Our Home Was Built in 2000 - Here’s How We Made It New by Jenna Kimble
Hi! I’m Jenna, and Jonathan is my husband. Together we are building a wonderful life in our first home. We bought our first home in 2018 in Arizona! Before that, we jumped around from apartment to apartment, even living at my grandparent’s home for a summer. During that time, we dreamed of having a place of our own, permanently. So when we turned the key and walked into our home, we already had big plans to make it our own.
We have a background in construction, DIY, and more, so some of the projects we do are a bit more difficult. If you’re a beginner, you can still DIY and renovate yourself! The trick is to find people who have done it before and learn from them. We have used YouTube many times for our own renovations, and now we share our tips with others!
The first project we did in our home—and one that we recommend to others—is paint! Paint is one of the most affordable ways to totally transform a space. We ended up painting EVERY wall in our new home, covering up the old yellow-beige and bringing in a new white blank space. This took a few weeks, but back then we didn’t have any children yet, so we were able to really focus on painting and renovating. If you have kids, a full-time job, or have a busy schedule, we recommend planning out your renovations and spacing them apart!
After the walls, we looked to the floors. Most of the rooms had old carpet, which we replaced ourselves with wood laminate pieces. We didn’t go super fancy and found our flooring at Costco! Jonathan installed flooring himself, and that made the rooms look almost brand new! There are still parts of our home that has outdated tile, but we’ll tackle that down the road. The important thing to remember while renovating a home is to go at your own pace. If you have the time, money, and energy, do as much as you can! If you need to schedule projects out and go a little slower, that’s OK! Don’t rush making your house a home.
Here are a few more things we learned as we renovated our home:
- Tackle Your Must-Have Projects First
When you move into a new space, whether that’s a home, apartment, or bedroom, make a list of the most important projects you want to get done. If it’s important to you, get it done first! For us, painting and flooring were important because they set a good foundation for how we wanted to decorate our home. If your home has a broken air conditioning unit or poor plumbing, you may want to tackle that project first before you hang frames. Decide what’s important to you, and cross it off your checklist first! That way, it won’t stay in your mind for months and months.
- Don’t Forget the “Other Stuff”
Speaking of air conditioning and plumbing, sometimes the “other stuff” has to get taken care of. I’m talking about the not-so-pretty parts of owning a home or apartment. This includes electrical, plumbing, and HVAC issues. This can also include mold, checking for pests, and looking for any cracks in the roof or foundation. When you take care of the behind-the-scenes stuff, you can sleep better at night knowing your home is more secure. The first places I would check are your bathrooms, air filters, baseboards, windows, and walls!
When we built a shiplap feature wall in our home, Jonathan did all the TV wiring and electrical himself. He patched up the wall and it looked great! A few weeks later, he came to me and said he would have to open up the wall again and fix what he had done. He said he learned recently about television fire safety and how to install proper wiring into the wall to avoid overheating. I was glad he told me, and that he wanted to do the project right. No one would have been able to tell—the wires were inside the wall and hidden behind boards—but we wanted to do it right, for our home’s safety and our own knowledge.
- Choose Timeless Over Trendy
Now for the fun part! Whether you’re renovating or decorating, you want to plan around your design style and preferences. If you already know your décor style, great! If you aren’t sure, you can take online quizzes, ask your friends what they think your home style is, or mix and match until you find something you love. I browse Pinterest for ideas, and my style changes often! You don’t have to stay set in one design phase.
No matter what you choose, you should opt for timeless pieces that accentuate your home instead of trendy pieces that go out of style. Invest in high-quality furniture instead of always buying thrifted pieces or cheaper items. When you pick timeless over trendy, you’re investing in your home for the long run instead of just trying to fill space.
- Embrace the Mess
When we renovated our kitchen cabinets and countertops, we couldn’t use our kitchen for 3-4 weeks! Our fridge was plugged into the living room outlet, and we ordered takeout most nights. I felt frustrated, and I just wanted the project to be done already! I grew frustrated every day. I’m here to tell you that’s what NOT to do when working on a project. Sometimes, you have to embrace the mess.
That means you should plan ahead and know how long your project will take. If it will take 1 week, add another 5 days onto that, just in case. If your bathroom renovation will take 1-2 months, be prepared to use another bathroom in the meantime. Know that your home will be messy and unorganized, but also know that it won’t last forever. Every renovation eventually turns into a finished product! I wish I had learned sooner to embrace the mess and to be OK with whatever is happening.
This happens now whenever Jonathan has a project to do, whether it’s big or small. If he tells me it will take him one hour, I always add another hour or two in my head to get a realistic grasp on when it will be done. It’s better to plan for a mistake or another trip to the department store!
- Communicate As You Go
Whether you’re working with a contractor or company or DIY-ing a project yourself, communication is essential. Jonathan and I have had MANY moments where the project comes to a halt or we have to “go back to the drawing board” because we didn’t communicate earlier on. For example, I asked him to build me a stepstool for my toddler to use in her bathroom. He started working on it, but he didn’t even know what design I liked or what I had in mind for the finished product. I showed him pictures of what I wanted, but it was too late! He had already started working on something he had in mind. We had to meet in the middle and revise the project.
Now, before we start any project, we go over every design, every step, and every hiccup before we start. That way, we both know what we’re building and how long it will take. Even if he’s hanging up a frame, I make sure he holds it in every possible spot before I decide. I don’t want him to have to do it again! Communicate as you go, and the project will be much easier.
We’ve been in our home for almost three years, and now it’s really becoming our own space. I’m so glad we decided to take on these renovations, because we were able to use our skills together as a couple to transform an entire home! It wasn’t always easy, and we still have small projects here and there. Now, we’re at the fun part: decorating!
As we decorate our home, we plan ahead to make sure we know what each bedroom will be used for. When you have a purpose for each room, you can better know how to decorate and design that room. Currently we have our main bedroom, our toddler’s nursery, a guest room, and a playroom. Eventually, the rooms will be for children as we expand our family. But we also hope to one day have a home gym, a movie/game room, and an office! That will be for our next home years in the future. For now, we’re enjoying the home we’ve made for ourselves.
Here are some decorating tips, after the messy renovation and home upkeep is over:
- Use Pinterest and other sites to find your personal style
- Ask for a second opinion if you need one
- Try something new when you decorate, because if you don’t like it you can always change it back
- Invest in good rugs to add depth to a space
- DIY some of your home décor—it’ll add a personal touch
- Don’t be afraid to take things home and return them
- Don’t do something just because it’s trendy or “everyone is doing it”
- Don’t decorate when you’re tired, moody, sad, or feeling uninspired
- Don’t buy cheap items every time—it’s OK to get a thrifted item here and there, but invest in quality items that will last longer
I hope you can use these renovation and decorating tips as you move forward with your own space, whether that’s a 5-bedroom home, a 2-bedroom apartment, or a room all to yourself! Find what inspires you, and bring it to life through DIY and décor! Your personal space really influences your day-to-day mindset, so when you put thought and time into your home, you will reap the rewards. For more DIY, home, and décor tips, follow us @jonathanandjenna on Instagram, TikTok, and our blog!