Photo-Illustration: Lauren O’Connell
Our homes have been there for us in many ways this year. We’ve turned our bedrooms into classrooms, kitchen tables into home offices, and our fronts into late-night rendezvous destinations. All of this transformation has turned many of us into amateur DIY enthusiasts, tackling long lists of home projects that we might have overlooked for years. Philip, the North Carolina-based home improvement blogger and engineer Philip or Flop, has been there with us, documenting the work he has done to make his home a place his family is happy to spend so much time.
Like many parents today, Philip and his wife have spent much of the past year working full time from home while their two daughters, ages 5 and 8, attend distance school. The experience gave him a new appreciation, he says, for having a comfortable space where the whole family can find their own place when needed and come together throughout the day.
Before the pandemic, entertainment was often one of the first things he and his wife considered when planning their home, he says. “How are we going to invite people over and have a dinner party, or have friends over for a game night?” Now, with those activities on hold, he says, “We’re thinking more about what makes us comfortable and what makes us enjoy our own spaces more.”
Connection, for one, has never been more important – whether it’s offline at the table or online with classmates, family members and over 360,000 of Philip’s. Instagram Followers. To keep up with all this, you need a reliable and affordable wireless plan like Total wireless’ unlimited family plans without a contract (which, unlike most home improvement projects, have no hidden costs).
Here’s how Philip makes his home an amazing place for his whole family, his number one tip for novice DIYers, and budget ideas he recommends for busy parents. As for how to budget all these tools and two by four? Switching to Total Wireless can save you up to $ 1,200 per year compared to a four-line postpaid plan from the major carrier, which means those extra dollars can be invested in your home DIY jobs.
“They called it a ‘morning room’ when we bought the house because there are windows on both sides and it’s beautiful and bright here. It’s a space that I created at the start of this year, just as the pandemic was starting. We weren’t expecting it to be used as a classroom… I just thought, okay, maybe we sit here every now and then.
There’s a big desk sitting here, where our two daughters do their homework, and we’ve lined up the room with other school-like activities to create and make art. We’re going to put chairs in here now that they’re back to school. It is a nice place to sit and have a coffee or read a book. But it’s definitely going to be used in the future as a workspace for girls when they get home, just because they’ve gotten used to it and work pretty well here. So this is our living room-morning-room-work-room-work-room now. “
“Before remaking this room, it was completely open to the breakfast room and the kitchen. And I decided, let’s close it so that we have a dedicated space for the kids to do their homework. This is the last thing I did because we were sort of on the fence. I had no idea it would be a real classroom for almost a whole year.
In the past it was a tendency to tear down the walls, but when I did this renovation so many people texted me or commented on my messages: “ We thought about taking our open space and creating more defined spaces as well. ‘ I wouldn’t be surprised if after that there was a full step away from the open floor plans. The walls give you some privacy and the opportunity to spend some time alone, even when you are with your family. It’s also a good idea to have spaces where you can work physically from home, and then you can leave those spaces to enjoy your family time. “
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“People say, ‘Where do I start? I just bought a new home and it needs a lot of work. If you’re talking about the most affordable DIYs, paint is the biggest. With a few five gallon paint buckets, you can change a dark, very dated space into a much more attractive one. You can paint it to suit whatever makes you happy – it doesn’t have to be a light color. A lot of people tend to go for more sullen colors these days. Painting is fairly straightforward and doesn’t require a lot of capital cost in terms of tools. Buy some nice brushes, some rolling stock, and some drop cloths, and you’re good to go.
Photo: Courtesy of Talent
After painting, it is the lightings. You can find great lighting fixtures online for $ 40 or $ 50, and there are so many around the house. If your home is more dated and the light fixtures are dated, replacing them is a pretty quick thing. Even for most people who don’t have electrical experience, you can learn how to turn off the circuit breaker, match a few wires, and replace a light fixture without hiring an electrician. If you are not comfortable, hire an electrician or have someone knowledgeable to train you. “
“Do you know the saying ‘measure twice, cut once’? This means that if you don’t take that little extra time to complete that extra measurement, you could lose a piece of wood. And it’s just a piece of wood, it’s not a big deal, right? But you can take that “measure twice, cut once” mentality and translate it into an entire project. So it’s all about researching the different things you’re going to be working on, preparing yourself to make sure you’re doing things in the right order, buying the right materials the first time.
Especially if you are just starting out, things take longer than expected. You can get frustrated quite easily and say to yourself, “Why did I do this? Why did I get into this? And so if you spend that time ahead of time preparing yourself mentally and writing down the steps and doing the research… that’s the key.
Looking to save on your wireless plan? (Who isn’t?) We’ve done the math for you – A multi-device plan of Total wireless can save you up to $ 1,200 per year compared to the main operator. Think of it as money for your next DIY.
“I always tell people, first I find the room that interests you the most and I go. Start in this room and finish this room – don’t even do the 95%, finish it. And then go to the next space. It really makes a DIY experience more enjoyable because you don’t feel like, ‘What have I got myself into? I destroyed my whole house before realizing the amount of work that was going to be.
And that’s the other thing: when people underestimate the costs and start more rooms at once, they’ll find themselves unable to afford what they envision. And if you do it piece by piece, even if you run a bit, you haven’t spent 5X [your budget] because you only made one piece.
“We have a small circle, but it’s important to stay connected with these people during this time, and mobile devices are essential. We use many different messaging and video messaging apps to stay connected, primarily with family members who are not in the immediate area, as well as some friends.
My oldest daughter was very interested in crafting and building things for her dolls so she watched a lot of video tutorials to see other kids building things. Recently she has acquired a bit of an entrepreneurial spirit, which we encourage. She made lip balms and body scrubs and used an online neighborhood group to promote her new business. This is something she probably wouldn’t have done if we hadn’t tried to help her find new creative outlets during the pandemic.
“We have always had dinner together, but one thing we always tried to do when we were at home was sit down to have lunch together as a family. Just having that extra hour of meals to converse and communicate has been really great. “