“We live by the motto, ‘Do what you love,’” says do-it-yourself guru Kara Paslay. For the past several years, she and her husband Tim have been Tulsa’s “go-to” resource for creative home decorating projects. Their popular DIY blog is filled with unique, fun and affordable ideas. And Paslay’s often-whimsical projects make her suggestions relevant for renters as well as for homeowners.

According to Paslay, you want to ask yourself a few key questions before deciding what new project to undertake. “First, assess your wants and needs,” she explains. “Do you need more jewelry storage? Do you want a piece of art to fill that corner?”

Determine – with honesty – your skill level. “This will help you to pick a project that you can finish and feel good about rather than getting half way through and leaving it in the garage for the next five years,” she continues. Tim Paslay recommends building confidence by starting with smaller projects.

Identify what tools are required. If you don’t own everything you’ll need, the options are investing in the equipment, borrowing or even renting from places like ABC Tool and Home Depot.

Next, do your research. There are numerous websites that provide detailed, step-by-step instructions on most any kind of home renovation or decorating project. But Paslay doesn’t recommend just copying any project exactly. “We always encourage people to make projects ‘their own’ by changing a color or material,” Paslay says. “Also, visiting local hardware stores will put you in touch with knowledgeable people who can give great tips and suggestions for your projects.”

The final step is to gather all your materials before starting. “You don’t want to interrupt your creative flow by making a trip to the store,” shares Paslay. And if you find it hard to get things finished, consider having a DIY weekend or a DIY night with friends to encourage each other.

“Tim and I are firm believers in incorporating your passions into your décor,” she says. “Figure out what elements are associated with your interests and determine ways to incorporate that into your space.” 

For example, if you love traveling, then use vintage maps as artwork. If your kids love soccer, then stencil hexagon patterns on their walls or furniture. If your passion is music, create a coffee table from a drum or a sunburst mirror from a cymbal.

If new furnishings are out of your budget, consider changing what you already have. Repaint using lace as a stencil. Drawer fronts can be modified by changing hardware, adding molding, veneers, fabric or adhesive decorative papers. Install wallpaper to the back of bookshelves, or upholster a wood headboard. And replacing existing sofa legs while incorporating some different accessories can create an entirely new look.

Finally, Paslay does not recommend taking on DIY projects just to save money. “If you don’t love creating, it can be frustrating, take more time and even ultimately cost more money than you would save,” says Paslay. “Always remember, do what you love.”

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