Few things are more satisfying in DIY than standing back and acknowledging that you did something hard really well. Unfortunately for us, that is a rare and fleeting feeling, and going for it often leads to disaster… hence the title of the blog!
But as much as we focus on being honest about disasters and quick wins, there are a few projects that we’re really proud of. And we are self-congratulatory enough to decide to take a whole post to recap them for you here!
These are projects that stretched us to learn new things, master new tools, or take on something bigger than we had before:
Over the past year I’ve done a few projects that felt like scary new territory, so it was even more exciting when they worked out.
First, there was that time I learned how to install my own dishwasher after our old one kept leaking:
Granted it was a lot easier than installing it from scratch because all the wiring and water lines were ready to go, but it was still a totally new experience.
Another kitchen project I’m particularly proud of is all the new cabinetry in the kitchen. My dad and I built some of it together, I built some of it on my own, and he built some of it on his own. One challenging part I did all on my lonesome was building sliding drawers for the pantry:
I really had no idea what I was doing, but I plodded through and ended up with drawers that add a ton of function to the pantry.
And lastly, I was pretty thrilled with the sconces I built this winter.
I’ve never built a light fixture before and am still pretty new to electrical work, so it was satisfying to try this out — and to end up with new lights in my living room that I love for a fraction of the cost of buying them.
The biggest stretch for me this year was honestly trying to balance work and house projects with the new addition of working on a novel. Where does the time go? Despite that, there are definitely a few stretch projects I am proud of!
The container I built to store birdseed in my dining room was by far my most challenging project of the past year. That’s probably why it took so long!
I don’t have a ton of experience with woodworking, so this pushed me to learn new techniques and build myself new tools to be better and more efficient. And like any good triumph, it’s got me excited for more!
I was also challenged this year with a whole lot of details in finishing up my bedroom, but in particular with finding bedside tables which matched the dimensions and look that I was going for. I ended up revamping a pair of flat-pack ones from Home Depot – but while the project stretched my imagination, the biggest stretch was overcoming a dumb mistake I made by not having the pretty MCM legs I bought come with pre-installed hanger bolts.
Of course, the Tiny Bloggers don’t take on a lot of projects strictly on their own. They typically need a lot of help, and have proven themselves pretty lazy about moving along even the easy parts of projects when we’re not there to supervise. However, even we admit that they have accomplished a lot over the last year, including a few “big” wins!
The biggest and most painful was when they installed new hardwood floor throughout their entire house. It was a whole new technique that we weren’t positive would work out, and the Tiny Bloggers found the level of supervision needed challenging.
However, we’re really proud of how it came out!
They’ve also taken on some impressive furniture projects… like building their own couch… out of wood?
blocks of wood with a stick figure drawn on people can say they’ve done that?
Knowing Our Limits — Disaster averted!
Last year when we shared some of our favorite stretch projects, we ended by sharing a few projects where we stretched a little too far….
Maybe we’ve gotten wiser (or maybe just lazier…), but this year we made some smarter choices and decided to get help where we knew we’d need it.
Take Sage’s new deck, for instance:
Typical Sage behavior would be to charge into trying to do this herself, lack of experience be damned. And it undoubtedly would have been a great learning opportunity — but it also would have taken about 10 times longer, likely wouldn’t have turned out as good, and would have limited how many other projects she could get to this summer. So instead, she took the plunge and hired a professional. And she doesn’t regret it for a minute.
Naomi took a similar approach by deciding to buy some furniture for her dining room. With a blog, there is definitely a pull to make-it-yourself whenever possible, or to find old furniture to re-do. While the dining room could have looked decent filled with DIY projects, the current mix of having the core, foundation pieces be store-bought splurges, and many of the surrounding pieces be self-made feels both personal and grown up.
Besides, if she were trying to make everything herself, the dining room wouldn’t even be nearly done!
Overall, it’s been a great year, full of cool projects and a few smart, time-saving choices. What are the hardest projects you’ve taken on, your greatest successes or biggest regrets?