When the real estate market is as hot as our market here in Mount Pleasant, there isn’t much that you need to do for your home to sell quickly. Is it clean? Are there door frames? (Yes, this is legitimately important, I recently toured a home without door frames.) If you’ve answered yes to both of these questions, you’re probably OK. However, if you want to get the most out of your current home, a few weekends of do-it-yourself projects can make a world of difference.
As I write this, I’m getting my own home ready to sell. This is the third house that I’ve purchased, renovated and sold with very little help from professional contractors, so while I’m certainly not an expert, I think I’ve earned the “jill of all trades, master of none” title, and that qualifies me to give advice – though it should probably be taken with a grain of salt.
If you live in a ranch, chances are you have a strange wrought iron feature somewhere. We barely touched the outside of the house, but replacing the iron scrolls with a Craftsman-esque pillar and modern gold numbers makes it feel fresh and updated.
Before you roll up your sleeves and get to work, you’ll want to get prepared on a personal level. To start with, make sure that those sleeves are attached to a shirt that you’re at peace with throwing in the trash at the end of the project because grout, caulk, stain and various other construction materials do not come off in the wash. That goes for shoes, too.
Next, locate your closest Little Caesars. Even if you’re not a fan, it’s inevitable that you’ll end up looking up from your project to find that it’s 8:00 p.m., you’re starving, and you’re not in the mood to prepare even the simplest of meals. And Little Caesars is about the only place you’ll want to show your face when you have paint in your hair.
Create the illusion of an open space while still keeping the functionality of defined rooms by adding windows, which will let more light in and serve as a beautiful design feature.
On to the real advice: when it comes to renovating, the majority of cosmetic projects aren’t complicated, but they are hard work. Which means that if you watch enough YouTube videos – never watch only one video on something; you need to hedge your bets — and read enough blogs, you can probably rip up carpet and lay hardwood flooring yourself. You will be exhausted, and your fingertips will all have blisters (use gloves!), but it can be done. I think that the most important skill that you need to tackle cosmetic DIY projects is confidence. That being said, if this is your first foray into home improvements, start small.
Installing backsplash is time consuming, but it’s also a great place to start for tiling newbies. Pick a subway tile for easy installation and a unique color to add wow factor.
Paint will give you the biggest bang for your buck when it comes to transforming a room, and it’s also very easy. Chat up the experts at your favorite paint store to make sure that you have the right type of paint for the room, along with the correct roller and brushes. Here’s my biggest painting tip: forget the tape! Putting up painter’s tape is time-consuming and, unless you take it off at the exact right nanosecond, you’re either going to get blobs of wet paint on your baseboards or you’ll rip the dry paint and need to touch up. I recommend edging by hand instead. Search YouTube for tips and practice by making a few straight lines in the middle of the wall. It’s even easier when you try it in a corner. Don’t let it intimidate you; the worst thing that can happen is you’ll need to touch it up – which you’ll need to do with tape, too – so just get it on the wall and make sure you have a sample size of the ceiling and baseboard color for mistakes.
Another great way to add value to your home is with trim. Whether you choose a chair rail, board and batten or beadboard, it will add tons of personality to your home and make it feel more custom. This job will require a miter saw and nail gun, but did you know that you can rent both (any many other tools) by the day from Lowe’s or Home Depot? A miter saw may seem scary if you’ve never used one before, but it’s really a piece of cake – most even have a laser that appears on your board at the cut point, so it’s very difficult to mess up. Make sure that you buy more wood than you need – you can always return it later, and the last thing that you want to do is get into a groove and then run out of material and have to make your third trip of the day to the hardware store. The internet is your friend, so do your research, wear eye protection and always follow that old adage, “measure twice, cut once.”
A fireplace is a natural focal point, but a boring fireplace will make the whole room feel lackluster. This quick weekend project consisted of only paint and standard wood boards, but it transformed a weird floating fireplace into an eye-catching feature.
If your kitchen needs a refresh, consider putting up a tile backsplash. Subway tile is popular and classic and isn’t hard to install. It’s also a nice choice because the tiles have straight edges that make them easier to stack on one another and square up with the wall, which means you’ll have a better chance of keeping a straight line. Avoid mosaics, which can be difficult to level and take a lot of practice to get right. You can find inexpensive wet saws that were made for cutting smaller tiles, or you can use a snap cutter, which scores the tile and then snaps it at the line you created. It’s a messy job, so make sure that you have drop cloths down because you will inevitably get thinset (mortar) and grout everywhere.
A few last tips that are really important:
- When you’re planning your project, make sure to give yourself a due date. It’s easy for DIY projects to go on forever, so having a date that you need to wrap up by will help you keep the end in sight.
- Start small. Every project that you complete will help you build momentum. If you try to tackle a giant project, you’ll get burned out and have a hard time finishing.
- Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Know your time constraints and be realistic about how long things will take.
- Have a handyman on speed dial. At some point, you will be completely exhausted and over it, and that’s ok! Don’t feel badly about calling in a professional to finish up a project. Sometimes you just need to call it a day.