Buying Vs. DIY'ing~ Which Do You Prefer?

There are two ways to achieve an amazing space: 

"Buying" and "DIY'ing"

Unless my client requests otherwise, my design approach usually combines the two.  I'm not afraid to invest in quality pieces that "make a room" when the budget allows. I am also not afraid to tackle a DIY project when I have the opportunity to re-create a design element and save some cash. 

Today, I would like show how this makeover (which happens to be my living room) can be achieved two different ways; "Buying" vs. "DIY'ing". 
 In this example both approaches yield a similar result...

The design with all retail merchandise...

Custom Zebra Wingback Chair $525 (Etsy)
 White Cotton Slipcovered Sofa's $2,300 (Potterybarn)
Custom Toss Pillows $50
 Cotton Media Unit $3,800 (Ethan Allen)
Extra Large Iron Sconces $294 ea. (Here)
Industrial Chic Subway Art $507 (Here)
Large Boxwood Wreath $297 (Here)
IronGate Area Rug $159 (RugsUSA)
Black and White Custom Drapes $600 (Martha and Ash)
Black Granite Fireplace Surround (Professional Installation and Material) $1,000

Total $9,826
*Plus Interior Designer fee for professional design services and possible commission on merchandise. 

The same design with DIY projects incorporated where possible...

DIY Zebra Thrift Store Chair $80
DIY Sofa Makeover $170
DIY Toss Pillows $10
DIY Distressed Cotton Painted Media Console/Dresser Makeover $100
Extra Large Iron Sconces $294 ea.  
Industrial Chic Subway Art $507
Large Boxwood Wreath $297 
IronGate Rugs USA Area Rug $159
DIY Striped Drapes $100
DIY Black Painted Fireplace Makeover w/ DIY Board and Batten Wall $100

Total $2,111
*No Interior Designer fee to use a professional design board from as inspiration.  Add $450 for customized design advice and a unique online design plan created specifically for your space.  

I used a combination of  "Buying" and the "DIYing" to implement my living room design.  Incorporating DIY projects freed up a good chunk of the project allowance.  I applied this savings towards a few quality statement pieces and still came in under budget. 
Here are links to the DIY project alternatives mentioned…

{I used all of these DIY projects except for the media unit, which I chose to "Buy" from Ethan Allen as opposed to "DIY" a console makeover}.

There are a few things to remember when approaching a makeover DIY style.  It will take a bit longer to get to the finish line.  Projects may require research, patience, trial and error before mastering techniques.  DIY projects don't always result in an exact replica of the piece you were inspired by and the quality isn't always the same (better or less depending on your skills). 

On the flip side, DIY projects add unique character to a space setting it apart from everyone else's.  DIY'ing also allows the use of pieces with sentimental value.  The sense of pride and accomplishment (and the high from saving a ton of money) make DIY decorating satisfying.  

Are you a Buyer or a DIY'er?  

© Copyright 2013 The Yellow Cape Cod
Paint colors by Martha Stewart "Heath" wall color, "Tailors Chalk" trim color, "Silhouette" black.
For information on my affordable online design service, please click here. 


  1. I'm a buyer with a little diy mixed in. :) If it is something that I can reasonably see myself being able to do then I will definitely try to save money by doing it myself. One of my mantras is "if it can be done, why not by me?" Assuming I am physically able. I have googled many a tutorial and been happy with the results. Oh, and I looove the zebra chair. I am working up the courage to try my first diy reupholstery. :/

  2. Much like you, I am a little of both! Great tips and things to keep in mind. I have had many sucessful DIY's and a few that flopped...but it is always fun and rewarding to be creative while decorating your own space.

  3. I agree. I have purchased many quality pieces from thrift stores and re purposed them at a fraction of the cost. Love your room. Susan

  4. I really enjoyed this post. I am a combination of these two and love that there are resources like craigs list and garage sales to help me get the look for less w/o breaking my budget. .....and I absolutely love your zebra chair, by the way. :)

    Jennifer @ Decorated Chaos

  5. I'm a bit of both! I have a tendency to see something and say "I can make that for a lot less!" but if I did that all of the time, all I'd have are constant projects!

    Love what you've done with your DIY skills!


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