DIY vs. Interior Designers - is it worth hiring an interior designer for your decorating project?

DIY vs. Interior Designers

With HGTV, Pinterest, Houzz and alllll the design inspiration and ideas out there, it feels a lot like it’s DIY vs. interior designers. Interior design looks easy, and I can totally understand why people try to DIY when it comes to decorating and design.

But have you ever tried to decorate a room and found that it came up short of your expectations? Maybe you found a beautiful inspiration image, but couldn’t quite find the right pieces to pull it off in real life? Or perhaps you found similar furniture to what was pictured, but somehow it didn’t quite look right in your home?

I recently surveyed my fans and followers about their struggles decorating their own homes, and these were overwhelmingly the top 3 responses:

  • “I have a vision in my head but don’t know where to find the right pieces”
  • “I don’t really know what my style is” (I can help you with that!)
  • “I’m afraid to shop in case I make an expensive mistake”

Guys, I totally get it. Interior designers make it look easy – because THIS IS WHAT WE’RE TRAINED IN AND WORK WITH EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. We take courses and classes to hone our design skills; we attend markets and events to educate ourselves on vendors and products; and we spend years building a dream team of contractors and trades to bring our design visions to life.

It’s not easy to DIY an interior design project…

…because interior designers are experts who have devoted their careers to creating exceptional spaces. Don’t beat yourself up because you can’t get a professional result with one photo you found on Pinterest to guide you!

Think about his: would you DIY your haircut and color? Maybe – but your botched bangs and box-dye are never going to look like the professional cut and balayage you happily splurge on. When the pros do it, you look and feel like the totally badass rockstar queen you are! When you DIY your hair, well, you like like you cut your own hair. You won’t be happy with the results because it takes years to become an expert. Same goes with interior design.

(One funny confession: I do cut my own hair! But only because I never wear it down. I absolutely hate hair touching my neck and shoulders! It is 100%, all the time, up in a big ol’ bun.)

DIY vs. Interior Designers - is it worth hiring an interior designer for your decorating project? (Let's just say I doubt you can create this amazing master bedroom without a designer!)

If you have no training in design,

you’re not likely to be happy with the outcome of an online shopping spree and haphazard attempt at picking paint colors. Interior designers are experts in the elements and principles of design like color, balance, harmony, proportion, space, and contrast. These are all things designers have learned, know intuitively, and engage with every day.

Tell me – can you relate to any of these?

  • Have you ever ordered an area rug only to find out that it was too small for your space? And then had to navigate the hassle (and expense) of shipping it back?
  • Have you brought home ready-made curtain panels only to discover they’re not nearly long enough?
  • Have you tried to install peel-and-stick wallpaper but couldn’t get the pattern to line up and gotten massively frustrated? (I’ll admit, in a pinch I totally have and regret not calling in a wallpaper installer!)
  • Have you ever hung pictures and created a hot mess of nail holes in the wrong spots?
  • Have you chosen a backsplash that ended up looking terrible with your countertops – but just lived with it because it was expensive?

I can only imagine how many hands are raised after reading that list! What a waste of your time, money, and mental bandwidth. Never mind the mega-frustrations that arise because “interior design is supposed to be easy!” and somehow you’re the only one who can’t do it. (Not true, by the way.)

DIY vs. Interior Designers - is it worth hiring an interior designer for your decorating project? (Let's just say I doubt you can create this amazing office nook without a designer!)

You can probably see where I’m going with this DIY vs. interior designers conversation.

Interior design is a professional service, a well-honed skill, and worth every darn penny you can afford to invest in it! An interior designer will listen to your ideas; interpret your design vision; source incredible furnishings, fixtures, and decor; navigate the ordering, scheduling of trades, and delivery of furnishings; and create a kickass home without the frustration, disappointment, financial risk, and uncertainty of trying to do it yourself.

Phew. That’s a mouthful. All that to say: the value of an interior designer’s services is so much greater than the time and money you risk losing to DIY.

And you know what? We LOVE doing this. Absolutely love it. Where you struggle, we thrive. I was born for this, baby!

Ready to learn more about working with Lesley Myrick Art + Design?

First, I’ve got an awesome FREE resource for you. It’s a 10-page PDF guide with printable worksheets called How Much Does It Cost to Decorate a House? Get real room-by-room budget examples to help plan for your design project like a total boss.

Second, book a complimentary consultation call with me so I can learn more about your project and recommend the best design package for you. I’m here to save you from expensive mistakes, massive frustrations, and DIY design insanity. Let’s do this.

This story about what I wish I’d known about painting kitchen cabinets has a happy ending…because I finally invested in paying someone to paint them after royally screwing up the paint job myself.

What I wish I'd known about painting kitchen cabinets BEFORE I tried to DIY! Design tips (and hard-earned wisdom) from interior designer Lesley Myrick.

There are a lot of awesome tutorials out there about how to paint kitchen cabinets, and I wish I was that person who embraced DIY and loved the tedious steps involved in sanding, prepping, taping, priming, and painting. But honestly, after attempting to do it ourselves, my husband and I pretty much ran screaming to the professionals and threw our checkbook at them to make it right.

And it was money well spent! As a designer, I always recommend talented professionals to get the job done. I finally realized it should be no different in my own home.

Here’s what I wish I’d known about painting kitchen cabinets before I tried it myself:

Can’t view the embedded video above? Click here. Prefer to read? Edited transcript is below.

I’m Lesley Myrick, welcome to Bust Out of Boring, my weekly show every Wednesday at noon CT where I help you bust out of a boring home and create something amazing.

This week, we’re on Episode 12

and we’re going to chat about what I wish I’d known about painting kitchen cabinets. It’s not about choosing color – color was easy! – but here is what I wish I had known about painting kitchen cabinets.

So clearly, if we’re starting with the topic of “what I wish I’d known”,I made a mistake.

We recently repainted our kitchen.

The cabinets were white, kinda dingy, kinda old. We wanted to give them a fresher, brighter coat and paint the lower cabinets a really fun color – soon to be revealed on the blog and social media.

And we were crafty, and did it ourselves! Which there ain’t no shame in that game, but I did not think through all the work, all the materials, all the ALL THE THINGS that we would need to do it right.

The biggest mistake we made painting our kitchen cabinets

was going from oil-based paint that was already on the cabinets to latex.

My genius brain said, “Cool! There are primers for that! We can do this no problem!”

Well, you can buy primers that will go over an oil base and will allow you to put on latex paint. However, the results that we got were not the most durable, were not the strongest, and we very quickly had issues with the finish being funny, with things getting chipped and dinged and scratched, and all the hard work my awesome husband put into it very quickly just looked…”meh”…and fell really flat.

That’s one of those lessons

that’s kind of hard to learn once you’ve put a little money and put a little time into something. You get so excited for this end result and it just doesn’t work the way you wanted it to.

So here’s what I wish I’d known about painting kitchen cabinets:

1. The right paint and the right process matters.

Cabinetry isn’t something that you can just slap up a fresh coat of paint on and hope it’s gonna last. Cabinets take a hella lot of abuse and they really need to be done well, done with the right materials, the right paint that’s going to cure and be strong on surfaces and not something that can get dinged up when cupboard doors are opened and shut.

2. Painting the kitchen cabinets ourselves was not a worthy DIY project.

This really is something that involves a lot of prep, a lot of labor, and a lot of time. As a working mom with two young kids, we need our kitchen! Having it torn up with us taking a week to do a job that professionals could do in three days really wasn’t worth the cost savings.

I’m so grateful to have hired our amazing painting crew to tackle our kitchen which is now 100% done – without paint chipping! It looks amazing and I’m so excited to share that with you guys soon.

As always, if you have questions or comments,

drop a line in the video comments on Facebook. I’d love to hear if you have any experience painting kitchen cabinets and if yours went a little bit better than mine or if you found similar pitfalls in terms of trying to do it “on the cheap” and finding that it wasn’t worth the time or energy.

Waco interior designer Lesley Myrick's Home Office

Boy meets girl. Boy marries girl. Boy is a devastatingly handsome rockstar academic with, like, a million books. Girl is a clever designer who creates a DIY bookshelf built-in spanning an entire 14′ wall to house her handsome hubby’s ever-growing library. Boy and girl live happily ever after with their plethora of color-coded bookshelves.

It’s like a modern fairy tale, isn’t it? I’m delighted that we got to the ‘happily ever after’ because our book situation could seriously be a thorn in the roses. But with some creativity, resourcefulness, and help from our friends at Metrie, there’s some magic happening here.

You may remember what our office looked like before:

Interior designer Lesley Myrick's home office makeover - before

Great blank canvas. Pretty boring. No storage.

And here’s where we’re at now:

Waco interior designer Lesley Myrick's Home Office

Ahhhh. So good! And way more practical for a couple who both primarily work from home. While time consuming, it was actually pretty simple to create this built-in look. We started by piecing together the individual elements needed. The IKEA Micke desk and the three tall Billy bookshelves on the left were existing from our former home; the two tall bookshelves on the right and the half-height shelf for my printer were purchased new for this project. Also needed: a 3/8″ thick cork roll from Manton Cork for the wall behind my desk; a chic Nate Berkus fabric to cover the corkboard; and moldings from Metrie to create the built-in look. We used this 2 11/16″ crown molding for the top of the built-in, a 3 1/4″ baseboard for the bottom, and 1/2″ quarter round to finish off the inside corners of the corkboard. (We also beefed up the crown molding at the ceiling to 4 1/4″ to keep everything in proportion.)

DIY Billy bookcase built in with Metrie trim, by interior stylist Lesley Myrick

The basics of how this faux built-in is assembled is pretty simple: arrange all the pieces, mark off where the corkboard needs to be and attach, then anchor everything to the wall and finish off with molding. The custom corkboard ended up being the hardest part! I used a heavy-duty floor grade adhesive as recommended by the cork manufacturer, but it really didn’t stick. Several nails were needed to hold the cork in place as it’s quite heavy. Covering it with a patterned fabric was not only an aesthetic choice but a practical one to hide several large nailheads underneath.

DIY Billy bookcase built in with Metrie trim, by interior stylist Lesley Myrick

DIY Billy bookcase built in with Metrie trim, by interior stylist Lesley Myrick

You may have noticed that the inside back panels of the bookshelves are wallpapered. It’s a delightfully eclectic mix of vintage-inspired black and white patterns, as we’ve collected the bookshelves over the years and had to mix in new patterns as we ran out of wallpaper. The two damask patterned papers aren’t still available, but the awesome Gibson Girls-inspired wallpaper is.

Can we take a moment to appreciate these sexy mitered corners on the crown and baseboard? As if my husband weren’t awesome enough, he knows his way around a miter saw. #truelove

DIY Billy bookcase built in with Metrie trim, by interior stylist Lesley Myrick

DIY Billy bookcase built in with Metrie trim, by interior stylist Lesley MyrickDIY Billy bookcase built in with Metrie trim, by interior stylist Lesley Myrick

Once the moldings were painted and installed, we patched up the nail holes and touched up the paint. The color we found was the closest match to the IKEA Billy series was Valspar Dove White, thanks to a recommendation found here (along with a more detailed DIY bookcase built-in tutorial).

Waco interior designer Lesley Myrick's Home Office

Boom. There she is. Well worth the effort to transform standard bookshelves into a custom DIY bookshelf built-in for our shared office.

If you’d like to see more of my home you can check out my living room, foyer, and entire home office here.

Black and white dalmatian print foyer - an eclectic makeover by interior stylist @lesleymyrick

As a designer, owning a house is THE FUNNEST. I get to decorate my own space without fear of repercussions from a landlord! Or even worse, fear of the work required to paint everything back to beige before moving out (ugh.)

Since moving to Waco, Texas in July we’ve wrapped up the living room makeover; the office is underway, and the foyer is now complete too. Take a peek at what our entryway looked like before:

Foyer with DIY dalmatian print wallpaper - before and after by interior stylist @lesleymyrick


Peachy wallpaper surrounded by peach walls. The wallpaper almost wasn’t terrible and may have even been pretty cool in another color palette, but it just wasn’t working for me. And after obsessing over this foyer FOR. LIKE. EVER. I decided to go a little nuts and do a DIY dalmatian print wall treatment in my own home. I’ll share the DIY process for my dalmatian print wall in another post soon, but for now just know that it was a stop-gap solution done on the cheap that I intended to redo in a year or so, but I love it so much you’ll have to pry those walls out of my COLD DEAD HANDS.

Anyway. More shots of my eclectic foyer design!

"Hello" welcome mat and dalmatian print walls by interior stylist @lesleymyrick

Black and white DIY dalmatian print wall by @lesleymyrick

A modern and eclectic foyer design with DIY dalmatian print wall by interior stylist @lesleymyrick

DIY dalmatian print wall with a framed collage by artist Marcelo Monreal | Interior design by @lesleymyrick

It’s a small (but mighty) space so there aren’t a lot of sources to list, but if anything you see tickles your fancy here you go:

Chair: Vintage | Union Jack Pillow: Bed Bath & Beyond | Doormat: Target | Tote Bag: Madewell | Chalkboard with Hooks: World Market | Collage Art: Marcelo Monreal

The next space I’m tackling in my home makeover is the office, with a blue ceiling and a wall of DIY custom-look built ins. And wallpaper featuring 1920s sketches of women’s faces. And a leopard print cowhide rug. And a deer head mounted on the wall. It’s gonna be weird and wonderful.