August 3, 2012
By Glen Peloso
Shopping can be a real pleasure or it can be a source of complete irritation. Knowing specifically what you want and recognizing what elements can make your space take off can be tricky. Some designers advocate the do-it-yourself approach while others believe that method is a complete travesty to the idea of design. Knowing what work you are actually capable of doing and what tasks might be fun for you is really the key to getting the look that you want – and being proud of what you’ve accomplished.
There are many things you can do that will help you to define your space as your own. Taking an existing space and rethinking it can result in something that is completely bespoke. It seems we have been trying to define our differences since high school, likely abandoning the “Goth” look in favour of the working world. Nonetheless, we still want to be individuals. As a result, the idea of “shopping” is a much broader idea. Shopping can occur anywhere and doesn’t have to come with a price tag. Years ago, I walked by a movie theatre that was being demolished. The metal sign letters from various movies were on the ground, so I asked for my initials and I still have them. One caveat is to know what you are looking for and not to take on more than you can handle, otherwise your home becomes a field of half-finished projects.
Let’s have a look at the kind of things that may be appropriate for a DIY project that might also be something you would enjoy doing.
Painting – you may have found an old window frame and want to use it as the centrepiece of a collection of images. You can also repaint a piece of retro furniture turquoise and give it new-found life. Don’t expect that you will end up with “paint booth” quality – and I wouldn’t suggest you use the piece all the time – but as an accent, you are likely good to go.
Stencilling – I have seen old buckets as well as clay pots stencilled with words that make great elements at parties or on the patio. Decoupage can also be fun, though I admit it’s not my favourite thing to look at. But if you enjoy the process – go for it.
Found object It’s great to find a vintage sign or poster to frame. The same is true of turning an old door into a headboard. You don’t have to get a headboard at a fancy furniture shop, you can clean something up to suit your needs. Changing the shade on an old lamp can also be a fun and impactful change.
The object of the do-it-yourself project is to enjoy the process and feel pleased with the results. Understand you may not get factory quality but rather a hand finish, which may be exactly what you want to achieve. There are some great DIY projects and ideas where I really appreciate the creativity and result.
When considering DIY crafts and décor, it is important to know what you are not capable of and when to hire a professional. You would be surprised at the number of times people have proudly shown me some workmanship, along with “We did it ourselves,” to which I often reply, “Oh, I know!” There are some tasks, such as tiling and flooring, that I don’t think are wise to “do it yourself.” There is a real skill to cutting tile and making these jobs fit properly, ensuring they will endure wear and tear. If you want to do something interesting with the leftover tiles, that’s fine – but don’t lay, make or decorate your own tile unless you are skilled at such tasks.
Plumbing is another project I would never attempt. It’s just not wise to alter existing plumbing that you may find or buy unless you know what you’re doing. The money you might save with the “do-it-yourself” approach will be spent many times over when you have to deal with a flood in the house. These are the kinds of “DIY” projects that are designed to save money, but are never fun and can end up costing more than you saved.
The same is true of electrical work. It is great to find an old lamp to repair or paint the shade, but when it comes to the electrical elements, let someone who knows what they are doing tackle that part. That is not to say that you may not have the necessary skill set, but generally speaking, the “Internet” approach to learning potentially dangerous jobs isn’t a great idea.
Wallpaper is one of those things that seems to fall in the middle. It isn’t really that difficult to do, but if you do it poorly you have just wasted the money you spent on the paper. The name of the game is to know what you are able to do.
Ultimately, your focus should be to retain the fun elements of shopping you enjoy, and to eliminate the ones you find irritating.
And when it comes to DIY projects – stick to the ones you know you can pull off.
Glen Peloso, principal designer of Glen Peloso Interiors, has been designing spaces for commercial, corporate and residential clients for almost two decades. You’ll recognize Glen as the host of such television design shows as Restaurant Makeover, Take This House & Sell It and Renovate My Wardrobe, to name a few, as well as from speaking engagements at home shows across Canada. glenpelosointeriors.com