DIYers, home bloggers, interior designers, home owners and the like are always considering the big question; should they DIY or Buy? There are advantages and disadvantages to both. In my DIY or Buy series, I will aim to capture, explain, and help you make the right DIY or Buy decision in all situations.
It all starts with what I have dubbed the DIY or Buy Continuum. Sounds fancy, right? Between DIY and buy, there are lots of different flavors or levels of do it yourself. We all naturally feel most comfortable somewhere on this continuum. Most of us either tend towards DIY or towards buy. Within those, we tend to either a more hands on or more hands off approach. Avid DIYers may run the spectrum and practice DIY at all levels. Let me show you what I mean…
Understanding where you naturally gravitate on this continuum is critical for making sound DIY or buy decisions. Before you decide where you fall on the continuum, let me further define each label on the DIY or Buy Continuum.
More Hands Off, From DIY to Buy
I will start with the More Hands Off categories, going from DIY to Buy. Arguably all the hands off categories involve some level of buying.
- Unconventional Use – Finding a new or different way to use something in an unconventional way. May involve a bit of DIY or alteration. An example would be my no-sew shower curtain curtains made from a purchased shower curtain. I used the shower curtain in an unconventional way and with a little alteration turned it into two full-length curtain panels.
- Commission – When you commission an artist or craftsperson to create something custom for you. Commissioned pieces are generally handmade with you providing direct input into the process. A great example of this is the aptly named The Commission Project. You send any photo you like (your input into the process) and Paul Ferney returns a custom oil painting based on the photo (commissioned art). For you the project is hands off, but for the artisan it is very hands on.
- Handmade – Buying handmade products. Unlike commissioned products, handmade implies you purchased a pre-made or a standard made-to-order handmade product. My recent Oh Dier purchase qualifies in this category. For me the purchase was very hands off, but I still have a beautiful handmade product (someone else, Oh Dier in this case, DIYed it).
- Off the Shelf – Buying something straight off the shelf with no plans to alter it in any way and to use it for the manufacturers intended use. We all have tons of examples of this. A recent off-the-shelf purchase for me was the locker cabinet TV stand in our new home gym. In this case, there was some assembly required, but I still consider it off the shelf.
More Hands On, From DIY to BUY
In the More Hands On categories, there is much more DIY involved even at the end closest to BUY.
- Build from scratch – This is the purest form of DIY, where you build something from scratch. Anna White, DIY furniture builder, is the queen of this category. My work pales in comparison to Anna, but I have tried my hand at a DIY sofa table and a giant framed mirror. I would also consider making my dining chair slip covers from tablecloth fabric in this category. Although, you might argue it also falls under unconventional use. I just think it was way more hands on and I completely transformed those tablecloths.
- Semi-DIY – Cobbling together store-bought “parts” to create something new. For example, my candlestick apothecary jars or DIY modern bird feeder. Takes much more effort than customized off the shelf, which will talk about in a moment. Semi-DIY projects incorporate unconventional use of items, but in a much more hands on way than simple alterations.
- Restore-Reuse – Taking vintage or thrift store items and restoring them. A simple example is my diaper box building blocks. A more adventurous example is my garage sale office chair with a chalk paint facelift.
- Customized Off the Shelf – Probably the simplest form of project people still get away with labeling as DIY. Customized off the shelf projects involve usually simple cosmetic changes to store-bought items. I obviously have done projects up and down this continuum, but customized off the shelf is where I naturally fall. As a busy mother of two, it is quick and fun. The simplest form of this project is the spray paint makeover, where you buy something and spray it a new color, like this cute owl. But this category has so many other variations. Here are some of my favorite examples: faux malachite cabinet knobs, stenciled serving tray, quatrefoil drum shade pendant light, linear crystal chandelier, ruched tablecloth tree skirt…I could go on, but your better off just going through my archives.
As we begin our journey evaluating reasons to DIY or buy, consider where you fall on the continuum. Your answers to these questions will be important whenever you have a DIY or buy decision to make. Which types of projects appeal to you most? Which types of projects make you want to stretch out of your comfort zone to give them a try?
Check out the rest of the posts in the DIY or Buy series here.
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