Katie Couric Talks to the Self-Taught DIY Expert Behind Renee Renovates

Katie Couric Talks to the Self-Taught DIY Expert Behind Renee Renovates

Katie talks to the mastermind behind Instagram account @reneerenovates about plunging into amateur DIY with no prior knowledge. 

It’s no secret that I’m obsessed with Instagram (the first step is admitting you have a problem, LOL). I’ve met so many amazing and talented people through IG, and I wanted to share some of my favorite accounts with you all! I hope you enjoy these incredible individuals as much as I do, and as always, share with me what your favorite Instagram accounts are by dropping me a line at [email protected]

Renee is a total badass who’s in the process of renovating her 1914 Craftsman home in Texas. The best part? Renee is doing it all on her own with zero renovating experience. (When she moved in, she didn’t even own a drill, let alone know how to use one!) Since then, Renee has been on a roll: She built the dining room table of her dreams, renovated her master bathroom for under $3,000, and refinished her hardwood floors (to name just a few of the things she’s accomplished in the past year). I wanted to learn more about what inspired Renee to take on this project solo, and find out what tips she has for other aspiring DIY-ers.

You purchased a 1914 Craftsman house and decided to completely renovate it on your own — quite the undertaking! Tell us more about how that came to be: What made you fall in love with the house and then decide to take on a whole renovation by yourself?

I’ve always dreamed of owning my own home, but by the time I felt like I was financially ready, it was early 2021 and the housing market was white hot. I immediately got priced out of cities and started looking at smaller towns instead. That’s when I realized that if I was willing to give up city living and put in some sweat equity on a fixer-upper, I could afford not just my first home but my dream home — a beautiful old house with a big backyard. For me, that was an easy decision to make, and I haven’t regretted it for a second. I’ve always dreamed of living in and working on an old home with lots of character and history, probably because I grew up watching shows like This Old House and Rehab Addict.

Did you know anything about DIY home renovation before you started this project?

No, I knew nothing beyond what I’d seen on TV. When I first bought my house last May, I didn’t even know how to use a drill.

How did you learn how to do it all?

I’ve learned almost everything I know now from observing other DIYers on Instagram and watching YouTube tutorials. It’s been a steep learning curve to figure out how to do this all myself, but the process has been surprisingly fun and rewarding. As an unexpected bonus, the DIY community on Instagram is very welcoming and supportive — we share a lot of advice and cheer each other on. I’ve made some great friends there.

What’s been the most satisfying part of doing your own home renovation?

It’s so empowering. Whenever I successfully cut something on my table saw, I’m proud of myself. Whenever I walk in the primary bathroom (the first room I finished), I smile. I look forward to one day being able to walk through the whole house and think, “Dang, woman. You did that!”

And the worst?

It consumes all of my free time! I work on the house before and after work and almost every weekend. But to me, it’s worth it. If you asked me to choose between Sunday brunch or painting a room, I’d choose painting the room every time (and maybe I’d have some pancakes delivered).

Do you have a room or piece in the house that you’re most proud of?

I recently built my own dining table, and it turned out so much nicer than I could have ever expected. When I have visitors over, it’s the first thing they notice, and it always blows them away.

What’s the most important thing you’ve learned during this process?

You can tackle any big project if you break it down into bite-sized steps. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by renovating an entire room, but if you take it one step at a time and celebrate your progress as you go, the room will be done before you know it.

What advice would you give anyone wanting to take on their own DIY home renovation? Are there any tips or tricks you wish you had known before you got started?

My advice is: You can do this, too! I knew nothing about DIY home renovation or even how to use power tools just a year ago. If I can learn this all from scratch, so can you.

Something I’ll suggest to anyone, whether or not you plan to DIY your home renovation, is that whenever you bring in outside help for non-DIYable projects (for example, getting a new electrical panel), ask to observe the experts at work. If you ask with open curiosity and a willingness to learn rather than a sense of “I want to make sure you’re doing it right,” the professionals are generally willing to let you observe and may even teach you their tips and tricks.