Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Get Ready to Create: DIY Project Prep

As promised, I will be writing about some simple DIY projects that are as close to no-fail as is possible. But whether you'll be creating based on my how-to's, from other websites or books, or from your own imagination, there are some things you'll need first.

The basics are often enough to get you started on simple projects, and if you don't already own these items, many of them can be borrowed from a friend or neighbour, or purchased fairly inexpensively at any hardware store. The basic tools are:
  • a drill with a decent selection of bits and screwdriver bits (so you can use your drill as a power screwdriver, eliminating the need for an extra tool). Note that you will sometimes have to purchase a particular bit for a specific project as the same bit won't drill through both plywood and glass tile, for example.
  • a jigsaw with a couple of blades. Again, blades should be material-specific; there are different blades for metal and wood, as well as for different material thicknesses.
  • a level, at least 24-inches long
  • a good sturdy tape measure with clearly indicated markings
  • a couple of clamps for holding things together while you are waiting for glue to dry or lining things up to drill into
  • adhesives - it's really practical to have a selection of them on hand, including construction adhesive, wood glue, a hot glue gun and glue sticks, masking tape
  • a staple gun (does not have to be electric) and staples for it
  • an iron, yup the thing you use to press your clothes. But I strongly suggest you buy a cheap one to keep for creative projects and not use the one you use to press your work clothes near adhesives and paints. Just in case...
  • a basic set of screwdrivers (not electric)
  • a hammer, mid-sized with a decent weight to it is the most versatile
Time & patience: This may sound like a crazy thing to reiterate, but it has to be. Don't start a project that you figure requires 3 hours time when you know you have to go out in exactly 3 hours; projects always take a bit longer than you expect. Likewise, don't start a project when you would really rather be doing something else - you will try to rush, a step will be overlooked or not done with the care required and the outcome will be affected by this.

Work space: When possible, you will want to do certain tasks outside or in the garage with at least a window opened. Solvents, some adhesives, etc have pretty strong odors that you won't want wafting through your home and being inhaled by all. Tasks such as drilling and sawing create unbelievable quantities of sawdust that can be a respiratory irritant, irritate the eyes, and so on. Plus dust travels in mysterious ways and you don't want it ending up all over the place. If you don't have a garage and if weather doesn't permit outdoor work, close yourself in a room with open windows. Wherever you set up to work, make sure you have electrical outlets available to you (or a safe way to keep extension cords from tangling in power tools as you are working or from tripping you as you move about) and also make sure that you have the room you'll need to keep your tools and materials at hand but not crowding you as you work.

Check back soon for the first do-it-yourself project to be posted here!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Thursday's Thoughts: Design project spending patterns

The spending habits of our clients have changed recently.  While spending freely on decor and questioning the costs related to construction had been the way things were, there is now a noticeable swing in the opposite direction.  People are understanding the importance of the "invisible stuff" (i.e.: electrical, insulation, etc...) and are looking for ways to make their spaces "look like a million dollars" for a fraction of that cost after the big stuff is done.

The best way to save on decor, and many of my clients are doing this, is to involve yourself in some DIY projects.  Whether you are all thumbs, don't have a creative bone in your body, or just think you don't know how to make things, there are projects you can tackle that will cost you only 10% of what you would pay for a similar item in a store. The tricks to a successful DIY project?

  • Choose your projects carefully. Consider your experience & the complexity, your comfort level with the tools required, the amount of time required & the amount of time you have...
  • Read all tutorials, instructions, and materials lists before you begin.
  • Be organized and have everything on hand before you start.
  • Don't try improvising when you really shouldn't. If the instructions call for carpenter's glue, you should not have a Crayola glue stick in your hand.
In the upcoming weeks I will be writing about some easy, inexpensive, no-special-skills-required, do-it-yourself decor projects that will save you money, make you proud, and motivate you for your next projects!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

My articles in print in a real estate magazine

The local real estate magazine Homes & Land (Demeures et Domaines in French), which encompasses Montreal, the Eastern Townships, and the Laurentians, is publishing some of my articles. A couple of articles will be those previously published in their magazine, but most will be new content.

The current issue (Volume 4, Issue 7) is available in various locations around the city if you would prefer a print copy rather than flipping through on-line. "Planning the Ideal Kitchen Layout" appears on page 16.

Upcoming all new articles to appear in the magazine will include one about designing sun rooms and solariums, and how to properly develop a colour scheme that will work throughout your whole home, to name a couple.

Happy reading!