Roger Buddenberg and his wife created and installed the mosaic tile backsplash themselves before the oven hood was put in. Contact paper made installation of the mosaic easier.
Pondering the why of DIY
World-Herald reporter Roger Buddenberg and his wife are in the middle of a major home remodeling project. He blogs about the ups and downs, delays and accomplishments at Omaha.com/living.
After you swab a paintbrush back and forth for a few hours, it's hard not to ponder how DIY got into your DNA. And why it's still there after all these years, an impulse that ignores the body parts moaning “oilcan! oiiiilcaaan!” like the Tin Woodsman. Why do you still do this, you mumble to yourself.
It was a question from the start of our kitchen remodel. We chose a contractor partly because he was willing to let us do some of the project ourselves, working around him — not an easy decision for contractors. No doubt they all can tell horror stories about homeowners who thought they could tackle the world because they watched “This Old House” once.
So he was probably relieved — relatively — when we said we wanted to do only the painting and the tile backsplash. I think he got nervous again when we said we envisioned part of the backsplash as a handmade mosaic, an artsy affair to highlight the spot behind the cooktop, the sort of thing that could take years and cost thousands of lives.
It didn't. In fact, everything worked out OK. And the DIY addiction has moved on to other targets, like growing tomatoes. Rest easy, contractor, rest easy. But the original question remains: Where does the do-it-yourself jones come from?
I think from cavemen and parents. (My kids think those are the same thing, but that's a whole 'nother blog.) Cavemen were the original DIYers, hacking their homes out of a hillside or evicting a bear, then decorating the new place with those nice paintings of their friends slaying a bison. So the impulse was set in our genes. We still want to work on our own caves.
And parents? Well, we of a certain age are sons of sons of the Depression. Thrift got in our bones. We grew up absorbing the idea that it's right to do it yourself or do without. Or at least fool yourself into believing that's what you do. My dad is a farmer and a WWII vet as well, which with his Depression childhood makes him a triple-credentialed DIYer, a charter member of the suck-it-up-and-get-it-done generation.
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Find a spot on the basement floor where you can work undisturbed.
Draw your design on something flat that's the size of the target area, say, a hunk of drywall. Smash a lot of tile.
Use a hammer (very therapeutic, but wear gloves and eye protection).
Fill in your design with the shards, like a jigsaw puzzle.
Use tile nippers when necessary to adjust the shape of shards.
Let the whole thing accumulate day by day while the contractor is banging away in the kitchen. Beverages may help.
Now the tricky part: You know how to tile, but how do you get a kajillion carefully arranged pieces lying loose on the floor up on the wall?
Cover the face of the tiles with it, so they're all taped together. Then you can cut loose one manageable section at a time, lift it up and stick it to the kitchen wall. When the tile adhesive has set, peel off the contact paper and you're ready to grout.
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