Why are we in a DIY culture boom?
DIY is back and booming.
On TikTok the tag #homediyproject has 172.5 million views, with videos fetching thousands of likes and comments, while on Instagram, YouTube and Pinterest, there’s a plethora of handy hints, tips and tutorials demonstrating just how accessible DIY can be.
We have a collective appetite for content around DIY, but this interest isn’t new.
DIY culture popularity dates back to the 50s and 60s, but there have been signs of it throughout the 1900s. Later in the 70s it was associated with the punk movement, for example.
It’s always had the power to save us money and revive home space – which might be why we’re embracing it so much today, given the pandemic, working from home, and the rising cost of living.
These reasons factored into why Natalie, 32, decided to go DIY with her new home.
‘Before buying our first place I had never even hung up a picture,’ she says.
‘I had never painted a wall. I could just about change a light bulb.
‘We first got into DIY when we bought our flat because it needed quite a bit of work doing and we needed to save money on the renovations.
‘The pandemic and lockdowns definitely made us way more obsessed with our living space.
‘We really think more now about how to make the most of our space and want it to be somewhere we really enjoy being, so that has definitely influenced our DIY decisions.’
She wasn’t confident at first without using a professional, but her ‘more frugal’ partner was determined to save them money.
Natalie adds: ‘He also had more time to research on YouTube because of his work schedule, so he did most of the planning.
‘He convinced me to give the basic things a try initially, because I would have preferred to pay someone to do everything.’
Together they used YouTube for guidance, and Instagram and Pinterest for inspiration.
DIY can seem scary to a newbie, as Natalie found. ‘I was so worried about getting it wrong and making some horrible mistake.
‘And I did actually paint the room entirely the wrong colour after spending literally seven hours on it – and I cried a lot about that. But it was actually easy to just paint over.
‘I was also worried about filling in holes and chips, or putting up shelves – anything I didn’t have experience with. But I have learnt that every mistake is fixable.’
Now having transformed her home – successfully – she’d do DIY again in the future, approaching it with far greater confidence.
Many of us are feeling more confident, it seems, as Pinterest data shows that DIY searches have been up both in the last year and month.
Searches for ‘diy home décor easy’ are up 3.5 times, and ‘diy bathroom storage ideas’ are up 10 times as much, for example, between 2021 and 2022.
Even more telling, this year, the Museum of Making has a new exhibition in partnership with the BBC all focused on ‘showcasing the British obsession with DIY’.
It’s happening now for a reason.
Retail trends analyst at Salience Search Marketing, Michael Robinson, says: ‘It’s difficult to pinpoint the exact cause of the current DIY boom, perhaps it’s the inevitable impact of spending nearly two years at home, or perhaps current economic uncertainty means that we are attempting more interiors tasks ourselves rather than paying the professionals.
‘Inspirational content on sites such as TikTok will have played a part in turning Gen Z onto DIY and home improvement projects, the DIY hashtag currently has a mega 164.8billion views – proving just how popular this type of content is.’
He says this spring the level of interest in DIY is ‘unusually high’ but it does tend to peak in spring and autumn as people prepare for a new season.
Michael believes interest is here to stay, saying: ‘Financially things are looking quite bleak and more and more households are feeling the squeeze of the cost of living crisis, meaning hiring professionals is much less affordable.
‘Also, the internet is awash with expert guides, and DIY tutorials whether on YouTube or TikTok or in-depth written guides to a multitude of DIY projects.
‘We’re certainly seeing an increasing number of consumers making DIY related online searches, whether they are hoping to buy DIY materials online or look for guides or tutorials, for most of us Google is the first place we turn to when we’re embarking on a new project.’
Kitchens and pergolas are common areas people are looking for DIY tips on, at the moment.
As well as saving money, DIY can also give us as great sense of accomplishment.
Yatna, an NHS worker, has recently done up her new place using a DIY mindset.
She says: ‘I wanted to do as much as I could to keep costs down, and to have the sense of achievement of doing it myself.
‘You can’t always be sure about professionals either, some try to fleece you.
‘I’m quite experienced as I’ve had my own place before and had to do DIY in there, but I’ve also used help from friends who have done their own renovations.
‘Another great thing is you can do it in your own time and not have to wait for someone to come over and do it for you.’
As many of us turn our hands at DIY, it’s clear the benefits of doing so are plentiful – and it can be empowering to see DIY in this way.
However, we can’t deny the context in which this boom has grown: DIY is very much a symptom of our stringent times.
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