Sarah From The Created Home – Discover the DIYer

Today I am interviewing Sarah from The Created Home. This is one of my favorite interviews so far. She has been an inspiration to me for a while now. Her answers have really resonated with me and helped me a lot. She is very down to earth, very helpful, and one of the most creative people I have had a chance to talk too. Whether you’re a newbie or a seasoned wood worker, you should check out her stuff! I’m sure there’s something from her content that will inspire you!

How did you get into DIY?

My parents (well, really my father) remodelled our house growing up, so the idea of being hands on wasn’t at all new to me. Even so, with three brothers in the house and an upbringing so traditional it’s a wonder my mom didn’t wear an apron around, I did not know how to use tools. My husband and I moved into a large home with an unfinished basement and a whole slew of bad cosmetic choices not far into our marriage. We remodeled that entire thing – every last room. He taught me how to use saws, and I took my natural tendency to jump into the deep end and really learn what I put my mind to doing to work, and that was the start. In our marriage I do the carpentry end of things with more precision, and he does the rough framing/remodeling wood work with the skill of many years of experience. All in all it works out very well, even if he constantly has to remind me that I don’t need to measure the studs down to the 1/32. 😊

How long have you been making things?

I started remodeling in late 2013, started playing with repurposing and doing small sign type projects in 2014, and jumped into building furniture in late 2015.

Where do you get inspiration?

From the world around me. I make it a point not to get on Pinterest. Sometimes a good knock off is really fun to make. But I like to tap into my own creativity by getting out of the shop and just being out and around.

What tools do you recommend buying first when your just starting out?

A drill, a circular saw, a pocket hole jig, an orbital sander…from there to a miter saw and table saw.

What can you get by without at first?

A lot of stuff, really. Just stick to the basics (the ones I named above), and feel out where you want to go from there.

What is your favorite tool?

My SawStop table saw. It’s the heart of my shop. I use it for so many things. It’s kind of amazing how much can be done with a good table saw.

Which skills should you work on first?

Measuring. Sounds silly, but everything depends on accuracy. People try to build fast too much these days. Focus on accuracy, take your time, and make it right the first time.

What are some of your favorite resources?

People – friends in the woodworking community who are happy to share their thoughts, experiences, and ideas. There are good books and websites out there, but community kind of trumps everything.

How do you manage your time efficiently?

I do the best I can, and try to make peace with the rest. My kids are young – the oldest in kindergarten and the second in part time preschool. A year ago my husband left his job and started a house flipping business. So basically my priorities are: 1. Wife/Mom, 2. Business partner, 3. Business owner. The trick, I think is to resist comparisons, in my case with those who may or may not have more time. Balance looks different for everyone, and that’s okay.

As a more concrete answer – I try (emphasis there) to prioritize time with my kids first, then an hour or so in the shop. It works better in theory than practice, but I want them to know they come first. I do my computer work in the evenings, after they go to bed. My husband does the same, and it is not uncommon for us to be up until 1am.

What is your favorite project to date?

Our mudroom. It was a bit of a mammoth undertaking that my husband and I took on together. We ran new plumbing lines and built a dog bath. We moved all of the electrical around to line up four chandelier lights. We were able to raise one structural beam up into the attic and raise the other up a good 6” or so. I tore out the old closets that were in that space and opted for a pony wall that, while it wasn’t plan A, has ended up working perfectly in the space. We moved the house’s main heat stack from that hallway to a central location in the other hallway we renovated at the same time. New flooring, a new small walk in pantry on one end, reframing of an old window that came out, a new exterior door from a 100 year old local farmhouse, two sliding doors I built, and two walls that each moved back about 9 critical inches.

And after all of that I built a large mudroom with a locker type area and drawers for each of my family and a cabinet with pull out trays for shoes. The cabinet is topped with my first DIY concrete counter top. I also learned how to build my own shower pan and we tiled the dog bath. All of that work turned a formally kind of awful area of our home into a functional show piece. It utilized all of the skills I have been building since renovating that home five years ago and getting into woodworking. So in that way it is kind of the current crown I’m wearing. Until the next big project, of course. 😊

What is the project that gave you the most trouble?

The very first dining table I ever made. I was not familiar with the concept of wood movement and had no idea what I was doing. I built it with 2×6’s from the local home improvement store  and pocket holed the whole shebang together. Then I sold it for a song, and over the next couple months as the seasons shifted and the moisture levels of that construction grade lumber dropped it proceeded to rip itself apart. I was horrified. Over the next month I committed myself to learning all I could about wood movement, moisture content, and proper joinery methods. It was a painful, but ultimately necessary learning experience.

My focus these days is on improving my accuracy and expanding my skills in joinery. I have a long, long way to go. But I try to make sure I’m always building interesting projects that I am personally excited about, and opportunities to improve are always part of each of those builds.

Do you ever sell any of your projects?

I haven’t for some time. I used to build commission pieces, but stopped for various reasons that basically amount to it’s an absolute beast to do. Establishing oneself in the local market is probably the most profitable when it comes to selling larger items at least.

Does your blog contribute to your income?

Yes. It mostly treads water until my kids are in school, but it supports itself, the services of a tech-type person, and a part time VA, so that’s something.

Do you have a shop/workspace?/ Do you have any bad habits/ dirty little secrets in your workspace?

Yes, my garage. Not really. I like to keep it clean when possible.

What are your favorite things to do when your not working on projects?

I live in the gorgeous pacific northwest, so hiking is always a win. Reading if indoors. Photography. Mostly just being with my family.

In your opinion, what is the biggest misconception about DIY?

Probably that it’s all pallet wood and rustic chic. But then, it kind of is when starting off, so maybe it’s not a misconception.

Where would you like to see yourself in 5 years?

I would like to be consistently putting in at least 20 hours in the shop each week. That is what comes to mind first because it’s the biggest struggle I have now. I also want to have a separate shop. If we still live where we are now I have plans sketched for a shop we will build on our back lot. Additionally, I would love to teach woodworking classes for women.

What is your biggest piece of advice for anyone just starting out in your niche?

Know the why for what you are doing. If it doesn’t come from a deep passion and drive to be better, it probably isn’t enough to get you through any of the less than glamorous parts of blogging. Or remodeling. Or probably anything else for that matter.

Be willing to work hard, because the idea that it comes easy for anyone is just not true. Find joy in the challenge – the challenge to do build complicated things, to manage a business with all of life’s competing factors making it seem impossible, to put yourself out there regardless of what cruel things might be said, to fail and to try again, to get frustrated and quit but to start again, and again, and again. Silence the voice in your head that says you are not good enough, not popular enough, not enough in any way. Never settle for half way, and know that your best will look different with every passing day. Don’t be afraid to show your mistakes, but equally so, don’t hold back from owning your success. Say no when you need to. Find your tribe, find your niche and be comfortable in your own skin. Build something you are proud of.

To find out more about Sarah and get more inspiration check out her website thecreatedhome.com, Instagram, or Pinterest!

Thanks so much for reading these interviews! Check out Angela Rose on the last Discover the DIYer! This has been so inspiring and helpful to me on this DIY journey, that I’m going to make this, Discover the DIYer, a regular series on the blog. Let me know what you think about the interview, the series idea, and the questions? I’d love to know who inspires you to DIY, and what you would ask them, if you had the chance? I also have some very cool interviews coming up with Jen Woodhouse, Donny Carter from TheMakerMinded.com, and a few surprises!

Let me know what you think in the comments below!

One thought on “Sarah From The Created Home – Discover the DIYer

  1. Pingback: Emory Farm Easy DIY Corner Cabinet Organizer

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