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The World’s First and Only $99 Light Bulb

Would you pay $99 for a light bulb? For a product that so completely redefines a familiar technology, you just might.

Lifx Light Bulbs

Photo: lifx.co

Light bulbs didn’t change for decades—arguably for a full century. But then, somewhat all of a sudden, a confluence of scientific, cultural, political and technological factors combined to create a special set of circumstances permitting the advent of this—a $99 light bulb. No, it’s not glazed in gold or encrusted with jewels; the jaw-dropping sticker price owes only to an impressive array of features. And people are really excited about the whole thing. When LIFX, the maker of the bulb, set out to raise $100,000 in funding through Kickstarter in 2013, it wound up generating, in just six days, well over $1 million. A year later, the LIFX bulb had gone on sale at Amazon, and the most tech-savvy homeowners began to experiment with this WiFi-enabled, multi-color, energy-efficient LED.

Even when it’s off, the LIFX looks like no other light bulb you’ve ever seen. There’s no glass orb, but rather a flat-topped disc atop a textured plastic body. But the single most noteworthy thing about LIFX is that you can control the bulb from your smartphone or tablet, modulating not only its brightness, but also its color. At a swipe, you can settle on a standard LED color or pick any of the millions on the spectrum between warm white and cool. What saves the color options from being a mere novelty is that you can temper your selection with a layer of white light, thus creating a tinted hue that flatters your home decor while creating an appealing atmosphere, be it buoyant or serene. LIFX even includes a number of pre-sets allowing you to transform the mood in your house at one touch.

Lifx Light Bulbs - Multicolor

Photo: lifx.co

To get started with LIFX, there’s no peripheral hardware to set up; the bulb can be used as soon as you take it out of the box. You simply screw it into the socket and connect it to your home network using the free LIFX app. Whereas many other smart home products on the market excite with their possibilities but intimidate with their complexities, LIFX bulbs are inviting and immediately useful to anyone, tech geeks and Luddites alike. However, if you’ve been closely following the Internet of Things movement, what you may find most interesting are the third-party integrations. For example, LIFX syncs with the Nest Learning Thermostat and Nest Protect smoke detector, and it even has an IFTT channel. That means you can program the lighting to dim after 10pm or to pulse when an email arrives from a certain someone. Any number of configurations are possible. It’s all up to you—if you decide limitless lighting options are worth $99.

Purchase LIFX WiFi Enabled Multicolor Dimmable LED Light Bulbs, $99

So, You Want to… Install Wainscoting

Careful planning leads to getting the look you want with wainscoting, be it crisp or ornate.

How to Install Wainscoting

Photo: shutterstock.com

The term “wainscoting” refers to any type of paneling that covers the lower portion—usually the lower third—of an interior wall. Originally, wainscoting was meant to protect plaster walls from dings and dents, but today it’s primarily decorative. Whether it’s elaborate and elegant or simple and casual, wainscoting adds warmth and character, making a room look more inviting. If you’ve ever seen a beautiful wainscot, you might think it’s not possible for a do-it-yourselfer to re-create the look. But the fact is, if you’re comfortable working with wood and handling a few basic tools, you can install wainscoting yourself over a long weekend.

How to Install Wainscoting - Beadboard Painted

Photo: shutterstock.com

Wainscoting took off in the 19th century, when industrial milling made low-cost wood products widely available. These days, although many homeowners continue to install wainscoting made of solid wood, newer and cheaper materials like MDF and PVC are perhaps the most commonly used.

If you’re planning to paint, not stain, the wainscoting, give due consideration to MDF. Because it comes with no knots, it’s easy to cut and work with. Plus, MDF resists the sort of warping and splitting that solid wood might undergo due to seasonal expansion and contraction. One caveat: Standard MDF fares poorly if exposed to moisture, so if you’re wainscoting a bathroom or mudroom, be sure to purchase (and expect to pay more for) the moisture-resistant variety.

Alternatively, for wainscoting that stands up well to both heat and moisture, think about opting for PVC. No, you might not think of PVC as the most stylish stuff for a home interior, but once painted, it looks no different from more traditional materials, and it lasts a long time without maintenance.

There’s one major downside to inexpensive sheet wainscoting products: As easy as they are to install, they can accentuate an uneven or wavy wall. If yours is an older home that’s fallen out of plumb, it’s probably worth it to spring for tongue-and-groove solid wood wainscoting. Here, you can use furring strips to correct for minor imperfections, and you can sand down any protrusions.

When you set out to install wainscoting, don’t underestimate the importance of planning. To a large extent, the installation process hinges on the design decisions you make early on. In fact, some people choose to create cardboard stencils and mount them on the wall in order to test different looks.

One key question: Do you want the wainscoting to have decorative panels? Know that eschewing panels tends to make for easier installation. Unlike panels, commercially sold tongue-and-groove strips simply need to be snugged together and nailed (or otherwise adhered) directly to the wall.

That said, frame-and-panel wainscoting is by no means beyond the skilled amateur. Get ready to use your tape measure, though. For the installation to look right, you must figure out a design that allows the wainscoting panels to be of equal size. If uniform panels are simply not possible given the size or shape of the room, there’s a compromise: Only panels on the same wall technically need to share the same dimensions. So if you are adding wainscoting to multiple walls, different walls can have panels of a different set size.

During the planning stage, it also helps a great deal to settle on a finish. If you decide to stain or clear coat the wainscoting, it’s easiest to do so prior to installation. Another reason to get your ducks in a row before getting to work: You can buy prefinished wainscoting products, which can save you significant time.

Yes, it’s easy to install wainscoting, but there are some complexities. Perhaps the hardest part is ensuring that the wainscoting gets along with the door and window trim in the room. Depending on the thickness of the wainscoting that you’re adding, it may even be necessary to replace the door and window casing.

Also, remember that wainscoting must be notched to fit around electrical boxes. And because building codes normally require electrical boxes to be flush with wall paneling, you may need to extend the boxes. Luckily, box extensions are inexpensive, widely available, and easy to fit behind either switches or receptacles.

Whether your home was recently built or has been around for more than a hundred years, wainscoting imparts depth and texture, giving any interior space a three-dimensional appeal that no mere coat of paint could possibly achieve, no matter how striking the color.

Bob Vila Thumbs Up: The DIY Planter Competition Starts Today

Vote now—and vote daily—to choose your favorite among the DIY planter projects competing to win this month's Bob Vila Thumbs Up competition!

Spring is on the way. And after this winter, many of us couldn’t be more relieved. If you have spring fever, one of the best projects to DIY is to make your own planter box. But you need not stick to traditional wood window boxes. This month’s Bob Vila Thumbs Up competitors take the DIY planter to fresh and new places.

Whether you like the look of wood, concrete, or stone, this month’s bloggers have something that will surely interest you. They all require different levels of skill—but they all deserve points for creativity. And they’re all eligible to be this month’s Bob Vila Thumbs Up winner and take home the prize—a $250 gift card from True Value.


Each of these projects gets the Bob Vila stamp of approval, but only one can win. That’s why we need you to vote now and each day this month for your favorite projects. After all, it’s your vote that will determine who will be this month’s winning Bob Vila Thumbs Up blogger.

Congrats to last month’s winning blogger ——. Read more about winning Bob Vila Thumbs Up project right here.

Would you like to recommend a blogger for the next Bob Vila Thumbs Up? Tell us about it on Facebook or Twitter!

How To: Remove Mold from Wood

Unsightly fungus doesn't have to mean peril for your home or health. Provided the mold has not spread far and wide, you can remove it from wood by following these steps.

How to Remove Mold from Wood

Photo: shutterstock.com

Wood, which naturally soaks up and retains water, makes an ideal environment for mold and mildew. To remove mold from wood, the key is to act fast, not only to minimize the scope of your cleaning project, but also to be sure the mold does not compromise the health of the allergy sufferers in your family. So long as the mold has not spread over an area larger than ten square feet, you can remove mold from wood without help from a professional. Here’s how to get it done.

- Air mask
- Rubber gloves
- Safety goggles
- HEPA-filtered vacuum
- Soft-bristled scrub brush
- Dishwashing detergent
- Distilled vinegar in a spray bottle (optional)
- Bleach
- Sponge
- Sandpaper

Take the appropriate safety measures to keep yourself safe. Wear rubber gloves and safety goggles and importantly, don an air mask to prevent mold spores from getting into your lungs. If you intend to use a cleaning solution that contains bleach, wear protective outerwear in order to safeguard your clothing against stains.

How to Remove Mold from Wood - Paneling

Photo: shutterstock.com

Using a machine equipped with a HEPA filter, vacuum the affected area of wood to remove any loose mold spores (along with any other accumulated dirt and debris). Once finished, empty the vacuum bag or canister into a plastic bag outside the house. Tightly seal the bag and dispose of it.

If the wood you’re dealing with is either painted or stained, that means the mold has not penetrated. You can therefore stick to a mild cleaning solution—a simple mixture of dishwashing detergent and warm water. Dip a soft-bristled scrub brush into the soapy water you’ve prepared, then gently go over the moldy area. If you get unsatisfactory results, opt for vinegar, an effective mold killer. With a spray bottle filled with vinegar, spritz the mold and then let the vinegar sit for an hour to work its magic. Once enough time has elapsed, proceed to wipe down the wood with a clean, damp towel. Inspect the wood for any remaining mold, and if you don’t see any, wipe the wood down with a rag.

Whether the wood is finished or raw, if mold has penetrated, you are going to need a stronger solution, one that’s capable of killing spores beneath the surface of the material. To that end, mix 1 part detergent, 10 parts bleach, and 20 parts warm water. Apply your solution to the moldy area by means of a scrub sponge or a stiff-bristled brush, then allow the solution to air-dry on the wood.

If mold remains even after scrubbing in step 4, it’s time to reach for the sandpaper. Laborious though it may be, sanding offers the only way to reach the mold deep within the wood. Work the sandpaper slowly around the affected area until you see no more signs of mold. After sanding, it’s a good idea to refinish the wood, not only for appearances’ sake, but also to prevent a future outbreak. Finally, get rid of all the rags and such that came into contact with the mold, and start trying to figure out how to limit the amount of moisture present in the area where you’ve been working.

How To: Clean a Refrigerator

While you may cringe upon opening the door to a dirty fridge, even more upsetting is how the appliance may be affecting your electric bill. Clean your refrigerator today, not only for cosmetic and health reasons, but for financial reasons as well.

How To Clean A Refrigerator

Photo: shutterstock.com

As the only home appliance to host a rotating population of mess-making foods, it’s no wonder the refrigerator ranks as the quickest of all to get seriously grimy. Within only a week, splatters and drips, leakage and smells take hold and compromise, not only the appearance of your fridge (and your mood upon opening it), but also its energy efficiency. That means a fridge you haven’t cleaned is a fridge that’s costing you more than it should on your month-to-month energy bills. So if you were looking for a reason to clean the refrigerator, you’ve finally got one—money! To do a thorough job it, follow the simple series of steps detailed below.

- Coil brush
- Vacuum with attachments
- Soft cloths
- Rubbing alcohol
- Vinegar
- Dishwashing detergent
- Warm water
- Sponge
- Toothbrush
- Baking soda

Start by unplugging the fridge. Next, locate the condenser coils; these may be on the back of the unit or on its bottom side. If the coils are on the back, pull the unit away from the wall and then use a coil brush (a tool well worth its low cost) to free whatever dust and dirt has accumulated there. If the coils are on the bottom of the fridge, you need not go through the trouble of moving the appliance, but you do have to hunker down so as to manipulate the coil brush toward the target area. In either case, sweep up or vacuum all the stuff your brushing has brought to light—there may be quite a bit, if you haven’t cleaned the coils before.

Empty the refrigerator of all contents and put them aside. In the process of doing so, take the opportunity to purge any items that are past their expiration date. When it comes to choosing a cleaning solution, you may prefer something store-bought, but the following homemade version works well, too. Mix 1 teaspoon rubbing alcohol, 1 teaspoon vinegar, and warm water into a spray bottle. Add in a few drops of dish detergent, then shake it up. While the alcohol and vinegar cut through tough stains, the detergent works to eliminate grease and disinfect. It’s a potent cleaning cocktail, to be sure, but using it won’t make you want to retch.

“]How To Clean a Refrigerator - Compartment

Photo: shutterstock.com

Take out any shelves or drawers that are removable, place them on the counter, and clean them one by one in the sink. Spray each with your cleaning cocktail, then scrub with a sponge. Once you’ve cleaned one, rinse it off and move to the next. As they all air-dry, proceed to cleaning the inside of the fridge.

Start at the top and work your way down, spraying the back and side walls along with any fixed-in-place shelving. Use the sponge to scrub any areas with stubborn food residue, and follow up with a paper towel to clean up the excess spray. Where crevices have collected crumbs, use an old toothbrush or a similar tool. Pay special attention to where the drawers sit, and don’t forget to address the pocket panels on the door. Finish by tackling the door edges as well as the door seal (go gentle on the latter).

Now it’s time to clean the refrigerator exterior. Spray and wipe it down on all sides; go over the door handles more than once, as they are likely to harbor both finger smudges and germs. Note that if yours is a stainless steel appliance, special cleaning techniques apply. Do not use any product that contains bleach, and shy away from any abrasive scrubbing pads that might leave scratches behind. Opt instead for a damp, soapy washcloth. For extra firepower, mix together baking soda and liquid dish soap, then apply the paste with a nylon scrubbie. As a last step, wipe away all remaining suds with a damp towel.

Plug the refrigerator back in and refill it. Your appliance is now in tip-top shape!

Additional Notes
It’s best to clean the refrigerator coils every few months, even if the visible parts of the refrigerator look more or less clean. If you find the refrigerator isn’t getting cold enough, dirty coils are likely to blame.

New Kits Make DIY Profitable for Some, Foolproof for All

Darby Smart makes DIY easy, both for novices who want nothing more than to learn, and for veterans wanting something beyond recognition.

Photo: darbysmart.com

Like so many other do-it-yourself enthusiasts, Nicole Shariat Farb frequently browsed blogs and social media sites, always in search of her next project. On many occasions, however, her attempt would pale in comparison to what had inspired her. After a while, experiences like these finally led Farb to develop a business idea. And the more she researched the market, the more she came to believe in the promise of a company now known as Darby Smart. A new type of online marketplace, the mission of Darby Smart is to make DIYing easy for everyone, while providing the opportunity for talented makers to profit from their passion.

Darby Smart - Mason Jar Light

Photo: darbysmart.com

For consumers, Darby Smart offers dozens of mail-order kits, each containing instructions and all the materials needed to build a home accessory, be it a mason jar lamp or wood block candle holder. Engineered to be completed in less than an hour, each virtually foolproof kit carries a price tag between $15 and $45, shipping included. Importantly, a sizable portion of every sale goes to the outside person who came up with and submitted the idea for the kit. So for all the makers whose talents have brought large followings online but little financial reward, there’s now a way to earn money by making clever and beautiful things.

Darby Smart - Light Bulb Planter

Photo: darbysmart.com

For more information, visit Darby Smart.

Quick Tip: Restore Shine to a Light Fixture with… Denture Tablets?

To bring the brilliance back to your glass lighting fixtures, look no further than the oral hygiene aisle of your local drugstore.

Clean a Light Fixture with Denture Tablets

Photo: shutterstock.com

Highly Effective Fizz

While denture tablets work wonders on light fixtures, these fizzy fighters can also be used to clean a surprising range of glass, ceramic, and porcelain items in the home. For instance, if you scrubbed and scrubbed but cannot purge the brown bits from inside a glass baking dish, try soaking it in warm water with a couple of denture tablets. Likewise, if your ceramic mug has coffee stains you were beginning to consider permanent, fill the vessel with water and drop in a denture tablet. Hey, you can even use denture tablets to clean a toilet bowl!

Time has a way of proving the old adage “out of sight, out of mind.” Case in point: Whether your ceiling lights are flush-mount fixtures or hanging pendants, chances are you’ve neglected to clean them—not because you’re lazy, but simply because those fixtures seldom enter your eyeline. Of course, like anything else in your home, glass lighting fixtures accumulate dust and dirt; left unattended for months or even years, their radiant dazzle slowly dulls to a hazy glow. Fortunately, even if you’ve fallen far behind on housekeeping, you can catch up quite quickly, thanks to an unlikely yet effective secret weapon—denture tablets!

Clean a Light Fixture with Denture Tablets - Fiz

Photo: shutterstock.com

Denture tablets are those fizz-making additives Grandpa plops into a glass of water, along with his dentures, before he goes to bed. Just as the tablets’ effervescence manages to penetrate and sanitize the crevices of dentures, so too does the fizziness lift ancient residue from within the facets and angles of any glass lighting fixture. A box of denture tablets, conveniently available at any pharmacy, costs less than ten bucks, so even if you’re skeptical, we think it’s definitely worth a try.

Fill a bucket with hot water. Make sure the bucket is large enough to accommodate the fixture you are trying to clean. Place the glass fixture into the bucket, then add a handful of denture tablets (about six or eight, depending on the size of the fixture). Let the bucket sit for about 30 minutes.

Remove the fixture and set it aside, then dump out the dirty water from the bucket.

Refill the bucket, this time adding one part bleach for every two parts water. Rinse the fixture off, then place it back in the bucket. Let it sit for another half hour, ventilating the area as necessary. When the time has elapsed, rinse and dry off the fixture before finally putting it back into position.

While the denture tablets pull dust and debris from all the nooks and crannies that would otherwise be hard to reach or inaccessible, the bleach goes the extra mile toward restoring sparkle to the glass.

A word of caution: Make sure that neither pets nor children have access to the bucket when it’s full. Denture tablets can be toxic if ingested, and of course the harmful effects of bleach are well known.

DIY Concrete Planters

If new and stylish planters aren't in your budget this spring, save your money for soil, plants... and patio pavers! That's almost everything you'll need to recreate these flower boxes.

DIY Concrete Planters

Large planters for your deck or patio can be very pricey, so it makes sense to build your own. If you like the look of concrete but would rather not mix and pour your own, patio pavers make a genius shortcut. That’s what Angela from Life in Velvet discovered. With the right tools and materials, you can create patio paver planters that will bind and stay together. Find the how to below.


- (5) 16X16 patio pavers {per large planter}
- (5) 12X12 Patio Pavers {per small planter}
- Gorilla Glue
- Clamps
- Patio paint


Lay out four patio pavers to form a square, with edges overlapping. The fifth paver is used as a base.


DIY Concrete Planters - gorilla glue

Apply Gorilla Glue to the edges of the pavers, then clamp together until dry.

Note: The only thing to be afraid of with Gorilla Glue is that it expands about 3x, so use thin lines of glue between pavers, and use small dots to adhere the sides to the base to allow for drainage.


DIY Concrete Planters - paint

Once dry, use remove the clamps and apply patio paint of your choice.


DIY Concrete Planters - add soil

Add soil and plants! We have a very small back yard, so I’m using each of these as a mini raised garden. I planted a variety of shrubs and flowers in shades of purple, pink and red to keep everything interesting and cohesive.

DIY Concrete Planters - finished

Thanks, Angela! For more DIY ideas, check out Life in Velvet.

DIY Pallet Planter

As long as it's not chemical-treated, a pallet can make a great planter for a few seasons—and this project makes us want to drop everything and grow strawberries today.

DIY Strawberry Pallet Planter


When Tanya, from Lovely Greens looked to Pinterest for some spring inspiration, she came across lots of ideas for strawberry pallet planters. That’s when she decided to create her own take on the pallet planter using a heat-treated (not chemical-treated) pallet. Read on to discover how you can make your own, too.


- Pallet
- Jigsaw or hand saw
- Power drill
- Screws (1.5″ and 3″ lengths)
- Chisel and mallet
- Paint (optional)


DIY Pallet Planter - cut

Cut the pallet into three equal pieces. The easiest way to do this is to lay the pallet so that the long planks are in parallel with your own position. If your pallet has nine planks, like mine did, then count over three planks and then saw the wood between the third and fourth planks. Saw right in the middle, to keep things easy and to ensure that all of your proportions remain correct. Remember that you’ll have to saw in the exact places on both the front and back of the pallet.


DIY Pallet Planter - trim

Trim and remove excess wood pieces. You’ll have three pieces of pallet now, all of the same height and width. Two of the pallets will be formed from the top and bottom and will have chunky blocks securely fixed to them between one of three planks on the front side and the single one left on on the other. You’ll want to trim off the excess wood jutting up from each one of these wooden blocks.


DIY Pallet Planter - build

Fix the two end pieces to the middle part of the pallet. Screw in from the other side of the middle (bottom) piece. The two end pieces will be the sides of your planter and the middle piece is the bottom. Though the image shows the structure right way up, it’s actually easier to flip it over in order to fix the bottom piece to the sides. You’ll want to screw or nail the bottom piece into the wooden blocks still attached to the side pieces.


You should have three to four of these pieces that were removed from the centre piece of the pallet. Separate them into individual blocks and planks. This is easier said than done if you don’t have the right tools. Since pallet wood that has been heat treated can be brittle if you try to pull the plank off with the tongs of a hammer. If you have a heavy duty chisel then I recommend that you use it to separate the block and the plank and sever the nails in two. If you’re planning on doing any more pallet projects you could really save yourself a lot of tears and invest in one along with an iron mallet down at your local hardware store. If any of your pieces have bits of nails sticking out then try to hammer them flat.


DIY Pallet Planter - feet

Now assemble the rest of your planter box, including adding the feet. Attaching the wooden blocks as feet can be a bit tricky and in the end I drove very long screws in sideways to attach them to the bottom of the planter. Putting feet on the piece will help with drainage and slow down the process of the bottom rotting. I think they also make the planter look nicer.


Turn your planter right way up and have a look at it. Does it feel sturdy? Are the feet wobbly? Are there extra bits of wood sticking up that you could trim back? Once you feel the planter is complete then either plant it up as is or use a non-toxic outdoor wood paint to paint the exterior. Being wood, this piece will eventually rot down but some TLC now can help extend its life.


Grow Strawberries - pallet planter

Soil and compost will erode through any unprotected opening in the sides or bottom of the planter. Putting down your choice of barrier materials will help keep that soil where it’s supposed to be. I chose to line the bottom of my planter with scraps of wire then a layer of gardening fabric that will let water out but keep matter in. Since I placed my planter against a hedge I also chose to roll the black material up the back since I won’t be planting any strawberries on that side. On top of the fabric and running up the sides I used straw as an organic erosion barrier.

The easiest way to plant your strawberries is to work your way up from the bottom. A layer of compost, mixed with manure and slow-release organic fertilizer went in first. Then I placed the plants in the bottom slots along with straw. Another layer of my compost mixture and then I repeated the process for the next set of slots. You’ll also notice that I’ve spaced my plants out far more than you’ll see in most other pallet planter tutorials. If you want strawberries to produce well, it’s recommended that you place the plants at least 14″ apart. I’ve also made sure that each plant will be able to grow and spread out without smothering any plants underneath.

DIY pallet planter - finished strawberries

Thanks, Tanya! Check out Lovely Greens to watch her step-by-step video of this project—and to find even more great DIY projects.

DIY Wine Cork Planters

When life gives you wine corks, make really, really tiny planters. Well, that's not the saying but it's certainly a fun idea.

DIY Wine Cork Magnet Planters

By her own admission, Linda from It All Started With Paint isn’t what you’d call a green thumb. But tiny low-maintenance succulents were calling her name and that’s where the idea for these unlikely thumb-sized planters came from. Read on to learn how to create your own easy-to-make planters!


- Wine corks
- Magnets
- Glue gun
- Succulents
- Soil
- Steak knife


DIY Wine Cork Planter - corks

Drink some wine and save the corks.


DIY Wine Cork Planter - materials

Gather your supplies. You’ll need wine corks, a glue gun, magnets, a steak knife, and plants. I used hardy—and hard to kill—succulents since I’ve got a bit of a plant-killing reputation.


DIY Wine Cork Planter - core

Using a steak knife, core out centers of the corks. Start by putting tip in center of cork and turning knife in a circular motion. Just make sure you don’t go all the way through; stop about ¾ of the way down.


DIY Wine Cork Planter - magnet

Use glue gun to affix magnets. Note: Once plants are planted, the cork will be much heavier. Depending on the strength of your magnet, you made need to affix more than one to handle the added weight.


DIY Wine Cork Planter - soil

Add soil.


DIY Wine Cork Planter - succulents

Add plants. Use a ¼ teaspoon measure spoon to add dirt and pack down. Drizzle with water.

Simple as that! Thanks, Linda. For more DIY ideas or to visit her Etsy shop, visit It All Started With Paint.