JENNIFER GIZZI of Making Pretty Spaces is the epitome of the fearless female DIYer. Far from the nervous type, she isn’t afraid to roll up her sleeves, pick up an impact driver and create a stylishly functional house for her family of six—even if she makes a few mistakes along the way (which she encourages). Jennifer relentlessly applies her passion for DIY, and has made it her mission to instill that same spirit in others.
In between her incredibly busy schedule of tending to four young children, constantly posting fresh content for her 145K+ followers and prepping for what will be her next undertaking, we had the chance to speak with Jennifer. Together we discussed her tips and tricks for a beginner DIYer, her two most recent projects completed in collaboration with Kohler, and her own advice for alternate-universe Jennifer.
Beginner DIY Basics
What would you say are the most basic tools every DIYer should own?
You need a drill for absolutely everything. And an investment in an impact driver can relieve a lot of frustration for beginner DIYers. Unlike a regular power drill, an impact driver has more torque and can make working on a project a lot easier. I would also suggest adding a miter saw, nail gun, caulk gun and basic bit set to your arsenal.
Where would you recommend a beginner DIYer start?
A new coat of paint is one of the fastest and easiest ways to transform a room. And the great thing about it is is that if you don’t like the way it turns out, you can simply repaint it. The addition of trim work like shiplap or board and batten can really help elevate the space, too—most people could knock that out as a first-time project.
Replace the Old
Can you talk about the process of upgrading your guest bathroom shower?
I didn’t have it in budget or time to gut the entire guest bathroom—I just wanted it to be both usable and enjoyable. I started with replacing the old showerhead with the Hydrorail® shower kit from Kohler. In my research, it was the only solution I found that would instantly elevate the showering experience without having to go behind the wall. I just secured the column to the wall, then added the rainhead and handshower—it was super easy.
What else was surprisingly easy to replace?
Changing out the toilet wasn’t as hard as people might think, either—and I posted a video to highlight that fact when I installed Kohler’s Corbelle® toilet. But because toilets are heavy, I would suggest enlisting some help, especially if you are new to the experience.
The Full Refresh
Aside from the shower system and toilet, what other aspects of your guest bathroom got a refresh?
From the faucet to the floor, everything got a much needed update.
Because I couldn’t change out the chrome bath spout without going behind the wall, I chose the Artifacts sink faucet in the same finish—and it’s just so pretty. Then I did the lights and the hardware and some accessories in another finish. My belief is that you never want one metal in a room and then have everything else in the room a different metal. I always try to repeat something.
I also painted (yes, painted) over the old floor tile. After practicing on a sheet of plywood first, I started with a base coat of white. Six hours later, I taped out the pattern, applied a couple coats of each paint color, then pulled up the tape. In less than two days I totally transformed the entire bathroom floor. It was an easy and affordable improvement and one I continually get asked about.
Let’s talk about a more complex DIY project—your full kitchen remodel. What were some of the joys and challenges of designing a kitchen?
I would say that the hardest part was the permanence of it. It’s a big investment of time and resources and I wanted nothing more than for it to work the way I envisioned it. As a self-proclaimed functional renovator, there was a lot of joy in imagining how it would change the way we operate on a daily basis, allowing us to spend more time in the space together as a family.
At what point did you start thinking about your color palette, materials, etc.?
I started about a year out, looking for inspiration and daydreaming about what I wanted it to look like. While my renders changed somewhat throughout the process, one constant was the apron-front Whitehaven® sink—after seeing it in the KOHLER® showroom I knew there was no other option. And when I learned about the Smart Divide® feature, which converts it from one big basin to a divided sink, it was a no-brainer.
As for the color palette, I had it in my head I was going to have a black and white kitchen, but found I kept gravitating toward content featuring green cabinetry. So rather than ignore it I embraced it, testing every green paint color before landing on a gorgeous, warm shade.
You installed an Artifacts faucet in both your kitchen and your bathroom. What drew you to this particular collection?
For me, I like a blend of modern and classic and traditional all in one—and this collection checks all those the boxes. In the kitchen, I went with the Artifacts pot filler as well as the faucet, and I couldn’t be happier.
Looking back, what part of the kitchen remodel was the hardest, and what was the easiest?
The concrete countertops. Pouring them wasn’t difficult, but planning for them was—especially around the Whitehaven sink. Knowing there were no second chances was by far what I stressed out about the most. I probably planned and replanned, thought through and measured fourteen different times.
Conversely, the construction and hanging of the cabinetry was relatively easy. Once I had a plan, putting it together, leveling it all and then attaching it to the walls was easier than I thought it would be.
Living through a full remodel is not easy, let alone with a young family. How did you manage it?
Timing is everything. I knew I needed to do the renovation during the summer, so the kids could be outside and we could utilize the patio area for meals while trying to get the kitchen operational as quickly as possible. Those two things—having an outdoor space and having good weather—definitely made the renovation much more bearable.
To Jennifer, From Jennifer
If you were to go back to the beginning of this project, what advice would you give to alternate-universe Jennifer?
My expectations were too high from a timeline standpoint, and I beat myself up about that quite a bit. So my first piece of advice would be to make a mental change. From an actual design perspective, I didn’t think to move the oven. With gas lines and pipes and vents to consider, it felt like it was something I should leave where it was. Once the ceiling was ripped out, I realized I could have easily manipulated the vent and moved it over 12" to have symmetrical kitchen cabinets. But I love the way the kitchen turned out, so I’ll go back to my first point—don’t be so hard on yourself, Jennifer.
Whether your DIY dreams involve a quick refresh or a full remodel, Kohler offers products and services to support you every step of the way. If you’d like to learn more about our products and how they fit within your project, you can schedule a free consultation with a local KOHLER Signature Store product expert. If remodeling your kitchen or bathroom is on your mind, explore our Bathroom Design Service and get to know one of our certified designers.