To Do or Not to Do (it Yourself)

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Hi everyone, I’m Kate! I work for MyNewPlace, and I’m writing the first “MyNewPlace Fridays” post — every Friday, a full-time employee of MyNewPlace will write a guest post about our own thoughts and experiences with apartment life.

In Wednesday’s post, our blogger, Caitlin Morgan, offered five tips for getting your landlord to fix things that are less-than-perfect in your apartment.  One of her recommendations was to do the work yourself; while she specified that you should, “only do this if you’re actually be capable of it,” I ignored her advice in my DIY project last week.  I’m sharing the story of my Sunday morning in order to encourage all of you who are a little DIY-wary to test your skills.

Let me make one thing clear: our landlord is VERY hands-off.  In countless emails, he’s encouraged me and my two lovely roommates to do what we want.  Hang pictures.  Replace door mirrors. Fix doorframes. Contact repair people. A couple of weeks ago I embarked on my first solo “I can do anything!” room-improvement project: getting an Ikea bed into my room. It seemed like a good idea at the time; I could get a weight-lifting workout without leaving my apartment AND I would have a bed by the end of it.  I carried the first slat in propped on my shoulder.  As soon as I got in the doorway, I heard a loud crash, and bits of our entryway chandelier rained down in front of me.  Pause, clean up glass, recruit friend to help me carry in the remaining pieces. This had become more DIO (doing it ourselves) than DIY.

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Take II: Now that my first DIY project had failed, I had to replace this lamp.  I decided that I could dip my toes in the water, and started Googling.  The YouTube videos might as well have been in a foreign language. Next lifeline: the hardware store down the road.  I took a picture of the remaining shards and the wire that holds them up, and headed there. Apparently it’s the opening of the pendant that matters…and pretty much nothing else. So, an hour and a half of research. No solution.

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After returning home, I found one of our desk chairs, set it up under the lamp, and unscrewed the globe. Our pendulum very much resembles this one—where the globe or shade fits over this white nozzle at the bottom and rests in the silver fixture, while a washer-type structure holds it in place. (For the sake of brevity, I’ll save you all tales of my repeatedly falling off the wheeled chair.) Our globe is, of course, non-standard size, so a normal replacement part wouldn’t fly — it would fall right off the fixture.  As my panic attack set in, someone from the hardware store informed that there are tiny pieces of hardware that can adjust the size of the pendant’s opening so the new globe would stay on.  I’ve used my subpar drawing skills to sketch it out. Eager to try it out, I returned home (once again!) and screwed in the size-adjusting pieces.  Success! With my self-assurance building, I got up on the stool and held the new globe over the wires hanging from my ceiling.  With great anticipation, I arched my neck and shoulders at a 90-degree angle, and started screwing the tiny side screw that is supposed to hold this all together. It seemed like a farfetched plan…but it fit. Then, I screwed in the washer to the fixture and, holding my breath, eased the bulb in.  After a moment of silence, I let go of the whole mechanical miracle. It. Held. Together.

Two hours later, my roommates came home from the park and looked at the ceiling.  “Wow, Kate. This is fixed.” Then, with all the satisfaction of a four-year-old who has tied his shoes, I yelled, “I know! I did it myself!”

So, lesson of the day: you CAN do it yourself! If you’ve learned this lesson (the hard way, Kate-style), tell us about it here or on Facebook!

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