When the Mystery Smell Is Your DIY Project… FAIL!

DIY Wood Bath Mat bamboo alternative placemats Bed Bath Beyond odor mystery smell project fail cork The Decor Guru

Has a smell or odor popped up in your home from seemingly nowhere? Recently, I noticed this funk coming from my bathroom... but I assure you it wasn't anything bathroom-related. One night I came home to this sour, metallic odor from the bathroom. Pretty weird combination, right? Because of how it smelled, I assumed something had gone wacky with the plumbing. Even though everything was still working properly, the smell wouldn't go away. I tried everything to mask the odor. No bueno. I sniffed around various spots in the bathroom---the sink, toilet, or shower. Still nothing. One day, something told me to smell the bathmat, and that's where I found my mystery odor. Continue reading to see learn more about my latest DIY fail--- a wood bathmat.

As you know, I’ve been making over my bathroom. After seeing how much this bamboo mat costs, I knew I could make one myself and save some dough.



wood bamboo bath mat


I was pretty proud of this DIY mat, because my only expense was $5 for 2 wood placemats from Bed, Bath & Beyond (clearance!). I lined them up side by side to create one mat…

DIY Wood Bath Mat bamboo alternative placemats Bed Bath Beyond odor mystery smell project fail The Decor Guru

… and then hot glued them to one large sheet of cork. I also glued shelf liner underneath to prevent sliding on the floor.

DIY Wood Bath Mat bamboo alternative placemats Bed Bath Beyond odor mystery smell project fail The Decor GuruIt looked great and held up after a few days of showers, which was my primary concern. If it hadn’t been for the funky smell, I believe this DIY mat would’ve been a success. I still don’t know how such an odor came off of a wood placemat. I’m a pretty sensitive person, so I’m dumbfounded that I never even noticed the smell while I was creating it.

I even went back to Bed, Bath & Beyond, to see if the other placemats they had would be good for a do-over (they’re not). Thinking maybe there was a chemical reaction between the hot glue, cork, and wood, I smelled the other placemats. It was definitely the wood. They all stank.

I decided not to give this project another shot and will instead buy a similar bathmat from Target for $25. (Since I ran out of cork, the expense would be about the same.) Sometimes DIY doesn’t end up being the better option… which is OK. Half the journey is about learning. 🙂

Have you ever had a comical DIY fail? Do you have moments you find the benefits of buying something new outweighs the DIY version?

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24 Comments on When the Mystery Smell Is Your DIY Project… FAIL!

  1. I have had plenty of DIY fails! In fact my tagline is a diary of diy delights and disasters. I’m so sorry it didn’t work out because it looked fantastic.

    Anyway if you’re interested on Fridays I have a linky where you can show off your delights and disasters, if you want to add this to the disasters later in the week, feel free to check it out.

  2. wow that was strange for sure…I wonder if it was the semi-wet cork…but wet cork usually doesn’t smell…thinking of wine of course, lol…it was a very creative project..perhaps re do it, but this time use some water sealant for the wood just in case…I love mysteries but not so much the stinky ones, lol at least you found the source of the funky smell!

    • Right—and I have coasters I made with cork. That’s why I went back to the store to smell the other placemats, LOL. I can only imagine how that looked on their security camera!

      Thanks for commenting and the tip on the sealant!

  3. I can totally relate! Some projects do go south!
    It’s weird that they sell a smelly placemat.

    • Glad to know I’m not the only one! Those placemats were probably on clearance for that very reason. I could barely tolerate the smell in my bathroom… I can’t imagine it being at the dining table! Thanks for commenting and stopping by!

  4. Oh man haha, not every DIY goes as planned haha. But at least this makes a good story 🙂 I’ve had a couple good ‘nail polish fails’ and ‘cooking fails’ on my blog too!


  5. Marty@A Stroll Thru Life // 08/20/2013 at 3:37 PM // Reply

    That’s really a disappointment. I can’t imagine why it smelled. Thanks for linking to Inspire Me. Hugs, Marty

  6. I was making a pinata from tissue paper and homemade paste (flour/water). After the first layer I left the paste on the counter in a bowl with a lid. I guess the flour and water mixture can go rancid. Whoops! Lucky for me I was making it at my BF’s house, haha.

  7. So sorry it didn’t work out because it’s pretty cute. I just posted my latest FAIL project. :/ Live and learn! Stop by my Friday’s Five Features this week and link up this post (and others)! diy-vintage-chic.blogspot.com

  8. Oh my – it was worth a try! We all have DIY fails. 🙂 Thanks for linking up at Tell Us Tuesday!

    Lauren @ muchadoaboutsomethin.com

  9. That is funny. I have one of those bamboo ones I picked up for 9.99 at Marshalls or Home Goods or something. Definitely check it out. Years in the bathroom without a smell! 🙂

  10. Too funny! I agree that not everything should be diy. We’re not experts at everything and that’s ok.

  11. That’s too bad it didn’t work out! I’m doing a similar idea but a little more “spa” focused for my guest bathroom. It’s turning out really well and Target is my go to for things for that bathroom!

  12. Oh no! It looks so cool, though – too bad it turned out that way!

    Thank you so much for linking up with Tell Us Tuesday – I hope you come back again next week!

    On to the next DIY!

  13. I’ve definitely had some fails! Some I laugh at, some not, but it is ALWAYS a learning experience. Your concept was so awesome; I don’t think YOU failed, it was the wood. 🙂

  14. Hi, maybe the smell came from a “preservative” or “water-proofing” treatment given to the wood that was used to make the placemats — similar to how cheap wood is treated that we use to build decks and fencing. It’s dipped in some kind of chemical solution. That’s why you’re not supposed to burn that kind of wood, because the fumes it gives off are hazardous. I’m thinking something similar was done with the placemats. Unfortunately, since most everything we buy these days is made overseas where regulations are, to say the least, rather lax, there is no way of knowing what the heck may have happened to the components of the placemats either before or after they were made! It sure was a cool look, though. I had something similar (maybe) happen, not with respect to placemats and/or bathmat. I used cedar bark to fill up a couple of planters on my deck and then placed potted plants in them and put more cedar bark around them to hold them in place. Unfortunately, a couple of rain storms later they failed the sniff test miserably. Water was caught inside the containers (didn’t have near enough drainage) and turned bad and eeeeuuuuuwwww! The bark didn’t rot or anything, it was the water that smelled. A wood bath mat may not be the best choice for a bathroom, upon consideration. Oh and yep, I’ve had plenty of epic fails in my d-I-y projects over the years, including one today. Oh well.

  15. This is awesome. Not everything can be a success and really, I love stories like this because it keeps things grounded 😉 Good luck on the next one!

  16. Thanks for the warning! I’m sorry it didn’t work. it was a great idea, and pretty, too.

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