Note: This is the first DIY Corner, an occasional series showcasing do-it-yourself projects submitted by readers.
Two years ago, Araya Jensen and her husband Jordan finally found the time to give their Eden Prairie home a little TLC.
The home, which they had bought in a foreclosure sale more than a decade earlier, had been in need of a remodeling and makeover. Life got in the way, however, until the pandemic found them with a little more time on their hands.
Jensen, an art director, photographer and DIYer, put her knack for the visual arts and do-it-yourself skills to work. It helped that she had also been a kitchen and bath designer and formerly owned a housewares brand called Willful Goods.
While the couple outsourced most of the remodeling, which included opening up the floor plan and revamping most of the rooms, Jensen took control of the design and decor.
She decided on a floral theme, tying the rooms together with a mix of transparent and abstract blossoms. The highlight is her DIY sunflower mosaic fireplace surround.
Learning curve: During the remodeling, Jensen designed the tile floor in the powder room (a floral pattern, of course). She also learned to install a glass tile backsplash in the kitchen. So she put those skills together when it came time to reframe the wood-burning fireplace in the living room.
“I’ve tiled a wall, so I was sure I could do this,” she said. “So I just took my time and did it.”
Upsy daisy: Jensen started sketching different patterns, flowers and hues. She ultimately decided on a sunflower theme. Once the tiles arrived, she laid the pieces out into a full-scale mosaic on the living room floor before installing the pieces one by one. A week later, the project was complete.
“My style is almost like a Scandinavian simple modern and that’s kind of what ultimately led me to do the simple white, black and yellow. There’s a little bit of green in there for the leaves,” she said. “It fit with the theme of the house — a little more graphic and a little more modern.”
DIY tip: Jensen recommends ordering tile samples before making a final decision. She ended up selecting four kinds of tile in various colors and finishes from two different companies to get the look she wanted. “There are certain colors in matte and certain ones in glossy,” she said.
Flowers forever: The powder room floor and living room fireplace were not the only places Jensen infused with floral patterns. Custom daisy pendants dangle over the 10-foot kitchen island and sunflower canvases painted by her kids hang in the kitchen.
And the silver goes to: If there’s a runner-up to Jensen’s favorite do-it-yourself project, it would be a hand-painted mural that represents the family’s favorite things. The mural that Jensen painted sits in the entryway with each family member represented: flowers for Jensen, white pine trees 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 touches. “Our family has finally put our joyful stamp on this,” she said. “This was a personal dream, 10 years in the making.”
That’s especially true with the sunflower mosaic fireplace surround.
“You walk in and it’s an immediate focal point. You can’t not be happy when you see it,” Jensen said. “Plus no one else has the same thing, 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 showcase readers’ DIY projects in upcoming issues.