraid of making a mistake – There are so many choices, so many options available to us, and sometimes it sends us into overwhelm.  What if we make a mistake?  What if it isn’t perfect?  What if my mistake costs a LOT of money to fix?   Overwhelm is a trap.  When we see everything that needs to be done on a project, sometimes we freeze and do nothing.  Then we feel stuck and can’t move forward.

Solution:  Make a list of all the steps, and then take one small step at a time.

HurryingWhen we’re in a hurry, usually it’s because our to-do list is bigger than what we can get done in a day.  Has this ever happened to you?  When I’m crazy busy and trying to work on a project I feel out of step.  I don’t enjoy the process.  And sometimes, I don’t enjoy the results when i get there because I’m running off to the next project.

Solution:  Make a plan before you start.  Study the plan so you know all the steps.  Then start the work. (Hint…Have you ever been in a rush while you’re baking and forgotten an ingredient or two?  When I do that, it’s mostly because I didn’t read the directions ahead of time.)

Going for the cheapest…putting cost before qualityWe all like to save money.  Right?  Well there are parts of a project where it’s OK to economize, and parts that aren’t.  Remember the old saying “you get what you pay for?”  It’s true.  You hire the tile installer based on his low price, and 4 months later, the tile falls off.  A lower priced faucet with plastic parts instead of one with ceramic parts will break in a year.  Get the picture?

Solution:  Do your homework before you start.  Educate yourself on the price ranges of the products that you want to include.  And then take it one step further and look at the descriptions of the products, including any ratings and reviews they might have.  This helps you plan your budget and make an educated decision about the best product for YOUR project.

Too complicated No matter how hard we try to keep it simple, we sometimes seem to get over excited when it comes to our design projects.  We see this great design.  It’s a little intricate, but we love it and we’re sure we can create it on our own.  And then it happens!  We realize it’s bigger than we can handle and have to hire a pro to finish it.  Or worse yet, we struggle through it, hating every second, and wish we had never started.

Solution: Keep it simple!!!!!  Only plan for what you know in your heart you can do yourself.  Or…hire a professional to create it for you.

Stuff happens – Sometimes things happen that we didn’t expect.  It might be a plumbing line running through the wall you wanted to move.  Or it could be as simple as discovering the granite you have your heart set on is out of stock.  The impact is always the same.  Disappointment.

Solution: Take a step back.  Take a deep breath and know that, if you’re willing to compromise, there’s almost always a solution.

Too much stuff you never use Now, who can’t relate to this one?  I seem to have noticed a tortilla press from the 80’s tucked away in my pantry (and never used).  Do you have a limited space that even the best designer or organizer can’t expand on to create as much storage as you want?

Solution: Sad but true, it’s time to take a serious look at all your stuff.  If you haven’t used it in the last 5 years, chances are you won’t miss it.  How much Tupperware do you really need?

Binge watching design TV – Have you ever spent a day watching one program after another and come away feeling like Super Women?  You know, you have that feeling of confidence that says “I can do this!  I can gut my kitchen, organize my garage, turn my basement into party central, and maybe even roof the house…all in one week.”  Sorry folks.  This is not always reality.  If you believe it, you’re setting yourself up for failure before your even start.

Solution: These shows are filled with creativity and good ideas…most of the time.  But watch them for the entertainment factor and then look for tips you can use on your own project.  Always keep in mind that there is a team of people working behind the scenes to make sure the design is perfect and products are selected and delivered on time.  It was not created overnight, and it was not done for free.

Now that you’ve seen my 7 Design Project Killers and how to get rid of them, the real magic is about to begin on your own project.  It’s time to work Your magic, make it happen, and enjoy the journey!

If you find yourself stuck on your next project, and confused about what to do next, contact me at Randi@RandiDestefano.com to schedule a Design Strategy chat.  And if you leave your name and email in the box to the right, my newsletter, Life In the Kitchen, will be delivered to your in-box twice a month.  I hate SPAM as much as you do and only send design tips and trends that you’ll find useful.



Decorating With Candles…Makes Scents!

Forgive the bad pun, but filling the air in your home with fragrance is just one of the positive aspects Basket Of Beeswax Candlesof including candles in your home décor. There’s something lovely and calming about the soft flicker of a candle flame.  No wonder so many people love to decorate with them. Candles are amongst the top selling home retail items; maybe because there are so many different types – you can’t have just one!

There are candles that calm, candles that invigorate, candles that grace us with their perfume-like aroma and candles that do nothing but grace our dining room sideboard. Candles are one of those basic items of decor that never seem to go out of style; they are adaptable and affordable.

When using candles in your home décor remember to use that the rule of three applies to accessories, like candles. Although using pairs of mirrors, or frames, or candlesticks is common, you should try to group all other accessories in bunches of three. You can add a bowl or greenery to the set of items to avoid making it look too “matchy.” Use three different sizes of candles or candle sticks in complimentary colors for a great look.

There are so many beautiful pieces made to hold and display candles. But personal and unique items, those you make yourself, always make your home more authentic. Why not try your hand at a craftsman style candle chandelier or “candolier” made out of pine wood and miscellaneous hardware?

Design on a Dime host Lee Sniders shares…How To Make A Candle Chandelier. Handmade Chandelier


2″ x 8″ pine
lighting chain
8 brackets
4 steel eye bolts


1. Cut the pine to the appropriate scale for your dining table. This one is approximately 18″ x 36″.

2. Beat up the edges using a hammer and an old screwdriver to create indentations in the wood.

3. Stain the wood after it’s been marred.

4. Attach the wood with L-brackets.

5. Attach one eye bolt to each corner approximately two inches from each inside corner.

6. Attach the same length of chain to each eye bolt.

7. Attach the other end of the chain to a pre-made coupler in the center. This creates a single bar from which the entire piece hangs from the ceiling.

8. Attach two equal lengths of chain, one to each end of the coupler. Measure the lengths of chain depending on how high you want the candolier to hang above the table.

9. Use ceiling hooks attached to a ceiling brace or stud to support the hanging structure.

10. Fill the base with different-sized nondrip candles to finish the look.

3 Secrets To A Successful Interior Design Project

When it comes to Do It Yourself projects, everyone has their own plan,their own method, and their own schedule for getting it done.  We’re excited to get started and can’t wait to see the end results.  Sometimes we rush right out to the local shops, buy our products and get to work.  But what would happen if we stopped and followed three simple steps before moving forward?

I recently attended a meeting where we learned the trends we can expect to see in 2010 and 2011.  At the top of the list is Getting Back to Basics.  Keeping it simple, buying local, having fun, and being authentic are all ways to help us return to basics.  But one new term really interested me –DIY³. It takes Do It Yourself to the next level.  Let’s take a look…

1.  DECIDE– The beginning to anything we do is to decide to do it. We set an intention to make it happen and go about it with purpose and meaning.   Dreaming about it is definitely a part of the process too.  Sometimes we even go a step further to visualize what it will look like when it’s finished.  It’s the perfect motivator!

2.  DECIDE – This is the fun part, and one of the most important!  When we design the project we’re creating a plan.  We plan the process, the way it will look, the products we need, and where we need to go to buy the products.  In your excitement to get started, skipping this step could create one of those “Oh no! What was I thinking?” moments.  Follow this with some costly mistakes, and that quick back splash project is now taking longer to finish, and has blown your budget in the process!  So…set an appointment with yourself!  And remember to get out of your head and onto the paper.

3.  DO – Now that you’ve visualized how beautiful the finished product will be, and done all the designing and planning, it’s time to actually DO something!  Yes, that means no more procrastinating, no more excuses.  Jump right in with both feet, and plans in hand.  Don’t forget that the time might be right to ask for some help.  Accept that some things are just too big to handle on your own.  Call in a professional! It might be a contractor, handyman, painter, or interior designer.  Try our Hands on Home Makeover program.

Buy the supplies you need, and start to work.  The end results are worth it.  Remember that “Done is better than perfect”.  So never get stuck there!!!