About Me

About Me:

I am a Stay at Home Mom with two small children living on the east coast. Its amazing that in my mid-thirties, I finally found my passion...creating and building. It all started with one tile and a closet auger (more on that later). 

Here's my story-

My basement bar area features 12x12 grouted tiles. One day, one of them came loose and eventually fell out. Since I had become a newly "single" mom, having the luxury of a husband to fix the problem was no longer an option. I looked at the tile for weeks, and even called out a contractor who estimated the cost of fixing the tile and a few other things in my home. The other things on the contractor estimate included...along with the tile, repainting the staircase wall that leads to the basement (and repairing about a hundred nail holes from a picture gallery that used to adorn the wall), fixing the carpet by "tucking" it back under the baseboards, building a mantle on the basement fireplace, replacing the quarter round moulding around the bar tiles, fixing nail pops, repainting the mud room... and probably a list of others I can't think of now. The estimate came in around 2 grand. I was not in the position to pay this type of money for the repairs, so hanging my head I decided that I would not be able to hire this contractor. 

After about a month of moping around and complaining about the blank tile, I saw all of the leftover tiles and supplies still hanging around under the cabinet in the basement. I thought... what if I fixed the tile, and the base moulding and built the mantle with my dad? I Youtube'd, "how to replace a floor tile", mixed my own grout (to a peanut butter consistency), and replaced that missing tile. It looked great! Now, everyone who came to my home got a "viewing" of the replaced tile. This was the most empowering thing I had done for myself in probably 10 years! 
Fixed tile floor, and replaced quarter-round. 
After my huge accomplishment, I decided I could do all of the projects I tried to hire a contractor for all by myself, hence DIY.

I did the wall repairs and repainted the staircase:

Repaired and repainted staircase. 
I "tucked" the carpet:

My Dad and I built the mantle:

Then one crazy day one of the toilets in my master bathroom overflowed. It was horrible! There was "stuff" (read: crap) and water everywhere, it smelled, looked bad and the worst part was that my toddler was attempting to play around in it. Still, not having the luxury of a husband to fix the problem, I decided to put on my big girl panties and fix it myself. After a plunger would not work, and fiddling around with the unit inside the tank would not work, I turned off the water and headed down to my laptop. I typed in "how to unclog a badly stopped toilet" on youtube. I found a tutorial of a plumber who was unclogging a toilet with what's called a "closet auger". I knew I had one of those funny looking things in the garage, so I went to get it, had my mom come over and watch my son, and unclogged that sucker all by myself! 

After doing these repairs, I felt so empowered! Almost methodically, I started to learn to do all sorts of things, I repainted my master bedroom, I helped my mom sew a new king size duvet cover for my bed, and I learned to sew pillow shams.
King size duvet cover and pillow shams in Damask fabric. 
Then, I started taking my clothes from the closet and re-designing them. I re-designed a 12 year old skirt by cutting off the bottom and adding feather trim. I made my own skirt from scrap fabric found at my mom's house. I made my own earrings from beads at the local craft store. Its amazing what you can make from the stuff in your closet and a few scrap pieces of fabric!

I learned to sew lined curtains. This is the bet tutorial ever....DIY curtain panels

I learned to upholster furniture, I even built a tufted ottoman, (still the most difficult project I have tackled to date). 

I started searching craigslist for old cheap furniture and would change it around. I'd go to peoples homes and dream of dismantling their furniture and rebuilding it, (I actually did this a few times). 

I made chalkboards out of old picture frames, turned stools into benches, the list goes on and on. 

Now, I enjoy building my own furniture, building things for my daughter and son, redecorating my home. Repainting then repainting again. Moving picture frames, then moving them again. I don't have OCD or decorating anxiety.....(at least not clinically). It is just a therapeutic way of making my environment better for me and my children. Its so fun and gratifying doing DIY projects. 

Everywhere I look I find inspiration. You may find me looking under furniture to see how its made, taking pictures of furniture stores and restaurants for architectural inspiration. 

Hope you enjoyed my back story...thanks for checking out my DIY passion that has become Lipstick and Sawdust. 


  1. Good for you, Kristen! You have a good eye, wonderful creativity, and the grit determination to do absolutely any project (and look good doing it)! Keep it up, and please, keep sharing. I love your blog and your work.

  2. so proud of you! that was an AWESOME story- I can totally relate to the shock/horror of: "what do you MEAN there's no GUY around here to do the MAN-stuffs around this place?!" then the panic: "I have no clue about this STUFF! I need to HIRE someone to take care of this for me!!" followed by the determined: "-------it. I can DO THIS MYSELF!!" ((followed by celebratory beers and more pride and satisfaction than I ever thought possible!!)) ;) go you!

    1. Empowering women to do it themselves and wait for no man!

    2. I am putting on my big girl panties too!

  3. loved reading your story. Very "empowering"!!!

  4. You sound exactly like me Kristen. At 43 I finally my passion. I have 3 small children (ages 3,5 & 7)and still work part time, but every spare second I seem to be consumed with (or obsessed) with another project on the go and making lists of the upcoming Saturday garage/yard sales in my area. Glad to know I'm not alone in this world. :)

  5. from venezuela, i like yours proyects....

  6. Good job! kristen I'm single since a few years ago and tools are relaxing for me. I'm part time student and I work part time, but full time mother. Now my boys are bigger and I now is time to redo all the house, little by little and they said Hell no! right now I don't have to many tools (the ex took it with him). And I noticed new tools out there which ones do you think are good to buy to start my collection?

  7. Hey I discovered your site recently and just wanted to say I really like your ideas/designs. The Rustic X Console Table, the other console table, the lanterns, all are fantastic. I'm thinking of trying to build the Rustic X console for myself. I like the way you photograph and explain each project also.

    I also started building stuff in my 30's and it is great to discover what is possible with some work and the right tools. Anyway, I included my online portfolio if you are curious you could check out some of the stuff I've created. Best regards with all your future projects. Jim

  8. Have you ever made knife handles ?

  9. Good day, Kristen! Congratulations on your newly-found strength! Sometimes when there is no one you can turn to, you might discover that you had the capability and the power to do it all along! But if you’re really stumped, the Net is a good place to look for solutions to your problems. I’m sure that there’s at least a few people who have had those same problems before. Anyway, looking forward to more posts from you! Cheers!

    Levi Eslinger @ CapitalPlumbing.ca

  10. Nice story... I'm sure you have inspired many and can teach us men a few things as well.
    So keep on doing what you're doing. I'm looking at your bedframe project as something to do this fall....Cheers from Toronto.

  11. Its All About The RufflesJanuary 8, 2017 at 4:04 PM

    You know I see this female vs male mentality and I'm certain that we all can draw as much strength and inspiration from an attitude that doesn't dog anyone. At the now age where bullying is being looked at as serious stuff we have to remind each other that there is no harmless teasing around hint of bully attitude. Lets Celabrate the individual that fought and won. She celebrates her guts and her glory in accomplishment gained out of necessity. Just saying if we are tackling a social unjust let's do it throughly.

  12. Nice Story...I appreciate your work

  13. Kristen, love your stuff. Thanks for sharing. Tuff for a guy to admit when he sees a gal who can work with her hands as well as you do.

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