Happy New Year!! I still want to stay in holiday mode for a few more days. So before I dive fully into 2020, I decided to look back at 2019 and share 19 faves from the past year. I also wanted to thank all of my wonderful readers! I’ve been blown away by how many people have signed up for the newsletter in the last few months, and November and December were my two best months for traffic – ever! On Pinterest I reached 4 million monthly viewers for December (another all time high for me). That growth has been really motivating, but more important than stats are the connections. Blog comments have shifted to social media over the years but I don’t mind because I really appreciate the many wonderful conversations I’ve enjoyed with both longtime readers and new friends. I still love reading your comments and emails, but social media has deepened those connections (and put faces to screen names) which has made blogging feel less one sided and more like a real conversation. I started blogging to connect with fellow DIYers and (budget conscious) home decor enthusiasts, and somehow was able to turn this passion into a (modest) full-time job – and I’m forever grateful for your support. Without further ado, here’s the highlight reel from 2019 – some of these are your favorites (based on page views) and a few of them are mine. If there’s content you’d like to see more of (or maybe less of?) leave a comment and let me know!
I love sharing DIY projects and I like to think about how my posts can be useful. Sometimes it’s teaching a new skill I know well, or maybe sharing a really creative idea I’ve never seen done – or sometimes I take an idea floating around and experiment to show you how to make it bigger and better. But sometimes the value is in sharing the creative process. I’ve always tried to keep that process very transparent and authentic. I show you when things don’t turn out and – most importantly – how to turn a failed project into a win. That’s why I loved the DIY ice dye throw project. At first it wasn’t how I envisioned it, but I kept experimenting until it was exactly what I loved it and you got to see how different techniques and materials produced different results. (I also shared a shibori pole dyeing tutorial in 2019, which almost made my list – but you know ice dyeing is my jam!)
Getting backyard chickens was probably the most eggciting thing that happened in 2019! It has been a challenging (really challenging), but also very rewarding, experience and at the end of November, my hens laid their first eggs. Finding two turquoise eggs was such amazing surprise because I was convinced they might not lay until the spring. Since then, my new pullets have also started laying and now I get 1-3 eggs per day, but that will pick up once the days get longer. You can read all about my backyard chicken adventures by clicking here.
If getting chickens was the most exciting thing that happened, having Better Homes & Gardens come to shoot my kitchen for the magazine is a close, close second! I had this nutty idea to switch out the open shelving in the kitchen for these DIY kitchen cubbies and the idea turned out to be really popular – even catching the eye of an editor for BH&G. The issue comes out very soon and I’m so nervous about it! (P.S. we also did a more mid-century modern inspired version of these DIY storage cubbies for the bunkie bath – check it out here).
I also said goodbye to my bright turquoise kitchen cabinets and painted them a moody, inkier teal! We also installed some paneling to the dining room side of the cabinets, to add a little textural interest and tie in the paneling on the fireplace wall. I’m still waiting for that dream kitchen reno – it’s been almost six years since we gave the kitchen a “temporary” budget-friendly makeover, so updating it again with a little paint and a quirky idea or two has made it easier for me to be patient. Our exterior renovation really snowballed and ate all of our renovation funds, so we need to wait and save up again before we can think about a kitchen renovation.
I sneaked this post in under the radar on December 31, but I shared a lot of progress on Instagram (I have a story highlight called “Coop”). I wanted to wait and make sure no major flaws presented themselves before sharing a “how-to”. Happily, the coop has been going strong since July, so I finally decided put together a (super long) post about how we built the modern DIY chicken coop and run for our backyard chickens.
My post about how to make bigger, denser pom poms was one of my most popular posts this year! Sometimes it’s really interesting to see which post takes off. I really shouldn’t be so surprised though, because making pom pom is so fun and relaxing- it’s an easy craft to get hooked on. I loved figuring out how to make them super dense and full and in my post I break it down for you – even showing you what kind of pom poms different types of yarn produce.
Once I figured out the secret to making better pom poms, I was excited to make some pom pom projects. This DIY pom pom wreath was so easy and so much fun to make. I’d always wanted to hang three wreaths on a door and the coop man door (inspired by our mid-century modern style front door) was the perfect place! Next I want to make some pom pom garland and a wreath that’s 100% pom poms, but I only use thrifted yarns so I’m still trying to amass enough in my preferred color palette.
I joined the One Room Challenge for the first time ever and completely made over the powder room! I love the finished product: a space packed with color and texture. Even though it’s my favorite color (of course!), I really challenged myself to step outside my comfort zone by choosing a pattern for the walls and opting for mixed metals. Plus I got to learn a new skill and installed wallpaper for the first time (read my DIY wallpaper for the first time post right here).
Whew, does it feel like our exterior reno stretched on forever? Would you believe they’re still not done? Even though most of the work happened in 2018, they called it quits around Christmas so 2019 was the year I could finally share some before/afters. It was really a treat to start blogging about the exterior renovation, after so many delays and problems. I talked about our new (painted) copper roof and the sparkly metal siding, plus I shared progress photos and before/after shots of our new windows. If you’re planning any exterior work, there are a lot of great tips and progress photos in those posts, to help prepare you for the scope of a project like this.
Technically I stained the deck black and installed copper deck caps in 2018, but I didn’t share photos until 2019 because of (say it with me!) renovation delays, lol. But it wasn’t until this fall that we finally tackled the falling apart lattice deck skirting and made our own modern DIY vertical slat deck skirting. But wow, was it worth it! The house exterior looks gorgeous, if I do say so myself!
With an exterior we love, we really got excited about decorating the outdoor spaces. I bought a few outdoor chairs and accessories and we also made our own patio table. I dreamed up this live edge patio table with welded chain legs last year, so it was super exciting to finally find the time to make it and see my vision come to life! It’s stored for winter and I can’t wait for spring!
We gave the fire pit area another quick makeover (the gravel had sunk a bit since we made our welded DIY fire pit). I gave the fire pit a fresh coat of copper paint. Then we widened the fire pit area and changed the shape to a hex, to accommodate the ombre painted adirondack chairs and new turquoise outdoor tables. Then we added some fresh dolomite gravel (another truck load).
I always think that my big DIYs (exterior renovation! build a patio table! re-do the shore!) will be the most popular, but honestly it’s often the easiest and simplest projects that win – like these essential oil shower melts! They really took off on Pinterest and a bunch of people have messaged me to say they’ve made them. I’m happy! They’re a handy product for cold and allergy season and they’re a cute handmade gift too.
I did some really cute, and really affordable, DIY holiday decor this year (you can see it all here), but my favorite was the cascading ornaments on either side of the TV. I’d been imagining this installation for awhile so it was really rewarding to see it finally happen! I like to think creatively around the holidays, and veer towards “wintry” over “Christmassy”.
I wanted to get more mileage from my throw pillows, so I came up with this two-sided pillow idea so I could flip them over and change up the look a bit! I’ve shared tutorials for how to sew a pillow before (see here for my DIY zippered pillow and click here to learn how to sew a round pillow), so this post was all about the idea and showing off my color pairings.
I like to mix high and low – and complex with simple! Some of our DIY projects get a little advanced, so I like to keep the balance and share super easy ones too! Here’s a simple way to frame canvas art. (I also have this tutorial for how to make a float frame which is also still easy).
I’ve never really done seasonal home tours, but I decided it would be great motivation to re-photograph the whole house so I joined in on a spring summer tour blog hop and a summer tour blog hop with some talented friends of mine. I am so glad I did these tours because it’s fun to look back and see what’s changed – and what hasn’t! It also motivated me to final do a major overhaul of the lakehouse tour and update it with new photos and links, so check that out if you missed the tours.
I shared a lot of sewing tutorials in 2019 (like how to sew a round pillow, how to sew a silk sleep mask, how to sew a felt coffee cup sleeve) but this might be my fave: how to sew a silk table runner with beaded trim. It’s simple but pretty, and I love how it catches the light! I made it for the spring home tour but actually found it’s really versatile and it’s had a home on my dining room table ever since! I know a lot of other bloggers produce DIYs for a steady stream of content, but I try to produce things I actually really enjoy and value because there’s a sustainability in that approach that appeals to me. I shudder when I read about bloggers doing an epic declutter of all of their discarded DIYs. I like to share tutorials for things I use and keep!
It is SO difficult to narrow down 19 favorites from a year of nearly 100 posts! If I missed a favorite of yours – or you’re ever looking for something particular – you can always find old projects in the Renovating Archive or Craft/DIY Archive, or if you click the keyword at the top of each post, you can pull up more posts from that category. I also have a search bar at the bottom where you can type in anything you’re looking for, like “ice dye” and you can see all of those posts.
Which posts were your favorites?