10. Self-Designing a Room –With all Matching Furniture
When you purchase a complete bedroom furnishing set, your house will start looking like it’s a showroom. In addition to being boring, and extremely visually hefty, it’s an indication that you do not care about an individual sense of fashion since you have let others perform your decorating job, by letting some place such as a furniture store create it for you. Read more…
Do you find yourself thinking of ways you might make money online? If you have a talent for creating craft items, Etsy could be the perfect meeting of your talents and your desire to make some extra cash. My friend has a passion for making jewelry. She was able to transform her passion into a steady source of income. She started out making jewelry for friends and family. Then one day at the mall, a woman asked where my friend had bought her necklace. Read more…
We’ve looked around a little to find some of the coolest and most popular DIY projects out there, and these are our favorites. Click the links to get to the original how-to guides, if you see something you like.
Re-purpose sturdy mailing tubes to create a stylish wine rack. This project is flat out simple: just stack the mailing tubes under a shelf. If you like, you can add a quick coat of colorful enamel. The end result is quite handsome, too. Use the money you save to expand your collection of vino.
This clever lamp takes some effort, but is well within the DIY reach of most of us. It’s the perfect way to transform all those AOL CDs into an awesome accessory. This quirky lamp is an eye-catcher best suited for the basement rec room, game room or family room.
Kitchen knives shouldn’t be left to bang around in a drawer, but who has the counter space for a chunky knife block? This wall-mounted magnetic knife holder is a happy solution. Carve slots into the backside of a wood block, then glue heavy duty magnets into the slots. Mount the wood block, and slap your knives on it. Check out the video when you click the link! This baby is way stickier than it looks.
Take a plastic wristwatch holder and mix in a dash of ingenuity, and put an end to fumbling in a dark cupboard, pantry or closet. This light works like the one in the fridge. Hook up a reverse switch to rope lights inside the closet or cupboard door. Mount the switch in a watch holder. Open the door and the light comes on; close the door, which opens the switch and turns off the light.
Watch the video to see how this one works and for details to make one of your own. A thief probably won’t think to look behind an outlet plate for your valuables, making it the perfect spot to hide jewelry and small treasures.
If you’ve ever dreamed of a secret door that is activated by taking a book off the shelf, this project grants your wish. Avid DIYer Simon Shea offers this outstanding project, –or, he used to, but you’ll find an alternative method on Instructables if you follow the link. It takes time and dedication, but it’s really cool.
DIYer and Green Thumb Matt Haughey explains how to construct an automated water drip system to keep plants properly hydrated, even if you’re away for several days. A parched lawn and garden become things of the past.
When you can’t bear another sultry summer day without air conditioning, this project offers some relief. You can build an effective air cooling unit for about $30. Necessity was the mother of invention for this one, brought to you by college summer schoolers stuck in a dorm with no AC. It’s a bit clunky, but it works. And there’s a closed circuit version that eliminates the water run off.
This project isn’t easy, but it gets loads of points for being clever as well as utilitarian. Watch the video for the demonstration, and click the link for instructions on how to build a remote control device to unlock the deadbolt in the garage or tool shed.
This includes anything which is flat and either framed or mounted. It could be a piece of embroidery, such as a sampler or a Chinese silk picture, a print, poster, painting, photograph, sketch or portrait, or a collection of cartoons, menus, cigarette cards, postcards, stamps or other ephemera.
A picture can be framed with or without glass. It is usual to frame oil colors without because the glass interferes with the visual experience of the texture of the paint and can also reflect light from windows, acting as a mirror which conceals the painting rather than reveals it.
Don’t be in too much of a hurry to make a choice. A large painting may look best in a frame’ of dark wood, pale wood or metal, in something plain or something ornate and gilded. Try the picture with different kinds of frame and bear in mind where you want to hang it. You may be surprised to find how attractive it looks in a frame you had not initially thought of. For example, a very small painting sometimes looks good in a large frame, particularly one in which the frame is deeper in the middle so that the painting is pushed forward slightly and thus given a prominence not afforded by its size.
Storing paintings which you have inherited or do not have a place for at present can be a problem. You can take them out of their frames and store them in acid-free tissue paper flat in a drawer or rolled up in a cardboard tube; use the frame for a picture you do want to display. Framing is expensive so this is a sensible cost-saving exercise. Frames can be dismantled and cut down to make smaller frames, or renovated and re-used as they are.
With watercolors, it is normal to place them on a mount before framing. The painting can cover the whole mount or some of the mount may show within the frame. Suit the proportions of the mount to the painting—if the mount is too narrow it can look ungenerous, if too wide it may dominate the painting. In conventional mounting, the margins at the top and sides should be of equal width while the bottom margin should be about 15 per cent wider.
Pictures mounted or not, can be sandwiched between a sheet of glass or clear acrylic and a backing board. If you use two sheets of acrylic, you can make a two-way picture to hang in a window or between shelves that are used as a room-divider.
In many small homes, the height of the rooms is scarcely used but could almost double both the storage and the living potential. For example, it might be possible to create a balcony area in a living room which could be used as workspace, play space or for visitors to stat overnight.
If there is not enough height for that, a built-up platform could provide storage underneath, at the same time giving the room an added dimension.
In a small bedroom, build the bed on top of a 1.2m (4ft) high cupboard. This is just the right height for being able to see out of the window from the bed, an enormous bonus if you have a pretty view. The cupboard underneath will provide useful storage space for quite large objects, anything from clothes to small pieces of furniture, pictures and pieces of equipment which you may not want to throw away but do not need at present It is also useful for duvets and pillows for guests. A more primitive version would be a bed base resting on two chests-of-drawers.
Make the bed base out of slats with a good 12mm between them; if you are using solid pieces of board, drill holes to allow the mattress to air. For a 1m (3ft) high bed you won’t need a stepladder but you will need a step of some kind. A box-step can hold lightweight objects so that you have no difficulty raising it when you want to get into the cupboard. A chest-of-drawers next to the bed, at about the same height, acts as a bedside table.
A tall bed can be curtained off with muslin or pretty cotton print fabric to give the enclosed and private feeling of a four-poster.
Never underestimate the importance of hanging things up. Coats, jackets, umbrellas and hats all need to be accounted for and most people have several of each, so one or two hooks in the entrance hall are really not going to be enough.
An ideal solution is the Shaker idea of a wooden strip with wooden pegs which runs right round the wall at shoulder height. A simpler version is a wooden batten with cup hooks or other hooks screwed into it. This will hold an endless number of outdoor items holds electric plugs at a (tennis rackets and so on), and even equipment such as a broom or vacuum cleaner.
In the kitchen, a metal rail fixed below the ceiling above the cooker and worktop and hung with butcher’s hooks will hold any number of utensils otherwise floundering about in unnecessary cupboards. It should be positioned so that the utensils are not hanging so low that they will brain you as you stir the soup, and not so high that you need a stepladder to get them down.
Cup hooks are the time-honored way of storing things with handles, such as cups, mugs and jugs. Don’t choose the smallest hooks but get generous-sized ones which will take big, fat handles, and set them far enough apart so that things won’t knock into each other when they are hanging at an angle.
Furniture that folds
Folding chairs and tables are absolutely invaluable in a small home.
Some of the most decorative objects we own are our jewelery, yet they are the most difficult to store and display. Strings of beads get mixed up with each other and tangled, rings are scratched and earrings become divided as easily as socks so that you can only find one of a pair when you want to wear them. It is worth searching around for different ways to store jewelery because when it is displayed in the open it looks very rich and exotic, and is certainly safer from damage and easier to find.
A row of hooks on the wall over the dressing-table is a simple answer but there are other ideas. A bamboo-framed mirror, where the frame includes small shelves, looks very pretty festooned with beads and bangles. A collection of individual metal hooks attached to painted metal pictures covering a whole wall would make a very intriguing and decorative ‘jewelery bank’. A tailor’s dummy will carry necklaces, scarves and hats, and a bentwood hat stand will hold feather boas, hats, scarves and dangling strings of beads. Screens can also be useful for draping scarves and jewelery. Stylized “hands’ will hold numerous rings, cut them out of stiff board, paint them and fix them to the wall so that they lean away at the top.
Earrings are especially tricky things to store. A collection of small boxes will do the trick, or you can create a display. Cover a piece of board in fabric (velvet makes a good backdrop), with a little wadding in between, and hang it on the wall. Loop the earrings on pins stuck into the fabric, and add stray brooches, hatpins, etc.
Once you start thinking of the possibilities, more and more solutions begin to emerge. A pair of antlers or the protruding parts of wooden-framed mirrors all make good hangers for necklaces, and a champagne bottle is ideal for bracelets; spray it gold if you want it to look even more exotic. If you prefer a high-tech look, plastic-coated wire storage units are very practical for jewelery and are also invaluable for keeping track of scarves, ties, socks and gloves.
Sometimes by cleverly dividing a room you may be able to give it an extra function, or even two. A largish bedroom can have one end divided off to give you a roomy wardrobe next to a tiny L-shaped bathroom. If the space is very small you may have to install a shower rather than a bath, but an oval bath can be angled to fit a remarkably small space.
Another successful division can be bedroom and office. A sturdy shelving unit will make a good solid ‘wall’, providing office storage on one side and leaving space for a small guest bedroom on the other. The division need not reach the ceiling, which might create too claustrophobic an atmosphere in a small space.
If built-in furniture already exists and you cannot very well get rid of it, you may be able to move it or use it differently. In most kitchens, the space given to storage and worktop can be reduced if the room is carefully planned to function at its most efficient. A good kitchen table can be a worktop as well as an eating space. A tabletop can be attached to the wall by a hinged leg.
Once again, the interiors of cupboards can be fitted with wire pull-out baskets and trays; hooks can hold cups and jugs, and stacking equipment is a great space-saver. This means that the working part of a kitchen can take up a comparatively small space, leaving room for entertaining as well as humanizing elements such as pictures and prints.
Less is best
There is a tendency to overfill kitchens with storage cabinets which are not really necessary. In small kitchens these can be claustrophobic, and it may be better to keep cupboards at a low level and to install narrow shelves where they are needed at a higher level. Instead of a large refrigerator and freezer, it may be more space-saving to have two refrigerators or small, separate fridge and freezer units than one monstrous appliance which dominates the whole room. Small appliances also provide more worktop space. The upper wall space can then be used for storing narrow objects such as spice jars, salt and pepper mills, sauce bottles and so on, or for hanging shallow shelving units, knife-racks, storage for kitchen implements and other decorative, hang able items to cheer up the working environment.
Attics and sloping roofs
Attics make good play areas for older children, who enjoy the secretiveness of enclosed spaces which would be claustrophobic for adults. When converting an attic, remember to insulate it adequately; it may be possible to get a grant for this. Make sure there is a means of escape in case of fire and that any ladder required for getting up to the room is sturdy and solid. If you install low seating round the walls, people will not bump their heads.
Arches and alcoves
If you are converting two rooms into one, you can make the connecting arch a very deep one, perhaps as much as 55cm (22in). This will not only provide alcove space for a number of uses, the top will provide a good platform for displaying objects such as sculptures and even plants if there is enough light. In the alcove you can perhaps fit a refrigerator, an extra cupboard, wine-racks or other bulky items which you may have difficulty finding room for elsewhere.
Those areas at the top of flights of stairs are simply asking to be converted into something useful. Unfortunately, they often open onto a main staircase and are thus drafty and public. All the same, there is no need to waste their tremendous storage potential. Shelving is one obvious answer and books always give a warm, comfortable feeling. If the space is square and very small, make the shelves just wide enough to hold paperbacks. If you don’t have that many books, magazine collections can be housed there or jars, tins, shoebox files, and so on.
If you don’t need extra shelves, then the space could be used as hanging storage—something which is often neglected. You can hang folding chairs, tools, sports equipment or even cleaning equipment. Objects which seem uncouth when they are flung higgledy-piggledy in the bottom of a cupboard can take on an almost sculptural look when hung in a disciplined way on me wall.
The word ‘collection’ covers a multitude of interests, from photographs in silver frames to lead soldiers, Dinky toys, horse-brasses, antique dolls and Indonesian masks.
Collections are best grouped together, so that the similarities and differences can be appreciated. A collection of dolls looks at home on an armchair but if you don’t want to give up a comfortable seat the top of a chest-of-drawers would be a suitable showcase, perhaps with a set of shelves behind for small dolls and dolls’ clothes hanging on the wall on either side. A couple of open drawers could hold yet more dolls peeping out and so the chest becomes a complete small exhibition in itself, leaving the lower drawers for family clothes.
Wooden, alabaster and marble eggs, or other similar-sized objects, can be displayed in a basket or a little batch of baskets. Collections of boxes can spread over the house in groups on mantelpieces, small tables and shelves. Small shelves which are ostensibly intended to stand on the floor can be hung on a wall individually or in groups to display smaller items.
One very successful way of displaying collections is on small tables. A round table covered with a floor-length cloth takes up very little space next to an armchair and collections look very decorative with light shining down on them from a table lamp.
Masks look best hung on a wall, either in a row if they have some unifying quality or haphazardly if they are different sizes and from different parts of the world.
Empty bottles are usually thrown away, but some bottles have attractive shapes, colors or ornamental moulding which gives them a decorative value. Don’t just display one on its own; their charm is in their variety. Rare or precious glass such as old crystal or Lalique pieces can be exhibited separately but they also look better as collections.
Glass needs light behind it to bring out its magical, light-reflective properties so windowsills are the ideal place to display it. Deep sills will hold a collection of different sizes and shapes but it looks best if you limit the colors to, say, blues and blue-greens, or reds and pinky yellow. Glass also looks extra shiny placed in front of a mirror where its reflective qualities are doubled. After dark, place a nightlight or tiny strip light behind the glass at the back of the windowsill.
A high shelf running all round a room or entrance hall will show off a collection of china or an antique dinner service. Pairs of plates or platters can be fixed to wire brackets and hung on the wall on either side of a mantelpiece, and individual plates can be hung like paintings wherever they look good. Don’t ignore the bathroom and lavatory as possibilities for hanging china. There are often free walls in these rooms which can be greatly brightened by pretty china, which will not be affected by condensation.
All sorts of textiles can be hung on walls—tapestries, tweed, suede, hessian, silk, flannel and, of course, kilim rugs. Fabric panels can be used to cover one wall or to line a whole room, acting as a kind of insulating wallpaper. Single pieces of fabric look effective hung individually as a feature.
You can use a staple gun to attach fabric directly on the wall but a better method is to fix the fabric to battens. It is hardly worth buying a staple gun for this but they can sometimes be hired from tool hire stores. If the fabric is plain, pictures and prints can be hung on top so you will not have wasted any display space.
Individual hand-woven tapestries can be hung from rods or poles fixed to a picture rail. Kilims make excellent hangings, being weighty and in colors which coordinate with many interior styles. If you have a lighter-weight hanging, such as a batik, you could weight the bottom by sewing small ball bearings in the hem so that it hangs well.
Ceilings can be softened, and ugly ceilings concealed, with looped fabric. This is specially suitable for halls where a very little fabric can conceal a multitude of gas and electric meters and other unfortunate sights. Muslin is cheap and effective because it drapes prettily and is unobtrusive. All you have to do is make a hem at each end wide enough to get a rod (a bamboo or a narrow wooden batten) through and fix the rods to the ceiling. You could perhaps create another channel halfway along the length of fabric for an extra rod, allowing plenty of fabric to loop between them.
Narrow rooms can be treated in the same way, with the fabric caught at intervals to create a scalloped effect. This is very good for concealing unsightly ceiling treatments and for lowering the ceiling to make the space less box-like. It does not matter if the fabric is not quite as wide as the ceiling—a few centimeters each side will not be noticeable.