How I Decide Whether To Buy Or DIY

November 3, 2015




Craft and DIY projects are plentiful around my house, but I have to be honest, it's not always because I am so in love with making things. When it comes to decor, I'm pretty lazy. I am a product oriented girl and while I do enjoy some processes, most of them time, I'd rather just skip straight to the pretty.

Unfortunately, it's not always that easy. There's often quite a bit to consider.

So, just how do I decide if it's better to buy what I want or DIY?

It's actually very simple. I just ask myself a few questions.

Is it a want or a need? A need will solve a problem, a want is something I just think is cute. Therefore, the budget for a need will always be larger. Buying is preferred, but I tend to be more motivated to DIY if necessary. Need always trumps lazy.

Can I make it for less? Now this seems like an easy question to answer, but it's not always that straightforward. I may have the supplies in the house to make something fabulous for free, but it may take me several hours or be extremely labor intensive...or annoying. If I can buy it for a decent price and it fits the other criteria, then I usually cough up the cash.

Is this item exactly what I want? This is usually the biggest determining factor. I can often find things that come close, but are short of perfection in my eyes, and therefore no price is worth paying. Clearly a DIY. I'm kind of stubborn about getting what I want, so this is the question that usually gets my unmotivated crafty self in trouble.

Will I enjoy doing this? The answer to this one in generally no. However, there are some projects I see that I think, "Hmmm, I really would like to paint, crochet, knit or sew, this." It is a very rare occurrence, but when it does happen, I go for it and craft away.

Will it look like crap? I hate to be vulgar about it, but those are the actual words that go through my head when I'm in the final stages of evaluating a potential DIY. Let's face it, not all homemade items look great and I never want to compromise when it comes to presentation. I want elegant pieces that look like they were made with love, but could've been purchased in a sweet boutique. If a project is beyond me or not up to par...BUY.

Here are a few real life examples of my decision making process that ended with DIYs.



This chair was torn and tattered and it needed to be repaired or it would be garbage in short order, so I was willing to be a bit more generous with my spending. Unfortunately, after many, many hours of searching, the proper slipcover could not be found. The shape is odd and I wanted a patchwork look. A custom fix was going to be very expensive, probably the same as buying a new chair. I could make it for less. This was a clear DIY.

By the way, this was easier than I thought, but I would not classify it as fun.


The kids broke the trio of mirrors that hung in my bathroom. I had a blank wall. I needed to hang something on the existing nails or remove them, spackle the holes and paint. Not gonna happen. Again, I was willing to pay for the right accessory for the space, but I couldn't find it. Dollar wood frames were painted in less than ten minutes and on the wall in twenty. They were exactly what I wanted, cheaper than anything in the stores and I actually did enjoy this one...because it was easy.

This need process is also the reason I found myself lining my daughter's roman shades and sewing virtually everything I have ever run a thread through. If you haven't guessed, sewing is not my strong suit. And my machine hates me. It's definitely a need. 

I'm a little more patient with the wants, I am also more of miser when it comes to them.


I love wooden signs, but no doubt, they are pricey. I often see sentiments I would love to have hanging on my wall, but I am not paying custom prices, because I am fickle and change my mind easily. So I make sticker signs. I get exactly what I want and I can make it for significantly less than what I would pay, even in discount stores. DIY. That is a no brainer. 


Holiday items generally fall into the want category and I have to say, I especially love crafting for Christmas, fun, so they are almost always DIY over b-u-y. 

They are usually less expensive, too. These yarn trees, for example, cost me a few dollars to make and were done in one evening. In Etsy shops or local stores, I couldn't find them for less than twenty bucks ~ each! No way. 

Of course, I don't make everything around here and there are plenty of times when buying is the smarter choice. 


These pretty pillows are the sweetest accent pieces and I could not make them for less. 


The time I would have to dedicate to them alone would make it a poor decision. No doubt. Buy. 


Here's another.

For years, I tried tons of different DIYs to organize my magazines next to my kitchen desk. I was determined to make what I needed. Unfortunately, nothing ever really worked out well. I could never get the desired look. Everything looked like...well...you know. Finally, I found a distressed metal unit for $24.99 and it's been true love ever since. 


My last example of a buy, rather than DIY is this pretty wreath. I do make a ton of wreaths, some from scratch, others are repurposed, but can you imagine the labor involved to make this beauty? I really wanted it, the roses are wood, I could've recreated it with paper, but um, no way. Not worth the time, definitely worth the money! 

So there you have it, the whole Exquisitely Unremarkable process behind my buys versus my super simple (and always inexpensive) DIYs. 

I told you I was a reluctant crafter. 

And you just thought I was lazy. 

Well. That too. 

How do you decide if it's worth it? 



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64 comments:

  1. Good thoughts. Usually it boils down to money with me. I am somewhat of a spur of the moment gal and have to watch that, otherwise what my eye sees I might just buy, which is certainly not good for the pocket book. I am not as bad as I used to be when I was working and thought I deserved to buy it! Now I do think things through a little better and try to figure out if it is worth it to DYI. Thanks Kim, Have a great week, Lynn

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    1. I am also a point where I have so much stuff, I need to decide if I have room for more stuff! When something comes in, I try to send something out! ;) Thanks for the comment, Lynn.

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  2. I like your thinking! My tendency is to buy something but now my decor closet is full and I really need to revamp items from there.

    Going to look at all your links again. By the way, I need that magazine rack next to my desk. I like the chippy look it has. :)

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    1. I love that magazine rack too, Stacey! Marshall's...it was just sitting on the floor, right next to the shoes. True love!

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  3. Good way to decide. Did you get all those girls Halloween costumes sewn on time?
    Brenda

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    1. Thanks Brenda! And yes ~ more DIY sewing that I was not thrilled to do, but I got it done in the knick of time. I had five very happy goddesses! ;)

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  4. I'm super cheap! Buy has to be thrifted. DIY has to be easy - and inexpensive. But now I've collected so much stuff that I are more inclined to get rid of stuff than make or buy it. You have my favorite DIY stuff...always easy!

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    1. Thank you, Nancy...and I am super cheap, too...AND in the getting rid of stuff stage. Simplify...ahh! ;)

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  5. I like your thought process through it all. They are all really good ways to help decide. I usually decide depending on the work involved. I hate sewing anything but I made two sets of café curtains for my kitchen this year because they were easy and I would never shop for them. All it takes is a few DIY's gone wrong and I will buy anything!!

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    1. Your curtains are adorable and that's exactly the kind of DIY I love...easy, inexpensive and fabulous looking!

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  6. Great advice and thank you for the easy Christmas crafts. I needed that...starting to plan some projects.
    Carla

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    1. I have to get Christmas crafting too, Carla. I really do like to do it while the fire is going and the carols are on, but just once it would be nice to have my projects ready to go when the tree goes up! ;)

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  7. Good tips Kim, and I know this wreath with wood roses and yes this was a deal too good to pass up!

    Have a lovely evening,
    Jemma

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    1. No way I could've made that one!! :)

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  8. I've really enjoyed your DIY projects and how they've turned out. It's great to hear your philosophy on the whole process. And I hope you share some of your Christmas craft projects.

    I am such a klutz in creating anything that looks half as good as the project shows. But I do like to take something store bought and elaborate on it. I recently bought an ugly shadow box for a project. I've painted it and distressed it and already it looks fantastic. Next I will do something i think will be original and the perfect gift for someone I love.

    Thanks for great post, Kim!!

    Jane x

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    1. Thanks so much, Jane and I bet you are an awesome creator…plus you can cook and creating is the kitchen is an art form of the highest order and one DIY skill that I do not possess! That is my klutzy area!! ;)

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  9. I've done some diy/craft projects that after I was done I asked myself 'WHAT WAS I THINKING?' I can think of a couple of projects that took FOREVER, I didn't need the item, and it cost more to make than to buy...and to top it off,wasn't necessarily fun. That's beyond the trifecta of projects! lol

    I've gotten a lot more selective lately, and won't go down that road again. I like your thought processes Kim. Makes a lot of sense.

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    1. Oh boy, I have a few of those, What Was I Thinking projects, too, Doreen!! It's funny, live and learn, and then cough up the cash!! ;)

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  10. I used to be a crafter, now, not so much. I think you hit on all the considerations that go into the decision making and your conclusions are spot-on. You have a nice balance of buys and DIYs.

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    1. Thank you Lorri! AND I still think you're a crafter...your palette is just the earth now and your lovely farm! I can't imagine anything more beautiful than being able to grow your own food. That's the ultimate DIY!! xo

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  11. These are good tips on how you decide to buy or DIY. I love that chair that you re loved. Such a beautiful DIY.
    Have a good rest of the week.
    Kris

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    1. Thanks Kris! I am always saying that I am a lazy crafter and not really that into it and I thought, people must wonder, then why do you do it all? I figured I would explain! ;)

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  12. You are still a brave DIY'er!!!! I'd not even try anything like this.

    Except! The painted frames for bathroom wall!!!! Our powder room/laundry is that beautiful color and a blank wall. Voila!!!! You just solved my issue!!!

    Thank you!!!!!!!!

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    1. Oh!! So excited you found some inspiration today, Tessa. It was such an easy project. I hope you like the results. :)

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  13. I'm so excited! This post came at just the right time! I'm heading out to Michael's today - woo hoo - and I was making a list of things I needed - now I've added wooden frames and wall decals to my list! And ps I adore that chair - that would be right at home in my house also!

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    1. Looks like my post is going to cost you some money, Debbie! Oops, sorry! I promise, they are cheap suggestions. Let me know if you find something you like. I would love to see your finished products! :) Good luck.

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  14. why on earth does a dyed in the wool minimalist... who lives in 525 square feet... that looks more like a little boat than an apartment... and who would never do any of this... then why do i ...
    LOVE this blog?
    i have no idea! LOLOL. but i do.
    maybe it's that glorious red. i love splashes of red. especially when it's warmly sophisticated.
    beautiful. it's just beautiful here. whether diy or not! xo

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    1. Hello Tammy, boy you just made my day! AND YES! I think it's the red...who can look away from that captivating color? ;)

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  15. Since I've started blogging, I've become much more of a diy-er. It's hard for me to pay retail prices when I can make it for so much less. Unless there's sewing involved...then I'll pay double! Lol! This girl does NOT sew. Tried it once and ended up in tears. Ha ha!

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    1. Oh I hear you loud and clear, Lisa! I sew out of necessity and I go into kicking and screaming, trust me! ;)

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  16. You sound so much like me. About 10 years ago I started thinking that way. I have made a few bad choices since than, but in the long run I have done well in chosing to diy or buy.

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    1. I have made some bad choices, too! Yikes, when I think about some of my ill fated DIYs and the money I've spent trying to make them work...oh boy!

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  17. Ultimately, my choice boils down much like yours - which costs less, and which is most cost effective. Making a wooden rose wreath would not be cost effective in the least, and I totally agree with your choices - well, I agree with all of them. My ultimate desire is to save money, yet have things functional AND pretty. And the choice comes down to which one pleases my budget the best :) You are a wise, and amazing DIY crafter :)

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    1. You are so sweet, thank you. I just do what I enjoy. I am amazed by all the builders and talented furniture painters out there. That is not my talent! At all!!

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  18. Good thoughts, Kim. Sometimes it is hard to know when to buy and when to make yourself. I have done so many crafts over the years that I kind of got burnt out and when I started working, I only worked about 20 years before I retired, I could afford to buy what I wanted and I did, but now, being retired, I have to be way more careful! I will make some easy things but I still would rather buy from someone else. I never thought I'd say this but I shouldn't buy or make anything, I already have too much stuff!..Happy Wednesday..Judy

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    1. Judy, I am right with on the too much stuff already thought! I have to purge and I really do think before I make or buy. Sometimes, though, I just have to have something sweet, y'know? ;)

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  19. Hi Kim, great tips on how you decide to DIY or buy. I usually go the "make it myself route first", but at times, it's cheaper to buy then gather the items and take the time. Love the wood rose wreath. Your chair is still one of my favorites and I have a guest room that it would be gorgeous in. I have the same rose fabric in there but a red plaid chair to go with. I finally found some fabric on etsy and plan to make a pillow.
    Have a great afternoon. xo

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    1. Thanks so much, Celestina Marie. I know that that rose fabric is an oldie, but I just had to have it. I was late to the game with it, but I still just stare at it sometimes! :)

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  20. I agree with you on all your decisions, the other important factor other than the price is TIME. If I have the time, I will try to DIY it (as long as no sewing is involved) for sure, the sentimentality is just there and sense of pride, no price can ever beat that! But then, if I don't have the time and I really love and feel like I 'need' that decor, then I just buy.Just like for Christmas, I decorate early and avoid buying since I have a ton of stuff already, but I really have to DIY a felt tree I saw for my baby girl!

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    1. Time is key, Vel, no doubt about it! Can't wait to see that felt tree! :)

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  21. Kim, I have a very similar process. Like the example with your pillows, why craft something you can buy for less? I would have to say I upcycle my thrifted finds more often than not. Great info--thanks for sharing!

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    1. I find myself up cycling a lot more these days, too…and I find myself getting rid of things I don’t really love or use. It’s freeing! :)

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  22. I am to the point in life that I do the --WANT or NEED on just about everything I purchase. LOL-- I no longer WANT as many things as I used to -even though I like change.

    I only craft what I know I am going to love doing. Life (and time) is too short to spend hours laboring over something just to say "I made this myself"...nope- ain't gonna happen. I have been on a pumpkin making kick and that is a I LOVE THIS kind of sewing job for me. I have a couple of projects waiting for me that are kind of 'I need to do this cuz no one else will' sorts of things and I DO need to get at them....but, as Scarlett O'Hara would say-- I'll think about that tomorrow. lol xo Diana

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    1. I'm with you, Diana! I am so over the "I made it myself" stage. I just want what I want (bratty, I know!) and if I have to make it to get it right, then I do...but you can believe me when I say that by that time, I have exhausted the stores to find it first! ;)

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  23. Kim, I go through pretty much the exact same thinking process. I too sometimes buy something that I could make simply because it's a good deal, or because I just love it! I even bite the bullet and pay a higher price than I want when I know I will regret walking away from it. Loved seeing your example photos! Still adore that chair!
    hugs,
    Jann

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    1. Thanks so much, Jann! I am almost ready to let someone sit in it! Just kidding. ;)

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  24. Hi Kim,
    This was a great post, especially at this time of year...I use the same thought process as you, want or need...and times when I can't figure that out because I love it that much I will usually carry it around in the store while I am shopping and 9 times out of 10 it will cause me to not buy it on impulse and leave it behind.
    I can DIY most things, but like you if the time involved outweighs the cost, then why would I go through all that if I can buy it for cheaper!
    And sometimes the simplest diy's turn out better then anything you could buy, like your dollar wood frames and your sign.
    You chair diy is one of my favorites, I can sew but chair recovering and slip covers intimidate me! ;)
    Have a wonderful rest of your week! :)
    Kimberley

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    1. Thanks so much, Kimberley and trust me, that chair intimidated me, too. I have to say though, it was so easy. That fusible web tape is a lifesaver and makes me look like a pro!! ;)

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  25. I usually go through a similar process. I will say that I've made a few projects that ended up costing more to make than it would have to buy it. It's only been a few projects, as of today, but it has happened. ;) One thing I do not try to make is pillows, sewing just isn't my thing and I fully accept it.

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    1. I hear you Kristi! I have never loved sewing…with a machine. I used to enjoy cross stitch and embroidery, but the machine hates me so I try to avoid it. Of course, years ago a very talented sewing friend told me she’d teach me, rather than have me pay her to make curtains. Well, that was my downfall, see, now I know I can do it and hate paying crazy curtain prices. Doesn’t mean I like it though! ;)

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  26. This was a fun review of some of your pretty projects as well as the thought processes behind the decision making! :)

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    1. I don't usually jump in willy nilly (or willingly!) Deb, there is a method to my madness! ;)

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  27. I like your thought process, Kim! I'm still crushing over that cute little chair....such a clever DIY. I do ask myself some of the same questions, as does my hubby. I love to craft & sew, making some of my decisions less complicated; and my hubby has some "master" skills, making his decisions a bit more complicated....I seem to come up with some great ideas for his "Honey-Do!" Sometimes I have to really question our sanity, like painting all the cabinets in our home, but never would we have paid someone else to do that!

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    1. My husband is a very talented DIY guy, too, Carol and yes, I think that helps to contribute to the can do attitude. It makes it harder to pay for anything when I know we can make it. Furniture is a big problem, because the house is small and today’s furniture tends to be on the larger side. Around here it’s either old or handmade or a combination of both and I have just the guy to do it! :)

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  28. I'm rather frugal, so I go through some of the same thought processes. I'm not much of a crafter or DIYer though, so usually I have to end up buying something. However, I don't just run out to a store and buy something. I will usually hunt in thrift stores first.

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    1. I am frugal too Melanie...even at the thrift store! I just came from there and I was astounded at some of the prices. Yikes. Maybe I should just be happy with what I have on hand! :)

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  29. Given my propensity to mess up most of the craft projects I attempt, I usually end up buying. BUT, I do shop around to find the best prices and if I think I can make it and succeed, then I will try it. I usually do better at the simple things...like I would NOT have been able to make that chair look so beautiful.... :-)

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    1. I saw your table and it came out great! Now that is something that I could not do….would not have the patience to do! I used to, but now I paint no more! ;)

      And thank you! xo

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  30. My options are DIY or find it at a thrift store.....I like challenging myself about the creative treasures I find at thrift store. I love signs and do find them pricey but for some reason they intimidate me? I do like to craft so if I could go that route I do!

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    1. Signs used to intimidate me, too. Now I just look for creative, quick ways to make them! :)

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  31. The determining factor is always... will it look just as good and can I make it for less. And then I just buy it because I'm lazy LOL

    xo

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  32. You make some really great points. I agree with all that you said. If it's something as simple as painting or spray painting to update the look, I vote for DIY. If money isn't an issue, which it always is- ha! I vote for buy.

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