Thursday, March 16, 2017

32 Where Have All The Crafty DIY Projects Gone?

If you have been following for awhile, you know that I find ridiculous pleasure in small scale DIY projects. We have been doing quite a few bigger updates to finish up some areas around the house lately, so I have been especially itching to do something on the smaller side again.

And thinking about that spurred this whole random thought about crafty DIYs...

And then I had even more thoughts.

Do you do crafts and small DIYs? What is the extent of your DIY'ing abilities and desires? Glueing? Cutting? Hammering? Drilling? Sawing? All of the above? None of the above?

We have done so many small DIY's over the years, many even considered to be crafty. Although I have done many of them to save a dollar here and there, or to get a very specific look I am after, I also find the act of creating to be very rewarding and therapeutic.

But the last thing I want is for our home to look like a craft store project. I am now closer to forty than twenty and our home and style and budget has grown and evolved with our age. Can a crafty DIY still look chic? Or is it just easier to purchase the item and then use the time saved to take a quick nap, play with the kids or go for a run? I feel like I am seeing small scale DIY's done less and less as I follow more and more bloggers and Instagrammers, and it sort of gives me a case of the sads.

There is always a chance that something DIY'd won't last or be as quality as something store bought; we have had our share of fails and recycled projects over the years. I have especially learned to hire out upholstery projects and tufting because I can never achieve something as good as the professionals. But I am also glad that I have gone through a few trials and errors to learn that about myself.

As I began wondering where all of the small scale DIY projects have gone, I forced myself to walk through our home and pick out all of my very favorite DIY pieces that have stood the test of time, and that we are still loving months and even years later. I honestly wasn't sure that I would find very many, so I was pleasantly surprised when I tracked down quite a few things in nearly every room. Here are the ones that caught my eye, broken down by DIY skill level.

General crafts with fabric, paper, scissors, glue... (No construction knowledge or tools necessary):


I absolutely love these boxes and they have held up so great over the years. These started out as two brown craft store cardboard boxes and with the help of some vibrant spray paint, gold gilding and decorative label holders, they were transformed into Kate Spade inspired storage. They continue to rest in my closet holding accessories, but I am suddenly inspired to create a few more for other shelves in our home (snag more details in this post here).


Staying in the master bedroom closet for a moment, this necklace display was created from an inexpensive cork board found at Target (similar). With the help of spray adhesive, linen fabric cleanly wrapped the board and the thumb tacks added a decorative nailhead touch. Necklaces hang by basic push-pins and the display keeps my favorites at my fingertips.

I am a believer that the thick marble gift wrap was the key to making this DIY earring/ring organizer shine. The paper was forgiving and the pattern was organic as I wrapped it around a basic craft store box. The outcome of the box paired with felt wrapped dowels appeared professional and store bought. I wear studs in my ears daily, and this has also held up beautifully resting on my dresser top.


OK, I guess I am on a mission to show that bedroom/closet organization doesn't have to be costly! Still here to share one more covered box project, this time cardboard boxes paired with fabric. These bins have been great for keeping my sweaters snag-free over the past couple of years, and because nothing too heavy or sharp is stored inside, they have maintained their original appearance as well. P.S. Once again there is label holder jewelry jazzing up the fronts of the boxes. Full tutorial here.

DIY ROPE BASKET (with liner and handles)

I recreated my original rope basket DIY with Redbook magazine for this month's issue, and I think the feature is what actually drove all of this thinking in the first place. I thought about how that basket was one of my most popular posts and that it is still providing versatile storage after so many years. It was also the inspiration for a newer, more chic version that I recently created for our son. The basket came with some struggles but turned out so much better than I could have imagined. And every time I see it filled with our youngster's belongings it brings a little grin to my face. It was the smaller details that really brought this basket home for me, especially the leather handles and buffalo check lining. Full tutorial and some laughs here. (Oh! And we did cut one piece of thin wood for the base of the basket, but similar pre-cut options are available in a variety of sizes on Amazon).


I just can't stop making these! Upcycling our leftover food boxes to act as organizers is simple, fun and inexpensive! Bonus - Utilizing different types of boxes allows you to mix and match sizes and customize them specifically for what you are storing as well! Using papers in similar colors and styles helps to unify things further, and the thicker the paper the longer the organizers will last. Plus, they are sure to bring instant joy to your day every time you open a drawer or bin, guaranteed! Original tutorial here.


Some specialty decal paper and a home printer and you can create the most darling labels for everything from spices to cleaning bottles. I just love that these jars are cohesive and the labels are so seamless it looks like I purchased them that way. I can't wait to find more bottles and bins to label in this very same fashion. Full tutorial here.


Everything is just better with pom-poms, including a simple belly basket from IKEA! Full tutorial here.

Easy peasy DIYs with minimal tool knowledge or abilities:


We have already re-created this project for our other boys because we loved and used our original version so much! The main component is an inexpensive table top from IKEA and the edging is some white vinyl trim from the home improvement store. Only tools necessary are a miter box for cutting the trim and a nail gun or construction adhesive for affixing the trim to the table top. The trim encourages current puzzle projects to stay put in-between sessions while the entire piece slides easily under the beds! Full tutorial here.


This is another really fun project for a kid's space, and one that I was able to do on my own with the help of a miter box and drill (as long as the back piece is pre-cut to size at the home improvement store. In fact, the trim could really be cut to size there as well). Our son has been pinning up his favorite creations and photos since the day we hung it on the wall, and it really allows his personality to be on display in his room. Full tutorial here.


This cute little box was inspired by some expensive boxes I spied at West Elm, yet ultimately cost about 1/4 of the price. An unfinished wood box was purchased from a craft store and given a couple of coats of white paint and a single handle (which really made the entire piece look amazing). A project so nice you will want to make it twice. I know because I did! One box holds our car keys near the door and another conceals our remotes near the television. Only tool needed is a drill!


Another project where the only major tool necessary is a drill... But what I really can't seem to wrap my brain around is that I made this darling bracelet organizer from the cardboard of a paper towel roll! Proof that crafting can be cool!


Another solo tool (or home improvement store request) and four straight cuts. That is all you need before popping some pegboard into a decorative frame and organizing all of your favorite small tools. The very best part is that this organizer could be customized and used in endless, creative ways (I think it would be extra fun to paint the actual pegboard)! Full tutorial here.


Staying in the laundry room for another minute, I just made this fab little door organizer from a dowel and some cup hooks. The gilded gold end caps were a special touch to make it look finished and thoughtful. Although I adore just how cute this little organizer turned out, what I love even more is how incredibly handy it has been! Only some pre-drilling required, full tutorial here.


I am grateful for these pretty kitchen pals on a daily basis because they spin and make it much easier to access items in our awkward corner cabinet! To give them a little boost in the functional department I also added a wipeable contact paper top paired with pretty pulls. OK, so those two items not only added function but also made the turntables a bit more charming as well. Full tutorial here.


Ooohh! I still get goosebumps about this one! Although I don't really use it for my initial intention (carrying my breakfast every day), I do currently have it styled in my office. It is just so expensive looking and adds an absolutely beautiful touch to any shelf or table that it meets. Trays are great organizers, and this one definitely hasn't disappointed. I complicated the assembly a little bit with the addition of the acrylic bottom (and think it would be just fine without it), so really all that is needed for this gem is a drill and special bit. You will really want to check out the tutorial here.

A few more cuts and a couple of tools and you can have...


Paper clutter is a daily battle, but we have been able to keep our counters paper clutter-free special thanks to this handy dandy organizer. The organizer was built by cutting some white boards to size and screwing them together. The cardstock paper liner gives the organizer some color and life, while the gilded label holders designate a slot for each kiddo. Full tutorial here.


How fantastic is that wall organizer? It was inspired by an organizer I spotted at PB Teen, but again, was out of our budget. Some scrap wood and stain later and we had a special organizer that we made from scratch for our teen boy! Although it looks complicated, it was a really easy and quick project. A couple cuts, some stain, and glue and we had ourselves a piece that has been keeping our kiddo organized for over a year now. I think what really makes it unique is the little wooden pegs and another adhesive label holder. Tutorial can be found here.


This wall calendar is another project that our son utilizeswood cuts and paint made the entire piece functional in just an afternoon. Full tutorial here.


Only ten dollars in materials and this ladder has been awesome! We created it a while back to style for Christmas, and I knew then that it would probably hit a few spots in our home before landing somewhere permanently. And that was true! After holding blankets in both our living areas, it finally landed in our master bedroom. It now holds throw blankets from our bed at night and is a place to hang my outfit and accessories while getting ready during the day (or while prepping outfits for an event). Full tutorial here.


I remember being skeptical heading into this project and wondering if we really had the ability to create anything of value with a single sheet of acrylic from our home improvement store. I was a little intimidated and there were unknowns, but it was so much fun! And the clipboard really is a stunner! I use it every day at my desk to keep all of my daily to-do's and lists and papers in a neat and handy stack. And made a second one that stays in our car for writing out shopping lists or giving the kids a place to draw and do homework. There was a special tool that we used to cut the acrylic, and our drill was used to attach the decorative clip and it helped to have a Dremel with a buffing pad to dull the sharp acrylic edges. But if you have the tools, then I saw go for it! Full tutorial here.


Looking back today I did learn that for my DIYs to stick with me and stand the test of time, they had a few reoccurring elements:

  • Craft store boxes can always be made to look beautiful with the addition of a good paint, paper, fabric and/or some decorative hardware.
  • In fact, slapping hardware or a label holder on just about anything instantly brings a small project up a notch.
  • Not all craft supplies are created equal. Higher quality spray paints provide more durability and a higher quality finish, while outdoor fabric outperforms many decorative or fashion fabrics. Thicker cardstock or gift wrap will last longer than everyday papers... It is important to consider the item's use and necessary long-term durability.
  • Creating items that serve a purpose (beyond looking good), or pieces that are versatile, will ensure a longer life in our home.
  • When I find inspiration from something out of my budget and challenge myself to "get-the-look-for-less", I tend to love it that much more. It is all about noticing the expensive item's key qualities and finishes and then striving to recreate those specific details.
  • Even when something is created based on an inspiration piece, it is also nice knowing that it can be customized in any way that I fancy. 
  • Spray paint is great, but spray paint combined with gold leafing, Rub-N-Buff or gilding gives a piece dimension, age and a more realistic finish.
  • Just like with many things, practicing helps! We have learned a lot from our fails along the way, and by experimenting with different ideas and products we have learned what finishes and techniques give us a higher end look. Don't be afraid to experiment before committing.

Sure, the blog world has been spray painted to the moon and back infinity times, but I still have hope that creativity will live on and that we will find a newer version of the spray-paint-all-the-things type of groove that once swept our feeds. Hopefully, this post will inspire you to try a new project this weekend or to reach for some paint or decorative papers. I know I am feeling it!

What do you think? Do you craft or like to tackle easy storage and decorative projects for your home? Can you ever dip too many utensils, jars or baskets? What are some of your favorite DIY pieces on display around your home? Or are there any you are thinking of tackling but something is holding you back? Let's chat!


  1. I wonder if it's not that people aren't crafting but just not posting. We all know spray paint can upgrade items and all of your tips are great, but in the world of Pinterest, it can hard to compete. I do a lot but don't have time to take styled photos, write the fancy post, and such. I like to read them, I just don't write them. People are busy so it's hard to tell. But as an artist, and art teacher, I hope people always craft. I spent hours working on storage in my craft room yesterday as I plan a summer of arts and crafts.

    1. I am sure there is something to that! Or that it feels like it has all been said and done. I know I have felt that way at times. I just hope that there is still a place for both doing a great project for your home, and also just buying a great piece for your home. I always have and always will love the balance of both. ♥

  2. What a timely post! I started my blog in 2012 and it was all DIY projects but as time has gone by we shifted to more design and inspiration posts. Part of that was returning to full time work and not having DIY time. And now we're changing again into more blog and website design (which turned out to be my true love! Who knew?). I still follow every DIY blog I can and occasionally get inspired to do something myself but it's more about wanting something specific and unique rather than DIYing for the sake of a DIY. There's always space for a good DIY and I still have most of my supplies, although contained to one large closet instead of an entire basement these days. I'm just more focused on DIYing websites, lol. Thanks for a great article :)

    1. Congrats on working your way through to your passion! And thanks for sharing your point of view. It's great to know that you still look for that inspiration online. :)

  3. I'm in the empty nest & have never been as organized as you seem to be! I'm still trying though.

    I've found I don't want to maintain it all anymore so I'm getting rid of more & more of my supplies...which means I do less crafting. But I do seem to do more gifting. I still love doing crafts & don't need things for my home like I did when I was growing it. So now I put that energy into doing similar things for friends or charity. I still get to do what I love.

  4. I am a craft-junkie, but I am REALLY selective about displaying craft projects in our home. I echo so many of your sentiments about loving to shop at Michaels, but not wanting to live IN Michaels - unless we are talking about the actual store, and then I am all in. :)

  5. I think that it definitely is something that people age out of. Also, as the economy has improved, DIY has become less of a necessity.

    That being said, I blog about TONS of small DIY projects! If anyone is interested, please check it out at

  6. I'm still doing tiny DIYs but I practically never have time to blog anymore :( Maybe they've all gone to instagram?

  7. I love DIY's that are easy and chic! My favorite are for seasonal fall decor, I made a pumpkin made out of leather, and recently a planter made out of materials from Target's kids' crafts section :)
    Ursula the leather pumpkin is on this blogpost:
    and the planters here ;)

  8. I'm still hot and heavy on the crafting! But I do agree, there are some things that are just better to buy or hire out. I

  9. I completely agree with this post! I get so sad that no one is interested in DIY crafting anymore. However, I run a small DIY class for new moms in my area ( and do have a fair number of participants. It's s struggle trying to come up with things that are going to be pleasing to the eye, worth the effort, and less expensive than just buying it. I love seeing that there are still some of us out there!!

  10. Some great ideas me inspired to tackle my spice collection once and for all and totally going to do the ladder storage! Question - where did you get the locker-like furniture under the calendar in your sons room? I've been looking for a piece like that for a while for my son's room....Thanks!

    1. Hi! The locker cabinet can be found at IKEA:

  11. I'm not a crafty type person, but I used to love making pom poms!

  12. I am loving this recap of your DIY projects! I agree, not enough people post about them anymore! All of your DIY home projects look like expensive store bought products. You always know how to make an inexpensive DIY project make a room!

  13. wow! these projects are gorgeous. thanks for sharing.

  14. So, I know you get this comment from time to time, but I am dying to see a picture of your loving room and kitchen with the wall removed. Even if it is not finished, it would still be really neat to see it as you work through the space. You don't have to just post a perfectly finished project. You have show the kitchen and the living room separately but have exert avoided any camera shot that shows the rooms together. :) Can we pretty please see a full picture??

  15. I am so impressed with your DIY's. I like DIY too and will do projects occasionally because it really is much easier to get exactly what you want for a price you want to pay but sometimes find it hard to get projects done with all of the other things going on in life! But this is inspiring so hopefully I'll do a few more DIY's soon. Beautiful stuff, thanks!

  16. Thanks for posting this! I love looking at all your crafty projects- it makes me think that I can do a little bit more here! I especially love the bracelet holder, it seems so easy, useful, and cute!

  17. IMO bloggers can't get sponsors as easily for DIY projects (unless it's a boxed subscription thing) so they've mostly stopped doing creative projects and switched to stuff you can "like to know" with affiliate links galore.

  18. Now see... I'm still a DIY fanatic, and I would much rather have something exactly as I like it than to settle for something expensive at the store. That said, my idea of DIY is the more involved IKEA hacks, using the CNC machine at a local shop, painting and staining old things, building things, knocking out a wall etc., not using my too-long-ignored paper crafting and "arts & crafts" supplies.
    Being north of 40 now (aaack!), I see your point on being more sophisticated and "my age;" although that still, to me, means doing it myself more often than not, just on a more classy and non-"crafty" level.
    I'm not a fan at all of the high/low posts and such, at least as they relate to me. I'd much rather read about how you stuck a Komplement drawer into a Sektion cabinet. :-) So don't take away that stuff! But all in all, I LOVE your blog, I have for years, and I have no intention of going anywhere ! :-) Thanks for the infinite number of ideas and outlooks I've gleaned from your blog over the years!

    1. Hey, Jen! I don't think I said that very clearly, now that I'm reading it back.
      I DO love your crafts and DIY, BECAUSE they're classy and not "Look what I made at a Michael's Make and Take." I love that you do things that are truly DIY and that are not just "crafty."

      As a Mid Century Mod lover, I find myself doing a LOT of DIYs and hacks just so I can even afford something that works with our style! :-) Thank goodness for IKEA! :-)

      I hope that clears any confusion up (assuming anyone else is as confused as I am now that I'm rereading it!). Yay for DIY and classy crafts, boo for not enough people blogging about them anymore, and please keep up what you've been doing! :-) We all love it!

  19. I love this post! I'm not particularly DIY-ish; my husband and I work full time and have a small child, so there's just not time for proper DIY projects. But these little short-span crafts are exactly up my alley, and I love that yours have an air of professionalism and lasting that makes the project worth the time I'm putting into it.

  20. I love the small crafty DIYs - yes there are loads on Pinterest but a lot are getting out of date, or just aren't my style. So I am very happy about this post! I love having things organized and looking pretty - so keep on posting!

  21. Good questions, indeed! And thanks for all the inspiration on organization - which I really benefit from! I looked around my home yesterday and found out that mostly all textile decorations are made by me - as I find DIY's (mostly textile) extremely relaxing. I am also a junkie for feeling effective, and on top on that - quite restless - so a constant sewing or crocheting or mending in front of the Netflix episode in the evening, or some rows of crocheting while spending time with kids or friends is the ultimate solution for me. I have actually past 40, and I do agree that the wish for more elegant interior solutions evolve with time, but so do your crafting skills if you have been doing it since college, sort of. That's my comfort, anyway. As me and my family LOVES to travel, and are not wealthy, we definitely have to keep home maintenance and decoration costs VERY low. If you happen to harbor a great interest in interior decoration at the same time, it can really be a challenge. In my case, this means a lot of recycling, buying from thrift stores, upcycling, and lots of home-made solutions, and DIY-ing gifts. Our home "finish" is not of the elegant and beautiful style that you fancy in your home and blog, but rather a more rustic one. However, I get a lot of joy and satisfaction out of the thought that I actually can get a nice home together without needing to buy all the items ready-made, but rather create things from what I already own. When our IKEA bookshelves needed top shelves - and these were out of production, I built my own, out of an old IKEA bookshelf, with quite a lot of fuss, but with a great satisfaction when it was done. And - I do not actually find my own solutions to be of a less good quality than store bought things. Rather, when studying shop items, I often find them to be poorly made, as well as overpriced. And - when I do splurge and shop the occasional lamp or throw blanket, I often end up annoyed, because they tear, break or fade much quicker than expected (even when buying quality goods). Common DIY's I engage in is: Pillow covers, curtains, table cloths, napkins, kitchen towels. I also sew calendar covers, little organization purses for my bag, travel utensils like laundry bags and toilet bags for our travels. Last year, I also made myself a new backpack for our summer journey. I also DIY my own bullet journal system, and get lots of inspiration from all your pretty organization tips - and I do try to go the extra mile to make it pretty nowadays, thanks to you and your blog! Apart from being inspired from all your handy and beautiful solutions in organization, I also really like your "power tool" - posts - as I often use these too, but are not yet very confident. It really helps getting instructions, and maybe most of all, the inspiration, by seeing other ladies getting to their tools! Many thanks! /Maria, Sweden

  22. I will forever love a great DIY project!!! It makes me proud to say I make something with my own hands!!!


  23. Holy smokes! I'd forgotten some of these amazing projects, and somehow missed a few the first time around!! Love seeing them all in one are SO GOOD at creating darling, usable, high-end looking projects!!! Now, time for me to get pinning!! xo

  24. I love all your amazing DIY's --you sure did inspire a lot of people over the years. I too have a case of the sads about what seems to be bygone days of crafting and blogging. I am still crafting a bit here and there but it has definitely decreased over the years. This was a fun look back on your beautiful work!

  25. This is exactly why I started Home Made Luxe craft subscription box Its basically like Pinterest in a box with a monthly DIY home decor project. I felt like everyone was pinning but never making. Its my hope that this subscription box will get us women taking time to stop pinning and start making again!


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