Posted in Lifelong Learning

Why Hang onto the Hinges, Live a Little

That is all it was in the beginning.

Change the builder’s grade brass door knobs.

Soon enough it became crystal clear that the challenge was in keeping this project simple, short and sweet.

Image Credit: Hardware Tools Workshop Screwdriver Wrench Clip Art from
Image Credit: Hardware Tools Workshop Screwdriver Wrench Clip Art from

I have no one else to blame but myself for giving in to the nudging or more like taunting of my inner voice to “live a little and up my game”.   

Days later, Lo and behold,  handsome pieces of artwork: doors sporting Sherwin Williams Domino along with some befitting accouterments, the oil rubbed bronze door knobs.  To leave it at that would be the equivalent of a half baked cake.  Aware of its potential, to go from handsome to gorgeous, the only way forward was to go the whole nine yards.   Hanging onto those builder grade brass door hinges and doorstops would be an outright travesty, or at least that was my mind’s justification.

 I quickly realized that as exciting as this may be, with each additional makeover item added to my task list, I was inching closer to broke.  Reality Check – the possibilities may be numerous, however the budget is slim and also king.

Here are a few lessons learned in planning and getting the work done.

  1. Rein it in before you get carried away. Great Ideas, such little limited resources, be it time or and money are available  to execute them all.  Know what you want done and where. Identify your Focus areas – be it the bedroom(s), Powder room, the foyer,  unfinished basement or even the whole house. This helps narrow down the list of materials and estimate the anticipated time for completion of the project. Outline the different tasks to be completed for each focus area and go over the list with the Contractor.
  2. Know What You are Working with; Materials and Budget – Have an idea of what type of furnishings or and finishes you want and comparison shop for these items. This gives the property owner a realistic idea of what their present budget can support. Allow some flexibility for last minute changes in terms of cost and materials to be used. Even if you have the contractor buy the items, an educated consumer is  better able to minimize sticker shock.  Although most vendors today have an online presence, it does not hurt to go into the brick and mortar store to touch and see what these items are like. In the store, you have the added advantage of being able to ask a live customer service representative questions.  They are usually more than willing to assist and offer some valuable tips.
  3. Does that Work with My Space or Not – Match items with your space. For example, try out paint colors in the rooms to be painted as well as fabric for furnishings to get an idea of what may or may not work.
  4. Make Room for waste. For example if 6 recessed light housings are required it may be best to get 3 more just in case something does not work out. Most stores have a minimum of thirty (30) days to return with receipt policy. Also make sure your contractor explains the dust containment issues – that is how your property will be protected from dust and dirt while the project is ongoing.
  5. Chart your Course – Make sure to map out what will be accomplished not only at the end of the project but the daily milestones especially with short term projects. This chart may even be tied to  compensation such that payment is made for services rendered at certain milestones. This will tend to keep the crew on track and even happier the homeowner.

    Image Credit:
    Image Credit:
  6. Have the Talk before you embark on this journey -What is it about this project that you are most concerned about? This gives the contractor an opportunity to address any areas that require additional clarity including compensation before the project begins. What will be the working hours and how many people will be working on the project on a daily basis.  Will they be working on other projects as well? Establish the means of communication and exchange best contact information.  Inform the contractor of any hard deadlines including a time of day when crew absolutely has to be out of the work area but also allow room for minor  adjustments.
  7. Regular Check Ins and Check ups –  A quick inspection of work done for the day and making a list of areas to be touched up or redone when the crew returns may speed up the final walk through. Periodic progress meetings with the contractors ensures all are on the same page. When the job is completed, ensure that you have a decent amount of time, which could be as little as 24-48 hrs, to check out the work done before signing off on the last check payment to the contractor. This will be an opportunity to make sure the water pressure is just right or the light fixtures are working well. It also helps if part of the agreement is that the contractor follows up with the property owner within a couple of weeks after the job is completed.
  8. Clean Up – Make inquiries about if and when the clean up will be done. Some contractors may include that service as part of their package wherein their cleaning crew vacuums, dusts and wipes down the finished work areas following completion of the project.
  9. Look in the Least Expected Places – In addition to, Homedepot, check out Anthropologie, H & M, Bloomingdale Home, Z Gallerie, Tuesday Morning, West elm, WorldMarket, Sam’s Club, Home Goods, Urban Outfitters and Wayfair for different furniture pieces, fixtures, accent items and more. Be on the lookout for any special promotions and make inquiries at the store for additional discounts. Look up Building Material Consignment stores in your local area. Some conduct auctions where a variety of building materials are auctioned off at significant discounts.
  10. Breathe Easy, Enjoy because there is Always another Day – You can do it all at once or do it in phases. The bottom line is that you are satisfied with the quality of work and you are within, even better below budget and more importantly with your sanity intact.
  11. Added Bonus – Smile or do your Happy dance?  Live a little.


Broad based knowledge seeker; outside and beyond the box - arts and culture, travel, writing, christian faith walk, good reads and refreshing conversation - and not necessarily in that order. Storytelling by connecting the dots between the traditional and non-traditional, the obvious and not so obvious.

2 thoughts on “Why Hang onto the Hinges, Live a Little

  1. I second that it’s so easy to get carried away with making changes especially after you get a chance to appreciate the impact of what such changes can have on the appearance of the space. It however is of prime importance to “keep it real”. Spend wisely….stick to the budget or do things in phases. Narrow down what you “absolutely cannot do without ” and progress to what you would “like to have”.

  2. Some very valid points. Per clean up, it’s best to have a professional crew on stand-by as the level of cleaning that will be required might be more than you bargained for. I find that the contractors are not as detailed when it comes to cleaning. Another point to note is that the time frame given by the contractor for completion of the project is always questionable. What might be estimated by them as a 2 weeks project could take up to 2 months. Don’t ask me why…..

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