Note: This is the first DIY Corner, an occasional series featuring DIY projects submitted by readers.
Two years ago, Araya Jensen and her husband Jordan finally found the time to give their Eden Prairie home some TLC.
The house, which they had bought in a foreclosure sale more than a decade earlier, needed updating and a makeover. Life got in the way, however, until the pandemic found them with a bit more free time.
Jensen, art director, photographer and handyman, put her talent for visual arts and DIY skills to work. It helped that she was also a kitchen and bathroom designer and previously owned a housewares brand called Willful Goods.
While the couple outsourced most of the renovations, which included opening up the floor plan and rearranging most rooms, Jensen took control of the design and decor.
She opted for a floral theme, tying the pieces together with a mix of transparent and abstract flowers. The highlight is its DIY sunflower mosaic fireplace surround.
Learning Curve: During the remodel, Jensen designed the tiled floor in the powder room (a floral pattern, of course). She also learned how to install a glass tile backsplash in the kitchen. So she brought these skills together when reframing the wood-burning fireplace in the living room.
“I tiled a wall, so I was sure I could do it,” she said. “So I just took my time and did it.”
Marguerite Upsy: Jensen started drawing different patterns, flowers and hues. She ultimately settled on a sunflower theme. Once the tiles arrived, she laid out the pieces in a life-size mosaic on the living room floor before installing the pieces one by one. A week later, the project was finished.
“My style is almost like a simple, modern Scandinavian and that’s kind of what eventually led me to do simple white, black and yellow. There’s a bit of green in there for the leaves,” said she declared. “It matched the theme of the house – a bit more graphic and a bit more modern.”
Cost: $300 for matte white and black mosaic ceramic tile from Build With Ferguson, build.com; yellow and green glass mosaic tiles from Mosaic Tile Outlet, mosaictileoutlet.com; adhesive and grout.
DIY tip: Jensen recommends ordering tile samples before making a final decision. She ended up selecting four types of tiles in different colors and finishes from two different companies to achieve the look she wanted. “There are some colors in matte and some in gloss,” she said.
Flowers forever: The powder room floor and the living room fireplace weren’t the only places Jensen was infused with floral designs. Custom daisy pendants hang above the 10-foot kitchen island, and sunflower canvases painted by her children hang in the kitchen.
And the money goes to: If there’s one finalist for Jensen’s favorite DIY project, it would be a hand-painted mural that depicts the family’s favorite things. The mural Jensen painted hangs in the entryway with each family member pictured: flowers for Jensen, white pines for her nature-loving husband, volleyballs for their daughter, and hockey pucks for their son.
The reward: Jensen couldn’t be happier with the DIY keys. “Our family finally put our happy stamp on it,” she said. “It was a personal dream, 10 years in the making.”
This is especially true with the sunflower mosaic fireplace surround.
“You walk in and it’s an immediate focal point. You can’t be happy when you see it,” Jensen said. “Also, no one else has the same, so it’s fun.”
If you have a favorite DIY project, we’d love to hear about it. Just send a few snapshots, along with a brief description, to [email protected] We’ll feature readers’ DIY projects in future issues.