The Cons of DIY Renovation


DIY’ing your full home renovation is tempting. But should you really do this?

the cons of DIY

This is a do-it-yourself, do-it-all maker culture. Fueled by enough YouTube videos, a homeowner can feel emboldened to take on anything—even a DIY home renovation.

It’s natural to be undecided about whether you want to do that full home renovation by yourself or hire professionals. Doing it yourself can mean acting as your own project manager or it can mean doing it all by hand, completely or partially. In any case, the prospect of cost savings is the tempting carrot at the end of the stick.

But there is a counter-argument—the cons of DIY. Is that DIY full home renovation really in your best interests? Examining the cons of DIY isn’t a scare story or a money pit narrative. Instead, it’s a window onto the scale and complexity of DIY full house renovation. Below, Sweeten outlines a chance to make an informed decision.

Sweeten matches home renovation projects with vetted general contractors, offering advice, support, and financial protection—at no cost to the homeowner.

Completion time

Home renovations require time and the attention to make both small and key decisions. Depending on the scope, part of your home may be covered in plastic protection or kitchens and bathrooms will be unusable. What you want is a full home renovation that operates on a compact, predictable schedule.

You have a life. Career, kids, relationships, friends, leisure: All of these have priority. This narrows down the amount of time that you have available to work on your house.

Professionals compress the schedule and complete the project much faster than if you had done it by yourself. Professionals are contractually bound to a completion timeframe. Plus, they have a vested interest in finishing on time since yours is likely one in a queue of other projects on their books.

Keeping on schedule

When you install your own laminate floor or paint your own bathroom, timing is easy. You have three or four minor milestones to hit, and it’s simple to keep them in order.

But when the project is as multi-layered as a full home renovation, it’s like playing multi-dimensional chess. Each project—floor, walls, windows, plumbing, and more—has its own set of milestones. Each of those projects is a milestone and must weave in with other projects. And, to make it even more interesting, you sometimes need to bounce back and forth between projects. Coordinating subcontractors within that system can get bewildering.

By contrast, contractors know how to keep scheduling straight; it’s their stock in trade. They’ll keep all of the projects running as consistently as possible. And they’ll seamlessly coordinate the movements of the subcontractors.

Quality of work

Unless you have tiled a shower before, you first need to learn how to tile a shower. The worst classroom for learning how to tile is in your own house. You do not want your house to be a proving ground for your fledgling tiling, wiring, flooring, or plumbing skills.

Professionals do this work all the time. With training, apprenticeships, and experience in the field, they have already worked out the kinks. Professionals generally turn out professional quality work.

Codes and permits

A vast amount of full home renovation work touches on building codes and permits. Structural work, electrical, plumbing, HVAC, and even water heaters require permits in most municipalities. All permit work must be done according to code. And just because you aren’t required to pull a permit for a certain project doesn’t mean that building code isn’t applicable.

Code-compliant work may suffer at the hands of DIYers. The pros know code and are professionally bound to turn out work that complies with the latest codes. Contractors, subcontractors, designers, and architects stay abreast on the latest changes in their field.

Finding subcontractors

Subcontractors are skilled tradespeople who do projects like plumbing, electrician, drywall, painting, or flooring.

Even if you’ve decided to DIY your home renovation by hand, you still might end up hiring pros for select projects such as whole-house wiring, solid wood or engineered wood floor installation, drywall installation, tiling a shower, or blowing or rolling insulation into an attic.

Finding and lining up good subcontractors can be a challenge. Using a contractor can take that chore off of your plate since the contractor has ready access to a pool of trusted subs.

Renovating safely

Homeowners taking on full DIY home renovations risk injury in many ways. Old paint might be lead-based or those floor tiles might have asbestos. Black mold is common in ceilings, attics, and walls. Falls—the most common type of household injury—can occur even when you are on a ladder painting crown molding.

When you hire professionals to do the job, they have the know-how, safety gear, and materials to keep themselves and you safe. Safety is second nature to them; their livelihood and health depend on it.

Are you really saving money?

One reason often mentioned for doing a DIY full home renovation is that it saves money. As long as you can keep the renovation moving and on-target, with no wasted time or materials, you just might save some money.

But there is also the distinct possibility that you may lose this bet. If your project isn’t clearing inspections, you need to do it over until you get it right. That costs money. If you decide to do a hands-on renovation, you may need to purchase tools that are used only once: a wet tile saw, a full set of drywall tools, a paint sprayer.

When you hire a professional to do your full home renovation, you might save money in a number of ways. Savings might come in the form of wholesale discounts, bulk discounts, or special perks granted by a supplier since the professional is a regular buyer. Or from years of experience, the professional may have a keen eye for finding materials that are still high-quality but less expensive.

Is a DIY home renovation the right choice?

No solution applies to everyone in all situations. A DIY home renovation might be perfect if you are hungry to learn new skills. For anyone who is interested in the process as well as the product, DIY renovation is an eye-opener. Finally, if you are short on money but long on time, a DIY renovation might be right for you.

Hiring professionals to do your whole-house renovation helps you hit those critical timing marks that keep you on schedule. The work will be done to professional quality, safely and cleanly, in accordance with local building codes. Peace of mind and the assurance that the job will be done right—and not hanging over your head for months—are just a few of the benefits of using pros to do your full house renovation.

Here’s what Sweeten homeowners took part in during their renovation and what their general contractors handled.

Sweeten handpicks the best general contractors to match each project’s location, budget, scope, and style. Follow the blog, Sweeten Stories, for renovation ideas and inspiration and when you’re ready to renovate, start your renovation with Sweeten.



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In the Glow: A Bright Bushwick Apartment, Courtesy of eBay, Craigslist, and Clever DIY Ideas


The best homes are the ones that evolve slowly over time, the kind of spaces where one can point to any object and the owner will have an interesting story about where it was sourced or how it was made. Take Clément and Sara Pascal’s Bushwick apartment. The couple (he’s a photographer; she’s a psychologist) bought the 1,000-square-foot flat in Brooklyn ten years ago—and it took them about that long to get it to where it is now.

Much of the vintage midcentury furniture was found by patiently stalking eBay and Craigslist (including nearly all the iconic Nelson Bubble Lamps), and what they couldn’t track down, Clément made himself (such as the DIY lookalike BDDW Captain’s Mirror hanging in their living room). As for the plentiful storage built-ins, they’re also Clément’s handiwork: “Once I started, I couldn’t stop finding places where I could add storage,” he shares.

Their most recent upgrade: swapping out sliding closet doors in the bedroom for wood-paneled ones. Clément counts it as one his DIY highlights: “It was a very long time coming,” he notes (ten years, to be exact). Ironically, a month later, the couple sold the apartment, now finally in its finished state.

They’ll soon be moving into a new space in Fort Greene and applying the same slow-wins-the-race design philosophy. We asked them to stay in touch and let us know when it will be photo-ready. Clément’s response? “Might take another 10 years.”

Below, he walks us through their Bushwick apartment, the pair’s first labor of love.

Photography by Clément Pascal.

Clément and Sara&#8
Above: Clément and Sara’s apartment is in a four-story building that had been gutted and redone. “Charm of the old but new inside,” he explains. The living room showcases many of his vintage scores, among them the leather Poltrona Fraus sofa bought in Germany and shipped here” (“still probably cheaper than a sofa from West Elm”). Above it are two oversized movie-set Mole-Richardson lights sourced on eBay, rewired, and repainted. And to the right, “a round mirror I made myself when I wanted to buy a BDDW Captains Mirror but couldn’t afford it.”
The dining chairs are by Peter Danko ($ each on eBay!): &#8
Above: The dining chairs are by Peter Danko ($25 each on eBay!): “I love how fluid the lines are.” (Chairish currently has it for $399 each.) The Saarinen Tulip Table is a Craigslist find. The photographs on the walls are by Clément.



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DIY: Wheat Sheaf Wreath – House & Home


A definitive sign of fall, the wheat wreath dates back to ancient eastern European harvests, when the last sheaves were tied into crowns worn by the local beauties. Hang one on your door to welcome the season. You can purchase one or create your own DIY version! It’s easier than you think.

What you’ll need:

  • Wire wreath form
  • Paddle wire
  • Wire cutters
  • 100-200 steams of wheat (available through Etsy)

How-to:

  1. Divide wheat into smaller bundles that vary in length for a more organic look (about 10-20 per bundle). You can trim the bottom of each stem slightly, but be sure to leave enough so it peeks through (see photo) for a more voluminous look.
  2. Wrap each bundle in paddle wire, then attach around the wreath form, making sure they are slightly angled from one another.
  3. Once the whole wreath is filled, tie the paddle wire one last time around the wreath and cut off any excess wire.
  4. Hang the wreath on your front door, lean it against a fireplace mantel or place it on an empty wall that needs some seasonal sprucing.

Author: Kimberley Brown & Victoria Christie

Photographer:

Courtesy of Wills & Prior



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The Catskills Farmhouse of Two Brooklyn Creatives, Weekend DIY Edition


Lately we’ve been admiring the Catskills farmhouse of writer and florist Lisa Przystup, first spotted via Jenni Kayne’s site Rip & Tan. Brooklynite Przystup and her husband, Jonathon Linaberry, had been looking for a weekend escape within two hours of the city when they decided to expand their search to three hours north. “At that point we had looked at about 18 houses,” Przystup says, when they found an 1800s farmhouse on a hill in the Catskills. “The house we ended up in was definitely move-in ready, but it still needed work—some of it was about making stylistic choices that suited our taste and some of it was (and is) functional: The porch was crooked and the posts were balancing on stacks of field stones and tipping cinder blocks.”

The couple set about transforming the house from the inside, doing most of the work themselves, DIY-style on weekends: “For the larger projects like the porch and excavation we called in the professionals because, well, we don’t know how to run an excavator,” Przystup says. “We’ve done smaller things, like painting almost the entire interior and some of the floors, installing tongue-and-groove ceiling in the kitchen, cutting stone for a hearth, installing a pellet stove, knocking out a small wall to expose the chimney, hanging canvas from the ceiling of a bedroom, installing a brass backsplash behind the stove, skim coating and sanding the kitchen walls, building shelves, installing light fixtures, hanging screen doors.” (Since we first published this post, they’ve also transformed the attic into a guest bedroom; see Before & After: An Airy Summer Bedroom in a Catskills Farmhouse, Transformed with Paint.)

We like the sparse, somewhat undone nature of the house—canvas drop cloths draped over tables, wild tumbleweeds hanging from peg rails—but Przystup told us it’s still a work in progress: They’re still planning on rebuilding the porch, transforming another bedroom, and knocking down a wall in the living room. Join us for a look at what they’ve done so far.

Photography by April Valencia, courtesy of Rip & Tan, except where noted.

Przystup in the living room of the farmhouse.
Above: Przystup in the living room of the farmhouse.

Przystup’s first priority on the list of weekend DIYs: whitewashing the floors. “I had been dreaming about white floors for years—they provide such a nice blank canvas and really make pieces stand out in a way they wouldn’t otherwise. They’re also hugely impractical and a pain to keep clean, but such is life.” She and Linaberry painted the existing wood floors and some of the walls in Sherwin Williams Extra White; the living room walls are Sherwin Williams Westhighland White. The rest of the palette, Przystup says, is “monochromatic with shades of earth—wood and woven things, mostly.”

For contrast, the couple painted the interior doors in Sherwin Williams Tricorn Black (also recommended in Expert Advice: Architects’ Top 10 Gray Paint Picks). “There was a lot of brick red paint in the house that I wanted to get rid of,” Przystup says. “We painted everything, actually, and we’re still painting. It’s unending.”

A vintage horse print and collected stones, arranged artfully.
Above: A vintage horse print and collected stones, arranged artfully.

“We are definitely working on a budget,” Przystup says. “We basically try to do as much as we can ourselves and source furniture and pieces from Craigslist and yard sales. The previous owner sold us a handful of things at a really great price and that was a huge help.” Other decor comes from wild finds, inspired by Przystup’s work as the flower designer behind James’s Daughter Flowers.

A vintage screen, a gift from a friend, hangs above a West Elm couch. The blush throw pillows are from Hawkins New York.
Above: A vintage screen, a gift from a friend, hangs above a West Elm couch. The blush throw pillows are from Hawkins New York.
The farmhouse kitchen, transformed with small, budget-minded upgrades.
Above: The farmhouse kitchen, transformed with small, budget-minded upgrades.



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Fourth of July DIY: An Easy-Breezy Blueberry-Inspired Tablecloth by David Stark


Here’s a DIY tablecloth for Fourth of July that’s so easy that truly anyone—from kindergarteners to the arts-and-crafts-averse—can make it. Perhaps best of all? It’s blessedly understated, which means it can have a life well after the fireworks are over.

You don’t need any tools (just a couple new pencils, a box, fabric, and some paint) to make this blueberries-inspired DIY tablecloth. Why blueberries? Aside from the apple, is there a more American fruit? Besides, “July is prime time for this seasonal fruit. Why not give it the 15 minutes of fame it deserves?” says David Stark, our go-to expert for event design and the mastermind behind this clever project.

Below, the three-step instructions for crafting this exceedingly easy DIY. Note: While David and his team opted to make a tablecloth, you can just as easily fashion placemats, a picnic blanket, or a butcher-paper runner using the same method.

Photography by Corrie Hogg and Susie Montagna for David Stark Design.

The Materials

Martha Stewart Crafts has 4data-src=
Above: Martha Stewart Crafts has 41 shades of Acrylic Craft Paints; $2.39 each at Michael’s.
  • Acrylic paint, in brown and two shades of blue
  • Fabric or paper
  • Pencils with new erasers
  • Small paint brush
  • Small box or box lid

Step 1

Use a small brush to trace the box or lid onto the fabric with brown paint. Repeat to create the scattered farmer’s market pattern as we have.
Above: Use a small brush to trace the box or lid onto the fabric with brown paint. Repeat to create the scattered farmer’s market pattern as we have.

Step 2

Fill your baskets with tiny blueberries in two shades of blue! Simply dip the eraser into the paint and stamp it onto your fabric.
Above: Fill your baskets with tiny blueberries in two shades of blue! Simply dip the eraser into the paint and stamp it onto your fabric.



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small bedroom solution: the DIY paneled-wood headboard


Hammering the panels. &#8
Above: Hammering the panels. “The last plank is the one that goes on top; attach it with screws or wood glue or both,” says Maiju. “I also covered the screw marks with a filler to give them a more finished look.”

Maiju says she’s self taught and that one project has led to another: “It’s been a long process starting with painting picture frames and chairs. Over time, I’ve learned to use different electrical tools. Renovation projects are my meditation. And since my other work is digital, it’s always so rewarding to see concrete results.” Interestingly, Maiju’s last name, Saha, translates as “Saw” in English, which is how she got her blog name, Maiju Saw.

Maiju chose a shade of sage green. She painted the pine directly; you can also prime the panels before installation. For detailed, step-by-step instructions (in Finnish; use Google to translate), go to Maiju Saw.
Above: Maiju chose a shade of sage green. She painted the pine directly; you can also prime the panels before installation. For detailed, step-by-step instructions (in Finnish; use Google to translate), go to Maiju Saw.

The Finished Project

The finished headboard is approximately 45 inches tall and is topped with a shelf for small objects. Learn more about paneling options in Remodeling data-src=
Above: The finished headboard is approximately 45 inches tall and is topped with a shelf for small objects. Learn more about paneling options in Remodeling 101: The Ultimate Guide to Shiplap, Beadboard, and V-Groove Paneling.
Maiju made the bedside ceramic lamp at a clay workshop and finished it with a vintage pleated shade. The leaf pillow is made from a William Morris fabric bought on Etsy; the striped bedding is from H&M Home.
Above: Maiju made the bedside ceramic lamp at a clay workshop and finished it with a vintage pleated shade. The leaf pillow is made from a William Morris fabric bought on Etsy; the striped bedding is from H&M Home.

Browse our DIY Project archives for more ideas, including:

Rehab Diaries: DIY Beadboard Ceilings, Before and After

A DIY Kitchen Overhaul for Under $500, Beadboard Backsplash Included

Idea to Steal: A DIY Headboard from a Natural Fiber Rug



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9 Easy-to-Ambitious DIY Projects to Improve Your Home


Whether you’re looking for a small project or a new challenge, these improvements can enhance your space and potentially boost your home’s value.

Like many homeowners, you may have eyed a home improvement project in the past only to come up short on time or inspiration.

Don’t feel bad. Nearly half (43%) of all homeowners say their biggest challenge around home improvement decisions is finding DIY time, which also may explain why the same percentage of people say they have unfinished home improvement projects — typically two.

Since many of us are spending much or all of our time at home, now might be a good time to channel some of that cabin fever into a project that could add value to your home or infuse it with new energy. 

Here’s a sampling of projects you can tackle alone — or with a pint-sized assistant in need of a play date.  

Beginner projects

New faucets

Attention to detail is key for this project — you don’t want to flood your kitchen because you forgot to turn off the water valve — but no previous plumbing skills are required, and a shiny new faucet can generate a lot of day-to-day pleasure for a little effort. These instructions walk you through the steps to install a kitchen faucet (and the process is just the same for a bathroom sink). 

Light fixtures and switches

Few things can change the atmosphere of a room as quickly as lighting. Swapping out an old fixture for a new one — or an on-off switch for a dimmer — can provide a mood for any occasion.  Here’s an easy guide to change a light fixture. Switches use the same types of wires, so if you can swap a fixture, you can handle a switch.   

Fire pit

This is a great one to tackle with kids. Celebrate the finished product with a s’mores party. Plus, the sales price premium on homes with fire pits is 2.8%, according to a Zillow analysis of thousands of home listings and sales prices.* Build you own backyard fire pit in 7 easy steps.

Smart tech upgrade

There are countless smart home products you can choose from, and some require little more than changing a light bulb or plugging in a device. A few to consider:

Smart doorbell/camera: Installing one is similar to changing out a light switch. The process involves removing your old doorbell and connecting the device to your Wi-Fi.

Smart locks: Do you have a family member who is always losing their house key? Replacing a traditional door lock with a keyless entry you access using a touch pad or smartphone app is an easy solution. 

Smart home hub: Amazon, Google, Apple, Nest, Samsung and others offer smart home hubs, which allow you to interact with compatible devices through a central system. The hub itself is typically “plug and play” and easy to set up. But you may need to do some initial troubleshooting to get all of your devices connected.  

Smart lights: This project is as simple as buying and installing light bulbs. However, the upgrade requires coordination with a smart home system because each one has its own requirements and controls. If you already have a home system, be sure the lights you choose are compatible. If you’re thinking of buying a new system, keep in mind that it needs to work harmoniously with the products you already have.

Intermediate projects

Cabinet refresh

Updating your kitchen doesn’t have to involve major renovations. You can create a whole new look by changing out the door and drawer pulls, painting your cabinets or removing cabinet doors to create an open-shelving effect. Or, if you have too much wall space and too few cabinets, you can easily install open shelving from scratch. An added bonus: Homes with open shelving sell for 4.2% more than expected. For cabinet tips and other ideas, here are seven ways to upgrade your kitchen without remodeling.

Barn door

Switching out a traditional swinging door or a closet slider for a barn door that glides on a rail can give your room a striking look, as well as open up space and change the furniture arranging possibilities. And your effort might pay off in other ways: Barn doors are associated with a 5% price premium. You’ll need a few tools, another pair of hands, and these step-by-step instructions which cover all the details of how to build and install your own sliding barn door. 

Advanced projects

Board & batten

You may not be familiar with the term, but you’ve probably seen this classic design feature in a number of homes. Precision is required for this one, and that means you need the right tools, namely a measuring tape, a level and a miter saw. Also patience. But if you can imagine a 3D element atop your drywall, you’re ready to go, and this guide will walk you through each step of the process. 

Garden shed

If you have the know-how to build a garden shed, you can find any number of plans and tutorials online to suit your taste. And if you’re not quite up for that challenge, you can still improve the one you’ve got or buy a garden-variety one and make it your own. Start by imagining whether you need it for storage or extra work or living space, and go from there. Homes with a “she shed” are associated with a 3.6% price premium. Here’s some inspiration to create your own custom garden workspace. 

Heated floors

This is the kind of project you can tackle if you missed out on your real vocation and ended up in a desk job. Labor-intensive and requiring the confidence of an accomplished tradesperson (and some math skills), your success in warming your dwelling from the bottom up will make you a hero or heroine in your own home. This project is ideal if you already planned to replace the flooring in a room and have the opportunity to add a heating element in the process. Learn about the different types of radiant flooring and tips for DIY success. Homes with this feature sell for 4.9% more than expected.

 Whatever you decide to do, measure twice and have fun!

*Home sale data is based on a Zillow analysis of listing language and the sales performance of thousands of homes nationwide in 2018 and 2019. Adding these design features to a home does not guarantee or definitively cause the ultimate sale price to increase as much as observed.

Related:



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Steal This Look: A Springlike Pastel Bedroom in Paris, DIY Edition


The genius of the Hotel Henriette is in the details—done on a tight budget, no less. Designer Vanessa Scoffier of Les Nouveaux Decorateurs turned the 30-year-old hotel into a “vintage, bohème, and très DIY” sanctuary. In the 140 square feet of the Double Chambre, also known as the Glamour room, vintage-doors-as-headboard and a pastel palette offer serious inspiration for any guest bedroom or small space. Here are the resources to get the look.

The Double Chambre starts at an affordable (and unheard of for Paris) price of €9. Visit Hotel Henriette for more information, and see our post on the space The Très DIY Hotel Henriette in Paris (Starting at $97 a Night).
Above: The Double Chambre starts at an affordable (and unheard of for Paris) price of €109. Visit Hotel Henriette for more information, and see our post on the space The Très DIY Hotel Henriette in Paris (Starting at $97 a Night).

Paint

A similar color to the light gray on the walls is Farrow & Ball&#8
Above: A similar color to the light gray on the walls is Farrow & Ball’s Purbeck Stone.
A close match to the color on the DIY headboard (made of reclaimed wood doors) is Benjamin Moore&#8
Above: A close match to the color on the DIY headboard (made of reclaimed wood doors) is Benjamin Moore’s Santa Monica Blue.

Lighting

The Grossman Grashoppa Pendant Light in Blue Gray (shown) is $359 at YLighting.
Above: The Grossman Grashoppa Pendant Light in Blue Gray (shown) is $359 at YLighting.

Furniture

A similar Mid-Century Nightstand in an acorn-colored finish is $9 at West Elm.
Above: A similar Mid-Century Nightstand in an acorn-colored finish is $299 at West Elm.

Bedding

One of many good choices for simple white bedsheets is the Merci Optic White Linen Fitted Sheet (from €99) and accompanying Optic White Linen Flat Sheet (€0). For more options, see our post  Easy Pieces: Simple White Sheets.
Above: One of many good choices for simple white bedsheets is the Merci Optic White Linen Fitted Sheet (from €99) and accompanying Optic White Linen Flat Sheet (€150). For more options, see our post 10 Easy Pieces: Simple White Sheets.
The Merci Azure Washed Linen Duvet Cover for
Above: The Merci Azure Washed Linen Duvet Cover for 2 People (86.5 by 94.5 inches) is €250 at Merci in Paris.
The Optic White Linen Cushion Cover €39 at Merci.
Above: The Optic White Linen Cushion Cover €39 at Merci.

The Linge Particulieur Linen Standard Pillowcase in Scandinavian Blue (shown) is $50 at Collyer&#8
Above: The Linge Particulieur Linen Standard Pillowcase in Scandinavian Blue (shown) is $50 at Collyer’s Mansion.
The Ligne Particulier Curry Flowers Linen Euro Pillowcase is $65 at Collyer&#8
Above: The Ligne Particulier Curry Flowers Linen Euro Pillowcase is $65 at Collyer’s Mansion.

Accessories

For a similar classic brass French-style light switch and dimmer, Meljac&#8
Above: For a similar classic brass French-style light switch and dimmer, Meljac’s Classique Switch (shown) is your best bet. We also like Forbes & Lomax for something similar in unlacquered brass as well.

The Large French Triple Mirror is an oversize version of the small vintage mirror seen on the bedside table here. This one is £5 at Cox & Cox. For more mirrors on chains, see our post on The Organized Home  Easy Pieces: Square and Rectangular Shaped Hanging Mirrors.
Above: The Large French Triple Mirror is an oversize version of the small vintage mirror seen on the bedside table here. This one is £185 at Cox & Cox. For more mirrors on chains, see our post on The Organized Home 10 Easy Pieces: Square and Rectangular Shaped Hanging Mirrors.

For more hotel bedrooms with style to steal, see our posts:



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Wooden Beams That Dress Up Ceilings: A DIY Project?


Transform a dull room by putting exposed wooden beams onto ceilings. More companies are touting it as a more affordable and less cumbersome project that even do-it-yourselfers can perform.

Wooden beams in a high ceiling living room

Photo credit: Ornamental Mouldings & Millwork

Wooden beams can enhance high ceilings and add a decorative element to a space. Companies are offering faux beams made to resemble the real look of wood to cut the costs. These faux wooden beams are available in a variety of styles and textures. Plus, they’re lightweight, which lends itself to a DIY job. Prices vary, but a 13-foot faux wood beam, for example, can cost between $130 to $185. (Google “faux wood beams and mouldings” for options.)

Add them to dress up a family room, master bedroom, or bathroom—or even to add a rustic look to a kitchen.

One company, Ornamental Moulding & Millwork, touts DIY options such as its ambrosia maple and prefinished gray, which are lightweight, eight-foot-long hollow, U-shaped beams. They come with mounting plates and hardware for installation.

“We’re seeing people attach our beams to ceilings in family rooms, kitchens, dining rooms, and bedrooms,” says Keith Early, vice president of marketing and new product development at Ornamental Mouldings & Millwork. “This definitely is a project a DIYer can tackle. Whether it’s adding straight beams to a ceiling, creating a center beam with cross beams, or crafting a coffered ceiling, these beams provide the ideal way to enhance a family’s living space.”

Wood beams in a kitchen

Photo credit: Ornamental Mouldings & Millwork

Early says that short beams and brackets can be intersected with taller beams to construct “a stunning multi-height ceiling profile.” Straight beams can be installed to complement rustic wood mantels, floating shelves, and mouldings in a room, he adds.



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An Easy DIY Upgrade for Dry Cleaner Wire Hangers


I remember a friend in high school making fun of her mother for reusing tinfoil and thinking to myself, “What a good idea.” I grew up in New England and Yankee thriftiness is part of my DNA—which perhaps explains my love of doctored everyday objects. I collect white cotton pillowcases that Depression-era brides embroidered modestly on the edges. I love suitcases that someone long ago improved with travel decals. And one of my favorite Remodelista posts is Justine’s DIY closet makeover in which she wrapped her wire clothes hangers in a layer of muslin to keep the clothes from slipping; see $10 and a Day.

On a recent brief stay in Madrid,  I was excited to see the same hanger technique in use at two of the city’s chicest shops. So before you toss those skinny metal dry cleaner hangers, take a look at what you can turn them into with a bit of scrap fabric. Here, three ways to wrap and elevate them.

1. All-White Hangers à la Justine

Made from cotton muslin hand-cut in half-inch-wide, yard-long strips, Justine&#8
Above: Made from cotton muslin hand-cut in half-inch-wide, yard-long strips, Justine’s hangers have a ballet ribbon-like elegance.
Starting at the neck, the wrapped muslin is simply double knotted in place. Justine points out, &#8
Above: Starting at the neck, the wrapped muslin is simply double knotted in place. Justine points out, “This project is all about recycling: an old sheet, pillowcase, or even a worn T-shirt will do.” Good fabric shears also come in handy. For detailed instructions, go to Justine’s DIY Closet Makeover.

2. Pez Madrid’s Patterned Approach

Pez (which means &#8
Above: Pez (which means “Fish”) has two locations in lively Malasana: one devoted to fashion and a newer outpost showcasing household design. At the former, owners Beatriz Mezquriz and Patricia de Salas create cloth-covered hangers several times a year to go with their seasonal palettes. Shown here: “The ice cream colors of spring-summer.”
Beatriz and Patricia buy remnants at the fabric and sewing stores near Madrid&#8
Above: Beatriz and Patricia buy remnants at the fabric and sewing stores near Madrid’s Plaza Mayor and Puerta del Sol. “Many of these shops have leftovers that they sell at a good price. It’s hard to tell when they date from; some look like they’re from the eighties, some older than that. For wrapping hangers, what’s important is that the fabrics have small patterns, so that you can appreciate them in such a thin stripe.”
The fabric is hand-cut in long, two-centimeter-wide strips and secured to the neck of the hanger with a few stitches: &#8
Above: The fabric is hand-cut in long, two-centimeter-wide strips and secured to the neck of the hanger with a few stitches: “We sew the fabric at the top, wrap it around the hanger, and sew it again at the neck making a triangle. If we run out of fabric, we stitch another length to the end of the first, and try to hide it.”
A tip from our book, Remodelista: The Organized Home: &#8
Above: A tip from our book, Remodelista: The Organized Home: “Use matching hangers. You’ll fit more in and your closet will look much tidier.” (For more secrets to an organized closet, see pages 98-121.)

3. String-Wrapped Hangers at Do Design

Artist Lucia Ruiz-Rivas neatly winds twine around the hangers at Do Design, her concept shop and cafe in downtown Madrid&#8
Above: Artist Lucia Ruiz-Rivas neatly winds twine around the hangers at Do Design, her concept shop and cafe in downtown Madrid’s Chueca neighborhood. Note that while the other DIYers leave the wire hook exposed, Lucia wraps the whole hanger. She uses a variety of string—”the stiffer, the better”—including hemp twine (shown here) and Do’s Red and White Cotton Packing String.
Lucia uses a little piece of masking tape to secure the twine at the tip of the hanger, then tightly rolls her way around.
Above: Lucia uses a little piece of masking tape to secure the twine at the tip of the hanger, then tightly rolls her way around.
Lucia ties off the cord at the neck of the hanger with a simple knot. &#8
Above: Lucia ties off the cord at the neck of the hanger with a simple knot. “You can’t know how much twine you’ll need,” she notes, “so instead of cutting a length, it’s best to use the whole roll and go with it until the end.”

N.B.: This post is an update; it was first published on The Organized Home on June 6, 2018.

Take a look at 10 more Display-Worthy Clothes Hangers.

We’ve got plenty of closet organization ideas too, including:



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