Interior Design - 2/23 - Bob Vila

Category: Interior Design

DIY Lite: This Curtain Rod Only Costs $12 to Make

Copper style doesn't have to cost a pretty penny. See how paint transforms wooden dowels (and few other surprising materials) into chic DIY curtain rods.

DIY Curtain Rods - Step 4

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

While often initially installed for privacy, window treatments do a lot to improve a space’s interior design. Curtains help fill out an empty wall, make windows appear larger, and even draw in accent colors from elsewhere in the room. Just as important as the design and texture of the fabric panels themselves is the decision on which hardware you use to hang them. Often, curtain rods are an afterthought, purchased with whatever remains of the budget window treatment budget. Sure, cheap tension rods get the job done, but their lack of style often detracts from the drapes. Metal rods with decorative finials and tiebacks, on the other hand, enhance the fabric with their sheen. For a luxe look on a budget, you’ve got to get creative. We made these with surprisingly simple supplies from the hardware store! By styling wooden dowels to look like copper rods, the DIY curtain rods were so inexpensive (just $12 apiece!) that we had money left over to craft statement-making tiebacks to match.


All You Need to Make DIY Curtain Rods, Finials, and Ties

Photo: Ohoh Blog for

MATERIALS AND TOOLS Available on Amazon (per window)
1inch wooden dowel
Wooden drawer knobs (2)
Contact adhesive
Metal curtain rod brackets that accommodate 1inch rods (2)
Wooden curtain rings (2)
Lamp sockets, ideally wooden (2)
Plastic sheeting
Copper spray paint
Cordless drill
Drywall screws
Rope (2 yards)
Cup hooks (2)


DIY Curtain Rods - Step 1

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Measure your window, then cut the 1-inch wooden dowel to a length at least 5 inches longer than your window is wide. Sand it completely to remove splinters.

Create finials for your DIY curtain rods from wooden drawer knobs that are slightly larger than 1-inch in diameter. Ours are rather simple in style, but when you shop the drawer knob selection at your local hardware store, you’ll see that you have many options here and can go as fancy as you like. Then, to attach, you’ll apply contact adhesive to one end of the dowel and the end of the knob that typically screws into drawers; wait a few seconds and press them together. Once the glue has dried, repeat on the other side of the curtain rod.


DIY Curtain Rods - Step 2

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Lay the DIY curtain rod, brackets, wooden rings, and the wooden lamp sockets (without the cords) out on top of a plastic sheet or old newspaper, then spray-paint them a copper. No copper accents in the room? No problem! You can choose whatever metallic hue best fits with your interior design—silver, gold, even black metallic—to give the wooden fixtures a high-end look. Wait until the first coat is dry to flip all of the items and apply a second coat. Repeat until you’ve completely covered all pieces.

Note: If your hardware store does not carry wooden lamp sockets, take a look at the cylindrical plastic or metal options available. Focus on picking a shape you like enough to decorate your curtain tieback later on. (We chose one with minimal ridges so that it wouldn’t look like it might otherwise attach to a lightbulb.) Once you paint it, you won’t be able to tell the difference!


DIY Curtain Rods - Step 3

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Stand on a ladder and use a cordless drill to fasten the curtain brackets on the wall, one on each side of the window. Fake a larger window and a higher ceiling by positioning these brackets (and the DIY curtain rod) between 4 and 6 inches above the window.


DIY Curtain Rods - Step 4

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Hang your curtains on the rod, and place it back on its wall-mounted brackets. Depending on the type of brackets you’ve chosen, you may need to use an additional screw at each end to firmly hold the rod in place; refer to the manufacturer instructions for the bracket, if you’re not certain.


DIY Curtain Rods - Step 5

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Repeat steps 1 through 4 to make as many DIY curtain rods as there are windows in the room. After you’ve outfitted each glass pane with a set of window treatments, you can use the money you’ve saved by DIYing rather than buying to create matching curtain tiebacks for each fabric panel.

Grab a spray-painted wooden curtain ring, a wooden lamp socket in matching color, and rope. Cut 1 yard of rope, fold it in the middle, and pass its rounded end through the bottom of the socket. Knot the loose ends beneath the socket.


DIY Curtain Rods - Step 6

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Pass the looped rope through the ring, wrap it down, and then pass the socket through the loop. Pull the wooden lamp socket so that the rope tightens around the ring and the knot slides into the socket itself.


DIY Curtain Rods - Step 7

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Screw a cup hook onto the wall next to the window about 6 inches above the windowsill with the hook facing up to hold the doubled-up rope. You can make a knot around the hook to prevent the rope from slipping.

Repeat steps 5 through 7 to make additional tiebacks for every curtain panel.


DIY Curtain Rods - Step 8

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

When you’re ready to open the curtains and let the sunshine in, simply pull back your fabric panel and wrap the two ends of the rope tieback around it so that the socket passes through the ring. The simple yet distinctively modern shapes strung around the lower third of your shower curtains balance the room’s DIY curtain rods for a completely chic window treatment.


DIY Curtain Rods with a Copper Glow

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila


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


DIY Projects Anyone Can Do

All of the Best Hands-on Tutorials from
Get the nitty-gritty details you need—and the jaw-dropping inspiration you want—from our collection of the favorite projects ever featured on Whether your goal is to fix, tinker, build or make something better, your next adventure in DIY starts here.

Bob Vila Radio: Picking the Perfect Wallpaper

Wallpapering success begins with choosing the right pattern, one as suitable for the dimensions and style of the room as much for your skill level as a DIYer. Read on for a few top tips on navigating the dizzying number of options on the market today.

If you’re adding wallpaper to your home, be sure to invest time in choosing the right design. After all, you’re likely going to be living with the look for a long time.

Choosing a Wallpaper Pattern




The wise course? Ignore passing fads and narrow your focus to include only classic designs you’re sure that you’ll still love several years from now.

If you’re applying the wallpaper yourself, bear in mind that textured solid colors make for the safest bet. You don’t have to worry about carefully aligning each sheet and where imperfections exist—due to improper hanging or the inherent irregularity of the room—they tend not to be very noticeable.

Patterned wallpapers often look stunning, but again, if you’re DIYing, know your limitations. You may want to focus on patterns with repeats of six inches or fewer. That way, slight misalignments don’t end up compromising the final result. If you can’t resist a larger pattern (one with a repeat of 12 inches or more), compromise by applying it in a small room whose dimensions require fewer sheets and therefore, fewer opportunities for a mistake to be made.

Striped wallpaper can be especially tricky to line up correctly. Also, once in place, stripes tends to call attention to any parts of the room that aren’t level or square. On the plus side, when expertly hung, striped wallpaper really works to draw the eye upward, making a cramped space feel that much bigger.

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

So, You Want to… Reface Your Fireplace

Tearing out a fireplace can be both terribly messy and expensive—not to mention unnecessary. Read on about a more cost-efficient (and DIY!) alternative for your next room refresh.

Fireplace Refacing

Photo: Zillow Digs home in McKinney, TX

You can repaint the walls, re-carpet the floor, and replace all outdated furniture, but leaving that eyesore of an old fireplace untouched in a room refresh will only hold your new design back. Fireplaces are natural focal points, so the condition of yours sets the stage for the whole room. Since tearing it out can be both messy and costly, many homeowners opt for a more cost-efficient alternative: fireplace refacing. This process focuses on updating just the surface of the fireplace without changing how the room’s heating operates at all. As a result, so that you can modernize the look of the entire room—all while reigning in your DIY project’s timeline and budget!

Design Options Materials

The first major consideration when committing to refacing the fireplace involves selecting the ideal materials. Today’s homeowners have many options from which to choose: Smooth concrete, new tile, granite, rustic brick, even wood can breathe new life into an outdated fireplace surround. Whether your hearth is operable or just for looks, there is a fireplace refacing material available and ideal for installation.

Fireplace Refacing with Concrete


A concrete or stucco mix can be applied by hand directly to the surface of an existing masonry fireplace, then either troweled smooth or a finished with a texture to suit the space. Both DIY products come as dry powdered mixes to be combined with water when you’re ready—and very affordable supplies, at that. A bag of either concrete or stucco mix costs about $9 and will cover approximately 25 sq ft of fireplace when applied 3/8-inch thick.

Fireplace Refacing with Wood


Wood facing visually lends a warm, natural appearance to a structure known to physically keep a room toasty. Leave it unfinished for rustic vibes, or coat with stain or paint for a traditional (even crisp and clean) look. Both paneling and thin wood boards work well to cover the existing fireplace. Depending on which you choose and its variety of wood, your fireplace refacing supplies can range from less than $1 per foot of board for common 1″-thick pine to over $12 per foot of board for mahogany, walnut, and more exotic hardwoods. Before buying in bulk to reface a working fireplace, consult your local fire codes to know the limitations. The National Standard Building Code prohibits the installation of any combustible material, including wood, within 6 inches of the sides of a working fireplace. Local fire codes vary—even be more restrictive—so if you’re redesigning the area around an operable fireplace, contact your local building authority for the rules in your community first.

Fireplace Refacing with Veneer


Masonry veneers, sometimes called “thin brick” or “thin stone,” are manufactured to look nearly identical to their real brick and stone namesakes—at a fraction of their weight and thickness. The microscopic differences between an installed veneer and the real thing make veneer a top choice for an authentic fireplace look. Depending on the brand and the pattern of brick or stone you choose (there are many), veneer sheets range in price from $5 to $15 per sq ft.

Fireplace Refacing with Tiles


Tile is a rather traditional fireplace refacing material, available in nearly limitless choices of color and design. Install it yourself, and this option can even be affordable! Tiles range from under $1 per sq ft to as much as $15 per sq ft, depending on brand and type.

Fireplace Refacing with Marble


The same type of stone slabs commonly used for kitchen backsplashes and shower walls can be brought into the living space as fireplace refacing materials. Choose from slate, granite, quartz, soapstone, and more to suit your individual style, but know that the real deal will cost you. Stone slabs are pricier than other refacing materials, starting around $50 per sq ft for granite and quartz and around $70 a sq ft for soapstone and slate. That’s just a starting point, though: Costs can exceed $100 per sq ft for slabs with desirable hues and patterns!

DIY Fireplace Refacing - What to Expect with Installation


What to Expect from Installation

As can be expected, installation varies by the type of material you choose and the look you aim to achieve. The simplest and therefore most popular refacing technique involves installing the new materials directly over the existing fireplace surround or, if there is none, the neighboring drywall. This method is suitable only when the existing materials are in good shape—that means no loose bricks or crumbling tiles, so give it a close inspection before you begin. If your current surround is in poor shape or you’d prefer that the new fireplace takes on a different size (short and squat or a grand floor-to-ceiling treatment), your first task involves disassembling the old fireplace facing so that you install directly on the drywall behind it.

Masonry veneers are designed to follow a very straightforward installation process. These adhere directly to existing masonry using a coat of veneer mortar (an adhesive compound strong enough to secure the lightweight refacing materials) that comes recommended by the manufacturer. If you want to install masonry veneers over wood or drywall, though, you must first attach metal lath to the wall; the box of materials should offer an easy-to-follow step-by-step from the manufacturer.

Wood paneling or wood boards, on the other hand, need something more to attach to. Typically, installing wood facing over masonry is a two-part process: First mount batts (thin wood boards) to the masonry with concrete screws and then install the wood facing over these with regular screws or nails. Hide any divots where you’ve drilled or hammered by filling with wood putty, and a coat of stain or paint can transform the new structure from a minimalist feature to a more traditionally sleek piece of architecture.

Tile or stone slabs require the surface beneath be very flat for installation, often accomplished by skimming the surface flat with mortar before installing the fireplace refacing material of choice. Tile and stone can even be installed directly over drywall, so long as you use the right mortar: Ceramic tile requires ceramic tile mortar, porcelain tile requires porcelain tile mortar and stone slab manufacturers may call for veneer mortar. While small tile and slab projects are DIY-friendly—say, covering the brick portion of a fireplace that features masonry nearest the fireplace opening and frames the structure with a wood surround—you may want to call in a professional tile setter or mason to at least get a quote on a fireplace refacing project that will encompass an entire wall.

Deciding Whether or Not to Include a Mantle When Fireplace Refacing


Mantel or No Mantel

Rustic fireplaces often boast bulky mantels that add to their log-cabin appeal, but a concrete fireplace without any mantel at all can look spectacular in a contemporary setting—particularly when its floor-to-ceiling height isn’t chopped by a horizontal ledge. Ultimately, whether or not you incorporate a shelf mantel in your refacing project depends on your desired style.

Similar to the use of wood as a facing material, if you want to install a wood mantel over a working fireplace, fire codes will apply. In general, a mantel that extends an average of 1.5-inches outward from the wall, should be positioned no closer than 12 inches from the top of the fireplace opening. The farther the mantel extends outward, the greater the amount of clearance it needs. Always check with the local authorities to be on the safe side.

Mantels can be made from scratch, purchased new, or even saved from another construction. If your existing fireplace has a gorgeous mantle, there’s no reason you have to get rid of it in this room refresh—it can be removed and reinstalled over whatever new refacing material you choose. Or, check out secondhand stores that carry old building materials, like the Habitat for Humanity ReStore, for a deal on a ready-made mantel.

Once you’ve chosen your mantel, keep in mind that the heavy ledges must be adequately supported by attaching them with long bolts directly into wall studs to hold their weight. Beefy, oversized mantels, depending on their weight, may require additional reinforcement in the form of installing stud backers in the wall before the mantel can be hung. The extra time and care that you take ensuring a proper installation will then ease concerns about any of your home decor crashing down later, providing enough peace of mind to relax in your wholly redesigned living space.

Genius! This Bed Lifts and Lowers at the Push of a Button

No matter the size of your living space, you can follow the lead of this DIY to turn a garage fixture into a lofted bed.

DIY Lofted Bed - Genius!


Downsizing from a sprawling abode to a tiny home requires sacrifices of space and comfort—especially when it comes to the bedroom. Instead of sleeping on a comfortable queen-sized mattress, tiny home owners usually spend their nights on a convertible bed or lofted bed accessed by stairs. DIY blogger Ana White, who was designing a small house from scratch, disliked the space-consuming construction of traditional lofted beds. Instead, she brought a garage door lift system indoors to build a dreamy sleeping arrangement that makes room for not one but two beds. Following Ana’s plans for a DIY loft bed, you can recreate the rustic nighttime sanctuary in your own tiny home or other space-challenged interior.

With her client’s 13-foot-tall tiny house framed on a 24-by-8.5-foot trailer, Ana needed to make smart use of the limited space to create a functional yet comfortable alternative to a full-sized bedroom without cramping the living space. She devised a genius solution: An “elevator” that raises and lowers a lofted bed via a garage door lift system. After installing the lift on the ceiling and sliding door hardware to two walls at the back of the tiny home, Ana strung up a wooden bed frame on pulleys to create a height-adjustable sleeping space.

During the day, it remains in the highest position nearly 7 feet off the ground, neither eating up precious real estate on the floor nor creating a significantly lower ceiling in the cove with the sectional sofa. Yet, with the push of a button, the DIY loft bed effortlessly moves from a lifted position at the top of rail to a floor-level position at the bottom of the rail. Homeowners can also adjust the loft bed to a half-height position, which leaves ample space in the cavity below. Ana furnished this space with a sectional that swivels to convert into a second bed in minutes, providing guests with a bunk-bed style sleeping solution. While the garage door lift is rated to hold up to 250 pounds—easily enough support to move the platform bed up and down—pins bolted into the wall lock the lofted bed securely in place at whichever height you choose rather than leaving it suspended, so that you can rest easy without the bed wobbling.

The adjustable height of this ingenious DIY loft bed makes Ana’s custom-designed tiny home feel open and spacious. Both homeowners and visitors have their own private, secluded space for relaxation without the threat of claustrophobia. Plus, if you position the lofted bed facing large windows like Ana did, it serves as the ideal vantage point to admire your outdoor surroundings. We’re just about ready to pay a visit to this Alaskan retreat!

FOR MORE: Ana White

DIY Lofted Bed - Genius!



DIY Projects Anyone Can Do

All of the Best Hands-on Tutorials from
Get the nitty-gritty details you need—and the jaw-dropping inspiration you want—from our collection of the favorite projects ever featured on Whether your goal is to fix, tinker, build or make something better, your next adventure in DIY starts here.

DIY Lite: The Easiest Way to Upholster a Headboard

Create the cozy bedroom of your dreams with this simple DIY upholstery job—all for less than $100.

DIY Upholstered Headboard

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Whether sleek or tufted, upholstered headboards consistently complete the look and feel of the basic bedroom. The shape and texture create a focal point at the head of the bed, while the soft fabric itself adds an extra layer of “cozy” to the resting space. Similarly, it’s a near guarantee that these bedroom furnishings can sell for more than your entire bedding set combined, sometimes as much as the mattress! Even simple, minimalist designs cost hundreds of dollars—but not so when you do it yourself. The materials for this particular DIY upholstered headboard ring up at a fraction of the cost of similar options sold today, and won’t eat up valuable time, either. In just one afternoon, you can craft an upholstered headboard that captures your own unique style while still keeping to a budget.


DIY Upholstered Headboard - Supplies

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

MATERIALS AND TOOLS Available on Amazon
12 mm plywood
Bowl or lid
 Quilt batting
Glue gun
Upholstery fabric
Staple gun
8 mm staples
Measuring tape
Furnishing nails
2inch metal rings (2)
Drawer knobs
Drywall anchors (2) (optional)
Dowel screws to fit drawer knobs (2)


DIY Upholstered Headboard - Step 1

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

When you pick up plywood from your hardware store, ask the employees to cut it to the size you need—most big-box stores will. To hang out past a 76-inch-wide king size bed, we made those dimensions 96 inches long by 32 inches high. Smaller than that, you’ll reduce the length but always keep the height at 32 inches.

For a queen bed: 74 inches by 32 inches
For a full bed: 66 inches by 32 inches
For a twin bed: 49 inches by 32 inches

Once you have the plywood board cut to the dimensions that best fit your bed, you can round the corners on your own. Position a plate or a circular lid in one corner of the soon-to-be DIY upholstered headboard and trace it edge. Cut out the quarter of the circle nearest the corner with the jigsaw so that you’re left with a rounded corner, and sand the edge to remove the splinters. Repeat for each corner.


DIY Upholstered Headboard - Step 2

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Cut a piece of quilt batting roughly large enough to cover the whole plywood headboard. Stick it onto one side of the plywood using a glue gun. If you want it to be extra plump, you might consider doubling the amount of wadding used by cutting a second sheet and gluing between the layers.


DIY Upholstered Headboard - Step 3

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Once the glue is dry, trim the batting closer to the shape and dimensions of your headboard and glue its edges to the edge of your plywood.


DIY Upholstered Headboard - Step 4

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Flip the board so that the batting faces down, and place it on top of upholstery fabric of your choice. Trace the board’s shape onto the fabric in marker, leaving space for an extra 3 inches of fabric all around. You don’t want to cut the fabric too short, since that extra length will wrap around the edge of the headboard and attach at the back.


DIY Upholstered Headboard - Step 5

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Without moving the board around on the upholstery fabric too much, pull the fabric around one side of the plywood and fasten it to the back using a staple gun and 8 mm staples. It’s best to fasten one side and then work on the side opposite it, rather than working clockwise or counterclockwise around the board. That way, after your staple down the left side, you can lightly stretch the fabric across the front of the headboard and wrap it around the right side so that the fabric is taut. Use enough staples to hold firmly the fabric; one every 2 to 3 inches is a good rule of thumb.

Save the corners for last.


DIY Upholstered Headboard - Step 6

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Pull the very bottom right corner of fabric over the back of the headboard and staple it to the plywood. Then make small folds in towards the middle of the corner on either side in order to keep the round shape, stapling each as you go. You will use more staples to fix the fabric on the corner than for the sides.

Repeat on the other three corners.


DIY Upholstered Headboard - Step 7

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

To easily add an elegant finish to your DIY upholstered headboard, hammer furnishing nails along its edges. Lay a ruler along the board side to help you space nails only 1 inch apart from each other (you may even indicate where to add them in marker). Then tap each individual furnishing nail into place, according to the instructions on the packaging.


DIY Upholstered Headboard - Step 8

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Cut two fabric strips from your upholstery fabric scraps, each 30 inches long by 4 inches wide. Using a ruler, draw a line down the exact middle lengthwise (2 inches in) on each.

Apply hot glue to each 30-inch edge on the first strip, and fold them in to meet at the middle where you’ve just drawn this line. Press and hold until the glue cools completely to keep the fold. Repeat with the second strip so that you have two doubled-up strips that are 30 inches long by 2 inches wide.


DIY Upholstered Headboard - Step 9

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Pass each strip through its own 2-inch metal ring, and fold it in half so that the ring is at the center.

Now, on the board, measure 12 inches from the top and 12 inches from the right edge to position and staple down the loose ends on the first folded strip. (Hint: You should still have about 3 inches of length hanging past the top edge.) Repeat with the second strip, this time 12 inches from the top and 12 inches from the left side. Don’t hesitate to use a lot of staples here, as these strips will be how you hang up your DIY upholstered headboard.


DIY Upholstered Headboard - Step 10

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Finally, move your bed aside and prepare to hang the DIY upholstered headboard on your bedroom wall by first mounting two decorative drawer knobs (either cabinet or small dresser knobs work nicely) for the rings to slip over.

Mounting your headboard will be similar to mounting a large frame over two picture-hanging hooks: Place the headboard against the wall where you intend to hang it, check that it’s level, and pull the straps taut so that you can mark the location of the rings. (Hint: It’s best to make your mark at the top center of each ring so you know where to position the top of each knob’s base.)

Since most knobs require rear-mount installation and you cannot access the space behind the wall, you’ll have to swap out the screws that come with the knobs for dowel screws twice the length but the same width. If you’re not mounting your headboard directly to wall studs, consider installing drywall anchors first to offer extra support. Otherwise, pre-drill holes into the wall at each location and twist in your dowel screws. Then, hang your DIY upholstered headboard over the exposed ends of the screws and cap each screw with the decorative round knobs.

All that’s left to do is push your bed back in place—we won’t judge if you decide to call it a day after this statement-making DIY! Your work here is done.


DIY Upholstered Headboard Close-Up

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

DIY Upholstered Headboard

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

DIY Upholstered Headboard Mounted to the Wall

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

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


DIY Projects Anyone Can Do

All of the Best Hands-on Tutorials from
Get the nitty-gritty details you need—and the jaw-dropping inspiration you want—from our collection of the favorite projects ever featured on Whether your goal is to fix, tinker, build or make something better, your next adventure in DIY starts here.

All You Need to Know About Crown Molding

Hoping to transform a room with trim? Get the lowdown on this elegant upgrade!

Zillow Digs home in McLean, VA

Zillow Digs home in McLean, VA

It’s the crowning glory of interior design: stylish overhead molding that adds architectural character while producing a visual separation between the walls and the ceiling. Whether installed to conceal cracks or an inferior taping job, or purely for aesthetics, crown molding brings elegance and personality to your space.

Put on a Proper Top!

Sometimes called cornices, crown molding dates back to ancient Greece, where craftsmen and builders chiseled ornate moldings from travertine stone or molded them from plaster. In generic terms, today’s crown molding is any horizontal trim that separates the walls from the ceiling or adorns the tops of other architectural elements, such as door casings and cabinets. More specifically, crown molding is the term for a particular trim shape contoured to fit at an angle between the wall and ceiling. Yet manufactured crown molding comes in a variety of designs, and in stock widths ranging from 1-½ inches to 7-½ inches.

Massive crown molding, the type you’re likely to see in a formal courtroom or federal building, is usually crafted from multiple pieces of trim. Finish carpenters can create large cornices by combining crown molding with additional types of molding, such as baseboard, bead board, cove and other types of trim to produce an imposing custom look.

Crown Molding Materials


Get to Know Molding Materials

If you’re unfamiliar with the trim aisle at your local DIY store, you might be surprised to find crown molding is manufactured from a variety of materials. Each has its pros and cons.

• Wood crown molding is the industry standard, and you can choose from paint-grade pine or, if you prefer to stain the trim, a variety of hardwoods, including ash, oak, and walnut. Simple wood crown starts around $1 per foot for plain pine and goes up in price depending on size and ornateness. You could pay as much as $30 a foot for large hardwood crown molding that features elaborate milled designs.

• Medium-density fiberboard (MDF) molding, produced by combining sawdust and resin under pressure to form trim pieces, is a less-expensive option. You can get large, detailed crown for between $1 and $7 a foot, depending on design. A lot of MDF molding is meant to be painted, but you can find a few stock designs that come with a thin veneer that’s suitable for staining. The downside to MDF is its softer nature, which makes it prone to nicks and scratches.

• PVC and polyurethane moldings hold up well in bathrooms and other high-humidity areas where wood tends to warp. Molded and extruded, these moldings are lightweight and easy to cut, and their cost ranges from around $2 to $4 a foot. This type of crown molding usually installs with construction adhesive, making it DIY friendly, but design choice is limited.

• Polystyrene molding is budget-friendly and, like PVC and polyurethane, a snap to cut and install with foam-safe adhesive. It starts under $1 per foot, but it dents easily and, upon close inspection, its texture resembles the foam used to make foam-type coffee cups. Two or three coats of quality paint will help smooth out the surface texture.

• Plaster crown molding is best suited for large elaborate designs on high ceilings, such as two-story entryways, where it commands attention and creates a strong visual impact. You won’t find this specialty item at DIY centers but can order custom-cast designs from many traditional lumberyards. Plaster crown is pricey, up to $30 a foot, plus it requires professional installation.

Crown Molding in the Living Room

Photo: Zillow Digs home in Greenwich, CT

Consider Design Carefully

While nearly all rooms can benefit from a crown molding upgrade, those with high ceilings are especially suited because the molding creates a visually unifying effect that makes the ceiling feel more like a part of the overall design.

When shopping for crown molding, consider the vibe of the room it will enhance. Victorian-style crown, for example, would look out of place in a rustic log cabin. Large, detailed trim would overwhelm a small room or one with low ceilings, while thin crown molding lacks the presence a spacious, high-ceilinged room demands. To achieve visual balance, select crown molding similar in size and style to other trim in the room, such as baseboard molding, window trim, and cabinet trim. Use the same discerning eye when deciding between painted or stained crown. If the door, window, and base trim are all painted, a stained wood crown molding probably wouldn’t suit the space.

Installing Crown Molding


Install Like a Pro

The less expensive types of crown molding—PVC, polyurethane, and polyethylene—are easiest to install. Start by making 45-degree miter joints on both inside and outside corners. (A miter joint is a joint where the ends of two separate pieces are cut on an angle and fitted together.)

Use a miter saw or a hand-held coping saw to create sharp, precise cuts. For an inside corner, measure to the corner and transfer the measurement to the back side of the molding; then make a 45-degree cut to create an angle where the back side is longer than the front side. For an outside corner, transfer the measurement to the front side of the trim and cut the angle in the opposite direction to create a 45-degree angle with the front edge as the longest point. For best results, follow the old carpenter adage: Measure twice, cut once!

Attach using the adhesive recommended by the molding manufacturer, and fill inside corners and gaps with latex caulking before painting the molding.

Installing MDF and wood crown molding requires finish carpentry skills, specifically the ability to cut and fit inside coping joints. Coping joints involve “back beveling,” a precise process of cutting and filing away the backside of the molding to create a fluid front edge that fits the adjoining trim profile perfectly. When installed correctly, coping joints mimic miter joints but they don’t gap. Inside miter joints for wood and MDF are discouraged because the attachment process (nailing or screwing) causes the joints to gap.

If you don’t feel confident cutting and fitting coping joints but aren’t prepared to hire a finish carpenter, consider purchasing decorative corner blocks (like these) that install on both inside and outside corners. These allow you to make blunt, 90-degree cuts on the ends of the molding and butt the ends against the decorative corners.

Wood crown molding attaches with finish nails or finish screws to both the ceiling plate and to the wall studs. If you’re having oversize crown molding installed, your carpenter may have to install additional blocking in the ceiling to support the weight of your ornate decorative accent.

All You Need to Know About Soapstone Countertops

Find out if this natural beauty is the best choice for your kitchen or bathroom upgrade.

Soapstone Countertops


If your kitchen or bathroom remodel wish list includes natural stone countertops, consider eco-sensitive soapstone. The warm look and cool feel of soapstone countertops add distinctive character to any space it’s installed—and because it’s more DIY-doable than other stone options, the choice can mean substantial savings. Get the info you need here to be an informed shopper at the showroom.

Also known as steatite, soapstone has been a favorite of sculptors for centuries. It contains the mineral talc—yes, as in talcum powder—making it relatively soft. Depending on the amount of talc present, soapstone varies on the Mohs scale (a 10-point ranking system for mineral hardness developed by geologist and mineralogist Friedrich Moh) between 1 and 5; most soapstone in today’s countertops commonly rank between 2.5 and 3.5. That makes it similar in hardness to marble, with a Mohs value of 3, and much softer than quartz, with a Mohs value of 7. While hardness is desirable in a countertop for structural stability, what soapstone lacks in hardness, it makes up in density. Soapstone particles are extremely compact—more so than those of quartz, marble, or granite—which makes it more sanitary and easier to wipe clean.


Soapstone Countertop In Kitchen


Smooth, beautiful soapstone doesn’t require a sealant to protect its good looks. Its impenetrable surface reduces the risk of bacterial growth, always a plus in a kitchen or bath. Often used in the construction of fireplaces, soapstone is among the most heat-resistant stone available, so setting a hot pan on the countertop won’t crack the surface.

Soapstone darkens over time, however, via a natural process akin to oxidation, so it will eventually develop a distinct patina that some homeowners find appealing and others don’t. The main downside to soapstone, however, is its tendency to scratch or chip under heavy wear. Accidentally dropping a cast iron skillet on the counter could result in a chip, and chopping food directly on its surface would surely leave knife marks.


Soapstone Countertops Price

Photo: Zillow Digs Home in Washington, D.C.

Because it’s DIY-friendly, a homeowner skilled in basic carpentry can save money by purchasing soapstone slabs and doing the installation. Raw soapstone slabs range in price from $45 to $85 per square foot, depending on where the stone was quarried and its talc content (lower talc content—and a harder surface—is usually more expensive).

Professional installation can raise the cost an additional $50 to $65 per square foot, bringing the total for professionally installed soapstone countertops to between $95 and $150 per square foot.  Thicker slabs (standard thickness is 1 ¼ inch), such custom add-ons as grooved drainage boards, and elaborate edge profiles will add to the final cost.  As a comparison, quartz and granite countertops, both of which require professional installation, can run as high as $200 per square foot, installed.


Soapstone Slab


Depending on the region where it’s quarried, soapstone ranges in color from soft white and light gray to deep charcoal, with most types exhibiting gentle veining. Some contains hints of pearl, blue or green, but the most prevalent hues are whites and grays. Remember soapstone’s tendency to darken over time: A pale gray will eventually weather to a deeper, richer shade of gray, while a dark gray countertop may eventually appear almost black. And as products of nature, no two soapstone slabs will be identical, so expect a slight discrepancy between joined slabs. To help you decide on a shade, visit a kitchen showroom for some samples that you can study in the lighting of your own kitchen. Keep in mind additional design and color changes you’re planning for the remodel, and imagine how the countertop will look in the finished room.


Soapstone Sink


As mentioned, soapstone countertops are one such kitchen or bathroom addition that can be left to the pros or DIYed to better adhere to a renovation budget.

• If you’re having the countertops professionally installed, request that a company representative come out and take your kitchen measurements, instead of submitting your own measurements. That way, you won’t be stuck paying for an error if a slab doesn’t fit. Soapstone fabricators create a template from the measurements and then cut the slab to match exactly.

• If you’ve got basic carpentry skills and are comfortable using power tools, you may choose to install soapstone yourself. Due to its high talc content, it’s reasonably simple to cut soapstone slabs with a regular circular saw, fitted with a diamond-tip masonry blade. Holes for drop-in sinks as well as a shaped profile edge can be cut using a router with a diamond bit. You’ll get the straightest, cleanest cuts if you clamp a straightedge to the soapstone to serve as a cutting guide. Be sure to apply masking tape to the countertop’s surface on both sides of the cutline to reduce the risk of scratching the surface with the saw foot during cutting. But it’s recommended that DIYers create a template from thin plywood, like the pros do, and make sure the measurements are precise before transferring the pattern to the actual soapstone. Once the soapstone has been cut, all edges (including the stock slab’s rough square edges) are easy to sand smooth with 200-grit sandpaper.

Standard soapstone slabs are 84 inches long, so if your countertop is longer, it will require one or more seams. Professional installers position seams where they’re least visible, such as in front of a sink or a drop-in cooktop. The slabs are heavy and unwieldy, so you’ll have to recruit strong helpers to assist in lifting and positioning the countertop. Soapstone seams are filled with compatible two-part adhesive. Once the adhesive sets, any over-fill can be sanded away. Sinks and cooktops should be installed, per their manufacturer instructions, once the countertop is in position.

The standard process for installing a soapstone countertop is to first ensure than the counter base is perfectly level. If not, insert shims beneath the base to level it. The slab installs directly on the base, no underlayment necessary. When the cabinet base is ready, you’ll make all the necessary cuts for seams and cutouts before positioning the slab. Drop-in sinks and cooktops come with their own cutout templates.

Soapstone is heavy, and once the countertop is positioned on the cabinet base, its weight will hold it in place, but you’ll still need to apply a bead of sealant to the seams on the underside of the countertop, where the slab meets the base.


Cleaning Soapstone Countertops

Photo: Zillow Digs Home in Santa Barbara, CA

Because it requires no sealing, soapstone is relatively low-maintenance. With minimum care, your new countertop can retain its good looks for many years.

• Enhance your counter’s natural darkening progression by applying mineral oil to the surface every week or two and rubbing it in thoroughly. The mineral oil treatment will make the patina more uniform. It usually takes seven to nine months for the countertop to reach its full patina.

• Once the patina is fully developed, apply mineral oil if the countertop begins to look dry to restore luster and sheen. Once or twice a year is usually sufficient.

• Clean soapstone countertops with an all-purpose kitchen cleaner or mild soap and a dishrag.

• While the heat from cookware straight off the stove won’t damage the countertop, if the pan is rough on the bottom, such as a cast iron skillet, it could scratch the surface. Use trivets!

• Chop and dice food on a cutting board, not on your countertop.

• Minimize chips and dings that do occur by coloring them in with a matching permanent marker and then rubbing mineral oil over the surface.

• Oil and grease can discolor new soapstone, so wipe up spills promptly and, if necessary, rub a bit of acetone (nail polish remover will suffice) on an oil stain to lighten it. Once your countertop reaches its full patina, oil discoloration won’t be a problem.

• If your soapstone countertop develops an uneven patina, you can remove it by sanding the entire surface with fine-grit sandpaper, and then applying the mineral oil process described above to help the new patina develop uniformly.

• While there are products on the market that claim to seal soapstone against darkening, they cannot penetrate the countertop’s dense surface, so they must be applied once or twice a month. If you’re worried about the darkening effect of soapstone, it might be better to choose a different countertop material such as quartz or granite, which won’t darken over time.

All You Need to Know About Quartz Countertops

Wondering whether this fashionable material is perfect for your kitchen or bathroom project? Get all of your research done right here.

Quartz Countertops in the Kitchen


Beautiful, durable, easy-care quartz is among the most popular countertop materials available—but it is pricey. If you’re considering quartz for your kitchen or bathroom, first get the 411 on this trendy topper before you buy. This complete countertop primer will set you up all of the necessary information on selecting and caring for quartz countertops, so you can make a smart decision and enjoy your work surface for years to come.

What Is a Quartz Countertop?

A visit to a kitchen showroom nowadays will show you a dazzling array of quartz countertop designs and patterns that remarkably mimic real marble and other natural stone. But quartz has come a long way! First appearing in Italy in the 1960s, these countertops were developed—by combining ground quartz particles with resins into a slab—as an alternative to stone that wouldn’t easily crack or break. While the resins added just enough flexibility to do the trick, early quartz countertops were a dull-looking cream and tan. Cutting-edge improvements in solid-surface technology have elevated quartz from functional to fabulous. With an abundance of finish choices and endless combinations of color and edge styles, you’ll likely find something stunning that suits your home.

Not only will you appreciate the look of quartz, you’ll find it remarkably easy to maintain—unlike marble and natural stone, which require a special sealant and can be finicky to care for. Quartz contains 90 to 94 percent ground quartz and 6 to 10 percent polymer resins and pigments, combined to produce a granite-hard slab that can duplicate the look of mesmerizing marble swirls or earthy natural stone, without the maintenance. Quartz also resists scratching and cracking to a greater degree than many natural countertops, ranking a “7” in hardness on the Moh’s scale (developed in 1822 by Friedrich Moh to rate mineral hardness). Marble, in comparison, ranks only a “3.”

A note to homeowners in the market to remodel: When exploring countertop options, make sure not to confuse quartz with quartzite. Quartz is engineered with pigments and resins, while quartzite is actually sandstone that, through natural metamorphosis, was exposed to intense heat, which caused it to solidify. Mined from large stone quarries and cut into solid slabs, quartzite is also available for countertops—but, unlike quartz, it must be sealed before use and again once or twice a year thereafter.


Quartz Countertops in Milpitas CA Zillow Home

Photo: Zillow Digs home in Milpitas, CA

What Are the Pros and Cons of Quartz?

Thanks to its non-porous nature, quartz is mold-, stain-, and mildew-resistant, making it a breeze to keep not merely clean but also germ- and bacteria-free. Quartz also resists heat damage—up to a point. Manufacturers market quartz as able to withstand temperatures up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit (one reason it works well as fireplace surrounds). But “thermal shock” can result from placing a hot pan straight from the oven or stovetop onto a cold quartz countertop, which can lead to cracking or discoloring. And while quartz does resist staining because liquids can’t penetrate its surface, it’s not 100 percent stain-proof. Messes should be cleaned up quickly to best preserve quartz countertops’ original color.

The biggest downside to quartz, however, is cost. While a preformed or laminate countertop will set you back a few hundred dollars, quartz countertops cost between $70 to $100 per sq. ft., installed, comparable to the price of natural stone countertops. For a mid-size kitchen, you can easily spend a few thousand dollars for quartz.

If you’re planning a backyard kitchen, steer clear of quartz altogether. It’s not suitable for outdoor installation, as the sun’s UV rays can break down the resin binders and degrade the countertop, leading to fading and eventual warping.


Choosing a Style for Quartz Countertops


How Do I Choose the Best Look?

With such a vast selection, making up your mind can be a challenge! So bring home a few quartz samples from a kitchen showroom before settling on a specific color or design. Under your own lighting, and against the backdrop of your cabinets and walls, you’ll be better able to choose a pattern and design that complements your kitchen décor. It helps to have a good idea of what you want your finished kitchen to look like before you buy. You can browse through design books at any kitchen center, or get ideas from show homes and home-design magazines and websites. As you plan, keep these points in mind:

Seams: If your counter is longer than 120 inches, or if it involves a complex configuration, quartz may have to be fabricated in more than one section, which means you’ll have one or more seams. Seams are typically less visible on dark-toned quartz but can be quite noticeable on light-toned or multicolor countertops, such as those with obvious veining or marbling patterns.

Thickness: Countertop thickness ranges from ½ inch to 1-¼ inch, depending on style, brand, and size. If you’re ordering a large countertop or want an elaborate edge design, the fabricator may suggest a thicker slab. If your heart is set on a thin countertop but your kitchen is large, expect to have one or more seams. Thickness also depends on custom features, such as integrated drain boards and elaborate edge profiles.

Design Details: Custom designs in a wide array of colors are available, from neutral grays, off-whites, and subtle tans to bold blues, bright yellows, and striking solid blacks. In addition to shade, you can choose from quartz made from small particles for a smooth appearance, or from larger grains for a flecked look. The surface can be sleek and glossy or feature a flecked, pebbled, embossed, or even suede appearance.

Edge Ideas: Custom edge profiles in complex designs bring distinction to your cook space but add to the final cost. You can opt for a bold square countertop edge, a chiseled raw-edge look, or select a softer, rounded bullnose corner. A reverse waterfall edge resembles the shape of crown molding and adds a touch of traditional elegance, while contemporary edges, including slanted, mitered, or undercut create the illusion of a thinner slab. Ogee (S-shape) is a popular edge design that fits just about any decor.

Bathroom Buys: Selecting a quartz countertop for a bathroom is slightly different from buying one for your kitchen. Bathroom vanities come in standard sizes, so you can purchase pre-made vanity countertops. Many come with pre-molded sinks or pre-cut holes to accommodate drop-in sinks. Bathroom vanity quartz countertops range from $400 to $1,000 depending on length, and installation for them is more DIY-friendly.


Installing Quartz Countertops


What Should I Expect with Installation?

Professional installation is highly recommended for quartz countertops in kitchens, due to the custom nature of cabinet configuration and the weight of the slabs, which often require multiple workers just to lift. To protect your investment, installers should be certified to mount the specific brand of quartz you purchase. Many quartz countertops come with 15-year or even lifetime warranties, but often only when installed by certified professionals. Once you’ve settled on a countertop style and color, here’s what to expect for installation:

Phase One: A representative from the manufacturer will come to your home and measure your cabinets to create a template for the countertop. It takes an average of two weeks for the countertop to be made.

Phase Two: The new countertop installs directly on the base cabinets with adhesive—no underlayment is required. The installers will precisely fit any seams as necessary, filling them with epoxy resin that matches the countertop. It takes from a few hours to a full day to install a typical quartz countertop.

Phase Three: You or your plumber can now proceed with installing under-sink plumbing.


Quartz Countertops in Jacksonville, NC Zillow Home

Photo: Zillow Digs home in Jacksonville, NC

How Do I Keep Quartz Looking Great?

Beyond the actual appearance, the beauty of quartz is that required care for your new countertop is relatively easy, but there are still a few crucial do’s and don’ts to mind.

Do wipe up spills promptly with paper towels or a damp cloth. While quartz is non-porous, liquids like wine and coffee can stain the surface if allowed to dry.

• Don’t use abrasive cleaners or scrubbers on your countertop. Scouring powders and steel-pads can scratch and dull the surface.

• Do use an all-purpose spray kitchen cleaner or mild commercial household cleaner for daily cleaning needs.

• Don’t use, or spill, acidic or high-alkaline products on your countertop. Quartz tolerates cleaners in the mid-pH range, but products that fall on either end of the pH scale can dull its luster. Avoid spills from drain cleaners, oven cleaners, acetone (fingernail polish remover), paint remover, solvents, bleach, dishwasher rinse agents, and any products that contain trichlorethane or methylene chloride. Take a better safe than sorry approach: If you don’t know for sure that a product is appropriate for quartz, don’t use it.

• Do use a non-scratch nylon pad or sponge to safely scrub away sticky food residue.

• Don’t use a metal knife to remove hardened food items, such as stuck-on candy-making spills. Instead, use a plastic putty knife to gently scrape them away.

• Do use spray glass cleaner after wiping your countertop clean, and buff the surface dry with a clean towel for a streak-free shine. Opt for a mild, oil-based cleaner (like Goo Gone) to remove tough ink or dye stains, and then rinse with plain water.

• Don’t use your quartz countertop to chop and dice foods. Use a separate cutting board to prevent knife marks on the countertop.

• Do tackle tough cleaning chores, such as splattered grease, by spraying your countertop with a kitchen degreasing cleaner and leaving it on for 5 to 10 minutes before wiping away with a clean damp cloth.

• Don’t set hot pans directly on the countertop to avoid discoloration and cracking. Keep plenty of trivets handy and use them faithfully.

How To: Build a Faux Fireplace

Just the addition of a faux fireplace—no flame required—can make a space cozier.

How to Build a Faux Fireplace

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Somehow, even if it’s not operational, a fireplace is still imbues coziness in winter and architectural charm year-round. If you live in an apartment or modern abode, you may not have a wood-burning or electric fireplace to warm up by, but you’re not out of luck altogether. Follow these instructions to construct an ornate mantle for a faux fireplace to reinforce the holiday cheer—and provide just the spot to hang your stockings.


What You Need to Build a Faux Fireplace

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

MATERIALS AND TOOLS Available on Amazon
8footlong 1×10 lumber (2)
8footlong 2×2 lumber (2)
Measuring tape
Wood glue
2inch screws (34)
Wood clamps
8footlong 1×4 lumber (2)
6″deep wooden shelf brackets (2)
Round plastic container
1⁄2″wide wood molding (1)
2″wide wood molding (2)
21⁄2″wide wood molding (1)
Miter box
Hand saw
Wooden closet rod holder
Wood stain
Corner brace plates (2)


How to Build a Faux Fireplace - Step 1

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Start by building the fireplace structure with one 1×10 plank and the 2×2s. From them, you’ll need to cut the following:

– One 43-inch piece 1×10
– Two 26-inch 1×10s
– Four 35-1⁄2-inch 2×2s

The 1×10 planks will make up the front surface of your faux fireplace, while the 2×2s connect to the back to add depth to the structure.

Sand all of the edges on your fresh cuts. Lay the 43-inch plank on the floor and beneath it, at each end, place the 26-inch plank pieces perpendicularly to form a U-shape. Apply wood glue to the edges where the planks meet. Then, lay the 2×2s along the structure vertically so that they span top to bottom of the “U”, one along each edge of the vertical 1×10 planks. Pre-drill holes and use five 2-inch screws to fasten each of these 35-1⁄2-inch pieces to the wood boards. This side with the 2×2s will be the back of your faux fireplace.


How to Build a Faux Fireplace - Step 2

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Flip the wood structure to so that its front is now facing up. Now’s the time to add some ornamentation to your fireplace cut from the 1×4 plank. The first cut, 43 inches long, will be glued horizontally, aligned with the top edge of the fireplace. Next, cut two 27-inch pieces. Sand the edges to remove splinters before proceeding. Use a ruler to center these on each side of 1×10 side (they should have 3-1/4 inches of space on either side), and glue them down so that the tops abut the top 1×4. You can use clamps here to press pieces firmly together while the wood glue cures.

Then, add volume at the base of the chimney by giving it feet that slightly extend. Cut two 5-inch pieces from the remaining 1×10 plank and two 9-1⁄2-inch pieces from the 1×4 lumber. Stack one 9-1⁄2-inch-by-3-1⁄2-inch piece atop a 9-1⁄2-inch-by-5-inch piece so that their longer sides align, then glue. Repeat with the remaining cuts. Place a stack to the bottom of each side of the faux fireplace, at the open ends of the 27-inch pieces. Align the mantle’s feet so that no wood extends past the base of the faux fireplace—it needs to be a flat surface in order to stand up later on—then glue and clamp each down.


How to Build a Faux Fireplace - Step 3

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

To support the board that will be the top mantle of your faux fireplace, fasten a 6″-deep wooden shelf bracket onto each side of the fireplace with glue and screws. We centered ours at the very top of the vertical 1×4s.

Note: It’s important to choose brackets that don’t extend out more than 6 inches, otherwise you will not be able to adequately cover them with the mantle in a later step.


How to Build a Faux Fireplace - Step 4

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Cut a 48-inch length of 1×10 for the top. To compliment the curves in the shelf brackets, we gave our mantle top a nicer edge by rounding two corners of the board. Place any round container (like a recycled plastic butter container) at the top left corner and trace its circumference in pencil, and use a jigsaw to cut along the quadrant of the circle closest to the corner. Erase the remaining three-quarters of the circle, and repeat at the top right corner.


How to Build a Faux Fireplace - Step 5

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Rounded corners facing forward, center the mantle over the top of the faux fireplace with 2-1⁄2 inches overhang on either side. Glue it to the top of the structure, and hold it with clamps while the glue dries.


How to Build a Faux Fireplace - Step 6

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Sand the near-finished fireplace with either paper or a palm sander. Start with 100-grit paper, and repeat with 150-grit.


How to Build a Faux Fireplace - Step 7

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Inject even more personality into your project with some wood molding along the fireplace opening and atop the 1×4s.

For the fireplace opening, cut three pieces of 1⁄2″-wide molding: two 27-1⁄2-inch lengths and a 25-inch length. Using a miter box, cut the tops of the 27-1⁄2-inch pieces to have mirroring 45-degree cuts; proceed to cut the ends of the 25-inch piece at 45-degree angles, each pointing away from the other. The 25-inch length should now fit with the 27-1⁄2-inch lengths to make a three-sided frame.

For the sides, the exact length of 2″-wide molding needed to cover the 1×4s ultimately depends on the size of your chosen shelf brackets. Measure the vertical 1×4s’ exposed surface—from the bottom of the shelf brackets to the top of the mantle feet—and cut four identical pieces that length. Glue two side-by-side on each.

As a finishing touch, we glued a 30-inch length of 2-1⁄2″-wide molding beneath the horizontal 1×4 and a wooden closet rod support in the very center. Hold each wooden piece with a clamp while the glue dries.


How to Build a Faux Fireplace - Step 8

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Once all of the glue holding the molding has dried, you can give an extra sanding to remove any leftover glue. Wipe away the dust with a wet cloth so that you stain your fireplace in a hue of your choice. (Two coats promises the best color.) After you’ve waited the stain’s recommended dry time, top with a coat of varnish to protect the wood.


How to Build a Faux Fireplace - Step 9

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Now that your faux fireplace is built, move it into the living room. It doesn’t need to find a permanent home on any one wall, but it is best to fasten it so that it won’t topple when you place objects on its mantle. Lean the fireplace wherever you intend to place it, and slide a metal corner brace around one edge just beneath the mantle top, where they’ll be barely visible. Lift the fireplace and screw half of the brace into the wall. Lean the fireplace one more time against the wall so that you can find where to affix the second metal corner brace. Once both are in the wall, simply screw the exposed ends into the sides of the fireplace.

All that’s left is to fill your new faux fireplace with candles or string lights to mimic the cozy glow of lit kindling.


How to Build a Faux Fireplace

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

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

All You Need to Know About Light Bulb Types

The last time you went off in search of a replacement light bulb, were you left paralyzed by the proliferation of new types of bulbs in the lighting aisle? Here, we clear away the confusion with this helpful breakdown of the different varieties on the market and their best uses.

Types of Lightbulbs


It’s not your imagination: The light bulb section in your local hardware store has grown. Bulbs of every type, color, and shape line the shelves in a wide—and confusing—array of options, making it hard to find the right bulb for your needs. But once you understand bulb basics, choosing the right replacement bulb for your lamp or fixture can be a snap. We’ve put together what you need to know about the many different types of light bulbs on the market these days so the next time you’re face with a burned-out bulb, you’ll be prepared.

Before you head out in search of a new bulb, get a grasp on terminology manufacturers use to measure the input and output of certain types of light bulbs.

Watts indicate the amount of energy the bulb will use. Bulbs with lower wattage will use less electricity, and can therefore help keep the electricity bill down. Here, the age-old mantra holds true: Less is more.

Lumens indicate the amount of light the bulb will emit. The number of lumens to look for depends on the room you’re lighting, as some spaces (like the bathroom) could use a brighter bulb, and others (say, the bedroom) benefit from softer light. To calculate the optimal number of lumens, multiply the room’s square footage by these rule-of-thumb figures:

• 7.5 lumens per square foot in hallways
• 15 lumens per square foot in the bedroom
• 35 lumens per square foot in dining rooms, kitchens, and offices
• 75 lumens per square foot in bathrooms

Typically, a standard 100-watt incandescent bulb emits approximately 1600 lumens. Newer types of light bulbs, however, require less power and emit just as much light.


Types of Light Bulbs



Standard incandescent bulbs—known for being energy hogs—have experienced an energy-efficiency upgrade that began, for bulbs sold in California, in 2011 and became nationwide in 2012 as part of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. Common household light bulbs, which traditionally used between 40 and 100 watts before 2011, now use at least 27 percent less energy than they did back in the day while still producing comparable lumens. That means that you’re less likely to find 100-watt bulbs on shelves today, which stopped being manufactured in 2012, and are more likely to be greeted with options of 30, 40, and 50 watts. Incandescent bulbs do not contain mercury, and they last an average of one year before needing to be replaced.

Best For: Use with dimmable light fixtures, vanity lighting (because incandescent light flatters skin), and low-voltage lighting. Try the candelabra-base GE 60-Watt Bulb in your dimmable dining room chandelier ($5.97 for a 4-pack at Home Depot), or buy the Philips 7-Watt C7 Replacement Bulb for your toddler’s night-light ($3.97 for a 4-pack at Home Depot).


Types of Light Bulbs



Fluorescent tube bulbs have been around for years. You’re no doubt well acquainted with the long, cylindrical glass tubes you see in overhead lights in department stores, but you can also find circular and U-shaped fluorescent tubes to fit specialty fixtures. This particular type of light bulb uses less energy than incandescent bulbs, but it contains mercury vapor and a phosphor coating that converts UV light to visible light when turned on. Because these bulbs contain mercury, many communities have regulations for their disposal.

Best For: Bright lighting needs in your workshop. We like the Philips T12 40-Watt Daylight Deluxe Linear Fluorescent Tube ($9.97 for a 2-pack at Home Depot); while it draws only 40 watts, it produces 2,325 lumens of bright light.


Types of Light Bulbs



Compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs—easily identified by their hallmark curlicue design—use a fraction of the wattage incandescent bulbs use. While good for reading and project work, the light they emit is relatively harsh and undesirable in vanity lighting, where they can add 10 years to your appearance. Like fluorescent tubes, CFLs contain mercury, so broken bulbs should be disposed of according to the EPA’s suggestions for cleanup. Note: Most CFLs don’t work with dimmer switches and aren’t particularly well suited for light fixtures you switch on and off frequently, as this habit can shorten their useful life.

Best For: Overhead lights, lamps, and task lights. A smart choice for replacing the bulb in your reading lamp is the EcoSmart Soft White Spiral CFL ($5.97 for a 4-pack at Home Depot); equivalent to a 60-watt incandescent bulb, it emits 900 lumens of light. In places where you need more illumination, such as for task lighting in the kitchen, try the Philips Daylight Deluxe T2 Twister CFL ($12.95 for a 4-pack at Home Depot), which offers the same amount of light as a 100-watt incandescent bulb.


Types of Light Bulbs



Light emitting diode (LED) bulbs are currently the most energy efficient of all types of light bulbs. Though they were costly when they first hit the market, prices have dropped significantly since then. With lifespans that exceed those of most other bulbs and options that encompass a variety of colors as well as white, these bulbs offer the best bang for your buck. Early LED bulbs offered only directional lighting, but with recent advances, manufacturers are now offering LED bulbs that emit whole-room diffused lighting.

Best For: Just about anywhere you previously used incandescent bulbs. To replace the bulbs in your overhead lights, wall sconces, or table lamps, try Philips Daylight A19 LED Bulbs ($8.97 for a 4-pack at Home Depot) or the Philips Soft-White B11 Candelabra Bulb ($6.97 for a 3-pack at Home Depot).


Types of Light Bulbs



Halogen bulbs use 25 to 80 percent less energy than incandescent bulbs, but still use more than CFLs and LEDs. The white light they emit brings out vibrant tones in furnishings and decor. Halogen bulbs come the closest to natural daylight, but as they get extremely hot, be sure not to use them in any lamp or fixture that small children can reach. A variation on halogen, xenon bulbs cast the same clear white light yet remain cooler to the touch than standard halogen bulbs, making xenon safer for use in table lamps.

Best For: Exterior floodlights, hanging pendant lights, and accent lighting. If you’re looking for an energy-efficient outdoor bulb, try Philips EcoVantage Halogen PAR38 Dimmable Floodlight ($9.97 per bulb at Home Depot). With 1,750 lumens, it will light up walkways and provide a measure of security. Are you in need of a replacement bulb for your bi-pin socket track lighting? Feit Electric’s Xenon 20-Watt Halogen G8 Bulb ($7.95 for a 2-pack at Home Depot) fits the G8-shaped bi-pin base sockets found in popular track, display, and task lights.


Types of Light Bulbs



Strictly in the realm of “specialty bulbs,” Wi-Fi-capable bulbs fit ordinary lamps and fixtures but give you the ability to either program the bulbs to turn on at preset times, or control them remotely from your smartphone or tablet. Read the fine print before you buy one that doesn’t work with your mobile device; some bulbs are strictly Apple- or Android-compatible.

Best For: Remote operation of overhead lights or lamps that you typically set to stay on before you leave for vacation. If you own an iPhone or iPod, check out the Philips Soft White A19 Hue Connected Home LED ($14.97 per bulb at Home Depot), which connects to your home’s Wi-Fi signal so you can operate the light remotely via an app. Alternatively, the Flux Wi-Fi Smart LED Light Bulb ($35 per bulb on Amazon) is a bit pricier but promises more control over brightness and color; for both Apple and Android products.