10 Super Duper Important DIY Lessons Everyone Should Learn

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In this post, I share the 10 Super Important DIY Lessons that I have learned along the way. I hope these will be valuable lessons for you as you DIY!

Let’s talk life lessons, shall we?

Honestly, these 10 lessons I’ve learned really do apply to more than just DIY.  It’s amazing what you can learn if you just keep your eyes open, yo.

So after 5 years of owning our first home, and blogging for over 2 1/2 years, I have learned a few things, and I just wanted to pass a few tidbits on in the hopes that it might help someone, somewhere out there.

And I’m sure if you are as big of a fan of DIY, you’ve got a few nuggets up your sleeve, and I definitely want to hear the lessons you’ve learned, too!

But first, here are the 10 Super Important DIY Lessons that I have learned along the way…


10. Sometimes Less is more

When we moved into The Bold Abode, it was more like… The Bland Abode.

And I couldn’t wait to get started slapping paint on the walls.  I had orange walls and green walls and pink walls!  It was Dr. Suess’ Dream home.

And I super-duper loved it.  But after blogging for a while, my style began to evolve, and I decided to update my dining room.  You can see the sneak peak here.

But I knew it needed something, and I thought stenciling above the chair rail would be super cool.  I chose the Herringbone Stencil from Royal Design Studios, but once I got started, I realized that if I stenciled the entire room, it was so going to slap you in the face!


So, I thought about what my drama teacher in high-school tried to drill into our heads.

Sometimes, Less IS More.


In the end, I chose to take the stencil in a diagonal up the wall and just have an accent wall.  To see how it all came out, just visit this post.

I’m so glad I did this, because the room is so much lighter and brighter… but still NOT boring.

After all, it is The Bold Abode.


9. Don’t be afraid to paint metal doors

Yes.  I was totally afraid of painting our garage door. I wasn’t sure what kind of paint it was and how to go about painting it.  But writing this blog has totally inspired me to keep from allowing fear to hold me back!

I was able to figure out what kind of paint was on the door with this trick, and then I knew just what I needed to update the door and make it into a super-cool Chalkboard door to welcome us home.


I’m so glad I took the time and bansihed my fear with this project.  Now, our messy garage has a focal point to detract from all it’s… well, mess!


8. You can totally Fix It If you Hate It

So, I had an heirloom desk that my grandaddy gave me as a child.  But over the years and many, many moves, it was scratched and dented and the finish was getting yucky.

But, I agonized over what to do with it.

I wanted a pop of color… I thought.  So I painted it hot pink.

And then… I hated it.  And, yes… I stewed over it for a while. But, I finally left my little pity party and realized that I didn’t really want pop… I wanted some glam!

Painting over the pink with metallic gold paint was a seriously easy fix and totally transformed the desk.  You can still see a little of the pink showing through, and I totally love that!

Here’s the before…  You can pop over here for the glammed out version and see how much better it looks now!

Pink Desk

Mistakes are always fixable in paint and in life.  You are never stuck where you are… ever.


7. Every room can benefit from some black

I have a friend, Donna, that has a great decorating eye.  I was talking to her one day about what to paint the new headboard I was making from Bi-fold Shaker Style doors.

Her response was that every room could use a little black.

I contemplated that, because all of my other furntiure {which are hand-made heirlooms that my great-grandfather made with his own two hands} is in the brownie family.

Hmm… black headboard, brown dressers.

I wasn’t sure about it, but I listened to her. And I’m so glad I did.  The black really does anchor the room.


Now I’m finding ways to incorporate just a little black where I can.

You can check out how I made this dramatic headbord from bi-fold doors here. And the after {sort-of} is here.  I say sort-of, because I’m working on styling this room.

So ignore the ugly pillows and junk.  That’s just the real-ness of it all.

6. Never be afraid to change your mind.

I spent a ton of time coming up with a plan for our Master Bedroom.  I made a headboard from a reclaimed Truss and really thought out a cool color scheme.

But it never really felt like an extension of my soul.  Which is how I approach decorating… extensions of the soul are very important in self-expression.  Every time I share something with you, it makes me feel just a little bit exposed, so I want to be sure it’s authentic.

And the truss and dark teal and red… that just wasn’t what was inside of me.

But I didn’t want to just change the entire room when I’d just finished it!

Then I asked myself, “WHY?”

And I couldn’t come up with a good reason!

So, I went back to the drawing board and picked a soft grey-blue {Rain by Sherwin Williams} that fit in with the Moody Blue of the Family foom.

Here you can see the old teal as I’m starting to paint over it.


It’s SO much more peaceful… which is what your bedroom should be, yo. Peace, love and all that jazz!

I’m super happy with it now, and I’m thankful that I allowed myself to just change my mind and go in a totally different direction.


5. Take your time to do it right the first time.

In the above photo, you can see the stenciled strips that I painted.  Up until this point, I was seriously the short-cut Queen.

But, I really wanted this project to be spectacular, so I slowed down and took my time to make sure I painted these stripes as perfectly as I could. 

How to Paint Perfect Stripes

Using this amazeballs tip, I was able to create some crisp, clean lines {on our textured walls!} and make some awesome stripes for our Master Bedroom!

I have a bonus tip that goes with these stripes:

Think Outside of the Box!

Once I got the beautiful stripes painted, I was totally bored with them!

So, I stepped outside of my little box, and realized that stenciling in between the stripes would really up the anty.

So, get outstide of the normal and create something totally different.  It’s just SO MUCH FUN.


4. High Contrast can make a piece sing

Sometimes, monochromatic colors are great, but with this piece, I just couldn’t see painting all one color.

DSC_1144 (2)

I knew I wanted to use the same blue as the walls, but I didn’t want to to disappear into the room.

So I opted to paint the trim blue and the rest in Chalkboard paint.  It really made for a striking contrast and brings a ton of character to the room.

Contrast is gooooood…. To see how it turned out, just check out this post.

3. Use what you have, just find a way to make it new!

So, when you are on a budget, you have to get creative, right?

For that desk above, the original hardware was in pretty bad shape, and I wasn’t about to go drop some cash on new hardware.  That stuff is not cheap, yo.

So, I knew I needed to do something with the old to make it new.

In the craft store one day, I totally stumbled upon Rub ‘N Buff.  Sha-wing!

You can check out this post to learn more about Rub ‘n Buff.


It made this old hardware totally. freaking. awesome.

2. Invest in paint samples

If there is one thing I’ve learned about painting a room, it’s to budget at least $30 for paint samples.  I learned the hard way when I just bought the paint for my dining room and foyer.

The orange was a little too pumpkin and the Pear Green just a tad too yellow.  It all has to do with the lighting.  In the store, both colors were absolutely perfect.

On the walls… not so much.

So, when I went to paint my front door…


You’d better believe I sunk some money in paint samples.

Thank the heavenly stars I did, too!  I would never have just bought the Blue Mosque paint and gone with it.

But seeing it on the door next to the other colors confirmed that it was the chosen one.

And now, everybody knows where we live.  It’s super easy to say…

We’re the house with the bright blue door.

And people totally dig it.

Just visit this post to see the Blue Mosque Front Door in action!

1. There is no furnishing you can’t {or shouldn’t} paint.

So, it was a total toss-up between Lessons 2 and 1.  Really, it could go either way.

But I’m SO passionate about painting whatever you want no matter what anybody says… this lesson won out.

If you want to paint it, just paint it.

I painted my piano Pear Green... and even my husband thought I was cray-cray.

pear green piano

But I LURVE it.  And I don’t care what anyone thinks.  No one is going to define me like that.

If you have a different opinion, you are certaintly entitled to it.  I respect you for it. Hold it tight and don’t let go of it.

I don’t judge you, and I won’t make you feel guilty for having your own opinion.

And if you disagree with me, you can tell me in the comments, but you can’t make me change my mind or feel guilty.

I pinky-promise I won’t sneak into your house and paint your furniture or pianos.  But I’ll do what I want with mine. 🙂

And if you like my green piano, you can see a few more that I love in this post.

So there… that’s it!

My 10 Super Awesome DIY Lessons I’ve learned from Painting My Own Stuff.

Do you have any tips or lessons for us?  Let’s chat down in the comments!

In this post, I share the 10 Super Important DIY Lessons that I have learned along the way. I hope these will be valuable lessons for you as you DIY!


Pin me for later, say the 10 Super Important Lessons…

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DIY Gone Bold. Experiments in decorating without fear!

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  1. I actually disagree with #1! There are few exceptions though. When it’s really nice wood and a beautiful, bonafide antique I’d rather sand it down and stain it – even if it’s a tinted stain. Sometimes wood just looks better when it’s grey, or ebony! The reason is because painting an antique can ruin it if the wood isn’t already protected in the right way. But to me, you can 100% paint everything else. 🙂

  2. I LOVELOVELOVE this. Are you sure you won’t reconsider sneaking in and painting something! I could arrange to be gone so it would just be a marvelous surprise.
    Hugs to you.

  3. Totally with you on #1 (&2!!!, BTDT!). I have friends who have said “NEVER paint over wood”, um, huh?! I despise my pine bed and my oak cabinets… One day I will paint both and I’ve already chosen colours for both (note the black tip for one of those DYIs, lol). And who knows? Some metallic may pop in there, too! I’m a silver fan, tho your desk is delish!
    Thanks, Gwen!

    1. I say if you want to, go for it, Kerri!!! I would totally paint over anything pine… for sure!

      Silver would be super cool! I love silver, too. I’m totally into metallics right now.

  4. Awesome tips….and now that my hubby is out of the military and we are buying our first house (won’t really be “home”until we start to make it ours) I will be posting this list on the door of whatever room we are working in! Now if I could just convince hubby about #1 lol. As far as he is concerned you never, ever paint wood…more than one intense discussion there.

  5. hey dear! I love reading your posts! You are so much fun 🙂 I am hosting a link up party that starts today if you do partys and link up..I would love to have you visit! Come on over and say hi if you get a chance. it runs until suday!!

  6. These are some great tips! I’m all about painting thing to change the room.

    But spelled “up the ante,” not “anty.”

  7. You know I’m so glad you mentioned your friend’s suggestion for a touch of black in every room. I have a lot of those rich brown colors with my own furniture, and so was never quite sure if black could/would work with it. I’m finding that some ideas I think I wouldn’t like at all are exactly what I end up loving actually. So thanks for the advice-makes me want to step out of that comfort zone and do less thinking/more feeling in my room planning. 🙂

    1. I think it’s totally fine to combine browns and blacks! I say Go for it, Trinity!

  8. Fabulous post, but I have to pint out that the phrase is “up the ante”, not “anty”.

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