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Tool Diva’s guide to perfect DIY

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Kendaree Burgess is one woman who is not afraid to get her hands dirty.

The 51-year-old has made it her mission to spruce up her home with creative DIY projects.

Over the past few years she has made her own ottomans using old tyres and rope, created cement stools with mosaic tiles, and put together an outside gardening space by nailing wooden pallets together.

She also blogs about her experiences at www.tooldiva.blogspot.com.

Ms Burgess started the projects to create a home that was entirely her own. She had no clue that she would also be inspiring other women in the process.

“I started this blog because my friends kept saying, ‘you're always into something, why don't you try sharing about it?' I said, ‘Okay I'll do it'. That was nearly two years ago.

“I'm at the point now where I have people stop me in the street and say, ‘are you that lady from the blog?'

“I've also had one or two people from overseas comment on the site and ask questions, which is kind of fun.”

Ms Burgess said she got a lot of personal satisfaction from finishing any project — whether it is a small concrete vase or a large cabana.

“Every time I go by something I've made I smile,” she said.

“It certainly personalises your space because there isn't another one just like it anywhere else.

“I also love looking around because each piece has its own story to it. Some of my furniture is made from items that were headed for the dump and now they have a prized place in my home.”

Ms Burgess's mother, Joan Burgess Robinson, had a flair for painting and decorating but she never pursued this much herself until she took the leap into home ownership.

“I was 25 years old and living in Canada,” she said. “It was myself and my ex-husband and we bought an old house and we did the floors and painted the walls.

“That was my first introduction into home renovations and I loved it.

“I'm now living in my third home and every one of them so far have been renovation projects.

“It wouldn't be as fun for me to buy a house that was completely perfect. That's why I like fixer-uppers.”

When she was younger, she would spend hours watching home renovation shows on television. These days she finds it a lot more fun to tackle projects in real life.

“Some of those shows are still good for ideas, but I also love getting inspiration from off the internet,” she said.

“If you have a problem, for sure someone else online has already solved it. If I come across something I don't know how to do, YouTube has directions for it. I call it YouTube University.”

Ms Burgess believes women are unconsciously using tools all the time — so they should not be daunted by a saw or hammer.

“Using a mixer to mix cake is not that much different from mixing cement,” she said.

“It's all the same and when you see it like that, it becomes a lot easier.

“A man could see all these kitchen gadgets and think, ‘I don't know what I'm doing', whereas women could walk into a workshop and think the same thing, but I don't think one is any more difficult than the other. “You have to first give yourself a lesson, take the safety precautions and then you try it.”

She said someone's first attempt on the electric saw might not produce a straight cut, but that they would get better the more they practiced.

“It's not hard or a life-changing decision,” she said. “You're just making something.”

She encourages people to start off with smaller projects and build confidence from there. They should also go into it understanding that they may have to try several times before it's a success.

One of Ms Burgess's early projects — an ottoman for her porch — did not work until the third try.

“It turned out I was using the wrong kind of glue, but you quickly learn which products work and which don't,” she said.

“Some glues mucked it up, so you couldn't run the string over the tyre [for the base of the ottoman].

“The fortunate thing was they were all tyres I got for free from a repair shop on Parsons Road.

“They were throwing them away so I asked, ‘can I have one', and they gave it to me.

“I've learned there is great stuff everywhere. The best part about DIYing is most things can be done very inexpensively.

“You just have to have the idea or look on the internet for potential projects. It's all just trial and error.”

Having a friend with you while you are working can also be helpful, she said. That way, if you get stuck in the middle of the project, someone is there to give advice on how to change it.

“I think it comes out better like that,” Ms Burgess said.

Such projects have become a reminder that success is determined on your own terms, Ms Burgess added.

“No one else has to like it, just you,” she said.

“One thing I've realised is that everything has potential, especially in small steps.

“You just have to go for it and take the first step and be willing to get it wrong often. But don't let that failure hold you back, keep going.”

Ms Burgess is also on Facebook: Tool Diva.

Home improvements: Kendaree Burgess has made it her mission to spruce up her home with a series of creative Do It Yourself (DIY) projects. She has made many unique and pretty items for indoors and outdoors - including stools, ottomans and even a gardening space - and shares her experiences and advice in her popular Tool Diva blog (Photo supplied)
Kendaree Burgess created this mosaic stool using cement for about $2 (Photo by Nicola Muirhead)
Kendaree Burgess collected some bay grape leaves to create this decorative wreath for her home (Photo by Nicola Muirhead)
Kendaree Burgess made this ottoman for her patio using an old tyre, rope and glue (Photo by Nicola Muirhead)
Kendaree Burgess took some old pallet boxes, nailed them together and lined them with landscape fabric. Inside, she grows pineapples, lettuce, spring onions, parsley and other herbs (Photo by Nicola Muirhead)
Kendaree Burgess turned a small closet into a space for her wine collection, complete with corks as decorations (Photo by Nicola Muirhead)

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Published March 24, 2015 at 9:00 am (Updated March 23, 2015 at 10:53 pm)

Tool Diva’s guide to perfect DIY

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