Creative and stylish kids projects and a low-cost laundry renovation ensured young mother-of-three Jessica Brouwer has made a big splash in the Workshop community.
Known as @prettyliving on Workshop, Jessica is just 29 and lives in Perth with her husband Rhys and three young children.
“From a young age I’ve always loved to be creative, it runs through my family,” Jess says. “As I’ve grown, built a house and started a family, I’ve developed more of a passion for it. I’ve learnt more skills and now use them in bigger projects around our home.”
Jess has always loved to be creative
Jessica’s $500 Bunnings laundry reno has been one of the year’s most popular projects, but it’s genesis was something of an accident. “We had plans to renovate the laundry, however budget-wise it wasn’t on top of our priority list,” Jess explains. “Then one day I was at Bunnings and I spotted the $99 base cabinets and the $99 benchtop. I had a lightbulb moment so I raced home to measure up our laundry.
“Rhys and I had never done a reno before so we spent some time watching tutorials on YouTube and the Bunnings website for tips and advice before starting. I learnt a lot of new skills through this project, one of them being tiling.”
Jess managed a restaurant prior to becoming a stay-at-home mum, and says her favourite project to date is the ute bookshelf she made for her son. “I am particularly proud as it’s the biggest project I’ve done on my own from start-to-finish.
“It was also the most challenging project I’ve done so far, I spent a fair bit of time drawing up multiple sketches of ways I could build it. So it was very rewarding working on it and then seeing it turn out exactly how I had visioned it.”
Projects that Jess would like to tackle next include a climbing frame and a mud kitchen to help keep her kids entertained outdoors. Her long-term dream is to move down to beautiful Albany and build or renovate a home on a large property.
Jess says she loves the entire D.I.Y. process, “from brainstorming an idea, getting creative, building my confidence and knowledge with the use of tools, and mostly that feeling of accomplishment when completing a project.”
Powered by plenty of coffee, Jess built her confidence and skills by starting with smaller projects, including craft activities and painting furniture. “Then one day I asked Rhys to teach me how to use a drill so I could hang up some frames. From there my confidence grew and I just wanted to learn more, so he taught me how to use other power tools. Once I knew how to use a variety of tools, I looked at everything differently, instead of buying certain things I would make them.”
To other women who might lack the confidence to get on the tools, Jess says “don’t be afraid of failure”. “Failing is part of learning, and if you learn from it then it’s not a failure.
“Start off with small projects and basic tools that you are confident with then continue to challenge yourself as your confidence grows. Watch tutorials, ask for tips and advice. As your knowledge continues to grow, so will your confidence, and it’s so rewarding.”
This ute bookshelf is Jessica's favourite project
The best D.I.Y. advice she has received is “If it doesn’t work, take a step back, re-evaluate and try again. Don’t give up.”
Jess says her favourite tool is her Ryobi drill, while her mitre saw and electric sander also get plenty of work. “I have a little corner in the garage with a bench where most of my projects take place. I wouldn’t call it a workshop but it works perfectly for now.”
When in Bunnings, Jess says she loves the storage aisles. “I’m big on organisation and storage in my home, so I’m always interested in practical storage solutions, whether that be containers for the pantry or shelves for the garage.”
If she ever confronts a tough problem or needs advice, Jess says she typically heads to community groups and forums such as Workshop.
Jess was drawn to the Workshop community as she was at a point where she “really wanted to learn more, share my projects and be inspired by others”. “I was very excited to come across the Workshop community and meet people with the same passion and goals as me, that I could learn with and from.”
Jess now encourages others to join. “It’s both a friendly and encouraging community. The best part is, it doesn’t matter whether you’ve got no D.I.Y. experience whatsoever and want to learn or if you’ve got years of experience, you’ll always fit right in.
"I’ve gained so much knowledge and inspiration since I’ve joined and I’m always learning more.”