Home design and décor can be daunting tasks for even the handiest people. Luckily, Atlanta has some well-versed professionals who know where to start. A few of Jewish Atlanta’s favorites spoke to the AJT and shared their do-it-yourself tips and tricks, as well as what to watch out for when taking your home into your own hands.
Kitchen Fronts of Georgia’s Allan Apple unsurprisingly focused much of his advice on what one can do in their kitchen to liven up their home. He explained that the current trend was shifting away from darker colors and toward white cabinetry.
“If people are happy with the layout of their kitchen, the best bang for the buck is refaced new doors and changing cabinet colors,” he said. “White is definitely the most popular, but gray and blue are also big trends.”
When someone is looking to modify their cabinets, he explained that often changing the door can result in a totally new look.
“Hidden hinges are really popular, and things like rollouts or self-closing doors are all things that can be done to existing cabinets, they’re not limited to new cabinets,” Apple said.
He also added that having a process for seeking out supplies and help with your renovations and refurnishing was important.
“Make sure you get more than one quote,” he said. “Look at the structure of the cabinets. Doing a refacing is the best way to update your cabinets without a high cost, because when you rip everything out, you’re often locking yourself into redoing your countertops as well.”
A crucial piece of advice Apple shared from his experience in the industry is working with a reputable business.
“Deal with a company that stands behind their work and that’s going to be around in five or 10 years,” he said. “You need someone that can deal with a problem if it comes up. Find someone who is in the business. It’s more important what happens after you’ve paid for the kitchen than before.”
Few are better versed in the world of closet design than Rick Moore of Atlanta Custom Closets. In discussing his thoughts with the AJT, he cited the importance of a well put- together closet space.
“What’s done by the builder tends to be very rudimentary so there isn’t often a lot to work with,” he said. “We try to make sure, as the saying goes, ‘A place for everything and everything in its place.’ Without a good closet, it’s difficult to stay organized.”
He added that the closet is often the last place people get to when considering sweeping changes to their home.
“It’s often put on the back burner and left there,” he said. “People are busy with work and family. You would not believe how many times someone has been in a home for 15 years and are just getting around to their closet.”
Moore explained that while he occasionally sees well done DIY closets with good storage space and elegant designs, there are costs associated with spacing it out and doing it yourself.
“People often piecemeal their closet, so they’ll get some hanging shelves here and there, and some clip-on units, but the cost can really add up over time,” he said. “Before you know it, you’re spending close to or more than what a professional would cost to redesign your closet.”
He explained that the piecemeal approach, with the right design instincts, can work out, but can also lead to an expensive and disjointed process, and so approaching it with an idea of what the needs are is a big first step.
A good plan is key for Julie Rotenstreich of JMR Interiors, and the first question she asks is: Is it just one room, is it the whole house or something in between?
“Start by taking the room down to nothing, so it’s just an open space, and then build it up from there,” she said. “The room is a canvas and you can define it to fit your vision. Is this the space everyone hangs out? Is this a family room?”
In terms of cost-effective changes, Rotenstreich always recommends painting as a good starting point.
“Paint is always an easy, inexpensive way to make a room more current,” she said. “Painting trim and doors is an easy thing that you can do at home.”
For those looking to do it themselves, Rotenstreich recommends learning by watching YouTube videos and speaking with those who have more experience.
“YouTube really is a great source for finding out how people are doing things on their own,” she said. “There are steps and it is a process, so seeing someone else do it first can be a useful guide.”
As for what rooms she recommends starting with, bedrooms and family rooms were her focus.
“A kitchen is a big undertaking and very expensive process that can really be challenging and risky to do yourself,” she said.
Foyers were also on her short list as projects that can be showed off.
“Everyone who comes in the doors sees it, and it can really have a big impact,” she said. “Changing light fixtures or changing wall colors or wallpapers isn’t too difficult.”
Starting simple with a quick tip for brightening up your room, Alexis Solomon of A+T Interiors emphasized that changing light bulbs can have a huge impact on your creative process.
“I always suggest before painting that you change lightbulbs out for LED bulbs, especially in recessed cans and under-cabinet lighting,” she said. “The light level in your house is so much greater that it can really change the appearance of everything, so before you paint, change those bulbs.”
Her focus was on a time-tested standby of kitchens and bathrooms, areas where she said small changes can make a big difference.
“Using new hardware and light fixtures can have huge impact,” she said. “Think about things that will provide interest or shine, things that will contrast with what’s going on. Instead of the tiny little light fixtures of the 90s, bring in something with a little weight to it.”
She also focused on greenery as a way to brighten up a room.
“Adding plants is a really big thing, and people are scared because they don’t want to kill the plants,” she said. “They don’t cost that much and if you just throw one or two in, you learn how to handle it and can always get another. They just make a space feel bright and healthy.”
Another area plants can be useful is in the entryway of a home, another focus for Solomon.
“Consider the entrance to your house,” she emphasized. “A lot of times that means front doors, which are not inexpensive things, but a lot of houses have really old doors that make the entrance feel dead.”
As for what to change for those older entrances, flowers, a good mat and well-placed sconces can do a lot to brighten the entrance.
“Make sure to carry that atmosphere into the foyer as well,” she said. “A lot of people forget about the entrance because they spend a bunch of money on kitchens and bathrooms, and it can get lost in the shuffle.”
She also said that even if someone is dead set on a DIY approach, it can be beneficial to speak to a designer and get their thoughts with the planning process.