Author Archives: Chris Gardner

Chris Gardner

About Chris Gardner

Chris Gardner is an artist, writer, and sawdust-maker living and making messes in Columbus, Ohio. He's the editor-in-chief of the DIY home decor community, and the founder of, a craft, art, and design site for guys. Follow him on Twitter: @ManMadeDIY. Or check him out on Google+!

5 Things to Do with… Empty Wine Bottles

Wine bottles, though made of glass, are actually quite strong. For durability and as a safety precaution, manufacturers make them from very thick, shatter-resistant glass.

Can they break? Sure, but usually on account of a person’s carelessness. Picture frames, vases, and other home accessories made of glass are more likely to be unsafe. So, what’s the point? You should use wine bottles to build stuff in your home. Here are five inspiring DIY ideas to get you going.



Wine Bottle DIY - Lantern

DIY Wine Bottle Lantern

Kristina from came up with this simple yet conversation-starting wine bottle lamp project. The trick? A speciality drill bit designed for tile and glass.



Wine Bottle DIY - Drinking Glasses

Repurposed Wine Bottle Drinking Glasses

Tyler from Plastolux used a vintage bottle cutter (check a secondhand store or eBay) to create these bold drinking glasses out of spent wine bottles.



Wine Bottle DIY - Torch

DIY Wine Bottle Torch

With a few fittings from the hardware store, an old wine bottle becomes an excellent, outdoor-use torch (download the free plans or purchase an easy-to-assemble kit).



Wine Bottle DIY - Planter

Repurposed Wine Bottle Planter

Claire from She Knows Living figured out a great way to upgrade an old wine bottle into a hanging planter, complete with a mini beer bottle partner.



Wine Bottle DIY - Chandelier

DIY Wine Bottle Chandelier

Having spotted a wine bottle chandelier that was $400 from a chain store, Caitlin and Brandon did what any good DIYers would do—made one themselves (and for a mere $50)!

For more on repurposing, consider:

5 Things to Do with… Bottle Caps
20 Clever Ideas for Repurposed Storage
20 “Why Didn’t I Think of That” Ways to Decorate with Rope

6 DIY Standing Desk Projects to Keep You Healthy While You Work

It turns out that sitting is bad for you. Like really, really awful. It’s no surprise that a sedentary lifestyle isn’t healthy, but some are now arguing that sitting down is a harmful way to structure the body for extended periods of time.

The solution is simply to stop being so lazy and move around, right? Yeah, sure—if we had hours and hours of free time and non-stop amazing weather. The real solution might this: Get out of your chair by creating one of these great DIY standing desk projects.


DIY Standing Desk

Photo: Mint Design Blog

This super-simple and straightforward design is built with supplies you can find at the home improvement center. Since the structure depends on basic 2x4s and sawhorse brackets, the desk height can be adjusted to preference.


DIY Standing Desks - Table Height

Photo: I Am Not a Programmer

Colin Nederkoorn researched the ideal height for a standing desk, assuming a typical workday and variables such as monitor size. He then constructed his desk for less than $22 using miscellaneous parts from IKEA!


DIY Standing Desks - ManMade DIY

Photo: ManMade DIY

Here’s my own personal solution for a convertible standing desk: I simply place my laptop atop a sturdy box that otherwise serves as office supply storage. I bust it out at least three days a week, more when I remember (I should set an alert on my calendar).

DIY Standing Desks - OpenSoul

Photo: OpenSoul

In small spaces, consider the easy option of pairing a pre-made desk top (available at office furniture outlets) with simple shelving brackets. For a project of this kind, it’s essential to screw your brackets into the wall studs to get a sturdy result.


Photo: Offbeat Home

This modest bookcase hack from Offbeat Home cuts right to the chase. Converting a bookcase shelf into a home office work surface is a simple, no-cost solution. Perhaps best of it all, it takes up no more space than you’ve already allowed for your bookshelf.


Photo: Eric Wilhelm

Last, if you really want to pull double duty while you work, build a treadmill desk.


Or if you just want to keep moving while browsing the web or watching your new favorite series on Netflix, here’s a technique I came up with for mounting your laptop to an exercise bike:

DIY Standing Desks - Laptop/Treadmill - ManMade DIY

Photo: ManMade DIY


For more on home office design, consider:

Bob Vila Radio: Home Office Storage
Buy ‘Em or Build ‘Em: 10 Desks We Love
10 Smart Cord Management Solutions Under $50

6 Simple & Easy DIY Closet Door Transformations

There’s the big stuff—renovations, major appliances, new suites of furniture—any of which can make an obvious impact in your home. But don’t overlook the little features as well, like cabinet pulls, light switches, and unexpectedly, closet doors.

I mean, simply having closet doors shut has to look better than the evil that lurks behind, but with so many easy and inexpensive makeover ideas out there (most of these cost less than $35), why not take a couple minutes to explore how other DIYers have transformed their closet doors?


Closet Door DIY - Mirred Closet


Mirrored closet doors, so popular during the 70s and 80s, are the bane of renters everywhere. These doors may make your room look bigger, but they will never make it look better. That is, unless you add geometric frost to the glass for a whole ‘nother vibe altogether.


Closet Door DIY - Paint Pattern


A coat of paint will do wonders, but a simple pattern created with blue painter’s tape is something else, indeed.


Closet Door DIY - Trim


Janet lives in a tiny NYC apartment but still managed to create serious architectural detail with an inexpensive, temporary solution: 3M adhesive strips and canvas stretcher bars.


Closet Door DIY - Bamboo Mats


Kandiego moved into a new home with solid wood doors in horrible condition. To cover the holes, scratches, and paint splatters, she simply tacked up inexpensive bamboo table runners from the discount store. Imagine what other thin, inexpensive materials could be easily attached.


Closet Door DIY - Board and Batten


Abby gave her dull wood doors a permanent upgrade by attaching wood casing (trim) to her bifold doors and applying a fresh coat of paint. The result? Faux five-panel doors for about $30 each. This super simple project yields an amazing difference.


Closet Door DIY - Chalkboard Paint


You can disguise the closet completely—and put it to good use—by turning it into a surface for art with chalkboard paint. Go for it!


For more DIY project ideas, consider:

5 DIY Wall Treatment Ideas
20 Clever Ideas for Repurposed Storage
5 “Make in a Weekend” DIY Bookshelf Projects

5 “Make in a Weekend” Bookshelf Projects (No Fancy Woodworking Required)

Groucho Marx’s famous quote, “Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read,” has been printed on many a tote bag, day planner, coffee mug and journal cover. And yet… still hilarious!

For both practical and aesthetic reasons, readers love to surround themselves with their books. But where to store your collection? That’s easy. On a bookshelf, of course—one that you made yourself in a weekend.

DIY Bookshelf - Pipe Fitting

Photo: Apartment Therapy

Jeremy and Ralph built this bookshelf with only one tool: an electric drill/driver. Assembled from 1x8s and black pipe fittings, the construction is incredibly strong and will appeal to anyone who likes the industrial vibe. See how it was made over on Apartment Therapy.

DIY Bookshelf - Reclaimed Lumber

Photo: Carly Waito

Andrew and Clayton built this stout bookshelf into an unusual corner in their living room. They used reclaimed wood and staggered the supports to provide visual interest. Learn more at Carly Waito.

DIY Bookshelf

Photo: Flickr / Chris.shutter

Chris Shutter built this DIY bookshelf (and bike rack!) for next to zero dollars, using upcycled shipping palettes. He posted a photo on Flickr, and when it blew up across the internet, he posted the instructions in the comment section.

DIY Bookshelf - Float Mount

Photo: More Design Please

This floating bookshelf project from More Design Please, based on angled mending plate hardware, makes it look like the books themselves are the shelves. Neat, right? Stack ‘em up!

DIY Bookshelf - Blocks

Photo: Home and Away with Lisa

Lisa, from Home and Away with Lisa, calls this project “the easiest bookshelf in the world.” She put the whole thing together in one hour for about $35 in materials.

For more weekend DIY projects, consider:

10 Ingenious IKEA Hacks
5 Things to Do… With Beadboard
20 Clever Ideas for Repurposed Storage

5 Favorite Picture Hanging Tricks

Hanging a picture is about as DIY as many homeowners get. But although it may seem easy, hanging a picture properly is much more than a haphazard task. Here are five favorite tips for taking a one-hole approach to hanging a picture on the wall.

How to Hang a Picture

Photo: Young House Love

1. Don’t eyeball it! If you’re hanging multiple pieces of artwork, you need to figure out how they’ll work together before you start making holes. My recommendation is to make a template. Use newsprint or butcher paper to create true-scale templates of your frames, then use painter’s tape to figure out the best arrangement. Young House Love has a great walkthrough of the technique.

2. Don’t use nails—well, not JUST nails. I know every one of you has hung a picture using a simple brad nail. I’ll even admit there are several in my own home hung this way. But they are the pictures most likely to fall off the wall or require regular straightening. A single nail hammered into drywall is not stable enough to support much weight, so invest in the right hardware. My go-to options are self-tapping threaded anchors and screws, which provide a wider balance point without using wire. I’ve  also used steel, hooked wire hangers to great success.

5 Picture Hanging Tips

Photo: ReadyMade

3. Use math—really! If you purposefully stagger art so nobody can tell that your frames are not straight, fear not. A little math will enable to hang series of perfectly spaced art works. I shared my favorite technique on the ReadyMade blog. You can just plug your dimensions into the calculator and be good to go (no fancy equations required).

Tips for Hanging Pictures


4.  The best-ever picture hanging tip. Kristen from Celebrate Everyday with Me dubs this trick “the best ever”, and I think she might be right. I’ve seen all kinds of methods for marking a hole on the wall before drilling, but this one tip renders the rest unnecessary. The idea is to create a portable hanger on which to suspend your picture, so that measuring and marking drill holes becomes significantly easier. So brilliant, you should make two!

Picture Hanging Tips


5. Use a sticky note to capture dust. Since hanging artwork is usually a task done in a finished room, it can create drywall, plaster, or concrete dust on your carpet, floors, or furniture. So just use this little tip: Add a simple, folded Post-It underneath your marked hole to collect most of the dust made from your pilot hole. Genius, right?

For more on fastening solutions and wall decoration, consider:

How To: Install a Drywall Anchor
Choosing the Right Screw for the Right Job
12 Affordable Ways to Bring Photography into Your Home

5 Things to Do with… Cinder Blocks

Cinder blocks: They are inexpensive, reliable, and strong but are light enough to be easily used in DIY projects. The hollow center reduces blocks’ overall weight and, in construction projects, allows room for insulation. DIYers can take advantage of cinder blocks’ design, leveraging it to build strong yet easy-to-assemble structures at home or in the yard. Here are five favorites:



DIY with Cinder Blocks

Photo: Annette Guttierez

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5 Easy DIY Wine Racks You Can Make in an Afternoon

Real oenophiles are true collectors, dedicating entire rooms to storing and aging prized bottles of wine. You can search the internet for all kinds of built-in, large-scale wine storage options.

But what about the rest of us? If you’re like me, you may snag a bottle or two of a special vintage while it’s on sale. Or after enjoying a glass of red or white at a restaurant, you might buy a few bottles of the same wine to keep around for special occasions in the future. ‘Casual’ oenophiles like us need wine racks, too!

And so, here are five DIY wine racks. Each takes up just a bit of space, is built from easy-to-find materials, and can be completed in a day or less.


DIY Wine Racks

Photo: Camille Styles

Claire from Camille Styles created this simple wine rack with a Forstner bit and a single plank of cedar. Some measuring, some holes, and boom! A wall-mounted wine shelf.



Photo: Apartment Therapy

This inventive, contemporary rack was built by Lauren and Eric Wendlandt of Framework Design for their home in Kansas City, MO. The feature on Apartment Therapy shows off their handiwork. If you scroll down through the comments, you’ll see that Eric describes the process of cutting 1/2″ stainless steel rods and rounding the ends on the router table. (I had no idea you could do that with metal! Ideas, ideas….)


DIY Wine Racks

Photo: ReadyMade

This project from ReadyMade recycles cardboard mailing tubes into a DIY wine storage solution you can build into an existing piece of furniture, such as a bookshelf, sideboard, or hutch.




My friend Holly spied this wine rack side table at her friend Jimmy’s home and demanded a tutorial. Thankfully he obliged, whipping up a diagram and a materials list for this unique storage piece that doubles as furniture. Visit Curbly to learn more.



Photo: ReadyMade

Lastly, this wine rack echoes the shelf at the top of this post but flips it 90° (to save more space). Built only from a simple scrap 2″ x 4″ and mounting hardware, it is certainly the least expensive of the bunch! For a how-to, check out ReadyMade.


For more DIY projects, consider:

5 Things to Do… with Beadboard
5 DIY Wood Wall Treatment Ideas
5 Creative Alternatives to Kitchen Cabinetry

Eco-Friendly Flooring: 5 Ways to Go Green from the Bottom Up

60 to 70% of the homes in the U.S. contain carpeting made from nylon, polyester, or vinyl—materials dependent on non-renewable fossil fuels. So when upgrading your flooring or finishing new space, consider one of the following five alternatives:

Eco-Friendly Flooring


Bamboo is the king of green building and design materials. Though bearing physical similarities to hardwoods, it is actually a tropical grass. And while hardwoods can take 25 to 125 years to fully mature, bamboo only takes 3 to 5. Usually, bamboo receives a 1350 rating on the Janka hardness test, a rating similar to red or white oak, but some manufacturing techniques can weave bamboo to a rating of nearly 3000—more than rock maple, hickory, or Brazilian cherry. Conveniently, bamboo can take a wide range of low-VOC stains and sealers, which makes it easy to integrate into any decor.

Read the rest of this entry »

5 DIY Wood Wall Treatment Ideas

Wood. It makes up so much of our homes, from the framing to the flooring we walk on. And it appears in all kinds of furnishings, too. But despite its prevalence, the wood in our homes is mostly covered by drywall or plaster, and then paint or wallpaper on top of that.

This is a real shame. Wood brings so much character, warmth, and natural beauty to interiors that it should be the finished wall treatment. The effect is part cabin and part library, and it’s all DIY-doable.

Here are five of my favorite wooden wall treatments, any of which you can accomplish in a weekend—in any room of your house:


Photo: Mom and Her Drill

Single mom Katy (a.k.a. Mom and Her Drill) installed this amazing wood wall feature, using free wood from upcycled shipping pallets. And the best part? Her pallets came from a local factory and were guaranteed not to have any harsh or unhealthy chemical treatments. See how she did it.


Photo: Wood&Faulk

My buddy Matt of Wood & Faulk recently completed this subtle wood wall in his dining room. With several coats of OSMO-brand finish in a translucent white, this relatively inexpensive accent wall warms up Matt’s dining room like nothing else could. Learn more here.


Photo: Curbly

My friend Meg, an actress and crafter living in a small NYC apartment, didn’t have many options when it came to personalizing her rented space. So she came up with this great way to use reclaimed wood to recreate the original ‘hearth’ look of her pre-war apartment kitchen—all for very, very little money. Check out the video of her DIY effort on Curbly.


Photo: Martha Stewart Living

If you really want the look of a wood wall, consider this raw branch and limb project from the staff of Martha Stewart Living. Slices of birch poles are attached to the wall and projecting sections become integrated hooks for hanging storage.


Photo: DesignSponge

And if you’re really ready to make the commitment, this bold and contemporary solution (by Sarah at Design*Sponge) used all recycled wood and was completed in a mere eight hours for only $130. That’s a lot of bang for your DIY buck. Click here for an overview of the process.

For more related content, consider:

5 Things to Do With…Shipping Pallets
Lamon Luther: Reclaiming Lumber…and Lives
Get Organized: 20 Clever Ideas for Repurposed Storage

5 Things to Do with… Beadboard

Beadboard is a classic wall paneling commonly associated with New England and Cape Cod-style houses and country decor. While its standard use is as wainscoting (e.g., below a chair rail), its availability in tongue-and-groove sections, or as a sheet good material, makes it perfect for a variety of DIY-friendly projects. Here are five favorites!



Beadboard DIY


Studio C came up with a DIY hack to recreate this beadboard peg shelf from Pottery Barn Teen using less than $20 in materials. Discover how they did it here.
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