Dena Breitmeyer imperfectly empowered podcast with ahna fulmer

She Built Her Own Home For Only $70K

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DIY pro, Dena Breitmeyer, shares her tips for building a home on a budget and how to transform your home from drab to fab for less.

Join us for Dena’s incredible DIY home decor tips that won’t break your wallet!

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  • Dena’s most memorable DIY project 
  • How DIY projects strengthen Dena’s marriage
  • Why is drywall the most challenging DIY project?
  • What to learn from DIY projects gone wrong 
  • How light affects paint color
  • Dena’s key to success  
  • The best DIY ideas to get the look for less
  • Practical home renovations for beginners
  • Some MUST haves for your dream house 



Dena is a lifelong DIYer turned Blogger/YouTuber. She has spent 20 years tackling DIY home renovation and interior design projects and is best known for building her family home “Fletcher Creek Cottage” from the ground up all DIY for only $70k. Dena and her husband have currently broken ground on their DIY Dream Home build project and are sharing the entire process on their YouTube channel in hopes to inspire and encourage others to make their own dreams a reality from the ground up.

DIY pro, Dena Breitmeyer, shares her tips for building a home on a budget and how to transform your home from drab to fab for less.


Ahna Fulmer Signature

I do love color and don’t particularly struggle. Lighting is key. If you can get the colors that you’re looking for in the right lighting and different times of day. Usually you’ll be more successful. Welcome to the em, perfectly empowered podcast with leading DIY lifestyle blogger on a Fullmer where women are inspired with authentic stories and practical strategies to reclaim their hearts and homes by empowering transformation.
And perfect day at a time. Hi, and welcome to another episode of the imperfectly empowered podcast. I’m your host on a Fullmer today? It is my pleasure to introduce you to Deena bright Meyer. Dina is a lifelong DIY or turned blogger YouTuber. She has spent 20 years tackling DIY home renovation projects and is best known for.
Family home that she built from the ground up called the Fletcher Creek cottage for only $70,000. Dina and her husband have currently broken ground on their DIY dream home build project and are sharing the entire process on their YouTube channel and hopes to inspire and encourage others to make their own dreams a reality from the ground up.
It is my pleasure to welcome of Brighton. Girl. It’s been so long. I know it really has welcome to the podcast. I was just saying how you were like, you’re just so cute. You’re so picture perfect. Your home is picture perfect. Going to make me turn red, but that is so cute. I have to tell a little story. That for everyone listening and watching.
I met Dina for the first time. Y’all have heard me talk about the Haven conference, kind of a national DIY home decor, creators influencers conference. And I met you for the first time this summer at that conference. I will never forget, like we just connected instantly. So there was the very last night, there was this big dance party themed.
I don’t know what was it? Roaring twenties or something? Yeah, I didn’t dress up. I was too tired. I was in sweat pants and I met Dina and her husband earlier in the conference and we were sitting there and we spent the entire evening while everyone else is dancing and party. Chatting about like concrete blocks for building a home, like all of these different, like technical things for building home and construction.
And I was like, okay, I’ve met my DIY soul sister. There are very few women who would be as excited talking to me about. Yeah, concrete blocks then dancing. Yes. I felt the same way. The night just blew by construction all night and it was like, guys, it was hours. And your husband was there. He was also amazing.
Just an all around amazing family question that I love asking people. Like if you could look back over the years to when you were a little girl, Would people have guests that you’d be sitting here telling me about like all your DIY adventures and how you build a house from the ground up. And you’re like, what’s your parents look back and be like, yeah, that doesn’t surprise me.
Or is it very surprising? Uh, my parents would probably look back and say, it does not surprise them simply because they built their own house. I was surprised. Okay. And my mom designed it all and they worked with family to build it. And so obviously that made a big impression on me. Um, but yeah, they wouldn’t be surprised now later, like my college age friends.
The me of 19 or 20. Yeah. I was actually in beauty school. I was a cosmetologist did hair in a salon for a really long time. And so that group of friends would probably be shocked. Yeah, no kidding. So that is interesting. I did not know that part of your story. So you, how did you make that transition? So how’d you go from like viewed a school cosmetology to where you are today?
What did that transition look like? Oh man. It was, I mean, that’s like 20 years, but the quick story would be, I always wanted to be a singer. Believe it or not. I love this. We just went from cosmetology. Just school. Yeah. So singing. Yeah. Yeah. I was planning on going to Nashville and I had no plan. Right. I had no way to pay, you know, I didn’t have a music career ready for me.
I just wanted to go. It was my lifelong. And my friend said, you know, I’m going to cosmetology school. You should go. It that way you could make a living when you moved to Nashville, cutting hair and whatnot. And so I was like, okay. I signed up on a whim two years later, I had my license and yeah, really, really good at nice.
I’m like thinking about it that wasn’t bad advice to be like, you still need some kind of hands-on tool, like yeah. Right. Interesting. All right. So you had your license? Yep. I had my license and I got married very young. And stayed at home with my kids. So there was a lot of, I did hair on the weekends and raise my kids.
So yeah, there was a lot of hair in there, a lot of stuff in there, but mainly we got married so young and we bought a fixer upper and I stayed home with my kids and started like you starting to tackling projects and learning DIY and you guys had kids. Yup. Yeah, it was 21. Yeah. So you like rocked and rolled real quickly.
Um, did you keep singing for fun? Yeah. Went in church. Yeah. Yeah. I love that. Who did you want to have a music? Like who, if you, like, when you went, that’s a great answer to a very poorly worded question. Who, so when you wanted to sing a Nashville, did you like idolize a particular singer at that time?
Somebody who you were like, I would love to structure my music and my style after this person. Like, was there somebody that you especially like, yeah, but I’m going to date myself. Hey, that’s fair. There’s no judgment here. Do you remember. Yeah, I know the name. Yeah. Okay. So they were my favorite yeah. Way back then, like 10 year olds.
Do you still love country music? Yeah. Yeah. I listened to a lot more Christian music now and gospel type stuff now, but I love all music. Really pick a favorite. That’s so funny. Yeah, I’m the same way country is hands down. Probably what I go to the most. I do really love country music. Yeah, I know what you’re saying.
Just kind of whatever Kidz bop is currently a thing in our house, which is my kids are much older, so, oh yeah. It’s so painful. It’s like pre-team singing pop songs. Oh, it’s okay. Yeah. Mom sacrifices. Yeah, exactly truth. So, okay. And all your DIY, right. So where did you start with, like, I’m just thinking. So you were in cosmetology school, you became a mom, you were married really young.
Do you have a moment where you can remember like your first DIY project that you were like, oh, this is something I really enjoy. Like, do you have. Anything that stands out. That was especially, I mean, I remember our first house fixer upper that we built. We didn’t buy it to renovate it. We didn’t buy it to flip it.
We just bought it because we needed a place to live. We were newly married and that’s what we could afford. Right. And so I remember going into that house and thinking. This needs to be fixed and that needs to be fixed when my budget is this big. Right. So how can I make this happen? And so Erin and I both, I mean, he was 22.
I was 21 and we dug into, you know, back then we didn’t have YouTube. We didn’t have anything like that. Just had books from the library. And this old house episode. Yeah. Yeah. And we learned, and we started tackling projects. So I remember doing a tile backsplash in the kitchen. That was one of my first projects.
And boy, was it hard yet? I love what I was started with. Okay. People listening do not start with a tile back.
Well, I’m stubborn and I’m dash vermin back then. I was very determined to figure it out. Yeah. And that’s what I did one project at a time and failed a lot, but grew a lot. Yeah. Yeah. That is the world of DOI right there, folks. Yeah. That. Yeah, that house took four years to renovate. And I worked on it all the time when my daughter was napping, I’d be working on it.
So it wasn’t a fast, quick, easy for people listening. What does Aaron do? Cause he’s pretty handy. He’s very handy. He’s a farm boy and he’s a mechanical engineer, so he works very hard demanding job. And he’s a plant manager, but yeah, he’s an engineer, but yeah. Yeah. So he also, I mean, you guys have really grown together in this process because for a lot of people listening and watching, they probably don’t even know what a mechanical engineer does, but it’s not inherently, it’s not like putting up a tile backsplash.
Like he also probably had to learn a lot of things over, which is why we resonated so much because obviously. Zack. And my story is so similar to you and lots of mistakes, lots of long nights, a first house, I don’t know about your first house experience. Ours was like marriage therapy on speed dial. Like we did not start it.
I don’t think you’re supposed to start with the fixer upper right away in your first year of marriage like we did, but did you guys fight at all in your first, like, did you feel, was it stressful? Like people always ask, do you guys always agree on your project? It took us a while. It took us a few homes actually to learn what we needed to know to do good work, but also to trust each other’s judgment.
So like let me handle things and me, let him handle things and not be on each other. So tell me about communication, what apps? I love this because it’s literally like rinse and repeat of me and Zack. What about communication? Was there things that you learned. Like expectations or communication that the renovation process and the projects helped you to work through.
Like how did that relate in your marriage? Like what kinds of things did you learn specifically about yourselves that you had to communicate? We had to learn to give each other the benefit of the doubt, like not just in marriage, but when we were working on a project, give me an example of that. The benefit of the doubt.
Well, so Erin’s an engineer and I’m more of a, I have an idea. Let’s do this right now. You know, less planning more, just go, go, go and do. Yeah. And so I had to learn that he had the process, it, he had to figure things out before he could go. And just assuming that he’s not wasting time, you know what I mean, giving him grace, letting him figure.
What he needs to know what tools he needs to get to be successful and a project, you know, me just backing off a little bit and letting him do his thing and just trusting that you’ll get there. Yeah. Amen. Now, are you more the designer, like in terms of all the stuff that you’ve done, do you tend to do more of the design work and then he sort of like builds the plans or does he kind of help in the design as.
He does a little bit of design when it comes, like, if I need something structurally engineered, I’ll be like, this is what I want my chicken coop to look like. This is what I’m thinking. These are the sizes I drew it in sketch up, but he would take over from there and say, okay, this is what we’re going to need.
These are the brackets we’re going to need to support load these. Yeah, exactly. Yeah. Yeah. And as far as the word. Obviously he’s really strong. So a lot of the things I can’t do, like building the house couldn’t do without him. He’s so strong. But when he goes to work, I stay home and keep tackling the projects, right.
Like right when it comes to who’s actually doing the construction or the plumbing or the tiling or whatever. It’s typically me like 75% of the time. Yeah. And then, yeah, because his work is just so demanding. He’s here nights and weekends. Right? How many houses have you done by now? New builds or renovations all of the above for renovations and one new bill, this house, and then the next one it started.
Yeah. And then we’ve done a lot of renovations for other people, right? Friends, family. Yeah. Yeah. So in all of your DIY. Renovations which like, is there a project that you can think of that has been hands down the most challenging so far? There’s two ways I could ask this because I think of my own answers one, which has been the most challenging and two, which was the one you did not enjoy the most because they’re different.
Yeah. They’re very different. The most challenging, and it still is, is dry. Um, muddy, like finishing it, finishing all the drywall. That was one of my first projects I tried to tackle and I was horrible at it. I had to redo, I had to fill in a window. We did an addition and for code, you can have a window to a garage and it was about four feet and I get a horrible hard.
So many times, but now by the time we get to this house, I did all of the drywall myself and I still hate doing it, but it saved us like $10,000 at the time. And it was worth it. Yeah. What is one, what is one tip you would offer for finishing drywall? Because there are tricks. Zack does the majority of our finishing drywall and like, he has gotten so much better and I do help with that, but he really does the majority of it, but I know there are tricks.
What is one tip that you would give to finishing. And we have people when we say tarnishing, we’re talking about like spackling, like the muddying, the scenes. So if anyone’s like, what does finishing drywall mean? You put the two pieces together. There’s a seam in it and you don’t want to see the seam. So you mud it, spackle it, whatever you want to call it.
And there’s tricks to that. Can you offer one tip to make it easier? Really? If you have it. Flush, like if you’re patching a hole or it’s really tricky in an older house, like a renovation, cause nothing is square. Amen. But if you can shim your dry walls sheet to get them as flushed as possible, the taping and the money, is it.
That’s great care too, with the mud. Yes. So what she just said to reiterate is when you have those sheets of drywall, depending on how thick the dry wall was, or maybe you are dry walling and there was plaster, or anyway, what she’s saying is that basically like you want the front of your drywall to be as flush to all the sides around it as possible.
So if that means putting a tiny piece of wood, On one side, as opposed to the other to make it. That’s what she’s saying. You want to keep those gaps around all the drywall as even as possible. And then less is more. That was the big thing I think that we’ve learned is that less is more like you want to put on less of the spackle initially, because then it’s less to sand.
It’s better to put on like two or three coats. Really lightly then like one heavy. You’ll give yourself more work. It’s like nail Polish. Yeah. That’s a great, yeah, that’s a great idea. Thin coat and it will dry and it will look great, but put it on too thick. There’s no fixing it. That’s exactly. It’s a perfect, perfect description.
I love that. So there you go for anybody thinking, Hmm. Maybe I should try and drywall. You will save money if you want to learn. That’s a great piece of advice. A few thin coats. Okay. So challenging. What about your least enjoyable? Oh, wow. There’s been a lot of them. DIY is hard construction renovating when you’re not a contractor, it’s hard.
It’s really hard work. It’s not easy, but probably the least favorite thing I can think of that we did is when we were building this house, we didn’t have electricity yet. So we had called for electricity. We had paid for it and it took us almost a year. To get to this property because there was just such a long wait list.
Power lines were way out in the country. So, yeah, but it was winter and we’re in Northern Michigan. So it was cold. I mean, it was below 30 and we were out here in our Carhartt’s running electrical, doing plumbing and finishing this house with basically headlamps and freezing cold because we didn’t have any heat in here.
And so just getting through like the January and February. Uh, that was probably the most challenging because it was mind over matter. We knew we had to get it done. It was extremely uncomfortable conditions because we were so cold and there was so little light because it was winter. And we were just running a generator to keep our little lights.
That was the least favorite. We laugh about it now, but he would never do that again. Yeah. It’s, I’m thinking too, like if you’re running electric and it’s freezing cold out, I mean, you can’t really wear gloves very well because you really have to have, it’s like fine motors. Yeah. Yeah. That does sound miserable.
Mine is when we were in our very first house, our Victoria. There was a basement, the very back of it that I wanted. She used to use it as her laundry room. Bless her heart. It looked like a dungeon. It was unbelievable. And I turned it into a craft room, but I wanted to strip all of the plaster off of the beautiful stone walls that were down there.
So I took my grandfather’s power washer and put it on like stripping. And I’m down there and like an idiot, I’m doing it in like 30 degree weather. And of course it’s the like Victorian house basements from like the 1890s freezing cold. I was like giving me some hypothermia for the sake of it was worth it.
But like you said, looking back, it’s like, Never never again, never again. Okay. So another question I want to know, do you have a funny story of like a project just gone wrong that like you look back on and it was just like fail. I mean, like just a fail all around. You may have learned from it, but it was just gone wrong.
So many, so many, but those projects always led to. Success, like in the same category, one time that comes to mind is we were getting ready to move. My husband was being transferred state and we needed to put her house on the market. And there was just a few things that needed to be done, particularly in the kitchen.
And I needed to do some tiling work and I had grouted it and, you know, I was in a hurry and it didn’t look great. And my husband came home with. That does not work. I mean, I knew it, it wasn’t my best work a long time ago, but he said, you need to redo that. And I looked at him like, are you kidding me? Like, yeah, exactly.
It was like, but I knew it needed to be redone. I had to go through with the tile remover, which is like a little triangle scraper and get all of. Grout out and redo it, but that was just one of those things where I was like, why did I try to tackle that when I didn’t have enough time? I was exhausted. I should’ve just left it.
How it was. It was fine. How it was another thing that comes to mind is since sharing on Instagram, I was doing stories and I was sharing a project. I wanted to update a headboard that I made. It’s an upholstered headboard, and I’d had it for about 10 years and I was tired of the fabric. And I thought I’m going to paint this with paint, which I painted a lot of furniture we’re talking before.
And the color that I picked you would laugh, but. It turned out so bad. It looked like camel. Like it was like brown and muddy and green and it was. Horrible. I laughed. I ended up just getting new fabric and redoing it. I should’ve just skipped the paint. I mean, the paint costs me more than if I would’ve just got the fabric in the right place.
Right. But it’s like the creative process tend to like the sacrifice, the creative process. Is there one color that you find the hardest? To pick out the right shade. Like, can you think of one color that you struggle the most to pick out a shade that you like? I mean, probably most people would say white.
Yeah. But I think that being in beauty school and learning color theory really has helped me in the design side. Yeah, and my mom is actually an oil painter. She’s a fantastic, wow. She’s illustrated a lot of books and she taught us color theory when we were kids. And so I think that’s helped. I know you look at my house behind me and it’s all white, but I do love color.
Don’t particularly struggle. Lighting is key. I would say if you can. The colors that you’re looking for in the right lighting and different times of day, usually you’ll be more successful than never pick it out in the store. Always bring it home. Look at it. Even here, even with all the windows, winter is different than summer, you know, it’s overcast.
So people will be different, different seasons. Tell people the effect of. The directionality of light with color, meaning like a Northern room versus a Southern room. Tell people about like how that. Yeah, so you’re going to have undertones and color. And when you have like a pink sunrise, things are going to lean towards those colors.
And at night, you know, when you’ve got that west sunset, you’re going to have a lot of warmer tones coming in and things are going to look more orange for lean more towards the orangy tones. So it really makes a big difference if you’ve only got a few windows and they’re facing Eastern. It might not make that big of a difference.
You’re just going to get probably even light all throughout the day. But if you’ve got west and east windows, it makes a really big difference. So, yeah. Great. So when people ask me to, for those of you listening and watching kitchen, I get so many questions or DMS or family or friends on kitchen.
Renovations and colors. And I always say, what light are you getting in your kitchen? And this is true for any room, but if you’re getting a lot of, for example, if you have Southern facing windows, it will pull warmer. If you have kind of what Dina was just talking about with east and west, if you have Northern light, it will be cooler.
This is true of like the front and back of a house too. A lot of people try to face the back of their house Southern right? Good recommended, but you could use the same colors in the back of your house, in the front of your house, and they will look different. The front of your house will look cooler, we’ll pull cooler tones and then the back of your house and pool warmer, which is why white can be a really challenging color.
Like what you just said. What is your go-to white paint color? It’s by bear and it’s pure white. Okay. And it’s the whole. That you hear the ceiling, the walls, all of it. It’s such a neutral decorate, more warm or more cool if I want to throughout the seasons and it still looks good. It never seems like it’s off.
I really like it. Yeah. I love that. Um, if you could. This is a question that I love to ask guests. So you have, we’re going to dive into more of your expertise here in the second half, but you have successfully accomplished so many projects, renovations. You’re an incredibly talented person. If you could sum up the key to success in one word or phrase, what would it be?
Oh, wow. Okay. So success to everybody is a little bit different for sure. And that’s fair, but yeah, but for me, I would say it’s accomplishing what I set out to do and doing it well, but not at any cost. Yeah. Yeah. A lot of times things have to be put on a shelf and picked back up again later to keep your priorities straight.
Yeah, a quote. I’ve heard you say that, I think is speaking to that very concept is know when to press pause and know when to persevere. So it’s that concept of persevere appearance is key. It really is. But you’ve got to know when, like you said, you’ve got to know when to call. Or completely walk away from it for a short time and pick it back up later when the time is right.
Yeah. But so many people would be, I think, where they want to be in their career, in their family life, in their health and wellness journey, if they could persevere, even if it just means little steps. Yeah. Because most of the time, no matter what, we’re tackling things like. They were really a lot harder than they probably appear to be to people around you and personally.
It’s huge. Yeah. Well, and I love what you’re communicating because it’s not just perseverance at the cost of everything else, because that happens too. It’s that all or nothing mentality that it’s like, no, no, I am going to do this period, but that’s when you experienced burnout and exhaustion. And I think a lot of people struggle with that sense of failure then, because.
All or nothing. Mentalities are not sustainable and yeah, you might get the results you want, but eventually you will burn out. And the chances of being able to sustain the life you wanted or the results that you wanted is not super high. So I like what Dean is saying here. Take that away. No one to press.
No end to persevere. It is a balance, but it’s that progress. It’s literally that whole sense of imperfect progress. Taking it one day at a time, we’re going to take a quick break. When we come back, stay tuned for a speed round of this or that with Dina, we’re going to get to know her a little bit better, and we’re going to hear her expert advice on practical ways to save money by doing it, your self.
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All right. Do you know we are going to play around of this or that you get two options? Just pick whichever one comes to mind. No stress, chocolate or vanilla. Candy or baked goods. Neither said nobody ever. Okay. Wait, you don’t have a sweet tooth. What do you like that? You don’t have anything raspberries?
I’m laughing. You would take raspberries over like a really good chocolate chip cookie or, yeah. That’s well, y’all, this is why she looks as amazing as she does. Okay. Come teach me your waste or raspberries. Your favorite fruit. Yes. Like, would that be. Do you ever ask me a question for dessert? Yeah, no, but that would be say you have this amazing garden.
Y’all need to check out her garden. It’s absolutely incredible over there on Instagram. Okay. Well you need raspberry bushes then I do. Okay. Country or pop music. We kind of already talked about this. Yeah. Okay. Do you have a current favorite? I don’t think you did answer that. No, I really don’t. You just like, yeah.
Yeah. Would you rather decorate or do a DIY project, do a project, do a project. Would you rather DIY a countertop or DIY cabinets? What you’ve done all of the above. So. I guess cabinets. Yeah. That’s amazing. You can pretty much draw anything and build it, which is, I love that the creative side of me loves that.
So cabinets the cabinets. Yeah. Yeah. Would you rather wear flats or heels flats and would you rather a night out or a night in? Definitely in I’m a homeless. What’s your dream night in Aaron. Pay attention to this. I’ve given you a freebie.
Usually it would be outside hanging out at our property, going for a walk down by the Creek. Yeah. Yeah. Just staying home. Yeah. Having family over. I always like, okay. Yeah. So not like a particular date night in just like staying in. With family and you have a lot of family, right? I remind me, you have a lot of siblings.
I have 11 siblings, 11, just one or two siblings.
Did they all that’s actually really impressive. So your parents built their house with 11 kids at the time. Six kids. Just six, just six, no big deal. Wow. Oh, my word, we did our renovation. Yeah. Two to three children, and that was stressful enough. And everyone still has all their like arms and appendages and digits still intact.
That was always our big thing with our young kids is like, so diligent about turning off every power tool and teaching them to respect the work zone. But we only had a couple not sick. Yeah. And remembering to turn off the air compressor when you’re using those power tool in the middle of the night, that is, oh my gosh.
That is impressive. Wow. You sent me this quote that you like it’s from Earl Nightingale. It says never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass. Anyway, I absolutely love this quote because it’s that idea of really seize the day. One we’re not guaranteed tomorrow and two, the time is going to pass.
Anyway. I think that’s such a great quote. It’s going to go by, we can’t stop time. So what is it that you want to do? Like, are there things around your house that you would love to try yourself, but you’re just waiting for something. What are you waiting for? So Dina is going to share some ideas with us.
One of the things that you are so good at is. Teaching people to get that beautiful home on a budget, because it is so easy, especially in our world. You go to these conferences where these, these incredible like DIY yeah. Wires, influencers, designers, and with social media, I think it’s really easy for women to feel that sense of comparison.
They see someone else’s home and it is so beautifully put together. And we like to be very clear. Our houses are rarely, always that put together. We also all are meant to enjoy beauty. So there’s that balance to be had. It’s nice to create beauty in our homes. Share with us some of your best tips for getting the look for less.
Well, I can talk about this forever. I’m very passionate about, I think a lot of people. So our homes are so important to us, right? We want to feel comfortable in our homes. We want our homes to function well for us, for our kids. We want our homes to be able to host well, a lot of us, it’s just a place where we want to create peace or.
Comfort really. And a lot of times there’s things in our home, that’s stopping that from happening. Whether it be like clutter or a lot of times it’s like a room does need a renovation. It really does need to be in attached because it’s an efficient or cupboard drawers are broken or whatever, and it’s just making your life more stressful.
And there’s a lot of people, like you said, there’s a lot of people sharing tips and tricks. Sharing these amazing things online where they’ve renovated these homes. And a lot of times I think what’s missing. And I think that causes a lot of comparison is most people don’t have those resources. Most people don’t have the financial means or the skills to either do it themselves or pay someone to do it for them.
Most people are on a budget and some people are on a really tight budget. And I love sharing. Renovations, but also design stuff, because everything I do is on a budget. I’ve never renovated anything on a huge budget. It’s always like a very small budget and a little can go a long way. If you get creative.
And if you don’t have DIY skills, there are so many people that do probably in your community. Obviously there’s free resources online. Right. We can learn a lot on. But there’s people that are willing to help. I don’t know how many times I wanted to learn something or Aaron wanted to learn something and we just hired a professional.
Sometimes they charge like $20 an hour, just depending on where you live, but they’ll come in and they’ll walk you through something and they’ll show you what tools you’re going to need to get it done. And then they leave and you have the knowledge, or sometimes they’ll stay for a day and you’re doing the work.
And then. Giving you tips along the way, like, let’s say tiling, let’s say you wanted to change out a backsplash. You could pay somebody. That’s done it before to come in, walk you through it, and then you have that skill for the rest of your life. And you wouldn’t just have a new back splash. You could then maybe later potentially.
Broken tile around your front entry or in your mud room or whatever. So it’s kind of one of those things. You learn little bits here and there. And eventually it’s like a snowball effect. They kind of feed into each other and pretty soon you’ve got tools. You know what I mean? You’ve got the skillsets to tackle some of these projects.
That could really change your house for very little, for very little dollars spent, especially now everything costs so much, you know, to hire anything out just across their country. Things have tripled here. I don’t know about there. Yeah, just to get your hands on materials or frankly, people don’t have the staff.
I think that’s what we’re running into more here is they just don’t have the staff to be able to get it done. I absolutely love what you’re saying though, because I think another thought too is you might be connected to somebody who maybe you have a friend of a friend who’s a. And especially now with the event of small businesses and personal brands and really kind of becoming more of this like individual family owned entity and trying to support those and people trying to kind of break away from the corporate or like big business mentality.
Even a thought would be to Deena’s point. If you have something that you really want to do, you have the time and ability to learn it, you want to save the money, send a massive text out to your friends. Do you know any plumbers? Do you have any friends that are plumbers and probably the I’m going to suggest the smaller the company, the more likely you will be able to do.
This, but then call that plumber and ask him, would you be willing if I pay you for the time to either one, do the project with you and you talk me through it. And again, you have to be willing to pay him for the time. But I think to Dina’s point, you are maximizing your dollars. Like he’s spending the time to do it anyway.
Why not take it the step further and learn? And. With them, it has to be the right person. Not all contractors are going to let you do that. They have the patience or the willingness, but I have absolutely never thought of that idea. And I think it’s brilliant, even if it’s somebody you don’t know, you know, and if somebody loves to teach, they might find it really empowering too, to do that.
So that is an excellent piece of it. Uh, thank you to that point. Also, I know a lot of DIY wires and people who want to improve their own home, just dive into it and just look on YouTube. And I would say hands down every time, go to your county and pull up. Because what that does is as a DIY wire, is they come in and check your work and tell you if it was done correctly.
So you have that peace of mind of a professional telling you that whatever you just installed, that plumbing that you just worked on was done correctly and permits are not expensive. They sound like they are, but like, if you’re just doing one house we lived in, you had to pull a permit to swap out a bathroom sink and vanity.
Oh my God. Yeah, it was crazy, but it was like a few dollars. And then, you know, I can do that and I can call for my inspection and then I know it was done right. So, yeah, it kind of takes the worry out of wondering, like, did I do this right? Yeah. Well, and it’s interesting you say that. So I’ve used that on the flip side, like on the front end of something.
I actually just did that for this basement. We had code questions about, so we expose the ceiling in this basement in order to try to make it. Higher. We are literally like maximizing the square footage down here. It is like the smallest it could possibly be and count as finished square feet with the full bath and everything.
And so I actually pulled a permit and then I used exactly like what you’re saying. I use the guy who came to get the initial inspection. And permit approval and asked him the questions about like the electric and code, because in the end, they’re the ones who are going to have to approve the space. So I actually asked him on the beginning end of it, because I figured if we didn’t have to hire electrician to do as much, then we could save that money and do the things we needed to do first without using the electrician and then just use the electrician for the minimal.
So again, an excellent resource. Great. Consider using your code, administrators, whoever they are in your county or whatever that process looks like to know how to do something. What about projects? What about specific? Are there specific DIY projects that you would encourage people if they’re starting out and they want a certain look for less?
What are some projects that you could recommend to them that are really. Not quite as overwhelming as they seem. And if you have any DIY blog posts that you can send them to, we’ll make sure those are on the show notes. If you can think of any of those as well, but what are some projects that come to mind?
Sure. I would always recommend you probably would to pay. Um, paint changes, everything. It changes the mood of a room. It can, you know, it’ll change the smell, the odor of a room. If you’re doing a renovation and it’s just been sitting empty or old or whatever, it’ll freshen up a space, it can totally transform your walls, your cabinetry, your furniture, just about anything.
And anybody can paint. I mean, it takes a while. Some other things. There’s so many projects that, I mean, I would recommend everybody dive in and try the times anyway, people. Right, right. Here’s the thing. If you’re afraid to try something, but if you want to try something to save the money or to learn a skill, but you’re afraid of ruining something in your house practice on something else.
We were talking about drywall earlier. If you want to learn how. Do that get a sheet of drywall, you know, get a four by four sheet and practice on something. Same with titling. You can go out and you’d get some at board and you can get some inexpensive mosaic tile or whatever, and you can practice before you put it on your house.
I don’t think a lot of people. Think about that, they just think, oh, but what if I ruin my house? What if I do something wrong? Well, practice on the materials before we put it on your house. That’ll save you a lot of headache in the long run. Really Facebook marketplace is a great way to find those kinds of materials.
So like what Dean is saying, kitchen cabinets is probably one of the things that comes to mind to me, people are really nervous about redoing their cabinets, which is very understanding. Because if you are reading them yourself, then you’re probably not actually taking them out and putting new ones in.
So that is nerve-wracking, but just find a. Facebook marketplace and people selling cabinets for like 50 bucks, 25 bucks, some cabinet, they just ripped out of some random room. So that’s a great piece of advice. And I’ll add Facebook marketplace might be a good place to try to find whatever material it is.
You’re wanting to practice on. We’ll have remanence from other projects right over that. They’re just trying to sell. So that’s a great. Yeah. Now. So on your blog, can you think of any like specific projects or tutorials that are on there to throw out there to people listening to check out if they want to try some fun, DIY people, less time on social media, more time working with your hands.
That’s what I’ll throw out there. If you feel like you don’t have the time. Yeah. Then I’m going to offer that spend less time on social media or even like watching stuff. That’s probably. Not good for your mental health anyway, and head over to Dina’s blog and check out some of these projects are any projects coming to mind?
I love it. I love it. So things that I’ve shared on my blog and more recently on YouTube, I’ve only shared projects that I’m already doing in my real life. So I haven’t been a creator in the sense where I’m creating something for a blog post. I’m just writing a blog post because I’m already making things and something.
It’s very easy. And a lot of people can do is garden beds or raised beds. I’ve got Ariel on there for a garden bed, and a lot of people don’t have the huge space, but you know, you could make it any size to just have some tomatoes or have some herbs. And so that’s a very basic beginner. One would be the raised beds, the garden beds raised garden beds.
Okay. We’ll make sure that the link to that is on our show notes, the producer. So at Fletcher. Creek and then search raised garden beds. But we’ll make sure that one’s on there. What else? She has all kinds of good things. People you need to go check out. Her stuff is absolutely amazing, but I’m just trying to pull specific ones for our listeners and viewers to a lot of the projects that I have on there.
Probably massive and overwhelming to a lot of people because we’re building our own house. So we’ve been at this for 20 years now. So it didn’t just happen overnight. You have con call countertop. I do I have your blog countertop tutorial. Yes. And I also have another one that’s very beginner friendly is how to get the look of wallpaper pencils.
So that’s a really great one that that’s a very, because y’all, don’t like it, you just paint over it. So that’s a really fun one commitment and it’s a fraction of the cost. Sometimes high-end wallpaper can get very hot. So that’s another good one. Let’s make sure that’s on the show notes. I’m talking to my producer here in real time.
We’ll make sure that one’s on there too. Is it called? What’s the name of the post? If we search it on your blog? Yeah. How to get the look of wallpaper. And then there’s essentially two parts because I transformed a master bedroom. So there’s two different ones showing how I use them. So how to get the look of and then the concrete countertop.
This one is it’s really, really messy. Would you call that like a medium or hard level? Would you say? I don’t know. I think I’m like, my thing is like easier, hard to me is like warped. So I don’t know. What would you say. I would say most people would call it hard, hard, just because it’s easy to make it.
It’s easy to build a form. It’s easy to mix the concrete and pour it. But if you’re building a form outside and bringing it in and flipping it, concrete is so heavy. It weighs, I believe more than stone. And typically people are making them FIC too. They’re not just doing one inch of concrete. They’re doing like two.
And it is so heavy to move it into place. So that’s where it gets really tricky is moving in like an L-shape. Yeah. Top that hundreds of pounds. 800 pounds. Yeah. Getting that into place. So that’s not a beginner. Yes. Not beginner, but I will say, I think the actual project itself, I mean, correct me if you disagree with this, I think the project itself is doable.
It’s messy. It’s more so you need the manpower to get it into place. My suggestion would be, if somebody wants something, a little heftier, literally, and figuratively would be like, A bathroom countertop with concrete. It’s actually on my to-do list. Something that I want to play with, especially before we build, to see how I like the concrete countertops, but that’s a messy one, but it’s more like Dina says the manpower to get it in place.
But I think the project itself would be doable, not on your own, but if you want to do it like with a spouse or a friend or something, that one, and you have a tutorial though. I think I’ve seen it before. On your kitchen cause you’ve done it several. Yeah. Yeah. You have really great. Yep. You have a really good tutorial on there.
I actually think I’ve read yours before. So is it called concrete countertop? Okay. All right. So we’re going to have three DIY projects for you to check out on Dina’s blogs specifically. So it’s the how to get the look of a wallpaper. It’s the concrete countertop. And what else did we just say? Oh, the raised garden beds.
The garden beds. Yes. Yeah. I love your garden. Do you, what all do you have in your garden? You guys need to check out her garden beds. It’s very gorgeous. It’s very impressive. Do you primarily have flowers or do you also grow food? This fear was my first year, like last summer planting flowers. So that was a first for me, but I always grew up.
Yeah. Okay. I’d love to can. And I like to make fresh salsa in my parents’ gardens. So I grew up on homegrown food and my husband’s family are farmers, so we just love growing our own food as best we can. I love that. Yeah. It’s a really beautiful setup that you have outdoors in your home, that you are currently designing.
What resources do you use to. Gain inspiration. Again, you’ve been doing this for many years, so you’re probably like me and that it’s been a collective dreaming and creating process for many years. But for people who are curious, just like, how do you even start figuring out how to design their own home, if they want to infuse more of themselves into it instead of the cookie cutter homes that many build, which there’s nothing wrong with those, what resources would you recommend?
Are there any particular ones that you really like or use. To kind of gain inspiration. Well, like you said, I’ve moved 17 times in my adult. And so I’ve got all those different ideas of homes that, you know, what did work and a lot of work. And so I’ve got a lot of lists of must have and things just from past experience.
But if you, I would say to somebody who has a house already, and if you have the home that you’re going to be in, but you want to change some things. I personally always draw it out and hand, draw it out on graph paper. And I take measurements of things and I make a list of what’s not working about the space and what could I change?
And I move things around and more recently I’ve learned SketchUp SketchUp as a program it’s free, where you can model what a room would look like. Or a renovation would look like very easily. It’s easy to learn. Anybody could pick it up. And that’s great because often. You don’t know exactly what you want a lot of times until you see it.
And so drawing it out or drawing it out in 3d is great. And those are both free. Yeah. Just take a little bit of time to take some measurements of your footprint and. Yes, scour, Pinterest of course, and pay attention to what you’re drawn to and why, why you’re drawn to it. And if it’s realistic, like, do you have those tall ceilings in your house?
Is that even possible? Well, no. Okay. How could we get a bigger feeling? Okay. Maybe we could add a bigger window, right? So try to narrow it down of what’s possible, you know, with the four walls that you have on your budget and go from there. So I have to ask in your 17 moves. So your future forever home that you guys are building.
Tell me some of your must have. What are your like must have bucket lists. I always tell people when they’re designing specifically kitchens, you need to pick one or two things that are must haves and you make them happen instead of constantly delaying your dream. Just pick one or two that are absolutes and then budget and get creative with the rest.
So you’ve done this a gazillion times. Now, what are must haves for your dream? My number one, splurge must have is windows for this house. I hate gloomy dark houses where I can see it gets dark so early in the winter. And I’m all about the windows. So most of my budget is going towards windows because that’s something I don’t ever want to report.
Um, and other things I can replace later if I need to. Yeah. So I’m allocating most of the budget to my windows, but as far as kitchens for us, we are big like coffee and tea drinkers. And so a coffee bar area. Okay. Oh, coffee bars. We can do it on other podcasts. Yeah. Are you doing like anything special with your coffee bar?
Like, is there anything creative or like specific that you are doing with a coffee or tea bar? Well, one of the things that I planning on doing is probably making terracotta, like handmade tiles slash. Designing, something like that. My mom has done that lots of times for kitchens and around fireplaces and stuff.
And she is great at that. So I’m hoping she’ll help me with that. Like terracotta or real terracotta? No. Like using terracotta, making tiles, glazing and firing it. Gotcha. Yeah. Actually making terracotta tiles. I love that. I love, yeah. So I wanted to look like one of a kind piece that you don’t see every day on Pinterest.
It’s gonna be amazing. Are you going to use a building coffeemaker, like an inline? Okay. Which one I need to know. You’re going to have to tell me, cause I am still researching combine blog posts. We’re going to do a collaborative blog on inline. Hey, listen, our listeners and viewers here, if you have an inline.
Coffee maker. You know what we’re talking about? If you don’t, it’s basically like hooked up to your water. There are tons, but there’s not tons at the same time. So tell us which ones you recommend and why? Because we are both designing slash building. She’s much further than I am. I’m learning from her, our forever homes, and we would love to know what your inline coffee recommendation is.
Do you have any other must haves for your house? Uh, other than the windows open, open floor plan, lots of space. This house for us is about family. It’s about hosting and having lots of room. Yeah. So are there any like specific things that you’ve learned over the last that like you want like more outlets, like, or like outlets on top of your kitchen counters?
That’s a thing now. I thought that was interesting or like plug-in station. Oh, was. That is, I typically go crazy with the outlets because you can never have enough true story. And people laugh and say that’s overkill. And I’m like, nah, because he used a ball. Yeah. Lots of outlets. Uh, one thing that I would say if you’re on the fence of do or don’t do is definitely put in floor heating where you can radiant flat something.
We never, yeah. We never did that until this house. And it’s amazing. Yeah, that’s going to be something we definitely do. That’s a must. Yeah. So radiant floor heating for people who are not familiar, especially if you have really tall ceilings is a great idea because heat rises. So you will save significantly in cost.
If you put your heating in your floor. And oftentimes I think the only option is water. It’s basically hot water running through PVC pipes, but it keeps the heat where you want it, which is lower. So if you have really tall ceilings and you’re building, that is a great. You’ll have like air ducts for your AC then I’m assuming.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah. So flow rating heat. That’s another good one. So a really, really random one that I’ll share that I’m designing in is I’m putting water. Spickets drinking water spickets in all of our bedroom bathroom. Mart. Yeah. For anyone that wants a little. Yeah, because we are like, it’s a constant, I’m thirsty.
And you do like, you go to bed, thirsty your water bottles downstairs. You don’t really want to do the whole, like put my head under the water. That’s not filtered thing. So I, yeah. So also encourages more water drinking. I’m also going to put one on our back porch. A filtered water that people can just fill up water bottles outside.
So there’s one of my random little great idea. Must haves. I love that. That’s so smart. I’m going to add that to my list. Do it, do it. I can’t wait, listen, you guys need to check out Dina. You have a YouTube channel. I want to send people there. You are documenting your home, build on your YouTube channel and the name of your YouTube channel is Schlatter Creek cutter.
And is that all of your social media is also. Yes. Yes. Yep. Fletcher Creek cottage and her YouTube channel link will also be on the show In addition to a lot of these DIY ideas, Dina, it is such a joy always to speak to you. You really are like my DOI, soul sister, feel like you and Erin and Zach and I.
Somehow separated at birth or something, but I just pray. God’s continued blessing over your home, your family and all of your DIY adventures. You’re such a light. It’s an honor to have you. Thank you, Ana. It was so fun chatting with you and I just love what you’re doing on the podcast. I was recently watching your last episode with your friend, Ashley.
Amazing. I love your work. And I only wish we lived closer seriously, or that one of us slept somewhere warmer so that we could justify like the captioning or something I’m in Pennsylvania and she’s in Michigan. Like. Miserable weather states we’ll make our own sunshine. Thanks, Deena. Thank you. Thank you so much for joining us for this episode of the imperfectly empowered podcast.
It is my honor to be here with you. I am so grateful for each and every one of you. If you are watching on YouTube, be sure to click the subscribe button below. So you don’t miss a show and leave a comment with your thoughts from today’s episode before. If you are listening via your preferred podcasting platform, would you help keep us on the air by rating our show and leaving an honest review of your thoughts from today in case you haven’t heard it lately, your story matters and you are loved.
This is your host on a former, and I will see you here next time on the, in perfectly empowered podcast.

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