Cable TV is full of Interior Design shows. Click a channel, and you’ll see somebody remodeling a home. And those designers make the makeovers look so easy — like you could just do it yourself.
Inspirational, for sure. But is that realistic? In other words, when can you DIY, and when should you hire a designer?
“Not every project has room for a designer, and as a designer, I realize that,” says Carmin Meyer of Carmin Meyer Design Consultation. “It might be financial reasons, or just the feeling that they have a good grip on things.” They’ll get ideas from the Remodeler’s Showcase, Parade of Homes, Pinterest, and Houzz.com, and she says that works well for some people — but not for others.
“There are people that are creative that way, and there are others that are a little bit house-blind.” In other words, when you’ve lived in a home for awhile, you may not realize some of the flow problems — or opportunities — that a professional will see.
Project Size Matters
Carmin breaks interior design projects into two categories: facelifts and makeovers.
“A facelift is cosmetic, more about painting, new furnishings, and accessories,” she says, “not really changing the floor plan or layout of the space, not really making a huge investment in construction.” You might be able to handle those kinds of projects on your own. “After all,” she says, “you can always paint over a color you don’t like.”
Makeovers are full-service projects, with more construction and bigger budgets — like kitchen and bathroom remodels. “Those are the most expensive areas of the home to update, because there are quite a few pieces and parts that go into them,” she says. “And really, when you look at what you’re total investment might be, with a designer, to get really good advice regarding layouts and material selections and things like that, it’s a very small fraction of what you’re paying for the project as a whole.”
So, what happens when people try to tackle a full-scale makeover on their own? They end up calling her afterwards, looking for help after the construction is already done. “Oftentimes I’m going into projects that have recently been done, and we’re tearing certain pieces apart and redoing them to get things to look the way they had ultimately intended them to, but just didn’t know how to.”
Places to Prioritize
If you want to save some money on a big makeover, at least start with a designer for the major decisions. Carmin says these are the priorities:
- Space planning. You can’t really make any of the other decisions until you have a good layout.
- Cabinetry is a big expense, so have an expert select a material and finishes that will last as well as possible.
- Countertops and appliances are also expensive, so use the pro to make good choices.
Once those pieces are in place, you may be able to handle the backsplash tile, cabinet hardware, and lighting and plumbing fixtures on your own.
“After all, your cabinetry is going to stay, your countertops are going to stay, trim is going to stay, but then other things are a little more cosmetic,” she explains. “You can remove a cabinet knob and change it out if you get sick of it in a few years. It would be pretty easy to remove backsplash tile and redo that. And paint is paint — you could paint your walls a different color every day if you wanted to.” No wonder we like the way she thinks.
You can contact Carmin at carminmeyerdesign.com.
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