Satisfaction from Doing-it-Yourself

I used to love helping my dad with DIY jobs when I was a kid. At least I used to think I was helping but in retrospect I must have made the job twice a difficult for him. I first realised that DIY was not as easy as it seemed when I was sixteen. I had a weekend job in a small shop near to my home. Being at a loose end during the summer holidays I volunteered to decorate the staff room. I bought a couple of rolls of ready-pasted wallpaper from a website and fitted out the room with great care. It looked great; for all of a day. The wallpaper I’d chosen wasn’t actually ready-pasted and peeled off overnight.

I like painting and decorating my surroundings and over the years have decorated various rented properties and an office or two with great success. The worst part is preparing the surface ready for painting or papering. However, modern DIY shops have gadgets and products to make everything easier. They have scrapers in all sizes and shapes and fillers for every type of surface and material, but what is really needed is enthusiasm. I find rubbing, sanding and filling dull and dirty work, but once that’s done I’ll happily tape and brush paint borders and corners. Painting, especially with a roller covered with emulsion is a much more animated process, walls and ceilings quickly change colour.

Wallpapering needs more space cleared, as a pasting table has to be set up. The walls still have to be rubbed down and prepared, but not to the same extent as with painting. I’ve found various sealers on sale that are helpful for flaky walls. Wallpapering requires patience and is best done between two people. Cheap paper can shrink when it dries and leave small gaps. It’s best to allow a very slight overlap when hanging. With the Noddy pattern in the nursery, I had to fill in the odd gaps with felt tip pens in matching colours.

Most do-it-yourself products come with simple easy to follow instructions. I have a tendency not to read instructions until I’m stuck. Self-assembly furniture is made to look easy but often has a hidden catch to the assembly that is only revealed in the instruction leaflet. I’ve had to dismantle a desk, quickly before the glue set, because I didn’t notice a cross bar.

Most of the pleasure of decorating is in choosing the colours and patterns and making your own ambient. I find inspiration in a paint shop or DIY outlet with the vast selection of products now available. A professional would definitely do a better job applying the paint, wallpaper or stencil but I like the personal touches that only I can add when inspiration hits me. I get a lot of satisfaction when it turns out, surprisingly, just as I imagined it would.

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