There’s a certain satisfaction that comes with making useful or decorative items with your own hands, over and above the sense of a job well done or of having saved a few dollars by building rather than buying. DIY, the exalted pastime of the recent decades, offers many necessary advantages for the planet’s well-being, including recycling, recovery, waste reduction and, of course, the transformation of discarded possessions into unique and practical creations. Are you curious about getting into DIY or crafting but don’t know where to start? Here are your answers in four simple points.
The 3R concept
The exact origin of the 3R concept is difficult to pin down, but it very likely coincides with the founding of Earth Day in the early 1970s. Increasingly applied to the repurposing of waste and to new consumption, the expression “the 3Rs” represents an evolved way of thinking about production. The principle is simple: 3R comprises a strategy for managing end-of-life products and their waste in three distinct ways:
Reduce the amount of products purchased and at end of life
Reuse products or some or their parts that would have otherwise become waste;
Recycle waste into new products.
What exactly is DIY?
Simply put, do-it-yourself or crafting is a building method that involves
modifying or repairing objects without the direct help of experts. What often motivates people to get into DIY is difficulty finding a specific product in mind that the consumer then decides to make himself, the desire to create something unique and customized, and/or budget restrictions that force us to get creative to obtain the item or furniture piece of our desires. The term DIY initially referred to minor renovations that people undertook on their property, but it soon grew to encompass all forms of handiwork, from making or transforming something as small as a saucer to something as large as a large shelving unit!
What materials can be reused in DIY?
You can make stuff with just about any material that exists: plastic, wood,
cardboard, metal, fabric, carton, wallpaper… the possibilities are endless. Your choice of materials will be dictated by the DIY project itself, the desired durability and its purpose. However, I can tell you from experience that it is always more worthwhile to restore or transform furniture made out of solid wood than that made from particle board or fibreboard, whose value does not appreciate with time and whose sturdiness is easily compromised by household moves or humidity. But there are exceptions to every rule, like the Québec brand Kubbii that makes furniture from recycled cardboard, which is both lightweight and very strong.
Where to start?
With paintbrush, glue gun and hammer in hand, you’re ready to launch into your DIY project, but how do you get started? In my opinion, there are two preliminary steps that warrant your attention: inspiration and preparation. Before diving head-first into the object you want to create, you should first draw inspiration from the room where you intend to put it, and take note of the constraints and highlights of the space and the colours and textures that are already present. Then, you can go, like Alice, down the rabbit hole and gather ideas from platforms such as Pinterest, Instagram and Houzz. A word of warning: these virtual gateways of inspiration offer solutions for every kind of project imaginable, but they are addictive. It’s a matter of learning how to single what will be useful to you, and then let your creativity guide your work.
Last but by no means least, you have to get prepared. A crucial step many see as a “necessary evil,” preparation is nevertheless a must. You definitely won’t feel like interrupting your creative roll because you’re out of glue gun refills or you forgot to buy sandpaper. Make a list of all the materials and tools you need for your project,
and be sure to have them at the ready before you start. Then, just go for it! DIY is not an exact science but rather an art that you discover, become familiar with and eventually master after much trial and error. The end result, though sometimes questionable, is satisfying and will teach you how to do things right.
Here are a few blogs and YouTubers you’ll want to check out, to inspire you in your creations:
Great French DIY blogs:
English DIY blogs:
Great Québec YouTube channels:
For the under 20 crowd:
For your renos:
English YouTube channels:
Passionate about colour, vintage decorative elements and hand-made items, Vanessa Sicotte celebrates décor in all its splendour. Vanessa is the mastermind behind the Damask & Dentelle blog—and author of a book in the same name—where she has been sharing her favourite décor discoveries since 2009. She is also the host of Sauvez les meubles and Marché Conclu on Canal Vie. Since fall 2015, viewers can reap Vanessa’s valuable advice by watching the Marina Orsini show on ICI Radio-Canada Télé, where she is featured as décor commentator.