A Step by Step Guide to Getting Started With DIY

A Step by Step Guide to Getting Started With DIY

Whether you are preparing to sell your home or you are simply looking to spruce up the place, this article will tell you everything you need to know to get started with DIY.

Introduction

Man building a DIY doll house

Sometimes there are certain things that need to be done around the house, but if you have to hire a professional to come in and do the job, then it is likely going to cost you a fair bit.

If you want to spruce up your home whilst sticking to a strict budget, doing the work yourself (or doing it yourself, hence the acronym ‘DIY’) can be a great way to cut some of the costs. 

Besides, if the lockdowns that were brought in to help prevent the spread of Covid-19 taught us anything, it was that people are happy to have a go at things themselves when there is literally no other option, and there have been many inspiring lockdown DIY transformations

From the planning stage to getting started, and some inspiration in case you are not sure what to crack on with first, we have put together this step by step guide to DIY to help you.

Table of Contents

Plan the Project

A group of three planning to build their DIY House

As with anything, planning is the first step and should be taken seriously. If you skip the planning stage or rush through it so you can get started faster, you are running the risk that you might end up making more (or at least, more serious) mistakes during your DIY project

Start With Small Projects First 

The best piece of advice we could give you is to start out with a project that is relatively small and inexpensive so you can get a feel for the path of DIY that lies ahead of you. 

Paint something. Fix something small, like a light fixture. Don’t, for example, purchase a run-down property that requires a full renovation before it can even be lived in. It might be what you could call a starter home, but this is not a good place to start your DIY journey. 

Try to ensure that you start by trying something that is not: 

  1. Going to cost too much.
  2. Going to take too long to complete.
  3. Going to ruin your house if you get it wrong.

That would take the plumbing and the electrics out of the running in most cases. 

By starting out small you can give your house a much-needed yet still easy and budget-friendly refresh – just follow any of these DIY home decor tips and tricks.

Start With What You Enjoy or What Fits Your Skill Set 

Remember we said that it is probably not a good idea to mess with the electrics? This would not apply if you were, say, a qualified electrician by trade, or if you happened to know one… In this instance, you could play to your skill set and carry out any electrical work yourself. 

Of course, you do not need to be officially qualified at something in order to take it on yourself when it comes to home DIY, but there are other ways for you to play to your skills.

For example, if you are living with a partner, friends, or family, you can share the work by splitting different jobs between you to suit your specific individual skills and abilities. For example, if you are an excellent painter, it is likely a good idea for you to be on paint duty. 

If someone else involved in your project has over 10 years of experience with woodwork and carpentry, then it may be wise to task them with the job of building a new table, for example. 

With all that being said, do not worry if you are sitting there thinking “um… what about if you have no skills?”. There are plenty of DIY skills you will need to learn how to do, but most of the time, you will pick these up along the way with a little bit of practice and experience.

Set a Budget

Another big factor that will need to be considered if you are thinking about getting started with some more DIY projects is how much you will be willing to spend on each of them. 

Set a budget that takes into account your other monthly outgoings and try to stick to it. 

Research how much it will cost before you undertake any new DIY projects as this will tell you whether or not it will take you over your budget. If you want to take on something new but you find that you are lacking the necessary funds for it, there are ways you can cut costs.

For example, use materials from previous projects and tools that you already have or pick up second-hand furniture that can be up-cycled to be just how you like it instead of buying new.

Getting Started

Men preparing their tools to build

Sometimes the hardest part of getting started with DIY is just that… getting started with it. 

When you’re not sure what you are supposed to be doing and if you are even doing it right, it can sometimes feel like it is easier not to start at all out of a fear of ruining the whole project. 

So, before you make a grab for your sledgehammer and nail gun, check out our top tips and tricks for getting started on a new DIY project, whether it is a big one or a small side project.

Prepare a Small Work Station for the Project

It probably doesn’t take much explaining to understand why there would be benefits to this. 

One of the main reasons for this is for convenience. Just think about it! No more having to run up and down stairs or needing to duck into a different room just to grab a tool. Instead, you can set up a space to keep everything together for as and when you need to use things.

The second reason why it is such a good idea to prepare a small work station for the project before you get started on it is because it will help to keep everything organized and tidy!

No more piles of tools and materials dotted around different rooms in your house – just a small, neat workstation that is or can be tucked away somewhere so that it is not in the way.

There is also health and safety to think about, as having sharp or potentially dangerous tools lying around the house will be a hazard if not stored safely and kept well out of kids’ reach.

Start the Project Early in the Day

Another thing that should make sense without much explanation is that the earlier you start something, the sooner you will be able to finish for the day after doing as much as you could. 

We understand that during the week you work hard, so when you get to the weekends, there is probably a pretty big temptation to blow off your DIY jobs and opt for a later lie-in instead. 

This would be a bad call, however. 

Starting later in the day can cause problems later on if you run into issues with the project. An obvious spanner in the works would be if you were to discover you were missing only after the shops have all closed on a sunday, meaning you will have to wait till next weekend.

So, whilst there is no need to take this to the extreme and get up in time for the sunrise, you should still definitely leave yourself enough time in the day to complete the job with at least a little bit of leeway to allow for any unexpected issues and other limitations on the project. 

Allow Enough Time and Don’t Rush the Project

Sometimes you can start a project only to realize half way through that you have majorly miscalculated, and that it is likely to actually take you twice as long to complete the job. 

This can be hugely frustrating for one thing, but there is also the possibility of it holding up other work that you could be doing around the house due to one specific part of the project not being finished. It is therefore important to make sure that you allow yourself enough time. 

Similarly, you should try to avoid rushing a project just to meet a deadline (especially one that is self imposed. Cut yourself a little slack, will you? It’ll be worth it for improved results!)

Rushing a DIY project is also a great way to increase the chances that you will make some kind of mistake, although that brings us neatly onto our next point which is about mistakes…

It Is Okay If You Mess Up or Make Mistakes

DIY doesn’t always go right. This is just a plain and simple fact, and it is one that  you will need to get used to if you hope to make anything of your DIY dreams or so they come true. 

As an article in House Beautiful explains, you shouldn’t allow yourself to become disheartened as “mistakes happen” and “things don’t work out like you might have hoped. But that doesn’t mean that you didn’t learn something” which you can apply to the next job. 

Not only that, but a lot of the time, most of the mistakes that you make can be easily rectified with just another bit of DIY. Ruined a bit of skirting board? Upcycle or build and strategically position a new coffee table. Stained the walls? Grab a paintbrush and slap some paint on it!  

Just remember to take each project that you start as a learning experience. If you need to adjust whatever it is you’re doing or using, then at least you will know for next time you try!

Ask Questions and/or Join a Community

The internet certainly has its pitfalls, but one of the things that it can actually help with is by connecting you with a community of like minded people who will be able to offer you advice. 

This is a great way to learn more about other peoples’ experiences with home DIY and they might even be able to provide you with their own tips and tricks for various types of jobs. 

Family members can also help out, especially if they have already done whatever it is that you are attempting to do. We have already mentioned that it can be a good idea to call on any tradespeople in your family in times of DIY need but this can go for any skill set really. 

For example, if you have a cousin who has painted their whole house during their own DIY phase or a home renovation project, then they might be able to talk to you about which types of paint work best on what surfaces, how to get an ever coverage, how to store paint, etc.

Although it is okay (and normal, especially in the beginning stages of learning how to do DIY) to make mistakes, it is simultaneously only natural that you will probably want to avoid making any if possible so you don’t end up wasting a bunch of both your time and money.

If you are ever in doubt, it is definitely a good idea to try and ask a community of DIY enthusiasts or people that you know have experience with it to see if they can help you.

Easy DIY Projects To Do

Easy DIY Projects To Do​

Now we have finished covering the planning stages and how to get started, let’s take a look at some of the best easy DIY projects that you can both start and finish in just a few days!

Create Your Own DIY Coffee Station

What is better than a DIY project? A DIY project that can actually change your daily rituals by making something that you do or use every single day exactly the way you want it. 

For us, that would be having our own coffee station. It is a great choice for beginners as it can be as big or as small as you would like depending on the available space and your skills.

For example, you could simply put up a shelf that can be used to store your cafetiere and coffee beans, with a few hooks hanging down underneath it to hold your favorite coffee cups.

If you have one of those fancy coffee machines you could even go so far as to build a proper corner coffee table for the machine to sit on with storage underneath for your coffee pods or fresh ground coffee beans, depending on the style of your machine and the coffee it makes.

For those with less carpentry skill, why not utilize an existing space within your kitchen or home office. Simply tuck your machine or kettle into the corner and install hooks or shelving for your mugs as well as making sure you have room for all of the coffee essentials.  

As you can see, you can create your coffee bar to look exactly how you would like it to, so here are some more suggestions that you can refer to for inspiration and to get some ideas.

Do Some Painting Around the House 

One of the easiest DIY jobs to do (depending on who you ask) is painting. Sometimes, even a single coat is enough to completely transform a space by giving it a more refreshed look.

You can go bold with bright colors or stick to a more neutral color palette, but painting various things around your house can make a real difference to how it all looks. 

For example, you could paint any of the following pieces of furniture for a fresh updated look: 

  • The walls
  • The ceiling 
  • A bookshelf
  • A wardrobe 
  • A chest of drawers 
  • The kitchen cupboards
  • The skirting boards
  • The window panes 

Now, we are not trying to suggest that you should paint everything – your arm might get tired and fall off after painting all this! – but even just choosing to repaint one or two of these things can help to make your whole home seem like it has recently had some TLC from you. 

Build Your Own Bookshelves

Whenever you are working with a specific space in your house, it can sometimes be difficult to find a piece of furniture that fits exactly. This is another way in which DIY can be handy. 

Do you have an awkward alcove in a room or some space that is not being utilized? Why not build something custom instead of struggling to find a piece of furniture that is the right size. 

Bookshelves are not just for storing books these days, so building one for your house as part of a DIY project can be a great way to add a new dynamic to a space and to increase the amount of storage space you have for artwork, ornaments, trinkets, photos, and yes, books. 

This is a slightly more daunting challenge than some of the other DIY projects that we have included thus far, but it is still perfectly achievable provided you have all the right tools. 

The most important thing to remember is that you need to make sure that the bookshelf is fully secure so that the heavy books and anything else you keep on there do not fall off.

To avoid seeing things slide around on the shelves, check to make sure that everything is level and mount the bookshelf to the wall using studs. You can use any wood you would like. 

Because building a bookshelf can be a little tricky, we have put together some simple instructions that you should try and stick to if you are going to attempt to build your own.

You will need the following tools and materials in order to build you own bookshelf: 

  • Wooden board (cut to the desired length with enough board to create your bookshelf per the measurements of the space)*
  • Stain or paint or polyurethane
  • Kreg pocket hole system 
  • Screws

*A good general rule of thumb is that your shelf sides should be about 1 x 10s cut to the height that you will need for it to run from the countertop to the ceiling. Similarly, the shelves for the exterior bookshelves should be 1 x 10s cut to the required width for the bookshelf. 

Now, here are those simple instructions we were talking about: 

  1. Cut your wood into the desired sizes so that they are ready to install. 
  2. Prepare the area in which you will be painting the bookshelf by layout out a painting drop cloth, for example, and covering anything that you do not want to get paint on.
  3. Paint or stain the wooden shelves for the bookshelf on either side. Allow this to dry. 
  4. Once you have stained the wood you can paint them if so desired.
  5. Add a layer or two of water-based polyurethane for good measure. 
  6. Install the shelves using brackets and screws, then add the trim to the bookshelf.
  7. Now, take a step back and admire your handy work before filling your new shelves!

Build Some Extra Shelves for the Kitchen

You can never have too many shelves, in our opinion. They need to be installed correctly so that things don’t just end up falling off, of course, but when done right, shelves can add extra storage space, can be used for aesthetic purposes, or to keep certain things out of reach.

Before you put in a pantry, for example, you can add new shelves to your existing pantry to create more space for you to store your collection of condiments and spices. Alternatively, you can choose to add a shelf above your new coffee station like we suggested earlier on. 

Instead of spending loads of money on an entire kitchen remodel, which can be both time consuming and expensive work, doing some DIY like building your own custom shelves can upgrade your pantry for minimal costs and you can probably finish it in just one weekend! 

For example, replacing your wire shelving with wooden shelves can really elevate the look of your pantry, as well as being more practical as it can hold the weight of more food or things. 

This is the perfect type of DIY job to use up any spare bits of wood that you have lying around the house, such as an old door that you have taken off and no longer have any use for. Not only will this help to reduce the cost of materials, but it will also minimize waste.

Create a Bike Rack 

Another super useful DIY project is to create a bike rack, although we suppose this is only true if you actually own at least one bike to store in your brand new bike rack… 

There are a few different ways you can create your own bike rack at home, one of the cheapest and easiest methods being to build one out of PVC and then install it on a wall in your hallway or the garage so it can hold your bikes where they will be out of the way.

You can also build a bike rack using wooden materials that you will be able to find down at your local home depot. Alternatively, to save money and to stop contributing to this planet’s waste issues, you could also choose to recycle wood for this project by using scraps. 

If you get really confused whilst creating your bike rack, you can always watch a YouTube tutorial on how to make your own bike rack for a number of helpful hints and tips to follow. 

Or, for an even easier alternative, see if you can find a wooden crate lying on the side of the road or free to collect from someone who no longer needs one. This can then be propped up against a wall or something else and the gaps between the slats can be used as a bike rack.

Update a Bathroom With Floating Shelves

Floating shelves are seriously popular at the moment and they seem to be all the rage in all the biggest home and interior design magazines. These can be used to keep your toiletries on or to keep a stash of spare toilet roll just in case you or your guests run out of it. 

The good news is that, despite looking like they would require severas degrees and a background in engineering or science to install them, they are actually quite easy to put up. 

Brackets will be your best friend when it comes to installing floating shelves (and, more importantly, getting them to stay that way), so make sure you choose the right ones. 

Measure and attach your brackets to the shelves before you attempt to put them on the wall. Just like with any shelves, you will need to check that they are level so that nothing falls off.  

As these are generally used for decorative purposes rather than serious storage, they will not need to hold as much weight as your kitchen shelves, for example, but they should still be sturdy enough to hold any toiletries, a few plant pots, and maybe even some candles.

Update a Bathroom With Floating Shelves

Floating shelves are seriously popular at the moment and they seem to be all the rage in all the biggest home and interior design magazines. These can be used to keep your toiletries on or to keep a stash of spare toilet roll just in case you or your guests run out of it. 

The good news is that, despite looking like they would require severas degrees and a background in engineering or science to install them, they are actually quite easy to put up. 

Brackets will be your best friend when it comes to installing floating shelves (and, more importantly, getting them to stay that way), so make sure you choose the right ones. 

Measure and attach your brackets to the shelves before you attempt to put them on the wall. Just like with any shelves, you will need to check that they are level so that nothing falls off.  

As these are generally used for decorative purposes rather than serious storage, they will not need to hold as much weight as your kitchen shelves, for example, but they should still be sturdy enough to hold any toiletries, a few plant pots, and maybe even some candles.

Wooden Coat Rack

If it feels like your hallway is missing something, then you probably need to get a coat rack. 

It can be tricky to find one that fits in with your existing decor, so turning to DIY will allow you to custom build the coat rack of your dreams. Thankfully, this is a pretty simple DIY task. 

All you need to do is to decide the height of your coat rack and then pick a type of wood to use. You can use pretty much any wood depending on your style and personal preferences. 

As there is such unlimited possibilities, here are some of our favorite cheap and cheerful yet super simple DIY coat racks designs that can be made out of wood for inspiration. 

Create an Outdoor Tiered Planter Box 

If you are thinking of turning your DIY eye to your outdoor areas after attempting some of the improvements that we have just suggested for your home, then stop and look no further. 

DIY tiered planter boxes are actually surprisingly easy and cheap to make, so it is great for beginners. It can cost as little as $10 depending on where you get the wood for this project. Decide to use leftover cuts and it could even work out as being completely free to make! 

You can brighten up the exterior look of the planter boxes after you have built them, so you really do not need to worry too much about what type of wood you use and what it looks like. 

When you are building your tiered planter boxes, you can use glue to connect the pieces of wood and to attach the legs to the bottom or you can reinforce the joints with screws or nails.

Just remember to make sure that you make the boxes big enough for whatever you want to plant in them! You can do this for perennial plants, vegetable gardens, or even succulents.

Summary

A Team doing some interior designing

As you can see, DIY is not as unachievable as it might first appear when you are still not sure exactly what you are supposed to be doing, but it is something that even you can start.

DIY is more than just a practical solution to otherwise expensive repairs, and there is a whole history of DIY that shows just how much we humans have relied on it over the years.

Even if you are worried about making a mistake or attempting some DIY only to ruin parts of your house, provided you have done your research (which, we are guessing you will have, seeing as you managed to find your way here), then you shouldn’t do too much damage.

Let us know if you try out any of the DIY projects that we have suggested by leaving a comment below – we would love to hear from you!

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