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3 Budget-Saving Remodeling Tips

“Family Tools” star Danielle Nicolet shares her remodeling experiences and expertise.
by Whitney Richardson


Danielle Nicolet poses with co-stars Kyle Bornheimer (left) and Edi Gathegi (right) on the set of "Family Tools." She has a special interest in home-improvement projects as a home restorer.

As hardware sales woman Stitch Bichette on ABC’s new comedy, “Family Tools,” Danielle Nicolet gets to incorporate some of her personal interests into her role.

“My character on the show is really fun,” she states. “She’s like me in a lot of ways — a girly girl who knows her way around a drill.”

Nicolet and her husband are avid home restorers who have tackled a number of projects across the country. Their first project together — a shotgun double in her husband’s hometown of New Orleans — was among the most challenging not only because it was her first attempt but because of the condition of the home.

“We did not know that it had been a crack house when we bought it,” she says of the rundown structure, which was once owned by jazz pianist Jelly Roll Morton. Once inside, it became apparent that it would take considerable time and effort to bring it up to par.

Although overwhelming at times, as most large projects can be, she says, “we ate that elephant one bite at a time.” The finished product is now a gleaming home to a happy family.

“We didn’t just restore the house — we did something good for the neighborhood,” Nicolet states.

The couple have restored other projects since, including an 1810 farmhouse in Cleveland, and learned many lessons along the way. Here are a few of her cabin remodel ideas to spruce up an existing cabin or to tackle around your cabin once it’s complete:

  1. Take your time. If you’re a construction newbie, your first project is likely going to take you twice as long and cost twice as much to complete as you think it will, Nicolet observes. But, she adds, “the more projects you get through, the better you’ll know your timeline.”
  2. Set a budget. With the decent budget, you can quickly see a difference in most areas of the home. Kitchens and bathrooms tend to provide the most value, Nicolet states. She suggests starting with a $500 budget and seeing how far you stretch it by swapping out items such as faucets, sinks or mirrors, refinishing your floors and updating your hardware. “It costs a little in elbow grease, but it makes the hugest impact with the least amount of money,” she explains. “And you get a huge sense of satisfaction.”
  3. Use safety equipment. This is good common sense but still worth reiterating, especially if power tools are involved. “Don’t ignore people on TV – wear safety goggles!” Nicolet cautions. “Something will get in your eye, and you will not be happy about it.”
Published in Country's Best Cabins
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