I was brought up on DIY Culture. My dad is a journeyman carpenter and entrepreneur, and my mom is what I like to call a professional crafts lady and local business mogul. They started one of the first coffee shops in rural Alberta when I was a toddler, moved from the city onto an acreage, bought a horse and have been pretty self-sustainable for as long as I can remember.
My dad has always renovated our home, built furniture and toys for my brother and I, and even raised a couple of kids completely DIY. He has had to fend for himself since he was about 13, so he is the reigning king of DIY. He is a scenic carpenter and creates home decor our of recycled materials. My mom is a self-taught aroma therapist and jewelry maker. She runs a successful business where she works with local artisans and imports fair trade products.
When we go shopping as a family, we spend more time nudging each other saying, “we could make that.” than we do buying anything. For my parents, DIY culture was a necessity that became a lifestyle. For me, it is a way of asserting my place in the world by creating things. It’s also a way of stretching my grad student budget.
DIY projects are a form of self-care and feminist resistance. DIY culture as we see it today has roots in 1990’s counter culture and the Riot Grrl movement. Whether women are making zines or stick n poke tattoos, Do-it-Yourself implies that women can take care of things without a man’s help.
I recently moved into a new place. When you’re renting, white walls are pretty much a guarantee and coupled with my 70s-style Kijiji couches, I knew I had to intervene in the décor department. My parents gave me two end tables that were falling apart so much that I couldn’t put more than a bottle of wine on each, and my boring ikea dresser stared at me like a naked mole rat.
While browsing Pinterest, as I do every night before bed, I got an idea: Why not turn these pieces into the furniture of my dreams that I constantly pinned to my Dream House board? It was a nice day, so I walked over to Canadian Tire and bought a can of spray paint for under $5 CAD. I dug out my cheap acrylic paints from Wal-Mart and some old paint brushes and went to town.
Yes, this whole project cost five bucks. Even if you don’t have paint lying around, you can buy enough acrylics and brushes to finish this project for under $20.
I started by reinforcing the legs on both tables by nailing them back together where the wood glue was fading. Then I spray painted them Blue Ocean Breeze, the closest thing to Tiffany blue I could find.
While the top of the tables dried, I started on my dresser. I only painted the front of each drawer so that the rest of the dresser acted as a frame. I used pretty simple designs and referenced photos on the Internet. Each drawer took about 45 minutes, because acrylic and brushes is a lot slower than spray paint.
As the drawers were drying in the sun, I painted the other sides of the tables. Once everything was dry, I did some touch ups to the tables and re-installed my drawers. Now we have cute accent pieces in our house that lots of guests ask about!
As someone who is not naturally inclined to building things or painting, I found this project to be super empowering and fun. Creating something, even if that just means spray-painting an old table, gives me SUCH a rush of accomplishment. DIY is amazing for self-care.