Courtney Warren is a Texas-based interior designer whose work has been featured in Real Simple, Better Homes & Gardens, Good Housekeeping, Apartment Therapy, and Today.com. She is a frequent consultant on Fox 4 TV’s Good Day program in Dallas, was ranked in the top 3 percent of interior designers in the US by Houzz.com, and starred in the Dallas episode of TLC’sFour Houses. She delights in helping overwhelmed clients create beautiful spaces—and will never turn down a warm chocolate chip cookie or Diet Dr Pepper.
Y’all, let’s face it–we’re staying indoors more than we probably ever have. You’re thinking. It’s time for a DIY project. But before you dive in–there are some helpful design DIY dos and don’ts you should know.
It’s like cutting your bangs during a crisis, but this is your home. Don’t be brash and start painting your kitchen cabinets without researching the repercussions.
Even if you may very well be a well-intended and seasoned DIYer.
Let’s dive into our top DIY dos and don’ts:
At the top of our list (and for a good reason)–please don’t DIY your lighting fixtures or replace your gas appliances.
Let the pros take care of electrical repairs (even if it’s just changing out a light fixture).
Truthfully, you’ll most likely need to spend extra money for an electrician to come in and fix or, worse, redo all your work. Hiring an expert guarantees that your project is accomplished in a safe and timely manner. Also, there are many electrical codes you need to know when safely powering your home.
On the other hand, here is a safe and simple home upgrade you can tackle.
Change out a dingy or outdated door.
Top Tip: Sometimes even the most tasteful decor can’t fix a space. Instead, architectural elements might be exactly what’s missing. And doors are a perfect element to change first–they’re beautiful and functional style statements.
This installation is also one of the easiest and safest DIYs out there. You can even try upholstering a closet door for a soft, bespoke look. All you need is some fabric and a staple gun.
Changing doors might be an easy DIY project, but painting kitchen cabinets is not. This project require skill, time, and patience. Giving your kitchen cabinets a new coat of paint is also much cheaper than replacing all of your cabinetry.
But if you DIY this one, it might end up looking sloppy or streaky (and it will show and bother you).
Why? Painting cabinets is very different than painting a wall. Kitchen cabinets require:
TONS of prep work.
And dusting every nook and cranny of every piece.
So unless you’re 100% sure you have the patience and time to avoid costly mistakes, don’t do it.
Leave it to the pros to paint your kitchen cabinets. The result will look polished and streak-free.
Top tip: Opt-in to remove some of your cabinets and invest in open shelving. Not sure if open shelving is for you? Here are three tests you can take.
Even if you update your kitchen cabinets, a not-so-chic seating area will take away from that space’s mood. Whether you’ve got an eat-in kitchen or formal dining room, sometimes a good re-upholstering job is all you need to brighten that space.
Reupholstering is especially great if you’re not ready to invest in new chairs. It’s a quick and inexpensive project that requires very little (if any) help. All you need is some fabric and a staple gun.
We love how our client’s blue and white gingham seat covers transformed this dining room. The fabric we used also coordinated with our client’s chinoiserie and vintage plates:
If your dining chairs don’t need an update, consider adding wallpaper to one of your spaces instead. But, before you rush into this DIY undertaking, think it through.
After you choose your wallpaper pattern, ask yourself some questions:
(1) Have you ever used wallpaper before?
(2) Do you have any obstacles/architectural elements that you need to cut around?
(3) Do you have the patience to measure and cut?
(4) And if you’re choosing an intricate pattern, can you keep the pattern looking seamless (between sheets)?
If you have a blank wall with no windows, applying wallpaper may be an easier job for you. Otherwise, hire a pro for this one too. Wallpapering is a specialist skill that involves detailed cutting and measuring.
For more tips and steps on designing with wallpaper, check out my pro suggestions over here.
Regardless of which DIY dos or don’ts you decide to take on, research and plan first. And, of course, have fun with the process!
We offer a complimentary, no-strings-attached phone or video call consultation. If you’d like to meet at your home, please know we will use all current safety protocols.
I also offer custom E-Design packages. Find all the nitty-gritty details here.