5 DIY Projects to NEVER take on yourself...

5 DIY Projects to NEVER take on yourself...
This is my first Guest Blogger!  Welcome Michelle Ortiz Dunbar from Arizona (and originally from New York which she calls the “Design Capital”– which I agree).  This topic is near to my heart, as my readers already know.  Thanks, Michelle for being informative and articulate!

I remember a time when homeowners who were able, paid for all home related services. When they needed new decor and furnishings, they hired a designer, when they needed their home painted, they hired a painter… or just a designer, when they needed their bathroom remodeled, they hired a contractor… or just a designer. In case you didn’t already know, us designers can be your one stop shop for any home improvement project you may have. That is our skill, we design and then implement remodeling projects, from small to large, from a wall color to a brand spankin’ new home from the ground up. We were always the ‘go to’ person for everything in your home… then HGTV became a big deal and began to misinform it’s viewing public by telling them you can Design On A Dime, never fully explaining all of the costs involved with an actual remodeling project.

As a designer for over eighteen years, my clients have always been drawn to my honest and direct nature. I am a firm believer in being thorough and explaining all that I do within a home. With that principal in mind, I will never steer homeowners into believing that they can attempt projects within their homes that would be detrimental to the resale value of their property or are just out of the average person’s skill-set. Sure, some minor home improvement projects can be achieved by a homeowner with enthusiasm, but there are so many that I’ve seen homeowners botch or, even worse, designers tout as a Do It Yourself home project that should just NEVER be touched by anyone other than a professional. Here is a list of the 5 BIGGEST homeowner No No’s.

  1.  A full kitchen and/or bathroom remodel: This seems to happen so often on home improvement television, and I’m appalled that it is ever a thought. I believe that the attempt is to save money on the remodel by planning the space yourself- avoiding a designer, then purchasing the fixtures yourself- again avoiding the cost of a designer, then doing the majority of the work as a husband and wife team, hiring a handyman to tackle only the most severe plumbing issues.  FACT- There is a sophisticated knowledge of plumbing, interior structure, how fixtures function, how pipes route, electrical requirements, scale, spacial needs, traffic flow minimums and an expert knowledge of timeless versus trendy design elements to put together a full bathroom. Add into that the spacial needs within cabinetry for appliances within a kitchen.  It is so easy to assume that you’ve designed a well planned floorplan for a kitchen or bath, but be completely wrong because your emotions have overruled the best use of the space. Designers prevent costly mistakes in all of these areas. You may be saving money on the discount fixtures at the liquidation center, but they may not be the best item for your space. Their plumbing requirements may vary and a plumber is truly the best person to work with their installation. A designer will manage a bathroom or kitchen remodel, preventing all hassles, to complete the project within two to three weeks. Remember mistakes and time both cost money. If the project takes you five weekends to complete, are you really saving money?  
  2. Wallpaper: Wallpaper has thankfully made a comeback in our homes, but it is not as simple to put up as one might think. Just like fabric, most wallpapers have what’s called a pattern repeat. This means that the print on the paper has a specific design that ends and then begins again, making it imperative to match each seam with the exact design pattern needed at the end of each run of paper. Not only do your seams need to be tight, without overlapping, but you have to understand the size of the wall, how much you will waste on your repeat and order enough material to compensate for that. It’s an exact science best left to a professional installer who will be able to hang your paper in record time, with far less effort and mess than you going it alone. Wallpaper is not cheap, so it will be a costly mistake to make installing it improperly on your own!
  3. Stone Floors: Sure you love the porcelain look alike flooring, but you are obsessed with the gorgeous travertine, marble or slate you saw for just a few dollars more. FACT- Natural stone is an amazing product, made by God, unique in each and every piece, but, it is an exterior product adapted to be used inside your home. As such, it is not as easy to install as a manufactured tile. The thickness is different, the density can become an issue when installing if not handled properly,  the mortar needs may be thicker than a standard tile and measuring from each tile to the next, leveling and shifting them because each piece may vary in thickness or coloration slightly… it all really takes the skill and patience of someone use to installing stone. Slate requires even more care, as it is brittle and extremely varied in size due to it’s texture. To top it off, all stone needs to be cut with a wet saw with diamond cutting blades- a tool the average homeowner should steer clear from.  
  4. Countertops: If we are talking your kitchen, DON’T EVEN THINK ABOUT GRANITE TILE PERIOD! If you are looking for the fastest way to look like you were too cheap to afford good granite, or wish to suck the value out of your kitchen… granite tile is it! Countertops should NEVER, NEVER be made of tile. Tile tops contains grout and grout contains bacteria, regardless of how often you seal it. Oils penetrate and discolor it, dirt discolors it and cleaners do as well. There are many options out there for slab and manufactured tops. I won’t go into them here, but just Don’t Even Go There! Leave this to a pro, enough said, moving on…
  5. Refinishing Your Own Cabinets: This subject is an extremely aggravating one for me. As the former wife of a custom cabinetmaker and having worked closely with cabinetry for over twenty one years, I know all of the many steps involved with a proper finish job. FACT- Finishers don’t simply stain, sand and seal. A good, high- quality finish involved many coats of stain, sanding, sealers, glazes and sometimes baking. A proper finish is sprayed on and controlling the rate of over-spray and how it’s applied to a cabinet door is a skill in and of itself. I am disgusted by every interior designer who tells homeowners that this is a Do It Yourself project. Most interior designers do not even have the expertise to design a kitchen (which is a different skill, by the way- it’s a specialty field, like lighting, we don’t just know this as a designer). Because of this, many do not fully understand how wood works, how it takes a stain, how it can react to certain combinations of finishes when going from a lacquered factory finish to stripping and then applying a water based finish. One doesn’t know what solvents were used to clean the cabinets by the number of homeowners that used the cabinets prior to your refinish and how the residual finish left after stripping can affect the future finish you have painstakingly applied with your brush. Let me not even get started on the brush strokes you will leave when you apply your paint or stain yourself and how unattractive that will look when dry! Custom cabinetry and the finishes they use are an art form that should ONLY be done by a professional. DIYing your cabinet refinish WILL devalue your cabinetry; I don’t care how well you feel you can do. Your finish will not last over time. Many cabinet companies have even stepped away from refinishing existing cabinetry altogether, opting to reface cabinetry instead because of the same potential hazards the everyday homeowner faces. 


           To contact Michelle: http://www.fashionhouseinteriors.net/


See you next time!      claire@golandesign.com



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