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Sac Design: DIY Survival Tips

Photo by Andrea Gunn

IF YOU CAN SWING A HAMMER or charge a power drill, you can renovate your home, right? Not so fast. No matter how many episodes of “Fixer Upper” or “Rehab Addict” you’ve binged, DIY remodeling isn’t for everyone. In addition to legit construction skills, attempting your own remodel requires planning, preparation and oodles of patience.

Just ask Allison and Aaron Byrne, veteran DIYers who’ve spent the past two years giving a fresh, stylish makeover to their Arden-Arcade home. Allison, a social media strategist for Reddit, and Aaron, a former health care management consultant now working in the construction field and building furniture on the side, are fearless renovators. “We tiled the laundry room day 3 of living here,” says Allison.

Allison and Aaron Byrne

From painting and cabinetry to lighting and floors, this capable couple has tackled every house project imaginable. And they offer hard-won advice to folks wanting to do the same.

Delineate roles early on If you’re working on the project with another person, talk up front about who’s in charge of what. In Allison and Aaron’s case, she took the lead on design while he headed up execution and order of operations. “A DIY project can be stressful on a relationship and your home life,” says Aaron. “We found it really helpful to have really clear roles and responsibilities.”

Keep your larger vision top of mind Even if you’re unable to complete all of your dream projects in a short time span due to time or budget constraints, “having a holistic vision for the house is super important,” says Allison. “You may have to renovate one room at a time, but each project should build on the next so that it doesn’t look disjointed.”

Think holistically about impacts to your living space Whether you’re remodeling a tiny bathroom or your entire home, considerA what Aaron calls “storage, staging and scope isolation.” Where will you keep the tools and materials needed for the job? Do you have ample space set aside for cutting lumber or assembling cabinetry? How will you minimize dust and debris outside the worksite? “Thinking ahead about all of these things will help the project go more smoothly,” he advises.

Photo by Andrea Gunn

Purchase materials in advance Nothing brings a home project to a screeching halt faster than the words “out of stock.” That’s why Aaron recommends purchasing materials, appliances and fixtures up front, before work begins. “We learned from the supply chain shortages during the pandemic that it’s risky to dive in and not have everything you need for a project.”

Know when to call a pro

It’s OK not to know everything. “If you’re unsure or uneasy, it’s worth getting on the phone with a professional,” suggests Aaron, who recommends having a list of trusted resources at the ready. “It’s never fun to have to scramble to find someone in the middle of an emergency.”

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