Why—or why not—do it yourself?

To DIY, or not to DIY, that is the question, photo

One of the comments I often see on blog posts describing particularly difficult or time-consuming DIY projects is something to the effect of “Why?”

For example, recently Raine@Bucilla asked in regard to my mini side table, “This is a cool idea, and very ingenious, but wouldn’t be easier and simpler to just buy a mini side table right from the start ? :)”

That’s a good question, Raine. I’m glad you asked. (By the way, thanks for the compliment.)

When to DIY

There are many reasons to DIY. Below are some of those reasons. Let’s continue using the side table as an example.

Missing in the market
You can’t find a side table in just the right color, size, design, etc. to suit your needs.

Fresh idea
You thought up a unique side table design that you want to try out. For example, I had never seen a side table like mine, and I still haven’t.

You want to put that old, rusted, plant stand to good use instead of sending it to the local landfill.

For the joy
You love working with your hands. Don’t underestimate the intrinsic pleasure in the creative process. Irma S. Rombauer didn’t title her book Joy of Cooking for nothing.

Budget conscious
You have more time than money.

You can’t justify spending $1,000 on your favorite designer’s side table, so you figure out how to make you own for a fraction of the cost. As they say, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

I made it!
You relish the sense of accomplishment and satisfaction you get when you finish a project.

Four step-by-step photos of making a side table

When not to DIY

Here are just a few cases when DIY might not be in your best interest.

I’d rather be fishing
You’d rather be doing something else. One of my favorite quotes is from James M. Barrie (creator of Peter Pan): “Nothing is really work unless you’d rather be doing something else.”

Time is money
You have more money than time. And, as they say, time is money.

You have other things to do that are more important. Sometimes it’s worth spending an extra $200 on a side table if it means you have more time to build a tree fort with your kids.

Lack of resources
You don’t have the tools or expertise to build what you want. In this case, you might consider hiring someone to build it for you — or settle for something that’s close enough.

The Ikea factor
You discover that Ikea (or Target or …) has already made it — and the price is right. You’ll still have to do some assembly, but it’s faster than designing and building it from scratch. For example, I’ve been wanting to build a plate rack for my dining room for years. But I stumbled upon a darling plate rack at Ikea recently at a reasonable price. I bought it.

A personal decision

Deciding to build a side table (or whatever your heart desires) yourself, instead of buying one, is a personal decision. You have to weigh the pros and cons that pertain to your situation. No one else can do that for you.

Personally, reason #7 (above) for doing it yourself weighs heavily in my to-DIY-or-not-to-DIY decisions. For me, there are few things in life more rewarding than a job well done. For other folks, that wouldn’t even be a consideration.

Sampling a how-to photos from Crafty Nest, photo

Be careful how you judge

Because choosing how one spends one’s time is so personal, I never judge someone for spending countless hours building something that I wouldn’t deem justified. I’m not qualified to decide whether an endeavor was worth the time and effort for him/her. I can appreciate his/her work or not. It doesn’t matter because he/she didn’t build it for me. And whether that person wasted his/her time is none of my business.

No one can please everyone 100 percent of the time. If you find yourself among those who are not pleased with a certain creator’s work, you don’t have to watch it, read it, listen to it, look at it. As in a museum, just walk away and find something else you can appreciate. There’s no need to ridicule him/her because you can’t understand why everyone else seems to love his/her work.

To DIY, or not to DIY, that is the question

I’ve thought about this topic a lot lately because my time was increasingly being filled up with things I would rather not be doing, and I was tired of unfinished projects around my apartment.

So I eliminated my commute by moving closer to my day job. I cut out so-called time sucks such as Hulu and Netflix. And I made some difficult decisions when decorating my new place.

Instead of building everything from scratch (which is my first inclination), I found inexpensive substitutes and splurged here and there. The result? I still have unfinished projects, but the list is shorter and more manageable. I now have time to pursue more fun blog projects. And my apartment already feels like a home.

So you tell me, why — and what — do you DIY? What entices you to spend countless hours creating something?

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