I put my power tools away, hung up my paint brush, and stopped going to the thrift store. I quit DIY.
I used to see something cute at a store and my first thought wasn’t, “Oh, cute. How much is that?” My first thought is, “Hmmm, I wonder how I could make that.” Seriously, before I even know how much it cost. Here I am programmed to spin my wheels figuring out how I can make everything, even the cute thing that costs less than $10. There is no way it would be worth my time to make something I can buy for less than $10.
What was wrong with me?
You know how some people need to unplug and take some time away from the internet? Well, I needed to take a gigantic step back from being a DIYer.
For the last 3 years it’s been my hobby, my work, my life. (Notice the progression to total takeover.)
For the last 3 months, I haven’t made a thing.
Why I Started to DIY
Maybe I should start with why I was a DIYer in the first place.
I was raised a Fixer. Every single line of the Fixer’s Manifesto describes my view of the world growing up. And it is a beautiful view. I still agree with all of it. But, realize being a Fixer doesn’t mean you have to DIY everything.
Most people label me as “creative”. I always felt kinda weird about that. I am actually much more analytical than creative. But I exercise my creativity muscles a lot. But more out of stubbornness than creativity.
I have long held the belief that if another human being can do something, then I can do it to. That is a double-edged sword. On one hand, how motivating to believe you can do anything anyone else can do, if you put your mind to it. On the other hand, what a standard to live up to! Like you’ve got something to prove all.the.time.
So, when I couldn’t find something for the price I wanted to pay or that looked exactly the way I wanted, I automatically assumed I could make something better myself. I could make it for less. I could make it the color I wanted. I could make it what I envisioned. All I needed to do was a little DIY work.
DIY means a lot of things to a lot of different people. At it’s simplest form it just means you do-it-yourself. It being anything. From a home DIY perspective, I laid out the spectrum of different types of DIY projects. Everything from a quick makeover for something you bought pre-made to building furniture from scratch.
I loved certain kinds of DIY way more than others. But as a stubborn mule, believing I could do anything, smaller DIY projects gave way to believing I could and should do larger DIY projects. And more projects. Some I liked, some I didn’t. Almost always I liked the end result, because I got my way after all, but many times I hated the process.
I DIYed for the same reason most people do. To save money. To make it exactly the way I wanted (can we say control issues?). And to put my personal stamp on it. There is something beautiful about working with your hands, making something, and having pride in your work.
Why DIY Got Out Of Control
When I started this blog and started sharing my DIY projects, I was doing them out of true desire. Because I wanted to make something with my hands, because I couldn’t find something to buy that I liked, and because I liked what I was doing.
When I started this blog, I was making over 6-figures at my day job. I had no financial reason to DIY, other than I still liked a good deal (don’t we all?). It mostly came down to being stubborn and wanting to get my way.
It is a dangerous thing when you have no financial reason to DIY and you are more interested in the end result being what you want than how you get there. When you DIY to save money, the trade-off is the time you put in. When you DIY and there is no money saved, now you are spending the money and the time.
Sometimes DIY is far from cheaper. Even if you come out ahead in dollars and cents, you rarely come out ahead when you consider the time it took you to plan and do the project, to run around and get supplies, the leftover supplies (sunk cost), and the possible re-work to get it just right.
As my blog grew and my projects got noticed, I wanted to produce more. I wanted to share more of my great ideas. That meant doing more DIY projects. Coming up with more original DIY projects. Many times putting in the time with no money saved in return.
I was proud of my work, but the mental energy-suck of always trying to generate new ideas was exhausting. You think it is overwhelming trying to consume all the ideas on Pinterest, try feeling like you have to provide all the ideas on Pinterest.
Instead of decorating my home because I wanted to and doing projects because they fueled my creativity, I felt an obligation. I had to come up with X number of projects to share, I had to make sure they were original, and I found myself looking for places to do things that didn’t need anything done.
I was stepping into over-decorating territory. Say I needed a project to share, I would look around my house for what needed to be done. After a few years I stopped finding things that needed to be done. And since I believe in only doing things you love and will for many, many years, there was nothing that needed to be re-done. So then, it became a game of adding something new where nothing was needed. I’d find a small accent table at the thrift store I could makeover and put next to the sofa. Not that we needed or wanted an accent table there.
It started feeling icky to me. I was stock-piling “blog content” in the form of things I found at the thrift store to do a project with. Things I had a great idea for and could do. But I wasn’t stopping to think anymore if I should do them or if I wanted to do them.
It started feeling selfish, too. Here I was showing you all these projects I was doing for my house. You might have liked the eye-candy or inspiration. But unless you wanted to do something very similar in your house, you probably didn’t get much actual value from seeing my projects.
And my worst nightmare…maybe seeing my projects made you feel inadequate about your abilities or home. I know how it feels to see something amazing someone else has done and then feel a little less good about yourself. I never want anyone to feel that way, especially about decorating their home. I want to build you up and support you in creating a home you love.
And the required originality of a DIY blogger was killer. A good idea is a good idea, but when you are the one that is supposed to be generating the good ideas, copying someone else’s good idea is no good. You have to make it original, which means it either has never been done before or at a minimum you have to do it better, cheaper, smarter.
There are seriously only so many ideas one home needs. And original ideas aren’t always the best, they are just different. And quickly, “if she can do it, so can I” turns into “if she can do it, how can I do it better?”
Why I Quit DIY
Along the way I tried every different type of DIY project, in the pursuit of originality. I LOVED some types of DIY, but others weren’t for me. But as a DIY blogger, I felt I had to “be the person that does it all”. And when people say things like “wow, I am so impressed with all that you do”, it gets awkward to admit you hated doing it.
I had to start getting real with myself. Life is too short to do things I don’t like, even if someone else likes seeing me doing them. The perfect example is building furniture. The idea of it seduces me every time. I love the idea of building my own furniture. But 9 times out of 10, I hate actually doing it. I don’t like using power tools. I like knowing that I can (remember, if someone else can do it, I need to prove I can, too), but I dot like actually using them. I don’t like how building furniture (and other complicated DIYs) brings out my perfectionism. I just don’t like taking a pile of wood and turning it into a piece of furniture. I only like the idea of it.
What I LOVE is taking an existing piece of furniture and doing something simple to make it better. I like to paint furniture. I like to cover ugly things with rugs and tablecloths making them amazing. No big power tools, splinters, and imperfections are easier to cover up.
I discovered I didn’t like most of the projects I was doing. Most of what I love to do, like sewing pillow covers, aren’t really blog-worthy topics anymore. The stuff I loved to do gave way to the projects I felt obligated to do to feed my blog, to stay original, to share new ideas. Meanwhile, things I loved to do and needed to do for my home went undone.
Will I Ever DIY Again?
Without a doubt…yes. It is part of my decorating style, DIY Modern, after all. And I am a fixer.
But as of now, I have quit DIY. I haven’t done a DIY project in over 3 months. And I am really happy. Not so coincidentally, I have shifted my blog focus. I no longer identify with being a DIY blogger. That is not why I am here.
I don’t want to be that person that answers your questions about which clear finish to put on your painted furniture. Because honestly, I don’t know or really care. Sorry, but true. Sharing DIY projects and answering your DIY questions does not excite me.
Last October, I spent 31 days blogging about Interior Styling and in the same month, I was teaching Define Your Style (my decorating style course). Blogging 31 days straight was nuts on a different level, but I carefully chose a topic that didn’t require DIY projects. Instead, it was 31 days of decorating and an opportunity to share more about that passion.
I am here to help the style-confused and decorating-shy find confidence in their inner decorator.
I think we’ve all reached a saturation point with DIY ideas and inspiration, TV shows and magazines, blogs and pins about all the things we could possibly do in our homes. But no one is talking about what you should do in your home, what is right for you, and how you filter out the noise and get focused on creating a home you love. Well, now I am talking about it.
I am here to help you connect the dots between all the ideas you could possibly do and what makes sense for decorating your home. I want to share really valuable how-to information to get you where you want to go in your home, starting with how to find your decorating style.
I know I will DIY again. But only the things I truly want to make, that I enjoy doing, and have nothing to do with whether or not I share them on a blog or social media. I am only going to do what is right for me and my home. I hope I can help you do the same.