A Conversation With My Husband (And My Challenge For You)

Yesterday as I was working on my second drapery panel (which I’m still not finished with…*sigh*), I was thinking back on some of the big projects I’ve accomplished both here at the house and at the condo.  And I was also thinking ahead to some of the big projects that lie before me in this house.  There are so many, and many of the projects here are so much bigger than anything I ever did at the condo.

It could be easily overwhelming if I allow myself to dwell on too many of them at once.  And that overwhelmed feeling can often lead to me start to doubt my abilities and whether or not I’m even capable of completing some of the tasks that need to be done.  And if I continue on that mental path, it’s just downhill from there.

So in the middle of my slow mental spiral downward towards feeling overwhelmed and insecure in my abilities, I stopped myself and I thought back to a conversation that I had with Matt last year.

We were still in the condo at the time, and I had just finished building the 12-foot built-in bookcase wall in the living room

He sat there looking at the finished bookcase in complete amazement.  (I love that I can amaze him even after 11 years of marriage.)  🙂

And then he asked me, “How did you even know you could build something like that?  I mean, you’ve never built anything like that before, so how did you know you were even capable of doing that?

My answer was, “I didn’t!  But I knew I wanted to try.

The fact is that most often, when I start on a big project, I have no idea whether or not I’m capable, or whether or not my vision will actually turn out in real life.  A perfect example of that would be my fireplace

I knew I had a vision for it, and it took me about two hours just to come up with my plan for building it, but I honestly had no idea whether or not my plan would actually work.  And I’ll be honest…in those beginning stages, I was really having some doubts that I’d be able to pull it of.  But I knew I wanted to try, and I knew I wanted to see the project through to the end, even if the outcome was a miserable failure.

So that brings me to you, and my challenge for you.

I think by now, if you’ve read my blog for a while, you know why I blog.  It’s not to dazzle you with my gorgeous rooms, because let’s face it, we all have our own style and our own personal taste.  And what’s beautiful to me might be downright ugly to you.  And that’s fine…really.

But my main purpose for blogging is just to encourage people that you can do these things and to get your creative juices flowing.  You might hate the way my fireplace looks, and that’s perfectly fine.  But hopefully in seeing me build it, and seeing the steps I took to go from concept to completion, it helped you think through some of the projects you’ve wanted to do for your home, and realize that they are something that you can do.

So often, I’ll post a project here on the blog or on my Facebook page, and I’ll get so many comments like, “Oh wow, I wish I had the talent to do something like that.”

And I always want to respond with, “How do you know you don’t have the talent?  Have you tried?”  🙂

just try it

Last night on my Facebook page, I posted this:

Fill in the blank: I wish I had the courage/talent/skill to ______.

I loved reading all of the answers.  They ranged from using power tools, to sewing, to building furniture, to welding, to tearing down walls, and so much more.

So today, I issue my challenge to you…

Stop wishing and start doing.

I challenge you to try something new.  If your wish is that you could use power tools, find a friend with power tools, put on safety goggles, plug in a saw, and give it a try.  You don’t have to build anything, but just get used to the feel of using power tools.  That’s the first hurdle.

If you’ve always wanted to do watercolor painting, just go get a beginner set of watercolors, brushes, and some paper, and get some color on that paper.  Just get a feel for the paint and how it flows on the paper.  The learning process starts with that first step.

In other words, just take that first step!  You can’t start down that path from wishing to doing without taking that first step.

And because I’ve challenged y’all, I’m also going to accept this challenge myself.  The one big project that has been the most overwhelming to me lately is building my own kitchen cabinets.  So I’m telling you right now that when the time comes, I will be building my own kitchen cabinets.  From scratch.  Start to finish.  By myself.  All of them.  It may be a terrible flop, or it may be a huge success.  But regardless, I’m going to push through this self doubt and I’m going to give it my best try.  And even if it’s a flop, I’m sure I’ll learn so much along the way.

So tell me, will you accept my challenge?  And what is the first step you will take towards turning your wish into action?



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  1. Thanks for the nudge. I usually am telling people that same thing but it is nice to hear it myself.

  2. My first step would be to look for your tutorial. Really! Reading your blog helped me refinish my hardwood floors myself. I never believed in a million years I would do that. After I finished the floors I had such confidence. My next projects is a built in bookcase similar to yours. Who knows how it will go, but I will try.

    1. Congratulations on finishing your floors, Charlsie!! That’s awesome!! And I love that one project like that builds confidence and makes you want to try something else. That’s exactly how I feel as well. I’m always looking for a way to challenge myself just a big more, and push myself to the next level.

  3. What an inspiring post! You certainly struck a chord with me. 🙂 Sewing is intimidating to me. I’ve always wanted to make my own window treatments, slip covers, pillows,etc. (I love your tutorials, by the way.) Thanks for posting with such honesty.

  4. Just wanted to say that out of all the blogs I read yours is the most motivational to me! Our next big project is to make those basket cubbies that you had in your condo breakfast room above the cabinets! Did you use open stock cabinets and just take off the doors? I cant find a tutorial for that on your blog.

    1. I actually never did a tutorial on that, but I just used a combo of lumber (1″ x 12″ lumber, I believe) and 3/4-inch MDF to build the boxes. Then attached them to the wall, and covered the front edges with trim.

  5. I am so proud of you. The projects that you do, the way you encourage others. What a gem of a woman you are. I will take your challenge and build the buffet table that I want for my patio!!

  6. After reading your blog I found the courage (and knowledge) to make custom window sills for our house. We removed the ugly formica that was there and cut, glued, wood filled, sanded and stained them and it looks absolutely fantastic. Sure, it looks like I did it myself but I love it.

  7. I love this post and you inspire me to try things I didn’t think I could ever do. Sometimes they work out and sometimes they don’t. The main point is that I tried it! Thank you. Also, could you put a pin button near your quote as I’d love to have it in my pinterest quote section? It’s awesome.

  8. I love blogs because they have inspired me to do tackle things I would never have imagined before. I’ve done some DIY before, but hadn’t yet built anything. The first blog I came across accidentally probably about four years ago was Ana White. Because of her, I’ve built some things and have even sold a bunch at craft shows. She’s another good source for cabinetry plans as her and her hubby have built their Moms a duplex, dubbed Momplex. The kitchens were built from scratch. Although in this instanced they ordered the doors, but her site has plans for doors as well. She uses mostly wood. Sawdust Girl as mentioned above is awesome, too. She uses mostly MDF. Another site for plans, although I don’t know if there are kitchen cabinets (probably), is Design Confidential, however, you probably already are familiar with all of these sites. I love your blog, too because you continue to amaze me with what you tackle and how you excel, not just complete, but excel. You are so gifted and I honestly would love just a fraction of your energy and ambition! I, like so many, am probably my own worst enemy in that I doubt my abilities and therefore don’t rush in to tackle certain projects. I do know my limitations, too, however, and although my hubby is able, he is not always willing in this DIY world I love to live in. He’s more into function than pretty. I’m sure you know the type. Since you asked, my first step will be to finally upholster that chair that has been waiting for months (my first attempt). Anyway, all of this to say, thank you, thank you, thank you! Thank you for your willingness to share your beautiful work (and your Mom’s!) and continue to inspire.

  9. My first major project was building a kitchen island and then replacing all of our cabinets! I was inspired to try by your blog just seeing everything you had accomplished on your own. I’ve adopted the mantra that if my failures can’t hurt anyone, (I avoid tackling electrical) then it can’t hurt to fail- so I just try! I’ve definitely surprised myself, I realized that not only am I good at building…I actually love it. I found Ana White’s cabinet plans helpful and she has recently added new updated ones that are even better, I highly recommend checking her site out. I guarantee you will be able to rock those cabinets!

  10. It’s so true. When I home schooled my kids people always said, “I wouldn’t know what to do” “I wouldn’t have the patience”, etc. Not that home schooling has anything to do with your blog, but the idea is the same: just try it!

    You are seriously inspiring to me. I WILL learn to use a power saw (of some kind…)

  11. The older I get, the harder it seems to try new things. But, I always wanted to paint and I started a couple years ago. Every piece is not a master piece but I have a few that I’ve been surprised at my results. I’ve loved the creative outlet no matter the result!

  12. Well- I just want to find drapes for my living room. I’ve already returned one set that I loved in the store but when I ordered the length I needed and got them- the print was too busy for the quantity and small space. So I think I might learn to use a power nailer and saw to cut and nail 2×4’s over all those #$%#$# windows. OH wait! Is THAT the downward spiral you were referring to? LOL

    what I really want to work on, since the sun has been shining now for 3 days in a row?! I want to make a raised flower/veggie bed. I found an idea on pinterest – and it’s kinda a leaning ladder style with removable narrow beds. It would look great in my small backyard. Then I think- I don’t really *do* gardening so ha! jokes on me. But I think just tomatoes would be awesome and that could be done in a simple raised box. That’s not hardcore gardening. Or some fancy tiered potting thing for a fairy garden… THAT I could garden. 😀

    1. You might try the EARTH BOX. We have used them successfully for tomatoes in several different climates. They are very easy. You could Google (they ship) or ask your local nursery about them.

  13. I would like to learn to use a saw and other power tools but am somewhat hesitant. However, I have read your blogs on making your own draperies and I AM GOING TO DO THEM. I already have the fabric. Just need to set up a new sewing machine I bought and get started. Thanks for the challenge! You made draperies look easy!

    1. I had purchased an air compressor and nail gun and it sat for a year. Then I called a women’s group in my town that has classes on how to do “handy” stuff. I paid $50 and one of the women came to my house and showed me how to use my air compressor and gun. It was worth so much to me to know how to do it safely and gave me so much more confidence. See if your area has something like that.

  14. Whenever I want to do something I have never done before, I simply look up tutorials on youtube and read as much information as I can find, then I simply do that thing. Don’t let anything hold you back. Ask questions of experts in your community, or on blogs – I have met many talented people this way and they are a great source of information for future projects. Mistakes don’t scare me either, because I learn a lot of valuable lessons from them. Just dive right in and tackle a new project. You will be amazed what you can accomplish when you set your mind to it.

  15. And that challenge is exactly why I follow you! You repeatedly inspire me to stretch my skills. In fact, I bought my self a table saw and a kreg jig for a Christmas present. I am going to build a worktable and new landing with stairs in my garage this spring! When I am done that I want to try converting my lower kitchen cupboards to drawers. You are fearless Kristi and I want to be like that too! big hug!

  16. I have said it before but I will say it again……on the days that you are exhausted and push yourself to d
    o this website, just know you have inspired me and from what others write on here many , many others.

  17. Kristi after what I have seen, I have no doubt that you will build those cabinets and they will be beautiful,

  18. I accept your challenge, I too have been wanting a couple of raised vegetable beds. This year I will have them. Thank for the kick in the patootie. It may take me a little longer than some, I’m not a spring chicken any more (65). I used that excuse last year. I may have to plant a fall garden :0) But I will plant one.

  19. In my head building cabinets shouldn’t be that hard depending on how you do it. They are essentially just a box. Cabinet doors might be trickier depending on what style you want. But buying cabinet doors is much cheaper than buying the whole cabinet. Definitely check out Ana White’s blog. They are building two sets of cabinets for a duplex they are building for their mothers. And if you use prefinished plywood for the boxes, then all you have to worry about is painting or staining the face frames and doors.

  20. I’ve made a roman shade based on your tutorial. By hand. So, I’ll make all the sheers and draperies in our house, not to save money, but to spread the shopping over time and have proper window treatments. I have to start with a sewing machine. Dead line for me will be Christmas. Thank you!

  21. I actually said “YES!!” out loud when I read that you are going to build your kitchen cabinets! (also did the ‘touchdown score’ gesture too – heeeheee) I know you can do it, and they’ll be beautiful! I’ve had such fun watching the transformations in your condo and now the house. Great things are ahead!

    This year I’m determined to learn how to use my router properly. It’s been in the garage for several years, and has only been used a few times for straight cutting laminate. My Christmas present from Hubby was a Craftsman contractor table saw with a router table attachment (what a great new toy!). Now I can hook it up to a table and just go to town. I’m looking forward to that challenge! 🙂

    Thank you for the inspiration!

  22. Really great post Kristi! For the past few months I have been thinking about building my own kitchen cabinets but was afraid to say that out loud. Then last week I told someone I was going to build the one to hold my farmhouse sink and that really set it firmly in my mind that I am going to do this. It will be slow going because I have a full time job too but that’s okay. Thanks for all the tutorials you provide Kristi.

  23. I accept your challenge! I’m not sure exactly what it will be, but you’ve encouraged me to try one of those things I’ve always thought I could do but have never tried!! Love your blog and your encouragement!

  24. I’m bummed that my hubby is home full time now since he retired. I used to get all my stuff that I wanted to do started and finished while he was at work – now he is all up into everything that I want to start. From curtains to re-arranging the pantry – it drives me bonkers! I know that it will come out great, but he MUST dive in and lend his perspective — this is my task – getting away from his watchful eye and just doing things again — its hard, but I must find a way. As of right now, I have no desire to start anything with him being here, watching over me. For twenty one years I never had a problem, now he feels that he must hover — BONKERS I tell ya!!!

  25. Just when I think you have said all you can say…because it is tops…then you say it all here…you truly are an amazing young woman. I am 69 years of age…and can no longer do all the building and all the decorating you do. But you showed a little more of the inner Kristi here and it challenges this old lady….I know I have an artistic mind…but I have never challenged myself in using the mind along with the hands….in regards to Painting…oh yeah I have done my share of walls, ceiling and furniture…but never a real painting to hang on those walls. so you have challenged this old lady to take a try and see what comes out of it. I read your blog because of your tenacity and drive which is very evident….it reminds me of my younger days when I was in the yard digging and moving dirt and rocks, and putting up sheet rock in a previously cheap paneled home. You are a very strong person….maybe not physically like a man…but you have a warrior spirit that takes on challenges…and for that I admire you so much. And you challenge that in your readers…You are a motivator of many and this is something which is rare and not easily or readily found. Thanks Kristi….who knew such a young woman could motivate even an old lady like myself?

  26. I don’t remember exactly when I found your blog, I know it was your cat feeding station that I loved! I have always wanted to learn to paint and I was inspired by you to give it a try. I paint something every day now I try different styles some work and some get painted over lol. But I try…………and it feels good!

    Like the others have said, “You have inspired me!”…………Thank you.

  27. Great challenge Kristi! What I’ve wanted to do for a long time now is learn to play piano. I told myself I was too old to learn, didn’t have time for regular practice, and just stopped trying to make it happen. But I know if I pick up my iPad a little less and sit down at the piano a little more, wonderful things could happen. After all, there’s no deadline, right? What’s the worst that could happen? (I know, not DIY related, but you’ve inspired me anyway!)

  28. You DO inspire me, and
    I know how to do all of those things…….
    But can you tell this old lady where to find all of that energy :^(
    I think I will just cheer you on!!

  29. Wow Kristi. I have to say that coming across your blog 4 years ago by mistake was one of the best things to happen to me. Seriously! Let me rewind a bit. When I was 18 years old I interviewed for a job at a hospital. The man asked me what I wanted to do when I “grew up” and I told him that I wanted to build furniture. He laughed at me and said that tuition reimbursment doesn’t cover construction so I pursued a profession in the medical field. Fast forward 12 years and my fiance and I were living in an apartment. I googled how to DIY something and came across a blog. I didn’t know what a blog was and got hooked on other blogs. Yours was one of them. I had always wanted to learn to sew so I bought a machine and learned from reading blogs and sewing books. In 2011 we bought our first house and I’ve been building, repairing, decorating and now blogging. I started my own blog http://www.thepursuitofhandyness.com in 2012 thanks to your “Self-Hosting” series. In these past 4 years, I’ve amazed myself at what I can accomplish just by giving it the good old college try. I always thought that I wasn’t gifted or that I didn’t have a talent but now at 33 years old, I am enjoying doing what has always been in my heart and I’m pretty decent at it. My first pair of roman shades were glued to an old mini blind. My second pair were made following your tutorial and looks AMAZING.

    This post almost brought tears to my eyes because my husband asked me the same thing and my answer was almost the same as yours. I look at you as one of the Blogging Pioneers and I respect your blog and I adore your creativity and honesty. “I wish I had the skill to custom build a master closet system.” It’s one of my next projects and I’m head over heals to dive in and build drawers and doors and so much more.

  30. Many thanks for this encouraging post! I will certainly follow your advice now as I’m getting more and more impatient with the work of the so-called experts!
    We’ve moved into our house 2 years ago and had a lot of craftsmen in to do jobs such as installing new radiators or toilets, renew wiring and more. None of them did a flawless job but a lot of them did things I wouldn’t have done myself. Now 2 years later, we had two final (that is: final in the first stage of getting the house done 🙂 ) jobs done: installing wood on a concrete flight of stairs, which in the end, after several mistakes and cock-ups, now looks good.
    And today, having our guest bathroom decorated with a patterned wallpaper. I’ve never hung wallpaper yet so I thought it’s crazy to start with a patterned one. If only I’d dared to do it myself, I’m so fed up with having to come up with solutions for the cock-ups others are doing in my house! I’m sure, in the future I will rise to your challenge!!! This is what happened: I know that one corner in a wallpapered rom is always looking askew as it’s the last one where the paper is brought together. Now, I asked the decorator in advance to make that the corner above the toilet in the least likely corner you look at – and he agreed whole-heartedly. After hanging the wallpaper it turns out that this eyesore is now in exactly the most looked-at corner of the room opposite the toilet and opposite the door!!! Howe can that happen to a professional??
    My husband comforted me by proimsing to paint in the pattern for me (he is aritstically incvlined) but that wouldn’t have been necessary at all if I’d done the hanging myself!
    So thank you for your encouraging words and advice, I guess I’ll print out your sign and hang it above my desk for the future!!
    Can’t wait to see your next projects including the kitchen cabinets, I’m sure they’ll turn out brilliant!!!!

  31. Ha!
    Somehow I don’t see you failing at it. If something’s not working out, you’ll make whatever adjustment needs to be made, and you’ll end up with beautiful cabinets. I have every confidence in you.
    And BTW, you’ve inspired me to try to build my OWN built-in bookcase/cabinet combo. I’ve gotten as far as buying a miter saw!!! My hubby STILL doesn’t know why I bought it. But he’s such a dream dasher, I don’t want to tell him.

  32. I just love, love, love you and want to be a decorating, blogging diva like you when I grow up! Loved this post just as I do many. 🙂

  33. I love this advice so much! I waited around for a few years for my husband to do a project. He never had the time. Finally, I took matters into my own hands-I built a freestanding wall by myself! (with a little help from youtube) I didn’t know how and of course, made mistakes, but I did it and I’m so proud!