To DIY or buy. That is the question.
Do you ever wonder whether you should DIY or buy a particular piece of furniture or decor? The do-it-yourselfers of the world have made Pinterest a veritable black hole of inspiration. And it sure doesn’t seem to be closing in anytime soon!
Some people are even creating successful start-ups that offer a handmade approach to creating original furniture or unique design pieces for the home. This trend not only caters to those who want one-of-a-kind décor, but also to the eco-friendly bonus of utilizing reclaimed materials. One man’s trash becomes another’s treasure!
Do the Dollars and Cents Make…Sense?
But as the DIY boom continues, furniture and décor retailers have to compete on price while simultaneously upping their style game. For instance, Target recently came out with a new product line called Project 62 that features a modern and mid-century inspired design aesthetic, a la West Elm, but with more budget-friendly prices. If you look closely, most looks in the collection could be achieved with a little trip to an antique store or Michael’s. But with Project 62, you don’t have to do the work … just a simple click to buy will do.
So, is DIY really worth it in the long run? In this series, I’ll answer the question – DIY or Buy – by comparing my own DIY projects with similar items you can simply purchase through a retailer. I’m going to look at the dollars, cents, and sense of it all to see if the demands of DIY outweigh the ease (and expense!) of purchasing the finished product.
Kickin’ it off with some kitchen carts! Here we go.
More Than Meatballs
IKEA has made a name for itself with economical yet whimsical style, hilariously/infuriatingly “easy” assembly instructions, and meatballs! (Am I right?!) But they also have a great selection of bare wood pieces that enable you to choose-your-own-style-adventure, which was the inspiration for this DIY double kitchen cart upgrade.
My fiancé (a personal chef and host) and I live in NYC where space is at a premium, so I knew these carts would fit perfectly in our tiny kitchen and offer plenty of storage and prep space. I used the FÖRHÖJA ($109.00) and BEKVÄM ($59.99) carts as a blank birch canvas.
In the Beginning
A big money saving tip for DIY-ing is to use materials you already have around the house. We recently moved, so we had leftover semi-gloss interior white paint and white spray paint. I used the interior paint as a base coat, then painted with the spray paint to achieve an even second coat. I even had some leftover green interior kitchen paint that I used for the inside of the drawers for a fun pop of color. I had barely begun and was already saving money: boom!
This is a great time to mention that labor is always an important consideration in the decision to DIY. This step was the most labor-intensive part of the project. Time is money, as they say, and sometimes the hours fly by quickly with projects that have numerous steps like this (i.e. multiple coats, drying/setting time, etc.).
Stained By Fear
Next, I wanted to add a stain to the top to give it that butcher block look. I have to admit, I was intimidated by stains. Stain creates such a dramatic change (What if I don’t like the color? Is it permanent? Aren’t the fumes toxic?!) But I just followed the package instructions and I’m happy to report that it was not only uber simple, but I’m now obsessed with staining wood. The trickiest part was getting enough ventilation in our small space.
I used Miniwax Interior Oil-based Wood Stain in “Special Walnut” which cost about $9 at Home Depot. It was the perfect shade for my project and I love Miniwax products.
To protect my beautiful stain from taking a beating on the main cooking prep surface, I bought a quart of Polycrylic Clear Satin Protective Finish for $17, also by Miniwax, and a wide sponge brush for $1 to apply four coats. A bit excessive (they suggest two or three coats), but I was serious about protecting that beautiful stain!
The Last Push
The rest of the project involved applying the same polycrylic protective finish I used for the top to the remainder of the cart (just two coats here). This took a good bit of time with all the nooks and crannies, but it was well worth it for the carts’ longevity and protection. My fiancé actually wrote a cookbook in our tiny NYC kitchen, so these carts got a major workout! The extra time I spent to make sure the finish was applied thoroughly was well worth my time.
And voila, two “brand new” kitchen carts courtesy of some paint, Miniwax stain and sealer, a very long weekend … and me!
Let’s break it down and see if it is better to DIY or buy this kitchen cart:
- FÖRHÖJA (Large Cart) $109
- BEKVÄM (Square Cart) $60
- Minwax Stain $9
- Polycrylic Protective Finish $17
- Wide Sponge Brush $1
- Cost to DIY $196
And the Winner Is…
Admittedly, this comparison is a little subjective. The “buy” option is also from IKEA and the carts have the same basic style, look, and quality of the DIY project. However, I did find cheaper carts from other retailers. The minimum price I found to buy a comparable product was $140. With added taxes and shipping fees, the cost to buy is still close to what I paid for my DIY project, so I am calling this one a draw.
Let me hear about the DIY pieces you created and if you thought they were worth it!
“DIY or Buy?” is a new series for Nestrs by David Rossetti of DIO Designs by David