Category Archives: DIY

Stylish Hardware Fixes for Your Home

On this blog, we’ve mentioned a few times that even apartment-dwellers can easily transform their rented homes with new hardware. Hardware is truly amazing because it makes such a difference, but is easy and inexpensive to change. If you’ve never experimented with this design idea before, consider:

Knobs and pulls

Knobs and pulls are amazingly versatile and can transform just about anything. Consider changing the knobs and pulls on:

  • Dressers
  • Cupboards
  • Nightstands
  • Pots and dutch ovens
  • Doors

They can instantly transform your space. Look for unique hardware at second-hand stores, yard sales, and at your local hardware store. You can even make your own pulls and knobs. This blog post has some great ideas for DIY pulls. Another blogger here has some additional fun ideas.

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Another idea with pulls and knobs is to put them at the end of painted wooden poles to create your own curtain rods for a fraction of the cost. Just buy simple wooden rods, metal rods, or even electrical conduits at your local hardware store and choose two matching pull knobs. You can just screw the knobs in. You can paint the rods or leave them as is. The whole project costs less than $10 in most cases.

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If you have extra door knobs, you can use them inside your closet to hang accessories and ties. Or, screw them next to your window for an attractive curtain holder. Be sure to check out this blog for more unique projects.

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Switch plates

Switch plates and outlet covers are usually not very inspiring, but you can easily transform them into something special by adding some decorative switch plates. Oddee.com even has a guide here on making your own customized versions. If you can’t find great switch plates and don’t want to make your own, another idea is to place a frame around electrical outlets and light switches — even around thermostats. This will instantly add some style with very little effort.

Door handles and locks

Door handles and locks do more than just keep unwanted guests out. They can also look amazing. Swap out the door locks and handles on your door for a whole new look. Check out this website for beautiful door handle ideas. While you are making over your door, consider adding a whimsical door knocker (even on interior doors), beautiful street numbers, or even your monogram.

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Hinges

These days, it seems as though most people think that door hinges should be functional and invisible, but there are actually a range of decorative hinges and strap hinges that look great on wardrobes, closets, doors, and cupboards. Look for rustic designs for your pantry door and dramatic gothic designs for wood doors. Check out this Pinterest page to see the amazing things you can do with a few hinges.

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Hardware may seem to be one of the least interesting design elements, but it can really be one of the most exciting. Inexpensive and easy to buy, hardware can make a big difference in your home – even if you aren’t handy or don’t have time for big makeover projects.

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7 Secrets That Can Transform Your Home

Are there specific secrets that can makeover your apartment or house into something special? Designers think so. While every home is a little different, interior designers know seven little tricks that can makeover just about any space into something worthy of a magazine spread.

Secret #1: Where you shop matters.

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Want to have a home like everyone else while also paying top dollar? Shop at your local furniture stores. If you want something unique, you will want to check out unconventional places for décor items, furniture, appliances, and more. Try:

  • Garage sales and estate sales
  • Online ads
  • Auctions
  • Going-out-of-business sales (great for office furniture and restaurant-quality kitchen appliances)
  • Hotel liquidators
  • Outlet stores
  • Yard Sales
  • Habitat for Humanity ReStore locations
  • Fabric stores
  • Specialty furniture stores

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Look in places where the average person doesn’t shop for furniture and be sure to mix and match items. You’ll save a ton of money and you’ll be able to find truly unusual pieces. Look for quality and overall shape rather than pristine condition. One caveat, though: for soft furnishings (such as sofas) and mattresses, stick with new items from furniture stores. This way, you can ensure that there is nothing unpleasant lurking in stains and crevices.

Secret #2: Repurpose Furniture and Accessories Yourself to Create a New Space.

One person can buy some cheap pre-fab furniture and create a drab little apartment. Another person may use the same basic furniture to create something special. Designers never leave well enough alone: they reupholster chairs, paint shelves, and change the hardware on pieces to create a whole new look. In fact, if you currently have furniture you may not even have to go out and buy completely new pieces. You may be able to simply take your worn out items or generic modular furniture and create something fresh with new fabrics, colors, and accents. The Internet is a treasure trove of unique furniture hacks. Check out this Pinterest site for tips to transform pieces or this Pinterest site for specific ways to make inexpensive IKEA furniture work harder. The Apartment Therapy blog also has a great page about furniture hacks here.

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Secret #3: Less is more.

Have you ever seen clutter in a staged home or a magazine spread? No? Have you ever gone to an open house or to see an apartment and have recoiled because it is messy and full of junk? It is virtually impossible to create a beautiful and gracious home if it is full of stuff. Your first step if you want a beautiful home is to get rid of anything you don’t love or need. Then, pare back some more. If you sell the items, you will likely earn a bundle you can put towards new accessories and items for your home.

If you have a collection of something and you can’t bear to part with it, make sure you have beautiful shelves or a storage system so that you can display your treasures. Even then, you may want to get rid of items in your collection that no longer dazzle you. Let someone else get enjoyment from some of your less-than-ideal pieces.

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Secret #4: No matter how important you realize lighting is, it is more important than you think.

Interior designers and decorators use lighting the way artists use paint. No matter how beautiful your home is, it will still look dingy and small if there is not enough light – and the wrong sort of light can be just as bad.

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To get the right lighting effect, layer your lights the way you might layer textures or colors. Add several lamps to each room and switch up the light bulbs so that some of the lamps have soft violet or pink lights (perfect for mood lighting and a soft evening glow) while some have brighter lights for reading and other activities. This way, you can control the feel of a room easily with just a few switches.

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Secret #5: You need to work with everything you have to make a beautiful home.

Everything about your apartment or house – even the stuff you hate – needs to be considered. Is your living room an awkward L shape? You can use that to create separate seating and entertainment areas. Do you have beautiful dormer windows? You will want to highlight those with beautiful window treatments or soft billowing curtains.

In addition to working with the architectural features of your home, you will want to work with all your senses. Successful real estate agents know this: when you walk into a home, it is a full immersion experience. Your sight may be captivated with beautiful décor, but your other senses need to be engaged, too. That may mean scented candles to create a great fragrance and soft music to create soothing sounds. Soft rugs under the feet can create a great tactile experience.

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To get a feel for the sensory impression your home leaves, stay out of your home for a few hours or an entire day. When you re-enter, go slowly and stay alert for the feel of your home. What are the first things you smell? Does the home feel too stuffy, too cold, or too hot? What does the house sound like? What is the first visual impression of your home? You can even ask a trusted friend to give you their first, impressions, too, so that you can get a sense of what you need to work on.

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Secret #6: A home’s interior is a journey, not something on your to-do list.

If you’re moving into a new space, especially, the temptation is there to get everything “perfect” and “done” so that you can start living in your home and entertaining. Unless you have an unlimited budget and the help of a professional, though, it is more likely that getting your home settled will be something that will take time and effort. You will want to visit many stores to find the gorgeous pieces you want, and there is a certain serendipity involved. You may find that perfect chair or lamp while shopping for something completely different months from now, so there’s no need to buy your furniture out of a box today.

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Another reason to take it slow: your living situation and needs may change over time, and that will mean your furniture and home needs will change, too. You may decide to adopt a pet, expand your family, or take on a new job. All may require you to change how you think about your home and will likely mean that you end up making even more changes to your space. When you create your space slowly over time, you get a chance to slowly create your home to reflect where you are in life right now.

Secret #7: Don’t forget the ceiling space.

Most of us live at the floor level, so the ceiling may not seem like a very inspiring area. The problem with ignoring your ceiling, though, is that it creates an empty space. You may have lots of furnishings and décor items at the floor level, but if you don’t balance that out with an interesting ceiling, your rooms may look half done and rather bottom-heavy. A good solution is to paint the ceiling or to add beams if your ceiling is high. If you rent, you can use stick-on adhesives designs or simply swap out the lighting fixtures to something more dramatic. The Decoist blog here has some great ceiling ideas, as does the Shelterness blog here.

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Transforming your home may not go as quickly or as seamlessly as the reality shows suggest. You may need to give yourself permission to experiment and even to get imperfect results. If you use the above secrets, though, you will eventually find yourself living in a home you can’t wait to show off.

A Wood Flooring Guide – Solid vs Engineered Wood Flooring

Now is the perfect time of the year to start thinking about decorating – and what better way to transform your home than with a brand new floor? Solid wood floors are a desirable feature for many homeowners but have you ever considered engineered flooring? This great infographic is your personal guide to choosing between the two – outlining how eco-friendly the two floors are, how durable they are, how easy they are to install and how long they can last for.

Furthermore, it also gives you a brief insight into the various profiles you can get with these two floors, outlining the advantages of each whilst also giving a quick overview of the types of finishes you can choose between. Check out this fantastic infographic today and learn everything there is to learn about these two popular types of flooring to ensure you choose the floor which is most suitable for you. Choosing a new floor has never been easier.

Gayle Brown created this on behalf of Factory Direct Flooring – a leading supplier of laminate, vinyl, solid and engineered flooring.

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Green Living at Home in Seven Easy Steps

If you want to get your home looking great while reducing your carbon footprint, you’ll have to think well beyond tossing a few things in the recycling bin from time to time. Getting serious about getting green means that you have to re-think every part of your home life. You can start with these tips:

1) Look for alternative cleaning products.

Experts agree that indoor air quality in homes is often several times worse than outdoor air quality in even very polluted cities. The culprits often come down to harsh cleaning chemicals, toxic air fresheners, and mold. To find out the facts, check out this site. If you want to make changes in your home, start by letting in some fresh air – literally. Airing out your apartment or house, even in winter, can improve your air quality. Switching to more natural cleaning products is a big help, too (and it will save you money). This site has a number of recipes for making your own home cleaning products.

2) Watch what you consume.

What you buy and eat has a huge impact on the world around you. Before you bring something into your home, consider what impact it has on the environment – and on you. Is that paint you plan to use on the dining room going to emit VOCs? Is the rug you are thinking about for the bedroom made from synthetic materials in a toxic process? Do your research before you buy and consider natural fibers and products for your home.

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3) Recycle last – focus on reducing and reusing.

Recycling’s great, but it also uses a lot of energy. Taking your recyclables to the depot means big gas-guzzling trucks and the recycling process itself can mean more emissions. When you can, re-use products and switch from disposable to re-usable products. Using cloths rather than paper towels to wipe your counters, for example, is a great choice. To get more tips, visit the EPA website here. The site has a number of useful tips for reducing, re-using, composing, and recycling.

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4) Consider downsizing.

A smaller home means less space to heat and that means less energy used. If moving is not in the cards, at least make sure that you use your space efficiently. This blog has an interesting story about one family that tried downsizing their home to reduce their carbon footprint.

5) Look at alternative energy.

Solar energy, wind energy, and geothermal energy options can be a way to power and heat your home with less stress on the environment. Depending on where you live, switching to greener energy options can also mean tax credits or other benefits. If you want a more detailed break-down of various options, the TechCrunch site here has a great post about the subject. Changing to an alternative energy option is an investment, so you may want to try getting rid of fossil-fuel-burning furnaces first and focus on reducing the energy you do use while you save up for a bigger change. Using a timer on your thermostat or dialing down your thermostat a few degrees (and maybe wearing sweaters indoors) can make a big impact.

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6) Grow a garden.

What you eat has a big impact on the environment. All the food you eat has to be transported on trucks and planes – and that means lots of emissions. Meat production can have an even more dire impact on the environment, according to some experts. Growing some of your own vegetables and herbs can make your home life greener, and focusing more on plant-based foods can also be beneficial for the environment. Actress Alicia Silverstone has an interesting blog about green topics and healthy eating. You can check it out here. Keep in mind, too, that growing plants in your home is beneficial for indoor air quality because plants produce oxygen. You might want to take some plants into your home – not only does it make great décor sense, it can actually make your home healthier and greener.

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7) Make your home efficient.

If heat is escaping through your windows and doors or your appliances are using extra electricity, it doesn’t matter how much you try to reduce and re-use and recycle. Go through your home and check to see whether there are any drafts. Call in a professional inspector who can tell you whether your roof needs work. If new windows and doors are too much of an investment, use window foil and other means to trap heat inside. Don’t forget to check out your appliances. Replacing older appliances with Energy Star appliances can mean you use less energy and make your home more eco-friendly. To find out more about the Energy Star program and possible tax credits, visit the Energy Star site here.

Even if you’re not an eco-warrior, making your home greener just makes sense. The changes you need to make to make your home more environmentally-conscious also tend to make your home safer and tend to save you money, so it really is a win-win situation all around. A green home is always a stylish home.