7 Things You Need to Do Before a DIY Project

To-Do-ListTackling projects yourself pays big dividends. You save money, learn something new and gain a sense of accomplishment. Your new bookshelf or birdbath is almost a bonus. Unless you’re an avid do-it-yourself-er, though, you’re probably going to have that moment of alarm when you wonder if you’ve taken on too much. There’s no such thing as guaranteed perfection with improvement projects, but with planning, you’ll maximize your chances of success.

1. Get Everything Together

Chefs use a term for collecting ingredients before they start cooking: mise en place. The French phrase describes putting everything within easy reach, and it prevents the chef from ruining a delicate dish through inattention. Your latest painting project may not be as time-sensitive as the perfect pancake, but it’s still helpful to gather everything you need before you start. Making a checklist will keep you on track.

2. Get Organized

Having everything in one place is a great start, but organizing it improves your efficiency. Tool kits or household organizers that hold everything you need for your latest do-it-yourself job make staying organized throughout the project a snap.

3. Study Your Subject

You probably already know something about your project before you start it, but unless you’re already an expert, getting a refresher course from books or online sources can make the difference between a serviceable item and one that’s spectacular.

4. Try a Kit

Whether it was riding a bike or baking a cake, your first attempt at doing it yourself probably needed a little input from an expert. If you don’t have a master crafter handy when you start your project, work from a kit. Many artists got their start with paint-by-number sets, and even the best cooks still use recipes sometimes. Kits make things accessible for beginners. After putting together your first fairy garden, you’ll undoubtedly have tons of inspiration for your own version.

5. Find a Good Work Space

When you have enough room to spread out and see what you’re doing, your DIY efforts pay off with better results. If the weather’s pleasant, work outside or in your garage with the door open. When you’re inside, like to work at night or must work on your project in confined quarters, use ample lighting to avoid eye strain.

6. Stay Clean

You’ll have plenty of use for cleaning supplies after you’re finished, but your project will also benefit from using them before and during the job. Cooking in a spotless kitchen or working in a well-organized garage is always inspiring, so clean before you build or craft.

7. Use the Right Tools

Many of us have used a shoe heel as a makeshift hammer, but when it’s time to do a project right, having the proper tools can spell success. With a ball-joint vise, for example, you gain an extra set of hands and can work on the whole project at once.

Whether you’re building a dollhouse or your own home, every great do-it-yourself project starts with preparation!

Image Credit: Iris Classon

5 Tips for Easy DIY

Forearm-forklift-strapsEveryone loves the after shot of a before-and-after DIY project, but the steps you take to prepare beforehand matter most when you’re the one doing the work. Whether it’s something as simple as adding new slipcovers to furniture to pull a look together or completely redoing a room for a new purpose, preparing for a do-it-yourself job before you apply the first brushstroke of paint is key to a successful transformation.

1. Get Organized
Having your supplies at your fingertips makes any DIY job easier. When your tools are within reach, you can take care of little do-it-yourself repairs around the house before they become bigger problems. It’s easier to find decorating inspiration when everything you need is in plain sight too. Turn a corner of your garage, utility room or sewing room into your do-it-yourself headquarters with storage tools that make the most of your space and keep essential equipment at the ready. Some cabinet storage solutions work for a variety of uses. A turntable bathroom organizer is great for medicine bottles and hygiene items, but it’s also an excellent caddy for tubes of beads and sequins, fabric paints or other small items for detail work.

2. Take It With You
Bringing your tools to the project instead of taking the project to your workspace is often more convenient. Using rolling cabinet storage and portable tool boxes lets you keep your supplies nearby as you make necessary repairs or let inspiration guide you. It’s easy to put off that paint retouching job when you don’t have your tools handy, but with easy-access carts and caddies, you have everything you need and can tackle the project with a minimum of fuss.

3. Plan Your Budget
Almost any project costs less when you do the work yourself, but a miscalculation in the beginning could lead an economical project into big cost overruns. Budgeting tools help you get a handle on expenses and figure out if it’s the right time to embark on that home improvement project. When you sit down with your calculator, consider opportunity costs too; your time is worth money, and you may find that it makes more sense to buy some parts of your project already made than to do everything from scratch.

4. Take Care of Your Tools
Before and during any improvement or repair job, keeping your tools in good shape is vital to a successful project. Painting a large room in a day may not be practical, but by wrapping paint rollers in plastic, you can pick up tomorrow where you stopped today. For outdoor projects, keeping tools and supplies in working order makes lawn and garden care simple. Having to disentangle your hose or clean your lawn mower before you use it can be enough to dissuade you from starting a new improvement project. Keep your equipment ready to go and take advantage of your cleaning, mowing or organizing urge when the mood strikes you.

5. Turn on the Lights
After you’ve done the work, treat your latest DIY project as a masterpiece and give it the lighting it deserves. The right lighting has the power to transform a room and make a home project look professional.