Not The Target Market

Which Shall it Be: Hope or Experience

DI WhySomehow, I have managed to acquire a very undeserved reputation for being competent. Most of the time my vanity is kept firmly in check because I know the truth only too well; however, every once in a while I make the mistake of actually believing my press clippings and the result is usually an ill-advised DIY project.

DIY and I don’t have a good history. My projects never quite achieve that polished look. Time and time again I have proven that professionals are worth every penny for their knowledge, their skills, and their tools. Apparently, though, I am the eternal optimist. Or perhaps it’s just that I can be conned like everyone else: it’s so easy; think of the money you’ll save; it won’t take anytime; it’ll be fun…

This month the top feature in Better Homes and Gardens is “Love it? Make it! Tips & tools for creating beautiful DIY fabric & furnishings.” With propaganda like this all over the print world, social media, TV and internet, and with all the lovely accompanying before and after photos, can I really be blamed if I sometimes completely ignore past experience and head for a paint brush or staple gun? Just like a teenager on their fourth romance of the month, I know it’ll be different this time.

My plan was to go from an ugly, wood-stained bureau to a little cream gem. Something suitable for the guest room. I did manage to go from wood stained to cream; but, suitable for the guest room – no. The wood stained bureau I started with had cracks and sticky, screw-bias drawers, and the cream one I ended up with had those exact same features; except, now highlighted in cream paint, the cracks were even more noticeable, and the drawers not only hadn’t straightened themselves out during the painting process, but actually had the effrontery to become stickier than ever. Paint does not, as the propagandists like to tell you, Fix Everything.

Somehow I managed not to be discouraged (mostly by shutting my eyes and putting things in the bureau that weren’t wanted too often), and I moved on to the next DIY project: recovering the dining room chair seats. This may sound ambitious, but I’ve actually done it before – although long enough ago for the gory details to have mostly vanished.

As I recall, it was the day before Thanksgiving, and The Daughter was visiting with her new husband; The Son was still unmarried, but The Daughter-in-Law-to-be was also visiting. The rest of the family were due for dinner, and I thought for the feast it would be a good idea to have new dining room seats with much better padding. To show that history is indeed a loop: a number of years later and faced with another round of flattened padding, I thought it would be a good idea to refresh the seats for the Daughter-in-Law’s imminent baby shower.

Last time I had many hands to give advice and hold the fabric in place while I wielded the staple gun. This time I was flying solo.

But it’s a simple task, I thought. “All” that is required is to unscrew the seats from the frame, put on new padding, wrap some fabric around it, staple it all in place and screw the seats back on. How difficult is that?

Well, to start with, the padding was awkward to cut. I ended up with pads that had nicely scalloped edges, which was not in the plan. But, I told myself, it wouldn’t really matter once the fabric was pulled tightly around everything. And that was more or less true, although there ended up being a few more less-true places than I would have liked.

Then, there was the problem of corners. I figured there would be a trick to corners, one I would be an expert at after the first, or perhaps the second seat, at most.

Nope. I am confident every seat is wrapped and cornered differently. They now have a certain charming lopsidedness about them. Perhaps a generous person would say they looked like “factory seconds” and congratulate me on a good buy. Perhaps a less generous one would ask what was I thinking?

I, however, say that they are quite comfortable, and once you are sitting on them, you no longer see the quirky pleats. And is a chair to be sat on or looked at? Exactly.

I am still not a DIY cheerleader; I do not have professional skill or patience, although I can conveniently forget that fact. I am simply optimistic that one of these days one of my “accidents” will be better than imagined. Or, as Albert Einstein put it: “Only those who attempt the absurd can achieve the impossible.”


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