Zio & Sonss Founder Uses This IKEA Tool to Plan Every Renovation

With our New Years resolutions freshly penned, January at Domino is all about changethe demo and construction kind. Welcome to Renovation Month, in which we pull back the curtain on the highs (mood-boarding!) and lows (finessing the budgetagain) that come with creating the home youve always wanted, whether that involves a top-to-bottom remodel or a rental kitchen facelift. Sign up for our newsletter so you dont miss a thing. In this four-part series, Zio & Sonss Anthony DArgenzio walks us through what it really takes to completely restore an old home from top to bottom.

Zio & Sons founder Anthony DArgenzio makes renovating look particularly alluring. You need only look at This Old Hudson, the 1910 property in Hudson, New York, that he completely transformed. DArgenzio managed to retain the homes original charm while also making modern-day updates, thanks to details that look like theyve been there all along. So when he offered us a peek behind the curtain of his latest project, suffice to say we were intrigued.

The project in question? A series of residences DArgenzio is completely remodeling to serve as long-term rental properties, located inside a historic 1915 building. Spoiler: Its not as glamorous as you think! DArgenzio tells us. He walked us through his entire process, from the first to-do list to the last piece of cabinet hardware. Well be sharing every step in a series of stories throughout the month, chronicling the designers best tips. First up: Everything you need to know about planning a gut renovation.

exterior of a house
Photography by Emily Andrews

Ask Yourself What You Want From the Space

Given the end goal was a rental property, DArgenzio put himself in the mind-set of a future guest. It was a learning experience for me! he says. (One lesson: Most travelers will want a dishwasher, which he was originally opposed to because, lets face it, most dishwashers are ugly.) Other functional additions included a gas stove and ACa must for visitors, even in upstate New York.

Aesthetically, he knew to stick to simplicity. People love white, so the question became: How do you make it feel fresh or unique? he notes. He did this by mixing sheens. He recommends setting aside time to test paints thoroughly, especially white, given there are so many shades and each will react differently in various environments.

Know Your Strengths

This wasnt the designers first rodeo. Between numerous interiors projects and product launches, DArgenzio already had a good sense of the tasks he would be able to handleand those he would have to outsource. Ill always hire a professional electrician and plumber, and definitely a roofer, he says. Hed rather work on design-focused construction, like refinishing a door or applying Venetian plaster.

paint swatches
Photography by Anthony DArgenzio
fabric swatches
Photography by Anthony DArgenzio

Micromanage Your To-Do List

Get as granular about the details as you can, DArgenzio states. He came up with multiple itemized checklists, each one detailing a specific area like design or production, down to the finishes. The more research and time you put into developing that plan, the easier and less crazy the process will be, he adds.

Get a Second (or Third) Opinion

Im a creative type, not a planner, so having someone who is an outsider looking in can be a really great resource, says DArgenzioin his case, it was his cousin and business partner. Whether its a family member or a mentor who has been there, done that, having a sounding board for tough decisions always helps. If all else fails, take it to the pros: DArgenzio suggests making an appointment at Home Depot or Lowes and bringing in rough measurements of your space so the experts there can help you lay everything out.

Get as granular about the details as you can.

Take to the Drawing Board (Literally)

Did you know IKEA has a virtual kitchen planning tool? It does, and its free! Even if hes not using its products, DArgenzio still relies on the tool to get a sense of what the finished space will look likeapparently the retailers specs for most standard fixtures are on point.

The other method he relies on is a bit more hands on: I like to draw the shape of the room that Im working on and input where the windows and doors arethings you cant move, he explains. Then he sees what features will fit into that space: I play around with it until I find a scenario I like.

floorplan of house
Imagery by Madeline Montoya

Keep Emotions Out of It

Treat it like a business, says the designer. Any kind of home project will be emotionally draining, so if you can put sentiment aside right off the bator at least save it for the decorating, which he says is more personal anywayyoull have a clearer idea of exactly what needs to be done.

People love white, so the question became: How do you make it feel fresh or unique?

Do Your Research

While DArgenzio originally thought he was saving money by not tearing down the bedroom walls, it ended up costing him more to keep them due to one tiny little detail hed overlooked: the electrical wiring. If you have old wiring that needs to be replaced, your electrician will have to spend more time on it, he explains.

Save Your Original Visual References

Your Instagram Saved folder is basically a living mood board, and likely one of the best true representations of what you love. For this reno, DArgenzio sifted through the past two years of his, put everything in a Dropbox file, and broke the images down into such categories as kitchens, color, and artwork. Then he created a printed version that he kept returning to throughout the project. If I needed to make a last-minute decision, Id look at that board and ask: Does that fit with the tone and feeling I want? he says. Your future self will thank you for this bit of clarity.

See more renovation stories:
Renovating Her Rentals Closet Was the Best Decision Anna Z. Gray Made
This Kitchen Reno Trick Is Basically Money Back in Your Pocket
The Home Union Founders Retiled Their Bathroom in Less Than a Week