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This January, we’re celebrating change—the kind that involves getting your hands dirty and picking up a paint roller. For Domino’s first-ever Renovation Month, we’re getting real about the highs and lows of refreshing your dream space—mood-boarding is only the beginning. 

Throughout the coming weeks, you’ll hear from brave renters who gave their apartments mini facelifts, homeowners who tackled risky DIYs, and industry veterans who know the true meaning of major construction. In preparation for the launch, we talked to a ton of designers and do-it-yourselfers about the lessons they’ve learned along the way. Here are just a few of our favorite takeaways, plus what to expect on the site as we kick off 2020 with a bang.

Drywall Is a Renter’s Best Friend 

Who says you need to live with your rental as is? Anna Z. Gray transformed her tiny NYC closet by removing the doors and cutting through part of the wall to create an archway (she plans to stay in her place for a long time). The new shape offered room for a central column of cubbyholes and more shelving. City dwellers, keep an eye out for more ways to make a permanent difference, all with minimal landlord-bugging. 

IKEA Cabinets Aren’t Always All That 

In our ongoing series Renovator’s Notebook, we ask people to break down the nitty-gritty of a remodel—including how much new materials and labor actually cost. We started off the year right with a kitchen upgrade by Nashville designer Lauren Bradshaw. One piece of advice worth jotting down: Custom cabinetry isn’t that much pricier than IKEA built-ins with Semihandmade doors. Stay tuned for more in-depth stories where this came from. 

Don’t Forget the Testing Phase

Zio & Sons founder Anthony D’Argenzio is walking us through his latest project this month. First up: the planning stage. The pro always leaves plenty of time to test paints and the perfect sheen mixture, especially when it comes to finicky white shades. But D’Argenzio won’t stop there—kitchen and bathroom reveals are also in store. 

Good Lighting Is All in the Details 

We asked architects to spill their best-kept secrets, and Portland, Oregon, designer Jessica Helgerson, for one, has a lot to say about historic homes. A noteworthy tidbit: In rooms with plaster ceilings and crown molding, she installs a plaster rose around the central light fixture to make the addition look organic. You won’t find this info on Pinterest!

Hit the Salvage Yard

Coming soon: Australia-based blogger and entrepreneur Courtney Adamo‘s small-but-mighty backyard project. When she set out to build her 200-square-foot studio-shed, she sourced casement windows from a local garage, among other secondhand treasures. Adamo, like many of the creatives featured in Domino’s Winter issue, lives by a simple mantra: What’s old can be made new again. 

See renovations we love:  The Home Union Founders Retiled Their Bland Bathroom in Less Than a Week Why We Decided Against IKEA Cabinets for Our $48K Kitchen Remodel This Kitchen Reno Trick Is Basically Money Back in Your Pocket