Russian Language Blog

DIY Russian Style Posted by on Sep 29, 2014 in when in Russia

If you visited Russia or talk to people from the region, you will know that they prefer to do many things from scratch that people in other areas might rather buy or have someone do for them. I will be talking about my experience with Russia, but this probably generalizes to other countries in the region. Feel free to add based on your observations.

Home Improvements

Ремонт (renovations, home improvements, remodeling) is a huge part of home ownership in Russia. As you may know, most people live in high-rise-building apartments/condominiums that they normally own or rent from the city, as opposed to renting from a private company or landlord. A lot of these apartments are pretty much an empty box when you move in, although some are “turnkey” (квартиры под ключ).

That means that people have to take care of putting the finishing touches (отделка) inside their apartment, which may include any of the following things:

  • линолеум – linoleum
  • паркет – hardwood floors
  • сантехника – plumbing, such as sinks and faucets
  • светильники – light fixtures
  • двери – doors

and many more.

People will sometimes hire a сантехник (plumber) or электрик (electrician), but that may be done on a case-by-case basis, meaning that the family will live in a semi-finished apartment until the next area is taken care of. Ремонт may last for years, and sometimes by the time one round is finished, the next round will start because the initially installed amenities will need to be replaced!


Your typical Russian wedding (свадьба) is nowhere near as expensive or elaborate as in some other countries. There are detailed posts about Russian weddings on this blog, but I would like to concentrate on the DIY aspect.

First of all, many couples will have their reception in their own or their parents’ apartment. There are no elaborate matching outfits or choreographed ceremonies. Rehearsal dinners are virtually unheard of.

Many times, the relatives of the newlyweds will cook the meals and take care of the decorations. To be fair, more and more couples rent a restaurant for their reception and have an external caterer, but spontaneity is still very much present at these weddings.


When I was growing up in the early post-USSR years, many women still made the clothes for their families from scratch. They would often cut out the patterns (выкройки) from specialized magazines, such as the German Otto or Burda Moden and sew (шили) the clothes.

They would also often knit (вязали) or crochet (вязали крючком). Many households had their own sewing machines (швейная машина) or overlockers (оверлок). As clothes became more available, affordable, and diverse in the late nineties, families shifted to buying rather than making their own clothing.


Finally, Russians will often prepare from scratch foods and ingredients that are bought ready elsewhere. Examples include

  • тесто (dough) – many a Russian cook knead (месят) their own from scratch.
  • фарш (ground meat) – although you can buy it ready, most Russian households have their own meat grinder (мясорубка).
  • сок (juice) – a juicer (соковыжималка) is also a staple of a Russian kitchen.
  • овощи и фрукты (lit., vegetables and fruits; produce) – most people will grow at least some of their produce in what many call a dacha (дача) or, as I am used to calling it, a garden/orchard (сад) in the suburbs or the country.

While many of these DIY skills are no longer essential for a comfortable life, some people still hold on to them in order to preserve their independence and be confident about the quality of the end product. What is your experience with DIY projects, either in Russia, in the neighboring countries, or outside the Russian-speaking realm?

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About the Author: Maria

Maria is a Russian-born translator from Western New York. She is excited to share her fascination with all things Russian on this blog. Maria's professional updates are available in English on her website and Twitter and in Russian on Telegram.


  1. Tom Maholski:


    My grandparents all came from Poland. They, and my parents and now i all kept a garden. just this morning, my wife put some ground beef in a pan to brown. Then she added some tomatoes, about then she asked me to go in the garden and get some fresh cabbage and okra. It went into the pot. We will make some bow tie noodles and when it cooks, we will have what we call goulash for supper tonight.

    I guess we follow the old way, but my son and his wife are not like that. They run down to the store and buy everything they need.

    • Maria:

      @Tom Maholski Tom,

      Thank you for your comment. It does seem to be generational and also related to how readily available prepared ingredients and foods are. For the longest time, basic foods were out of reach for many people in Russia, so they learned to make do with what they could grow/cook on their own.