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DIY Renovating a kitchen

Main Line Kitchen Design gives advice to a DIYer on remodeling their home on their own.

Below is a post from one of our blogs by a homeowner contemplating remodeling their home. Paul’s detailed answer stresses the do’s and don’ts for DIYers.

Question: We are thinking about remodeling our six bedroom home this summer. I’m praying I can do a wonderful job. Any tips?

Paul’s Answer

Success in renovating a home requires the same thing as any other project.

First – Doing the research to understand what’s involved in the project. After researching deciding correctly what parts of the work you are capable of doing yourself and what you will need to get professionals for.

Fortunately, we now have YouTube and the internet, so you don’t necessarily have to go to the library. Spend at least 20% of the time it will take to do a project researching how to do it the way professionals do and planning it. Then you can reasonably attempt the project yourself.

Assuming you know how to do things you are not trained for is the most common mistake for amateurs and less competent professionals.

assembling a cabinet

For example, most homeowners believe that they know how to paint or even wallpaper. They foolishly believe that there is little to know in these simpler renovation tasks. However, there is a great deal to learn and not learning assures a very poor job. Professionals will often spend longer prepping the work area than actually painting or wallpapering.

Find out what tools professionals use. You may be doing a renovation yourself to save money, but if you aren’t using the tools needed to do the job well you will certainly fail. Tools won’t be expensive and will pay for themselves in the time you save. Learn how to repair and prep drywall, how to use a caulk gun, plaster, sand, prime, size for wallpaper. Follow the procedures laid out in detail on the videos you watch and the books or articles you read.

For example, one difference between a professional’s work and an amateur in painting is that a professional might use up to a case (12 tubes) of caulk prepping walls and trim work in just a single room for an older home while an amateur might use zero and not even own a caulk gun much less know how to use it. The difference in the finished product is staggering.

white kitchen with small blue island

As a kitchen designer I can assure you that designing a kitchen well is not possible without the help of an experienced and talented kitchen designer.

Fortunately, most cabinet dealers supply design help free of charge as it is incorporated into the cost of the cabinetry. Designing your kitchen, yourself especially if you are an architect, engineer, real estate professional or contractor means you haven’t grasped the fundamental concept that you don’t know what you haven’t done professionally.

The worst designs we see as kitchen designers ALWAYS come from these professions because they arrogantly assumed that they knew enough to design a kitchen and did little or no research. Smart professionals in these fields KNOW they need professional kitchen design help, and that it is free, and so collaborate with kitchen designers at the cabinet dealers they chose.

Buying RTA cabinets or IKEA saves about 20% on cabinetry but you still must put cabinets together and you have no qualified professional kitchen designer to help you design, plan, and organize your kitchen renovation. This makes no sense but is all the rage. The best contractors, and architects would never buy RTA cabinetry so why do homeowners and less experienced pros assume this is a good idea. The answer is the IKEA effect a common delusion that effects most do-it-yourselfers.

The distinguished researchers that named The Ikea Effect found that the majority of human beings would rate their first attempt at complex origami as better than a lifelong origami maker’s. This exaggerated over evaluation of their ability is telling and dangerous for DIY re-modelers.

As humans we can be delusional and in denial. We see examples in our politics, and in our personal lives. The smartest and most rational person is always the person that admits they don’t know something and then does the research needed.

Because as humans we tend to delude ourselves, critical thinking and self-evaluation are surprisingly important on any large-scale DIY renovation. IE knowing what you don’t know. 

Below is our blog on this subject with a funny video that makes this point!

Hoping you do the research you need for your renovation.

. . . and of course . . .

Bon Appetit!

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