The need to be thrifty, coupled with a willingness to pick-up a hammer, prompted an explosion in the do-it-yourself (DIY) home décor market. The result is a new breed of DIY blogger that shows us that trendy doesn’t have to be a big-budget spend. That’s good news considering our Canadian obsession with home renovations. According to Canadian real estate consultants Altus Group, spending on home renovations has increased year after year, since 1998. As a result, Canadians spent more than $71 billion on home repairs and renovation in 2016. The spending is predicted to increase, yet again, by the end of 2017.
This preoccupation with renovating and redecorating, without professional assistance, also ushered in a new type of blogger: The expert DIYer. This new breed of blogger is a mixture of people. Some are old hats at design and decor that started laying out their expertise via the keyboard. Others are untrained, uncertified fans with an innate ability with a paintbrush and hammer and wonderful way with words. But all keep their fans coming back for more. More ideas. More advice. More DIY tips.
So, why are some Canadian DIY blogs great and others just ho-hum? What’s that “secret scent” that keeps faithful readers sniffing around for more? We’ve rounded up five of the best DIY blogs in Canada. Read on to find out why.
One of the first things you’ll notice about Tanya of Dans Le Lakehouse is that she is fearless. Sure, she admits there are some projects she won’t take on, but come on the woman painted a car! And, yes, painting a car named Charlie does give you some serious DIY-cred.
What you’ll probably notice is that Tanya is big on the colour blue. It literally dominates her projects and, apparently, she’s struck a DIY nerve. Her turquoise kitchen makeover has been featured (and complimented) on Apartment Therapy, Better Homes and Gardens, Country Living magazine, Good Housekeeping, Elle Décor, HGTV, House Beautiful, Curbly and MSN Living, among others. The kudos don’t stop there. Dans Le Lakehouse also makes several “our-favourite-blog” lists, including:
- Canada Home Trends Magazine: Reno Blogs We Love
- Canadian House & Home Magazine – Best Canadian Design Blogs, Design Sites We Like, Top 20 Blogs/Websites Readers Love
- Kijiji.ca – Listed among the site’s Favorite Canadian Design Bloggers
View the lengthy list of Dans Le Lakehouse’s ink (both digital and literal) on her website.
The lake in the website’s name is Superior and the home featured is the second transformation project that Tanya and Handy Hubby have taken on. The first was a 1970s townhouse in Ottawa and the walkthroughs of both projects are fascinating and inspiring.
Thankfully, her DIY tutorials are easy-to-follow (many are accompanied by videos) and include before and after pictures.
Oh, how we love, love, love this blog! With so many DIY blogs dedicated to interior projects, this one—dedicated to home exteriors—really hits the right note.
Stephanie, creator and head honcho of Garden Therapy, hit on the project as she was healing from an unnamed disability. “Illness took over my body and I lost years hoping and wishing things were different, and pushing my limits to make them so. This is when I started gardening. When I needed to be saved. And it changed my life,” she says on the blog.
Stephanie’s journey to healing took her from gardening at home to branching out to community gardens, obtaining her Master Gardener certificate and, finally, to joining a community outreach program at the University of British Columbia’s Vancouver farm, helping urban school kids learn about farming.
If you’re getting the picture that this is a woman who refuses to be held down by disease and considers giving back to her community as part of the healing process, you’ve nailed it. This heart-of-gold wants nothing more than to be of value to others and her blog proves it.
At Garden Therapy, you’ll learn not only how to switch your thumb’s colour, but Stephanie shows us how to cook with what we grow, make DIY planters, accessories for fairy gardens, attractive houseplant arrangements and handmade gifts from the kitchen. It’s truly a wonderland for anyone interested in gardening in Canada.
With detailed tutorials and charming asides, it’s hard not to succumb to the itch to get outside and get your knees dirty.
And, as usual, we aren’t alone in our admiration for this blogger. As the author of four books and a colouring book, Stephanie has received accolades from Women’s Day, Apartment Therapy, the Huffington Post, Stylelist Home, HomeTalk, Instructables and others.
Based in Vancouver, Jan Halvarson and Earl Einarson, the brains and talent behind Poppytalk, have very loud voices. Loud enough, in fact, to attract more than 9 million people.
With backgrounds in communication and media design, it’s a given that the content is stellar. But it’s their ability to see the unique that earns them a place on this list. Others obviously agree with us, as Poppytalk is featured on Wired, Design Sponge, IKEA Family Live and in House and Home, Canadian Living, InStyle and Inside Out magazines.
In 2014, Jan’s influencer status nabbed her an agreement with Target to design a limited-edition “glamping” (short for the combo of glamour and camping) outdoor party collection. Jan’s collection then caught the eye of Buzzfeed’s Mellissa Harrison, who said the “New Glamping Line Looks Like A Real-Life Pinterest Board.”
No, Poppytalk is not a DIY blog, per se, but it definitely serves up heaps of inspiration for the do-it-yourselfer, from ideas on how to hang art to gardening inspiration and even Ikea hacks.
As gardening freaks, we’d like to bow at the feet of Jen, creator at Rambling Renovators. The blog includes plenty to keep an interior decorating DIYer happy, but Jen also offers an entire section of patio and garden DIY ideas.
Jen began chronicling her (and husband Sean, also known as “Handy Man”) DIY adventures in 2007 as they worked on their circa 1950 digs in Toronto. Fast-forward to late 2016 and we find the couple (and child, Chloe) updating a 1960s house “bursting with charm,” complete with pocket doors.
Jen’s touchstone, in all of her projects, is a meticulous attention to detail. You’ll notice it in the photography, the brilliant tutorials (yes, you will learn how to hang wallpaper) and in the fact that she realizes we may just want to copy what she’s done so she provides a “shop the look” section on her site.
If you’re addicted to Pinterest, you will love Recaptured Charm—a Pinterest-esque foray into repurposing furniture. Helmed by Maple, Ontario’s lovely Lisa DeNardi Galati (the whole family is gorgeous!), this is definitely a blog for the every-person, with tips and tricks on how to transform cast-off furnishings into serviceable, attractive pieces.
What we love about Galati is that, although she harbours a preference for the “rustic, antique look,” she isn’t opposed to thinking outside of that box and also offers up contemporary solutions for ratty, old furniture.
Anyone that can make old tires look charming and create adorable wreaths out of coffee filters deserves her time in the spotlight. Lisa and Recaptured Charm have been featured in the National Post, Ristrutturare, Flea Market Style magazine, Apartment Therapy, Remodelaholic and others.