DIY Project Update

If you’re just joining me for the first time, or if you have other things going on and can’t remember what my last blog post on this topic was about, I will give you a bit of a refresher before I continue with my progress.

For my Master’s program, we were assigned the Networked Learning Project (NLP).  The point of this project is to pick something that you don’t know how to do, do some research on how to do it, and record your progress along the way.  I decided to create Industrial Pipe Shelves for the new condo that I am purchasing.  I was originally inspired by this picture from Joanna Gaines’ blog, At Home, and wanted to recreate the shelving unit.

My inspiration for my industrial pipe shelves from Joanna Gaines’ blog, At Home.

Now that you’re up to speed on what I’m doing, I’ll bring you up to speed on how it’s going.

With my Joanna Gaines photo and supply list in hand, I went to Lowe’s earlier this week to do some supply shopping.  When I got to the plumbing aisle to pick out my pipes, my vision changed very quickly.

I marched right up to the black pipes, just like in the picture, and stopped in my tracks when I saw the price of ONE pipe.  My jaw just about hit the floor when I saw that I would have to pay $9.58 for one of the pipes I needed, and the supply list called for about 12 different sizes of pipes.  Not to mention all of the connectors and flanges I’d need in order to put the unit together.  I’m sure it’s no surprise, but a teacher that just finished up her second year of teaching is not working with an unlimited budget.  When I did a quick estimation in my head, all of supplies would probably cost me about $350.  I just couldn’t rationalize spending that amount of money.

I’m not even going to act like I had a good attitude about my findings.  I was frustrated and didn’t know what I was going to do.  I felt defeated and considered just scrapping this whole idea, emailing my instructors, and telling them that I was going to start over with a whole new idea.

I knew that starting over would probably be worse than finding some other materials to use.  So, I dragged my feet over to the next aisle, where I found some PVC pipes that cost $2.10 each.  After looking at some of the pipes and coming up with a new plan, I decided to load up my cart with PVC supplies.  Still not thrilled with my Plan B, I decided to buy some metallic black spray paint that looks very similar to the color of the pipes I was originally looking at.  Even as I’m sitting here writing this now, I’m not totally convinced that my shelves will look as good with my spray-painted PVC pipes, but I’m going to give it my best try.

After I found my pipes, I had to go to the lumber section to find some wood for the actual shelves.  I found a 96-inch-long piece of wood that I decided I would cut into three shelves.  Since it didn’t make sense to purchase two of the 96-inch-long pieces of wood to get the four shelves like in the picture, I decided to modify my design again, and create a shelving unit with three shelves.

At Lowe’s, they have a wood cutting service. I had them cut my big piece of wood into shelf-sizes.

When all was said and done, I spent about $50 on all my supplies.  To me, much better than the projected $350.

The biggest challenge for me thus far, has been the planning process of this project.  I’m doing something I’ve never done before, so the fact that the supplies didn’t work out the way I had originally planned really threw me off.  After I calmed my frustrations and sat down to think it through, I created a plan and feel better with going forward.

My modified plan that I based off of the plan on Joanna Gaines’, At Home.

Resources and Next Steps

I have been using the Joanna Gaines, At Home, as a guide for modifying my design.  I drew up a new plan for myself, and feel confident in what I’m doing now that I have measurements to go off of.

I watched a YouTube video called How to cut PVC piping using a miter saw.  My dad has a miter saw that he let me use, so I learned how to cut my pipes into the sizes I needed.

I’ve also come up with my next steps:

  • Assemble the PVC pipes into the unit
  • Spray paint the pipes
  • Stain the wood shelves
  • Put the wood onto the pipes and attach to the wall

My nerves have calmed now that I know what’s coming next.   I feel ready to get my hands dirty and to learn from this experience.  “The newcomer has an action to take in the experience, has clear goals, and has a clear sense of what counts as success” (Gee, 2013).  My goals are clear and completing each step is a success.  I can’t wait see what else I learn.

Read Part 1 and Part 3 of my Industrial Pipe Shelf journey!



Gee, J. P. (2013). Digital Media and Learning: A Prospective Retrospective. Retrieved July 27, 2017, from

All photos on this page were taken by me.


2 thoughts on “DIY Project Update”

  1. I love this! You have a great voice in your writing. Especially here:
    “I’m not even going to act like I had a good attitude about my findings. I was frustrated and didn’t know what I was going to do. I felt defeated and considered just scrapping this whole idea, emailing my instructors, and telling them that I was going to start over with a whole new idea.”
    I thought, wow, this sounds just like Jillian. Not only that, it makes your writing way more relatable and readable. I love it! I am jealous of this. I struggle with having my authentic voice come through in my writing. You’re a natural!

    ANYWAYS, I love the project you chose to do. It is challenging, but I bet you will feel so proud when you are done. Considering how much you have had to alter your plan when faced with the realities of the hardware store, I think you’ll even be prouder! It is awesome how easily you were able to quickly modify your plans, at least the portions you’ve shared in this process.

    I think that through the sudden realizations you faced, it gives some insight into how good of a problem solver you are! These are the types of skills our students need to know. Think of all you did within the series of events of this post:
    -Lots of mental math (or iPhone math, still good!)
    -Adjusting your design
    -Using a POWER TOOL of any sort! That is scary!

    Good job being a problem solver & risk-taker. I think those are some of the most important skills for us to model for our students. Look at you! Good job, Jillian! I’m excited to see how this turns out… and then, maybe copy it. I wonder where else you could cut costs? For $350, you are almost better off ordering shelving from Ikea, right? I love a good bargain.

    Again, nice work here!

    Good luck,


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