Avoid DIY interior design mistakes

Avoid DIY interior design mistakes

One of my colour consultation clients made a mistake which will cost her time and money. The exact opposite outcome you want when working with an interior designer. A DIY interior design mistake can also be disappointing, frustrating, and stressful.

In my client’s story it was a silly mistake that will cost her. She will need to pay more for the tradie. The project will be delayed, and she will certainly be further inconvenienced. What was her DIY interior design mistake? Simply she bought her own paint, from a local paint shop.

Big deal, right? Wrong! The paint shop made a mistake with the colour. My client paid me to recommend a colour for the timber balustrade on her staircase and she decided to buy the paint rather than let the painter buy the paint. The painter I recommend always buys the paint.

There’s a good reason my painter always buys the paint. He uses a trusted paint supplier and never gets the wrong colour of paint to bring to a job. Primarily because I brief him and send him the name of colour I want. I’m a firm believer of letting experts do their job.

My client wanted to blame the painter for her mistake but after talking about what happened she realised that it was her mistake and the mistake of the paint shop. Which she may or may not take up with them.

You can’t avoid all mistakes in any interior design project but when you DIY, interior design mistakes are more likely. So here is some advice to keep in mind when you DIY.

Research your DIY interior design project

Whatever your DIY interior design project is, I think it’s smart to do a copious amount of research. You can research the task, materials, or whatever it is you intend on doing yourself. Your research can include watching ‘how to’ videos on You Tube or Bunnings.

You may also do some online reading through trusted sources such as trade associations. Trade associations might have some resources you can download. You could also rely on blogs such as this.

Talk to as many people about your DIY interior design project as possible. This includes talking to experts. I often get calls requesting a one-off consultation, just so the client can talk to an expert and get a different perspective on their DIY interior design project.

This is all part of building your knowledge so you can make some informed decisions about your DIY project. Whether to DIY all of it or just some aspects.

Outsource some parts of your DIY interior design project

After al the research you do on your DIY interior design project you may decide there are parts of it you need to outsource. For example, plumbing. If you’re doing a bathroom refurb you want a qualified, experience, insured tradesperson do that job. Same for tiling.

There are just some jobs you can do yourself and there are others you can’t. I think a successful DIY interior design project is successful when you know what parts of it you can outsource.

When choosing someone to outsource to, conduct the same level of research outlined above to get the right person for the right job. Remember it’s not always about finding the cheapest solution when you DIY.

With a DIY interior design project you are saving some money anyway, so don’t be afraid to spend the right amount of money of your budget for the part you need to outsource to an expert.

Communication in your DIY interior design project

Communication is key in all aspects of life and when you’re undertaking a DIY interior design project, communication is what will help you succeed.

If you’re working with a professional be clear on what they’re doing for you. Have everything documented. Read the contract they send you and ask questions. Be mindful of any exclusions and caveats to the work.

In the case of my client had she told me she intended on buying the paint I would have advised against it. I would have advised that she let the painter buy the paint. That’s his job, there is no need to DIY this aspect of the work. Especially when you’ve engaged not one but two experts.

In this situation an interior designer and a painter. Whatever you do in your DIY interior design project don’t make the mistake of not communicating.

Experts have processes in place to get it right as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Contingency planning in DIY interior design project

In any interior design project, including a DIY interior design project you need to allocate a time and money contingency. Essentially this means making an allowance for any DIY interior design mistakes from a money and time perspective.

Given you are not an expert, although it’s admirable that you do an interior design project yourself, either all of it or part of it, plan for the likelihood of making a mistake.

By planning for a mistake, the mistake won’t seem so bad or insurmountable.

Many of my clients are very savvy. They’re savvy for a lot of reasons, for example, watching The Block, or Grand Designs. They know their ‘stuff’, they know the jargon and I like that. Interior design is not some mystical thing that only interior designers know about.

But there is a lot about interior design than is intuitive. So where you might be able to follow a step by step guide to a successful outcome in your own DIY interior design project, there could be some aspects in your project you get stuck on because you’re simply not an interior designer, builder or other industry professional.

That’s why a key element in avoiding DIY mistakes is to engage professionals for the outset. Afterall your home is your greatest asset and you deserve to live, work and play in a beautiful space.

By all means DIY but only DIY what you can confidently achieve, the rest leave to an expert and you will be happy you did. Your family and your home will thank you for it.


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