Hi there! My name is Carrie Waller, and I’m the DIY blogger behind Dream Green DIY, where you’ll find me chatting about do-it-yourself home decor ideas that you really can do yourself. Any given Saturday, you’ll either find me up to my elbows in projects, or out and about hunting for my next second hand treasure. Life has been a wild adventure ever since beginning my blog back in 2011 as a way to document and inspire my like-minded crafty friends and family, and yet this major part of my identity almost ceased to exist…
I’ll never forget the moment.
I was perched on the couch with my husband lamenting about life as a full-time newspaper copy editor and blogger. Dream Green DIY was only a year old at the time and, while I loved it more than I cared to admit, I could recognize just how much time it was taking up when stacked against my 40-hour-a-week career at the newspaper. Any spare moment away from my day job was spent painting rooms, constructing do-it-yourself jewelry holders and reupholstering furniture – and that’s not even mentioning all of the mini at-home photo shoots, writing 5 posts a week and keeping up with social media. I’m sure all of you creative bloggers out there know exactly what I’m talking about!
Suffice it to say, as much as I adored my blog, it was close to hitting the chopping block – but not before I gave it one final give-it-all-I’ve-got shot. The ultimatum I remember announcing to myself and my husband that night? ”I’m going to give it one more year. If I don’t get some kind of divine sign that I’m supposed to keep going, I’ll quit. (chuckles) Something like a feature in Better Homes and Gardens – THEN I’ll know.”
And that, my friends, brings me to today. Eight months later, with my magazine feature open on the desk beside me, typing this guest post for none other than that one big name I based the entire future of my midnight hustling blogging career on. I couldn’t have asked for a more worthy justification for what I have poured my heart and soul into these past two years, and yet I got it.
So how on earth did I land this incredible opportunity? Ask me that today, and I’ll still give you a wide eyed I-have-NO-idea shake of the head, but really all it took was a quick email shot over to the “I Did It” email inbox, along with a photo of a thrift store dresser I had refinished. A month or so after clicking “Send,” Kit Selzer, BHG remodeling editor, contacted me and offered my dresser and me a spot in a summer issue of Better Homes and Gardens magazine. After replying in morph speed that I was honored and excited to accept her proposition, the wheels began to turn and everything was coordinated for a date in April.
Since I’ve already been far more long-winded than intended today, I’m going to break down the rest of this life-changing story into 3 abbreviated bullet points, which seek to describe the very best of this VERY BEST of days.
1. The Dresser: I’ve been remiss in fully introducing you to the REAL star of this dream come true – my refurbished thrift store dresser. My husband and I bought the once-dated piece of furniture from a local estate shop for a cool $150. Although we loved the lines of the piece, the finish left a little to be desired. So we decided to redo it, going with a high gloss white on the outside of the dresser, and refurbishing the drawer fronts with a fresh dark stain. To really set the piece apart, I also used a stenciled herringbone pattern down the middle of the drawers. I love how the color palette finally works with our home and taste, and that we were able to breathe fresh life into a piece of furniture that could have otherwise been overlooked.
2. The People: Unfortunately, I have this debilitating fear of asking people if I can take their photo, so I have zero photographic evidence of the people who made this shoot happen. But that doesn’t mean my memories are any less poignant. My initial worries that the jet-setting crew assigned to my story would be entirely disinterested in my podunk hometown and, worse, our modest little home, were kicked to the curb before they even stepped through the door. John Bessler, the photographer from New York, called me on his way to the house for my Starbucks coffee order (so sweet!) and my Los Angeles photo stylist Char Hatch Langos made me feel instantly comfortable with every exclamation of “This is such a cute room!” during the introductory house tour. Both professionals were meeting each other for the first time too, but immediately found a comfortable groove with conversations about their respective children and this celebrity stylist and that photographer. It goes without saying, but it was a major treat to engage with such incredible talent – their shared list of accomplishments include, of course, Better Homes and Gardens, but also House Beautiful, Traditional Home and Elle Decor to name only a few. How could I not be entirely humbled that our house would be part of those memories?
3. The Photo Shoot: Between helping Char gather accessories to style the dresser and actually posing for the photos, I have only a limited collection of Instagram photos to serve as documentation of the day. But no matter how grainy or hurried they may be, I’ll treasure them. Unfortunately, as you may be able to tell by the dull natural light in the photo above, it was one of the rainiest days we’d had all year – practically black outside even at the height of the afternoon. But John knew what he was doing, immediately filling our master bedroom with photography equipment and lights. I’m not kidding when I say that we were all climbing over the bed, crawling under light reflectors and tiptoeing over piles of coiled cables. It was such fun to see our home transformed, even just for those four or so hours, into what looked like a legitimate movie set. With one last wave as the crew drove away, a slow turn back to the house and deep breath as I collapsed on the couch, I knew that I would never ever forget this day.
And that, my brand new friends, is how my world changed in the blink of an eye. All because I decided to believe in an old thrift store dresser and, perhaps more importantly, because I believed in myself. As my feature points out, being a successful DIY-er isn’t so much about being a ninja with a staple gun and hot glue (although that helps!) – It’s about being able to see something and realize that the impossible is within reach. Trust in yourself and, if that little voice inside is telling you that you “can totally make that,” listen!
To keep up with me as I continue to work my way through our little townhouse, one room and one project at a time, feel free to hop on over to my blog - I’d love to welcome you (and your creative insights) into my reading community! And, of course, a BIG “Thank you!” to Better Homes and Gardens for this incredible opportunity. As I’ve said over and over…I’ll never forget it.
(Headshot photos by Mallory Benedict)