Category: Interior Design

Weekend Projects: DIY Window Treatments

If you've been scared off in the past by the vast selection and high cost of window treatments, try your hand at some of these accessible DIY approaches.

Why do people so often ignore the importance of blinds, drapes, and curtains when they are chief among the elements that make a house a home? For one, window dressings are not essential. You can easily live without them, or with an inherited solution that you don’t love. Also, window treatments can be expensive, particularly for those in homes with many exposures. If you are looking for low-cost, high-style ways to decorate your double-hungs, check out these DIY window treatments culled from around the Web.



DIY Window Treatments - Roman Shade


Pick a fabric, any fabric—shop online for a wide selection—then follow this Remodelaholic tutorial to make your own Roman shade. These DIY window treatments, easily operated by cord, present a smooth panel when closed; when raised, the fabric falls in neat, attractive folds.



DIY Window Treatments - Drapes


These DIY window treatments are well within reach of beginners, thanks to a lucid Apartment Therapy guide. Besides fabric, the only materials needed are common household items. If you can measure the width of your window, you can do this project.



DIY Window Treatments - Painted Drop Cloth


Many store-bought window dressings feature fussy floral prints or funky geometric patterns. If neither option suits your taste, take a cue from Stefanie of Brooklyn Limestone, who used iron-on transfers to decorate a drop cloth–turned–shade in her own style.



DIY Window Treatments - Shutters


Using repurposed wall paneling, Suzanne of Meridian Road built this pair of interior shutters, mounting them via gate hinges. Shutters are perfect for those who dislike cord-operated window treatments and for anyone who wants to cultivate a rustic design scheme.



DIY Window Treatments - Lace Screen


Even though they are technically not window treatments, we couldn’t resist including this creative DIY from designmadde, in which squares of lace are installed behind screens. The former beautifies the latter without at all diminishing their utility.

Weekend Projects: DIY Thanksgiving Decor

With a minimum of time and expense, you can whip up some DIY decorations that are sure to brighten and beautify your Thanksgiving celebration.

There’s a lot to be thankful for: your health, the roof over your head, and the loved ones who surround you at Thanksgiving. This year, celebrate your gratitude by welcoming guests into a festive atmosphere, one that reflects the special qualities of autumn. Down-to-earth and beautiful, these DIY Thanksgiving decor projects are as accessible as they are affordable, and each one promises to help make your holiday memorable.



DIY Thanksgiving Decor - Grapevine Pumpkin


Whether you’re an occasional craft-store visitor or a frequent, preferred-status customer, you’ve no doubt seen grapevine for sale on the shelves. For little more than $3, you can combine grapevine with floral wire to create a decorative pumpkin, the perfect accent for a side table.



DIY Thanksgiving Decor - Banner


Nothing says “give thanks” quite like a banner that actually spells out the phrase. In about 20 minutes—with only scissors, glue, ribbon, and a downloadable template for the letters—you’ll be able to hang your own loud-and-proud declaration over a doorway or across the mantelpiece.



DIY Thanksgiving Decor - Centerpiece


DIY Thanksgiving decor preparations would never be complete without a centerpiece for the dining table. Gather a loose collection of painted pinecones, raw birch wood, and gourds in a clear vase or a patterned bowl, or display fall flowers in a medium-size, hollowed-out pumpkin.



DIY Thanksgiving Decor - Calendar


Count down to turkey day with a Thanksgiving-themed calendar. Arrayed on autumn-appropriate burlap are 30 taped-on felt squares, one for each day in the month. Double the utility by putting December on the reverse side, so you can just flip it over at the end of the month.



DIY Thanksgiving Decor - Corn Husk Wreath


If you’re shucking any corn in the days before Thanksgiving, be sure to set the husks aside. (Alternatively, head to the nearest farmer’s market, where you can likely buy husks by the bagful.) Then use them to make a corn-husk wreath and hang it on the front door. Is there a better invitation to a fall feast?

How To: Clean a Microfiber Sofa

You can keep that soft, lustrous microfiber sofa looking great if you vacuum it frequently and make sure you clean it only as directed.

How to Clean a Microfiber Couch


In recent years, microfiber furniture has risen in popularity with homeowners because the fabric is not only appealing to the eye but also super-soft to the touch. Unfortunately, accidents happen, and microfiber’s downside is that, compared with other types of upholstery, it takes a bit more care to clean.

Related: How To Clean EVERYTHING

The first thing to know is that microfiber varies from product to product. For different forms of the material, different cleaning strategies apply. To determine the right approach to take, check the manufacturer’s tag, which should be marked W, S, S-W, or X.

Here’s what those letter-based codes are all about:

  • W means you can use a water-based solution.
  • S indicates that you must use a solvent-based cleaner.
  • S-W denotes a fabric for which it is safe to use either a water-based or solvent-based formula.
  • X means that neither water- nor solvent-based cleaners are appropriate; the fabric may only be vacuumed.

No matter the code listed, begin cleaning with a conservative method, moving on to a more aggressive approach if necessary. If you’ve never before used a particular cleaner, try it first on an inconspicuous part of the furniture and proceed only if it produces the anticipated results.

Least risky of all is vacuuming, and it’s recommended that you undertake modest cleaning efforts on a regular basis—weekly or bimonthly. Equip your vacuum with the brush attachment and be careful not to press too hard on the fabric or you may inadvertently press in dust or dirt.

Code W Microfiber
Mix a small amount of gentle laundry soap into a bucket of cold water. Dip a clean washcloth into the soapy water and use it to moisten any stained areas of the couch. Continue dipping and blotting until you are sure the stain has gone away. Now take up any excess water with a dry washcloth. Never allow water to puddle or pool on the furniture. Once the fabric has dried, vacuum once again to restore the nap.

How to Clean a Microfiber Couch - Detail


Code S Microfiber
Sprinkle dry detergent on the stained area, gently massaging it in with a soft-bristled brush. After leaving the detergent on the couch for as long as advised by the directions on the product label, vacuum thoroughly in order to remove all of the detergent.

Related: 7 Pantry Items That Naturally Clean and Freshen

Alternatively, blot either rubbing alcohol or dry-cleaning solvent onto the stain. Let sit for a few minutes, then dry the area with a clean washcloth (blot, don’t rub). As a final step, restore the nap by combing the microfiber with a soft-bristled brush.

Code X Microfiber 
Loosen dirt and dust with a soft-bristled brush, then vacuum thoroughly with the brush attachment. Though in the case of stubborn stains it may be tempting, never use harsh chemical cleansers, bleach, or acetone on this type or any other type of microfiber. Do so and you risk severely damaging the fabric. Stumped? Contact the sofa manufacturer for advice.

Lush and lovely when new, a microfiber sofa can be kept comfortable and beautiful for many years, provided that you maintain the piece with the variety of TLC that suits the fabric.

Bob Vila Radio: Window Treatments

With so many choices in window treatments, ask yourself a few questions before narrowing down your options and making a final decision.

Choosing window treatments can be one of the most difficult design decisions you’ll have to make. There are so many options, and so many choices are simply a matter of personal style, that it’s hard to know where to begin.

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Listen to BOB VILA ON WINOW TREATMENTS or read the text below:

Window Treatments


The two questions that will help you get started are whether the window treatments need to provide privacy or not, and whether your goal is to admit light or block it. Some rooms need lots of privacy—bathrooms, for example, or ground-floor rooms near busy streets or sidewalks. In those rooms, you’ll probably want to start with blinds or shades that completely block the interior from view. Other rooms, such as living spaces facing your own yard, may not need complete privacy.

Your choice will be affected by the amount of light you need or want in a room. A south- or east-facing bedroom may need light-blocking window coverings so the sun doesn’t wake you up with the roosters. A porch or playroom may require only sheer decorative coverings, if any, to fill the room with light.

The rest is largely a matter of style and layering—you may still feel overwhelmed with choices, but once you answer those two basic questions, you’re well on your way to decorating your windows.

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.

What Would Bob Do? Hanging a Heavy Mirror

Bob Vila answers a reader's question about how to hang a heavy mirror. To submit a question of your own, visit the Forum!

How to Hang a Heavy Mirror - Wood Frame


What would be the best way to hang a 40-pound framed mirror? Should I find the studs in the wall or use a picture hook without finding the stud?

Your mirror is too heavy for picture hooks, but for a wall surface made of drywall or plaster, a wall anchor would likely do the trick. A variety of anchors are available these days, each with a slightly different design; all are more reliable than the old-fashioned ribbed plastic plugs. In your case, I would recommend a winged anchor, such as the Pop-Toggle from Hillman, in part because its screw may be withdrawn and reinserted any number of times. That flexibility comes in handy if you have not determined precisely where to position the mirror. Besides winged anchors, other options include self-drilling screw anchors, molly bolts, and strap toggles. First check to see how each one is rated for the type of wall material on which you’re planning to hang your mirror.

Related: 5 Favorite Picture Hanging Tricks

The only downside of relying on studs is that you cannot control their location; they are seldom located on the part of the wall where you want to hang an item. But if you get lucky and there happens to be a stud in the position where you would like to hang a mirror, then use a 2½-inch wood screw for a wall with ½-inch drywall. For plaster walls, use a 3-inch screw in order to be certain that at least two inches of the screw threads bite into the stud.

How to Hang a Heavy Mirror - Brick


I am trying to hang a 75-pound mirror on a brick wall. I have 100-pound gauge wire (doubled), heavy-duty hooks, and masonry nails, but I’m still afraid it’s going to fall. Do the masonry nails go into the brick or the mortar? Is there a safe way to do this? 

If you want to hang a heavy mirror on a brick wall, it’s a little more work. But in comparison to drywall or plaster, a brick wall is able to carry a much heavier load. As above, you have a variety of wall anchors from which to choose. Newer polyethylene expansion anchors, like the Poly-Set (from Red Head), twist as you drive them in; the result is superior holding power. Remember that you will need a masonry drill bit of the diameter specificied by the anchor manufacturer.

To submit a question of your own, visit the Forum!

How To: Choose the Right Rug

There's more than just color and pattern to choosing the right rug. Follow these basic tips to make certain the one you select will meet all of your needs.

How to Choose a Rug - Mohawk Tropical

Mohawk's "Home Strata Tropical Acres" area rug at

Nothing can draw the elements of a room together quite like a rug. It can make a cold room cozy and inviting, define different functional spaces, add color and pattern where none existed before, and create comfort where it’s most welcome—underfoot. Whether your style is traditional, contemporary, funky, or ultramodern, you have endless possibilities to consider. If selecting the right rug has you feeling a bit overwhelmed, here are some basic guidelines to help you make the best choice.

A rug needs to be more than pretty—it needs to serve the function of the room and home. Think about your family’s lifestyle and the kind of traffic your rug is likely to endure. “If you’re placing the rug in a high-traffic area, woven rugs will perform best,” advises Jennifer Palmer, a rug specialist from one of Bellacor‘s best rug brands, Mohawk.  ”Likewise, if you have pets, you don’t want a looped construction, as dogs’ and cats’ nails tend to snag and pull tufted loops, so a cut-pile construction is the smarter choice.”

Of all rug types, hand-knotted construction is the most expensive, because of the intensive labor involved in the process. But hand-knotted rugs also offer the longest endurance. A good hand-knotted rug can last 10 to 25 years; a great one, over 100. Machine-made rugs, which can be manufactured quickly on power looms, sell for more reasonable prices. They generally have a lifespan of about 20 years, although a high-quality and well-maintained product can last much longer.

Rugs are constructed of either natural or synthetic materials. Natural fibers like wool or silk generally last longer and are better quality but can be costly. You might want to go for wool or silk if it’s important that your rug retain its value. Less costly natural fibers, like jute and cotton, are more affordable. Synthetics are the least expensive and come in an incredible range of colors and styles. Among synthetics, polyester and nylon have the greatest stain and soil resistance, with nylon holding its color best over time.

How to Choose a Rug - Surya Cosmopolitan

Surya's Cosmopolitan Green Round Rug at

Size and Shape
Choosing the right size rug is key to making your space feel comfortable. You should use a rug to define the space rather than “float” in a room.  And don’t get a rug so large that it touches the baseboards. Consider a range of shapes, and don’t just limit yourself to rectangles. Square rugs complement a modern room, but they look equally good under a pub-style table. Ovals can be used in place of rectangles in a living room, and round and octagonal rugs work well under similarly shaped kitchen or dining tables.

The placement of a rug can make all the difference in the feeling of a room. Use your rug to complement the design of your space and furniture. An area rug should be approximately the same length and width as the furniture in the space. If you’re putting a rug under a coffee table, place it so it can accommodate all four legs. A rug in a dining room should extend to just beyond the chairs when they are pulled away from the table. In a bedroom, multiple smaller rugs may look better than a larger area rug that is mostly covered by the bed, so don’t forget to consider runners. In general, maintain an equal amount of floor space around a rug to give the room a sense of balance.

A rug can be the focal point of a room or help to pull together an eclectic group of design elements. Think about the other details of the room design when selecting a rug. If you already have a busy patterned upholstery or wallpaper, choose a subtle rug, or one in a coordinating solid color, so it won’t compete. Conversely, if your room is more neutral and subdued, you can introduce some vibrancy by choosing a rug with a bold pattern. Overall, select a rug that complements your decor. The colors don’t necessarily need to match, but at least one color should coordinate.

Whatever rug you choose, proper care will ensure its lasting performance and beauty. Use a quality rug pad underneath to both reduce the wear on the rug and protect the floor beneath it. Vacuum it regularly to keep dirt from getting ground into the pile, and clean it when it is soiled. Different materials, construction methods, and fibers require different cleaning methods, so be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions when it comes time to clean your rug. With the proper TLC, an area rug can keep your room cozy and vibrant for years to come. For more information on rug design, selection, care, and maintenance, visit Bellacor.


This article is sponsored by Bellacor. Its facts and opinions are those of

How To: Install Recessed Lighting

For homeowners who have grown tired of negotiating lamp cords and regularly dusting shades, the simple answer is to install recessed lighting.

Recessed lighting fixtures have become very popular these days. They have to be roughed in. Here’s how to install one. First, install the four mounting brackets onto the fixture with the L facing out. Then connect the power source to the fixture. Position the fixture on the ceiling and attach all four mounting brackets to the strapping with a hammer.

For more on lighting, consider

How To: Devise a Lighting Plan
Recessed Lighting Installation (VIDEO)
9 Lampshades You Can Make Before Lights Out

Bob Vila Radio: Ripping Up Carpet

Pulling up old wall-to-wall carpeting can be a tough, dirty job for homeowners. Here are some helpful guidelines when undertaking the task.

Pulling up old wall-to-wall carpeting can be a tough, dirty job. Start by getting all the furniture out of the room and giving the carpet a thorough vacuuming. Then open up some windows, put on a dust mask, and get to work.

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

Ripping Up Carpet


Pull up a corner of your carpet and padding to see what’s below. If it’s plywood or cement, grab a sharp utility knife and slice the entire carpet into three- or four-foot strips, cutting through the backing but stopping short of the floor. If you see hardwood, you’ll want to cut the strips with scissors or tin snips to avoid damaging the wood.

Start pulling the carpet away from the tack strips on the perimeter. Roll up each section as you remove it and put it in a heavy-duty contractor bag.

Once you’ve taken up the carpet, use a pry bar to pull up the tack strips. The tacks are sharp, so use work gloves, and for safe disposal, put the tack strips inside the discarded carpet rolls.

Finally, take up the padding. If it was stapled into place, take out the staples using nail puller pliers. Use a putty knife to pry them up a little if necessary. If the padding was glued down, some heavy scraping may be required, or try an adhesive remover.

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: Install Carpeting

Replace or install carpet to make a room appear brand-new. Even better, you can save money by doing the job yourself.

How to Install Carpet


Love it or hate it, there are at least a few good reasons that homeowners choose carpeting today. For one, it absorbs the sound produced by television sets and stereo systems, overenthusiastic dogs, and raucous children. For another, carpet provides a soft, comfortable surface upon which to walk. And since it’s available in countless colors and patterns, carpeting can complement the decor of virtually any room. It can be somewhat challenging to install carpet, but with patience, preparation, and a some specialized tools, you can do the job yourself for a fraction of what it would cost to hire a professional.

Taking room measurements
Start by determining the square footage of the room in which you wish to install carpet. (To do this, simply multiply the room’s width by its length.) To be certain that you buy enough material, add 10 to 20 percent to your square footage calculation. Your carpet dealer can let you know whether you are neglecting any details; so that he can offer you the best advice possible, bring a sketch of the room’s layout to the store when you’re ready to choose a carpet.

Preparing the surface
Sweep and vacuum the floor thoroughly, taking this opportunity to check for damage to the floor that will lie beneath the carpet. Smooth out the surface by removing any globs of glue, errant nails, or built-up paint. Depending on the design of the room, it may be wise or even strictly necessary to remove doors and baseboard molding so that your carpeting fits squarely against all edges. (Replacing old wall-to-wall carpet? You can probably install the new carpet without having to take off the baseboards first.) The floor should be totally dry before you proceed, as residual moisture can lead to mold growth.

Nail down tack strips
If you are planning to install carpet with a pad, then you don’t need to use glue, but you do need to install tack strips around the perimeter (minus the doorways). Later, when the carpet has been laid, these tack strips will hold the carpet in place. For now, position the strips about a half-inch from the wall, with the tacks angling away from the center of the room. When you’re purchasing those tack strips, by the way, there’s a simple rule of thumb to remember: Wider is better.

Related: Installing Carpet (VIDEO)

How to Install Carpet - Samples


Aim to put two nails into each tack strip, butting one strip against the other, end to end. Once you have placed tack strips around the entire room, even around obstructions like air vents, move on to install the carpet pad. Cutting the sizes needed as you work, staple down the padding every two feet along the inside edge of the tack strips. Trim back any excess padding with a utility knife, and duct tape the seams between padding panels until you have covered the floor.

Laying the carpet
Before you put down recently purchased carpeting, give the material at least 24 hours to acclimate to the conditions of your home. During this time, the carpet may shrink or expand slightly, and allowing this to happen prior to installation helps you ensure professional-level results.

Seaming tape is used to join two or more sections of carpet. Apply the tape underneath the carpet seam, adhesive side up. That adhesive melts under a seaming iron (which you can rent from your local home improvement center, along with other specialized tools). As the adhesive cools, press down on the carpet edges you are connecting. Next, seal the seam with a carpet roller. If possible, try to locate seams in low-traffic or otherwise inconspicuous parts of the room you are carpeting.

Beginning in a corner, attach the carpeting to the tack strips using a knee kicker, which prevents lumps and bumps from forming. Then head over to the opposite side of the room, stretching and pulling the carpet along with you. (If the room dimensions warrant one, a power stretcher makes easier work of positioning the carpet). Continue to use the knee kicker as you secure the carpet over the tack strips. Cut away excess with a utility knife (or wall trimmer), and finish by fitting the carpet under the baseboards, if you didn’t remove them earlier. If you did remove the baseboards, reattach them now.

Finally, kick off your shoes and enjoy a luxurious stroll across your newly installed floor covering!

How To: Wallpaper a Corner

Follow these steps for great-looking results when wallpapering corners, often the most challenging part of the job.

If you’ve ever hung your own wallpaper, you’ll know that no corner is ever perfect. Here’s how to solve that problem. Split your corner piece lengthwise into two parts. The first half should turn the corner by a quarter inch. After you’ve hung your first piece, smooth out the bubbles and trim it. Then overlap it with the second piece, carefully matching the pattern in the corner. This way, you’ll have a perfectly plumb edge to match with your next full piece of wallpaper.

For more on wallpaper, consider:

Wallpaper Basics
Do-It-Yourself Wallpapering
Bob Vila Radio: Vintage Wallpaper