DIY,” “handcrafted,” and “artisan-made” are all buzzwords today. Our parents liked to flaunt their financial freedom, turning away from tradition and flocking to new kit furniture, mail-order shopping, linoleum and ready-to-eat meals. But there is a trend in the current generation to turn back towards crafts and to strongly personalize our living space by acquiring or building handmade furniture.
A passion to nurture
In short: we like old things that have a soul and a patina left by the passage of time, and we don’t want to spend money on poor-quality or assembly-line articles, preferring to make them ourselves, by hand.
I have watched this movement gradually building in recent years. I even, at a time that seems remote today, helped to promote it by saving abandoned, unloved furniture.
I now find there is a huge group of people who would like to get on the bandwagon, but hesitate, claiming as their sole excuse that they are not good with their hands, or that they don’t have a creative bone in their body. Of course, some people have more flair then others – there can be no argument about that. The most talented may turn professional, marketing their creations in magnificent collections of attractive, unique products. But for the rest of us, those with more thumbs than fingers, is it better to throw in the DIY towel? No!
So where do we start?
With a piece of furniture and a few simple materials: sandpaper, a screwdriver, paint stripper, a drop cloth, gloves, good brushes, and paint if desired. The idea is to get stuck in. We have to start somewhere and learn from our mistakes. That’s why I recommend you don’t begin with a piece that has great monetary or sentimental value. Start with a small, useful piece of furniture, nothing stunning, that you can spruce up in a day, and that will give you a sufficient feeling of satisfaction to make you want to repeat the experience.
Now, prepare your piece. Remove the handles, the feet if possible, and all the little fixtures that will hinder painting or stripping. If you want to bring your item back to its original look, strip it. But if you prefer to paint it, a good sanding will suffice.
The idea here is not to go into business, sell the results of our labours to the highest bidder, or show them off on Pinterest, but to derive the feeling of satisfaction brought by a job well done, to save a few pennies while doing so, and to make our footprint on the planet just a little lighter. Provided that you don’t take on projects that could jeopardize your health or your safety at home, there is no risk in embarking on creations, transformations, DIY jobs, experimental projects or other ventures that are just “nicely imperfect.” You’ll simply make things better. Wouldn’t you agree?
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.