Tackling 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