I remember distinctly the moment I discovered Pinterest.
I was sitting with my laptop cross-legged beside Robert on our brown microfiber sofa in our 600 square foot apartment. We’d been married for all of 2 weeks, and we had more wedding registry kitchenware spilling out of half unpacked boxes than we had actual cabinet space.
A few teacher friends from the high school where I worked had gushed about the joys of this new website with all kinds of fun ideas. Pinterest, what a witty name. So in that moment of scrolling along the endless stream of home decorating ideas and makeover projects, I. was. hooked.
And I thought, “I can do this! I can spray paint stuff! I can learn to sew! I will be a ROCKSTAR at this wife-ing thing.”
There was this one project I found that seemed simple enough, spray painted wine bottles repurposed into vases. “Yes! This will be so cute! I’ll put a whole row of them above our cabinets for some color in our kitchen and maybe add some dollar store daisies for a little fun.”
I made a mental note to grab a couple of cans of spray paint the next time I was in Walmart. (Robert and I already had the wine bottles because at the ripe old age of 23 living as newlyweds and getting by on one small teaching salary, sipping discount vino around our apartment complex pool was a past time… and pretty much the only luxury we could afford.)
So I got that glossy burgundy spray paint. And I dug those wine bottles out of the recycling bin. And I laid down some newspaper on our 3rd story apartment balcony floor. And I sprayed those bottles like a champ. Except, then I realized most of them had drips running all the way down them. And I had accidentally spray painted burgundy all over our apartment porch railing and concrete balcony floor.
It looked like a drunken murder scene. (It’s safe to say, we didn’t get our rental deposit back.)
And after all of that effort, my drippy, goopy painted wine bottles were too tall to even fit above our kitchen cabinets. I was SO close to amazing, yet so far away. I only wish I had a photo to document my masterpiece.
When Robert arrived home from his college classes that evening and I showed him the mess I’d created while on the brink of tears, he peered wide-eyed at the balcony murder scene, glanced at my first “DIY”, let out the biggest belly laugh, and wrapped me in a hug. We spent that night laughing at my “craftiness” over a shared (non-painted) bottle of Two Buck Chuck.
Right then, I swore I would never attempt to DIY anything ever again.
Two-ish years later, after moving into our first house, I thought I’d gotten over my shell-shock. And this time, my “so-amazing” was a chair. And I ran into another goopy, runny mess.
But this time, I said to the chair, “Chair, you WILL not defeat me. You’re getting painted and you will LIKE it!” That was the moment I discovered primer is a magical thing. And also proper drop cloths. I fixed that chair’s bad paint job, and while it wasn’t perfect, it was proof to me that a mistake was the best teacher.
That wasn’t the last of the mistakes. A nasty varnish stripping debacle ensued followed by a messy rookie mistake with concrete countertops a year later, and apparently I didn’t learn my lesson about spray paint because our master bathroom almost didn’t make it out unscathed.
But if it weren’t for a tiny bit of determination (and jumbo sized caffeine intake), I never would have known what could be made from thrifted 1970s chairs. I would have never known I could create the industrial style shower that I always wanted. I would have never cooked a Thanksgiving dinner in our modern farmhouse kitchen.
No one ever said anything worthwhile would be easy. It’s often the worthwhile that is the most challenging. Never ever EVER give up.
It’s been 6 years since that grim burgundy wine bottle vase day, but I’m thankful for it. It was that first step in learning to create something that fueled my soul, that lit a spark inside of me, something that taught me a bit about myself. And now, after 4 years of blogging about furniture flips and home improvement projects, I’m so glad I didn’t let that first fail defeat me for long.
Climb your mountain, even if it is just learning to conquer how to paint a chair. Ideas will flop, projects will still go awry, but the journey is so awesome, so amazing.
If you’ve ever set out to cook the perfect dinner, had a hunger to craft and a longing to create a beautiful home, but sometimes miss the mark, my friend KariAnne Wood of Thistlewood Farms just published a book called “So Close To Amazing” that celebrates all of it with a dose of God’s word and some fun DIY tutorials thrown in.
The bad hair days, the burned pancakes, the home improvement projects gone wrong… she shares them in a way that makes you realize we all fight our own little battles, but they are all imperfectly perfect, and that’s what makes you beautiful in the same way.
I devoured this book in a day, and it was exactly what my heart needed, creatively and spiritually. Reading it felt just like chatting and laughing and crying with a best friend over coffee. I hope it encourages you too.
I hope you will enjoy it as much as I did with a message you’ll always carry in your heart that, despite your flaws, you are “fearfully and wonderfully made” and you are amazing.