To DIY or not to DIY? That is the question.

DIYorNotPINSo about this whole DIY thing. Let’s talk. I have always been about the DIY. Until I moved to a studio apartment in San Francisco. I was going to do a gallery wall and so I needed to go to Good Will and then the hardware store to get paint. I zig zagged around town, up and down hills (SF, remember?). By the time I got the frames and then walked to the hardware store and then home, that part of the project took 5 hours. Then I had to spray paint them on my not so sturdy fire escape. And I had an epiphany.

I love to DIY but it doesn’t always make sense.


another gallery wall another time aka when I knew better

My dad comes from humble beginnings and has worked hard for everything he has. The fact that he has always been more willing to pay someone to be a handyman for his house or mow the lawn always befuddled me because I am so different. Now I see that he took the time and energy that those things would have taken and put it back into the business (thus it paid for itself) or with his family (we are priceless, right?).

I realized how much energy I put into the gallery wall, how much time, and how much money (with three to four types of spray paint and the frames I hit the 50 dollar mark when the whole reason I did the project was because I was unwilling to pay someone on Etsy 50 dollars for the same number of frames for a gallery wall!). I called good old Dad and said: I totally get it. Sometimes the time and cost are just not worth it.

Here is the deal. I came up with some questions I ask myself when it comes to DIY projects. When I was younger, I didn’t really have restraints. But once I was on my own in my own space, things changed.

One of my questions: is it feasible?

I see something online and I think: I can make it. Not only do I like doing it myself, I evaluate if I can do it cheaper. Like the deers with the gold antlers. I could totally make that. And I did, for a lot cheaper than the ones to buy.


I happened to be in between apartments staying with my family so I could use the backyard. I could not have done this project in my San Francisco apartment and definitely not in my Chicago apartment where I don’t even have a rickety fire escape. In those places, I would go without or have to pay up (though I do have some tips for how to DIY in small places).

Next: Is this DIY project something I “need” (while well aware these are first world problems)?


You know those sassy welcome mats? That say things like: the neighbors have better stuff or holla or whatever? They start at 50 bucks. No, I do not have 50 bucks to spend on a mat but I needed one to gently remind people to take off their shoes because I do have white carpeting in some places and also I do not want to be the hostess that says: please take off your shoes. So I made my own that cost a third of the price of the others and chose my own saying. A friend came over recently and she was impressed, saying: woah, I can’t believe that lasted through a Chicago winter. Heck yes, it did.


I want to be organized. And I want it to be pretty organization. It’s a struggle but I try. But if you let me loose in the Container Store, it’s dangerous to my wallet. So I came up with this easy DIY project for my bracelets. I also made fancy containers. Though this project is so cheap, it does take awhile to do the wrapping. Was it worth it? I’m glad I did it but I probably won’t make it again.

So there is the next thing I ask: Is it worth it? I’ve wanted a Flower Crown for forever but they are so expensive. In true Nina fashion, I thought DIY. Well, now I know why they are expensive. It isn’t a quick project.

Then there were the infamous Ikea boxes turned into Kate Spade inspired organization.


Is it worth it? In this case, yes. Between the money I’ll save and the hope that pretty organization will make me want to stay organized, yes. I haven’t finished so I don’t have a tutorial up yet (because this post needs more links, right?)

Here lies another question I’ve alluded to: how much money am I actually saving (especially when supplies are factored in)? In this case, a lot.


So, here is the last question to consider: is it a game changer? Gel manicures were killing my nails and my wallet and in SF I was expected to have them (the west coast, guys. I love it a lot, promise). Would I prefer to be pampered? Yes. But this DIY Faux Gel Mani works.pincompleteroommakeover

My friend lived in a place I’ve only seen in movies (not in a good way). But she’s a total fashionista and it was more a matter of just being used to the grunge and caring what the world saw (her clothes) and not herself (like living in a space that makes her feel good). Here’s the last question: Do you like to DIY? She said she didn’t because she didn’t think she could. With my help, she was pleasantly surprised that she could do it.

But here’s the thing. I love that my Flower Crown is done but that floral tape was a real jerk to deal with. Painting (of any kind), like in my old apartment. It actually releases stress so I find it soothing. It’s good to try new things but it’s also good to know what projects you actually enjoy.

What are your thoughts: to DIY or not to DIY?




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20 thoughts on “To DIY or not to DIY? That is the question.

  1. Alex

    I struggle with this a lot, as I currently live in a small space with my fiance (glorified “one bedroom,” but it might as well be a studio). We have lived there for about 3.5 years, and have faced lots of storage challenges which sometimes it is easy to DIY a solution for, and sometimes it feels like we just ignore. I’m not sure if we ignore it because we know that this is a temporary space, but that gets very frustrating. I wish our budget allowed for a little more non-DIY, because I’m sure our space would feel much more finished!

    1. Nina Post author

      I just read The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up and it is crazy good especially for people like us without space. I started the project here.

  2. Jenna @ A Savory Feast

    I’ve realized this whole to DIY or not to DIY thing with buying a house and wedding planning! I’ve started some projects I’ve found on Pinterest and ended up spending more on supplies than it would have cost to just buy it! I’ve started to consider a few things before I start a project, like how much it will cost and how much time and energy it will take.

    1. Nina Post author

      You’re exactly right, Jenna. For the flower crown, I have SOO many fake flowers left over. I have to figure out how to use them because I refuse to throw them away. haha

  3. Cat

    This is such a great post, because I know exactly what you’re talking about. At the end of the day, I think DIY is supposed to be fun. The reality is, most of the time, it won’t actually save you much money. Sometimes a 10 hour project totally sucks, and sometimes a project that takes 10 hours and a lot of effort is fun, even if it’s not technically “worth it” in time or money saved.


  4. B @ The Sequin Notebook

    Now that I’ve been decorating my new apartment, I totally feel you on the DIY balance. We just made a gallery wall that was about half DIY, with two spray paints/a few blank canvas frames and a few pre-decorated, pretty ones. As a side note, I use that exact same aqua Ikea cart as my crafting supplies cart! 🙂

    1. Nina Post author

      I have three of those Ikea carts. And I live in a very small space. But you can pack them full of stuff!

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