[Weekender] Young Koreans overcome DIY fears

By Catherine Chung

Surging popularity of DIY trend credited to social media

  • Published : Jun 15, 2018 - 15:13
  • Updated : Jun 15, 2018 - 16:35

Home is a place that invites a feeling of warmth and comfort.

From the color of the walls to the living room furniture, each added element to a home tells a different story. Overstuffed furnishings, draperies and accessories displayed on a bookshelf are some examples that can offer a glimpse into the life of a home owner.

In the past, older generations of Koreans preferred simplistic features for their home decor. Now, a growing number of 20- and 30-somethings are bringing together creativity and technology as they take on more “do it yourself” projects, according to creative designer Lee Da-won. 

Lee Da-won’s past interior design works (Creative Pribie)
Lee Da-won’s past interior design works (Creative Pribie)

Lee, vice president of Creative Pribie, consulted on many large-scale architectural and interior design projects. Asked about the rising number of DIYers in Korea, Lee attributes the popularity to young Koreans who have been engaged with social media content since an early age.

“Most customers ask where they could find cheap items to decorate their house, while referring to a specific Instagram post. They come to me for help given the project’s perceived benefits of lower cost and convenience before jumping into it.”

DIY home decor tips are shared around the world via numerous design-related magazines and social media. The trend has only started to gain traction among Korean consumers in recent years, partially shown by the rapid growth in social media content.

There are over 600,000 photos on Instagram with the popular “self-interior” hashtag in Korean, with more pictures being added every day. Picture-sharing platforms, such as Pinterest and YouTube are also drawing young Koreans, who are keen to follow the trend, according to Lee. 

Lee Da-won’s past interior design works (Creative Pribie)

Customers can get home decor tips on social media. (Pinterest)

Amid the rising ubiquity of DIY however, Lee voiced concerns that beginners risk failure if the project is approached without a detailed style concept.

Shim Hye-min, 28, an office worker in Seoul, recently got married and has dealt with problems when decorating her home. She is one of many DIYers who found it difficult to choose between hiring professionals and taking on the endeavor herself.

“My husband and I moved into our old apartment unit that had been recently remodeled. With so many products to choose from, we didn’t know where to start,” she said. 

Shim Hye-min and her husband painted their walls a vintage queen blue. (Shim Hye-min)

Aside from cost, Shim worried that the DIY projects would take too long. After scouring several home decor mobile apps, she decided to repaint her walls in a vintage queen blue and refinish the living room floors with beige hardwood.

“At first, we considered doing everything ourselves, but ended up trusting our interior designer to finish the job mostly out of fear of failing. I am still proud. I am actually thinking of new color palates for the doors now,” she said. 

Shim Hye-min’s living room (Shim Hye-min)

Bang Se-woong, a senior architect at HAEAHN Architecture, explained that DIY projects do not have to be complicated. With seven years of experience in arts and design, Bang said DIY works out best when personal aesthetics blends into the home interior.

As a self-proclaimed DIY addict, he said he carried a solid layout of his interior even before moving into his current home. Bang listed a few of his homemade products: a touch-sensitive lamp, a cushion covered by a Hermes dust bag and cotton curtains. 

His home instinctively cried out “artsy.” 

Bang Se-woong collects mini figurines and displays them on a bookshelf. (Bang Se-woong)

Bang Se-woong collects Coca-Cola-inspired items. (Bang Se-woong)

“Personal interests can be used in home decor, making your house cozier,” he explained. For Bang, many miniature figurines, such as Kakao’s Apeach, and Marvel’s Iron Man line his bookshelf. His curtains and rug all bear the classic British slogan “Keep Calm and Carry On.”

“Accessories like these make my house inviting for my friends. But, above all, the decor makes me want to come back home from work, just relax and watch a movie from the self-installed beam projector,” he said. 

Bang Se-woong’s homemade touch-sensitive lamp (Bang Se-woong)

Asked to give future DIYers advice, Bang stressed the importance of doing as much research as possible and more importantly being patient throughout the process even if the final product is less than perfect.

Similar to Bang, Lee also recommends being part of the hands-on experience: “It might seem hard to take a jab at it first. But, once you get a taste of success, DIY can still become an attractive hobby.”

By Catherine Chung (