In the modern world of YouTube videos and ‘how-to’ websites, the DIY solution can be tempting. A two minute video can be all the inspiration needed to break out the welding torch and chainsaw. But should you? How do you know what’s within reach and what’s going to burn the house down or leave you knee-high in a basement full of water? You might be surprised to learn how much you can do in this ‘no guts, no glory’ game of home improvement.

Start with the easy stuff

Paint never knocked a house over. It’s something that, with the right amount of patience, anyone can attempt. Sometimes a good paint job is all a room needs. Consider bold, out-of-the-box colors done in a delicate way.

Shelves can drastically change the look of a room and declutter it in the process. Many home stores offer pre-built shelving, but you can also buy your own wood along with some sandpaper and a can of paint or Danish oil. Remember to go with reinforced shelf brackets to avoid eventual drooping, and never take shortcuts when it comes to stud finding and wall anchors.

Get under the sink

A bathroom or kitchen can achieve a new personality by simply adding a shiny new faucet. Set aside the bottles of bleach and boxes of Brillo pads under the sink and get to work. Step one for anything water related is to – you guessed it – turn off the water. Every sink has valves for the hot and cold water supply, so always start there. From that point, a couple of wrenches are all you’ll need to dismantle the old spout and faucets. To install the new one, simply reverse everything you did to disassemble the old one, and you’re all set.

Furniture fix-ups

Look around your house. Are there any tables or chairs that need a little love? It’s amazing what you can do with only a tack hammer, some wood glue and a little paint and polyurethane. A good palm sander is worth the investment on this, as are a couple of face masks. Strip down the outer layer of the piece, smooth out the blemishes, and apply some new color. You’ll be amazed at how easy and refreshing this process can be.

Be bold, but be smart

Home repair and renovation can be a rewarding experience. We only mentioned a few basic projects you can undertake, but this may inspire you to try a little more. Whether it’s tiling and flooring, cabinet replacements or something bigger, don’t be afraid to challenge yourself if you feel comfortable.

However, we also want to stress the idea of safety first. Don’t wade too deep into the DIY waters if you’re really unsure, and never substitute your own initiative for the expertise of a professional. DIY projects should be casual and fun, but for serious work there is no replacement for our local carpenters, handy people and builders who will do things correctly and safely

This article was published in the January/February 2023 print edition of Katonah Connect.

Creative Director at Connect to Northern Westchester | + posts

Justin is an award-winning designer and photographer. He was the owner and creative director at Future Boy Design, producing work for clients such as National Parks Service, Vintage Cinemas, The Tarrytown Music Hall, and others. His work has appeared in Bloomberg TV, South by Southwest (SXSW), Edible Magazine, Westchester Magazine, Refinery 29, the Art Directors Club, AIGA and more.

Justin is a two-time winner of the International Design Awards, American Photography and Latin America Fotografia. Vice News has called Justin Negard as “one of the best artists working today.”

He is the author of two books, On Design, which discusses principles and the business of design, and Bogotà which is a photographic journey through the Colombian capital.

Additionally, Justin has served as Creative Director at CityMouse Inc., an NYC-based design firm which provides accessible design for people with disabilities, and has been awarded by the City of New York, MIT Media Lab and South By Southwest.

He lives in Katonah with his wonderfully patient wife, son and daughter.