On this page, I talk in detail about the tools you definitely want in your DIY arsenal.
Again, if you are an avid DIYer (or want to become one!) these are tools you will want. Ask for them for Christmas, Mother's Day and birthday gifts, invest in them a little at a time as the need arises, and watch for them to go on sale...usually around the holidays and Father's Day (like men are the only ones who need them...geez!)
Throughout the blog, I give detailed instructions on all types of DIY projects...from painting furniture to caulking bath tubs! Just use the search function to find posts that address any questions you might have! Or shoot me an email!
Today I want to share just a few "tips and tricks" I have learned and developed over the years of "projecting." This is by no means a complete list....and most I have shared on here from time to time. But I thought it would be a good time to compile a list of simple little suggestions that can make your DIYing projects a little bit easier.
In no particular order....
1) Cutting foam. For years I used a razor knife, serrated knife and scissors to cut foam. Then I read a "tip" somewhere about using an electric bread knife....
I happened to stumble across one at a garage sale or $1, so I decided to give it a shot.
CUTS THROUGH FOAM LIKE IT IS BUTTER! Seriously, I don't know how I did anything before I added this to my arsenal of tools. I use it to cut foam for cushions and reupholstery projects and it cuts the foam straight and without those "layer lines." I just mark the foam with a sharpie and then cut right through the entire thickness...I use it on regular foam and memory foam!
You can find these knives for pennies at thrift stores and garage sales...GET ONE! For $1, it pays for itself the first time you need it!
2) Speaking of foam....several little "tips." First, I make my own sponge applicators for applying wipe on finishes (oils or poly) and stains by using scrap foam and cheap socks I buy at garage sales and thrift stores!
You can read here how I collect all kinds of things from thrift stores and garage sales to use while projecting...glass bowls, old measuring tools, towels for shop rags, etc. The pennies and dollars saved add up real quick when you project!
And another "tip" on foam. Foam can be REAL expensive if you buy it "by the piece" at craft and sewing stores. Sometimes it is cheaper to buy one of those "memory foam" mattress covers clearance priced from Overstock or Amazon. Use your bread knife to cut it to the size you need for the project you are working on...then roll it up, tie it off with a rope or or even an old sock and save it for the next project!! If you are reupholstering several pieces or making several seat cushions, it might be worth it! Do the math!
3) Painting hardware! Cabinet and dresser hardware can get pretty expensive if you have to replace it. The best source (i.e. the cheapest) I have found for replacements is myknobs.com. But if you don't have the money to buy new hardware or knobs you can paint them!!! Or if you just want the screws that will show to match whatever you are painting, paint them to match!
If you are painting hardware, start by reinserting the screw into the hardware, paint the underside first, then flip it over and stick the screw into a piece of styrofoam. I use old styrofoam lids and styrofoam from shipping packages...
If you are painting screw heads, just stick the screws into the styrofoam!
I always prime mine first with a good metal primer...it dries quickly and then you can spray it with your spray paint or use a "craft" paint brush to paint them. Most home improvement stores carry "metallic" colored paints...brushed nickel, gold, silver, etc.
After I paint the hardware the color I want it, I spray them with a light coat of poly so they will hold up well to use!
Did you know you can paint interior door knobs? Mine were an ugly bright brass. I removed them, stuck them in styrofoam, hit them with a coat of primer and then spray painted them black. They look AMAZING with my interior doors I painted black! And SOOOO much cheaper than replacing all the door knobs!
4) Paint additives. As I have said many times, the trick to getting a great paint finish is the "prep." Stripping, sanding, priming...whatever the piece needs. And of course, using quality brushes or proper spray paint techniques. But ANY time you are going to roll or brush latex paint or oil-based paint you need to add an additive...Floetrol for latex paints and Penetrol for oil-based paints. They help the paint "level" while drying and eliminates brush strokes and roller marks.
5) Paint cans. I always save leftover paint for touch up. The best way to make sure your paint stays usable is to 1) store it indoors, away from extreme heat and cold AND 2) make sure you seal the lid properly. That is tough to do when you have paint gunked up in the rim. So as soon as you open a can of paint (regardless of the size) take a small nail and hammer and punch little holes, about every 2-3", around the inside of the rim....
This allows any paint that gets in the rim from pouring or wiping your brush to flow back into the can. Then you can just wipe out the rim with a paper towel before resealing it!
Speaking of paint cans, make sure you write on the lid what the paint is for...living room walls, master bath trim, etc. If you store it in a closet with the lid well sealed, it will last for YEARS and make touch up a breeze! I just touched up the walls we painted 8 years ago and you can't even tell where I touched up!
6) Which brings me to an important reminder about paint. Make sure you save the leftover for touchups. You can save it in the original can as long as the lid is air tight, which it should be if you use the above tip. If you have just a little bit of paint leftover, pour it in a glass jar with a tight lid or store it in a clean quart size can! STORE IT IN THE HOUSE! In the back of a closet or cabinet and labeled. Just make sure you don't put it someplace that has extreme hot and cold...like a storage building or garage.
Clearly mark the container so you know what room it goes to. I repainted my living room, kitchen and den 8 years ago. I stored the leftover paint in the cubby in my laundry room. Last week I opened the can, gave the paint a good stirring and used a 4" foam roller to touch up all the walls. You can't even tell!
Both oil based and latex will store for years if you keep it out of extreme temperatures and seal the container. Oil based paint may form a thick hard layer...just scope it out with a stick and stir it REAL well...good as new! I have been able to touchup my trim for YEARS with the same can of leftover oil-based paint!
I keep a can of leftover paint in all my rooms...touch up is a breeze regardless of how long it has been since I last painted
7) Floral Foam. A huge expense. Here I share with you how to use spray insulation foam to fill urns and flower pots for seasonal arrangements!
8) Finding inspiration. Here I share how I found inspiration for my master bathroom.
So many times we zero in on a picture on Pinterest or another blog and think "Wow, I want my room/dresser/desk to look JUST like that." But unless you have a room/dresser/desk just like that or have the same exact resources for the elements, yours may never look "just like that" and you will inevitably be disappointed!
So take your time...collect pictures that "strike your fancy." Even if it isn't a space "just like yours" put the picture in a file (either a paper file or computer file). Do this over a period of time and then go back and look at them. Find the common element in each...what is it about that space or item that you love?
Chances are, you don't love EVERYTHING, but maybe just a few of the elements....the color, the style, the hardware, the lighting. Regardless of how many "inspiration" pictures you have gathered, there will be something in each you can incorporate into your project.
Don't take a picture of a million dollar master suite and tell the clerk at the home improvement store (or your husband) that you want THAT suite in your 3 bedroom ranch house. Probably isn't going to happen. But you can take the elements of ALL your "inspiration" rooms and incorporate it into your space.
9) Make lists. Large or small project! Seriously. Sit down and make a list of EVERYTHING you want to do in your space...by room. Or if you have a lot of little "honey-do" projects you want completed throughout your house, write them down!
Seriously overwhelming huh?
Now, prioritize. You can do this by room or by project, depending on what you want accomplished.
You may not be able to completely redecorate your master bedroom, but maybe you can start by completing a few smaller projects in that room and throughout the house.
If your plan is to completely redecorate a room, it is important that you collect your inspiration as I suggested, make a detailed list of each project you want to complete, assign a realistic cost (keeping in mind that you may have HIRE someone to do some of the work!), and then write down each project in the order in which you intend to complete the task.
If you need to declutter and clean the space, write it down. If you need to make little repairs here and there (walls, missing trim, etc) write it down!
This is called "making a plan." Just like building a house...you have to have a plan and you have to know exactly what needs to be done and the order in which each task has to be completed...and for most of us, we have to have a realistic budget. WRITE IT DOWN AND FOLLOW THE PLAN!! The entire plan...from start to finish!
As you go, mark off the completed tasks...this is what I call "eating an elephant one bite at a time!"
10) Which brings me to my last "tips for the day." Declutter and clean! Seriously, GET RID OF STUFF! Clutter and filth are the number one reason why people struggle with home DIY projects. You want your space to look like a picture on a blog or Pinterest...but let me ask you, when was the last time you saw a picture of a space you loved that was filled with clutter or just plan dirty! You don't.
These are just a few helpful tips! Every project is different and as I have shared what I do, I try to give you little tips here and there that will make your DIY project a little easier and a little more affordable.
I am always amazed at what people think they CAN'T do. I like to think that we in the "blogisphere" inspire others to take on a I CAN DO THAT attitude!