8 DIY Design Lessons Learned From Jon Taffer of "Bar Rescue"

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Here at DoItYourself.com, we love watching Jon Taffer’s “Bar Rescue.” It’s not just because we find it immensely entertaining (who doesn’t?), but because Jon imparts wisdom that holds true not just for improving bars, but for all sorts of DIY projects. To celebrate the return of “Bar Rescue” on Spike TV, we’ve compiled a list of our 8 favorite lessons learned from Jon Taffer that have contributed to our DIY success.

1. Have a Concept

Don’t look at your space and simply say “I want blue walls” or look in a catalog and think “I want those cabinets.” Your space needs to be tied together with a strong concept. Don’t let it be just a collection of things you like. If you want your living room to be “Beach Chic,” then incorporate browns and blues, and elements like sand, shells, and water. Maybe you choose an “Upscale Spa” theme for your master bath. So, install a rainfall showerhead, invest in some luxury towels, etc. Creating a great concept gives you a battle plan for the whole project. When in doubt, refer back to the concept.

2. Think About the Overall Experience

Design is not about just matching colors and picking fabrics. It’s about creating an experience for people. A great concept can turn rotten if the people in the place get an unpleasant experience from it. You may love your “Roman Elegance” concept, but if that means you only have uncomfortable marble steps for seating, and the booming echo makes it hard to hear anything, then you’ve failed at creating a great space.

3. Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

Don’t settle for “builder beige” and the matching couch combo from the showroom. Be daring. Pick the color that scares you a little, or paint a stripe pattern on the wall. Go all out with your concept. As long as it’s you, you can’t go wrong.

4. Own the Numbers

Everyone hates looking at receipts, but you need to create a budget and stick to it. It’s not all bad news, though. Owning the numbers gives you another chance to be creative. Anyone can just plop down $20,000 for that top-of-the-line marble floor, but it takes someone resourceful to find something with the same look and feel for half the cost. Getting a great deal can feel just as rewarding as creating a beautiful design.

5. Pay Attention to the Details

Details matter. Having a kitchen that is laid out with the proper work triangle (between the stove, sink, and fridge) is important. How comfortable your dining chairs are will impact how much your guests enjoy their dinner. The one corner where the wallpaper is peeling will stick in people’s minds and negate the thousands of dollars you spent.

6. Create Interesting Focal Points

A living space should have something that draws the eye and creates a flow. People are drawn to fireplaces or dramatic works of art. Place them strategically to lead people through your space and draw them to congregate where you want.

7. It’s What You Don’t See That Matters

Much like a dirty chopping board in an otherwise clean bar kitchen (one of Taffer’s pet peeves), a dirty and cluttered space ruins everything for a home. If you have visible clutter, dirt, dust, grime, cobwebs, and chipped paint, it doesn’t matter how much you spent or how great your design is.

8. Don’t Let Limitations Stop You

You don’t need a huge budget or a team of experts like Taffer to make a great design. Get creative. A killer concept, a nice coat of paint, a few standout accessories, and some DIY ingenuity can end up looking like a million bucks. Passion and creativity trump money every time.