Are you looking to take on any design projects or maybe even just spruce up your home in time for summer parties and get togethers? If so, you're not alone! DIY expert and TV personality Kristan Cunningham joined me recently to not only offer fantastic tips on how to improve your home in about an hour's time, but she shared great advice for novice painters (like myself) who are intimidated by a paintbrush and that gallon of paint.
Candace Rose: With summer right around the corner, what can we do to update our homes this season?
Kristan Cunningham: "I think this time of the year, more than any time of year (maybe even more than the holidays) it's important to really up the ante in our homes because we entertain more in the summer than any time of the year, and especially if you're lucky enough to have an amazing outdoor space. You're going to have barbecues and get togethers, and really getting that space up to par is important and I think if we can do it in ways that are inexpensive and pretty fast it's a no-brainer, right?
Because we want to focus our energy into the actual parties; so let's talk first about maybe what you can achieve in an hour to spruce up your space. I think when you come into your backyard- certainly if your backyard is accessed, people have to come in all the way through the house. They see all of your interior, they see all the time and energy and mental effort that you've put into putting your home together and creating a color story and all that. You want that to continue out into the outdoor space.
So as you walk them through and you access the backyard, think about where your eye lands and what your visual destination is- whether it's your back fence or a tree off to the side. When people walk outside where will their eye really land? And create what I like to call 'an unexpected garden moment' in that area. So this can be as simple as a really great arbor with a great silhouette and painting in a fantastic lacquer color in a china red or a canary yellow. It could be one really tall grand opalesque or a pedestal with a big urn. The idea is to do something that's obvious really unexpected, but has architectural presence- something with a strong silhouette and all you need is one big thing and put an uplight staked in the grass, you plug it in and at night when everything else goes dark you have this one illuminated object with presence and suddenly your backyard kind of looks like the Versailles. It feels well appointed and grand, and this is something that you can literally do in moments for minimal effort.
But additionally we don't think about decorating as much when we think about redoing our outdoor spaces. We think about building decks or planting things, but decorating can be just as impactful, again because creating that extension of indoor space is so effective. I'm actually working on my mom's patio right now and I walked into Lowes the other day and in the front of the store there was this gorgeous vignette with a beautiful area rug, really pretty table and chairs, really nice cushions but the idea was none of it felt like outdoor furniture. It all felt like things that she could have in her living room but all of it was indoor/outdoor grade, so everything could be hosed off. I guess my point is there's zero excuse for your backyard or your outdoor spaces to not be as cute as your indoors anymore because the products are really amazing now. They all look indoor quality. So I think you can do simple things like lay down a rug and your backyard all of a sudden feels better taken care of. It doesn't feel neglected and suddenly it really does feel decorated. Take it one step further- do the pillows, do all of it. But honestly if you can do one thing like a rug, that's going to have more impact than just about anything that you can do."
Candace Rose: At one point you mentioned painting- how about for those of us (I'm speaking for myself) who are horrible at painting. Do you have any DIY tips for us?
Kristan Cunningham: "I do! Certainly if you don't think you're good at it don't take it off the to do list. I've always said this and most people know this- paint is always going to give you the biggest bang for your buck. Everybody knows an accent wall or a new fresh coat of paint is really going to have impact, but I think where you can be clever and show your personality is where you choose to do those paint treatments or what you choose to paint. Curb appeal is important and we all know this, but showcasing your personality is just as important, and especially if you live on a block where all the houses are the same color. If you are the one house that has a lacquered aqua door or (the color of the year) that really pretty racing orange right now- if you have that flame orange door you're going to be the cutest house on the block. And this is something that literally takes an hour and costs a gallon of paint. Our homes are really such a reflection of who we are, what our families are like, what our personalities are and a gallon of paint; a few cute containers at the base of the door- really big bright pots; a great light fixture and suddenly you've put all the jewelry, all the bling on the outfit that is your house to literally be the cutest one on the block. And painting something like that is simple even if you don't think you're a good painter. But the thing that I always try to tell people who feel discouraged about taking on paint projects is if you're a muralist, that requires some skill but most painting projects don't. You can do something really effective even if you don't think you're a good painter. Tape is your very best friend. Whether it's a chevron pattern or a racing stripe or just painting clean lines, if you spend the time doing the prep work, if you spend the time putting up the tape and in the case of doing wall treatments- measuring out and making sure everything is even, you don't need to be an artist because you're going to have razor sharp lines because you've used tape.
People always ask specifically about paint bleeding under the tape, and I always say go back with whatever your starting color is. If your wall is starting white, put up your tape and cover the edges in that same white paint, let it dry and now you've created basically an invisible seal that your new paint color can't get under. So if you really feel like your paint skills are not up to par, try that trick and I guarantee you, it will change everything. You will have razor sharp lines on all your edges from here forward."
Candace Rose: I'll take your word for it.
Kristan Cunningham: "I promise you it will change everything! But I think it's the daunting aspect for most people that keep them from taking on more DIY projects. In shopping for my mom's patio right now, I've done the whole thing online because she's in Georgia, I'm in Los Angeles; and I signed up for a MyLowes account. If you go to Lowes.com, you can sign up for a MyLowes account. It takes two seconds to sign up, but then everything that you have in your design universe lives in one place. All the dimensions for your rooms, all your existing paint colors, so you don't have to remember in two years what your white trim color was in the dining room; shopping lists of projects that you're anticipating doing so that all of the things that you need to make that project happen are categorized in one list, and actually you have links to it and all that. So it makes the prep work a lot easier. It streamlines the whole process so that you can focus on actually having fun with the process and creating and doing, and not focusing as much on the planning."
Candace Rose: Do you have any additional tips or information you'd like to share with us?
Kristan Cunningham: "I think most importantly if you're a person who feels intimidated by the DIY process, take on one project at a time, but be bold each time so you can grow along with each project. Take on things you know are in your skill set and most importantly with paint you always have the option of going back with white, so live a little! Go with the zippy orange, try it out! You can always go back."
Candace Rose: White is your friend.
Kristan Cunningham: "White is your friend if you've made a mistake, yes!"