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Monday Musings: DIY vs. Pro

As I've mentioned in previous posts, we do a lot of home updates. We live in a 1990's suburban two-story that still had most of the original fixtures, hardware and even flooring when we moved in. When I say it's been a "labor of love," I'm not exaggerating! Today I'm sharing a bit about what we've tackled ourselves and what we've had to turn to the experts to update.

Removing the Yellow

I'll start with when we moved in. Everything was yellow. The walls were yellow throughout, in every shade and tone you can imagine. And, because the house was built in the 90's, there was also a lot of golden (aka yellow) oak. And much of that original oak was missing its finish and starting to look pretty sad. So, the first thing we tackled upon moving in was the kitchen. We refinished all of the cabinetry in white and added new hardware.


Then, we started tackling the other "yellow" element in the house. Our realtor called it the "brass package"--the hardware and light fixtures with that inexpensive and very shiny brass finish. We've replaced every single light fixture and all of the knobs throughout the house. We wanted all of the lights to look cohesive, but not like a builder's package, so we carefully selected each one over a couple of years and we've been happy with that result. My husband also did the installation! We were able to spend extra money on the fixtures themselves because we knew that we were not paying for that service. One of our favorites to this day is the Ballard Designs chandelier in our dining room.

And herein lies a hint about when to hire a pro. When we went to replace the ceiling fan in our family room, there were some electrical components my husband had not seen in other places in the house. He did some research, but still wasn't confident in how to wire the fixture. So, we caved and called a local electric company and had the ceiling fan installed. Problem solved!


Another very easy DIY even for the least handy home owner is painting. We've painted every room, door and piece of trim in our home (and some of them twice!). With a ladder, paint brush, rollers and a bucket--you can knock this out and make a huge difference with minimal investment. We did draw the line on our two story entrance, and hired a local professional painter to take this on. He had the right ladders and skill to paint the entry in a safe manner.

We're comfortable installing window coverings, measuring and selecting furniture and updating landscaping. My husband has replaced faucets and made basic plumbing repairs. I'm happy to decorate until the cows come home! I've shared some of our home office progress here and here, and will be back with another update this summer.

We painted, but left the flooring to the pros.

When to call in the Pros

A few years ago, we knew it was time to have our main floor carpet replaced. Our family, including a big dog, had destroyed them! it was time to switch to something more durable throughout. Our research indicated that this was one of the most regretted DIY projects; the cost of wood is so high and the challenges in installation are great, so it seemed best left to a professional.

We called a designer friend, and she came over with samples and suggestions. After walking the house, we added on a few additional projects that we didn't have the time or talent to complete. Some of these had even been on our DIY list but were time-prohibitive. We knew a professional team could complete them quickly and expertly. This month long project included:

- wood throughout the main floor

- staining oak beams and stairs

- installing a carpet runner on stairs

- painting floor to ceiling oak bookcases

- bathroom tile floor installation with new vanity

- replacing several rotted exterior doors

While the project escalated from just flooring, it made sense to acknowledge where our expertise ended and professionals could take our DIY upgrades to the next level. We continue to paint, repair and install when we feel comfortable, and appreciate the talents of those who have helped to make our home look its best! in doing some of the work ourselves, we have come to know our own style well, and we have been able to invest our money in quality materials rather than always spending those hard-earned resources on installation.

What's next on our list? We're installing a new laundry sink and updating one of the kid's bedrooms! How about you?

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