The oft-sought book deal and accompanying tour may seem like a glamorous gig, but DIY blogger Ana White got her start in the humblest of ways: By building a home from scratch while cash-strapped and living in an Alaskan garage.
"We decided we were going to DIY [our whole house] out-of-pocket, paycheck to paycheck," White tells CultureMap. Her husband had knowledge and experience in building, but White — then pregnant and utterly unskilled in the ways of the hammer — had to learn along the way.
Their daughter learned to crawl in that garage, but by the time she was walking, the new family had settled into their built-by-hand home — a home that was completely without furniture, other than a mattress on the bedroom floor, a card table in the dining room and a couple of camp chairs in the living room.
"I had no budget. But I thought, 'If we can build a house, why can't we build our own furniture?' "
"I had no budget," White says. "But I thought, 'If we can build a house, why can't we build our own furniture?' "
She started with the farmhouse bed (one that she and her husband still sleep on every night) and kept going from there. The novice furniture craftswoman climbed under tables at restaurants, examined the joints on sideboards and bureaus and chairs at stores and friends' homes to see how things were built, using only her intuition as guide.
"I have nothing against traditional woodworking, but it's so complicated and requires so many specialty tools," White says. She uses easy-to-find supplies from the hardware store and IKEA-like methods to build sturdy furniture with a heart.
Around the same time that friends began to pressure her to launch a career in custom furniture, White learned the the phenomenon of the personal blog. She began sharing step-by-step instructions on her blog in October of 2009, and has been building every day since while simultaneously engaging her dedicated readers.
"My life up here in remote Alaska has changed very little," she says, humble about her small fame. White still connects to each reader individually, having developed a personal relationship with many of them over the years, but she feels that it's time to bring her DIY know-how to a larger audience.
The Handbuilt Home: 34 Simple, Stylish & Budget-Friendly Woodworking Projects for Every Room acts as that vehicle, a comprehensive guide that begins with an outline of necessary tools and basic techniques, followed by DIY projects for each room and skill level.
"I can see the impact that do-it-yourself has had on my family," says White — and she hopes that others will have the same experience.
See White in person in Houston Saturday, where she'll be signing books, doing demos and giving away prizes at the Home Depot on the West Loop from 9 to 11 a.m.