Interior Design - 4/22 - Bob Vila

Category: Interior Design

DIY Kids: A Handmade Table with Hidden Toy Storage

Keep your family's toys and games contained in a storage table that looks nothing like your standard toy chest. This stylish design blends in so well with your living room or library decor that no one will be the wiser.

DIY Toy Chest - Toy Storage in a Table


The holidays always bring a fresh influx of toys, games, and craft sets into the home. Come January, we struggle with where to put it all! On top of all that, we recently converted our playroom into a family office for both homework and household business. We needed a spot to store all those new playthings, something that would work in this repurposed space—a toy box that wouldn’t look out of place in a study. So we built a super-simple toy storage chest out of a galvanized tin tub, a prefabricated tabletop, and short furniture legs. Not only does this piece store toys and games, but it also doubles (even triples and quadruples!) as a coffee table, laptop perch, and footrest. To make your own sneaky toy storage, follow the simple instructions below.


DIY Toy Chest - Reveal Hidden Storage



The construction of this project relies on a couple of basic, prefabricated supplies and is very easy. The only power tool you need is a drill!


DIY Toy Chest - Supplies


– Prefabricated 24” table round
– Palm sander (optional)
– Sandpaper
– Gel stain
– Rags
– Foam brushes (2 to 4)
– Rubber or latex gloves
– Polyurethane
– Pencil
– Hot-glue gun
– 17-gallon galvanized tin tub
– 5 1/2 feet of rope (at least 3/4 inch thick)
– 4″ to 6″ table legs (4)
– Drill with metal bit
– Fender washers (8)
– Nuts (4)
– Adjustable or box wrench


To even out any nicks on your prefabricated tabletop and ensure the best final finish, give it several rounds of sanding. Start with a coarse, 80-grit sandpaper, then switch to a 150-grit sheet, and finish with a fine, 220-grit. (You can use a palm sander to quickly cover the large surface area, or stick with sheets here.) Also sand down any wooden furniture legs you plan to attach.

Thoroughly wipe down the wood with a damp cloth to remove all residual dust and allow it to dry.



DIY Toy Chest - Step 2


Next up: Staining the wood. If you’re not already working in a well-ventilated space, move to one and put on protective gloves. (To help keep the rubber or latex gloves on the kids’ little wrists, you may want to wrap tape or rubber bands over  them.)

We stained our tabletop with a gel stain, which is much thicker than its liquid counterparts and therefore more forgiving when applied by beginner DIYers. Stir the gel stain very well before you start; when ready, it should have the consistency of very thick gravy. Then spread the stain with your foam brushes, working in the direction of the wood grain.



DIY Toy Chest - Step 3


Allow the stain to sit for as long as the manufacturer recommends, and then wipe off the excess stain with clean rags. For a deeper, more even color, apply two or more coats. (Just make sure to allow the stain to dry completely between applications.)

After you’ve finished staining, apply polyurethane to seal and protect the finish. Either an aerosol spray or brush-on polyurethane works well. Let the wood dry completely before moving on with the rest of the project.



DIY Toy Chest - Step 4


To keep the tabletop securely on the tub, you’ll want to attach a lip. We solved this by creating a seal out of thick rope! Determine exactly where to glue yours by turning the tub top-down onto the underside of the wood top and tracing its outline with a pencil.



DIY Toy Chest - Step 5


Next, hot-glue the rope about 3/4 to 1 inch inside of that pencil line, along the entire circle. That ring will sit inside the tub once you replace the top, keeping the wooden round from sliding about.

If you don’t get the rope far enough inside the tub, the top will not sit flush. Immediately after gluing the rope, check that it fits. Should you need to adjust it, you can pull the rope off, scrape away the hot glue, and go at it again. (Fortunately, it is the underside, so no one will ever notice your initial mistakes if you need to redo it!)



DIY Toy Chest - Step 6


You could be finished right now…or you could attach some legs to make your table a little taller. If you’re up for the latter, turn your tub upside down and use a straightedge to draw a pencil line directly across the center of the tub bottom, marking the diameter. Make a second line through the center at a 90-degree angle to the first line. Then, mark about 1 1/2 to 2 inches from the edge at each end of those pencil lines to guide the placement of your four table legs.



DIY Toy Chest - Step 7


Drill a hole at each mark and attach the legs by placing a washer on either side of the tin and tightening a nut on top (inside the tub) with a wrench.

The metal of a galvanized tin tub is quite thin and has some natural flex to it. If you put legs on your table, there will be a little play and sway in it. It’s not a concern for storage of items like stuffed animals, blankets, and board games, but the table shouldn’t be used as a spare seat. If you need your table to be more stable, opt for bun feet, which are shorter, or skip the legs altogether.



DIY Toy Chest - Step 8


Replace the lid, and your table is complete! Even though it’s used to store toys, it looks rather grown-up. No casual bystander would ever know it’s stuffed with plush animals, kids’ games, and the like—which makes it perfect for hiding scattered toys minutes before you get a surprise visit from a neighbor. In fact, building this will make your kids so proud, they might even be excited to put their own toys away after a day of play.


DIY Toy Chest - Finished Project


3 Fixes for Tangled Christmas Lights

Removing and storing string lights can be a messy business. Now that it's time to box up all that twinkling holiday decor, try one of these three string light organizing solutions that will protect your sanity and make sure next season shines just as brightly.

How to Store Christmas Lights


The most wonderful time of the year has drawn to a close, which means it’s time to take down the tree and pack up the stockings. While some decorations are simple to put away, others can be a downright pain to remove and organize. The number one culprit in tricky holiday cleanup? Christmas lights. No matter how careful you are, it seems they always end up in a jumbled mess—which can be frustrating not only for end-of-season work, but for next year’s festivities as well. Make this pesky process a breeze with one of these three solutions for keeping your string lights untangled and under control.



How to: Store Christmas Lights - Wrap Around Cardboard


This clever solution requires nothing more than a rectangular piece of sturdy cardboard left over from one of the Christmas packages you found nestled beneath the tree. Start by cutting the cardboard into an anvil shape—this will help prevent the loops from sliding off—then wind the cords around the thinner, middle section. When you’re finished, tuck the plug loosely beneath one of the strands to keep the lights in place. The best part of this easy (and free!) trick is that next year’s installation will be so much easier: You can quickly confirm that no bulbs are broken and then simply unravel the lights straight from the cardboard onto the tree.



How to Store Christmas Lights - Bundle Using Chair Legs


Unmanageable lights don’t stand a chance against this simple storage idea. The unlikely helper in your living or dining room? A spare seat! Start by flipping a stool or chair upside down. Then, wrap the lights in a figure-eight pattern around two of the legs until you have about 12 inches of cord remaining. Circle the remaining cord around the center of the figure eight, and tie a loose knot to prevent the lights from unraveling. Store the bundles in your closet or in a bin of holiday decorations until it’s time to deck the halls next year.



How to Store Christmas Lights - Wrap Around a Hanger


For this nifty trick, look no further than your number one closet essential: a clothes hanger. (One with a bit of extra bulk is best, although skimpier plastic ones can do in a pinch.) Loop the lights around the hanger, working from one end to the other, until you reach the last few inches of the strand. Loosely tie the leftover cord around the hook of the hanger.

For extra-streamlined storage, color-coordinate your set’s bulbs with hangers of the same shade—white lights with white hangers, red or multicolored lights on red hangers, and so on—then hang in the closet using your repurposed organizer’s hook. If closet space is tight, consider attaching an S-hook to the middle of the hanger’s base and suspending another light-wrapped bundle from it. Tuck the hangers alongside your favorite Christmas sweater so lights remain organized and easy to access next year.

DIY Lite: The Easy One-Piece Coat Rack Anyone Can Build

Building a coat rack has never been easier! Just follow this simple DIY tutorial to make your own stylish entryway essential—all from a single piece of lumber.

DIY Coat Rack - Easy Wooden Coat Rack

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

In with the chill, out with the coats—and hats, scarves, mittens…you name it. With so much winter gear and so little space in the typical coat closet, the entryway sometimes needs to do a little more than simply welcome you and your guests indoors. Enter this easy and elegantly minimalist coat rack. Crafted from just one slab of wood, this unique design leans against any empty wall, adding both character and hooks. Who knew that plain old lumber could be a statement piece?


DIY Coat Rack - Supplies

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

– Lumber
– Ruler
– Set square with a 45-degree angle
– Pencil
– Handsaw
– Wood chisel
– Hammer
– Sandpaper
– Palm sander
– Linseed oil or varnish
– 2 screw eyes
– 2 square bend screw hooks
– Drill



DIY Coat Rack - Step 1

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Start with an 8-foot-long piece of 2×8 lumber, and cut it down to 7 feet. When you lean this plank against the wall, the height should reach approximately the top of your door frame.

In this creative design, coats will hang from notches cut into either side of the lumber. Begin by marking the notches: On one side, measure 12 inches from the top edge and make a mark. Starting at this point, use a set square to trace a 2-inch line at a 45-degree angle. Go down 2 inches from the first mark and draw a second 2-inch line, parallel to the first. Connect them to form a diamond-like notch.



DIY Coat Rack - Step 2

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Measure 5 inches down the side of the board from the bottom of the first notch, make a mark, and then repeat the steps above to trace a second diamond-shaped notch.

Continue this process until you have four angled notches with 5 inches of space between each, on both sides of the board.



DIY Coat Rack - Step 3

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Use a handsaw to make two cuts on one of the notches, following your pencil marks. Work slowly and carefully.



DIY Coat Rack - Step 4

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Now, use the wood chisel to punch out the wood cut. Place the tool along the uncut line, and hit the top of the chisel with a hammer. Tip: Once you cleanly nick the cutting line, you can hit the chisel harder to take off the wood piece completely. After you finish the first “hook,” cut out the remaining seven using the same process.



DIY Coat Rack - Step 5

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

You certainly don’t want to damage your coats or accessories whenever you hang them up, so prevent future snags by first removing rough patches with a good sanding. You can use a palm sander for the sides of the lumber and a wood file to finish the inner edges of the notches.



DIY Coat Rack - Step 6

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Give your coat rack an attractive finish with either stain or varnish, following the instructions on the product’s packaging. Here, we chose to apply linseed oil—a colorless, rejuvenating wood finish—to give the piece a natural, Scandinavian look.



DIY Coat Rack - Step 7

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

To secure this leaning coat rack—and put to bed any worries of its slipping whenever you try to hang a coat—you can use the nearly invisible magic of wall hooks and screws. To do so, attach two screw eyes on the back of your plank, about 10 inches from the top.



DIY Coat Rack - Step 8

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

The last step is to screw a few hooks to the wall. Place the top part of the board against the wall, and make two pencil marks precisely where the screw eyes sit—this is where you need to insert your square bend screw hooks. Make sure each hook points upward, then place the open loops of the screw eyes over the hooks. And that’s it! You have just turned a boring length of lumber into a modern coat rack.


DIY Coat Rack - Finished Coat Rack

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.

Bob Vila Radio: Making the Most of Your Available Natural Light

If you have the money, time, and inclination to undertake a larger-scale remodeling effort, there are plenty of ways to achieve a brighter, airier home. The next best thing? Take the natural light that already reaches the space, and maximize it.

If there’s a room in your home that just doesn’t get a lot of sunlight, your low-cost option is to make the most of the amount of light that you do get.

Making the Most of Natural Light


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.

First, trim any bushes outside that may be blocking the passage of light, and while you’re at it, give the windows a good cleaning. Next, add daylight bulbs to any lamps in the room, and be sure to position those lamps in the shadowy corners.

When picking out wall paint, lean toward the lightest shades and choose a glossy, reflective finish for any horizontal surface, be it a set of shelves or the top of a dresser.

Always keep in mind that low-profile furniture lends an airier feel than taller, bulky traditional pieces. And don’t forget to hang a mirror, ideally across from a window. Finally, add a shade-loving plant or two, and you’ll have a much more inviting space!

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!

Weekend Projects: 5 Timeless DIY Advent Calendars

If you’ve been buying advent calendars since the advent of time, start a new holiday tradition by constructing one of these bespoke advent calendars this weekend.


Every winter, children and adults from myriad cultures celebrate the Germanic tradition of the advent calendar—reveling in its myriad doors and pockets with eager anticipation of the surprises they will reveal on each of the 24 days before Christmas. But such a cherished symbol of the season can be personalized even more for the family or recipient by making it yourself with bargain materials. We’ve handpicked five homemade advent calendars that will give the gift of style again and again.



DIY Advent Calendar - Made from Toilet Paper Rolls


Come home for the holidays to this hospitable paper roll advent calendar! The thrifty blogger at Morning Creativity printed calendar dates on brown paper and glued the numerals onto 24 saved paper rolls. After filling each with unexpected treasures, she shaped the rows into a building-like structure and sealed them up with a cardboard backing. Half of a paper roll and a cut-up cardboard box create a fitting chimney and roof to house the season’s calendar.



DIY Advent Calendar - Mitten Garland


Perhaps the three little kittens in the famed nursery rhyme wouldn’t have lost their mittens if they had displayed them in this playful yet practical advent garland from the inspired DIYer at My House of Giggles. Create a similar festive finish to enjoy with your little ones by cutting out felt numerals freehand and hot-gluing them onto two dozen pairs of large mittens. Hung up with clothespins and twine in any hallway, the festive mitten garland makes for a hand- and heart-warming holiday.



DIY Advent Calendar - Pallet Tree with Gifts


Can’t wait until December 25 to get gifts under the tree? This DIY wooden advent tree from A Beautiful Mess solves that dilemma, with branches full of presents to be opened daily in December. While the upcycled evergreen requires a little more work upfront—some cutting, sanding, and sealing unused shipping pallets—the build is rather basic. “Branch” planks are arranged from largest at the bottom to the smallest at the top and nailed onto a spare pallet “trunk.” All that’s left is to hang a host of prizes, treats, and activity cards on each level!



DIY Advent Calendar - Framed Calendar


These fanciful, fabric advent pouches from the DIYer behind Brown-Eyed Fox are so photogenic that they’re worthy of framing—and so she did! After adhering iron-on numerals to muslin bags, the bags were filled with trinkets and treats galore and then drawn shut. Lastly, she arranged the bags in ascending order and pinned them to a brightly hued frame backed with cattle wire. Leaned against the wall, this cheery piece of holiday decor leaves no holes after the season ends.



DIY Advent Calendar - Tabletop Forest


These advent tree table-toppers from The Merry Thought can turn any surface into a tree-lined route filled with surprises. Cut from birch plywood using tree templates and a scroll saw, assembly is super simple—just add a notch to the center of each triangle! Flat, the pieces are easy to store; interlocked them, though, and the geometric shapes transform instantly into a jolly jungle. Brush one side of each tree with chalkboard paint, as seen here, and you can change out unique advent activities for each calendar date year after year.

Weekend Projects: 5 Ways to DIY a Folding Table

Don’t let a space-challenged room make you fold on your design dreams! Get the extra work or dining space without sacrificing a single square foot when you build one of these DIY folding tables.


Folding tables are an elegant, economical, and effortless way to switch between an extra work surface and freed-up floor space at a moment’s notice. And while they require few materials to build (or makeover), the design options for these collapsible counters are so endless that would-be woodworkers may not know where to begin on their DIY journeys. Fortunately for you, we’ve hand-picked five fantastic folding tables that can be completed in a weekend and then displayed year-round. Read on for space-smart inspiration.



DIY Folding Table - Card Table Makeover


Even hosts-with-the-most start their entertaining legacies with little more to wine and dine their guests than scrap metal and a dream. Take the enterprising entertainer at Addison Meadows Lane: She transformed a lackluster card table into an inviting, fabric-covered fold-away by first stripping the old batting and spraying the table with primer and paint. After stapling an attractive (and durable!) PVC fabric to the top, you’re left with a stylish surface for all occasions.



DIY Folding Table - Drop-Down Kids' Table


This high-art Murphy folding table from Sawdust & Embryos will make you long for a seat at the kiddie table. The mother and maker behind this craft cove for children started by cutting out a half circle of melamine, reinforcing it with plywood, and then adorning it with piano hinges. After affixing the slab to the wall with Scotch indoor fasteners, press it in place and pull down the table like a Murphy bed to initiate playtime, snack-time, and giggles galore.



DIY Folding Table - Wooden Folding Table


Leave guests at your next dinner party floored when you tell them the secret behind your latest DIY—that your farmhouse-style kitchen table started with salvaged floorboards. That’s how the crafty blogger at Man Made DIY achieved his own truly distressed look, anyway. The wood planks were glued together and cut to size, with a fashion-forward table skirt affixed along the edges using a pocket-hole jig. Skip a stationary base, though, and screw on spun legs with gate hinges so that you can fold them up after your function.



DIY Folding Table - Rustic Stikwood Folding Table


If planning fall festivities has left you with little headspace or floor space, don’t stress. You can marry the function of pop-up furniture to accommodate your extra guests with a style fit for your kitchen. The DIYer behind Sugar and Cloth made this reclaimed wooden wonder by screwing standard folding table legs to plywood, and spray painting everything white. A layer of Stikwood, a peel-and-stick wood planking, over the tabletop creates rustic-modern finish that can weather the whole holiday season without a table runner.



DIY Folding Table - Slim Kitchen Table


Just as you can’t fit a square peg into a round hole, you can’t squeeze a large dining table into a long, narrow kitchen—at least, not if you still need to reach the furthest pantry doors. So to make an eat-in out of an already tiny kitchen, the DIYer at LJDécor converted a slim standing table into one that folds down. Once legs were removed, the remaining tabletop was brightened and tiled guitar chips, then mounted to the wall with two wood planks and a piano hinge. During the day, the art installation hangs flat against the wall, but come dinnertime, a single angular-cut 2×4 plank slid underneath gives the table a leg up.

Weekend Projects: 5 Designs for an Easy DIY Storage Bench

Stylishly cure a lifetime of clutter by building one of these easy and inexpensive storage benches.


When you’re choosing functional furniture for your indoor or outdoor spaces, an ideal piece would feature three characteristics: comfort, style, and storage. Whether placed in a small entryway or on a back patio, a storage bench meets all these requirements, increasing seating, doubling organization opportunities, and adding a boost of pattern or style to any room. While some store-bought models don’t come cheap, you can still incorporate this multipurpose marvel into your home with a few materials and some ingenuity. Run through these five DIY storage benches for ideas and inspiration to help you build a version of your own this weekend.



DIY Storage Bench - Converted from Twin Bed


This dreamy storage bench from My Repurposed Life cleverly relocates the comforts and style of basic bedroom furniture to the great outdoors. The mastermind behind this innovative idea began by cutting the footboard of a bed into multiple pieces to fashion the frame and armrests. A $5 scrap drawer is the true hero of the piece, serving as both the seat and subtle storage for outdoor oddities. The no-sew cushion adds a cozy finishing touch, making this bench an ideal spot for porch lounging on fair-weather days.



DIY Storage Bench - Sliding Door


Sleek and hardworking, this storage bench was designed with kids in mind. Cunning half walls at either end mean that kids can stash toys behind closed doors without even having to slide them open. A resourceful DIYer from A Beautiful Mess challenged himself to make the frame of this bench from a single sheet of particle board; pocket holes secure the pieces. After attaching the top, verticals, and back, he positioned the sliding doors and held them in place with surrounding strips. Finger holes in the doors make them easier to slide for access to toys and knickknacks.



DIY Storage Bench - Cabinet Bench


If needless clutter has invaded your home, don’t flip your lid—flip an inexpensive particleboard cabinet instead. This elegant storage bench from My Love 2 Create is actually a tall laminate cabinet that’s been turned on its side, trimmed with scrap wood, and outfitted with a huddle of furring strips for the bench top. The weathered-wood stain gives the piece a winsome appeal, and screw-on casters make it easy to wheel away this homegrown storage solution at a moment’s notice.



DIY Storage Bench - Open-Top Bench


If loose stationery and folders have left a paper trail throughout your house, file them away in this open-top storage bench from Better When Built. The pieces—legs, front, back, and sides—were cut from plywood and assembled using pocket-hole screws, and then the bench was sanded and painted. The success of this space-smart bench literally hinges on the bench top—an eye-catching, foam-cushioned lid that’s fastened to the frame with lustrous nickel hinges.



DIY Storage Bench - Wooden Seat


This wooden bench is a double-duty solution for space-challenged backyards. While the standard wood design serves as the perfect perch for guests, it’s the storage area underneath that makes this build truly functional. Although Kim from The Kim Six Fix outfitted her version with thrift store crates she found for a steal, any bins you have lying around will do to house your pool toys, lawn games, or other outdoor extras that need corralling.

Weekend Projects: 5 Designs for a DIY Console Table

Get exactly the amount of counter space and storage you need when you DIY your own console table. This adaptable piece of furniture is the perfect accent piece for any room in your home.


Positioning a console table along a wall or sofa in the home can really reinvent the room, whether you use it as an accent piece in your entryway or additional storage for your TV and entertainment (the DVDs, the games, the cables, and more) in your living room. But finding one that suits your needs—and you’re your space’s dimensions—can be a challenge. You can’t get more custom (and affordable) than handmade, so we’ve rounded up five of our favorite plans to get you started. All you need is a weekend to put it together.



DIY Console Table - Skinny Entryway Table


You might not believe it at first glance, but this narrow console table design—perfect for an entryway—is made entirely out of wood pieces. A closer look shows that the DIYer from East Coast Creative mimicked the look of steel on the base using several coats of bronze spray paint. A dark wood stain on the tabletop achieves a rich finish that perfectly compliments the sheen of the table legs.



DIY Console Table - Unit with Sliding Doors


Equal parts décor and storage, this console table design from Ana White—with additional customization by interior designer Nikki Grandy—is a true workhorse for the home. After you build the wooden frame, pick up the sliding door hardware online or at your local hardware door; put in place, these will ensure that the doors on your console table seamlessly glide open and close whenever you need to reach your out-of-sight storage.



DIY Console Table - Narrow Wood Table


This clean wooden design from The Happier Homemaker lends itself to blending easily with almost any style, be it placed in an elegantly minimalist entryway or behind a brown leather sofa in a rustic living room. And as this blogger found out in the plan-as-you-go process of building it, its simplicity and length allows plenty of room for adaptation, depending on the space available.



DIY Cnsole Table - X Base Wood Table


Inspired by an pricey piece in a Restoration Hardware catalog, this cheap and chic copycat from The Chronicles of Home is easy to replicate with the right tools. The blogger worked out the hard math for us: The trick to creating the hallmark X-base is cutting one end of each board at a 25-degree angle and the other, which meets at the cross-section, at a 65-degree angle. Stain all of your wood before assembling, and you’ll have a rustic unit with extra shelf storage wherever you set it.



DIY Console Table - Table with Copper Legs


Probably the most defining feature to this industrial design from Décor and the Dog are the legs. No, this DIYer didn’t pick them up from a salvage yard; these come from a couple of 8-foot copper grounding rods, found in the electrical section at a hardware store. Talk about out-of-the-box thinking! Then, to instantly age a sturdy woodblock tabletop to match, she beat the boards with a hammer, crow bar, and screws before staining. Distress your own project in just a day, and you, too, can enjoy a one-of-a-kind entryway addition—and compliments from guests—for years to come.

Genius! The DIY Fire Pit You Can Bring Indoors

Many homeowners want to cozy up around a fireplace when temperatures drop—but no one misses hauling wood and cleaning out the chimney. This season, try a hassle-free alternative: a DIY (and flameless!) campfire.

Fake Campfire - Made with String Lights


Camping season is nearly over, but the cozy season is only just beginning. Along with the urge to stockpile blankets and keep the oven filled with pumpkin pie, you’re probably ready to curl up by a fire. But not everyone has a hearth at home—and even if you are so lucky, you probably know how its expenses (fuel, chimney cleanings, and so on) make it a bit of a mixed blessing anyway. If you want the glow of burning embers in your living room without installing an entire fireplace, consider this craftier alternative from BLDG 25 that gets its luminescence from a set of string lights.

Obviously, a fire pit that bridges the gap between authentic and appropriate for the indoors starts with a handful of supplies from outside, so the design team at Free People first collected a number of small branches and rocks. But each piece of wood—then wrapped in foil, Elmer’s glue, and overlapping strips of white lace—serves only a temporary cast in this project. After the glue dried completely overnight, the sticks were cut out with a sharp utility knife. Once you peel away the foil, all that’s left is a set of ghostly birch-like branches. The rest of the DIY lighting project was as picnic in comparison: They grouped the large rocks in a circle, bundled string lights inside, and arranged the faux branches like real firewood in a cone-like structure.

As the temperatures dip and rainy fall weather ensues, this creative reuse of twinkling Christmas lights has us scoping out the best outlet near which to situate a fake fire pit (not to mention pondering whether it’s too soon to pull out the holiday decorations). Sure, you’ll have to make the s’mores over the stove, but you’ll also have access to electricity and Netflix. So invite a few friends over, and gather ’round the glow!

FOR MORE: Free People 

Fake Campfire - Lace Logs


Weekend Projects: 5 Hardworking DIY Desks

Settle into your new routine (and organize all that homework) when you build one of these 5 easy computer desks this weekend.


It may not fall on the standard back-to-school supply checklist, but a simple and comfortable computer desk should definitely be a top priority once class is back in session. It’s the perfect spot for kids to get homework done and for parents to organize the various permission slips, flyers, and other papers that start to pile up come fall. While computer desks seen in stores and catalogs may come with a high price tag, many DIY alternatives are both easy to build and easy on the wallet. Check out these five achievable DIY desk ideas to get your inspiration flowing.



DIY computer desk - bookcase


If you’re looking for an option that’s equal parts cheap and sleek, look no further than this cleverly assembled design from Pretty Providence, constructed using a couple of Target bookcases and a tabletop from IKEA. The beauty of this arrangement lies in its simplicity: Just lay your tabletop on the floor and use a screwdriver to anchor the shelves into place. After that, all that’s left to do is flip the table over and fill it up. Easy!



DIY computer desk - wood build


This custom-made desk from We Lived Happily After is built for two, making it an easy side-by-side workstation—or simply an ideal spot to spread out with a big project. The success of this project relies on careful measurement (and patience!) when screwing the wooden 1x4s and 2x4s into place. But once you have the frame built, the rest of the assembly will be easier than any of the work you do on it.



DIY Computer Desk - lapdesk


If you’re on the hunt for an option that’s portable and boasts a secret storage compartment, then this DIY laptop desk from The House of Wood is the genius solution for you—and it takes only about two hours to re-create. Round up a couple of 1×12 wooden boards for the storage bottom and hinged top, plus wooden boards for the legs, aprons, and trim. Once you’re done assembling, apply a thin coat of Rust-Oleum Ultimate Wood Stain (shown here in Dark Walnut) to give the design a luxe finish.



DIY Computer Desk - cabinets


This DIY desk idea from Drab to Fab Design requires a bit of advance planning, but the end result is well worth the wait. The design team scoured Craigslist to find a matching set of filing cabinets that they could then turn into a custom-built desk for two. Once they found the perfect pair, the two got to work, attaching frames to the top and bottom of the cabinets to add a bit of height and hold the desktop together. After that, all that was left to do was add a tabletop, which can be created with a few 2x10s.



DIY Computer Desk - standing desk


If you want a space-saving option that’s still an actual anchored-down desk, this wall-mount design from A Beautiful Mess is the perfect choice. All you’ll need are a few slabs of pine board, some shelf brackets, screws, and polyurethane. Using a saw, cut the boards to suit the size of the space where you plan to set up the desk. Then, sand down each board (this will help the polyurethane go on smoothly), and use the wall brackets to mount your desk to the wall. The next step is simply to pull up a chair and get to work!