DIY

Get more storage out of a plain bookcase

I’m a big advocate of making what you have work for you, especially when you can repurpose something without spending too much time or money. This bookcase is a perfect example – it’s very useful to store beauty products and clothes but it’s kind of plain and not very interesting to look at and it could use some more organizing. So to make it work better in the room and get more storage space out of it, I gave it a few upgrades.

Small-bedroom-before-right-side

The first thing I did was to pretty up the back of the bookcase. I used removable double sided tape to secure beautiful wallpaper remnants I had on hand from a previous project. You could also use contact paper, but I find it can be difficult to handle at times to get a smooth finish so I prefer this wallpaper/removable double sided tape. 

Putting-in-wallpaper-with-double-sided-removable-tap

Next I made some small shelves out of scrap wood  – I cut 2 smaller pieces to make the supports, painted them white and used the same removable double sided tape to secure them to the sides of the bookcase, at the back. Then I simply placed the top of the shelf on the supports. 

Putting-in-shelf-support

Putting-in-the-top-of-the-shelfI had some wallpaper left so instead of painting another smaller shelf, I covered it with the wallpaper using Mod Podge. if you didn’t want to make yours, you can buy shelf extenders, most often used for pantries.

Covering-up-the-shelf-with-wallpaper

Smaller-shelf-with-wallpaper

Having those smaller shelves not only makes it easier to see what’s there, it also uses up more of the vertical space. As a result, I was able to free up a shelf and use it for shoe storage. The easiest way to make a shoe rack in a bookcase is to use tension rods.

Putting-in-tension-rods-to-make-a-shoe-rack

I put one in the back and one in the front, with the back one being a few inches above the front one.

Tension-rod-shoe-rack

The tension rods are so simple and they work great!

Shoes-on-tension-rods

The last thing I did was use some inexpensive cloth boxes that fit the depth of the bookcase (about 11″) to store clothes and other nicknacks.

bookcase-bottom-view-with-cloth-boxes

Now the bookcase is much more organized with everything easy to find, all for less than $25!

Bookcase-and-jewelry-storage-small-bedroom-makeover_square

I’m a big advocate of making what you have work for you, especially when you can repurpose something without spending too much time or money. This bookcase is a perfect example – it’s very useful to store beauty products and clothes but it’s kind of plain and not very interesting to look at and it could use some more organizing. So to make it work better in the room and get more storage space out of it, I gave it a few upgrades.

Small-bedroom-before-right-side

The first thing I did was to pretty up the back of the bookcase. I used removable double sided tape to secure beautiful wallpaper remnants I had on hand from a previous project. You could also use contact paper, but I find it can be difficult to handle at times to get a smooth finish so I prefer this wallpaper/removable double sided tape. 

Putting-in-wallpaper-with-double-sided-removable-tap

Next I made some small shelves out of scrap wood  – I cut 2 smaller pieces to make the supports, painted them white and used the same removable double sided tape to secure them to the sides of the bookcase, at the back. Then I simply placed the top of the shelf on the supports. 

Putting-in-shelf-support

Putting-in-the-top-of-the-shelfI had some wallpaper left so instead of painting another smaller shelf, I covered it with the wallpaper using Mod Podge. if you didn’t want to make yours, you can buy shelf extenders, most often used for pantries.

Covering-up-the-shelf-with-wallpaper

Smaller-shelf-with-wallpaper

Having those smaller shelves not only makes it easier to see what’s there, it also uses up more of the vertical space. As a result, I was able to free up a shelf and use it for shoe storage. The easiest way to make a shoe rack in a bookcase is to use tension rods.

Putting-in-tension-rods-to-make-a-shoe-rack

I put one in the back and one in the front, with the back one being a few inches above the front one.

Tension-rod-shoe-rack

The tension rods are so simple and they work great!

Shoes-on-tension-rods

The last thing I did was use some inexpensive cloth boxes that fit the depth of the bookcase (about 11″) to store clothes and other nicknacks.

bookcase-bottom-view-with-cloth-boxes

Now the bookcase is much more organized with everything easy to find, all for less than $25!

Bookcase-and-jewelry-storage-small-bedroom-makeover_square

Budget Rental Kitchen Remodel That is Easily Reversible

Think you’re stuck with your rental kitchen the way it is and that you can’t do anything to change it? This rental kitchen remodel will change your mind! I had a $500 budget to inject some fun and personality in a generic rental kitchen and to make it more functional to prepare meals.

Tessa's-Kitchen-before-side-view-square

Now, first let me say that this is a perfectly nice kitchen as it is in it’s original state. It’s all a matter of taste – if you like white than this is great. If you like more color and pattern, then this isn’t going to do it for you.

Smart-Tiles-tile-close-up

The mission was to inject some fun and personality and to do that, I chose these beautiful peel and stick tiles (Smart Tiles VINTAGE in AZUR) to “redo” the backsplash by installing them over the existing tiles. The colors and pattern in the tiles are full of life and perfectly match the eclectic quirky sense of style that I was going for.

Smart-tiles-cutting-them

The tiles are easy to cut with a utility knife and a ruler so getting around outlets and window frames is really easy and fast.

Smart-Tiles-tile---installing-them

To install the tiles, you just remove the backing part way to start and then keep peeling it off as you stick the tile onto the wall, or in this case, the existing tile. Doing it this way is so much easier than having to remove the existing tile, which would make a mess! Plus it’s easy to change you mind after – All you need is a hair dryer to heat up the tiles a bit to loose up the glue and the tiles come off cleanly without leaving any residue on the existing tiles.

Cornice-made-from-wood-scraps

I used the colors in the Smart Tiles as inspiration for the rest of the makeover, including the rustic window cornice/valance I made with some scrap wood. By using some brackets on either side of the cornice, it simply rests on top of the cabinets so I didn’t have to make any holes in the walls to install it.

IKEA kitchen Cart before

On old IKEA kitchen cart also got a revamping with new wheels and a new top. I made the top with pine boards and furring strips and stained it with a semi-transparent exterior stain from Behr in a color called wedgewood.

IKEA kitchen_cart_top_view_close_up_web

I also made the kitchen cart even more functional by incorporating a spice rack on one side. It’s now the hub of the kitchen and with the beautiful blue stain I chose for the top, it looks right at home with the tiles. 

Image_2_Tessas_kitchen_side_view_of_corner_with_island_horizontal_web_watermarked

I love how this turned out and the best part is that everything is easily removable when moving out, including the tiles. All you need is a hair dryer to heat up the tiles a bit to loosen up the glue and the tiles come off cleanly without leaving any residue on the existing tiles. This is also perfect if you don’t want to commit to a look like this for the longterm.

Image_4_Tessas_kitchen_wide_front_view_horizontal_high_res_watermarked

Tessa's Kitchen side view of window close up high res watermarked

The entire kitchen remodel came in under budget at $446, including the plants. You can watch the entire makeover, including how I installed tiles, made the window cornice and the IKEA kitchen cart revamp, in this video.

** This post was sponsored by Smart Tiles – all thoughts and opinions are my own **

Think you’re stuck with your rental kitchen the way it is and that you can’t do anything to change it? This rental kitchen remodel will change your mind! I had a $500 budget to inject some fun and personality in a generic rental kitchen and to make it more functional to prepare meals.

Tessa's-Kitchen-before-side-view-square

Now, first let me say that this is a perfectly nice kitchen as it is in it’s original state. It’s all a matter of taste – if you like white than this is great. If you like more color and pattern, then this isn’t going to do it for you.

Smart-Tiles-tile-close-up

The mission was to inject some fun and personality and to do that, I chose these beautiful peel and stick tiles (Smart Tiles VINTAGE in AZUR) to “redo” the backsplash by installing them over the existing tiles. The colors and pattern in the tiles are full of life and perfectly match the eclectic quirky sense of style that I was going for.

Smart-tiles-cutting-them

The tiles are easy to cut with a utility knife and a ruler so getting around outlets and window frames is really easy and fast.

Smart-Tiles-tile---installing-them

To install the tiles, you just remove the backing part way to start and then keep peeling it off as you stick the tile onto the wall, or in this case, the existing tile. Doing it this way is so much easier than having to remove the existing tile, which would make a mess! Plus it’s easy to change you mind after – All you need is a hair dryer to heat up the tiles a bit to loose up the glue and the tiles come off cleanly without leaving any residue on the existing tiles.

Cornice-made-from-wood-scraps

I used the colors in the Smart Tiles as inspiration for the rest of the makeover, including the rustic window cornice/valance I made with some scrap wood. By using some brackets on either side of the cornice, it simply rests on top of the cabinets so I didn’t have to make any holes in the walls to install it.

IKEA kitchen Cart before

On old IKEA kitchen cart also got a revamping with new wheels and a new top. I made the top with pine boards and furring strips and stained it with a semi-transparent exterior stain from Behr in a color called wedgewood.

IKEA kitchen_cart_top_view_close_up_web

I also made the kitchen cart even more functional by incorporating a spice rack on one side. It’s now the hub of the kitchen and with the beautiful blue stain I chose for the top, it looks right at home with the tiles. 

Image_2_Tessas_kitchen_side_view_of_corner_with_island_horizontal_web_watermarked

I love how this turned out and the best part is that everything is easily removable when moving out, including the tiles. All you need is a hair dryer to heat up the tiles a bit to loosen up the glue and the tiles come off cleanly without leaving any residue on the existing tiles. This is also perfect if you don’t want to commit to a look like this for the longterm.

Image_4_Tessas_kitchen_wide_front_view_horizontal_high_res_watermarked

Tessa's Kitchen side view of window close up high res watermarked

The entire kitchen remodel came in under budget at $446, including the plants. You can watch the entire makeover, including how I installed tiles, made the window cornice and the IKEA kitchen cart revamp, in this video.

** This post was sponsored by Smart Tiles – all thoughts and opinions are my own **

Old IKEA kitchen cart gets a second life

While working on a rental kitchen makeover for some friends, I needed to find a kitchen cart or island to add more counter space for food preparation. I considered buying a new a new island or building one from scratch but I opted instead to reuse an old IKEA kitchen cart that my friends already had. It was in pretty bad shape but I knew I could bring it back to life, and also make it even better by customizing it to work with the new look of the kitchen. I couldn’t be happier with the end result and the cart fit in perfectly in the new kitchen!

IKEA kitchen_cart_top_view_close_up_web

It started off looking like this and definitely had seen better days.

IKEA kitchen Cart before

Step 1: Removing the top

I removed the top by unscrewing it from the existing brackets – very easy.

IKEA-kitchen-cart-hack

Step 2: Replacing the old casters

The existing casters were worn down and didn’t work anymore so they needed to be replaced.

IKEA-kitchen-cart-before-casters

Because the new casters I bought were shorter (2 ½” inch ones) and had a bigger base, I needed to do a MacGyver fix: I screwed a piece of ½” plywood to the bottom of the legs and used that to secure the new casters to. 

IKEA-kitchen-cart-new-casters

Step 3: Making the spice rack

The MacGyver fix for the casters created a shelf of sorts and it gave me the idea to use the space to make a spice rack. I had lots of wood left over from other projects so I used that to make it. First I  added some wood edging to pretty up the sides of the plywood. Then I attached a piece of ¼” thick plywood to the existing shelves to make the back of the spice rack.

IKEA-kitchen-cart-spice-rack-step-1

For the bottom shelf, I simply glued  a ¼” thick 3” wide pine board wedged between the legs.

IKEA-kitchen-cart-spice-rack-step-2

For the top shelf, I used small pieces of quarter round molding as supports for 1”x2” and then I glued another piece of ¼” thick 3” wide pine board to complete the shelf.

IKEA-kitchen-cart-spice-rack-step-3

Step 4: Sand and stain the base of the cart

By using all the different types of wood for the spice rack, the side of the cart looked a bit like a frankenstein.

IKEA-kitchen-cart-spice-rack-step-4

But by sanding the cart and staining it, it all blended nicely. I used an antiquing stain I had from IKEA that I don’t think they make anymore.

IKEA-kitchen-cart-spice-rack-step-5

Tip: I made my own sanding blocks by stapling sandpaper to scrap pieced of wood – works like a charm and it’s a lot cheaper than buying sanding blocks.

IKEA-kitchen-cart-spice-rack-stained

Step 5: Building the new top

a) The original top was 23” x 19” and I wanted to make the new top slightly wider and longer. I used four 1” x 6” boards to make a new top that’s 22” wide x 32” long. Because I had limited tools on hand, I kept this build very simple by using 1”x2” furring strips to attach the wider boards together.  I was using SPAX screws that don’t need to have holes pre-drilled but if you use regular screws, you’ll want to pre-drill holes before screwing the boards together.

IKEA-kitchen-cart-new-top-step-1

I wanted to be able to take this apart later if necessary so I didn’t put glue in between the boards. After doing 1 end and one side, I screwed in place the middle 1”x2″ which is cut short to allow the top to sit flush on the sides of the cart base, and I used clamps to keep the boards close together while screwing it in place.

IKEA-kitchen-cart-new-top-step-2

IKEA-kitchen-cart-new-top-step-2-part-2

b) Then I screwed in place the other end board and the last side board.

IKEA-kitchen-cart-new-top-step-3

c) The edges look thicker thanks to the 1”x2” but it’s not very pretty to look at so I glued and nailed ¼” thick 1” x 2” boards to the sides for a cleaner look.

IKEA-kitchen-cart-new-top-step-4

d) I stained the top with the semi-transparent exterior stain from Behr in a color called Wedgwood which coordinates nicely with the tiles in the kitchen makeover. I didn’t mind if the top got worn over time but you could also add a coat of polyurethane to protect the surface even more. Then all that was left was to attach the new top using the existing brackets.

IKEA-kitchen-cart-staining

It took a bit of time and effort to bring this cart back to life, and the total cost came in around $50 but it feels really great to reuse something that otherwise would have gone into a landfill, plus it gave me the chance to customize the cart to fit the kitchen perfectly and to make it even more functional. Win-Win!

Rental kitchen makeover vertical_front_view_web_watermarked

You can see the complete makeover of the kitchen in this video – enjoy!  

 

While working on a rental kitchen makeover for some friends, I needed to find a kitchen cart or island to add more counter space for food preparation. I considered buying a new a new island or building one from scratch but I opted instead to reuse an old IKEA kitchen cart that my friends already had. It was in pretty bad shape but I knew I could bring it back to life, and also make it even better by customizing it to work with the new look of the kitchen. I couldn’t be happier with the end result and the cart fit in perfectly in the new kitchen!

IKEA kitchen_cart_top_view_close_up_web

It started off looking like this and definitely had seen better days.

IKEA kitchen Cart before

Step 1: Removing the top

I removed the top by unscrewing it from the existing brackets – very easy.

IKEA-kitchen-cart-hack

Step 2: Replacing the old casters

The existing casters were worn down and didn’t work anymore so they needed to be replaced.

IKEA-kitchen-cart-before-casters

Because the new casters I bought were shorter (2 ½” inch ones) and had a bigger base, I needed to do a MacGyver fix: I screwed a piece of ½” plywood to the bottom of the legs and used that to secure the new casters to. 

IKEA-kitchen-cart-new-casters

Step 3: Making the spice rack

The MacGyver fix for the casters created a shelf of sorts and it gave me the idea to use the space to make a spice rack. I had lots of wood left over from other projects so I used that to make it. First I  added some wood edging to pretty up the sides of the plywood. Then I attached a piece of ¼” thick plywood to the existing shelves to make the back of the spice rack.

IKEA-kitchen-cart-spice-rack-step-1

For the bottom shelf, I simply glued  a ¼” thick 3” wide pine board wedged between the legs.

IKEA-kitchen-cart-spice-rack-step-2

For the top shelf, I used small pieces of quarter round molding as supports for 1”x2” and then I glued another piece of ¼” thick 3” wide pine board to complete the shelf.

IKEA-kitchen-cart-spice-rack-step-3

Step 4: Sand and stain the base of the cart

By using all the different types of wood for the spice rack, the side of the cart looked a bit like a frankenstein.

IKEA-kitchen-cart-spice-rack-step-4

But by sanding the cart and staining it, it all blended nicely. I used an antiquing stain I had from IKEA that I don’t think they make anymore.

IKEA-kitchen-cart-spice-rack-step-5

Tip: I made my own sanding blocks by stapling sandpaper to scrap pieced of wood – works like a charm and it’s a lot cheaper than buying sanding blocks.

IKEA-kitchen-cart-spice-rack-stained

Step 5: Building the new top

a) The original top was 23” x 19” and I wanted to make the new top slightly wider and longer. I used four 1” x 6” boards to make a new top that’s 22” wide x 32” long. Because I had limited tools on hand, I kept this build very simple by using 1”x2” furring strips to attach the wider boards together.  I was using SPAX screws that don’t need to have holes pre-drilled but if you use regular screws, you’ll want to pre-drill holes before screwing the boards together.

IKEA-kitchen-cart-new-top-step-1

I wanted to be able to take this apart later if necessary so I didn’t put glue in between the boards. After doing 1 end and one side, I screwed in place the middle 1”x2″ which is cut short to allow the top to sit flush on the sides of the cart base, and I used clamps to keep the boards close together while screwing it in place.

IKEA-kitchen-cart-new-top-step-2

IKEA-kitchen-cart-new-top-step-2-part-2

b) Then I screwed in place the other end board and the last side board.

IKEA-kitchen-cart-new-top-step-3

c) The edges look thicker thanks to the 1”x2” but it’s not very pretty to look at so I glued and nailed ¼” thick 1” x 2” boards to the sides for a cleaner look.

IKEA-kitchen-cart-new-top-step-4

d) I stained the top with the semi-transparent exterior stain from Behr in a color called Wedgwood which coordinates nicely with the tiles in the kitchen makeover. I didn’t mind if the top got worn over time but you could also add a coat of polyurethane to protect the surface even more. Then all that was left was to attach the new top using the existing brackets.

IKEA-kitchen-cart-staining

It took a bit of time and effort to bring this cart back to life, and the total cost came in around $50 but it feels really great to reuse something that otherwise would have gone into a landfill, plus it gave me the chance to customize the cart to fit the kitchen perfectly and to make it even more functional. Win-Win!

Rental kitchen makeover vertical_front_view_web_watermarked

You can see the complete makeover of the kitchen in this video – enjoy!  

 

Camouflaging a dated bathroom light fixture

When I was working on giving a friend’s small bathroom a facelift, I needed a quick inexpensive way to update a very dated lighting fixture that also happened to be off-center over the vanity. Since replacing it wasn’t in the budget, I opted for camouflaging the fixture with a DIY light cover that cost less than $15 to make, all without using any power tools! 

Lighting fixture after

Here’s what the fixture looked like before – very dated, to say the least, and off-center over the vanity.

Old off-centered lighting fixture_edited-2

You can watch this video of how to make it or follow the steps below:

Step 1: Make the structure for the new cover. Here’s what I used to make the structure:

1/4″ x 6″ poplar boards

3/4″ thick square wood dowels

I cut the boards into 3 sections (2 x 4.5″ and 1 x18″) and cut the dowels into 4 pieces (4 x 5.5″) using a hand saw. I used wood glue to attach the square dowels to join the front to the sides (Painter’s tape helps to hold the pieces together while the glue dries).

Connecting the side to the front wood boards_edited-1

Then I glued the other 2 dowel pieces to the back of the sides.

Gluing back dowel pieces_edited-1

Step 2: Paint or stain the wood

Here’s what I used as a finish for the wood:

Chalk paint (sheepskin)

Wood tint

White wax

Plaid products for finishing wood_edited-1

I painted the wood with 2 coats of the paint, then brushed on a coat of the stain and then protected the surface with a coat of the white wax.

Finish for wood - waxing_edited-1

Step 3: Make the light diffuser: Here’s what I used to make it:

Thin linen like fabric

Plexiglass (Acrylic) sheet for diffuser (11”x14” ⅛” thick)

Mod Podge

Double-sided tape

I placed the fabric on top of the non-glare side of the acrylic panel and soaked it with MOD PODGE making sure the fabric is soaked through.  

Gluing fabric to acrylic panel with mod podge_edited-2

I let it dry and trimmed off the excess along the edges with a utility knife. 

Trimming off fabric from acrylic panel

Then I glued it to the structure using double sided tape.

Acrylic panel installed to the back of the lighting fixture cover_edited-1

Step 5: Installing the new cover.

I removed the old cover and placed 3M command strips on either side of it to hang the new cover so that it would be centered over the vanity. The new cover is very light so the strips are fine to hold it and this avoids having to make holes in the wall (but you could also use brackets to attach it to the wall). I didn’t have a level handy so I ended up using an app on my smart phone to make sure the fixture was level!

3m command strips to hang the new cover_edited-1Using phone level to install light

Bottom view of new centered lighting fixture_edited-1 The new cover completely hides the existing fixture and it’s now perfectly centered! So much better than what was there before! 
After-Right-side-vertical-watermarked-high-res
You can watch the entire bathroom makeover in this video here, enjoy!
 
 

 

When I was working on giving a friend’s small bathroom a facelift, I needed a quick inexpensive way to update a very dated lighting fixture that also happened to be off-center over the vanity. Since replacing it wasn’t in the budget, I opted for camouflaging the fixture with a DIY light cover that cost less than $15 to make, all without using any power tools! 

Lighting fixture after

Here’s what the fixture looked like before – very dated, to say the least, and off-center over the vanity.

Old off-centered lighting fixture_edited-2

You can watch this video of how to make it or follow the steps below:

Step 1: Make the structure for the new cover. Here’s what I used to make the structure:

1/4″ x 6″ poplar boards

3/4″ thick square wood dowels

I cut the boards into 3 sections (2 x 4.5″ and 1 x18″) and cut the dowels into 4 pieces (4 x 5.5″) using a hand saw. I used wood glue to attach the square dowels to join the front to the sides (Painter’s tape helps to hold the pieces together while the glue dries).

Connecting the side to the front wood boards_edited-1

Then I glued the other 2 dowel pieces to the back of the sides.

Gluing back dowel pieces_edited-1

Step 2: Paint or stain the wood

Here’s what I used as a finish for the wood:

Chalk paint (sheepskin)

Wood tint

White wax

Plaid products for finishing wood_edited-1

I painted the wood with 2 coats of the paint, then brushed on a coat of the stain and then protected the surface with a coat of the white wax.

Finish for wood - waxing_edited-1

Step 3: Make the light diffuser: Here’s what I used to make it:

Thin linen like fabric

Plexiglass (Acrylic) sheet for diffuser (11”x14” ⅛” thick)

Mod Podge

Double-sided tape

I placed the fabric on top of the non-glare side of the acrylic panel and soaked it with MOD PODGE making sure the fabric is soaked through.  

Gluing fabric to acrylic panel with mod podge_edited-2

I let it dry and trimmed off the excess along the edges with a utility knife. 

Trimming off fabric from acrylic panel

Then I glued it to the structure using double sided tape.

Acrylic panel installed to the back of the lighting fixture cover_edited-1

Step 5: Installing the new cover.

I removed the old cover and placed 3M command strips on either side of it to hang the new cover so that it would be centered over the vanity. The new cover is very light so the strips are fine to hold it and this avoids having to make holes in the wall (but you could also use brackets to attach it to the wall). I didn’t have a level handy so I ended up using an app on my smart phone to make sure the fixture was level!

3m command strips to hang the new cover_edited-1Using phone level to install light

Bottom view of new centered lighting fixture_edited-1 The new cover completely hides the existing fixture and it’s now perfectly centered! So much better than what was there before! 
After-Right-side-vertical-watermarked-high-res
You can watch the entire bathroom makeover in this video here, enjoy!
 
 

 

DIY Outdoor Lounging Bench

While working on my friend Lisa’s balcony, I was looking for a seating option that would maximize seating on her small and narrow balcony (it’s only 4.5 ft wide) and give her a place to lounge with her dog Leo. After looking at a few options, I decided to build a simple bench, much like the ones that I had built for my NYC apartment balcony. I tweaked the design a bit to make it wider so it was more like a sofa than a bench and I also added bracing to make it sturdier.

DIY-outdoor-Bench-tutorial-main-image

It only cost $30 in materials, plus the stain, and by having all the wood cut at the hardware store, it turned out to be a very quick build using very basic tools: a drill, drill bits and a speed square (clamps optional):

Bench dimensions: 52″ long x 24 ¾”” wide x 16 3/4″ high

Materials needed:

Frame:  

1”x 4” x 2 x 51”

1” x 4” x 2 x 19 ¼”

Top:

1”x 2” x 2 x 52”

1”x5” x 4 x 52”

Legs and bracing: 2”x3”

Legs: 4 x 16”

Bracing: 2 x 19 ¼”, 1 x 45 ½”

Weatherproofing stain or paint

Exterior or decking screws (1 1/4″, 2″)

Step 1: Cut the pine boards and stud to size (I had mine cut at the hardware store):

Step 2: I recommend staining all the wood prior to assembling it but you can also stain is after, like I did. It’s just a bit challenging to get in between the boards when it’s all assembled. I used a semi-transparent weatherproofing stain from BEHR (coffee color) and applied 2 coats.

Step-1-staining-wood

Step 3: Build the frame:

You can use corner clamps to hold the pieces together (adding wood glue before doing this will make the joints stronger but skipping the glue will allow you to easily disassemble the bench later). Or you can go free hand – if going with that method, I recommend using a speed square to make sure that the boards are square.

DIY-outdoor-bench-step-1

Drill pilot holes and put in screws (use 1 1/4″ screws). After the four sides are put together, add the 2 middle piece for extra support. Again, using a speed square is helpful to make sure the pieces are square.

DIY-outdoor-bench-Step-2-a

DIY-outdoor-bench-step-2b

Step 4: Place one of the top 1″ x 4″ on top of the frame so that it extends 1/2″ past the edge of the frame at the ends and on the sides. Drill pilot holes and screw in place.

DIY-outdoor-bench-Step-3

Screw in place the remaining pine boards, using a scrap piece of 1″ x 4″ as a spacer.

DIY-outdoor-bench-step-4

DIY-outdoor-bench-step-4s

Step 5: Attach the legs:

You can simply hold the leg in place or you can use clamps to help the leg to the inside of one corner of the frame:

DIY-outdoor-bench-Step-5

Drill pilot holes and screw in place (use 2″ screws).

Step 6: Attach the Bracing

I like to mark where the bracing pieces join before attaching them.

DIY-OUtdoor-bench-step-6a

Start with the bracing in between the legs, lining them up in the middle and using a scrap piece of 2”x3” to hold them up. Drill pilot holes and screw them in place with 2” screws.

DIY-outdoor-bench-Step-6

Once both sides are done, attach the middle bracing, centered.

DIY-outdoor-bench-step-6c

And that’s it, your bench is done!

Finished-DIY-outdoor-bench-top-and-front-view-unstained

For seat cushions, I used 2 HALO outdoor seat cushions from IKEA ($25 each) which are 24”x24”. Since the bench has a wall for a back, I was able to use outdoor pillows for the back. It was the perfect seating option for this balcony and you can watch the entire balcony makeover in this video. Enjoy!

 

 

 

While working on my friend Lisa’s balcony, I was looking for a seating option that would maximize seating on her small and narrow balcony (it’s only 4.5 ft wide) and give her a place to lounge with her dog Leo. After looking at a few options, I decided to build a simple bench, much like the ones that I had built for my NYC apartment balcony. I tweaked the design a bit to make it wider so it was more like a sofa than a bench and I also added bracing to make it sturdier.

DIY-outdoor-Bench-tutorial-main-image

It only cost $30 in materials, plus the stain, and by having all the wood cut at the hardware store, it turned out to be a very quick build using very basic tools: a drill, drill bits and a speed square (clamps optional):

Bench dimensions: 52″ long x 24 ¾”” wide x 16 3/4″ high

Materials needed:

Frame:  

1”x 4” x 2 x 51”

1” x 4” x 2 x 19 ¼”

Top:

1”x 2” x 2 x 52”

1”x5” x 4 x 52”

Legs and bracing: 2”x3”

Legs: 4 x 16”

Bracing: 2 x 19 ¼”, 1 x 45 ½”

Weatherproofing stain or paint

Exterior or decking screws (1 1/4″, 2″)

Step 1: Cut the pine boards and stud to size (I had mine cut at the hardware store):

Step 2: I recommend staining all the wood prior to assembling it but you can also stain is after, like I did. It’s just a bit challenging to get in between the boards when it’s all assembled. I used a semi-transparent weatherproofing stain from BEHR (coffee color) and applied 2 coats.

Step-1-staining-wood

Step 3: Build the frame:

You can use corner clamps to hold the pieces together (adding wood glue before doing this will make the joints stronger but skipping the glue will allow you to easily disassemble the bench later). Or you can go free hand – if going with that method, I recommend using a speed square to make sure that the boards are square.

DIY-outdoor-bench-step-1

Drill pilot holes and put in screws (use 1 1/4″ screws). After the four sides are put together, add the 2 middle piece for extra support. Again, using a speed square is helpful to make sure the pieces are square.

DIY-outdoor-bench-Step-2-a

DIY-outdoor-bench-step-2b

Step 4: Place one of the top 1″ x 4″ on top of the frame so that it extends 1/2″ past the edge of the frame at the ends and on the sides. Drill pilot holes and screw in place.

DIY-outdoor-bench-Step-3

Screw in place the remaining pine boards, using a scrap piece of 1″ x 4″ as a spacer.

DIY-outdoor-bench-step-4

DIY-outdoor-bench-step-4s

Step 5: Attach the legs:

You can simply hold the leg in place or you can use clamps to help the leg to the inside of one corner of the frame:

DIY-outdoor-bench-Step-5

Drill pilot holes and screw in place (use 2″ screws).

Step 6: Attach the Bracing

I like to mark where the bracing pieces join before attaching them.

DIY-OUtdoor-bench-step-6a

Start with the bracing in between the legs, lining them up in the middle and using a scrap piece of 2”x3” to hold them up. Drill pilot holes and screw them in place with 2” screws.

DIY-outdoor-bench-Step-6

Once both sides are done, attach the middle bracing, centered.

DIY-outdoor-bench-step-6c

And that’s it, your bench is done!

Finished-DIY-outdoor-bench-top-and-front-view-unstained

For seat cushions, I used 2 HALO outdoor seat cushions from IKEA ($25 each) which are 24”x24”. Since the bench has a wall for a back, I was able to use outdoor pillows for the back. It was the perfect seating option for this balcony and you can watch the entire balcony makeover in this video. Enjoy!

 

 

 

How to organize kitchen cupboards to display china

A couple of weeks ago I helped my mom move into a new apartment. It’s a wonderful apartment but a bit smaller then where she used to live, so there isn’t enough space for her beloved china cabinet. It housed an exquisite collection of fine china my parents had accumulated over the years, and it was very important to my mom to find a new way to store and display the collection. When I saw the big kitchen plenty of kitchen cabinets, I got an idea to use some of the cabinet space to display some of the china.

Kitchen-cabinet-fine-china-display-china-full-view-2

I used an inexpensive tension I got at the Dollar Store and placed it about a couple of inches above the shelves, and about an inch away from the back.

Kitchen-cabinet-fine-china-display-with-tension-rod

Then it was just a matter of wedging the plates behind the tension rod to make them stay upright. They make a pretty backdrop and this also leaves room in front of the plates to either display more china or to store other things.

Kitchen-cabinet-fine-china-display-china-full-view-1

Now my mom gets to enjoy looking at her beautiful collection of fine china every time she opens the cupboards – another win for tension rods!

Kitchen-cabinet-fine-china-display-china-close-up

 

 

dc296f1ea217849a68afadce55eb17d473c8fbfc9efbef98ee

A couple of weeks ago I helped my mom move into a new apartment. It’s a wonderful apartment but a bit smaller then where she used to live, so there isn’t enough space for her beloved china cabinet. It housed an exquisite collection of fine china my parents had accumulated over the years, and it was very important to my mom to find a new way to store and display the collection. When I saw the big kitchen plenty of kitchen cabinets, I got an idea to use some of the cabinet space to display some of the china.

Kitchen-cabinet-fine-china-display-china-full-view-2

I used an inexpensive tension I got at the Dollar Store and placed it about a couple of inches above the shelves, and about an inch away from the back.

Kitchen-cabinet-fine-china-display-with-tension-rod

Then it was just a matter of wedging the plates behind the tension rod to make them stay upright. They make a pretty backdrop and this also leaves room in front of the plates to either display more china or to store other things.

Kitchen-cabinet-fine-china-display-china-full-view-1

Now my mom gets to enjoy looking at her beautiful collection of fine china every time she opens the cupboards – another win for tension rods!

Kitchen-cabinet-fine-china-display-china-close-up

 

 

dc296f1ea217849a68afadce55eb17d473c8fbfc9efbef98ee

How to make knobs or drawer pulls

When renovating a kitchen or bathroom, the cost of changing out the knobs can add up very quickly. The same goes when sprucing up a dresser with new drawer pulls. So I experimented with a couple of different inexpensive ways to make my own, and turns out it’s pretty easy to do! 

First option: Stones

Stone-knob-on-drawer-close-up

For these knobs, I ended up buying river stones from the dollar store – I live in LA and though there are beaches nearby, finding stones that are smooth and the right size proved to be too challenging!

rocks

To turn the stones into knobs, all you need are these nifty things called connector caps (or barrel nuts) and bolts. 

hardware-for-knobs

You can get connector caps in different finishes, like the bronze ones in the picture and you can get bronze bolts to match but since you don’t see them, I went with regular ones to save some money. If you do this, you just want to make sure that the bolt and connector have the same thread size and to stick with either metric or imperial (mixing the two won’t work). The length of bolts you will need depends on the thickness of the drawer face. In most cases, 25mm (1”)  long bolts should work well. 

I found these silver colored Barrel Nuts and bolt sets on amazon.com (20 for about $5) – they work great as well but the only thing is that the bolts are a bit too short (20mm instead of 25 mm), so I bought longer bolts (I had to get metric because the barrel nuts are metric) to make them work.

Knobs-silver-cap-nuts

Wether you use the connector caps or barrel nuts, the steps are the same. The first thing I did was find rocks that have a flat side and I sanded it down to remove any residue and have a better surface for the glue to grip. I cleaned off any dust and also cleaned the connector caps.

sanding-rock

I mixed epoxy glue, and dipped the top of cap to cover it with glue and then placed it at the center of the stone. 

stone-knobs-mixing-epoxy Stone-knobs-Putting-epoxy-on-the-caps

I placed the knobs on a bed of gravel (I had that from another project – it’s actually for aquariums!) so they could be flat during the drying process. You could also use sand for this.

Stone-knobs-letting-the-glue-dry

Then it was just a matter of using the bolts to secure them to the drawers.

Putting-in-knobs

And that’s it – my bathroom vanity got a whole new look thanks to these stone knobs. 

Rock-knobs

Second option: shells

For these drawer pulls, I used shells from the Dollar Store (same issue as with the stones), nuts & washers, bolts (about 1 to 1.5 inches longer than the thickness of the shell), scrap rigid cardboard, rubber bands and epoxy glue.

The first thing I did was cut a piece of rigid cardboard so that it’s the width of the shell and extends past it by about an inch, and made a hole in the middle. It will act as the flat surface of the dresser drawer to set the bolt in place.

Next I inserted the bolt in the hole of the cardboard

I poured epoxy glue into the shell cavity (I used the type that mixes together as it’s poured), making sure to mix the glue with a tooth pick and that there’s enough glue to cover the head of the bolt.

I placed the head of the bolt so that it touches the bottom of the shell cavity, while making sure the cardboard is flush to the back of the shell. Then I moved the bolt around so it is perpendicular to the cardboard.

When the bolt is placed properly, I used a rubber band to secure the cardboard in place, double checked that the bolt is still touching the bottom of the shell cavity and still straight (it doesn’t have to be perfect but the straighter the better), then I placed the cardboard on the edge of 2 glasses. You could also place the shells in sand like I did for the stone knobs. This allowed the epoxy to settle on the bottom and cover the head of the bolt.

Another way to make these knobs is to use oven bake clay (I used Sculpey) and barrel nut and bolts like I used for the stone knobs. I filled the cavity of the shell with the clay, pressed the barrel nut head into the clay to make an imprint, making sure the bolt sits straight, and then baked the shell in the oven as per the manufacturer specs (I baked mine for about an hour @ 275 degrees F). Then I used epoxy to glue the barrel nut to the shell. 

Shel-knobs---oven-backed-clay-method

For either option, I let the epoxy harden and voila, beautiful shell knobs ready to give a new look to a dresser or a cabinet!

You can use these ideas to make knobs out of just about anything, all you need is a little imagination – I hope you’ll share what ideas you come up with!

When renovating a kitchen or bathroom, the cost of changing out the knobs can add up very quickly. The same goes when sprucing up a dresser with new drawer pulls. So I experimented with a couple of different inexpensive ways to make my own, and turns out it’s pretty easy to do! 

First option: Stones

Stone-knob-on-drawer-close-up

For these knobs, I ended up buying river stones from the dollar store – I live in LA and though there are beaches nearby, finding stones that are smooth and the right size proved to be too challenging!

rocks

To turn the stones into knobs, all you need are these nifty things called connector caps (or barrel nuts) and bolts. 

hardware-for-knobs

You can get connector caps in different finishes, like the bronze ones in the picture and you can get bronze bolts to match but since you don’t see them, I went with regular ones to save some money. If you do this, you just want to make sure that the bolt and connector have the same thread size and to stick with either metric or imperial (mixing the two won’t work). The length of bolts you will need depends on the thickness of the drawer face. In most cases, 25mm (1”)  long bolts should work well. 

I found these silver colored Barrel Nuts and bolt sets on amazon.com (20 for about $5) – they work great as well but the only thing is that the bolts are a bit too short (20mm instead of 25 mm), so I bought longer bolts (I had to get metric because the barrel nuts are metric) to make them work.

Knobs-silver-cap-nuts

Wether you use the connector caps or barrel nuts, the steps are the same. The first thing I did was find rocks that have a flat side and I sanded it down to remove any residue and have a better surface for the glue to grip. I cleaned off any dust and also cleaned the connector caps.

sanding-rock

I mixed epoxy glue, and dipped the top of cap to cover it with glue and then placed it at the center of the stone. 

stone-knobs-mixing-epoxy Stone-knobs-Putting-epoxy-on-the-caps

I placed the knobs on a bed of gravel (I had that from another project – it’s actually for aquariums!) so they could be flat during the drying process. You could also use sand for this.

Stone-knobs-letting-the-glue-dry

Then it was just a matter of using the bolts to secure them to the drawers.

Putting-in-knobs

And that’s it – my bathroom vanity got a whole new look thanks to these stone knobs. 

Rock-knobs

Second option: shells

For these drawer pulls, I used shells from the Dollar Store (same issue as with the stones), nuts & washers, bolts (about 1 to 1.5 inches longer than the thickness of the shell), scrap rigid cardboard, rubber bands and epoxy glue.

The first thing I did was cut a piece of rigid cardboard so that it’s the width of the shell and extends past it by about an inch, and made a hole in the middle. It will act as the flat surface of the dresser drawer to set the bolt in place.

Next I inserted the bolt in the hole of the cardboard

I poured epoxy glue into the shell cavity (I used the type that mixes together as it’s poured), making sure to mix the glue with a tooth pick and that there’s enough glue to cover the head of the bolt.

I placed the head of the bolt so that it touches the bottom of the shell cavity, while making sure the cardboard is flush to the back of the shell. Then I moved the bolt around so it is perpendicular to the cardboard.

When the bolt is placed properly, I used a rubber band to secure the cardboard in place, double checked that the bolt is still touching the bottom of the shell cavity and still straight (it doesn’t have to be perfect but the straighter the better), then I placed the cardboard on the edge of 2 glasses. You could also place the shells in sand like I did for the stone knobs. This allowed the epoxy to settle on the bottom and cover the head of the bolt.

Another way to make these knobs is to use oven bake clay (I used Sculpey) and barrel nut and bolts like I used for the stone knobs. I filled the cavity of the shell with the clay, pressed the barrel nut head into the clay to make an imprint, making sure the bolt sits straight, and then baked the shell in the oven as per the manufacturer specs (I baked mine for about an hour @ 275 degrees F). Then I used epoxy to glue the barrel nut to the shell. 

Shel-knobs---oven-backed-clay-method

For either option, I let the epoxy harden and voila, beautiful shell knobs ready to give a new look to a dresser or a cabinet!

You can use these ideas to make knobs out of just about anything, all you need is a little imagination – I hope you’ll share what ideas you come up with!

Small Bathroom Remodel: Easy DIY Tile Backsplash

As I mentioned in my previous post reviewing Smart Tiles, my friend Tom asked for my help to makeover his small half-bath in his condo. He had a tiny budget of $200 to makeover his equally tiny 20 ft2 bathroom. Luckily he was happy with the neutral color palette so no painting necessary, but he did want to update the look by adding a touch of warmth and elegance, and he also wanted to have more storage. Here’s the plan I came up with for the makeover:

  1. Add a contemporary tile backsplash above the sink area and a mirror
  2. Upgrade the lighting fixture
  3. Add a storage cabinet above the toilet

The first thing I tackled was adding the backsplash above the sink area:

Smart-Tile-Finished-backsplash

This is what the area above the sink looked like before – a blank slate!

Tom's-bathroom-sink-before

I was really excited to try Smart Tiles for the first time for this project. I don’t have much experience tiling so the fact that these tiles have a peel and stick backing was a welcome simplification – there’s no grout or specialized tools needed so the installation is quick and mess free. I chose the Capri Taupe Smart Tiles from the Mosaik collection because of their beautiful stone and glossy dual finish

Smart-Tile-other-Mosaik-Capri-tiles

I needed 4 tiles to cover the length of the vanity – they are easy to cut using a ruler and utility knife. I cut all the tiles to be 7 inches high and and for the first tile, I also cut off the ends to have a clean edge.

Smart-Tiles-cutting-the-tile

I cleaned the wall with TSP to remove all the dust and grease, marked the height of the tile on the wall and then used a level to trace out the line. I removed some of the existing caulking where the tile meets the vanity to ensure that the tiles sits flush at the bottom. To install the tile, I first peeled back a couple of inches of the backing, used the line as a guide to make sure the tile is straight and then removed the rest of the backing and pressed the tile on wall.

Smart-Tile-Peeling-off-the-backing

Smart-Tile-Installing-first-tile

For the last tile at the edge of the wall, the remaining space was a bit awkward to measure so I used a sheet of paper as a template and used that to cut the tile.

Smart-Tile-corner-tile-template

For a more finished look around the tiles, I used a Smart Edge Brillo (silver) and for a nice clean corner, I cut the ends at a 45 degree angle.

Smart-Tiles-coner-edge-installation

A quick trick to make sure you get a perfect 45 degree cut every time is to first draw a straight line on your scrap piece of wood with a speed square and then use the 45 degree side of the speed square to cut the Smart Edge.

Smart-Tiles-corner-edge-cutting

And there you have it, for about $40 and in less than an hour, the backsplash was done and it looks absolutely beautiful!

Smart-Tiles-bathroom-backsplash-by-Engineer-Your-Space-cropped

It completely transformed the bathroom as you can see in this before and after picture:

Before-and-after-right-side-watermarked

You can see how I did the entire bathroom makeover, including the backsplash and how I tackled the very dated and uncentered lighting fixture above the vanity, in this video:

** This post was sponsored by Smart Tiles – all thoughts and opinions are my own **

As I mentioned in my previous post reviewing Smart Tiles, my friend Tom asked for my help to makeover his small half-bath in his condo. He had a tiny budget of $200 to makeover his equally tiny 20 ft2 bathroom. Luckily he was happy with the neutral color palette so no painting necessary, but he did want to update the look by adding a touch of warmth and elegance, and he also wanted to have more storage. Here’s the plan I came up with for the makeover:

  1. Add a contemporary tile backsplash above the sink area and a mirror
  2. Upgrade the lighting fixture
  3. Add a storage cabinet above the toilet

The first thing I tackled was adding the backsplash above the sink area:

Smart-Tile-Finished-backsplash

This is what the area above the sink looked like before – a blank slate!

Tom's-bathroom-sink-before

I was really excited to try Smart Tiles for the first time for this project. I don’t have much experience tiling so the fact that these tiles have a peel and stick backing was a welcome simplification – there’s no grout or specialized tools needed so the installation is quick and mess free. I chose the Capri Taupe Smart Tiles from the Mosaik collection because of their beautiful stone and glossy dual finish

Smart-Tile-other-Mosaik-Capri-tiles

I needed 4 tiles to cover the length of the vanity – they are easy to cut using a ruler and utility knife. I cut all the tiles to be 7 inches high and and for the first tile, I also cut off the ends to have a clean edge.

Smart-Tiles-cutting-the-tile

I cleaned the wall with TSP to remove all the dust and grease, marked the height of the tile on the wall and then used a level to trace out the line. I removed some of the existing caulking where the tile meets the vanity to ensure that the tiles sits flush at the bottom. To install the tile, I first peeled back a couple of inches of the backing, used the line as a guide to make sure the tile is straight and then removed the rest of the backing and pressed the tile on wall.

Smart-Tile-Peeling-off-the-backing

Smart-Tile-Installing-first-tile

For the last tile at the edge of the wall, the remaining space was a bit awkward to measure so I used a sheet of paper as a template and used that to cut the tile.

Smart-Tile-corner-tile-template

For a more finished look around the tiles, I used a Smart Edge Brillo (silver) and for a nice clean corner, I cut the ends at a 45 degree angle.

Smart-Tiles-coner-edge-installation

A quick trick to make sure you get a perfect 45 degree cut every time is to first draw a straight line on your scrap piece of wood with a speed square and then use the 45 degree side of the speed square to cut the Smart Edge.

Smart-Tiles-corner-edge-cutting

And there you have it, for about $40 and in less than an hour, the backsplash was done and it looks absolutely beautiful!

Smart-Tiles-bathroom-backsplash-by-Engineer-Your-Space-cropped

It completely transformed the bathroom as you can see in this before and after picture:

Before-and-after-right-side-watermarked

You can see how I did the entire bathroom makeover, including the backsplash and how I tackled the very dated and uncentered lighting fixture above the vanity, in this video:

** This post was sponsored by Smart Tiles – all thoughts and opinions are my own **

Product Review: Smart Tiles

When I was approached by Smart Tiles to review and try their products, I was very excited because updating kitchens and bathrooms can be quite intimidating. Even the simplest project like adding a tile backsplash can turn into a major undertaking that can be daunting for the novice DIYer.

Smart Tiles are much easier and simpler to install than traditional tiles because they have a peel and stick backing and are very thin (1/16”) and lightweight – no specialized tools are needed and there’s no need to use messy grout. The tiles are cut using a ruler and utility knife, so contouring around electrical outlets or odd shapes is a lot easier to do and the tiles will stick directly to any smooth surface, including existing tiles.

Smart-Tiles-Mosaik-cutting

You can buy Smart Tiles at any Home Depot or directly from the Smart Tiles website and they come in many different types, ranging in cost from $7 to $9 per tile (US). When I got samples of the tiles, the first thing I noticed was the quality of the product and how realistic the tiles looked. The Smart Tiles Mosaiks series incorporates a mixture of finishes from a stone finish to a glossy finish which reflects the light beautifully and the contrast also adds to the overall realistic look.

Capri-taupe-mosails-sample-tiles

There’s also classical mosaic and subway tiles in many colors including a marble finish that is very elegant and would add a touch of style to any kitchen or bathroom.

Carrera-tile-samples-closeup

Another benefit of using Smart Tiles is that they can easily be removed by first using a hair dryer to warm up the adhesive and then simply peeling the tiles off.  This may take off some of the paint but if you decide to change your mind and remodel later, it will definitely be a quicker and less messy process than removing traditional tile.

I was excited to try out these tiles and when my friend Tom said he wanted my help to upgrade a small half-bath in his condo, I knew it was the perfect project for Smart Tiles. I’ll be sharing with you the entire makeover very soon so stay tuned!

Before-left-and-right-side

** This post was sponsored by Smart Tiles – all thoughts and opinions are my own **

 

When I was approached by Smart Tiles to review and try their products, I was very excited because updating kitchens and bathrooms can be quite intimidating. Even the simplest project like adding a tile backsplash can turn into a major undertaking that can be daunting for the novice DIYer.

Smart Tiles are much easier and simpler to install than traditional tiles because they have a peel and stick backing and are very thin (1/16”) and lightweight – no specialized tools are needed and there’s no need to use messy grout. The tiles are cut using a ruler and utility knife, so contouring around electrical outlets or odd shapes is a lot easier to do and the tiles will stick directly to any smooth surface, including existing tiles.

Smart-Tiles-Mosaik-cutting

You can buy Smart Tiles at any Home Depot or directly from the Smart Tiles website and they come in many different types, ranging in cost from $7 to $9 per tile (US). When I got samples of the tiles, the first thing I noticed was the quality of the product and how realistic the tiles looked. The Smart Tiles Mosaiks series incorporates a mixture of finishes from a stone finish to a glossy finish which reflects the light beautifully and the contrast also adds to the overall realistic look.

Capri-taupe-mosails-sample-tiles

There’s also classical mosaic and subway tiles in many colors including a marble finish that is very elegant and would add a touch of style to any kitchen or bathroom.

Carrera-tile-samples-closeup

Another benefit of using Smart Tiles is that they can easily be removed by first using a hair dryer to warm up the adhesive and then simply peeling the tiles off.  This may take off some of the paint but if you decide to change your mind and remodel later, it will definitely be a quicker and less messy process than removing traditional tile.

I was excited to try out these tiles and when my friend Tom said he wanted my help to upgrade a small half-bath in his condo, I knew it was the perfect project for Smart Tiles. I’ll be sharing with you the entire makeover very soon so stay tuned!

Before-left-and-right-side

** This post was sponsored by Smart Tiles – all thoughts and opinions are my own **

 

IKEA HACK: easy DIY pendant lamp with ALANG lamp shade

My home office is very small and also happens to be in a rather dark corner of my apartment, so having proper lighting was very  important. I considered a desk lamp but given how small  my desk is, I decided to go with a pendant lamp instead. 

Finished-office-closer-view

Since I didn’t any more money in my budget to buy a lamp, I looked around the house to find something I could use to make one. I already had an extra HEMMA IKEA pendant lamp kit left over from another project and I also had an IKEA ALANG lamp I wasn’t using, and that’s when I got the idea to combine the two to make a pendant lamp. It literally took minutes to make and install!

IKEA-hack-ALANG-lamp-and-pendant-kit

First, I cut two pieces of wire, about 12 inches long, and bent them in half around the neck of the pendant lamp kit.  Then I placed the wires facing each other, under the lip on the socket and twisted the wires together.

IKEA-hack-pendant-lamp-twisting-wire

Next, I passed the cord of the pendant lamp kit through the hole in the middle of the lamp shade and twisted the 2 wire ends around the wire frame (this is to stabilize the lamp kit so it stays in place).

IKEA-hack-lamp-shade-pendant-lamp-twisting-wire-to-shade

You could leave the pendant lamp like this but I didn’t want to look at the bulb from underneath so I cut out a light diffuser from a flexible chopping mat I got at the dollar store. I traced the outside and inside outline of the lamp shade onto the chopping mat and then cut it slightly inside the outside line so it could rest on the rim of the lamp shade. 

IKEA-hack-lamp-shade-making-the-diffuser

To hang the lamp, I used the hook provided with the lamp kit and an anchor (I used a plumb bob to make sure it was centered above my desk – you can see how to use the plumb bob in this video where I share quick tips for hanging things).

hanging-hardware

The pendant lamp kit didn’t come with a switch so to turn the light on and off, I use a dimmer light switch that you can plug the lamp into. 

IKEA-hack-pendant-lamp

This couldn’t have been easier to do and the pendant lamp brightens up my office all day long, without having taking up any of my precious desk space! You can see more of my office DIY projects in this video, including how I turned my IKEA desk legs into a cat scratching post!:

 

My home office is very small and also happens to be in a rather dark corner of my apartment, so having proper lighting was very  important. I considered a desk lamp but given how small  my desk is, I decided to go with a pendant lamp instead. 

Finished-office-closer-view

Since I didn’t any more money in my budget to buy a lamp, I looked around the house to find something I could use to make one. I already had an extra HEMMA IKEA pendant lamp kit left over from another project and I also had an IKEA ALANG lamp I wasn’t using, and that’s when I got the idea to combine the two to make a pendant lamp. It literally took minutes to make and install!

IKEA-hack-ALANG-lamp-and-pendant-kit

First, I cut two pieces of wire, about 12 inches long, and bent them in half around the neck of the pendant lamp kit.  Then I placed the wires facing each other, under the lip on the socket and twisted the wires together.

IKEA-hack-pendant-lamp-twisting-wire

Next, I passed the cord of the pendant lamp kit through the hole in the middle of the lamp shade and twisted the 2 wire ends around the wire frame (this is to stabilize the lamp kit so it stays in place).

IKEA-hack-lamp-shade-pendant-lamp-twisting-wire-to-shade

You could leave the pendant lamp like this but I didn’t want to look at the bulb from underneath so I cut out a light diffuser from a flexible chopping mat I got at the dollar store. I traced the outside and inside outline of the lamp shade onto the chopping mat and then cut it slightly inside the outside line so it could rest on the rim of the lamp shade. 

IKEA-hack-lamp-shade-making-the-diffuser

To hang the lamp, I used the hook provided with the lamp kit and an anchor (I used a plumb bob to make sure it was centered above my desk – you can see how to use the plumb bob in this video where I share quick tips for hanging things).

hanging-hardware

The pendant lamp kit didn’t come with a switch so to turn the light on and off, I use a dimmer light switch that you can plug the lamp into. 

IKEA-hack-pendant-lamp

This couldn’t have been easier to do and the pendant lamp brightens up my office all day long, without having taking up any of my precious desk space! You can see more of my office DIY projects in this video, including how I turned my IKEA desk legs into a cat scratching post!:

 

Nine DIY ideas to survive any small kitchen

I’ve experienced my fair share of tiny kitchens, the smallest of which, by far, was the one in my NYC studio apartment which was only 6 ft x 10 ft. Necessity being the mother of all inventions, I came up with a few ways to make that kitchen more functional, and have since added more tricks thanks to my move to a new apartment and dealing with that kitchen’s challenges. Hopefully these practical low budget DIY tips that I will share today will help you survive your small kitchen!

9-DIY-Tricks-to-survive-a-small-kitchen_edited-1

My first strategy in any small space is to use as much of the vertical space available as possible, be it on the walls, the space above the cabinets or the vertical space inside the kitchen cabinets:

1) Wall mounted magnetic spice rack 

Storing your spices on the wall is a great way of freeing up precious cabinet space in a small kitchen. You can make your own DIY wall spice rack by using a cookie sheet or pizza pan with magnetic spice containers – the colorful spices will also doubles as artwork. You can also easily make your own magnetic spice containers by gluing magnets to the containers like I did here

DIY magnetic spice rack 1

2) Add an extra shelf to your upper cabinets

You can also take advantage of the wasted vertical space in your kitchen cabinets by making a simple extra shelf. This 1 min video shows how easy it is to do without any power tools or making any holes in the cabinets so it’s easy to remove or change up the configuration as your needs change. It also helps to see what you have and makes another great place to store spices.

Easy-extra-kitchen-cabinet-shelf-before-after

3) Use the space above the upper cabinets for storage

When every cubic inch counts, that space above the kitchen cabinets can provide a great place to store less-often used items. Using boxes protects the items from dust and grease you can make this low budget DIY project by recycling paper boxes and covering them with contact paper so they can blend in with your decor.

Boxes-above-kitchen-cabinets

Most tiny kitchens are “counter space challenged”, so my second strategy to surviving a small kitchen is to find ways to remove clutter from counter tops or creating more countertop space that’s usable wherever possible.

4) Add a shelf above the stove

The space above the stove often goes unused and in my NYC studio apartment where I had next to zero counter space, adding a small shelf on top of the stove added much needed storage space and freed up my countertop for other things. 

DIY shelf

5) Reconfigure the stove top

If you’re like me and rarely use more than 2 or 3 of the burners on your electrical stove at any one time, consider removing the heating elements from the burners you don’t use and covering them up with glass cutting boards. I did this in my NYC kitchen and having that extra flat surface available while cooking was really helpful – I honestly never missed having those extra burners, making the trade-off a no brainer. 

Add counter space with your stove

6) Unclutter the area around the sink with a tension rod or a curtain rod

Reducing clutter on the countertop will make the space you do have more usable. One way to still have what you need easily accessible but off the counter is to hang them from the wall. You can do this by hanging a curtain rod or even a towel and using bins or hooks to hang items or you can use a tension rod like I did in my LA kitchen. Having things off the counter also makes cleaning much easier!

Tension rod over the kitchen sink

7) Use a wall mounted knife rack

If you like having your kitchen knives easily accessible, a wall mounted knife rack is the way to go. You can use a magnetic knife rack or make a custom knife rack like this one I made for my LA kitchen. It’s very thin so even though it sits on the counter against a wall, it doesn’t take up much counter space compared to the bulkier traditional countertop knife racks.

DIY wooden knife rack with Glue Dots

My last strategy revolves around lighting – a tiny kitchen can feel cramped and having better lighting helps to make it more functional and also makes it brighter and feel bigger. 

8) Add under-cabinet lighting

Having task lighting where you need it is a huge deal in any kitchen, and the easiest way to see what you are doing at the countertop is to install under-cabinet lighting. It’s a quick project to do and there are many inexpensive options for LED lights that are low profile and don’t use much energy, like these lights from IKEA that only cost $25. Once you have under-cabinet lighting, you’ll wonder why you didn’t install it sooner!

Finished kitchen lighting

9) Add mirrors 

Adding mirrors in a small space is one of the oldest tricks around but there’s a reason for it: it works!  It will immediately make your small kitchen feel bigger and brighter, especially if you can reflect the light from a window. This trick made a huge impact on how I felt about my tiny NYC kitchen, and somehow made me a lot happier to cook in it and made it feel like it was twice the size. Not bad for just adding a mirror! 

Make a galley kitchen feel larger with a mirror

Hopefully you got a few helpful ideas you can use and I would love to hear what strategies you’ve come with to survive your tiny kitchen, so please share in the comments below!

I’ve experienced my fair share of tiny kitchens, the smallest of which, by far, was the one in my NYC studio apartment which was only 6 ft x 10 ft. Necessity being the mother of all inventions, I came up with a few ways to make that kitchen more functional, and have since added more tricks thanks to my move to a new apartment and dealing with that kitchen’s challenges. Hopefully these practical low budget DIY tips that I will share today will help you survive your small kitchen!

9-DIY-Tricks-to-survive-a-small-kitchen_edited-1

My first strategy in any small space is to use as much of the vertical space available as possible, be it on the walls, the space above the cabinets or the vertical space inside the kitchen cabinets:

1) Wall mounted magnetic spice rack 

Storing your spices on the wall is a great way of freeing up precious cabinet space in a small kitchen. You can make your own DIY wall spice rack by using a cookie sheet or pizza pan with magnetic spice containers – the colorful spices will also doubles as artwork. You can also easily make your own magnetic spice containers by gluing magnets to the containers like I did here

DIY magnetic spice rack 1

2) Add an extra shelf to your upper cabinets

You can also take advantage of the wasted vertical space in your kitchen cabinets by making a simple extra shelf. This 1 min video shows how easy it is to do without any power tools or making any holes in the cabinets so it’s easy to remove or change up the configuration as your needs change. It also helps to see what you have and makes another great place to store spices.

Easy-extra-kitchen-cabinet-shelf-before-after

3) Use the space above the upper cabinets for storage

When every cubic inch counts, that space above the kitchen cabinets can provide a great place to store less-often used items. Using boxes protects the items from dust and grease you can make this low budget DIY project by recycling paper boxes and covering them with contact paper so they can blend in with your decor.

Boxes-above-kitchen-cabinets

Most tiny kitchens are “counter space challenged”, so my second strategy to surviving a small kitchen is to find ways to remove clutter from counter tops or creating more countertop space that’s usable wherever possible.

4) Add a shelf above the stove

The space above the stove often goes unused and in my NYC studio apartment where I had next to zero counter space, adding a small shelf on top of the stove added much needed storage space and freed up my countertop for other things. 

DIY shelf

5) Reconfigure the stove top

If you’re like me and rarely use more than 2 or 3 of the burners on your electrical stove at any one time, consider removing the heating elements from the burners you don’t use and covering them up with glass cutting boards. I did this in my NYC kitchen and having that extra flat surface available while cooking was really helpful – I honestly never missed having those extra burners, making the trade-off a no brainer. 

Add counter space with your stove

6) Unclutter the area around the sink with a tension rod or a curtain rod

Reducing clutter on the countertop will make the space you do have more usable. One way to still have what you need easily accessible but off the counter is to hang them from the wall. You can do this by hanging a curtain rod or even a towel and using bins or hooks to hang items or you can use a tension rod like I did in my LA kitchen. Having things off the counter also makes cleaning much easier!

Tension rod over the kitchen sink

7) Use a wall mounted knife rack

If you like having your kitchen knives easily accessible, a wall mounted knife rack is the way to go. You can use a magnetic knife rack or make a custom knife rack like this one I made for my LA kitchen. It’s very thin so even though it sits on the counter against a wall, it doesn’t take up much counter space compared to the bulkier traditional countertop knife racks.

DIY wooden knife rack with Glue Dots

My last strategy revolves around lighting – a tiny kitchen can feel cramped and having better lighting helps to make it more functional and also makes it brighter and feel bigger. 

8) Add under-cabinet lighting

Having task lighting where you need it is a huge deal in any kitchen, and the easiest way to see what you are doing at the countertop is to install under-cabinet lighting. It’s a quick project to do and there are many inexpensive options for LED lights that are low profile and don’t use much energy, like these lights from IKEA that only cost $25. Once you have under-cabinet lighting, you’ll wonder why you didn’t install it sooner!

Finished kitchen lighting

9) Add mirrors 

Adding mirrors in a small space is one of the oldest tricks around but there’s a reason for it: it works!  It will immediately make your small kitchen feel bigger and brighter, especially if you can reflect the light from a window. This trick made a huge impact on how I felt about my tiny NYC kitchen, and somehow made me a lot happier to cook in it and made it feel like it was twice the size. Not bad for just adding a mirror! 

Make a galley kitchen feel larger with a mirror

Hopefully you got a few helpful ideas you can use and I would love to hear what strategies you’ve come with to survive your tiny kitchen, so please share in the comments below!

Giveaway – Wall Mounted Christmas Tree!

When you don’t have a lot of space, finding somewhere to put a Christmas tree can be challenging. I’ve tried a lot of different alternatives to the traditional Christmas tree, and for the past couple of years, I’ve been using an IKEA wall hanging that has a Christmas tree painted on it, which I modified and added lights to. It’s worked great but this year, I wanted to have a more realistic looking tree, but still wall mounted to free up floor space. After racking my brains to figure out how to do it, it turns out it was super easy to do!

Christmas-Tree-Finished-side-view-daytime_edited-1

All I needed to make this beautiful Christmas tree were Glue Dots Flexible Hang Tabs and holiday garlands! The Hang Tabs have an adhesive that is strong yet won’t leave any residue on the wall when you’re ready to remove it – perfect for renters and a project like this which is temporary. And they couldn’t have been easier to use to build this Christmas tree.

Christmas-tree-supplies

You can watch this video to see how I made it or you can follow the step-by-step instructions below:

 

Step 1: Mark the outline of the tree on the wall, using painter’s tape. I made my tree 3.5 ft tall and 3 ft wide at the base

Christmas-Tree-step-1

Step 2: Take a Flexible Hang Tab, slide the end of the garland through the perforated holes of the tab, remove the backing and then stick the tab to the wall, at the top of the triangle.

Christmas-Tree-step-2-part-1Christmas-Tree-step-2-part-2Step 3: Repeat the process, first going around the outline of the triangle and then filling in the middle of the tree, fluffing up the garland to fill in any of the blank spaces.

Christmas-Tree-step-2-part-3

Christmas-Tree-step-3-part-2

Christmas-Tree-step-3-part-3

You can hardly see the green tape so you can leave it in, or remove it like I did. 

Step 4: Decorate your tree! This is the fun part and you add lights and ornaments exactly as you would any regular Christmas tree.

Christmas-tree-night-close-up

Step 5: This is optional but the dress up the bottom of the tree, I made a simple base out of shimms for putting presents and more decorations and I also added a “tree trunk” that I made with a scrap piece of 2″x3″ that I stained a dark brown. 

Christmas-Tree-step-6

I love the way this turned out, and if you want to give this project a try, you’re in luck because the folks at Glue Dots are giving away 3 Hang Tag Christmas Tree Kits to make at home! Each kit will include garland, lights, Glue Dots Flexible Hang Tabs and painter’s tape so ornaments are the only thing you will need to complete the tree.

The giveaway is open to US and Canadian residents only and all you have to do for a chance to win is to fill in the information below before December 11th. Good luck and Happy Holidays to you and your family!

Update:  This giveaway is now closed. Winners will be contacted and notified by email shortly.

** This post was sponsored by Glue Dots – all thoughts and opinions are my own **

When you don’t have a lot of space, finding somewhere to put a Christmas tree can be challenging. I’ve tried a lot of different alternatives to the traditional Christmas tree, and for the past couple of years, I’ve been using an IKEA wall hanging that has a Christmas tree painted on it, which I modified and added lights to. It’s worked great but this year, I wanted to have a more realistic looking tree, but still wall mounted to free up floor space. After racking my brains to figure out how to do it, it turns out it was super easy to do!

Christmas-Tree-Finished-side-view-daytime_edited-1

All I needed to make this beautiful Christmas tree were Glue Dots Flexible Hang Tabs and holiday garlands! The Hang Tabs have an adhesive that is strong yet won’t leave any residue on the wall when you’re ready to remove it – perfect for renters and a project like this which is temporary. And they couldn’t have been easier to use to build this Christmas tree.

Christmas-tree-supplies

You can watch this video to see how I made it or you can follow the step-by-step instructions below:

 

Step 1: Mark the outline of the tree on the wall, using painter’s tape. I made my tree 3.5 ft tall and 3 ft wide at the base

Christmas-Tree-step-1

Step 2: Take a Flexible Hang Tab, slide the end of the garland through the perforated holes of the tab, remove the backing and then stick the tab to the wall, at the top of the triangle.

Christmas-Tree-step-2-part-1Christmas-Tree-step-2-part-2Step 3: Repeat the process, first going around the outline of the triangle and then filling in the middle of the tree, fluffing up the garland to fill in any of the blank spaces.

Christmas-Tree-step-2-part-3

Christmas-Tree-step-3-part-2

Christmas-Tree-step-3-part-3

You can hardly see the green tape so you can leave it in, or remove it like I did. 

Step 4: Decorate your tree! This is the fun part and you add lights and ornaments exactly as you would any regular Christmas tree.

Christmas-tree-night-close-up

Step 5: This is optional but the dress up the bottom of the tree, I made a simple base out of shimms for putting presents and more decorations and I also added a “tree trunk” that I made with a scrap piece of 2″x3″ that I stained a dark brown. 

Christmas-Tree-step-6

I love the way this turned out, and if you want to give this project a try, you’re in luck because the folks at Glue Dots are giving away 3 Hang Tag Christmas Tree Kits to make at home! Each kit will include garland, lights, Glue Dots Flexible Hang Tabs and painter’s tape so ornaments are the only thing you will need to complete the tree.

The giveaway is open to US and Canadian residents only and all you have to do for a chance to win is to fill in the information below before December 11th. Good luck and Happy Holidays to you and your family!

Update:  This giveaway is now closed. Winners will be contacted and notified by email shortly.

** This post was sponsored by Glue Dots – all thoughts and opinions are my own **

DIYZ App Review

When I was approached to review this new DIYZ app, I was happy to give it a try because I love the idea of an easy to use app that brings together all the elements that you need to carry out a DIY project:  detailed how-to videos with step-by-step written instructions, a complete list of tool and materials needed for each project and professionals to answer questions along the way.

DIYZ-app-on-phone

To try out the app, I decided to tackle a project I had on my to-do list for a while in my apartment: replacing the showerhead in my bathroom. The app is free to download and it was easy to find what I was looking for – I used the search function but you can also find projects by category. The overview is helpful to give you the information and guidance you need to tackle any DIY project with confidence, like the difficulty level, the time it will take and also a list of all the things you’ll need to complete the project.                                                                                                                                                                 
                      How to replace shower head project screenshot     what you need

Knowing this info ahead of time was helpful because I realized I didn’t have the teflon tape required to install the new showerhead. Since I had to go to the hardware store anyway to run other errands, I ended up getting the tape there, but the app also offers the convenience to choose what you need, and order it online to be delivered to your home. Not only can you find and purchase supplies on the DIYZ app, but you can also find plumbing fixtures, tools and anything else you may need to complete a project.

buying what you need

When I unpacked the showerhead to install it, I discovered that there was some teflon tape included, so you might want to check that before starting! I was still happy I got the tape because I ended up running out and needing more. 

After I had all my supplies and tools ready, I read the step-by-step instructions and watched the videos – everything was well explained and easy for  me to follow and after just a few minutes, I had my new showerhead installed.

Showerhead-before_and-after

This turned out to be such an easy project to do, especially with the help of the app, I wish I would have done it sooner! And it’s also an upgrade that I can take with me to my home which is great.  So If you’re procrastinating taking on a DIY project in your home because you’re unsure how to go about it, I recommend you give this DIYZ app a try. You can download the app via the links below or you can find out more by clicking here.

itunes Download

Google Play

* this post is sponsored by DIYZ but all the thoughts and opinions expressed are my own*

 

When I was approached to review this new DIYZ app, I was happy to give it a try because I love the idea of an easy to use app that brings together all the elements that you need to carry out a DIY project:  detailed how-to videos with step-by-step written instructions, a complete list of tool and materials needed for each project and professionals to answer questions along the way.

DIYZ-app-on-phone

To try out the app, I decided to tackle a project I had on my to-do list for a while in my apartment: replacing the showerhead in my bathroom. The app is free to download and it was easy to find what I was looking for – I used the search function but you can also find projects by category. The overview is helpful to give you the information and guidance you need to tackle any DIY project with confidence, like the difficulty level, the time it will take and also a list of all the things you’ll need to complete the project.                                                                                                                                                                 
                      How to replace shower head project screenshot     what you need

Knowing this info ahead of time was helpful because I realized I didn’t have the teflon tape required to install the new showerhead. Since I had to go to the hardware store anyway to run other errands, I ended up getting the tape there, but the app also offers the convenience to choose what you need, and order it online to be delivered to your home. Not only can you find and purchase supplies on the DIYZ app, but you can also find plumbing fixtures, tools and anything else you may need to complete a project.

buying what you need

When I unpacked the showerhead to install it, I discovered that there was some teflon tape included, so you might want to check that before starting! I was still happy I got the tape because I ended up running out and needing more. 

After I had all my supplies and tools ready, I read the step-by-step instructions and watched the videos – everything was well explained and easy for  me to follow and after just a few minutes, I had my new showerhead installed.

Showerhead-before_and-after

This turned out to be such an easy project to do, especially with the help of the app, I wish I would have done it sooner! And it’s also an upgrade that I can take with me to my home which is great.  So If you’re procrastinating taking on a DIY project in your home because you’re unsure how to go about it, I recommend you give this DIYZ app a try. You can download the app via the links below or you can find out more by clicking here.

itunes Download

Google Play

* this post is sponsored by DIYZ but all the thoughts and opinions expressed are my own*

 

Want to visit my apartment? Take a virtual tour!

This post is a bit of a departure from what I usually post but I’m really excited to share with you a project I’ve been working on over the past few months. I had been intrigued with VR for a while so I jumped at the chance to collaborate with ImmersaCAD, a technology company based out of Knoxville, Tennessee, to develop a Virtual Reality (VR) model of my LA apartment that’s accessible to everyone!

LA Apartment Splash-Image v2

The first step was to create a 3D model of my LA apartment using  SketchUp (a free software that anyone can use). Then I used software developed by ImmersaCAD to convert this 3D model into a virtual model that can be viewed on a smartphone using the ImmersaCAD app and the Cardboard viewer (you can order one through Amazon (affiliate link – $6) or directly from Google – $15).

Google-cardboar-and-iphone

So how do you take a virtual tour of my apartment? It’s really simple:

1. Download the ImmersaCAD app onto your smartphone  – it’s free and it’s available for iOS and android).

2. Open the app and select “skip to demos” and you’ll see this screen

ImmersaCAD Demo screen3. You’ll see a white dot – line it up with the image of the EYS LA Apartment tour and then press on it with you finger. Then you’ll see this download screen – it will take a minute for the model to download.

ImmersaCAD downloading screen

4. While this is happening, place your phone into the Cardboard viewer and you’re ready to take the tour! 

putting-phone-in-cardboard

Google-cardboard-closed

If you haven’t used a VR viewer before, it’s very simple. You point the white dot where you want to go and then you press on the button on top of the viewer on the right. This will move you forward. To turn you, simply turn your body in the direction you want to look and walk. If you want to back up to where you were, you need to turn around and “walk” in that direction. Here’s a video of what a tour would look like in VR:

I think this technology is pretty amazing and I welcome your thoughts, comments, feedback about the experience, so please comment below and let me know if you liked it, and how it compares to the conventional video tour I made of my apartment. I can’t wait to hear from all of you that take the tour!

 

This post is a bit of a departure from what I usually post but I’m really excited to share with you a project I’ve been working on over the past few months. I had been intrigued with VR for a while so I jumped at the chance to collaborate with ImmersaCAD, a technology company based out of Knoxville, Tennessee, to develop a Virtual Reality (VR) model of my LA apartment that’s accessible to everyone!

LA Apartment Splash-Image v2

The first step was to create a 3D model of my LA apartment using  SketchUp (a free software that anyone can use). Then I used software developed by ImmersaCAD to convert this 3D model into a virtual model that can be viewed on a smartphone using the ImmersaCAD app and the Cardboard viewer (you can order one through Amazon (affiliate link – $6) or directly from Google – $15).

Google-cardboar-and-iphone

So how do you take a virtual tour of my apartment? It’s really simple:

1. Download the ImmersaCAD app onto your smartphone  – it’s free and it’s available for iOS and android).

2. Open the app and select “skip to demos” and you’ll see this screen

ImmersaCAD Demo screen3. You’ll see a white dot – line it up with the image of the EYS LA Apartment tour and then press on it with you finger. Then you’ll see this download screen – it will take a minute for the model to download.

ImmersaCAD downloading screen

4. While this is happening, place your phone into the Cardboard viewer and you’re ready to take the tour! 

putting-phone-in-cardboard

Google-cardboard-closed

If you haven’t used a VR viewer before, it’s very simple. You point the white dot where you want to go and then you press on the button on top of the viewer on the right. This will move you forward. To turn you, simply turn your body in the direction you want to look and walk. If you want to back up to where you were, you need to turn around and “walk” in that direction. Here’s a video of what a tour would look like in VR:

I think this technology is pretty amazing and I welcome your thoughts, comments, feedback about the experience, so please comment below and let me know if you liked it, and how it compares to the conventional video tour I made of my apartment. I can’t wait to hear from all of you that take the tour!

 

10 ways to customize lighting in any space – no electrician needed!

When moving into a new home, lighting is one of the key elements to making the space feel warm and inviting. Yet very often, the lighting that exists is less than ideal, something that is especially true of rental apartments. You name it, I’ve seen it, from not enough lighting, to light switches being in the wrong place, to unattractive lighting fixtures. So over the years, I’ve come to rely on a few quick and inexpensive ways to deal with the many lighting challenges I’ve faced, which I’m happy to be sharing with you today!

Nightime-Wall-sconce-side-view

1) LED Light Bulbs

The first thing I do when moving into a new apartment is to switch out all the incandescent light bulbs for LED light bulbs. They last longer and consume less energy so you save money in the long run. I like to buy dimmable ones because they can be used with any type of light switch.

LED-lightbulbs-choices

2) Wall mounted switch and plug-in receiver 

My life changed for the better when I discovered wall mounted switches and plug-in receivers and I’ve used these in just about every home I’ve lived in since! They give you the ability to add a light switch anywhere to control plug-in lamps. You simply plug the receiver into an outlet and then plug your lamp into the receiver. Then you place the light switch anywhere you want in the room. 

Wireless-wall-switch-and-receiver-amazon

I did this in my NYC studio apartment to control a table lamp and in my LA apartment, I used an adapter to connect 2 wall sconces to one receiver. This gadget really opens up a lot of possibilities to customize the lighting in any space.

Wireless wall switch and receiver NYC apartment_edited-2

3) Easy Plug-in Dimmer Switch

Having light switches with dimmers makes it easy to change the mood of a space – it’s fairly easy to switch out regular switches to dimmable ones, but an quick alternative is to use plug-in dimmer switches instead. You simply plug the lamp into the switch, plug the switch into an outlet and you’re done! Just be sure you select the right one depending on wether you have incandescent or LED lightbulbs. 

plug-in-dimmer-switch

4) Electrical Socket Adapters

Electrical socket adapters are another staple in my “lighting kit” and my favorite by far is this one that can turn a regular lamp socket into extra outlets – they are great to plug in electronic devices at your desk or even a glue gun for craft projects. 

extra-outlets-for-a-light-socket

5) Lighted Decorative Wall Panels

Decorative lighting elements, like these wall mounted lighting panels I made for my NYC Apartment. They work really well in hallways or for large blank walls because they add mood lighting in the evening, give some architectural detail and interest and also provide a way to add color to otherwise plain and boring walls. 

Ep-10-Lighted-floating-wall panels main image web

6) Plug-in Wall Sconces

When there isn’t enough lighting in a space and not a lot of floor space for table lamps, plug-in wall sconces can be an easy solution that works especially well for rental apartments. There are many that you can buy pre-made but you can also make your own – these wall sconces that I made are easy to customize with different shades to fit any decor or style.   

VERSA-Wall-sconce-full-view-watermarked-high-res

7) Battery Powered LED Lights for Closets

It’s difficult to find things in a dark closet – I’ve used stick-on battery bowered LED lights in one of my closets that I turned into a mini-workshop and they work great. To make them easy to remove when I move out, I used removable double-sided tape to stick them to the bottom of the shelf.

LED-lights-for-closet

8) Replace Lamp Fixture Shades

Builder grade light fixtures can be pretty unattractive – one option to deal with them is to replace the fixture entirely but another solution is to simply replace the shade with a new one, like I did here in my NYC Apartment: By making a drum shade, I was able to customize it to fit my decor and give a whole new look to the fixture, but you could also find inexpensive shades at thrift stores or yard sales.

Before-After-drum-shade-horizontal

9) Under cabinet Lighting for the Kitchen

Having enough light where you need it is especially important in the kitchen, and often times, the existing ceiling fixtures don’t give off enough light where you need it: at the counter. A simple fix is to install LED under cabinet lighting – it takes only minutes to do and you can easily remove it later when you move out. Doing this in my LA apartment kitchen made a huge difference it how functional it is in the evening.  

Finished kitchen lighting

10) Outdoor Lighting

If you’re lucky enough to have an outdoor space, don’t forget to add some lighting there too! It will make it feel more like an outdoor room and it will give a beautiful view in the evening. There are a lot of options these days, from solar powered LED lights to SMART LED lights that can be controlled with your phone, which is what I installed on my LA balcony

LEft-side-view-of-balcony-at-night

I hope these tips are helpful to brighten up your space and if you have any tips you want to share, please add them to the comments below!

When moving into a new home, lighting is one of the key elements to making the space feel warm and inviting. Yet very often, the lighting that exists is less than ideal, something that is especially true of rental apartments. You name it, I’ve seen it, from not enough lighting, to light switches being in the wrong place, to unattractive lighting fixtures. So over the years, I’ve come to rely on a few quick and inexpensive ways to deal with the many lighting challenges I’ve faced, which I’m happy to be sharing with you today!

Nightime-Wall-sconce-side-view

1) LED Light Bulbs

The first thing I do when moving into a new apartment is to switch out all the incandescent light bulbs for LED light bulbs. They last longer and consume less energy so you save money in the long run. I like to buy dimmable ones because they can be used with any type of light switch.

LED-lightbulbs-choices

2) Wall mounted switch and plug-in receiver 

My life changed for the better when I discovered wall mounted switches and plug-in receivers and I’ve used these in just about every home I’ve lived in since! They give you the ability to add a light switch anywhere to control plug-in lamps. You simply plug the receiver into an outlet and then plug your lamp into the receiver. Then you place the light switch anywhere you want in the room. 

Wireless-wall-switch-and-receiver-amazon

I did this in my NYC studio apartment to control a table lamp and in my LA apartment, I used an adapter to connect 2 wall sconces to one receiver. This gadget really opens up a lot of possibilities to customize the lighting in any space.

Wireless wall switch and receiver NYC apartment_edited-2

3) Easy Plug-in Dimmer Switch

Having light switches with dimmers makes it easy to change the mood of a space – it’s fairly easy to switch out regular switches to dimmable ones, but an quick alternative is to use plug-in dimmer switches instead. You simply plug the lamp into the switch, plug the switch into an outlet and you’re done! Just be sure you select the right one depending on wether you have incandescent or LED lightbulbs. 

plug-in-dimmer-switch

4) Electrical Socket Adapters

Electrical socket adapters are another staple in my “lighting kit” and my favorite by far is this one that can turn a regular lamp socket into extra outlets – they are great to plug in electronic devices at your desk or even a glue gun for craft projects. 

extra-outlets-for-a-light-socket

5) Lighted Decorative Wall Panels

Decorative lighting elements, like these wall mounted lighting panels I made for my NYC Apartment. They work really well in hallways or for large blank walls because they add mood lighting in the evening, give some architectural detail and interest and also provide a way to add color to otherwise plain and boring walls. 

Ep-10-Lighted-floating-wall panels main image web

6) Plug-in Wall Sconces

When there isn’t enough lighting in a space and not a lot of floor space for table lamps, plug-in wall sconces can be an easy solution that works especially well for rental apartments. There are many that you can buy pre-made but you can also make your own – these wall sconces that I made are easy to customize with different shades to fit any decor or style.   

VERSA-Wall-sconce-full-view-watermarked-high-res

7) Battery Powered LED Lights for Closets

It’s difficult to find things in a dark closet – I’ve used stick-on battery bowered LED lights in one of my closets that I turned into a mini-workshop and they work great. To make them easy to remove when I move out, I used removable double-sided tape to stick them to the bottom of the shelf.

LED-lights-for-closet

8) Replace Lamp Fixture Shades

Builder grade light fixtures can be pretty unattractive – one option to deal with them is to replace the fixture entirely but another solution is to simply replace the shade with a new one, like I did here in my NYC Apartment: By making a drum shade, I was able to customize it to fit my decor and give a whole new look to the fixture, but you could also find inexpensive shades at thrift stores or yard sales.

Before-After-drum-shade-horizontal

9) Under cabinet Lighting for the Kitchen

Having enough light where you need it is especially important in the kitchen, and often times, the existing ceiling fixtures don’t give off enough light where you need it: at the counter. A simple fix is to install LED under cabinet lighting – it takes only minutes to do and you can easily remove it later when you move out. Doing this in my LA apartment kitchen made a huge difference it how functional it is in the evening.  

Finished kitchen lighting

10) Outdoor Lighting

If you’re lucky enough to have an outdoor space, don’t forget to add some lighting there too! It will make it feel more like an outdoor room and it will give a beautiful view in the evening. There are a lot of options these days, from solar powered LED lights to SMART LED lights that can be controlled with your phone, which is what I installed on my LA balcony

LEft-side-view-of-balcony-at-night

I hope these tips are helpful to brighten up your space and if you have any tips you want to share, please add them to the comments below!