So you fancy tackling a bit of home decorating? Before you pull on your overalls and start slapping on the paint, here are a few pointers to stop you becoming one of the many DIYers who come a-cropper when redecorating their home.
1. Skimping on materials
Whether you’re painting a room, papering a wall or laying a new floor, make sure you have enough materials to see you through any mistakes, miscalculations or surprises. Buy more than you think you’ll need, hold onto the receipt and you should be able to get your money back on any unopened and unused items.
Christopher Lockhart, an amateur DIYer recalls re-jigging the furniture so he could hide a patch on the wall where he’d run out of paint. “When it came to moving house I had to repaint the entire room again – in a completely different colour because I couldn’t remember exactly which shade I’d used in the first place.”
2. Not listening to advice
Carolynne Watson, who completely transformed a basic 1960s house into a stunning modern home, says it pays to heed advice. “We were warned that laying cheap flooring would be false economy, but we went ahead and laid the cheapest we could, thinking that the huge area we needed to cover was money down the drain. When it buckled and bowed within the year we knew we had made one very costly mistake.”
[Related feature: Redecorating your home: where to start]
3. Not having the right tools for the job
Attempting to paint a wall with a tiny paintbrush or putting up a shelf without using a spirit level is just asking for trouble. Get together all the tools for the job before you start work. As Christopher says: “Having a cupboard half hanging off the wall because you’ve used the wrong size of rawl plugs is a schoolboy error.” So do your homework first.
4. Failing to prepare properly
Failure to prepare surfaces is another no-no. Make sure skirting boards are dust-free before painting and ensure you use primer if painting on a previously untreated surface. Similarly, make sure anything that shouldn’t have paint on it doesn’t get paint on it - use old cloths and blankets to protect furniture and flooring.
5. Blowing the budget
Anna Ward, an interior designer, says setting a budget is key. “You may fall in love with a piece of furniture that takes a large chunk of your budget. But then you need to be resourceful with the rest. Use expensive items in innovative ways and start to think how to cut costs where needed – expensive wallpaper mounted in frames can look just as effective as a whole wall wallpapered with it, at far less cost.”
6. Throwing the entire household into chaos
Anna says: “There’s no doubt renovating will have an impact on others in the house, but by working on a room-by-room basis you’ll minimise the disruption and chaos!”
7. Being a slave to someone else’s style
While you may want that New England look from floor to ceiling, does it really suit a Victorian terrace? As Anna says: “Make sure you are sympathetic to the house you are living in, and that any themes you choose work with the house as a building as well.”
8. Forgetting about lighting
Ever noticed how items in showrooms look so much better there than when you get them home? That’s because they’re lit to make them look as good as possible. If your room is lit badly because the central pendant lamp casts shadows, or your wall lights leave one half of the room in gloom, then you need to think about hiring an electrician.
9. Cluttering up your home
You might want a nautical theme, but that faux buoy, ‘to the beach’ sign and seagull ornament are just too much in a small room. Instead, pick out key items and make sure they’re presented beautifully. Anna says: “Don't swamp the room with lots of items of furniture. It's better to have bigger pieces and less of them to make a room look fab, than cramming it with furniture so you can't appreciate each piece.”
10. Taking on more than you should
Flexing your creative muscles with a spot of interior design is great and a spot of DIY can save you time and money, but you also need to know when to call the real experts in, as Chris Harford found out. “My husband, who’s a plumber, decided he could tackle knocking down an upstairs wall. He accidentally weakened the floor and I and my son, who was a toddler at the time, ended up falling through the ceiling.” Fortunately her son was unharmed, but Chris ended up in hospital with a broken ankle.
So you have been warned. Whether your decorating blunders end up with wonky shelves or a trip to A&E, knowing some of the pitfalls to avoid will make your foray into DIY less memorable for all the wrong reasons.
So, what are the worst redecorating mistakes you’ve seen? And how many are you guilty of yourself? Let us know.
Image credit: Dulux