Style Curators, Casey Finn and Bridget Matkovich, Share Decorating Tips and Trends

Where did you meet one another?
We grew up in the same hometown in a suburb of Chicago and attended the same high school. With our maiden names both starting with the letter “O” our lockers ended up being right next to one another, which allowed us to get to know each other right away. We quickly became close friends and our friendship has only grown over the past 15 years.

DIY When did you realize that you shared a propensity and curiosity for DIY projects?
We’ve always enjoyed creative projects and in high school would get together to scrapbook and puffy paint t-shirts for pep rallies (yes, big nerds all the way!) That love for crafting continued as we went off to college and over summer breaks, we would craft so we could add personal touches to our dorm rooms. After graduation, we were both decorating our first apartments and we didn’t have a lot of money. In order to create cozy spaces we turned to DIY projects to get the look we wanted for less! So creativity has always been at the core of our friendship, and as adults it blossomed into a propensity for DIY projects.

How did The DIY Playbook come to be?
When decorating our first homes, we enjoyed searching flea markets and antique stores to find the perfect, budget-friendly pieces for our spaces. Many of those finds needed a little TLC, so we got into painting furniture and putting our own personal touch on our purchases. We loved showing off our latest DIY projects to one another, as well as our family and friends, and figured the best way to do that was via the internet. That’s when we decided to start a blog. It started as a place to document our DIY projects, and over the past 4 years it has turned into a popular website with readers all over the world.

How did your design eye develop?  Did you always tinker with tools or is this a new adventure?
We’ve always considered ourselves to be “creatives” but had absolutely no skills with power tools, painting, or DIY in general. Everything we’ve learned has been self-taught, mostly through trial and error! A lot of research goes into all of our projects, but we really learn the most just by doing. Five years ago we didn’t even know what a miter saw was, now we use ours on a regular basis!

Describe the homes you live in… and the homes you grew up in? Did the homes you grew up in influence your current preferences and styles?
While our homes are different, we share a similar design aesthetic. We adore neutrals, and really bring a space to life with plants, texture and items that are important to us. At the core of The DIY Playbook is a mission for everyone’s home to tell their story. That’s why we feel it is so important to inject personal touches into your home, which can be done by incorporating family heirlooms, photos, or quirky collections that help tell your unique story.

Our homes growing up certainly influenced our design style, most noticeably because we both grew up in homes that were very warm, welcoming, and always full of family and friends. That’s the feeling we strive to inject into each of our current homes.

Casey, how does your education work into The DIY Playbook?
I went to the University of Notre Dame studying Journalism, Film, & Television. I started my career as a TV news reporter and since then have held many jobs within the media, production, and television world. I’ve always had a love for writing and storytelling, and that is a big reason why I love blogging so much. It gives me a chance to tell stories every day and connect with a global audience.

Bridget, where did you go to school and what did you study?  How has that influenced your work with The DIY Playbook?
I went to Eastern Illinois University and studied Family and Consumer Sciences and Secondary Education. Combining the two, I was extremely fortunate to start my career as a Family & Consumer Sciences teacher at the high school where we both attended. Being able to take classes in college and then work in a position that encouraged creativity continuously reminded me of how much I loved to be creative. That passion for creativity morphed into a passion for DIY projects and was very influential in the birth of The DIY Playbook.

I love the concept of your homes as the test-labs for new products and projects.  Have you ever had a misstep or snafu?  What happens… or does it ever happen when the wheels come off the cart?
Oh my goodness…YES! We’ve had plenty of failed projects and we’ve documented them on the blog. At the end of the day, we are not licensed contractors or trained interior designers. Instead we’re regular gals just trying to create homes that we love, which means we make mistakes all the time. But that’s how we learn and improve, so we’re always open to trying a project…even if it isn’t a success on the first try. And it’s these “rookie mistakes” that help us reinforce to our readers that we are not professionals and instead, are average homeowners trying to create homes that we love one project at a time.

Are your husbands handy?  Do they ever participate in projects or have opinions on home decorating?
This is a commonly asked question on The DIY Playbook. And no, our husbands are not handy…at all. But while we do the handy-work around the home, they do all the cooking in the household. It’s a bit of a role reversal, but it works well for both of our marriages. And although they aren’t directly involved in any of our DIY projects, we couldn’t accomplish what we do around the house or on the blog without their unwavering support.  While they don’t often participate in DIY projects, they certainly have opinions on home related matters and we always take them into consideration. At the end of the day, we want to create a home that our husbands love too. Luckily, they trust us when it comes to the decor and we think they’re both pretty happy with how our homes have turned out!

What’s the best part of being a homeowner?
There are so many wonderful aspects of being a homeowner, but the best is being able to put your own personal touch on any aspect of the home because it’s yours! It’s also really fun to experiment in our homes. Since we’re both in our first homes and not our “forever homes” we’re trying to navigate and solidify our styles. To do that, we’re open to trying all kinds of projects and looks within our current homes. It’s great to be able to do that!

What are the biggest challenges you face as a homeowner?
Being a homeowner is like being an artist with a blank canvas. As much as we think personalizing this blank canvas is the best part of homeownership, we also think it can be one of the biggest challenges at the same time. Having the confidence to make decisions or step outside your comfort zone to try new things is not easy, especially when you know that you must live with these design decisions.

Your concept of homeownership as a journey is refreshing. Does this approach help you to get over the fear of failure that some homeowners are paralyzed with? How do you find the courage to tackle projects?
We confidently believe that homeownership is more of a journey and not a destination. Creating a home that reflects your style and your story takes time and accepting that the process of building your “home” as a journey will help give you the confidence, motivation and patience to buckle up and enjoy the ride! DIY-ing and decorating is not always easy and often times comes with a little (or sometimes a lot) of frustration, but the adventure of trying new things, learning new skills, and having some fun along the way makes all the hard work well worth it in the end. It’s that same sense of accomplishment and excitement that motivates us to try new projects, even if they seem intimidating.

What is your favorite tool, gadget, gizmo or power tool?
Hmmm… that’s a tough one! It’s hard to choose a favorite tool but if we had to choose just one we would probably say a power drill. Before getting into DIY projects, a power drill seemed pretty intimidating. But to our rookie DIYers out there, we promise it’s not nearly as scary as it seems! We love the power drill because it’s pretty easy to learn, yet can be used for DIY projects of all shapes and sizes.

What 3 words best describe your decorating/design style?
Bright.  Comfortable.  Collected.

Can you share some advice for homeowners on how to approach decorating?
Our two biggest pieces of advice when it comes to decorating would be to only decorate with items that you love and to make sure your space tells your story. As long as you are surrounded by items that inspire you, you will slowly create a home that you love and one you are proud to come home to.

What mistakes are most commonly made by homeowners?
To us, the most common mistakes made by homeowners involve decorating without purpose or intention and it’s one that we have definitely been guilty of! Far too often we see people buying furniture and home decor because they are trendy at the moment or because they need to check off that item on their to-do list. But these impulse purchases usually lead to design regret, which can rob a homeowner of loving their home and being excited to bring people into it. We encourage homeowners to take their time in making these decisions and purchase with purpose and intention so that everything they bring into their homes is something you will love now and well into the future.

What have you learned from producing your blog?
We have learned that you are capable of a lot more than you give yourself credit for and sometimes it just requires you to step outside that comfort zone in order to accomplish something you never thought you could. If someone would have told us before we started the blog that we would not only know how to work power tools, but also use them to tackle DIY projects all by ourselves, we would have NEVER believed them! But now we know that we can, all because we stepped way outside of our comfort zone to give it a try and we’re so grateful that we did because it has brought us so much joy and has provided us opportunities we never could have anticipated.

Where can people find you on-line?
We would love for you to join The DIY Playbook team by visiting www.thediyplaybook.com and following along as we share tips, tricks and DIY tutorials five days a week.

We are also on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest @diyplaybook.

The DIY Playbook will be appearing at The Old House New House Home Show on Sunday, February 10th, 2017 at Noon.  Visit www.kennedyproductions.com for event specifics.