Author Archives: Jennifer Noonan

About Jennifer Noonan

Jennifer Noonan is a writer (and home improvement lover!) living in Delaware. Check her out on Google +!

1 Coffee Table, 3 Ways

What are the keys to a great piece of furniture? Sturdy construction, attractive styling, and flexibility—qualities this adaptable little coffee table has in spades.

What I love most about quality furniture is its staying power. Over the course of its at times decades-long career in the home, a well-made piece can serve multiple purposes. After all, a nightstand is a nightstand only if you place it beside the bed. Choose another location for the same piece, accessorize it accordingly, and that same small table can easily perform an entirely different function. As your life and your needs change, quality furniture adapts.

Since the fall, our lift-top coffee table from Sauder has been sitting in the living room, where it’s been doing those things a coffee table does best—displaying books and magazines, for example, and keeping beverages within arm’s reach. Because the tabletop lifts, the piece has also served as a casual work surface and has even functioned as an impromptu snack bar. Lately I’ve been thinking of yet more ways to take advantage of the coffee table’s versatility. That is to say, what if I didn’t actually use it as a coffee table? The same qualities that make it work so well in the living room—built-in storage and a low profile—would allow it to work equally well elsewhere at home.

ENTRYWAY

I love my house, but it’s not perfect. Particularly in the colder months, I’m annoyed by the lack of a coat closet in the entryway. Especially now, as the holidays bring guests, and those guests bring parkas, peacoats, and puffer jackets, I knew something had to be done to contain the approaching onslaught of winter paraphernalia.

Out back, we have a mudroom that goes a long way toward keeping our kids’ stuff organized. I thought, if it works for the kids, then it can work for anyone. So I set out to re-create the mudroom’s magic in the front hall. The recipe for success involved three crucial ingredients: a place to hang coats; a spot to store miscellaneous items, such as hats and gloves; and an area for people to sit while taking off their big, bulky boots. The coffee table, of all things, ties all these requirements together.

Whereas in the living room we’d used the coffee table’s cubbies to store board games and DVDs, here the same cubbies hold winter boots, lunch boxes, and a basket to catch wayward mittens. With the addition of a coat rack and umbrella bin, our winter wear solution became complete. To make the area as attractive as it is hardworking, a small graphic rug warms up the space, and cozy pillows and a throw blanket invite visitors to rest upon arrival or as they prepare to leave.

All told, it took me just 15 minutes to move and restyle the coffee table, and I feel certain that, in its new location, it’s going to serve us well through the season.

WINDOW SEAT

My kids are learning to read, and it’s wonderful to see them so excited about books. To encourage their new pastime, I’ve wanted to create a special place where they can lounge comfortably with a favorite book. A built-in window seat in the playroom would be perfect, as the exposure looks onto the garden and has a beautiful view of the sunset. We may be a year or two away from actually building that window seat, but in the meantime, I couldn’t help testing out the design concept.

Here, the coffee table serves as both a bench and a mini library. A well-made piece of solid-wood furniture, it’s sturdy enough to support the weight of a 40-pound child. And the integrated cubbies fit books of all sizes, keeping them off the floor in a room whose carpet often cannot be seen for a blanket of playthings.

On top of the table, I placed a long, cushy pillow covered in a fabric that unites my girls’ love for both rainbows and animals. A couple of fuzzy throw pillows round out the look. A beanbag chair, which we already had on hand, sits next to the bench, so both girls can occupy the nook at the same time if they want.

Sure enough, before long my youngest planted herself on the window seat to browse her latest find from the library.

I’d hate not to have the coffee table in our living room, where it fits right into the decor and our lifestyle. But I love knowing that if the room ever evolves to the point where the table no longer belongs, I can easily use it elsewhere. That’s what I call staying power, and it’s the reason to buy quality wood furniture.

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

 


5 Things to Do with… Aluminum Foil

It's a pantry staple whose value we take for granted in the kitchen, but did you there are many more ways that aluminum foil can help you tackle household challenges?

Cooks know the value of aluminum foil, particularly around the holidays, when it plays a role in everything from roasting vegetables to storing leftovers. For something so unabashedly simple, aluminum foil has a surprising number of uses—not only in the kitchen, but in other rooms as well (and even outdoors). Scroll down to see five ways this versatile pantry staple can help you take on the household challenges faced not only this time of year, but in all seasons.

 

1. SCRUB POTS

Uses for Aluminum Foil - Scrub Pots

Photo: shutterstock.com

Cooking is fun; cleaning isn’t. If your meal preparation has left a pot, pan, or casserole dish with a layer of stubborn gunk along its bottom, try this time- and sanity-saving trick: Crumple a sheet of aluminum foil into a crunchy ball, then use it as you would a piece of steel wool. The final step? Do a happy dance.

 

2. PROTECT TREES

Uses for Aluminum Foil - Protect Trees

Photo: shutterstock.com

Many tree species, fruit trees most of all, are subject to a particular nuisance: mice, rabbits, and other creatures eating the tree trunks’ lower bark. If unchecked, those hungry garden pests can seriously compromise a tree’s overall health. Put an end to the problem by wrapping the trunk with a double layer of aluminum foil.

 

3. MAKE A FUNNEL

Uses for Aluminum Foil - Funnel

Photo: shutterstock.com

There aren’t many times when I think, “Gosh, I wish I had a funnel!” But on those rare occasions when I realize that what I’m doing would be so much easier with a funnel, I chastise myself for not owning one. Then I remember that you can always make your own, quickly and easily, using a sheet of aluminum foil.

 

4. CLEAN IRON

Photo: shutterstock.com

Your clothing iron doesn’t need to be cleaned with the consistency of, say, the bathroom sink. But there are times when starchy buildup can actually subvert the appliance’s proper operation. When that happens, run the hot iron over a piece of aluminum foil. The starch transfers to the foil, and the iron comes out clean.

 

5. POLISH SILVER

Uses for Aluminum Foil - Tarnish

Photo: shutterstock.com

To polish silver using items you have on hand, follow these steps. First, line a pan with aluminum foil. Next, add one tablespoon of baking soda and one tablespoon of salt. Slowly pour in a half-cup of vinegar, then add one cup of boiling water. Finally, put your tarnished silver into the mixture, letting it sit for just 30 seconds. Pull the silver out with tongs (remember, it’s hot), buff it to a shine using a soft cloth, and suddenly—presto, you’re ready for dinner!


Holiday Hotlines to Have on Speed Dial

Millions of turkeys will be brined, pies baked, and wine bottles opened in America this coming holiday season. While we all cross our fingers on flawless meal prep, it's good to have a backup plan: Keep these emergency hotlines on hand to avert kitchen and cleanup disaster.

Hotlines to Help with Holiday Prep

Photo: shutterstock.com

The holidays (and holiday guests) are a-coming, so stock the refrigerator, unearth your turkey roaster, and polish the silverware. But there’s only so much prep you can do to distract your mind from the looming fear: What if something goes wrong? Luckily, you can get the 4-1-1 for your holiday 9-1-1 from these holiday hotlines, and save the day. Add these three numbers to your speed dial, stat.

Butterball
1-800-BUTTERBALL, M – F 10am – 7pm
The Butterball Turkey Talk-Line has connected trained turkey experts with home chefs to answer pressing questions for more than 30 years. What started in 1981 as just six experts fielding roughly 11,000 calls has grown to a team of 50+ people offering advice via all mediums—phone call, social media, email, and live chat—all the way up through Christmas Eve.

Help for Cooking Turkey

Photo: shutterstock.com

USDA Meat & Poultry Hotline
888-674-6854, available weekdays 10am – 4pm all year, and 8am – 2pm on Thanksgiving
The USDA Meat & Poultry Hotline began in 1985 in an effort to help prevent foodborne illness. Since then, it answers over 80,000 calls every year on the everything from safe storage to preparation of meat, poultry, and egg products. Not exactly sure how to tell when your meat is done? No need to risk any guest feeling sick; a real person is waiting to talk to you one-on-one.

Help Cleaning Up Spilled Wine

Photo: shutterstock.com

Rug Doctor
1-800-RUGDOCTOR, 8am – 8pm, 7 days a week during the holidays
After the party’s over, it’s time to assess the damage. How cranberry sauce got ground into the living room carpet doesn’t matter near as much now as how to clean it up. The experts manning the Rug Doctor hotline can help you tackle the tough stains on carpet and upholstery that holiday merry-making can leave behind.


3 Easy Ways You Can Add Privacy to Glass

Itching for a home update? Here's an easy one: Frost window or glass door for a luxe look and more privacy. There's more than one way to go about it, so choose your favorite approach.

How to Frost Glass

Photo: shutterstock.com

More than a mere decorative finish, frosted glass also offers a practical benefit: Without blocking the passage of light, it adds privacy to windows or doors that would otherwise be transparent. While professionals frost glass through sandblasting, a do-it-yourself can achieve the same effect with one of three basic methods.

How to Frost Glass - Shower Doors

Photo: nyshower.com

1. Spray It
Believe it or not, you can frost glass with a special type of spray paint (Rust-Oleum manufactures a popular version). Applying the finish is easy. After cleaning the glass throughly and taping off the window or door frame, apply a thin coat and let it dry. Apply additional coats, if you wish for great opacity. And if you get tired of the look, it’s no problem: The finish can be removed with a glass scraper. Being that the spray paint comes at a low cost, it’s worth a shot if you want to frost glass in your home.

2. Cover It
You can also frost glass by means of a window film. It’s actually non-adhesive and works via static cling. That means it’s forgiving: If you don’t get the application precisely right on the first try, you can start over pretty easily. First, thoroughly wash the surface to be frosted, using glass cleaner and a lint-free cloth. Next, combine water with a couple drops of dish detergent in a spray bottle. Then proceed to lightly spritz the glass before applying the window film. As you go, remove air bubbles with a squeegee.

3. Etch It
A permanently frosted effect may be achieved through the use of a glass-etching cream. Such products are available online and in local craft stores. If you choose to go this route, take care in applying the cream and closely follow the instructions printed on the package. Basically, the process involves masking off sensitive areas and using a bristled brush to scrub in the cream. After letting the product sit for a period of time, you’ll rinse it off with warm water and then suddenly—and somewhat magically—there will be etched glass where there was formerly a traditional clear pane.


Wait, Is It Actually a Mistake to Rake Leaves?

Don't rake 'em, mulch 'em! Your back will thank you, and you'll be able to spend your autumn mornings sipping cider instead of bagging leaves.

Mulching Leaves

Photo: shutterstock.com

Every year, fall reintroduces us to a raft of pleasures that we get to experience in no other season—hot apple cider, pumpkin carving, and so on. But fall also signals the return of one chore many of us dread: raking leaves. As surely as the seasons change, autumn mornings witness homeowners bent over rusty-tined rakes, endlessly scraping withered foliage onto tarps and into heavy-duty garbage bags. Imperfect though it may be, that’s the world I’ve always known.

Consider my surprise when I learned that, according to lawn care experts, leaf-raking is an optional exercise. Certainly, a thick layer of leaves should not be left to smother the grass growing beneath. But raking isn’t the only—or even the easiest—method of protecting your lawn’s health. It turns out that mulching leaves—that is, mincing them to shreds with your lawn mower—is what’s best for the health of your lawn. And compared with raking, mulching leaves is much less work.

Mulching Leaves - Close-Up Shot

Photo: shutterstock.com

There are plenty of mowers with mulching capability on the market today. As well, you can easily outfit a conventional, non-mulching mower with a serrated blade specially designed for mulching. But neither is strictly necessary. You can mulch leaves with any type of lawn mower, although it might take a few passes to do the job well. No matter what type of mower you own, prepare by setting the blade to its highest setting and removing the bag that collects clippings.

Proceed to mow the lawn just as if it were any other day, not the most exciting day of your life—the day you finally break free from the tyranny of raking. The goal is to cut the leaves into shreds that are about a half-inch in diameter (more or less the size of a dime). As mentioned, depending on the volume of leaves that have fallen on your lawn, it might take more than one pass to get the shreds to the desired size. When you’re done, the leaf shreds should have fallen between the blades of grass to reveal much of the lawn. A passerby might easily be fooled into thinking that you had raked!

If when you’re done you look at the shredded leaves scattered across your lawn and think, “I can’t see any grass whatsoever,” then do this: Reattach the bag to your lawn mower and go over the grass one last time. In the process, you’ll collect a surfeit of mulched leaves that you can add either to your garden beds or compost pile. Consider mulching on a weekly basis during the height of the season so there’s not enough time between mowings for a challenging amount of leaves to accumulate.

As the mulched leaves decompose, they enhance the soil with valuable nutrients that feed the microbes and worms present in any healthy lawn. Arguably, the nitrogen boost that results from mulching is such that you don’t even have to fertilize in the fall. This means that compared with raking, mulching leaves isn’t only easier and more lawn-friendly, but it’s also less costly, saving you both the money and time spent on fertilizing. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to look at leaves the same way again. It’s a shame for them to sit by the curb all wrapped up in tightly knotted plastic bags when they could be gracing your grass with nourishment.


Buy or DIY: 5 Ways to Fit More in Your Fridge & Freezer

To buy or DIY: It's one of life's great dilemmas. Whichever route you choose, if you have a fridge that fills up fast, organization accessories can be super helpful, enabling you to pack more food into cold storage.

Refrigerator Organization

Photo: shutterstock.com

Spice racks, knife holders, and towel bars—there’s no shortage of organizational helpers aimed at bettering one’s life in the kitchen. Ironically, though—given how frequently we use the fridge and how crucial the appliance is to our daily lives—refrigeration organization flies under most people’s radar, even those who have eagerly gone to great lengths to improve storage elsewhere in the kitchen. If poor design or lack of space in the fridge or freezer frustrates you on an ongoing basis, it’s time to act. Proper organization can make your next interaction with the fridge a little easier, whether you’re preparing a meal or grabbing something on the go. Scroll down to see five favorite refrigerator organization ideas, any of which can you buy, usually cheaply, or easily create the DIY way.

 

1. WIRE BASKETS
Raise your hand if this has ever happened to you: After making an extra trip to the market for item X, you return home only to find that you had item X all along, only it was hidden beneath something else. To make it easier for you to see what you have and what you need, buy or DIY at least one wire basket to corral all those packages and bags in the freezer.

BUY
You can keep frozen foods organized with a set of wire baskets like these. Put veggies in one, meats in another, dessert items in a third. You might find that the baskets not only help you create and maintain organization, but also free up space, enabling you to pack even more into your freezer. (Ice cream, anyone?)

Refrigerator Organization - Buy Baskets

Photo: amazon.com

DIY
To make the most of every inch in the freezer, custom-make baskets to fit your freezer’s dimensions exactly. Hardware cloth makes it pretty easy to do this. You’ll need a pair of tin snips, needle-nose pliers, and sturdy gloves. You might choose to use some graph paper, and you’ll definitely want to use this walkthrough from Four Corners Design.

Refrigerator Organization - DIY Baskets

Photo: fourcornersdesign.blogspot.com

 

2. CONDIMENT CADDIES
The next time you fire up the grill and set the patio table for an alfresco dinner, wouldn’t it be so much more convenient if you could carry all your condiments outside at once? That’s where the condiment caddy comes in—this is the fridge version of those sweet little handled baskets on the table at your local diner.

BUY
The Refrigerator Condiment Caddy slides right into the door compartment of your refrigerator, and it keeps items like ketchup, mustard, and hot sauce handily portable. When the meal is about to be taken out back, simply lift the caddy out of its perch and take the durable plastic basket along with you.

Refrigerator Organization - Buy Condiment Caddy

Photo: rubbermaid.com.au

DIY
Create your own condiment caddy with a six-pack carrier and contact paper. (If you’ve never experimented before with contact paper, trust me—you’re going to love how versatile and DIY-friendly it is.) For step-by-step instructions on how to make your own caddy, run—don’t walk—over to Neat Nest Organizing.

Refrigerator Organization - DIY Condiment Caddy

Photo: neatnestorganizing.com

 

3. ABSORBENT MATS
When it’s all over the refrigerator shelves, there is indeed reason to cry over spilled milk. If you don’t clean up the mess immediately, it soon becomes crusty and caked-on. And what about that rotten tomato in the crisper? Or was it a pepper? Yuck! What you need is the fridge version of cabinet shelf liner.

BUY
The Fridge Coaster absorbs drips and can be cleaned or replaced when necessary. It’s available in colorful prints and in an array of sizes to fit different parts of your fridge, such as the shelves, crispers, and door bins. Not only is the Fridge Coaster functional, but it also relieves the stark whiteness of the fridge interior.

Refrigerator Organization - Buy Mats

Photo: fridgecoaster.com

DIY
Take a tip from 2 Little Superheroes and make your own fridge mats out of dollar-store placemats. To get a snug fit, simply remove the fridge shelves you wish to cover, trace their outlines onto the placemats, then cut the mats and insert them. These are as pretty as a picture and ready to rock, no matter what messes arrive.

Refrigerator Organization - DIY Mats

Photo: 2littlesuperheroes.com

 

4. LAZY SUSANS
Meal prep would be so much easier if you didn’t have to rifle through almost every jar and plastic storage container in your fridge to find the one thing you need. Oh, wait—there’s such a thing. It’s a lazy Susan, and you can definitely have one in your refrigerator.

BUY
A lazy Susan performs the same role in the refrigerator that it does on your dining table: It make things much more easily accessible. And it need not be an eyesore, as this rotating white marble tray amply proves. Remember to measure your refrigerator beforehand to make sure that your purchase will fit in nicely.

Refrigerator Organization - Buy Lazy Susan

Photo: worldmarket.com

DIY
With only a few inexpensive materials from hardware and craft stores, you can make your own lazy Susan, customizing the creation to your exact specifications in both functionality and style. Seriously, you can do this. Visit iHeartOrganizing to find out what you’ll need and how to get it done.

Refrigerator Organization - DIY Lazy Susan

Photo: iheartorganizing.com

 

5. FREEZER SHELVES
There’s only problem with stacking things Tetris-style into the freezer. Let’s say you do it very well, brilliantly placing a bag or box into all available space. What happens when you want to get something out of there? You have no choice but to undo what you previously did. Freezer shelves come to the rescue.

BUY
With stackable freezer shelves, you can organize like items into separate compartments. This not only makes it a cinch to find what you need, but also makes it a cinch to reach and remove what you want. That’s right—no more tumbling hockey pucks of hamburger hurtling dangerously toward your toes.

Refrigerator Organization - Buy Freezer Shelves

Photo: wdrake.com

DIY
If you’re like me, then these days you are using your paper storage accessories less and less. If you have any magazine files lying around, why not repurpose them into instant, magnificently simple DIY freezer shelves? For details on this project and even more repurposing ideas, visit Aunt Peaches.

Refrigerator Organization - DIY Refrigerator Shelves

Photo: auntpeaches.com


How To: Install Click Flooring

Thanks to click-together flooring, it's easier than ever for homeowners to put engineered hardwood underfoot. As with so many other do-it-yourself jobs, careful planning is the key to pro-quality results.

How to Install Click Flooring

Photo: onflooring.com

Over the last decade, engineered wood flooring has developed by leaps and bounds, making it more affordable than ever before for homeowners to put hardwood underfoot. That’s partly due to the fact that engineered floorboards are so friendly to do-it-yourself installation. Click-together flooring products are the simplest of all, requiring neither glue nor nails. The tongue-and-groove design allows boards simply to click together and float, so to speak, over the subfloor. Even a relatively experienced DIYer can install click flooring using basic tools and a handful of inexpensive, readily available supplies. Read on to learn how it’s done.

MATERIALS AND TOOLS
- Click flooring
- Tape measure
- Pencil
- Moisture meter
- Moisture barrier and/or underlayment pad
- Table saw (or circular saw)
- Wood glue
- Jigsaw (for cutting around pipes)

STEP 1
Like solid wood flooring, engineered wood products are sensitive to moisture, alternately shrinking and expanding as temperatures and humidity levels fluctuate. Therefore, the first step in installing click flooring is to bring in the boards, remove any packaging, and give your purchased flooring time to acclimate to the conditions of your space. A period between one and five days normally suffices. It may be somewhat of a drag, but exercising patience here is the best thing you can do to ensure that the floorboards do not separate or cup over time.

How to Install Click Flooring - Engineered Detail

Photo: lumberliquidators.com

STEP 2
No matter the material of the subfloor, test its moisture content by means of a moisture meter to confirm that it’s not above 12 percent. Next, use a level to make sure the subfloor lies, if not perfectly flat, then within a 1/8-inch incline over any given six-foot radius. Make any adjustments necessary before moving on to lay down the moisture barrier and/or underlayment recommended by the manufacturer.

STEP 3
Now is the time to plan your installation strategy. Best practice is to install floorboards so that they run parallel to the longest dimension in the room. You may wish to dry-fit at least some of the material as a way of proving not only that your strategy is going to work, but also that you have enough flooring to get the job done. Before you proceed any further, inspect all planks for damage and defects.

STEP 4
As you prepare to install the first course of floorboards, remove some planks from at least three different boxes (typically, engineered products are boxed by length). Lay out a line of boards in random sequence, then grab the first board and place it in the corner, with the grooved side facing away from the wall. Place expansion spacers between the wall and the board edges that meet the wall. Repeat the process with additional floorboards, running them along the wall and locking together the short ends of any boards that meet (although a full lock isn’t possible until you put down the second row). It’s very likely that you’ll need to cut the last plank to size. Measure the distance from the wall to the leading edge of the penultimate plank, then cut the final floorboard to that length, leaving a little room for the spacer.

STEP 5
Now install the second row. To keep the joints between the rows from lining up, start this second run with a board whose end hits at least six inches away from the nearest joint in the initial row. Remember to place a spacer between that first board and the wall. Then slip the long tongue of this first board into the groove on the first row of flooring. To guarantee a secure connection between boards, be careful to keep dirt and debris out of the grooves.

STEP 7
Continue installing floorboards over the surface area of the room until you come to the last row. Here, you may find that the space remaining is not wide enough to accommodate a full board. In that case, measure what space is available, then rip as many boards as necessary down to the appropriate width. If you encounter a clearance issue that prevents you from locking any of these last boards against the groove of the adjacent second-to-last row, simply do this: Using a utility knife, plane the tongue off the edge of the boards that would not fit otherwise, then affix them in position by means of wood glue.

STEP 8
Remove the spacers from the perimeter of the room, and in the gap those spacers were occupying, install transition moldings directly to the subfloor. Quarter-round or baseboard moldings, installed against the wall, are also recommended (but not strictly necessary). Finally, clean the floor per the manufacturer’s guidelines and replace all furniture in the room. And you might want to put felt protectors on the legs of any chairs to protect your beautiful new floor!

It depends on the size of the room, of course, but in most cases it’s eminently possible to install a click floor within a single weekend. With proper planning, you can begin the project on Saturday and be done in time to host friends for a get-together on Sunday evening. They would never guess that you did it all yourself!

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


A Coffee Table Quest Ends at Sauder

The quest for a versatile, attractive coffee table lead this writer to Sauder, the well-known manufacturer of ready-to-assemble furnishings—and to a few new pieces that have quickly become part of her family.

Photo: JNoonan

Three years ago, our family moved from a tiny New York City apartment to a sprawling 3,000-square-foot house in Delaware. In the time since, we’ve been slowly furnishing the rooms of our new home as we better understand our needs and find the time to shop (with two kids under 6, that can be difficult).

Apart from the kitchen, the living room is where we find ourselves spending most of our time. Activities include working on the computer, family game-playing, and entertaining guests. So I had been looking for a storage-friendly coffee table with the versatility to accommodate all the different ways that we use the room.

That’s when I found Sauder. Founded in 1934, the company has been making furniture in Archbold, Ohio, ever since. Navigating the many options might have been tough—Sauder offers 30 distinct collections—but then I found the fun and quite instructive Find Your Furniture Style on the easy-to-use Sauder site.

Photo: Sauder.com

Somehow the tool determined that my taste is “transitional.” That seemed exactly right (and the thrill of a computer understanding my style preferences was something akin to having a fortune-teller correctly guess my birthday). Sauder’s site then recommended sets of furniture with transitional design features. I began to explore.

Quickly, I found the perfect piece—the Lift-Top Coffee Table from the Edge Water Collection. I love how the hinged top swings up to create a higher surface, perfect for typing on a laptop. Meanwhile, beneath the tabletop sits a hidden storage area, and at the base there are three open cubbies. You know how books and board games, remote controls, and DVDs create clutter in the living room? I couldn’t wait to neatly corral these things in the roomy nooks provided by the coffee table.

Photo: Sauder.com

If anything were to change—and with a growing family, that’s always a distinct possibility—there are at least two or three other settings in which I could envision using the lift-top coffee table. Confident I was making the right choice, I went ahead and ordered the piece, along with three accompanying storage ottomans (we need the storage—and places to put our feet up). The online ordering process was simple, and within a week, four boxes arrived on my doorstep.

The ottomans were a cinch to assemble. It took me all of three minutes. Boom!

Photo: JNoonan

Then it was time for the coffee table. Inside the heavy-duty cardboard box, I found the wood pieces, hardware, and instructions I would need. The cam-and-dowel assembly, I knew, would be nearly invisible after construction but would create joints that, while strong and lasting, could be easily taken apart later.

Photo: JNoonan

Having experience building similar pieces in the past certainly made things easier, but the instructions from Sauder were as clear as one could hope. If I had needed any help, I could have contacted customer service, online or by telephone, anytime Monday through Friday, between 9 a.m. and 5:30 p.m.

All told, there was only one hitch: A single piece arrived damaged. Remedying the situation was painless and took only a few minutes. On the Sauder site, I placed an order for a replacement part, and it was delivered to my door free of charge.

Photo: JNoonan

The coffee table is now sitting where I’d envisioned it, in the middle of the living room, and I couldn’t be more pleased. When my daughters want to play a game of Uno after dinner, they pull the storage ottomans up to the sides of the table, and it all works. We’ll be enjoying these pieces from Sauder for a long time.

Photo: JNoonan

 

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



Get the Job Done Quicker with Prefinished Flooring

Prefinished wood flooring gives you all the beauty and warmth of real hardwood in a fraction of the time.

Prefinished Wood Flooring - Brazilian Koa

Photo: Lumber Liquidators

Anyone shopping for a new hardwood floor quickly discovers that there’s no shortage of options on the market. Homeowners are confronted by a seemingly infinite variety of wood species and floorboard finishes. But before you can choose between, say, dark-stained oak or hand-scraped maple, you have to decide whether you want traditional or prefinished boards. Bear in mind that if you opt for the latter, you can complete a hardwood flooring job more quickly than you might have thought possible.

Understanding the Distinction
Installing traditional floorboards can be a tiring, time-consuming process. Even after the boards have been laid down, there’s still a fair amount of work to do. Before the floor can be finished, it must be sanded, and each coat of stain or sealant must be given sufficient time to dry thoroughly. Taking all these tasks into consideration, it might take a week, possibly more, before you’ll be able to walk on the completed floor. Also, because installation and finishing both require the kind of skill that only experience provides, many homeowners decide to hire a professional rather than risk an imperfect result. Prefinished floorboards are a whole different story. Here, the finishing process has already been done back at the factory, putting the do-it-yourselfer in a better position to achieve a professional-quality installation.

Prefinshed Wood Flooring - Pre Detail

Photo: istock.com

Get More for Your Time (and Your Money)
Opt for prefinished flooring if you want to avail yourself of the widest-possible range of floor finishes. A simple stain is one thing but with traditional floorboards, something like a hand-scraped finish would involve hours of additional labor (if it wasn’t off the table completely). Whereas you might have dismissed a highly involved finish as being too difficult to DIY or too expensive to hire out, ready-to-go prefinished flooring makes such options not only practical, but also affordable.

Access the Help You Need—Fast 
When you buy a prefinished floor at Lumber Liquidators—or any type of floor, for that matter—support is at your fingertips. Installation experts are ready to help, whether by phone or live Internet chat. With someone there to answer your questions, most jobs can be done within a day or two—a speed that’s basically impossible to match with the installation and finishing of traditional floorboards. If you prefer not to handle the installation yourself, then you can leave the installation of any floor from Lumber Liquidators in the hands of the company’s capable installers.

Prefinished hardwood flooring affords you the best of all worlds. Enjoy the warmth and beauty of real wood at a competitive price, be able to select from all the varieties offered in traditional hardwood, and benefit from installation (DIY or otherwise) that can be done quickly with a minimum of hassle. Seriously, what’s stopping you?

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


Weekend Projects: 5 Summery DIY Porch Swings

I’m not sure, I haven’t researched it, but sitting—no, swaying—on a porch swing might be the most relaxing of all the ways a person could spend a summer afternoon. Of course, there’s a big difference between enjoying a porch swing and actually (successfully) building one. In fact, the work involved in making a DIY porch swing probably sounds to you like the very antithesis of relaxation. But though the prospect may at first seem daunting, it’s more than attainable. Scroll down now to see five DIY porch swings, any of which could be a permanent fixture of your outdoor living area before the sun rises on Monday morning.

 

1. SWING SIMPLY

Photo: shanty-2-chic.com

Compact in size and elegantly simple in shape, a no-frills modern look characterizes this stylish DIY porch swing. It’s built almost entirely of 2×4 and 1×6 lumber, so if you have intermediate woodworking experience, go ahead and set up your saw. Then visit Shanty 2 Chic for clear and simple step-by-step project directions.

 

2. HANG OUT

Photo: abeautifulmess.com

A couple yards of canvas, a length of polypropylene rope, and a wooden dowel all combine to create a unique hammock swing. Install yours indoors or out. Though sewing is required, you can most definitely complete the project within the space of a weekend, even if you’re a novice when it comes to needle and thread.

 

3. DREAM OF DAYBEDS 

Photo: club.conservationgardenpark.org

Large enough to accommodate a twin-size mattress, this oversized DIY porch swing might more accurately be described as a hanging daybed—hat luxury! To be certain the bed remains safely suspended, and that you don’t tip over once you climb in, be sure to hang something like this from four (sturdy) points, not two.

 

4. HACK A HEADBOARD

Photo: therusticpig.com

If you’re looking forward to catching some Z’s on your new porch swing, there would be a certain poetic justice to repurposing a headboard as part of the swing’s construction. Don’t have an extra headboard in your attic or basement? Try your local thrift store. Once you’ve got one, see The Rustic Pig for all the DIY details.

 

5. RESTORE A DOOR 

Photo: huckleberrylanefurniture.blogspot.com

From Huckleberry Lane Furniture, here’s a DIY porch swing involving an old door and the remnants of a falling-apart antique table. It goes to show that scrap wood comes in many forms and that, for a functional and beautiful result, money spent at your local lumber yard is by no means a prerequisite.