Home Spun Fulfillment

Photo | Bethany E. Starin Two winters ago, my husband installed a pallet wall in our downstairs master bedroom. Right off our living room, this project is always a conversation starter, and one of our favorite — and cheapest — projects to date.

Photo | Bethany E. Starin
Two winters ago, my husband installed a pallet wall in our downstairs master bedroom. Right off our living room, this project is always a conversation starter, and one of our favorite — and cheapest — projects to date.


Recently, this phrase caught my eye: “Creativity is my exercise of choice.” I laughed. That hits the nail on the head when it comes to my personality. This winter, I’ve been attempting to stay in shape, taking classes at a local gym, discovering that I have horrible balance in my left leg and that 100+ consecutive squats make me want to poke needles in my eyes — but not even a good run gives me as much as the fulfillment of tackling a home project. There are few things that I love more.

My mind is constantly sifting through color combinations, mirrors to be painted and hung, furniture to be sold and bought, thrifty ways to create art and give our space personality. And I love doing it on a dime. My husband and I adore traveling, and when we do, we often find a print — or a map of the place we’ve explored — to add to our house as art, making our home feel personal; memories make the best art. Over our couch we hung a collage of maps, from Frederick and Richmond, Va. to Paris and London. It looks classy and also reminds us of our adventures. Win, win.

Most of all, I enjoy making our house look put together without looking homemade. With the massive amount of DIY instruction out there, it’s a fine line to navigate. For our home, I’ve found the balance by starting with dreamy, expensive inspiration photos (I love Pinterest for this step) and brainstorming ways to decorate cheaply. For example, I was captivated by a trio of expensive, modern art prints I’d repeatedly seen. Rather than buy originals or cheap substitutes, I found an art print on www.scoutmob.com and a modern frame with mat included at Ikea. Using a coupon, I spent $30 total.

One of my all-time favorite projects is the pallet wall my husband installed in our master bedroom. As with all projects, it took at least twice as long as the blog said it would, but was worth it. The most difficult step was ripping the pallets apart. The staining, cutting and assembling on the wall went surprisingly quickly. It’s a statement piece in our home, adding depth and warmth to a big space and we just love it. We got the pallets for free (saw them in a heap and asked for them), so all we bought were a few cans of stain, cloth and rags for the staining, and one box of finishing nails.

Few local tips

The Frederick County/DC area has a great Craigslist, but to be successful, check it regularly and dig (search synonyms and various spellings). While you might have to drive, saving hundreds of dollars is worth it. For my son’s nursery, we found an industrial light fixture, a charming dresser that I painted with milk paint (it doubles as a changing table) and an upholstered rocker — all for significant savings. My favorite frames have all been found at The Old Lucketts Store in Leesburg, Va. Be warned: Lucketts is addictive (and their spring market, held May 1-3, is definitely worth the drive). To the right of the main Lucketts’ building are merchandise sheds where I’ve found stunning frames with a reasonable price tag. In downtown Frederick, the Habitat for Humanity ReStore carries used furniture, frames, chandeliers — a whole host of items that just need a fresh coat of paint.

This month, I talked to a Villages of Urbana couple who also love the thrill of doing projects on their own, and who just completed a kitchen overhaul. In addition, I talked with a local interior designer, a lawn expert and a design firm, collaborating to give readers helpful tips for spring projects and ways to freshen up their daily lives and homes. They offer advice for discerning when projects can be done by home owners and when professionals should take over. For more information, flip to the Home and Garden Section on page 12.

Also notable in this issue is the new series dubbed “Community Slice.” Staff Writer Sally Alt began the series with a dialogue with Pastor Mike Jendrek of St. Ignatius of Loyola, who is deeply entrenched in our community, caring for needy people. Each month, we’ll be taking a close look at a significant person, someone who stands out for a project they have done or are doing, a life they are living that is worthy of honor and might otherwise go unnoticed. This could be a man or woman — young or old.

Please contact me at bethany@towncourier.com or 240.409.6734 with suggestions of community members to be highlighted in future issues. Happy Spring to each one of you!

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