This post is sponsored by Lowe’s Home Improvement on behalf of The UpSkill Project. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Remember when I visited Diane’s house to help her make over her front yard? I’ll be honest. I’ve done a lot of landscaping in my life (some hits, some misses) and I thought I knew most of what I needed to know.
It turns out that there is a lot that I know but I’m nowhere near finished learning. After spending two days at Diane’s house, I came home inspired to make a few changes to my own front yard.
I started by replacing a perennial in my bed out front. I bought these beautiful pink flowers on clearance. It was a great deal simply because this plant needs a little TLC, which I’m more than willing to give (great advice from one of the Red Vests). Then I cleaned up the dead growth on my evergreen bushes and fertilized them with Hollytone (more advice from one of the Red Vests). And I re-mulched the bed and even added a few solar lights.
Once I got back into the DIY swing of things, I was ready for more inspiration and I found it in the form of a DIY Workshop with The UpSkill Project where I got to take some crash courses in plumbing, tiling, and painting at one of Lowe’s Baltimore locations..
The UpSkill Project Workshop
Before we go any further, let me explain a little bit about my DIY background. When I met my husband almost two decades ago, he wanted to teach me everything he knew about do-it-yourself projects. He had me tiling and laying hardwood floors before we were even married. And once we did get married, I became the designated painter in the house. I painted walls, trims, and even refinished furniture.
Oh, and let’s not forget about the time we visited his mother and he wanted to show me how to “sweat pipes” as we were installing a water softener for her. Just this past weekend, he was trying to show me how to install a ceiling fixture but I tend to stay away from electricity.
With all of that said, I, again, thought I’d be a mere observer while everyone else learned about plumbing, tiling, and painting. And once again, it was proven that you can teach an old dog new tricks.
Tiling 101 with The UpSkill Project
Have you ever tiled? Do you even have an idea of what it takes to tile? It’s so much easier than you think as long as you have the right tools, the right materials, and the right foundation. All of these principles were reiterated by the Lowe’s team. They demonstrated how to prepare the surfaces (wall or floor), how to apply the mortar or tile adhesive, and how to grout when everything is finished.
I actually have experience doing tile floors. Too many tile floors. In fact, I’m a master at the wet saw! We also recently completed our second backsplash project – this one in our kitchen. These tiles came in patterned sheets, similar to what they were demonstrating in the workshop. I love the look and now I think I’m ready for more tiling projects.
I had a chance to meet Tim, another resident who was selected for TheUpSkill Project. His project involved retiling his mid-century bathroom floor – all just five days after his third child was born (I’m sure his wife LOVED that). He explained that during his project, they found a water-damaged subfloor and had to add a few extra steps to the project. Sounds about right for DIY! But it was only a slight detour and the project was right back on track.
Then we started talking about his garden in the backyard and how he grow hops for his brewing hobby. Yes, we went from tiling advice to gardening advice, like DIYers do.
Plumbing 101 with The UpSkill Project
My conversation with Tim was one of many conversations I had that flowed from one area of DIY to another. For example, I met Xavier (another local resident selected for The UpSkill Project) over in the painting area where he proudly showed off his front yard makeover involving a painted porch and new landscaping.
Xavier was quickly whisked away because he was anxious to learn about plumbing.
Admittedly, plumbing is one of my least favorite areas of DIY. Maybe because it’s not as glamorous as some of the other areas but it’s not as intimidating as you might think.
We caught The UpSkill Project Teacher, Walter, giving plumbing advice to Xavier. Yes, you can go from gardening to plumbing! But it was when I met another UpSkiller that I started thinking about one of my next projects.
Mary Ann decided that her daughter needed a bathroom that felt right for a teenage girl. With an outdated design and fixtures in the current room, they put together a plan to turn it into an Art Deco-themed bathroom. Not only was the tile gorgeous but they brought the entire room together with a new vanity and new fixtures.
Now I’m ready to finally tackle my powder room makeover. Out with the tile (which also runs into the laundry room, kitchen, and sunroom – BIG project) and in with new flooring, a new vanity, and new PAINT!
After I replace everything in my powder room. I want to add wainscoting to the walls and finish with a slate blue to give it a more coastal feel. And that makes now a good time to talk about painting.
Painting 101 with The UpSkill Project
If I had to pick an area of personal DIY expertise, I’d say it’s painting. And Mary Ann feels the same way. She spends a lot of her free time refinishing furniture and was more than excited to talk to the Lowe’s team about paint options.
I got a few pointers on taping and mudding the walls. I got some reassurance that it’s worth spending the money on quality paint brushes (I especially love the Purdy angled brush). But I also learned about the whole Sherwin Williams family of brands at Lowe’s.
So what was my inspiration after exploring all my paint options?
It’s time to upcycle some patio furniture that I had targeted for termination. A few weeks ago, Diane had showed me what a little spray paint and cushions can do for some rusted old lawn furniture. So with some Red Vest help, I decided to buy supplies to make this furniture makeover my next project.
I’m ready to prime the rusted spots, spray paint with a matte brown, and add a splash of color in the form of new cushions.
(See the finished result here with my DIY Patio Furniture Makeover!)
Now that The UpSkill Project is leaving Baltimore, it’s time to get working. After meeting all of the participants, I was amazed at how a conversation about plumbing moved into one about painting, and a tiling conversation became a discussion about gardening. Once you feel empowered to do-it-yourself, you can start to look for inspiration everywhere, even in everyday conversation.
If a project seems too big to tackle, make sure you reach out to friends and family for advice and help. And check with the Red Vests at your local Lowe’s Home Improvement. You might be surprised at what you can do when you’re feeling inspired!