Category: Interior Design


Before & After: A Cozy Reading Nook from Scratch

Faced with an awkwardly sized staircase landing, this blogger transformed what had become a "drop spot" into a real destination.

DIY Reading Nook - Before and After

Photo: turnrightatlakemichigan.com

Update a 114-year-old, 1,200-square-foot Dutch Colonial to meet the needs of a young family? Challenge accepted, said lifestyle blogger Tabatha Muntizinger. But she would do it, in her own words, “without sacrificing any fun or creativity.” With two children and seven pets, Muntzinger—the creative force behind Turn Right at Lake Michigan—decorates in a style that both celebrates and is honest about life as it’s lived in under her roof. Earlier this year, when she set out to redecorate a staircase landing, she eschewed the more formal sitting area for a cozy, family-friendly reading nook. This time of year, we can’t help but dwell on the design details that make a house a home, so we asked Muntzinger for details on how the project came together.

The reading nook fits so snugly into a landing at the top of your stairs. What had been there before?
The space at the top of the stairs was the result of a dormer window. It was incredibly deep—big enough for a twin bed, for sure—but… there wasn’t much purpose for it. For the longest time, we had filled it with some side chairs and a small end table. But over time it just became a really fancy place to leave random things. And then later you’d return to find a cat sleeping on top of those random things.

DIY Reading Nook - Framing

Photo: turnrightatlakemichigan.com

Why build a window seat?
When we bought the house, I had always envisioned a window seat in the space. I’ve been in love with the idea of one since I was a kid. At one point, my parents toured a house with a window seat, and they didn’t end up buying the house, but I can still remember what it felt like to curl up and feel the sun shine on me. As our family grew, I realized the landing should be functional for all us. The idea for the nook was that it would become a communal space where I could sit and share my love of reading with my kids in a fun yet practical way.

Did the project involve learning any new skills?
I’d certainly never cut up a mattress before or sewn a custom-shaped cover for one…. And this was actually our first foray into using some of Ana White’s DIY plans. To build the reading nook, we actually modified her instructions for making a storage daybed.

DIY Reading Nook - Close Look

Photo: turnrightatlakemichigan.com

So many clever ideas went into this. Which aspect are you most proud of? 
Probably the cushion. The challenge was to come up with a seating solution which wouldn’t need constant readjustment and which would be comfortable for up to four people. So I started with the cheapest foam mattress sold by IKEA (it was far cheaper than upholstery foam). After cutting it down to size, the next step was to design a cover that would look good but still be completely washable—because, hi, small children and multiple pets. This was the first time I’d sewn something that I’d completely made up in my head. Luckily, it all turned out so much better than I’d hoped.

What advice would you share with someone who wants to make something similar?
Measure twice, cut once! Also, you’ll probably want a cushion that’s twice as thick as the one you start out thinking would be sufficient.

DIY Window Treatment - Awning

Photo: turnrightatlakemichigan.com

What do you enjoy most about the reading nook?
Finding my kids curled up on it, on their own, reading from their “library.” That’s exactly what I’d hoped for—to create a fun, practical space for them to fall in love with books and build their imaginations.

How has this makeover changed how your family uses the space?
It’s not just a catchall anymore; it’s truly a gathering place for the family, as we go through the routines of our days. I sit there to braid hair and help brush teeth and fold laundry. I sometimes even sneak there myself, after bedtime, to write blog posts or read. It’s also pretty safe to say that the animals all enjoy it, too. All in all, the window seat has become a wonderful communal space for everyone to lounge and enjoy the simple things—like, each other. Plus, whereas we used to shove linens wherever they’d fit, we now have fantastic storage for extra pillows, bed sheets, and spare blankets.

DIY Reading Nook - Storage

Photo: turnrightatlakemichigan.com


Meet the Brightest Woodworkers in the Carolinas

Whether you love minimal modern design or have an eye for fine woodworking, prepare to be blown away by Shelli and Seth Worley's exciting wood lighting designs.

Worley's Lighting portrait

Photo: worleyslighting.com

Meet the duo behind one of the trendiest lighting companies around. Shelli Worley and her husband Seth started Worley’s Lighting, a shop specializing in sleek, modern, and minimalist designs made from quality materials. With the help of their family, this Charlotte, North Carolina-based pair is creating some of the most beautiful—and functional—lighting designs we’ve seen in ages. The pieces are well-considered and beautifully crafted, hinting at Shelli’s long family line of woodworkers and designers. In a meeting of the minds, we posed our most burning questions about the creative process to the the folks behind this charming specialty store—read on for what Shelli had to say.

The reason we started doing what we do is…
Worley’s Lighting started as my dream. I always had a passion for decorating and interior design. Deciding to focus my energy into lighting took a bit of time, but I eventually developed a real excitement for it! Lamps are a vital part of any room, and they vary in shapes, sizes, textures, and materials. That’s why lighting has become a great and broad avenue for me to express my creativity and build things that I love.

Bookend lamp - Worley's Lighting

Photo: WorleysLighting.com

We started our company when…
I started the company at a time of transition in my life. I was in between jobs and had a lot of design ideas for home accessories. Those ideas turned into actual products, and, after listing them in our online Etsy shop, they began to sell! Three and a half years later we continue to sell on Etsy and now our own e-commerce website.

We’d define our design style as…
Modern/minimal, balanced by the warmth and natural look and feel of hardwood.

Related: 7 Totally Unique Table Lamps for a Modern Home

My first job was…
When I was 16 I got my first job at a thrift store. We mainly bought and sold clothes. Growing up, my parents encouraged my sister and I to get jobs and earn our own money as soon as we could. I’m thankful for the lessons I learned at such a young age because they lead me to become an entrepreneur.

Our main sources of inspiration are…
I am always inspired by the wood that we work with. I try to keep all of our designs simple to showcase the natural beauty of the wood. I am all about clean, modern lines and wholesome, woodsy materials.

Swinging arm desk lamp - Worley's Lighting

Photo: WorleysLighting.com

The most challenging thing about our work is…
The most challenging thing about our work is keeping up with production in our current facilities. We are thrilled about every single order that comes in, be that from one of our online stores or from a retailer. But currently, we have about outgrown our 1,300 sq. ft. workshop and office space, which creates quite a few challenges for us. We get creative with space-saving solutions—we’ve got a lot of wall shelving and always try to go vertical for storage.

Related: 7 Totally Unique Table Lamps for a Modern Home

Our favorite part of the process is…
My favorite part is the initial designing process. I usually sketch things that pop into my head and spend quite a bit of time contemplating new designs. I love taking what started in my head, putting it down on paper, and then bringing it to life with my two hands.

Gem Stacked Lamp - Worley's Lighting

Photo: WorleysLighting.com

Our favorite materials to use are…
We love wood! Walnut is our favorite. We also love hard maple, cherry, and sapele.

Our all-time favorite go-to tool is…
We absolutely could not function without our multiple JawHorses—they are so versatile. We use them for glue-ups, holding pieces in place to work on them, and lots of other stuff.

If you like Worley’s Lighting as much as we do, check them out online or follow them on Facebook to keep an eye on their newest products or take home a totally unique lamp.


1 Coffee Table, 3 Ways

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

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

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

ENTRYWAY

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

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

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

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

WINDOW SEAT

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

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

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

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

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

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

 


Holiday Hotlines to Have on Speed Dial

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

Hotlines to Help with Holiday Prep

Photo: shutterstock.com

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

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

Help for Cooking Turkey

Photo: shutterstock.com

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

Help Cleaning Up Spilled Wine

Photo: shutterstock.com

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


Bob Vila Radio: Top Tips for Cutting Carpet

There's a huge difference between laying down and area rug and installing wall-to-wall carpeting. For one thing, the latter involves cutting the floor covering so that it fits the room precisely. These tips can help you handle that portion of the job with relative ease.

Installing wall-to-wall carpeting? It can be tricky to cut the floor covering so that it accurately fits the room. To speed the process and minimize hassle, remember these tips on cutting carpet.

How to Cut Carpet

Photo: shutterstock.com

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Listen to BOB VILA ON CUTTING CARPET or read the text below:

First things first, know that a utility knife—a sharp utility knife—is the best friend you can have for a job like this. If you’re cutting carpet for a big room, it may be necessary to change out the blade several times before you get finished, but those little interruptions will pay big dividends.

Whenever possible, work on the back side of the carpet. The backing is flat, with no thick pile to get in your way. Outline your cuts with a marker before making them with the knife. And for the sake of accuracy, consider using a straight edge to guide your marker.

For trimming in around intricate shapes, use short, incremental cuts. Creating a cardboard template of the shape you’re aiming for can also be a big help.

Since walls aren’t always built perfectly on the square, especially in older homes, it’s best to measure both the width and the length of the room from a couple of different spots. Much better to be surprised before your cuts, not after!

Bob Vila Radio is a newly launched daily radio spot carried on more than 60 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.


Meet the Detroit Couple Giving New Life to Salvaged Lumber

For these two artists, making custom furniture reveals their true passion for materials, craft, and their hometown.

Mutual Adoration

Meet Mutual Adoration—the power couple behind one of Detroit’s coolest furniture design studios. Wayne and Clare run a design house and experimental craft workshop in their hometown, building furniture from reclaimed materials. With degrees and hands-on experience in seemingly every art and craft, from photography to printmaking to woodworking and lithography, this pair have combined their powers to create truly unique pieces. They currently sell their custom wares regionally—and on Etsy.

The reason we started doing what we do is…
A couple of months into our relationship, Clare had an art show at a gallery in Southwest Detroit. She created a huge installation using abandoned wood that she had scavenged throughout the city. As we were taking down the show, there were a lot of beautiful pieces of lumber that neither of us could bear to just throw away. We added that wood to a massive collection of maple hardwood flooring that Wayne had stored in his basement. With a hoard of materials and some big ideas, Mutual Adoration was born! The name speaks to our love for each other and also the love we have for our materials, our city, and our work.

We started collaborating when…
Early on in our relationship, we talked about building things together. We each came with different experiences, talents, and skills. After fumbling our way through a few small tables, we got our first custom job. It was incredible! To be able to create together and make money was a dream come true. We quickly learned that to succeed we would have to trust each other and work hard. As we have done that the demand for our work has increased.

We love working together. Seeing our complimentary skill set click into place while creating beautiful objects is the best feeling in the world. And then feeling the love and appreciation from our customers is amazing. Not only are we more connected to each other in doing this work, but the connections we have made with retailers, clients, and consumers is so incredibly satisfying.

Related—7 Incredible Uses for Salvaged Lumber

We’d define our design style as…
Refined rustic. Our work is equal parts big city loft and cozy log cabin.

My first job was…
Wayne: I was in the final generation of after-school paperboys. From the age of 12 to 15, I delivered The Detroit News on my old Schwinn cruiser. I was the kid knocking on your door during dinner, looking for my $2 for the previous week’s paper. I think this makes me sound like I grew up in the ’50s or something, but this would have been the late ’80s.

Clare: When I was in middle school, I earned my allowance by helping my mother. She ran the theatre department for a high school. During their rehearsals, I would help out with props, costumes, and set design. Mostly I was just trying to impress the teenagers by reading poetry and song lyrics out of my diary.

Our main sources of inspiration are…
Our inspiration really comes from our city and the materials it provides. Much of our wood comes from various locations in Detroit, from abandoned homes, warehouses, factories, and shops or as salvage from remodeling projects. Everything is so steeped in history—dirt and rust, wear and tear by generations.

Mutual Adoration - Reclaimed Materials

Photo: mutualadoration.com

We have a deep reverence for the material and its past. The fact that we are working with wood that was cut into lumber over 100 years ago—and, before that, started as just little sapling trees in the late 1700s—is truly inspiring. Our clients also prompt the direction our projects take. Many of our designs have come to Clare in her dreams. She often wakes up with ideas and visions for products, and then during our morning coffee, we’ll make sketches and figure out ways to engineer her ideas.

The most challenging thing about our work is…
Doing it all! We just hired our first employee (the amazing Brenda!) to give us a hand with production and our online store. Up until recently, it was just our four hands juggling all the design work, production, material sourcing, retail and wholesale sales, website design, and the hundreds of other things running a business entails.

In the future, we plan on greatly expanding our wholesale and retail sales, which will necessitate bringing in more employees. Supporting our local economy is very important to us. Detroit has an unmatched workforce of skilled craftspeople and manufacturers. We plan to hire and train additional production and administrative staff and provide much-needed jobs, as we expand and the demand for production increases.

We choose our salvaged materials by…
We take them as we can get them, whether that means quarter-sawn oak flooring from an 1860s home slated for demolition or knotty pine paneling from a suburban bungalow. Any given week might mean hundred-year old hand-hewn beams from a rural barn, cast iron tool bases from a factory, or recycled paint and stain from someone’s basement. We try to find a way to repurpose whatever materials we can get in a way that respects the original form while providing new function, all while keeping waste out of the landfill.

Related—7 Incredible Uses for Salvaged Lumber

Our biggest DIY success is…
The Union Table. Our first Union Table was made as a wedding gift for some dear friends. We wanted a piece that was symbolic, as well as functional. The Union Table is a set of two tables that can be used together as a coffee table or separately as end tables or bedside tables. We create the piece as one, split it into two in a diagonal pattern, and then finish each piece to operate in a variety of ways. The finished product can unify a variety of spaces and, when put together, is truly beautiful. Two becomes one. Maybe a little corny, but we LOVE it. It is the piece that really brought our complimentary skill set together and holds a lot of meaning for us.

Mutual Adoration - Union Table

Photo: mutualadoration.com

Our favorite materials to use are…
Clare: By far my favorite material is knotty pine paneling. It’s beautiful, warm, classic, and abundant. In its un-refinished, amber-hued, heavily varnished state, it is reminiscent of dive bars and ski lodges. To work with it is a dream! It’s forgiving and versatile. The grain contains gorgeous dots and stripes, and, when planing or sanding, it smells like summer camp.

Wayne: I love old flooring. Quarter-sawn oak is my favorite. There’s something about it being stepped on, spilled on, and abused that gives it a beautiful look and feel. It might sound sappy, but when I run a dingy dark piece under the belt sander, uncovering the flecks and grain that was hidden under all the muck, I feel like I’m rescuing it and able to give it a second shot at being beautiful. I’m not sure that the wood cares, but I like it.

Our all-time favorite go-to tool is…
Clare: That would have to be my beloved Flex Cut hand carving tools. I am a printmaker and spent many years making relief prints from wood blocks. Whether I am making a frame, a piece of furniture, or carving a block of wood to be printed, these are my favorite tools for achieving a variety of marks and executing fine detail.

Wayne: I am in love with our new Grizzly 3hp cabinet saw. Most of our early work was done on my mid-70s Craftsman table saw, but it just couldn’t keep up with larger work or give me the precision that I needed. The new saw is like a dream.

To get the latest from Mutual Adoration, check out their website and follow them on Facebook or Instagram.


Before & After: A Builder-Grade Bedroom Goes Cozy

When challenged with a bare-bones master bedroom short on personality, designer Jenna Diermann dreamed up—and built in—loads of rustic charm to match the home's spectacular mountain view. For the DIY details behind this total transformation, read on.

Bedroom Makeover

Photo: jennasuedesign.blogspot.com

Shortly after moving into a 1970s fixer-upper in the foothills of Northern California, Jenna Diermann—owner of Jenna Sue Design Co, an online shop specializing in personalized art prints—got right to work making it feel more like home for herself, her husband, and two cats. The bedroom, in particular, lacked personality but held loads of potential. Remaking the space was no small undertaking. Dierman strategically divided the effort into smaller, discreet DIY projects. The result speaks for itself. For the benefit of others who might try to emulate what she’s done—and to satisfy our own curiosity—we asked Dierman to share what led to her choices and what she learned along the way.

 

Since you basically designed the room from scratch soon after moving into your new home, how would you describe the space when you first started?
Builder-grade basic beige. It was an empty box that lacked any character whatsoever, but it did have a large window overlooking the mountains, which was a great feature.

Bedroom Makeover - View

Photo: jennasuedesign.blogspot.com

What were some of the goals you had in mind for the master bedroom’s transformation?
To create a cozy, relaxing environment for our family to unwind at the end of the night. I think you can get a bit more creative in bedroom spaces, so I wanted something to reflect a little of all of my favorite styles—cottage, cabin, farmhouse, and rustic with a touch of romance. I also planned to add more closet storage space by creating built-ins with a designated vanity area for my jewelry and accessories.

Where did you go for your inspiration?
Pinterest is always the first place I look for inspiration—but that really just means other blogs, designers, and spaces that have a similar style. I wanted to let the environment dictate the direction. Living in a small mountain town filled with natural beauty meant more rustic elements like wall planks, ceiling beams, wood tones, natural fibers, and muted shades.

Bedroom Makeover - Beadboard Ceiling

Photo: jennasuedesign.blogspot.com

What was the biggest challenge?
There were definitely challenges within the DIY projects, but I spent a lot of time planning and scheduling each step so that we were able to stay on track. It all turned out very close to what I had envisioned. The most difficult part for us was (without a doubt) installing the beadboard ceiling, with the DIY beams coming in second, but we managed to make it all work!

You’ve executed so many skills in the process: ripping out carpets, installing planked walls and wood beams along the ceiling, wiring lighting…. Was this your first time doing any of these projects?
The beadboard ceiling was a first—and we probably won’t do it again without the proper tools and manpower! Between my husband Brad’s bad back and my 100lb self, trying to keep panels from falling on our heads, aligning them perfectly with one hand and passing each other the nail gun across the room with the other, it was a nightmare. That was a rough day. The square panel wall was also new and ended up being easier than I thought. It was also my first time designing, cutting, and installing door molding, which I am pretty proud of. It wasn’t our first time installing planked walls, beams, and molding/trim or wiring lights and speakers, but each time it becomes easier and faster.

Wow, you seem like a seasoned pro! What would you say you learned during this particular renovation?
There was a ton of woodwork involved, so I’m definitely more comfortable after this room renovation knowing what to expect now. Large sheets of hardboard/beadboard are more challenging than I thought; seeking out straight, unwarped boards can make or break a project, and I will always choose MDF when possible. I also had many opportunities to refine my table saw, miter saw, and jigsaw skills.

Bedroom Makeover - Plank Wall

Photo: jennasuedesign.blogspot.com

The planked wood walls continue throughout your home—in the foyer and your studio, specifically. Do you have any helpful advice that you’d share with readers attempting to do this in their own homes?
By far, our biggest challenge with this has been knot bleed-through—pine is the worst! We weren’t aware of this until the knots started showing up a couple months after painting. We’ve tried repainting a couple times with no luck. Then after what’s supposed to be one of the best primers failed, we researched online and finally consulted a local painter who used PVA primer. It has only been a month or so since the last round of paint, but we’re hopeful! As far as the process itself, if you don’t want to spend the money on real tongue-and-groove boards, there are cheaper and easier alternatives (and plenty of tutorials!)

Bedroom Makeover - DIY Mirror

Photo: jennasuedesign.blogspot.com

What’s your favorite feature to the room?
So tough to answer! Aside from the view, I’m really pleased with the way my DIY vintage mirror turned out. I’m also obsessed with the beams—they just add such a unique feeling to a room.

Thinking about the architectural features added and room design, how did the renovation help you meet your initial goals for the room?
We definitely utilize the storage space from the wardrobes. I turned mine into a vanity, which I’d never really had before—it’s so fun having my accessories organized and displayed. Our bed takes center stage (it’s a King pillow-top and the most comfortable thing ever), so we never leave it when we’re in our room. And we like to use our laptops/tablets in bed, so the built-in charging stations Brad wired up through our storage basket “nighstands” are the perfect hub for keeping everything charged at night.


Bob Vila Radio: Set the Stage for Thanksgiving

Whether you're expecting a quiet circle or a boisterous crowd, there are several steps you can take to get a head start on hosting this year's Turkey Day.

At Thanksgiving, it’s easy to lavish so much attention on preparing the meal that you forget about preparing the dining room. Here are a few suggestions for getting the room ready for turkey day.

Thanksgiving Dining Room

Photo: shutterstock.com

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Listen to BOB VILA ON THANKSGIVING PREP or read the the text below:

In the days before Thanksgiving, give the dining room a thorough cleaning, getting rid of cobwebs and treating stains on seat cushions. And don’t just clean the room, clear it! Banish clutter, box up knickknacks, and remove any furniture you don’t plan on using. The room will feel larger and more comfortable, and you’ll free up space on surfaces for side dishes, dessert plates, and other service items.

Make sure your table can accommodate the number of guests you expect. If it falls short, consider topping it with a standard 4′ x 8′ sheet of plywood. Once it’s covered with a festive tablecloth, no one will be the wiser.

Scope out the traffic flow around your table. If there isn’t enough space, try running the table diagonally. Or remove a leaf and set up smaller satellite seating in other rooms.

Finally, make sure you have enough chairs to seat everybody. Don’t forget—benches are great solutions for tight quarters.

Bob Vila Radio is a newly launched daily radio spot carried on more than 60 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.


How To: Choose an LED Bulb

These days, you'll find a dizzying array of new options in the light bulb aisle. The next time you're out hunting for a replacement, let this tutorial help guide your selection.

How to Choose an LED Bulb

Photo: supplyhouse.com

If you’ve gone out to buy a light bulb recently, chances are you’ve hesitated over the unfamiliar selection. Traditional incandescent light bulbs have gone by the wayside, having been replaced by a slew of newer—and seemingly quite pricey—energy-efficient options. Clearly, something has changed. So what’s going on? In 2007, the federal government passed the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA), mandating higher energy standards. One target of these new regulations was lighting efficiency. While the typical consumer probably never noticed, the standard incandescent bulb is a real energy-waster; in fact, it wastes about 90 percent of the energy it uses. Efficient bulbs can produce the same amount of light with much less energy.

Among the field of new energy-efficient light bulbs, LEDs are swiftly emerging as a homeowner favorite. In part, that’s because they produce the most pleasing light. But you’ve got to be impressed by their stats too: LEDs operate five times more efficiently than yesterday’s incandescent. Daniel O’Brian, a technical expert from online retailer SupplyHouse.com, adds, “Another large advantage is projected lifespan. While incandescent bulbs last about 1,200 hours, you can expect an LED bulb to last up to 50,000 hours. That would be equal to having to replace 42 incandescent bulbs over the lifetime of a single LED.” That’s impressive.

Though LED light bulbs cost more to purchase (about $10 per, as of this writing), they and their efficient cousins are poised to save the average household about $50 annually, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. With such savings at stake, it’s no wonder everyone’s scrambling to understand the new products on offer in the light bulb aisle. If your head’s still spinning, consult the guidelines below for help in choosing an LED bulb that’s just right for your home.

How to Choose an LED Bulb - A-Type

Photo: supplyhouse.com

Watts vs. Lumens
Only a couple of years ago, we’d compare wattages in order to distinguish between the brightness of different light bulbs. Nowadays, what matters is the bulbs’ output in lumens. O’Brian explains, “Wattage really refers to power consumption.” Lumens, on the other hand, “actually measure the brightness of a light.” This isn’t change for the sake of change alone. The fact is that newer bulbs are so efficient that they render the old packaging system meaningless. O’Brian says that “while a 40-watt incandescent can give off around 450 lumens, a 7-watt LED can provide the same brightness.” It may be a bit confusing and inconvenient, but clearly, in today’s shifting landscape, lumens are the only measurement that counts.

To assist consumers in their watts-to-lumens transition, the American Lighting Association has issued guidelines for consumers seeking efficient equivalents to the incandescents they’re accustomed to buying:

• To replace a 40-watt incandescent bulb, choose a bulb that will produce 450 lumens.
• To replace a 60-watt incandescent bulb, choose a bulb that will produce 800 lumens.
• To replace a 75-watt incandescent bulb, choose a bulb that will produce 1,100 lumens.
• To replace a 100-watt incandescent bulb, choose a bulb that will produce 1,600 lumens.

Color Temperature
Anybody who’s worked in a fluorescent-lit office knows too well that brightness isn’t the only key factor. Equally important is color temperature—that is, how warm or cool the light appears. Color temperature is measured in Kelvin (K); the higher the number, the cooler the light. For example, “soft white” bulbs are rated up to 2700K, on the low side of the scale, producing a warm, relaxing glow. “Daylight” bulbs, rated from 5000K to 6500K, produce a crisp light suitable for laundry rooms, garages, and security purposes.

Shapes and Sizes
LED bulbs come in many different shapes, each of which has its own intended use. The most familiar bulb shape is known as “A-line”; these are what you’d use for, say, a table lamp. “Candle”-shape bulbs are designed for chandeliers and wall sconces, while “globe” bulbs are ideal for pendant lamps or any other application in which there isn’t a shade. Other popular shapes include floodlights, spotlights, and down lights.

Your Bottom Line
It’s certainly true that LED bulbs cost more than incandescents. The financial benefit of the efficient light bulbs comes over the long term, because LEDs cost about 75 percent less to operate and seldom need replacement. Think of it this way: Whereas running a 60-watt incandescent bulb costs about $4.80 per year, running an equivalent LED costs only a dollar.

Online retailer SupplyHouse.com offers a large selection of LED light bulbs from industry-leading brands. For more information or to view an assortment of LED bulbs, visit SupplyHouse.com now!

 

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


Meet the Furniture Designer Who Discovered the Beauty of Concrete

Maker Ben Uyeda of Homemade Modern opens up about what inspires his passion for DIY—and shares with us his latest how-to.

Ben Uyeda Homemade Modern

Meet Ben Uyeda, a champion of smart, green, and affordable design. With a pedigree in architecture, he’s also an award-winning designer, lecturer, blogger, and co-founder of ZeroEnergy Design and FreeGreen.com, a company specializing in green house plans. And when he’s not doing all of that, he teaches and inspires folks to build beautifully simple, streamlined furniture at Homemade Modern. It makes you wonder if he’s some sort of home improvement superhero! We interviewed him to find out why he does what he does, the tools he can’t live without, and how his industrious and ingenious family inspires his work. Plus, click through to see a gallery of some of his most incredible DIYs and one insanely easy video tutorial.

The reason I started doing what I do is…
The median household income in the US is about $55k a year. Most people simply can’t afford well-designed furnishings made from real materials, and most designers focus either on doing custom work for the wealthy or lower-quality plastic goods designed for mass production. I love the work that my architecture firm, ZeroEnergy Design, does, but learning that the average house designed by an architect costs almost twice as much as the average sales price of an American home made me want to find a new outlet for sharing affordable design ideas. I love the idea of showing that we can all afford nice things; some of us just have to make them ourselves.

I feel most at home when I am…
Making! I have always associated the concept of home with sense of domestic industry and production done with and for the people you care most about. Whether it’s making dinner or the table on which dinner will be served, I feel home is the place where you make nice things with family for family.

I’d define my design style as…
Modern, industrial, and pragmatic with a dash of whimsy.

Related—Project Showcase: Ben Uyeda’s Modern Furniture 

My first job was…
My brother and I started a cookie business when I was 8 and he was 10. We drew order forms by hand and delivered them door to door. People in the neighborhood could fill out what kind of cookies they wanted and at what time they wanted them delivered. We charged $1 for a dozen cookies and made a killing! Since then, I think I have had every service industry job at some point in my life and quite a few different construction jobs.

My main sources of inspiration are…
Wow, this is hard, I feel like there are so many awesome designers and makers out there, but, if I had to narrow it down, I would group them into categories.

In my professional life, architects like Samuel Mockbee and David Adjaye inspired me to critically consider not just what I am designing but who I am designing for.

Visual inspiration comes from some of the amazing design bloggers and Pinterest curators. In particular Satsuki Shibuya, Jonathan Lo, Victoria Smith, and Myan Duong have provided awesome visual fuel.

Daily inspiration comes from my family. In particular seeing their drive towards self-sufficiency and responsible consumption inspires me. My parents are constantly adding to their suburban homestead—four chickens are the most recent additions. My brother Nathan has an amazing ranch in Argentina and is always building cool things. Most recently he devised a way to use heat from a compost pile to create hot water for his guest house. If you are ever interested in an educational vacation full of animals and sustainable homesteading, book a vacation in one of his guest houses.

My best DIY success is…
The Bucket Stool! I shared this idea about a year ago, and it has been made by thousands of people on five different continents.

Homemade Modern's Concrete Stool

Photo: homemade-modern.com

My favorite material to use is…
Concrete in general, but Quikrete Countertop mix in particular. Concrete is such an amazing and cheap material. What other material is less than $5 for 80 lbs and can be manipulated without power tools?

One tool/material I haven’t mastered (but want to!) is…
A sewing machine! Far too often we segregate tools into disciplines like sewing, woodworking, and blacksmithing while the really cool opportunities are in mixing these pursuits together.

My all-time, go-to tool is…
My Ryobi 18 volt drill. I use it for everything from driving screws and drilling holes to peeling apples, blending smoothies, and mixing pancake batter.

Related—Project Showcase: Ben Uyeda’s Modern Furniture 

A recent project I’ve finished is…
I built an outdoor fire pit out of Quikrete 5000 as a 40th wedding anniversary gift for my mom and dad.

Homemade Modern Concrete Fire Pit

Photo: homemade-modern.com

To me, failure means…
That you have a mess to clean up and more work to do.

Want to DIY like Ben Uyeda? Make your own DIY plywood “Flip Desk” like this one:

To get the latest from Ben’s workshop, follow him on Instagram!