If you've ever started a home improvement project you might find, as Killorglin woman Shauna O’Connor did, that it can have a domino effect.
Shauna, like many, took up DIY during lockdown. She had never picked up a power tool until last November.
“I got the bright idea that I was going to teach myself DIY and it came from a combination of really feeling the effects of being cooped up for so long and needing an outlet,” she says.
At first, Shauna started doing jobs around the house “that needed doing”, she says, and ones she would normally ask husband Peter to undertake.
But she had been watching other DIYers on social media for inspiration and after completing work on the front door she posted a video on TikTok “as a joke”.
“It was about me doing some of my husband’s jobs around the house and it was a bit funny because I was clueless,” she says.
“It got millions of views and suddenly I had a large following.”
She has since documented her progress as a home improver on social media and now has 112,000 TikTok followers of her own.
“That was really daunting. To go from messing around in front of your friends to having over 100,000 people watching was scary. But in all honesty, the encouragement I got on social media played a huge part in me continuing to learn to DIY.”
Invention is her forte. “The first thing I ever built from scratch was a parcel drop box which my postman loved!” says Shauna.
“We have depended on online shopping so much since last year and our poor postman was constantly having to walk up the driveway with packages.
"It was trial and error but I got there in the end. That achievement gave me the confidence boost I needed to move onto other things in our home.”
Since then Shauna has transformed much of her house including her living room, complete with panelling, inbuilt shelving and desks (which was chosen as a finalist project in RTÉ’s The Big DIY Challenge ), as well as her utility room.
The latter was, she says “a total disaster zone” until she gave it a makeover and a whole new identity as the laundry room.
"This week I’ve just finished stencilling my front porch,” she adds.
Shauna describes herself as a “serial project starter”.
“Now that I’ve caught the DIY bug I see things in a whole new light. We need a dining table for the kitchen and haven’t bought one yet because I’m convinced I can make one for half the price. I am constantly looking around my home and thinking, how can I make this area more practical, what can I teach myself to build?
“Over the summer I want to work on the garden and patio and learn some new skills there.”
She and Peter bought their house two years ago and Shauna had a list of tasks she wanted to complete. “A massive list. But I think there’ll always be a list," she says.
“The first time I picked up a power tool was last November when I was tiling the kitchen backsplash. I had to frame around the cooker and needed to use a hammer drill.
“I remember being very nervous and repeatedly saying to my husband ‘I’m scared’. Now I am more comfortable using certain power tools, but I’m still cautious and always keep safety in mind.”
Shauna is a fulltime mom to Jack, 12, Kayla, 5, and Lydia, 1, and also helps her husband run the family restaurant business on a part-time basis.
“Learning any new skill can be a little tumultuous but throw in three kids and a pandemic and it certainly becomes a juggling act — some days it’s nothing short of a circus! But I feel it is really important for me to carve out just a little time most days to work on something that brings me joy and provides a brief escape from everything else going on with life,” she says.
Her living space’s transformation and burgeoning DIY confidence is in part, she says, due to seeing other women, including her mother, accomplishing home improvement tasks confidently.
“I was also inspired to take action by seeing other women on social media picking up tools and doing amazing things,” she adds.
“In reality, my husband works a lot and doesn’t always have a huge amount of time for home improvements, so to be able to just pick up the tools and get things done myself feels amazing. I think a lot of women can relate to that.”
One young fan is her daughter Kayla. “Kayla also loves to get stuck in and help her mommy with DIY. Her brother Jack joins in too. We make a great team,” adds Shauna.
"I love woodwork. I wish I had taken it up in secondary school, things would be so much more straightforward for me now, ha!"
"My favourite tool is my jigsaw. You can do a lot with a few screws and a jigsaw."
"That it’s important to enjoy the process and not just focus on the end result."
Measuring tape, hammer, level, square, hammer drill, jigsaw, electric sander, pocket hole jig, a couple of clamps and some screws. "And sometimes all you need is a bucket of paint to work miracles!"