Category: Interior Design


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An outdated stone fireplace got a dramatic architectural makeover, thanks to Jessica Bruno of Four Generations One Roof.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



How To: Refinish a Dresser

Do you have a dresser in good condition but with a dingy, worse-for-wear finish? With only a little elbow grease, you can transform it into a stunning signature piece.

How to Refinish a Dresser

Photo: shutterstock.com

Hold on a second! Don’t get rid of that old wooden dresser just yet. Give it a second look, and this time try to see past its paint job or cracked coat of stain. Do you like its design? Do the drawers hold enough? If you admire everything about the piece except for its current condition, you can—with less effort than you might expect—transform it from a dingy eyesore into a captivating keeper. Indeed, anybody can refinish a dresser; there are no special tools or advanced skills required. All you need to be successful in the task are two things: a free afternoon and the willingness to get your hands a little sawdusty. Are you ready? OK, let’s go.

Removing the existing finish is the first, hardest, and most important step in the project. In fact, that’s mostly what furniture refinishing means—taking off the finish that’s worse for wear (or whose aesthetics you’re not too fond of). Adding the new finish is a snap, comparatively. How you go about removing the existing finish depends on whether the dresser is now sporting paint or stain. Not sure? If you see any wood grain, that means there’s a stain. If not, then you’re very likely dealing with paint. Bring the dresser to an area where you can make a mess, and to facilitate cleanup, position the dresser over a tarp. Don your goggles and dust mask, then proceed.

How to Refinish a Dresser - Sanding

Photo: shutterstock.com

PAINT
Use sandpaper—or to make quicker work of things, a power sander—to remove the paint, or layers of paint as the case may be. In hard-to-reach crannies, swap the sandpaper for a scraper or steel wool. It’s not necessary to take off every single speck of paint, but the closer you can get to bare wood, the better. After sanding, wipe the piece down with a tack cloth to pick up sawdust.

If you’ve tried sanding and the paint will not budge, there’s another option: chemical paint stripper. Working with such a product absolutely requires good ventilation and proper protective gear. Instructions vary from product to product, but the process generally starts with a thorough cleaning. Next, the gel-like stripping agent goes on with a brush and is left alone for a period of time. Slowly but surely, the paint bubbles into an easily removable layer, which you can then peel off using a putty knife in combination with your gloved hands. Finish by washing down the dresser and letting it dry out.

STAIN
To remove existing stain from the dresser, just as above, use sandpaper or a power sander. Either way, start with coarse sandpaper. As the bare wood starts to show through, switch to medium-grit sandpaper. To complete the process, use fine-grade sandpaper. The sandpaper actually does double duty: It removes the old stain while also preparing the bare wood to accept a new finish.

There are chemical strippers designed specifically for use with stains. Your best bet is to use a product that contains methylene chloride, which cuts through anything. As stipulated above, working with such toxic chemicals demands the observance of various safety measures. For specific details, make sure to read and follow the instructions printed on the container of the product you end up using. The dresser must be clean and dry (and of course, bare) before you can proceed to add the new finish.

How to Refinish a Dresser - Painting

Photo: shutterstock.com

REFINISHING
At this point, the dresser is down to bare wood and ready for just about anything—the traditional paint or stain, or even something creative, such as decoupage or a faux finish. Yes, this is the fun part! What new finish should you give to your old dresser? There is no right or wrong here, and the answer, of course, is entirely up to you. Heed your personal style preferences, and consider the decor already ensconced in the room where you plan to use the refinished dresser.

Stain. As the name suggests, stains are coloring agents that change the color or shade of the wood. Stains can highlight the grain, lighten or darken natural tones, or change them altogether. For step-by-step directions on how to stain wood furniture, click here.

Paint. Paint differs from other finishes in that it’s opaque. Remember that traditional paints are sold in a va­riety of lusters—flat, satin, and so on. If you wish to apply a traditional paint with a brush, click here for a tutorial. Interested in spray-painting? Right this way.

No matter your chosen finish, when you’re done following the steps outlined above, you can be certain that the dresser will look quite different from the one you were ready to say goodbye to. And instead of purchasing a new piece of furniture for hundreds of dollars, you were able to customize one for less than $50. Not bad!


Thrift Store Savvy: 10 Treasure-Hunting Tips from a Seasoned Shopper

You don't need a second mortgage to piece together a stylish home interior with finds from your local thrift stores. Learn the secrets of successful secondhand shopping from an insider who's been there and back again.

Tips for Thrift Store Shopping

Photo: shutterstock.com

As the force behind the home decor business and DIY blog Miss Mustard Seed, Marian Parsons knows a thing or two about spotting treasure among other people’s castoffs. Thrift stores have long been a favorite hunting ground for collectors like Parsons, but in recent years many establishments wised up on the value of their vintage merchandise, resulting in higher price tags on anything old. Nevertheless, she reports, bargans still abound if you know how—and when—to look. Read on for her hard-earned advice.

1. Take your time.
Gone are the days when you could make a thrift store trip a one-stop shop, filling up the entire back of a pick-up with furniture, textiles, and trinkets. But if you’re willing to put in the time and visit the same shop casually but regularly, your purchases will add up to a collected home that you love and that fits your budget.

2. Find out about a store’s schedule.
Ask the store owner if there is a day of the week when sales are typically held, or a day of the week when new donations are rotated in. Parsons has found that Mondays and Tuesdays can be good times to shop, after yard sale leftovers are brought in on the weekend.

3. Buy within your ability to fix.
A low price tag on a piece of furniture might seem tempting, but consider the feasibility of rehabbing the piece before you buy it. If you’re not ready to tackle a full upholstery job, resist picking up that reading chair in need of a total overhaul. Start small with simple fixer-uppers before tackling anything with significant damage.

Thrifted Dishes for Bulk Pricing

Photo: Shutterstock.com

4. Look for bulk pricing.
When it comes time to clear shelf space, thrift stores often offer bulk pricing—for instance, ten cents apiece for all dishes or cups. Watch for these sales on the your favorite collectibles (Parsons’ penchant is white ironstone) to scoop up deals.

5. Be discerning.
Don’t buy things simply because they’re bargains; otherwise, your house will fill up very quickly with odds and ends. Instead, choose only items that speak to you.

6. Pack a measuring tape.
Keep this tool handy to determine whether a larger item would fit in your house—and in your car—before you buy. Many thrift shops have no-return policies, even if you’ve only taken your purchase as far as the parking lot before realizing it’s too large.

7. Bring cash.
Not all thrift stores accept credit cards, so make a quick stop at an ATM before heading out for a day of shopping.

8. Don’t haggle.
Thrift stores often send proceeds to charities, so haggling down prices is generally frowned upon. The only exception might be if you are buying multiple items, especially any large or bulky pieces whose purchase would clear out space in the shop. Even then, Parsons stresses, ask politely and be prepared to take “no” for an answer.

9. Visit stores in new places.
While regular excursions to your local thrift store can uncover gems, it’s also fun to peek into shops in other towns, especially when on vacation, to see a new selection of thrifted items. Plus, whatever you pick up while out of town doubles as a travel souvenir.

10. Shop with an open mind.
For Parsons, this advice is the key to finding real treasure in a thrift stores. Sure, it’s fine to enter a shop in search of a particular type of item, but it can be more rewarding to stumble upon a great piece you weren’t expecting. Keeping an open mind makes you much more receptive to seeing the potential in any given furnishing.


Weekend Projects: 5 DIY Designs for a Custom End Table

Rather than treat the modest yet versatile end table as an afterthought, give this workhorse of the living room all the attention it deserves.

We entrust a great deal of responsibility to the end table, an unsung hero of the living room furniture ensemble. A versatile workhorse, the end table performs such non-trivial duties as supporting coffee mugs, holding reading material, and keeping remote controls from vanishing under seat cushions. Despite its day-to-day importance, we don’t give much thought to the end table. Though we might spend weeks or even months shopping for the perfect sofa, the end table often enters the space as an afterthought. Also at issue is the question that eternally complicates one’s choice of an end table: Is it the right height? See, this is why it makes so much sense to undertake a DIY end table. By taking matters into your own hands, you can tailor the piece to your exact specifications, with no sacrifice in the style department. Scroll down now to see five favorite DIY end table projects you can either replicate or use as the inspiration for your own design.

 

1. PIPE UP

Photo: stylebyemilyhenderson.com

Perfect for a small room, appearing to occupy almost zero floor space, this svelte and brassy DIY end table on only two main components—copper pipes and leather strips. Furniture retailers sell similarly industrial chic pieces for hundreds, but you follow the lead of Emily Henderson to make yours for much less.

 

2. CUT TO FIT

Photo: abeautifulmess.com

The combination of rolled aluminum sheet metal and a cut-to-size wood top creates this lightweight, high-impact DIY end table from A Beautiful Mess. Stain the wood and spray-paint the metal to create a unified look, or give a different hue to each part of the piece. It’s such an easy project, you may be tempted to do two.

 

3. STRAP IN

Photo: matsutakeblog.blogspot.se

Having struggled to find a nightstand that would reach the top of her bed, Katie of Matsutake finally resolved to DIY the solution. Here’s what she came up with. It’s a modern martini-style table, with a cardboard tube at its core and vinyl strips manipulated to form the hourglass shape that so uniquely defines the project.

 

4. HIDE OUT

Photo: ashbeedesign.com

Multipurpose furniture can be as stylish as it is functional. From Ashbee Design, this DIY end table serves both as a sofa-side surface and a storage place for such things as table runners and month-old magazines. These stay out of sight when they aren’t needed but remain easily within reach, even at a moment’s notice.

 

5. SEE SAW

Photo: thegoldensycamore.com

For a DIY end table like this one, you’ll need to negotiate only one slightly tough step: sawing out twin squares of butcher block. The rest is a matter of simple assembly, which The Golden Sycamore makes very easy with her detailed instructions. Once finished, you can rest a celebratory drink on your sturdy new table!


Hypnotized, One Couple Lives Its Future at IKEA

IKEA turns a furniture showroom into a time machine, as hypnotist Justin Tranz sends one couple ahead 12, 18, and 23 years to witness their future together.

A birthday celebration in an IKEA bedroom

Photo: Courtesy of IKEA

Here’s what we’ve been waiting for: It’s the first official video in a mind-bending new promotional series from IKEA. If we were excited about last week’s trailer—and we definitely were—then we are beyond thrilled today. Whereas the teaser clip left us intrigued and yes, slightly confused, the full video leaves no doubt that the Swedish retailer has done something remarkable. With the help of renowned hypnotist Justin Tranz, IKEA showed real customers a glimpse of their future.

The story begins with Tranz on the floor of an unidentified IKEA showroom. A few cuts later, Tranz is lulling one willing couple, Adam and Sofi, into what looks like a genuine state of hypnosis. What comes next is truly amazing: From room to room, with different hired actors helping cement the illusion, Tranz leads the couple through scenes from what, to their hypnotized minds, must have appeared to be moments from their life together 12, 18, and even 23 years down the road.

As Adam and Sofi walk and talk through these—to put it lightly—novel experiences, IKEA goods provide the familiar domestic backdrop. Soon, the price tags hanging from the furniture become less noticeable, and the viewer forgets this is all taking place in a store. In one scene, we meet the couple’s daughter; in another, we see her as a rebellious teenager; finally, we meet her live-in boyfriend. Throughout, there’s IKEA, providing “solutions for every episode in life.”

When it comes to hypnosis, you’re either a believer or you’re not. But when it comes to ad’s message, we think there’s only one conclusion: No matter where you are in life, no matter your current needs, you can always find a way to live better at IKEA.

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


Now at IKEA, Time Travel

See how the Swedish home retailer helps real couples, shopping in a real showroom, envision their future, all with the help of a world-renowned hypnotist.

Ikea Time Travel Experiment

Photo: Courtesy of IKEA

Who doesn’t love IKEA? Whereas other furniture purveyors mainly appeal to one or another niche market, IKEA appeals as much to students furnishing a dorm room as it does to homeowners remodeling the kitchen. With something for everyone, the Swedish megastore makes aspirational living truly affordable, enabling us all to design and decorate our spaces in ways that respond to our lifestyles and reflect our sensibilities—our dreams, even. And, boy, are they dealing in dreams these days.

For a brand-new online video promotion, the folks at IKEA have pulled out all the stops to show how the store remains a touchstone in our lives, even as we mature and transition through life’s game-changers. For help, the company enlisted world-famous hypnotist Justin Tranz, who leads some IKEA customers through a very special experience—a trip through time. That’s right, we’re talking time travel. And yes, we’re as excitedly bewildered as you are.

Hypnotized, couples walk through a showroom, entering bedrooms and bathrooms, seeing how IKEA products set the scene for the beginning and end of any day. That apparently includes moments which the volunteers actually believe they are living through, not in a busy showroom in the present day, but in their own private homes in the future.

“At IKEA, we believe that life happens everyday,” says Johan Wickmark, catalogue manager at IKEA. “That it’s on those seemingly ordinary days the magic happens, when life takes shape and changes, and it’s for those moments we create our products and solutions.”

Check out the magic in the teaser trailer below, then join us in waiting anxiously for the full video, going live Wednesday, August 20. We’ll bring the popcorn.

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


Weekend Projects: 5 Easy and Creative DIY Lamps

There are roughly five billion ways to make a lamp. Some are quite challenging and require an expert's hand, but many are easy enough for a novice to do within the space of single weekend. Here are some of our favorite simple DIY lighting projects.

In any room, in any house, lighting is key. Besides its practical importance, lighting is one of the main factors influencing the ambiance of a space. With insufficient lighting, an otherwise cheerful living area might feel oppressively gloomy. On the opposite end of spectrum—pun!—an overload of light in the bedroom would make it virtually impossible to relax or get really comfortable. If you’ve spent any time shopping around for the right fixture, you’ve probably discovered what is for me one of life’s great frustrations: nice-looking lighting costs a pretty penny. But if you pursue any of the following project ideas, you can design and make a lamp on your own, without spending much money or time. Yes!

 

1. ROPE IT OFF

Photo: blogalacart.com

Ash from Blog A La Cart came across an “epic ball of repurposed rope” online, and she bought it, not with a specific project in mind, but with confidence that one day, she’d find a way to celebrate the material’s patent awesomeness. Ultimately, she used it to make this lamp shade.

 

2. GET RESOURCEFUL 

Photo: apartmenttherapy.com

Look for opportunities to veer away from the traditional bulb-within-a-lampshade arrangement. One surefire way to achieve a unique design is by repurposing an old container or vessel as the base for the lamp you are making. Dabney did so with a candle holder; the result is so very cool.

 

3. BOTTLE IT UP

Photo: dearemmeline.blogspot.com

Light up your living room with a lamp made from an unlikely object—an oversize glass jug. Search for one at local thrift stores and flea markets, if you don’t have the perfect specimen collecting dust in your attic. Meantime, check out Dear Emmeline to see how she managed to make hers.

 

4. BE GRATE

Photo: camillestyles.com

Rather than hit the stores to seek out a new lighting fixture, why not shop your own home? Survey what items you’re not using, and consider which would lend themselves to a second life as a lamp. Claire had the brilliant idea of capitalizing on the hollow middle of a cheese grater!

 

5. TRANSFORM A VASE

Photo: brightboldbeautiful.com

Chances are you’ve got more than a few vases you rarely use; consider transforming one into a lamp. Of course, vases come in a nearly infinite variety, with different designs requiring slightly different DIY strategies. But for a general idea of the process, visit Bright, Bold & Beautiful.