Category: Interior Design


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.

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.

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.


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!


Before & After: A Fireplace Redo

An outdated stone fireplace got a dramatic architectural makeover, thanks to Jessica Bruno of Four Generations One Roof.

Fireplace Makeover - Before and After

Photo: fourgenerationsoneroof.com

Jessica Bruno is a mom, daughter, and granddaughter—and the creative force behind the popular blog Four Generations One Roof. Along with her multigenerational family, Bruno lives and creates in the home she grew up in. DIY projects are common here, and the house undergoes frequent change. Since its construction in 1968, the 1,800 square-foot Boston-area Tudor has expanded, through multiple additions, to a whopping 6,000 square feet. This past year, one project in particular kept her and her father quite busy: It’s a fireplace makeover set to make the space more enjoyable, while also relieving allergies and boosting resale value. Impressed by her success, we asked Jessica to talk about her inspiration and the biggest challenges face along the way.

Why were you looking to update your stone fireplace?
We have been renovating the house throughout the years, and this fireplace was an eyesore. My mom and I hated the old one. We wanted to create a room that was warm, cozy, and updated. An update would also add value to the home, and that helped push my dad toward joining me.

What was your inspiration going into the fireplace redo?
A picture I found on Pinterest from Better Homes and Gardens of a beautiful fireplace with a gorgeous white surround and fabulous architectural detail. We always wanted a white wood surround, but we originally intended to leave a little stone showing. When we started building, we didn’t like how that was turning out, so we covered it up almost completely. If we still wanted to use the fireplace, we would’ve had to be careful not to locate the wood surround too close to the hearth. But we actually have plans to add a pellet stove insert. Anyone who wants to cover their own fireplace should check local fire codes.

Fireplace Makeover - Stages

Photo: fourgenerationsoneroof.com

In your design, the wood surround closes off the vents to your fireplace. How do you plan to use it in the future?
​I am actually allergic to the burning wood, so we hadn’t used the stove in years. The vents were very ugly, and they didn’t even work—they really served no purpose (must have been the thing to do in the ’70s!—so we covered them up. We plan on adding the pellet insert either this winter or next. That comes as a box to place inside an existing fireplace. A metal, fireproof pipe would run right up the existing chimney. It’s a great idea for homes with old fireplaces that may have a crumbling chimney.

And what led to the decision of installing a pellet stove instead?
Cost. The pellet stove would pay for itself in the first year, as we would save money not paying for oil. But like I said, we haven’t installed the pellet stove in this fireplace just yet… it’s coming. (It’s a large cost up-front, and while we do most everything ourselves, we’d have to hire a professional for this project.) We did, however, install a pellet stove in the family room! They save so much money on heating bills and are such a cleaner way to heat your home.

What advice did you and your dad (your construction partner-in-crime) find to be particularly helpful that you’d share with a reader attempting this?
If you plan on using the stove for real, you need to get a permit or check with your local town hall on the guidelines for installing wood near an open flame. Each town has its own set of rules. ​For us, it didn’t matter; we knew we’d never use it, and when we did, it would be with a pellet stove insert. But generally, the wood can’t be right up against the edge.

Fireplace Makeover - Painted Brass

Photo: fourgenerationsoneroof.com

What was the biggest challenge in this project?
The challenge was not being able to update the screen doors due to budget constraints. Instead, I painted over the old nasty brass with the appropriate paint. It’s resistant to high heat (it’s actually made to go on the inside of grills). Once the pellet stove insert gets added, it will have new doors. But for now, this is a band-aid solution to make it look better.

Is there anything you would have done differently if you did it all again?
Saved up money to add new doors—but that’s an improvement that can come later.

How does the new design change and improve your day-to-day?
​It’s new, modern, and up-to-date. It changes the entire appearance of the room—and we don’t cringe when we go in there! It’s so nice decorating around it now, and it really feels like the focal point in the room. We love to sit in there and just relax, and we honestly can’t wait to install the pellet insert. Looking at the open flame—without sneezing—will be the icing on the cake.

Fireplace Makeover - Mantel Decor

Photo: fourgenerationsoneroof.com


How To: Make Your Own Furniture Polish

A coat of polish adds shine to furniture, restoring luster you didn't even know was lost, while preventing the wood from drying out and becoming brittle. Here's how to save money and make your own polish.

Homemade Furniture Polish

Photo: shutterstock.com

Wood furniture is no small investment. In covering the expense, we are comforted knowing that what we are buying can last a lifetime or longer. For that to be true, however, a modest degree of care is required. The benefit of polishing is twofold: Not only does it add shine to the wood surface in the short term, but it also prevents the wood from drying out and becoming brittle, which benefits the piece over the long haul. Of course, anyone can buy a product in the local hardware store, but homemade furniture polish is so easy to make that you might consider spending your money, not on polish, but on more furniture!

Homemade Furniture Polish, Unscented
You will need:
- Oil (preferably pomace or jojoba)
- White vinegar

Mix either pomace or jojoba oil (both of which are cheap, non-food-grade oils that have long shelf lives and little color) with white vinegar. A ratio of around ¼ cup of oil to a few drops of vinegar is standard, but you can vary the amounts to experiment with the consistency of the polish. The more oil you add, the more lubricating the polish. Just know that using too much oil can leave the homemade furniture polish a bit oily to the touch. Increasing the amount of vinegar gives the final product a sharper scent and improves its cleaning ability.

Homemade Furniture Polish, Lemon Scented
You will need:
- Lemon oil
- Squeezed lemon
- Oil (preferably olive or jojoba)

Homemade Furniture Polish - Detail Ornament

Photo: shutterstock.com

Make a small amount of scented polish using 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, 2-3 drops of lemon oil, and 2-3 drops of oil (again, we suggest pomace or jojoba oil for their long shelf lives and colorlessness). You can double or triple the batch depending on the size of your project. Combine the ingredients well to make a homemade furniture polish that leaves a lingering citrus scent.

Applying the Polish
Simply dip a soft cloth into the homemade furniture polish, using the moistened cloth to rub down your wood furniture, always in the direction of the grain. You should see the furniture start to regain its luster almost immediately. So as not to miss a spot, be certain to rub the polish thoroughly into any intricately carved areas. Once finished, leave the wood to air dry.

Additional Notes
Before you polish, check the wood for any water marks; these often appear as white spots or rings from where a hot plate or a cool glass sat on its surface. One popular method of removal involves a little mayonnaise. Squirt a dot of the real, full-fat variety—not a light version or a mayo substitute—and gently rub it into the stain. Let the condiment sit for 15 minutes (or a few hours, if it’s a stubborn spot), then wipe it away. The mayonnaise should pull the moisture out of the wood’s surface. When the wood is clear again, proceed to polish the table in the manner described.


Beds, Baths and Fortune-Telling at IKEA

In IKEA's latest adventure in hypnosis-powered time travel, the brand puts a spotlight on the unsung importance of the role everyday spaces play in our past, present, and future lives.

Hypnosis at IKEA

Photo: IKEA

Meet Jeff and Beth, the latest participants in the “time travel experiment” IKEA has been running to promote its fall catalog. We previously covered the teaser trailer that first introduced the campaign’s provocative concept: renowned hypnotist Justin Tranz guiding (perfectly willing) shoppers through an experience designed to make the volunteers believe… they’re in the future. When the first full video arrived on the internet, we all watched together as Tranz worked his magic.

Now Tranz has returned, this time leading an unmarried couple through scenes of their potential future together. We actually witness Jeff propose to Beth (and her hilarious reaction). We laugh again as Jeff interacts with the actor portraying the young son he might somebody have. And we cringe when the couple try to appease the teenager they apparently believe to be their own. Skeptical? So were we. So was Jeff! In an interview spliced into the action, Jeff remarks of hypnotism, “I just assumed people faked it all the time.” Afterward, he admits, “Now I don’t know what I believe. I believed I was in the future. I believed we had kids.”

Tranz explains that hypnosis works by lulling participants into a somnambulant state in which they take suggestions as fact. But a large part of the success here must also owe to the totally convincing setting, which was assembled on-site from products available in the showroom. Lately, IKEA has paid close attention to the importance of the bedroom—that’s where the Jeff-and-Beth scenes take place—and of the bathroom, which played such a big role in the first video installment.

Mattias Jöngard, Global Communication Manager at the Swedish retailer, says, “The Time Travel Experiment is our way to start a conversation about the everyday moments that, more often than people think, happen in the bedroom and bathroom.” While the videos simulated adventures amply demonstrate that life events are often beyond our control, we all have the power to make our spaces functional, comfortable, and conducive to happiness. And for that, we can thank IKEA.

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


A Coffee Table Quest Ends at Sauder

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

Photo: JNoonan

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

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

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

Photo: Sauder.com

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

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

Photo: Sauder.com

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

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

Photo: JNoonan

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

Photo: JNoonan

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

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

Photo: JNoonan

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

Photo: JNoonan

 

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