Image: Mary Hutchison
The explosion of Pinterest. Home renovation reality shows. ‘I made it for a pound’ blogs. The proliferation of B&Qs and other home improvement warehouse stores. These are all signs of the meteoric rise of homeowner interest in DIY.
What’s the attraction? Why spend every evening for two weeks making your own Roman shades when you can buy them at Marks & Spencer? Why fool around with making your laundry detergent when you can choose from 20 different brands at the local Tesco?
When you step back and look at the current economic and cultural climates, our fascination with DIY begins to make complete sense. We can sum it all up like this:
Hard economic times + the rise of the ‘big box’ shopping experience + growing concern about the health of our planet = serious attraction to DIY.
Inexpensive is attractive
Times are tough. No one can—or wants to—argue that point. Our government tries to legislate economic relief packages, we fight against redundancies and outsourcing, and we pay a great deal of attention to where every pound and penny goes.
In difficult economic times, it is hard to sell your family on redecorating the living room for £2,000. But that doesn’t mean you aren’t bored to tears with your home décor, right? Enter the DIY craze. Headlines like ‘Transform every room in your house for £100 or less’ and ’50 ways to brighten your home for £50’ are a siren call to every homeowner who is strapped for cash but also desperate for a little bright-and-cheery on the home front.
What’s lovely is that these clarion calls of inexpensive decorative fixes are not false advertising. You really can follow along with the DIY magazine articles and internet blogs to learn to make your own shelves out of scrap wood… or whatever takes your fancy.
And it’s not just home décor that we’re doing ourselves. To save a pound here and a pound there, more and more of us are learning to make our own laundry detergent, furniture, Christmas gifts, and almost anything else imaginable.
Unique is attractive
It’s happening more slowly than in our dear neighbour across the Atlantic, but like the United States, ‘big box’ superstores are sweeping across the UK. Known by the collective term ‘big box’ stores (referring to their boxy warehouse shape), corporations like IKEA and B&Q are displacing little local shops. This has the effect of severely curtailing the opportunities the average consumer has to purchase something truly unique for the home. It’s all well and good to buy new throw pillows to liven up your sitting room, but oh the horror when your dearest pal invites you over to show off her new throw pillows… and they are the same.
Once again, DIY saves the day. Plenty of people are perfectly happy to trade their free time for the pleasures of nonconformity. On the direction of one’s favourite DIY expert, you can trot down to the fabric shop (or even the fabric department at one of the ubiquitous superstores), dig through the remnants bin, and march proudly home with your one-of-a-kind fabric—soon to be transformed into unique, never-before-seen throw pillows.
It’s easy to learn
With so many DIY blogs, books and YouTube tutorials available, it’s now easier than ever to teach yourself basic DIY skills without losing a thumb or having to call your dad for help. Whether you want to paint the kids’ bedrooms, fix a leaking tap or insulate your loft, you can easily find out how to do it with a quick Google search.
Some of these DIY tasks can have the extra benefit of adding value to your home too. Remember that if you make any significant changes to your home you should seek out a new home insurance policy. Find out more here.
Green is attractive
The DIY craze intersects in interesting ways with the ‘green living’ movement and the ‘reduce-reuse-recycle’ trend.
- Worried about perfumes and dyes in laundry detergent? Make your own.
- Hate seeing that wooden pallet outside the supermarket go to waste? Reclaim it and transform it into a headboard for the master bedroom.
- Can’t bring yourself to throw away that old ceiling fan? Turn the blades into dragonfly wings in a piece of DIY garden art.
- Feel wasteful throwing away an old pair of jeans? Turn them into a handbag.
- Lost weight but it feels wrong to throw away old clothes? Transform a too-big t-shirt into a stylish, fitted one.
- Do you save up plastic carrier bags but don’t know what to do with them? Make pom-pom gift wrap embellishments.
You, too, can do it yourself
Now that you understand the deeply historical, cultural and economic roots of the DIY craze, you can stop reading and start doing!