“If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.”
― Yogi Berra
So, as I’m thinking about my next big DIY project, I’m making a plan. Today, I thought I’d share with you some tips for planning a project. If you are one of those “paint now, ask questions later” folks, I hope this will help.
How to plan a DIY project:
First: Define the project.
Often, the best way to start planning a project is to define its limits. Too many times, I start a small project, like hanging a picture, and then I think, “Hmmm…this wall needs spackling. And then I should paint over it. But the paint won’t match up, so I’ll need to paint the whole wall….”
C’mon. You’ve been there, too. Where one project turns into eight and, before you know it, you’ve painted the whole house.
So, start by defining the limits of your project.
For example, I want to paint the backs of the built-in bookcases in our family room.
I am defining my project as this and only this. I will not paint the whole living room. (“I will not paint the whole living room. I will not paint the whole living room…” she tells herself. Ha.)
Second: Pick the specifics.
If you are painting, do you have the color already picked out?
If you are tiling, do you have the tiles picked out? The grout color?
If you are redecorating an entire room, do you have a color scheme? An inspiration piece? Do you know what components you need to complete the room?
There are tons of programs to record your design choices and inspirations. You can make a design board or a collage using a photo editing program. You can create a pin board over at Pinterest. You can check out sites like Houzz and create your own “portfolio.”
Whatever you use, decide how you want the project to look and what components you need to make that happen.
Third: Make a list.
Once you have the inspiration and the color choices and material choices, you can make a shopping list.
Making the list avoids 53 trips to the hardware store or the paint store (or both) later.
Measure! Measure again. Double check measurements.
Are you painting walls, trim, or both? What about doors and windows?
How many cans of paint do you need? How much tile do you need?
Do you have brushes? Rollers? Tape? Drop cloths? Trays?
Do you have adhesive, tile, spacers, grout, float, etc.?
Find out everything you are going to need to complete your project and make sure you know how much to buy of each thing. Then write it down. I have found that, if I don’t write something down, I will inevitably forget it. Write it down. Trust me.
Fourth: Set aside time.
This might be the hardest part of any project. Find time to do the project and…this is the part where Dear Husband nods along…
Make sure you have allocated enough time to complete the project.
Sure, the project may not get done in a day. (Rome wasn’t built in a day, so they say.) But have a realistic sense of how long it’ll take.
A good rule of thumb is: figure out how long you think it’ll take, and then double it.
Fifth: Be flexible and be patient.
You may not finish the project in the allotted time.
You might hate the paint color.
You might run out of paint.
Take a deep breath, and realize you are not alone.
We’ve all been there, done that.
But before you storm out the door, cursing, driving like a bat out of hell to the paint store, stop. Think. Do you need anything else while you are there? Do you have a back-up paint color, if the one you originally chose didn’t work?
Stop and think, and you’ll save yourself another trip later.
Last: Pat yourself on the back.
DIY projects are not for the faint of heart. In fact, if you don’t think of DIY projects as giant logic games, you probably aren’t doing them right.
Congratulate yourself for a job well done. And for saving money, because it’s usually less expensive to DIY something than pay someone else to do it.
A glass of wine might also be good here.
I hope this will help as you plan your next project. More often than I want to admit, these steps have kept me from hauling off and tearing apart a bathroom one afternoon (“Oh, I can get a lot done in two hours,” she says, confidently).
What is your next project?