The concepts of ‘home improvement’ and ‘stress-free’ don’t often sit comfortably together. From an over-stretched budget to living in chaos, or missed deadlines and logistical confusions, even a simple decorating job can give your mental health a beating.
While it’s impossible to guarantee a completely stress-free home improvement project, there are ways to minimise upheaval.
The devil, as they say, is in the detail. Or to put it another way, lack of detail creates a devil of a muddle.
Before you so much as raise a screwdriver, try and have as clear an idea as possible of the end result you’re hoping for. Start broad, with ideas such as modernising the kitchen, upgrading the bathroom, freshening the bedroom decor. Then drill down into more detail of the result or look you want.
There are so many interior styles and choice that just saying ‘modernise’ isn’t enough. Even vintage styles can look modern. So, are you going for sleek and minimal? A country cottage look? Bright and breezy or understated and calm?
Creating a mood board can help if you’re not sure what you want. Browse online or in store, look at catalogues and brochures, pay attention to colour trends and research strategies to make rooms seem bigger, taller, or wider. Pick up samples of fabric and wallpaper, invest in a few tester paint pots. Create a scrapbook (either physical or digital) of the styles, looks and effects you’d like to include.
This process can take any time from an hour to several months, so don’t feel as though you’ve necessarily missed something if your planning goes quickly. The aim is to clarify what you need and want, and as soon as you’ve nailed it, you can buy materials and supplies with confidence.
Creating a logical progression through the various steps of a home improvement project can help reduce stress. Of course, life happens, so you always need to expect the unexpected, but knowing this you can factor in time for delays.
When you’re using various specialised trades such as plumbers, builders, or electricians, research the necessary order of tasks so each tradesperson has what they need when they start.
Try and anticipate what might go wrong so you can have a backup plan if it’s needed.
Creating Space to Work in
If you can completely clear the decks around a planned job, you’re onto a winner. It’s so frustrating when trying to work around boxes of possessions or stacked up furnishings.
Renting a storage room for home improvements can really help. Just pack up your valuables into labelled boxes, dismantle shelving or furnishings if possible, and stow it all safely away from the house.
As most self storage places are relatively easy to get to, it’s quick to retrieve something if you need it back in the meantime.
Apart from protecting furnishings from damage, there’s the second advantage of going through what you own and making some decisions about whether to upgrade them. You’ll also find that your things look newer and brighter when you bring them home to freshly redecorated or remodelled surroundings.
During the planning phase, it’s a good idea to start buying items you’ll need. Maybe it’s a particular wallpaper you like, a bargain in bathroom fittings, or a special offer on power tools you’ve been promising yourself. On the other hand, it might just be paint trays and rollers or brushes.
If you have a self storage unit, this is a great place to collect everything together before you start. Tick each item off a list as you acquire it, so you can keep a running tally of what you have and what’s still needed. It saves those last-minute runs to the shop when you realise you don’t have a small brush for edging work.
As mentioned before, if you’re having help from specialised trades people, they can advise the order of jobs so you can book their time correctly.
But even if you’re doing a relatively straightforward job yourself, such as redecorating a room, tackling steps in the right order prevents lots of stress.
If you’re new to decorating, there’s plenty of advice online about which steps to take first but basically:
Prepare and clean your surfaces to help get the most professional finish.
When you’re painting, do the ceiling before the walls and the walls before trims such as skirtings and door frames.
When wallpapering, start in the middle of the wall and work towards the corners. Use a plumb line or spirit level to make an accurate vertical line. Don’t start in the corner because often the corners aren’t straight, and you’ll end up with any pattern slanting across the wall.
In any job, planning is key, from taking time off work to do the job to organising help with childcare or gathering materials, it will all work towards reducing stress-levels and increasing your enjoyment in the home-improvement process.