I can see both sides of this issue. I will openly admit that I (origianlly) came from the "DIY" school of Dhamma practice, and that over time I've naturally moved towards a more traditional stance. Being mindful of not pointing feet twoards Buddha statues, not discussing worldy matters in front of them, being respectdul towards them are not just great practices in mindfulness but great practices in a quality I definitely lack and that I think most of us do: humility. Treating these statues respectfully and in a manner we're unaccustomed to are huge blows to the ego and excellent for Dhamma.
On the other hand, there can be an awful lot of discouragement attached to abiding too closely to traditional idea of respecting Buddhist images too. One of my friends has a Tibetan style Buddha tattooed on his leg. He was in the grocery store a few weeks ago and was reprimanded by an elderly Chinese woman for being disrespectful and not having the tattoo on the upper part of his body. He told me the story later and commented how he was fairly certain that "Buddha wouldn't care where the tattoo was" (I neglected to mention that in some Theravadin circles ANY Buddha tattoo might be problematic). To him it is a constant reminder of, as has been discussed, his highest ideals. To the Chinese lady it was an affront to those same ideals. It's especially tough as, barring surgery, he can't really fix the situation.
This is one of those topics that's very much in the grey area of culture and religious tradition, and while there are some uses that are obviously one thing or the other (a lot of products on theworsthorse.com spring to mind), I think much of this territory needs to be navigated by the living part of the Buddhist tradition (i.e. all of us.)
May all beings be happy!