We have an L-shaped sofa in our basement family room. It’s great for lounging and watching movies, but I hate that there isn’t a place to set drinks, remotes, and other items when relaxing (we have an ottoman and a 1 year old, so using a coffee table isn’t an option).
A solution I came up with is making a basic shelf that runs along the back of the couch. It works great, is easy to make, and was super cheap! It’s just deep enough to hold glasses without making the couch stick out. Here’s how to do it yourself!
- A board that is the length of your sofa. I went to Home Depot and picked out the least expensive 1″ thick by 6″ deep board. They sold it by the foot, so I had them cut the exact length of my sofa. Too easy!
- Stain, polyurethane, and 2 foam brushes
- Mounting L-brackets
1. Lightly sand the board to get rid of rough edges and the sharp ends from being cut. Wipe off the board with a dry rag.
2. Apply a coat of stain. To apply stain use a foam brush to evenly coat the wood. Take a dry rag and gently wipe off excess stain and rub the rag across the whole board for even coloring. Depending on how deep you want the color, you may need to apply more than one coat of stain.
3. Once that dries apply a layer of polyurethane with a foam brush and leave until it’s dry.
4. Mount your brackets. The width of your sofa will determine how many brackets you should use…. mine are spaced 3 feet apart, so I used a total of 4 brackets. You can buy these from the ‘closet/home storage’ section of a home remodeling store (I got them at Home Depot).
I pulled the sofa out a few feet, so you can see how the shelf is attached to the wall. The height of the shelf just meets the top of the sofa.
This is not a fun, cute, see beautiful results of your sweaty hard work kind of project. This is a dirty, hard, back-breaking job. However, it is also a money saving project that with some physical labor really isn’t that hard to figure out…..heck, I did it (this is our cabin kitchen floor)! If you’re looking to tile a floor, below are the steps to teach you how to lay the proper subfloor.
***I will soon be posting ’how to tile’ & ’how to grout’ , so stay tuned. Also, please don’t mind the hideous wood paneling…that is getting worked on as well!
The proper subfloor is very important when laying tile. You can’t just lay tile over plywood or linoleum; the thin-set (tile adhesive/mortar) won’t adhere and the tiles can crack as the floor moves and swells from moisture variations. You can, however, lay tile over concrete or an existing tile floor (as long as it is secure and you have the height clearance). You also want to make sure the floor under this project is stable. Cement board and tile create a lot of weight.
What you’ll need:
- 1/4 inch cement board - I like using ‘Hardiebacker’ (use 1/2 inch if you need to build height)
- Mortar (thin-set, mud, etc)
- A 1/4 inch notch trowel
- Screws - 1 1/4 inch deck screws (they won’t rust)
- Cement board tape (same idea as sheet rock tape)
- Tools like a screwdriver, razor (for scoring the board), a large ’egg-beater’ drill attachment for ease of mixing mortar, a bucket
- Knee pads, rubber gloves, etc – anything to make the job more pleasant, so booze can fit in this category as well
Mix your mortar with water. You want it to be a peanut butter consistency and to hold the trowel marks as you spread it. Slop some on the floor and begin spreading it out, creating a ‘fan’ effect for even coverage. The notches in the trowel help regulate how much mortar is left on the floor….handy little tool!
As you lay the board screw them in *do not step on boards until they are screwed into place*. Install screws in a random pattern all over the board. Give about 8 inches of space between screws, 2 inches in from corners, and 1 1/2 inches in from the sides. Make the screw heads level with the board (don’t over screw).
After all the boards are laid you will need to mud and tape your seams. First, fill the spaces between boards with mud and smooth the line along the seam (you can use the flat side of your trowel for this). Second, lay a line of cement board tape along the seams. Third, smooth another thin layer of mud over the tape. Allow it to dry.
The project is done and now ready for tiling! oofda, I need a massage!
During parties I wonder if I spend more time talking to others or trying to figure out which glass is mine. Here is a simple, cute, and cheap way to identify which glass is which….we certainly don’t want to mix up Mommy’s ‘grape juice’ with the kid’s.
I have a quart of chalkboard paint left over and have been painting all sorts of items (“20 things to do with chalkboard paint” will be coming soon!) Below I used clear plastic glasses, but you can do this same DIY project to any glassware you want….wine, martini, pint glasses, coffee cups, etc — making a set is a great gift idea!
You look in it everyday. It holds some of your most important daily items. It’s neglected.
Our bathroom is very neutral in color, so I figured adding a little surprise splash of color in the medicine cabinet is a great way to sneak some in. Color helps create energy and, Lord knows, I can use a little assistance with that in the morning! I painted the inside of the door with chalkboard paint, so I can leave notes to my family and leave myself reminders of products we are running low on, if I took my vitamins, and anything else that pops into my head. I used a ‘Tiffany Blue’ acrylic paint for the back of the cabinet and for the thin wood trim I used to frame in the chalkboard. A few organizers from The Container Store tidied up my products and my mornings just got a little bit happier!
Here is the ordinary cabinet before:
Here it is after:
What you’ll need:
- Chalkboard paint
- A small amount of colored latex or acrylic (I just bought a small $2 bottle from the art store, so I didn’t have to pay for a full quart). It doesn’t take much paint for this small project.
- Thin wood trim. I bought mine at the hobby store (in the section where tons of very thin and small strips of wood are sold to be used for architectural models). The wood needs to be thin, so the cabinet door will shut all the way. If you don’t want to deal with a wood frame you can simply paint a stripe around the chalkboard or not have any edging around it at all.
- Paintbrush, tape, and glue (if you use a wood trim around the chalkboard)
Tape the edge of your cabinet to protect it and apply 2 coats of chalkboard paint.
If you make a wood frame: paint the trim first (so you don’t have to be careful once it’s installed), measure the size of your chalkboard and glue the pieces up (I taped them together on the back first, applied all the glue, and then adhered it in one piece.
Get fresh herbs and flowers off to a good start by planting them early and letting them sprout indoors. Once they have grown a bit you can then transfer them into the ground or pots, but this is an easy and cheap way to get them going. Use the egg cartons (styrofoam cartons need less watering)that you would have tossed out anyway, seeds of any kind, and a little soil…..too easy!
Make sure you mark what seeds are planted in which egg cartons. I dipped popsicle sticks in chalkboard paint, so if I grow different plants next year I can reuse them.
When we bought our home all the trim was dark and damaged. Generally I like the look of stained wood trim, but in some cases it is necessary to paint over it. Changing trim to white (I like the color ‘Alabaster’ by Sherwin Williams) or a glossy black can really change the way your whole room looks. I spent so many hours redoing ALL the trim in our entire house that cumulatively it was probably a couple weeks of time that I refinished the floor, window, and door trim.
It is important that you use an enamel paint for durability. I like to work with latex instead of oil based paint. It’s easier to clean up and you don’t have as many harsh fumes.
What you’ll need:
- Sandpaper or sanding blocks
- A good angled paintbrush
- Painter’s tape
- Enamel paint, I prefer the look of semi-gloss
Here is an example of the trim before and after. This is our upstairs hallway.
- Sand the trim in order to smooth out the wood and remove any previous shine from polyurethane
- Wipe the trim clean with a damp cloth
- Use painter’s tape to mask off the end of the trim (if you are painting trim that is on carpeted floors you will need to remove the trim, paint it, and renail it back on the wall)
- Apply 1 coat of primer
- Apply 1 coat of enamel. Use a good amount of paint, but make sure it doesn’t drip and run.
- Remove the painter’s tape after your 1st coat of enamel. This will prevent the paint from drying to the tape and then pulling off the trim when you remove the tape. *if paint does dry to tape – take a knife and score along the edge of the trim before removing the tape
- After the 1st coat of enamel is dry, apply a 2nd coat. You can be more sparing with it and don’t have to go to the edge (there isn’t tape anymore!)
Night and low light photography can be tricky, but once you get the hang of it you’ll be amazed how easily stunning shots turn out! Here are some examples of night photography that were taken by the Stone Arch Bridge in Minneapolis, MN. Get out there with your SLR or even your point-and-shoot camera, play around, and get shooting!
- Using a tripod or placing your camera on a stable surface is a must for taking pictures in low light (turn off the image stabilizer when using a tripod or surface). The shutter of the camera needs to stay open for a long period of time to absorb the necessary amount of light for images to appear. Hand holding the camera, even with the steadiest of hands, will leave your shots blurry. The camera barely needs to move and the image will not turn out.
- How to take night and low light photos
If using a digital SLR:
- Use the AV or A (aperature) mode
- Keep your ISO at 100
- Set your aperature somewhere between 11 and 22 (whatever makes your shutter speed open long enough)
- You want to make sure that your shutter stays open long enough to read the necessary amount of light. Make sure it is staying open for at least 15 seconds. The darker the area that you’re shooting, the longer the shutter will need to stay open.
If using a point and shoot camera:
- Depending on your camera’s model the name of the ‘scene’ or ‘mode’ you’ll need to use may vary for low light photos. Examples of some settings might be called Candlelight, Night Landscape, Night Portrait, Low Light, etc.
-In this photo I used a lazer pointer to ‘write’ the word INSPIRE on a wall of graffiti. The shutter was open for so long that I was able to capture the bright light against the wall as I wrote.
How to take low light photos and 'light paint'
This is a very busy bridge, full of runners and bicyclists. I had to wait until the sun was down just enough to leave the shutter speed open long enough for people to ‘disappear’ out of the image. I had the shutter open for 15 seconds, so people that were moving weren’t able to be captured.
Having something in the foreground of a photograph can help give a sense of distance and creates a ‘frame’ for your picture.
Taking advantage of water and the reflection of light is a great way to use evening lighting.
Using these steps to take low light pictures will allow you to catch photos of the moon and stars (light pollution from the city lights doesn’t allow for the stars to appear, so try taking some shots out in the country).
I love tissue poms. They are such an inexpensive and easy way to decorate and really make a room festive. The nice thing about using tissue flowers as decoration is that tissue paper comes in a ton of colors and it goes a long way. You can glue them onto sticks and make arrangements in vases, you can string them up across a room or tree, or you can tape or tie them to almost any surface.
You will need:
- Tissue paper, a scissor, floral wire, and a wire cutter
1.Depending on the size you want the tissue flowers to be you will vary how small you cut the tissue paper (if you cut it at all). For small to medium size poms I recommend 9-12 sheets of paper. For larger poms I recommend more sheets of tissue in order to keep them looking full.
2. Fold the tissue, accordion style (you don’t need to put a hard crease on the fold) and cut a piece of wire (about 5 inches seems to work well).
3. Twist the wire around the middle of the folded paper
4. Cut the ends of the tissue. Cutting the ends in various ways will change the look of the finished tissue flowers.
5. Carefully pull apart the tissue. To prevent and reduce tearing, I recommend separating by a few sheets at a time and then pull apart individual pieces.
*You can save the scraps that you cut from the ends of the poms to use as confetti or to fill glass votives or jars for extra decorations.
This idea was inspired when I was going to purchase double-rods for our drapes. I looked at Pottery Barn and was not about to pay $200 per window for hardware (I had 9 windows to cover!). Hardware for windows is not cheap. I was able to ‘make’ double-rods for about $35 per window and get the same function as the expensive rods.
I like having sheers on some of my windows. They add a nice amount of privacy and romance without blocking light. In fact, light that is filtered through sheers can give your room a beautiful glow. Below are a couple windows in my living room using two separate rods to create the same look as expensive double-rods.
You will need to purchase two size rods that are the same in finish: a larger one for the front rod and a smaller one for the back sheer rod. Install the larger rod first and then just on the inside of that bracket install the smaller rod’s bracket. Easy peazy!
Create the function of expensive double rods for cheap!