Real estate


For DIYer, home’s a hive of activity and ideas

Kristine Franklin/The Painted hive
Kristine Franklin of Melbourne tells readers of her blog, The Painted Hive, that her mission is to “make the most of my standard semi-suburban house with as little cash and as much ingenuity as possible.”

You know how bloggers can make furniture redos look effortless? As if that old dresser were just asking to be remade to look like it’s filled with antique flat-file drawers? Well, Kristine Franklin is one of those bloggers.

The talented Australian from Melbourne has been painting, gluing, and reconstructing for her blog, The Painted Hive, for six years now and has found an online community to be a part of. Franklin said she started a blog because none of her “real life” friends shared her passion for interior design and DIY. “There was something appealing about the prospect of togetherness the blog seemed to promise. Sure enough, in only a few short months, I was hooked.”

I talked to Franklin about DIYing and how to upcycle without making your projects look cheap.

On the blog, you say you’re on “a mission to make the most of my standard semi-suburban house with as little cash and as much ingenuity as possible.” Does it feel like hard work to accomplish?


I gain a huge amount of satisfaction from DIY projects. For me, it’s a creative outlet, something that keeps me sane, though I know lots of people who couldn’t think of anything worse. Just like I might buy a packet of dry pasta from the supermarket, whereas passionate cooks would prefer to make their own from scratch. In that respect, I guess it’s like anything you’re passionate about; it doesn’t seem too much like hard work. That said, there are definitely projects that are more challenging than others.

Kristine Franklin/The Painted Hive
Her master bedroom. “I love the idea that my interior can stand the test of time. That it’s not dictated by trends,” she says on her blog, The Painted Hive.
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The tricky thing with most re-purposing projects is that they’re one-offs. Generally, no two pieces are ever really quite the same, so you don’t get the chance to hone your process. I can’t count the number of times I’ve finished a piece and thought Hmmm, that was pretty full-on, though if I could do it all again, knowing what I know now, it would be easy. Hindsight is a wonderful thing.

The budget side of things is also important to me. It’s not so much about saving money as it is about living a little humbly, making the most of what you have. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with an occasional splurge; we all deserve that, though who really wants to spend more than they need to?

What’s your biggest tip for people wanting to dive into DIY?

I never know how to answer this question. I want to say, “Just go for it.” There isn’t too much to lose by just having a go. On the other hand, there are benefits to doing some self-education first. I guess it comes down to the type of person you are. One thing I will say, though, is not to get disheartened when things don’t work out. I’ve stuffed up plenty of things on my first — and even second or third — attempt, only to get it right in the end and feel an incredible sense of pride and accomplishment. You know what they say: “If you’re not making mistakes, you’re not trying hard enough.”

I think it’s hard to re-purpose things and make sure they don’t look cheap. How do you combat this?

[Laughs] Yes! I don’t mean to sound superior or judgmental. In fact, I’m probably a bit guilty of it myself at times, though this is one of my pet hates. It is really easy for re-purposed and upcycled items to come out looking a bit homemade — and not in that lovely handcrafted kind of way. They can look just plain cheap and wrong. I’m actually a bit anal about going that extra mile to ensure I do get a professional-looking finish.


It’s important to take your time, with both prep, which is the boring bit we all want to rush over, and the finishing details. Use test pieces if you need to practice a technique or finish, and if you make a mistake or aren’t super happy with something, do it again only if it’s really bugging you.

Also, just because I’m amazed, how the heck do you accomplish so many DIY projects with kids?

At the moment, I’m not putting too much pressure on myself to achieve a heap. My daughter and son (Charlotte, 4, and Riley, 3) and sanity are my priority, so I have chosen to accept opportunities sparingly and take my time with personal projects.

When I do have a large project or a deadline to meet, I try to steal some alone time by having my mum mind the kids for a few hours or asking my husband to take them out on the weekend for a bit. Sometimes my husband and I will even tag team when we’re working on something together. Other times we will both just go for it, and the kids will wear pajamas for half the day, eat breakfast cereal for lunch — not that there’s anything wrong with that — and trash the house. It isn’t super easy, though I know I’m still pretty lucky.

Kristine Franklin/The Painted Hive
Kristine Franklin made an old dresser look as if it were filled with antique flat-file drawers.
Kristine Franklin/The Painted Hive
A dining room redo
Kristine Franklin/The Painted Hive
The home office

This interview has been edited and condensed. Heather Ciras can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @heatherciras.