Category Archives: Do-it-Yourself

DIY: Love it or List it?

Written By Beth Herman

I’m obsessed with home renovation. HGTV’s Love it or List it is among my favorite TV shows. It’s fun to sit in your living room watching Susan, Dennis and their two kids eat dinner in their Racine Wisconsin garage, while their kitchen gets torn apart and rebuilt. Then, decision time: will they stay in the newly renovated house, or sell and buy a new home?

Sometimes life imitates art—or at least television. When we bought our house in 2004, it desperately needed updating.  Hoping to sell in 2012, we took the plunge. Under the guidance of our realtor Denise, we brought in a kitchen company and contractor, who renovated the master bath and replaced everything in the kitchen except the windows and floors. Eliminating the wall between dining room and kitchen provided clear ‘site lines.’ (Who wants to be in the kitchen cooking when all the fun is in the dining room?)  The estimate was three to four weeks.  It took seven.

kitchen
Before

The Reico rep said it was one of the most dramatic renovations she had seen, and she wasn’t exaggerating. In place of white Formica, we got sleek granite countertops, ‘espresso’ cabinets, and two times the storage. The master bath, two dark small rooms of 1980’s vintage, became one huge bright space (my husband calls it the Halls of Congress) with a window, skylight and large seamless shower.

After washing dishes in the guest bathroom, storing boxes of pots, dishes and dry goods in the living room, or hiking down to the guest bath in the middle of the night for seven weeks, the carpet still had to be ripped out and replaced. Seven days later, the house was finally completed.

kitchen2
After

We were thrilled, exhausted, and suddenly facing our own Love it or List it moment. Finally, a home with serene spa-like master bath and a kitchen/dining room space worth showing off.  Our first dinner guests arrived with champagne, an hour after the last workman drove away.

In the end, we decided to love it. I dreaded telling Denise, but thankfully, she was more than gracious.  “There’s always next year, she said, “and in the meantime enjoy!”

When I called her this January to her say, “we’re ready,” she was thrilled.  But alas, there was more work to be done. The master bedroom needed repainting, and the maroon shipbuilding wall paper had to come out of the first floor laundry room.

More renovations? I thought wearily. But I couldn’t argue.Years ago, I painted the bedroom myself. Harvest gold, the color choice of the previous owners, was covered with aqua; walls, trim and doors, creating an underwater effect.

This year, instead of a team, we used one guy. Ron, who had done tree work for us. He estimated three days. It took six. Sometimes his 19-year-old daughter came to help. The bedroom, now a soothing white trimmed in screen grey, matches the rest of the house. My dark little laundry room has a new floor, soft grey walls, a new toilet and vanity.

This time, we chose to list. I hope our house sells quickly when it goes on the market, but not too soon. I want to enjoy my new laundry room. At least for a little while.

Beth Herman is a writer and artist based in Charlottesville. She would love to hear your renovation stories, scary or smooth.

DIY: Sharpie Scripted Pillows

Who says that writing on furniture is just for kids? Snuggle up with a love letter every night with this how-to for Sharpie scripted pillows!

THINGS YOU’LL NEED:

  • Sharpie Fabric Markers
  • Cotton or Jersey pillowcase
  • Cardboard
  • Letter Stencils (Optional)

Choose the text or design you wish to write on your pillow.

Lay the pillowcase out over the piece of cardboard to prevent the marker from bleeding through and to keep the pillowcase smoothly stretched out.

For best results, sketch/write your ideas out in pencil FIRST before going to work with the Sharpie to allow for mistakes.

Use the fabric marker to create your one-of-a-kind pillow!

Take a look at these examples of DIY Sharpie pillows on A Subtle Revelry or Dear Lillie Blog if you need inspiration!  For more great DIY projects, check out our Pinterest page!

DIY-scripted-pillows1

Sweet dreams!

DIY: Holiday Decorating

As the holidays roll around, it’s natural to want to spread good tidings and cheer with festive decorations like wreaths, candy canes and Santa Claus figurines. But this year, instead of digging out the same old holiday decorations, why not create some new looks that will last the entire winter season, even after you put away the gift wrap and ornaments?

Stimulate the senses

Nothing says winter like the fresh smell of pine and the soft, warm glow of candle light. Repurpose simple glass bottles into an outdoorsy candlescape with Krylon Natural Stone Textured Finish spray paint. Available in eight colors, like Olivine, it goes on easy and gives you the natural beauty of stone and an elegant, professional-looking appearance. Once dry, wrap artificial garland with pinecones around the bottle’s neck or let the garland cascade down the bottle. Place pine tree-scented white taper candles in the bottle openings, light and enjoy for a fresh look and smell that will stimulate your senses well into 2014.

Color works wonders

Another easy way to excite the senses during a drab, gray winter is with pops of color. For a decorative display that lasts all season, avoid the red and green color combination associated with Christmas and branch out with more contemporary choices like teals, blues, purples and pinks. Metallics like silver and gold are also a great way to glitz up the season without looking like the North Pole in overdrive. Try Krylon’s ColorMaster Metallic in Gold to spice up old ornaments, vases, frames, centerpieces and more in no time at all. Group spray-painted ornaments or pine cones in a hurricane vase or glass bowl and display on the mantel for added ambiance to any living room.

Deck the halls

Looking for a way to display the abundance of holiday cards from friends and family? Repurpose an old window shutter to create a unique display. Start by spray painting it with a festive shade, such as green or burgundy, which adds a touch of holiday spirit. Once dry, hang the shutter in the kitchen or entryway and place holiday cards in the slats of the shutter for a creative way to stay organized. Once the holidays have passed, you can still use the shutter to display birthday cards, thank you notes, party invitations and more all year long.

Outdoor decor

The inside of the home isn’t the only space you can be creative. Make a lasting statement before houseguests even step inside your home by focusing decorative attention to the outside. Line walkways and driveways with lights or faux miniature pine trees, and place white flameless candlesticks on each windowsill to add a simple touch of holiday spirit without going overboard. Prop a vintage snow sled outside the front door to welcome guests.

So, this year instead of the same decorations, consider some fun and easy ways to re-beautify them into pieces that you’ll be proud to display throughout the winter season. For more product or project ideas, visit www.krylon.com.

DIY: Easy backyard bird feeding tips

Help nurture kids’ love of nature with easy, basic, backyard bird-feeding tips

Parents and children enjoy spending quality time together, but it’s not always easy to find shared interests. The backyard, however, can provide the perfect place for generations to meet when parents help kids learn the delights of bird-watching and bird-feeding.

Interacting with backyard birds benefits children on many levels, including teaching them the responsibility of caring for other living things to nurturing their appreciation of nature. Fall and winter are the perfect times to introduce kids to backyard bird care; as food sources dwindle in their natural habitat, birds will frequent a backyard where feeders serve up seed and suet daily.

The wild bird experts at Cole’s Wild Bird Products offer some guidance for families launching bird feeding lessons:

Feeder facts:

Different bird species like different types of feeders, but some styles, such as tube feeders, will attract a large variety of birds. Basic bird feeder styles include:

* Tube – Best for serving seed, tube feeders keep the contents clean and dry, providing birds with access to the food through feeding ports. They’re great all-purpose feeders and will attract the most variety of songbirds. It’s important to clean tube feeders regularly, so choose a model that’s easy to clean. Cole’s high-quality tubular feeders are made with state-of-the-art materials to prevent warping, discoloration, and they feature Quick Clean removable bases that make cleaning fast and simple. Feeder bottoms pop off with the push of a button.

* Bowl feeders – If separating seeds into different feeders gets too complicated, bowl feeders can be an all-in, easy solution. Options like Cole’s Bountiful Bowl Feeder can accommodate a variety of feed types, from seed and suet to mealworms, fruits and nuts. Bowl feeders are especially good starter feeders for children since they are easy to fill and clean.

* Suet feeders – During cold winter months, suet is an essential source of energy for birds. Suet feeders can range from a simple mesh onion bag to a wire or plastic mesh box that affixes to a tree, or post. Woodpeckers, warblers, nuthatches, titmice, jays and chickadees love suet.

Whatever styles of feeder you choose – and a mix is ideal – be sure to select feeders that are sturdy enough to withstand winter weather and unwanted visitors, like squirrels. They should be tight enough to keep seeds dry, and easy to disassemble for cleaning. Most importantly, keep them maintained and stocked – if you neglect to feed them, birds will go elsewhere.

Food fun:

In order to attract birds, it’s important to serve high-quality food. Seed blends with too much cheap seed, known as fill, won’t satisfy birds, and you’ll end up with a mound of discarded fill under feeders and few feathered friends in your backyard. Here are some basic foods birds look for in winter:

* Suet – Long gone are the days when serving suet was a messy proposition. Kids can serve suet without messing up their little hands when you choose convenient suet cakes, kibbles, nuts and pearls. Many of these suet options are mixed with other treats birds love, such as nuts, grains and berries. You can even find options with habanero pepper infused in the fat to dissuade squirrels from dining on the suet. Nutberry Suet Blend, by Cole’s, mixes human-grade cherries, apples and blueberry-flavored cranberries, preferred nuts, nutritious insect suet kibbles and whole kernel sunflower meats into an energy-packed, powerhouse feed.

* Seed – Many songbirds favor seeds, and in winter it can be difficult for birds to find seeds in nature. From black oil sunflower seeds and Niger to seed mixes, it’s important to serve a variety of high-quality seeds. Choose mixes with large proportions of sunflower seeds and avoid ones with fillers like wheat, milo and corn; birds will pick out the appealing seeds and kick out the filler. You can learn more about seed mixes at www.coleswildbird.com.

* Dried mealworms – Although the name might imply an “ick factor” that appeals to kids, serving dried mealworms is easy and mess-free. High in protein, mealworms are favored by bluebirds, flickers, woodpeckers, siskins and nuthatches. Plus you don’t have to feed them or keep them in the fridge like with live mealworms!

Introducing kids to backyard bird-feeding is an enjoyable – and easy – way to connect families with nature – and to each other. All you’ll need is a feeder, bird feed and some time. The birds will come, kids will surely enjoy the experience, and you’ll all have some good family fun.

DIY: Creative Kids’ Activities for Fall

Each year autumn marks a time for change – leaves turn colors, the air becomes crisp and parents everywhere prepare for their children to return to school. The new season brings with it a shift in rhythms and patterns, including a new weekly routine for families as children go back to school.

For young children starting school, it’s important to maintain a learning environment even after the last school bell rings and they return home. Spend this time building family traditions and making learning fun by incorporating some of these fun indoor and outdoor fall activities into your seasonal routine.

EXPLORE THE OUTDOORS

* Set up a scavenger hunt with your kids to teach them about the differences between the tree; this activity allows children to run around the neighborhood learning about the wide variety of living things in their environment.
*Collect fallen leaves to create a beautiful fall collage. This is a fun activity for young children as they can use their imagination and creativity to design a unique image celebrating the fall season.
*Use a metallic marker so kids can write on the leaves, creating patterns or images, then place the leaves on wax paper and apply Mod Podge to keep the design in place as it hangs.
*Visit a local pumpkin patch: One of the most cherished fall traditions for families is spending a day at a pumpkin patch. Full of fun and games, the pumpkin patch is a perfect place for young children. Whether you’re making your way through the corn maze, interacting with the animals in the petting zoo, or enjoying a hay ride around the grounds, your family is sure to have a blast.

HALLOWEEN PREP

*Use the pumpkins brought home from the patch to design a spooky Jack-o’-lantern with your children. Let them design a face on the front of the pumpkin and cut it out for them.
*As Halloween approaches your little one will need a costume. Whether it’s shopping for the perfect costume or making one from scratch, use this time to learn more about your child’s likes and dislikes while encouraging them to express their creativity.

Make this fall season unforgettable and continue to help your children grow by introducing these lifelong family traditions.

DIY: Wedding by Pinterest

As seen in our February issue…

Gifts for the bride and groom don’t need to be off a registry—lots of crafty girls are using sites like Pinterest to get unique ideas for wedding presents!

Pinterest boards can be sources of inspiration when you’re not sure what to get the couple who has everything. Try scrolling through tagged boards of wedding crafts the newlyweds are sure to love and will make them smile (and takes the stress off searching through tons of stores for that special present!).

These homemade gifts are extra-thoughtful and aren’t very difficult to make. Take a look at our February issue for several cool ideas straight from Pinterest that won’t break the bank or look like everything else on the gift table!

For more cool pins, ideas, and DIYs, check out Bella’s very own boards on Pinterest!

DIY: Easy Interior Decorating

Change is good – whether it’s getting a new hairdo, starting a new job, or renovating your lovely home.

Speaking of your home, redecorating has never been easier thanks to FrogTape! FrogTape painter tape’s premium performance helps you try fresh, cool looks – chevron, accent walls, stand-up stripes, etc. – the EASY way, keeping lines sharp. FrogTape is the only painter’s tape treated with PaintBlock Technology – an exclusive technology (with super absorbent polymer) that gels to the surface, helping you achieve clean paint lines and saves time (and money!) by eliminating the need for touch ups.

How perfect!