When I first found out about Hester van Overbeek of Hester’s Handmade Home and her new book, Furniture Hacks, I was eyebrows-deep myself in spray paint and pencil-drawn plans for two of my own “IKEA hack” home renovation projects (the first of which I’m sharing tomorrow!). I instantly fell in love wither her unfussy, back-to-basics approach to embracing a more DIY lifestyle (not to mention her adorable “project assistant” Kermit), including her video series aimed at demystifying popular power tools for women.
As fellow new homeowners, Hester also shares my Shoestring philosophy of not sweating the idea that yes, you can make something big from scratch with very little experience or previous skills, and that you don’t have to spend a fortune filling your home with beautiful things that exude your personal style.
“I’ve always been making things but really got into DIY-ing again when I had the chance to decorate my current home, Hester says. “I was on a super tight budget so I decided to make most of my furniture myself and redesign the pieces I already had.”
Hester’s friends got so inspired by her DIY builds that it led to her launching her website to show others how easy it is to make your own pieces — which then led to features in magazines and ultimately a publishing deal. Some of my favorite projects in Hester’s new book include upcycling or even found objects for building materials, leading to elegant, functional, and practically free new decor — like turning outdated vertical blinds into modern, custom window shutters, using driftwood foraged on seaside walks for door handles, or turning a plastic shower curtain into a sunbrella for your outdoor entertaining space (all three of which are featured in her new book, along with step-by-step plans!)
So, it’s with great pleasure that I now introduce you to Hester and allow her to share more about her passion for embracing DIY projects in this week’s Maker Moment:
What’s the first project you remember making/crafting?
When I was little, my mum always gave us all kinds of craft materials to play with on rainy days. I particularly remember making little cats out of felt and clothes for my Barbie dolls.
Most successful project? Biggest fail?
I reckon my most successful project must be the four-poster bed I built/hacked from a basic IKEA bed frame. The build got me featured in IKEA Family Live magazine and kick-started my craft blog. I don’t really have big fails: if something doesn’t work, I just take it apart and start again. I’m not the neatest worker and sometimes get my measurements wrong, I definitely need to live by the rule measure twice and cut once.
What do you DIY the most?
I tend to do a lot of upcycled projects and quick crafts for my website Hester’s Handmade Home, things that look difficult and impressive but are in fact super easy to make, my favorite kind of crafting!
Favorite/least favorite tools/materials?
I love working with wood and fabric. Annoyingly, I can’t follow knitting patterns so my least favorite tools and materials are probably knitting needles and wool.
Has a project outcome ever surprised you?
Sometimes I make projects for magazines or my website that I think are too simple and a bit boring but actually turn out looking very stylish and get a great response from my followers. Simple can be best sometimes.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Don’t rush your makes, take time to think your project over.
What’s your top tip for first-timers?
Just do it. If you have an idea, draw it out and just make it. If it doesn’t work, take it apart and start again. Making your own furniture and decorative pieces isn’t that difficult, use a good tutorial and take your time. I bet you the outcome will be great!
Anything you DIY now that you never thought you would?
I just did a lot of glass crafts for a new project, which I always thought was a no-go area but in fact it’s a lot of fun and not that difficult.
What won’t you ever DIY/when do you call in the experts?
Anything to do with electricity and plumbing, you have to be qualified to touch those.
“When I’m not making stuff, I’m…”
Working on my other job, doing hair and makeup on photo shoots around the world.
How has your DIY mindset / have your DIY projects changed over time?
I make bigger projects now. I’m drawing up plans to make my own sofa at the moment. Wouldn’t have dreamed about that a few years ago.
What were your 2-3 favorite projects/posts ever?
My favorite project in the book is the updated footstool. It was one of the first crafts I made for my website and I gave it a little update for the book. I also love the driftwood kitchen door handles as they give your kitchen such a different vibe in just a few minutes. From my website, I love the doggy bow tie tutorial featuring my dog Kermit, as he’s the perfect co-star, he is such a poser! I also love the tablet stand I made from an old book.
Any projects you’re working on that you would have liked to feature in the book,
but didn’t get the chance?
I went straight into working on book two, so didn’t have time to work on anything else! I am in the process of buying a house at the moment and can’t wait to build new projects for that. If all goes ahead, I will start a new series on the vlog on how to decorate your own home.
Where can people find you & what can they expect from you in the future?
Every Thursday I post a craft tutorial on my website, HestersHandmadeHome.com. Most of the videos are interior based but I post other craft projects, as well. I just started a new series “Hester’s guide to power tools” as I only just realized a lot of girls don’t ever use power tools. I was a bit shocked by this so started making videos explaining your basic DIY tools and how to use them. My first book, Furniture Hacks, is in stores now and my second book (theme is still a secret!) will be out in March 2016. I will be doing workshops at the Handmade Fair in September here in the UK and have done workshops for west elm, which I hope to do more in the future! I also love Instagram (@ByHesterGrams) and post a lot so follow me there if you want to have a look at my current projects, my life in a small seaside town, or just cute pictures of Kermit!
All photos courtesy of Furniture Hacks (Cico Books, 2015), available now: RylandPeters.com or Amazon). Style photographer: James Gardiner. Stylist and step photographer: Hester van Overbeek. All rights reserved, Copyright 2015: Cico Books/Ryland Peters.