Knowing the Difference

DIY Pizza heater upperviral pictures

Sometimes making do with what you have is a smart choice.

Sometimes making do can be downright dangerous and leave a bad taste in your mouth.

The trick is knowing the difference.

Smart Make Dos I’ve done:

Making a Chalkboard Fireplace Surround

Using duct tape on the walls

Making a plastic spoon laurel wreath


Dumb Make Dos I’ve done:

Painting over wallpaper in a bathroom

Waaaaay overcompensating with too many accessories because I didn’t like our furniture and wall color in our rental house.

Trying to make iced coffee without a kitchen–I finally told my husband I would need a coffee budget until the sink was installed, we are both happier.


What about your smart or dumb make dos?

31 Days

This is day 16

31 dayers


  1. Oh my goodness, Nester! Been right there with you on a few of those… It’s funny how “in the moment” your efforts to “uncomplify” can cause such frustration down the road. Short-cuts are awesome, but sometimes we need to see things long-term so as not to cost us more in the end – whether it be money, time, etc. I am staring at my bathroom paper I painted instead of stripping. Ugh. Shoulda UNcomplified my life by just doing it right the first time. But that’s how we learn, right? By our mistakes? ;) (ps – because of this post – you know what I’ll be up to this weekend… lol)

  2. My favorite “make do” that I’ve done is my current bathroom. When we moved in it looked like a dark alley in there. One of the previous owners had installed those fake 1/2 brick things half-way up the wall. And then there was the moldy, partially falling down wall-paper on the top. Since funds were tight (as it always is when you move) I finished taking down the nasty wall-paper and painted everything including the bricks white. It still needed something, though. So I looked through my stash of hymnals and decided to use one of them to paper the upper portion of the walls. The whole thing only cost me $5 in wall-paper paste (I still have a ton left). Five and a half years later it’s still my favorite room in the house.

  3. Are you cold brewing your iced coffee? If you are trying to ice hot coffee it will be icky….I’ve never cold brewed without a kitchen, though, soooo…. I hear you. Coffee would be non-negotiable for me, as well. Thanks for making me think of times I’ve actually made things more difficult by *trying* to simplify (usually to try and save a few bucks). I’m enjoying this series!

    • Yep, I always cold brew a gallon at a time & without a sink its pretty much impossible. I even tried to cold brew in my French press but I can’t get the coffee to water ratio right!

      • I just make a pot of coffee, let it cool down, and then refrigerate it. Of course I don’t end up with a gallon, and I’m not a coffee connoisseur, but it’s waaayy easier than the Pioneer Woman method.

      • Makes me think of when I was first married and washed dishes in the bathtub until the kitchen sink was installed:) Oh for such uncomplicated times again! LOL!

  4. Funny about the wallpaper. I have stripped on two rooms– after first room swore I would never do again , but did– and painted over in 3 rooms. I don’t regret painting over– including two bathrooms. Was told it would peel in a room with so muh humidity but it just hasn’t and having done it the other way, I cannot even imagine stripping the paper in our shaped master bath.
    The only regret I have now is painting the wallpaper and moulding in our study with latex paint instead of oil based simply to save in clean up. It has scratched off in a few places. Should have just done it right the first time.

    • Me too- painting over the paper in one room was a great “make do” for me, because the walls are so crumbly (100 yr old horsehair plaster), we’d have had to sheetrock the entire room which was not in the budget. Instead I patched the rough spots, and then painted. Not perfect, but better than what it looked like before!

      And Nester, I just realized I am compensating for the undone projects in my house with CLUTTER. Not even knick-knack-ish clutter! The floors badly need refinishing, walls need work, and we can’t do any more major work on it right now. It hit me the other day I am hiding the stuff I don’t want to look at with STUFF. I’m not sure how to remedy that one yet, though!

      • Yes, if your wall paper is attached really well, painting it can be a great make do for a long time–for me, it wasn’t stuck hard enough so it just kind of made a mess–but there’s no shame in trying it!!! I’d say it’s still better than doing nothing!!

  5. This is so true. I can’t think of a good example of one of my dumb “making do” attempts, but there have been many.

  6. lololol I have made so many funny mistakes,well I thought so,the husband didn’t I don’t know where to start.once I did try to repair a clogged sink and oh boy I did something to the drain pipe and it came apart,what a mess.And I continually want to hang curtains the wrong way with the hem side in,and climbing a ladder is not something I should do anyway.Went to paint a wall and spilled fourth of a gallon and had to hurry to get it cleaned up or well use it,lololol

  7. Lol, reminds me of the time I tried to bake a cake in the BBQ because the kitchen was under renovation. Oh funny lop-sided cake with a burnt edge.
    Best ever make do probably was replacing broken glass in my 1920s wavy glass interior door with a piece of 1920s wavy glass from a salvaged window, No sore thumb new glass in that door.

  8. Worst make-do–trying to wallpaper the powder room while holding a screaming baby at 1AM-
    very expensive to have a professional in to fix!
    Best Make-Do–boiling water in a pot on the grill to cook pasta during a lengthy power outage:) not a home makeover, but definitely a “make-do” moment

  9. I am now thoroughly terrified that I will ruin a nice piece of clothing trying to use the hotel iron…that someone else put GREASY PIZZA ON!! D:

    As for the coffee– check the refrigerated section near the produce (like where you’d find pre-packaged veg and dip, or vegan mayo) for bottled cold brew coffee. It’s pretty common in Louisiana, not sure about other places. Add almond milk and splenda for a good time!! (Of course, this is only my budget-friendly suggestion. Take out coffee every day works too!!)

  10. Hilarious photo – I can totally see my teen guys attempting that! Then wondering why there are crumbs and grease on the shirt they try to iron…thanks for a good morning laugh.

  11. I would say my smartest do’s were painting a faux tile backsplash in my kitchen and drawing an accent wall with a sharpie in my living room… I smile at them everyday.
    My most awful do was picking green paint for the sunroom even though I hate green because I thought it would match the floors…and then having to repaint it like 3 months later when I got the courage to not care if the walls matched the floors.

  12. My entire house is a make-do. I was fortunate enough to buy a 2007 manufactured home (in 2007) for $9000.00. Nine, not ninty. That small fortunate thing got me sitting pretty. I was lucky enough to say I had a 3 bedroom 2 bath house with a 3 car garage, patio and yard for $53000. My house payment is less than $400 a month. So I “make-do” with a “trailer house”.
    I have remodeled the entire inside. Granted it is not what I want forever, but the small payment has afforeded me other things, like being able to landscape my yard and such. I don’t really have to penny pinch though I do.
    (and the biggest make-do was painting the entire house. It was covered in awful wallpaper. Killz primer that was tinted my paint color and another coat of paint did the trick. Luckliy it was attached well so there was not a mess)

  13. Nester,
    My favorite make do is my iced coffee, I brew a full pot of coffee every morning. My wife drinks one cup to go and the rest goes in a tupperware container in the fridge with my sweetener. the next morning I add either 1% milk or flavored creamer to taste and pour over big to-go glass of crushed ice. The rest can go with me for refill. Just the thing for both of us without coffee going to waste. I play with the coffee to milk ratio and to be honest it is about 60/40 for me.

  14. Love that wreathe, and I’ve made the decor mistakes right along with you! Thank you for the post : )

  15. Smart: Living with old, falling apart chairs until I could afford a couch
    Dumb: Painting over wallpaper…ya, you know I did that in like 3 rooms, right? It’s bad.

  16. teehee! love the “need a coffee budget til you get a working kitchen” – so funny! good thing you both agreed to that one!! :)

  17. Hilarious picture!

  18. After I commented I went grocery shopping, and found this!

    Just fyi. Cold brew, sweeping the nation!

  19. I have heated left over pizza many times with an iron. However, I wrap the slice in aluminum foil first then set the iron on it. Some times it sticks a little but sure beats heating the oven, the George Foreman grill or dirtying up a pan.

  20. This was so funny and I loved your over accesorizing post from 2010. I have gone overboard before but am currently in the process of trying to declutter. One of my not-so-smart make Dos was trying to sew patches of material onto a worn out old couch instead of just throwing a couch cover over it. The patches just made it look worse.

  21. Buying a 1905 Victorian “fixer upper”

    Yeah. No.


  22. My dumb make-dos involve trying to be crafty when I’m not really so. Spray painting things, glueing things, sewing things (GASP!) with the finished product looking like something a Kindergartener might make with the problem being that I am 43 and not a Kindergartener. (smile) Though it’s always good to give a project a try, there’s something very liberating about knowing what you’re good at and what you’re not. I’ve learned to leave the crafting up to others. Craft shows, Hobby Lobby, Etsy, and Michaels are my friends. They all do crafts really well. (smile)

    I love the idea of a coffee budget! I need one of those too!

  23. I’m sorry, what was the question? I can’t get past the pizza on the iron! :) That is just awesome!

  24. smart: keeping a sofa is completely worn out for way longer than we needed to so we could save cash for a new one…one we know we’ll keep forever.

    dumb: painting over wallpaper IN AN ENTIRE HOUSE.

  25. When we lived aboard 2 summers ago, we ran out of fuel and lost all of our drinking water, after a power boat passed us too closely. We ended up enjoying sun tea made out of water straight out of Lake Michigan. It sounds scary, but I have to say that it tasted better than a lot of the city water we drank in port!

  26. this is true

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