DIY shows paper over the cracks

PUBLISHED: 13:32 27 April 2006 | UPDATED: 10:03 06 May 2010

LAURENCE Llewelyn Bowen and television programmes like Changing Rooms and How Not To Decorate have a lot to answer for. All those interior designers and decorating shows may well have fired us up to dig out the paintbrush but they ve also left us with the

LAURENCE Llewelyn Bowen and television programmes like Changing Rooms and How Not To Decorate have a lot to answer for.

All those interior designers and decorating shows may well have fired us up to dig out the paintbrush but they've also left us with the idea that nothing is beyond our skills and everything can be done in two days.

We're now a nation obsessed by DIY despite the fact that a lot of us haven't got the first clue what we're doing.

The evidence, apart from the number of confused faces which can be seen wandering around DIY stores at the weekend, can be seen in the almost anti-home improvement show, DIY SOS.

The programme highlights the real damage people can do to their houses when Michael the computer programmer from Romford suddenly thinks he's Handy Andy, and as such it's one of the only DIY programmes I really like.

I haven't quite managed to half knock down a wall or accidentally un-plumb the bathroom or anything, but a recent attempt at doing a bit of decorating left me reeling at how hard DIY actually is.

We didn't even have wallpaper to strip, so it should have simply been a case of slapping on a bit of paint.

Except that it wasn't quite so simple, and after several days of filling, sanding and base coating, we're left with completely white walls ready for painting but no motivation to actually stick the colour on.

I think the real problem with DIY shows is they appeal to our desire to own nice things and live in nice houses, but ignore the fact that at the same time as our vanity has increased, our manual skills have been dwindling.

It's been a few years since I was at school but when I was, the emphasis was firmly on academic skills rather than practical talents.

Clearly I'm not a student any more and I don't have any kids of my own, but from what I can tell, with all the SATS and league tables, it still seems to be the case.

The result is that nationally we're facing a growing skills shortage in trades like building and it's causing a bit of a panic.

And in our own homes it's causing people up and down the country to undertake some incredibly ambitious projects they simply don't have the knowledge or ability to do.

Maybe it's not actually all down to floppy-haired interior designers then, but certainly I think there's more they could do.

There seems to be a lot of programmes giving us aspirations, but not many showing us how to do all the things the experts do.

Rather than all these flashy makeovers, they could take a leaf (pun intended) from gardening shows (but not gardening makeover shows!) which make no bones about the fact that things take time.

There's no instant fix in these programmes, but rather practical advice so that viewers are equipped with the skills they need to create the masterpiece they're hankering after.


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