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DIY traps: What to avoid when decorating your own interiors

Izelle du Pisanie Izelle du Pisanie
Modern living room by Ludlow Interior Modern
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There has been a boom in people wanting to organise and decorate their own interiors, solving this often difficult process themselves. This is a very attractive option many, since it is a low-cost alternative, and will allow you to decorate according to your own tastes.

To take on the project of decorating your home entirely on you own, where you must decide everything, is one of the biggest risks you can take in home decoration and improvement. While things may not look too difficult in the planning stage, there is always the chance of running into unexpected difficulties.

Experienced professionals know how many such cases can be quickly resolve, but to the amateur everything will be challenging. We are not saying, however, that this means you should never try a do-it-yourself project at all. That would be robbing you of a rewarding and potentially very effective process. What we are saying is that there are particular pitfalls when it comes to undertaking such a project, and it will do you well to be aware of them in order to avoid it. That’s why we are here to help with this list of DIY traps to avoid!

The reason behind most DIY disasters

We have seen such an increase in the self-determination of so many people to decorate their own interiors. This can mainly be attributed to the pictures and accounts we see on the internet regarding successful and easy DIY projects. As you are sure to know, however, thing in real life do not always go as the examples on the internet.

This is one of the biggest pitfalls when it comes to a DIY project. Seeing these pictures projects may make you feel like the task will be super easy and quick, with a guaranteed good result. There are many factors that influence this, however, and you have to take into account that someone who posts about DIY on the internet is most likely already skilled in the task. You also only ever see the successful results, and not the trials and errors that precede it. For this reason, don’t ever expect that your project will look just like the one featured on your favourite site. It will most likely also not look anything like it on your first try. Leave some room for failure and learning.

Reckless optimism

The popularity of DIY in recent years has raised a lot of optimism with home owners and can certainly lead to a sense of recklessness when it comes to this field. As we have mentioned above, only the successful result are posted on the internet, and thanks to the way search engines work, we are mostly only exposed to the best DIY projects with the most successful results, skimming on the practical difficulties inevitable to any such project.

Before moving on to the execution phase of your project, you should take some time to review the elements that reveal themselves if you just take a good look at the pictures of such projects. In the case of painting a wall, for example, we see things like the choice of colour and the successful finished project. What we don’t see, however, are pictures of moving ALL of your furniture and belongings out of the room to be painted, covering the edges of the wall with masking tape, or the kink you’ll have in your neck after a few days of looking up to paint the higher parts of the wall.

So, save some of the energy you funnel into optimism and hasty beginnings into preparing yourself mentally for the tough job ahead of you. If you are more realistic of what needs to be done, it will not be so disheartening when it takes you much longer than expected or is much more labour-intensive.

Also, for a much more detailed guide on how to paint your own walls, take a look at: The professional secrets of wall painting.

The arch nemesis: Ignorance

Extension and Renovation, Surbiton KT6 Modern bathroom by TOTUS Modern

Extension and Renovation, Surbiton KT6


When it comes to a DIY interior, the most problems stem from ignorance. When the self-interior What is the most problematic stems from ignorance. Take the renovation of a bathroom, for example. Waterproofing in such a room is of utmost importance, but it is something we as laymen and –woment do not always think about. It is an unseen process usually completed by professionals and not pondered on by the clients.

You may go ahead wanting to replace a washbasin faucet, but forget entirely about the waterproofing, which will quickly result in the undoing of your work by means of rusty pipes or more serious water damage. No matter how simple the maintenance work, it is important to do your research on the proper process, or it may be better left to the professionals.

Committing illegal acts unwittingly

If you are an amateur and aspiring DIY master, you may be faced not only with the possibility of unsound remodelling, but also that of an legal issues, albeit unwittingly. When you change structural features of your house or apartment, such as balconies or attics, you often have to report to the authorities to obtain permission first. This is why it is important to be informed of your municipality’s building codes, since your project might not even be possible without the proper permission.

In any situation, even if permission is not necessary, you will have to change the building plans of your property to reflect the structural changes and then file these new plans with the building inspector. If your building plans do not reflect the state of your property, you may be subject to heavy penalties and fines.

Overly ambitious construction

Seeing all of the (misrepresented) success stories on the internet can inspire us to make big changes to our homes, and to undertake the implementation of these changes ourselves. This often leads to us jumping right into the planning process and seeing how much can be done within our own budget, leading to very ambitious construction projects, and we find ourselves in awe of how much money we can save with DIY and therefore how much more we can do within the same budget.

The problem here is, however, that we fail to take into account the labour and sundry materials that will be necessary in the process. Naturally, we end up way over budget and with a half-finished living room, since we no longer feel up to the hard labour necessary to complete it. Something like this can completely break your spirit for the project and result in DIY disaster.

Economic issues

The economic benefits of a DIY project as opposed to professional intervention is probably the biggest motivator in people choosing to do the former. But what if you can have the latter at a lower cost? The fact of the matter is, products and projects completed by professionals and companies are often cheaper than something we do ourselves, thanks to the economic benefits of mass production and buying appropriate materials in bulk.

Let’s take making your own table as an example. You may think you can do much cheaper than anything on the market, since you have calculated the cost of the timber and nails you’ll need. But if you factor in the tools you’ll need for assembly, materials to prime the wood and varnish it after it is finished, and shipping costs of the appropriate materials, you may soon find yourself paying much more than you would have for the table you are modelling your project after. It all comes back down to planning, and you’ll have to measure whether the real amount of money you save also outweighs the possibility of having a poorly constructed and visibly inferior final product.

Risk of injury and unsightly appearance

No matter how skilful you are as a DIY dilettante, you will never be as good as a professional in that field. Although that is not the point of a do-it-yourself project, you also do not want to break out in a cold sweat every time you walk into your self-improved living room due to its appearance. Keep your projects realistic and small, working your way up until you are in a position where you will not have to experience shame every time you look at your handiwork.

Accidents also happen often, and not only to the clumsy novice.  Artisans who have been doing the same work for decades can also lapse or suffer due to something outside of their control. We as amateurs are not always aware of all the risks associated with power tools, etc., and therefore our DIY site can become much like a minefield. Therefore, it is essential to familiarise yourself with all of the safety protocols and warnings related to the tools, materials and processes you are to employ.

This may seem like a lot to keep in mind, but it’s best to be informed and feel like you have accomplished something after hard work, rather than only feeling regret with a high-cost-poor-quality project that starts feeling like a misspelled tattoo over a few years!

Did you find this DIY advice helpful? We'd love to hear from you!
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