Take Two # The Joys of DIY Home

By Kyra-lin Hom

When I first pictured moving in to my own place, my imagination was… a bit ambitious. I had color wheels, floor plans and décor themes. I perused all the apartment style books in Barnes and Noble and consulted more than one virtual decorating program. I in fact had multiple mix-and-match plans, waiting until I actually wiggled my toes in the carpet before making a final decision. That was my version of being flexible. Right.

As you might have guessed, my imagined plans were pure fantasy. In the midst of making sure my potential drapes matched my potential dresser, I’d forgotten that I didn’t actually own either. Or other such essentials like chairs, trashcans, utensils and, oh yeah, soap.

I’d been so focused on the big things that I had completely taken for granted all the daily essentials that, when added up, took a wicked bite out of my budget. I needed a new strategy ASAP or I’d be left with nothing but severely color-coordinated cleaning supplies and plastic take out sporks.

That’s when I said to myself, ‘Hey, I’m a creative crafter. I’m sure there have to be better, cheaper ways to make a home.’ Enter the Internet stage left, and with the help of a few wonderful websites such as Pinterest, Craftgawker and Ikeahackers I drafted a new plan. This plan involved suprisingly simple yet effective Do It Yourself projects that everyone should know about. (Please forgive my momentary infomercial homage…)

The most common DIY project is called ‘upcycling.’ This involves taking an item otherwise bound for the donation bin or the scrap heap and turning it into something lovely and functional. For example, I had a ton of boxes left over from the move and needed a presentable trashcan. So I took my hotglue gun and some scrap fabric (or pillow cases, bed sheets, etc.) and ‘gift wrapped’ a cardboard box. The result is something that cost me nothing and, yes, does match the décor. Hotglue can turn almost anything presentable in just a couple hours.

Another DIY project involves the creation of functional art. This is appropriate for small or cluttered spaces like mine. I had this huge corkboard that, while useful, was just a brown square on my wall. So I finger painted it with pure preschool enthusiasm. Limited counter space was also a big problem so I patterned those removable plastic hooks all over the place (who needs straight lines anyway?) and let the colorful hanging items break up all the white.

My favorite DIY technique, however, is breaking an object down to its purpose. It sounds silly, but it’s not. Take a bedframe, a popular Ikeahackers project. What is a bedframe but a solid surface on which to lay a mattress? So what’s preventing you from nailing a sheet of plywood across four low dressers and calling it a bedframe with storage? I haven’t tried this one yet, but I did construct a bookshelf out of side-of-the-road milk crates, empty paint cans and MDF boards (compressed sawdust). The best part is, if I need another shelf I can just add another board to the top.

I hate being told there is only one proper way to do anything. Literally making your space yourself breaks that mold. It’s fun, saves money, is eco friendly and really makes the space yours. Why not try it? Just start with a hammer, a flathead screwdriver, painter’s tape and hot glue. Once you’ve got these, you’re 80% there already. Happy creating!

We encourage our readers to comment. No registration is required. We ask that you keep your comments free of profanity and keep them civil. They are moderated and objectionable comments will be removed.