From Drab to Delightful: Lessons Learned

“From Drab to Delightful” project is officially over. It took many months of work from my husband and I, but the end result is just so worth it. Our initial goals included:

  1. Changing brass fixtures to brushed nickel. Includes cabinet door handles, light fixtures, door knobs and maybe even the door hinges.
  2. Replacing or updating the kitchen countertop.
  3. Replacing the bathroom sink faucets.
  4. Painting the bathrooms, plus the guestroom ceiling.

What did we end up doing?

Bathrooms – We painted the walls, ceilings, trims and baseboards. I stained the cabinets. He changed the faucet, tub and light fixtures.

Bedrooms – He painted the guestroom ceiling. I painted the closets, which, in retrospect, wasn’t really necessary.

Kitchen – We got the cabinets painted white. A new laminate countertop was installed, as well as the new sink and faucet. Hubby added the backsplash.

Doors, knobs and hinges – I painted the doors while hubby replaced the knobs and hinges. We bought new knobs, but reused the hinges. We also went from brass to brushed nickel.

Flooring – We went from old carpet to new carpet because getting hardwood floors was way over our budget. No regrets. The carpet was reasonably priced.

Between the kitchen and bathroom updates, I can’t decide which one I love the more.

Now what did we learn from our home improvement project that took less than a year to complete?

  1. Snowball renovation is a real thing. We started off with four items in our to-do list with a budget of US$1,500 (see post here). We ended up with all that and more.
  2. Know your budget. It’s your money; take ownership of it. Get your money’s worth. If you don’t feel like customer service is up to par, then it probably isn’t. Find a different professional.
  3. Hire professionals if you can afford it. Negotiate prices. They want your business, so try to work on a compromise. DIY, while very fulfilling, is very time-consuming and back-breaking. Let the pros do their work.
  4. If you’re taking the DIY route for the first time, then know that you will be buying your own materials. Choose quality ones that can stand the test of time, so you can use it in the future.
  5. Know when to skimp and splurge. For example, do you really need to buy new door hinges? Or will a quick spray paint do the job? Are the cabinets really dingy or can it be saved to look different? Reuse and recycle if you can. It will really save you mucho dinero.

So that’s what we learned in summary. At certain points of our project, we kept wondering what we got ourselves into, which changed when we saw the results, “why didn’t we do this before?”


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