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Weekend Projects: 5 Sunny DIY Window Seats

What's better than a sunny seat? One with a view! See five cozy takes on the classic window seat—and how to recreate them in your own home.

Seating and storage—is there ever enough of either? Enter the window seat, the dreamy solution that marries function with style. Whether you need an extra chair, a cozy reading nook, or an out-of-sight spot to store blankets, books, or baubles, these multi-use structures offer it all—with a view, to boot! While custom-built benches can run you a pretty penny, you can achieve similar results with a cost-effective DIY. Read on for five projects, ranging from near instant gratification to true labors of love, that will inspire you to take advantage of your own .

 

1. BRING ON THE BOHEMIAN

DIY Window Seat - Bohemian

Photo: thejungalow.com

This cozy nook looks like a built-in, but it’s actually a low-profile chest of drawers nestled against side table in an alcove! When recreating in your own space, know that it’s OK (even better) for your two pieces to not match in height—the cushion atop your chest can even out the two surfaces. Get the bohemian style seen at The Jungalow by using a solid colored fabric for the cushions, then layering ’til your heart’s content with brightly patterned pillows and throws.

 

2. FLOAT AWAY

DIY Window Seat - Float

Photo: instructables.com

For a modern, airy window structure, opt to build suspended seating. You won’t have the luxury of hidden storage, but the wall-mounted benches take up zero floor space and are visually light on the eyes. The best part? This easy DIY has just four steps: install heavy-duty brackets, lay out your wooden base, paint, and dress with cushions. Voila! Get the complete tutorial at Instructables.

 

3. CREATE A CLASSIC

DIY Window Seat - Classic

Photo: shanty-2-chic.com

Forget about paying retail when you can make a catalog knockoff of a pint-size storage bench using your own two hands. Aside from the actual materials, a few specialty tools will go long way to make this project go smoothly: Whitney from Shanty 2 Chic swears by her Kreg Jig, Right Angle Clamp, and Ryobi Jig Saw. Visit the girls at the Shanty for a well-photographed journey, then hop on over to Ana-White.com for the free plans.

 

4. REPURPOSE AND RELAX

DIY Window Seat - Storage Bench

Photo: fourgenerationsoneroof.com

Building from scratch doesn’t always mean starting at square one—if this isn’t your first DIY rodeo, you likely already have a fair amount of supplies and materials at hand. This bench from Four Generations One Roof makes use of almost entirely leftover materials, like scrap pine from previous projects and even repurposed pillows covered with coordinating fabric. So, go assess your workshop: What’s on your hands? It won’t take you long to put together this endlessly functional chest using glue blocks for support and nails for reinforcement.

 

5. BUILD A BAY BEAUTY

DIY Window Seat - Bay

Photo: prettyhandygirl.com

A bay window makes the perfect spot for a sunny seat, but its unique shape requires a little extra custom work. Although this particular project from Pretty Handy Girl appears somewhat advanced, you can certainly handle it if you have some basic carpentry skills under your belt. As always, just remember: Measure twice, cut once! And in the end, you’ll bask in the sunlight of your new dining nook, complete with lots of sneaky storage space.


Genius! Shingles Made of Beer Cans

Don't chuck those 12-ounce cans in the recycling bin! Instead, start saving up aluminum for this wonderfully offbeat backyard DIY project.

Beer Can Shingles

Photo: instructables.com

“Start drinking now if you plan to make this,” writes Instructables user robbtoberfest, the genius behind this wonderfully offbeat backyard DIY project.

For a 24″ x 24″ roof, about the size for a chicken coop or small shed, expect to use at least 40 cans (of the 12-ounce variety). To turn them into shingles, the first step is to build a die—that is, a simple hinged template that presses the aluminum into the desired shape. It’s all explained in the project guide, but suffice it to say that with 1′x6′ hardwood, two square metal rods, basic tools and some beginner woodworking skills, you ought to be on your way to nailing shingles within a half-day.

Installation is as simple as nail-gunning the newly formed shingles onto the plywood roof sheathing. Cover the bottom and side edges of the roof sturcture first, and as you go, be certain to overlap each successive shingle you apply. To cap the roof, bypass the die and simply fold a series of unpressed aluminum sheets in half, lengthwise. Nail those along the ridge to complete the job, and you’re finished. Not a bad way to recycle the refuse from the party last weekend, wouldn’t you say?

FOR MORE: Instructables

Beer Can Shingles 2

Photo: instructables.com


Michelin Quite Literally Reinvents the Lawn Mower Wheel

What do you a call a tire that never goes flat? According to Michelin, the manufacture, it's not a wheel but a Tweel, and it's available only on John Deere Ztrak series riding lawn mowers.

Photo: johndeere.com

Imagine the perfect riding lawn mower: Are its tires low-maintenance and highly durable, and do they make for an impeccably smooth ride? As if in direct response to the fantasies of outdoor equipment enthusiasts everywhere, Michelin has quite literally reinvented the wheel with its launch of a product called X Tweel Turf.

Now available only as an option for the John Deere ZTrak series, the Michelin offering manages to challenge nearly every preconception regarding what lawn mower tires look like and how they behave. For starters, the Michelin Tweel never needs air, never goes flat, and never requires patch repairs for any punctures. That’s not to say Michelin has created an invincible lawn mower component. However, compared to conventional pneumatic tires, the Tweel lasts two or three times as long.

Photo: johndeere.com

Then, of course, is the remarkable appearance of the Tweel. From the side, it resembles the intake of a jet engine. But those fines are not made of metal. They are collapsible poly-resin. So when the riding mower goes over rocky terrain—or the curb of a sidewalk—the Tweel compresses so as to prevent a bumpy experience.

Another innovation of the Tweel is its unprecedentedly wide, traction-boosting surface area. That feature adds further stability, giving the operator extra confidence on the side of hills, for instance, or where mud would, under usual circumstances, pose a challenge. Finally, there’s the fact that, in the absence of variable tire pressure, Tweel makes it possible for the mower blade to remain always at the desired height, so you get predictable, consistent results each time you cut the grass.

With all its many functional attributes—and yes, its fantastic design—we hope John Deere decides to add the Tweel to more mower models someday—and soon!

For more information, visit John Deere.


Behind the Scenes of 5 Celebs’ “New” Old Homes

While many celebrities move in and out of unmemorable super mansions, these house-hunting stars recently snagged dwellings as nuanced and compelling as their best on-screen roles.

Stars, they’re just like us! When on the hunt for real estate, celebrities enjoy jaw-droppingly large budgets, sure, but they also look for many of the same features prized by us mere mortals—things like original architectural details, generous floor plans for growing families, and maybe even a fixer-upper opportunity. With springtime home-buying season in full bloom, scores of actors have made recent moves into new addresses. And while there’s something to be said for any property that costs over a million bucks, we’re particularly impressed by the handful of celebs who chose “new” old homes.

 

TIME CAPSULE

Joseph Gorden Levitt Paul Revere Williams Home

Photo: redfin.com

Young Hollywood favorite Joseph Gordon Levitt spent $3.25 million on this 1940s home designed by Paul R. Williams (the very architect responsible for the West Coast homes of Hollywood royalty like Frank Sinatra and Lucille Ball). Located in the beautiful Franklin Hills section of Los Angeles, the three-bedroom, four-bathroom house has all the right bones: high ceilings, natural light, and period details galore. Time capsule-like in its unchanged state, the mid-century gem hadn’t changed hands since 1957! Select areas, including the kitchen, may be ripe for an update, but we trust the place is in good hands.

 

CLASS ACT

Lena Dunham Greek Revival

Photo: theagencyre.com

Though she may be a reluctant Los Angeles resident, Lena Dunham obviously has great taste in California real estate. The New York City-based creator of Girls finally bit the bullet and bought a home in Hollywood—but not just any home. The beautiful 1919 Greek Revival is picture-perfect. Featuring cozy rooms with Swedish hardwood floors and beautiful casework—not to mention a saltwater pool and detached guest house—this quaint home packs loads of charm.

 

DETAIL ORIENTED 

Jessica Chastain New York Apartment

Photo: streeteasy.com

Opulent is an understatement when it comes to Jessica Chastain’s preposterously fancy new Manhattan digs. The Zero Dark Thirty star purchased the three-bedroom, three-and-a-half bathroom duplex across from Carnegie Hall for $5.1 million. Painstakingly restored, the home features no shortage of gorgeous original details, from inlaid parquet floors to Tiffany glass transom windows set over doors of solid mahogany. In a city where space comes at a absorbinent premium, the rambling 3,200 square foot apartment and its 14-foot ceilings give the elegant star more than enough room to breathe.

 

SO SOPHISTICATED

Bruce Willis Central Park West Apartment

Photo: compass.com

A real estate connoisseur, Bruce Willis knows how to find amazing properties, whether it’s ranch in Idaho or a humongous New York duplex like this one. The 6,000-square-foot apartment looks through oversized windows onto the trees in Central Park and throughout, it features fine details ranging from crown molding to ceiling coffers. With six bedrooms and four and a half baths, there’s plenty of room, no matter how big the Die Hard star’s family gets.

 

NATURAL BEAUTY

Jason Segal Los Feliz Home

Photo: redfin.com

With Spanish Colonial flair to spare, this $1.4 million spread in Los Feliz, CA, will soon be home to How I Met Your Mother alum Jason Segal. Bright colors abound, even in the turquoise-and-gold stenciling on the main staircase. Vaulted ceilings showcase exposed beams, while arched doorways open into cavernous spaces with canyon views. Perhaps most stunning of all is the multi-level outdoor space made private by an abundance of tropical foliage.


INFOGRAPHIC: Get a Head Start on a Healthy Lawn

Behind every great lawn is a great lawn mower. Find out how proper mower maintenance and smart lawn care can give you a picture perfect yard.

After a cold and blustery winter, homeowners are geared up and ready to get back outside. First on many to-do lists is reviving the worse-for-wear grass. Of course, a lot goes into the cultivation of a lush and lovely lawn, but no care routine can be considered complete if it lacks the right equipment. So before you get to work weeding and feeding, watering and mowing, check out these tips from the experts at John Deere.

John Deere lawn infographic

 

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This post has been brought to you by the John Deere. Its facts and opinions are those of BobVila.com.


How To: Make Your Own Window Cleaner

Save your window from streaks—and still save a little money—with a DIY version of your favorite commercial cleaners.

Homemade Window Cleaner

Photo: shutterstock.com

Windows get dirty, in part because we put off cleaning them, mistakenly thinking of the chore as a somehow complicated one. Certainly, cleaning windows can be a chore, but complicated? No. That’s never more true than when you eschew fancy store-bought formulas in favor of homemade window cleaner. Save some dollars and keep things simple by mixing up your own window cleaner with nothing more than a few pantry staples you likely have on hand. Here’s a recipe for success.

MATERIALS AND TOOLS
- Vinegar
- Liquid dish soap
- Water
- Essential oils (optional)
- Spray bottle

STEP 1
Raid the pantry to gather your materials. Here, as in so many other non-toxic cleaners, vinegar plays a key role. Its acidity cuts through dirt and grease, an attribute that well equips the stuff to remove streaks from windows. Plus, if you’ve washed your windows for years with a commercial cleaner, it’s likely that the glass sports a subtle, waxy film. That comes off easily with ordinary dish soap, another ingredient contributing to the efficacy of homemade window cleaner.

Homemade Window Cleaner - Washing Detail

Photo: shutterstock.com

STEP 2
Mix your ingredients. In a spray bottle, combine a quarter-cup of vinegar with a half-teaspoon of liquid dish soap. Dilute the mixture with two cups of water, then shake the bottle vigorously to combine the components. If you happen not to have vinegar on hand, note that you can substitute in lemon juice. Like vinegar, lemon juice has a mild acidity that cuts through grease and grime with equal panache.

STEP 3
As a cleaning agent, there’s much to love about vinegar, but the strong odor isn’t everyone’s favorite thing. Fortunately, you can go a long way toward camouflaging the scent by adding essential oil into the spray bottle mixture. Pick your favorite oil—it doesn’t matter which—and include about 10 or 15 drops.

With your homemade window cleaner now ready, mist the window glass with it and then, using a lint-free cloth, wipe the cleaner across the entire surface you’re cleaning. Be careful not to use a cloth or sponge that’s going to leave streaks (or even scratches). For best results, opt for microfiber or chamois.

If the windows are dusty but not streaky, you can clean them without bringing a cleaning solution, homemade or otherwise, into the equation. Simply use a lint-free cloth to pick up and clear away the dust. Then, once finished, complete the job by polishing the glass to a shine with a different, clean cloth.


Quick Tip: Mix Sand with Paint for Non-Slip Surfaces

Prevent slips by finishing potentially dangerous outdoor living surfaces with a gritty, traction-lending mixture of paint and sand. Here's how.

Adding Sand to Paint - Deck Stairs

Photo: shutterstock.com

Slippery when wet: Those words of caution may be most familiar in the context of hospital and airport floors, but they also apply to porch stairs and backyard decking. So the next time you undertake a painting project outdoors, add traction with an extra ingredient—sand. Though special non-slip paint formulas are available on the shelves of your local home center or hardware store, you can save a little money and achieve the same result with the following DIY approach.

Adding Sand to Paint - Decking

Photo: shutterstock.com

STEP 1
Begin by scraping away any cracked, flaking, or peeling paint from the area that you’re refinishing. Next, sand the area by hand, or if you want to make quicker work of things, opt for a power sander. Continue sanding until there’s a roughed-up surface to which the paint can adhere properly. Before moving on to the next step, be sure to clean the surface thoroughly, leaving plenty of time for the area to dry out completely.

STEP 2
Now comes the part that may be unfamiliar. Pour some paint into a paint tray, then toss in a small handful of clean white sand. Aim for a ratio of four parts paint for every one part sand. Stir well—and keep stirring each and every time you load fresh paint onto the tool you have chosen for the work, be it a brush or a roller.

STEP 3
Once you’ve finished applying the initial coat of paint, allow plenty of time for it to cure. Temperature and humidity are factors that may influence the amount of drying time necessary, but all things considered, the process ought to take no longer than 24 hours (though it may take considerably less time than that).

STEP 4
Complete the job with a second, sand-less coat of paint. To a degree, the second coat is going to hide the sand, but you are still likely to notice it, especially with time and once the surface has undergone some wear.

If you’re painting a highly visible area and have concerns with how the sand looks, choose clear plastic grit instead. Whereas sand grains can look like dark specks, clear plastic does remain relatively unnoticeable.

Another option is to glue down rows of coarse, non-slip strips (like those used to provide traction in the bathtub). While these strips lose their grit in time, so too does the mixture of paint and sand. If you live somewhere with harsh winters, expect to reapply your treatment, whatever it is, every two or three years.


This Company Makes Furniture with Salvaged Railroad Materials

Knotty timber and centuries-old iron rails become hardy, arty furniture in the calloused hands of Rail Yard Studios.

Rail Yard Studios Furniture - Desk

Photo: railyardstudios.com

As the owner of a railroad contracting and maintenance firm, John Hendrick oversaw a crew responsible for, among other things, disposing of old or unusable rails and ties. After a while, Hendrick grew tired of seeing so much beautiful, often historic material either junked or sold off for scrap. That’s when he developed an idea.

His newest company, Rail Yard Studios, works to transform railroad cast-offs into pieces of fine furniture. Since Hendrick had trained as an industrial designer, it wasn’t much of a stretch for him to envision a second life for these heavy-duty components, particularly with his carpenter father involved as a business partner.

Rail Yard Studios - Adirondack Chair

Photo: railyardstudios.com

Today, Rail Yard Studios fashions chunky yet chic tables, seating, desks, bed frames and more from steel rail, spikes, wooden ties and brackets. Each one-of-a-kind piece manages to capture the rugged romance of American train travel, with many steel members still bearing the imprints of industrial titans like Andrew Carnegie.

Though you may find evidence of past centuries, you won’t find any hazardous materials. Rail Yard Studios relies on timber rejected due to knots and splits and other imperfections that, while not conducive to supporting massive trains, are ideal for furniture that’s handsome, heavy, and definitely not for the dainty-of-heart.

All aboard!

Rail Yard Studios - Coffee Table

Photo: railyardstudios.com

For more information, visit Rail Yard Studios.


Meet the Kansas City Artist Modernizing a Centuries-Old Craft

What's behind the art you hang on your living room wall? If it's a Hammerpress print, then it's history, design, and solid craftsmanship.

Hammerpress - Brady Vest

Photo: Chris Mullins

Brady Vest, founder of Kansas City-based Hammerpress, has his pulse on a letterpress renaissance. Even if you haven’t heard of letterpress, you’ve certainly benefitted from its invention. Until the middle of the last century, letterpress printers were responsible for creating books, pamphlets, and newspapers. To some, these movable type machines are considered junk in our digital age. But letterpress prints, cards, and posters are making a big comeback—as offbeat decor for your home. This vintage tool is leaving its mark on our walls and throughout our houses today.

Now, the letterpress isn’t your dad’s power tool. (For one, it’s probably too large for most home workshops.) But take a look at Hammerpress designs and you’ll find that the vintage machinery is far more versatile than you might think. We had to know more about what motivates Hammerpress makers so we caught up with Brady as he was in the midst of opening his new, expanded Kansas City storefront.

Hammerpress Kansas City

Photo: Hammerpress

The reason I started Hammerpress is…
I suppose my initial attraction to letterpress printing was the machinery and the objects involved in the process. The type, the cabinets, the old machinery. Also, I think the fact that it was sort of a hybrid of art and design seemed intriguing.

Once I got a little more involved, the commerce aspect of it intrigued me—as did the fact that you could mass produce artful products in a way you could not do in the fine art world. Plus, the process seemed to lend itself to collaboration.

Hammerpress print happiness will find you

Photo: Hammerpress.net

The thing I love most about working with letterpress is…
There’s always an excitement when you start working on a design, pulling all of the pieces out of the drawers. I go into a project with a fairly good vision of what it will look like—the ways the inks, patterns, type—will lay over each other, but it always changes. I suppose, in that way, the thing I love is also sometimes the thing I hate. The machinery sometimes dictates what happens more than you can. I love that, but it’s also a little scary.

Hammerpress - Lucinda Williams poster

Photo: Hammerpress.net

My main source of inspiration is…
I look at a lot of things that are outside of my experience. Lately, a lot of textiles—older and newer—a lot of vintage ephemera, photo collage, architecture and space design, children’s books from the past, etc. I try to not just look at things that are similar to what we do.

I’d describe the Hammerpress aesthetic as…
Hard to nail down. I feel like we are constantly trying to keep some continuity while also trying to push ourselves to do things we aren’t totally comfortable with. I think the main thing we always try to maintain in each design is a sense of handwork. Although we do work digitally a lot now, our goal is to always keep handwork involved and not allow it to get too clean or refined.

Hammerpress calendar

Photo: Hammerpress.net

The most challenging thing about this work is…
Trying to maintain consistency and keep it fresh. It’s always a challenge.

My favorite part of the design process is…
Seeing it go to press. Usually—not always, but usually—it’s like the clouds opening up and the sun shining through once you see the actual ink on paper.

Hammerpress - Stay Strong Badge

Photo: Hammerpress.net

I think the biggest mark of Hammerpress design is…
We tend to use a lot of large floods of color and try to work with the layering of colors and textures a lot. That seems to be what most people are attracted to in our work.

The story behind our name is…
I had a friend in college with whom I collaborated a lot. He would put the name “one ton press” on his work, with an anvil as a logo. When we started working together, I wanted something that would look and sound good on collaborations between us. The anvil and the hammer seemed to make sense. And I continued to use the hammer from there on out.

Hammerpress Kansas City store front

Photo: Hammerpress

The new Hammerpress shop is now open in the Crossroads Arts District of Kansas City, but no matter where you live, you can also find their letterpress designs at the click of a button right here.


Scout: A Next-Generation Home Security System

Finally, there's a fully featured home security system you can not only tailor to your needs, but even install on your own.

Scout Home Security

Photo: scoutalarm.com

Joining the ranks of smart-home gadgets and gizmos is Scout, a completely wireless, internet-connected home security system. Scout departs from tradition in several important ways, offering a flexible, tech-savvy, and user-friendly security solution. Once upon a time, a home security system was not only expensive to buy, but also required elaborate, professional setup and a monthly service fee. Though it offers many of the same features, Scout costs considerably less and has been designed for do-it-yourself installation.

At the heart of the system is the hub, which plugs into the wall and connects to your modem. From there, it’s easy to configure the other components provided in the starter kit: a door sensor, a pair of window sensors, and a motion sensor. Additional components are available on an à la carte basis, so you can buy only the add-ons that you want or need. But Scout does more than let you sidestep superfluous hardware purchases—you can also avoid a monthly subscription by monitoring the system yourself. If you prefer, however, Scout offers professional monitoring, complete with a call center and police notification, for $20 per month.

Scout Home Security - Window Sensors

Photo: scoutalarm.com

Scout faces stiff competition from both new and established companies. But while all are manufacturing home security systems with broadly similar capabilities, the Scout line manages to look pretty darn good while getting the job done. Clean, modern, and almost self-effacing in design, the sensors fit unobtrusively in the home. Three finish options—Arctic White, Midnight Black, and Walnut—allow customers to coordinate Scout with their decor.

With the Scout app (or its Web portal), you can check in with and control your system from anywhere. Here, you can also customize how your Scout system behaves in different situations. Of course, Scout works has default settings for modes such as “Home” and “Vacation.” But if you prefer, you can also format Scout to take actions like sending a notification to your smartphone when the door opens, or an email when the motion sensor detects movement in its range.

Scout Home Security - Camera

Photo: scoutalarm.com

Recently, Scout launched a new HD video camera that you can access remotely at any time. Not only does the camera have night vision, but it also boasts two-way audio, enabling you to listen and speak to those at home. Though Scout only improves with such additions to its suite of products, its base price hasn’t changed. Sure, Scout is not cheap, but if in the past you thought peace of mind was a luxury you could never afford, it’s time for a reassessment.

Purchase the Scout Wireless Home Security System, $319.99.