For those of us currently under stay-at-home orders, it can be tough to find energy and motivation to start new projects, even with all the extra time on our hands. I know I’ve felt stuck recently, and maybe you’ve felt the same—but we don't have to stay there! Today, I'm welcoming you into my home to share some helpful ways I've been able to break through my motivation barrier—and to show you some new projects I've been working on.
Make a list to get motivated
During this time, it's been really easy for me to brainstorm ideas and come up with new projects to tackle—but when it comes down to doing the work, I lack the motivation to actually start. It's so easy to procrastinate when every day looks the same. I put things off until tomorrow, and then I end up not doing anything and feeling incredibly unproductive. To combat this, I've been making a list, with two columns on the page. One side is for fun projects that excite me, while the other section is for tasks I could do around my house—things that aren't necessarily fun but make me feel productive and successful when I do them, like fixing a wall outlet plate or dusting off old cobwebs.
Every morning, I sit down with my list and figure out what I have motivation for. If I lack the drive to do something hard, I go with something fun and easy. The key is to do something, because it's when you do nothing that you feel really unproductive and lose momentum.
Build an Easter egg tree
This was a fun and easy project that gave me a boost of DIY energy. I grew up reading a book called "A Time to Keep" that follows a family through the months of the year and shows how they celebrate each season. For Easter, they always had a beautiful Easter egg tree on their table with varying sizes of eggs and a rabbit hutch underneath. Creating a tree with real eggs every year seems like a lot of work to me—especially since, living in the city, I don't have easy access to goose eggs, canary eggs, or rabbits. That's always been a deterrent for me, even though I've always wanted to recreate this beautiful centerpiece. But this year, I finally decided to let go of the full dream for now so I could make some of it a reality. I came up with this more simplistic design that uses artificial eggs.
I hand mixed acrylic paint to come up with an Easter-appropriate palette. To paint each egg, I inserted a toothpick through a hole in the bottom so the entire surface of the egg could be painted at one time. Then I put the toothpicks into some flower pots to keep the eggs from touching anything until the paint dried. When the eggs were dry, I poked a hole through the top of each egg with a pushpin. Finally, I threaded them with sewing thread and hung them onto the tree. One of the most challenging parts of this project actually proved to be finding tree branches in my backyard that were the right shape. So if you find a tree branch that works, hold onto it!
I ended up tackling this project this year because I had a container of artificial eggs from the egg dyeing post for Dunn DIY last Easter. The eggs were just sitting around my house, and I finally turned them into this beautiful project. It was really simple, and now I can repurpose it for years to come.
The best thing about this project is that it doesn't need to be Easter-exclusive. You can use the same method to make a pine cone tree for the winter, a paper heart tree for Valentine's Day, or a flower tree for Mother's Day. Get creative with decorating your home for the seasons!
Create a match container
I've been seeing these DIY match containers all over the internet recently. While I didn't totally get the appeal at first, I got on board when I realized the matches from my big matchbox were too long to fit in my small matchbox.
For a while now, whenever I sat down at my desk and lit my candle, I would toss around design ideas in my head, but I never came up with one that involved wood. I finally decided that clay was the way to go and ordered some from Amazon, along with self-adhesive striker paper. When it finally arrived, I went to my shop, and within 10 minutes, I had a fully formed design that used wood exclusively. Sometimes that's just how the creative process goes (I'm saving that clay for a future project).
This design is fairly simple. It's made up of two squares of two-by-three material. The hole in the middle is drilled with a 1 1/2” spade bit. I rounded off the fresh cuts I’d made with sandpaper to match the eased edges on the other sides of the lumber, which created a nice beveled effect between the two pieces. Then I added the striker paper in a stripe around the bottom half to add to the design of the container. This was an easy, fun project that helped me get the ball rolling to tackle bigger and harder projects.
Refinish old projects
This last project was definitely one of the harder ones. In fact, it's been on my to-do list for quite a while. I designed and built this nightstand in summer 2017 for Dunn DIY—it was actually the last project I did before my wedding. Needless to say, I was slightly distracted and rushed my work a little bit. I didn't apply enough top coats of polyurethane to achieve a proper protective finish.
This has caused me problems in two main areas: It's allowed some oils to seep through the finish and stain the wood underneath, and because the wood grain wasn't fully covered, tiny fibers stick up and make dusting a nightmare. I've been putting off this project for years now, but I decided this was the time to finally make it happen.
I sanded off the stain on the top and lower shelf of the nightstand, as well as a few problem areas on the legs. I left the one-by-three skirt as is. This also proved to be a great opportunity to even out any seams that didn't match up perfectly. Once the old stain was sanded off, I applied fresh stain in the necessary areas. The photos you see are at this stage in the process. The next step was to reapply the polyurethane. When I applied it originally, I used a spray-on polyurethane, but I switched to a brush-on method this time since using a brush is the best way to get the coverage you need.
Now that they're finished, they look incredible. I'm so glad I finally took the time to finish these nightstands like I should have in the first place.
I hope this video helps motivate you and gives you inspiration for some fun projects to do at home. For even more project ideas, see our posts on DIYs to make with materials you already have at home, how to make mini succulent planters, and five crafts to do at home with your kids. If you need any materials, your local Dunn Lumber store offers free curbside pickup, as well as $40 flat-rate local delivery—just call the store to start your order. Happy DIYing!