Today I’m celebrating my ten year blog anniversary with a BIG giveaway, a look back at my top DIY projects from the past 10 years, and the inside scoop on how Lovely Etc. came to be in the first place.
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Ten years ago this week I started Lovely Etc.
When I started this site, I had absolutely no idea it would still be such a huge part of my life ten years later! (I also had no idea what I was doing.)
I started this blog because I wanted to do something fun that was just for me. It was a rough time in my life – I had been struggling with infertility for more than two years, I’d had two miscarriages, and I was just overall feeling pretty down and hopeless.
I decided I needed to find something that I loved to really pour myself into.
Well, the thing that I loved most was finding old junk at yard sales and turning it into something beautiful and useful. And I loved finding creative inspiration on DIY blogs so starting my own blog seemed like the perfect solution. (You can read my very first blog post ever right here – it sums up a lot of how I still feel about creating a home with soul.)
my first blog design 2011
To be honest, looking back, most of my first blog posts really weren’t very good. I don’t mean the projects – some of them are a bit dated now, but there were a lot of amazing before and afters in there. But my photos were terrible and my posts were even worse.
Most of my first DIY posts didn’t even include a tutorial for how to do the project! Just a few photos and some semi-funny comments about it.
I like to think I’ve come a long way since then!
blog design 2013
Over the past ten years a lot has changed. I’m now the mom to three beautiful little boys and this blog has brought me so many opportunities that I honestly never dreamed of.
I mostly just wanted to share my yard sale finds and crafty ideas with people who actually got it since my real life friends and family weren’t super interested. And that’s still my favorite part!
But along the way I’ve also had my projects featured in major magazines, become a published author, and managed to turn this blog into my full-time job. It’s been a huge blessing for me and my family.
As amazing as all of that is, the thing about Lovely Etc. that I am the most proud of is staying true to my mission of showing others how to turn the ugly, dated parts of their homes into something beautiful for cheap.
I’ve followed many DIY bloggers over the years who started out blogging about creating a home on a budget. But as their blogs grew, their message slowly changed until most of their projects were filled with expensive products from sponsors and saving money wasn’t really part of the equation anymore.
I’m happy for their success, but I’m also really proud that I’ve found a different path.
A few years ago someone told me that I wouldn’t be able to make money from my blog by teaching people to do things cheaply. That I needed to ‘target’ people with more money.
That really rubbed me the wrong way. The whole reason I started this blog was to share ideas for repurposing what you already have and creating beautiful spaces for super cheap.
So I ignored that advice, stopped worrying about working with sponsors, and just focused on making this blog the best it could be. Sharing original, budget-friendly ideas, taking great photos, trying to solve real problems real people have in their homes, and making sure my DIY tutorials are clear, detailed, and actually helpful. (Unlike my early attempts.)
And I am so happy that I stuck to my mission of helping others create a home they love on a budget. That is what really matters to me.
When I get an email or a comment from a reader telling me that I helped them solve a problem in their home or made them feel like they can do what I do, I know I’ve accomplished what I set out to do. In fact, I have a folder on my hard drive where I save each of those emails so I can read them again and again.
Not to mention, the business advice that I need to write for people with lots of money was also wrong because my business is doing just fine, thank you very much!
I know a lot of people are probably curious how I make money since I don’t really play the Instagram game or do sponsored posts. I make most of my money from the ads you see on this site. I know sometimes they are probably kind of annoying, but I think it’s a fair trade in exchange for all the free info I share. I also make some money from Youtube, from the woodworking plans and e-books I sell in my shop, and when you click on affiliate links here and then buy something.
My top 10 DIYs from the last 10 years
In honor of this ten year anniversary, I though it would be fun to look back at some of the best projects I’ve shared over the past ten years. I had a lot of fun digging through my old blog archives and trying to pick just one project to represent each year.
Some years were tough because it was so hard to narrow it down to just one project. And some years were tough because nothing was really standing out as particularly fantastic (those were the years I had newborns and not nearly enough time or sleep.)
But I managed to pick out one project for each year that was really popular with readers and is also one of my personal favorites.
2011 was the first year of Lovely Etc. and I was sharing tons of furniture makeovers and other small projects that I made to sell in a local consignment booth. This antique radio cabinet was in super rough shape, but some paint and stain turned it into a one-of-a-kind beauty. (And yep, this was before the chalk paint craze began so it definitely is possible to paint furniture with regular latex paint. In fact I have lots of tips for that if you are interested.)
2012- Amazing Painted Floors
This stenciled floor was the first major home improvement project I shared on the blog. Up to this point I was mostly sharing smaller redos and furniture flips, but I absolutely had to do something about our gross carpet. Once I realized I could do some pretty fantastic things to our home for cheap, I started tackling all kinds of new projects.
2014 – Wood Plank Wall
That’s right, we are skipping right over 2013. That year I had a new baby and was working full time and there was honestly just not a lot of brain space for creativity. But things picked back up in 2014!
In 2014 I started the year by challenging myself to be more bold and take more chances and it definitely paid off. The DIY wood plank wall I created that year is still one of my favorite parts of our home.
2015 – A Bold Mural in the Nursery
In 2015 when my second baby was born, I really wanted to do something special to make the nursery feel like his. So I painted this bold wall mural and I absolutely love how it turned out.
2016 – Painted Countertops
In 2016 I started working on my budget kitchen makeover. I painted all the things including our oak cabinets and our backsplash, but painting our dated laminate countertops was definitely one of my favorite parts. I’m pretty sure my husband was silently questioning my sanity when I told him what I was going to do, but it turned out amazing.
2017 – DIY Fireplace Mantel
In 2017, I completely made over our old brick fireplace. I painted the brick a bold blue, painted the brass doors black and built a DIY chunky wood mantel. This fireplace completely changed the look and feel of our family room and it also felt like the perfect representation of how I want the rest of my home to feel.
2018 – IKEA Built-Ins
I’ve always wanted a huge wall of built-in bookcases and in 2018 I finally created one. I’m most definitely not the first person to create a wall of built-ins using inexpensive IKEA bookcases, but for me this was a major step in my DIY journey. Tackling this huge project on my own really helped build my confidence.
2019 – Reupholstered Vintage Sofa
In 2019, I checked another item off my DIY bucket list and reupholstered a vintage sofa. Even though I’d built up my DIY skills a ton at this point, upholstery still seemed intimidating. But I found this gorgeous old sofa that really needed some love and I had to go for it. It was a huge project but it turned out even more beautiful than I could have imagined.
2020 – DIY Daybed
Last year I completed many projects I really love, but this DIY daybed was definitely my favorite. This is my favorite spot for reading, working, watching my kids play in the yard, napping…basically everything! This was also one of my first major furniture builds and it just felt so darn good to create something that my family would truly use every day.
2021 – Sliding Closet Door Makeover
So far, this year’s best project has to be my sliding closet door makeover. It’s my personal favorite and it’s also been the most popular. It’s funny, this project is such a similar color to my favorite 2011 project. My DIY abilities have grown a lot over the years and my style has evolved, but my favorite colors haven’t changed a bit!
The giveaway is now closed.
I think my ten year blogiversary is the perfect time to a do a big giveaway! This blog has given me so much – the opportunity to stay home with my boys, the chance to meet so many amazing people online, and the perfect excuse to do a million fun DIY projects. And I know this blog would be nothing without you guys, the readers. So I want to do something for you all to celebrate. I’m giving 5 lucky readers each a $50 Amazon gift card. That’s right – you have 5 chances to win! To enter, simply leave a comment on this post. You can let me know how long you have been reading Lovely Etc., tell me about a DIY project you’d love to tackle in your home, or comment about anything else you want to share. That’s it! You don’t have to follow me or sign up for anything. Just leave a comment. This giveaway isn’t about me getting something from you, it’s about me giving something back.
I’d love for you to pin this post on Pinterest!