How to: Handle a DIY Disaster


You’ve gotten excited. You’ve read the how-to’s and DIY posts. You’ve undertaken a daunting, slightly scary but you-can-totally-do-this-yourself home project, only after a few steps you’ve realized you totally can’t do it yourself. Or something has gone terribly wrong. Or something is smoking.

Don’t worry! We’ve got your emergency steps to take should a DIY disaster strike. Remember: you’re not alone.

Take a step back, a deep breath and stay calm The important thing here is realize that no one is injured (hopefully), your house is still in one piece (for now) and that everything can be fixed. The best thing to do when you’ve realized that you’ve made a mistake is to not make things worse. So stop what you’re doing and move on the next step.

Assess the emergency level Is this just some sort of cosmetic ailment? Like you chose the way wrong wall paint color? Or thought that wallpaper pattern wouldn’t be too busy but it totally is? Or are we talking like you decided to “open up” your living room and took out a load bearing wall? Cosmetic emergencies should start with you stepping away from the project for a day or two; your emergency might be nothing more than you getting nervous. If not, some time away will still give you a fresh perspective. Other emergencies might require more immediate action.

Talk to an expert Take to the internet and figure out where things went wrong. Submit photos of your room to websites like Apartment Therapy or 2Modern and ask for advice. Google for the exact issue you had when doing your project. Chances are someone else in this world has come across this same problem as you have, and you might just need a simple solution.

Consult a professional Or you might just need to hire someone. Remember, after a disaster you want to minimize the chances of making this worse, and while you may have tried to tackle a project yourself for fun or to save money, it might be smarter just to let someone do the job quickly and correctly. Swallow your pride if you need to.

Ask yourself “what went wrong?” Seriously. This project may have been a DIY failure, but it doesn’t mean you have to hang up your tool belt for ever. Figure out what went wrong, learn from your mistakes and do better next time!

Images: Gary Walts/The Post-Standard via Apartment Therapy and Flickr user Annie Mueller
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1 Comment

  1. Sara

    Dec 5, 2012 at 4:25 pm

    Submit photos and stories about your DIY disasters to DIY Debacles (www.diydebacles.com), a new site that celebrates craft efforts gone awry.

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