Monthly Archives: September 2014

  • Beginner: Clever Ways to Create Extra Storage

    Lack of storage space is a dilemma that individuals commonly face in houses as well as apartments. Though tearing down walls or extending the floor plan may seem like the best way to create more space, making small changes can have a big impact. Here are some clever ways to create more storage without the hassle of a major construction project: Storage

    • Add a pegboard to areas that contain a lot of hanging items. In the bedroom closet, you’ll be able to hang scarves, purses, and belts. The laundry room and pantry are also good locations for a pegboard.
    • Install slide-out storage under your kitchen and bathroom sinks so you can easily store and reach items that typically get lost in the back. This will prevent you from buying items you can’t find, over and over again.
    • Screw on small pre-made shelves behind kitchen cabinets for spices and condiments, behind bathroom cabinets for lotions and cosmetics, and behind laundry room cabinets for soap and stain removers.
    • For kitchen cabinets that are too small, place a simple tray on top of one layer of glasses to create a makeshift shelf upon which you can place another layer of glasses.
    • Place decorative boxes or baskets that match your décor above your cabinets and store items you don’t use frequently inside them. Items can be anything that fits inside since the contents of these boxes will be concealed.
    • Invest in seats that have a removable top. They can store your child’s toys, books, and hobby supplies, as well as create more seating for guests.
    • Purchase a few chains from and hang them in your closet. Place hangers on every other link on the chain instead of across the main bar. This trick multiplies the amount of clothes that can fit inside a closet.
    • If your kitchen, bathroom, or garage has blank walls, add more storage by adding simple open shelves.

    Remove the kickboards from under your kitchen and bathroom cabinets and replace them with slide-out storage. Store large pans, serving trays, spare towels, and linens in these compartments.

  • Intermediate: Throwing a Carnival Themed Party

    Events with games, prizes, and concessions stands are not just for kids these days. Adults looking for a unique idea for a summer party, fundraiser, or birthday bash can “Wow!” guests with a carnival-themed party. The cost of throwing such an elaborate event may be more expensive than a standard party as there are additional elements involved: concession stands, props for various activities, and carnival-themed decorations. Carnival

    Carnival setups usually include a variety of booths for food and games. Channel that concept by setting up different tables throughout your backyard space. Some food booths to consider include:

    • Popcorn – Just be sure it stays hot in this concession machine from There’s nothing like the aroma of hot popcorn, especially when guests can dish it into a red-and-white striped carnival-style holder. • Cotton candy – Hire a helper or have friends take turns making this classic carnival treat. The machine, stand, flavors, and holders can all be purchased at You’ll be surprised at how much fun adults can have with this task. • Funnel cakes – If you don’t have time to make homemade funnel cakes, order a batch from a local bakery. • Hot dogs, French fries, chicken tenders, pretzels, cookies, and candied apples – These food items may be placed on the same booth or table as the funnel cakes.

    Place the food booths along the perimeter of your space to prevent guests from lining up or gathering right in the middle of your carnival space. Use areas in the middle to set up the most appealing features of a carnival – games and prizes. Here are some popular carnival games that can be recreated with a bit of effort:

    • Balloon popping with darts – Pin or staple small, colorful balloons to a thin piece of plywood board. Allow players four darts. If they hit two balloons, they win a prize. • Ring toss over bottles – Set up empty bottles of the same height in short, empty boxes. Allow players 5 rings and if they can manage getting one over a bottle, they win a prize. • Bobbing for apples – This game will get guests a little wet but will provide a ton of laughs for all involved. Set up a wide tub with water and fill with apples. Guests who can grab a certain number of apples over a specific time win a prize. To add an extra element of competition, set up two tubs side-by-side so guests can compete against each other. It’s a fun way to settle scores between old friends. • A “Selfie” Booth – Add a twist to this classic carnival element by providing silly accessories and clothes that guests can wear to take selfies. Stick mustaches and glasses are always fun, as well as hats, masks, bow ties, and feather boas.

    Unless you plan to hire help to manage each game booth, use the honor system when it comes to prizes. Keep a table next to each game booth with pre-wrapped prizes for winners or set up one big prize table where winners can pick out prizes.

    When it comes to decorations, there are plenty of options to choose from, depending on your style.

  • Intermediate: Planning an Outdoor Kitchen

    Summer is the season of outdoor entertaining and an outdoor kitchen is the perfect place to do so. Homeowners that are willing to put in some DIY work can create a functional and attractive outdoor space for cooking, eating, and entertaining. Before forging ahead with the project on your own, consider the following questions and factors for building a space that meets your needs. Outdoor Kitchen

    First, think about how you’ll use an outside kitchen - solely for entertaining, or on a regular basis? How big do you want it to be? This question might be easy depending on the amount of space you have to work with. Is the structure going to be permanent, or do you want to break it down come winter? How much can you afford on materials. How much work are you willing to do yourself?

    Location is another important factor for an outdoor kitchen, as it will impact both your house and yard. The space you create should not be an eyesore. The last thing you want to do is reduce the resale value of your home with a project that turns out to be a mess. Many people keep an outdoor kitchen close to their house for convenience, but that also means the outdoor space should match elements of the indoor space.

    Once you select the location of your exterior kitchen, create a site map. This can be a basic plan drawn to scale on graph paper. Include any trees, walkways, gardens, and pools located on the property that have the potential to impact the project.

    When considering materials for the outdoor kitchen, choose those that will withstand all kinds of weather conditions. Concrete, flagstone, soapstone, stainless steel, brick, sealed tile, and pressure treated lumber are all appropriate options.

    In terms of flooring, if you build your outdoor kitchen on an existing patio make sure it can support the weight of the appliances you plan to install. The placement of elements must be planned in advance to take water, gas, and electrical lines into consideration.

    When it’s time to start construction of your outdoor kitchen, be sure to buy the necessary power tools and materials at

  • Advanced: Building a Window Nook

    A window nook is the perfect addition to a home that has bay windows or even a basic niche to fill. Once the project is complete, you will get a beautiful space that can be utilized for relaxing, reading, or people watching. Couple in Window Nook

    Let’s first tackle building a window seat for a basic square or rectangular window niche. Screw four heavy-duty shelf brackets into the wall, placing two on each side. Use a level to make sure the brackets are even. Measure the length and width of the nook and purchase a piece of wood or medium density fiberboard based on the measurement. If you already have pieces of board at home, use a circular saw to cut them down to the dimensions you need.

    Place the wood on top of the brackets. Use a glue gun to attach ribbon or trim to hide the front of the board. Find a comfortable piece of foam and wrap some fabric around it – this will be your nook cushion. Glue the cushion to the board. Now, you have a seat to sit on!

    To cover the empty and exposed space under the seat, place a tension rod directly below the board. Adjust it high enough so that a ribbon can hang over it to mask the rod. Finally, like a shower curtain, insert fabric into small rings and slide it through the tension rod to create a curtain in front of the empty space. Now you’ve got yourself a simple and comfortable window nook!

    Now, let’s take a look at the bay window nook. First, use a tape measure to mark the height of the window seat. A 21-inch minimum is advised – low enough for a comfortable seat, and deep enough for storage.

    Use 2x4’s to create the front frame of the seat and nail together with a nail gun. Put the frame in place and attach to the floor and walls. Next, measure the dimensions for the top of the seat and cut out either one solid piece to place on top the frame, or cut three pieces – a square piece for the middle or two triangular pieces for both sides of the bay window. It is also wise to create additional support for the seat by using plywood to strengthen the foundation of the seat.

    Once all pieces are attached, use a sander to give the seat a smooth look. Paint the book to match the décor of your room.

  • Intermediate: Building a Pergola

    A pergola is a freestanding structure that is usually open-air. It doesn’t typically provide shelter from wind or rain, and it doesn’t necessarily block out the midday sunlight. So why build one? Summer couple

    Pergolas add a rustic and useful landscape feature to a property. Though it does not have walls or a roof, a pergola creates a functional outdoor space without much restriction. Homeowners may add climbing plants to their pergola to enhance color and shade. Common pergola plants include wisteria and grapevines. But before thinking about design ideas, the structure must first be built.

    First, decide on the site and size of your pergola. Mark the placement of the four main posts. Use a two-person auger, which you can purchase from to dig holes around 24 inches deep and 9 inches wide. Add a few inches of gravel at the bottom for drainage. Next, insert 4x4 posts into the holes. After ensuring the posts are level and completely straight, attach temporary 2x4 bracing. Pour fast-drying cement into the holes and allow the posts to settle for 24 hours.

    Work on the joist beams the next day. Cut beams from 2x10 boards for the span of the pergola posts. Homeowners who want to add a decorative look at the ends of the joist beams can draw a straight or curved design on the boards and cut with a circular saw. Use a temporary clamp to hold joists in place when drilling holes through the beams and posts. Use 3-inch lag bolts to attach the beams to the posts.

    Once the posts and joists are securely in place, attach stringers to the top of the pergola. Cut from 2x6 boards to span the joist beams, leaving some overhang on both sides. This is the point to add a straight or curved design if desired. Make sure the stringers are spaced out evenly and perpendicular to the beams. Secure with 3-inch galvanized deck screws.

    Your pergola structure is finished! You can leave the wood exposed for a rustic feel, stain the wood, or paint the wood to add a pop of color to your backyard. Add some furniture and you’ve got yourself a wonderful outdoor living and eating space.

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