Nice to Meet You (Insert Us Shaking Hands in Your Head)!

couple with dog
It was just a tad windy during our engagement pics last year 🙂

Hi all! Welcome to a Girl’s Guide to Home DIY. I’m Lauren, a 33 year old nurse practitioner living in Alexandria, Virginia with my husband, Steve, and our mutt Sadie. I’ve fallen in love with making our 1950s brick duplex our own, as a way of empowering myself after being diagnosed with POTS last year. I am in no way a professional when it comes to home improvement, but with a little inspiration, countless phone calls to my dad, multiple how-to YouTube videos watched, and reading the instruction manuals (I know this seems like an obvious one, but it’s not always my go-to step), I’v managed to renovate a lot of our home, with a little help (and a lot of moral support) from my man.

How my Life Changed Suddenly and Not for the Better

For those of who’ve never heard of POTS (Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome), POTS is a medical condition where your nervous system doesn’t function as it’s supposed to (you’ll see the word ‘dysautonomia’ used a lot) and can cause symptoms like lightheadedness, passing out, heart racing, sweating while doing nothing but sitting in a chair. Symptoms can come on suddenly, and unfortunately once they start, the only surefire way to fix them is to lie down for a while (not super conducive to working outside the home, running errands, or you know, life in general).

I’m lucky in that my symptoms are considered ‘mild’ compared to others (some people can’t work or have trouble leaving their home because their symptoms are so bad), but even these mild symptoms have greatly affected my daily life. When I was first diagnosed, I was finding myself sitting on the couch A LOT. I couldn’t shower in the morning anymore, or stand up to put makeup on. I stopped working out because I was afraid I’d pass out during barre class, stopped running errands (passing out in Target = no bueno), and even stopped walking my dog every day because of my symptoms (insert sad puppy face). I was feeling more and more overwhelmed by how much my life no longer looked anything like something I loved.

How One Ugly Light Changed my Life

During my weeks of sitting on our living room couch, I spent a lot of time staring at our first floor, which led me to start hating our hallway light (it’s in perfect eyesight from my seat on the couch). I would get distracted from whatever Real Housewives marathon was on a Bravo at the time because it was so ugly. I couldn’t look away. This ‘modern’, cheap-looking Ikea flush-mounted ceiling light became something tangible for me to hate while my body was not cooperating in the way it was supposed to (side note: I LOVE Ikea–you’ll see in my posts how much I love it, but this light was Ikea’s best work in my opinion).

staircase with hall closet and ceiling light
I haven’t mentioned it’s equally evil twin at the top of the stairs yet

After weeks of staring at the dreaded light and asking my husband when we would have time to change it out (aka when would he change it), one day I had a lightbulb moment! AHA! Why don’t I try to change it myself? I’d seen my dad do it before. There’s YouTube videos that show you how. I watched an electrician change out two lights in my condo in 40 minutes once. And, even though my POTS symptoms were worse with being active, I thought, if I get lightheaded while I’m working on this, the couch is 7 feet away. Worst case scenario, I try and can’t finish it and now there’s no light in the hallway. And then, my husband has to change the light and I get my new light faster than if I kept waiting for him to want to do it (insert sneaky wife laugh here)!

So, the Friday before Christmas, I embarked on my first big DIY adventure–changing out a light fixture. And guess what?! (Although you can probably guess where this is going). I did it! It took 2 hours because I had to stop a couple of times to lay down, but I did it, and now we have such a pretty light in our hallway! The joy and confidence that completing that project gave me inspired me to change out our upstairs hallway light, which inspired me to want to change our bathroom light, which led to a mini bathroom renovation, then to a kitchen renovation. . . and eventually to this blog.

hallway light
Yay for pretty new lights!

And With That Light, this Blog was Born

I posted a few pictures on my personal Instagram after finishing the bathroom project and a lot of my girlfriends (and guy friends) were impressed that I could do any of that without paying someone to do it. They wanted to know where I learned how to replace a light, where I learned the plumbing skills to change out a vanity, and isn’t painting a messy and time-consuming task. I realized I wasn’t the only one who was in the dark about how do-able a lot things around the house are, with a little time and research and effort. If I could share what I learned and I could empower a friend to completely change her space with a Saturday and a simple coat of paint, or change out her dreaded hallway light, how much more joy would that bring me?

And so, here we are. This blog is a way to, not only share my new-found knowledge, but also my struggles and failed attempts and bad decisions because let’s be honest: home improvement projects certainly aren’t always a walk in the park (just ask my husband). But, they’re certainly more approachable than I’ve always thought. These projects have taught me (enter clichĂ© here) not to be afraid to tackle something new and scary and way out of my element. Worst case, you fail and call a professional but still get your updated home. Best case, you get your updated home with more confidence and new found skills than you could have imagined before starting.

After visiting, I hope you take away some inspiration and motivation to tackle something around your house. I’m looking forward to ‘working’ with you all!


P.S.: SUPER IMPORTANT: I am not a professional, so please don’t take my word as gospel. Things posted are strictly my opinion and are not intended as professional advice, just as me telling my story of how I did something. If anything makes you uncomfortable when you’re doing it at home, STOP and call a professional! I have a local electrician and plumber I love for all the things I’m not ready to tackle.

I'd love your feedback or to answer any questions!

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