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Colleen Pastoor grew up with a clever father and a few handy uncles who knew their way around a toolbox. She herself had done some house painting, but once she got married, had babies and became the proud owner of a fixer upper, she and her husband had to learn some serious DIY skills in a hurry. However, most of the information and tutorials they found online were posted by professionals, which she found a little daunting.
“A plumber writing about a plumbing specific thing seemed really intimidating. I felt like I probably shouldn’t touch projects myself,” she says.
As they went along, the couple learned through trial and error, eventually finishing the renovation of their first little home in Kamloops. Right from the beginning of their home improvement journey, Pastoor felt the need to share their DIY experiences and Lemon Thistle blog was born.
“One of the things I love to do on my blog now is to take all the tips we learn and make them accessible for someone like me. It feels a lot more doable when you surround yourself with people who are doing the same thing, in real life or online,” she says.
She and her husband took their DIY design skills on the road. They helped renovate Pastoor’s sister’s Airbnb in Calgary, which was so much fun they bought and fixed up their own Calgary vacation rental.
Lemon Thistle as a brand now has more than 17,000 Instagram followers, 10,000 Facebook fans and 45,000-plus YouTube subscribers, plus tens of thousands more people on her email list. Her layperson’s approach to explaining home design and renovation is a big reason behind her success.
“Anybody can do it themselves. I think when you first start, there’s a fear you’re going to wreck your house, so start with a low commitment DIY project until you build your confidence. People you see online showing their finished product, remember, it’s not their first attempt. Not their first time using tools. If you’re interested in it and keep at it, you will get better,” she says.
Pastoor will be a Main Stage presenter at the 2023 Calgary Fall Home Show at the BMO Centre, running Friday, Sept. 29 to Sunday, Oct 1. Her topic is how to plan your DIY project from start to finish.
“I feel strongly about having a plan because I’ve done it both ways and was overwhelmed. Now, I have a system going,” she says.
She will also host a feature at the show replicating the DIY design she did for her sister’s property, Tux House and Tux Suite. Visitors to the feature can scan QR codes to access Pastoor’s step-by-step DIY tutorials on the transformation of a 1940s house in Calgary’s Tuxedo community.
With 10-year-old twins, plus a seven- and a five-year-old, Pastoor carefully schedules time for her DIY projects, calling it beneficial for her and her family.
“It makes me feel empowered that I can do these things myself,” she says.
Her DIY Design Main Stage presentation at the Calgary Fall Home Show is Friday, Sept. 29 at 4 p.m.; Saturday, Sept. 30 at noon; and Sunday, Oct. 1 at 11 a.m.
For more information about Lemon Thistle and all other Main Stage presentations, visit calgaryfallhomeshow.com.