Entries in DIY (4)


11 Hacks for Annoying Household Headaches

Cruddy bathroom fixtures? Sticky door locks? Fix those maddening nuisances fast.

A slow-draining guest bathtub, a squeaky linen closet door: Fixing routine household issues is très boring when you’ve got sexier projects on your mind, like building a kitchen that would make Ina Garten jealous.

Over time, though, those everyday annoyances will get. on. your. nerves. That’s why we rounded up 11 clever fixes for the tasks that float to the bottom of most homeowners’ to-do lists. You can knock them out in a single weekend and still have plenty of time to get back to looking up remodeling ideas on Pinterest when you’re done.

1. Remove Shower Drain Gunk with a Zip Tie

Retrieve a wig’s worth of hair by connecting three or four zip ties and notching them every half inch with a pair of scissors. Remove the drain catch and feed the chain into the drain. Swivel it around to catch as much clog-causing hair as possible, pull out, remove gunk, and repeat as necessary. Rinse off the makeshift chain and stash it for your next clog. In the meantime, use a drain plug to catch some of the hair.

2. Un-Stick Door Locks

Artfully wiggling your garage key works for getting to your lawnmower, but it won’t do in case of an emergency. Save yourself a trip to the home center for powdered graphite lubricant and DIY your own to oil up tumbler locks.

Twist a mechanical pencil or whittle away a traditional pencil’s wood to expose a few inches of graphite. Slip the exposed graphite into the sticky lock. You can force it if needed, as it will become powder anyway. Slide the key in and out to break up the graphite and turn it in the lock cylinder to lube it for loose unlocking.

3. Refinish Cruddy Bathroom Fixtures with Spray Paint

No matter how much you scrub, those polished metal fixtures that were supposed to look shiny and clean all the time just don’t. Most of the time, they just look gross. That’s why interior designer Lara Fishman of Storm Interiors in Los Angeles warns clients that polished metal can be tough to maintain. They’re magnets for dirt and fingerprints.

But if they work fine, replacing them is a waste of landfill space. So create your own do-over and spray paint them with a coat of matte, metallic paint. It’s easier than you think. Simply remove them from your bathroom sink, spread them out on a protected surface, and give them a sharp new coat of primer and the color of your choice.

4. Stop a Spewing Shower Head with White Vinegar

Your hair looking a little flat after a shower? Not able to rinse out all that deep conditioner? Could be the spray isn’t forceful or targeted enough because of sediment build-up in your showerhead. Fill a medium-sized freezer bag halfway with white vinegar and submerge your shower head in it. Wrap a thick rubber band around the bag to secure it to the shower head and leave it overnight. In the morning, remove the bag and let the shower run at least two minutes before showering (so you won’t smell like vinegar).

5. Silence Noisy Hinges with Olive Oil

Or grease. Seriously. Skip the commercial lubricants, which, according to internet lore, may or may not be the cause of your door’s horror movie sound effects. The point is, your hinges need lubricating. And the oils in your kitchen will do the job just as well, and probably better. Olive oil, veg oil, coconut oil, etc. Just be careful to clean first, and don’t overdo it. Leaving excess oil on a dirty surface can make the oil turn rancid.

6. Smooth Out Beaten-Up Wood Trim with Nail Polish

A nick on a gorgeous, shellac-ed windowsill that’s original to your 1955 bungalow may go unnoticed for now, but it’ll grow worse over time. Grab a bottle of clear nail polish topcoat and fill in the wood craters for an even surface. Let it dry completely and gently even out any resulting bumps with fine sandpaper.

7. Clean Gutters Without a Ladder

Clearing out the gutters gets a (deserved) bad rap for being a total pain. Cindy Stumpo, founder of C. Stumpo Development Inc. and an expert featured on HGTV’s “Tough as Nails,” has hacked the annoying task. She attaches a long PVC pipe to a leaf blower to avoid hauling out the ladder. Genius!

8. Fix a Vinyl or Linoleum Floor Tear with a Hair Dryer

The oddly placed floor mat hasn’t fooled anyone since you accidentally tore up a spot or two on your linoleum floor when you dragged in that (fabulous!) flea-market hutch find. Don’t fret, just pull out your hair dryer. Use the warm air to stretch out the material and reattach it to the subfloor as the glue melts. (Don’t worry. The material is malleable enough to stretch without causing burns to the skin.)

9. Silence Squeaky Floorboards with Talcum Powder

The spot in the hallway you’ve trained yourself to avoid is actually a super simple low-maintenance fix. Sprinkle talcum powder over the trouble boards, then sweep the powder into the cracks between the boards with a makeup brush. Because it’s actually moisture that causes the creaks (who knew?), and the powder will soak it right up.

10. Stretch Out Light Bulb Switches with LEDs

You’d rather endure a dark driveway for weeks than go through the hassle of dragging out a ladder to reach the security light. Sean Dore, owner of Mr. Electric of Baton Rouge, La., says invest in LEDs already. You’ll get bright light and not have to change them for years and years!

11. Stash Paint Samples for Quick Touch-Ups

Those wall scuffs from the backs of your chairs, furniture rearrangements, and trying to cram a dining room table through a doorway without taking it apart first give your walls a sad, dingy look. Forgo the drop cloth and white overalls for big paint jobs by stealing this trick from Monica Mangin, DIY expert and host of the new Lowe’s original series “The Weekender”: Keep small containers of your paint colors and a small brush handy. Covering up knicks and dings will take five minutes flat!

Credit: ELIZABETH LILLY is the site editor for “This Old House,” where she’s written about paint colors, chicken coops, and nearly every home improvement project in between. She uses her New York City apartment as a laboratory for executing her latest DIY ideas.




These playroom ideas aren’t just for the little ones.Chalkboard and paper rolls in a child's playroom

What makes a playroom amazing? Brightly painted walls? A trampoline? For the real answer, don’t ask a kid. The right playroom project can make your home more functional and enjoyable for the entire family.

In a world of Pinterest inspiration and DIY video tutorials, there’s no reason your kids’ playroom can’t work just as much magic for you as it does for your kids’ imaginations. Here, three parents (and grandparents) pull off DIY playroom projects that the kids love — almost as much as they do.

A Working Mom’s Perfect Play Solution

Los Angeles mother Ana Kha wanted a place for her 3-year-old son, Julien, to play while she worked. Considering her profession — Kha paints children’s artwork — it made sense to turn a room near her studio into both a playroom and gallery, where she could let her son loose during the day and display her newest work to curious customers.

The result? Kha can get more work done in her studio, plus she has a fantastical gallery full of ever-changing, homemade accents to impress her customers and delight Julien for hours on end.

Indoor swing in a child's playroomImage: Jujuzozo Kids

The set-up includes a birch ladder constructed from sticks Kha purchased, an asymmetrical painted wooden house, and — at the center of it all — a working swing. Built from rope and simple, blonde wood, the handmade creation transforms Kha’s playroom into a childlike paradise.

“I saw a picture of Scandinavian design on Instagram and some lady had a swing in her bedroom,” Kha says. “I was like, oh my god, it’s so beautiful. I thought it would be cool to have it in my room.”

Kha works with a handyman friend to construct her unique creations, with the swing — surprisingly — being one of the easiest to make. Fitting in with the room’s simple, ethereal-rustic theme, the swing was built with plywood, ropes, and hooks carefully installed into the ceiling.

Indoor swing in a child's playroomImage: Jujuzozo Kids

“It’s really secure,” Kha says. “I can swing on it as well.”

Secure seat for indoor swingImage: Jujuzozo Kids

How’s that for a work break? With everything working parents have to juggle, a playroom that helps mom’s productivity and her sales all while keeping her kid occupied is a fantasy come true for the whole family.

Playroom/gallery in Los AngelesImage: Jujuzozo Kids

More Bang for the Bunk

Corralling three grandchildren into one space — and keeping them entertained — can be a challenge. Making space for them to sleep in there too? Good luck. But Alvin and Kimberly Cobb made room for both sleep and play when they DIYed a hidden retreat for their grandkids, transforming an ordinary bunk bed into a cottage-like escape plucked from a fairytale garden.

Looking at the fairytale bunkbed from across the roomImage: Kimberly Cobb

The handmade creation features two twin beds and an additional trundle bed underneath, giving each grandchild their own space. But the bottom bunk isn’t just for sleeping: At first glance it appears to be a playhouse, complete with a window and flower box. A cottage façade covers the entire structure, making a private, enclosed space for make believe — the perfect backdrop for playing house or acting out Snow White.

“It gives them a secret area they can play in,” Alvin says.

Inside the bottom bunk of the fairytale bunkbedImage: Kimberly Cobb

After seeing a similar bed on Pinterest, Kimberly asked Alvin to take over the reins.

“I accepted the challenge,” he says. “I had no plans, no blueprints, or anything to go by.” So he wasn’t surprised when his first attempt hit a few snags. But after a bit of trial and error, the project was a resounding success.

And the biggest win of the project? The Cobbs’ house is a grandparent’s dream. Not only can all the kids fit for an overnight, but those sleepovers are now true adventures.

Top bunk of fairytale bunkbedImage: Kimberly Cobb

Your Walls Are Their Canvas

Art-happy kids are notorious mess-makers. Every masterpiece creates another dozen pieces of paper, another paint spill, and another night spent scrubbing the — ahem — excess art off the walls. Mom and consummate DIYer Ashley Houston solved all of these problems by letting her “crazy active” 2-year-old put his art where it was bound to end up anyway. She made an entire wall dedicated to doodles.

Drawing on a chalkboard wall in a home playroomImage: Ashley Houston

Houston used a bucket of chalkboard paint and wooden beams to create a wall-sized chalkboard, just like in an old schoolhouse. Compared to sourcing, paying for, and mounting one of the schoolroom versions, the project was a cinch, and the wooden frame allows it to retain that classic chalkboard feel.

Plus, like hiding broccoli in mac and cheese, Houston’s homemade chalkboard is secretly educational. It’s the ideal spot to practice his ABCs and 1-2-3s, boosting his scholastic achievements without being boring. And, if her son is eager to create something he can actually hang on the fridge, rolls of paper hang from a dowel rod across the top.

The best part of this art-tastic DIY project is its longevity. Unlike so many of childhood’s fleeting interests, an art space will entertain Houston’s 2-year-old until he’s … well, he may still enjoy it as an adult. (We certainly would!)

And yet, “it didn’t even take that long to do,” Houston says. “It was a fun little project.”


Read more:  http://www.houselogic.com/home-advice/other-rooms/diy-playroom-ideas/#ixzz40k9esqt7 
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Your Kitchen Countertop Doesn’t Have to Look So Sad — Here Are 6 DIY Solutions

You don’t have to live with ugly. Give your countertops a beauty makeover with some simple DIY love.

Can’t figure out why your kitchen appears outdated? Look down. It could be your countertop, the centerpiece of your kitchen and a key focal point of your entire home.

Ugly Countertop Syndrome may be common, but it’s far from incurable. You may be salivating over white granite while bemoaning your finances, but the solution doesn’t have to be that expensive — or that difficult to install.

From paint to wood, concrete paper to (gasp!) laminate, your kitchen countertop options are endless with a little DIY, even on a tiny budget. All you have to do is decide which solution is right for you. Here are six ideas to get you started.

1.  Modern Laminate

Project time: 2 to 3 days

Cost: From $30 per sheet

Durability: 10 to 20 years, with proper care

Forget what you think you know about laminate. Manufacturers have begun creating countertops that mimic high-end granite styles. “You can’t tell the difference until you touch it,” says Meredith Barclay, a countertops merchant for Home Depot.

Try Formica, which makes several elegant granite-esque patterns that cost around $90 for a 96-inch-long sheet, giving you the look of Calacatta marble for much, much less. Or try Wilsonart’s textured, glossy sheets — perfect for creating your dream all-white kitchen without breaking the bank.

Or, try something bold — like the glossy red kitchen countertops Cincinnati homeowner Suzanne Prince Quinn and her husband installed.

“It was bright-looking and sleek,” Quinn says. “We wanted to have an uncluttered kitchen.”

Red laminate countertop in kitchenImage: Suzanne Quinn

If you’re going to install laminate yourself, don’t be afraid to consult with experts. Barclay bemoans customers who think their special-order laminate countertop was made incorrectly. “But the customer really didn’t know how to install the product that we delivered to them,” she says.

For the most part, Quinn found the process simple. “It was quite easy to work with,” she says. Ten years after installation, the only durability issue is that the countertops have risen slightly around the seams, a problem caused by moisture build-up.

Common installation pitfalls include making sure the laminate fits perfectly against uneven surfaces, such as textured, tiled, or brick walls. It’s not a difficult process (all you really need is a compass and a pencil), but done incorrectly, it can look unprofessional.

For Quinn, laminate countertops have another benefit: Instead of being committed to granite or quartz for decades, she can change up her kitchen on a whim.

“If we’d spent a ton of money on granite or anything else, we would feel like we probably shouldn’t change it,” Quinn says. “This way, we get to make changes when we’d like to.”

2.  Concrete

Project time: About a week

Cost: $300 to $500

Durability: Long-lasting, but stains easily

Concrete countertops are back in style — Pinterest is rife with tutorials for transforming your home into industrial chic. But owners are divided on the trend’s longevity, not to mention the upkeep. A survey on “The Kitchn” yielded responses ranging from “I do kind of hate them” to complaints about maintenance to “I would do it again in a heartbeat.”

So are they for you? Here’s what to expect with concrete: a dusty, messy process that takes about a week. Hiring a pro is recommended, but if you’re feeling handy, it’s a totally manageable DIY.

“Initially, it sounds a little overwhelming, but when you break it down to the original steps, there’s nothing there that’s hard to do,” says Jenise Frohlinger, the blogger behind “Do It Yourself Fun Ideas.”

Frohlinger opted for a marbleized concrete, traveling to Las Vegas to learn the Ashby technique. She attended a course through Countertop Solutions. Although she recommends the course for anyone who wants to learn the nitty-gritty of countertop creation, Frohlinger says anyone can do this project, even without a class. Here’s the counter she made in the course:

Jenise built this counter in a classImage: Jenise @ DIYFunIdeas.com

Frohlinger’s advice for first-timers: Make sure your measurements are accurate, especially when cutting your countertop template out of melamine or plywood. And when you pour the concrete, do it in one shot, she says. “You want to make sure you’re consistent in the color.”

3.  Granite Tiles

Project time: A (long) weekend 

Cost: From $7 per square foot

Durability: The same as granite — indefinitely — but with the annoyance of dirty or cracking grout

Want the granite look for less? Swap out the enormous slab for smaller tiles — a project Barclay calls a viable DIY project for homeowners.

It’s much cheaper, too. Although tiles can be purchased for as little as $7 per square foot, a slab countertop costs upwards of $60 per square foot.

Granite also weighs nearly 13 pounds per square foot, meaning a five-foot-long slab countertop might weigh up to 130 pounds — or more, if you’re using thicker materials. Choose granite tiles instead, and you’re looking at only 13 pounds per 12-inch tile. That’s heavy, but not crazy heavy.

You’ll need a wet saw to cut the tiles to fit, but installation is the same as any other tiling project. Spread thin-set mortar on your surface, use spacers to separate the tiles, and grout in between.

But if you choose to go this route, Barclay has one warning: keeping the grout clean can be a pain “due to the variety of materials that come in contact with a countertop,” she says. Regular maintenance will be required, and you’ll want to clean spills and messes immediately.

4.  Contact Paper

Project time: An afternoon

Cost: Less than $100

Durability: Definitely not a long-term solution.

Although Barclay doesn’t recommend this as a long-term solution, covering your countertops in contact paper can be a fantastic, low-cost alternative to a full remodel.

Depending on the size of your kitchen, contact paper can cost less than $100 and provide a dramatic transformation. We tried it ourselves and the upgrade looked “100% better,” according to HouseLogic writer Lisa Kaplan Gordon.

Countertop resurfaced with Contact PaperImage: Lisa Kaplan Gordon for HouseLogic 

Installation requires a steady hand — you’ll need to be careful to avoid bubbles — but shouldn’t take more than a few hours to dramatically change your kitchen’s look.

Although some remodelers report it lasting for years, don’t forget the battle wounds your countertop might endure. Anything from hot pots to a dropped knife can wreck the paper.

But even if it doesn’t last long, it’s easy to redo when disaster strikes. As long as you consider it a temporary stand-in between remodels, your new countertops are unlikely to disappoint.

5.  Paint

Project time: A little less than a week

Cost: $100 to $200

Durability: Paint will hold up well, but won’t last forever.

Looking for another easy upgrade, but want a solution that’s a little more permanent? Try paint.

Blogger Dawn Sailors of “Designing Dawn” bought a home on short sale that needed “a lot of cosmetic upgrades,” she says — particularly in the kitchen, which had cracked, yellow-speckled laminate tops.

Before kitchen counter was paintedImage: “Designing Dawn” 

“I just couldn’t live with what was there forever, but we didn’t have unlimited funds to update everything,” Sailors says. Inspired by an idea she’d found online, she decided to paint the countertops, using neutral, light colors like white and gray — and adding a little glitter to the mix for depth. 

Because paint is permanent, take care during application. Sailors mixed in accent colors to give her countertops a subtle, marbleized effect and sealed the entire thing with EnviroTex Lite for a glossy finish and to ensure food safety.

Kitchen counter updated with paintImage: “Designing Dawn”

The entire project cost Sailors just $120 and put her kitchen out of commission for a little less than a week — two days of work and three days spent hardening. And even though they weren’t meant to last forever, they’ve held up well.

“The countertops were meant in the beginning to be a stopgap until we could afford real stone counters,” she says. “But they’ve held up so well, we still haven’t replaced them four years later.”

6.  Wood Overlay

Project time: About a week

Cost: $200

Durability: With maintenance, it should last years — as long as you’re OK with dings and scratches.

Butcher block countertops are nearly as popular as granite. And while professional installation costs far less, it’s still out of budget for many homeowners.

You can certainly pick up premade butcher block countertops from Ikea for $189 per 98-inch slab, but Erica Hebel from “On Bliss Street” decided to make her own using aspen boards from her local hardware store, which cost about $45 for a 72-inch panel. She paid less than $200 for the entire project.

This is what Hebel’s counters looked like before:

Before home kitchen counter upgradedImage: Erica Hebel of “OnBlissStreet.com” 

The bulk of the construction is prepping, staining, and nailing the boards to your cabinetry — nothing too complicated. Cover it up with a sealant (Hebel used Minwax Wipe-On Poly in a clear finish) to protect your countertops from drips.

“It was one of my very first projects ever,” Hebel says. “The wood’s very forgiving. As long as you have a tape measure, you can figure it out.”

After countertop resurfaced with woodImage: Erica Hebel of “OnBlissStreet.com”

Although the countertops aren’t quite as low-maintenance as stone, Hebel says they’ve held up “amazingly well” in the year since installation — except for a few dents from dropped dishes, which “don’t affect the finish at all.” No, you shouldn’t cut directly on the surface or put hot pots on them, but under normal usage, they’ll last a long time.

jamie-wiebe Jamie Wiebe

Jamie Wiebe is a writer and editor with a focus on home improvement and design. Previously, she worked as a web editor for “House Beautiful,” “ELLE Decor,” and “Veranda.”

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3 Easy Steps to Create a DIY Wreath That Looks Great Year-Round

If your front door or fireplace mantle looks bare after you take down holiday decorations, a DIY wreath is a quick and easy way to add a personal and welcoming touch. Follow these three steps to design to craft a wreath to dress up your home.

After the holidays are over, and the ornaments and lights have been packed away, your house may need more nonseasonal decorations to freshen up your decor. If your front door or fireplace mantle looks bare, a DIY wreath is one quick and easy way to add a personal and welcoming touch to your home. Follow these three steps to design to craft a wreath guaranteed to dress up your home year round.

Step 1: Choose Your Base

Wreath-making begins with a base to give proper form and shape to your decoration. Most wreaths are round, but square wire wreaths or heart-shaped foam also works well. Foam bases can be wrapped with colorful fabric or ribbon. Grapevine coils are a standard found preformed into a circular base in most craft stores. Grapevines work especially well as a base for a floral wreath or one using greenery to create a natural look.

Heart Wreath

Image Source: Flickr/Selena N. B. H.

Step 2: Choose Your Decorations

Once you’ve decided on a base, select the color scheme and style of the wreath that fits best in your home. If you’d like to add a colorful focal point to neutral walls, choose bright fabrics or felt. To personalize a wreath for your front door, add wooden monogrammed initials that can be purchased at a local craft store. Other fun decorations include sea shells, felt flowers, and curled paper or ribbon. And, of course, in Philadelphia, sports related themes incorporating Eagles’ green or the Phillies’ red and white are popular. If you’re looking for a DIY wreath to create with your kids, consider using something edible, such as gumdrops or marshmallows attached to a foam base using toothpicks.

Step 3: Assembly

Depending on your chosen wreath materials, you may need to employ a few assembly techniques to complete your craft project. A hot glue gun works well for foam or grapevine bases. Wreath ties or floral wire will allow you to attach flowers or other ornaments to wire wreaths and can be easily disguised. If you’re using foam, spray-on adhesive is also worth a try for a fast way to attach a number of items.

A DIY Wreaths is a quick and inexpensive way to personalize your home decor after taking down the holiday decorations. 

Main Image Source: Flickr/Karen Cox

Jennifer DiGiovanni is a freelance writer and a partner in a real estate investment firm focusing on residential properties. She previously worked in the financial services industry and has earned an MBA from Villanova University. Jennifer enjoys writing about real estate, home improvement and small business.