Q: I have a HUGE question for you! My husband and I have now lived in our first house for close to a year. We share your motivation, but are very intimidated by the projects that we’d like to tackle. Neither one of us is super handy, and I guess we’re afraid of “breaking” our little nest. What did you two do to get past the hump of “how on earth do we do this and not cause an even bigger problem in the end?” Thanks! -Amy
A: This is a great question! Especially because when we moved into our house just three short years ago we knew nothing. We were beyond beginners. We literally had zero fix-’em-up experience (I hadn’t even painted trim and John hadn’t so much as picked up a sledgehammer). So it’s not like we’ve always been extremely handy human beings who helped our parents flip houses from an early age. Seriously, we didn’t even own a wrench and we definitely had our fair share of false starts when we began lovingly (and fearfully) fixing up our fifty year old house.
(Check out more details on the project above right here).
As you can imagine, we definitely made a few rookie mistakes (I painted all the trim in the entire house with white flat paint instead of a more wipeable semi-gloss option… talk about an error that had to be completely redone!). But that’s sort of the beauty of home improvement. Almost everything can be redone, so if at first you don’t succeed, repaint all the trim with semi-gloss paint and do a little more research before starting the next project. Lesson learned.
And as we went we noticed that we got a lot more confident and quickly expanded our skill set with each project that we took on. The learning curve was actually pretty amazing. In fact, one of the reasons we started our blog was to pass along the tips and tricks that we were picking up to friends and family members who we also assumed were equally clueless. To this day, our hope is that by sharing step-by-step tutorials and DIY projects as we go, lots of newbies out there will learn right along with us and gain the confidence to semi-fearlessly tackle their own home just like we did- and still do! I mean if we can do it anyone can, and we like to think that we made all the mistakes so you guys don’t have to (we remind everyone who comes to us for trim-painting tips to use semi-gloss paint to save them the extra work and frustration we experienced early on).
(Check out more details on the project above right here).
The good news is that unlike brain surgery, most home-based projects can be done, undone, revisited, updated, etc. So it’s not like you get one half-hour shot to correctly install your vanity or it dies. Thank goodness. And it really takes a lot to “break” your house (think a wrecking ball or an intense natural disaster) so you might be flattering yourself if you think you and your hubby are strong enough to take on that challenge. In the end it just comes down to tackling smaller projects first (try painting walls and then moving on to painting brick and paneling or switching out light fixtures and then moving on to more detailed electrical work). And even before you tackle those projects, it always helps to do some simple research (you can visit our How To page for tutorials, google around for videos, read up at the library, etc). That way you’ll gain your “sea legs” so to speak, and can grow your confidence and skill level to eventually take on bigger and better projects as you go.
And although some people think of us as experts at all things home, we’re happy to openly admit that we’re definitely still learning to this day. Heck, we find out about some obscure tool or a new technique every week. We also rely heavily on tutorials and videos that we dig up on google and how-to books that we check out of the library so there’s really no limit to what you can learn by researching and then by physically doing it (that’s really when things “click” for us and we can finally add that skill to our roster). Then we like to pay it forward by sharing what we learned (and of course sharing the results in the form of some fun before & after pics). But really, there’s no such thing as being too prepared beforehand… it just seems easier to take a sledgehammer to a wall if you already have a game plan when it comes to putting things back together afterwards.
(Check out more details on the project above right here).
Oh and here’s another tip that we definitely use ourselves. It’s always comforting to think of the worst case scenario (ex: “if we try to repaint this dresser and it peels we can always sand it down and start over” or “if we can’t demo out this bathroom ourselves, we can always hire a handyman to finish what we started”). For instance, once we were trying to switch out some simple bathroom fixtures and the old brittle plumbing sprung a leak. Yikes! In a panic we gave in and called a plumber (since we certainly weren’t armed with the know-how to fix it ourselves at the time). And you know what? There’s no shame in calling in for reinforcements when it comes to projects that just turn out to be too much for you to take on yourself.
In fact one of our best money-saving tips is to know your limits and hire things out that might be above your skill level so you don’t end up making mistakes that actually cost you more to bring someone in to correct. When it came to our leaky pipes, it turned out that they were 50+ years old (original to our house!) and it was just time to get them replaced. So while the plumber was here we opted to have him switch everything out behind the walls for a few hundred bucks just for the peace of mind to know that everything would now be up to date and ready to go for another half a century. Plus calling in an expert when you’re definitely in over your head also helps you maintain your momentum and your confidence. If we tried to fix those 50 year old pipes ourselves we surely would have failed and probably never touched plumbing again. But by calling for backup we kept the renovation ball rolling and happily moved on to tackling bigger and better projects in the future since our plumbing debacle wasn’t all that bad in the end.
And the good news is that for every project that has you calling in the pros, there are usually about twenty five blissfully uneventful ones that you can do yourself. Sure there might be extra mortar to scrape under those tiles that you didn’t expect or using that tile clipper might take three times longer than you expected, but they’re still straight-forward processes that you can easily adapt to (adding a few days to your timeline or a bit more labor than you expected to your to-do list is pretty much what home improvement is all about).
Things might call for a few extra days of work (in our experience, most project take longer than you think they will) but in the end it’s all worth it and you probably saved a bundle by doing it yourself. Even skilled contractors and handymen are no strangers to pushing back timelines, so that’s not even something that can be avoided when you hire a project out. It just sort of comes with the territory of fixing up your home. And there’s nothing quite like the chest-swelling pride that you get when you realize that you did some with your own two (or four in our case) hands. There’s that confidence that we mentioned. It’ll just grow with each awesome overhaul that you accomplish… and before you know it you’ll look around and you won’t even recognize the place that you call home (in an oh-so-good way).
(Check out more details on the project above right here).
So in short here’s our formula for shaking off that intimidation and gaining the know-how it takes to whip your house into shape:
- Start slow and grow your confidence by doing smaller projects before moving on to tackle the more major overhauls
- Research the heck out of things before you pick up a paint brush or a hammer
- Never be afraid to call in an expert if you get in over your head (that way you don’t burn out after one never-ending project)
The good news is that for every project that we imagined the worst case scenario (which always involves redoing something for days or calling in someone to “fix” our poor wounded house) we have only had a few experiences when we actually had to start back at square one or call for reinforcements. And we’ve taken on over 300 projects so those are pretty good odds. To date no vanities have died on our watch, and we haven’t “broken” our house yet, knock on wood.
One of the greatest things about home improvement is that a lot of it is common sense and many projects are “what you see is what you get”- meaning that if you want to redo a floor and find out it’s completely not level, there are a number of ways to remedy the situation (relaying the subfloor, using self-leveling concrete, etc). So know that there’s usually more than one way to skin a cat (gross expression, sorry) and a little research will often reveal a number of viable and doable options when it comes to taking on a new challenge. And remember that you can always call a few handymen for estimates if you’re at the end of your rope, but trust us when we say that a high percentage of the time you can usually solve things yourself with a bit of thoughtfulness, research and determination. That’s pretty much how we got our house to where it is today. Beyond-stubborn determination paired with plenty of time spent researching beforehand and learning on the job. Good luck and happy reno-ing!
*Now for a little safety suggestion: wear proper closed toe shoes when taking on projects! We don’t know what the heck we were thinking in the first two photos, but we definitely recommend keeping your feet protected, especially for those heavy duty tasks. Toes matter.
Psssst- Wanna know more about how we got our house to where it is today? Check out this post about decorating in stages and this one about how to keep from pricing your house out of the neighborhood.
Thank you for this. We recently bought our first house and have tackled a few small projects, but I’ve had the same worry about some of the larger things I want to do. Thank you!
What you have said is so true. I’m no handyman, but I’m also not afraid to tackle bigger projects for the same reasons you mentioned, Sherry. For instance, I just bought my first table saw on Craigslist – and nothing is more dangerous than a 10 inch blade whirring next to your pinky – to begin to learn how to build cabinets.
If you don’t try, you won’t ever know if you can succeed!
Ashley M. [at] (never home)maker says
Oh, you speak the truth, Sherry!
We’re kind of in the whole first-round of home renovation re-evaluation period. We’ve been in our little abode for about 1.5 years. We, like you did everything as TOTAL beginners. Some of it is good (like our recent coat closet entryway project — it’s gorgeous!). Some just plain bad (our patching up of our staircase after taking off the peach-colored carpet that once covered it). And, yes, some of it is ugly (the PVC beadboard in our bathroom . . . ugh, that’s gonna need a redo).
But — practice does make perfect (or, at least sufficient). We also have some great neighbors who are a couple years ahead of us in their DIY experience. Whenever we need help — we just give ’em a call. One time they even stayed up with us until 1AM to help stop our new sink from leaking!!! THAT’s the definition of a great neighbor!
Our plan? During x-mas break, we’re going to go through our whole house and make a list of what’s good versus what we want to redo. I think this might involve painting almost every room again. But that’s what time off is for, right?
Inspiring post! Just wanted to let you know that the link after your last picture directs you to a log-in page.
Thanks for the heads up on that link. All fixed!
I vaguely remember reading this question during my hunt for questions and answers for 2007. Seriously, you guys deserve all the rave because you really are so entirely generous with your knowledge. That saying, “Give a man fish…” you guys are all about showing everyone how to fish and that kind of generousity just doesn’t come along all the time. I don’t even know if you realize how valuable a resource you really are!
Can’t wait to start tabulating 2008 and 2009!
I have a question – what do you guys wear when you do remodeling projects? You guys always look so cute doing projects, yet if I wear anything remotely nice, there’s no doubt it will end up with caulk/paint/rips, etc.
Do you have certain “icky” clothes for just projects or are you just really, really careful?
Good question! We both have one set of “summer painting clothes” (consisting of one pair of old shorts and a tee shirt) and one set of “winter painting clothes” (consisting of one pair of old jeans and a sweatshirt) that we always always wear when we do anything messy like staining, painting, caulking, etc. There’s no reason to have a drawer full of stained and painted stuff. Granted, our winter and summer sets look pretty crazy after a few years of use (they’re every color of the rainbow) but it definitely beats ruining new stuff all the time. Oh and John has a “painting belt” which I find hysterically funny. But the boy makes a good point that if his painting pants fall down all the time it messes with his efficiency. Haha.
When it comes to the less messy tasks (like quickly tearing off some trim with a crowbar or sledge hammering a brick garden bed) sometimes we just wear our normal at home clothes (usually some combo of jeans and a tee) since we know what we’re doing won’t cause permanent staining. We might get a bit dusty but we know we can just throw stuff in the wash and it’ll be fine. Hope it helps!
I’m new to the site, but you two are seemingly truly superhuman. I have grand ambitions on taking on a myriad of DIY projects, big and small, but I find my biggest obstacle to be something that you didn’t address: Time.
We’re DINKs with moderate commutes. We’ll always choose play over work in our spare time. This – paired with me being a meticulous perfectionist and he being a corner cutter – is why it took us 1.5 months to just paint two small bedrooms ourselves (not including trim, which still needs to be done).
It’s hard to buckle down and take on my “To Do” list. Any tips?
Hmm, that definitely is a challenge. We know all about being short on time (I’m usually tethered to the computer from 8am -8pm and John has a full time job downtown) so we do almost 100% of our projects on nights and weekends (and many of them over holidays as well). I guess it just comes down to putting off the fun stuff like going out to dinner and hanging out with friends in the name of crossing things off your to-do list. We’re super passionate about our home, so we’re weird enough to think that painting or demo-ing sounds like a good time, but we know it’s not everyone’s idea of fun. And sometimes we dread projects like you wouldn’t believe but we tell ourselves that we have to do it sometime and we might as well bang it out and then go out to dinner the next day to celebrate (instead of dragging it out and having it hang over our heads for months).
Hey I have an idea.. maybe you should start a blog! We find that we’re motivated to do more and work harder to share our results with people who are chomping at the bit for pics and details… so maybe that will help to motivate you? Not that you have extra time to start a blog but we didn’t think we did either (two years ago when John started this whole thing I was completely uninterested) and just look at us now! Or maybe you can find another way to motivate yourselves- like saying that if you complete five things on your list you’ll treat yourself to a mini vacay in a nearby city for the weekend or get that flat screen TV you’ve always wanted. I guess it’s sort of like doing anything else that takes time and effort (losing weight, studying for finals, etc)- it really takes drive and motivation to stay at it- so anything you can do to push yourselves forward and encourage each other to keep going should help! Good luck!
Thanks for this inspirational post! We’ve been in our house 4+ years and we’re always learning, just like you. You’re inspiring me to push my home improvement limits.
Karen B. says
THANK YOU for this! It’s exactly what I needed to hear. You two do a great job of constantly reinforcing that “anyone can do this,” “take things one step at a time,” etc., but reinforcing that message all at once and being reassured that there are always back-up plans if something goes wrong is very comforting to hear. I think you should make this post the mission statement of your blog.
Hey, do you want to start a blog about car maintenance next? That’s something else that I’m too scared to touch and I’m due for an oil change.
Well we pay someone to change our oil so I guess we still have a lot to learn in the DIY car maintenance category. Haha.
Jessica @ How Sweet It Is says
I just found your blog and I am so excited!! One of my good friends told me about it and I can’t wait to read more. I am a newlywed and we just bought our first home too. YAY! :)
Jennifer S. says
I just got married and I’m decorating our apartment with inspiration from your site! We can’t paint the walls or change much of anything, but I did tackle the hideous green & brass ceiling fan in the master bedroom (shhh…I didn’t ask permission) and thanks to $8 worth of white spray paint and masking tape, it now fades into the ceiling instead of screaming for negative attention. I’m not much of a risk-taker, but seeing everything you guys have done helped me bite the bullet & go for it. And you’re right about the research…reading a few articles on how to dismantle the fan & paint it made me feel a lot more confident! Keep up the great work! :)
Bridget B. says
Thanks for this post. Very encouraging and informative!
Thanks so much for this post! We recently had a big party for the first time in our new home, and I received so many compliments on the decor. I’ve gotten most of my inspiration from you guys. Thanks for all your time and effort with this blog!
I too have learned a lot from your blog….I just love it!
We have started our remods on our newly purchased 92 ranch….finding things not level and sheetrock seems not properly hidden…but hey that is part of the fun…finding imperfections and then fixing them, right?!
All I can say is…..Research, research and more research :D
Thank you for this! We have been in our place for almost 3 years now and we did the fairly normal repaint and recarpet stuff when we first moved in, but to this day I still say on a daily basis that we need to find time to really make it ‘our’ home. Well we are getting married next month and so happened to find your blog from the Style Me Pretty blog I have followed daily since the day we got engaged. Well anyhow, to make a short story even longer, you have totally inspired me and given me something to do after all this wedding planning is over. So thank you! :) And trust me, we both have a lot of learning to do.
The employees at Home Depot and Lowes are usually very helpful and happy to answer questions and give tips for your projects. (Although there is one guy in the electrical department at our Lowes that we make a point to avoid!)
My hubs and I just moved into our NY apartment (remember our capiz chandelier story and our randy upstairs neighbors?) and are in the planning stages of updating our kitchen. We have about an 8×10.5′ space. We are not replacing/refacing the cabinets. But we want to paint them a nice white color to do away with the country look. We are also putting in a backsplash and installing an over the oven microwave. But the project that worries me most is the flooring. We want to pull up our hideous faux wood linoleum and tile it in a nice diagonal patten with a thin brick pattern border to mimic the backsplash. The labor cost estimate was $1,200 just for the floor (!), so we definitely want to save the money and try it ourselves. And like you said, I doubt we’d break our apartment with our efforts. But I am terrified of cutting the tile since I *think* there is more cutting with a diagonal pattern. And I am also scared of moving the 2 appliances (we want to tile under them at least). Oh also, we want to install wainscoting along the two L-walls that are cabinet/appliance free. (The reader re-do from a couple of days ago inspired me.) Any advice on how to get started and what to do first? Oy.
Since every project is different and we’re not standing in your space evaluating it we’d say that your best bet is just to research the heck out of things before getting started (since we could take a guess where you should start but it would just be a stab in the dark). You can always hang out at home improvement stores and talk to people there for encouragement and of course hit up google for ideas and even a step by step game plan to follow. The good news is that laying tile on a diagonal can mean a few more cuts but you usually have to cut every perimeter tile piece anyway so there’s not that much added work involved in the end). We also have a tile tutorial coming down the pipeline soon since we’re tackling both wall and floor tile in our big bathroom remodel. Stay tuned!
Kristi W. says
As if you two weren’t inspiring enough, now I feel even more motivated to tackle house projects. :) Thanks for always offering such helpful information.
Great post! I get this question a lot- I’m a 24 year-old single girl and people look at me and wonder what I got myself into and why I think I can handle it. While I do have lots of great help (thank goodness my parents also gave birth to 2 boys) a lot of it is me. And a big part of it is just getting over the “I can’t do this” hump and diving in. And while I’ve definitely been negatively surprised by how long/hard something will be, I’ve also been pleasantly surprised the other way too! As in, “You mean that’s IT?” And yes, know when to call the pros too, and ask ask ask for advice (people usually love sharing).
One more thing- if it’s your first house, don’t beat yourself up if your tile job isn’t perfect or some other dumb thing. If you keep working hard, then when you get older you’ll be able to afford the pros to make everything look spectacular (at least I tell myself that to keep my spirits up :-)
Another good thing to bear in mind when doing a DIY project is to have fun with it. It will be much easier (and go a little faster) if you are actually enjoying yourself. The whole process is a learning experience, and just remember even huge mistakes are NOT the end of the world. Case in point: about a year ago I was helping my dad do a complete remodel of his 200 year old house (I mean he totally gutted the thing himself in a huge DIY gone wild project!) and as we were prying out the beams that provided the support for the basement ceiling/main floor floor joists we literally lifted a corner of the house off of the foundation (as in a chunk of the house was no longer connected to ANYTHING). Of course I freaked out thinking OMG the house is going to collapse on us, but my dad was doing something he was so passionate about he just laughed the disaster off, and said “Oh, well isn’t that neat! That’s how that works.”! So just like Sherry says, it does take A LOT to break a house (even that catastrophe didn’t end up breaking the house!). So enjoy any project you take on, and know you did it with love, everyone else will be able to tell to!
i think tip #3 is key! we are renovating a house & my boyfriend hired a contractor to widen a cased opening in a load bearing wall (obviously out of his realm). bf offered to assist the guy and so the guy charged less money and now bf has the experience/knowledge to possibly do it alone next time. i think most contractors are willing to do that and more than happy to share their knowledge. don’t be afraid to ask for help!
I totally agree with the research advice. My boyfriend and I have been in our house for four years and are moving at a much slower pace than YHL, but it’s amazing when we look back at all we have learned. Because I am a super Type A planner, I Google the heck out of anything we are planning on tackling, and you’d be amazed at the resources out there. Just this week, we fixed our dryer with a $75 part (that actually would have been less if I could have patiently waited for it to arrive from an online store) and about 10 minutes of wiring. Without the mighty Google (and a handy boy), I would have either brought in a pro or bought a new machine!
Oh, and don’t forget to take the less-cute, but still useful “before” photos of things you need to re-do the same way (like rewiring a replacement part)!
Lisa in Seattle says
I love your blog and I love this post. Now if I could only take it to heart! My big fear is that everything in the house is permanently attached to everything else. Can’t swap out that vanity – surely it’s glued/welded/cemented to the wall! That linoleum must be glued to the house’s foundation – it’ll never come off! If we take down the kitchen cabinets, the wall will come down with it! Still not sure how to get over this hump of ignorance. It’s not a completely groundless fear – one section of wallpaper had indeed been glued to the wall with the wrong glue and we had to learn wall repair in a hurry…
Bria M. says
Hiya! This is my first comment although I’ve been checking in with your blog daily for quite some time now. I found your blog nearly 2 years ago when I googled “backyard weddings”, at the time I though, “what a pretty house…” Now I am on the verge of moving into our first and forever home and your advice has been sweet and priceless! This post was a prime example of your uncanny ability to read my mind! I was just fretting about all the work our house will need (olive green wall stove, cheap-o vinyl tiles everywhere and a room devoted to ivy-themed decor-just to name a few) Thank you for reminding me that my hubs and I can do anything we set our mind and google to, and that if we love our house it will surely love us back!
Wish me luck and congratulations on your happy life!!!
Thank you for the great post! As a current renter, I hope to own a house sooner rather than later. When I do hit that milestone, now I have your blog to inspire me and help me make that house a home. Thank you a million times over!
Krys 72599 says
My dear hubby is the DIY-er in the family. As he likes to say, I just supervise! But the key is, and you did hit that nail on the head, TRY.
What’s the worst that can happen? You call in the experts.
We just finished putting on a whole new 2nd floor at our lake house, where there wasn’t one before. We acted as our own GC, and hired framers, siders, electricians and plumbers (luckily the last two are family friends!) and our whole, finished 2nd floor cost us only about 1/3 of what we would have paid a contractor to do it all, soup to nuts.
And we did all the interior finish work ourselves.
I learned to paint, trim, edge, sand, etc. And even though I must admit to being a better supervisor than I am a tiler, we done good!!!
Anyone can do it – just read, research, think and plan before you do.
I think one thing that has helped us is to think of our house as an “experiment”. Since it was a total fixer, our ultimate goal is to make it a better house but also to use it as an opportunity to try new things rather than getting hung up on “resale value”. Also, in terms of references there is a great series of “how-to” books from Taunton Press that have been invaluable for us. We also own the big orange how-to book from Home Depot and have used it several times for small projects.
First, congrats on all the locations you’ve been featured on and in – I picked up a DIY Ideas magazine and wasn’t surprised to see you in it as well…
Question: Any tips on painting ceilings? I hate doing it and I have two in my future.
PS: Can you come do the cut-in work? I hate that part!!
We hate it too! Here’s a post about picking a color to complement your walls if you’re interested in going that route. As for physically getting it done, we’re just roll & cut-in folks who get ’em done the same way as the walls. Of course one of those long extender polls helps and we cut down on drips by moving a large piece of cardboard around the room under us for whatever section we’re working on. Hope it helps!
First, you guys are amazing and so inspiring, so THANK YOU! Second, do you happen to have a post on your trim painting project (painting all the trim in your home?) I saw the one on which brush to use, which I will take note of, however, nothing further. I could use some help! Our entire main level is a varnished oak trim (doors too!), and I would love to see it painted to lighten the spaces and give it a more clean look. It’s something I have been dreaming of doing for an eternity, just not sure where to begin, or if it would just be easier to bite the cost of purchasing new trim to install (not my favorite option). Our cabinets were the same thing, and I did take on painting them, and LOVE how they turned out! Trim just felt like a different story to me… I appreciate any advice you can give!
Thanks so much!
If you’ve already painted your cabinets you can definitely tackle your trim with ease! We do recommend that brush we wrote about but beyond that we havn’t written up a tutorial because it’s so simple! If your wood trim feels kind of chalky and absorbent like ours, two coats of semi-gloss latex paint should do the trick. And if they’re glossy and varnished, a bit of light sanding followed by one coat of oil-based primer is a good first step before getting to the painting part. Hope it helps!
What a useful, practical post! In doing home DIY, there is so much emphasis on the particulars and specifics that it is helpful to take a step back and look at the whole picture. LOVE IT!
Great post. Fear of making it worse or creating more work is usually what hinders our diy projects. We have found there is usually one unforseen p”roblem” when we tackle bigger projects every.single.time. We try to remember (before losing it) it is not just us, and it happens to almost everyone.
Renee Smith says
You guys ROCK MY WORLD! I can’t believe this question came up this week, because I was totally down on re-doing a bunch of work on our house after having our foundation fixed (at least we can open our back doors now!)
When we did the work the first time around (patching, painting, etc.) I was pregnant and totally out of commission, and my poor husband was a mess doing it all himself. We ended up contracting out a ton of the work.
A question I’ve had lingering is how do you paint over oil-based paint (our painter insisted it was “more better” for all the trim and cabinets in the house). The trim looks yellow and dingy compared to our walls, and when we fix the new cracks I want to have bright and shiny trim! I know that putting latex over oil based is a no-no, but I don’t want to deal with oil based paint with a baby in the house now – oye! Do you guys have any experience with that? Did I mention that you guys rock my world?
Keep up the awesome work in the bathroom and with growing your baby!
All you need to paint over oil-based paint is a good oil-based primer coat. Then you can follow that with latex paint since oil or latex paint can be applied over oil-based primer. It’s like a hard restart for the trim. Hope it helps!
I just want to say…. that I LOVE your short hair in these pictures Sherry!!! I know I know, it’s SO much easier to just whip it up into a ponytail when it’s longer, but that short hairdo is SO cute on you!! :)
Aw thanks Holly. It was right after our wedding when I chopped off about a foot of hair. I read somewhere that 80% of women majorly cut their hair after getting married. Isn’t that funny?
I just noticed the most hysterical thing…..is John taking out the sink with those super handy ‘protect the fingers’ gloves and ::gasp:: BAREFOOT? And I love the pic of you outside with the sledgehammer in flip-flops! This is pretty much how my DH and I do our home improvement also, gotta be comfy, LOL….
Yea, I figured as much. It’s just something I didn’t notice before!! We make sure to gear up for the big stuff too….I even got DH some snazzy protective glasses that are like sunglasses. They worked great….until he was cutting wood indoors and was like “Why’s it so dark in here?” Um, Opps.
Sorry Honey! LOL!!
Nice to know we’re not the only ‘clueless’ folks out there. The internet is my friend….as well as this
I love it!
I’d just like to say PREACH IT, because my husband and I have pretty much exactly the same DIY philosophy. We did some of the smaller things on our first house – like painting and our first-ever tile project. This time we were ready for a challenge when we bought our little foreclosure fixer-upper. We put in about ten weeks and hundreds of hours of work before we moved in. (Um, yes, we were motivated.) Which included plumbing – honestly, Sherry, I bet you guys could do plumbing too. I keep telling people we learned how to do plumbing from a library book, which is literally true! We were replacing entire sections, though, which IMO is easier than stopping a leak.
My DIY advice, having seen the scary results of DIY projects gone wrong is this: once you’ve done the research, follow directions exactly and don’t take shortcuts before you know what you’re doing! i.e. when you put down tile, YES you really need backer board so the tiles don’t crack. And if the plumbing book says glue PVC with primer first, THEN glue, DO THAT. (The people who had this house before us had “fixed” some plumbing with no primer, and guess what, it was leaking.)
I tweeted but forgot to send you a link – have run with your coloured wall post and posted some inspirational nurseries on my blog. Post numbers: 114, 092, 089, 086, 076, 074. I’m loving the grey rooms the most!
So fun! Thanks for sharing the link!
s (& j)
As many other people have said, this post was well timed! My husband and I are new first time homeowners, and we recently took down wallpaper in our kitchen with the intention of painting; we figured it would be a super-easy, 1 day job. Well, the walls underneath are not in the best shape – the old paint is peeling off several layers deep, causing the surface of the wall to look majorly uneven. We tried sanding and realized that we would likely have to spend an entire day on just sanding to get everything even. Plan B is to skim coat the entire wall and then prime (do you guys have any experience with skim coating? Or working with uneven wall surfaces?). I started to freak a little bit – what if we mess it up and make it even worse? But, I remembered this post and tried to keep my cool. I guess if it still looks bad, we can hire somebody to help us out. Thanks for helping me keep some perspective!
Hmm, this is a toughie. On one hand, sanding for a day to get everything flat doesn’t sound like the worst thing in the world (if you think it truly would result in getting things flat) because skim coating can take a looong time and requires a few rounds of application and sanding to get things looking even. With drying time it’ll take you a few days to skim, sand, skim, and sand… so sanding alone might be your best bet if it’ll work. If you do opt to go for skim coating (which is extremely helpful for uneven walls) just do a lot of googling and online research for tips and tricks and ask around at the home improvement store so you’re sure to pick up the best tools for the job (flat-handled sanders help to keep the walls straight and large (even up to 8″) trowels also help you keep things flat instead of bumpy and inconsistent. In short: consider just sanding if it’ll work, and do a heckova lot of research if you go to skim coating and prepare for it to take a few days of work. Either way it’ll all be worth it in the end when you’re painting a smooth gorgeous wall. Hope it helps!
I love your blog! I now have a long to-do list for my BF’s old 1920s house that he hasn’t bothered with the up-keep and I will be moving into soon! I guess I have higher standards than he does and now a bit of time as well. I’m just feeling a bit overwhelmed with wanting to paint cabinets, walls, refinish flooring (calling in a professional for that) and redoing the bathroom. The bathroom needs a lot of work and it’s so expensive to get it contracted out. My BF thinks I’m in over my head with even tiling! Maybe I’m overconfident but it just doesn’t seem that difficult. I know I’ll have to get a professional to install a bathtub or drywall the ceiling…but am I crazy to think it’s possible for us to do the bathroom ourselves?? Anyway, I’ll start with the cabinets first and see where it goes! And then the problem with the kitchen floor not being even to do something about the linoleum. I’m overwhelmed but I should start. My researching is a bit endless. Thanks for all the info; your blog is inspiring!
You can do it! Just hire out whatever you know you can’t tackle and break the other stuff into bite sized manageable pieces (and hire someone to rescue you if anything gets out of hand). Going one step at a time and taking it day by day really is key!
You guys have always been an inspiration- love love love this blog. I’ve been reading for years (found you when I was getting married) but I am still a renter so haven’t been able to put a lot of what you talk about into action- until possibly now!
We have put in an offer to buy a run down little cottage. We can’t get to it during the winter (it would be a seasonal 2nd home…sounds so swanky, but it really isn’t!) so we have almost no idea what we’re getting into.
We may need to level it off and start fresh or just gut it to renovate. I am excited, but scared.
Are there any sites that you guys regularly check in with when you are learning new things? I’ve tried looking, but haven’t come up with much. I know you talk a lot about how to figure it out on your own, but are the local reno shops really that helpful?
Any tips would be great!
We generally just google specific problems/projects to see what comes up. There are some great videos on youtube and sites like ask.com can answer basic things. We also might find ourselves on specific home and garden forums (like one specifically devoted to how to hang a range hood). Hope it helps!