The best DIY projects of 2016. From the office to the kitchen to a HUGE exterior overhaul, it’s time to take a look through a year full of house progress.
You know, it’s funny: when I think back on 2016, I really, honest-to-God struggle with thinking of it as a good year. Between a bad romantic relationship and subsequent breakup, a shitload of writer’s block, and good, old-fashioned* stress, my immediate response is to think of it the way a lot of other people seemed to: as a raging dumpster fire that only the crisp wind of a shiny new year was going to put out.
But then, I took a step back. I looked through my post archives for 2016. I thought about the things I’d accomplished. And I realized: as far as this house and blog were concerned, it may have been one of the best project years I’ve had to date.
I found a few fun things on Etsy to add some personality to my office bookshelves. Aren’t they cute?
Window Casing (in the office & everywhere!)
I also added casing to all of the windows in the entire house. It may not seem like a lot of work at first, but having literally every room finished with trim was a pretty big accomplishment!
Light Fixture (Knock-off)
I added a new glass pendant light fixture to the kitchen that wound up being one of the coolest DIY projects I’ve ever worked on. The whole challenge to turn a bunch of random objects like a salad bowl and a wooden bun foot into what it became has got to be one of my all-time favorite activities.
Upgraded Drawer Dividers
Once a renovation is complete, organization becomes the next big priority for DIY kitchen projects. Tasks like painting cabinets, installing new counters, etc. had been completed in previous years, and it began to dawn on me how important staying organized was going to be for truly enjoying my new space. These DIY drawer dividers (for $10!) were made in a single afternoon and have paid off ever since! (Confession though: I still need to work on organizing the other drawers and cabinets.)
Less Pet Mess
Charlie got a little more organized as well thanks to her new custom-made, no-slip DIY dog feeder.
A New Place for Contemplation
The final wall near the breakfast nook had been blank for ages, so I made the space far more useful, complete with a breakfast bar to match the butcher block in the rest of the kitchen and industrial bar stools. This year, I’ll need to add some artwork to make it look more complete, but I really like having my morning coffee here!
And The Kitchen Sink (literally)
Even though the sink and faucet were installed in previous years, I’d never really covered the details about them. This year, I crossed that item off my to do list and recapped how I decided on each. I also shared a few cleaning tips and source info for how I keep this space tidy.
This was a HUGE year for my exterior progress!
In previous years, I’d always just added some seasonal flowers to the mailbox area. This year, I changed things up a little and added some perennials that I have admired while jogging around various other neighborhoods. While one of the plants died off in the late fall, the other three are still going strong and will hopefully bloom bigger and wider this coming spring!
Cascade Stump Planter
I have/had an old stump in my front yard. I figured I could either get rid of it or try to make it look more decorative. I chose the latter and picked out some cascading flowers to turn it into a beautiful front yard feature.
Hiding My Air Conditioning Unit
It took several weeks (and a lot of sweat), but changing the ivy- and pine-needled A/C unit area with decorative stones and foliage added a great amount of color and organization that I can maintain easily. I also added a screen to hide the unit from the street while still making sure that I followed the recommendations to keep air flowing efficiently!
As a way to keep the decorative progress going, I started building and staining outdoor furniture that will eventually go in the back yard. Premature? Yeah. But sometimes you just get excited to go ahead and work on something. In a way, projects like these give me more motivation to work on the projects that I need to complete in order to use them (such as a new deck or outdoor entertaining space — coming this year I hope!).
The Enormous Backyard Leveling Project
And, last but not even a little bit least, parts 1, 2, and 3 of my DIY journey to fill in a sinkhole and level out the back yard was started and finished in less than a week! I didn’t manage to get grass in before winter (I tried but failed), so this spring will need some DIY efforts to get things green again. Still, having the ability to walk around the entire back yard without running into vines, sunken holes, and overgrowth has been such a HUGE change! And that backhoe was a lot of fun to ride around on, especially when I invited friends over to help rip out some stumps.
The Laundry Room
I know that most of the details I shared about the laundry room makeover weren’t posted about until 2017, but technically, this project was the last big thing I accomplished in 2016. A fully completed room? Not a bad way to end a year! (Sidenote: I’ll be posting more answers to some of the questions you guys asked from that reveal soon!)
I also had a number of other goals and projects completed, such as fixing my furnace, my sliding glass door, and hiring a landscaper to help me take care of some of the pesky stuff I hate (because it then allows me to concentrate on more upgrades!). But to really cover everything, you’d just have to scroll back through my 2016 archives. There’s a lot more to be found!
I’d like to take this time to also thank the sponsors that helped me complete some of these projects, such as Swiffer, Scotch Brand, Liquid Nails, Angie’s List, Compact Power Equipment Rental, National Hardware, and more. It’s always nice to find companies I enjoy working with and really “get” what this blog is all about: DIY projects and helping you guys find some great ideas for your own homes.
Of course, that also brings me to you guys: I big fat puffy-heart love all of you. Even if we don’t see eye to eye, even when you think my decorating decisions are weird, or even if you come here just to take a break from chaos and read about someone else’s comedy of errors that has become my blog life. It’s because of you guys and your support of this blog that I get to do something I love every single day. I get to write, I get to share, I get to teach, I get to be inspired, I get to make sense of a crazy world by connecting with so many people I’ve never met in person… and then sometimes, I actually do get to meet you, and you’re so awesome and thoughtful that I wind up blushing from my awkwardness.
For me personally and emotionally, 2016 was a really rough year. But a lot of you guys reached out, and I was deeply touched by that thoughtfulness (erm, not in a gross way, but you get it). I will have a post about some of that coming very soon, how I got through it (I hope some of it helps any of you who might struggle with similar), etc. And it’s pretty cool to look at these archives and see exactly how this house becomes such a big part of my story. From 2015 to 2016 alone, there was a greater transformation than I even realized until writing this post — so, as much as I look back at the year and get overwhelmed with how emotionally exhausting it was to experience, it appears I may have done myself a huge favor and channeled it in the best way I know how.
And just like that, I’m ready for a new year of change all over again. Bring it on!
*Random factoid: I also discovered this year that I like old-fashioneds. And new-fashioneds. As usual, it popped into my head after using food-related words in my posts.