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Dad Inspired Me to DIY

Filed Under: Holidays, Crafts & Celebrations

Brian Kelsey, Father's DayMy dad, Jim, and I building the deck in my current house. Photo: Brian Kelsey

My name is Brian Kelsey, and I am an obsessed DIYer...and it's all because of my dad.

Growing up, it took me a while to realize that there were professional men and women who were actually hired to perform such tasks as laying tile, building cabinetry, and fixing plumbing and electrical problems. Why? Because in my household, my dad took on these roles.

Brian Kelsey"Helping" my dad build our family room in 1974. Photo: Brian Kelsey

Throughout the 20 years I spent in our small family house, I soaked up all I know today about renovation. Some of my favorite childhood memories involve going to the lumberyard with my dad on weekends. That familiar, wonderful smell of pine still makes a smile as I walk into the very same lumberyard with my young sons.

Okay, I wasn't always such a willing participant. My teen years had their fair share of "I'm too cool to help my dad" moments. One moment in particular stands out: When I was 16 and helping my dad pour a concrete slab for our patio.

Dad was troweling the concrete in the forms while I was wheelbarrowing the concrete from the truck. I got tired of that pretty quickly and left him high and dry for band practice -- while he was left with a truck full of quickly hardening concrete!

Between the driver and my frustrated dad, they were just barely able to get the last bit of concrete off the truck. By the time they got to the last section, the concrete had set so much that it was impossible to smooth it out completely. To this day that section is still as rough as a corn cob. (And you can bet after my article How To Pour Concrete was published here on DIY Life, I got a call from dear old dad!)

Brian Kelsey Me and my helper -- my son CJ -- in 2004. Photo: Brian Kelsey

As I got older, I appreciated my dad's talents more, and strived to be like him. When I was 23, he came to the house my buddies and I were renting, and built a wall in the basement. I realized how lucky I was to have a dad who would (and could) do that for me. I learned techniques that hot afternoon that I still use every time I put up a wall myself.

Most of my dad's projects were successes -- but there were those not-so-successful endeavors too (case in point: the oak veneer he put up over the kitchen sink back in the 80's; it kept bubbling and peeling off, and was the bane of his existence). I learned from dad's efforts that things don't always turn out the way you planned, and that's okay. Making mistakes is part of DIYing.

Brian KelseyHelping my dad build a wall. Photo: Brian Kelsey

These days, my dad and I have our differences when it comes to DIYing. He's had the same pair of pliers for the last 20 years, whereas I have gone through a handful in the past few years alone. In fact, I own more tools at my age than he has owned in his whole life. He still cracks up when he sees me on TV talking about drywall, tiling, or cabinetmaking. It's a generation-renovation gap that I'm sure I'll share with my boys one day. (Oh, and he may not quite understand what a blog is, but he happily reads mine, The Making of A Home Renovation Show.)

These days, I'm a long way from being dad's apprentice...but I'll never forget that I learned it all from him.

  • DIYer2

    Your story was very heart warming. I'm a woman but I watched my dad make things around the house as well and I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the smell of wood. I've done a few projects myself and it's so gratifing when you're done. We need more kids spending valuable time with parents learning what they have to pass on. God Bless

  • Leon

    Too bad that for me, such experiences and skills are NEVER recognized as marketable. Unless I had some PROFESSIONAL PROOF of these skills. Since I had none, and none were recognized or recommended for me, I still have the skills, but not the employment to use them.

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