I’ll admit it. Back when I had cable, I was seriously addicted to any channel that smacked of Do It Yourself kinds of projects. I loved This Old House. I loved TLC’s Design on a Dime. I loved HGTV. I was very fond of anything fix it associated with the home. It was so easy and natural to assume that what they made look so simple actually was! And being practical minded, who wouldn’t want to have some great stuff on the cheap?
I remember my first DIY project: to spruce up an old dresser in the white Shabby Chic style that was popular at the time. Did it go well? Well. It’s still white. But looking back on it, no. Not particularly. I learned pretty quickly how miserable hand sanding an old dresser can be in an Alabama summer (since that’s where we lived at the time) and how humidity can make paint take days and days to dry. Not to mention the “kit” I bought to make it easier on myself was, as I’ve learned all these years later, basically junk. Flat paint on any furniture is not a good idea. Later we bought a home in Tennessee knowing we’d need to pull down ugly wallpaper and paint some of the rooms. The Design on a Dime crew made it all looks so easy. I could do that! And of course, our realtor enforced this with the “it’s only cosmetic” mantra I’ve heard many realtors espouse. We loved our house. We really did. But by the time I was on the third room of hideous wallpaper,and had made several trips to the store I was really sick of DIY’ing and we still had to prime and paint!!
Now you may be curious. Does she still DIY? Yep. I still do. I’m happy to say that I’ve come a long, long way in my expectations and my approach to DIY projects and I’ve gained a great sense of humor about it. I’ve learned to ask myself a few things before I begin the process:
1.) Do I have the patience to see this through? (in other words, the cool factor of the item in question)
2.) Will it really save me money?
3.) Can I find this already made for about what I’d spend to make it?
4.) Am I willing to invest in the tools and supplies if I don’t already have them? Can I even find them locally? (or does this use some obscure item that can’t be substituted easily?)
5.) Have I done enough research to be reasonably sure I’m going to make only one, maybe two trips to the hardware store?
6.) Am I ok with this occupying my garage if it takes longer than I expect (which it almost always does)?
7.) Am I willing to laugh at this experience if and when I come up against something goofy about it or if it plain old doesn’t work out?
I’ve done a few great DIY projects in the last couple of years. My favorite was not actually a piece of furniture or painting a room but actually fixing an old riding lawn mower we’d purchased used that was a must have for our home in Tennessee. My husband was gone on a military deployment and I had an infant. And I needed to keep my grass cut. It took a lot of patience and about two weeks (which is an eternity for the lawn going un-mowed in a wet Tennessee summer) since I only worked on it during nap time. I’m happy to report that it was a great and practical success and cost me less than $10. I was actually sad when I ended up selling it with the house for an extra couple hundred dollars a few years later. But it gave me some serious confidence in my resourcefulness. And it taught me that DIY’s can be great, practical and save money too. You just have to be aware that it may not go as fast or as easily as you expect. And you have to be willing to laugh along the way.
So dear readers, do you DIY? Why or why not?