Design

Here’s Why I DIY No Matter How Long It Takes (Plus, Some Studio Updates)

I’ve been writing this DIY and decorating blog for about 17 years now. I started it in 2007 when we lived in our tiny little condo over by Baylor University. Once I started remodeling that condo, there was no turning back for me. I had done plenty of decorating up to that point, and was even working as an interior decorator when I started this blog. But once I started tearing out kitchen countertops and replacing them, tiling backsplashes, putting down new bathroom tile (even the peel and stick kind), building banquette seating, and on, and on, I knew that from that point on, I was a DIYer. I would hire things out when necessary, but I’d do as much as I could.

I found so much satisfaction in the whole DIY process. It was equal parts technical and artistic. And even though I’ve never been mathematically-minded, when I’m building, the numbers just seem to “click” in my mind, like a puzzle that just makes perfect sense. That’s not to say that there hasn’t been a fair share of frustration along the way during my DIYing journey, but the process of learning different skills was thrilling to me. The constant desire to push just a little bit beyond my comfort zone had me doing thing that I never thought possible. And the payoff of getting a project finished, stepping back to look at it, and thinking to myself, “I actually built/made/sewed that with my own two hands,” was so satisfying that it became addictive.

There were a lot of things in that tiny little condo that I was so proud of. There was the kitchen remodel. It was so tiny, but I loved this little kitchen. (That’s the same color as my kitchen cabinets in our house. I’ve loved that same cabinet color for well over a decade now.)

And then there was the breakfast area with the banquette seating that I built…

There were so many other projects in that condo that I loved — projects that helped me learn and grow as a DIYer. But that condo really taught me a lot about who I am and what I love. I am a DIYer, and I love making and creating things with my own hands. So for the last 17 years, I’ve been DIYing everything I can. If I think I’m at all capable, I’m going to do it myself.

So that’s why, for the last 17 years, it has driven me a little batty every time someone questions why I’m doing something when I could have just gone out and bought something. “You could have saved yourself so much time,” they say. I cringe a little when someone says something like, “Why are you wasting all this time making this when you could have just bought one, saved time, and moved on?” I always think those people must be new here, but surprisingly, they often aren’t new here. And I just want to say, “Do you not know me AT ALL?”

I don’t know that I could even find the words to express the absolute, immense joy and happiness I get when showing someone my house for the first time, walking them from room to room, and pointing out all of the things I’ve done myself. When I walk them through my front door, after they’ve walked up the front porch steps (that I built myself) and past the front porch (that I built with the help of my brother), I walk them into this…

…with the fireplace that I built, and a room filled with trim that I installed, and curtains that I sewed, and a faux marble coffee table that I painted, and pillows that I made.

I get to show them the credenza that I built, and the ottomans that I built and upholstered, and the lampshades that I made, and the frames that I customized…

Then I get to show them the music room, with the ceiling that I installed, and the walls that I stenciled (that people always mistake for wallpaper because of the black accent that I painstakingly added), and the artwork that I made using 6400 tiny wood pieces, and the tables that I remade, and the pillows that I remade, and the floors that I sanded and refinished.

And then there’s the doors that I made, and the bookcases that I built, and the wainscoting that I installed, and the tryptic that I painted, and my spinet piano that I stripped and refinished.

You get the point. I love that almost every surface in my house is a result of my own blood, sweat, and tears. I love that there are so many things in our house that are totally custom to our house, and that have been built and/or customized by my hands. I love that I get to live in these rooms that are a product of my creativity and vision. It’s an amazing feeling.

So when I have a vision for a one-of-a-kind thing for my house that I want to make, it doesn’t matter to me how long it takes. Don’t get me wrong. Part of me does wish I could snap my fingers and have things like my pendant light done in a moment. But that’s not reality. I had a vision, it’s taking way longer than I thought it would, but I’m pressing on. There is no part of me that thinks, “Wow, I could have just bought a light and saved time.” Saved time? I’m not in any kind of race, but most of all, spending my days in creative endeavors, using my hands to make things, and getting to create one-of-a-kind things for my home, is not something I would ever consider a waste of time. I don’t care if I have to do a project over ten times to get it to look like what I envision. Time spent DIYing and creating is never time wasted. That’s precisely how I want to spend my days, and I thank God every single day that He has given me the ability to spend my days doing what I love. Not everyone can say that they get to do that.

When I get my pendant light finished, it will be a one-of-a-kind light. No one else will have one like it. It will be a conversation piece. It will have a story behind it that I can laugh about (all of my trial and error) and remember fondly (those hours painting spoons with my mom and my friend around my studio work table). And I really do think it’ll be beautiful. I contrast that with my kitchen light…

That’s a light that I bought online. I didn’t make a quick decision. I really shopped and shopped to find something that I thought was completely unique — something that I hadn’t seen in any other blogger’s or Instagrammer’s house. But since then, do you know how many times I’ve seen that light in other people’s rooms on Instagram? Countless. I thought I was buying something so unique, but that light seems to be ubiquitous. And every time I scroll by it in yet another person’s home, it makes me want to take that light down and find (or make) something else to go there. I’d much rather have something unique, created from my own artistic vision, and made by my own hands, than have a common, ubiquitous item in my house, even if it takes me a month and countless trials and errors to have that unique, custom, one-of-a-kind thing for my home.

If my main goal was to just have a finished house, I could have paid someone to do everything, used all builder-grade products, and had a finished house eight years ago. But that’s never been my goal. DIY is my goal. Putting my own creative stamp on everything in my home is my goal. Seeing my creative and artistic vision come to reality by the work of my own hands is my goal. And having a completely unique home that is totally unlike anyone else’s is my goal. And while a finished room is always a great reward, the process is the fun part. The process is the part that energizes me, excites me, and fulfills me. While I have my fair share of store-bought items in my home, there’s nothing about buying an item and putting it in my home that energizes me, excites me, or fulfills me like DIYing something unique does.

With all of that said, here are a few updates on the studio. First up, if you’ll remember, when I finally put my pendant light together, I realized that I needed double the amount of spoons than I had prepared. Here’s how it looked originally…

Even if I had taken the time to spread them all out the 3/4-inch spacing that I had planned, they still would have looked really sparse.

So far, I’ve gotten the rest of the spoons on the last five rings. I started at the bottom and I’m working my way up. You can see what a difference it has made by doubling the number of spoons. Five rows down, ten to go. They’re not perfectly placed/spaced yet. Every time I start on a new row, everything shifts. I’ll have to wait until they’re all attached before the final placement/spacing of the spoons, but you can get the idea…

For my desk, I decided to do a white base with the walnut top. I ordered the walnut veneer, and it arrived yesterday. I’m always so anxious to see the veneer and see what kind of grain pattern it has on it. This one has some very stripy grain patterns in it, but I think once it’s oiled, it’ll look very pretty.

And I’ve made my final decision on the office chair fabric. This is the one decision that has made it very obvious that there’s no one decision that will please everyone. 😀 People have very strong opinions about the color of my chair, but this is my final decision. The fabric has been ordered, so there’s no turning back, and no second-guessing. I’ve decided on…

Yep, it’s dark red. Not pink. Dark red. I just couldn’t bring myself to do a contrasting color (green, eggplant, teal…no, no, and no). I really wanted a dark pink, but my mom encouraged me to try out some dark reds since there are reds elsewhere in the studio, like the dark red in the floral mural and fabric, the dark red in the pendant light, and the dark red on the huge calendar. So I ordered five dark red velvets, narrowed it down to three, and then my mom came over, and we both agreed that this is the one. So it’s ordered. And since I’m going with dark red, I won’t be doing white piping or a white monogram. Dark red with white trim is a little to Santa Claus for me. But I’m still going to do a monogram. I just need to find another color.

So those are the updates so far. If all goes as planned today, I hope to have a finished pendant light to show y’all tomorrow. But if not tomorrow, it should for sure be Thursday at the latest.

 

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