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Champagne tastes, Lemonade budget...the real reasons I've become a DIY devotee

Champagne tastes, Lemonade budget...the real reasons I've become a DIY devotee

I have never considered myself particularly handy around the house. Indeed, before buying our current home I didn't really do anything myself. Even when we moved here, we paid the professionals to come and do the living room and the nursery. Though in my defence, I was 8 months pregnant at the time. But it's safe to say I was firmly in, what my friend, and new SE23 neighbour, Emily (of The Pink House fame) has dubbed the Delegate It Yourself camp. And there's a lot to be said for that. Our living room has a beautiful finish that I very much doubt I could replicate...and I definitely couldn't have put the wallpaper up myself.

But this year is a different story. We've laid astroturf in the garden, revamped our kitchen cupboards, painted bedrooms and I've just finished giving the front of the house a mega facelift by freshening up all the masonry and painting the front door in Farrow & Ball's Charlotte's Locks. No sooner had I finished that, this week I've decided to start ripping the disgusting beige carpet off the stairs ready to prep and paint them. I'm practically Handy Andy (retro Changing Rooms reference for you there).


I've had countless messages this week asking for my advice on painting a front door, much to the amusement of my husband who is not familiar with this new perpetually paint-splattered version of me. And yes my new orange front door does look pretty ace and I have to admit I'm feeling pretty pleased with myself. But I feel it's important to be honest with you here. I'm not really doing this for the love of DIY. Not really.

Here are the 7 real reasons I've become a DIY devotee.

1) I'm an Interiors blogger

And a newbie one with a house renovation on the go at that. This means you, my lovely readers, rightly expect a steady flow of renovation progress. But renovating a house is a costly business, and seen as the earnings of a Newcomer Blogger are not exactly lucrative, I had better pick up the paintbrush myself and get cracking. Interior designer Abigail Ahern does all her own painting as well. And if she can do it, I can too.


2) I live in London

There is no better way to knock the wind out of your renovation sails than to start getting quotes from London tradespeople. Everything costs twice what you think it's going to cost, and there is absolutely no guarantee they will do even a half-decent job. It's the worst feeling when you pay someone to do a job you're excited about and they leave you feeling like you could have done it better yourself. I've been there and I try to avoid going there again where possible. Now before anyone starts getting their knickers in a twist, I'm not tarring all tradespeople with the same brush. BUT I have lived here almost 15 years and trying to find good, reliable people is difficult. They do exist. I've managed to find some of them. But the good ones are such a precious commodity that they can afford to be choosy about which jobs they do and you might have to wait months for them to become available. Which brings me to my next reason...

3) I'm impatient

We've done lots already, but there's still so much to be done and with everything that gets finished my mind immediately moves on to the next job. I'm not saving for months to get together enough money to pay someone else to paint my bedroom when it will take me a few days to do a perfectly good job myself. However, there are some areas where my newfound DIY skills will not be required. The next big job is the bathroom in case you were wondering...and no, I have absolutely zero intention of doing that myself. Nooooo way! Because let's be honest here....

4) I have an ulterior interior motive

All of this DIY I'm doing is slowly but surely racking up the brownie points with the husband. And I'm not about to waste those hard earned gold stars. I have a plan. I'm totting up all this money we are saving on painting...and reallocating it straight back into the bathroom budget. It will be our biggest project to date. The kitchen makeover was done on a budget to tide us over until we do our side return extension. But I have big plans for the bathroom (bye bye black gloss floor tiles!) and I'm hoping to indulge in a fancy Victoria & Albert bath, beautiful Bert & May brass taps and Marrakech Design floor tiles. And how can my better half refuse when I've been working SO hard and saving the pennies elsewhere in the house?


However I also have another ulterior motive...

5) I still love clothes

Many people say that they when they buy a house and settle down they replace their Zara shopping habit with a Zara Home habit instead. OR, you could be like me and develop a dual addiction which shows no sign of waning at any point in the near future. Oh dear. The irony being, of course, that I spend 50% of my time at home painting in my holey grey tracky bottoms. But in my own warped way that means I can rationalise that & Other Stories box of goodies that just landed on the doorstep...because I'm worth it right? 

6) It buys me a bit of 'me' time

As a mum of two small children 'me time' is a bit of a myth. If I do get a moment's peace, I'll admit that I am the world's worst for 'just a quick look at Insta' and then falling into a scrolling vortex which isn't the best use of that precious QT. But I've realised painting is the perfect excuse to hand the kids over to daddy and be left alone and away from a screen for a couple of hours. On the flip side, ripping a carpet or floor up is perfect for releasing any pent up anger.


7) It's super satisfying

Ok so I have to admit it's not all about ulterior motives and bargaining chips. The final reason I've converted to DIY is the same reason why I'll probably continue to do it for many years to come. And that is, that there are few things more satisfying than doing something yourself and doing it well. My heart has skipped a little beat every time I've opened and closed my front door this week. Yes, it took two coats of undercoat and four coats of gloss and I'll admit I was starting to lose a little enthusiasm towards the end. But it was so worth all the hard work. Not only does it look 100 times better than it did before, when I paid someone else to do it. But I have the added, and not inconsiderable, pleasure of knowing that I did it!

So while I'm not saying I'll never hire a decorator again, I am saying that maybe DIY's not so bad after all.

J x

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