It should come as no surprise that we love a good DIY. My heart goes wild when Scott reviews fabric choices with me (oh!, what have I done to him?), and a Sunday stroll through Home Depot is our idea of a great time (really). But with every project we take on, we like to tell you how it went down, good or bad.
But something we rarely bring up is the challenge of bringing our ideas to life in our bitty home. We don’t consider our place terribly small (by city standards, 675 sq ft is pretty luxurious), but it’s become routine to face obstacles with our limited space. We don’t have a garage (we dream of the day!), a private, grassy yard (front or back) or rooftop access (at least, not legally).
Here’s how (and where) we deal with what we’ve got:
We work around chaos. The larger the scope of our project, the larger the pickle. During the better part of Operation Studio, our hallway became the breeding ground for – ugh! – piles, and while we were unsure at the time, we did survive.
We work outside – in all weather, year-round. Our patio gets more use than just cold beers during the summer. The 8’x10′ space is precious needed real estate for offensive paints and polys, electric sanders and miter saws. Even in January, we suck it up. (But when it’s been a really bad winter – we’re talking, like, below zero – we’ve been known to use our miter saw in the house.)
We spread out, and any surface is fair game. Um, you do remember the multi-city, road-tripping media wall, right?
And building, sanding and painting an 8′ wide shelving unit in an 8′ wide room wasn’t the easiest thing we’ve done, either:
Our so-called workbench is in our kitchen. We don’t have a garage, and we certainly can’t keep our tools and supplies on the patio. With the exception of our miter saw and paint bin (both of which reside in basement storage), all our hammers, levels, pliers and anchors live in these two cabinets. We’d show you, but dudes, it’s scary in there.
For the big stuff, we borrow a friend’s work space. We’re not afraid to ask; we have to. Our friend Pete has a warehouse studio that we’ve hauled lumber to in the past, and the majority of our media wall was sized, chopped and sanded in Ross’ Cincinnati workshop.
We utilize our building’s basement. It’s a little scary and poorly lit (and, oh, it’s been known to flood a time or two), but there are electrical outlets, plenty of room and most importantly, we won’t disturb our neighbors.
And for the heavy hauling, we drive a wagon. With tinted windows, a cargo cover and seats that fold flat, it’ll sometimes double as a (very temporary) impromptu storage space. Without her, we wouldn’t have been able to transport our media wall from one city to another, bring home all that pine for the studio shelving or have the freedom to dumpster dive at will.
We practice patience and try to keep a sense of humor. Scott’s much better at this than I am; I tend to get wrapped up in the details, the messes and the just get it done! syndrome. Lucky for me, when the going gets tough, he reminds me to laugh, to smile. (I got a good one.)
These are a few of the ways we manage to DIY in tight quarters, and like anything, there are good days and bad, and there are easy projects and some – well, not even close. But when we lose sleep and argue over the horrors of crown molding, we’ll tell you. When our dino-battling-terrarium dies in our incapable hands (twice!), we’ll tell you. When we can’t easily find a bleeping piece of wood in the entire city of Chicago, we’ll tell you.
And when we’re already questioning how and where we’re going to build before the project even starts, we’ll tell you that, too.
Small space dwellers, how and where do you DIY?