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For many DIY projects, half of the battle is the planning. Take my dining room, for example. This will be the first time I’ve ever attempted picture molding.

dining room before

I’m good at math, so I’m fairly confident I’ll be able to figure this out. I’m actually kind of looking forward to the challenge (I’m enough of a geek to get excited about drawing and cutting perfectly sized boxes all over my wall). But since I’m doing this without an extra set of hands, it’s not going to just be a spacing or size challenge (how many boxes to put on each wall, where to place them, how much space to put between the baseboard and molding, etc.). I also need to figure out how to do it without help… and still make it look like a professional job.

dining room ideas

But just as I did the very first time I learned that caulk needed a caulk gun, I’ve turned to the interwebs to mentally prepare myself for my wainscoting project. Thanks to a few other bloggers, I now have a fantastic play-by-play that makes me all the more confident that I’ll be able to make this dining room exactly the way I envision (only less poorly drawn and Photoshoppy):

Use visual aids:

Little Big Nest used painters tape to help her envision each box that would go on the wall and make a few final decisions for certain areas. In a hallway, you may have more angular challenges to work around, so I can see why she did this. It takes a little extra time, but it can also save a little extra effort, too – Lauren eventually decided against that little box at the stairs.

Get a pro look and a helping hand:

This tutorial from Southern Hospitality gave me a great tip:  after putting up the molding, paint over the entire thing (don’t just paint the walls before and only paint the new molding after) to give it more of a real wainscoting look. And since I’m putting up everything without assistance, I’ll definitely be relying on painter’s tape and Liquid Nails to make sure things don’t shift as I nail ‘er up!

Keep both eyes:

The only guy I’ve ever cohabitated with had an issue with eye injuries. He had a scar next to both eyes and I was always paranoid for him that he might go all Christmas Story on me one day and take his eye out (but with power tools, not a bebe gun). And one day, when installing shoe molding, my fears nearly came true when a nail backfired and flew up at his face. He scratched only his cheek, but it’s never left my mind when I use the air compressor. Creations by Kara has several of her own pro tips for installing molding, including where best to aim the nail gun as the molding gets tacked onto the wall. Her tips are more about spots that are easier to camouflage when filling and sanding holes, but the no loss of eye thing is an added bonus (and of course, wearing proper eye protection is key here as well!).

Caulk or spackle?

I’m the kind of lazy DIYer that will use caulk for just about everything. If only it could be mixed into my makeup (kidding – sort of). But Centsational Girl has a great argument for using spackling instead of caulk in the corners and seams of the boxes: since it can be sanded, and caulk can’t, you can get a smoother finish before painting.

So, whaddya say? Think I can do it? Me too. I’m not going to lie, this whole #DIYcember thing is totally doing it for me. What are you working on this week?

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  1. I love molding. It's such a simple way to add interest. I also agree with spackle instead of caulk. I feel like every time I use caulk it sticks out like a sore thumb and is never quite good enough.

    I'm working on Christmas gifts this week and next week, but once the kids are out of school for Christmas break I hope to frame a closet in our basement for our bedroom.

  2. Oh man – I'm going to be watching you do this project very closely! I want to do the exact same thing in my dining room! Can't wait to see the progress and finished producT1