The Most Common DIY Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

I’m all about a great DIY but there are times when we all need to step back and catch our breath. Here are the most common DIY mistakes that I see and I’ve probably made them as well. If you’re mid project or stuck, take a minute and check this out!

I love to DIY just about everything in our home. I can tell you that this new house is stumping me a bit because my ceiling’s are so very tall and my ideas all seem like very big projects instead of a “knock it out and move on” type of project.

I definitely need a mix of both types to keep my spirits in the DIY game so right now my list just keeps growing and it doesn’t seem to have an end.

If you think that the pro’s know something that the every one else doesn’t, well, if they do they’re not telling us right?

Really though, they have great contractor’s to execute their designs and that’s one of the the points in this list as well.

The truth is that sometimes we make DIY mistakes (even the pros) in our own home so let me tell you a few that I’ve certainly made and how to avoid them!

DIY Mistakes – Not Respecting Your Style/Not Knowing Your Style

If you don’t know what your style is you’re likely to decorate and space and then wonder why you’re not completely happy with it.

If you’re copying a scene that you found in a magazine or online and it just doesn’t feel right when it’s all finished this could be why.

By all means I’m not saying that you shouldn’t use all the inspiration that you find to help you decorate your space but you’ve got to know how your family lives and your style before you get started.

chartreuse ottomans on purple rug

You don’t have to have a firm definition of your style; farmhouse, industrial, vintage. That’s okay. You do need to know what you like and what you don’t like.

Believe me, knowing what you don’t like is just as important as knowing what you do like!

Take the time to research!

Look at whatever format you enjoy spending time on and save photo’s. It can be instagram, Pinterest, Houzz, Facebook. You can collect magazines if you’d like.

Side note: I have some magazine’s that are over 10 years old that I still have page saved because they are just good classic design.

When I help other’s with their interior’s we generally start with a shared Pinterest board. This helps me see what their style is, even if they don’t fully understand it.

You might be surprised when you start saving images for a project that they actually all have a link of some sort. A color or mood, the same style of furniture or finishes. These are the ideas that you need to help you hone in on your style.

Check out my article on How to Use Pinterest and put together an idea board for whatever space you’re working on.

I promise it will be worth your time.

But you might want to set a timer so you don’t spend too much time!

DIY Mistakes – Not Listening to Your Needs

There’s no doubt that we live in our houses.

We sometimes live alone. Sometimes with another and sometimes we have a family.

In any of these cases it’s important to know how you need your spaces to function and then work toward that end.

I think you know someone (not saying it’s me) that decorated an amazing room and made it look beautiful in photographs, but in real life it was a room that was never used.

It wasn’t comfortable, it didn’t have a purpose or it just plain didn’t work.

Don’t do this in your home.

Real estate is way too expensive to have a portion of your home that you’re not using!

If you’ve got a formal dining room but you don’t dine formally then by all means, convert it into a space that works for your family. Make it a playroom, a library, a second living room. Whatever it is that works for your family right now.

We all are in a different season, or stage, of our lives and you have to embrace where you’re at and make your home work for you.

If you’ve got little ones then this is not the season for silk chairs and lot’s of breakables. That’s okay as long as you respect this season and make your home work for you.

I think this is one of the most common DIY Mistakes because we see rooms that are Instagram pretty and we want to copy them.

Embrace the season you’re in and respect it when you’re making your Pinterest worthy or Instagram worthy spaces.

DIY Mistakes- Not Taking Stock

There are very few spaces that we’re starting from scratch.

If you are then feel free to skip this section but I think it might also help you if you’ve got unused furniture or pieces in storage.

When I say “taking stock” I mean look at what pieces you already have available to use in a space.

If you’ve got a beautiful chest of drawers in storage can you incorporate it into your design plans? Or the art that Aunt Sally gifted you?

I’m not saying that you should use pieces that you’re not excited about but I do think you should inventory your belongings before you start a project and see if that table that doesn’t work so well Here might work so much better There.

If you’ve got a piece that you just don’t want anymore then by all means let it move onto someone who can appreciate it and get on with your design.

If you’ve got pieces that you can use in your design make a note of it so you have that option before you finalize your design.

Measure. Measure. Measure

I’m not sure that I need to even comment on this but there’s a saying “measure twice, cut once”.

This is not just a DIY’er mistake, it apply’s to all!

DIY Mistakes - not measuring for details

While the saying applies to wood, it can easily apply to any room in your home.

Be sure that you measure. Write it down. Double check it.

If you’re working on a space save those measurements in an app, in your notes or in a photo.

If you’re me you’ll save them in all those places and still fumble around for them when you’re out shopping!

If you keep these measurements on your phone you won’t have to guess when you’re standing at an estate sale wondering if this great piece will fit in your space.

It’s a great idea to also keep a photo and measurements of the pieces that you’re already using so that you’ve got the information with you when you need it.

DIY Mistakes – No Patience

Oh this might be one of the toughest parts of any project for me!

Once I decide how I want everything to look, I want it all to look that way immediately. I don’t want to wait for paint to dry or furniture to be delivered.

I certainly don’t want to wait for a special order to be made and it take weeks.

But these are the parts of the project that make it really special.

Don’t rush through your design.

When you’re designing be sure that you spend time being thoughtful about your plans. Do the research and spend time picking out your finishing touches and all the parts in between. Don’t choose something just because you can have it right this minute.

When you’re in the middle of the DIY stage of working on a project, don’t pull an all nighter. This is definitely not the time to rush.

More mistakes are made when we’re tired and I can tell you that trying to finish that one small thing at the end of the day can take three times as long and wind up being your biggest frustration.

Yes I’m guilty of doing these things, that’s why I’m sharing this with you.

It is one of the reasons that we generally have multiple projects going on in our house. While I’m waiting for something for one project I will start another to work on in between. I try not to commit to more than painting a wall or a piece of furniture if I’ve already got a bigger project in the works.

Sometimes I just get out my computer and start planning the next project. Because that takes a serious amount of time as well.

DIY Mistakes – Project Creep

This is definitely one of my biggest problems.

Well I wouldn’t call it a problem. It’s a situation?

It’s definitely something to be aware of when you’re working on projects around your house. It can happen whether you DIY or you work with a contactor.

Oh I could write a book about it.

Project Creep is when one project evolves into another project.

You’ve seen them on tv when someone starts remodeling a house and then finds out that the antiquated electric lines must be replaced so they have to tear out another wall for the repair.

In DIY, project creep is when you start a project and it evolves into another project. That alone is not a problem. The problem becomes when you have too many projects happening and you’re living in a construction zone and nothing is getting finished.

It’s okay for a project to keep moving, just be sure you have a plan of some sort.

We are currently working on our sport court. Which started because we need to sell the trailer parked on it. But we might as well fill it up for one last load before we get rid of it so let’s replace the fence around the sport court first.

If you’ve ever read “If you give a mouse a cookie” you know how this happens!

My Last Tip – Know When to Hire Help

My husband and I are pretty handy people and we’re not afraid to tackle just about any project, but there’s also a time to bring in help.

Just because you are willing to try something doesn’t mean it’s a great idea for you too.

If you are changing anything structurally in your home be sure that you have all the necessary permits and inspections because it can be a safety issue if it’s not done correctly.

But it’s not just about safety, it’s also about time.

I can do all the steps to install tile, but I can’t do it as quickly as my tile guy. I’m working on it in between all my other work and that’s his job. His only job.

The last big bathroom project that we did I hired a tile guy. He was able to get the whole thing finished in three days. Those three days would likely have taken me closer to three weeks, along with an aching back to go along with it.

It’s okay to hire people to do the parts of a job that you just don’t want to, but you should definitely hire someone if you’re working on something that’s over your skill set.

I promise it will be less expensive than it is to have them come in and try to fix your project halfway through.

It’s okay to hire someone to handle the whole project if that’s where you’re at.

There’s no shame here!

I’m meeting with a painter to get a bid on our living room because it has 28 foot ceilings. He probably has tall ladders and scaffolding already. Of course if he’s going to paint the living room I should probably have him do the dining room. Maybe the entry. Oh and the stairs too right?

I hope this helps!

Traci Signature | My Simpatico Life Blog

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