ORC™: Week Three – DIY Home Improvement Fails

DIY home remodel - what to expect when you're renovating - and projects you should hire out


I know in your mind, you’re imagining it can’t possibly be as bad as I make it sound. You could be right. On the one hand, I have a home that is sound, a family that is in basically good health, and wine. So it’s really not as bad as it could be. On the other hand, everything I touched turned to shit this week and I’m not ready to stop whining about it.

There’s a delicate balance between encouraging people to tackle their own home renovations and cautioning them to stay as far away as possible. Unfortunately for you, I’ve not figured out how to get there. Most days, I want to tell everyone about the joys of homeownership and the pride you’ll find in a hard day’s work. Today, I want to throw a massive tantrum and burn it all down. Why? Because nothing went right this week. Literally nothing.

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Last week, I finalized the plans for the foyer moulding treatment. I got all of my supplies over the weekend and woke Monday with a renewed sense of excitement to tackle the job! I ate a smoothie, packed with protein and a ton of random late-night Amazon vitamin purchases. I kissed my family goodbye, locked the door behind them, and clapped my hands together as if to say Let’s do this! Dude. I was AMPED. (Sidenote and totally unrelated: Is Preworkout basically just steroids? Is it possible for a person to accidentally purchase and then orally consume steroids in their morning smoothie? Also, are there steroid drug tests in the One Room Challenge? Asking for a friend)

I immediately began hauling in the lattice that I’ll be using to trim the foyer. Luckily, I had the forethought to take a strip and decide where I wanted the moulding to begin at the top. To do this, and to be able to take a step back and make sure I liked the placement, I held a strip in place and used masking tape to secure it in a few different spots. I stepped back and realized I wanted to see more of the line to make sure it worked. So I went to add another piece. Only this time, I would need to get my trusty, 12-year-old ladder out to reach that highest spot.

using lattice for diy horizontal shiplap knockoff moulding

It’s a good thing this is just a 2D image and not a video because that keeps you from hearing all the expletives I was shouting as I realized there was absolutely no way I could install this trim on my 5 foot ladder. I simply can’t reach it. So Monday’s hyper focus on trim installation quickly became an overwhelming Google search into The Best 8 Foot Ladders For Under $100. Turns out, there aren’t any. So I set this project aside and decided to tackle what I could actually conquer – patching wall holes.

DIY Home Remodels That Grow Your Equity Portfolio + Land Your Dream Home | DIY renovation tutorials, budget home decorating, and staging / selling tips from Real Estate Investor and Interior Designer, Teri Moore.

The first step to getting a professional-looking paint job is to fill in every little ding and hole in the wall. Luckily for me, our home was previously a rental house occupied by a family with four teenage boys! So there were approximately 9,000 wall dings to patch! I use this spackle for my projects because it goes on pink and turns white when it’s dry. It’s an amazing time saver because it lets you know exactly how long you need to wait before sanding. I always overestimate the length of time this stuff takes to dry and am amazed to walk back into the room half an hour later to find every spot is white.

Since I was planning to hire out the painting, I really didn’t HAVE to do this. I could’ve had the painters patch every spot, but that would mean that I was paying them to do something I could easily do. And painters charge a lot of money. So I figured I could quickly knock this one off the list and spend a little less cash.

hallway with carpet BEFORE


Monday night, I ordered a ladder online for pick-up at my local home improvement store. So Tuesday, with no ladder ready for pick-up yet, I decided to tackle the project I was dreading most – installing hardwood floors. Only, I said Whatever I’m over this and called a professional to come give me a quote. I’ve never installed hardwoods before and this was going to be a tricky installation with a lot of angle cuts.

I very rarely call in a professional but on occasion, it seems necessary. My general rule for hiring out jobs is this: If I’m not physically capable (ie, strong enough), mentally capable (ie, sane enough – like with intricate or repetitive tasks like drywalling), or if the end result of the work could cause bodily harm (heights, electricity, plumbing), I will hire it out. I’ll replace a light fixture by myself because that’s pretty straightforward but I won’t do my own in-wall electrical or plumbing. The reasoning? If I mess something up, the issue will likely go unnoticed inside the wall until one day it’s noticed. And that notice could be a fire, flood, or bathtub crashing through my kitchen ceiling. So I hire that work out for insurance purposes (and also to be literally safe).

DIY remodels - the projects I'll never try to tackle myself, even as a seasoned DIY renovator. Sometimes, you've just got to call in a pro to be safe.

I called Empire Floors. This isn’t sponsored. They’re a large company, with a wealth of stock on-hand and ready to be installed. I’d heard their turn-around times are insanely quick and I was pleased to learn I could set up an appointment for a quote online for (get this) THE SAME DAY. I’ll admit that I figured they would probably be out of our budget range and I’d probably still end up installing the floors myself (or just crying, like, a whole lot). But worth a shot, right?

This actually worked! The sales rep came out at noon and by 1:00, we’d paid a deposit and set an appointment to have the flooring installed on Thursday (as in, today)! They’ll be here in less than an hour. I still haven’t seen their work, so I can’t attest to that. I’ll update next week to let you all know how it goes. As for price, I’d ordered hardwood flooring that would have been $900 for materials. Then I had to factor in debris removal. I’d planned to get a bagster to have them haul everything away at around $150. There are junk removal companies that will do this for an average of $150 – $200 too. I’ve used 1-800-GOTJUNK before and they were pretty amazing. I think I had a Groupon and the service was around $100 total. Plus tip. Always remember to tip the people who make your life easier. I find a $20 tip is customary and extremely appreciated. Then I’d need to factor in 1/4 round (shoe moulding). This is fairly inexpensive but would still probably run around $100. So, in total, I’d have spent $1150 on the supplies alone – without installation. My quote, including all of the aforementioned supplies AND INSTALLATION was $1400. It was a no-brainer. Shelling out $300 to save myself a week’s work is way worth it, in my book.

removing carpet on stairs to replace with hardwood

With that project so easily checked off my list, I decided to start tackling the stair project. We’ve got old, gross carpet on our stairs and will be updating them with hardwood and a runner. I’ve removed carpet a bunch of times before. The first time I tackled this project, I was 12 years old. Seriously. I swear I had the exact same carpet in my bedroom as a kid. One Summer day, with nothing better to do, I decided to rip it all up and expose the hardwoods underneath. I did not get parental permission and I didn’t ask for help. How this went over okay with my parents is beyond me. I guess they really hated the carpet too.

DISCLAIMER: Chuck, if you are reading this one day in the distant future – DO NOT DO THIS. I will not be as cool and level-headed with you as Nana and Papa were with me. I will be angry. If you want to remove the carpet in your room, let’s put together a gameplan and tackle it as a family. Also, do not paint your bedroom without consulting me. In fact, if you’d like to start working on DIY Home Improvement, chat it out with me first. By now you know that I’m a control freak and require ultimate authority on how our home looks. Play it safe. Ask permission. Thanks! Love you.

I wanted to test the new hardwood on one stair first, before I ripped up the entire sheet of carpet. So I pulled off the first strip by cutting it with a box cutter (not easy and probably wear gloves because you’re not stupid like I am). Beyond creating a giant mess, it went horribly wrong as soon as I realized the stairs were built from plywood and scrap lumber AND THEY WERE GLUED IN PLACE. Removing them was nearly impossible for me. I’m strong. I’m not tear-down-the-entire-house strong. After testing out about 15 other options for using the existing lumber treads and covering the plywood risers, I found these $40 kits you can install directly over them. They would have worked perfectly except that our moulding juts out over the tread space, which means I couldn’t feasibly install them without removing the trim. And the railing. And the balusters. And then re-installing them all. Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope. 800-588-2300 EMPIIIIIIRE! I called the rep back. He’ll be here tomorrow to give me a formal quote but has told me it’ll be around $175 per stair. Ugh. That’s a lot of money. We have 16 stairs. It has to be done, for resale. So I know I’ll recoup the investment. But large numbers like that just suck.

DIY Home Remodels That Grow Your Equity Portfolio + Land Your Dream Home | DIY renovation tutorials, budget home decorating, and staging / selling tips from Real Estate Investor and Interior Designer, Teri Moore.


By Wednesday, I was feeling pretty defeated. But I pulled myself together and started the final sanding of the patches I’d made to the drywall. This part of the job is gross. Dust gets everywhere and it takes a bout a million years to clean it up. After the Apocalypse, the only remaining life on Earth will be cockroaches and the spirit you shed while cleaning up drywall dust. Also, Cher. I’m pretty sure she’s infallible.

My new ladder was ready for pick-up so I dashed over to Home Depot and grabbed it. Brought it home, placed it directly beside my old ladder, and quickly realized IT WAS THE SAME HEIGHT. When I was a teenager, there was a musical artist called Big Naked. Whenever I was feeling down, I’d play her music loudly to make myself feel better. I especially loved her song I Love Myself Today. I hate myself today. I could use a heaping dose of Big Naked right about now. So I’m going to watch her video on You Tube over and over while I burn up in the atmosphere of life. You can watch it here.

diy painting tips

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  1. SO much exciting stuff going on there and I love the peek of your dark library room off the foyer. Careful on the ladders! Thanks for sharing!

    1. That’s my office. Painting those built-ins navy has been my favorite decision in this house. It was the catalyst for all of the other touches of blue I’ve added. I’ll probably replace that wallpaper with something a little more subdued before we sell, but I’m loving the cheerful pattern for now. xoxo

  2. Ha, hopping over from the ORC linkup and I have to say that I loved this post! Hopefully your floor install went well (and the stairs weren’t too expensive!). Good luck on finishing your space 🙂

  3. Oh Teri! Bless. I’m sorry you had such a rough week, but I couldn’t help laughing (with you, I promise!). Hope things go better this week and can’t wait to see the hardwood floors!

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