Category: Interior Design


Bob Vila Radio: Linoleum Rugs

Do you remember linoleum rugs? At one time, they were hugely popular and today, they're a great, noncommittal way of participating in the comeback of this retro yet eco-friendly flooring material.

Linoleum rugs are a little-remembered footnote to floorcovering history. These days, unless you uncover one when you’re ripping up an old floor, you’re unlikely to find a linoleum rug outside of a vintage shop. But their half-century or so of popularity makes them worth a moment of consideration.

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Listen to BOB VILA ON LINOLEUM RUGS or read the text below:

Linoleum Rugs

Photo: hgtv.com

Introduced in the late 1800s, linoleum was first produced by coating a fabric, such as burlap or canvas, with a mixture of linseed oil, cork, resins and wood flour. The easy-care, resilient flooring was perfect for high-traffic areas—kitchens and hallways, for instance.

Although early linoleum was available primarily in solid colors, patterns became more sophisticated as production methods advanced. By the early 1900s, manufacturers began to offer linoleum rugs—essentially movable, highly patterned sheets of linoleum with decorative borders. They tended to mimic textiles—oriental rugs and intricate florals—but unlike their “real” counterparts, they could just be wiped clean.

By the 1950s, the rugs’ popularity began to wane as less expensive vinyl entered the market. Today, however, true linoleum is enjoying a comeback of sorts, thanks to its relative eco-friendliness and the advent of brighter colors suited to modern interiors. Some fabricators are even making linoleum rugs that unlike their predecessors, aren’t pretending to be something else, but instead celebrate what they are.

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


How To: Clean Wood Furniture

Over time, wood furniture accumulates grime that can't be removed with regular dusting. When this happens, some serious cleaning is in order. Try these methods for spiffing up your wood furniture safely and effectively.

How to Clean Wood Furniture - Table

Photo: shutterstock.com

Homeowners have long relished the beauty, versatility, and toughness of wood furniture—and above all, they’ve appreciated its low maintenance. Like the ideal houseplant for brown thumbs, wood furniture survives on its own, requiring little intervention. Every now and again, though, whether due to an accident or normal wear and tear, it becomes necessary to clean wood furniture to renew its appearance and ensure its longevity. When that inevitable day comes, follow these steps to restore a wood finish to impeccable condition without inadvertently causing damage.

MATERIALS AND TOOLS:
- Cotton balls
- Dishwashing detergent
- Sponge
- Bucket
- Clean cloth
- Mineral spirits
- Cheesecloth
- Wood wax
- Denatured alcohol

If you are certain of your wood furniture finish—paint, stain, or some other treatment—then use a cleaning method appropriate for that specific wood finish. Otherwise, it’s best to clean the furniture in stages, starting with a mild cleanser that poses no risk to the integrity of the finish, then graduating to a stronger solution only if the gentler one fails. Proceeding in this way means that you can safely clean wood furniture without knowing precisely what you’re dealing with.

How to Clean Wood Furniture - Chair

Photo: shutterstock.com

STEP 1
Start out with perhaps the humblest of household cleaners: dishwashing detergent. Add a drop to a water-moistened cotton ball, then wipe it on an inconspicuous part of the furniture, such as the inside of a chair leg. If the detergent mars the finish in your test area, then continue without the detergent. If the test area shows no evidence of damage, it’s safe to proceed. Mix water and detergent in a bucket and use this solution to sponge down the entire piece. Be careful not to soak the wood: Brush the sponge lightly over the wood surface and don’t let the liquid linger for long. Dry thoroughly.

STEP 2
If you want to see if you can get your furniture a little cleaner, the next thing to try is mineral spirits. They should be harmless to wood finishes, but you should still test an inconspicuous area with a moistened cotton ball. If you see nothing suspicious, wash the piece with a clean cloth soaked in mineral spirits. (Work in a well-ventilated location.) In many cases, mineral spirits can remove years of grime. Finish by wiping away any residual cleaner with water, inspecting the wood for blemishes as you go.

STEP 3
If the finish reacted negatively when you tested the mineral spirits on your furniture, don’t push your luck—move on. Before you try any further interventions, you’ll need to determine the type of finish that’s on your piece. To do this, dab some denatured alcohol onto a cotton swab and test it in a small, inconspicuous area. If the finish dissolves, that means it’s probably shellac. If the finish stands up to the alcohol, it’s probably oil, lacquer, varnish, or polyurethane. Either way, if you’re still dissatisfied with your furniture’s appearance, chances are that you’ll need to refinish the piece to truly restore it.

STEP 4
If you are satisfied with the results of your cleaning efforts, the wise choice at this point is to protect the wood from future damage by applying furniture wax. Apply it liberally with a cheesecloth, rubbing in the direction of the grain. Afterward, buff with a clean cloth.

Note: Always dust wood furniture with soft, lint-free cloths. Avoid feather dusters, because they aren’t as effective and sometimes have sharp quills that may scratch the wood surface. 


Bob Vila Radio: Wallpaper Prep

Before tackling this tricky task, take the time to properly prep the wall you are going to paper. Here's how it's done.

Hanging wallpaper can be tricky, but it’s worth the effort for the beautiful effect it can have on a room. As with so many do-it-yourself jobs, the secret to great results is in the preparation. Here are a few tips to help you achieve professional-looking results.

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

Wallpaper Prep

Photo: timticks.com

First, put a coat of primer on the walls to be papered. Primer seals the surface and protects against moisture building up beneath the paper. It also keeps the wallpaper adhesive from penetrating into your walls, which makes it impossible to remove the paper if and when you opt for a new look. And if the walls are painted a dark color and your paper is light, a coat of white primer will help conceal any small imperfections in your seams.

Once the primer is dry, apply a coat of sizing on the walls. Sizing creates a slick, glossy surface that will make it much easier to maneuver the paper as you’re installing it. Without sizing, your paper can stick to the wall before it’s in its final position, and that can cause the paper to tear when you try to move it. On a sized wall, you can slide the paper around to get it right. Sizing has a thin, watery consistency and can be applied with a paint roller. Be sure it’s dry before you start papering.

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


Bob Vila Radio: High Hats

For understated room lighting around the house, consider the space-saving convenience of recessed high hats.

Choosing the best lighting can be a bit of a challenge.  Some rooms need cozy, subdued lighting to create ambience; others need high-wattage task lights to allow you to get the job done. But if what you need is overall room lighting that takes up barely any space at all, there’s nothing like a high hat.

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Listen to BOB VILA ON HIGH HATS or read the text below:

High Hat Lighting

Photo: lowes.com

High hats are recessed lights—often called can lights—that are flush with the finished ceiling (the fixture itself is up inside the joists). High hats are terrific for illuminating large areas, where you need lots of light, such as kitchens, offices, and basements. They’re also great in hallways, where you need strong light for safe passage, but there’s not a lot of room for a hanging fixture or floor lamps.

Today’s high hats aren’t the simple industrial-looking can lights of yesteryear. You can find stylish models with a wide variety of trim kits to get just the look you want, including “eyebrow” styles that can help direct some of that overhead light in a specific direction.

Remember, if you’re installing high hats in a ceiling that is or will be insulated, choose fixtures that are insulation-rated, meaning that you can install insulation right up against them. High hats going into shower stalls or over bathtubs should have a shower trim, which has a gasket that keeps moisture out of the fixture.

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


Weekend Projects: 5 Clever Designs for a DIY Curtain Rod

Sure, you want a rod to hold up your curtains. But if you take the time to DIY something unusual, it can also be a stunning expression of your individual style.

Details: They make a house a home. Every element you add to serve a purpose also offers an opportunity to personalize your space. Curtain rods are no exception. Functionally, these metal, plastic, or wooden poles do nothing more than support your window treatments. Decoratively speaking, however, they are capable of much more. The look you choose is, of course, a matter of personal taste, but with so many DIY curtain rod options out there, you’re bound to discover a design you love.

 

1. ROPE OFF

DIY Curtain Rod - Rope

Photo: hgtv.com

If your curtains come with eyes—that is, grommets or other types of circular cutouts along the top of the fabric—consider using rope as a DIY curtain rod. Although this is an inexpensive, utilitarian solution, it’s also a stylishly offbeat and eye-catching design. For added authenticity, use boat cleats to secure the rope across the window.

 

2. BRANCH OUT

Photo: shelterness.com

Slender tree branches are “natural” DIY curtain rods, equally perfect for those who just love the rustic look and anyone on a budget who has easy access to woodland. Seek out branches slightly larger than your window frames. Prune if necessary, and paint if you choose. For hanging, use regular brackets or—to complete the theme—twigs.

 

3. PIPE DREAMS

DIY Curtain Rod - Pipe Fittings

Photo: yellowbrickhome.com

Even a total novice could piece together this DIY curtain rod, made of galvanized metal plumbing pipes that join without special tools. One trip to your local hardware store or home improvement center will furnish you with all the materials you need. Head over to Yellow Brick Home for an easy-to-follow project guide.

 

4. EITHER “OAR”

DIY Curtain Rod - Oar

Photo: abeachcottage.com

You can finish this charming, beach cottage-y DIY curtain rod project quicker than you can say “ahoy matey.” Vintage oars are readily available from online auctions; choosing the perfect one may very well be the most difficult and time-consuming part of the job. Alternatively, use a golf club, baseball bat, or even fishing gear.

 

5. GET HOOKED

DIY Curtain Rod - Hooks

Photo: oliveandlove.com

To re-create this unique DIY curtain rod from Olive and Love, start with a wood board, one whose finish (or lack thereof) is worthy of display. Cut the board to the appropriate length, then mount it above the window. Finally, attach simple coat hooks at intervals that correspond to the space between the tabs, grommets, or other connecting pieces at the top of your curtain.


Weekend Projects: 5 Very Versatile DIY Ottomans

We all know that ottomans are handy to have around—they're a convenient place to rest your feet or seat an extra guest. But did you know how easy it is to make one?

Available in all shapes and sizes and with or without built-in storage features, ottomans are among the most versatile pieces of furniture that a person can own. In a space with limited seating, an ottoman can accommodate extra guests, and if there’s not enough storage, the right ottoman may be used to hold magazines, remote controls, and countless other accessories. In fact, some ottomans are large enough to substitute for the traditional coffee table. The very best part is that if you’re handy, it’s easy to make a DIY ottoman that meets your needs exactly. Don’t know where to start? Scroll down now to see our five favorite DIY ottoman projects.

 

1. FINE FUR-NITURE 

DIY Ottoman - Fur

Photo: abeautifulmess.com

Look no further if you’re searching for a DIY ottoman idea that’s in line with current trends. Faux fur is hot right now, and when covering a compact footstool, it’s a wonderfully cozy, eye-catching accent. Start with a round piece of precut wood. Layer foam and batting on top, then finish by attaching the fuzz and screwing on legs.

 

2. CRATE WORK

DIY Ottoman - Crate

Photo: littlestvillage.com

From Littlest Village, here’s a DIY ottoman that multitasks. While the crate base stows throw blankets and pillows, the tufted top provides a comfortable perch for sitting. If you choose, add caster wheels to make the ottoman yet more practical. You can even paint the wood in a color that coordinates with your chosen fabric.

 

3. SWIFT RE-COVERY

DIY Ottoman - Fabric

Photo: bhg.com

If you no longer love the ottoman you already have, why not go ahead and give it a brand-new look? Believe it or not, you can do so with zero sewing. After stapling a decorative textile over the existing fabric, proceed to glue on any embellishments you choose, such as beads or sequins. That’s it! Piece of cake, right?

 

4. RE-TIRE NOW

DIY Ottoman - Rope

Photo: thatwasawhat.blogspot.com

Although it looks like it came directly out of a high-end home decor catalog, this rope-covered DIY ottoman owes its existence to a repurposed rubber tire. The project requires no special skills or materials—only sisal cord, strong adhesive, and a tire in whatever diameter you have available that’s appropriately sized for your space.

 

5. NO BAGGAGE

DIY Ottoman - Suitcase

Photo: silverpennyinhershoe.blogspot.com

Did you find a great-looking vintage suitcase at your local thrift store? With plywood, foam, and fabric as well as four wooden legs, you can transform that old baggage into a unique, conversation-starting DIY ottoman. Light enough to be portable, this seat is easy to carry anywhere you want (except maybe on an airplane).


Weekend Projects: 5 Marvelous Mirrors You Can Make in a Day

An attractive mirror not only brings a decorative touch to a room, but it can also add light and the illusion of space. This weekend, make a great-looking mirror frame from items that you may already have on hand.

There’s more to a mirror than just seeing yourself in its glass. For one thing, because they reflect natural and artificial light, mirrors can make rooms appear larger. They add character too, lending a lived-in look to the decor of a room. For do-it-yourselfers, what’s best about mirrors is how easy they are to customize. With basic and oftentimes free materials, you can make a DIY mirror frame this weekend, using your own idea or one of our five favorites below.

 

1. OPEN A WINDOW

DIY Mirror Frame Projects - Repurposed Window

Photo: themodagecottage.com

Here’s a DIY mirror frame project that you would expect to be difficult and time-consuming, but it’s actually neither. To transform a wood-framed window into a statement mirror, simply swap out the glass panes for cut-to-size mirrors or as an alternative, coat the glass with a product like Krylon Looking Glass Paint.

 

2. ROPE IT OFF

DIY Mirror Frame Projects - Rope

Photo: theberry.com

If you love coastal-themed decor, then don’t hesitate to create this DIY mirror frame that involves only sisal rope and glue. Other than patience, this project takes no special skills or tools to create. And once finished, you’ll love how it looks next to your coral and seashells, anchors and buoys.

 

3. MAKE A RACKET

DIY Mirror Frame Projects - Racket

Photo: vintagesocialclub.etsy.com

With very little modification, a vintage tennis racket becomes the perfect DIY mirror frame for any sportsman or oddities-lover. The hardest part is lugging yourself to a glass shop to purchase a beveled mirror in a custom size. From there, it’s dead simple—just be sure to use a strong adhesive to secure the mirror in place.

 

4. PINCH YOUR PENNIES

DIY Mirror Projects - Pennies

Photo: honeysweethome.blogspot.com

The entire family can help make this copper-covered mirror, since it’s no more complicated than gluing pennies over a simple wood frame, or directly onto a frameless mirror. The metal coins render the mirror even more reflective; add yours to a dark hallway or any other space that would benefit from more light.

 

5. CALL FOR BACKUP

DIY Mirror Frame - Reclaimed Wood

Photo: shanty-2-chic.com

When mounted to a backboard of reclaimed wood or stock lumber finished with paint or stain, a frameless mirror suddenly turns into an eye-catching, head-turning focal point. After ripping boards to the same length, screw them together, then fasten the mirror to the face of the wood using your chosen hardware.


5 Reasons Why Recessed Lighting Is Still Cool

Long a favorite with homeowners, recessed lighting offers unobtrusive, extremely functional illumination. Now, with an expanded range of bulb types, trim styles, and new applications, it's becoming even more attractive.

Installing Recessed Lighting

Photo: whittenarchitects.com

Since the technology arrived in the 1930s, installing recessed lighting has become de rigueur in new construction and home additions as well as in the renovation of existing rooms and buildings. Today, we hardly notice it, in part because it’s ubiquitous, as likely to appear in the living room as in the bedroom closet.

Recessed lighting’s popularity is due largely to its many advantages over table and floor lamps, pendants and sconces. Whereas other types of fixtures best suit one or another specific application—be it ambient, task, or accent lighting—versatile recessed lights can meet all average household needs.

Of course, another advantage of recessed lighting is its unique design. Flush to the ceiling, with its housing tucked neatly between framing joists, recessed lighting takes up virtually zero usable square footage, and its self-effacing style means that it can coordinate with almost any decor, modern or traditional.

If you are in the midst of planning a remodeling project, be sure to consider the full range of functional and aesthetic possibilities that installing recessed lighting can offer. Being that manufacturers continue to innovate in this product category, recessed lighting remains an exciting choice for homeowners. Here are five reasons why.

 

1. HEAVY ACCENT

Installing Recessed Lighting - Eyeball

Photo: rda-architecture.com

Recessed lighting with so-called “eyeball” trim enables homeowners to direct a bright, focused beam toward any object they wish to call attention to, whether it’s a work of art, family memento, or an architectural feature like a fireplace mantel or built-in bookcase. Note that multiple fixtures may be needed to highlight an oversize item.

 

2. RIGHT BRIGHT

Installing Recessed Lighting - Halogen

Photo: bunkerworkshop.com

Outfit recessed lighting fixtures with halogen bulbs to bring your rooms to life. Compared with general lighting, halogens shine three times brighter, imbuing paint colors and boldly hued furniture with a special richness and clarity. Although high-performing, halogens operate at an efficient low voltage, which minimizes running costs.

 

3. UN-THIN TRIM

Installing Recessed Lighting - Trim

Photo: eurofase.com

Recessed lights are justly known for being unobtrusive, but people may be starting to view these fixtures with a fresh eye. Many newer models hitting the market have protruding, light-diffusing trim in a variety of eye-catching materials that range from glass to crystal to composite, in translucent as well as colored variations.

 

4. STEP LIVELY

Installing Recessed Lighting - Steps

Photo: photoklik.com

No longer is recessed lighting confined to the ceiling. More and more homeowners are installing recessed lighting in walls and flooring. In walls, recessed lights resemble mini windows and work extraordinarily well in hallways. In floors, recessed lighting lends a dramatic punch to vertically oriented objects like potted trees.

 

5. MULTIPLICITY

Installing Recessed Lighting - Multiples

Photo: abramsonteiger.com

In some unfortunate circumstances, installing recessed lighting gives a ceiling an unflattering “spotted” look—an effect that can be avoided by choosing a multibulb fixture. As shown here, a series of bulbs—as many as four, and often LED—are arranged in a linear setup in rectangular housings, creating a look similar to, but much less noticeable than, traditional track lighting.

 

Even if you choose to stick with regular recessed lighting, you still have plenty of options. A visit to your local lighting store or favorite online vendor should reveal a surprising number of color, finish, trim, and baffle choices. Give careful consideration to the question of which type of bulb to use. Initial costs run the gamut, color rendition levels span from poor to exceptional, and energy efficiency differs extensively from product to product. Know the pluses and minuses of each type of bulb and choose wisely.


Bob Vila Radio: Baseboard Covers

Baseboard heaters have been popular for more than fifty years, but not everyone loves how they look, especially once the units become shabby with age. Baseboard covers are the simple solution, and they're worthwhile for more reasons than you might expect.

Baseboard heating has been a popular choice for homeowners since the 1950s. But over time, baseboard units can start to look shabby, as their sleek metal covers accumulate dents, scratches, and rust spots. If the units themselves are still working fine, you can spruce up the look of a room by upgrading the look of their covers.

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Listen to BOB VILA ON BASEBOARD COVERS or read the text below:

Baseboard Covers

Photo: Woodenradiatorcabinet.com

It’s worth noting that baseboard covers aren’t just for looks. They protect the heating elements and keep your family from coming into contact with dangerously hot surfaces, and they also enhance and help regulate the heat. So if your covers are missing or badly damaged, replacing them may be your best option. Before you head off to the home improvement store, measure carefully and if possible, take an end cap with you to help identify the right replacement covers.

If your concerns are just aesthetic, you have a number of options. Possibly the cheapest fix is to paint the covers. If you don’t like the look of baseboards at all, though, you may be able to cover them up. Many suppliers sell metal or even wooden covers that sit on top of the entire baseboard unit. There are also products that slip over the heating element to replace the original baseboard cover. Before you purchase anything, measure carefully and do your research—some covers can be used only on hot water baseboard systems, not electric ones.

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


Weekend Projects: 5 DIY Nightstand Project Ideas

A nightstand is a bedroom must-have. Where else can we put our books, glasses, and a cup of water? If your room currently lacks this vital piece of furniture, how about making one out of things you might already have lying around? Here are 5 takes on accessible DIY nightstands.

You don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone. Only when I tried living without a nightstand did I realize how important this modest member of the furniture pantheon really is. Bedside tables perform only one function, but it’s a vital one—keeping the accouterments of a good night’s sleep within easy arm’s reach. But while I would argue that owning one is a must, buying one isn’t. There are countless ways to create a DIY nightstand cheaply and easily. Here are five favorites.

 

1. CONVERT A TOOL CHEST

DIY Nightstand - Tool Chest

Photo: theglamourai.com

Besides its chic industrial styling and wonderful metallic blue, what I love about this DIY nightstand is its set of integral drawers that allow for storage of personal items aplenty. Mounted on a swivel base, the tool chest pictured reaches the desired height (in relation to the bed) and offers convenient portability.

 

2. STACK A SOLUTION

DIY Nightstand - Suitcases

Photo: wheremyheartresides.com

Thrift stores (and Grandma’s attic) are chockablock with vintage suitcases. Stacked on top of one another, two or three can serve as an offbeat, eye-catching, yet perfectly functional DIY nightstand. If you want, lay a cut-to-size pane of glass—or even a mirror—on top of the uppermost case for a smooth, easily cleaned surface.

 

3. HANG A SHELF

DIY Nightstand - Shelving

Photo: masmeansmore.com

Limited floor space in the bedroom? Install a floating shelf adjacent to the bed. No heavy-duty materials are required. You need only a couple of L-brackets, a handful of screws, and your screwdriver. For the shelf, use reclaimed wood for a natural look or paint a plywood board to match the existing decor in the room.

 

4. USE A STEP STOOL

DIY Nightstand - Step Stool

Photo: revistacasaejardim.globo.com/‎

Here’s another DIY nightstand project that requires virtually zero effort. If you have a step stool whose shape and patina appeal to your sense of style—or if you can find the perfect piece at a flea market or yard sale—simply place it next to the bed. Each step offers additional surface area upon which to place your things.

 

5. MAKE A PET BED

DIY Nightstand - Pet Bed

Photo: diynetwork.com

A dresser becomes a DIY nightstand-cum-pet bed, when you remove the bottom drawers (and their supports). Dress up the interior with beadboard or painted plywood, then add a comfy cushion. The remaining drawer gives you the storage you need, and the space created beneath gives Fido cozy sleeping quarters!