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    Conquer Your Fear of DIY Projects - A Fireplace Make Over Story

    By Victoria Larsen
    In our suffering economy, it's more important than ever that we consider taking on home repair or home decorating projects ourselves to save money.

    My most brilliant and talented Mother can't leave anything plain and drab. She always finds a way to make it unique and special. She's an amazing creature who gave me my love of art at a very early age.

    I watched this woman, a raving beauty from the time she was a teen, flip a washing machine upside down and put a new water pump on it, fix her own car, raise 6 children, run a household, build furniture and fix the kitchen plumbing, then turn around and paint the most delicate paintings that hung in our home.

    The fireplace in her home was outdated and just not her style at all. The 70's style, dark green tile didn't go with her neutral furnishings and the stucco exterior was plain and uninteresting.

    Did she call a contractor? Not my Mother. At the tender age of 70 years old, she simply sat down with a pencil and paper and began drawing a sketch of what she envisioned her new fireplace would look like.

    With her general idea in place, she decided a mantle was in order. Since the existing fireplace didn't have one, she delighted at the thought of being able to display favorite candle holders, family photos and miscellaneous trinkets on its surface.

    Her design consisted of a half box shelf with a scalloped front, open back and straight sides so off she went to purchase plywood and began cutting the pieces with her trusty electrical saw.

    She created the scrolled front edge with a jig saw then fit all of the pieces together to create the box. She used wood screws attach the sides to the front, then after sanding and a few good coats of primer, she attached it to the fireplace with concrete screws and metal brackets.

    Using standard plaster of paris and an ornamental mold, she then added cast plaster detail to the front of the mantle to give it further architectural interest and design. These pieces were simply attached using standard joint compound as the adhesive.

    She painted the entire surround a beautiful soft brown, then wiped a darker brown glaze over the top of the ornamentation to bring out the detail further. It now took on the look of an expensive, hand carved mantle of wood. Wanting more drama, she then added hints of gold paint to the ornaments and replaced the dark green tile with an updated sandstone style. This brought the entire project together in such a beautiful way! Now, her unsightly fireplace has been transformed in to the rooms most beautiful focal point.

    My point of this story isn't just to give you the basic "How To" of creating a fireplace mantle, but also to teach you that in order to save money, in order to get what you want, in order to update or modify your home your self, you have to conquer your fear.

    If we examine what causes fear, we find that it's typically because we are afraid of the "unknown". Questions build in our minds:

    "I've never done this before"
    "Will it turn out right?"
    "What if I fail?"
    "How can I do this properly?"

    Back to the internet and your local hardware man! Anything, (and I mean anything) you want to learn to do is on the internet at various "How To" websites or your local hardware man is more than delighted to give you detailed instruction if not to actually offer free classes.

    You cannot conquer fear without trying the very thing you fear at least once.

    If you want to re-tile your bath, take a class or purchase just enough material to play with the process at home before you purchase everything it would take to do a full project. A few dollars invested to remove the "fear" goes a long way to saving you hundreds, if not thousands to have a contractor do your project for you.

    So venture out my friend! Once you conquered the fear of one "DIY" project, you can now feel confident that you will be able to conquer the fear of others. The whole concept of the "Do it Yourself" movement is to just "Do it"!

    © Victoria Larsen 2009. All Rights Reserved

    Victoria Larsen is a professional wall stencil designer and interior specialist. Her products and ideas have been featured in Better Homes and Gardens, Women's Day, Craft Trends, Creating Keepsakes, Rubber Stampin Retailer and Memory Maker magazines and The Wall Street Journal. Victoria's website features ideas, techniques, stencils and ornamental wall molds for easy and beautiful home decorating.
    Visit Victoria on line at http://www.victorialarsen.com
    "Decorating with Class on a Budget" Blog: http://victorialarsen.typepad.com

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