Lesson 3: DIY Can Be a Group Sport
Over the years, I've undertaken a number of home projects with varying degrees of success. Once, I so admired a magazine layout in which a woman remodeled her walk-in closet with clear Lucite racks and shelves (giving her clothing the appearance of hanging in a chic boutique) that I tried to do it myself. With the help of my friend Liba, I was able to get Lucite to my specifications, though I soon realized that hanging clothes in my tiny loft bedroom didn't allow for the same effect as a proper walk-in closet. (Memo to self: Next apartment must have a walk-in closet.)
I'm grateful for friends like Liba because, with few exceptions, DIY for me has always been DIWYG—do it with your girlfriends. The same is true for Kelly, who bought a fixer-upper five years ago. For the biggest projects, including tearing down the old popcorn ceiling and ripping up the carpeting to get to the hardwood floors, she asked a couple of friends for help. "There was one gal who hadn't done any home repairs before and said, 'Oh, I don't know if I can do this.' But between myself and my friend Cindy, we were able to show our third friend that it's okay—you can do this."
Victoria, a textile designer, has always known she could do it herself. That's because her mother wore the tool belt in her family. "My dad would come home and make dinner while my mom was drilling holes in the wall," she says. When Victoria and her husband bought their own apartment a few years ago, Victoria was the one who took the lead in the renovation by tearing down the Sheetrock to expose beautiful brick walls. "It's not that hard," she says. "You use a hammer to break the wall. You find the studs, and the Sheetrock just pulls away."
Lesson 4: DIY Can Strengthen Your Relationship
My mother-in-law, Mary Clampet, also brought the home-repair skills into her marriage. "My parents used to buy old furniture that they would strip, refinish, and glue," Mary says, "and I always wanted to do it myself." So when she got married, Mary bought two oak chests with an eye toward refurbishing them. The first, her father determined, was too big a job and, as a wedding present, took it to a shop to be restored. Mary did the second herself. It still sits in a place of pride, in the family's entryway.
Lesson 5: You Can Still Be Your Girly Self
Having a mother-in-law who could sand through 12 layers of paint, sew curtains, and strip furniture set a high bar for me. So when Jason (then my fiancé) asked me to help peel old wallpaper from his hallway, I did my best not to mention that I'd just, that very morning, had a $35 manicure. I'm happy to report that while he likes to joke that my singing voice can peel paint, it turns out that I'm efficient at stripping wallpaper, too. In the end, I didn't even mind that my manicure got totally and completely jacked up. I was proud of a hard day's work well done. And if, when he kicked back with a cold beer, I was honest in my preference for a glass of cold Champagne, then I don't think that makes me any less of a kick-ass DIY chick.
More DIY Inspiration
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