Replace caulk around the bathtub.
A bathtub's caulking can make or break the look of the entire room. When the caulk is new and clean, the bathroom looks sharp and the fixtures seem newer too. When caulk is worn out, however, it yellows, hardens, cracks, or even shrinks and pulls away, making the room look tired and creating gaps that open the door to mold and mildew growth. Fortunately, replacing deteriorated caulk can be a quick job with the Caulk Aid from Hyde Tools (available at HydeStore.com; $4.69). This durable multipurpose tool features beveled blades on one end for shaving away the old caulk and, at the other, a contoured silicone pad for smoothing a new bead of caulk for professional-looking results.
Create an accent wall.
Sometimes, all it takes is a burst of color—like a bold accent wall—to revive a bland and boring room. Coating a wall in a dramatic color provides a counterpoint to the neutrals elsewhere in a room, and better yet, a single wall doesn’t take too long to paint. It goes particularly fast if you don’t first have to tape off the adjacent walls, ceiling, or trim work. So, instead of grabbing the painter's tape, speed the project along—and still get clean paint lines—by using the HYDE Super Guide Paint Shield (available at HydeStore.com; $6.33). Just hold the stainless steel edge of the shield firmly along the ceiling or trim, and with your other hand brush on a light coat of a quality, one-coat interior wall paint right up to the shield. After this quick and clean cutting in process, swiftly roll paint on the rest of the wall, and you'll have a striking accent in no time.
Add nighttime ambience with solar lights.
Don’t underestimate the impact of outdoor lighting. After the sun sets, it minimizes stumbling about in darkness and highlights the best features of your landscaping. And, with today’s solar lighting options, there’s no need to install costly low-voltage wiring underground to power it. While some solar models can be attached to a wall or post, most can be installed by simply staking them into the ground and letting the sun recharge the batteries for their LED bulbs. There are so many ways you can use solar lights outdoors: Use individual path lights to gently illuminate your drive and walkways, add a directional spotlight (or a few) to draw attention to ornamental shrubbery or a tree, or even bathe the perimeter of your house in a glowing halo.
Replace old window screens.
Torn and misshapen window screens create an entry point for insects and project an unkempt, dilapidated appearance. Luckily, it's cheap and easy to replace worn screens! Purchase a screen replacement kit that includes a new fiberglass screen, spline (the rubber or vinyl cord used to secure the screen), and a roller tool to push the spline firmly in place.
After you've assembled your materials, go ahead and pull out the old spline to release the damaged screen. Then, position the new screen fabric over the frame, and use the kit's roller tool to press the new spline deeply into the groove that holds the screen fabric in place. Presto! You have an intact, insect-proof screen and a clear view of the outdoors.
Fill nail holes in walls.
Rearranging your wall hangings is a quick way to freshen up a stale room, but any nail holes left from the previous configuration will detract from your new design. Though it takes mere minutes to fill the holes, many homeowners put off the task when they can’t locate a putty knife or find that the leftover spackling has hardened in its tub. Well, here's a new release from Hyde Tools that will change that scenario for good: the Better Finish Nail Hole Filler (available at HydeStore.com; $4.99.).
This all-in-one wall repair tool packages joint compound (the same compound used to fill drywall seams) into a flexible tube with a twist top that can be tightly resealed after each use and that doubles as a smoothing blade—no need to dig out the putty knife for those fast fixes! Squeeze the tube gently to dispense the just-right amount of compound through a small opening at the center of the blade, and you'll be able to fill the hole and wipe it smooth at the same time. Best of all, the replaceable stopper seals the tube and keeps the compound fresh for up to three years, so it will be at the ready the next time you decide to change up your gallery wall.
Replace standard switches with dimmer switches.
Turn down the intensity and turn up the ambience! Swap out your existing light switches for new versions with dimmers to replace the harsh glare of overhead lights with a softer, more inviting glow that can even help you save on your electric bill. The new dimmer switch comes with detailed instructions for removing the old switch (don't forget to cut the power first!) and connecting the existing wires to the new switch. Just bear in mind that you should have some basic wiring knowledge and dimmable light bulbs before taking on this project.
Update a wooden staircase with carpet treads.
Wood staircases offer classic appeal, but the centers of the treads can lose their sheen after a few years of foot traffic. Refinishing the treads is a major undertaking, but you can save the look of the staircase without all that work through the simple addition of carpet stair treads. Carpet treads, which attach to the stairs with highly adhesive carpet tape, are available in a variety of styles—from intricate baroque designs to plain, low-pile Berber—and are typically sold in sets of 15 treads; some sets come with an additional landing carpet for the floor at the bottom the stairs.
Add statuary to your garden.
Inject style into your landscaping by incorporating a decorative birdbath, fountain, or even an armillary sundial to serve as a focal point. To successfully install this type of garden decor, you'll first need a level and secure base. You may find, however, that the best location for a birdbath or fountain is in a section of your garden where you have only soil, such as in a flower bed or nestled among some bushes.
Fortunately, the base doesn't have to be anything as extensive as a concrete patio. To create a quick, sturdy surface, dig out a few inches of soil, and fill the hole with sand. Then, place a flat patio paver on top to serve as a base. Use a carpenter’s level to position the paver, adjusting the sand as necessary until the surface is perfectly level. You now have a stable base that will keep your new garden statuary upright without sinking or tilting.
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