9 Home Makeover Questions Answered by DIY Queen Monica Mangin

Dec 21, 2017 at 2:30 p.m. ET
Image: Lowe's
If you dream of home improvements but have been too intimidated by the idea of DIY to try, well, you aren't alone. Plenty of us have let our fear of turning our house into one giant Pinterest fail keep us from picking up so much as a hammer and nail.

But let's put this into perspective. How much could the reward outweigh the risks? Author Benjamin Mee said it best: "Sometimes all you need is 20 seconds of insane courage. Just literally 20 seconds of just embarrassing bravery. And I promise you, something great will come of it."

In the case of the ambivalent would-be DIY'er, that courage can come from finding a guru to bolster your confidence. Enter Monica Mangin, host of the original DIY show The Weekender on Lowes.com. Give Mangin a power tool, a can of paint and some reclaimed wood, and she can whip up the kind of room that is serious Pinterest #goals. Just think of her as the modern-day MacGyver of home improvement.

We caught up with Mangin in between Pin-worthy makeovers to ask her some of the most common home improvement questions novices contemplate. Here's her take — it may be just the nudge you need.

SheKnows: People stress over the perfect paint color like they do naming their firstborn child (speaking from personal experience here). What’s your secret for picking such spot-on colors for home makeovers?

Monica Mangin: When I walk into the paint section, there's always one color that immediately catches my eye. I always pull the swatch for that color and just hang onto it. Then, I play the normal pick-and-choose game that everyone does, but if I end up accidentally pulling the first color again, I usually take it as a sign that it's "the one"!

I also have some go-to colors that I think work in so many spaces. "Tricorn Black," "Icy Avalanche" (light gray) and "Nebulous" (cool white) from the HGTV Home by Sherwin Williams line are some of my favorite neutrals.

SK: Speaking of babies, we love the idea of getting kids involved in home makeover fun. You have a few little helpers in your household — what are some easy (and safe) ways to get kiddos involved?

MM: My four kids are pretty over helping with all of my DIY projects at home [laughs] — it's not easy having a DIY designer as a mom, but I do love getting kids involved in projects. In Season 3 of The Weekender, we recently did a kitchen makeover in California for a family with four daughters ranging from 5 to 10 years old, and the kids were a big part of the makeover. They helped us with demo — most kids would love permission to break things! The key was choosing certain parts that were safe for them to help with like cabinet doors and also having all the right safety equipment (eye protection, gloves, kid-sized tools, etc.). That episode will air in January, so you can see how fun it was to get the girls involved.

Painting is another great kid-friendly activity — just make sure you protect your floors or choose a project you can paint outdoors!

SK: What are some materials most people have around their home that they can upcycle or retrofit for home projects?

MM: Furniture upcycling is a great option for a home project. There are so many pieces of furniture around your house that if you look at in a different way, you might be able to give a whole new life to. For example, in Season 3, Episode 4 of The Weekender, I took an old dresser, removed the drawers and used them as wall shelves instead. I just used some sandpaper and paint from Lowe's to give it a vintage vibe.

The Weekender
Image: The Weekender/Lowe's

SK: What is a low-budget project that makes a really big impact?

MM: Paint is always a great way to completely transform a space. You can dictate the feel of a room with a simple coat of paint. But if you're not feeling like painting, I love temporary wallpaper. I've used it multiple times for The Weekender. When you head to Lowe's, look for temporary peel-and-stick wallpaper, which is like a giant sticker. This is especially great for renters who can't paint.

SK: Macramé is having a moment in home décor again. What are some of your favorite DIY macramé projects that anyone can do?

MM: In Season 3, Episode 1 of The Weekender, we actually combined macramé and lighting. I picked up some lamp cord kits at Lowe’s, and we jazzed them up by macramé-ing the cords — we simply wrapped and knotted rope around the plain white lamp cord, basically making a giant friendship bracelet! It's a quick and easy project that adds some awesome texture and totally levels up a very basic light.

The Weekender
Image: The Weekender/Lowe's

SK: What is a home improvement tool you couldn't live without that people are often too intimidated to use — but shouldn’t be?

MM: I absolutely love the Dremel 3000. It's great for anyone who is starting out in the DIY space. It comes with a ton of different attachments so you can do everything from cut and grind to sand or carve. It was the only tool I used in one of The Weekender Season 3 episodes!

SK: What aisle do you spend so much time on at Lowe's that you're one step away from establishing residency (and why)?

MM: Ha! That’s a great question — I spend a ton of time in the lighting section. I think that lighting plays a HUGE role in the way a space feels, and Lowe's has so many options that look super high-end but don’t break the bank. I love browsing that section thinking about lights for all kinds of future makeovers.

SK: How do you think The Weekender inspires everyday people to try their hand at DIY projects?

MM: The entire concept behind The Weekender is to inspire and empower people — to give them the confidence that they can truly transform a space over a weekend's time and within a realistic budget. I think that people feel confidence seeing everyday homeowners learning as they go.

The Weekender
Image: The Weekender/Lowe's

SK: If someone wants to tackle their very first DIY weekend warrior project, where would you recommend starting?

MM: There's inspiration everywhere! If you have a project in mind, don't be afraid to dive in. The Weekender is a great place to start for creative inspiration.

This post was sponsored by Lowe's.

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