I’m excited to feature Kayla Nelson.
I follow her on Instagram @homediyary; an account where she inspires people to leave spaces better than they found them and where she shares attainable home DIY projects.
I reached out to her last month to learn more about her story and to ask her if she’d be willing to share some tips with our readers who are ready to start tackling some of their own projects.
Graciously, she said yes! So, without further delay, here’s her story…
Kayla’s spirit is warm and infectious. Though we don’t know each other at all, our conversation immediately feels both intimate and full of fun.
Kayla describes herself as an Interior Designer, DIYer, and Content Creator.
She tells me her interest in interior design started when she was quite young—like in kindergarten. It was sparked by her parent’s divorce.
Kayla describes that one result of her parent’s separation was that she moved quite a bit. While I’m sure there were negatives to the experience, Kayla tells me about the silver lining.
“Whenever we would move, I noticed how my mom would make even the most temporary living situations feel like our home. I remember in one kitchen we had sunflower borders and sunflower placemats. [She would always add] stuff that just gave the house personality and made it feel like our safe haven.”
Kayla lists more ‘touches’ her mom would add to the spaces they lived in, including themed comforter sets.
“That has always followed me, how to make your house feel like home,” Kayla says.
With this interest and as someone who enjoys doing for others, it seemed like a natural fit for Kayla to study interior design when it was time for her to go to college.
“It was the best thing I could have gone to school for,” she says.
I can see the feeling of total alignment on Kayla’s face when she shares this. It’s a confidence people emit when they are working in their space of passion and genius.
It’s a look I wish everyone could wear.
She describes going to school for interior design as fun. She loved the hands-on nature of her program and how she was able to lean into research, another thing she liked a lot.
However, after graduating and working in the industry something started to bug her.
Having a nice space seemed to be a luxury, something not accessible to all. Yet, she wholeheartedly believed that having a space that reflects you and offers you peace should be accessible to everyone.
Promoting home DIY projects was how Kayla felt she could practice what she believed in. But it took a little encouragement from her mom before she started to promote them on social media.
“In 2019, [my mom] was like, if you don’t post these projects, I’m going to knock you upside your head, essentially,” she says.
Then she lets me in on a little secret. She never really intended to post her videos on Instagram. She was an avid Youtube consumer and wanted to create a DIY Youtube channel.
So, how did she end up creating an IG account with a massive following instead?
“I shot my first project vertically,” she laughs. “I didn’t know [that for Youtube] it needed to be horizontal!”
Kayla says she was so upset when she realized her video would not look good on her social media platform of choice. But she decided to shrug the mishap off, “You don’t know until you start doing,” she says about her experience. “I had no idea I needed to flip the phone.”
But then she thought, Okay, I guess this is for Instagram then.
Going with the flow she posted the video on IG and it turned out to be a good thing. She immediately began to get followers and a community started to form there instead.
Kayla laughs when she reflects on her early days of posting and recalls how poor the quality of the videos she was producing was. “I was like building in the dark. The camera was blurry but you just have to start,” she says.
While Kayla still posts on IG instead of Youtube she hasn’t ruled the idea of creating a Youtube channel out. She says she still plans on doing it.
“I think it would be fun!”
When I finally ask Kayla for her home DIY tips, she’s ready to share. She pulls out a sheet of paper on which she has noted her top tips down and starts…
Tip 1: Stay true to you
“Stay true to yourself and what you love. Don’t just do what you see on Instagram, or what is trendy [just for the sake of doing what is trendy].”
Kayla gets her personal design inspirations from experiencing life. She then infuses this into the spaces she designs, and she encourages you to do the same.
Tip 2: Have a plan
“Have a clear plan before you start your project,” Kayla says.
She usually begins by building out her idea. “I’ll have an inspiration image or a couple of them and from the images, [I’ll choose what] I want to combine. Then from there, I grab my iPad and I have an app called Procreate, and I [use it] to sketch [the idea].”
Once Kayla knows what she wants to build, she begins every project with extensive research on how to create whatever it is. Typically, her research starts with Google and Youtube. Her favorite sources of information are blogs that lay out step-by-step guides.
Once she has a good understanding of how to build her project, she’ll lists out everything involved in bringing it to life from the steps she’ll need to do, to the materials involved, etc.
“I like to get a notepad and write down every task needed to complete my project, and then I’ll go back and write it out chronologically—ie I need to do this first for this to happen.”
Kayla notes that she’ll also use this to help her create a shopping list. Noting down which items she’ll need to buy to make each step happen.
Taking measurements is also a very important step at this stage.
Tip 3: Learn How to Operate Tools Before You Use them
“Be safe and learn how to operate your tools correctly,” she says. She reminds readers that DIYers on Instagram or YouTube aren’t necessarily professionals in operating the tools they use.
“Read tool manuals, look up the safety features, etc. Do your own research and know how to operate the tools before you use them.”
Tip 4: Then get to it
Kayla knows how scary it can be to operate a power tool for the first time. She enacts her first encounter using a power saw for me in our interview. “I had no idea what to expect. I was so nervous. I had seen it before, but when you rev up the saw and you hear it…It was a little scary.”
But Kayla says you have to get over the fear and do that ‘one cut’ so you can realize what you’re capable of doing.
“If DIY is something that you’re wanting to do, just give it a shot. You never know where it will take you,” Kayla says.
She encourages those interested in home DIY to follow her on IG.
When I asked Kayla what’s next for her, she tells me she really would love to start a mini show on Youtube where she would work with sponsors to makeover rooms for the community, teaching people how to DIY alongside her.