Living alone has its perks. You have your place all to yourself. You can cook whatever you want. No one will freak out if you forget to use a coaster. But it also has its challenges. Being on your own means you might have to do things yourself—including home repairs.
Here’s a list of common home fixes that you might encounter. Interior designer John Vigilia helps you identify which ones you can do yourself, and which ones are best left to the pros.
1. Replacing busted light bulbs
You can do this task yourself. “Most bulbs are screw-type (E27 and E14 bulbs), so no tools are needed. But some light fixtures have bulbs that are harder to take out since they are incorporated within. That would be the time to call the manufacturer for assistance,” says Vigilia. In order to ensure durability, he suggests going for LED lights when shopping for new light bulbs. “They consume less power while having a wide array of brightness. They also last longer than incandescent and fluorescent bulbs.”
Remember to switch off the lights before touching the light fixture in question to make sure it isn’t live. The wiring system in modern homes is usually done so that killing the light switch will disconnect the live wire from the main power source, making the light fixture safe to touch. If, however, you have doubts about the soundness of your home’s electrical path, better shut down the breaker in your fuse box.
2. Refinishing a furniture piece or adding a new stain
“This is better left to experts since doing [it yourself] might do more damage than good,” Vigilia says. Since chemicals are involved in the process, you might get undesirable results if you are not sure of what was done to the piece of furniture prior to your refinishing.
“Companies that do custom furniture would be able to do most refinishes. But be aware that some finishers may be all talk. It would be wise to see products that they have done.” Can’t think of a new finish for your beloved piece of furniture? “Most finishes fit modern spaces,” explains John. “Avoid distressed finishes, as they are more associated with rustic, country, or industrial looks.”
3. Declogging sinks and drains
This is another task that you can do yourself. “Pour boiling water and let it settle. Another way is to use a plunger to dislodge buildup. If it doesn’t do the trick, pour vinegar then add baking soda. The fizz created would dislodge the buildup, then pour more boiling water,” explains Vigilia. In order to prevent drains from clogging in the future, he adds, “Do not pour oil in drains. If it is unavoidable, pour boiling water from time to time to remove hardened oil. Also, food scraps should not be thrown in drains.”
4. Replacing doorknobs and hinges
Here’s a home repair you can likely do yourself! While replacing doorknobs usually entails a technical process, Vigilia says replacing hinges are easier especially if you use newer models that are available in the market. When buying new hinges and doorknobs, look beyond the price tag. “It is better to buy trusted brands when [buying] hinges and doorknobs as they involve moving parts. You can scrimp on the handles but it is best to choose stainless steel, or a painted finish with a tough top coat, so colors would not fade easily,” he recommends.
5. Reupholstering furniture
“Better to have this done professionally since you might end up with costly mistakes,” warns Vigilia. “In most cases, it also involves taking apart the [piece of] furniture. Also, yardage estimates are tricky when you do not know how to pattern the pieces.” If you want low-maintenance, upholstered furniture, the designer recommends synthetic blends like polyester because they repel dirt. Some are even water-resistant. High-grade leatherette is also a good choice.
To maintain your upholstered furniture, Vigilia suggests choosing seat and back cushions that are loose so it is easier to change the covers. “Also, choose fabrics that have higher durability in furniture that are used most often, like dining chairs, desk chairs, and living room sofas. You may use lower-grade fabrics in beds, sides and backs of sofas, and accent chairs that are more decorative, like those put in hallways as fillers or in rooms not used often.” You can check out fabric stores such as Fabric Life by Larry’s at 677 Aurora Blvd., New Manila, Quezon City and Weaves of Asia along Jupiter St., Makati City.
*Got more questions? Get in touch with interior designer John Vigilia at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit his website.