5 Easy Do-It-Yourself Remodeling Projects

One local expert has a ready-made-list to get you started on your indoor home remodeling projects.

If you’re like many homeowners, you’re already thinking of ways to make indoor improvements during the cold of winter.

If not, then Glen Borkowski stands ready to help you catch up with your neighbors.

Borkowski, president of DreamMaker Bath & Kitchen in Orland Park, has a working list of five easy indoor kitchen and bath remodeling projects you can tackle yourself, starting with a couple he puts under the “facelift” category:

1. Painting/wallpaper.

“One of the simplest things is painting,” Borkowski said. “Just painting your kitchen or your bathroom. It’s pretty inexpensive. A gallon of paint, in most cases, at the most two if it’s a big kitchen.

“It’s something that at least most people have tried a couple times in their life. I’m not going to say there isn’t a skill to painting—because there is—but for most homeowners its something they can do themselves and expect to get acceptable results.”

The trick is preparing the walls to receive the paint, Borkowski said.

“Especially in the kitchen,” he said. “Wash down any grease or oil splatters that might be on the walls. Paint is not going to adhere really well to that.”

He suggests stripping old wallpaper off your kitchen and/or bathroom walls and carefully removing any excess paste on the walls, too, then applying a fresh coat of paint.

“You can dramatically change the look of the kitchen or bathroom by just doing that,” Borkowski said. “You’re not under any time constraints. Strip the wallpaper off on one weekend—wash off the paste—and it’s something you can put down and pick up the following weekend. Do it in fits and starts if your schedule dictates that.”

2. Tile the backsplash. This is the space between your countertops and the bottom of your kitchen wall cabinets.

Borkowski said this is a project that is a bit more ambitious, but also one that has become more and more popular with homeowners over the last couple years. The trick is to be patient and judge your own skill level. You can keep it simple or go for more intricate detail.

“There are places where you can buy your tile that actually will rent equipment to you,” he said. “Not to give them a plug, but I know Century Tile is the first one that comes to mind. They will literally have clinics, as well, on how to do it.”

3. Change the handles and/or knobs on your cabinets. In many cases, this will involve only the use of a screwdriver.

“This can make a nice difference, particularly if what you have is dated,” Borkowski said. “If it’s a style—a high-polished brass that you really don’t see much of any more—and you want to change it over to a brush-nickel or an oil-rubbed bronze finish—something that’s a lot more popular these days—it’s something you can do if you can use a screwdriver. You can change the hardware on your cabinets.”

And, he said, you can buy new hardware without leaving your home.

“There are a number of places you can go—certainly hopping on the internet—and order that stuff without leaving the chair in front of your computer,” Borkowski said.

4. Replace a lighting fixture.

 “Most people have one light fixture centrally located on their kitchen ceiling,” Borkowski said. “If it’s an older fixture, an older kitchen, it’s probably a 2-foot by 4-foot florescent fixture with the kind of frosted, bubble lens on it that makes it look like a cloud. And it’s really, really dated looking.

“Maybe the lens has kind of yellowed over the years with age. And it’s not a huge project if you have even a small amount of electrical skills.”

5. Change your showerhead or replace your bathroom faucet.

New low-flow showerheads use less water and can help you save money. Many are manufactured nowadays to make you feel like you’re still getting the same old water pressure too, Borkowski said.

“The water swirls as it comes out,” he said. “Or it will be adjustable—it will have three or four different modes. One will be a gentle rain shower. One will be more of a pulsating, invigorating type of massage shower. One will have more of a concentrated effect. They try to give you some options there.”

Replacing the faucet can be quite a bit more involved, Borkowski said.

“But if you have pretty good mechanical inclination, they are a lot easier to install than they used to be years ago because the D-I-Y market kind of exploded with advent of the big-box stores,” he said. “The manufacturers made their products a lot more user-friendly. There are a number of different websites you can go to with instructional videos on how to install things like faucets or toilets.”

One of Borkowski’s recommended study sites: houzz.

COMING SATURDAY: One job is best left for the pros, according to DreamMaker's Glen Borkowski. Log on at 6 a.m. Saturday to hear what he has to say about granite and quartz countertops.






John Groskopf January 08, 2013 at 08:27 PM
glen currently changing hardware. what do you do or where do you go when the holes don't match up to the new hardware? been to multiple stores John
Denise Borkowski January 09, 2013 at 03:49 AM
John, first you have to measure the distance between the holes. Hopefully it's 3", 3 1/2" or 4" as these are the most popular spreads. If it's not any of these then it's a metric measurement. Hardware to replace these will be a little more difficult, but not impossible, to find. Your choices are going to be fairly limited at the big box stores. You can shop for new hardware online where it will be easier to find the correct size. Contact me if you need any more information. Glen
John Groskopf January 09, 2013 at 04:43 AM
I don't believe they are metric, just old from the 80's. one measures 2 1/2 inches the other is around 4 5/8 couldn't even match this up to anything. any place online that might be of help would be appreciated thanks for any help. have you heard of a manufacturernamed Wright, was told they make hardware but no luck so far
Denise Borkowski January 10, 2013 at 02:47 AM
John, the name "Wright" is not one I'm familiar with. Did you google Wright cabinet hardware? If this fails you may be able to use 3" and 4 1/2" hardware pieces that have a base surrounding the screw hole on each end that would be big enough to cover the original hole or holes. This would mean extra drilling on your part but it can be done. You could also get hardware pieces that have a backerplate. Your choices won't be as great but they'll work if you have no other choices. Glen


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