In today’s housing market, most of us have given up on the idea of buying a starter home, hoping to sell it at a profit later so we can purchase the house of our dreams. Instead, we’ve adopted a new strategy for home ownership. I like to call it the “if you can’t live in the house you love, honey, love the house you’re in” approach, and that, of course, can mean only one thing—DIY.

Before you rush out to the home improvement store for expensive power tools, however, take a minute to consider dos and don’ts of DIY. Sometimes, you can save just as much money by saying, “Honey, don’t!” as you can by handing your loved one a “Honey Do” list.

Do – Have a clear plan in mind before you start. Browsing through design magazines and DIY websites to discover the finished look you want will help you narrow your design selections and guide your furniture and appliance purchases.

When we recently remodeled our master bathroom, I wanted a country cottage look. Browsing through websites steered me away from slate tile floors. I love the warm colors in slate, but the dark shades would have made a small space appear even smaller. We opted for these white, octagonal tiles instead, which give the illusion of a larger space.

Don’t – Go too trendy. Remember, the “hot” new looks of today quickly become the dated designs of tomorrow. (Think green shag carpet, dark paneling and bright orange countertops of the 70’s or cornflower-checked wallpaper and white geese in the 80’s.) I’m sure these were popular items in their day. And most of us can’t rip it out of our homes quickly enough! Choose a classic look, and you won’t have to remodel again for a long time.

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