Delving deeper than decor to explore the power of home as a path to wellbeing #happyinside

April 29, 2012

DIY, a British obsession?

Or is it? A recent article in The Telegraph was headlined “Britain’s love of DIY is over as home owners call in the experts”. It went on to cite research conducted by television channel Home, that crowed, “despite most households owning a toolbox, the vast majority do not know what to do with the contents”.

I heartily refute this, standing as I am paintbrush in hand, with a fine mist of white gloss splattered across my hands, face and hair. Certainly it’s a love hate thing. I love the finished effect and that sense of “I did that!” (hopefully… albeit sometimes followed by, but x did that bit…), but the process can be just a tad tedious. But then, as I write, I’m mid way through a #DecoratingStaycation, so forgive me a little decorating enuui.

But it’s not just me that thinks we’re still enamoured with doing it ourselves. This week, I read that according to B&Q there’s been a 400% rise in the number of women enrolled in their You Can Do It classes over the last 4 years. They’ve even roped in TV presenter Kirsty Allsopp as their “celebrity ambassador”. And amazingly, the top two courses taken are plastering followed by wall tiling! Two, I think, of the hardest skills to master, certainly plastering… but then maybe you just need to be taught how? I guess that’s their point.

B&Q’s research also claimed that 82% of women would rather paint a room than leave it to a partner or relation, and 73% reckon they are just as competent at basic DIY tasks as a man. And err, yes, why wouldn’t we be? Besides, the national increase in single-person households probably means that a lot of girls living alone simply don’t want to have to call in a man-that-can to put their shelves up anymore.

And never forget, what else permits such a tangible expression of effort? Such visible proof of energy expended? When you DIY, you are physically nest building in a way that modern life does not often permit: making your safe space in the world look beautiful. Why else would we devote our precious downtime to such an activity? And if you’ve ever watched a bird build a nest, you’ll know the care and dedication that goes into twisting each twig and stem into perfect place — I bet if they could paint, they would too.

So this bank holiday weekend, if you’re engaged in a little DIY, consider that you’re submitting to an instinctive primal instinct, whether enjoyable or not. Plus tweet me your stories! I want to know that I’m not alone as I grit my teeth and crack on with my glossing.


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Writer, Author, Brand Consultant & TV Presenter

Michelle Ogundehin is internationally renowned as an authority on interiors, trends and style. She is an influencer with expertise and the multi award-winning former Editor-in-Chief of ELLE Decoration UK.