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Planning a big renovation is a tantalizing prospect, especially when you line up a roster of pros to (magically) do it all for you.

But when those budget numbers come back, you may be in for a big surprise. Before you table the plans that had you all excited in the first place, consider the DIY route. While we certainly don’t recommend replacing your roof or plumbing system on your own, there are plenty of projects you can take on—even if you’re a novice. 

The first step: “Get rid of any fears you have about messing up,” says Anita Yokota, an interior designer and DIY pro. “Be realistic, and take baby projects first. Then, fake it until you make it.” In her words, “practice makes progress,” and these five projects offer a great value-friendly place to start:


DIY Board and Batten

DIY Board and Batten in Bedroom

Add dimension to what Yokota calls “flat” walls with DIY board and batten. The project costs less than $200 and requires just three supplies (wood, nails, and paint), but yields what looks like custom woodworking—something that would cost thousands to hire a pro to do for you.


DIY Beadboard Wall

DIY beadboard in bathroom

“I turned my mom’s 80s mauve powder room into a modern, rustic bathroom with $20 beadboard paneling,” says Yokota. Like board and batten, this treatment adds architectural details to an otherwise boring space. Try it in a bathroom, mudroom, or entryway for an eye-catching finish that’s also scratch-proof.

DIY Cane Cabinets

DIY laundry storage doors

Spruce up basic IKEA cabinets with custom-looking doors. For a bespoke look in the laundry room (or on a dresser!), try installing cane webbing on simple shaker doors and swapping out the hardware. If you already own the cabinets, this project will run you less than $50—a far cry from the hundreds you’d pay for custom storage. 


DIY Bathroom Refresh

Anita Yokota Bathroom

As long as you have a functioning layout, a dreary and dated bathroom is easy to refresh for just a few hundred dollars by replacing outdated light fixtures, painting old vanities, adding peel-and-stick backsplash and flooring, and adding decor like a vintage runner, says Yokota.


DIY Kitchen Makeover

DIY Marble Countertops

Would you believe us if we told you there’s a $40 hack that can completely transform the look of your kitchen? To upgrade her countertops—an endeavor that typically costs a few thousand dollars—Yokota covered them with marble contact paper, then painted the walls white. The result? A brand new kitchen at a fraction of the cost.

Anita Yokota and her husband

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We don’t believe that renovations should be daunting. The key is to arm yourself with the right knowledge, people, and products to achieve your goals. It also helps to ask the right questions: How much does it cost to renovate a kitchen? How do I find the right general contractor in my area? Where do I even start if I’ve never remodeled before? This is where we come in. Through hard-to-believe before and afters, first-person renovation accounts, and step-by-step DIY projects, we demystify every aspect of remodeling and give you a ton of full-house, bathroom, and kitchen renovation ideas. Semihandmade was built on a strong make-it-yourself spirit and we’re carrying that legacy beyond DIY kitchen cabinets (though we’ll certainly touch on those too) by bringing you a ton of weekend projects for novices (have you ever tried making your own planter?) and experts (try your hand at a full-wall media center). What do people really mean when they say a house has “good bones”? Before and after projects show first-hand what’s possible in a transformative remodel. How do you make the most of a narrow galley? Should you swap your upper cabinets for floating shelves? What would it look like if you opened up your small kitchen? Renovation ideas abound in our spotlighted projects. A lot goes into a kitchen renovation, but it’s usually hard to tell from a beautiful “after” shot. Our monthly series “Island Hopping” is about getting a behind-the-scenes account of what the process is like through honest conversations—you know, the kind that typically take place around a kitchen island. We’ll chat with designers, homeowners, and architects about their projects, hoping to peel back the curtain on picture-perfect spaces.