If you're like me, DIY is a four-letter word. The problem is that owning a home means that there are always things that need to be done. I accept that. What I don't accept is that they have to be done by me – or even at all.
Rather than tackle a household chore, I prefer to view it as an opportunity to see things differently. Most home deficiencies require nothing more than a new description in order to turn them into home assets.
Rather than slap a few coats of paint on a problem, give it a whole new look simply by renaming it. All you need is a few carefully chosen words.
Take, for example, that cracked driveway. Your little piece of roadway might resemble a dried lake bed after 10 years of drought. But is it still serviceable? Can you still drive your car onto it without losing one of the wheels in a rut? If so, then there's no need to repave it. Simply declare that it's not a crack-filled catastrophe, but an "interlocking asphalt surface," an eye-pleasing random arrangement of paving fragments, just like interlocking brick or stone, only different.
Language changes perceptions. That annoying dripping bathroom tap that you've been meaning to get to since the turn of the millennium? It's not a leaky faucet, but a "water-based kinetic art installation." If it's dripping at a regular interval, perhaps it could even be called a "modern hydraulic chronometer."
For most jobs around the house, you don't need a carpenter, plumber, painter, or interior decorator. All you really need is a DIY renamer, someone to call that sow's ear a silk purse.
To most, that overgrown, weed-filled front lawn of yours is a neighborhood eyesore. But not if you identify it for what it really is: "a multispecies natural garden sanctuary."
Tired of disparaging comments about your 50-year-old bathroom with its green fixtures and yellowing, curled linoleum flooring? Spare yourself the expense of a costly renovation by investing a few bucks in a matching green shower curtain and bath mat.
Now add a few cold-war-era accessories – a toilet-paper-roll cozy, a fuzzy toilet seat cover, a tube of Ipana toothpaste – and behold your stylish "Mad Men"-era salle de bain.
That scratched, dented, and faded hardwood flooring in the living room, seen through the eyes of an interior decorator, is a surface begging for costly sanding and refinishing. But to a DIY renamer, it requires merely the application of a single adjective: "artisanal." See? All done!
Ancient, peeling wooden windows let cold air in during the winter and warm air in all summer. Sorry, the DIY renamer can't make it all better with a word or two. They will have to be scraped, sanded, and repainted.
The renamer can, however, spare you the expense of replacing them: Suddenly, they're "all-season environmental facilitators." Whatever that means. But say it with conviction, and you'll be fine.
Even a sagging roof with curling shingles can be saved with a few well-applied words. It's a "decorative home covering" – unless, of course, you've got a steady stream of water flowing through a spot in your ceiling when it rains.
Then you might have to consider something I like to call "a new roof."