Category: Interior Design


DIY Lite: How to Build a Shadow Box Display

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

SHARES
DIY Shadow Box - How to Make a Shadow Box

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

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

 

DIY Shadow Box - Supplies

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

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

 

STEP 1

DIY Shadow Box - Step 1

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

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

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

 

STEP 2

DIY Shadow Box - Step 2

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

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

 

STEP 3

DIY Shadow Box - Step 3

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

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

 

STEP 4

DIY Shadow Box - Step 4

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

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

 

STEP 5

DIY Shadow Box - Step 5

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

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

 

STEP 6

DIY Shadow Box - Step 6

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

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

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

 

STEP 7

DIY Shadow Box - Step 7

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

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

 

STEP 8

DIY Shadow Box - Step 8

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

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

 

STEP 9

DIY Shadow Box - Step 9

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

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

 

DIY Shadow Box - Step 10

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

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

STEP 11

DIY Shadow Box - Step 11

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

 

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

 

STEP 12

DIY Shadow Box - Step 12

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

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

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

 

DIY Shadow Box - Completed Project

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

DIY Shadow Box - Open Glass Door

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

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


Weekend Projects: 5 Designs for a DIY Daybed

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

SHARES

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

 

CUTTING CORNERS

DIY Daybed - Made from Plywood

Photo: themerrythought.com

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

 

LEGS TO STAND ON

DIY Daybed - Just Add Legs

Photo: sugarandcloth.com

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

PATTERN PLAY

DIY Daybed - Chevron Frame

Photo: oldpaintdesign.com

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

 

SITTING PRETTY

DIY Daybed - Made from Pallets

Photo: prettyprudent.com

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

 

HIDING IN PLAIN SIGHT

DIY Daybed - With Underbed Cabinet Storage

Photo: atraillife.com

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


DIY Lite: The Most Convenient Side Table Wood Can Build

Construct a convenient, over-the-armrest side table from scratch in a single afternoon, and wind up with the perfect place to rest your drink (and TV dinner) come movie night!

SHARES
DIY Side Table - How to Build a C Table

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Everyone has a favorite seat, a comfortable corner of the living room perfect for lounging, reading, working, snacking, or socializing. But when you’re seated, it’s hard to keep all the essentials at your fingertips without piling them at your feet or having to pull the coffee table closer. That’s why we love the problem-solving design of the C table. This style of side table pulls right up next to your perch to provide an extra surface in an instant. With it by your side, you can keep the necessities for a day of R&R close at hand—your light reading, remote control, and drink (with coaster), to name just a few. Learn how to tailor this easy-to-customize DIY design to your existing seating, and you can turn your preferred sofa or armchair into the best seat in the house.

 

DIY Side Table - Supplies

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

MATERIALS AND TOOLS
- 8-foot-long 1×8 lumber
- Ruler
- Handsaw
- Wood glue
- Steel plates (2) and screws
- Screwdriver
- 8-foot-long 1×2 lumber (3)
- Set square
- Pencil
- 1 1/2″ brackets (8) and screws
- Sandpaper
- Drill
- 3″ wood screws (16)
- Wood stain and varnish
- Paintbrush
- Clamps

 

STEP 1

DIY Side Table - Step 1

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Start by making the tabletop. Cut two pieces from the 1×8, each 22 inches long.

 

STEP 2

DIY Side Table - Step 2

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

To assemble these two pieces into a tabletop, lay the lengths next to each other. Apply wood glue to the 22-inch sides that will meet in the middle. After the glue dries, screw two steel plates to stiffen what will become the bottom side of your tabletop.

 

STEP 3

DIY Side Table - Step 3

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Next, use the 1×2 to make a 1-1/2-inch-deep wooden frame with the exact dimensions of the tabletop. Cut two 22-inch-long pieces, each with one end cut at a 45-degree angle. Cut the third piece to 14-1/2 inches long with both ends cut at a 45-degree angle. Cut a 13-inch piece for the fourth side of the frame.

Lay out the frame so that the two longest pieces are parallel, with mitered ends facing one another. Set the 14-1/2-inch piece (with both ends mitered) between the 45-degree ends to form two miter joints. The short, 13-inch piece should fit in the open end of your rectangle.

 

STEP 4

DIY Side Table - Step 4

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Apply wood glue to both pieces at each corner, then let dry. Screw a bracket inside each corner for extra support.

 

STEP 5

DIY Side Table - Step 5

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Repeat Steps 3 and 4 to make a second identical frame. One will be used to support the tabletop, while its twin will form the base of the table. Sand both frames.

 

STEP 6

DIY Side Table - Step 6

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Now it’s time to make the four table legs from the remaining 1×2′s. Since a C-shaped table is designed to slide over the side of a seat, the length of the legs (and thus the height of your table) will depend on the dimensions of the couch or chair you’ll be using it with. Think about how tightly you want the tabletop to sit against your chair’s armrest. If you want it pretty much resting on the armrest, cut four pieces of identical length about 1-1/2 inches shorter than the height of your armrest. (Remember, the table’s base is built from a 1×2, which means that the base is 1-1/2 inches tall.)

For example, the side of our couch is 25 inches tall, so I made the legs of my table 23 1/2 inches long. When you add the base and tabletop, that makes the entire table a little under 28 inches tall.

 

STEP 7

DIY Side Table - Step 7

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Mark where your legs will connect to the base frame, which will sit on the ground. Two legs will attach to each end of one 14-1/2-inch side, held by two screws apiece; mark those four holes with a pencil. Then use a ruler to measure five inches along the 22-inch sides of the frame, and make marks there for the second pair of legs.

Drill small pilot holes for the screws to make it easier to insert them and to prevent the wood from cracking.

 

STEP 8

DIY Side Table - Step 8

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Turn the frame on its side so you can screw the legs to the frame from the bottom. (Remember, two screws per leg.) For a stronger bond, use wood glue at the joints before adding the screws.

 

STEP 9

DIY Side Table - Step 9

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Once the legs are affixed to the base, attach the frame that will support the tabletop, following the same process you used in Steps 7 and 8. In other words, mark the spots for the screws, drill pilot holes, apply glue to the joints, and screw the legs to the frame.

 

STEP 10

DIY Side Table - Step 10

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Give your armrest table a rich finishing touch. We stained ours in two tones: a dark chocolate for the legs and a medium brown for the tabletop. Allow the stain to dry completely, then seal the table with a coat of varnish.

 

STEP 11

DIY Side Table - Step 11

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Finally, once all the pieces are dry, glue the tabletop to the top frame. Use clamps to help maintain pressure for however long the glue recommends as drying time. By the end of the day, you’ll be able to rest a bowl of popcorn and a victory drink on your new, convenient C-table while you kick back on the couch and relax in front of the television.

DIY Side Table - Completed Project

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

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


Bob Vila Radio: Look Again at Recessed Lighting

Space-saving design used to be its biggest selling point, but while recessed lighting remains a compelling choice for that reason alone, a host of new features make it well worth renewed attention.

SHARES

Recessed lighting has always been a discreet choice that occupies next to no space in the room where it appears. Making it even more appealing are the variety of new features that have made it to market, improving an already popular product category.

Recessed Lighting Options

Photo: zillow.com/digs

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Listen to BOB VILA ON NEW OPTIONS IN RECESSED LIGHTING or read the text below:

If it’s been years since you last considered recessed lighting, it’s well worth a fresh look. For proof that things are substantially different now, look no further than the designs that break old boundaries by extending the fixture below the surface of the ceiling. Certainly, such fixtures stretch the definition of “recessed” lighting, but semantics are secondary to the result—a host of teardrop, metal, and crystal fixtures that are as eye-catching as they are high-performing.

Recessed lights are even moving out of the ceiling and into the walls, where they offer their signature space-saving design even while providing much-needed illumination in once-shadowy areas, such as hallways and stairs. Another welcome advance: There are now so-called “eyebrow” kits that enable you to focus the light in a specific, targeted direction. To be sure, these are not the “high hats” you remember from the old days. Indeed, for recessed lighting, there’s a bright future.

Bob Vila Radio is a 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day carried on more than 186 stations in 75 markets around the country. Click here to subscribe, so you can automatically receive each new episode as it arrives—absolutely free!


DIY Kids: A Handmade Table with Hidden Toy Storage

Keep your family's toys and games contained in a storage table that looks nothing like your standard toy chest. This stylish design blends in so well with your living room or library decor that no one will be the wiser.

SHARES
DIY Toy Chest - Toy Storage in a Table

Photo: bobvila.com

The holidays always bring a fresh influx of toys, games, and craft sets into the home. Come January, we struggle with where to put it all! On top of all that, we recently converted our playroom into a family office for both homework and household business. We needed a spot to store all those new playthings, something that would work in this repurposed space—a toy box that wouldn’t look out of place in a study. So we built a super-simple toy storage chest out of a galvanized tin tub, a prefabricated tabletop, and short furniture legs. Not only does this piece store toys and games, but it also doubles (even triples and quadruples!) as a coffee table, laptop perch, and footrest. To make your own sneaky toy storage, follow the simple instructions below.

 

DIY Toy Chest - Reveal Hidden Storage

Photo: bobvila.com

 

SKILL LEVEL: EASY
The construction of this project relies on a couple of basic, prefabricated supplies and is very easy. The only power tool you need is a drill!

 

DIY Toy Chest - Supplies

Photo: bobvila.com

TOOLS AND MATERIALS
- Prefabricated 24” table round
- Palm sander (optional)
- Sandpaper
- Gel stain
- Rags
- Foam brushes (2 to 4)
- Rubber or latex gloves
- Polyurethane
- Pencil
- Hot-glue gun
- 17-gallon galvanized tin tub
- 5 1/2 feet of rope (at least 3/4 inch thick)
- 4″ to 6″ table legs (4)
- Drill with metal bit
- Fender washers (8)
- Nuts (4)
- Adjustable or box wrench

 

STEP 1
To even out any nicks on your prefabricated tabletop and ensure the best final finish, give it several rounds of sanding. Start with a coarse, 80-grit sandpaper, then switch to a 150-grit sheet, and finish with a fine, 220-grit. (You can use a palm sander to quickly cover the large surface area, or stick with sheets here.) Also sand down any wooden furniture legs you plan to attach.

Thoroughly wipe down the wood with a damp cloth to remove all residual dust and allow it to dry.

 

STEP 2

DIY Toy Chest - Step 2

Photo: bobvila.com

Next up: Staining the wood. If you’re not already working in a well-ventilated space, move to one and put on protective gloves. (To help keep the rubber or latex gloves on the kids’ little wrists, you may want to wrap tape or rubber bands over  them.)

We stained our tabletop with a gel stain, which is much thicker than its liquid counterparts and therefore more forgiving when applied by beginner DIYers. Stir the gel stain very well before you start; when ready, it should have the consistency of very thick gravy. Then spread the stain with your foam brushes, working in the direction of the wood grain.

 

STEP 3

DIY Toy Chest - Step 3

Photo: bobvila.com

Allow the stain to sit for as long as the manufacturer recommends, and then wipe off the excess stain with clean rags. For a deeper, more even color, apply two or more coats. (Just make sure to allow the stain to dry completely between applications.)

After you’ve finished staining, apply polyurethane to seal and protect the finish. Either an aerosol spray or brush-on polyurethane works well. Let the wood dry completely before moving on with the rest of the project.

 

STEP 4

DIY Toy Chest - Step 4

Photo: bobvila.com

To keep the tabletop securely on the tub, you’ll want to attach a lip. We solved this by creating a seal out of thick rope! Determine exactly where to glue yours by turning the tub top-down onto the underside of the wood top and tracing its outline with a pencil.

 

STEP 5

DIY Toy Chest - Step 5

Photo: bobvila.com

Next, hot-glue the rope about 3/4 to 1 inch inside of that pencil line, along the entire circle. That ring will sit inside the tub once you replace the top, keeping the wooden round from sliding about.

If you don’t get the rope far enough inside the tub, the top will not sit flush. Immediately after gluing the rope, check that it fits. Should you need to adjust it, you can pull the rope off, scrape away the hot glue, and go at it again. (Fortunately, it is the underside, so no one will ever notice your initial mistakes if you need to redo it!)

 

STEP 6

DIY Toy Chest - Step 6

Photo: bobvila.com

You could be finished right now…or you could attach some legs to make your table a little taller. If you’re up for the latter, turn your tub upside down and use a straightedge to draw a pencil line directly across the center of the tub bottom, marking the diameter. Make a second line through the center at a 90-degree angle to the first line. Then, mark about 1 1/2 to 2 inches from the edge at each end of those pencil lines to guide the placement of your four table legs.

 

STEP 7

DIY Toy Chest - Step 7

Photo: bobvila.com

Drill a hole at each mark and attach the legs by placing a washer on either side of the tin and tightening a nut on top (inside the tub) with a wrench.

The metal of a galvanized tin tub is quite thin and has some natural flex to it. If you put legs on your table, there will be a little play and sway in it. It’s not a concern for storage of items like stuffed animals, blankets, and board games, but the table shouldn’t be used as a spare seat. If you need your table to be more stable, opt for bun feet, which are shorter, or skip the legs altogether.

 

STEP 8

DIY Toy Chest - Step 8

Photo: bobvila.com

Replace the lid, and your table is complete! Even though it’s used to store toys, it looks rather grown-up. No casual bystander would ever know it’s stuffed with plush animals, kids’ games, and the like—which makes it perfect for hiding scattered toys minutes before you get a surprise visit from a neighbor. In fact, building this will make your kids so proud, they might even be excited to put their own toys away after a day of play.

 

DIY Toy Chest - Finished Project

Photo: bobvila.com


3 Fixes for Tangled Christmas Lights

Removing and storing string lights can be a messy business. Now that it's time to box up all that twinkling holiday decor, try one of these three string light organizing solutions that will protect your sanity and make sure next season shines just as brightly.

SHARES
How to Store Christmas Lights

Photo: fotosearch.com

The most wonderful time of the year has drawn to a close, which means it’s time to take down the tree and pack up the stockings. While some decorations are simple to put away, others can be a downright pain to remove and organize. The number one culprit in tricky holiday cleanup? Christmas lights. No matter how careful you are, it seems they always end up in a jumbled mess—which can be frustrating not only for end-of-season work, but for next year’s festivities as well. Make this pesky process a breeze with one of these three solutions for keeping your string lights untangled and under control.

 

CARDBOARD CUTOUTS

How to: Store Christmas Lights - Wrap Around Cardboard

Photo: bobvila.com

This clever solution requires nothing more than a rectangular piece of sturdy cardboard left over from one of the Christmas packages you found nestled beneath the tree. Start by cutting the cardboard into an anvil shape—this will help prevent the loops from sliding off—then wind the cords around the thinner, middle section. When you’re finished, tuck the plug loosely beneath one of the strands to keep the lights in place. The best part of this easy (and free!) trick is that next year’s installation will be so much easier: You can quickly confirm that no bulbs are broken and then simply unravel the lights straight from the cardboard onto the tree.

 

TWIST AND TIE

How to Store Christmas Lights - Bundle Using Chair Legs

Photo: bobvila.com

Unmanageable lights don’t stand a chance against this simple storage idea. The unlikely helper in your living or dining room? A spare seat! Start by flipping a stool or chair upside down. Then, wrap the lights in a figure-eight pattern around two of the legs until you have about 12 inches of cord remaining. Circle the remaining cord around the center of the figure eight, and tie a loose knot to prevent the lights from unraveling. Store the bundles in your closet or in a bin of holiday decorations until it’s time to deck the halls next year.

 

HANGER HELP

How to Store Christmas Lights - Wrap Around a Hanger

Photo: bobvila.com

For this nifty trick, look no further than your number one closet essential: a clothes hanger. (One with a bit of extra bulk is best, although skimpier plastic ones can do in a pinch.) Loop the lights around the hanger, working from one end to the other, until you reach the last few inches of the strand. Loosely tie the leftover cord around the hook of the hanger.

For extra-streamlined storage, color-coordinate your set’s bulbs with hangers of the same shade—white lights with white hangers, red or multicolored lights on red hangers, and so on—then hang in the closet using your repurposed organizer’s hook. If closet space is tight, consider attaching an S-hook to the middle of the hanger’s base and suspending another light-wrapped bundle from it. Tuck the hangers alongside your favorite Christmas sweater so lights remain organized and easy to access next year.


DIY Lite: The Easy One-Piece Coat Rack Anyone Can Build

Building a coat rack has never been easier! Just follow this simple DIY tutorial to make your own stylish entryway essential—all from a single piece of lumber.

SHARES
DIY Coat Rack - Easy Wooden Coat Rack

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

In with the chill, out with the coats—and hats, scarves, mittens…you name it. With so much winter gear and so little space in the typical coat closet, the entryway sometimes needs to do a little more than simply welcome you and your guests indoors. Enter this easy and elegantly minimalist coat rack. Crafted from just one slab of wood, this unique design leans against any empty wall, adding both character and hooks. Who knew that plain old lumber could be a statement piece?

 

DIY Coat Rack - Supplies

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

TOOLS AND MATERIALS
- Lumber
- Ruler
- Set square with a 45-degree angle
- Pencil
- Handsaw
- Wood chisel
- Hammer
- Sandpaper
- Palm sander
- Linseed oil or varnish
- 2 screw eyes
- 2 square bend screw hooks
- Drill

 

STEP 1

DIY Coat Rack - Step 1

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Start with an 8-foot-long piece of 2×8 lumber, and cut it down to 7 feet. When you lean this plank against the wall, the height should reach approximately the top of your door frame.

In this creative design, coats will hang from notches cut into either side of the lumber. Begin by marking the notches: On one side, measure 12 inches from the top edge and make a mark. Starting at this point, use a set square to trace a 2-inch line at a 45-degree angle. Go down 2 inches from the first mark and draw a second 2-inch line, parallel to the first. Connect them to form a diamond-like notch.

 

STEP 2

DIY Coat Rack - Step 2

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Measure 5 inches down the side of the board from the bottom of the first notch, make a mark, and then repeat the steps above to trace a second diamond-shaped notch.

Continue this process until you have four angled notches with 5 inches of space between each, on both sides of the board.

 

STEP 3

DIY Coat Rack - Step 3

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Use a handsaw to make two cuts on one of the notches, following your pencil marks. Work slowly and carefully.

 

STEP 4

DIY Coat Rack - Step 4

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Now, use the wood chisel to punch out the wood cut. Place the tool along the uncut line, and hit the top of the chisel with a hammer. Tip: Once you cleanly nick the cutting line, you can hit the chisel harder to take off the wood piece completely. After you finish the first “hook,” cut out the remaining seven using the same process.

 

STEP 5

DIY Coat Rack - Step 5

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

You certainly don’t want to damage your coats or accessories whenever you hang them up, so prevent future snags by first removing rough patches with a good sanding. You can use a palm sander for the sides of the lumber and a wood file to finish the inner edges of the notches.

 

STEP 6

DIY Coat Rack - Step 6

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Give your coat rack an attractive finish with either stain or varnish, following the instructions on the product’s packaging. Here, we chose to apply linseed oil—a colorless, rejuvenating wood finish—to give the piece a natural, Scandinavian look.

 

STEP 7

DIY Coat Rack - Step 7

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

To secure this leaning coat rack—and put to bed any worries of its slipping whenever you try to hang a coat—you can use the nearly invisible magic of wall hooks and screws. To do so, attach two screw eyes on the back of your plank, about 10 inches from the top.

 

STEP 8

DIY Coat Rack - Step 8

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

The last step is to screw a few hooks to the wall. Place the top part of the board against the wall, and make two pencil marks precisely where the screw eyes sit—this is where you need to insert your square bend screw hooks. Make sure each hook points upward, then place the open loops of the screw eyes over the hooks. And that’s it! You have just turned a boring length of lumber into a modern coat rack.

 

DIY Coat Rack - Finished Coat Rack

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

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


Bob Vila Radio: Making the Most of Your Available Natural Light

If you have the money, time, and inclination to undertake a larger-scale remodeling effort, there are plenty of ways to achieve a brighter, airier home. The next best thing? Take the natural light that already reaches the space, and maximize it.

SHARES

If there’s a room in your home that just doesn’t get a lot of sunlight, your low-cost option is to make the most of the amount of light that you do get.

Making the Most of Natural Light

Photo: fotosearch.com

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

First, trim any bushes outside that may be blocking the passage of light, and while you’re at it, give the windows a good cleaning. Next, add daylight bulbs to any lamps in the room, and be sure to position those lamps in the shadowy corners.

When picking out wall paint, lean toward the lightest shades and choose a glossy, reflective finish for any horizontal surface, be it a set of shelves or the top of a dresser.

Always keep in mind that low-profile furniture lends an airier feel than taller, bulky traditional pieces. And don’t forget to hang a mirror, ideally across from a window. Finally, add a shade-loving plant or two, and you’ll have a much more inviting space!

Bob Vila Radio is a 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day carried on more than 186 stations in 75 markets around the country. Click here to subscribe, so you can automatically receive each new episode as it arrives—absolutely free!


Weekend Projects: 5 Timeless DIY Advent Calendars

If you’ve been buying advent calendars since the advent of time, start a new holiday tradition by constructing one of these bespoke advent calendars this weekend.

SHARES

Every winter, children and adults from myriad cultures celebrate the Germanic tradition of the advent calendar—reveling in its myriad doors and pockets with eager anticipation of the surprises they will reveal on each of the 24 days before Christmas. But such a cherished symbol of the season can be personalized even more for the family or recipient by making it yourself with bargain materials. We’ve handpicked five homemade advent calendars that will give the gift of style again and again.

 

ON A ROLL

DIY Advent Calendar - Made from Toilet Paper Rolls

Photo: morningcreativity.com

Come home for the holidays to this hospitable paper roll advent calendar! The thrifty blogger at Morning Creativity printed calendar dates on brown paper and glued the numerals onto 24 saved paper rolls. After filling each with unexpected treasures, she shaped the rows into a building-like structure and sealed them up with a cardboard backing. Half of a paper roll and a cut-up cardboard box create a fitting chimney and roof to house the season’s calendar.

 

WARM WELCOME

DIY Advent Calendar - Mitten Garland

Photo: myhouseofgiggles.blogspot.com

Perhaps the three little kittens in the famed nursery rhyme wouldn’t have lost their mittens if they had displayed them in this playful yet practical advent garland from the inspired DIYer at My House of Giggles. Create a similar festive finish to enjoy with your little ones by cutting out felt numerals freehand and hot-gluing them onto two dozen pairs of large mittens. Hung up with clothespins and twine in any hallway, the festive mitten garland makes for a hand- and heart-warming holiday.

 

CHRISTMAS TREE-TS

DIY Advent Calendar - Pallet Tree with Gifts

Photo: abeautifulmess.com

Can’t wait until December 25 to get gifts under the tree? This DIY wooden advent tree from A Beautiful Mess solves that dilemma, with branches full of presents to be opened daily in December. While the upcycled evergreen requires a little more work upfront—some cutting, sanding, and sealing unused shipping pallets—the build is rather basic. “Branch” planks are arranged from largest at the bottom to the smallest at the top and nailed onto a spare pallet “trunk.” All that’s left is to hang a host of prizes, treats, and activity cards on each level!

 

FESTIVE FABRICATION

DIY Advent Calendar - Framed Calendar

Photo: browneyedfox.squarespace.com

These fanciful, fabric advent pouches from the DIYer behind Brown-Eyed Fox are so photogenic that they’re worthy of framing—and so she did! After adhering iron-on numerals to muslin bags, the bags were filled with trinkets and treats galore and then drawn shut. Lastly, she arranged the bags in ascending order and pinned them to a brightly hued frame backed with cattle wire. Leaned against the wall, this cheery piece of holiday decor leaves no holes after the season ends.

 

FOREST ADVENT-TURE

DIY Advent Calendar - Tabletop Forest

Photo: themerrythought.com

These advent tree table-toppers from The Merry Thought can turn any surface into a tree-lined route filled with surprises. Cut from birch plywood using tree templates and a scroll saw, assembly is super simple—just add a notch to the center of each triangle! Flat, the pieces are easy to store; interlocked them, though, and the geometric shapes transform instantly into a jolly jungle. Brush one side of each tree with chalkboard paint, as seen here, and you can change out unique advent activities for each calendar date year after year.


Weekend Projects: 5 Ways to DIY a Folding Table

Don’t let a space-challenged room make you fold on your design dreams! Get the extra work or dining space without sacrificing a single square foot when you build one of these DIY folding tables.

SHARES

Folding tables are an elegant, economical, and effortless way to switch between an extra work surface and freed-up floor space at a moment’s notice. And while they require few materials to build (or makeover), the design options for these collapsible counters are so endless that would-be woodworkers may not know where to begin on their DIY journeys. Fortunately for you, we’ve hand-picked five fantastic folding tables that can be completed in a weekend and then displayed year-round. Read on for space-smart inspiration.

 

ALL A COVER-UP

DIY Folding Table - Card Table Makeover

Photo: addisonmeadowslane.com

Even hosts-with-the-most start their entertaining legacies with little more to wine and dine their guests than scrap metal and a dream. Take the enterprising entertainer at Addison Meadows Lane: She transformed a lackluster card table into an inviting, fabric-covered fold-away by first stripping the old batting and spraying the table with primer and paint. After stapling an attractive (and durable!) PVC fabric to the top, you’re left with a stylish surface for all occasions.

 

CHILD’S PLAY

DIY Folding Table - Drop-Down Kids' Table

Photo: sawdustandembryos.com

This high-art Murphy folding table from Sawdust & Embryos will make you long for a seat at the kiddie table. The mother and maker behind this craft cove for children started by cutting out a half circle of melamine, reinforcing it with plywood, and then adorning it with piano hinges. After affixing the slab to the wall with Scotch indoor fasteners, press it in place and pull down the table like a Murphy bed to initiate playtime, snack-time, and giggles galore.

 

BOTTOMS UP

DIY Folding Table - Wooden Folding Table

Photo: manmadediy.com

Leave guests at your next dinner party floored when you tell them the secret behind your latest DIY—that your farmhouse-style kitchen table started with salvaged floorboards. That’s how the crafty blogger at Man Made DIY achieved his own truly distressed look, anyway. The wood planks were glued together and cut to size, with a fashion-forward table skirt affixed along the edges using a pocket-hole jig. Skip a stationary base, though, and screw on spun legs with gate hinges so that you can fold them up after your function.

 

FAIR-WEATHERED FRIEND

DIY Folding Table - Rustic Stikwood Folding Table

Photo: sugarandcloth.com

If planning fall festivities has left you with little headspace or floor space, don’t stress. You can marry the function of pop-up furniture to accommodate your extra guests with a style fit for your kitchen. The DIYer behind Sugar and Cloth made this reclaimed wooden wonder by screwing standard folding table legs to plywood, and spray painting everything white. A layer of Stikwood, a peel-and-stick wood planking, over the tabletop creates rustic-modern finish that can weather the whole holiday season without a table runner.

 

NARROW ESCAPE

DIY Folding Table - Slim Kitchen Table

Photo: ljdecor.com

Just as you can’t fit a square peg into a round hole, you can’t squeeze a large dining table into a long, narrow kitchen—at least, not if you still need to reach the furthest pantry doors. So to make an eat-in out of an already tiny kitchen, the DIYer at LJDécor converted a slim standing table into one that folds down. Once legs were removed, the remaining tabletop was brightened and tiled guitar chips, then mounted to the wall with two wood planks and a piano hinge. During the day, the art installation hangs flat against the wall, but come dinnertime, a single angular-cut 2×4 plank slid underneath gives the table a leg up.