*This post by Jennifer Hicks, owner of Designing Diva Interiors LLC, was originally posted on this blog in Dec. 2009.
Unless you live under a rock (a well decorated one since you read this blog religiously!) you are no doubt being inundated with calls to make New Year’s Resolutions. Personally I’ve never been a fan. Why make positive changes in your life just one time a year? But the call to action does have its benefits for homeowners who will be using January to kick off long awaited projects. For my household that means installing new trim and crown moulding. For you the job may be much smaller or much more grand; either way, there has never been a better time to start creating a new look for your home. Why? Motivation is at an all-time high in January for everything from weight loss to quitting smoking. Why not use this universal momentum to get the master bedroom repainted? Additionally, prices on the items you will need for your home’s new look will be delicously discounted as retailers try to make up for decreased profits during the holiday season. This is also the time of year when many home furnishings stores clearance out their inventory to make room for shipments that will soon arrive from market.
You may be asking yourself “Where to begin?” and the answer is undoubtedly, “nowhere unless you’ve done your due diligence”. Side effects of your new burst of energy may include a desire to jump in with both feet… without looking for rocks first. Below is my simple guide to tackleing a new project in the new year without falling short of your own expectations.
1) Budget. Whether the project be large or small, some money will be involved. Know what you want your end result to be that way you can research the cost of what is involved. This is similar to “never go grocery shopping while hungry”. If you don’t know what you really want you are more likely to overspend and end up with unecessary extras. Even if you are just organizing all the closets in the house it is helpful to know how many containers you will need for each space. You may find that you need 24 clear boxes with lids and each box costs $3.00 for a total cost of $72.00. When you know the cost of your project ahead of time you get only what you need and you can (hopefully) avoid using credit cards/financing to get it done because you have had time to budget it in.
2. Measure. Now measure again. There aren’t too many projects around the house that do not require at least a rough measurement. Painting a room? You will need to know how many gallons to buy so you don’t get half way down the hall and need to rush to the store, paint brush in hand. Organizing closets? Measure the depth, width and height of each space to make sure you get the right size containers the first time. Buying a new duvet for the master bed? You may be tempted to pick up any package that reads “King” but your measurements may show you that you really need a California King so that your bedding reaches all the way to the floor. Get it?
3. Do your homework. As with #1, doing some research on your larger jobs now will save you a lot of time, money and headache later. If you want to add a kitchen island have a kitchen designer draw up some sketches for you first to make sure everything will fit and match your family’s needs. You may find that you have room for a larger island than you first thought or that it involves more than you are able to do yourself and the help of a pro is required. For reputable kitchen designers I recommend RenovateKate (www.renovatekate.com) or Amanda Harolds AKBD, both of Oklahoma City.
4. Get thrifty. You may think you need new lamps (and maybe you do) but it could be that a new shade is enough to freshen up the entire room. New lamps could cost hundreds but buying new shades or recovering your existing ones with a stylish fabric is only a fraction of the cost. Paint the base (make sure to use wood paint for a wooden base and metal paint for a metal base!) and you can create a very different look on a small budget and not much time. Think outside the box with various rooms to see what small changes you can make to create a whole new look.
5. Be willing to admit defeat. This may sound like the worst advice ever but when it comes to your home (especially when it comes to your home) knowing when you’re in over your head is the difference between getting the job done right and spending a month in a hotel while contractors work to finish the mess you started. Do-It-Yourself has become such a household name (I blame HGTV) that many people simply never met a project they didn’t like. It is true that you can save yourself a lot of money this way but there may be a few things on your list that are better left to the experts. Electrical and plumbing projects top the list. One mistake here and your new New Year’s resolution is to simply move rather than deal with the disaster you’ve created. Other home improvement projects that make a huge difference but may need a pro: installing new flooring, expanding a room, adding an appliance and any carpentry work. Designing Diva Interiors, LLC has a list of local home improvement experts for each of these topics and would be glad to refer you to one that meets your needs.