Spend or Save?
In an ideal world I’d go bespoke everything, from furniture to pizzas, but when you’re renovating a whole house, you have to decide where to spend your money and where to save. A couple of quotes for bespoke storage later and I knew this was going to be a save. Did I want to spend upwards of £1k for cupboards when we still had an entire house ahead of us? Well yes, but luckily for us I’ve got a mildly sensible boyfriend. Also lucky for us, we have a contractor uncle with all the solutions and luckiest of all, we’ve got me with the unwavering grand vision and thus the Ikea PAX alcove storage hack was conceived.
Cost vs. Effort vs. Good Quality Rewards
To be clear, if you’re looking for a step by step how to, you won’t find it here. I’m the ideas (wo)man, willing to take on the simple, often boring, ‘difficult to cause any real damage’ kinda of tasks and employ tradespeople to take care of ‘anything requiring any measure of skill’ kinda tasks (though I’d argue managing tradespeople is a skill in itself – see end of post). You need to decide having considered cost vs. effort vs. good quality rewards what makes sense for you. For us it was clear. Someone call the carpenter.
A Pinterest sesh and one very basic drawing later, we were ready to get in the professional.
- We purchased the Ikea PAX units (without doors obvi), in a size wider and shorter than our alcoves. Our joiner cut them down to size for a snug fit.
- Our joiner took all the necessary measurements for the MDF casing and beading and then provided us with a shopping list. Shopping I can do.
- We had the larger pieces cut at SELCO to reduce labour costs. Our joiner cut the smaller pieces that needed to be tailored to our mishaped walls onsite.
- Then we paid him two days work and watched the magic happen.
We’re chuffed with the final outcome. In total we spent around £400 on the units, materials and labour. That was one job down, 99 to go.
A DIY Approach to Design Led Renovation
We found employing tradespeople directly to be one of the hardest parts of renovating. Even when you find a good one, you may find they’re highly skilled in their own specific field, but struggle to see your bigger picture. That’s what contractors and designers are for. For those of us going it alone, I’ve found drawings and/or printouts to be the single most important aid when leaving your vision in someone else’s hands. No matter how many times your builder says ‘yes’ with a dismissive wave of their hand, he’ll thank you (and more importantly you’ll thank yourself) later for the extra trouble. A visual aid helps keep everyone on the same track and gives you both a point of reference should things turn out differently from how you imagined. Talk your professional through the concept with reference to your visuals, troubleshoot any questions and agree what you’re expecting to get and what you’ll pay BEFORE any work begins. Then stick your visual contract on the wall near the workspace as a constant reminder. If something doesn’t look right to you along the way, ask questions and get answers that you’re happy with. It’s not easy to question a professional, but we learnt the hard way more than once, it’s better to speak up sooner rather than later.