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What does DIY really mean, anyway?


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  • Member for 10 years 39 weeks
  • Last online 4 days 9 hours ago


September 23, 2012

Sneak Peek: the Yoo-ling's Room

8 weeks -- and plenty of stenciling -- to go!
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February 25, 2012

Setting up the Nest

The process was amazingly easy and quick. From disassembling the old thermostat to booting up the Nest, it took less than 15 minutes!

Make sure to label all your old wires:

I used the included rectangular mounting plate to cover the holes from the old unit:

Voila! Booted up and ready to learn:

February 05, 2012

I Am a Headboard Headcase

During the first year after we moved into our house, we did quite a lot of acquiring. Suddenly, we had about 1,000 more square feet than any place we had inhabited before, and we wanted to fill it. It almost didn't matter whether it was nice stuff or stuff that went well with the rest of our stuff; we just needed to furnish the empty rooms, cover the bare mattresses, and lend a lived-in look to the place. And then, somehow our entire master bedroom turned tan.

I'm not sure how I could have overlooked these details, but here's how it went, in a nutshell: we moved in our birch-colored IKEA furniture, I bought a tan bedspread thinking "It's better to start with a neutral base," and then (and here's the part where clearly I was drugged or my brain simply switched off) I painted all the bedrooms Kelly Moore Earthy Tan. Tan, tan, tan. The room looked like the staff at a fake bake parlor.

While I'm still unsure exactly where this room's color scheme is going, the beige overdose was putting us to sleep . . . and not in the way a bedroom should. I had fallen in love with this dramatic nailhead trim upholstered headboard from Room Service, and thanks to the Google machine and some helpful tutorials, we got to work on creating our own. It's still an earthy color, but I selected a deep charcoal which lately I've loved coordinating with beige-y neutrals, and for now it's just enough to keep us out of a tan-induced coma. To see how we did it, just read on.

December 13, 2011

From Sesame Street, With Love

Last month, my bestie came to visit along with her husband (conveniently, marketman's BFF), and her cutie pie 20-month-old, Joshie. We got lots of girl time in, but I also got to have J teach me about the wonders of Elmo. Sure, I remember him from the days of my brother's youth (sadly, Elmo was merely a fuzz ball in Jim Henson's eye when I myself was tuning into Sesame Street), but the Cult of Elmo has grown not only in population but also in dogged devotion and product extensions since those days. So alongside episodes of Sesame Street and books about the little red dude, Joshie had his Elmo Fork and Elmo Spoon who accompanied him to every meal.

It was therefore a grave day when Elmo Fork and Elmo Spoon were accidentally left behind. I began having nightmares that this poor child would suffer from abandonment issues, wondering why on Earth his mealtime friends would desert him. And so I decided that it would be cruel to ship them back to LA without a worthy explanation. To see what accompanied them on their journey, read on.

December 03, 2011

Orange You Glad We Like Coffee?

Project Light My Dining Room was just the beginning. This little ember of home improving sparked a larger effort which included buying new sofas for the living room (including my dream piece in tufted royal blue velvet with silver nailhead trim). Of course, every design project has a budgetary limit, and we reached ours at sofa #2. So a new coffee table appeared out of reach . . . or was it?

A quick spin through IKEA turned up this Vejmon coffee table which was the perfect shape, size, and cost but in all the wrong colors. But a few cans of primer and paint gave it the glossy lacquered finish we were searching for and a fun pop of orange to liven up the room.

(By the way, the rug is a genuine flokati rug  on loan from my parents who purchased it in Arachova, Greece in 1972. It made a perfect planet Hoth when I played with my Star Wars action figures as a kid . . . and like a king's cake on Christmas, I expect it might reveal a few surprises — like a lightsaber or stun gun or two — so we'll be on the lookout.)

Click here to view the step-by-step slideshow.

November 29, 2011

My Beer Stays Snug and Koozie

I took a sewing class at Workshop tonight and made this very fashionable beer koozie. Fashionable, that is, if you make your living cutting down trees and befriending blue oxen. But the class was super fun and informative (we also made sock monsters, another highly desirable skill).
October 10, 2011

Dave Cave v2

Even though this isn't an actual DIY project, per se, it does set up a series of home-improvement projects coming in the next several weeks.  Besides, it dramatically improves the man-quality of an often neglected room in our house, thus warranting its own post.

I didn't have the foresight to take a before photo but here's how the Dave Cave looked right after we moved in:

The sad thing is that other than a couple bookshelves and two standalone Ikea chairs, this isn't too far off from what it had been the past 2 years.

Here's a photo after we moved our sectional sofa from our living room:

As the TV screen illustrates, I imagine this room will get plenty of use...particularly on Sundays.

Dave Cave Update (4/27/2013):

October 04, 2011

Light My Way

When we moved into our house two and a half years ago, we didn't even notice the light fixture in the dining room. Between the immaculately staged living room to the views of Twin Peaks to the 7,000 square foot lot, we were too smitten to care much about what was hanging over the dining room table. For that matter, I barely noticed the linoleum floor and teal painted cabinets in the kitchen and overlooked the poorly-applied crown moldings in the bedrooms. But sure enough, once we moved in, I was disappointed to find very modern lighting in our neatly maintained mid-century modern home. The fixture itself was relatively new and in great condition, but next to the original wood beam ceilings and brick and concrete fireplace, it felt out of place.

Selecting an alternative hasn't been easy. Either my desired piece was exorbitantly expensive or the cord wasn't long enough for our 9-foot ceilings. But lo and behold West Elm's glass globe pendants which suits the decor to a tee while also mirroring the white globe pendant lights in the kitchen. To read about the transformation from wiry to wonderful, just read on.

September 29, 2011

Rolling Along With a DIY Vintage Bus Roll

I'm not much of a home decorator. For the first year we lived in our house, we had absolutely nothing hanging on the walls. It took an observation from marketman to make me realize that our walls were bare. Nude. Au naturel. I thought this could be my opportunity to get back into painting, so I proceeded to drop about $300 on art supplies — oil paints, an easel, solvents, canvases, palettes, brushes, and other assorted tools — which have since gone unused. Having not touched paints since high school, I should have realized that the act of putting brush to canvas might be too great of a mental hurdle.

But slowly but surely, we have made a few changes. Thanks to his grandmother, we now have a lovely still life in the downstairs hallway (she is quite the artist), and we spent half of a Sunday framing a bunch of photos to create our own photo mosaic in the TV room. And despite our ugly sectional couch in the living room, we managed to spruce up the space with an obi we bought in Tokyo last year...and — oh yeah — the piano that marketman's parents generously provided as our housewarming present!

I think our crowning achievement is our DIY "vintage" canvas bus roll featuring our residences of the past. I had to trim a few of his early years (New Haven, Cambridge, Seoul, Daejeon) because there just wasn't enough space. So we stuck to the more significant locales for us as a twosome, and I found a cool font called Roadway that gave it that old bus station look while he used his knowledge of layers and effects to give it an aged feel before having it printed and stretched by Canvaspop.

Here's a close-up view:

September 26, 2011

Welcome to Yoo Can Do It!

marketman and I spent just over a year seriously searching for a house, and thanks to our wonderfully patient and determined real estate agent (who happens to be a dear friend . . . though we may have worn thin his affection for us over the course of that year), we saw 120 houses before the fateful drizzly day in January when we walked through the front door of an unassuming mid-century modern pad in Forest Hill. We had heard many people say that they knew their home from the moment they set foot in the door, and throughout 119 addresses, that sensation had eluded us. But this place was different. Between the tree house feel to the circa-1960 original fixtures to the city-meets-suburbs environment, we felt as though we had come home. And fortunately for us, our wish came true.

Now, the fairy tale doesn't end here, but it sure takes a circuitous route to eternal happiness. Newly moved into our permanent digs, we were at a loss for what to do next. We had pretty much blown our savings on the purchase of our dream house, so any home improvements needed to be cheap and, well, cheap. So naturally, we did what any cash-strapped, completely overwhelmed new homeowners would do: we waited. Two years later, the house was pretty much in the same state that it was when we walked in that January day . . . just not staged as well.

Earlier this year, we decided to take a stand against domestic complacency. It started with a couple additions to the walls, then moved onto swapping out light fixtures and will soon include some new and refreshed furniture. We're getting there. And while real DIYers might scoff at most of these improvements, we've found the process of doing it ourselves remarkably satisfying. So this is the story of us building our home and sure having fun along the path to our happy ending.

Filed in: welcome | Tagged with: welcome to yoo can do it, introduction