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- A Conversation with Amy Matthews
A Conversation with Amy Matthews
Bob Vila: And now my son, who's 35, is running a successful contracting business in Manhattan. So to a certain degree, it probably is genetic.
Amy Matthews: Yes. It's in the genes, for sure! I think one of the best things we can do as professionals in the business is keep that "beginner's" mind, to continually ask questions and learn. I think any time you get to the place where you think you know everything, you realize how little you do know. Obviously I have preferences on what I believe are best ways to tackle a project, but talk to five different contractors and you're likely to get five different answers. I guess you could say there is no black and white.
Bob Vila: What about women in do-it-yourself? This was always a question that would be asked of me and, in my demographics, it was generally 50/50—a pretty even split between men and women taking on home improvement projects. You know, I think even more than half were women. Do you still see that in your own experience?
Amy Matthews: I do, for sure. But it definitely depends on the homeowners that I'm working with. Everybody's got a different level of interest in certain parts of the project. A lot of it does depend on background. Were they raised in a family of DIYers? Did they pick up certain skills when they were young, or later when they purchased their first house? Or is it something so unfamiliar to them that they're just kind of scared of tools? And that goes for both guys and gals, you know? We know that women have this huge buying power in the home improvement market. And whether it's the 'honey-do list' or them going out and tackling the job themselves, women are driving so much of the sales in home improvement and renovations today that it's amazing.
I know women who are stay-at-home moms who have essentially refinished their homes. Their husbands, of course, love it because they're like, "I come home and there's a new floor in the basement." And there are women who are interested in more of the design aspects, where the guy will get out there with his friends and, you know, dig the egress window. It really depends on the people. And I think that's what it should be in DIY home improvement—finding what you like to do, what you have an interest in, and going with that.
Bob Vila: Because that's what you're going to be good at. What kind of DIY projects do you think are the most popular right now?
Amy Matthews: Kitchens and baths are still kind of driving the market in terms of what people want to change in their homes. I think it's because those two rooms are the most challenging in terms of plumbing, electrical, appliances, fixtures—all the things that generally scare people. But they are also the two rooms that are the most used and the ones that can add the most equity to a home.
Curb appeal is also huge. I have had more people, especially with Sweat Equity, focusing on back or front yard improvements. That "indoors-outdoors" philosophy of making their exterior living more enjoyable, like creating outdoor kitchens or a backyard oasis—someplace that's really luxurious in their own backyard.
So, I'd say those are still the top three that I see people gravitating toward.
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