Home with Tess: The five truths of any do-it-yourself project – Akron Beacon Journal

I’ve always been a hands-on person. It’s led me to try a variety of different things, from painting and sculpting to sewing and woodworking. 
Most recently, my DIY tendencies led me to build a set of shelves for my baby’s nursery. Maybe it’s because I’m eight months pregnant, or maybe it’s because I’ve never constructed shelves beyond assembling a piece of wood on some brackets before, but for whatever reason, this particular project put me through hell.  
Home with Tess:Wall stenciling: Another way to transform your wall with paint
After a long weekend of questioning my decision, I realized all DIY projects tend to follow a formula. They’re a journey, if you will, often filled with highs and lows — but unlike other pursuits, DIY projects are about both the journey and the destination. 
Here are some of the inevitable, distressing, yet somehow irresistible lessons I’ve learned from a lifetime of DIY. 
1. Things are unlikely to go as expected. 
You may start off bright-eyed with a head full of fantasies (or delusions) about your DIY capabilities. Or, maybe you start off thinking, “I’m not sure if I can do this, but I’m going to try it. How bad could it be?” Heck, you may even begin by thinking, “This project is going to cause so much pain, but I’m going to do it anyway.” Whichever thought you think, try to throw it out the window. Even if it isn’t your first time pursuing a particular project, most DIY endeavors have a way of surprising you, for better or for worse. It’s best to limit your expectations if possible and instead go into it knowing anything could happen. 
2. The project may actually end up costing more than simply purchasing the thing you’re creating.  
There are certainly instances where you can save money by doing something yourself — say, remodeling an entire room. But oftentimes, after buying all the supplies — and then realizing you forgot something and heading back to the store to buy it — and then realizing you picked up the wrong item and shamefully returning to said store a third time in the same day to find the correct one (just me?) — the costs can quickly add up. Plus, time is money, and DIYs often end up taking more time than you expect (see point no. 1). 
3. Vigilance is key.
If you endure a setback, remind yourself that you are capable of moving forward. Go easy on yourself — few things are irreversible. Step away for a day if you need to. It’s always easier to see a solution with a clear mind. With so much that can go wrong during a DIY, you may be starting to ask yourself: “Why would I even bother?” But better things are ahead … 
4. It’s a learning experience.
Sure, DIYs can be frustrating and time-consuming money pits at their worst. But one wonderful thing about them is the skills you learn as you work on them. Take comfort in knowing that the next time you pursue something similar, it should be easier (although, again, point no. 1 still applies). And if you decide to never do it again, hey — that’s still something you learned!
5. The end result makes it all worth it. 
DIY projects are the ultimate way to customize and control every aspect of a project. They teach you new skills. But perhaps the best part about a DIY project is stepping back when it’s complete and knowing you were the one who pulled it all together. In the instance of my shelves, I know they look unremarkable to anyone who doesn’t have the full story. And if I would have purchased something similar, they would have been unremarkable to me, too. But because I built them, they’re something I now look at every day with pride — and that’s not something you can put a price on. 
Email your questions to Theresa “Tess” Bennett at homewithtess@gmail.com and keep up with Tess on Instagram @homewithtess.
More:Home with Tess: How I learned to stop worrying about wainscoting and love an easier solution
More:Home with Tess: Buyer beware when it comes to online marketplaces


Leave a comment

Shopping cart