A couple of weeks ago as I was describing my own Do-It-Yourself tile project, I mentioned that I was quite familiar with “DIY-Gone-Wrong.” While I love starting from scratch with new construction projects, much of interior design work involves renovations and remodeling, and uncovering or correcting mistakes that well-meaning homeowners have made. I made a list so that I could share with you exactly what I mean. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but these are all things that I have come across in my interior design practice that have been done by “previous owners” that decided to take matters into their own hands.
- Hot and cold water taps plumbed backwards (hot is cold, cold is hot).
- No wall scribes. A scribe is that little filler strip of wood between your cabinet and a wall. Why is this important? One can never assume a wall is straight (usually they are not, especially in older homes). Without a scribe, cabinet doors may not be able to open to a full 90 degrees, drawers may not be able to open 100%, and/or there will be an unsightly and uneven gap between the wall and cabinet.
- Building walls that terminate at the middle of a window. (I swear I have actually seen this, and it is truly a construction sin.)
- Acoustical ceiling tile in a house EVER. (Usually whatever the acoustical tile is concealing is scarier than the tile, but that band aid has to come off sometime!)
- Wallpapering the electrical outlets. Granted, this is an aesthetic choice, but it’s really tacky.
- Setting your recessed lights inside the radius of a ceiling fan. It creates a strobe light effect when the fan is running and the lights are on.
- Using the same granite (especially gray sardo) throughout an entire house.
- Installing toilets before flooring. This is a big, bad No-No! Toilets are like snowflakes, no two have the same exact footprint, so if you ever need to change your toilet but the flooring came after, then you will be replacing the flooring too. Cha-ching.
- Installing bathroom vanity mirrors too high so that all you can see is from your nose up.
- Painting over tile (or stone)- and by this I mean actual paint, not the re-porcelain glazing treatments that can be done to refurbish bathtubs and tiled tub walls; that usually works pretty good, though I will warn you: it only looks good in white, and it doesn’t last forever. It will start peeling after a few years and have to be done again.
- Not using joint spacers when setting tile.
- Caulking a gap bigger than 3/8 of an inch (and even 3/8 is pushing it), or worse: not caulking gaps at all.
- Lumpy drywall patching, with the drywall tape edges exposed, and trying to patch a popcorn ceiling yourself. (Just forget about it and call a drywall guy for popcorn patching, or any type of textured wall patching. You will be so glad you did.)
- Using wall-to-wall carpet as a wall covering or over woodwork. (Your home is not a roller-skating rink or a cat scratching post.) Again this is an aesthetic choice, but it’s usually done because the surface underneath is terrible and can only be saved by covering it with something thick and forgiving.
- Installing lever door handles upside down, so that to open the door you must pull the handle up instead of pushing it down.
Do any of these conditions sound familiar? Some of the things on my list are aesthetic problems that may scream “amateur”, but can be corrected relatively easily. However, some of these issues can be very costly to fix and could affect the perceived value of your house. I’m all for the empowerment of individuals to take care of themselves and their homes, but some projects are best left to the professionals.
These are the types of things that a good interior designer can help you navigate as you renovate your space. Even if your budget will only allow for a consultation, it’s well worth it, and could save you money, headaches, and sleepless nights.