The “Merrypad-Dadand” DIY Duo: In the Workshop
Merrypad's Emily Winters and Dadand's Pete Fazio share a behind-the-scenes look at their DIY lives.
She had a load of lumber to get home from the Home Depot. He had a car big enough to take it. Emily Winters and Pete Fazio, both of Rochester, NY, were weekday work colleagues who shared a passion for weekend DIY projects. Over the course of building a deck one summer, their friendship turned romantic, and the following spring, Pete moved into Emily’s 1350-square-foot, 3 bedroom, 1 bath, work-in-progress house, and he brought his tools with him.
Most of Pete’s stuff landed in the basement alongside Emily’s growing arsenal of DIY essentials. The 25′ x 25′ space accommodates machinery, hand tools, laundry, extra kitchen appliances, holiday decorations, and architectural salvage which Emily collects with abandon. Whatever does not fit here goes out to the garage, up in the attic, or under the guest room bed. Pete says, “Our space fluctuates greatly between being super-anally organized to complete disarray.” Emily assumes most of the responsibility for the mess.
Two workbenches anchor the area. Pete built the larger one; Emily, the smaller. Pete’s was made from a sketch that Marty, his crazy and inspiring blogging partner, provided. It has plenty of underneath shelf space for power tools and kits. For her bench, Emily turned to lumber left over from “demolishing the lame basement bathroom.” Originally intended as a potting bench, it has become home to the sliding compound miter saw. Cody, Emily’s Bernese Mountain dog, is also a basement fixture and is known to nap during heavy construction.
“We don’t even swear until someone gets whaled on the finger with a hammer,” says Emily.
Both Emily and Pete credit their families with cultivating their respective construction, design, and repair urges. Emily watched her parents take down walls, change roof lines and modify the floor plan of a century-old farmhouse. Since infancy, she’s found the whir of the drill has been unusually comforting. Pete inherited his love of taking things apart and putting them back together from his parents, avid tinkerers who liked to improve upon, or extend the life of, a product with simple tweaks and repairs. Pete fondly recalls the family replacing a broken grill handle with a sawed-off broom handle.
Equipped with an early education, Pete and Emily now flourish in the DIY world. In addition to the hands-on projects they plan and complete, they deftly navigate social media and the blogosphere. Emily hosts Merrypad, a site she started so friends and family could peek in on house renovations. She also contributes regularly to DIY Network’s “The Pegboard.” Pete is a web designer by day. When not writing code, he co-authors dadand, a site that blends an affinity for gadgetry with a love of parenting. Pete also maintains his own namesake site and builds forts lit by glow bracelets for his daughter.
“I love that, in some tiny way, we’re putting info out there that might help someone… and maybe entertain them,” Pete says. The pair is always at-the-ready to lend experience, skills, and help to friends tackling their own DIY projects. Emily says, “We love helping them save money and realize that things aren’t as bad as they seem.” This busy couple makes sure to reserve some alone time. Tuesday is date night and it often begins with a walk down the aisles of Home Depot. “Romantic!” Emily chimes.