Author Archives: Jennifer Noonan

About Jennifer Noonan

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

Weekend Projects: 5 Bike Racks to DIY on the Cheap

A simple, sturdy bike rack can help you clear up that jumble of two-wheelers in your garage or scattered around your yard. Try one of these DIY bike racks, and you'll have everything stored and tidied up this weekend.

Depending on where you live, you may be completely surprised or utterly unimpressed by this fact: Worldwide, bicycles outnumber automobiles. America’s love affair with bikes began in the 1800s, and that relationship continues to evolve today. Bikes are no longer solely recreational. In urban areas in particular, they are fast becoming a common mode of everyday transportation. But while most home designs include space for an owner’s car, one rarely sees similar accommodation made for pedal-pushed two-wheelers. No matter: You can create your own storage solution. For inspiration, check out these five favorite DIY bike rack projects.



DIY Bike Rack - PVC


For less than $50 in PVC—and armed only with pipe cement and a handsaw—you can build a DIY bike rack identical to the one shown above. Though large enough to hold the bicycle collection of an entire family, this easily completed assembly is also lightweight enough to be moved from one location to another in the home.



DIY Bike Rack - Storebought


Browse the aisles of a sporting goods store, and you’re destined to find a selection of ready-made bicycle storage products. In many instances, it’s possible to build your own approximation of these designs with off-the-shelf items sold at your local home center. The DIY bike rack shown here cost less than $100 to put together.



DIY Bike Rack - Scrap Wood


To make this rack, you won’t have to look any further than your basement or garage workshop, if you keep a stash of scrap wood in either locale. Only straight cuts are needed, at least in the examples pictured, so woodworking expertise is not a prerequisite. If you choose, paint or stain your creation once complete, or leave it unfinished.



DIY Bike Rack - Handlebars


Where floor space is limited, here’s a compact and cool-looking—and yes, somewhat quirky—DIY bike rack idea, perfect for those who love, love, love bikes. Detach the curved handlebars from a vintage racing bike (available online, in thrift stores, or from repair shops) and mount them to the wall with a metal flange.



DIY Bike Rack - Pallets


A shipping pallet needs no alteration to function as a DIY bike rack. The slats are spaced far enough apart—but not too far apart—to hold a bicycle wheel. Lean the pallet against a wall, whether in your garage or in the garden, and poof—problem solved. Best of all, pallets are readily available, if not for free, then for very little.

5 Ways to Make Your Lawn Care GREEN

This summer, as you work to achieve the perfect lawn, consider steps you can take to contribute to a greener planet too. Here are five eco-friendly ways to make your lawn care green.

Front Yard Landscape


Everyone wants a green lawn. Not only does it look good, it reflects a pride of home ownership that is undeniable. But there is a green lawn, and a GREEN lawn—one that’s beauty and care are a direct result of earth-friendly measures and practices. If you are doubting the claim for the latter, it’s more than possible. Here are five strategies to make you more eco-conscious as you strive to achieve the perfect summer lawn.

1. Water Smart
According to the EPA, 30% of the 26 billion gallons of water consumed daily in the United States is for outdoor uses, with irrigation among the largest. Since lawns require only about 1 inch of water per week to remain green during the growing season, get smart by learning when to water and how much. The best time to water is very early in the morning, before the sun and wind increase evaporation. It will take less water to keep your grass hydrated if your sprinklers finish running by 7 or 8 a.m. Next, be sensitive to how much water.  It’s better to water deeply and less frequently than to water a little bit every day.  Watering less often promotes deeper root growth and makes grass hardier.

2. Use Organic Products
The average American lawn receives far more pesticides per acre than farmland.  Since chemical fertilizers and pesticides can run off into water supplies, they can kill the helpful organisms, like earthworms, that are vital to healthy soil.  You can use organic products in place of chemical ones to control weeds and grubs.  Corn gluten is a natural pre-emergent, and keeps weed seeds from sprouting, while adding nitrogen to your lawn.  Milky Spore is effective at controlling Japanese beetle grubs, and is safe for humans, as well as birds, bees, pets, and beneficial insects.  Within a year of using organic products, earthworms and other beneficial microbes will return to your lawn and help keep your soil in balance.

GreenWorks Mower

GreenWorks' Twin Battery-Powered Mower

3. Go Fuel-less
More than 5% of the U.S.’s air pollution emissions comes from lawn mowers, according to the EPA. Using a fuel-less mower and yard tools, like those from GreenWorks, can help to keep hydrocarbons and carbon monoxide out of the atmosphere.  The new G-MAX 20″ 40V Twin Force Mower—the first cordless electric mower to offer a dual blade cutting design—offers a variety of earth-friendly and labor-saving features that start with just a push of a button. Offering up to 70 minutes of runtime from rechargeable twin 40V L-Ion batteries, the mower’s generous 20″ cutting deck and dual blades are engineered for improved cut quality and superior mulching. The 5-position single lever height adjustment also offers a range of cutting heights for the perfect cut on all grass types.

Weighing close to 40 lbs. less than comparable gas mowers, the GreenWorks’ G-MAX Twin Force Mower offers easy operation and maneuverability. And, since it is battery-powered, it is cleaner, quieter, and most importantly, fuel-less.  The versatility of a battery platform makes this an added value since GreenWorks currently offers 14 different tools to accomplish all of your yard work without the need for fuel

4. Keep Your Grass Clippings
Many people see grass clippings as a waste product—bagging them and leaving them at the curb.  But grass clippings are an organic material that can enrich your soil and strengthen your grass.  If they are not too long, you will do your lawn a favor by leaving them where they are. Grass clippings are mostly water, and if left on the ground, will start to decompose almost immediately, putting nutrients back into the soil. With the innovative dual blade design of the GreenWorks Twin Force Mower, you can get finer mulch while cutting making it easier for decomposition.  If you can’t bear to leave clippings on your lawn, consider composting them.  If mixed with other organic materials like leaves and kitchen waste, those clippings will make rich, dark soil you can return to your landscape.

5. Take Care of Your Soil
In reality, you should be feeding your soil, not your grass.  Your soil is a living entity, so feeding the organisms, like earthworms that keep your soil healthy by doing what they do, you will be improving lawn growth. These creatures also need air, so aerate your lawn if it gets compacted by foot traffic or mowing.  If your soil is rich in nutrients and naturally aerated, you won’t need to feed the grass with fertilizers.

So this summer, as you work to achieve the perfect lawn, consider steps you can take to contribute to a greener planet too.


This post has been brought to you by GreenWorks Tools. Its facts and opinions are those of


5 Things to Do with… Tree Stumps

After you cut down a tree, you're left with an unsightly, sad-looking stump. What on earth can you do with that? As it turns out, quite a lot.

As the country emerges from a harsh winter, many homeowners are facing the prospect of cutting down and cleaning up hazardous trees. Certainly, a felled tree could go a long way toward replenishing your store of firewood. But for those without a fireplace—or for a do-it-yourselfer who can’t resist a new project—there are many more creative ways to reuse the stump or other parts of the tree trunk in your house or garden. Scroll down now to check out five of our favorite DIY tree stump ideas from around the Web!



Tree Stump Ideas - Side Tables


Bring the outdoors in: Transform a tree stump into a nightstand or side table. The pair shown above were stained white and sealed with a coat of polyurethane. Particularly at home in modern decor, these beautiful surfaces are also quite versatile; each sits on a quartet of caster wheels, providing hassle-free portability.



Tree Stump Ideas - Planter


It can be challenging to remove a tree stump. The main reason to go to all that effort is to get rid of an eyesore. Here’s a labor-saving compromise: Convert the stump into a planter. Use a chisel or a power drill to hollow out the stump to the depth and width desired. Then simply add soil and your choice of flora.



Tree Stump Ideas - Bird Bath


With a tree stump, you can easily create a birdbath that integrates seamlessly with your landscape. Locate a tree stump on your property that is either flat to begin with or can be made flat. Position a large plate, tray, or pot saucer on the stump and fill the vessel with water. Then watch as birds bathe and butterflies and bees visit for a drink.



Tree Stump Ideas - Stools


Indoors or out, a tree stump of the right size—or a hefty log cut from a trunk—makes for a natural place to sit. Make your “stump stool” more comfortable by attaching a cushion to the top. Using canvas (choose a weather-resistant material if you plan on putting the stool outdoors), sew a basic pillow in a round shape that can fit like a sleeve over the flat-topped stump.



Tree Stump Ideas - Playground


If you’d like to build a natural playground in your backyard, rounds cut from a trunk are the ideal building blocks. Arrange rounds of varying heights in a straight line for a rudimentary obstacle course. Then for a balance beam, lay a large log across two shorter stumps. Encourage your kids to devise their own challenging layouts!

Weekend Projects: 5 Sturdy and Stylish DIY Dining Tables

To create a dining table that's perfect for your family and your surroundings, go the DIY route. While you may need to scrounge a bit for materials, you'll end up with a piece that's just right.

The dining table is where families gather to enjoy meals, swap stories, and make memories. Given its central role in the life of any household, doesn’t it make sense to customize your dining table to meet your needs precisely and coordinate attractively with your decor? You’d be surprised by the number of sturdy and stylish dining table designs that are easy enough for a beginning do-it-yourselfer to create. This weekend, instead of shopping around for the perfect piece, create your own DIY dining table.



Pallet Dining Table


Rich in character, this DIY dining table includes a mix of materials. The tabletop is an old door that’s been sanded smooth and surfaced with scrap wood repurposed from shipping pallets. Charmingly unrefined in its look, this table is as great a conversation starter as it is a place to have a conversation.



DIY Dining Table - Spool


A large wooden electrical cable spool lends itself naturally to reuse as a dining table, perfect for a compact apartment or eat-in kitchen. To complete the arrangement, use smaller spools as matching chairs. Here, a variety of translucent stains work together to create a geometric peace sign pattern.



DIY Dining Table - Sewing Machine


For an easy, eye-catching DIY dining table, start with the legs of an antique sewing machine. You can find these vintage wrought-iron gems either online or at your local thrift store. The tabletop, meanwhile, is simply made from boards of stock lumber that have been stained to highlight and enhance the wood’s natural beauty.



DIY Dining Table - Door


Here’s yet another DIY dining table that involves an old door. Readily available—perhaps you already have one in your basement—a wood door doesn’t need much alteration to become an eating surface. Although a pair of wooden sawhorses function as the legs here, you can raise a door on many different types of platforms.



DIY Dining Table - Butcher Block


The advantage of butcher block is its resilience; after all, people use this stuff for cutting boards. Joining together multiple blocks can be time-consuming, though. The quickest route to a DIY dining table like this is to purchase a premade butcher-block countertop and to support the surface on hairpin legs.

5 Things to Do with… Artificial Turf

Today's synthetics are a far cry from your father's artificial turf. New products more closely resemble the real thing and can be incorporated into some authentically creative DIY projects. Check out just a few.

When artificial turf came onto the scene in the mid-1960s, it offered several advantages over natural grass lawns, ease of maintenance first and foremost. Over the years, advancements in the design and manufacture of artificial turf have made it much more realistic, both in looks and texture. That improvement has not gone unnoticed, inspiring creative types to test out the material in a variety of DIY projects in and around the home. Scroll down to see five of our favorites!



Artificial Turf DIY - Wall


Here’s an artificial turf DIY project that blurs the boundary between a home office and the leafy yard beyond its window. Unlike wallpaper, fake grass doesn’t call for the use of adhesives; you can nail or staple the green stuff directly over drywall or plaster, creating a distinctive look that can last just as long as you want it, whether a single day or multiple years.



Artificial Turf DIY - Table Runner


For a spring-season dinner party in the dining room or a casual backyard get-together, why not repurpose artificial turf as a table runner that’s bound to be a conversation starter among guests? Using a utility knife, you should have little trouble cutting the product into a strip of the appropriate length and width for your table.



Artificial Turf DIY - Stools


Introduce a summer theme to your man cave or customize the stools at your backyard bar with seat covers just like these, made from two pieces of artificial turf cleverly joined by means of a heavy-duty sewing machine. Come on, could there be a better way to settle in for an evening daiquiri, mai tai, or piña colada?



Artificial Turf DIY - Pillows


Quirky and delightful for any sitting area, whether inside the home or on a deck, porch, or patio, these artificial turf DIY throw pillows are as eye-catching as they are easy to make. Simply cut a large sheet of turf into a pair of equal-size squares, place padding between the two pieces, then finish by sewing the edges closed.



Artificial Turf DIY - Floor


When used as a floor covering, artificial turf behaves similarly to traditional carpeting, at least in the sense that both are relatively hassle-free to maintain with a vacuum. But whereas wall-to-wall carpeting isn’t a surface you would typically paint, artificial turf all but cries out for stripes of white to approximate yard lines.

5 Things to Do with… Test Tubes

Test tubs aren't just for the lab! Check out these surprising and practical projects that will have you scattering test tubes all around the house.

Test tubes are commonplace and entirely unremarkable in locations like science labs and chemistry classrooms. But in the home, where you normally wouldn’t expect to come across them, test tubes are an arresting sight. As simple as they are practical—and available in a range of sizes, with or without stoppers—test tubes appear in a variety of storage and decor projects, both in and around the home. Scroll down now to see five favorite test tube crafts from around the Web.



Test Tube Crafts - Vase


Whereas a single bloom is a pleasing sight, a grouping of flowers serves up a lavish, delightful feast for the eyes. Start with a metal or wooden rack, either wall-mounted or portable. Set a row of test tubes into the rack, fill them to the halfway point with fresh water, then place one or two stems into each vessel.



Test Tube Crafts - Storage


Home office supplies are so often jumbled in a desk drawer, remaining maddeningly elusive on those occasions when you really need a thumbtack or paper clip. Rarely is a desktop organizer as design-savvy as the above set of mini test tubes. Occupying limited real estate, the compact trio keeps all the essentials within easy reach.



Test Tube Crafts - Spice Rack


If you frequently cook at home, then you already know how quickly and completely a spice collection can take over the cabinet it’s stored in. Sound familiar? Let test tubes come to the rescue! They are perfectly sized, airtight containers for any dried spice, and the colors and textures of the contents make a lovely display.



Test Tube Crafts - Terrarium


There are a million and one ways to do a terrarium. Here’s one more. Fill the bottom quarter of a test tube with pebbles and a small amount of activated charcoal. Next, add about a half-inch of dirt followed by a thumbprint-size piece of moss. Cap the test tube and display it on a stand or attach a magnet and stick it to the refrigerator door.



Test Tube Crafts - Chandelier


Simultaneously retro and futuristic, and elegant without being overly formal, a test tube chandelier like this one makes for an unforgettable conversation starter, especially when the integrated tubes are filled to varying levels with dyed water in a spectrum of bright, buoyant hues.

5 Things to Do with… Coffee Grounds

Once you've had your daily cup (or three or four), save those coffee grounds for one of these smart uses.

If you drink coffee, chances are that you drink it every day. Sure, sometimes you get it on the go, but if you’re anything like me, there are plenty of occasions when you brew the stuff at home. Now, think back over the years to all the coffee grounds you’ve chucked into the garbage. If that strikes you as a waste, then you may be interested to know there are many different practical uses for coffee grounds both in and around the home—and a few might even surprise you!



Uses for Coffee Grounds - Fertilizer


Coffee grounds contain calcium, potassium, nitrogen, and phosphorus, all of which are highly beneficial to plant growth. Aware of these qualities, experienced gardeners have long known that one of the best uses for coffee grounds is adding it as a fertilizer near acid-loving varieties like azaleas and rosebushes.



Uses for Coffee Grounds - Furniture


Some uses for coffee grounds may seem odd, but believe it or not this trick really works: Yes, coffee grounds can effectively conceal a scratch in dark wood furniture. With a cotton swab, rub the grounds into the scratch (or scratches), let them sit for 5 or 10 minutes, then clean them off with a dry cloth.



Uses for Coffee Grounds - Snails


You learn something new every day: Snails hate caffeine. In fact, if the dosage is a high enough, caffeine can be lethal to gastropods. So, if snails have been sabotaging your flower beds and vegetable patches, try sprinkling coffee grounds at the base of affected plants. Many people say that tea leaves work, too.




Is your refrigerator or freezer getting a little funky? Let a bowl of coffee grounds sit for several hours or overnight. The granules not only absorb foul odors, but also impart their own refreshing scent. If you love the effects of coffee but not its smell, try mixing in a few drops of vanilla or cinnamon extract.



Uses for Coffee Grounds - Compost


Coffee grounds make an excellent addition to the backyard compost heap, because they contain nitrogen, which compost can’t do without. Also, coffee grounds attract the earthworms that further aid decomposition. Just remember to balance the nitrogenous grounds with carbon-rich materials such as leaves.

Weekend Projects: 5 Simple Ways to Set Up a Compost Bin

Composting is a win-win enterprise: You cut down on waste and also help keep your garden healthy and growing. Set up one of these easy, do-it-yourself compost bins, and in time you'll have nutrient-rich, home-grown compost.

Compost: It’s what eventually becomes of all decomposing organic material. Essentially, it’s dirt—but it’s not just any dirt. No, this stuff is super rich in the nutrients that are beneficial to plant growth. Gardeners like to call it “black gold.” And while some people pay good money for cubic yards of such high-quality soil, others choose to make it themselves. They do so by composting kitchen waste and yard debris like grass clippings, dead leaves, and small twigs.

Related: Compost Bins—10 Smart Options

You, too, can make your own compost. In fact, if there’s an out-of-the-way spot on your property, you could simply heap compostables into a big, messy pile. But in more compact backyards, homeowners often rely on a compost bin, either store-bought or homemade. If you’d rather not spend money on a premade product—or if you’re looking for a good reason to get outdoors this spring and summer—you can complete a DIY compost bin in a matter of hours, using only a few materials that are easy to find.



DIY Compost Bin - Chicken Wire


Built of recycled deck boards and simple chicken wire, this DIY compost bin features three compartments to accommodate compost at different stages of decomposition. The chicken wire allows air to circulate among the piles, and the slatted front provides easy access for inspection or removal of compost.



DIY Compost Bin - Tumbler


A DIY compost tumbler offers one great advantage over other designs. Can you guess what that is? You’re right: The tumbler makes easy work of turning the pile. (If you’ve composted before, you know how that can become a chore.) The project pictured centers on a rain barrel that’s been ingeniously repurposed for the task.



DIY Compost Bin - Cinder Blocks


Are raccoons and other critters likely to cause problems? Not to worry. You can build a fortress-like DIY compost bin with square cinder blocks. It’s a flexible system: If you need a bigger bin, simply add on a row of blocks; if there’s too little air, change the orientation of a few blocks so their hollow centers face out.



DIY Compost Bin - Shipping Pallets


Plywood shipping pallets lend themselves very well to the construction of a DIY compost bin. Here, one side of the bin has been outfitted with hinges to provide easy access. Burlap planter pockets added along the top perimeter help the bin blend into the surrounding garden.



DIY Compost Bin - Worms


Composting takes time. To speed up the process, consider hosting a worm bin in your backyard. You can DIY one cheaply and easily with a plastic recycling container. What the worms produce inside is politely called “castings”—you might think it’s pretty gross, but your plants are going to love, love, love it.

How To: Decoupage

Using this time-honored technique of adorning objects with paper, you can transform furnishings and home accents into beautiful, one-of-a-kind pieces. Follow our simple step-by-step instructions to get spectacular results. It's not too difficult, so try it out today!

How to Decoupage


The fancy French word decoupage refers to the simple act of gluing paper or fabric cutouts onto an object. The results can be magical; once varnished, the glued-on design looks as if it were inlaid. For hundreds of years, people have been experimenting with decoupage, and in expert hands it’s truly an art form. But armed with only a few inexpensive, easy-to-find materials—and a willingness to be patient—even a beginner can create a masterpiece.

- Decoupage medium (such as Mod Podge)
- Paintbrush
- Sharp scissors (or matte knife)
- Maps, magazines, wallpaper, wrapping paper, tissue paper—any kind of paper!

The first step of any decoupage project is to prepare the object you plan to transform. Repair any surface imperfections—whether scratches, gouges, or bona fide holes—and if applicable to the material with which you are working, sand the object to a smooth finish. Then clean it thoroughly and let it dry completely.

How to Decoupage - Side Table


Assemble the paper or fabric you are going to apply in your decoupage. Choose anything so long as it’s flat and flexible: maps of places you love, theater tickets with sentimental value, or even sections of a beloved old dress. You don’t need to use scissors or a matte knife—ripping is fine—but to achieve a seamless look, cutting is recommended. So too is dry-fitting the cutouts to determine where they work best on the object’s surface.

With a paintbrush, apply a thin layer of decoupage medium (for example, Mod Podge) to the object you are covering. Next, lay the initial piece of paper onto the object, smoothing it gently with your fingers to remove any wrinkles or air bubbles. Once you’re finished, apply another thin layer of decoupage medium on top of the paper, then allow both layers to dry completely, undisturbed.

To preserve the job, particularly if you expect the object to get wet, it’s wise to seal it using either varnish or polyurethane. Before you do so, gently buff the decoupaged surface with steel wool, then clean it with a damp cloth. Once it has dried, proceed to apply the sealer. If you want your design to look as if it were painted on, repeat the process of buffing, cleaning, and sealing as many times as needed to achieve the desired appearance.

Almost any furniture or home accent can be updated through decoupage. A glass vase decoupaged with tissue paper suddenly shimmers ethereally, while clay pots covered in Sunday’s funny papers become wonderfully playful. Fair warning: Master this technique and you may love it so much that you’ll want to decoupage EVERYTHING!

5 Things to Do with… Old Sweaters

Beloved sweaters that have become too small or worn are the stars of some great DIY decorating projects. So don't just toss that cardigan into the trash bin, transform it into something useful and wonderful.

If your tastes have changed or you’ve outgrown a favorite old sweater, you have options aside from donating the garment or throwing it away. Recycled sweaters are excellent for a range of home decor DIY projects. In fact, the things you can make with recycled sweaters are so cozy and charming, you might start trolling thrift stores especially to buy knitwear not to put on, but to repurpose. Scroll down to see five wonderfully creative uses of recycled sweaters.



Recycled Sweaters - Throw Pillow


Recycled sweaters are natural throw pillow covers: Simply remove the sleeves from an old cardigan and cut the body into two squares, serging the edges so they don’t fray. Once you’ve sewn those squares together, you’ll have a cushion cover with a button front that makes slotting in a comfortable pillow hassle-free.



Recycled Sweater - Wine Bottle Cozy


It’s thoughtful and gracious to bring a little something for your dinner host. If your gift of choice is wine, decorating the bottle makes the gesture more special—and a bottle “bag” of your own creation is a particularly lovely touch. To make one, cut the arm off a sweater, then fit the sleeve over the wine bottle. Sew the bottom of the sleeve closed and, for a final flourish, tie a decorative ribbon around the covered neck of the bottle.



Recycled Sweaters - Pet Bed


Recycled sweaters are great for any pet owners who want to go the extra mile for their cat or dog. With surprisingly little modification—a bit of sewing here, a bit of padding added there—a sweater can become a bed for Fluffy or Fido. Best of all, you can choose a sweater that coordinates perfectly with your existing room decor.



Recycled Sweaters - Reusable Bag


It’s increasingly common to carry reusable grocery bags on errands and shopping trips. We love their benefit to the environment, that’s for sure, but we don’t always care for their looks. Luckily, you don’t need to be a master of the sewing machine to make an attractive bag from a sweater: With basic hemming, you can transform yesterday’s sweaters into today’s totes.



Recycled Sweaters - Vase Cover


Instantly customize any cylindrical vase or candlestick with the turtleneck or sleeve of a sweater that has a color or pattern you love. So little time and effort is involved, you might even choose to create different sets of these cozies, one for each season, along with special one-off creations for birthdays and holidays.