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A Quick Anthropological Tour of Design/Decor/DIY YouTube


These days there’s not a whole lot of television that is must-watch for me, and I cannot and will not spend all my free time poasting on twitter. So when I have free time I’ve been watching YouTube.

I browse everything from horror movie listicles to tiny home tours to figurine sculpting, but the biggest chunk of my time is spent watching design, decor and DIY stuff. Granted, it’s only been a few months and I only watch a few accounts, but I couldn’t help but notice some trends.

First up is the umbrella category of DIY, which includes thrift flips/Dollar Tree crafting/upcycling/Ikea hacks. I’ve seen various makers make some really cute stuff, really chintzy, cheesy stuff, and some stuff that was genuinely inspiring. In fact, I was so inspired I glued a bunch of nautical rope to the bottom of a vase I have. I’m still unsure as to how I feel about it, but at least now it has TEXTURE, something that is really big in design and DIY YouTube.

The really accessible, affordable DIY (for beginner crafters and makers like me) sometime leans quite a bit into Farmhouse on its more corny end and sort of what I’d call “Millennial Modern” on its less corny end. I think I’d categorize Millennial Modern sort of a mash-up of Boho, Mid-Century and maybe some Industrial or Rustic. Whatever style it leans into, it will mostly likely be something that has been hot-glued together and painted black or white. Color is not allowed.

It may sound like I’m dissing these projects, but I’m not. A lot them are clever and the Dollar Tree crafts and Ikea hacks are a great way to make design accessible to everyone. And crafting is fun! I just noticed that after watching about 50 DIY’s and Amazon and Ikea hauls (people talk about the decor items they bought at Amazon and Ikea) that there was a conspicuous lack of color in of their projects and purposes.

In DDD YouTube there is a lot of emphasis on making your home look “high end.” That manifests–apparently–in this phenomenon where women in their 20’s show me various books with black binding, black planters, and big textured vases, filled with pampas grass. Pampas grass is a must. The young men of design YouTube who also want your house to look high end will tell you that.

I could probably do a whole other post on the idea that home should look “high end,” which seems like a rather toxic idea on its own, but that this idea manifests itself in incredibly sterile “tastefulness” depresses me!

And, look, these young people do have largely “tasteful” living spaces. They tend to be pretty spare, fairly modern and largely neutral. And looking like you have a luxe and “tasteful” home is great. But, my god, where is the color? Where on earth is your personality? Is it really in this “modern art piece” you made using only white spackle?

Now, I’ve searched around enough and I’ve found some great DIYer’s and makers that break the mold and create cool and interesting stuff. DIY Danie is a really adorable young Canadian woman who does some actually pretty brilliant (and color-loving) DIY’s. (Unfortunately, she her DIY’s reach far beyond my capabilities, but, seriously, her stuff is just brilliant.) And if you’re looking for more cheap, accessible DIYing and crafting, I find that Kimo Craft is hit or miss, but mostly hit, and I think his stuff is really clever and joyful. So if you want to take a break from looking at concrete planters, go check them out.

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