As the maxim goes, if you want something done right, do it yourself. But sometimes that’s easier said than done. What you need is an expert to guide you along the way or, at the very least, set the foundation for a successful result.
So if you’re finally ready to start that landscaping project or reupholster that antique chair you bought last year, the following nine places around town stand prepared to impart their wisdom. Because knowledge is power!
Gardening and landscaping
The September 19 Building a Wildlife Habitat in Your Own Backyard lecture at Cool Ponds teaches the importance of using native plants and how to make your lawn more habitable for birds, mammals, and even insects. Free.
More info and to register: 901 E. Hanna Ave., 317-786-3670, coolponds.net
Dammann’s Lawn, Garden & Landscape Centers’ Landscape Design Workshops allow you time with one of five designers and horticulturists. Bring a rough map of your property (both house and lot, with measurements) and photos, and the experts will help you camouflage eyesores, make color-palette decisions, and offer guidance and ideas so you can get the yard you’ve always wanted. The next one takes place September 19 at the westside location. $30, which includes a $20 gift card.
You can also spice up your existing decor with Dottie Wright’s Basics of Terrarium Gardening Workshop. Browse the containers and plants at the southside location, and learn the fundamentals of design and maintenance and how to choose the best greenery. You’ll head home with a cute and creative decoration. Mark your calendars for the next session on September 12. Free.
More info and to register: Westside: 4914 Rockville Rd., 317-381-9787; southside: 5129 S. Emerson Ave., 317-786-0799; dammanns.com
If you’d like to add some pizzazz to your garden but don’t know where to start, Karen Thacker’s hands-on tutorials at Altum’s Horticultural Center and Landscape are just what you need. You’ll leave one of the many Make and Take Workshops with a quaint fairy garden, a creative terrarium, an herb garden for your patio, or a beautiful flower-filled planter. $10 plus materials.
There are also informational classes throughout the year on topics like butterfly gardens, basics of pruning, the best perennials for Indiana, solutions for clay soil, and caring for hydrangeas. Free.
More info and to register: 11335 N. Michigan Rd., 317-733-4769, altums.com
Crafting, sewing, and painting
Whether you want to try your hand at upholstery while wearing pajamas in the comfort of your home or by attending a six-week course at Mod Home Ec’s SoBro studio, instructor Shelly Leer’s variety of upholstery classes have you—and your furniture—covered. Beginners can learn how to strip down, repair, and reupholster an open-arm side chair in a weekly session. $265.
For experienced upholsterers, Leer provides the frames and legs for ottomans that you’ll learn to pad and cover in a two-day workshop. Bring your own foam and fabric, and she’ll take care of the rest. $225.
More info and to register: 1101 E. 54th St., Studio D, 317-319-7164, modhomeec.com
Sometimes sewing can be a solitary hobby, so join Heather Givans, owner of Crimson Tate, and other crafters at Givans’s Honey Bun Pouf class. Students follow fabric designer Amy Butler’s pattern, and learn skills like reinforcing hems, sewing zippers, and tufting over the course of three two-hour classes. The end result? A colorful bubble ideal for extra seating. Students do need to bring their own supplies, including a sewing machine. $60 plus materials.
More info and to register: 845 Massachusetts Ave., 317-426-3300, crimsontate.com
Chalk paint’s unique qualities eliminate the need for stripping or priming, so you can update your furniture with minimal effort. Learn several techniques and how to apply clear and dark wax, along with other tips, tricks, and troubleshooting solutions at ReStyled’s Chalk Paint Essentials class, featuring Annie Sloan products. $99.
If you’ve inherited Grandpa’s favorite old end table, but it doesn’t mesh with your current decor, haul it to one of ReStyled’s Refunk Your Junk sessions.
Under the tutelage of trained instructors who offer color and technique guidance, you’ll use chalk paint and gilding waxes to refresh your item and give its hardware a metallic makeover. $99.
More info and to register: 21 S. Range Line Rd., Carmel, 317-564-8001; 98 S. Main St., Zionsville, 317-973-5722; restyledfurniture.com
For city slickers looking to get in touch with their rural sides, Agrarian holds both beginner and intermediate classes in bee- and chicken-keeping, soap-making, and composting. In the monthly Keeping Chickens sessions, Andrew Brake, founder of Naptown Chickens, dishes on everything you need to know about caring for your roost and maintaining a coop. You can even purchase chicks and supplies right in the store. $10.
During the soap-making class, learn both the hot and cold processes for crafting luxurious bars filled with herbs and oils. Agrarian’s soap-making kits make it easy to take your newfound skills home. $10.
More info and to register: 661 E. 49th St., 317-493-1166, agrarianindy.com
Whether you’re interested in sculpting, woodworking, ceramics, or glass-blowing, the Indianapolis Art Center offers a variety of pop-up classes each week for the Michelangelo in everyone. The two-hour sessions, taught by Art Center instructors, are designed for art novices or existing artists of all ages who want to explore a new medium. This spring, students can try their hands at a glass garden globe, a Georgia O’Keeffe–inspired painting, and seasonal felt decorations. $15–$100.
More info and to register: 820 E. 67th St., 317-255-2464, indplsartcenter.org/popups
Milk paint contains actual milk protein, comes in powder form, and can be used as either paint or a stain. In FiveThirty Home’s monthly Milk Paint 101 classes, you’ll learn how to mix it and apply eight different finishes. Participants go home with a picture frame painted in the technique they like best. All materials (including aprons for the messy painter) are provided. Upcoming sessions take place June 19, and July 17. $65.
More info and to register: 20 N. Main St., Zionsville, 317-567-7781, fivethirtyhome.com
This article appeared in IM Home, a 2015 special publication.