Category: How To’s & Quick Tips


Weekend Projects: 5 Ways to Make Your Own Rug

In just a weekend, you can make one of these creative, one-of-a-kind floor coverings to add warmth and style to your decor.

When laid over floors or mounted on walls, area rugs imbue living spaces with warmth, style, and comfort. If you’re struggling to find a rug that perfectly suits the challenging color scheme you’ve chosen—or if your budget leaves little room for such nonessential decorative accents—don’t be discouraged! The fact is, you have virtually limitless options, bounded only by the margins of your creative thinking. In just a weekend, you can weave, paint, recycle, or knit your way to a DIY rug, be it solid-colored or geometrically patterned, compact or generously sized. Scroll down to see five favorite DIY rug projects to inspire yours!

 

1. PAINT A PATTERN

DIY Rug - Painted

Photo: brassyapple.com

Use paint to transform a plain-Jane piece into something noteworthy: a custom-designed DIY rug. Simply apply painter’s tape to mark off the borders, then coat on your chosen colors with a paint roller. Although you can achieve elaborate designs, easy-to-do stripes make a striking, hard-to-forget visual impression.

 

2. CUT A RUG

DIY Rug - Cut Out

Photo: jessicahische.is

For this DIY rug, you start with a set of bound-together carpet tiles (use either a single color or a robust mix of your favorites). Then, working with a precision-cutting utility knife, proceed to slice away portions of the carpeting until you are left with a design that tickles your fancy. Angular or curvilinear? It’s all up to you.

 

3. ARRANGE A PATCHWORK 

DIY Rug - Seamed Samples

Photo: peppermags.blogspot.com

Here’s an ingenious DIY rug idea that you can realize for $20 or less. You know those carpet samples available at retail stores, either for free or a few bucks apiece? Bring home about a dozen, then use hot glue and carpet-seaming tape to bind them together. Guests are destined to be wowed by your DIY rug’s creation story!

 

4. CONVERT A CLOTH

DIY Rug - Tablecloth

Photo: dreambookdesign.com

You won’t believe how quickly a tablecloth converts into a DIY rug! The process involves only two steps: Apply polyurethane to the top and then use spray adhesive to attach a rug pad on the bottom. That’s how effortlessly you can make a bold decor statement with a modest investment of time and money.

 

5. LIGHT UP A ROOM

DIY Rug - Lit

Photo: imudesign.org

Dust off your sewing skills to create a luminous DIY rug that will make any room glow from the ground up. Here, LED rope lights are patiently crocheted into a circle of thick yarn. For your efforts, you will be rewarded with a one-of-a-kind floor covering that your envious visitors will wish they could buy from a store.


5 Things to Do with… Cardboard Boxes

Got cardboard? We're sure you do! Grab a few of those old boxes and get to work on one of these ingenious, MacGyver-worthy projects.

Without cardboard boxes, what would the world be like? At times, it seems like cardboard is nearly as ubiquitous—and as essential to life—as the air that we breathe. Most people recycle these heavy-duty paper containers without thinking twice about their countless hidden uses. It’s amazing what creative people are capable of doing when they think—not outside the box, but about the potential of the box itself. For five of our favorite DIY cardboard project ideas, scroll down.

 

1. CREATE A SHELVING UNIT

DIY Cardboard Projects - Shelving

Photo: improvisedlife.com

Consider the blood, sweat, and tears of moving furniture up and down stairs. The prospect is daunting enough to make you reconsider purchasing that heavy new wooden dresser. Fortunately, there’s a low-hassle and unexpectedly stylish alternative: making your own storage piece, for next to no money, with cardboard and duct tape!

 

2. BUILD A LAPTOP STAND

DIY Cardboard Projects - Laptop Stand

Photo: thingiverse.com

If hunching over the keyboard leaves you with poor posture and a strained neck, then here’s a DIY cardboard project your chiropractor would approve of—a laptop stand. Making one from cardboard is even easier than using Windows! All it takes is a cut here and a snip there, plus a little bit of glue and adhesive tape.

 

3. DESIGN A LAMPSHADE

DIY Cardboard Projects - Lighting

Photo: graypants.com

When you craft a shade out of cardboard, the design possibilities are endless, but the required tools are few. With nothing more than adhesive (tape or glue) and a pair of scissors, you can light up your life with a low-cost, fully customized pendant or chandelier similar to this one, for sale from Graypants in Seattle.

 

4. MAKE A MAILBOX

DIY Cardboard Projects - Mailbox

Photo: teigland.smugmug.com

This DIY cardboard project may not be the most practical one in the group, but it proves beyond doubt the range and versatility of this commonly available, too often underutilized material. To make your own mailbox like this, you don’t need training as a blacksmith, only some contents from your paper recycling bin.

 

5. PRODUCE A PROJECTOR

DIY Cardboard Projects - Projector

Photo: wonderhowto.com

If you have a smartphone or tablet that plays video, then believe it or not, you can instantly turn any room of your house into an improvised movie theater. Start with a cardboard box that completely closes up. Attach a magnifying glass to the box, then bend a paper clip into a stand for your device. That’s it—now start the show!


5 Things to Do with… Wine Corks

Got corks? Now that the holidays have passed, we bet you have plenty. Don't throw them out! Save them up instead to make one of these simple wine cork projects. We'll raise a glass (or two) to that!

In the wake of holiday office functions, neighborhood tree lightings, and, of course, New Year’s Eve parties, wine corks are sure to be littering bar areas, kitchen countertops, and filled-to-the-rim trash bins. My advice? Collect as many of these cylindrical stoppers as possible. Why? Because they’re useful for so many creative undertakings, most of which have nothing to do with drinking. Scroll down to see some wine cork projects that you should add to your 2014 to-do list.

 

1. CREATE A KEYCHAIN

Wine Cork Projects - Keychain

Photo: cleverlyinspired.com

You’ll need less than 10 minutes to complete this out-of-the-ordinary keychain, a wine cork project we found on Cleverly Inspired. The first step is to dip a small screw eye into glue. Next, poke the screw into the cork. Attach a key ring, and you’re done! You’ll never again mistake your keys for anyone else’s.

 

2. CUSTOMIZE A COASTER

Wine Cork Projects - Coasters

Photo: etsy.com

Here’s a wine cork project that will help you safeguard your coffee table from unsightly stains. First, gather about a dozen corks. Proceed to slice them in half before hot-gluing them all into a circular grouping. As a last step, add a strip of felt or burlap around the perimeter. Visit Creativebug for a step-by-step guide.

 

3. MAKE A MINI PLANTER

Wine Cork Projects - Planter

Photo: upcyclethat.com

From Upcycle That, this wine cork project came as a pleasant surprise: Whoever thought you could plant a succulent in a “pot” small enough to function also as a refrigerator magnet? Hollow out the cork, pack in a pinch of soil, then insert the plant clipping. Use glue to attach a small magnet, if you want, and don’t forget to add water!

 

4. BUILD A BIRDHOUSE

Wine Cork Projects - Birdhouse

Photo: flickr.com

Cheap cabernet may be for the birdsbut then again, so is that wine cork! With little more than hot glue, a carving knife, and a couple of cases’ worth of wine corks, you can build a birdhouse to hang from a tree branch in your backyard. Watch your new feathered friends through your windows, and come spring, enjoy their songs.

 

5. MAKE A BATH MAT

Wine Cork Projects - Bathmat

Photo: wikihow.com

Had one too many glasses of wine? Be careful not to slip! Of course, one way to avoid accidents is to drink less, but this wine cork project offers another, perhaps preferable means of avoiding slip-and-falls. Slice approximately 150 wine corks in half lengthwise, then hot-glue them all onto a rug pad that you have precut to your ideal bath mat size.


Top Tips for Taking Down the Christmas Tree

It's always fun to put up the holiday tree, but taking it down? Not so much. Make this yearly task less of a chore with our timely tips for taking down the Christmas tree.

Taking Down the Christmas Tree - Needles

Photo: shutterstock.com

Everyone loves the Christmas tree—so long as it’s standing proudly upright and is already fully decorated. Sure, some people enjoy artfully stringing lights on the evergreen boughs and relish the opportunity to rediscover cherished ornaments that have languished in storage for so many months. But nobody likes taking down the Christmas tree. Fortunately, with a few simple tips, you can complete this dreaded annual task more efficiently and without major hassles.

Prepping the area
Start the process of taking down the Christmas tree by laying an old sheet (or a workshop drop cloth) at the evergreen’s base. If you’ve done this before, you know that needles are likely to fall as you work, so this step will save you some cleanup later on. Do you have a lot of fragile ornaments? Consider putting down some towels to keep them safe in case they fall while you’re removing decorations.

Taking down the ornaments
• Remove the ornaments at the bottom of the tree first. That way, you limit the likelihood that you’ll unintentionally knock any down with your body.

• To protect ornaments while they’re in storage, take the time to wrap them in tissue paper or used gift wrap.

• Liquor boxes with dividers are the perfect no-cost repository for off-season storage of ornaments.

• For small ornaments and other diminutive holiday accents, recycled egg cartons work well as storage containers.

• Once you have removed them from the tree, wrap string lights around cardboard paper towel rolls to keep them organized and untangled until next year.

Taking Down the Christmas Tree - Curbside

Photo: shutterstock.com

Disposing of the tree
• Use a turkey baster to draw out any water that remains in the Christmas tree stand.

• Remove the tree skirt; if it’s covered with needles, shake them onto the sheet you’ve laid down.

• Spread the sheet to its full dimensions, laying the tree down horizontally over it. Take off the stand.

• Gather the sheet around the tree like a sling, then use it to carry the tree outside.

Next year, make disposal easier with a Christmas tree bag. Before putting up the tree, place the bag under the stand. After the holiday is over, just pull the bag up and over the tree and tie it off with twine. Then you carry the tree outside and remove it from the bag. Most stray needles will be caught in the bag.

In addition to leaving your tree curbside, most communities around the country have a Christmas tree recycling program in place where discarded Christmas trees are chipped into mulch for gardens (including yours) or shredded for use on paths and hiking trails.  In areas where soil erosion is an issue, discarded Christmas trees can be effective sand and soil barriers and help aid sedimentation management.  You can even put the tree in the backyard to become a bird feeder and sanctuary or, if you have a fish pond, submerge it where it can serve as an excellent refuge and feeding area for fish.

Where to begin?  The National Christmas Tree Association–together with Earth911.org, a Scottsdale, Arizona-based conservation group–offer a zip code locator to help you find a suitable treecycling solution near you. Check it out and start the New Year off right–and green!

Cleaning up
Pine needles are stubborn. They get stuck in carpeting, and some remain even after you vacuum. Here’s a trick: Sprinkle baking soda onto the area prior to vacuuming to help the needles slide out of the carpet fibers. Because pine needles are not good for a vacuum, use a broom and dustpan whenever possible.

Try to make taking down the Christmas tree a fun tradition. Put on a movie marathon while you work, or plan to celebrate completing the task with a special hot cocoa recipe or a delicious snack. You’ll have to wait another 11 months until next Christmas, so enjoy every last second of the season this year!

 

 


Bob Vila Radio: Late Night Party Cleanup

Don't wait until the next morning to clean up after a holiday party. Follow these simple tips on the-night-of to make post-party cleanup less painful.

Holiday parties are great fun, and being the host means you don’t have to travel home afterwards. But it also means you’re stuck with the cleanup. Here are a few ways to make that less painful.

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Listen to BOB VILA ON LATE NIGHT PARTY CLEANUP or read the text below:

Late Night Party Cleanup

Shutterstock

First, do a quick walk through every room your guests were in to look for spills that need immediate attention. It’s much better to blot them now before they set overnight. Any glasses that were left on wood furniture need to be picked up right away, to prevent water rings. If you do spot a ring, tackle it quickly with a paste of baking soda and water. You can also use toothpaste (not the gel kind) to get out rings.

As you’re walking through each room, pick up any cups, napkins, or other trash that needs to be thrown out, and collect any plates, glasses, or utensils that need to be washed or recycled. Clear out one room at a time, gathering everything that’s left to deal with in one place — the kitchen. You should be able to get most of your home looking decent again in no time, with the wreckage confined to the kitchen. If it’s getting late, put away any leftover food, then go to bed and deal with the mess in the morning!

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


Bob Vila Radio: Christmas Tree Crafts

When the holiday season ends, make use of this year's Christmas tree as a craft supply with these DIY ideas.

Right now, there may be more than 25 million cut Christmas trees adorning rooms throughout the United States. Within the next week or so, they will all be stripped of their decorations and dragged unceremoniously to the street.

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Listen to BOB VILA ON CHRISTMAS TREE CRAFTS or read the text below:

Christmas Tree Crafts

Photo: shutterstock.com

Sure, some of these trees will be chipped for mulch or stored for kindling. But if you already have all the mulch you need and don’t have a wood-burning fireplace, how else can you use your tree?

Fortunately, you have options: Pine needles make not only excellent mulch, but also wonderful sachets that let you enjoy the fragrance of the season well into the new year. They’re also handy for stuffing pincushions or dog beds, and they can be dried for potpourri.

Once the needles have been removed, the wood from a Christmas tree can keep a determined DIYer busy for days. Consider slicing rounds from the trunk that, set on edge, can serve as a garden border. Or make drinks coasters—or even trivets—by cutting thinner rounds, sanding and polyurethaning them, and gluing on a felt backing.

If this all sounds like too much work, just stand the bare trunk outside—come spring, it can become a rustic trellis for trailing plants like morning glories.

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


Weekend Projects: 5 DIY Ways to Make a Picture-Perfect Frame

Bored with standard-issue picture frames? With a little time and a few items that you may already have on hand, you can make your own frames that will be as personal and meaningful as the memories they hold.

It’s a fact of life: We all have more photographs, paper keepsakes, and artwork than frames in which to display them. If you’re eager to put up more wall hangings but don’t love the look (or expense) of store-bought frames, the simple solution is to make your own. Scroll down to see five favorite approaches to a DIY picture frame.

 

1. STICK IT OUT

DIY Picture Frame - Twig

Photo: angelaosborn.com.au

For those who favor rustic style, here’s a low-fuss strategy: Combine four straight (or straightish) sticks and a bit of twine, coaxing them into a rectangular shape with the help of a straight saw and small nails. The result? A twiggy DIY picture frame perfectly suited for a well-chosen print. Angela Osborn shows how it’s done.

 

2. REPURPOSE YOUR READING

DIY Picture Frame - Paper Reeds

Photo: totallygreencrafts.com

Transform a stack of old magazines into a colorful DIY picture frame that tells a whole new story! Suzy’s Sitcom explains the process: Basically, it’s a matter of rolling magazine or newspaper pages into reeds, which are then affixed, decoupage-style, to the front of basic frames you can pick up for cheap at craft stores.

 

3. OPEN A WINDOW

DIY Picture Frame - Window

Photo: wendysheafferphotos.com

Found a charming old window at your local flea market or salvage yard? Take a cue from photographer Wendy Sheaffer, who turned a six-pane sash into a DIY picture frame with each pane devoted to one of her six nieces and nephews. Either leave the window as you found it or sand and repaint it—the choice is yours!

 

4. SPIN A YARN

DIY Picture Frame - Yarn

Photo: centsationalgirl.com

In this DIY picture frame project, you can use yarn to make something beautiful—no knitting required! Start with a wood frame or foam wreath, then simply wrap your chosen base with a single color of yarn or a mix of hues. It’s a relaxing yet productive way to spend an hour. Visit Centsational Girl for a step-by-step guide.

 

5. BOOK THIS LOOK

DIY Picture Frame - Books

Photo: papernstitchblog.com

Well-read books are hard to part with. But thanks to Paper & Stitch, you don’t have to bid adieu to any of your beloved old volumes. Instead, make them into a permanent part of your decor: In only about 15 minutes, your favorite hardcover can become an out-of-the-ordinary DIY picture frame to show off a favorite photo.


5 Things to Do with… Gift Wrap

Don't look at all the wrapping paper littering your living room as a wasteful annoyance—view it as an opportunity! Put those discarded sheets and remnants to good use in one of these smart DIY projects.

It’s always alarming to see how much gift wrap gets wasted during the holidays. Boldly patterned, brightly colored paper suddenly becomes garbage when only moments before it was festive and beautiful. The silver lining is that for those hardy souls who love to reuse wrapping paper, Boxing Day cleanup is like Christmas all over again. No, you don’t have to wait another 364 days to do something with your leftovers. Here are five DIY wrapping paper projects you can start on today!

 

1. DECORATE A COOKIE CANISTER

Photo: gracie-senseandsimplicity.blogspot.com

Picture the plethora of empty cans that, even as you read this, sit idly in your recycling bin. Now imagine covering one (or a dozen) of those containers with gift wrap in your favorite design. This DIY wrapping paper project enables you to create the perfect package for cookies—or any item that fits, home-baked or otherwise!

 

2. PRODUCE A PLACEMAT

Photo: blog.paper-source.com

For creative hosts, here’s a DIY gift wrapping project that can save you time and money, and even promote conversation among guests. If your go-to placemats are in the wash, or if you don’t have any in a design to suit your table setting, consider using gift wrap—it works on its own but, if you prefer, can be laminated at the office store.

 

3. MAKE A DRAWER LINER

Photo: apartmenttherapy.com

An easy way to dress up your dresser is to line its drawers with leftover wrapping paper. Simply cut the paper to size, then use double-sided tape or a glue stick to secure the paper in place. If you like this DIY wrapping paper project, then apply the same method to the shelves in your home office or even to kitchen cabinets.

 

4. CUSHION A PACKAGE

Photo: instructables.com

Make the most of that ugly gift wrap your uncle uses year in and year out! In the days after Christmas, run those leftovers through the paper shredder, and presto—you’ve got enough material to safely pack all your ornaments once they come off the tree. Best of all, unlike newspaper, wrapping paper doesn’t dirty your fingers.

 

5. CREATE A GIFT BOW

Photo: flickr.com

As any experienced gift-giver knows, it’s easy to curl a ribbon for a decorative flourish on a wrapped package. A lot of folks, however, aren’t aware that you can do the same thing with wrapping paper. It doesn’t take a large piece, so hold onto all of those scraps and slivers, and you may never again have to spend money on a bow.


Weekend Projects: Holiday Crafts for Kids

Take a break from your hectic holiday schedule to do a few crafts with your kids. With a little time and a minimal number of supplies, you can create an inexpensive, one-of-a-kind decoration—and priceless memories.

Thanksgiving and Hanukkah, Christmas and New Year’s: It can be a real challenge to avoid stress this time of year! If you need a reprieve this weekend, sit down with your family to do some holiday crafts for kids. These ideas are easy and fun, and best of all, each one leaves you with a memento to cherish in 2014 and beyond.

 

1. PAINT PINECONES

Holiday Crafts for Kids - Paint Pine Cones

Photo: factorydirectcraft.com

The best holiday crafts for kids involve just a few materials and a minimum of steps. Right? Right. This one meets both essential criteria, plus it gives you a reason to head outdoors. Having foraged (and found) a cache of pinecones, hand-dip each one in paint. Use one color or a dozen of your children’s favorites.

 

2. HAND-MAKE SNOWMEN

Holiday Crafts for Kids - Thumbprint Snowman

Photo: linesacross.com

From Lines Across, these adorable snowmen are the product of polymer clay and little hands’  little thumbprints. Once the figures have been fully formed and accessorized to your satisfaction, bake them in the oven to harden. Use your snowmen as tree ornaments, decorative pieces for your holiday mantel, or surprise stocking stuffers for Dad.

 

3. STRING CANDY CANES

Holiday Crafts for Kids - Cereal Ornaments

Photo: sewmanyways.blogspot.com

The wise parent knows that holiday crafts for kids succeed most reliably when at least one of the project materials can be eaten. Fruit Loop Candy Canes are a creative twist on a holiday classic—the popcorn garland. To make your own, simply string pipe cleaners (from the craft store) with colorful cereal (from your pantry).

 

4. ORIGINATE ORNAMENTS

Holiday Crafts for Kids - Melted Crayon Ornaments

Photo: blog.michaels.com

What’s not to like about a holiday craft for kids that not only provides entertainment but also clears clutter? Place crayon nubs—the ones that are too small to draw with, too beloved to trash—into clear glass tree ornaments. Then use a hair dryer to melt the crayons through the glass. The result? One-of-a-kind swirled designs.

 

5. SET WINTRY SCENES

Holiday Crafts for Kids - DIY Snow Globe

Photo: ggpht.com

It’s not complicated to make a snow globe, but because the project requires a bit of patience, it’s best reserved for fourth and fifth graders. Start with a jar from your recycling bin. Adhere your snowscape to the lid, then fill the container with a mixture of glycerin, distilled water, and glitter. The effect is nothing short of magical!


5 Things to Do with… Pens

Don't just toss your dried-out pens! Save them up to use in one of these nifty projects that incorporate old ballpoints.

The pen is mightier than the sword, everyone knows that. But when a pen runs out of ink, its power diminishes—or does it? The rigid, cylindrical shape of these writing instruments, not to mention their ubiquity—it seems like there is a handful of ballpoints stashed in a drawer in every home—means they are perfect for a range of purposes around the house and yard. Scroll down to see five favorite DIY uses for pens that, even though they no longer write, should not be written off.

 

1. ASSEMBLE A LAMPSHADE

Photo: enpieza.com

For pens with no ink, there’s a lamp at the end of the tunnel. To make one like this sample from the Spanish design firm En Pieza, find either a plastic or pliable metal band and size it to fit the lamp of your choice. Then use either glue or wire to attach a few packages’ worth of empty pens to your chosen frame.

 

2. BUILD A SEWING CADDY

Photo: curbly.com

Tangle-proof your adventures in sewing with a portable thread organizer. Start with a tiered block of wood (or three one-inch-thick pieces stacked like stairs). Next, drill holes to accommodate as many spools as you plan to store. Finish by staking pens into the holes you have drilled. Curbly provides the easy step-by-step guide.

 

3. CONSTRUCT A SPRINKLER

Photo: curbly.com

Here’s a clever way to make the cheapest sprinkler you’ll ever own. After securing a connection between your garden hose and a plastic bottle cap, drill about a dozen holes into the container. Next, cut hollowed-out pens two inches from their tips. Slot the pens into the holes, then watch as water flows where ink once ran!

 

4. CREATE A STYLUS

Photo: mattbalara.com

Turn a low-tech pen into a touchpad stylus! First, completely hollow out the pen, then wrap copper wire around a small piece of conductive foam. Thread the wire through the pen, forcing the foam to fit snugly through its point. Finish by coiling the remaining wire around the outside of the pen so that you can grip it during use.

 

5. MAKE A MEMORY

Uses for Pens - Hand Print

Photo: betterlifebags.com

When it’s time to head home after vacation, you can’t fit the beach in your carry-on, but you can try the next best thing: memorializing your handprints in the sand. Make a handprint, fill the indentation with plaster of Paris, then set a pen into the plaster, toward the base of the palm. Once dry, the pen hole makes it possible for you to hang the mold around a doorknob or on your holiday tree!