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You Really Can Do-it-Yourself: Motivating Tips from a Mom

By Elyse Major


Do you have a room that you look at and think: I would really like to change this? If a room doesn’t require any real structural work, changing it may be more possible and require less time than you think. I know because I’ve been there. Didn’t think I could find the time, didn’t know how to prep or paint a room, busy with my boys, the list goes on. Here are some ideas to help motivate you to tackle your project.

Look all around
Img 9107• Look at home décor magazines; my favorite is anything published by Better Homes and Gardens. I love their special-interest publications, which include: Creative Home, do it Yourself, 100 decorating ideas under $100, and more. Another inspiring fave is Romantic Homes.
• Visit the paint aisle and take paint chips in any color you like—they’re free!
• Look for items to embellish: at crafts and fabrics stores, tag sales, even outside.
• Search for favorite things like stationery or nice packaging for unexpected inspiration in color schemes and pattern coordination.

Look at your room
• What is it used for?
• Will its use change?
• Does anything need to be relocated or brought in?
• Can existing items be repurposed? A single bed into a daybed? An old dining set into a kid’s art table? A door replaced with a curtain to add space?

GoprimedPrep is key
To save time and minimize frustration, read about how to paint a room before you even buy a brush. The prep work is so important and involves spackling holes, washing walls, and painting on primer before any real painting should begin. I like Brian Santos, The Wall Wizard.

With two young sons, I have to do projects in small stages, and my projects always begin with something I see that just makes me think: that’s it, that’s what I want! The process of choosing colors and materials can be lengthy but it’s part of the fun. When a room is finished, I am always surprised that I took it on, trusted my design instincts, and completed the job. Sure, there are mistakes and drips, but they’re all part of the story: your story.

Elyse’s Décor Do’s
• Paint furniture, lamp bases, picture frames; even experiment with finishing techniques.
• Add embellishments to curtains and lampshades.
• Replace furniture hardware – a super easy update.
• Can’t sew? Use fusible fabric tape (available at fabric and craft stores).
• Back a bookcase with decorative paper that can be seen from behind shelves.
• Use tension rods to hang anything with a spool.
• Keep things unfussy, kid-friendly, washable, and comfortable.


Take it from me …
• Don’t begin painting without first learning how to prep and prepare.
• For the sake of safety and your own sanity, have someone available to watch your children while you do any work that requires all of your focus.
• Don’t underestimate how much time a project may take. I once believed I could tape and paint a small bathroom while my son was at preschool. Not quite.
• “Cotton tarps” are an oxymoron; they will not protect work surfaces from paint.
• Always sand any glossy surface before priming if you want the paint to properly adhere (despite what “advice” you might get from any well-meaning home supply store staff).
• For tightening and loosening screws, always remember what Luke from Gilmore Girls advised, “Tighty Righty and Lefty Loosey”

Elyse Major lives in northern Rhode Island with her husband and two sons (six and eight years old). A “mostly” stay-at-home mom, Elyse works as a communications consultant for Neighborhood Health Plan of Rhode Island. Her hobbies include doing crafts with her boys; eating popcorn with her husband; writing; creating home dècor; and most recently, blogging (visit Elyse’s blog at http://tinkeredtreasures.blogspot.com/).

Photo Credits: Elyse Major

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  • I loved the way you made an overwhelming project more manageable by explaining the steps as well as sharing realistic goals. You should start an interior decorating business for those of us who don’t have the time but want a change!

  • elyse –
    article was great – but having watched this transformation – I think you need to tell your readers all the stuff you did in that room individually –
    the pillow: stitch witchery
    the tab curtains: cut tabs and replaced w/
    ribbon – but not sewn!
    the paint: 3 colors on the same color chart!
    i am proud of you – and each will truly inspire – even the untalented!!

  • With the energy emanating from this post, I actually vacuumed our basement to try to get ready for the transformation. Even just having that done is such a relief.

  • I’m blown away by the transformation. It’s like something you’d see on TLC’s “Design on a Dime”! You’re an inspiration to busy, talented, well-meaning, procrastinating moms everywhere.

    – Jackie Hennessey