Is DIY Dead?

By August 3, 2017Craft & Create

Emily Using Power Tools

When I first started blogging back in 2011, the DIY (Do It Yourself) world was exploding. Every home blogger had a DIY focus/angle to their content, home improvement stores ramped up their DIY courses, TV’s DIY Network was born and so on. DIY was absolutely everywhere.

Even myself, personally, planted my online identity firmly in the DIY space for many years. I mean, my face and first house was plastered all over DIY Magazine for a long time. And to this day, I still describe my blog as a DIY and design blog.

But overall, it appears DIY as a cornerstone to home makeovers is fizzling. And while I doubt that I will walk away from DIY totally (I just can’t quit it!), I do see myself choosing other routes other than DIY. Here are a couple of reasons why I think we’ve shifted away from the DIY life overall.

The Big Box Stores Have Better Choices Now

The Internet's Top Home Decor Picks

Image from my last post on the most popular big box items

Let’s go back to the reason why most of us DIYed—we were hoping to achieve a unique look that we just couldn’t find in regular stores. Or if we could, couldn’t afford it. DIY was definitely that for me… the big box stores just hadn’t done a good job of keeping up with the trends. And DIY was our way around that. But now? My gosh… I can walk into friggin Walmart these days and find something good. And don’t even get me started on Target. Have you all been to Lowe’s lately? They are doing such a good job! (But Home Depot, my goodness, please step it up.)

Big retailers have also done a really good job at manufacturing spendy items for less. There’s places like Riad Tile, who are doing the cement Moroccan tile look, in a really affordable way. Remember when I tried to DIY that look myself? Yea, in today’s world, there is no reason to DIY. DIYing would actually be more expensive in many of these cases now.

Thrift Stores Caught On

Goodwill Hunting

Those darn thrift stores caught on to our DIY game. Buying and refinishing old furniture is the cornerstone of DIY culture. But this only works if the thrifted furniture is inexpensive. Have you all browsed Goodwill furniture lately? They’re on to us—no longer can you grab an mid-century modern buffet for $20. It’s going to cost you at least $100. And once you paint it or refinish it, you’re often close enough to buying new.

We’ve Grown Up

Many of us were all in the same boat six years ago. We were in our mid twenties with tiny decorating budgets. But now we’re older and our pockets are a little deeper. We feel too old for IKEA. We can’t remember the last time we ate Ramen or stayed out all night. We start to value quality over quantity.

There’s No Time

Painting the Living Room

DIY is extremely time intensive. Painting a room takes me 3 days, with lots of breaks because life requires it. A professional can get it done in 4 hours. For me, personally, this is one of the reasons I have stepped away from DIY for some things. In many cases, it just doesn’t make sense for me to spend the time. And I don’t really have any extra time to spend. Someone very smart once told me, “You can always find more money, but you can’t find more time.” And because of that, I find myself hiring out more than ever before. Not because I can’t do it myself, but because I just don’t have the time to. And sometimes that really stinks for me! I mean, I still get a kick out of the satisfaction that comes with creating a thing yourself.

The OG DIYers Are On A Whole New Level Now

DIY influencers/bloggers have been at the forefront of the DIY movement since it began… teaching us along the way. And it seems like those OG DIYers went one of two ways over the years…. they either quit the DIY game OR they advanced to such an extreme level of DIY that the rest of us can’t even begin to keep up. There’s people like Sawdust Girl who has become a pro level carpenter. There’s no way I can even pretend to try to learn that skill (have you seen her work… it is amazing!!!). I’d have to hire out to even attempt to replicate some of the projects she shares. (Also, if you don’t follow her on IG, please do. She is singlehandedly turning her home into a carpenter’s dream.) Lots of DIY bloggers started simple, but now some of the are building houses and laying hardwood floors and running new electrical…. like what!? I bow down, but that just isn’t my world. I can’t even connect with that anymore.

Painting Wood Isn’t So Cool Anymore

Painting wood has been a big facet of DIY for the longest time… furniture, walls, stairs, you name it. But guess what happened in the decor world? Natural wood became really cool… and valued. And people get really ticked when you paint over beautiful wood. Ask any blogger out there… they’ve had to weather the storm that comes with painting over beautiful (and not so beautiful) wood. Also, I see people turn to natural wood pieces over painted pieces more than ever before. Like in Hommemaker’s recent bedroom reveal, when the Internet had an aneurysm over that beautiful dresser. Wait, was that just me? 🙂


Anyways, whether DIY is dead or not, there does seem to be some sort of shift that has occurred. I feel it and I’m wondering if you feel it too. If you’re a blogger, how has this shift affected your projects and how you write? And if you’re a civilian, have you shifted away from DIY? Tell me what you think!




Join the discussion 9 Comments

  • You make a lot of really great points. My husband and I are avid auction go-ers and we’ve seen a shift there as well. DIY times are changing!

  • Caitlin says:

    Hey, don’t knock ramen! 😉 In NY and Boston at least, ramen is super trendy and there are tons of ramen shops that serve delicious food. Top Ramen just doesn’t compare!

    I’m with you on Orlando’s dresser though….the wood is the prettiest tone and the marble top that follows the curves of the legs?? I’m all heart-eyes over here. Totally agree with your points here and I think a lot of bloggers who started as DIY-ers have completely graduated into something else. Almost full-blown construction – have you seen what Daniel Kanter is up to over on Manhattan Nest? Its insane!!

    I also feel like a lot of female design bloggers have begun posting more just about life and kids, etc. I personally love getting a glimpse into your life and I hope that doesn’t change!

  • Staci says:

    I’ve given this a lot of thought over the past couple of years. I agree with you on all points, and I think that one of the most important things is simply that the economy rebounded for many of us (lump this under “we grew up”). I think you and I are roughly the same age. Entering the workforce and trying to house ourselves left nothing left over for furnishings or expensive entertainment — so turning trash to treasure became both a hobby and a way to make our homes beautiful. The other main factor is how blogging has revolutionized itself as an industry. I’m sure there are DIYers out there who simply aren’t blogging about it. Many of the most famous bloggers have years worth of archived content (YHL, ABM…) not to mention books that cover a lot of accessible projects. Nothing is “new” any more so it doesn’t need to be written about, just shared on Facebook or Instagram 🙂 Thoughts?

  • Haley says:

    Great points! I have noticed that most of the blogs I follow have ‘grown up’ and aren’t doing some of the simple DIY things they used to. I like it because I got to watch their evolution and get confidence in trying something a little more difficult myself. Seeing where some people started DIY-wise and where they are now, it kind of makes me think ‘if they can do it, I can do it”

    • Emily May says:

      That is such a great point. I just had that thought the other day reading YHL and John installing his irrigation system in his front yard. Now, even he said that he’d never do it again, but the fact that he had the nerve to tackle it to begin with does bring some major confidence.

  • Claire says:

    Do you know I thought about this all night and I totally agree…DIYing has changed and I do think it has to do with getting a little older and having a little more money and valuing the spare time we do have available.

    Today I am taking delivery of my grandmother’s Art Deco couches that I am pretty sure will need upholstering, and already being trained in soft furnishing, I thought for one mad minute that I should go and learn how to reupholster! A few years ago that is exactly what I would have done but now, with a little more cash in my pocket, I will just pay for someone else to do it. Someone who will do it in a week rather than the months (possibly years) it would take me. I wish I had this mind set A FEW YEARS ago when I decided to go and learn how to lead light to make my own stained glass panels for our front entrance. I had 11 panels to make and still have 2 to go!

    Thanks for the great post, it really got me thinking 🙂

    • Emily May says:

      Glad it was thought provoking for you! You have so many DIY talents! Stained glass! It’s so interesting to hear from someone like yourself, that even with all of those skills, DIY is so much harder to “fit in” these days for so many reasons. Thanks for stopping by and commenting… I really appreciate it!

  • Julia@Cuckoo4Design says:

    I’m feeling it too in a big way.

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