DIY WITHOUT FEAR

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I hate solicitors. Friday night, kids are finally asleep, mom and dad are tired and FINALLY sit down…doorbell rings. Sound familiar? “Hi-how-ya-doin‘-I-know-it’s-late-but-I-have-this-great-opportunity…” Yeah, not interested and you ARE trying to sell me something, no matter what you tell yourself. When you knock on my door at 8 PM (and you’re not family or friends) you simply aren’t welcome. Or maybe I’m just a grinch. While I can’t stop people from knocking on the door, I can now finally stop them from ringing the doorbell, even if they push the button thanks to the Nest Hello smart doorbell (and lucky for you, I’ve put together all the installation instructions in this post)!

We’ve only had it for two days, but I’m in LOVE. PS: This isn’t sponsored (I wish!), just an honest review/how-to from a very tired mama. I chose this particular one for its quiet time feature – you can turn OFF the indoor chime! I’ll never have to worry about our kids waking up from a late-night solicitor anymore!

Removing The Old Hardware

After one too many late night doorbell rings by solicitors, I installed a Nest Hello doorbell and EVERYTHING changed (installation instructions on how to mount it inside!).

Our old doorbell was just fine. It lit up, worked well enough, and I basically never had to think about it. Which is pretty much everything you could want in a doorbell. The actual chime inside though? Woof.

After one too many late night doorbell rings by solicitors, I installed a Nest Hello doorbell and EVERYTHING changed (installation instructions on how to mount it inside!).

Check THAT circuitry out. I’ve never seen such an old circuit board. I mean it has diodes. I’m fairly certain it’s the original chime with the house, which makes it nearly 20 years old. Time for an upgrade! Here’s how I got removed our old doorbell and chime:

  1. Turn off the power to the doorbell/chime circuit. (If you aren’t sure, just cut power to the whole house)
  2. Unscrew the doorbell cover from the wall. There’s two wires (probably red and white) on the back, so unscrew those too. Tape the wires to the wall so they don’t fall in the hole.
  3. Take off the cover of your chime (ours just slipped off), and before unscrewing it, take a picture of where the wires are connected (usually labeled front, rear, and trans)
  4. Unscrew the chime unit from the wall, and snip or disconnect the wires to fully detach it.

Optional (Upgrade The Transformer)

If you have a door chime as old as ours, you’ll probably have to upgrade your transformer as well. The fancier/newer doorbells like the Nest Hello instructions say they require the installation of a higher voltage transformer than the old units. It’s just a little rectangle that changes the power type from regular 120V power that is used throughout the rest of your home (outlets, etc.) to low-voltage power that the doorbell system uses. Sometimes it’s in the box the chime was attached to, sometimes it’s somewhere else. We got lucky and were able to upgrade it right in the box – you just need something between 16-24V AC. This is the one we used. Installing it was super easy.

  1. Make sure the power is off.
  2. Unscrew the skinny, low voltage wires from the two (sometimes three) screws on the front of the transformer.
  3. Unscrew the wire caps that attach the transformer to the romex coming into the box.
  4. Remove the old transformer completely (it shouldn’t be attached to anything at this point.)
  5. Insert the new transformer, connecting green to ground (the bare copper wires), black to black, and white to white.
  6. Reattach the skinny, low voltage wires to the front of the new transformer.

Installing The New Chime

After one too many late night doorbell rings by solicitors, I installed a Nest Hello doorbell and EVERYTHING changed (installation instructions on how to mount it inside!).

Our old chime was incredibly complex – it rang for at least 30 seconds every time, hence the diodes. And while the wiring was working, it didn’t match a single diagram I could find in my holy-grail electrical book OR anywhere online. So, I had to wire my new chime from scratch. Everybody’s situation is different (one doorbell/two chimes, two doorbells/one chime, etc), but I found these diagrams super helpful. After tracing my wires and rewiring according to the diagrams, the new chime was installed! Hooray!

I chose a cheap, simple, sleek chime since I was investing so much more in the actual doorbell. It’s a NuTone unit, and I think it was under $20! If you already have a newer chime, it will be MUCH easier. Like any other ‘swap-it-out’ electrical project, just copy the old layout of wires and reproduce it for the new unit. Here’s how:

  1. Make sure the power is off.
  2. Refer to the picture you took of the original chime before you removed it from the wall.
  3. Connect the low-voltage wires to the new doorbell chime the same way the picture you took shows.
  4. Screw the new doorbell chime unit into the wall, making sure it is level.
  5. Replace the cover, paint and touch up as needed (I still need to do this, but with our kitchen renovation going on, I’m going to tackle it in a few weeks when I re-texture the wall)

Installing The Nest Hello Camera Unit

After one too many late night doorbell rings by solicitors, I installed a Nest Hello doorbell and EVERYTHING changed (installation instructions on how to mount it inside!).

Now for the fun part – installing the Nest Hello doorbell. Earlier, you removed the old doorbell and there were two wires (usually red and white) sticking out of the wall. Time to put it back together!

  1. (Optional) If your camera is perpendicular to your door, like mine is, you’ll probably want to install the wedge plate so the viewing angle is better. Make sure you put that on before the back plate.
  2. Install the back plate for the Nest Hello camera unit (make sure it’s plumb by using a level!)
  3. Connect the low-voltage wires to the back of the Nest Hello. The side you connect it to doesn’t matter at all.
  4. Pop the Nest Hello into place on the mounting plate. It should click in and feel very sturdy.
  5. Turn the power back on!

Nest Hello Doorbell Reveal

After one too many late night doorbell rings by solicitors, I installed a Nest Hello doorbell and EVERYTHING changed (installation instructions on how to mount it inside!).
Lockset / Nest Hello

Installation of a Nest Hello smart doorbell is really simple (as long as you follow the instructions!) – swap out a few wires, upgrade a transformer, and you’re done. And guys? It’s made a world of difference in our home. I haven’t been overly snarky to a single solicitor since we installed it. Nights are peaceful, I get notifications every time someone comes to the door or leaves a package, and I feel safer since it’s a security upgrade, too. Being able to turn my doorbell off is a huge win for our family – all the other features are gravy. Plus, it really modernizes our front door, and goes really well with the new lockset and paint we did last year!

Do you have a smart doorbell? What brand do you have? I chose Nest because we’ve already invested in their cameras and been very happy with them, but I’d love to hear your experience with other brands, too!

*This post includes affiliate links*

After one too many late night doorbell rings by solicitors, I installed a Nest Hello doorbell and EVERYTHING changed (installation instructions on how to mount it inside!).

Quick and Easy Upgrade: Nest Hello Smart Doorbell Installation Instructions

Doorbell, Entryway and Stairs, Nest

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I can’t tell you how many times I’ve talked with friends, family, or acquaintances, and they were shocked at the projects that I tackle around my home. They say something to the effect of, “Wow! I could never do that. You’re so talented!”. While that’s super nice to hear, it’s totally NOT TRUE! I’m a normal human being, just like everyone else..no special talents here. If you’ve ever wanted to DIY a project around your home, then you can! It’s 100% within reach. That being said, I didn’t tackle a whole kitchen renovation as my first project. I started way smaller than that.

Humble Beginnings

Like, way smaller. I’ve mentioned it a few times on my blog, but I grew up in a DIY-centric family. My grandpa is an engineer, my grandma is a master electrician, my dad knows his way around a sledgehammer and dremel, and my mom is a killer painter and quilter. Even when I was very young, my family involved me in all kinds of projects around the house. I knew a Phillips from a flathead before I could talk, and my knowledge grew from there.

Becoming a DIYer is something that came naturally to me. But if you've never DIYed something in your home before, don't worry. I've got some tips for you - you can tackle anything you put your mind to! #diy #gettingstarted #tips #diytips #homerenovation #renovation

You definitely don’t have to be part of a DIY-centric family to DIY, though. My friends got roped into helping too. Apparently, if you stick around long enough, we’d put a hammer in your hands and tell you to get to work. My VERY best friend growing up still fondly remembers throwing hammers to demo the back wall of my parent’s garage when we were in elementary school. (She’s the cutie with the pigtails and I’m rocking that orange scrunchie in the picture above)

Becoming a DIYer is something that came naturally to me. But if you've never DIYed something in your home before, don't worry. I've got some tips for you - you can tackle anything you put your mind to! #diy #gettingstarted #tips #diytips #homerenovation #renovation

As I got older, my parents included me in more and more projects – I helped demo the deck on the back of our house, was in charge of painting my room, knew how to cut the electricity when we installed new lighting, etc. I learned what different tools were called, safety rules, how things were constructed, and generally how homes work.

Becoming a DIYer is something that came naturally to me. But if you've never DIYed something in your home before, don't worry. I've got some tips for you - you can tackle anything you put your mind to! #diy #gettingstarted #tips #diytips #homerenovation #renovation

And then there was this. You’re welcome for that face, by the way. Thoroughly embarrassing, but it was too good not to share. My dad has the most kick-butt workshop in the basement of their house, and years ago he decided to paint the floors. I asked if I could help, and well…that picture was the result. Straight up model material, I tell ya. If you’re looking for your first project, paint is a great starting point – it’s pretty safe and you can’t mess it up too permanently (unlike this image, which is now burned into my retinas. Oh, middle school).

Jumping In Head First

Becoming a DIYer is something that came naturally to me. But if you've never DIYed something in your home before, don't worry. I've got some tips for you - you can tackle anything you put your mind to! #diy #gettingstarted #tips #diytips #homerenovation #renovation

So, my childhood and adolescence taught me a lot about homes and DIY, but it wasn’t until I bought my own home that I really started learning more than the basics. One of the first projects I tackled in our home was tearing down a wall in the upstairs office (see that giant hole in our carpet?). It taught me about demolition, framing, and electrical. We painted everywhere, and that taught me about taping and how essential prep work is. Our dryer broke, and that taught me about appliance repair.

In other words – I learned through experience. You can’t be an expert at something if you don’t DO it. It’s one thing to read about it on a blog or listen to it on a podcast, and a completely different thing to actually make it happen. I have made SO. MANY. MISTAKES. But they’ve taught me a ton along the way, and I’m a better DIYer for it.

And in case you think I have a wealth of experience, most of the jobs in this house were my first attempt at that particular skill. I had never laid tile before installing it in our kitchen, I’d never put down hardwoods before installing 1000+ square feet of it throughout our home. Renovating stairs? Yeah, that was brand new, too. But I taught myself what I needed to know, and jumped in head first to slowly renovate our whole house. It’s okay to learn along the way – there’s no possible way to plan for everything.

Are You Cut Out For DIY?

Becoming a DIYer is something that came naturally to me. But if you've never DIYed something in your home before, don't worry. I've got some tips for you - you can tackle anything you put your mind to! #diy #gettingstarted #tips #diytips #homerenovation #renovation

Okay, cool motivating story, right? You totally want to tear down a wall now. I get it. But before you pull on your steel-toed boots, you need to ask yourself a few questions. Because DIY isn’t for everyone. I just so happen to genuinely enjoy it – I binge watch HGTV and scope out Lowe’s Youtube channel for fun. The bed in the picture above? I built that for fun. I generally just want to be Anna White when I grow up. And I think that has a lot more to do with my personality than my skills – I would enjoy it even if I was really bad at it. Here’s a few things to keep in mind if you want to learn more about DIY and tackle a project of your own:

You need to be reliable.

If you demo your kitchen, you need to know that you can finish it. Even when you don’t want to. If you say you’re going to do something and you don’t often follow through, DIY may not be for you.

If you’re someone that delivers on what they promise, someone that people can count on…I’d say you’re the DIY type. Finishing projects is so important – nobody wants to live in a kitchen without a sink.

You’re going to have to invest in tools.

Becoming a DIYer is something that came naturally to me. But if you've never DIYed something in your home before, don't worry. I've got some tips for you - you can tackle anything you put your mind to! #diy #gettingstarted #tips #diytips #homerenovation #renovation

For smaller projects like painting or building/hanging shelves, there aren’t a ton of tools required. But the more complex the project, the more complicated your shopping list will become.

I have SO many tools to cut things – a jigsaw, a circular saw, a hand saw, a miter saw, a table saw, etc. Each serves a specific purpose and are all needed for what I do, but they didn’t come cheap. DIY projects often mean you’ll save on labor compared to a pro, but you have to buy the tools that a pro would have brought with them. Be ready to plunk down some change for the right tool for the job.

You need to like research.

I hope that someday, I can cover 99% of the topics a homeowner could run into on this blog. And while I write several posts a week, my time and budget are limited. Someday I’ll be the female version of Bob Vila, but until I can figure out how to grow a rockin’ beard, I’ll be here. Don’t worry, though. There are wonderful resources out there that cover everything from how to fix textured walls to how to install a brand new kitchen sink (and everything in between). I learned everything I know from other people – from researching. If you love research, then you’ll love DIY. I probably spend just as much time learning about a future project as I do actually doing it.

You’ll need time.

DIY, like any other hobby or task, takes time. And I get it! We are all busy. I’m a mom of two kids born within 15 months of each other, a wife to a wonderful husband, a blogger for my little corner of the internet (which takes way more time than you’d think), and I have a home to take care of. But you know what? I have enough time to accomplish a TON.

If you want to do something badly enough, you’ll make the time no matter how busy you are. As I said earlier, I genuinely love DIY. I love the smell of sawdust, getting my hands dirty, and lifting heavy things. It makes me feel SO powerful! And because I love it, I find the time. I get a lot accomplished at night and during naptime. If you are passionate enough about the project you want to tackle, you’ll find the time.

It has to be okay if you are sweaty and gross.

Becoming a DIYer is something that came naturally to me. But if you've never DIYed something in your home before, don't worry. I've got some tips for you - you can tackle anything you put your mind to! #diy #gettingstarted #tips #diytips #homerenovation #renovation

Remember that troop-mate at girl scout camp that screamed when mud got on her leg? Or the classmate that wouldn’t share her water bottle because eww…germs! Those people aren’t cut out for DIY.

It’s dirty. And gross (especially plumbing). You’re gonna get sweaty, you’ll definitely be sore, and there will probably be mysterious bruises somewhere. And it’s TOTALLY worth it. I don’t enjoy being disgusting, but maaannnn that shower afterwards feels good. Especially when you think back on all you’ve accomplished.

You need to be persistent.

And patient. Then a little more patient. Straight up dauntless. You need to be fearless and be incredibly determined. Because while the renovation gods bless us with inspiring before and afters, they also throw wrenches into our plans and send us to the home improvement store 8 times in one day.

DIYing can test your will faster than most other hobbies – it can be straight up frustrating. But if you can keep an even head and realize it’s not the end of the world if x, y, or z happens, you’ll be just fine DIYing. I actually think this is the most important point on this list – if you get frustrated to continue and give up too easily, DIYing is not for you.

How To Get Started

Start small!

Would it have been a great idea to tear out a wall as the first project in this home if I had never done any DIY before? ABSOLUTELY NOT. Start small. Do something inexpensive, that can be accomplished quickly, and is okay if you mess up. My favorite? Paint.

Our master bedroom has transformed since moving in, and it’s mostly because of paint. We brightened everything up with an almost white grey, and it completely changed the space. Does that mean I got it right the first time? NOPE. It was a way-too-bright blue for a few years before I came to my sense.

Then turn it up!

Once you have a few simple projects under your belt, it’s time to push yourself. Try something a little harder. Maybe build a piece of furniture or rewire a light fixture! You’re still going to make mistakes (I definitely do, all the time), but you’ll be better for it. Remember, even the masters started as beginners once (except for Tim the Tool Man Taylor…he was born with a wrench in his hand). They learned, and then they got better!

It’s all just knowledge.

You (probably) have the exact same set of hands and the same perfectly capable body that the pros do. Experience (and great tools) are the only things that really separate you from them. It’s all just knowledge. You can learn to do anything! Want to rewire your entire house (don’t do that, guys), go ahead! Just do some research first. And if you just want to throw a hammer at a wall, I’m sure my parents could put you to work.

Becoming a DIYer is something that came naturally to me. But if you've never DIYed something in your home before, don't worry. I've got some tips for you - you can tackle anything you put your mind to! #diy #gettingstarted #tips #diytips #homerenovation #renovation
Becoming a DIYer is something that came naturally to me. But if you've never DIYed something in your home before, don't worry. I've got some tips for you - you can tackle anything you put your mind to! #diy #gettingstarted #tips #diytips #homerenovation #renovation

How To Become A DIYer: How I Got Started

Wall with framing and insulation exposed

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It was Monday evening and we had just put the kids to bed. I needed to pick up some ingredients for my mom group’s potluck the next day (and a few other things) so naturally, I hopped in the car and off to Target I went. There’s something about walking around those calm aisles on a weekday night without your kids in tow that is life-changing. Maybe I was avoiding drywalling my kitchen, or maybe the magic of that bullseye blinded me, but shortly after I got there…I blacked out. I bought 15 throw pillows. FIFTEEN. Nobody needs 15 throw pillows at one time (but if you do, can we be friends?). I brought them home, sheepishly told my husband I would return most of them, and proceeded to play around with them on the bed. It was a perfect evening.

After a few trials and errors, I narrowed it down to three: the textured cream one, the goldenrod one, and the green one (the leather one I already owned). I think layering pillows can be kind of tricky – you can’t get too matchy-matchy, and it’s easy to mess up scale, patterns, etc. I tend to err too much on the side of neutrals and end up with a very boring color palette, but I finally stepped out of my comfort zone this time. 15 pillows to choose from meant I was going to get this right! Here are some of the things I kept in mind.

Pillows on a bed
Leather (similar) / Cream / Yellow / Green / Comforter (similar)

Vary The Shapes

Target and other big box stores used to stock square pillows pretty much exclusively. Finding a rectangle or bolster would have been really difficult. But good news! Times have changed! Monday night, as I was walking those calm, quiet aisles, I saw pillows of all different shapes: round, bolster, square, rectangular, cushion-style, etc.

If you’re having trouble picking pillows for your bed, and things are looking a little too matchy-matchy, consider swapping out one or two for a different shape. The green pillow on my bed is there to break up the square shape from the pillows behind it. It tricks your eye into thinking there’s more variety there than there really is.

Layer Different Sizes

While the basic sizes of the three ‘feature’ pillows (the leather, cream, and yellow) are all the same, they are resting on much larger king size sleeping pillows. When you’re choosing throw pillows for your bed, remember the sleeping pillows are your foundation – they count, too!

The golden rule is to layer largest in the back to smallest in the front, and to decrease the number of pillows in each layer. For example, we have six king size sleeping pillows in the back, three square throw pillows in front of those, and then one small green rectangular pillow to finish it off. Think of it like grouping your extended family for a huge family portrait – you need to see everybody’s faces!

Also…avoid anything smaller than 18″ (unless it’s a lumbar). That’s the size of most throw pillows in the big box stores, and it’s definitely the smallest I would go. Anything smaller than that starts to get dwarfed by the objects around it.

Pillows on a bed with a grey blanket
Leather (similar) / Cream / Yellow / Green / Throw / Comforter (similar)

Scale Should Differ When Layering Multiple Patterns

Patterns scare people. I sometimes see these gorgeous Jungalow-esque homes on Instagram and all over Pinterest, but wonder how anybody can put ALL those patterns together. It all comes down to scale. I chose to go with slightly more muted patterns in our bedroom, so they don’t really compete with each other. But if you are wanting something bolder, make sure the scale of each pattern differs – you want to pair big bold patterns with smaller patterns to make sure it doesn’t look too busy. Choosing throw pillows for your bed doesn’t mean you have to choose calm, serene tones – do what makes you happy!

Textured Pillows Aren’t Like Textured Walls

I hate my textured walls SO much. I grew up in Kentucky, where everything is smooth, so when we moved to Texas I was shocked to learn that ALL the walls are textured. It makes patching things a nightmare! And while I can’t WON’T embrace texture on my walls, I’ll definitely embrace it on my pillows.

Even if you want to stay completely neutral, you can add a ton of depth and interest to your bed with throw pillows of different textures. I know it’s something that’s hard to see through a computer/phone/tablet screen, but the four throw pillows I decided on all have different textures. The leather is smooth and quilted, the cream has pom poms and embellishments all over it, the yellow has a subtle soft berber carpet type pattern (but in a good way), and the green is a buttery velvet. They all work together to give a ton of interest to the grouping.

Side view of pillows on a bed
Leather (similar) / Cream / Yellow / Green / Comforter (similar)

Mix Up The Color Palette

I’m super guilty of going too neutral – at one point, every single item in our home was either white, grey, navy blue, or some sort of wood tone. I was afraid to commit, but that meant my home was…boring! I’ve taught myself to enjoy color more over the past few years, and I really enjoy the direction my preferences are going. I think I might even paint the wall behind the bed a deep, saturated color someday soon!

While neutral is definitely a good choice for things that are harder to change (like your sofa, light fixtures, backsplash), throw pillows are cheap and easy to change out. It’s a great place to play with color a little more. I actually came home from Target with a plethora of colors, which made the layering process so much easier. Sometimes you have to see the different combos in the space to actually decide.

Loud Personalities Need People To Listen

Have you ever had that friend that ALWAYS needed to be the center of attention? They had a lot of very dramatic things happen to them all the time? Yeah, me too. Those friends are fun, but they need someone to listen to them. They need someone to hold them up – to support them. They don’t do well when paired with another loud personality…they want to be in the spotlight!

Choosing throw pillows for your bed is kind of like choosing friends. If you fall in love with a really ‘loud personality’ pillow, make sure its friends are there to support it, not compete against it. That doesn’t mean you can only have one pillow with a brighter, bolder feel, but it does mean you have to be a little more thoughtful as to what goes around it. Kind of like planning a party around your ‘dramatic’ friend – you want to make sure there isn’t another loud personality there that your spotlight pillow will clash with.

Overview of pillows on a bed with a grey throw
Leather (similar) / Cream / Yellow / Green / Throw / Comforter (similar)

Bed In A Bag

I’ve totally bought bed-in-a-bags. They are convenient, affordable, and everything matches without much thought. But the look that you get from them tends to be too matchy-matchy…and frankly a little stuffy. I think there is definitely a time and a place for them, but if you ask me? You’ll always get a more custom look with buying and layering your own.

Bonus: Size Matters

I am on a personal mission to change the world over to king size sleeping pillows. I don’t know about you, but the little gap on the sides of the mattress when you use queen size pillows makes me sad. It’s a space that just wants to be loved by soft, cushy pillows, but instead it’s lonely and empty. But it doesn’t have to be that way!

Enter: king size sleeping pillows. They are a little longer than the traditional size, and fill in that lonely little gap. Oh, and it doesn’t matter at all if you don’t have a king size bed…they fit everything from a twin to a california king.

One last tidbit- if you are fancy enough to buy pillows that come with just the cover (generally higher quality pillows…I have a few and LOVE them), then you’ll need to purchase an insert. There are all kinds of inserts, but the biggest thing to know is that you need to size up at least 2″. If it’s a 20″ pillow, you’ll want at least a 22″ insert, or it’ll just look a little sad.

Overall, choosing throw pillows for your bed is a low-risk/high-reward kind of decorating decision. There aren’t hard and fast rules (every single one of the above suggestions can be broken), and there are SO many options. If you black out at Target and buy wayyyy too many, make sure you tell me. I’d love to not be the only only one.

How To Choose Throw Pillows For Your Bed

Master Bedroom

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I know you. You’re the person that peeks between your neighbor’s blinds to see progress during a renovation. The one who plays ‘what would I do if that was my house?’ You watch more HGTV than one person should. You are home and renovation-obsessed, and that my friend, means you are in good company around here. See…I’m just like you. It’s why I love finding new blogs – I get to spy inside other people’s homes, AND it doesn’t creep out the neighbors! For your snooping pleasure (courtesy of some of the nicest bloggers I know) here’s a roundup of 9 diy home blogs chock-full of inspiration and great makeovers for 2019. They even took the time to answer a few of my DIY questions along the way!

I’ve set up this little meet-and-greet in the form of an interview. You’ll meet Junette from South Africa, Maria, who was born in Ecuador, Natalie, who is French Canadian, Tammy, a brave military wife, Conny, who is renovating her home AND an Airstream, Shannon, who writes about her home after kids move away, Melissa, who knows more about plants than I ever will, and Wendy, who is more organized than I could ever hope to be! If you’re new, you can come and meet me here!

How long have you lived in your home? How do you feel about your home now that you’ve lived in it for a while?

There are tons of DIY and home bloggers out there, but I've rounded up a list of some of the best one's I've had a chance to speak with so far in 2019 - come see!
Maria (housebythepreserve.com) created a fun awning above the window in her daughter’s nursery. How beautiful! Just one of many projects that she’s done to make it less builder grade.

Catherine: We’ve lived in our home for 3 years now, and it’s finally starting to feel like we’re ALMOST over the ‘fix the ugly’ phase of things, and soon we’ll get to the ‘make it pretty’ phase. I don’t think anybody ever feels like their home is done, though. I know that I’ll still be DIYing 20, 30, 40 years from now, and that sentiment is echoed by other bloggers. Maria, who writes a fabulous DIY home blog at House By The Preserve, has completed a ton of projects to take her home from builder grade to custom (like in the nursery above), and I’m sure she doesn’t plan on stopping anytime soon either!

Junette (windmillprotea.com) After 5 years and lots of DIY – (I feel) a whole lot better – I enjoy living here now.

Maria (housebythepreserve.com) We’ve lived in our home for five years. I love the progress we’ve made in making it our own but we still have quite a few projects to help give it some character and make it less builder grade.

Natalie (nelidesign.com) We’ve lived in our home for 4 years. Although it’s a big improvement from our previous house, I’m finding myself wishing for more space. For example, our kitchen doesn’t have an island and there’s absolutely no space to add one.

Shannon (skiptomylife.com) We’ve lived here four months and are loving it.  We still have some streamlining to do, but it’s much easier to care for.
Wendy (atlaneandhigh.com) We bought our house almost 3 years ago and there were some things that had been remodeled and some that hadn’t. I knew that what still needed to be done I could do.

Which room in your house is your favorite? Why?

Catherine: The room I love the most is probably our stairway…if I can even classify that as a room. It’s often the spaces that we put the most work into that give us the greatest reward. That sentiment is shared by Maria, Natalie, and Tammy – just another reason to consider investing time into your home!

Maria (housebythepreserve.com) Our dining room is one of my favorite rooms in our home. The room has this window that is off center and for the first few years of living here I struggled with how to decorate around this it or make it less noticable. I even had plans of covering that window completely! But the thought of covering up a window in this area of the house that tends to be dark always held me back. Finally last year I decided to embrace the window and hung white plates on the wall in a pretty pattern around the window. Now the plates are a focal point, not the off center window! Funny how such a simple solution solved my dreaded problem. Proves that decorating takes time and that you should allow yourself to play around with the decor and furniture in your space!

Natalie (nelidesign.com) My bedroom! It got a makeover for the $100 Room Challenge and even though I still have curtains to add (it was a tight budget!!) I still feel like this room is now totally me!

Tammy (rougharoundtheedgesdesign.com) The kitchen. It was the area that needed the most help. With avocado green walls and 80s cabinets and licra green counters. Yea let’s just say it’s a complete 180 degree change.

What is the quirkiest thing about your home?

There are tons of DIY and home bloggers out there, but I've rounded up a list of some of the best one's I've had a chance to speak with so far in 2019 - come see!
Conny’s kitchen looks completely different from the before! She chose to paint her kitchen cabinets, and I don’t blame her. I wouldn’t want to take delivery of a whole kitchen on a steep driveway!

Catherine: The quirkiest thing about our home has actually been removed (and I’m not sad at all). When we moved in, there was a curtain (non-load bearing) wall between the top of the stairs and a bedroom (which is now our office), but the previous owners didn’t extend the wall all the way to the top of the stairs so there was this strange TINY nook of space. Two people couldn’t even stand next to each other – it was so cramped! Each DIY and home blog had a different answer to this question – 2019 is finally seeing a trend towards diversity (that I really hope is here to stay) and I love how each of our homes have such distinct stories to tell!

Junette (windmillprotea.com) The steel kitchen cabinets.

Maria (housebythepreserve.com) Our master bathroom layout is ridiculous. I don’t know what the builder was thinking when designing this bathroom. It’s approximately an 11’x9′ space that has 6 doors! Yep, 6 doors with some opening right into each other. My dream is to gut this space down and redo it completely. For now, I’m content in just removing some do these unnecessary doors to make the space feel more open and less cramped!

Natalie (nelidesign.com) The outside of my home is yellow! So are the cabinets, a real tone down yellow which is not that bad. But when we bought the house, all the walls and even the ceilings were yellow!! That’s the first things we changed! But the outside is still yellow. I’m learning to like it!

Conny (midlifewunder.com) The steep driveway!

Shannon (skiptomylife.com) We have a large storage room above the garage which is accessed through our master bedroom.  The storage room is not insulated, so when we open the door we get an artic blast in winter and sahara winds in summer.

Wendy (atlaneandhigh.com) I have a 50 sq ft wine room!

If you could do ANY DIY project, regardless of budget, what would it be?

There are tons of DIY and home bloggers out there, but I've rounded up a list of some of the best one's I've had a chance to speak with so far in 2019 - come see!
Junette, who blogs at windmillprotea.com completely changed the look of her master bedroom by switching out the floors.

Catherine: Floors, kitchens, and bathrooms can be incredibly expensive to renovate, even if you’re DIYing. If we had all the money in the world, I’d transform our bathrooms – they are all pretty much exactly like they were when we moved in. Most of the DIY home blogs I interviewed had the same sentiments for a budgetless renovation in 2019 – floors, kitchens, and bathrooms.

Junette (windmillprotea.com) Flooring for the whole house. Everything has carpet and we want to change to luxury vinyl.

Maria (housebythepreserve.com) I would totally redo our kitchen! I’ve been dying to lighten this space up and would love to update the cabinets to whites ones, install a pretty backsplash and update the countertops.

Natalie (nelidesign.com) My downstairs bathroom needs a complete makeover. I don’t really feel I’ll be able to DIY it all. These big makeovers scare me! I don’t really have the time to work on them and my husband has even less time to do it (and he hates that kind of work even if he’s pretty good at it! lol!!).

Tammy (rougharoundtheedgesdesign.com) Open up the living area to the study area and turn that area into a dining living space and turn the old dining area to the study.

Conny (midlifewunder.com) Sand the hardwood floors!

Melissa (createandfind.com) Master bathroom renovation – complete gut job.

Wendy (atlaneandhigh.com) My master bath needs gutted and completely redone.

What do you think your greatest strength as a DIYer is?

There are tons of DIY and home bloggers out there, but I've rounded up a list of some of the best one's I've had a chance to speak with so far in 2019 - come see!
Melissa’s DIY baby gate is amazing! We have four or five that don’t look nearly as good as hers – I might just have to try this project myself!

Catherine: My greatest strength is 100% my ability to jump into a project with no fear – it’s helped me tackle things that are definitely out of my comfort range and I’m a better DIYer for it! (See why I named my blog DIY Without Fear?)

Junette (windmillprotea.com) We are innovative. Another is that my husband and I work very well as a team.

Maria (housebythepreserve.com) I like to research my projects before I start. Watch tons of YouTube videos and search the internet for any tips and tricks to get an idea of what to expect.

Natalie (nelidesign.com) My imagination. The ability to find a solution to any DIY problem!

Tammy (rougharoundtheedgesdesign.com) Not afraid to create different designs.

Conny (midlifewunder.com) I have no fear of doing things.

Shannon (skiptomylife.com) I am a wealth of creative ideas.

Melissa (createandfind.com) Not being afraid to try something even though I’m unsure how it’ll turn out.  

Wendy (atlaneandhigh.com) I am not afraid to try something new.

What do you think your biggest weakness as a DIYer is?

There are tons of DIY and home bloggers out there, but I've rounded up a list of some of the best one's I've had a chance to speak with so far in 2019 - come see!
I’m OBSESSED with how this DIY board and batten project by Wendy (atlaneandhigh.com) turned out. She may not love drywall, but there’s no weakness in her trim installing skills!

Catherine: My biggest weakness, much like Wendy, is drywall. I’m just not good at it. I know that it would come with practice, but who really wants to practice drywall? Maybe 2019 will be the year I master it, but I have a feeling that even though I run a DIY and home blog, I’ll still need some work next year!

Junette (windmillprotea.com) We do want to do everything and hardly ever outsource.

Maria (housebythepreserve.com) Not trusting my skills and delaying the project because I’m scared of messing up!

Natalie (nelidesign.com) Time!! I would love to have more time to do everything that is in my head!!! I could also add that I get pretty frustrated when I need to call my husband because I lack the strength to accomplish a certain task.

Tammy (rougharoundtheedgesdesign.com) Time management

Conny (midlifewunder.com) Sometimes I should inform myself more

Shannon (skiptomylife.com) I get quickly derailed by technical details and snafus.  That’s where my husband comes in!

Melissa (createandfind.com) Time!

Wendy (atlaneandhigh.com) Drywall, I hate the tedious nature of it.

What is the best piece of DIY advice you’ve ever received?

There are tons of DIY and home bloggers out there, but I've rounded up a list of some of the best one's I've had a chance to speak with so far in 2019 - come see!
How beautiful is Tammy’s kitchen? She built that entire island herself!

Catherine: Part of penning a DIY and home blog in 2019 is giving advice, and I got a lot of advice growing up in a DIY family that I can share – measure twice, cut once. Always turn off the power before doing electrical (there’s more to that story, but that’s for another post). The right tool can make a job go from horrible to enjoyable. Do it right the first time. My favorite piece of advice, though? DIY with your family – get them involved. It’s so much more fun when everybody has a piece.

Junette (windmillprotea.com) My dad taught me when I was little to do things properly. So so you good quality work as well, and not just for the looks!

Maria (housebythepreserve.com) Don’t be afraid, trust your instincts and your skills! Have fun in the process of making your house into your home.

Natalie (nelidesign.com) Only do plumbing work during opened hours of the hardware store! 😉

Conny (midlifewunder.com) Just start!

Melissa (createandfind.com) Just go for it with paint.  It’s only paint and it can be fixed.

Wendy (atlaneandhigh.com) You can do it!  Just try.

Some of the best DIY and home inspiration I’ve found in 2019 is from these blogs – their sites are full to the brim with fantastic ideas and DIY projects. I hope you’ve enjoyed getting to know them, and consider heading over to their blogs to see even more. Inspiration shouldn’t just come from within – seeing how others create in their spaces makes us better designers and DIYers!

New DIY and Home Blogs To Follow In 2019

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Remodeling a kitchen is ALWAYS a long proposition, and it can certainly be stressful. But here’s the thing – I don’t actually think the remodel is the hard part. It’s doing your dishes in the bathroom sink and the setting up of the makeshift kitchen. There’s nothing more infuriating than trying to wash a full-size baking sheet in a too-small basin.

If you’re planning (or dreaming about) a kitchen remodel, then chances are you’ve also won the very sexy prize of setting up a makeshift kitchen! It’s kind of like cooking in college was, but now with the added difficulty of feedings kids and a spouse. And I guess less beer pong happening in the background. Don’t worry though, I’ve already waded through these treacherous and murky waters and have some survival tips for you. Seriously Pinterest-worthy spaces ahead, friends…prepare to be amazed.

PS: Wanna catch up on the renovation so far? Check out our plan to deal with a load bearing wall, how we framed a wall directly over our ceramic tile, how we planned for our first three-way switch, when shared some tips for the IKEA delivery day, and how I messed up my first tiling job. We’re finishing drywall this weekend, and I should have another update for you Monday!

Remodel In Phases

Setting up a makeshift kitchen during a remodel isn't THAT hard (says the girl who still has working major appliances) if you plan ahead of time, manage your expectations, and put together a makeshift kitchen. Try and do it in phases if you can, and run to Costco if you can't.
You can see the original kitchen on the left, and our new cabinets (phase one) on the right.

I think my favorite thing we’ve done in our remodel so far is to do it in phases – I actually built one wall of cabinets before even demo-ing anything else. While it would have definitely been faster to demolish everything all at once (and way more fun), having those cabinets in already means that all of our kitchen stuff is still actually in our kitchen. It’s not organized at all, and everything is kinda shoved in there, but it works.

Obviously, the idea of phases isn’t going to work for every kitchen remodel, but if you’ve got any hope of keeping at least SOME cabinets accessible, I think it’s totally worth the extra hassle. Right now, even though our kitchen is torn apart, we still have a microwave, fridge, and stove (though it’s so caked with drywall dust I don’t want to touch it right now), as well as plenty of space to store food. Without doing it in phases, that wouldn’t have been possible.

Storage

Setting up a makeshift kitchen during a remodel isn't THAT hard (says the girl who still has working major appliances) if you plan ahead of time, manage your expectations, and put together a makeshift kitchen. Try and do it in phases if you can, and run to Costco if you can't.

If you don’t have the luxury of a phased renovation, then you’re gonna have to find a place to put all your stuff. It’s amazing how much junk kitchen cabinets can hold! The best solutions I’ve seen to this problem involve setting up bookshelves (either borrowed from other spots in your home, friends, or thrifted) like an open-door cabinet or pantry.

If you don’t have access to a bookshelf, those clear organizational bins are a great way to store kitchen items. I have all of our pots and pans that wouldn’t fit in our ‘phase one’ cabinets in a bin in our dining room, and it has worked out extremely well. Laundry baskets would work, too, and that serves as a GREAT excuse to not have to do laundry!

There’s one more thing that I did that really helped when we started this renovation – I got rid of a ton of stuff. From old waffle irons that we rarely used to chipped plates, bowls, etc…a lot got donated. It feels good to go into a renovation a little lighter, and if we truly miss any of those items in the future, we can always repurchase them. Basically, call me Marie Kondo. (hahahahahahaha)

Disposables

Setting up a makeshift kitchen during a remodel isn't THAT hard (says the girl who still has working major appliances) if you plan ahead of time, manage your expectations, and put together a makeshift kitchen. Try and do it in phases if you can, and run to Costco if you can't.

I really want to save our beautiful planet, I do. We use cloth diapers and wipes, I drove a hybrid car for a number of years, and we fill up our (HUGE) recycling bin every pickup. But during a kitchen remodel, you’d better believe I’m stocking up my makeshift kitchen using paper plates. And cups. Also mugs. And everything. (Don’t hate me…I’ll plant a tree or something later, I promise)

I set up our new disposable dishes in the ‘phase one’ cabinets, and even put together a little utensil caddy to wrangle everything. My favorite disposable purchase though, hands down, are the hundreds of insulated coffee mugs that make mornings SO much easier. I don’t have the energy to wash mugs when I DO have a kitchen sink, so coffee that doesn’t need extra cleanup is a win in my book.

If I was a better cook, I would invest in some of those disposable casserole pans that people use to cook freezer meals. They are great – I used a ton of them when I was prepping for Tyler’s birth, and they saved my butt with dinnertime more than once. Which leads me to my next point.

Meal Prep

Setting up a makeshift kitchen during a remodel isn't THAT hard (says the girl who still has working major appliances) if you plan ahead of time, manage your expectations, and put together a makeshift kitchen. Try and do it in phases if you can, and run to Costco if you can't.

Bless you, Costco. Thank you for low prices and free samples, for paying your employees a living wage and having fantastic produce. But most of all, thank you for delicious pre-made meals (especially those stuffed peppers GAHHH they are so good). I stocked up on basically any non-prep meal Costco had to offer during the first few days of our renovation, and it has been so nice. Pretty much all their pre-prepared meals require an oven at 400 degrees for an hour, and you’re ready to go. Throw some foil over it if there are leftovers, and pitch the whole thing when you’re done. (Eek…maybe I’ll plant two trees, just to be safe!)

If you don’t have a Costco, don’t worry. There are all kinds of delicious freezer meals out there these days! I picked up a few things here and there, and have been pleasantly surprised with what I could throw together.

Other than that, I’ve been serving simple stuff – bagels and cream cheese, cereal, etc for breakfast, lots of applesauce and yogurt for snacks…you get the picture. If ever there was a time to justify buying the pre-packaged stuff from the grocery, this is it.

Work Space

Finding a place in our makeshift kitchen to prepare everything during this remodel hasn’t been too rough because of that phased renovation concept I talked about earlier. That being said, prep space has been a little bit harder to come by. Beyond our desk counter pictured above (which is lower than a regular counter anyway), I’ve been doing some preparing at the dinner table, as well as at our makeshift countertop in the dining room. I just have to remember to NOT step in the dog’s water bowl with new socks on…not that that has ever happened or anything.

Dishes

Setting up a makeshift kitchen during a remodel isn't THAT hard (says the girl who still has working major appliances) if you plan ahead of time, manage your expectations, and put together a makeshift kitchen. Try and do it in phases if you can, and run to Costco if you can't.

I hate dishes. I hate them I hate them I hate them. Definitely my least favorite household chore. But even with all the disposables in the world, they’re still going to accumulate. We’ve set up a little washing station in our guest bath, and a makeshift drying rack on a step ladder next to the sink. And yes, it is as cramped as it looks in that picture. Get yourself some tunes, a soap that you like the smell of, etc. Doing dishes during a renovation just sucks, there’s no way around it.

My only word of advice in terms of dishes? The shower helps. Yes, I’ve done my dishes in the shower. Large pots and pans just don’t fit, and I miss my sprayer. And what looks like a giant sink sprayer? A shower head. Did I get a little wet? Yep. Worth it to rinse off the spaghetti pot NOT in the comically small sink? 1000x yep.

It really isn’t that hard to live through a kitchen remodel (says the girl who still has working major appliances) if you plan ahead of time, manage your expectations, and put together a makeshift kitchen. Try and do it in phases if you can, and run to Costco if you can’t.

Setting up a makeshift kitchen during a remodel isn't THAT hard (says the girl who still has working major appliances) if you plan ahead of time, manage your expectations, and put together a makeshift kitchen. Try and do it in phases if you can, and run to Costco if you can't.
Setting up a makeshift kitchen during a remodel isn't THAT hard (says the girl who still has working major appliances) if you plan ahead of time, manage your expectations, and put together a makeshift kitchen. Try and do it in phases if you can, and run to Costco if you can't.

How To Set Up A Makeshift Kitchen During A Remodel

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