By Kate Riley October 27, 2011

Last weekend we had some friends and relatives over and in mid conversation, one of the friends asked me out of genuine curiosity, "Why do you choose to make so many things by yourself?  Why don’t you just buy these things, or pay someone else to do it for you?”  The best short answer I could come up with at the time was “I just like it.” 

The longer answer, and what I wish I’d explained much better, is that DIY projects give me a sense of accomplishment. It makes me feel good to design and create all kinds of things, whether I’m crafting or cooking, styling or decorating. Frankly I’m just one of those people who likes to dream up things in my mind and then make them with my own hands.

I’m not a fine artist or an especially skilled carpenter, but I love working with paint and building things and that makes me a creative. It took me over 30 years to finally acknowledge that fact, but then I realized I possess many of the attitudes of creative people. I believe in reinvention, perseverance, and I have an ongoing curiosity about how things are made. 

There’s always a calculation I make before undertaking any DIY project. Do I have the time?  Do I possess the skill?  Will taking on this project teach me something new?  How much money will I save?  Will it look good in the end?  If you’d asked me ten years ago whether I’d tackle a staircase remodel or install a new stone patio, my answer would have been “Do what?  Heck no.”  How did I end up taking on those projects?  Because I’d read how others had gone before me, I was inspired, and had the desire to learn how.

As a creative, it’s important to surround yourself with people who share your passion so I feed off of the inspiration and knowledge that comes from others in the DIY community. When I read about other creatives using their hands to build something amazing, I can’t help but feel admiration for their skills and DIY savvy, which is why I began the ‘Best of the Blogsophere’ series so many months ago. Not everyone has the time, inclination, or skill to take on major DIY projects, and that’s fine. But I believe those skills can be learned if the ‘can do’ attitude is there.

It frustrates me when I hear people say “I’m not creative.” I don’t agree with that. Every person possesses the innate ability to be creative. The naysayers simply have yet to tap into their creativity. Perhaps they lack confidence. Perhaps they’re afraid they won’t be any good. Mostly I think they just haven’t tried. We’re all creative to one degree or another, it just has to be discovered deep within. Life hasn’t been the same since I tapped into mine. 

That’s my long answer.  What’s the short answer to the question, “Why do I DIY?”

just want to create


Do you see yourself as a creative person?

Why do you or don’t you DIY? 




  1. I think you said it perfectly! I DIY to create…sometimes it comes out beautiful, sometimes it sucks, but I always enjoy the experience. I hope to someday build a flagstone patio in back like the one you put in. We paid $2600 for landscapers to put in a flagstone patio in our front yard and every time I look at it I think “…I could’ve done a better job for waaaay less money”.

  2. I have had the same question! I do it because I can make something just as I like it, I save money, and it is fun! The people in my life love me, but don’t get what I do, so blogging and blog antique friends are an absolute necessity…they get me!


  3. I’m not sure why, but lately all the images you post show up as grey squares when I view your blog. Weird. Anyone else having this problem?

  4. I LOVE to build & create things, but I still don’t really see myself as being creative. My whole life I’ve said that I’m not very creative… I tend to feel like it’s so hard if not impossible for me to come up with a “completely original” idea- which no one has thought of before, and because of this, I think I’m uncreative. But really, I think maybe my definition of creativity is a little off… but since I’ve defined myself as an “uncreative” person for so long it’s hard to shake that & call myself “creative” just because I take inspiration from others & make those inspirations my own… I’m workin’ on it :) It’s partly why I started a blog, I feel like the more I do these things (creating, writing) the better I will get, I hope. Maybe eventually I’ll feel like a creative.

  5. I am certainly creative. But not much of the DIYer. I enjoy an amazing end result and don’t really mind if someone else does it.

    But Kate, you are great at what you do (rhyming ova here).

    We are always inspired by your projects.

    Mr. Goodwill Hunting

  6. Well said! :) I believe we all have creative bones in our body. It’s a pretty cool feeling to try something & even if it turns out like “dog doo” I always am pretty happy I tried and it usually sparks and idea for something else! Good post.

  7. My main motivation to DIY: money. I’m such a cheapskate that I’d rather do it myself than shell out $$$ for a store bought version of something that I could make or pay someone else to make. I will find a way before I pay!

  8. Agree wholeheartedly! I let others tell me what I was good at for years instead of really embracing what I loved to do! I LOVE MAKING THINGS MYSELF!!!! I love the creativity, the learning of a new skill, the design, the process, and the feeling of “I DID IT!!!”

  9. I don’t see myself as CREATIVE, but I do see myself as ARTISTIC. I don’t have a need to create as much as I have a need to be surrounded by pretty things in my home. I try to DIY from scratch every once in a while, but it rarely turns out as great as I envisioned it, which is disappointing. I find I have better luck when I just tweak things a little: sew a beaded trim to already-made draperies, paint a piece of furniture and replace the knobs, add some bric-a-brac to a lamp shade.

    I do admire people who can be truly creative, though. Their vision — how they can look at something and see its potential as a completely different object — and their creations amaze me.

    (Btw, I have noticed that every time I try to TRULY DIY from scratch, it always winds up costing me waaaay more than it would have if I’d just bought something already done.)

  10. I love the process. It’s like I need to be creative, I think about it all the time. My mom will be 80 next year, she’s the same way. She’s always learning new things, we both think we can do anything! There’s no cure for what we have, we thrive on it and need it! My husband tells me all the time that we can buy new things, I say why if we can build or recycle it! Love your answer!

  11. Oh I agree. There’s something about being creative…..or creative that I crave. And if I go a while without being able to, it actually effects me. I have no problem buying things I don’t want to create, but creative–oh it’s so wonderful. Get’s me every time!

  12. I feel like I love to be creative, but most my things don’t turn out beautiful like other artists. I do feel I have an eye for good art even though I can’t always produce it myself.

  13. I’m definitely a creative. Although, I think my DIY obsession comes from being a frustrated artist. Since moving to my husband’s house, I have no place to work on my art. Also, as someone else said, DIY saves money. There are a lot of things I just can’t afford to hire out, like painting my kitchen cabinets. They are in too good of shape to replace and too ugly to keep, so I gave them a fresh coat of paint.

  14. Living in Canada, DIY is sometimes necessary. Until recently we had very few great home stores and I used to look through the pages of US catalogs (PB, Restoration Hardware, etc.) and become inspired to create it.
    Now many stores ship, but the costs are still horrendous and there’s something satisfying and rewarding knowing that you did it.
    Thanks for inspiring all of us with your DIY!

  15. Well, geez – money! As someone succinctly put it above. I don’t always buy the stuff or pay someone to do it because I don’t have the money. I am like Ana White – love nice stuff, don’t love the prices.

  16. What a great post, Kate! It seems like DIY gets a bad rap sometimes from people who, for one reason or another, equate DIY with “cheap” or “homespun” or “less than.” I think you’re exactly right that embracing DIY is about the desire to create something beautiful and the sense of accomplishment that comes from making those beautiful things with your own two hands. Yes, sometimes we can save money by DIYing, but that’s not *always* the case or even the primary motivation every time. For me, DIY is also about being able to carry out a specific & unique vision for my home (not just buying “off the rack”), and DIYing also gives me the opportunity to make responsible decisions about where/how the pieces in my home are created (hello, sustainability-conscious decorating!)

    Thanks for sparking this interesting discussion! I can totally envision a “Why I DIY” series springing up across the blogosphere (sort of like NPR’s “This I Believe”). I’ll be curious to hear other DIYers weigh in…

    • Wow Erin, what a great thought, yes that would be a good series or even link party!

  17. Creativity is like a muscle. The more you use it, the stronger and more useful it gets. I’ve always liked to DIY but the more I do it, the better I get. There are projects I tackle now in an hour that I would have once been completely petrified to do 10 years ago. It’s just so nice to look around my home and know I’ve personally touched so much of it and made it uniquely mine.

    • Yes Indiri, I agree, that is a nice feeling. Even nicer when people ask, “Where did you get that?” and the reply is “I made it!”

  18. Kate, You hit the nail on the head. Sometimes I ask myself the very same question that your friends asked you and I always end up with the same answer- I love creating things and trying my hand at all sorts of projects. No, they are not perfect but that is ok! I am just starting to record my projects on my blog, and I have enjoyed that more than I ever would have imagined. Thanks for the inspiration!

    • I agree Katie, things don’t always turn out as ‘perfect’ as if I’d bought it, but that IS ok. Handmade adds to and enhances the charm of any home!

  19. DIY began out of necessity. As a single mother with two children, there was no budget wiggle room for “extras”, so I decided to find out just how to get what I wanted at a much lower (or free) cost. After the necessity, it became a sense of pride and accomplishment. I love to enjoy and share things that I have created myself. I also love having an outlet for those things that bounce about my head. The energy has to go somewhere, so it might as well be constructive.

    Now I’m DIY’ing as a source of income. Currently without a “normal job”(as some would say), my income comes from my Etsy shop and my booths at the antique mall. It’s not quite enough to live on, yet, but it’s growing everyday.

  20. I agree with you 100%. I would say I am artistic … not an artist. I feel it takes a curious mind. I love crosswords and such, figuring things out. The same holds true with different projects I see. There’s just something inside of me that wants to see if I can do it. I’ve built waterfalls, bbqs, and lots of other things…and I guess it makes me feel good to know I figured it out and did it by myself. I like to read about people’s not-so-good outcomes though, cuz I know I’m not the only one that tried and failed occasionally. People who say they’re just not creative or crafty, in my estimation, are just not interested in learning how….kind of like me and cooking. I can read a recipe….I just choose not to….I rather create:)

  21. I am a ‘Wanna-Be’ DIYer. I have ambitions, but not follow-through. Not totally true… I just don’t do as much as I would like. Why are you a DIYer? Because people like me enjoy seeing your creativity:)

  22. Thanks for the great posts and those links! I love puzzles and problem solving and I never thought of it as creativity, but I guess it is. What I really love about DIY projects is that they’re a challenge just like doing a Sudoku or a jigsaw puzzle. I’m also a big fan of efficiency, so I love the idea that solving a DIY puzzle also means that my living space is improved in some way. It’s entertainment and home improvement all in one.

    I also love the empowerment that comes with DIY. Part of me likes to do DIY projects just so that I can show other people that those projects are easier than they seem. I hope that I can teach my DIY skills to other people, especially those who can’t afford to hire a handyman or even own their own home, but still want to take ownership of their space and the community they live in. When people take ownership of their space, the pride the feel spreads to many other areas of their life!

  23. Very well said! I too am one of those people who never considered themselves creative, but I have discovered that if you’re interested in DIY and have a willingness to learn, anything is possible! I also wanted to bring up the point, that some countries and cultures are more geared towards DIY simply because there’s really not much of a choice. For example, in the U.S. the amount of products you can buy for DIY purposes is mind boggling! I wish they had as much choice here. In my country, DIY is not as much of thing to do because labor is cheap and there’s a lot of people to do it for you. Still I do enjoy some DIY and have an Etsy shop to show for it. :)

    Thanks for sharing!!!

  24. “The desire to create is one of the deepest yearnings of the human soul. No matter our talents, education, backgrounds, or abilities, we each have an inherent wish to create something that did not exist before. . .

    Creation brings deep satisfaction and fulfillment. We develop ourselves and others when we take unorganized matter into our hands and mold it into something of beauty”—Dieter F. Uchtdorf

    I love this quote. We all need to create in some way.

  25. Yes, everyone is creative! These two inspiring quotes say it well:

    “There’s no such thing as creative people and non-creative people.There are only people who use their creativity and people who don’t. Unused creativity doesn’t just disappear. It lives within us until it’s expressed, neglected to death, or suffocated by resentment and fear… The only unique contribution that we will ever make in this world will be born of our creativity… If we want to make meaning, we need to make art. Cook, write, draw, doodle, paint, scrapbook, take pictures, collage, knit, rebuild an engine, sculpt, dance, decorate, act, sing—it doesn’t matter. As long as we’re creating, we’re cultivating meaning.” — Brené Brown (in The Gifts of Imperfection)

    “Creativity is linked in our minds with poets, artists, inventors, and people of that sort. We think of the Edisons, Einsteins, Picassos, and Beethovens of the world as creative. But any job can be done more creatively and any life can be lived more creatively. What’s required are certain changes: that you begin to think of yourself as creative, that you use your imagination and your mind more, that you become freer but also more disciplined, that you approach the world with greater passion and curiosity.” — Eric Maisel (in The Creativity Book)

  26. I LOVE this post. I agree, it’s beyond addicting and amazing the inspiration that has been found here in the blog community. I look back at my personal growth over the last year or two, and I am so grateful to have “met” the creative individuals I have and that I have learned how to re-purpose vs. buy new. It’s fun and I save money! But for me, the biggest win is that I am learning to incorporate old and new and a mixture of pieces to help my home feel more like me vs. something out of a showroom. So many reason’s to DIY!

    I hope you keep on doing it forever, and then continue to blog about it because I always find inspiration here!


  27. I definitely feel that diy is just smart. I found Ana White about a year ago after finding my dream bed at PB and thought, “Even if I could afford $1500, I just don’t think I could bring myself to pay that much for a bed!” I googled “knock off pottery barn beds”. Since we designed and contracted the building of our house recently, I knew I had all the tools and ability and the timing is especially better now that my youngest is 2.5.

    I also think diy if often (not always) more Eco friendly or eco conscious, and there’s nothing like making something customized just how you want it to be, whether colors, fabrics, building projects, etc. When you save $ diy, you have extra to use or even splurge on other things – whether it be a family item, vacation, or special piece that you can’t diy. I totally have my eye on a Louis Ghost Chair right now!!!

  28. This could so be my answer! Especially the part about 30 years. i just turned 30 and just since about half a year when we started to build our house I’ve finally started to realize how much fun it is to do things yourself! I’ve started to go to “Flohmarkt” as we call big yard or garage sales in Germany and to come home with things that I want to change. I so enjoy to turn something really cheap into something personal and charming. Btw your page was the second after Ana White that I found and that inspired me a lot!!! Now I’ve also started sewing and am so looking forward to do costumes and stuff for my little daughter. I’m still a real beginner but I so want to have a blog myself too. Well, I will need some more months until I have the time to start one, but I’m so looking forward to it.
    Big thanks for your inspiration!

  29. As a child I grew up surrounded around people who I called artists, one of them being my mother. They could draw and paint and I couldn’t. Not till I reached my 50’s did I realize that I also was an artist but of a different kind. Love that I’m an artist. I love, love giving life to objects that have seen their day. I love working with paint, paper and fabric but my goal for the future is to start using power tools. I DIY because I love it and it’s a feeling like nothing else.

  30. I agree wholeheartedly! I don’t do much DIY but I do lots of crafts. It’s hard to explain to someone why I would prefer to make homemade cards than buy them at Hallmark. It’s certainly NOT cheaper, which is a common misconception. But when I am crafting something specifically for someone, I think about that person, what they might like, and while I’m creating I am also praying for them. I don’t know if they KNOW that I thought about them for an entire hour while I was making that special thing. But I know.

  31. Wow, what a passionate subject! I don’t care if it was 99% identical to the original – I would still chose to create something myself. The satisfaction that it produces is overwhelming! All it takes is lots of money to be able to purchase anything you want, but to use your own creative thoughts, ideas & hands is far more of a thrill for me. We are fashioned after The Greatest Creator of all! Father God Himself said, “Let Us make man in Our image & likeness.”
    It’s in there! Some have more of a passion than others, or more tweeked to a particular area of creating that is unique to others, but it’s in there! In all of us. I think we are so overwhelmed with life or not encouraged, therefore we get caught up in the daily grind. I’ve always marveled @ the Proverbs 31 woman – whom I soooo desire to be like! How did she do it all? I like to think of her as my mentor. My first desire is to please my Creator, then serve my family, all along being a creative business woman who prospers her household. That’s my dream! And one of the ways I want to do it is by creating, painting, sewing, crafting, building… Doing It Myself! PS – I’m encouraging my daughter – who is extremely creative – that she can do it too!
    Thanks Kate you are truly a Centsational Girl!

  32. I think I do DIY projects because it makes me feel good about myself and gives me self worth. It might not be what leads me to a project but it is how I feel after I am involved in the project. Sometimes I see something I like, and I think, “I can do this”. Other times it is an idea that appears out of some internal inspiration and creativity. The “costs less” is often a factor as well.

    Your message above was excellent and inspiring . . .

  33. What a fabulous post! I think we are all inherently creative in one way or another. One girl might be a wizard with a paint brush, while another has skills with her pen and a storyline. I think the key is not wishing you were good at one thing, but finding what you are good at and growing those skills. Was actually just thinking about this yesterday… :)

  34. Hi Kate-

    DIY’ing is just part of who I am. It is what makes me tick. I can’t help it – my brain is just wired to want to put my hands on things and create with them. Buying things is fun, too or having someone else do the hard work sometimes, but my house has become a home over the years because I have put my heart as well as blood, sweat, and tears into almost every room and object. When I look around it makes me smile to see what I have accomplished. Having a beautiful room is what most of us desire. Having a unique and beautiful room that has totally come to life because of my efforts – priceless!

    My best- Diane

  35. I couldn’t have said it better myself, Kate! Ditto ditto ditto. I can’t tell you how many times I have had that “I’m not creative” conversation with friends and family. My frustration is that I don’t have anyone close to me who feels the same way and likes the same things. They love what I do for them, but no one shares my love of doing art and DIY so it gets lonely sometimes. That’s probably why I enjoy my online friends – too bad they’re all so far away!

    Thanks for the post!

  36. Very well said! I too am one of those people who never considered myself to be creative, but once I was interested, all it really took was some inspiration and a willingness to learn! I also want to point out that some countries/cultures are more likely to DIY simply because there isn’t much of a choice. in the States for example, the amount of products you can buy for DIY and crafting is mind boggling. I wish they had such a selection in the country I live in! Here, DIY is not as much of a thing because labor is cheap and there are a lot of people who can do/make things for you. Still, I find as you said, a sense of accomplishment when I DIY or craft. I even have an Etsy shop to show for it! :)

    Thanks so much for sharing.

  37. I love this post – I always answer with “pride of ownership” – DIYing reminds me that the best things in life don’t come easily or quickly. We live in an “instant gratification” world. Painting furniture, stripping it down to it’s roots – that takes time and love and effort and the end product is so worth it!

  38. It’s funny I do NOT think of myself as creative. I understand I am, and that some people are not, but I don’t really ‘get it’.
    My husband always asks ‘why are you doing it that way’ and I honestly never have an answer. It’s not like I think long/hard about what I do or how I want to recreate something… I just look at it, ‘see it’ and then do it. He does not get it. Which is where my understanding of ‘some are not creative like this’ comes from.
    But on the other hand I’ve always felt that real important things, real ‘work’ is hard.. and for me this is easy, so it must not be ‘good’ or ‘important’. Which is not a great attitude to have, and I am working at focusing on the idea that most people do not see things the way I do, would never come up with what I do [I get that comment often, ‘I would never have thought of doing that!’] and that this ‘gift’ is special

  39. I DIY because I like it too. I DIY because I was brought up in family that fixed things when they broke instead of buying a new replacement. I DIY to get the custom look I crave at a price I’m more comfortable with. Above I DIY because projects involving hammers are cheaper than therapy!

  40. I’m creative and try to think outside the box and I’ve become better at it over the years. But I think I probably became the most creative when I became engaged. We were paying for the wedding ourselves, so we had to try to cut corners somewhere. So we {yes my hubby helped me do these DIY crafts for the wedding} made our own menu’s, place cards, table numbers, Church programs, and even made our own card box from picture frames. It was great and we get to look back on our wedding and say “we did that”. Awesome feeling. But then I became even more creative when we bought our first home together. We didn’t have a ton of money to spend fixing up the house, but we had to pay contractors to do certain things. So when it came to other projects around the house, we had to figure out how to do them ourself. We painted, installed doors {interior & exterior}, gardened…lots of gardening, took apart a large pool, painted our shed because we couldn’t afford to side it yet, painted fencing because we couldn’t afford to replace it yet, redid our whole entire Family Room down to the studs, pulled up rugs and tile….the list goes on…..Now that is “House Proud” for sure!!! :) Thanks for the boost of confidence! We have come along way, and we even have more to do. I need to get more creative now!!! :) Great post Kate!!! Have a great weekend!!! :D

  41. That was a great post!
    I love DIYing because it not only puts soul into the things I buy but it shows that I care about my home and about my friends in order to invest my time in it and them. I love giving handmade gifts as presents or helping with other people´s DIY projects.
    Nowadays time is our most prized possesion and sharting it with others shows you really care for them.

  42. Great post Kate! I say “why not?” Lol. I love to make things, and I always have to have something to keep me busy. I agree with you on getting a sense of accomplishment after creating something. Anyone can go buy an item or pay someone to do a job, but making it/doing it yourself is so much more personal and special.
    Now, trying to convince my husband that we can totally demo our kitchen and start over…that’s another story! Any tips on how I can convince my husband we are that great and we can do it ourselves? ;)

  43. Hello Kate

    I do not have your experience in DIY, but I’m a very creative person and I like to try to do things.
    Give me more pleasure transform / renew, than to buy or have someone to do.
    The DIY’s already become an addiction, my husband says I’m always inventing anything:)

    Kate was a great inspiration to me, through you I ventured to paint large pieces of furniture :) Thanks

    Best Wishes
    Ana Paula – Portugal

  44. Thank you thank you for writing this post!! I used to think that I wasn’t creative in the slightest and then I stumbled across this amazing blog called ‘Centsational Girl’ and all of a sudden had the urge to paint everything in sight!! True story. :) I now make baby quilts and table runners and lamps and lampshades and look forward to learning even more about creativity at Haven!!! So from one creative soul to another, thanks for finding your creative spark so I could find mine!! I truly appreciate what you do Kate…have a fabulous weekend!!!

  45. GREAT post! I asked myself this same question about 45 times when I was creating our nursery. I made the curtains, pillows, bedding, and did lots of crafts to make the theme for the room come together. Most of my friends picked out a room design at Pottery Barn or Target and purchased everything together – pre packaged. But our nursery is unique, exactly what I wanted, and I’m so proud of the hard work my hubby and I put into creating a beautiful space for our new baby. Thanks for writing this post – it’s good to know I’m not alone!

  46. When I was teaching, I would tell my students that it wasn’t a question of “How smart are you?” but “How are you smart?” I think we should ask ourselves (and encourage others) to ask ourselves not “How creative am I?” but “How am I creative?”

  47. This post was exactly what I needed to read in order to put words to what DIY’ing does for me– it releases a sense of pride to know that I took an ugly piece of “something” or a set of raw materials, and turn it into something beautiful and valuable. My husband (and I’m beginning to think a LOT of husbands feel this way!) look at my interst and hobby as simply “being cheap” and I face the criticism from him that I should just “buy something new.” But it wouldn’t be as satisfying. I want someone to walk into my house and their eyes light up when they see a project of mine and ask, “Where did you get THAT?” and I can respond proudly, “I did that myself!”

    I will add on to what other people have said, too– I don’t feel I am very creative in a sense of being able to just come up with random, new ideas for things. However, after submerging myself into the DIY blogger community over the last few months, I am proud to say that after removing some antique-y, old, ugly cabinets from my master bathroom before decorating, instead of wanting to just throw them out, I got a great idea to remove the mirrored fronts, and will be hanging them sideways in my new crafting room, as little cabinets for displaying small potted plants or something :)

  48. I agree 100% with everything you’ve said here. The other day I was stressing over all the stuff I have left to do for my father’s surprise party. My boyfriend looked at me and said “Why do you have to do all that stuff?” I was so exasperated when he asked because he’s an artist and creator. I just looked at him and said, “Because I want to!” pause, ” Don’t you get it, I just like to create.”

    He said he got it but just didn’t know why I had to do so much. Sometimes I just have a vision in my head, and I need to do everything possible to make that vision a reality. :)

  49. Kate, I have to say that you are the main reason why I started DIYing. Your blog has so many good tips and instructions on how to do stuff and I stepped out of my comfort zone and started doing things I NEVER would have dreamed about doing. It has given me so much pleasure, relaxation, and just the learning has been really eye opening. I am now contemplating doing wainscotting for my dining room and my husband is a little fearful, lol, but I am “gearing myself up” mentally because it will be so rewarding once it is complete. If it fails, oh well, the worst that could happen is that I hire a contractor to fix up my mess, no harm done. Thank you! You have been a big inspiration to me.

  50. I love being able to take something apart and learning about its construction, then putting it back together again, which is why I love reupholstering chairs. They are giant puzzles.

    There are some people who brag about how much they spent on something. Then there are those, like us, who brag that we found stuff on the side of the road or thrifting and redid it!

  51. I’m the same way – I would much prefer to take the time to make something myself than to spend the money on something which can often be outrageously costly. But it’s not always a matter of money. I just like how it feels to look at something and know that I created it. Maybe it wasn’t my idea. Maybe I followed a tutorial step by step. But it was my hands that made it. People are always telling me how creative I am and what a DIY personality I have, but I honestly believe that everyone is equally as capable if the inspiration is there. Can I just say THANK GOD FOR PINTEREST? haha

  52. I diy because many times, I know what I want, but either can’t find it or can’t afford it. When you make it yourself, you know the quality/strength of the material that went into it and it will always come in the color you want.

  53. I DIY partly because I am thrifty, partly because I like to keep my hands busy and partly because that’s the way I was raised. My mother, who says she is not creative (!), taught me to crochet, knit, sew, embroider, lay floor tile, cut in paint, repair toilets, so small electrical repairs, make candles, cook – you name it. Her parents were like that too. They would only hire someone to do a job if they could not do it themselves. I like to DIY if I have the time and skills for the job and I’m willing to try something new if it looks like I might be able to do it. My DIY childhood taught me to be confident that I DO have a lot of skills.

  54. The only thing better than this post are the comments. Your blog has the best comments. Starting with Grace right to Amanda and every single one in between. They are all so awesome. I’ve been involved with DIY for nearly 40 years and love it. I look at hundreds of homes each year and have come to dislike totally store furnished homes. Your home is part of you and should reflect your tastes and character. Hand crafted furnishing, curtains, paint and more all accomplish this. After all, this is also how families lived for most of history. Thank you Kate for all your great writing and inspiration. Another great post.

  55. Great post! My husband and I bought ourselves a fixer-upper for our first home 8 years ago. Over the years, we haved loved fixing it up and decorating it… although the tasks were often completely overwhelming, the pride we felt when we were done was sensational. My parents, who are huge DIY’ers would be so impressed with our results, and my mom would always say “Leanne! You are so creative!” Over the years, I began to realize, “Yes, Yes I Am!” When baby #3 came along, and budget got tighter, I came across amazing blogs like yours, that made me realize, hey! I can do that too! Now DIY’ing has become my favorite hobby… perhaps even an obsession! I then began my blog appropriately named “Because (I Think) I Can”. Thank YOU and all the other amazing bloggers out there who inspire and teach people like me!

  56. Well Said! I DIY for all those reasons though I really need to take two of your calculations into consideration.

    One ~ I tend to spend more money on many of my projects because I’m trying to make it better than what I could have bought.

    And two ~ Because I think I can do almost anything (ha, ha) I tell myself “I can make THAT!” But it ALWAYS takes more time than I plan. Maybe I’m just REALLY SLOW – lol!

    Do I DIY anyway, you bet! It’s in my blood; can’t help myself and it fits perfectly into my ADHD mind – lol!

  57. I am a dancer. I majored in dance education in college and currently teach and choreograph at a dance academy in Texas. I love to sew and bake and build and paint and glue and cut and drag-n-drop and make things with my hands, BUT I sometimes let others’ great abilities deter me from trying things… I’m afraid of being inadeqate. But when it comes right down to it, making something from nothing (or perfecting something that already existed) makes me happy, and that is why I DIY.

    One of my favorite talks ever given addressed this topic of how all humans (and he especially directed it to women) are born with an innate desire and ability to create. The speaker encourages us to not be intimidated or feel that we have to do big and beautiful things to create
    something worthwhile. Check it out here (the specific part of the talk begins in the section titled “The Work of Creation”): http://lds.org/general-conference/2008/10/happiness-your-heritage?lang=eng&query=create

  58. Short answer: Its the best way to get the exact outcome that I want. If I imagine an outfit, a pillow, a quilt, a piece of art work, I can probably do better making it than trying to find it. Also, its less money to make custom art work, than to buy it!

  59. You hit the nail right on the head for me. Although I consider myself a very beginner DIYer, I have realized that my kids think we are cool when my husband and I DIY things ourselves. I realized it the first time I heard my kids say to someone “Mama made that!” with such pride. So it turns out that I’m already teaching them that not everything has to come from the store. :)

  60. Bingo!! I ask myself the same questions that you do as well before tackling a project. Now that I’m retired and have the time, the most important question I ask myself is, “Do I want to spend my time doing this?” Quilting is my favorite creative outlet but I sure like home decorating as well. Thanks for such a interesting post.

  61. I just love being able to say “I made this”. Whether it’s to myself, or someone else, it is so satisfying to know that I did it on my own. I think a good question would be “why would you pay someone to do it when you can do it on your own?”

  62. I recently wrote this on my about me page: “There is a sense of accomplishment that is so powerful when you can say…”yes, I made that…” A sense of pride is always a good thing. I am a firm believer that you are never supposed to stop learning. And the best part about learning something new is to share it with someone else. I am always sharing…whether it is a recipe, project, decorating tip, photography skill, the list goes on and on. My hope is that you enjoy learning too…and you pass it on. ”
    I too…would have answered “because I like it”…not wanting to “bore” people with my complete obsession with DIY. And also because I think sometimes too many people just assume they can’t before they even try–so they may just not get it. I have been so inspired by your blog over they past year…and it really was what motivated me (along with Sarah TDC) to start documenting all my little projects. Thanks for everything Kate :)

    • Wow Tracie, that is so kind, and so true!! I see my friends eyes glaze over whenever I start to talk DIY but then I go out into the blog world and we all love it, that’s what’s so cool about the internet, connecting people with similar passions who would ordinarily never meet!

  63. That is totally me. I have always been creative and would spend hours creating things in my mind. I never really did it in real life. I guess I was scared to fail. This summer I discovered blogs and that flipped a switch inside of me that opened my creativity to the real world. I have been creating ever since like on a daily basis! I have had failures but mostly triumphs. I don’t think that I will ever stop! Thanks for sharing!

  64. Kate,

    You explained it perfectly! It is so rewarding when you start out not knowing, research and find an answer and then accomplish it yourself. And then your creative side kicks in when you see someone else’s idea but you put your own twist on it. It’s an extra bonus that you saved money too! Your blog is one of my favorites. I love your style!

  65. Thank you for your inspiration.
    After encouraging my own children and family that they’re creative, I’ve decided that yes, I’m creative too.
    And I think it’s partially genetic in this case – my grandmother would always say, “I can make that for less!”

  66. :) Someone told me recently that creative people are happiest in the planning and process, and that completion eventually leads to grief…so ya gotta start that next project! I am not happy if I’m not being creative.

  67. 1) I just adore you!
    2) I find it to be a HUGE form of therapy for me. It helps me destress. The hubs never really cared for our house.. it was HIDEOUS. Truly awful. It was a foreclosure and everything was done poorly and just eww. He couldn’t see the potential in it, but I can, and after getting SO sick and tired of waiting for him to do SOMETHING with it, I decided I would. So slowly, I just started tearing the place apart and reusing what we had to make it beautiful. A friend of mine passed along a DIY blog she thought I’d be interested in, which was SO inspiring, and then that blog led me to this one, and so on. Anyway.. I never considered myself a creative person. I had no interest in decorating, and I HATED to paint. Yes, HATED. Sometimes creativity is born out of necessity, I guess. But I am so proud of my house, and I don’t kind of look like a deer in headlights when somebody wants to come over. I redid the trim in the great room entirely myself – staining, cutting, all of it. I would have never dreamed I would be capable of doing anything like that. I didn’t even know what a miter saw WAS last year. Seriously. And now I probably have more home improvement tools than the mister. Anyway.. yeah, I totally related to your post. :)

  68. There is nothing as boring or uncreative as a person who looks at a rejected object (or a dilapidated house, or a dismal return on an investment or a failed public policy) and decides the best course of action is to dispose of it, sneer at it, curse it or whine about it.

    Creativity is what gave us our great nation. Creative people abound here. Just look at the number of entrepreneurs springing up around sites like yours, Kate.

    How timely that this post comes just before Thanksgiving, when we all reflect on the creativity of those who laid the groundwork for us to invent and explore. Fantastic piece!

  69. I love this post! I DIY for many of the same reasons you wrote about. And because I love looking around and seeing what I’ve created. I love saving money, so that’s a bonus. And I love that when I show my husband my finished projects, he makes a big deal out of it. (silly, I know) Besides, who wants a house full of things that everyone else has??? Not me! I have to say that your blog has put me in high gear to make/do/redecorate, so thanks!

  70. Nice article, thanks, I DIY alot, love it, and i do sometime ask myself why i just don’t go and buy ? But it is the sense of design and achievement for me, to make something that started out just as o though or a solution to a problem can be very satisfying. I’ve been studying mindfulness also recently and making things certainly fits well with these teachings. Helps alot. Keep creating ! x

  71. I can’t NOT create. Whether writing, paperworks (scrapbooking, handmade cards), or refinishing a room, or refinishing furniture, I am constantly evolving. I feel awkward when there isn’t at least 1 project going. I’m awfully hard on myself though. I don’t like to make mistakes because it feels like wasted time and wasted money, so sometimes I’ll procratinate and procrastinate and then finally I’ll get SO tired of this idea living IN MY HEAD that I’ll just jump in. However, I don’t always take the time to do things the right way (ahem, grass wallpaper hanging!) and then it annoys me forever. Or until I change it. :)

    I’m also the type where I can build an entire room off one object: a lamp, a piece of fabric or furniture, a color. Anything. And then as soon as one thing changes, the rest starts to speak to me (am I the only one who hears those voices? I’m not! lol) that they want to be updated or repaired or facelifted, and off I go…. my wallet doesn’t appreciate it but my sanity sure does.

  72. So glad you’ve followed your heart because YOU inspire me almost every day of the year! You are amazing!

  73. It’s great when we listen to that voice that says ” I can make beauty here”. It’s great you’re not wasting your talent in a stuffy office somewhere!

  74. Well said Kate and all readers! I’ve been creating things since I was a little girl and it has given me such joy, pride, a sense of accomplishment, and confidence. It also gives me a sense of independence because I know that when the caulk needs to be redone (last week’s project) or the drywall patched (because the dog chewed holes in the wall) or a slipcover made (because the dogs trash the furniture) I can tackle these jobs myself. Creativity and making things feeds my soul and makes me a happy person.

  75. Hi Kate, I wanted to take a moment to answer your question, since you took the time to really think about your own answer and ask for feedback from your readers!

    I DIY because making something by hand gives me a sense of accomplishment that shopping never will, because I can’t imagine finding something in a store that perfectly matches what I’ve imagined for my home and my friends & family, and because there are so many pieces in my local thrift store that with a little TLC still have a lot of use left in them.

    No, I’m not a trained artist. No I’m not a master crafts person, but I’m learning all the time and I love it! Who knows, budget permitting I might enroll in a few courses and become a skilled upholsterer over time.

    And finally, I love that the hiccups in my DIY work can turn into amazing discoveries. Did I intend to use a marker that would bleed when making some DIY wall art, no, but it turns out I like the effect. Did I expect the dog to bark, causing me to jump, and paint the edge of the light switch? Not exactly, but I went with it and I actually prefer my light switch disappearing into the wall, rather than standing out and seeming to show, “look at me!”

    What’s not to love about DIY?

  76. Wow Kate, this is why I love the Internet! Finding other like-minded people. Because I couldn’t draw in the high school art class sense of drawing I didn’t think I was creative when I was younger. As I grew up though, I blissfully realized that there are SO many ways to be creative. I DIY because I love to see something become real and tangible that I could see in my head. I also DIY because I know there are so many things I can create for much less than it costs to buy them. Now I cannot imagine what life would be like without the daily release of creativity!

  77. Great post! I get very inspired by what I see out there on the internet as well. In fact, I redid my laundry closet with color and new shelving just because I saw great ideas on the internet. But I have to say, my biggest DIY inspiration is my grandma, who is no longer with us unfortunately. She made everything, she re-purposed everything, she hung every photo, painting herself, she switched her kitchen decor when the mood struck her. And she even made my brother a make shift basketball hoop out of a circular laundry basket in the 80s so he could shoot hoops in her garage. When I’m working on a project, trying to organize or doubt myself, I say, “what would grandma Hilda do?” Grandma would figure it out and make it work!


  78. Great post, Kate! I agree… everyone is creative to some extent. I do projects for similar reasons and ask myself the same questions before embarking on them.

  79. Well, I am one of those people that would say I am not creative. But, after I got divorced with with 2 little kids, I wanted to buy a house and make us a home. I found a realtor that firmly believed two coats of paint could take care of any problem an old (affordable) house could have. I already knew how to sew. There was an ancient neighborhood hardware store nearby with several old guys that knew how to do anything and everything else. They got involved in my house re-do, they had a wobbly sort of faith in me, loaned me all sorts of tools and gave me tons of advice. I can never ever pass a hardware store without thinking of them and all the help and all the arguments and discussions. I learned how and when to sand, prime and paint and caulk and rewire and sheet rock and re-do floors and to think about politics and change a flat and it was a wonderful time. They were the best father-figures a girl could have. My only regret is I didn’t get my kids more involved. And that all these blogs weren’t around, no telling what I would have done with all this inspiration!!!

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