Design Improvised Turns Five – A Look Back at the Last 5 Years!

Design Improvised Turns 5

Photo by Candice Stringham

Design Improvised turned 5 years old this past week and I’ve been celebrating by taking some time off! I hope you don’t mind that it has been quiet on the blog the last few weeks. I have been enjoying some downtime while also scheming up some big plans for Design Improvised in 2016!

Over the past 5 years, blogging has become such a part of who I am that I almost can’t imagine life without it. I’ve written 533 posts since my first post back in Jan 2011! Most of my posts are craft / DIY tutorials, so that means I’ve made upwards of 500 things. That’s nuts! In the last 5 years, I’ve had nearly 2 million different people visit my site from all over the world. If you told me in 2011 that I would still be plugging away at my blog and loving it, I’m not sure I would’ve believed it. But here I am!

Blogging for me has been a journey of self-discovery, getting to the core of what I love and do best, and identifying areas that I’m not great at. It has been a self-taught process of acquiring and honing skills that I’ve never had before (you should see my photography back in 2011!), and applying my marketing background in completely different ways to become an entrepreneur of sorts – something I had never really anticipated or sought when I started Design Improvised.

Blogging can be thrilling, exhausting, frustrating, and motivating all at once. But above all it has been soul-filling, and a true labor of love. As I embark on another year, I thought it would be fun to look back to some of the highlights over the past five:


  • Started Design Improvised as a new stay-home mom living in a Chicago condo with my husband Ross, 1 year old Stella, and Hazel on the way!
  • Stella’s big girl room became my first design project and this “Red and Green Christmas” was my first holiday decor post. Always a hoot to look back at my “early work”!
  • Really had no idea what I was doing this year and had next to no readers beyond my family, but I knew I had discovered something I loved doing.

Blind your eyes… it’s the Design Improvised of the early days:



  • Posted this ad to Craigslist in hopes of getting my first room design client – and it worked! It was the start to numerous room design projects for others over the years.
  • Began hosting monthly Design Improvised DIY Nights with a handful of friends to drink wine while crafting – I miss those nights!
  • Amped up my crafting and had some of my biggest hits EVER. These pretty roses, paper pinwheels, and neon painted outdoor rug continue to drive traffic to the blog!
  • Started taking online blogging classes – a true game changer for me and my first opportunity to connect with other bloggers.
  • Won ticket to blogger conference Alt Summit NYC – held at Martha Stewart’s HQ (dream come true)! I loved the Alt conference so much I attended four more over the years.
  • Developed my first brand relationships with posts for The Land of Nod and Kollabora.

Made my first business cards (I still love these!):



  • Finally started to get serious about improving my photography by investing in a DSLR camera and taking an online tabletop photography class. What a difference it made!
  • Saw my projects featured more widely across magazine websites and big blogs (yay!) and started working with Better Homes and Gardens with this guest post on their site.
  • Our family made a big move from our condo in Chicago to a home in San Antonio, creating an endless list of home projects and the start of a multi-year partnership with You can see all the fun rooms we designed together on my styleboards!
  • Was thrilled to join Martha Stewart’s “12 Months of Martha” blogger team.

Had my first and only viral DIY. These pom-pom balloons have been pinned nearly 1 million times! This project started my love for crafting with balloons:

Photo by Annie Parish Photography


  • My craft room was featured on the cover of Creative Spaces magazine!
  • I hosted a fun Mother’s Day DIY night at the local Anthropologie in San Antonio.
  • My file cabinet makeover went nuts on Pinterest and was selected for Better Homes and Garden’s March Makeover Madness competition
  • Overall it was an exciting year of settling into San Antonio, getting involved in the local blogger community, and staying busy decorating our new home!


  • Created some of my favorite projects including my Thrifty DIYs for Goodwill San Antonio and lots of balloon projects.
  • Became more involved in local San Antonio scene with a regular myDIY column in the SA Express News and frequent appearances on SA Live!

So what’s in store for 2016? For starters, I have an exciting new brand partnership and a magazine feature coming up (more on that to come!). The rest of the year is really a blank slate. That’s the exciting thing about blogging – you never know what will come next! What a ride it has been, and I can’t thank you enough for being a part of it. Design Improvised would be nothing without you!!

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