I confess: Instagram reels are one of my guilty pleasures and I watch way too many. In my defense, I’ve learned about handy life hacks, cool Amazon products, and delicious recipes from Reels. I’ve also learned that, unlike me, some girls know how to use power tools and navigate Home Depot. Truth be told—I kind of want to be in that club. An opportunity presented itself when we unexpectedly had to replace our bathroom floor. (Who knew toilets had a wax seal? And that it could go bad? And leak water underneath your tile, through the subfloor, and eventually your laundry room ceiling?) So I decided I was going to refresh our vanity with new paint and new hardware. After watching women on Instagram transform entire kitchens, I figured this was about my speed.
I felt so cool picking up my paint samples and shopping for new drawer handles. Then the rubber hit the road (or the paint hit the brush) and it got real. Full disclosure: I don’t think DIY projects are one of my God-given talents, and there were parts of the process I hated. That being said, I will try again in the future. I suspect this is one of those things you can only learn by doing. In fact, I’ve already learned a few things that may be helpful to other aspiring DIY mamas. Especially if they’re total novices whose sole experience in this arena is watching Fixer Upper on the couch.
1. Research the process AND each step.
You can find tutorials for literally anything online. So whatever your project is, find a good YouTube tutorial and watch the whole thing. Just know that the tutorial may or may not break down some important details for you. For example, which paint roller is the best one? The one I bought definitely wasn’t. Also, the tutorial may instruct you to tape off edges before painting, but not HOW to tape edges. This is something I should’ve researched to achieve a better result. Don’t drive yourself crazy, but your end product will be more polished if you research both the process, as well as each step of the process.
2. Allow triple the time you think you’ll need.
My brain said, “Hey, you can get this done in one week before your friend’s family visits from out of town!” What it should’ve said was, “Schedule your friend’s visit for three weeks from now so you can enjoy this process without wanting to gouge your eyes out with a paintbrush!” A little dramatic, but for real. DO NOT RUSH. You are going to have to look things up, run back to the store, fix the things you mess up, and still do all your other life-things not related to your DIY project. Remember you are learning, and learning is a time-consuming process.
3. Get a babysitter.
My kids are home on summer break. I love them dearly, but the most innocent request made in the midst of a DIY crisis elicits a kind of rage inside me that rivals the Incredible Hulk. I had my babysitter come play with them for a few afternoons while I worked on the vanity, and it was 100 percent worth it. A godsend, in fact.
4. Have an organized work area, and clean as you go.
For someone more seasoned, this may not be crucial. For me, however, it helped to have less chaos in my environment. It also made clean-up way easier!
5. Accept that you will mess up and things will not be perfect.
On the large center drawer in my vanity, I broke a drawer handle, got the screw stuck, and scuffed up the new paint. I was mega frustrated. I did not think this particular step would be complicated and felt like a total idiot for messing it up. Around this time I also noticed a less-than-perfect spot where some paint had dripped on another door. Here’s the thing—I’m not a professional, and expecting professional results is a recipe for disaster. Expect first-time-DIYer results. It doesn’t have to be perfect—just perfect for you.
I think there’s a life metaphor hidden in there somewhere, but that’s another post for another day. For now, I’m adding paint sprayer to my wish list and starting on something I’m already super good at—buying home decor.