What Are You Afraid Of?

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

How many times do you think “I really want to (paint woodwork or brick, change a faucet, change a light fixture, paint ugly laminate countertops, put up wainscoting, use a power saw, etc.) in my home, but I could never do it. I wish I was that brave. Maybe someday.” I can relate to this fear. Really, I can.

With each project I tackle, there’s always a little fear lingering in the room with me. Fear usually hangs out in the corner, smoking a stinky cigar and saying discouraging things to me like “You’re going to ruin your house, ya know.”, or “Your project is going to look (silly, awful, amateurish) and nobody will ever want to buy your house from you.” You know…sweet things like that.

Honestly though, Fear is wrong 99% of the time. And even when it turns out that Fear had a pretty good point and something does look a little stupid or “off”, I can always fix it, and learn valuable lessons along the way.

Can I tell you how many times I’ve painted a room and hated the color? I could do an hour long Power Point presentation on the modern history of paint colors in my home. Those who have been reading my blog a while know this to be true. For instance see where my bedroom started 2 years ago: It had its good points but it was waaay too dark…for me) and by continuing to experiment with ideas, it’s now someplace I LOVE.

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And yes, spending hours painting a room only to end up hating the color is incredibly frustrating. The good thing? It is soooo easy to remedy. A $20 can of paint and an afternoon is all it takes to get closer to finding a color you’ll truly love. And isn’t that better than spending years with a color you despise…or at least really, really dislike?

Need another example? Remember when I changed my bathroom faucets and warned you to reconnect the hot and cold hoses to the right valves? Um yeah…turns out I failed to do that on one of the sinks. After shaking my fists in the air and letting out a big “Gaah!”, I spent 5 minutes with a wrench and fixed the problem – and now I have lovely faucets that make me smile each time I see them.

And my most recent example?: my beautifully framed bathroom mirror. I love the concept. I love how it looks in pictures (or from a distance), but my cuts on the small trim pieces were a little off and the wood grain on the frame was bothering me. So did I tell myself “I’m a huge DIY failure and I should never attempt another project”? No. I learned from my mistakes and spent a little time fixing them. I took of the small (poorly cut) trim pieces, and made better cuts on a new ($3) piece of trim. I also got out my handy palm sander, gave the mirror frame a good sanding, and then skimmed the surface with a layer of spackle…followed by another light sanding by hand.

Note: Reflection grayed out to hide top secret bathroom projects underway.

The result? A more “professional” finish, and the satisfaction of knowing I did a job well all by my little self. And if I ever frame out a mirror like that again, I know to buy a smoother wood and/or sand/patch before painting.

The point is, do NOT let your fear of making a mistake keep you from creating a home you love. Do your research, plan ahead, but be kind to yourself if the results are less than perfect. Just pull up those big girl pants (or big boy pants if you’re a boy who’s reading this) and keep trying until you have that room you’ve been dreaming of. With a little trial, error and persistence you will get there.

What project have you been procrastinating because you’re too nervous to try?

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53 Suburbanites Said:

Beth@The Stories of A to Z said...

Well, after about 4 posts on the topic and a million swatches and late nights stressing over the damn thing I have finally come to the conclusion that I will only love my kitchen if the cabinets are white. I'm scared. I'm not quite ready to take on the battle, but it needs to happen. I figure I can use some of my post-grief energy for something good here. Wish me luck.

The Tiny Homestead said...

great post! my fear says those same horrible things to me too, but instead of smoking a cigar my fear has a big ol' bottle of wine.

I'm currently afraid of a project I decided to tackle all-by-myself...building a shelf. Yikes it has me scared, but when I really think it through the only thing I truly have to fear is ruining about $50 worth of wood. I don't think that losing a finger is even a real fear since I had the store cut some of the wood and I will take all safety precautions.

The Boese Family said...

Great post! I feel myself paralyzed by this all the time. In my last home I did crazy stuff on a regular basis (and loved it all), but in my new "grown up" home I'm scared to touch anything. Thanks for reminding me to have confidence in myself and just go for it. That was a much needed kick in the pants.

And Beth, I'm with you on the cabinets. About to start ours this month after much agonizing. Good luck!

AdronsCatherine said...

LOTS!

But, yesterday, I got a big ol' stack of cut plywood and tomorrow I get to start building shelves for my craft room =)

I'm a big fat chicken, and find myself "researching" rather than just jumping in and working on the project. Granted, that has the up side of making me more educated, but the problem is that I stall so long that I finally just give up. Of course, some of that is due to having a lap jockey, but he's about to be walking, and I'll be free to move about freely in the future - and I will totally miss the snuggles!

Thank you so much for sharing your hiccups with us. It's totally inspiring to see that perfection isn't always effortless!

Kristy said...

Very well said!

kljswilson said...

what if you are afraid of everything? Seriously, I need to do my ENTIRE Master Bedroom and I don't know where to start. Fear has me backed into a corner.

Megandvd@Beauty in the Attempt said...

I am tackling a fear as we speak...my master bedroom is laughing at me and rejoicing that I have yet to start the battle. Haha! Just wait till this quarter is over and I have 2 weeks to make the impossible possible. Thank you for letting me know it is good to have fear only so we can relish in overcoming it. :)

Cheers~
e

southerninspiration said...

YES!!!!! I have seen that dude lurking around here, too!! Isn't that incredible the hold he can have on us! Thanks for great motivation to move away from him toward courage and progress!!!!

Suzanne

Samantha2818 said...

I agree with the fact that paint can change the whole look of a room and if you mess up you can easily start again. I just repainted my bedroom after only a year or so of living with a colour not far from what I've got now but which just looked wrong. My husband didn't get this but I'm sure you know what I mean!

Amanda @ Serenity Now said...

I've been hating on my kitchen cabinet hardware for 7 years now. It's time to break out the spray paint when hubby is not home....

J and Company said...

I want to paint my kitchen cabinets white so badly...but I am both afraid of messing up and afraid of all of the work! I'm trying to build up the courage...

Kristi said...

Apparently I don't have that fear. I painted ugly laminate countertops last summer & painted my fireplace brick in a white wash just this past month! I was afraid it wouldn't turn out well when I started but since there is no turning back I just continued! You can see both posts on my blog http://www.creativekristi.com the laminate countertop post is by far my most read/commented on post lol I guess people are really facinated by it!
Can't wait for the top secret bathroom project reveal!!

Kristi said...

Oh, I have plenty of projects that I need to tackle, but my problem isn't fear...it's procrastination! I have an "alley find" that just needs some bracing, priming, a fresh coat of black paint and some adorable throw pillows to become the cutest.darn.porch-swing.ever!

Why, oh why haven't I finished this project?!?

Karen said...

I so agree. My kitchen walls were a blue green I couldn't get the colour right When my husband was away I found the right colour and re painted.
Were about to paint over our brick walled family room I'm still worrying though I've done so many things I've worried about and they turn out great
Kind Regards
Karen

Centsational Girl said...

Well said, my friend ! One must jump boldly into decorating, and be willing to take risks ! Even if it means a 'do-over' sometime down the road. :-)

Cindy Sue said...

You're a hoot, have had that little cigar smoking man around before... Right now it seems my problem is not fear, but indecisiveness, about paint color none the less. Will try to take your go get'em attitude, lol... look forward to coming back.

AmandaG said...

I have two large, heavy brass lamp bases I got at Goodwill for $4 each (!!!) and am still scared to paint them. I am worried I won't like the color and will wish I would've painted them a different color and then I can't go back... and ACK! It gets crazy in my head. I just need to do it and if it looks bad, I can always change it. Thanks for the timely post!

Kelsey said...

Such a motivating post! I get so scared to start sewing projects because I'm a total novice seamstress and I always think I'll screw it up and make it look ugly. I need to just jump in and tackle projects because its better to have done it and hate it then to keep putting it off and feel like a lazy butt!

metromom said...

I have painted my kitchen 5 times in 2 years and it's still not quite right...but it's only paint, right?

PS I LOVE your bedskirt, is it something you purchased recently that I might still be able to find? If so, I'd love to know where.

AnNicole@Our Suburban Cottage said...

Metromom - I bought the bedskirt years ago at either Bed, Bath and Beyond or Linens n' Things (How's that for specific). It was probably part of the "Hotel" collection.

Victoria said...

I have been one to let fear keep me on the sidelines in the past but slowly have been getting better about it!

I recently tackled my fear of power tools and used my FIL's compound miter saw and helped him put up faux wainscotting. Just doing it made me feel so much more confident in my ability to try things.

Lori said...

Do you remember the paint color that you used on your second try?? I have 4 color samples on my guest bedroom wall right now. I think I need a fifth. :)

metromom said...

thanks for the info!

{Carrie} said...

One of my youngest's teacher's class motto was, "If you can't make a mistake you can't make anything."
What a wonderful attitude! We even made her a sign for her room that had her saying on it.

momy4him said...

thanks for the encouragement! my husband and I bought a 1950's ranch home and I want to change everything about it! I would love to redo the kitchen, but funds are low due to some major fixing we have had to do. I am scared to death to paint the kitchen cabinets. I would love to paint them black, but I am afraid they will end up making the small kitchen a dark dungeon, so I am planning to play it safe and paint them white. I would even like to take the cabinets out altogether and just have open shelving, but fear is telling me it's not a good idea...

Elizabeth (blue clear sky) said...

Great post, thanks! I'm afraid of tackling our 11 year old carpeted stairs in our very busy home. Half the set into the basement is painted plywood (thanks Builder.)The basement section that is carpeted was chewed by my brothers dog and the landing piece had to be ripped off. The upper stairs are just worn and not hardwood underneath. Can't really afford to change them at this time but I really want wood. I'm afraid that once I start I won't be able to finish without spending a lot of money.

Miss Tiff said...

Ha! I think ur reading my mind. I have about 5-10 unfinished projects in my basement and another 5-10 in my head. Yikes, right. Way to inspire me to get off my bum and get something done. Gosh, I luv ze Bloggers!

ourthreesons said...

Great post today, thanks so much! Yes, I'm guilty of doing nothing because I think I'm going to ruin something. That's the main reason I hardly have anything on the walls and have yet to pick up a paint brush and change some paint colors.
Btw, I love the plates on the wall above the bed, I've been toying with that idea as well.

Tamra said...

As a decorative artist fear is the biggest obstacle for my clients to overcome. I can't begin to tell you how many times someone will pick out a sample from my portfolio and say "OH I love this! But I could never do that in my home" OY!

If you love it, do it! Are you planning on selling your home next week? No, then go for it. You wont' ruin it, you'll love it. And like you said if it's just paint then for 20 bucks it's a cheap fix.

Glad to see you take the plunge and I love the Cigar smoking commentator, hilarious!

Laurie - Little Blue Chairs said...

Ah a perfectly timed post for me. I painted my cabinets a month or so a go, and I don't hate them, but something was just off. I bought the fabric and realized I need to repaint them a different color. Oops, nothing is permanent right? I am just glad others are a bit freaked out and need to fix things as well.

Thank you.

Erin said...

Thank you, AnNicole! I am a project girl, but I have a level of difficulty that I usually plateau at. Currently I am fearing painting my woodwork. I know it will look great when it's done, and I know I can do it. I'm not even worried anymore about other people condemning me for painting "perfectly good oak". It just scares me to start. Thank you for the encouragement!

Melanie said...

I am like you about the paint. I just painted the guest room and it didn't look good with the tuffed headboard and the things that were in the room. The color wasn't bad but I went and bought another gallon and am starting over. I am not quite as brave as you yet. I don't think I would tackle faucets;)

Julie Johnson said...

Great post! Isn't it amazing what fear does...paralyzes me from time to time. I've realized that if I want to make the changes, I need to just give it a try...and most of the time I have nothing to lose!

Funky Junk Interiors said...

The chandy in my kitchen. Electricity frightens me. I've changed it out before but I think I lost like 80 lbs of sweat and gained 90 lbs of frustration. Swore I'd never do it again. So there my cool light sits in my garage, waiting. Will probably wait forever. It's ok. The light is cool enough to look cool in storage too!

Whatever...

Donna
http://www.funkyjunkinteriors.blogspot.com/

Funky Junk Interiors said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lettered Cottage said...

Fear? What's that?
Kidding- but when it comes to home improvement projects, I'm never afraid to try....and re-try...and re-try...and....

:-)

Layla

goodtastehealthyme said...

Ugh god I'm such a pansy when it comes to home projects. My boyfriend and I are in our first home and I'm terrified to death of putting a room together and decorating etc. I'm scared I'm going to be terrible at it! I know it's just silly fears but it's definitely tough sometimes!

A Life In Focus Photography said...

how good you are to remind us to be brave and create the life/home we want! I won't forget what you shared here today!

Annie Wilcox Designs said...

I am afraid to paint stripes in my boys room and nervous to finish some curtains for my little girls room. Will they be even or straight? Perhaps I should just hire it out...how much is that?

hthr said...

I so appreciate reading this today! I am working on decorating our basic blah bedroom and ::sigh:: the options are endless. I do have a "headboard" which is 2 antique looking mirrored panels from Ballard and I am terrified to hang them! Seriously, I believe the entire WALL will come crashing down and the other side of it is my husbands closet. SCARY!!!

Nina Patricia @ The Adventures of Nina Patricia said...

See, I have that scary feeling. I've seen many things at good old Godwill and I know with a little paint it would look terrific but I'm to afraid to do it. I do, however, love colors on walls and not afraid to try it. Great post.

Amanda said...

We're in the middle of it now - taking down a wall. We've waited 3 years out of fear, and now it's gone! We're in the process of patching it up (a nightmare in itself), but the house is still standing and our new bathroom will look great when it's done. I hope.

My husband is always wondering (crankily) why I "can't just pick the right paint color the first time" or just "stick with what I've picked." But, whatever. Paint is cheap and makes such a huge difference - I'm glad I'm not the only one who paints and repaints and repaints...I should share this post with him. He seems to think I'm the only person on the planet who does these things...

janet said...

You just took all the words right out of my mouth ;-) I have been trying to tell this to my friends for 30 years!!!!!

Meg Bennett said...

I have been reading your blog for awhile now, quietly, and must say that this post has inspired me to just go for it.

My husband and I are in the closing process of buying our first home and in regards to painting before we move in, I have been going back and forth about painting the living room green. I want to oh-so-badly but I am incredibly scared of color.

Because of this post I will tackle the above and few more things. What can it really hurt, I can always repaint it if I don't like it.

I just wanted to let you know that you have helped me get a few steps closer to creating my dream house. Thank you, thank you.

Laurie Jones said...

Looking at your bedroom photos really makes me believe what I've always believed, although your first room is very pretty your second photo is beautiful with a capitol B, I really think in order to make our house the best we need to take our time and let it speak to us, I know it sounds silly but I always am tweaking my rooms and they get better and better!

Laura said...

I am afraid, I admit it! Like so many other people, I MUST paint my kitchen cabinets white, as well as every door, window frame, and bit of molding. It's all a dirty almond right now, and it's so dark and dreary and I can't stand my house beacause of it. What am I afraid of? That hubby won't like it. That I will make a big mistake. That I will start and not finish. BUT, I really need to just DO it! I am longing for some bright white. I need it. Face the fear...

Ness Lockyer said...

That would be our bathroom floor. I got all geed up to rip up the ugly lino, and am now still wondering how I am going to do it. I know, but it is my house and it is always much harder to do anything in our home...I dont know why. Maybe I should take the Nike motto and 'Just Do It'.
Ness xx

rachel @ perfectly imperfect said...

i think my biggest fears are 1. the amount of time it could take to do some projects, and 2. the risk that i won't create with my hands the picture i see in my head!
both are silly- i've been successful at so many projects, so i should know by know that i can do it!

Lilianne said...

I literally have 10 paint chips on my bedroom wall. I've disliked my walls for 10 years now...Ha! Grey tone it will be....but WHICH ONE!!! what a dilemma...

west coast nester said...

Thanks for the motivation.

Sausha said...

No Fear!! I can pretty much say that i have no fear when it comes to home projects, i own all the tools and dont any need help from that guy in my house :)

But, the best part is showing others that a "girl" can do all this stuff and motivate them to try projects too.

Nellie's Kitchen said...

I'm so right there with you. I just finished my family room walls, and not thrilled with the one shade out of 10,000,000 shades of tan that are out there. The one I pick looked great in the store, but now reminds me of band-aid tan! Yuck. So, back to the store! Thanks for the inspiration.

Flourchild said...

Im glad I found you..Im getting some great ideas! I have So many projects I want to tackle. Master bedroom furniture needs help..want to paint but again that fear creeps in. ..Bathroom cabinets need painted and brass needs to be painted or taken out:) It's fine once I get started but getting there is my problem:)