DIY Decorating: Dreamy or Disaster?

As the self-proclaimed cheapskate that I am, I’m always trying to find new ways to save money while furnishing my new apartment. Of course, one of the first things I go to is “Do-It-Yourself” projects and it’s easy to be swept up in the DIY excitement. The idea of putting your own stamp on your home and doing it for a great price is tempting, but beware!  DIY projects can be deceiving and what seems like “just that easy” online can become a living nightmare. Don’t swear off DIY for this reason, but take it as a precaution.

Here are some typical DIY examples to show how you can identify a DIY dream project from a soon-to-be disaster before you even get started.

1. The Quick-and-Dirty Decor DIY

These projects are the ones that can be done pretty easily with relatively little experience, like these

GoldAnimal Makeup Jars from Bang on Style Blog

or this Geometric Wall Art from

The best part of these DIY decor projects is that they give you a lot of artistic freedom to change parts of the project. You can get supplies as most craft stores or even order custom fabric printing for your projects online. These decor items are a great way to add a personal touch around your apartment, however this also means you have to put on your crafty hat. Often times, the dark side to these projects is that they will never turn out as cute as the Pinterest photos. However, these can be the perfect starter projects for a new DIY’er.

2. The “What The Heck Am I Doing?!” DIY

Do not worry, we have all been there. That moment when you realize that you are in too deep, but keep going to protect your pride. I will tell you right now- don’t do it, and here are some red flags to catch these projects before you start.

  • If it requires wood of various lengths… Do you have a saw? Do you have a sander? Are you willing to pay for each cut at Home Depot/Lowe’s?
  • If it requires joinery… Do you have access to a drill? Do you have the necessary accessories (pre-drill, screws, wood glue)? Do you have the tools to make sure your connections are right (speed square, combo, tape measure)?
  • If you’d normally pay at least $250 for it…. that probably means it requires advanced skills that you do not have. So save yourself the time, and just buy it used or cheap.

Here’s the catch- if you do have the tools and expertise, have at it! It can mean a gorgeous DIY finished product, like this

Dresser Bench

3. The Goldy Locks DIY

This project is the perfect DIY for those who have a few projects under your belt. These projects are the best because they often push you to learn new skill sets, or require a bit of strenuous work, but make you proud as can be in the end. The projects usually are medium scale projects that will take you 3-10 hours, but will give you something amazing in return. If you are an experienced DIY-er, maybe try one out on a day off, like this

Modern Bookshelf from Cutting Edge Stencils

or this Wine Rack

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Author My First Apartment

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Marisa Rinchiuso is a Design+Production major at Carnegie Mellon with a passion for DIY, budgeting and event management. She's always on the search for a great deal and new projects. In her free time, she enjoys cooking, crafts and travel.

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Comments (2)

    • Marisa Marisa

      Thank you, Lini! I actually just finished one last week; they make for great Friday night projects!