Beg, Borrow, or Steal: DIYing someone else’s DIY

As an avid DIYer, coming up with new ways to give old objects new life is the best, whether it’s painting an antique secretary desk tomato red (which you’d totally do if your life partner would just stop saying no) or framing some old prints that were floating around your garage and arranging a gallery wall. Sometimes, I buy items knowing that I’m going to change them up, as in the case of the once-silver light fixture I got from Ikea for 30 bucks (!!!) that is now a lovely shade of rose gold and hanging from the ceiling of my emerald teal dining room (photos to come soon!). Sometimes I buy supplies and create DIY projects from scratch, such as the hand-stretched canvases, framed prints, and painted initials that hang in clusters on the wall above my daughter’s bed.

Occasionally, though, I come across a DIY project on one of the many amazing blogs I follow and I love it so much that I don’t even want to tweak it and make it my own. I want it just the way it is. This was the case with the floral canvases hanging in my living room entry way.

I was perusing A Beautiful Mess (which I’m sure most DIYers are very familiar with because sisters Elsie and Emma do an amazing job of sharing inspiring spaces and projects; seriously, this is one of the best design/DIY blogs on the web, IMO) a long time ago (like two years ago) and I came across this wall art “Nesting” project:

When I saw the black canvas with the goldenrod floral pattern, it was love at first sight, but I wrestled with a tiny bit of guilt about recreating something, essentially paint-by-numbers style, without even the slightest bit of originality. Part of what I love about my DIY projects, aside from saving TONS of money, is that I end up with something that may not be perfect, but is totally my own. I’m a sucker for self-expression and “authenticity.” (Which, admittedly, may just be left over from my days as a New York hipster.)

So there I was, deciding to *shudder* copy someone else’s DIY project. I soothed my guilt by telling myself things like “hey, I have a black upright piano, too, but I’m not going to do it exactly like this. I’m going to make it a pair. That’s different enough to make it somewhat original, right?” In all honesty… no. It isn’t. I just copied their work twice and displayed it a little differently. It was still their idea, their design, their project. But hey, if I’d bought this canvas at Target, I wouldn’t be feeling guilty, would I? No. So, copy-two-times-and-display-it-a-little-differently I did.


The canvases are actually in a completely different place now, and I’ve since painted a third to make it a triptych. There’s one canvas with only yellow flowers, a middle with yellow and terra cotta red, and the third is only terra cotta, kind of giving the triptych (as a whole) an ombré effect. (Actually, nothing in that photo in the same place or even grouped together anymore.)

triptych of DIY floral canvases

a blurry photo of Ellie from Halloween; the triptych of  floral canvases is in the background

Am I the only one who feels guilt about copying DIY projects from other sites or is that the purpose of posting your projects in the first place? Is there a line between inspiration and imitation? Whatever the answer, I love the wall art in my entryway, so… *kanye shrug*


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