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DIY Lite: How to Build a Shadow Box Display

Arrange a collection of treasured keepsakes behind the glass of a shadow box for an impressive (and protective) at-home art exhibit.

DIY Shadow Box - How to Make a Shadow Box

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Most of us already have the makings of a collection sitting out on a shelf or dresser, right under our noses. Transform those dust-catchers into intriguing displays by arraying them behind the glass pane of a shadow box. A shadow box is essentially a framed box, just a few inches deep and often outfitted with a shelf or two, that holds collectibles, cherished mementos, and other small objects. And it’s functional too! The glass front protects the contents from dust and damage. So gather up your tiny treasures and a spare picture frame, then follow this easy tutorial that will soon have you admiring your budding collection through the artful casing of your very own DIY shadow box.


DIY Shadow Box - Supplies

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

- Wooden picture frame with its glass
- 6mm plywood
- 8-foot-long 1×4 lumber
- Sandpaper
- Wood glue
- Clamps
- 1-inch hinge and screw (2)
- Small drawer knob
- 1-inch nails
- Acrylic paint
- Foam brush
- Rubber grip pads
- Handsaw
- Hammer
- Ruler
- Drill
- Hot glue gun (optional)



DIY Shadow Box - Step 1

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

We chose a spare wooden frame as the ready-to-go front for our DIY shadow box so we wouldn’t need to cut any glass. Depending on what you intend to display, you may prefer a more decorative frame than the simple silhouette shown here. When you’ve picked yours out, just remove the back (which you won’t use) and the glass (to be set aside for later).

Start by cutting out what will be the back of your box. Place the frame onto the sheet of plywood and trace its shape. Use your saw to cut out the panel.



DIY Shadow Box - Step 2

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Next, cut four pieces from your 1×4 lumber to make the sides of the shadow box. The top and the bottom will be the same length as the width of your plywood back (which is also the width of your picture frame). To calculate the length of the sides, measure the length of the frame and then subtract the thickness of the pieces at the top and bottom of the box. As each 1×4 is approximately 3/4-inch thick, you’ll subtract 1-1/2 inches from the length of the frame. Cut each, then sand all the pieces smooth.



DIY Shadow Box - Step 3

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Squeeze a line of glue across one short side of the plywood rectangle, and press one of the short pieces of 1×4 into place. Repeat at the opposite end of the plywood rectangle. Use clamps to maintain pressure while the glue bonds.



DIY Shadow Box - Step 4

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Once the glue is dry, flip the box over and hammer some 1-inch nails through the back along both top and bottom.



DIY Shadow Box - Step 5

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Repeat Steps 3 and 4 with the remaining 1×4 pieces to create the sides of the box.



DIY Shadow Box - Step 6

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

If you want, at this point you can add two shelves to hold your smallest tchotchkes, as we have. Skip this step altogether if you intend to showcase something larger or plan to tack postcards and photos to the back like a three-dimensional memo board.

The length of your shelves will depend on your frame’s dimensions: To calculate, subtract 1 1/2 inches (the thickness of both side boards) from the width of your frame. Cut one or two shelves of this length from the 1×4 lumber, and sand down each piece. Estimate how far apart you’d like to space your shelves, then measure with a ruler to make sure your shelf will be level and pencil in a line along the back to mark where the shelves will go. Glue along each line and fit your shelves into place.



DIY Shadow Box - Step 7

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

After the glue dries, you can start painting. Choose a color that will strike a real contrast with the objects you wish to exhibit—you want your collection to pop! Apply at least two coats of paint to the sides, shelves, and inside back. If necessary, clean, sand, and paint the wood frame to match.



DIY Shadow Box - Step 8

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

So you’ll be able to open and close the door easily, attach a small drawer knob to the right side of the frame. You’ll have to screw it in through the back, so flip the frame over, and measure to find the center of the left side, then drill a hole and screw in the knob.



DIY Shadow Box - Step 9

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

While your frame is still face down, attach the hinges on the side opposite your knob. Measure four inches from the top, then screw one part of a hinge to the outermost edge of the frame. Measure the same distance from the bottom, and attach one part of the second hinge.


DIY Shadow Box - Step 10

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Secure the glass in its frame by first lining the inside edge of the frame with hot glue or silicone adhesive and then pressing the glass into it. Don’t move the door until the glue dries. When it’s dry, file away any excess glue.


DIY Shadow Box - Step 11

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila


Attach the frame to your box, creating a door for your display. First, lay the frame on top of the box, determine where the hinges hit the side, and hold the plates there while you screw them into place along the left edge of the box.



DIY Shadow Box - Step 12

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

If you intend to display the shadow box on a bookshelf or dresser, you can adhere four rubber grips to the corners of the bottom, as we’ve done. But this shadow box works just as well hung on a wall with other elements of your gallery wall. To hang, simply screw one large or two medium-size sawtooth hangers onto the back, and hang from a nail as you would a heavy frame.

Once situated on the designated shelf or wall, your shadow box is ready to accept its collection. Even the most humble knickknacks—your child’s toy cars, mismatched salt and pepper shakers—can be elevated to the status of artwork with this powerful presentation. Go ahead and fill ‘er up!


DIY Shadow Box - Completed Project

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

DIY Shadow Box - Open Glass Door

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Ama is a DIY addict and the creative mind behind Ohoh Blog. She likes home decor, lighting, and furniture projects that may involve painting, sewing, drilling…no matter the technique! Whatever she has on hand is inspiration to create and fodder for her serious addiction to upcycling.

Weekend Projects: 5 Designs for a DIY Daybed

Set up any of these daybeds as seating that doubles as sleeping quarters, and you can start filling the calendar with visits from friends and family.

Among the everyday struggles of finding storage and squeezing in more workspace, entertaining—and housing—guests poses a conundrum for most homeowners with small spaces. Specifically, where will overnight guests sleep when they come to visit? While some solutions, like the fold-up Murphy bed and stow-away trundle bed, focus on hiding spare sleeping arrangements out of sight, a daybed offers in-plain-sight functionality. Couch by day and bed by night, it’s the most practical furniture solution to an all-too-common problem. So, whether you’re looking for an extra spot for overnight guests to snooze or simply a cozy place to curl up with a book, consider setting up one of our five favorites in your own space.



DIY Daybed - Made from Plywood

Photo: themerrythought.com

Create a hard-working, functional piece of furniture on the cheap following The Merry Thought’s lead—more specifically, the DIY blog’s detailed plans for a plywood daybed. As all levels of woodworkers may know, this inexpensive material won’t break the bank or leave you scratching your head during construction. Best of all? You won’t sacrifice any style by choosing this simple, minimalist design. Fully made up, the bed’s unique asymmetrical frame fits perfectly into that unused corner of your space.



DIY Daybed - Just Add Legs

Photo: sugarandcloth.com

If you already have a twin mattress set on hand, convert it into a daybed by simply changing its orientation and adding legs. To recreate this brilliant conversion from blogger Ashley Rose from Sugar & Cloth, all you need is a set of mid-century modern style wooden legs, stained to match your space’s décor. Screw them into to the bottom frame of your box spring, style with the pillows that topped the bed in its former life, and voilà—you’ve equipped your multitasking office-slash-guest room with a fashionable dual-purpose seat.


DIY Daybed - Chevron Frame

Photo: oldpaintdesign.com

For advanced woodworkers looking for a statement piece that presents more of a challenge, look no further than these daybed plans from Old Paint Design. The design mimics a herringbone pattern, with boards zig-zagging throughout the frame to create chevrons. Careful miter cuts—102 of them, to be exact—make this construction possible. Once assembled, this beautiful piece of furniture can add a healthy dose of contemporary style to any space.



DIY Daybed - Made from Pallets

Photo: prettyprudent.com

Popular for their rustic vibes and often zero-dollar price tag, shipping pallets have trended for years in DIY home furnishings. Case in point: Jaime, one of the talented ladies behind the Pretty Prudent blog, lay two pieces of this hardworking material flat to create the base of an indoor-outdoor daybed. Only a few additions are necessary to complete the structure: Industrial pipes form a set of arms that hold bolster pillows in place, while a set of casters attached to the bottom allow you to wheel your daybed outside on sunny days and back inside before temperatures drop or foul weather approaches.



DIY Daybed - With Underbed Cabinet Storage

Photo: atraillife.com

If you’re on the hunt for extra storage, consider the old standby: underneath the bed. This sort of sneaky storage can exist under a slightly more narrow daybed, all the same. While building a bed frame with cabinets from scratch might sound complicated, the photo tutorial from A Trail Life shows that it’s a totally doable (and practical) project. This handy blogger documents how to create a frame sturdy enough to support seated or sleeping guests, along with an attractive set of finished doors that will hide anything you put inside. In the end, this expert use of vertical space packs triple the function—sitting, sleeping, and stashing your stuff—all under the same footprint.

How To: Remove Candle Wax from Any Surface

Still burning the candle at both ends trying to remove unwanted wax accumulations? Use these simple solutions to remove candle wax from any surface in the home!

How to Remove Candle Wax

Photo: fotosearch.com

No matter their placement—on the mantel, beside the bathtub, or on the dining table—lit candles instantly create an atmosphere of relaxation. The mood can swiftly change to one of frustration, however, if your candles leave behind drips or pools of stubborn, tough-to-budge wax. While there’s no universal solution, it’s pretty easy to remove candle wax using nothing more than common household items, so long as you know which method to use. Usually, the right approach depends on the material on which the wax has dripped. Read on for the details on removing wax from the surfaces where it most often lands.



How to Remove Candle Wax from Wood

Photo: fotosearch.com

The Fix: Vinegar. Your first instinct may be to scrape off the wax with the edge of a kitchen knife, but unless you have a remarkably steady hand, you run the risk of scratching the finish or even the wood itself. A safer, quicker way is to hold a hair dryer (set on medium) a few inches away from the wax. When the wax becomes soft, dab it away with a soft cloth. To prevent stains on light-colored wood, be sure to moisten the cloth beforehand with a mixture of one part vinegar and two parts water. Note: Follow the same process to remove candle wax from hardwood floors. 



How to Remove Candle Wax from Tablecloth

Photo: fotosearch.com

The Fix: Clothes Iron. After you’ve cleared the table, done the dishes, and straightened up, spotting dried-up wax on the tablecloth may be enough to make you swear off entertaining. Take a deep breath and—yes, seriously—toss the tablecloth into the freezer. Once the wax has completely cooled, you can easily lift it away with a knife. Don’t worry if the wax appears to have left a stain. Simply lay a brown paper bag over the stain, then press an iron (set on high heat) over the bag. Watch as the stain transfers from the cloth to the paper. Note: You can also use the ironing trick to remove candle wax from painted walls.



How to Remove Candle Wax from Metal

Photo: fotosearch.com

The Fix: Boiling Water. It’s easy to see why wax would drip onto the metal candlestick that holds the taper in place. Fortunately, it’s also easy to restore the metal to its pristine state. Here’s what to do: Boil of pot of water—enough water to completely submerge the candlestick—then after turning off the burner, place the candlestick into the pot. As the water gradually cools, the wax slides off the metal. Once the water has returned to room temperature, remove the candlestick, and wipe away any residual wax with a soft cloth. Note: Follow the same process to remove candle wax from thick glass objects.



How to Remove Candle Wax from Carpet

Photo: fotosearch.com

The Fix: Ice. But don’t rub it in! Instead, fill a plastic bag with ice cubes, then lay the bag over the wax. After waiting several minutes for the wax to cool, use a butter knife to lift the wax away from the carpet. The important thing is to separate the hardened wax from the carpet fibers. Once the wax has been separated, don’t worry if any small, hard bits are left in the pile, because the next step is to vacuum the area thoroughly using the upholstery attachment. Finally, moisten a soft cloth with rubbing alcohol and dab away any discoloration. Note: The ice cube trick also works to remove candle wax from brick. 



How to Remove Candle Wax from Vinyl

Photo: fotosearch.com

The Fix: Mineral Spirits. It may be highly durable, but vinyl flooring isn’t invincible, at least not when it comes to candle wax. What not to do: Because vinyl is prone to discoloration, it’s best not to subject it to any treatment that involves high heat. A better bet is to place an ice cube-packed plastic bag over the affected area. Let the bag sit for several minutes, long enough to harden the wax. Then, dislodge the hardened wax with a blunt-edged kitchen spoon; sharp objects and vinyl don’t mix. If the wax leaves any discoloration, saturate a cotton ball with mineral spirits, then use it to wipe away the stain.



How to Remove Candle Wax from Leather

Photo: fotosearch.com

The Fix: Blow Dryer. Soft, supple, and luxurious, leather furniture deserves better than to be pocked by drips and drabs of candle wax. The key to restoring its plush comfort? Your hair dryer. Hold the appliance a few inches away from the leather and move it back and forth across the area to warm the wax without damaging the material. As the wax softens and loosens its hold, wipe it away using a soft cloth dampened with warm water and mild detergent. Note: Follow the same process to remove candle wax from tubs, sinks, and other bathroom fixtures and surfaces.

How To: Make Your Own Grout Cleaner

Nothing ruins the impact of an otherwise clean bathroom or kitchen quite like dirt between the tiles. This recipe for homemade grout cleaner will have your floors sparkling in no time.

Homemade Grout Cleaner

Photo: fotosearch.com

No matter how hard you work to keep your kitchen and bathroom clean, they’ll always look dingy if they’re plagued by dirty grout, whether it’s lurking between tiles in the shower or along your backsplash. But before you spend a small fortune on cleaning products, consider this: You can mix up your own grout cleaner, less toxic and less expensive than the store-bought variety, using just a handful of ingredients that may already be sitting beneath your kitchen sink. To get started, you’ll need to put on some protective gloves—but after that, this cleanser takes just under 10 minutes to make. Here’s our handy how-to, which will help you make all the grout in your house look brand-new!

- Protective gloves
- Baking soda
- Hydrogen peroxide
- Liquid dish soap
- Small squeeze-top container
- Sponge

Homemade Grout Cleaner - How to Clean Bathroom Grout

Photo: fotosearch.com

It’s a good idea to don some protective gear and proceed with extra precaution when you’re working with hydrogen peroxide. Pull on your rubber gloves before you get to work. (While hydrogen peroxide is generally safe for topical use, it can sting if it gets in any cuts.) Also, be sure not to splash any in your eyes—rinse immediately if you do.

Unscrew the lid of a small squeeze-top container. (This bottle from Amazon is one good option.) Pour 1/2 cup of baking soda into the bottle, then mix in 1/4 cup of hydrogen peroxide. The baking soda will help remove tough stains and hard water buildup, while the hydrogen peroxide will clean and brighten, cutting through residue on the grout to remove discolorations.

Add 1 teaspoon of liquid dish soap, then replace the lid and shake the mixture to make sure the ingredients are well combined.

Use the squeeze-top bottle to apply the homemade grout cleaner in a fine line to any areas in need of a good scrub. Let the mixture sit on the grout for about five minutes so it can really work its way into the stain, then wipe the mixture off with a sponge or paper towel. Rinse with water to remove any residue. If stains remain, repeat as needed until the grout is clean.


As wonderful as it is to see your grout clean again, wouldn’t it have been better if there had been no stains to deal with in the first place? In the future, make housework even easier by regularly cleaning and maintaining your grout before it gets out of control. Here are a few simple methods for keeping dirt and grime at bay:
• Prevent discoloration by sealing your grout once a year. Sealant creates a barrier that protects against unsightly stains and dirt buildup. (Here’s a handy how-to.)
• Regularly vacuum grouted tile floors. Your machine can pick up excess dirt before you break out the mop and specialized cleaners so that you’re not just pushing it around.
• Mop tile floors once a week with water and suds, but go easy on the detergent! Use too much and the residue left behind will attract more dirt after the floor dries.

3 Fixes for Bathroom Odor

For a breath of fresh air in the bathroom, DIY one of these three all-natural solutions and replace unappealing odors with a clean-smelling scent.

DIY Air Freshener

Photo: fotosearch.com

Bathroom odors rank as some of the most unpleasant household scents you can encounter, and they are definitely not ones you want to let linger. While sprays and store-bought products can be effective in banishing bad smells, they can also be costly and filled with chemicals you may not care to bring into your home. Instead of spritzing the off-the-shelf stuff, try mixing up one of these natural (and practically free!) air fresheners that absorb odors and leave your bathroom smelling exactly as you like it—fresh and clean.



DIY Air Freshener - Potpourri

Photo: blog.freepeople.com

If you recently received a lovely bouquet of flowers, don’t toss them when they’ve reached their brittle end. Instead, use the petals as the main ingredient in this DIY potpourri recipe. First, thoroughly dry the arrangement by tying a piece of twine around the stems and hanging it upside down for a week or two. After that, pluck the blooms from their stems and place them in a jar with a few drops of essential oil. Seal the container, and let the flowers absorb the oil for another week. Once they’ve had time to soak up the scent, you can mix in lavender, cloves, or other herbs or spices that pack a good-smelling punch. Display the concoction in a shallow decorative bowl in the bathroom for a pretty way to eliminate not-so-pretty odors.



DIY Air Freshener - DIY Diffuser

Photo: sugarandcloth.com

The next time you’re worried about persistent bathroom stench, try this five-minute fix that requires only a handful of materials—most of which you probably already have on hand. To start, fill a vase one-quarter of the way with the essential oil of your choice, such as peppermint or lavender, and then fill the rest of the vessel with baby oil. Next, rifle through your kitchen drawers for some bamboo skewers (yes, the kind you typically use for summer shish kabobs), trim the pointy ends, and drop them into the jar. The final step? Breathe deep and enjoy a freshly scented space.



DIY Air Freshener - Baking Soda

Photo: smashedpeasandcarrots.com

You’ll need a mason jar for this deodorizing solution, but rest assured that you can find the rest of the supplies in your cupboard. Fill a small mason jar about one-quarter of the way with baking soda, then add 8 to 12 drops of essential oil to the powder, adjusting the amount according to the size of your bathroom. (You should be able to notice the scent when you’ve added enough.) Next, pop the mason jar’s flat lid out of the ring that seals it tight and trace its outline onto a decorative piece of cardstock. Cut out the paper and use a needle to punch small holes through which the scent can disperse. Finally, place the paper circle inside the ring (in lieu of the metal lid) and seal your jar for a colorful finishing touch. The secret to this trick’s success lies in the hardworking ingredients: baking soda absorbs unwanted smells, while the oil gives off a soothing scent, leaving your bathroom free and clear of unappealing odors.

How To: Sand Drywall

Choose from two foolproof techniques to sand out any glaring drywall imperfections—lumps, ridges, and the like—so that you (and your walls) can enjoy a flawless finish.

How to Sand Drywall - Sand Drywall Before Painting

Photo: fotosearch.com

Drywall—commonly known as sheet rock—is one of the most popular construction materials used in finishing interior walls. Cheap, durable, easy to install, easily repaired—it’s no wonder that it’s a go-to for do-it-yourselfers and contractors alike. But while drywall installation is admittedly an easy DIY project, a few tips and techniques borrowed from the pros can make the difference between a smooth, attractive wall surface and one riddled with imperfections.

At the top of the list of important know-how is proper sanding technique. Without it, any dings, dents, creases, ridges, or lumps in the joint compound will be magnified once paint is applied, and uneven sections in the drywall can prevent wallpaper from adhering correctly. Here are two sanding methods designed to produce a flawless finish.


Option 1: Dry Sanding

Dry sanding is the typical method used to finish drywall joints, as it produces the smoothest finish—ideal if you plan on painting the drywall. But be warned: It does create an unavoidable dust storm in the middle of your home, which can sway homeowners to consider wet sanding (see further down) in cases where a smooth finish isn’t absolutely necessary.

- Joint compound
- Putty knife
- Sanding block
- Sanding pole (optional)
- Sanding sponge
- Fine-grit sandpaper (120- to 150-grit)
- Flashlight or work light
- Pencil
- Wall primer
- Dust mask and goggles
- Plastic sheeting and tape
- Vacuum cleaner or shop-vac

How to Sand Drywall - Sanding Drywall

Photo: flickr.com via Georgia National Guard

Drywall sanding produces copious amounts of dust, but proper preparation can help keep the dust from infiltrating every nook and cranny of your home. Before you begin, assemble all tools in the room where you will be sanding, including extra joint compound and a putty knife to fill in any gouges or mistakes. Wear a dust mask and goggles to protect your face; you may want to cover your hair with a scarf and wear old clothes. If you have an exterior window, open it a crack to provide ventilation. Tape plastic sheeting across any doors leading to other areas of your home, as well as over the floor and any furniture in the room.

Affix a section of fine-grit sandpaper to the sanding block. You can purchase pre-cut sections that are designed to fit drywall sanders—anchor one end under the clamp and pull the sandpaper taut before tightening the clamp on the other side.

Attach the sanding block to a sanding pole, if desired, to better reach the ceiling or along the top edges of the walls. If you use one, though, be careful to keep the sanding head slightly angled—never completely perpendicular to the pole, to avoid gouging the surface.

Sand the joints, seams, and around screws lightly with the sanding block. A few pointers:

• Careful to not put too much pressure on the surface to avoid “fuzzing” the drywall or leaving sanding marks; sand the center of seams and joints just enough to remove ridges and bumps.

• Also avoid sanding in a straight line or going over the same area in the same direction, both of which can leave grooves or depressions. Instead, move the sander around in a curved motion.

Use a sanding sponge to get into the corners and around electrical boxes, again, applying light pressure to avoid damaging the drywall paper.

Shine a light parallel to the joints to reveal any gouges, grooves, or ridges. Mark these areas lightly with a pencil. Fill these areas with fresh joint compound, smoothing with a putty knife. Let dry completely, and then re-sand the area.

Prime the walls, then sand again lightly to remove any lumpy spots or paper fuzz.

Use a vacuum cleaner or shop vac to clean up the drywall dust. If your vacuum has a pre-filter, use one designed to capture drywall dust and other fine particles.

How to Sand Drywall - Drywall Sander

Photo: fotosearch.com


Option 2: Wet Sanding

The biggest downside to drywall sanding is that it produces dust—a lot of dust! Wet sanding drywall avoids most of this mess and the associated cleanup. The catch? It does not produce quite as smooth a finish as dry sanding, and therefore is not suitable for walls that will be painted. If the final finish is wallpaper or texturing, however, consider wet sanding to save a lot of time. Just add a bucket (and a mop for any mess) to the materials list above, and you’re good to get started.

Prep your space following the suggestions in Step 1 of the dry sanding process. This time, fill up a bucket about half-full with warm water and place it with the rest of your tools. Then dunk the sanding sponge in the water.

Squeeze all excess water out of the sanding sponge, so that it is damp but not dripping. Work your sponge’s abrasive side in a large, circular motion to sand the joints, corners, screws, and around electric boxes. (Here, too, light pressure will help avoid creating grooves or gouges.)

Note: Every few minutes, dampen the sponge in the warm water. This will also give you a chance to wash out some of the dust that collects in the sponge as you go. Once the water becomes cloudy, pour out the old water and refill with fresh warm water.

Look for any gouges, grooves, or ridges with the help of your flashlight, then fill these areas with fresh joint compound and (when dry) sand the area lightly with your wet sponge. Once the wall dries thoroughly, you can cover with primer, sand, and apply your wallpaper or texturing of choice.

All You Need to Know About Paper Bag Flooring

If you're willing to roll up your sleeves for an epic week-long DIY, you could bag the floor of your dreams (quite literally) for cheap. Here, find out if it's worth the work—and how to get started.

Paper Bag Flooring - How to Refinish Your Floors with Brown Paper Bags

Photo: fotosearch.com

Is your old flooring carpeted in style, or dirt, grime, and other relics of time? Modernize it by ripping out any fraying, outdated carpet pile and replacing it with humble craft paper! This fascinating flooring project has swept the blogging world off of its feet with its rich color and marble-textured results—and its cheap, cheap price tag of only $100 materials to outfit a single space and then some. But be warned: Without proper planning and execution, your paper bag floor experiment can stray far from expectation. There’s no cutting corners on this week-long, hands-on project. From floor selection to finishing touches, here’s the full scoop on how to achieve a lustrous, long-lasting paper bag floor.

Paper Bag Flooring - Finished Floor by Lovely Crafty Home

Photo: lovelycraftyhome.com


The key to flooring your guests with a paper bag finish is to start with the right subfloor. Brown craft paper adheres best to—and lasts longest on—a plywood subfloor. (Homeowners with cement or vinyl floors may want to reconsider.) While good for dressing up most areas of the home, you may be better off skipping this sort of finish in areas with excess moisture like the bathroom—at least for your first flooring project.

Before making waves in your repurposing project, practice your paper application technique. A test run can save the time (and the headache) of later discovering faulty paper adhesion, uneven staining, or foggy polyurethane. Using scrap wood, your paper bag supply, stain, and polyurethane, run through the flooring technique described in the next section.

Once you feel mentally prepared, get your floor physically prepared by removing any existing carpet, pad, and staples to get to the surface beneath. Sand out the entire subfloor to remove aberrations, hammer in any protruding nails, and fill and sand holes. (It’s a good idea to vacuum up the leftover dust from this prep work before you bring in your adhesive.)



After the floor is prepped, tear and crumple 6- to 8-inch paper wads from a roll of brown craft paper (the material used in brown paper lunch bags). Avoid overly small pieces that can create a chintzy, pebbled appearance instead of an elegant, faux-marble look.

Pull on a pair of gloves and prepare a batch of glue mixture: three parts water to one part white school glue in a bucket. Dip a paintbrush into the glue mixture, and brush it over a small area of the floor at a time. Then grab five paper wads to work with at a time, dipping each into the glue mixture and squeezing out the excess. As when you paint a floor, start in the corner opposite and across the way from your exit to avoid papering yourself into a corner.

Flatten and adhere each paper wad to the floor, overlapping the pieces a few inches for an organic look. Use your paintbrush to smooth wrinkles. Repeat this process until the floor is covered in paper, and dry the floor overnight. The next day, you can repair any raised edges using a paintbrush and the glue mixture.



Glued-down paper bags look much like you’d imagine, like lunch bags torn and scattered across the floor. The real faux-marbling magic happens when you bring in a rich color and glossy finish. Before you unleash the fumes from your cans of stain and polyurethane, best to open any windows in the space for a little extra ventilation.

First, fill a paint tray with the oil-based stain of your choice to get to work. Tackle the edge nearest the trim and baseboard first, “cutting in” using a chip brush. To stain the rest of the floor without streaks, set aside the brush and for a lambswool floor applicator pad—one attached a mop block at the end of a universal extension pole works best for its extra reach. Dip the pad into the stain, blot out the excess, and apply the stain in large, sweeping strokes. Then let the stain dry completely at a moderate temperature for at least 48 hours.

After drying the stain, you’ll seal with several coats of a water-based, floor-grade polyurethane. Pour the product into a paint tray and affix foam floor applicator pad (better for water-based finishes) to your extension pole. Dip the foam pad into the polyurethane, blot out the excess, and apply it with similar motions. After drying, apply as many additional coats as recommended by your brand of polyurethane. For a show-room ready look, sand the surface after the first and before the last coat.


Paper Bag Flooring - Finished Floor by Domestic Imperfection

Photo: domesticimperfection.com


Your hardy paper bag floor will hold up fairly well to normal amounts of foot traffic. Adventurous DIYers like Rachael of The Lovely Crafty Home and Ashley of Domestic Imperfection both share impressive success, proving that this flooring feat lasts anywhere from a few to several years if proper application and maintenance are followed. Dirt can fade and degrade it, making regular cleaning vital.

• Vacuum or mop your floor at least once a week. homemade cleaner like a 50-50 solution of vinegar and water will banish grime.

• Safeguard the floor from dings by affixing felt feet onto the legs of all your furniture. Alternatively, experiment with laying down rugs or mats strategically to protect your  floors from scratches.

By protecting your new floor from everyday wear and tear, you can extend its lifespan and enjoy it for years to come!

How To: Get Rid of Centipedes

Centipedes may not be the most harmful household pest, but they can certainly be an unappealing nuisance. Here's how to quickly and easily evict these leggy lodgers from your home.

How to Get Rid of Centipedes - House Centipede

Photo: flickr.com via prkos

Centipedes, with no shortage of legs and alarming speed, seem to have been designed to make squeamish homeowners shriek. But despite their somewhat frightening appearance, centipedes are—for the most part—harmless, even somewhat helpful. They won’t damage your foundation, siding, or furniture; they’re not interested in the food in your pantry; and they come out at night and eat the terrible bugs that you don’t want hanging around, like termites, moths, roaches, and even bed bugs. If you’re not squeamish, you might consider just leaving centipedes alone to do what they do best—killing destructive pests with poisonous venom and then considerately gobbling them up so you have nothing left to clean. But if you find creepy-crawlies just too disturbing to live with, there are several things you can do to rid your spaces of centipedes.

How to Get Rid of Centipedes - Centipede Outdoors

Photo: fotosearch.com


If centipedes have already made themselves comfortable in your humble abode, here are a few ways to eliminate them:

Capture: Centipedes are fast, but they don’t generally invade in large numbers. If you can trap the ones you see and either squish them or relocate them outside, you’ll be well on your way to controlling the problem. To transfer a centipede to the yard, trap one under a jar or cup, slide a piece of paper underneath the opening to keep the bug in the jar, then take it outside. Do not touch a centipede with your bare hands—they do bite. Although they are not prone to attacking humans, one might bite in self-defense; the bite would feel similar to a bee sting.

Trap: Sticky traps, such as those used for other insects and rodents, are effective at catching centipedes. Place traps next to the baseboards in the corners of your rooms to capture not only the multilegged creatures but also the bugs they’ve been feasting on—which, incidentally, could help uncover your underlying pest problem.

Spray: If the idea of using insecticides inside your home makes you less squeamish than the presence of centipedes, consider eradicating them with any number of sprays or dusts. (There are also a few nontoxic varieties available.) Before buying, check the label to ensure that the formulation targets centipedes and is safe to be used indoors. Then, apply it according to the manufacturer’s instructions around baseboards, doors, windows, and any cracks and crevices where centipedes might gain entry.



The best way to reduce your home’s centipede population is to prevent the pests from entering in the first place. Here’s how to create an inhospitable home:

Outdoors: Centipedes like to hide and breed within leaf litter, grass clippings, and other damp yard materials. Clear away this outdoor debris and keep it a fair distance from your house. If you store compost or firewood, move it at least 30 feet away from your home’s perimeter.

Inside: Use an expanding foam spray to seal up any gaps, cracks, and crevices around your windows, doors, siding, pipes, and wiring. Doing this will keep out not only centipedes, but rodents as well. Centipedes love damp areas like bathrooms, basements, closets, and even attics; in fact, they’ll dry out and die without moisture. Invest in a dehumidifier, and install exhaust fans in your bathrooms or attic if you haven’t already done so.

Finally, if you can figure out which bugs the centipedes are feeding on and eradicate them, your centipedes will move on to locations where the food supply is more dependable—like, perhaps, your neighbor’s house. And then you can clue him into the combination of prevention and control that saved you from those frightening confrontations with the “hundred-legged worm.”

Bob Vila Thumbs Up: The DIY Lighting Competition Starts Today

Vote today and everyday this month to help your favorite blogger win the February Thumbs Up challenge.

Most DIYers have heard that rewiring your own home is like playing with fire—unsafe and often illegal. Wiring your own lamp, however, is a different story altogether. No matter your style or skill level, you can create custom lighting at home—and we’ve pulled together our favorite blogger projects to prove it in this month’s Bob Vila Thumbs Up competition.


Bob Vila Thumbs Up highlights some of the very best DIY bloggers, and this month we’re appreciating the ingenuity of novice lamp makers. These inventors are no electricians, but their savvy style and budget-smart decorating earns them major points in our book. Now it’s your job to vote one blogger to take the title of Bob Vila Thumbs Up champion and the winner of the prize—a $250 gift card.


So cast your vote today and every day through February 29 to help your favorite blogger become this month’s Bob Vila Thumbs Up winner. After all, only you and your vote can determine the outcome of this competition.

Congrats to last month’s winning blogger, Beyond the Picket Fence. Read more about the winning Bob Vila Thumbs Up project right here.

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

Enter Bob Vila’s $3,500 Get Your Green On Give-Away from the Craftsman® Brand Today!

Enter for your chance to win an amazing weekly prize from the Craftsman brand.

updated Feb300x250 (1)Winter is coming to a close, which means it’s time to brush off those patio chairs, barbecue pits, and, most importantly, lawn tools. If your green machines are in less than stellar order, it might be time for an upgrade. To save you some hard-earned cash and to help get your outdoor retreats in tip-top shape, we’ve partnered with the Craftsman brand to bring you the $3,500 Get Your Green On Give-Away, which offers a must-have outdoor maintenance or storage prize each week throughout February.


Today and every day in February (starting at 12:00 p.m. EST January 31st, 2016 through 11:59 a.m. EST on February 29th, 2016), enter to win an amazing weekly prize from the Craftsman brand to get your home and lawn ready for spring. (See Official Rules below.)

riding mower

Since 1972, the Craftsman brand has been dedicated to offering high-quality, durable tools that everyone from first-time DIYers to seasoned weekend warriors can always count on. Featuring over 80 categories and more than 6,000 products for the lawn, garden, garage, workshop, and more, there’s no job you can’t fix when armed with Craftsman tools.

Each week in February, we’re awarding one lucky winner an outdoor maintenance or storage prize from the Craftsman brand. Check back each week to enter to win one of four incredible prizes from America’s best-selling tool brand:

Throughout Week 1 (January 31st–February 8th) you could win a collection of the Craftsman brand’s newest cordless tools, including the 24V 22” Cordless Hedge Trimmer, the 24V Cordless Hard Surface Sweeper, the 24V 10” Cordless Chain Saw, and the 24V 12” Cordless Line Trimmer, to add to your yard work arsenal.

During Week 2 (February 8th–15th), enter to win a Craftsman Premium Heavy-Duty Floor Cabinet that can keep your go-to home improvement essentials safe and stored.

For Week 3 (February 15th–22nd), we’re offering up a Craftsman Pro Series Wide Deck Gas Mower—a new addition to the Craftsman Pro Series line that boasts a 28″ 2-in-1 dual-blade mowing deck and an engine qualified to 60% longer life (comparing against the expected life of standard Briggs & Stratton E Series Engine). 

Week 4 (February 22nd–29th) concludes with awarding one lucky winner the Craftsman Pro Series 20 HP 42” Riding Mower, which features Consistent Cut Technology, the power and durability of a Kohler 7000 Elite Series engine, and more.

So what are you waiting for? Enter today and every day in February for your chance to win an amazing tool to help beautify your backyard.

To learn more about the Craftsman brand, click here.

The “Bob Vila’s $3,500 Get Your Green On Give-Away from the Craftsman Brand” is open only to permanent legal U.S. residents of the 48 contiguous states and the District of Columbia; residents of Alaska and Hawaii are not eligible. Void in all other geographic locations. No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited. Contest Period runs from 12:00 p.m. (EST) Sunday, January 31st, 2016, through 11:59 a.m. Monday, February 29th, 2016. One entry per household per day on BobVila.com. Alternative means of entry for Drawing is available by faxing your name and address to 508-437-8486 during the applicable Entry Period. Odds of winning depend on the number of eligible entries received. See Official Rules.