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DIY Life

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    In Random Recast, we find new uses for ordinary things. This week: Popsicle sticks.


    Did you know that you could bend Popsicle sticks into bracelets? Yep, it's true. All you have to do is soak the sticks inside a few glasses of water. (And then add some paint and gemstones.) This would be a great project to keep kids occupied. For the full tutorial, visit Suzy's Artsy-Craftsy Sitcom.

    Want to catch up with this week's Random Recast? Check out...
    Random Recast: Popsicle Sticks Day 3
    Random Recast: Popsicle Sticks Day 2
    Random Recast: Popsicle Sticks Day 1

     

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    Eric Stromer shows you a better method for pruning trees.
    %Gallery-129681%

     

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    pawn-broker


    Who knew that a pawn broker could be so glamorous? We chat with Lauren Kaminsky, the 22-year-old Vice President and head of sales at the EZ Pawn Corporation, a family-run business based in New York. Her latest project piqued our interest: Curator at Manhattan's Beauty & Essex lounge/restaurant, one of our favorite hangouts. The drinking-and-dining area is actually hidden behind a pawn shop...and that's where Lauren comes in.

    For a full glimpse into her day-to-day life, visit ShelterPop.

     

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    barbie

    You know, we always thought Barbie's home could use an overhaul...especially since she has a new career as Architect Barbie. And apparently, The American Institute of Architects (AIA) agreed. They recently held a contest for its members to re-imagine the design-focused doll's home. The entries in the AIA Architect Barbie Dream House competition were winnowed down to 5 finalists, which were then put up to a public vote.

    So, who's the winner? Find out on ShelterPop!

     

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    We all could use a quick refresher on the right way to hang curtains-especially if you picked up a new style of panels, sheers or drapes.

    how-to-hang-curtainsaudringjr, flickr


    Learning how to hang curtains so they're at the right height and level can seem tricky...but if you just follow these simple steps, you'll finish the job in no time.

    How to Hang Curtains: 1. Measure the Window
    First, measure the width of the window. You want the curtain rod to be at least five inches longer than the window. You can attach the curtain to the window frame, but generally it is more visually appealing to move the rod outside the frame to the drywall. Drywall is also easier to fill and repair than wood should you decide to move or even change the style of curtain rod.

    Exceptions to this are if you are hanging long dramatic window treatments and want to alter the perception of the window size. By attaching rods several inches to a foot above the top of the window opening and hanging long curtains, you can make short windows look longer. For long skinny windows, extending the curtain rod out on each side of the window a foot or more will make the window appear wider.

    Using your tape measure, measure out from the side of the window frame. Make a light pencil mark. Now measure up from the window frame. Two inches is the standard measurement for both of these, but as discussed above, you can do whatever feels right for your decor. (Note: two inches out is standard for where the bracket should be installed. The rod itself extends beyond the bracket.)

    How to Hang Curtains: 2. Make Sure the Curtain Rods Are Level
    Once you've measured the location of the curtain rod hardware on each side of the window, get out your level and make sure that the marks are level. This is especially important in older houses that have "character"-meaning, uneven ceilings, window casings, etc.

    How to Hang Curtains: 3. Install the Curtain Rod Hardware
    Using your drill, drill a small hole on your mark. This is called a pilot hole. Never, ever, ever just screw something into your wall without making a pilot hole first. If you hit a wood stud behind the drywall, you're in luck! You can just screw your bracket in with the hardware that has been provided.

    Most likely though, you won't hit a stud. In this case you'll have to use drywall anchors, which look like tiny plastic projectiles. Once you tap them into the wall they spring open behind the Sheetrock and anchor in your screw.

    You are going to need to drill a hole that is the exact same size as the anchor. This is not as difficult as it seems. And remember you can always go larger if the hole you initially drill is too small. Drill your hole.Gently tap your anchor into place with your hammer. It shouldn't slide in too easily,nor should take brute force to try and muscle it into place.

    Screw in your curtain hardware directly into the anchor. Repeat the process on the other side of the window. Then hang your curtains. Step back and admire your work!

     

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    The summer heat hasn't dampened the thirst of that persistant pest, the mosquito. But an article in the August 8, 2011 issue of The New Yorker reveals a more scientific approach to keeping mosquitos away.

    mosquitotkw954, flickr


    The New Yorker isn't the first place you'd think of when it comes to advice about mosquitos but lo and behold, there's a story on that very (itchy) topic. Rebecca Mead interviewed Leslie B. Vosshall, the Robin Chemers Neustein Professor in the Laboratory of Neurogenics and Behavior at Rockefeller University, who is trying to find out why mosquitos bother some people but stay away from others.

    A few of the highlights: Vosshall can often get bit by mosquitos two hundred and fifty times in a span of a few minutes, mosquitos will not lay eggs near fish and that only female mosquitos bite. She also spoke of a product called The Mosquito Magnet, which emits carbon dioxide and heat in order to attract mosquitos, then sucks them up. The endorsement doesn't come without caution, however:

    "But it's a little bit dangerous," she added. "All the mosquitos from far and wide will come, and you are gambling that they will be more attracted to the machine than they are to you."

    To read the full article, visit The New Yorker.

    Want more tips on warding off mosquitos? Check out...
    Mosquito Prevention: The 10 Most Bizarre Tips
    How to make your own organic mosquito repellent

     

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    Make a bench out of a $7 thrift store find with this easy idea from DIYLife favorite ModHomeEc.

    make-a-benchModHomeEc.com


    For four legs and a flat surface, a bench can be an oddly-expensive furniture piece. But, you can make your own bench without any woodworking skills necessary. Just follow the lead of Shelly Leer and start with...a coffee table. She added an upholstered cushion and a square of tinted glass to make her combo bench-and-side-table. And even though she included these details, the total cost of the DIY was less than the cost of a retail-sourced bench. The coffee table alone was $7.

    For the full tutorial, visit ModHomeEc.

    Want more ideas for creating unique seating? Check out...


    Curbspotting: Vintage Chair
    Turn chairs into a bench for two
    DIY Warrior: Reupholster a Bench

     

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    We recently caught up with amazingly talented Grace Bonney of Design Sponge, who is coming out with a new book full of inspiration and projects in September. Here's a peek of what you can expect from the much-anticipated guide.

    Design Sponge at Home (Official Book Trailer) from The Panic Room Videos on Vimeo.

    Design Sponge at Home (Official Book Trailer) from The Panic Room Videos on Vimeo.

     

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    CustomMade is a new site filled with fabulous furnishings, accessories and more that you can get, well, custom made. Here, we spotlight our favorite item of the week.

    custommadeCustomMade


    This whimsical chandelier by CustomMade artisan HiiH Lights reminded us of the garden scene in Alice in Wonderland. The dramatically oversized blooms aren't too much on the whimsical side, though-their elegant lines and brilliant hues put these flowers firmly in the "sculpture" category. To see more botanical designs, visit CustomMade.

    Want to be inspired by more incredible custom creations? Check out...
    CustomMade Curator: Oreo Cookie Sculpture
    CustomMade Curator: Dolphin Tree
    CustomMade Curator: Bicycle Seat Bench

     

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    Our resident expert Eric Stromer shows you how to install a doorbell with minimal hassle.

     

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    In Random Recast, we give ordinary things a more stylish second life. This week: Egg cartons.

    egg-cartonsAndrew Wagner


    An egg carton certainly isn't the first material that comes to mind when you think of chair/seat construction. But then again, the story of how this stacked egg carton stool came about is a serendipitous one.

    To read all about it, visit ShelterPop.

     

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    This latest issue of Country Living (out August 9) is all about before-and-afters. Subtitled "The Makeover Issue," you'll find some really amazing home transformations-big and small.

    My favorite is the story of Laurietta, a plantation home in Fayette, Mississipi. To say that this home needed work is a major understatement. In fact, when Tere and Mac Thomas took a look at the newly-purchased property, they were greeted by a roosting buzzard.



    I loved the story so much that Country Living is kindly giving DIYLife readers a peek into the incredible renovation. We'll take a day-by-day look at the revamped rooms, starting with...the entryway.

    country-living

    Here, the clean-lined frames surrounding the matted illustrations beautifully echo the painted treads of the stairway. Beautifully simple, spare and graphic, this entryway is a lovely welcome to the home.

     

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    We're taking a room-by-room look at the unbelievable home transformation featured in the September issue of Country Living-out on newsstands now!

    Today, it's all about the living room.

    country-livingCountry Living

    This traditional-style living room gets an updated look with just a few key accessories: An array of white platters hung on the wall along with eye-catching black-and-white photographs. The plates add an architectural element to the walls and the photos perfectly complement the overall classic look.

     

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    They might look like your average cleaning tool but you should trust the name here: These cleaning blocks are kind of magic.

    magic erasersMagic erasers can clean almost everything! Photo: Pyrex Love


    From Mr. Clean's original "magic eraser" to the generic options, eraser cleaning blocks have made cleaning easier, less messy and dare we say...even fun! Sure, these foam blocks can get the gunk off walls (sometimes even upholstery if you're careful) and other household surfaces, but there are so many more uses for these little blocks of heaven. Here are 20 unusual uses for an eraser block to make the most of your spring cleaning time:

    Quick Tip: Cut up one eraser block into four little blocks. It'll make your purchase last longer, and, it'll make it easier for you to get into smaller nooks and crannies.

    1. Outdoor Furniture and Toys
    Take grungy white resin or white painted furniture by lightly scrubbing with an eraser cleaning block. The eraser gets into crevices and cracks while leaving paint finishes intact. The same principle applies to outdoor plastic toys.

    2. Pool Liners
    Pool owners, this will make your life easier: A gentle scrubbing on your liner will get rid of the water mark better than any other product.

    3. Vinyl
    Take an eraser to scuffs on just about anything made from vinyl: siding, boat seats, shoes, etc.

    4. Car Interiors
    Clean the car seats with an eraser block: Go lightly on leather, but it's okay on fabric and vinyl, lightly scrub the car steering wheel. Eraser blocks get rid of grease streaks left inside after the car's been to the shop, too.

    5. Hubcaps
    Clean your car's hubcaps with an eraser for a water-free car wash.

    6. Refrigerator
    Get rid of last year's drippings that are pooled in the back of the fridge. It'll take a whole eraser block, but it gets the job done. The seals that have gotten a bit black and moldy will also respond well to an eraser.

    7. Dishwasher Interior
    What are those colors inside your dishwasher from time to time? Lime, mold, ewww. Just take an eraser to them and the stains will banish.

    8. Bathtub and Sinks
    Getting rid of dirt and water marks is easier (and not so gross) with an eraser block. Bathtubs can take a tough scrub, but go lightly on sinks -- even a light scrub gets rid of that caked on dirt that you often can't see until you try to get it off.

    9. Rust Removal
    Scrub anywhere (around pipes in kitchen and bath) that you see rust.

    10. Computer
    A magic eraser gets rid of oil and dirt that has built up on your keyboard and mouse; you can use it on laptops, too.

    11. Phones
    Use one on your phone's mouthpiece, too -- it gets rid of the same grime that builds up on your computer.

    12. Bugs
    Wherever there are smooshed bugs (porch pillars, car windshields, interior walls, exterior doors, exterior light fixtures) wipe them away with an eraser block.

    13. Glass Stove Tops
    No need to have special stove top cleaner on hand, get rid of burned-on food by lightly scrubbing until the gunk is gone.

    14. Dishes and Glassware
    Rub hard-to-clean build-up off of thrift store dishes and glassware, like Pyrex bowls, following advice from the blog Pyrex Love.

    15. Gutters
    Get rid of green slime that builds up on gutters with an eraser. It's another ewww-worthy task, but it'll be almost effortless with an eraser.

    16. Mirrors (and Windows)
    Many fans of eraser blocks swear it gives them a streak-free and clean mirror, if the pad is slightly damp when you give it a light scrub.

    17. Floors
    Erase scuff marks, old paint drips-great for most floors (but always go lightly, especially on finished wood).

    18. Grout
    Which leads us to grout. The eraser does well with most grout (except really old and darkened-beyond-help grout that will remain gray even with best scrubbing efforts).

    19. Granite countertops
    Everyone is afraid to scrub granite, but an eraser pad, used at first gently and then with a little more oomph as the stains disappear, will indeed get stubborn stains out of granite.

    20. Leather
    You can use and eraser lightly on leather upholstery, purses or shoes to lift up marks -- just be sure to use a gentle touch.

    (Disclaimer-never use eraser cleaning blocks to clean skin, animal fur, glossy, brushed, satin or dark painted surfaces-including appliances, and lastly, never use on delicate fabrics.)

     

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    Before you renovate your patio, make sure you know all the flooring options. From stone to brick, these five materials are sturdy and great looking -- but only you know which one is the perfect fit for your yard.

    composite decking patiosCan you tell that these decks are both made of composite decking? Photos: This Old House


    Do you feel like you just don't know where to start when it comes to your patio? If you're suffering from a bland concrete slab or a blanket of grass, there are a number of outdoor decking and patio options that are easy to install, beautiful to look at and long-lasting. Don't let another summer go by hanging out in the driveway -- you can create the perfect space for entertaining, you just need the right footing.

    1. Wood or composite decking. Decks are probably the most popular outdoor addition that a homeowner can create that also is one of the biggest bangs for your buck. Choosing between wood and composite decking can be difficult, as there are pros and cons to each. Composite decking is a newer innovation, made of a combination of plastics and recycled cellulose-based fillers such as wood fibers from recovered saw dust and bamboo. Wood decks are made of, well, wood. You can refinish a wood deck, but you cannot do so with a composite deck. You will need to re-seal a wood deck each year. Both materials are very durable, but wood may become victim to mold, rotting or termites whereas composite decking may stain or warp in intense heat.

    A cedar or redwood deck costs roughly $18 to $22 per square foot, but a more inexpensive choice would be southern yellow pine at $10 to $15 per square foot. In comparison, composite decking is about $20 per square foot. These prices include installation.

    2. Concrete pavers. Concrete was the most popular outdoor patio material for many years. However, in this day and age, concrete options have expanded far beyond the single slab. Concrete now comes in various sizes and shapes, and you can even stamp your concrete with different patterns.

    Concrete is very affordable too, around one-fifth less than natural stone pavers, running anywhere from $1 to $3 per square foot compared with $7 to $10 for natural stone. However, concrete is slightly less durable than natural stone. Keep in mind: it can crack, so purchasing and saving a few backups pieces is a smart move!

    patiosDeck tiles work on top of just about any surface. Photo: Handy Deck Systems

    3. Wood deck tiles. If you can't have a raised deck, or you are going for a slightly more modern look deck tiles might be the best solution for you. They are called the "instant outdoor floor solution" not only because they're fast, but they're very easy to install. Most companies offer wood deck tiles that just snap and click together. You can now even get them in FSC-certified lumber. While these deck tiles are usually pre-finished it is important to oil them every 6 to 12 months to keep them looking new.

    The costs vary depending on the manufacturer, but typically plain deck tiles run anywhere from $7 to $12. You can also get them in wood composite.

    4. Stones and pebbles. While this might seem fairly old-school to you, stones and pebbles are making a comeback. Not only are they easy to install (as long as you can sweat it out shoveling and wheeling them into your yard), they're easy to maintain, are kid- and pet-friendly and work well in just about all weather conditions. In modern gardens and yards, pebbles are a must-have. Plus, there is something so tranquil and zen-like about using stones in your landscaping.

    brick patiosA brick patio is a timeless option for an outdoor space. Photo: Corbis

    Stones and pebbles are calculated by the pound or ton and vary in price depending on the type of stone and the size. You can usually grab a bag of river pebbles from your local hardware store for $5 to $7, but if you're doing a large project like a patio area, consult your local nursery or landscape company. Don't forget to measure first!

    5. Brick. Nothing seems more beautiful and timeless than well-laid brick. However, this little red buddy can be quite a challenge. For one, brick patios can be plagued by salt stains, moss and weeds, and on top of that, they're expensive to lay. The can get very hot in the summer, and can be difficult to sweep or shovel. However, bricks are a very eco-friendly material. You can even get historical or used bricks from builders or construction companies. Also, check sites like Craigslist -- you might luck out and get an entire patio's worth of brick for free (as long as you haul it away)! Your local home improvement store probably sells them for around $0.35 to $0.65 per brick.

    Love the outdoors? Go beyond the brick or get some shade on your new patio with these fun patio umbrellas.

     

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    In Random Recast, we give ordinary things a more stylish second life. This week: Egg cartons.

    egg-cartonsOtero Design Studio


    In this innovative chandelier by Otero Design Studio, egg cartons become an unexpected lampshade. Though it's more on the "inspiration" end of the spectrum, there is a way to DIY it. To find out, check out ShelterPop.

     

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    We're taking a room-by-room look at the unbelievable home transformation featured in the September issue of Country Living-out on newsstands now!

    Today: The guest bedroom.

    country-livingCountry Living


    This room sits at the top of the house, which gives it the interesting architectural feature of a sloped ceiling. It's a feature that adds to the hideaway feel of this room, meant for the homeowner's grandchildren. The soft white walls are Benjamin Moore's classic Navajo White (which can do no wrong in our book), while the furnishings all came from mass-market stores like Target and Dillard's.

    But our favorite detail has to be the unframed children's book art on the wall. It's hung with clothespins for a super-casual feel.

    Missed the room-by-room look at this amazing home transformation in September's Country Living? Check out...
    Inside Country Living's Plantation Home Makeover: The Living Room
    Inside Country Living's Plantation Home Makeover: The Exterior and Entryway

    And don't miss these great stories from Country Living...
    DIY in a Day
    Inside Sarah Richardson's Cottage Makeover
    Get Your Garden On

     

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    In this week's Random Recast, we took a look at a few unexpected uses for egg cartons.

    Day 4: Egg Carton House

    egg-cartonsGoldenhen

    It's not coming to a development near you, but it's nice to look at isn't it? This art installation by the Australian studio Goldenhen turns egg cartons into ersatz bricks. A wry commentary on the dream of suburban homeownership, this piece is based on the Howard Arkley painting "Family Home: Suburban Exterior" (1993).

    Want to see the rest of this week's Random Recast? Visit ShelterPop.

     

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    Our resident expert Eric Stromer shows you how to build a scratching post.


    %Gallery-130670%

     

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    We were so excited to hear that one of our favorite shoe designers is launching a contemporary line: B Brian Atwood. But what got us talking was the label's amazing showroom in New York City's Meatpacking district.

    behind-the-scenes

    Located inside a building dating back from 1901, the showroom features an almost reptilian sculpture made of mirrored tiles. The space-and sculpture-was designed by installation artist Sebastien L. Agneessens. Agneesens, who is a musician and sound designer in addition to his work as creative director of design and production studio Formavision, compliments Atwood's architectural shoes with an environment inspired by music and art.

    "When designing the sculpture, I kept in mind how a giant glam rock vibraphone would look, something Daft Punk would play with at their concert," he says. "It has the ability to
    capture and reflect the light in a fantastical way, and further translates the look and feel of the
    space: organic, yet contemporary and hopefully elegant."

    To see how the space came together, check out this behind-the-scenes video of the B Brian Atwood showroom.

    And if you're in New York City, visit the B Brian Atwood trunk show August 18-19 at Saks Fifth Avenue.

     

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