It’s hard to believe it’s already the end of the year! It goes without saying, 2021 has been a year of exciting change here at Dunn DIY—from new projects and challenges to new faces. This year we said farewell to Kirsten, and I stepped into her impossible-to-fill shoes (don’t worry though, you’ll still see her from time to time). This meant I was able to do more projects, use some new materials, and have new chances to troubleshoot designs. Learning, after all, is a lifelong practice!

There’s so much more excitement to come next year I can’t wait to share with you. You’ll continue to see my face here, but you’ll get to meet some new faces, too. Kirsten may pop in from time to time, and we’ll share new projects and learn new lessons. 

But for now, Kirsten and I have compiled our favorite projects from the year. Before we say goodbye to 2021, let’s take a trip down memory lane.

Kirsten’s favorite projects:

DIY Coffee Table

The immediate favorite of the year for me has to be this coffee table. For years I’d lived with my husband’s coffee table from college (which was actually DIYed by a friend of his). Upcycled from an old pallet and some metal piping, it was a great coffee table that served us well, but as we slowly started purchasing new living room furniture, the coffee table became the only thing that no longer fit the new look. 

I had stumbled across some beautiful DIY hairpin legs that came in a range of heights, so I set to work sketching to come up with a clean, simple design that I could be incredibly precise about and pour a lot of time and love into—which is exactly what I came up with! And, because I wanted this to be a long-lasting piece in my home, I spent a little extra money on higher-quality products. I picked clear vertical grain Doug fir and honestly, that was part of the fun of this project. 

I know the satisfaction that comes from making something on a dime, but there’s also satisfaction in taking your time and being a perfectionist on a project that's uniquely you!

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DIY Narrow Entry Table

The DIY narrow entry table was also a favorite project from this year. In contrast with the coffee table, this project was quick, easy, and inexpensive. But, it’s just exactly what was needed in my home! Some of my favorite DIYs come out of a problem that could have been solved by purchasing a piece of furniture, but by coming up with my own solution I’m able to quickly solve the problem in exactly the right way. Could I find a narrow side table for my entryway from some furniture store? Absolutely, but it probably would have taken a while and it might not have been quite the right style or the best fit for the space. 

By DIYing this table I got exactly the look I wanted, the best possible length, height, and depth for my space, and I was even able to solve the problem of the baseboard getting in the way of the table sitting flush against the wall. 

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Your Guide To Choosing the Right Stain

I always love writing posts that take the knowledge I’ve gained and allow me to pass it onto someone else. The tools 101 series has been such a wonderful way to do that, and this year, I thought of another way to share my DIY learnings with you. When picking out a stain for a project, I like having a reference point to jump back to, and there have been countless times that I’ve scrolled back through Dunn DIY posts to find a project with a certain stain to remember how it turned out. 

With this post, I took those references and consolidated them for you! Now you can easily look back through our projects and see different stains and how they look on different types of wood (not to mention what they look like on a real project, not just in a 1” x 1” square). Granted, I do have some favorite stains and general colors and brands that I gravitate towards, so this is in no way an exhaustive reference of stains; rather, it’s just an easy way to flip through the Dunn DIY projects. 

And, if my taste in stains doesn’t match yours, let me encourage you to do this with your own projects! When you stain a project, take a photo and then take note of the stain brand and color that you used along with the species of wood.

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Todd’s favorite projects:

DIY Kayak Caddy

This project came out of a personal need and taught me a handful of new DIY tricks along the way. My wife and I love to take our two-person kayak up to a spot on the Olympic Peninsula each summer. The only problem with this particular spot is that the parking lot is about a quarter-mile from the boat launch, and we’ve tired ourselves out schlepping our not-so-light kayak back and forth. I’ve never been able to bring myself to spend the hundred-or-so dollars to buy a kayak caddy, so this year, I was determined to come up with a solution. 

I created a simple design using PVC pipe fittings and with a few rounds of sketching, I was able to get the design right in a single iteration. I’ve always used a hacksaw to cut PVC pipe but for this, I used a PVC pipe cutter, which made cutting a lot easier and cleaner. The most daunting part of this project was fitting all the pieces together just right so the kayak would sit properly, but by dry-fitting everything together before gluing, it was easy to make adjustments. The finished product is a simple, low-cost solution that we can use for years to come.

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How To Build a Pergola

I’ve been wanting to build a pergola for years now, I’ve just never had the right space—but that changed this summer when I heard a friend was looking to build a pergola in their outdoor space. They wanted it situated over a stretch of flagstone next to their fence, which posed a couple of challenges: we had to position the pergola posts at the very edge of the flagstone (which was next to a steep downslope), which made getting all the posts in exactly the right spot tricky. With a few tricks, we were able to achieve precision. 

Since we were using an existing fence as part of the structure, we matched the design so the two would look cohesive. To make it even more unique, we were inspired by a Mondrian-themed color palette and had New Finishes custom paint our pergola brackets in bright colors. What we created is a beautifully unique, midcentury modern pergola design that makes for a perfect outdoor lounge area.

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We hope you’ve enjoyed this trip down memory lane, and we’re so grateful to you—our DIY community—for being here. We’ll see you next year!