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Jessica Cumberbatch Anderson

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Is DIY Dead? Weighing In On Designer Sheila Bridges' Claim

Posted: 02/ 8/2012 4:45 pm

UPDATE: ELLE Decor has informed The Huffington Post that it originally misquoted Sheila Bridges. We have revised this article to include her actual comments, below.

"Thanks to a tough economy folks have fully embraced the notion of DIY/Do it yourself. But hopefully some of these earthy, hand made design concoctions/trends will disappear by the time we ring in the new year. People used to brag about the expensive things they bought in stores, then a decade later it was popular to share how much money you saved by buying it online. Now the trend is to tell everyone how you reclaimed something old and turned it into something new (saving bundles of money in the process). Maybe it's not the best idea to build your own kitchen cabinets from old floorboards or make a pendant chandelier and adorn it with seashells left over from puka necklaces your boyfriend wore in the seventies. Just because it can be reclaimed doesn't mean it should be." -- Sheila Bridges

When it comes to design, having a point of view is everything, and this time of year it seems like everybody has one.

New year trends are picking up steam and what was deemed "so 2011" is moving further into the past. Honeysuckle pink, rainbow bookcases, those ubiquitous "Keep Calm And Carry On" signs, I get. But DIY? Dead?

I've been a fan of Sheila Bridges' traditional design and her one-of-a-kind "Harlem Toile" collection for some time. She's been a go-to source on everything from how well President Obama decorated his White House digs, to giving Gayle King's kitchen a sunny new look. So it was no surprise when Elle Decor called on Bridges to help put some bad 2011 trends to rest.

What was surprising, however, was the trend Bridges says we need to let go:

The DIY craze has run its course, says decorator Sheila Bridges, who has seen her share of "earthy, handmade concoctions." Just because it can be reclaimed doesn't mean it should be.

Gasp! In a time when penny pinching is de rigueur and treasure hunting is all the rage, I'm sorry, Ms. Bridges, but I have to disagree.

I mean, since when has DIY been resigned to a "craze" anyway? Don't handmade creations and a unique point of view date back to the very beginnings of interior design? Whether you choose to furnish a room from a single source or mix new items with ones you already own, it's all about adding your paint, your fabric, your way of making it, well, yours, right?

Yes, this is coming from someone who spent five years learning how to make everything from tonic water to trivets from scratch. At Martha Stewart Living, where I worked as an editor, practically everything was homegrown. But my experience there also made me hyper-aware of the incredibly vast world of DIY that was thriving beyond our walls.

There's Etsy, of course, who boasted some $467.8 million in merchandise sales last year, up from $314 million the year before. Then there's celebrity blogger Erica Domesek, whose DIY creations have quickly made her blog, P.S. I Made This, a household name. But if that isn't convincing enough, I've asked four DIY mavens to weigh in.

Rashon Carraway (AKA Mr. Goodwill Hunting) is a virtual genius in the DIY space. His clever creations (including this $300 living room makeover he did for a good friend of mine) has landed him a regular spot on the "Nate Berkus Show." Kristen Turner, the muse behind DIY blog Glitter N' Glue was chosen as one of the top fashion bloggers on Today show's DIY Style Week. Cathy Hobbs, interior designer and home stager extraordinaire, worked her way through six rounds of HGTV's reality competition "Design Star" last fall. While co-host of the show, Tanika Ray, took notes and expanded her design chops to another HGTV spot, "HGTV'd."

Here, they share their thoughts on Sheila Bridges' claim and their best DIY moment to prove it.

Rashon Carraway, Designer/Blogger, Mr. Goodwill Hunting
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"Shelia Bridges is a respected designer in her own right. Unfortunately, everyone cannot afford Bridges' excellent design services. Do It Yourself empowers people. It gives them a sense of accomplishment. Regardless of the difference in opinion DIY is everyone. Doesn't every professional or trade do it themselves? As long as people are inspired and have a budget, there will always be a market for DIY."

Best DIY moment: Tom Ford inspired wingback chairs. "I was really looking for some great side chairs and when I saw them I knew exactly what I wanted to do. At the least, I hope they inspire others to do it as well."

 

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