How To DIY

Notice that the title of the post is how to “Do it yourself” not how to die or loose your mind all by yourself. This is not that kind of blog and if I ever start giving you advice on how to die please write me and let me know I actually have gone off the deep end.

No, this is a post about how to DIY.

The advice I will be giving you in this post comes from a recent project we undertook as a family to renovate a walk-in closet in our San Francisco apartment into a baby nursery.

Before we get to what you should do, I think I should go through the things NOT to do.

1. Do not allow your children to paint unless you are prepared for the consequences and can keep calm. Paint splatters and mistakes happen. If you are a perfectionist, do not allow your children to paint.


2. Use a No Voc, Low odor paint. I could not get the smell of primer out of this closed-in space for WEEKS.

This stuff is FANTASTIC. No smell at all.

This stuff is FANTASTIC. No smell at all and they have primer too.

3. Do not watch only one tutorial and think that you know how to do it.

"It's just painting a dresser, how hard could it be?"

“It’s just painting a dresser, how hard could it be?”

4. Use good primer, not old primer that has separated. I had to put about 6 coats on this dresser because the primer was bad.

One million coats later...

One million coats later…

5. Do not try to paint stripes on 100 year old plaster walls. The tape, no matter how gentle, will rip off down to this hairy cardboard material and you will get incredibly pissed off.


6. Do not settle for something that is just not that great. We paid to have this lighting set up installed, but eventually I had to have it redone because I could not stand that it was not inside the wall. It would have been easier to do it right to begin with.

We paid even more to get this recessed later. It was worth it.

We paid even more to get this recessed later. It was worth it.

7. However, do not let the idea of perfection and exactly how you want it make you lose it. Sometimes it’s just good enough. Balance how much time you have and other things you need to devote your life to with the standard your project will reach.

Not stripes, but this was just gonna have to do.

Not stripes, but this was just gonna have to do.

So after we were all done I realized I went into the whole process not knowing what I was doing at all. I kind of winged it and luckily I am happy with the results, but I thought I would consult some expert DIYers I know and see what tips they have on how to go about executing projects.

I sent them a message that read like this:

“Best advice to not lose your mind while crafting or DIY?”

Most of them responded with concern and asked to help me! I let them know I was not actually losing my mind at the moment, but wanted to share some of their expert advice with my readers.

Mike Adamick aka the Splinter of Crafting Ninjas and the author of TWO great DIY books

“Always go in thinking you’re making a prototype. It gives you room and freedom to make mistakes.”

I think this is great advice. It takes the pressure off. If you are more relaxed you will likely create a better result.

Sara Flate – Rooster Home Goods

“What the hell kind of crafting are you doing?! Or better yet, WHO are you crafting with???”

While she didn’t give any direct advice, she makes a very good point here. Don’t work with people who are exceedingly annoying.

Melissa Pope – Sweet Potato

“Tutorials and YouTube are my best friend. WIth big projects I do test runs like in a corner to see what problems come up and then google how to handle those problems. Also following a tutorial that has loads of comments is helpful as lots of people will try and then run into something and post their situation or question on the tutorial and the blogger will respond with solutions.

The thing I keep in mind is to not always try to come up with all the solutions and a perfect plan yourself, but really do research. My ideas then evolve into even bigger and better things as a result too.

People tend to think all my DIY stuff comes straight out of my head, but I just start with an idea and then Google and YouTube the heck out of it.”

Darcy Wright – My amazing friend who has made Phoebe two quilts and will launch her Etsy shop soon.

“Spending more time making sure the seams or parts match up right will save time later, even if it seems like it takes forever.”

Devin Weber – A working mother who always impresses me with her craftiness

“Wine. Always wine. Haha, not really. Don’t have any expectation of how it will turn out. Just enjoy the process even if it comes out bad. There will be a mess. Be ok with cleaning it up later. Whenever we do a project it is a huge mess and it never looks like it should.”

Chloe – My daughter who amazes me with all the things she makes

“If it is not how you want it, just keep trying. Watch another video and learn what you are doing wrong. Try again and work at it and it will turn out ok. If it’s too hard just find something else to do that is easier and it might be just as cool.”

From all of the above I come away with the following summary:

1. Work with people you like.

2. Be willing to make mistakes.

3. You will do better if you are relaxed about the process.

4. Plan properly.

5. Be willing to learn from others, review, try again and don’t be too hasty with the set up of your tools and overall plan.

So there you have it. I wish I had all their wisdom when we set out to turn this room into something pretty.


This post was in collaboration with The Land of Nod. My friend and Phoebe’s godmother Michelle Workman designed the space and I did all the heavy lifting. We have completed the room now and I cannot wait to share it with you soon along with a great giveaway!

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