Inside US Designer Hildie Westenhaver’s Craft Studio
YouTube videos and optimism see Hildie Westenhaver take on decorating projects and discover hidden skills. And her cheery craft studio is the beneficiary. From tiling to furnishings and feature walls, Hildie doesn’t shy away from a DIY challenge.
By Janai Velez
“I laid the yellow and white vinyl composite floor tiles myself. I had never done this before, but several videos assured me it would be easy. What nobody mentioned was how crazy sticky the tile adhesive is! By the end of the day, I had pieces of tile stuck all over my clothes. When I went to take a shower, I couldn’t get my clothes off because my hand and feet were covered with glue. I felt like a cartoon character trying to jump out of my pants without them sticking to me. I managed to get the shower curtain stuck to myself, too. I nearly had to bathe in acetone.”
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Texas-based Hildie Westenhaver’s philosophy is: Why buy when you can DIY? And she has some great learning experiences and anecdotes to share. The root of her ‘can do’ attitude is from growing up in a handy but artsy family, where she learnt the value of thrift.
“When I bought my first pair of curtains, I almost fainted at the price (that much money for two fabric rectangles?!). I knew I’d better learn how to sew better!” Hildie says. She also found out that there can be hidden costs along the DIY path.
“A lot of times, I’ll see something online and think, ‘I could make that!’ So instead of just buying it for $20, I’ll spend $150 on books and supplies to teach me how,” she says.
During Hildie’s bedroom-to-craft-studio conversion, there were many opportunities to DIY, discover new talents, operate foreign tools and shop at Ikea.
Maybe add a nice embroidery frame to your craft studio, such as our Just Be Yourself pattern?
“I settled on Ikea Alex cabinets as the foundation for my work table, but the short style was too short and the tall style was too tall. So I had the brilliant thought, ‘I’ll just buy the tall cabinets and cut them shorter!’ This ended up being a much larger project than I had anticipated (which is almost always the case when I say that famous phrase, ‘How hard could it be?’).
But I managed to accomplish it without wrecking anything too badly. It was a boost to my self-esteem, to see what I could accomplish when I put my mind to it. And now I’m only slightly afraid of table saws,” she reveals.
Before she had her own room, Hildie’s crafting took place on the kitchen table, and supplies were stored in cupboards and closets throughout the house. “
There’s nothing as annoying as laying out new fabric to cut and having it slide into a blob of jam left over from breakfast!” she says. Now she has a designated room on the main floor of the house, right off the kitchen and family room. “I can sew or work on a project and still be in the heart of the house. And I can pop something in the oven and be close enough to hear the timer,” says Hildie.
It was important that her craft room had plenty of drawers. Hildie likes all supplies to be organised according to hobby (jewellery making, knitting, etc) and loves items arranged in their colourways. As for the “uglier” craft supplies, they get stored in the closet, where she removed the clothing rods and added shelves. “Everything finally has a place, which makes it a breeze to clean up,” she says.
Hildie has two guest chairs in her craft room , ready for friends who visit for sewing lessons and her homeworking children. But she says it’s hard to get work done when all your children are chatterboxes. “I’ve thought about buying a nice soft chair but I don’t know if I want to encourage people to stay very long!” she says.
Why not add a nice Home Sweet Home Bunting to your craft studio to liven it up?
The clean, white surfaces and soft, citrus colours used in the room make her feel happy, inspired and energised from the moment she walks in. Hildie has a love of vintage pieces and antiques and has decorated most of her house this way, but with her craft studio, she wanted something a little cleaner and clearer.
“There is nothing sentimental in this room. And that’s kind of refreshing for me. I put so much thought and feeling into every item in the rest of my house. Everything is infused with love. When I walk in my craft studio, I feel a lightness that just isn’t there in my other rooms.”
If she could change one thing, it would be to add a sink, as she’s currently creating a line of skincare and bath products, which is messy work. She also sews, knits, crochets, paints … “Some people need to exercise every day to keep the crazy away; I have to make stuff!”