Tuesday, October 7, 2014


Here’s the problem with DIY projects. At first you start with simple things, maybe Pinterest inspired you to make some mod podged coasters out of tiles and scrapbook paper, or-- in the pre-Pinterest days-- TLC’s Trading spaces inspired you to help a friend silver buff the tacky brass frames of her mirrored closet doors. These projects are fairly easy, you get good results and a boost of praise for your DIY genius. In this buy it/hire it out day & age, the fact that you did something for yourself is, for many folks, nothing short of miraculous.

But these small projects are just a gateway drug. They are the first hits of DIY reefer, and before you know it, reefer madness has set in. 

You see, rolling on the high of that first hit of success, you start jonesin’ for more. Eventually, cutesy tile coasters and refinished 80s brass aren't enough. You start looking for the harder stuff. You start trolling the aisles of Home Depot, daydreaming about projects. "I'm just browsing" you tell the Home Depot employees. "Okay," they say, "but you should check out our free clinic on [insert DIY project here]." They know how to get you hooked on the hard stuff. "Just try it one time. It's free. What could it hurt?"

Then you do it. One day you lay your first laminate floor, or hang and mud some drywall, or assemble some kitchen cabinets (or all of the above) and suddenly, you have slid headlong into the DIY abyss. Before you know it, you find yourself floating travertine tile in a chic pattern in your wholly DIYed, halfway renovated bathroom. A project which involved the removal of a wall. Weeks of your life have been consumed by the project. You’ve taken numerous showers with only cheap drop cloths between you and the exposed studs of your shower stall.

When it is finally finished and you have collapsed into a quivering heap of exhaustion, you tell yourself THIS is rock bottom. THIS is as far as I’ll ever go. From this day forth, I swear I am NEVER doing that again. 

And for a while, you mean it. You sober up. “I’m done chasing the DIY dragon” you say, and you try to mean it. You putter around the house, trying to ignore the projects that could be. To soothe the DIY itch, you try taking up some crafty hobbies, like scrapbooking and crochet. You make pies from scratch. You repaint the occasional bedroom, but nothing seems to work. The itch is still there. Then one day, your husband (who never “got clean” and but instead parlayed his DIY addiction into a side business, the pusher) brings you to see a “new” house. A 1950s Cape Cod style house with “loads of potential for a handy family.” You WANT to resist, but you can’t stop seeing the potential. The PROJECTS. The someday glory. You WANT to see it as a rundown building with a thrashed roof, terrifying stucco, and decaying wood shake siding. But you don’t. You are utterly defenseless against the DIY dragon's charms.

“There are original hard wood floors under that laminate” whispers the dragon in a seductive voice. 
You bat it away. “NO. We don’t do that any more. Turnkey houses, only” you say. 
“But, just look at the adorable roof line” it purrs in your ear. “This yard is ENORMOUS. Just think about all the gatherings you could host on your hand built deck.”
Try as you may, you are seduced by the raw potential. Time and finances and sanity be damned, you must have this house.

So, you buy it. You replace the roof. You reclaim the original hardwood floors upstairs (and they are glorious). You rip out chain link fences, you re-landscape your yard, you build a beautiful deck and host a party. People “ooh” and “aah” and marvel at your skills. The dragon sits smugly at the back of your brain, eating up the compliments like Pez.
“What’s next?” they all ask. 

What’s next, indeed.

The yard is lovely. The house is livable. You could do some decorative projects, you tell yourself. Bookshelves could be built…

But the itch remains. You find yourself howling “Why can’t I quit you?” at the dragon. In a final act of desperation, you concede that, yes, a completely DIY addition and renovation on the house is just what the doctor ordered. 

And so begins your descent to DIY rock bottom.

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