New year, new you. Or are you more new year, new home? The season of self-reflection (and guilt about that extra box of chocolates) is upon us full force. While making changes in your life is, of course, the priority, more and more that seems to involve making changes to your living situation.
A clean and pleasant home is critical to staying sane. So, take advantage of the wave of New Year’s vim and vigor and tackle those nagging issues around your home. Home projects span a huge spectrum of difficulty, cost and time. From DIY decor to a fresh coat of paint to interviewing a contractor for a kitchen remodel, setting realistic expectations and a more realistic budget are key to the success of your home project.
First things first, lay out the scale of the project
You need to know what you are getting yourself into. This step involves doing a lot of homework. Scour DIY blogs, home improvement shows and websites that involve interesting pins, and ask around as well. This stage should be very revelatory and may even lead you to go a whole different direction than what you initially thought.
Set up a plan
From supplies to additional helping hands, sit down and make a master list of what will be needed to get your home project done. This plan should include all the steps involved in completing the project, estimations of time for each step, as well as all the supplies needed.
This is also the stage where you want to be really honest about your time, skills and willingness. DIY is awesome, but it takes A LOT of time, patience, energy and devotion. While specific skills can be learned or sharpened up with classes or tutorials, time is a factor that really can’t be circumvented. No matter how skilled you are, if you work 50 hours a week, you really don’t have the free time. So, a contractor may be the only viable option for getting things done.
Pro Tip: Put technology to work for you. Cloud-based document and spreadsheet software is free and gives you a way to keep all your hard work in one place, ensuring that you don’t misplace your critical documents. It’s also great for storing all your “before” shots.
Lay out a budget
This is absolutely critical: take the supply list you’ve created in the planning stage and break it down. This may take some a few trips to the big box hardware stores or specialty retailers, but the time spent here will serve you well. This is also the point where you may need to step back and reassess the scope of your home project.
Do not be afraid of making adjustments or changes. (This step is designed for that.) That marble floor you were obsessing over for the bathroom may end up on the chopping block once you get quotes in from the tile store. Plan, review and re-tool as needed. Make room for a contingency, as well. Goofs, slip-ups and mistakes are going to happen. Making sure you have a little room for error helps against a mid-project crisis.
A word of advice here: have an open mind. You may be obsessed with a specific look, material, color or product. But, while it can look amazing in photos, it may not be the best option for your space. Thai silk drapes and toddlers? Yeah…no. Be realistic with your space, needs and budget. And if you are absolutely not willing to budge on something, then make sure the budget can handle it, or delay the project to give you some more time to save.
Source and plan
So, once you have cleared your budget and have your plan in hand, get your supplies gathered. This is another step where legwork makes a huge difference. The worst thing is waiting for a critical part of a job, going to order and finding out something is backordered well out of the scope of your schedule. This can be a stressful and costly mistake. Be aware of lead times for items like tile, hardware, fixtures and fittings, as they can take time to arrive from larger warehouses or even abroad.
Now you are ready to start!
As you go along, make sure to take your time. Measure twice and cut once is not just a saying; make it your mantra. Try not to rush, but be sure to fix a problem the minute you see it. The only thing worse than stepping back from hours of work and realizing it is completely wrong is having to stare at that mistake every day of your life if you don’t take the time to fix it.
Again, prepare yourself for the fact that mistakes will likely be made. Don’t beat yourself up; try and stay positive. A large home project can be draining emotionally and physically. Take care of yourself, so you can get the job done…and done right.
Home Project Timeline
What do you want to get done? Here is a breakdown of some home projects, starting at the most basic to major remodels. Take a look and see what you want to get done and what you have time for.
Day Projects: Refreshing details, i.e. painting trim/moldings/accent wall, refinishing furniture, hanging picture frames, updating hardware/lighting, re-planting flower beds
Weekend Projects: Taking a bigger bite, i.e. painting larger walls/whole rooms, waxing or polishing wood/stone floors, installing lighting or power outlets, reseeding/re-sodding lawns, adding trim/crown moulding/wainscoting
Larger Scale Changes (several days): Projects that drag on a bit, i.e. refinishing cabinets/counter tops, replacing bath vanities, adding built-in storage, replacing flooring, updating/replacing doors or windows, adding insulation, xeriscaping, adding/replacing recessed lighting
Major Renovation (weeks or months): All hands on deck, i.e. full kitchen or bath remodel, removing walls, adding a room, creating a master suite
So, go out there and make your home the space that reflects the you who you want to be. Good luck, work hard. And happy New Year!