Essential tools for the DIY homeowner (working with an E-Designer)
So you’ve made the decision to hire an E-Designer to help you with your next home project. Awesome! As you probably already know, this means that you will be working hand-in-hand (figuratively of course) with your designer to plan and implement the new design.
Essentially you’re a Do it Yourselfer, with professional guidance. So guess what – you need some tools. From taking accurate measurements so your designer can get an accurate sense of the size and layout of your home, to being able to paint like a pro, and even hang your artwork properly. Here is my roundup of all of the things you might need or want to have your space turn out exactly as your designer proposes.
First, the Planning Phase
Graph paper and pencil. Here are my favorites:
…or the awesome, forever reusable Fusion Rocketbook.
Don’t’ forget the tape measure!
My all-time favorite (because it can extend super far without collapsing, which is great when you’re really doing this by yourself) is the Stanley Fat Max. It’s a little heavy, but that’s because it’s quality.
Blue Light-Blocking Computer Glasses
Hey we all know you’re going to spend hours staring at Pinterest and then ooohhhing and aaaahhhhing over the final design your designer sends you. Protect your eyes with a pair of these blue light blocking glasses. They not only look cool, but minimize eye fatigue, and can even decrease the frequency of headaches from constantly being on your computer.
Once your design is approved and you start ordering your new stuff, you’re going to need a cute doormat to greet your Amazon delivery person (since they’re about to become your new best friend – unless they already are).
You’re going to need painters tape, but you can save yourself a step protecting your floors with this version that has a built-in sheet of plastic that unrolls to cover the perimeter – and doesn’t slip like a standard drop cloth.
However if you’re painting ceilings you’ll need to protect lots of floor, so you still may need a drop cloth or two.
If you have the best brush for edges you only need one brush – and professional painters swear by Purdy.
There are plenty of different roller heads to choose from depending on the type of paint you’re using, and the surface of the wall it’s going on. You may want to refer to your local paint store for advice on choosing this. However, a good handle (with removable extension) will last you a long time.
You’ll need a metal paint tray. You can either line it with a clean plastic bag or buy disposable liners to save time when you’re cleaning up.
Real Tools: When it’s Time to Hang that Cool Artwork Your eDesigner Selected, or Hang that New Decorative Pendant Light
Every home should have at least a stepladder (for dusting, or changing lightbulbs), but generally, a 6′ A-frame ladder will be invaluable to you on any project where you don’t want to have to stand on your tippy-toes and balance precariously on a chair, or the arm of your sofa.
The first hammer I owned was a gift from my grandma and it had flowers on it. Unfortunately, I don’t get taken seriously by guys when I whip it out, so I have a “real” hammer too.
One of the most versatile tools you’ll ever own is a screwdriver with interchangeable heads. That way you don’t have to search for Phillips or flathead in the middle of the project. Whether it’s assembling your own furniture, to jimmying the lock on the door of the room your toddler just locked himself into (just me?). This one even has a ratcheting handle to save your hand and wrist muscles.
Whether you’re hanging artwork or those incredibly popular floating shelves, a laser level/stud finder is a must-have. When hanging heavier items, knowing where the studs are is very important, and it even has a sensor to let you know if there are electrical wires in the vicinity so you don’t accidentally electrocute yourself in the process.
The next step up from a screwdriver is a cordless drill. Depending on how much you plan to do with it, you could start with a basic version. However as your tool collection grows you might want to look into upgrading to one with more power, and interchangeable rechargeable batteries. (my “grownup tools” are the Milwaukee 18 volt series – everything from a circular saw, a drill, a sawzall, and a crazy bright flashlight).
You might think safety glasses are just for professionals. Actually, they’re probably more useful for those of us that aren’t. I can’t tell you how many times my sunglasses have saved me from flying sawdust, dropped nails (while looking up towards the ceiling), and who knows what else. Look for ones with shatter-resistant lenses. You can even get them with pink frames if you want to look cute.
Tricks of the (Designer) Trade
Every home should have a pack of picture hooks available. My favorites are the hooks for art that has a wire strung across the back (which if it doesn’t already, is super easy to add). This kit also comes with sawtooth hangers (for a bit more precision), and even a mini-level for spot-checking.
If you’re creating artificial arrangements, be sure to grab a few cubes of florists foam. Cut it to the size you need to fit in the bottom of your (not clear) containers, and then insert the stems of your flowers or greenery and they stay in place without tipping over or all sagging to one side. This can be used for both artificial blooms, or with live plants (it can get wet).
Poster putty is the secret to keeping your artwork nice and square on the walls (just a little ball under the bottom corners) or loose items from rolling around and falling off your mantle.
If you’ve got wood or other hard-surface floors, felt furniture pads are an inexpensive way to protect your investment. They have a sticky back that just mounts on the bottom of your furniture so if it gets bumped or you need to move it your floors won’t get scratched. Depending on how light your furniture is, it also makes it super easy to slide your furniture around for dusting or cleaning. You can get pre-sized sets, or for larger items, rolls of felt that you cut to the length you need. When we moved into our home with newly refinished hardwood floors I made the movers put these on every single piece of furniture before it came through the front door.
If you have area rugs rug grips help to cushion as well as keep them from becoming a slip or trip hazzard by keeping them in place. Most rug pads are specific to the size of your rug, as well as the type of surface they will be on (wood, tile, or even carpet). You can also get grips for just the corners (instead of sized to the rug). These also help keep the corners from “curling”.
Most ready-made curtains come in only a few different lengths, so if your windows are not standard, or you don’t want them to go all the way to the floor (perhaps there’s a baseboard heater you don’t want to mess with), you need to alter the length. Unless you know how to sew, have the right machine, and feel like taking the time… hem tape is a great (no-sew) option for hemming too-long curtains. Just get out your iron, fold to the length you want, and voila!
Finishing Touches: When it’s Time to Kick Back, Relax, and Enjoy Your Newly Completed Room
Relax! It’s time for a glass of wine. These unique stemless wine glasses are wrapped in a layer of copper – which is totally on-trend and will work well with today’s popular warmer gold and brass tones.
Now kick up your feet, and wait for your refill.
And enjoy some chocolates. You’ve earned them.
So if you’re ready to start your next project, check out the designer style quiz at edesigntribe.com and get matched, or hop over to www.rchomedesign.com (’cause you already know I’m the one for you) and learn how we can work together to get your room from idea to “kick back and enjoy the wine” time.
Rebecca Langman, Interior Designer | Revision Custom Home Design
Rebecca Langman has had a lifelong passion for design and architecture and graduated with her Bachelor’s Degree in Interior Design at the Harrington Institute of Interior Design in Chicago. Later, she gained experience working in furniture and accessory showrooms, as an in-house designer for a remodeling company, and designing floor plans for new home construction. Her biggest wish is to make clients feel that their home expresses their personality.
Learn more about working with Rebecca Langman of Revision Custom Home Design through her eDesign Tribe member profile!