Top Ten DIY Projects from 2011

Sometimes it feels like all we do are do-it-yourself projects. One of our kids asked during the summer, “Is this place ever going to be finished?” Little do they know…little do they know.

However as I looked back through the year’s posts, I found only 10 that qualified as DIY. Really? Surprised myself there- although I have separated some out into a list of Top Ten Tutorials (coming on January 4!), so there really was a bit more going on around here. This means this is a list of just 10, rather than a “top 10″ but I hope you’ll work with me here.

Also, a couple of these 10 are really big DIY projects that are still awaiting completion. But that’s kinda normal around most of the DIY households I know. We might take a bit (or a lot) longer than the fancy-pants designers and builders, but we eventually get it done – and on the cheap, to boot!

So here are the 10 DIY projects that consumed our time during 2011 (in order of when they were published):

1. Living Room Mantel. Some people do over their mantels regularly, but I was just ignoring mine because of the size and awkwardness of the space with built-in, flanking short book cases. I asked for some advice and you guys sure came through for me! I have enjoyed playing with it now that I have some guidelines, and I’m excited to show you the newest incarnation – a winter mantel – in a few weeks.

2. First Steps To Our Kitchen Redo. I actually thought 2011 would see the completion of this project, but thanks to Ikea’s manufacturing problems with their wood countertops, this is being pushed into 2012 (of course this was after driving 4 hours RT with a large trailer {= $50+} because they neglected to put this crucial info on their website – gah!). Look for more on this project this next year– much more.

3. Backyard Makeover. My favorite project of the year– it’s so awesome how this completely transformed our yard, how much more functional it is — and how much I LOVE it! And I’m so sorry I never posted a follow-up – I kept waiting until we finished the gazebo/room, and that never happened. So look for the full reveal in 2012 – it’s gonna be great!

4. Turning Old, Broken Chairs Into a Ballard-Inspired Bench. Um…I’m seeing a little theme here. Maybe 2011 should be deemed “the year of the unfinished projects” at AOC? Again, life got in the way and I never got the cushion covered for this, so there’s no final after post – yet. Stay tuned.

Gee, I’m glad I made this list- it’s really helping me refine some of our goals for 2012!

5. Painting Our Faded Outdoor Umbrella. Another of my favorite projects, simply for the fact that it took about an hour, cost about $10 for the paint, saved at least $50 that we would’ve spent on a new umbrella, kept something from the landfill, and made such a difference, since it was something we saw everyday. Love it when that happens.

6. New Herb Garden. This was a part of the backyard makeover that I didn’t wait to show you since I love how it turned out. This puts the “F” in functional: right outside the back door, easy to reach and harvest, and utilizing space that had been covered in rotting boards. We were able to use mostly bricks from around our property, herbs I had been growing (or attempting to grow) in pots, and cuttings from our trees. So…cheap, functional and cute – score!

7. New Living Room Floor. You cannot imagine our elation over this project. The carpet in this part of our house was the oldest (20 yrs?), dirtiest, and most embarrassing thing to us. We wanted it gone so much, but there were always projects that seemed more important, and then it was an area we used everyday, so we needed something we could live with. Thank goodness for prefinished flooring.

8. $5 Craiglist Chair Makeover. I bought these to replace our crumbling old dining chairs mainly for the price and sturdiness. They weren’t my favorite style. But after tweaking the legs, painting, and recovering the seats, I actually liked them and found that they worked great with our dining table. And what a relief to be able to say to guests, “go ahead- sit anywhere you want!”

9. Removing The Last Of The Carpet. Our master bedroom was the last remaining carpet in our house- we can now say, “we are carpet free!” Although I had issues with applying this brown paper floor (just goes to show even when you’ve done something many times, you can still make mistakes!), I’m so glad to have bare floor here with just some throw rugs. It’s just a cleaner, nicer look to me.

10. Queen-Anne Chair Before and After. My last project before all the holiday hoopla was to revamp these garage-sale chairs we’ve had for years. This was the place I decided to go for color, and combined with the burlap seats and monogrammed back, I find I’m really enjoying them.

Well, that’s it- some things completed and some things still to do. Story of my life. How did you do with projects in 2011? Did you complete them all?






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