Home, How-to

Think You Can’t DIY? Yes, You Can!

One great way to include luxury in your house without going broke is to do as many of the upgrades yourself as you can. As women, we’re not nearly as encouraged in this area as men are. (Although the proliferation of women on HGTV shows is helping.) We’re also not as physically strong and often lack the experience that men get from relatives or in shop class in school (is that still offered?)

Tools gathered for my next step in a large DIY project

But that shouldn’t stop us! If you would have told me even four months ago that I would become a DIY-er, I’d have told you you were crazy. Yes, I’d watched a lot of Property Brothers, Fixer Upper and Good Bones over the years, but I never watched with the intention of doing anything. (Anyone remember Dress My Nest? That was my favorite!)

However, one day in April I woke up with a major DIY bug. There was suddenly so much I wanted to do! Rip up the ugly carpet on the stairs that I had hated for the last 13 years and paint them, stain all of the light wood in my house (I hate light wood), build a raised garden on my patio, and more! (I’ll talk about each of these in separate blog posts.)

But the question nagged…where to begin?

  1. Start with cosmetic upgrades. Things like paint, bathroom accessories like towel racks, new decorations, or switching out your shower head are fairly inexpensive and require very little skill.
  2. Do your research. For bigger things, search the internet for advice. YouTube videos, Home Depot’s website, and Bob Villa’s blog are excellent expert places to begin. If you know anyone who does home improvements, don’t be afraid to ask them.
  3. Buy the proper tools. Having good tools is key to safety and a professional outcome. Don’t be cheap with your tools. You will regret it. Every project will have different requirements, but here’s a list of 10 tools every woman should have.
  4. Think through the steps. Imagine yourself doing every step of the project. What tools might you need? Do you have all the safety items you need? What could go wrong? How long will it REALLY take (add at least two hours to what you think). Carefully thinking through the steps will help you prevent possible problems and extra steps to the hardware store. 
  5. Give yourself time. Every project is going to take longer than even (or especially) the experts say. Don’t worry if it takes you a while. Going slowly is best when you are new at something is always best. If you rush, you are more likely break something, hurt yourself, skip a step or get frustrated. For example, when I changed out the bathroom faucet (my first ever plumbing job), the expert on Youtube said it should only take about two hours. Yeah, if everything goes perfectly. I encountered rusted nuts and screws, stripped nuts that wouldn’t tighten and even water hoses that came with filters in them that blocked water flow. I had to redo the whole thing four times. It took all day. But you know what? It works great now and I’m really proud for having done it all myself. 
  6. Ask for help when you need it. No matter how confident you are/become, there are going to be jobs bigger or more complex/dangerous than you should try to handle yourself. Ex: knocking down walls (especially if they might be load-bearing), some electric/plumbing…for me, re-doing the small deck that leads to my patio. Know when to say when and bring in a professional contractor or handyman. You’ll thank yourself later even though it will most money in the short run.

Start small and really plan out what you want to do. Take it step-by-step and be brave. You can do it!

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