Hiding cables & cords

This is my secret hiding place for cables, cords, and my power strip that serve my desk.  I hate the look of errant cords, so I needed a solution.  I came across this post on Young House Love and figured it was worth a try.  I already had some black IKEA boxes to try it out with.

This is a small shelf that I set up next to my desk; it holds the printer on top of it and hides my cable connection on the wall.

All I did was cut a nice size hole out of the back (you NEED to make sure that the hole is big enough to allow for proper cooling/venting), and fed the cords through that hole.  I love that all of my cords are now hidden.  And I’ve never had a reception issue with my modem being in the box either.

IMPORTANT:  I’ve been using the system for over a year now and I’ve never had an issue, but if you decide to try it out, make sure that you feel the box periodically for the first several days– you don’t want to start a fire.  My modem and power strip never even warm the cardboard box.

House Tour: Upstairs Landing

This was one of the hardest spaces in my house for me to figure out what to do with, but I think it turned out amazing.  I was so indecisive about what I should do in there that I actually got some design advice from Tart House when I first moved in.  She suggested some things and I modified the plan just a tiny bit.  Now I love this space.

This room also showcases some of my favorite DIY projects: reupholstering my wingback chair, my “Oregon” artmy gallery wall (including several DIY art pieces), and my melted crayon art.

Desk & Chair: IKEA

Wingback chair fabric: Premier Fabrics

Floor lamp: IKEA

Lanterns: Pier 1

Art framed by desk: Etsy HERE HERE HERE and HERE (gallery wall)

Monogram “M”: Anthropologie

Oregon art: Check out the tutorial HERE

Ceramic owl: West Elm

Ceramic pug: Z Gallerie

Painting My Porch

This is a project that I’ve been wanting to tackle since my house was painted last summer.  The brown porch floor was not doing my brand-new navy house any favors.  I think it had something to do with the warm brown and the cool navy.  Plus, the old paint job was starting to chip in places, mostly due to water getting under the paint.

I did my research online and decided to go with Sherwin Williams paint– if I’m going to paint the porch, I don’t want to have to repaint it next year.  This needs to last a few years.  And I just happened to get crazy l lucky because the paint I purchased was hugely discounted because SW only keeps paint for three years, so my usually $45 paint was $5.  Yeah, it was amazing.  It’s a Porch & Floor Enamel made for wood or concrete.

This is a fairly easy task, unless you’re current paint job is in terrible shape.

1. First off, clean the porch.  I swept it several times, then I washed it down (rag wasn’t dripping wet) with water and let it dry.

2. Then use a paint scraper and get all the loose chips up.  Everything you can scrape up must go.

3. Then I hand sanded (80 grit) to smooth out the ridges where the paint chipped up.

4.  It was recommended by SW that I use an oil-based primer over the bare wood parts.  Oil holds better.  But I only had water-based primers, so I just went with Zissner (because I love it and only needed it in a couple places).

5. I let the primer dry completely, then I applied wood filler to even out the ridges.

6. Let that dry for an hour or so and used a very fine sanding block to get the excess wood filler off.

7. Then I edged around the porch with the paint and went back and rolled the paint.  Roll each side of the porch and then roll the middle section (by the door/stairs) and essentially work yourself right off the porch.

As it started to dry I worried that I would need to apply a second coat, but after letting it fully dry it definitely only needed one coat.  It dried to the touch in an hour and after four hours I lightly walked over the surface and it seemed okay.  The paint recommends that you wait 24 hours to walk on it, but mine seemed to be fine with light foot traffic after about eight hours.

SO much better than the brown.

I didn’t know how I felt about painting the concrete porch steps along with the porch, but I think it will make a huge difference.  That’ll be a project for another weekend though because it rained here last week and there is too much moisture in the concrete for it to be painted right now.  But you can imagine it, right?

House Tour: Dressing Room

My house was built in 1920.  By a man.  The closets in each room are tiny.  I’m not really a clotheshorse, but closet space is at a premium in my house, so I decided to turn the extra bedroom into a closet/dressing room.  It helped that the previous tenants had already put the bars and shelves up, so I had something to work with.

I’ve painted the walls, painted the trim, painted the shoe racks, caulked everything, made curtains, made an earring holder, fixed the built-in closet in the room, reupholstered the ottoman, installed a chandelier, and assembled some of my favorite things to sit on the dresser.  Walking into that room makes me smile– and at 7AM, I need little things to make me smile.

Source List:

  • Dresser & Mirror: IKEA
  • Curtain Fabric: IKEA
  • Mirrored Boxes: West Elm
  • Necklace Tree: Anthropologie
  • Shoe racks: Home Depot (painted black)
  • Baskets: IKEA
  • Glass beads (holding brushes): similar to THIS
  • Perfume tray: IKEA (for candles)
  • Small ring bowl: Fish Eddy (from my visit to NY)
  • Plant & Pot: IKEA
  • Chandelier: IKEA

Shelving in my built-in closet

Of all my projects, this might be one of the more mundane, but it was a game changer for me.  Let me set up the scene.

When I moved into my house, the built-in closet doors did not shut and even if the doors weren’t too big for the openings, both of the cabinet latches on them were broken.  So, to keep the doors closed, I would push them in until they wedged themselves shut.  Not to mention that this weirdly-sized closet didn’t really provide good storage.  Two rods ran the width (not the length, like a normal closet) and that was all.  It wasn’t ideal, and I lived with it like that for over a year and a half before one day I woke up and decided to do something about it.

If you look at this picture, you can hopefully see the painted-over cabinet latches (who does that?!) and the doors that don’t quite close.

So one weekend I added shelving.  I used the existing duct work as the distance for my first shelf and then put another shelf to make them fairly equal distance.  I cut the wood, primed it, and installed the shelving.

Then I painted, caulked, and then painted again.  Then I decided to use some MDF trim pieces to edge out the shelves (this makes the shelves look like they’re 2″ thick and minimizes the parts of the brackets you can see).

Then the next weekend I planed down the closet doors (on the hinges), then removed the doors, sanded down the rough spots, spackled holes, sanded the spackle, cleaned the hardware, primed bare spots, reinstalled the doors on their hinges, painted everything (including the backside of the doors), and then installed new cabinet latch hardware on the front.

For the first time since I moved in, this closet is actually functional (in both storage and operation).

It was much longer than I’m used to for my projects– usually a weekend is all it takes, but the difference blows me away.  It still looks pretty similar to what it did before (especially from the outside), but now I’ve gained a ton of useable space.  Now it’s hard to remember back to the wedged doors and wasted space.

Here’s a before and after:

Neon Spray-Painted Pots

I’ve been seeing a lot of neon lately on everything, including planter pots.  So I bought some cheap planters from IKEA (to the tune of $.54) and some neon spray paint from Home Depot.  I just love the pop of color!

What you’ll need:

  • Planter pots (mine are ceramic, but you could use terra cotta or something similar)
  • Spray primer (optional)
  • Spray paint
  • Painters tape
  • A plastic grocery bag

What to do:

1. Use the painters tape to tape a line around your pot where you don’t want the color.  Make sure that the tape is tight against the pot.

2. Put a plastic grocery bag around the base (or top) of the pot that you want to protect.  Use more painters tape to attach the bag to the already-existing painters tape line on your pot.

3. Use a primer first, then several light coats of spray paint.  Dripping spray paint is bad news.  Avoid that by using light coats, holding the can 12″ away from the pots, and using a back and forth motion.

4. Let the paint completely dry, then carefully peel off the plastic bag and then the line of tape on your pot.

Keep a rug from slipping

I splurged and bought a fabulous rug for my kitchen.  I drooled over all the Dash & Albert rugs and then just caved.  Since my kitchen remodel turned out to be pretty inexpensive, I figured it all worked out.  The only problem was that every time I walked over it, it slid across the tile floor– not good.  Especially in a kitchen.

What you’ll need:

  • Rug pad
  • Double stick carpet tape

What to do:

1. Flip the rug over.

2. Lay the pad over the back.  Ideally you’d have 1-2″ between the edge of the rug and the pad, but my rug is a weird size, so I couldn’t find a rug pad in the right size.  So I improvised.

3. Lay the tape down on the pad.

4. Peel off the other side of the carpet tape backing.

5. Adhere to the back of the rug.  Since my rug pad wasn’t quite big enough, I cut some stripes to go around the border too.

Seriously, one of the easiest projects I’ve done so far.  And best of all, no movement at all since then.  No dramatic “after” picture, but it was well worth the effort.

Do you have any slipping rugs around your house you’ve yet to tackle?

Installing a new shower head and control.

I’ve slowly been upgrading the fixtures in my bathroom to brushed nickle.  I’m a sucker for brushed nickle.  And I’ll be honest, chrome holds water stains and fingerprints ALL the time– much to my annoyance.  So this weekend I decided to buy a new brushed nickle set and install them.

Here’s what I used:

  • A new shower arm
  • A new shower head (uses 30% less water!)
  • A new shower control set (MAKE SURE YOU BUY THE SAME BRAND AS YOUR ORIGINAL FIXTURE–OR COMPATIBLE–UNLESS YOU WANT TO REPLACE THE PIPING CONNECTION IN THE WALL!)
  • Phillips screwdriver
  • Channel Locks (or an adjustable wrench)
  • Teflon tape
  • Clear caulk

Here’s what I did:

1. I turned off the water (safest is to turn off the water to the whole house, but there might also be water turn off valves near your water heater too). Then turn on the water to drain the pipes.

2. I removed the old shower head (counterclockwise) and let any excess water sitting in the shower arm drain out.

3. I used my channel locks to carefully unscrew the shower arm from the wall.

4. I threaded Teflon tape (CLOCKWISE!) around both ends of the shower arm.

5. I screwed the shower arm into the wall until it was tight– don’t unscrew it because it could mess up the teflon tape, only screw clockwise.

6. Then I screwed in the shower head.  Easy easy.  Then came the harder part.

7. I used a small flathead screwdriver to pop off the handle cover, then removed the screw holding the handle to the fixture.

8. Then I used the screwdriver to remove the two screws holding the control plate to the wall.

9.  I used a small flathead screwdriver to pop the control plate from the wall– if the caulk was still good, I might have needed to cut the caulk out around it first.

10. Then I followed the directions that came with my control set to install the new one.  The new plate, a metal control piece, and finally the new handle.  Just a couple screws in and I was done.

11. Use a clear caulk to caulk around the edges of the control system.  It should look something like this when you’re done.

12. Turn on your water and test your system.

I love that all my shower fixtures finally match (the shower door I had installed last summer is brushed nickle).

Things to note:

  • It is really important if you’re planning to switch out your control piece that you go with the same brand of fixture.  Mine was Moen.  I didn’t feel adventurous enough to start messing with the piping in the wall, nor was that necessary in changing the look of the fixtures.
  • Home Depot doesn’t sell the control sets separate, which I think is DUMB.  Lowes, on the other hand, does.  So, instead of buying a complete set from Home Depot for $150, I went to Lowes, bought individual pieces (that I liked better!) and only spent $90 for everything.

Have you replaced your shower set recently?  Did you attempt to switch brands and mess with the piping behind the wall?  I’d love to hear how it went!

Weatherstripping your front door

I absolutely love my front door.  But the fact is, it’s old.  And it sits in an old door frame– that has taken some abuse over the years.  Those crisp edges no longer exist, which means that weatherproofing my door is even more important.  The bonus is that it’s a relatively easy project.

See, here’s my problem:

My door frame is really uneven.  And not just in this one place, this is just an example.

What you’ll need:

  • Weatherstripping**
  • Screwdriver (depends on the type of weatherstripping)
  • Hacksaw (depends on the type of weatherstripping)

** Look at your door before you purchase.  The stick-on foam is a really popular option, but it doesn’t last very long, and my door jam is pretty tight, so after looking into my options, I chose weatherstripping that looks like this: (It screws into the outside of the door frame.)

What to do:

1. Measure, measure, and measure again the distance from the top of the door frame to the bottom (pick a side).  Then transfer that measurement to the weatherstripping and use the hacksaw to cut it to size.

2. I opened and closed my door several times to make sure that the seal was where I wanted it to be– the “bulb” should only be depressed a little bit when the door is fully closed (less than 30%) otherwise you’ll cause your weatherstripping to age faster (and need to be replaced sooner).  You do want to make sure that the bulb is sealing against the door though.  Then just use the provided screws to screw the piece in.  It looks like there is a gap in this picture, but I assure you that there isn’t one.

3. Once you get one long edge done, do the other side.

4. Do the top piece last.

And here’s my before and after:

Fixing a running toilet

My downstairs bathroom has had a running toilet since I moved in.  I guess I just didn’t stop and think about all the water that toilet was actually wasting.   Especially since it was such a quick, inexpensive, and easy fix to do.

Here’s what you need:

  • Screwdriver
  • New toilet flapper

Here’s what to do:

1. To check and see if your flapper is old, warped, or just not sealing correctly, put a few drops of food coloring into the tank.  Wait 30 minutes.  If you see food coloring dripping down the sides of the toilet bowl, you’ve found your culprit.  This is the most common fix.  If you don’t see coloring appearing, don’t despair, I didn’t either.

2. Turn the water off to the toilet.

3. Flush (and hold down the handle) to get as much of the water out of the tank as possible.

4. Unhook the flapper from the arm (I replaced my flapper while I was at it– just in case) and unsnap (or disconnect) below as well.  Throw the old flapper away.

5. Attach the new flapper and rehook the metal to the arm.  You might need to adjust the length of the chain– once you turn the water back on you can try different lengths while flushing to see what works the best.

6. Turn the water back on.

7. If your problem isn’t fixed by replacing the flapper, you probably need to adjust the float.  On my toilet, it’s a screw at the top of the float, but in some toilets you’re going to need the tank empty to adjust the float near the bottom.  Look for the part that rises with the water level and causes the water to turn off.  Then, just use your screwdriver to adjust in the opposite direction.  The water should be about an inch lower than the overflow tube top.

Try these two fixes and if you’re still having issues, you’re probably going to need to replace all the toilet tank parts– Home Depot and Lowes sell kits for this.  But chances are, replacing the flapper or adjusting the float should fix your problem.