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DIY or hire a pro? Tackling your to-do list this summer

It’s the same problem homeowners face every summer: Tackle your to-do list or make the most of the warm weather while it’s here.  

But if your list of chores and minor household repairs includes updating rooms or adding a few contemporary touches like new lighting, modern cabinet handles or bathroom fittings, a short list can quickly expand beyond your DIY skills.  

According to Jen Miller, award-winning interior designer and co-owner with Jill Bonk of the Showroom Furniture + Lighting, the trick is to prioritize what you can do – and what professionals should do. For instance, jobs under $5000 can easily be tackled on a budget by the newly-launched handyman app, Fixvi, which pairs home reno clients with contractors. Plus, CAA Members save up to $100 on work by Fixvi jobs. (Read about how Fixvi works below.) 

But where to start? CAA Magazine dropped by the Showroom Furniture + Lighting location in Stittsville, near Ottawa, for the scoop.  

I'm updating my home on a budget. What do you suggest?

Paint colours and lighting changes can make the spaceI recommend buying a small pot and painting swatches. Look at those swatches against other similar colours in the range, and you’ll start to pick up on hues; one might read purple or blue.   

What paint colours are popular now?

When it comes to paint colours, trends are like fashion; they come and go. We have been all about gray for about a decade, and now everyone is moving away from gray. The all-white interior is still super-hot, but we’re bringing back the warmth, the earthy greens, gold and rust colours.

How can I add patterns and textures to my home?

You can change the feel of a space by adding layers of texture. For example, your area rug, throw blankets, pillows, and sofa are all made of different fabrics. They don’t have to be patterned, but you can layer different textures. 

Where is a great pick for bold wallpaper?

I love a powder room wrapped in wallpaper, so don’t be afraid to take big, bold chances in a powder room because it’s a small space. It’s low risk. Is wallpaper on the ceiling a trend? I’ve seen it, sure. I like it in the dining room if you have a coffered ceiling. It’s nice to have wallpaper in there. That looks pretty and adds interest.  

What metallic finish is popular now?

Brass has been back in a big way for the last few years, and I love it. But we’re seeing a more elegant version than in the80s. The80s was all about high, high shine, making it look a little bit cheap, but the brass we’re seeing today is hand-rubbed. It has a more matte finish and is warmer. Think of metallic finishes as the jewelry in the room.  

What are easy upgrades I can do for my bathroom?

I’m a big fan of sconces and using them in bathrooms. In your typical builder home, the lighting over your vanity mirror casts down on you, and it’s not great for makeup application or your self-esteem. It makes us look older. I always recommend having eye-level sconces on either side of your mirror instead because you’ll have even light across your face. It’s far more visually pleasing and gives you an uprated feel to your bathroom. 

An easy way to upgrade your bathroom is to change your faucet, shower kit, and hardware in your cabinetry. We typically like to keep our metals consistent throughout the room, so if you have chrome, stick with chrome. If you have brass, stick with brass. But it’s okay to mix metals a little bit. Don’t be afraid to add in one different piece. If it’s a spectacular piece and you want it to be a focal point.  

What about lighting? Any tips?

You’ll want to cover different types of lighting in your space for different purposes. For general task lighting, we like to use pot lights. They disappear, nobody notices them and they’re very practical, but always have them on a dimmer. When it comes to a chandelier, this is where I like to make a statement. It would feel unfinished if the space were all pot lights and nothing pretty. 

I had a customer, and over the island were three tiny pendants. I suggested hiring a contractor and having two larger pendants instead of three smaller ones to have more impact on your kitchen over your island. It is simple and not expensive to do and will make a huge impact on your space.

When it comes to lighting, you need to have the scale right. You want your chandelier to sit about 33 inches (approximately 83 cm) off your table, and you want it to be about 2/3 the size of the width of your table. You want to avoid having the tiny light fixture over the huge table.

When it comes to table lamps, you never want to be able to see the mechanism. You want your shade to be about shoulder height so the bulb can’t blind you. Often, we see lamps that are far too small for the space, so keep them a little taller so they are in scale with the room. For example, if you have a large chair, you need a lamp that will at least match that scale.  

When should I do it myself or hire a contractor?

A general contractor could do that for you if it’s just changing a light fixture, and you don’t need to move a box. But if you need to move a box, I recommend using a licensed electrician.

Getting a referral or picking a company with a great reputation is important. I always think it’s best to hire professionals and have it done right the first time. It saves you money in the end because you won’t have to redo it. 

I would recommend a company like Fixvi. They are highly recommended and are very professional. Fixvi is a great solution for all those small jobs you don’t have time to get around to. 

Need a professional for your small jobs around the home? Here's how it works.

To use Fixvi’s services, simply download the app, video the job you need done and upload it. Fixvi will send you quotes for the job from a number of contractors to choose from. CAA Members save up to $100 on home services and repairs booked online or through the Fixvi mobile app. Learn more. 

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