If HGTV has you daydreaming about all the things your home could be, take that as a sign that it’s time to renovate. In some cases all you need is a small change here and there, while other times it can turn into an utter overhaul. From planning and measuring to buying and installing, we took our woes to Asbury Park influencer Cara Irwin — DIY-er and founder of the popular lifestyle blog Goldalamode — to talk what it takes to design your very own dream home. And as a curator of all things cute and chic, we suggest paying very close attention.
Where to Start
Just off the heels of completing her second One Room Challenge™—a competition series where design influencers are given six weeks to redo one space—it’s safe to say that by now, Irwin has the renovation process down pat. If you’re wondering where to begin, Irwin suggests addressing any cosmetic changes first, which could include anything from taking down walls, adding windows or layering flooring.
Repair & Remodel
For her newly-designed guest room, Irwin wanted to replace the previous ceiling but ran into a few unexpected challenges along the way. She explained, “We recently removed the popcorn ceiling out of our guest room and let me tell you it’s not like the DIY videos you see on HGTV. We had to completely redo the ceiling with new sheetrock.”
Not letting hiccups deter you is part of the renovation process, as Irwin told me things like not being able to find the specific décor you initially envisioned or running into shipping delays are common setbacks faced by designers and DIY-ers alike.
When to Decorate
Only after the labor has been done can you now move onto décor—aka the fun part. Building a room around the items that are most inspiring to you is how Irwin manages to avoid clutter and create a space with real meaning. “I usually say if you don’t love it then don’t have it in your home…I make sure that everything in my home has a story and is loved.”
After a recent trip to the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, Irwin took home with her visions of modern architecture and new color palettes. But good ol’ Pinterest, design magazines or even nature can serve to spark some unlikely inspiration.
In keeping an open mind, statement pieces such as rugs, furniture or an interesting wallpaper print can act as building blocks for any additional artwork or accents you plan to include. Or in Irwin’s case, a kumquat tree which she admitted on her blog simply looked nice against the other colors of the guest room.
“I think it’s really weird and different. Sometimes things are just meant to be appreciated and not understood. I try not to understand everything and analyze everything. If it’s pretty, then it’s pretty. Plus, wait until you see how trendy fruit is about to get.”
Picking the Perfect Paint Color
When it comes to choosing paint, it’s important to note that whether you want it to or not, the walls will pick up the other colors in the room. For this reason, Irwin tends to lean towards the neutral side of things, going with a purple-tinted gray for the guest room walls, complemented by the orange of the kumquat tree, and a frosty white on the floors.
Ask for Help
Taking the DIY approach sans professional help can seem scary. But when opting to work alone, Irwin sees no shame in turning to family, friends or even YouTube for guidance. And her advice to those brave enough to take on the task is to “just go for it” because “everything is a learning experience.”