Category: Interior Design

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.

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 HIGH HATS or read the text below:

High Hat Lighting


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.



DIY Curtain Rod - Rope


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.




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.



DIY Curtain Rod - Pipe Fittings


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.



DIY Curtain Rod - Oar


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.



DIY Curtain Rod - Hooks


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.



DIY Ottoman - Fur


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.



DIY Ottoman - Crate


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.



DIY Ottoman - Fabric


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?



DIY Ottoman - Rope


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.



DIY Ottoman - Suitcase


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.



DIY Mirror Frame Projects - Repurposed Window


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.



DIY Mirror Frame Projects - Rope


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.



DIY Mirror Frame Projects - Racket


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.



DIY Mirror Projects - Pennies


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.



DIY Mirror Frame - Reclaimed Wood


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


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.



Installing Recessed Lighting - Eyeball


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.



Installing Recessed Lighting - Halogen


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.



Installing Recessed Lighting - Trim


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.



Installing Recessed Lighting - Steps


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.



Installing Recessed Lighting - Multiples


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.

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 BASEBOARD COVERS or read the text below:

Baseboard Covers


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.



DIY Nightstand - Tool Chest


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.



DIY Nightstand - Suitcases


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.



DIY Nightstand - Shelving


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.



DIY Nightstand - Step Stool


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.



DIY Nightstand - Pet Bed


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!

Weekend Projects: 5 Favorite DIY Wall Clocks

Make a wall clock that will not only tell people what time it is, but also express your personal style, interests, and creativity. It's not hard to do—you just need a bit of inspiration and a little time.

Since their advent in the Middle Ages, clocks have been made in a seemingly infinite range of styles. Even in the present day, they continue to be reinvented, with do-it-yourselfers coming up with ever more creative designs. It’s easy to join the fun: All you need is a DIY clock kit—the kind sold in most craft stores. The rest just depends on your imagination. Need a little help getting started? Scroll down to see five favorite DIY clock projects, any of which could be re-created in no time.



DIY Clock - Dominoes


Is that old dominoes set gathering dust in your drawer? It’s almost begging to be part of a DIY clock project! After all, there’s a domino tile to correspond with every hour in the livelong day. Once they’re properly arranged, simply glue the dominoes onto your chosen clock face. Emma’s Nook and Granny cleverly used cookware.



DIY Clock - Frames


Here’s a DIY clock that gives you hourly reason to appreciate your framed photos and keepsakes. To make yours, start by cutting a piece of white cardboard for the clock face. Proceed to mount the clock, hanging a dozen 2″ x 3″ frames around it. The only difficult part, the instructions note, is choosing what to put in the frames.



DIY Clock - Vinyl


Where does the time go? We used to love our records, and now we drop them off by the boxful at Goodwill. Before purging your collection, why not set aside one of your favorites and make something to commemorate the good old days. Watch this video tutorial to see how easy it can be to transform an LP into a rockin’ DIY clock.



DIY Clock - Globe


Out of one cardboard globe, you can make two worldly DIY clocks within minutes. First, score the globe across its equator. Next, slice the sphere in half. Drill holes at the poles, then slide the clock mechanisms through. That’s it! Gift the extra to a friend or hang the pair side by side, setting each to a different time zone.



DIY Clock - Magazines


Believe it or not, the colorful coils of this clock come from old magazines! No tools are required for this DIY—just patience. What you do is tightly twist magazine pages around a pencil, closing each roll with a dab of glue. Once you have made an ample supply, glue the coils together in whatever arrangement looks best.

Weekend Projects: 5 Stand-Out DIY Benches

A beautiful, sturdy DIY bench is a welcome addition to any foyer, mudroom, or outdoor space. Let one of these accessible designs inspire your next attempt to build one!

Consider the DIY bench and its beautiful simplicity: It celebrates the union of form and function, don’t you think? Whether indoors—perhaps in the mudroom or foyer—or out in the backyard, a DIY bench welcomes you to park your weary bones or rest your burden (shopping bags, gardening tools, and the like). Sure, you can buy a bench at a retail store or find one at your local flea market, but when you take the time to build your own, you can be sure that it meets your needs exactly.



DIY Bench - Spindles


To make this charming DIY bench via Ana White, start with four matching spindles. Cut your spindles to the desired height, then proceed to fasten them to a one-inch-thick wooden slab. Finish by painting the legs different colors, or choose a single hue that boldly contrasts with the finish you’ve chosen for the bench top.



DIY Bench - Reclaimed Wood


If scrap wood has been piling up in your workshop, why not use it to build a one-of-a-kind DIY bench like this one from Operation Paper Cut. The steps involved are straightforward; note, however, that besides the requisite materials and tools, you’re going to need basic woodworking skills and an equivalent degree of patience!



DIY Bench - Coffee Table Makeover


What do you do with a coffee table whose only redeeming quality is “good bones”? One option is to paint and upholster the piece, transforming a down-and-out eyesore into a chic and comfortable DIY bench, versatile and attractive enough to sit at the foot of your bed or in the entry hall. Visit Curbly for the full project tutorial.



DIY Bench - Pallet Furniture


Do-it-yourselfers love to build things out of wooden shipping pallets, because they are readily available free of charge (ask around at your local nursery or hardware store). One great reason to use pallets for a bench is that they come with a ready-made storage shelf. Get the details at Jenna and Calder.



DIY Bench - Bed Frame


Check out Little House in the Suburbs to see how a wooden bed frame can be transformed into a garden bench. Here, the headboard forms the back of the bench, while the footboard (cut in half) serves as the sides. Since the surface can be painted so easily, making a secondhand bed frame look like new is no problem at all.

Bob Vila Radio: DIY Headboards

Searching for the perfect headboard? Don't lose sleep over the options available in stores. Instead, design and build your own! It's easier than you think.

The most important part of any bed is the mattress: The right mattress on a good frame is key to a good night’s sleep. But if you want just the right look for your bed, it’s the search for a perfect headboard that might keep you up at night. Here are some ideas for constructing a headboard with a unique and creative look that’s completely your own.

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 DIY HEADBOARDS or read the text below:

DIY Headboards


Your custom do-it-yourself headboard can be attached to just about any basic metal bed frame or wooden platform, and the sky’s the limit when it comes to designing one. Some of the more creative headboards I’ve seen have been crafted from old barn doors, discarded shutters, mirrors or chalkboards. You can even make a headboard from plain plywood covered with a colorful fabric or quilt.

If you’re not ready to commit, a terrific and temporary idea for a headboard is to paint one right on the wall over the head of the bed. With some painter’s tape to lay out a design, a bit of creativity, and a steady hand on the paintbrush, you can make almost anything—and you can change it any time you’re ready to paint again.

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.