Hiring a Contractor vs. DIY Home Projects: The Pros and Cons of Each

Wouldn’t it be nice if home upgrade projects were as fast and seamless as a 30-minute home makeover show makes it look? Alas, without TV magic, we’re left to make all the hard decisions ourselves. The first question: Should you hire a contractor or DIY? Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all answer. The right choice depends on the scope of your project, your personal experience, and your budget.

Nine times out of ten, hiring a contractor will cost you more money upfront than trying to do it yourself, but there are pros and cons to both sides: Accomplishing a project on your own is incredibly satisfying, and can save you a large chunk of change. On the other hand, there is a certain peace of mind in knowing that it was done professionally, and that you didn’t have to lift a finger.

As you contemplate your decision, ask yourself these questions:

What’s Your Budget?

This may seem like an obvious first question to ask yourself, but don’t forget to zoom out and look at all of your end goals before you get too far down the rabbit hole. With your total budget in mind, you can clearly divvy up tasks into things you could potentially handle and those you can’t. Of course, this will all depend on the scale and complexity of your project — are you giving your powder room a cosmetic refresh, or demoing your kitchen? You may decide that most of your budget needs to be spent on actual materials, or you may see that there’s plenty of wiggle room left to hire a contractor.

How Long Will It Take? (No, Really – How Long Will It Actually Take?)

Saving money is appealing, but don’t forget to factor in your time investment. Your time is not a renewable resource, and for many people, that’s reason enough to outsource project management. If your home project is a huge undertaking, you’d likely find that hiring a contractor saves you enough time to justify the cost. For smaller projects, you may feel the time spent is well within reason. Either way, be realistic in your estimate and include a margin for “oh no” incidents.

decorative mirror

Do You Have the Skills Needed?

Installing tricky wiring is not the moment to “wing it.” Sure, some skills can be self-taught with YouTube videos and a can-do attitude, but some tasks are better left to the pros. Hiring a professional means tapping into their specific realm of knowledge, meaning they can predict issues you may not have even thought of, simply because they deal with it every day. 

Plus, a contractor is able to assess various aspects of a job and make sure that everything is being done correctly and up to code. On the other hand, tackling something yourself or learning how to do it can lend a sense of pride and accomplishment. Weigh the risks and consider your previous experience before deciding whether or not you’re up for the challenge.

mirror installation

Whether you contract out or take on the work yourself, finding the perfect framed mirror is not something you have to leave to the professionals. You can get designer style at a low price, and choose from a wide array of styles. Plus, installation is a breeze. Get started now!

6 Budget-Friendly Home Upgrades You Can Accomplish In One Weekend

Feeling a home refresh, but not feeling the related expenses? There are plenty of ways to upgrade your space while keeping your costs in check. Whether you’re looking for ways to make your home more appealing to potential buyers or simply bored with the current state of your home, here are six projects you can tackle with confidence in just an afternoon or two.

#1. Create a Feature Wall

Never underestimate the impact of a feature wall. When done well, a feature wall can draw the eye in, offer a focal point, and elicit interesting conversation. Whether it’s a single hallway, the nook under the stairs, the back panel of a bookshelf, or a powder room, a pop of wallpaper or bold paint — no matter how small — can make a big difference in your decor. 

Choosing a small space to focus on is a great solution if you don’t want to commit to the time and money required for a full room of wallpaper or redecorating. And, this is an ideal spot to take some design risks and let your personality shine. While covering your entire living room in zebra print and teal accents may feel a bit over the top, doing the same thing on one wall in your powder room may feel just right. The best part? If you hate it, redoing everything won’t ruin you financially. 

feature wall

#2. Jazz Up Your Staircase

Depending on your skill level and budget, this upgrade could range anywhere from painting your stairs to replacing your traditional banister with a wrought-iron one. For an unexpected pop of pattern, try peel-and-stick flooring in between the stair steps. Get creative with a colorful runner, or rip off the carpet entirely and go for a glossy finish. Create a massive gallery wall spanning the length of your staircase using family photos, decorative mirrors, and favorite pieces of art. The staircase is often a focal point whether you want it to be or not, so you might as well make it one worth seeing!

#3. Refresh Your Front Porch

First impressions matter, and your front porch and entryway are your chance to make the right one on first-time guests. Luckily, a cute, welcoming area doesn’t have to break the bank. A few relatively inexpensive and easy ways to achieve this: Upgrade your house numbers; buy or make a new welcome mat; fill a big planter or two with some beautiful blossoms. A wreath is another inexpensive way to keep your decor seasonally appropriate without much effort.

front porch flowers

#4. Upgrade Kitchen Cabinet Hardware

Kitchen renovations are often a worthwhile investment that see the highest resale value. Of course, a gut job costs a pretty penny. Besides painting, replacing the outdated pulls, knobs and handles on your cabinets and drawers is one of the easiest ways to transform your space into something more modern. And, once you have the hardware in hand, it’s a fairly simple task that can be accomplished in an hour or two.

#5 Paint Your Fireplace

A classic brick fireplace never really goes out of style, but you may be ready for something a bit more contemporary. Painting your fireplace can instantly change your living room for the better. Not only is it a focal point, but it can elevate a design style and serve as the jumping off point for the rest of your decor. For a clean, minimalist look, consider a strong black paint, neutral white, or soft gray. If you’re brave enough, a bold jewel tone like sapphire or rich forest green can add exquisite color to the space.

6. Give Your Bathroom Mirrors a Makeover

Even if your budget doesn’t allow for a full renovation, a few simple upgrades can instantly give your bathroom the refresh it needs. If you have a sheet mirror behind your bathroom vanity, adding a frame to the existing mirror is an affordable way to make the space look professionally designed. Even run-of-the-mill mirrors or those that look old due to desilvered edges can be given a second life. Best of all, this is a fast, easy upgrade that won’t drain your time and energy.

RELATED READ: Style Inspo: Mirrors Over Double Sinks

bathroom mirror

Choose from 80+ frame styles and finishes with Add A Frame® for a fast, customized, easy-to-install end product. Think you’re better off replacing the mirror altogether? Peruse our selection of Decorative Framed Mirrors for a ready-to-hang option, or add a little extra light to the room with a sophisticated LED Lighted Mirror

3 Reasons Why We Love the Leaning Mirror Trend

Mirrors can brighten up a room, make a space seem bigger, and be super practical to use. And as it turns out, there’s no law that says you have to actually hang it on the wall! One trend that has gained popularity in recent years is to lean mirrors and artwork against a wall instead of mounting them. And we have to admit: We are completely on board.

On the mantle over the fireplace is a popular place for this look, as is an open shelving unit. There’s a certain modern, yet unpretentious vibe that a leaning mirror evokes, and that’s just one reason we think it’s a great choice for decor. Ahead, three more reasons we love this trend:

Reason #1: It’s rent-friendly.

It’s hard to say where leaning mirrors truly got their origins, but one safe bet is to give the credit to renters! When you don’t own your space, there are usually rules against putting holes in the wall (even if that rule is that you have to repaint after you move out). Leaning a mirror — whether it’s a giant floor mirror against a wall or a small framed mirror on a bedroom shelf — is a commitment-free way to incorporate mirrors and help guarantee you get that safety deposit back.black mirror on floor in living room leaning on wall

Reason #2: You can add varying heights to your decor.

Thoughtful layering in a space is the key to good design, and leaning a framed mirror or piece of artwork on the shelf or mantle can be just the ticket to get you there. With a leaning mirror, it’s easy to include a variation of heights and shapes into a vignette. For example, picture a mantle over a fireplace with a straight line of picture frames across it. Boring, right? Add a vase, an interesting mini-sculpture, and a leaning mirror to double the impact, and voila!cute gold decorative mirror resting on mantle and wall next to vase of flowers, candles, and decor

Reason #3: Redecorating is easy.

Not only does a leaning mirror give off an essence of relaxed elegance, it’s also incredibly convenient. No need to break out your level, measuring tape, hammer and nails! When it comes to decorating, we’re all for one less chore. If you’re someone who likes to “reimagine” your space on the regular, leaning your mirror allows you to easily change up your decor without leaving a smattering of spackle all over your walls. Score!

If you’re equally obsessed with the leaning mirror trend, build a Custom Framed Mirror for a leaning look that’s one hundred percent your style.

5 Incredibly Easy Ways to Make Your Bathroom Feel More Like a Spa

gold frame my mirror in bathroom with candles and plant

When you walk into a spa, your shoulders automatically lower from your ears and your jaw unclenches — at least, that’s the goal, right? A state of total relaxation and rejuvenation shouldn’t stay reserved for special destinations. Bring that sense of spa right into your own bathroom so that every day feels a little luxurious!

From the lighting to the aroma to the textures, a true spa-like atmosphere should impact all five senses. Ahead, read a few easy ways to upgrade your bathroom to feel like a mini-getaway.

1.) Incorporate greenery.

Get that earthy, natural vibe you love so much about your favorite spa by including greenery in your design. For a fresh scent that doubles as decor, use eucalyptus hanging from your showerhead or even a potted mint plant on your windowsill. Of course, going faux is always an option. An artificial snake plant in the corner or a pothos draping from your shelf can add that lush organic look you want.

greenery and plants in bathroom highland black mirror

2.) Use matching dispensers. 

A coordinating set of soap dispensers, toothbrush holders, and other cup-style containers to hold your various knick-knacks can be a cost-effective way to add some cohesion into your bathroom. If you’re looking for that elevated spa feel, try all-white ceramic pieces, all-natural wood, or something with similarly clean lines. 

3.) Think through lighting carefully.

Spas are loved for their relaxing, calming atmosphere, and a lot of that is thanks to the lighting. Soft, beautifully scented candles like lavender or eucalyptus add instant ambiance and enliven the senses. Well-placed sconces can offer a more flattering light than harsh overhead fluorescents. If installing new light fixtures isn’t an option, consider using a lower wattage lightbulb or dimmer for a more relaxing mood. 

dim lit bathroom two sinks framed mirror

4.) Diffuse essential oils. 

Essential oils are, well, essential to the spa atmosphere. Scent really can set the mood, and essential oils are a beautiful (and fire-safe!) way to strike the right tone. Lean into aromatherapy with a chic oil diffuser and lineup of oils that promote relaxation. Try lavender with ylang-ylang, patchouli with sweet orange, or sage with sandalwood and find a combination that speaks to you. 

5.) Frame your mirror.

At a luxury spa, every texture and detail is important. One easy way to add instant polish to your bathroom is to frame the mirror (or mirrors) over your vanity and sink. Framing your existing mirror is a relatively inexpensive way to give your bathroom a refresh and make it feel professionally designed. Best of all, there are styles available to suit any decor style — whether you’re going for that clean, contemporary spa feel or a more intricate, luxe look.

black framed mirror in white bathroom

Choose from more than 80 frame styles and find your perfect fit now! 

4 Spring Cleaning Tasks You’re Probably Forgetting

framed mirror in living room

Throw open the windows and shake the dust off the curtains — it’s spring cleaning time! Across the nation, folks are vacuuming behind refrigerators and wiping down their window blinds. It’s the perfect time of year to get your home feeling refreshed and renewed, but even the most accomplished and organized clean freaks forget a few things now and then. Be sure to add these oft-overlooked items to your seasonal cleaning routine. 

1.) Clean or change your shower curtain.

It’s gross to think about scrubbing yourself clean in a place that’s secretly harboring mold, mildew and grime — and that’s exactly what likes to hide in your shower curtain. Yes, it’s a chore to rehang the liner and curtain on the little hooks, but you’ll feel much better once you do.The good news: Most cloth shower curtains can be easily tossed in the washing machine. You may clean plastic shower curtain liners on a gentle cycle using detergent, vinegar, and baking soda. If your liner is at the point of no return, consider swapping it out with a new one. 

2.) Launder your duvet cover.

While you (hopefully!) wash your sheets about every week, your cozy duvet probably gets tossed on a chair on laundry day and goes unwashed. If you think about it, that cover is used every day — so don’t forget to clean it occasionally! Shoving the duvet back into the duvet cover can be quite the task, so have a friend or partner on deck and ready to help.

3.) Clean the base of your toilet. 

Giving your toilet bowl a good scrub is an item on just about every cleaning to-do list, but have you forgotten about the base? The pedestal part of the toilet is often overlooked, and — ick! — tends to pile up dust and other yuckiness over time. Do yourself a favor and give your throne a good once-over.

cleaning base of toilet

4.) Give all your mirrors a thorough cleaning.

Make your mirrors glisten and gleam! Step one is to dust your frame and wipe off any dirt or grime. Next, use your favorite glass cleaner and a microfiber cloth to make your mirrors really shine (without leaving the fuzzy residue of paper towels). 

Making your own glass cleaner is easy, effective, and inexpensive — a win, win win by our book! One of the easiest ways to make your own glass cleaner is to use a simple combination of dish soap, white vinegar, and water. 

cleaning decorative mirror

How to make glass cleaner:

  • Add a half teaspoon of dish soap and 1 cup of white vinegar to a gallon of warm water. 
  • Mix well, add to a spray bottle, and get to work! 
  • Note that the vinegar may have a strong smell at first, but it fades quickly.

If you’re looking for a one-and-done solution, try simple club soda. No mixing necessary, simply add to a spray bottle and go to town. 

For more homemade glass cleaner recipes that we love and use, check out this post.Your annual spring cleaning campaign is the perfect time to check in on the status of your mirrors — are the edges desilvered? Are there any visible cracks? If it’s time to upgrade the look, add a mirror frame to give your mirror a second life, or shop our ready-to-hang Decorative Mirrors now!