What I Learned Working with a Home Staging & Redesign Expert

This month, we have a featured blogger: my daughter, Devoni. In an informal capacity, I acted as a consultant this summer as she did some much-needed updates in her kitchen. I asked her if she could share her experience when she was finished, and this is what she had to say.

As a relatively new homeowner, I have little experience with home improvement projects. Prior to updating my kitchen, I had repainted most of the rooms in my house, but I had certainly never taken on a project that involved power tools, such as a sander. I drilled some hooks into a wall once, but that’s about it. That was a major hangup for me when it came to starting this project. Combine that with my inability to choose among hundreds and hundreds of paint colors, and I was really stuck. I knew my kitchen didn’t look great, but I didn’t know what to do about it.

Luckily, my mom is a home stager. When I told her I wanted to redo my kitchen, she said “I know exactly what you should do.” She sent me a few pictures, and then she came out to help me pick the right colors. She also talked me through the process and gave me a few small tips. I felt ready to get started, but I knew I’d need plenty of help along the way, too.

Since I’m her daughter, I had more access to her thoughts and advice than would the average person, so in this month’s blog, I’m going to share a few of the lessons I learned from working with a pro.

Before

             

Lori taught me to work with what I had. I wanted to change the entire look of my kitchen, and I still achieved that even though I didn’t gut it and start over. I knew the paint absolutely had to change, but I wasn’t in love with other aspects of my kitchen either, such as the countertops and the backsplash. I didn’t hate them, but I also didn’t choose them. In my mind, they were associated with the old kitchen I wanted to get rid of. Lori encouraged me to keep the project manageable and explained that changing the paint colors would ultimately cast the countertops and backsplash in a different light. I’m really glad I listened because I didn’t have the money, time, or knowledge to replace countertops and tile, and she was right about the end result.

After

Lori also taught me to use what I had in a more technical sense. The hinges on my cabinet doors had been painted over a time or two (or forty), and I thought I’d have to replace them–if I could even dig out the screw heads to detach the hinges from the cabinets. Not so. Lori recommended that I try paint stripper first in order to save a little money. And it worked! It took some finesse to remove the hinges, but then I soaked them in Citristrip overnight and scrubbed them clean the next morning. Then I spray painted them to match my new cabinet pulls, and now you’d never know they weren’t brand new.                               

     

It was clear that the previous owner tried to match the color of the walls to the blue tiles in the backsplash. The result was that the bright light blue walls and the glossy tiles were competing with instead of complementing one another. Then there were the dull green and off-white cabinets that didn’t attempt to match or complement anything. The combination was no treat for the eyes. Lori taught me that it’s best to tone it down. By choosing a light, neutral color for the walls and a darker color for the cabinets, she helped me create a clean contrast that ultimately made the kitchen appear much larger. Now the kitchen has a more uniform style, and the backsplash pops instead of competing for attention.

Lastly, I learned not to be afraid of trying something new in my home. For the first two years I lived here, I just tolerated the kitchen because I knew it would be a much more involved project than anything I had done before. The thought that there was no turning back once I started was a scary one, and I didn’t love the idea of having my kitchen in shambles for weeks on end. Lori kept me focused on the final result, though, and reminded me how great it would look when I was done. I realized it would take longer than I thought almost immediately after I started. (Fun fact: paint takes only two days to dry, but it takes 30 days to cure).

               

                 Even the inside of the cabinets got a fresh coat of paint

I ended up doing the project in phases over the course of a couple months so that I didn’t ruin my work by putting things back on the shelves too early. My kitchen got worse before it got better. Half the cabinets were painted gray while the other half were still green and white. Then the cabinets were gray and the walls were still blue. It looked odd for those two months. But every time I updated Lori with new pictures, she focused on how great it would look when it was finished. I was afraid to even begin, but the end result, as Lori promised, was completely worth it.

*Note: the white cabinets seen in these photos are metal and will be replaced.