Welcome to Bob Vila


Weekend Projects: 5 DIY Designs for a Custom End Table

Rather than treat the modest yet versatile end table as an afterthought, give this workhorse of the living room all the attention it deserves.

We entrust a great deal of responsibility to the end table, an unsung hero of the living room furniture ensemble. A versatile workhorse, the end table performs such non-trivial duties as supporting coffee mugs, holding reading material, and keeping remote controls from vanishing under seat cushions. Despite its day-to-day importance, we don’t give much thought to the end table. Though we might spend weeks or even months shopping for the perfect sofa, the end table often enters the space as an afterthought. Also at issue is the question that eternally complicates one’s choice of an end table: Is it the right height? See, this is why it makes so much sense to undertake a DIY end table. By taking matters into your own hands, you can tailor the piece to your exact specifications, with no sacrifice in the style department. Scroll down now to see five favorite DIY end table projects you can either replicate or use as the inspiration for your own design.

 

1. PIPE UP

Photo: stylebyemilyhenderson.com

Perfect for a small room, appearing to occupy almost zero floor space, this svelte and brassy DIY end table on only two main components—copper pipes and leather strips. Furniture retailers sell similarly industrial chic pieces for hundreds, but you follow the lead of Emily Henderson to make yours for much less.

 

2. CUT TO FIT

Photo: abeautifulmess.com

The combination of rolled aluminum sheet metal and a cut-to-size wood top creates this lightweight, high-impact DIY end table from A Beautiful Mess. Stain the wood and spray-paint the metal to create a unified look, or give a different hue to each part of the piece. It’s such an easy project, you may be tempted to do two.

 

3. STRAP IN

Photo: matsutakeblog.blogspot.se

Having struggled to find a nightstand that would reach the top of her bed, Katie of Matsutake finally resolved to DIY the solution. Here’s what she came up with. It’s a modern martini-style table, with a cardboard tube at its core and vinyl strips manipulated to form the hourglass shape that so uniquely defines the project.

 

4. HIDE OUT

Photo: ashbeedesign.com

Multipurpose furniture can be as stylish as it is functional. From Ashbee Design, this DIY end table serves both as a sofa-side surface and a storage place for such things as table runners and month-old magazines. These stay out of sight when they aren’t needed but remain easily within reach, even at a moment’s notice.

 

5. SEE SAW

Photo: thegoldensycamore.com

For a DIY end table like this one, you’ll need to negotiate only one slightly tough step: sawing out twin squares of butcher block. The rest is a matter of simple assembly, which The Golden Sycamore makes very easy with her detailed instructions. Once finished, you can rest a celebratory drink on your sturdy new table!


Bob Vila Radio: Are There Plants That Repel Mosquitos?

In a word, yes. If you're sick of being bitten while trying to enjoy your background, think about including one or all of these pest-repelling plants into your landscaping.

Modern mosquito repellents generally do a pretty good job of keeping the bugs away, but toxic chemicals often top their lists of ingredients. The good news is that there are plants you can easily grow, and place strategically around your deck and patio, that will deter flying pests.

Plants That Repel Mosquitoes

Photo: shutterstock.com

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Listen to BOB VILA ON PLANTS THAT DETER MOSQUITOES, or read text below:

Citronella, one of the most popular, is very effective and easy to grow. In colder climates, it’s best to use planters, so you can bring Citronella plants inside when the temperature drops. Catnip is another good choice. (Be aware, though, that as it repels mosquitoes, it may attract neighborhood cats!)

Marigolds are an excellent option for border plants. Mosquitoes hate their scent and will avoid entering bordered areas. Finally, why not grow herbs that repel mosquitoes? That list includes basil, garlic, lemongrass, and rosemary. Pick the leaves you need for cooking, and leave the rest to keep the bugs at bay!

Bob Vila Radio is a newly launched daily radio spot carried on more than 60 stations around the country (and growing). You can get your daily dose here, by listening to—or reading—Bob’s 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day.


5 Things to Do with… Old Window Screens

Turn a torn screen into a window of opportunity with these practical projects involving repurposed mesh.

If that window screen is torn beyond repair, don’t take the entire panel out to the trash. Rather, look for ways to reuse the screen in and around your house. That meshy material can do much more than simply block out bugs. Scroll down to see five of our favorite ways to give screens a second life.

 

1. UNGUNK OLD PAINT

Sift old paint

Photo: Shutterstock.com

Before you embark on a touch-up project that involves leftover paint, take the time to filter out debris (for example, dust or brush bristles) or any film that has formed. Cut out a patch of window screen large enough to fit over the can, then hold it in place as you pour the liquid into the paint tray you plan to use in your day’s work.

 

2. KEEP AWAY CRITTERS

Stop Sidewalk Infestations

Photo: Shutterstock.com

To keep cracks in driveways or walkways from becoming prime real estate for critters, use crumpled window screening to fill any gaps you encounter in surfaces meant to be continuously paved. The mesh works to discourage small animals from making themselves a permanent home on your property.

 

3. SHIELD YOUR GUTTERS

Shield Gutters

Photo: Shutterstock.com

Improper storm drainage can lead to serious damage, so get your game plan together. Cleaning gutters annually or twice per year is a no-brainer, but with gutter guards you can keep leaves and other debris from reaching your gutters in the first place. But as gutter guards don’t come cheap, repurposed window screens work almost as well, and at a fraction of the cost.

 

4. KEEP DRAINS CLEAR

Preventing Clogged Drains

Photo: Shutterstock.com

A long, hot shower should be nothing but relaxing. You certainly don’t want the stress and mess of a slow drain ruining your bathing ritual. Drain grates go only so far to trap hair and other pipe-clogging debris from entering your plumbing system. Add a further layer of protection by placing a small square of window screen under the grid.

 

5. SAVE SPROUTS

Protect New Grass

Photo: Shutterstock.com

Whether you’re planting a new lawn or reseeding a failed patch, anchor a swath of screening over the area. That way, the grass seed won’t become dinner for the neighborhood birds. Once the grass has sprouted, pull the screen back, roll it up, and store it in the garage or basement until next time you need it.


Hypnotized, One Couple Lives Its Future at IKEA

IKEA turns a furniture showroom into a time machine, as hypnotist Justin Tranz sends one couple ahead 12, 18, and 23 years to witness their future together.

A birthday celebration in an IKEA bedroom

Photo: Courtesy of IKEA

Here’s what we’ve been waiting for: It’s the first official video in a mind-bending new promotional series from IKEA. If we were excited about last week’s trailer—and we definitely were—then we are beyond thrilled today. Whereas the teaser clip left us intrigued and yes, slightly confused, the full video leaves no doubt that the Swedish retailer has done something remarkable. With the help of renowned hypnotist Justin Tranz, IKEA showed real customers a glimpse of their future.

The story begins with Tranz on the floor of an unidentified IKEA showroom. A few cuts later, Tranz is lulling one willing couple, Adam and Sofi, into what looks like a genuine state of hypnosis. What comes next is truly amazing: From room to room, with different hired actors helping cement the illusion, Tranz leads the couple through scenes from what, to their hypnotized minds, must have appeared to be moments from their life together 12, 18, and even 23 years down the road.

As Adam and Sofi walk and talk through these—to put it lightly—novel experiences, IKEA goods provide the familiar domestic backdrop. Soon, the price tags hanging from the furniture become less noticeable, and the viewer forgets this is all taking place in a store. In one scene, we meet the couple’s daughter; in another, we see her as a rebellious teenager; finally, we meet her live-in boyfriend. Throughout, there’s IKEA, providing “solutions for every episode in life.”

When it comes to hypnosis, you’re either a believer or you’re not. But when it comes to ad’s message, we think there’s only one conclusion: No matter where you are in life, no matter your current needs, you can always find a way to live better at IKEA.

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


Bob Vila Radio: Help Your Lawn Thrive This Sweltering Summer

Here's how you can help your lawn rise to the challenge of not only surviving the summer, but thriving despite the heat and drought conditions.

Summertime is great for beaches, boating, and barbecues. But it’s not so great for turf grasses. They tend to take a beating in hot, dry weather. Here are some ways you can help your lawn get through the stressful summer months.

Photo: shutterstock.com

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Listen to BOB VILA ON HOT WEATHER LAWN CARE, or read text below:

First, water wisely. Treating your turf to thorough soakings, spaced a couple days apart, is better than light, daily sprinklings. Most lawns do best on at least an inch of water per week (more, if temperatures are really soaring).

Use a rain gauge—or just a short, empty can—to help keep track of  how much you’re watering. Cut your grass often, but not too short. It’s best to raise your mower blade, so you’re trimming your turf at about three inches high. That’ll encourage healthy root growth.

One other tip: Make sure your mower blade is sharp. That way you’ll be cutting the grass cleanly rather than shredding it. Shredding is an extra stress your turf doesn’t need, especially this time of year!

Bob Vila Radio is a newly launched daily radio spot carried on more than 60 stations around the country (and growing). You can get your daily dose here, by listening to—or reading—Bob’s 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day.


INFOGRAPHIC: Sober Uses for Beer & Booze Around the House

These boozy alternatives can easily stand in for store-bought cleaning supplies. So rather than let that bottle linger for years in the back of your liquor cabinet, put it to "sober use" in your home today.

An outstanding perk of hosting friends and family for a potluck affair can be the copious volume of alcohol left over. But if you’re not much of a drinker—of if any of the extras don’t suit your taste—there’s an option besides letting the bottles gather dust in the nether regions of your cabinets. As it turns out, beer and booze work as well as—or perhaps even better than—products you’d normally need to purchase prior to tackling a handful of tasks in and around the home. Dubious? Then spare a few drops of that liquid courage and have fun experimenting with these “sober” alternative uses for beer and vodka, whiskey and gin. Cheers!

Copy and paste the below to embed this infographic on your site:


How To: Apply Epoxy Floor Paint

Give your dingy old garage floor a gleaming, long-lasting finish with epoxy paint.

How to Apply Epoxy Floor Paint - TailoredLiving

Photo: tailoredliving.com

You lavish attention on the bedroom and living room, bathroom and kitchen, but what about the unsung hero of many smoothly functioning households, the garage? If you’ve always been underwhelmed by the bland gray of the concrete slab, there’s a great way to give it a literally lustrous new look: epoxy paint. No, regular paint isn’t a terrible idea, particularly if you rarely set foot in the garage. But if yours tends to get busy, either with foot traffic or comings and goings of at least one car, opt for epoxy paint. This stuff is tough and resistant to grease, oil, various chemicals and all manner of scuffs—in other words, the litany of challenges that would ruin a regular paint job. Plus, epoxy paint boasts a distinctive, gleaming appearance. Best of all, it’s easy to apply. Here’s how it’s done.

First things first: Check the weather report. More important than the air temperature, however, is the temperature of the concrete you are painting. Its surface should be at least 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Assuming conditions are prime, proceed to strip off any old paint that exists on the surface, and remove any oil or grease stains that would compromise the epoxy finish. For those stubborn stains, I recommend using the forceful combination of a degreaser and scrub brush.

Once you’ve gotten the slab pretty clean, wet down the whole floor with a mixture of water and degreaser. Follow up with an electric floor scrubber, continuing until you see a healthy head of suds. That’s a sign that you’ve really gotten somewhere. Now, plug in a wet/dry vac and suck up as much of the moisture as possible. (Don’t empty the vacuum bucket, which now contains degreaser, in your yard. Check the product label and heed its advice for proper disposal.)

How to Apply Epoxy Floor Paint - Flake Detail

Photo: sundek.com

Epoxy adheres best to an etched concrete surface. That being the case, you must take the time to prepare the slab before you can begin applying the coating. Cover the floor with a 10-to-1 mixture of water and muriatic acid, then go over it a second time with the electric scrubber. Caution: Muriatic acid is dangerous. Closely follow the printed instructions, and be sure to wear all suitable protective gear.

Next, hose off the floor thoroughly. Allow the concrete to dry overnight. In the morning, it should have a slightly rough surface, with a consistency similar to that of sandpaper. It’s now ready for paint.

Epoxy comes in several varieties, the most common being solvent-based or water-based. Many commercial outfits choose solvent-based epoxies, because they are especially strong. The downside is that their fumes are highly toxic. Water-based epoxies are almost as good and produce no toxic fumes. So in residential use, it’s really best to stick with the latter. But note that if you opt for a solvent-based epoxy, it’s of paramount importance that you wear a respirator when working with the product.

Whether solvent- or water-based, epoxy paint usually requires the mixing of two components—resin and hardener—prior to painting. Mix thoroughly, using an electric drill chucked with a stirring bit. Once the epoxy is ready, you can finally begin to paint the floor, much in the same way you’d paint other surfaces.

Brush paint around the perimeter, then use a roller to cover the rest of the floor, section by section. In the interest of tidiness, keep a collection of rags handy. Use them to remove any misapplied paint. Epoxy thinner must be used with a solvent-based product; otherwise, water does a fine job. Let the first coat dry for at least a day before applying the second, final coat. You’re very close to finished now.

To dry out completely and cure, epoxy needs to sit undisturbed for as long as a week (confirm this with the printed instructions on the container of your chosen epoxy paint product). Only after the recommended amount of time has elapsed should you haul your stuff back into the garage. Yes, that’s inconvenient. But when you pull in the car, you’ll love how it looks parked—like a model in a showroom!


To Breathe Easy at Home, Install an Air Cleaner

Maintaining good indoor air quality is crucial to your family's comfort and health. If you're concerned about pollutants in your home—or even just fed up with persistent odors—maybe it's time to clear the air.

Whole-House Air Cleaners

Photo: supplyhouse.com

The air in your home may not be as fresh as you think it is. If you’re not careful, indoor air can harbor not only benign entities, such as mustiness or a foul odor, but also bona fide pollutants that can exacerbate allergies and negatively impact your health over the long term.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) cites a long list of contaminants that are commonly found in households around the country. These include, among other things, smoke (from tobacco or cooking), dust, mold and mildew, and emissions from combustion sources (oil, gas, kerosene, coal, and wood), not to mention pollution from building materials and furnishings—paint, insulation, carpeting, and pressed wood among them. To protect yourself and your family from the legitimate threats to health posed by any of these indoor pollutants, the EPA recommends two courses of action: Prioritize good ventilation, and eliminate pollutants through the use of an air cleaner (also known as an air purifier). These appliances are designed to do one thing only, and that is to directly remove toxins from circulation.

Whole-House Air Cleaners 2

Photo: supplyhouse.com

Indoor air quality takes on paramount importance during heating and cooling seasons, when homeowners tend to keep the windows closed, and natural ventilation comes to a standstill. “If you have a furnace or ducted air conditioning system, an in-line air cleaner is a no-brainer,” points out Daniel O’Brian, a technical expert from online retailer SupplyHouse.com. “The air circulating through your home can be full of dust, dander, mold, and other unpleasant particulates that can affect you negatively. An in-line cleaner blocks these particles from continuing to go around your ductwork and into the air you breathe. It also helps keep these particles from getting into your heating and cooling equipment, which could help prevent costly problems down the line.”

The in-line air cleaner O’Brian refers to is related to, but much more powerful and sophisticated than, the air purifiers you’ve seen in your local home center. Those small, portable units can be reasonably effective in one room, but people don’t live in just one room. Although you could buy a portable unit for every room on every floor of your house, the better investment is a single, larger model that can serve the whole house. Most such air cleaners attach to your existing HVAC system, but that’s where their similarities begin and end. SupplyHouse.com and other leading distributors offer a range of whole-house air cleaners that use different methods to remove airborne contaminants. Here’s a rundown of the most common air-cleaning technologies:

Electrostatic attraction: Air flows through an ionized sector within the filter. Here, particles are imbued with an electrical charge. The charged particles accumulate on a series of flat plates in an oppositely charged collector. The particles are neutralized, leaving clean air to flow out from the appliance.

• Ion generation: These air cleaners work similarly to electrostatic devices. Ionizers disperse charged ions into the air, which attach to airborne particles, giving them a charge so that they attach to nearby surfaces (for example, walls and furniture). These charged particles are then cleaned up in the course of everyday housekeeping.

• HEPA filtration: When combined with a forced-air furnace or air handler, a HEPA filter-based purifier passes air through a series of filters, each of which plays a role in capturing impurities. There are also HEPA systems that run independently of the HVAC system. These can be mounted in an attic, crawl space, or closet.

In addition to removing contaminants that can exacerbate allergies and asthma, air cleaners can help reduce or eliminate unwanted odors from the home, without the use of artificial fragrances, perfumed candles, or other products that simply mask odors rather than eliminate them. Using an air cleaner instead of a commercial fragrance product to get rid of smells reduces the amount of chemicals in the indoor environment and can help create a healthier and fresher home.

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


Bob Vila Radio: How to Relocate a Young Tree

You're having second thoughts about the placement of a sapling. No worries. So long as it's still relatively small, you can move a tree to a new spot on your property. Here's how.

Ever come to the frustrating conclusion that you’ve planted a young tree in exactly the wrong place? Here are some tips on how to move it without losing it.

How to Move a Tree

Photo: shutterstock.com

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Listen to BOB VILA ON RELOCATING A TREE or read the text below:

Prep the new location first. The hole should be about twice the width of the root ball. Depth should be about grade level. As you’re digging out the bottom of the hole, you’ll want to resist the urge to loosen the soil. Loose soil can cause the tree to sink too low over time, and that can lead to rotting.

Next, remove the tree by starting with your shovel about three feet from the trunk. If you have to cut roots, use sharp pruners. When you’ve managed to get the root ball loose, hoist the tree up onto a tarp and drag it to the new location.

Lower the tree into the new hole and gradually add soil and water. Create a wide berm around the tree and add a couple inches of mulch. Then get your hose going. The tree will need plenty of water until it’s settled into the new spot.

Bob Vila Radio is a newly launched daily radio spot carried on more than 75 stations around the country (and growing). You can get your daily dose here, by listening to—or reading—Bob’s 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day.


Transform and Protect Your Deck in a Single Coat

Improving the looks and longevity of your wood deck has never been easier for the weekend do-it-yourselfer, thanks to a new product from Thompson's WaterSeal.

Thompsons Waterproofing Stain - Finished Deck

Photo: thompsonswaterseal.com

Your deck was no small investment: If you haven’t been taking good care of it, now’s the time to give your deck the care it needs to look great and last long. If exposure to the elements has caused your deck to turn gray or acquire mildew, or if the boards have begun to crack and split, you’re in luck. A new Waterproofing Stain from industry leader Thompson’s WaterSeal can not only protect your deck from further damage, but also add rich, beautiful color.

Thompsons Waterproofing Stain - Finishing Process

Photo: thompsonswaterseal.com

It’s a one-step product. That means a single coat provides the superior waterproofing for which Thompson’s WaterSeal is known, along with a stain to transform the appearance of your deck. Choose from five popular colors: Acorn Brown, Harvest Gold, Maple Brown, Sequoia Red or Woodland Cedar. Then select your preferred level of opacity—transparent, semi-transparent, or solid. Stains with more pigment will last longer, but show less of the natural wood grain. Transparent stain is guaranteed for three years, semi-transparent stain is guaranteed for four years, and the solid stain is guaranteed for five years.

Preparation and application are easy. Clean the deck thoroughly first. A ready-to-use deck cleaner makes this step pretty painless. Simply apply the cleaner, allow it to work for about 10 or 15 minutes, then scrub and rinse. Normally, you’d need to wait for the deck to dry out completely, but not with this product.

The next step is to measure the square footage of your deck. That determines how many gallons of stain are required (each gallon covers up to 400 square feet). You can buy it and be on your way. Thanks to its pigment-suspension technology, there’s no need to wait for the Waterpoofing Stain to have its turn in the paint shaker. Open up the can on any day with a temperature between 50 and 90 degrees, and the finish is ready to for application via brush, roller, or pad.

If you’ve ever painted outdoors before, you know that clean-up can be a hassle, but that’s not the case here. The Waterproofing Stain is latex-based, which means it washes off with nothing more than soap and water. Drying time for the stain varies depending on the weather. But in normal conditions, it takes only a couple of hours. Leave it overnight, and the next day your deck will appear as though brand-new, and it will be totally ready for you to start enjoying it!

This post has been brought to you by Thompson’s Waterseal. Its facts and opinions are those of BobVila.com.