I'm willing to admit that I may have over done it with potted flowers on the patio this year. But they just look so pretty! And they're so inexpensive! I mean, come on. Home Depot had annuals in four inch pots, two for a dollar. I definitely bought more than a dollar's worth. I just love all the vibrant colors. The kids and I put them all over the patio, and in the garden with the vegetables; but the swing set was starting to look a little bare. I decided to make little window box, so we could plant flowers there, too.
First, I measured the playhouse, and determined that I wanted my window box to be 18" long. So I went to the Lumber Department at Home Depot and grabbed a 1x4" by 6 foot piece of fence board (which is actually 5/8 by 3 1/2" but whatever). Then, I noticed that they were getting rid of a bunch of those same pieces of wood at 70% off because they were wicked bowed or curved. This would be a problem if I was making a 6 foot tall fence, however, they would work great for my little window box, and only cost about 40 cents. I splurged, and got two. The guy even cut them for me, so I didn't even have to get out the circular saw. Since I was going to stack two boards on top of each other to make the planter taller, I had him cut 5 pieces at 18" long; two for each side, and one for the bottom. Then, I had him cut two 6 1/2 inch side pieces. I also grabbed a defective piece of 1x2, and had him cut four pieces, 6" each, for the inside corners. I got all of the wood for under $2. Seriously. We also bought $2 worth of flowers, and came home.
It took me about 15 minutes to put together, including the 5 minutes it took to find my drill and one remaining wood clamp. First, I built the front and back panels of the window box, by screwing the 1x2s to the long fence board pieces with 1 1/2 inch wood screws. I made sure to leave enough room for the bottom and sides.
Next, I turned it upside down, and screwed the bottom into the 1x2s. Then, I attached the sides.
Boom. Window Box.
I just used wood screws, and screwed it directly to the swingset from the inside. You could also use brackets and mount it to a deck railing or fence.
We filled it up with potting soil, and planted and watered our flowers. The whole project; the wood, the dirt, and the flowers was about $5, and took about 15 minutes to put together. It came out so great, I'm thinking about making a bunch more to mount on the wall in the backyard because I'm out of space on the ground, and I still want to plant more flowers...
Hanging pictures on the wall is tedious. You have to measure the distance between each one, space them perfectly, make sure they're level, and then as soon as somebody walks by they're crooked. Then, when you want to change out a picture, you have to either find one that exactly fits the spot you already have, or rearrange the whole wall. Rather than deal with that nonsense, I decided to make a couple of shelves.
I used two 1x3s, to form the base and back of the shelves, and a 1x2 for the lip on the front, to stop the pictures from sliding off. I clamped them together, and attached them with 2 inch wood screws, making sure to pre-drill the holes so that the wood wouldn't split. It took me about an hour per shelf, but that's only because my little friends ran off with my C-clamps and I had to keep moving one wood clamp. If you have more than one clamp, it's really only a 10 minute job. For a wider shelf, use something wider than a 1x3. I'd also recommend mounting the front lip on the top of the base and then drilling from the bottom, instead of in the front like I did, because then you won't see the screws. But, eh, live and learn.
I painted the shelves with leftover trim paint to match the chair rail and crown moulding in my bedroom.
After the shelves were dry, my husband and I used 3 inch wood screws to mount them on the wall, making sure they were hung from studs. The only level I have was freebie that came with a drill, and not very good at determining if a surface is, in fact, level. So I just measured the distance from the ceiling to each end of the shelf to determine if it was level. Once the shelves were on the wall, and the level was in the trash, we put a few pictures on the shelves, and they look great!
My backyard has a great little raised garden. I plant broccoli and carrots with the kids, and they snack on lettuce and spinach when they're playing outside. It's the whole reason they love vegetables. If you can grow it, and pick it, it tastes better when you eat it. We really started getting into it, and I realized that a trellis would enable us to grow more of our favorite things, like sugar snap peas, pole beans, and watermelons. Yes, watermelons. We don't have much space for watermelons in our little garden, but I love them so much, I decided to make space.
Since my ultimate goal was to trellis watermelons, I knew I was going to need a trellis that would support some weight. My local hardware store sells decorative wood and plastic trellises, but they weren't strong enough, and to build a custom wooden trellis would be pretty expensive. Instead, I opted to build my own trellis from random, inexpensive things found in almost any hardware store: 1/2 inch EMT conduit from the electrical aisle, 1/2 inch galvanized pipe elbows from the plumbing aisle, and a standard garden trellis net from the garden department.
First, I cut the EMT to the size I needed, with a hack saw. Make sure that you don't bend the edges of the EMT too far when you cut them, because you'll need them to fit into the plumbing elbows. The trellis in this picture is 5'x5', so I cut two 5' sides, and one 5' top. Next, I wove one piece of EMT through the side of the net, to hold the net to the side of the trellis, and stuck the bottom of the EMT into the ground to hold it in place. Then I did the same on the other side of the net, to form the other side, and stuck that piece of EMT into the ground about 5' away.
After I stuck both sides in the ground, I wove the remaining piece of EMT through the top of the net, and attached the top of the trellis to the sides with galvanized elbows. It was a little bit of a juggling act keeping all of the pieces together while I put the elbows in place, since I only have two arms, but if you have the patience to wait until someone else is around to hold things in place for you before you start a project, it will be really simple.
I also made two more trellises so that I could pretty much grow anything anywhere in my garden. These are each 10' wide, by 5' tall. Since these are so wide, I supported them in the middle with an additional piece of EMT, and I held it in place with a 3/4 inch galvanized T in the middle of the 10' top of the trellis.
These trellises cost about $10 each, so they fit my budget perfectly. I haven't had much success with watermelons yet, but they have been perfect for sugar snap peas and pole beans.
I have an ugly bathroom. It's under the stairs, so it's awkwardly shaped, and someone painted it a weird color. It's got a pretty little pedestal sink, but that doesn't make up for all of the ugly going on in that little bathroom. It's got a basic, builder grade mirror, so I decided to make it a quick frame. I used some moulding that I found in the garage, some adhesive caulking I had left over from another project, and a little bit of trim paint. It cost me nothing to make, except about 2 hours of my time.
First, I measured the mirror and decided how big I wanted the frame to be. Then, I cut the moulding with a mitre (or miter, depending on where you're from) box and saw. This took me about an hour, but if you're better than I am at hinting to your family and friends that you really want a power mitre saw for your birthday, it would only take you a couple of minutes...
With the moulding cut to size, I glued it together in the shape of a frame with some paintable adhesive caulking. This was actually the most exciting part of the project because the side of the caulking blew out when I put it in the gun. So, instead of pretty little caulking lines, I rubbed globs of caulking from the side of the caulking cartridge onto the edges of the moulding. It wasn't the most graceful, but it worked.
After the caulking dried, I painted the frame. I found some door and trim paint in the garage, so the frame matches the rest of the trim in the house. After the two coats of paint dried, I attached some little metal mirror hanging brackets to the back of the frame, so that I can hang it for now, and then remove it when I paint the bathroom. After I paint the bathroom, I'll take off the mirror clips and get a new caulking cartridge to attach it to the mirror.
Then, I hung the frame right on top of the mirror. It came out pretty nice, for nothing. I'll go back and permanently attach it to the mirror later, but for now, it looks so much nicer!
If you don't have any spare trim or baseboard lying around your garage, you can get the trim for a couple of dollars a foot at Home Depot or Lowes, so it's still much less expensive than the mirror framing kits sold in craft stores.
I originally got the idea here. She layered a couple of pieces of trim to create a beautiful effect on a much larger mirror.
We have a great covered patio in our backyard, but it's really hard to enjoy when the sun is glaring in your eyes. I wanted to get something that could block the sun when I needed it, but would easily store away when I didn't. When I went out to buy some outdoor roll-up blinds, I found that all the ones that were big enough for my patio were crazy expensive. So, I decided to make some myself.
I got some shade cloth, 1/2 inch PVC pipe (stay with me, here) and two copper pipe straps. Lowes sells shade cloth for a couple of dollars a linear foot, by about 5 feet wide, in a few differet colors.
First, I stitched a hem in the sides of the shade cloth so the edges wouldn't be all ratty, and then I stitched a hem in the top and bottom of the shade cloth, big enough to slide the PVC through.
Then, I cut the PVC about 2 inches longer than the width of the hemmed shade, so that I would have room to mount the shade with the pipe straps.
I hung the shade cloth on the PVC, and then put another piece of PVC through the bottom hem so that it wouldn't flap in the wind. You could also use something much thinner for the bottom, like a small wood dowel, but I had a bunch of PVC lying around so I used that (I like PVC a lot.).
After the shade cloth was on the PVC curtainrod, I mounted it to the patio roof with the pipe straps. You could also use a curtain mounting kit, but the pipe straps are only a few cents each, so I went with those.
The shade stays rolled up out of the way when we're not using it, but it's easily rolled out when we need it. I used strap of double sided velcro to hold it in place while it's rolled up, but you could also use a string, or even mount hooks to rest it in.
You can see in this picture that the PVC continues past the shade cloth because I ended up using the PVC from the shade cloth for my patio misting system that I put in later.
The patio shade cost about $10 to make, and it took about 2 hours, because I stitched the hems by hand, and I'm not exactly a stellar seamstress...
If you're looking for an easy way to change the look of your bedroom, try making an upholstered headboard. It's very simple to do, and it's inexpensive. Mine took about an hour to make, and cost about $25. All you need is some wood, foam or quilt batting, fabric to cover it with, and a staple gun to hold it all together.
First, determine how big you want your headboard to be, Remember, if you are going to hang it on the wall behind the bed, you can measure the space above the bed the you want the headboard to cover. If you are going to attach it to the back of the bedframe, make sure you account for the wood you will need to attach it.
If you have plywood at your house, just cut it to the size you need. If you don't live in a lumberyard, and don't have a saw to cut your own, Home Depot and Lowes will both cut wood to size. If you're going to purchase the wood, check the scrap section at the hardware store to see if they have any large scraps you can use at a major discount. I got a huge piece of plywood for $3, and the guy even cut it to the exact measurements I needed.
Then, choose the fabric you want. Make sure you get enough so that you can pull it around the edges of the wood and staple it to the back. I used an indoor/outdoor fabric because it's easy to wipe down when the kids decide to have a juice fight on my bed, but you can find some really nice upholstry fabric if you're willing to pay for it. Fabric stores also sell upholstry tacks, and buttons, if you're fancy.
Also, decide whether you want to use foam or quilt batting. I didn't want mine to have the overstuffed look, so I went with quilt batting. If you use foam, make sure you have an adhesive to stick it to the wood.
If you want to use upholstry buttons, drill holes in the wood where you're going to put them, so you can anchor them to the back of the headboard.
Now, all you have to do is put it all together. If you're using batting, lay out the fabric, front side down, and lay the batting on top of it. Then put the wood on top of the batting, pull the fabric and batting tightly around the edges of the wood, and staple it in place. If you're using foam, use a spray adhesive to attach the foam to the wood. When it's dry lay the fabrich out, front side down, and then put the foam and wood on top of it. Tightly pull the fabric around the edges of the wood, and staple it in place. Add any upholstry tacks and buttons, and then step back and marvel at the piece of art you just created.
I hung mine on the wall. If you can hang a picture, you can hang a headboard. Or you could also attach it to the back of your bedframe. BOOM. Headboard.
This is one of my favorite things around our house. It only cost a few dollars to make, and it will never be completely finished, but it's a pretty reminder of how much we love our family, even when we're far apart.
First, I got a bunch of little unfinished wooden birdhouses at a craft store. They are only a dollar each, and we used the acrylic paint I already had, so it didn't cost much. Then, I harrassed each member of my extended family into painting one when they came over to our house. We had a big family Christmas Dinner at our house, and then a birdhouse painting party after dinner. It was great to see my kids painting with their great-grandmother. Everyone had their own inspiration, and each birdhouse has a different personality.
When the birdhouses were dry, I sprayed them with an outdoor polyurethane to protect them from the weather, and hung them in the apple tree out in the garden. You can always see them peeking out through the leaves, but when the leaves fall, the birdhouses are left to remind us that no matter how far apart we are, we are all part of the same famly tree.
When we bought our house, our kitchen looked like this. Like every other kitchen built in the 90's, it had light oak cabinet doors, laminate counter tops, and the shallowest sink in the world. Fortunately, someone who owned the house before us had put in beautiful hardwood floors, but the rest of it was not working for me.
So, I called to get quotes to see how much my dream kitchen would cost me. White cabinets that go all the way to the ceiling, recycled glass countertops, a tiled glass backsplash, and one of those enormous built-in refrigerators with a panel on the front that looks like the cabinets. Without batting an eye, the design consultant told me it would be $34,000. And that doesn't include the refrigerator. So, that was the end of my dream kitchen...
No amount of creative coersion was going to convince my husband that I needed a $34,000 kitchen, and I knew full well that we couldn't afford it. Instead, I sat down and figured out what I could do to make this kitchen look more like my dream kitchen, without the dream budget.
First, I pulled off all the cabinet doors and drawer fronts, and labeled them so I would know where to put them back. I didn't bother to take all of the stuff out of the cabinets, because thinking ahead isn't really my style. Since I couldn't afford the cabinets that went all the way to the ceiling, I went down to Home Depot and chose a piece of moulding for the top of the cabinets. With a few cleverly placed nails, that sucker was up, and the whole kitchen already felt nicer. Then I washed down and sanded the cabinets, wiped them with a tack cloth to get all the sawdust off, and primed them. After a couple of hours, I put on the first coat of white semi-gloss paint, and when that was dry, I did the second coat. This kitchen remodel was speeding along nicely!
After my wonderful husband spent hours sanding the finish off the cabinet doors, I was ready to paint! This Old House Magazine happened to have an article about painting cabinets that month, and it mentioned setting out two 2x4's to set them on while you're painting, to keep them from getting dirty on the ground. I definitely would not have thought of this. It was very helpful. The article also said to put cup hooks on the top of the top doors, and on the bottom doors (where the holes won't be seen when you're done), so that you can hang them to dry while you're painting the next ones. This was also something I never would have thought of, and I would probably still be painting if I hadn't done it.
With the cabinet doors drying in what my kids called the "cabinet forest" in the garage, I set off to work on the countertops.
At the Phoenix Home and Garden Show, my husband Nick and I saw a counter top resurfacing system by easyDIYmakeovers.com. I was really excited about this, because I didn't want to throw the old ones in a landfill, but I couldn't stand to look at them. For $400, this kit had everything I would need to transform my existing laminate counter tops to concrete. I batted my eyelashes, promised that I wouldn't spend any more money at the Home and Garden Show, and my wonderful husband hauled the kit out to our van.
I covered my floors and freshly painted cabinets with brown paper and plastic, taped off the wall, and pulled out my existing sink. With Nick and the kids out of the house, it was really simple. First, I painted on the laminate sealant, then I mixed up and painted on the first coat of concrete. When that was dry, I painted on the next coat. After that, I mixed a thicker coat of concrete, and troweled it on. This was when I realized that I had never troweled before, and that I was not even a little bit good at it. The kit said that I didn't have to worry about making that coat even, and that was a good thing, because "even" was nowhere near what this was. The next coat went over it and beautifully filled in the gaping inconsistencies of the first coat. After it was completely dry, I sanded down the bumps and lumps, and I was ready to color my counter tops.
I mixed up the color I wanted, put it in a spray bottle, and colored the counter tops. The kit included every color you could imagine, but I wanted mine to look like concrete. After the color dried, I applied the sealant, and the counter tops were done!
Once the counter tops were done, I put the new sink in, and we started on the backsplash. We chose a small glass mosaic tile that came in sheets, and it was really easy to put up. Once the tile was up and the thin set had dried, we floated on the grout (non-sanded because we used glass tile), sealed it, and the backsplash was done. I drilled holes for the new cabinet door and drawer pulls we had picked out, and attached them, as well as the cabinet hinges. In my infinite wisdom, I had labeled the cabinet doors where the hinges attach, which worked out really well until I covered the labels with the hinges when I reattached them. So re-hanging the cabinet doors took a little longer than it needed to...
I slid the oven back into place and the remodel was done! It's not the kitchen of my dreams, but I worked hard, and I love the way it came out! After all was said and done, it cost about $1,000 to paint the cabinets and put on door pulls, resurface the counter tops, tile the backsplash, and put in the new sink. I still want the huge fridge someday, and I'll get there eventually, but at least I'll be waiting in this kitchen.
Nick was so proud of me, he found a way to get an article about it in the Arizona Republic. You can read it here: