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  • 09/15/11--06:52: First Look: Urban Eco
  • Today we take a look at a new web series that's all about living simply (with style). It's definitely something we can get behind...especially this episode, which shows the many ways you can re-use corks.

    Urban Eco is a new series hosted by DIY darling Amy Devers. (You might know her as the unusually stylish carpenter on Trading Spaces.) It profiles the DIY life from a more stylish perspective, covering everything from sustainable city living to creative upcycling ideas. This episode features the latter, with an easy project featuring corks. And we mean easy: The whole project takes less than 10 minutes to do and costs about $2 to create.

    What else is noteworthy about Urban Eco is that the show is part of Thrive, a new online network from Whole Foods Market. The web network (would that be 'webwork?') will focus on programming that connects global health to personal well-being. Think shows about sustainable gardening, healthy recipes and more. We're excited to see...will you tune in?


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  • 09/15/11--06:52: Window Maintenance
  • Filed under: , , ,

    Windows feeling extra heavy? We swear they're not gaining weight. Replace those window sashes and they'll open and close smoothly.

    Photo: Age Fotostock

    Maintaining old windows takes time, but it's is worth the effort if you like historical features, prefer wood to the vinyl of most replacement windows or if you simply aren't ready to invest in new windows. Periodically, old windows will need new glazing compound, paint inside and out, and of course cleaning. But there's one repair that comes along so infrequently, you may not be familiar with it.

    When an old double-hung window suddenly feels as though it weighs a ton, it's not because you skipped going to the gym for the past month. More likely, a sash cord has broken and you're no longer getting an assist from the weights and pulleys that are hidden behind the window jambs. To fix the problem, assemble the necessary tools and supplies and follow the steps listed below.

    Tip: While the sash are removed and you have access to the weights, it's wise to replace all four sash cords so you won't have to face this problem again for many years.

    Here's what you'll need for the project:
    -Pry bar
    -Utility knife

    -Sash cord
    -Screw or nail

    Joe Provey

    Step 1: Remove the interior window stops. They are pieces of molding that help form the track in which the lower (inner) window sash slides. Removal involves taking out several screws and using a utility knife to break the layer of paint or varnish that may also be holding the stop in place. In some cases, a pry bar or putty knife may be helpful when removing the stops. Apply pressure carefully, however, so as not to damage the molding.

    Joe Provey

    Step 2: With the interior stops removed, pull the sash carefully from the window opening and disengage all sash cord, broken or otherwise.

    Step 3: To remove the upper sash, pull out the parting stops or strips that separate the two sashes. They fit into a groove in the jamb and held in place by friction. With some windows, there are metal tracks, not parting strips, that you must remove.

    Step 4: Make any necessary repairs to the sash while they are out, such as repairing badly cracked or missing glazing compound, repainting and cleaning.

    Joe Provey

    Step 5: Remove the access cover to the weight pocket. It is a wood panel that's usually held in place with a single screw.

    Step 6: Then pull the weights from the pocket. Have a vacuum handy. After years of being enclosed in the wall, there will be some dust.

    Step 7: Cut a piece of sash cord to the length of the old sash cords, plus about 6 inches. Use only sash cord; do not substitute clothesline or other rope products.

    Step 8: Tie one end of the cord to a piece of string.

    Joe Provey

    Step 9: Tie the other end to a screw (or nail). It will serve as a weight.

    Step 10: Then insert the screw into the opening above the pulley and lower the string. When the screw reaches the weight pocket opening, feed the tied-off end of the sash cord over the pulley and use the string to pull it down into the weight pocket.

    Step 11: Remove the weighted string and tie the sash cord to the sash weight. Use a double half-hitch knot; it gets tighter as you pull on it and will prevent the weight from coming loose during operation.

    Step 12: Put the weight back into the weight pocket.

    Joe Provey

    Step 13: Tie an overhand knot at the other end of the sash cord at the same point at which knots are tied for the other sash cords. Cut off excess cord about 1/4-in. from the knot. Replace other sash cords in the manner described above.

    Step 14: Fit the knots into the groves and knot holes at the top of each sash edge. Then reinsert the sash into the window opening.

    Step 15: Reinstall the parting strips and window stops.

    Now that that's taken care of, tackle your other window woes:
    Window Insulation Film

    Weatherstripping Doors and Windows
    The Daily Fix: Clean Mold From Window Tracks

    By Joe Provey


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    It's not just sustainably-harvested wood. The newest eco-countertops are made of everything from bamboo and junk mail.

    green kitchen countertopsGlass is upcycled into gorgeous countertops from EnviroGlas in a rainbow of colors. Photo: Jason Woelfel, EnviroGlas

    Recycled countertops have come a long way: The latest design options seamlessly incorporate recycled glass, concrete, bamboo, paper and more. In fact, these materials are so handsome, they're as much a design element as they are a green-lifestyle statement. The new eco-friendly options also offer a lot of flexibility with many manufacturers offering a handful of options to select from.

    Whether you reside in a downtown high-rise or suburban bungalow, there is probably more than one option to fit your home's decor. Here are five of our favorites green countertops for the kitchen:

    Green Kitchen Countertop Option #1: EnviroGLAS terrazzo countertops (above) are right at home in a contemporary-style kitchen. Glass that's been recycled from consumers and industrial companies is converted into these stunning pieces of art. "Fire Engine Red" (left) would compliment a hip loft whereas a style like the blue and white "EnviroMODE" design might play off of a home's waterfront setting.

    green kitchen countertopsIceStone's countertops, which contain recycled glass and concrete, come in an array of colors, including this classic gray shade. Photo: IceStone

    Green Kitchen Countertop Option #2: Created out of recycled glass and concrete, IceStone Durable Surfaces are built in a Brooklyn, NY, factory. These eco coutners are VOC-free and come in 29 different colors, which range from a funky mustard yellow to a calming "cobalt ice," which merges pearl-white and cobalt-blue. More traditional gray and white shades - but with a little bit of color "pop" - are also available.

    green kitchen countertopsInside the U.S. Green Building Council's Washington, DC headquarters, where a lot of innovation and planning about eco-friendly design occurs, are these bamboo countertops from Smith & Fong. Photo: Smith & Fong

    Green Kitchen Countertop Option #3: For a more rustic look, turn to Smith & Fong Plyboo bamboo countertops. Not only is bamboo a 100-percent renewable material, it's also FSC-certified - and better still the company's Plyboo is the world's only formaldehyde-free FSC-certified bamboo. PlybooSquared, shown above, is available in amber, natural, Sahara or Havana shades. To install, use the same materials and fasteners for wood products by either gluing or mechanically fastening.

    green kitchen countertopsThe PolarCap style, from Eco by Cosentino, contains 75-percent post-consumer/post-industrial materials. Photo: Eco by Cosentino

    Green Kitchen Countertop Option #4: Eco by Cosentino countertops are sold at Lowe's stores around the country. Containing 75-percent post-consumer or post-industrial raw materials -- all at the end of their life cycles -- these counters are bound together by corn oil. The company draws from a variety of suppliers to come up with the raw-material mix, so that it includes porcelain, mirror, glass, scraps of stone and corn. Within the 'Green' and 'Revive' collections are three distinct stylee; the PolarCap style (above), is a stark-white beauty with barely noticeable flecks of gray and black. Yet it's those flecks that introduce a unique, hand-crafted look.

    green kitchen countertops
    Who wouldn't want a countertop made of junk mail? Photo: PaperStone

    Green Kitchen Countertop Option #5: Lots of junk mail -- ahem, post-consumer recycled paper -- is set inside a petroleum-free resin base for PaperStone countertops, from a Washington company. Teh usage of 100-percent post-consumer recycled paper products in the 'Certified' line lead these counters to become the only architectural solid surfaces to be certified by the Smartwood program of the Rainforest Alliance to FSC standards.

    PaperStone's selection of six fun colors, from a rich plum to an industrial-chic gunmetal, is guaranteed to jazz up any kitchen.

    Want more counter intelligence? We tell you what you need to know about all different kinds of countertops:
    Stainless Steel


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    If your drain is backed up, here's how to get the water flowing.

    Sure, now the home-care market is permeated with cleaning solutions. But there was a time when we relied on good ol' fashioned elbow grease and know-how when it came to cleaning our homes. We may have newer, more advanced options, but there's something to be said about the methods that have stood the test of time. So we've decided to put old-school cleaning techniques to the ultimate test -- pitting them against high-tech, modern-day cleaning solutions. Our third installment is the ultimate gross-factor: Declogging drains.

    unclog a drainGet that water running in no time. Photo: Flickr, kamienok

    The Problem: Clogged drains
    At some point, it happens to everyone, more often to those of us with long, full locks. Bathtub drains get clogged with hair and soap scum; kitchen drains get clogged with food debris. So what can you do to get things flowing again?

    Old Solution: Baking Soda Cocktail
    I recently chatted with a friend's grandmother about this pesky drain problem (a common one in my household), and she handed over a "time-tested" recipe for your own at-home drain cleaner. "Dran-NO," she told me. "This is better for your lungs and easy to do."

    Here's how to make her concoction: Mix together 1 cup of baking soda, 1 cup of salt and 1/4 cup of cream of tartar in a glass or plastic sealable container. Stir until mixed. Measure about a quarter cup of the mixed powder and pour into your clogged drain. Pour two cups of boiling water into the drain, and let stand for about an hour, then run fresh water from the tap.

    This, of course, caused another problem for me: I don't keep cream of tartar on hand. But I did purchase some for the occasion, and the solution did its magic.

    However, being a woman who likes to have options, I wanted to try another time-tested solution. Lucky for me, a friend was experiencing the same problem and volunteered to be my test case.

    If you, too, don't have any cream of tartar in your cupboards, you can also try dumping 1/2 cup of baking soda down your drain, followed by a half cup of white vinegar. Cover the drain (if you don't have a drain cover, you can use a small bowl or plate), and let the mixture stand for 5 to 10 minutes. Finally, pour a pot of boiling water down the drain. Apparently the baking soda and vinegar dissolve fatty acids, allowing the clog to wash down the drain.

    This second option worked as well, though did not have the same lasting effects as option one did (my friend and I compared drainage ability a week later). Perhaps she has thicker hair or more stubborn soap than I? Either way, it's good to know there's a natural solution that works.

    New Solution: Store-bought drain cleaners. Drano and Liquid Plumr are the two most recognized labels when it comes to store-bought drain cleaners. I've used both, and in all honesty, couldn't tell you which one works more effectively (thus, purchase the best priced).

    These solutions are very cut-and-dry; pour half of the bottle over slight clogs and a full bottle over stubborn ones, let sit for 15 to 30 minutes, then run hot water to clear the drain. If you prefer store-bought cleaners, the thicker versions are best for super tough clogs. Whether thick or thin, the downfall is that they have a strong, headache-inducing smell. And unless your bathroom is well ventilated, that odor can't be good for your health.

    The Verdict: We vote for home-made drain cleaners. Although the store-bought cleaners work great and save you the hassle of mixing your own solutions, the fumes are harsh for your health, and the health of those around you. We'd vote for the natural option -- keep your drains and air a happy place.

    Check out more in our Old vs New series:
    Cleaning red wine stains
    Testing scruff mark removers

    By Allison Lind


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  • 09/15/11--06:52: Fix Scratches in Wood
  • Sometimes, the most common household items can be used in unexpected ways. Learn what you can use (that you probably already have at home) to fix scratched wood.

    Orin Zebest, flickr

    It's never fun discovering that your beautiful wooden table is marred with a nasty scratch. But let's face it: It happens to the best of us. Whether you're on a budget or just need a quick fix, here are five do-it-now ways to fix scratched wood. Best of all? These solutions feature common items that you likely already have on hand. Let's get started!

    1. Oh, Nuts
    For scratches that have penetrated beyond the finish, try rubbing a pecan or walnut gently across the surface of the scratch. You'll fill the wood naturally, quickly and cleanly - and the natural oils in the nut will ensure that it lasts.

    2. Make It Up
    Because it's soft, oil-based and wood colored, eyebrow pencils work wonders at filling in and camouflaging anything from small surface scratches to much deeper ones. Choose a color that most naturally matches the wood, then fill the crack and buff.

    3. Pour on the Mayo
    If the wood is cracked, and not simply scratched, try a little Mayonnaise. Smooth enough mayonnaise over the crack to fill it, then wipe away the excess and let it sit for a one to three days. The protein and oils in the Mayonnaise will help the wood to swell and will actually fill that crack. When the crack has swelled sufficiently, wipe off any remainder and polish to a shine.

    4. Ashes to Ashes
    It's hard to believe, but cigarette ashes are the turn to ingredient to repair water rings or spots and surface marks. Make a small paste of ash and water and gently rub into the affected area, then wipe clean. Toothpaste also works in a pinch if you don't happen to have any ashes on hand.

    5. Raid the Coloring Cabinet
    Manufacturers actually make special wood crayons for this purpose, but why pay extra when you can use what you have on hand? Find a brown crayon around the same shade as your wood and simply color it in. Smooth any excess with a soft cloth and polish to a beautiful, scratch-free shine.


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  • 09/15/11--06:52: Could You Get Paid to DIY?
  • Filed under: , , ,

    In England, two landlords are testing a system that pays tenants to do their own routine repairs. Will it catch on?

    paid to diyIf you're going it anyways, shouldn't you get the cash? Photo: Getty

    Ever find yourself unclogging your drain or repairing a chipped tile and grumbling "I should really be paid for this"?

    England's National Housing Federation feels your pain. The BBC reports that housing associations and councils spend about $1,633 on repairs per property, per year. So doesn't it make sense to put the money in the hands of the renters, rather than the contractors?

    No, that doesn't mean renters will be in charge of everything that goes wrong -- just the little things. Landlords will still be responsible for uneven floorboards, where-did-those-come-from ceiling leaks and complicated plumbing issues.

    And for the truly anti-DIY crowd, fear not: Tenants are allowed to use the cash for hiring help on their own...or perhaps buying dinner for a particularly handy friend. And while some skeptics might argue that simply paying tenants to take on a landlord's duties makes things more difficult for the renter, consider this: With the easier stuff pushed off their plates, wouldn't landlords be better equipped to handle major repairs? After all, if my landlord didn't have to deal with every one of my 29 building-mates calling to get a fix for their chipped sink, maybe he'd have time to tackle that weird water sound happening in all of our bathrooms. Or get the washing machine to stop eating my quarters.

    And he's not the only person to benefit -- if I knew I could get paid for painting over the spackle he placed after a minor leak, I'd get around to it much sooner. Housing Minister Grant Shapps says it best: "When residents take pride in their homes it saves their landlords cash, so I think it's right that tenants should benefit too."

    What do you think: Would you welcome cash-for-DIYing? Or do you want all home repair issues off your to-do list?

    What about you?


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    Give your place mats a second life with these creative ideas.

    Unusual uses for placemats
    Who knew? You can use place mats as a wall divider. Photo: Jonathon Fong Style

    When I'm shopping for decor, I'm consistently drawn to the misfit aisle. You know, those $3.99 clearance bins overflowing with mismatched items like place mats and hand towels. And since I tend to buy stuff like this all the time, one of my favorite pastimes is figuring out what to do with a set of mismatched items.

    Place mats are particularly fun to pull for these types of projects, since you can do so much with them. Next time you come across an odd number of clearance place mats, or maybe just a pair made with a lovely fabric, here are some crafty things you can do with them.

    Unusual Use #1: Wall Decor and Dividers
    With a few packages of clasps and an eye for arrangement, you can transform square or circular place mats into eye-catching wall dividers and displays. Just drill or punch a hole into the top and bottom of each place mat and link them by hanging hooks or clamps to binder rings or fishing swivels.

    Bonus idea: Placed over a clear shower curtain lining, they can double as bathroom decor. Or try waterproof plastic place mats as an outdoor patio or garden wall. Check out your local hardware store or Ball Chain for the supplies you'll need to secure them at top and bottom.

    Unusual Uses for PlacematsCourtesy of: mmmcrafts

    Unusual Use #2: Pillows and Tote Bags
    Fabric place mats offer endless possibilities for decorative textiles. Shop the place mat section of home design stores (online too!) and build your own throw pillow at a fraction of the price by stitching the sides together. If the place mat has a complicated design that would be challenging to line up, consider covering a pillow with a bold, solid case and centering the place mat design for a crisp, eye-catching effect. One crafty blogger used Anthropologie place mats to make the stylish throw pillows to the left.

    Bonus Idea: Cute cotton or polyester fabric place mats can make great tote bags too!

    Unusual Use #3: Pops of Color
    When it comes to place mat shapes, who says one size fits all? With a good pair of scissors, plastic or polypropylene place mats can be cut down to all shapes and sizes to make a counter top space more colorful and chic.

    A couple of ideas:
    - Cut out individual pieces of place mat to line the surface around your kitchen sink. Place everyday items like sponges or scrub brushes on top -- the fabric will absorb excess water and you can easily toss it in the washing machine as needed.
    - Skip the boring contact paper and line your cabinets with modern prints.

    Unusual Use #4: Decorative Odds and Ends
    - Transform one sturdy plastic or cork backed-place mat into a whole stack of decorative drink coasters.
    - Size down a plastic place mat into a custom-designer mouse pad.
    - Play with place mats of different shapes, colors and textures to infuse a garden space with different designs beneath standard planter pots.
    - Pick a simple place mat print and frame it with brightly-colored frames for instant wall art -- great for the kitchen!

    Unusual Use #5: Quick Tips for Mastering Place Mat Chic
    - If ordering online, always check the fabric and dimensions of the place mat before purchasing and make sure the fabric matches the project. Cotton fabric place mats are better for bags and pillow covers while plastic, lacquered and polypropylene place mats are better suited for cutting, crafting and cleaning.

    Now, ever wonder what you could do with Velcro? Check out our story on unusual uses for the hook-and-loop tape.

    And check out some of our favorite stories from around the web!
    Exclusive Interviews and a Tour of the Showtime House 2010!
    Banter Banners To Set The Mood
    Troubleshoot Your Coffee Grinder
    Money 101: How To Buy Your First Home


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    It can be such a challenge to come up with memorable kids party ideas, so I was thrilled to see this charming carnival theme. Working equally well for boys or girls, this idea is even easier to DIY.

    kids-party-ideasLauren Nicole Studios

    This charming party came my way from Jennifer Shields, the founder and president of Posh Tot Events, a seriously adorable event planning company based in Atlanta. Posh Tot Events designed and executed the cheery party to benefit Bert's Big Adventure, a non-profit organization that graciously provides a five-day trip to Walt Disney World for children with a chronic or terminal illness and their families.

    Though the carnival party looks luxe, it's actually filled with touches that are a breeze to DIY. I just love how creative the admission tickets were used in this party: Unwound as a runner, coiled to act as coasters and cinched around napkins. For a list of other resources, visit the Bert's Big Adventure page at Pizzazzerie.

    kids-party-ideasLauren Nicole Studios

    Another way to get the carnival look is to use red-and-white striped paper to back printed labels for drinks and menus. In the top photo, it's also used for a runner. Using the same print throughout the party is what helps give that cohesive, well-designed look.

    Looking for a few more kids' party ideas? Check out...
    Great Birthday Party Ideas for Kids
    Fun birthday party ideas: Gymnastics
    Kids Birthday Party Ideas Video: Entertaining

    And to see how a pro plans a kids' party, watch this...


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    Yes, you can paint kitchen cabinets...and not be left with exposed brush marks or peeling paint. Kate from Centsational Girl shows us how she achieved these amazing results on her kitchen island.

    paint-kitchen-cabinetsCentsational Girl

    The right way to paint kitchen cabinets has always been a mystery to me, one that I've always been too intimidated to undertake by myself. That's why I was thrilled when DIY home remodeling genius Kate from Centsational Girl has done gone through the tough task on her kitchen's center island. And it turns out that the task isn't so tough anyway. Here, check out her before...

    paint-kitchen-cabinetsCentsational Girl

    It's impressive to see that the new white coat of paint is just as smooth as the original finish. You would really think that she had bought the island new. So, how did she do it? First, lots of sanding. While we always know to clean off the cabinets before painting, some of us (maybe even me) neglect to thoroughly sand the finish. Kate also recommends light sanding between paint coats as you work. (This is what prevents brush strokes.)

    Another hint is to use an oil-based primer, which has a bonding agent and dries to a hard finish. Kate says that it's also helpful to use a conditioning additive like Penetrol to lengthen the time you have to work with the primer and to also minimize brush strokes.

    Once the primer coat completely dries (and you've sanded away any rogue brush strokes), apply two coats of oil-based paint. While latex does dry quicker, an oil-based paint tends to be more durable over time. (Just be careful of white and paler shades, since oil-based formulas in these hues can yellow as they age.) For more tips, check out Kate's post on how to paint kitchen cabinets.

    Want to read up on painting cabinets before you bring out the brush? Check out...
    Replace, Reface or Refinish?
    Painting Kitchen Cabinets
    The Daily Fix: Cover a Scratch on Your Painted Cabinet

    And to see another way to paint kitchen cabinets...


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    Here's how to think outside the bow. Decorating with ribbon has its moment.

    Ribbons come in every pattern and style. And you can use a $10 spool of ribbon for many things other than wrapping presents. When I let my imagination run wild, I had some pretty fun ideas for decorating with ribbon. Yes, one little ribbon can help spruce up your home in easy, unexpected ways. Here are five fun ideas to get you tying ribbons all over your home.

    1. Instantly Tied Together: There's no need to be fussy with curtain tiebacks. Use a strip of ribbon you love to tie back your curtains in the morning and let the sun shine in. (Photo below.)

    2. Mirror on the Wall: Attach a strip of sturdy ribbon to a mirror or picture frame and hang it off a nail or hanging hardware in the wall. You'll add a pop of pattern with ribbon. We love the look of plaid, a pattern that never goes out of style. (Photo below.)

    3. All Hung Up: All you need to keep your strappy dresses from sliding off their hangers - a little leftover ribbon. Tie a strip of ribbon on each end to keep those spaghetti straps in place.

    4. Wine Markers: The next time you throw a dinner party, cut some ribbons to make wine markers and help your guests remember which glass of wine is theirs. All you need to do is tie small strips of ribbons around the stem of each glass - easy, instant wine markers. (See below, left.)

    5. Lightbulb Moment: You don't have to go bold with pattern - even a simple white ribbon can complete the look of a DIY lampshade. This lampshade has been made over with wallpaper (but you can really use any paper or fabric to cover a lampshade and give it a whole new look.) Simply glue the ribbon to the top and bottom trim of the lampshade for a polished finishing touch. (See above, right.)

    For more great ShelterPop stories, don't miss:
    Best Cleaning and Organizing Apps
    Creative Centerpiece in a Cinch
    Decor Don't: Extreme Decluttering
    Decor Don't: Too Much Lighting

    By Jen Jafarzadeh L'Italien


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    It only makes sense that artists' homes would be as inspired and beautiful as their work. Case in point: The Pennsylvania home of George Nakashima.

    We're so excited to get a peek inside the new book "Artists' Handmade Houses". Below, an excerpt for your enjoyment. Text by Michael Gotkin; Photography by Don Freeman; Published by Abrams.

    George Nakashima, New Hope, Pennsylvania. Nakashima designed the Arts Building, completed in 1967 and later renamed the Minguren Museum, as a tribute to his friend Ben Shahn. The southern facade, shown here, has a second-story porch and covered walkway to the cloister, a separate three-room building used to house guests. Photo: (C) Don Freeman

    George Nakashima
    New Hope, Pennsylvania

    Though he originally trained as an architect, George Nakashima became so disappointed by the construction methods he observed being utilized in buildings that he changed course, deciding instead to start a career making furniture, which he could control entirely from design to construction and finishing. On this new path, Nakashima would become a great innovator in twentieth-century furniture design, with few rivals and countless imitators. Influenced by the craftsmanship and simple lines of traditional architecture in both the United States and Japan, Nakashima created a distinct hybrid of the two cultures in his hand-finished furniture and in the complex of buildings, including home and workshop, that he designed and built in rural Bucks County, Pennsylvania. These buildings combine his sophisticated understanding of architectural engineering with his respect for humble, vernacular structures. He produced designs that are modern yet imbued with the handmade quality and values of a bygone era, and they continue to inspire new generations.

    George Nakashima, New Hope, Pennsylvania. In Kevin's House, a natural peeled post provides structural support and adds a decorative element in the doorway between the kitchen on the left and the dining and living areas on the right. Three Concoid chairs surround a Minguren table in the dining area. Photo: (C) Don Freeman

    Nakashima embraced construction as a kind of improvisation, noting that "the house was built without plans, and the detailing was developed from the material on hand or that which was available." The house was constructed without nails, and Nakashima employed prefabricated industrialized materials like corrugated concrete panels for the roof, which were purchased cheaply as army surplus. It is this unlikely marriage between American vernacular influences and Japanese sensibilities, along with a willingness to embrace the engineered forms of the modern age, that lends Nakashima's work its beauty and vitality. But Nakashima believed that it was the methods underlying design, and not (what he considered to be) superficial forms, that imparted integrity. "Perhaps the greatest drawback in domestic architecture is that only the forms change," he said, "but the methods are the same, whereas the greatest need today is a creative study of the 'method'-not merely the mulling of forms on paper or the building of models, but a synthesis of the techniques of building within our present requirements."

    Most of the designs that Nakashima used in his home were replicated for sale at his shop. One of his most popular designs was a diminutive three-legged chair called "Mira" after his daughter, for whom it was first fashioned. Nakashima's furniture had clear lines of reference to early American furniture, such as traditional Windsor chairs, captain's chairs, and trestle tables, but Nakashima developed those basic style tenets further and produced his own unique models, creating, for example, a Windsor-derived chaise longue, or retrofitting the bases of trestle tables to chairs. Nakashima also admired the simple domestic interiors of the American Shaker community, and joked that he was a "Japanese Shaker," seeing the confluence of aesthetics between the two cultures.
    Over time, Nakashima became increasingly drawn to irregular shapes in wood, which he sought to preserve in his tabletops and chair arms; these irregularities became a hallmark of his work.

    Just as he had been experimental with his furniture designs, Nakashima sought variety and contrast in the complex of buildings on his property. Only a few years after completing his home, he built a thin-shell, conoidal concrete studio with the help of famous engineers Paul Wedlinger and Mario Salvadori: The team created a soaring, arched ceiling that resembled a giant seashell. Nakashima also built a showroom and guesthouse, where visitors could view his furniture in a domestic environment. He added, over time, an expanded workshop, offices, an arts building, pool house, and a reception house to complete his compound. Maintaining Nakashima's home and business since his death, Mira Nakashima, who was trained in woodworking by her father, has developed her own line of furniture, some of it based on her father's original prototypes. Mira continues the evolution of design in which divisions between historical and modern are erased in the quest for structural integrity, innovative methods, and sculptural form.

    Nakashima Artists' Handmade HousesLEFT: George Nakashima, New Hope, Pennsylvania. This interior shot of the pool house, completed in 1960, shows the building's dramatic plywood barrel-vaulted roof. Nakashima's French Walnut Minguren III table and bench are sheltered below. The stools to the right of the table are Kikkoman soy sauce kegs from a Nakashima-designed Kikkoman display in New York. (C) Don Freeman RIGHT: George Nakashima, New Hope, Pennsylvania A Conoid Room Divider, Conoid Cushion Chairs, and a Conoid Cross-legged End Table are in the foreground of this view of the Conoid Studio. (C) Don Freeman George Nakashima, New Hope, Pennsylvania A Conoid Room Divider, Conoid Cushion Chairs, and a Conoid Cross-legged End Table are in the foreground of this view of the Conoid Studio. (C) Don Freeman George Nakashima, New Hope, Pennsylvania A Conoid Room Divider, Conoid Cushion Chairs, and a Conoid Cross-legged End Table are in the foreground of this view of the Conoid Studio. (C) Don FreemanGeorge Nakashima, New Hope, Pennsylvania A Conoid Room Divider, Conoid Cushion Chairs, and a Conoid Cross-legged End Table are in the foreground of this view of the Conoid Studio. (C) Don Freeman

    Sigh -- we can't get enough of this place. If you're left craving more handmade house tours, pick up a copy of "Artists' Handmade Houses"!

    Photo: (C) Don Freeman

    Or check out:
    House Tour: Industrial Designer Joe Doucet's NYC Apartment

    House Tour: Vidal Sassoon's Modernist Bel Air Home
    Celebrity Decorator Kevin Haley's Hollywood Hideout


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    DIY etched glass kits have been selling out at craft retailers, but it can be a little bit intimidating to put brush to glass. (Especially when you realize that you're working with acid.) Not so. After reading this Craftfoxes interview of the talented husband-and-wife etching artisans behind Bread and Badger, we feel confident to try our hand at this project.


    How did you get into your craft? When did you start?

    I discovered glass etching by accident. I was looking for an unusual way that I could use my love of drawing to create interesting jewelry in 2005. I realized I could draw directly onto glass pieces with a Dremel tool, and then turn them into pendants. That quickly branched out into drawing onto 3-dimensional objects like vases and candle holders, which moved into the more functional world of drinkware. It wasn't until 2008 when demand became too high for me to continue hand-engraving each piece, and I upgraded to a professional sandblasting system that my husband and I could operate together.

    How did you come up with the name for your shop?

    I'm really inspired by how fearless badgers are, especially honey badgers. I knew that I'd have to face a lot of my fears if I was going to run a successful business, so I adopted the badger as my totem animal. The "bread" part comes from the idea of "bread and butter" - where your money comes from. I knew that I wanted this business to be my bread and butter, so I turned the phrase into something that completely described what I wanted the business to be for me.

    What's one important lesson you've learned about your craft?

    I've learned to not be so attached to things if they break or don't turn out perfectly. Working with glass means there's always a tiny chance that something you've been working on will just shatter at some point, whether its in your hands at the time, or somewhere in the mail. That's just the nature of the material, so there's no use fighting it. Just pick up the pieces, and make another one.

    To see the whole interview, visit Craftfoxes.


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    This week, the last standing typewriter factory in the world closed up shop. But you can still keep the spirit alive with these craft ideas.

    I'll admit, it was a blow to hear that that no new typewriters will be produced -- after all, they have a special nostalgic place in my heart next to Polaroid film. But it's not fair to get too hung up over the news: If nothing else, it's highly hypocritical, considering I'm typing this on a computer.

    But while you can't expect companies to continue to produce typewriters when the sales have plummeted, you can count on the crafters on Etsy to produce beautiful tributes to the typewriter. As we take a moment of silence, check out the work of these brilliant DIYers.

    Clockwise from top left: CuteAbility; NoteTrunk, virginiakraljevic, MeadowTea, iloveinkling, MrPS.

    Clockwise from top left:

    Typewriter Necklace 18K Gold Plated Brass, $24, CuteAbility

    Self Inking Custom Ribber Address Stamp, $28, NoteTrunk

    Olivetti Green Fine Art Archival Print, $15, virginiakraljevic

    Retro Type Set, $25 for 4, MeadowTea

    Just My Type Pillow, $22, iloveinkling

    Background: Proper Coffee tea towel, $14.25, MrPS

    Looking to create your own typewriter crafts? Check out sites like Oriental Trading and Rubber Nation to buy antique typewriter keys to make your own projects (and don't forget to share them on Facebook!)


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  • 09/15/11--06:52: All-Natural, Homemade Paint
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    Looking for a gentle alternative to chemical-based interior paint? Stir up this simple, four-ingredient recipe.

    homemade paintMilk paint transformed this old cassette cabinet into a charming powder room organizer for storing towels, tissues, and toiletries. Photo: Joe Provey, Home & Garden Editorial Services

    Cavemen did it. The early Egyptians did it. American Colonists did it. And even today, many people are rediscovering the art of making interior paint for the home.

    In an age of store-bought paints with high performance finishes, you may ask yourself, why make paint? For me, it's the natural, handcrafted look -- along with the satisfaction of being self-reliant. For others, it may be because homemade paint is the greenest and least toxic alternative possible to traditional paint. Homemade paints aren't based upon petrochemicals and they're far less toxic than commercial paints -- even the many zero-VOC paints now emerging on the market.

    homemade paintThe ingredients for homemade paints vary. This recipe consists of lime, water, pigment, and milk. Photo: Joe Provey, Home & Garden Editorial Services

    The easiest to make and least expensive homemade paints consist of milk, lime, and pigment. For additional body a filler, such as chalk powder or plaster can be added. My preferred recipe is simplicity itself:

    -- Hydrated lime (available at most home and garden supply stores)
    -- Water
    -- Pigment (powder or liquid)
    -- Whole milk (at room temperature)

    homemade paintMix lime with water using a putty knife or plastic spatula. Photo: Joe Provey, Home & Garden Editorial Services

    1. Fill a container with one to two cups of hydrated lime. Gradually add water and stir until you have a thick paste.

    2. In a separate container, do the same with the pigment powder. For a small batch like this, 2 to 4 tablespoons of pigment is typically sufficient.

    3. Gradually add milk to the lime paste until you achieve the consistency of sour cream. Then add the pigment paste and mix thoroughly.

    Safety tip: Despite the relative low toxicity of the ingredients, wear vinyl gloves and a dust mask when working with lime and pigment.

    homemade paintGradually stir milk into the lime paste until you achieve a consistency of loose sour cream. Photo: Joe Provey, Home & Garden Editorial Services

    You can buy pigmentsat many hardware and artist supply stores. Avoid using pigments made from toxic compounds, otherwise you'll defeat the purpose of making your own paint. Some common toxins used in pigments include cadmium, lead, mercury, and cobalt. Here's a good online source for non-toxic pigments. You will have to experiment with pigments to achieve the color you want. Be sure to buy plenty of white pigment, as you'll be using a lot of it. It comes in two forms: titanium dioxide and zinc. The former is a bit more opaque.

    You can make many of your own colorants using natural ingredients but the process is a lot more time-consuming than making paint alone. Also, the colors produced through home-brewed dyes are more subtle than store-bought pigments. If you do want to make homemade pigment, try these methods:

    -- Add water to steel wool for a red rust coloring.
    -- Try simmering everything from berries and vegetables to bark and leaves to create the dyes. Blackberries, for example, make a strong dye.
    -- Brew coffee or many tea to create neutral tones.
    -- Boil peach or crab apple leaves for greens.
    -- Use store-bought juice concentrates, such as blueberry and cranberry, to create pleasing tints.

    homemade paintUse a natural bristle brush to apply the milk paint, and allow it to dry for a few hours before recoating. Photo: Joe Provey, Home & Garden Editorial Services

    -- Milk paint is not as scrubbable as its commercial cousins. In areas subject to spills, apply a protective coat of shellac or oil finish. If you choose the latter, stay green with a plant oil-based finish.

    -- The shelf life for milk paint is short. Store unused paint in the refrigerator. It can be used until the milk sours. Brushes clean easily with soap and water.

    Before & After: Aging Furniture with Milk Paint (Design*Sponge)
    Paint Color Trends to Move On From (ShelterPop)
    Create a Crackled Paint Finish with Plain School Glue


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    The reclaimed wood walls almost overshadow the fab food and drink at MB Post, a restaurant in Manhattan Beach, California. Stephen Francis Jones, the architect behind the hot spot's design, lets us in on how you can create your own rustic walls.

    wood-wallsStephen Francis Jones

    To give the new restaurant a cozy, lived-in feeling, architect Stephen Francis Jones turned to reclaimed wood. Though reclaimed wood is a hot commodity in the design world, Jones tells me that you can actually buy it online through "You can actually pick out the bundle of wood you want, down to the colors and textures," Stephen says. "Just keep in mind that it is 'recycled', so you may get a few bad pieces in the mix."

    And to create the wood wall, Stephen recommends starting out with a drywall surface that's been painted black. Then, simply adhere the wood to the wall with construction glue and nail with finishing nails.

    You can also use the reclaimed wood wall technique on an exterior surface. Check out MB Post's entrance:

    wood-wallsStephen Francis Jones

    Feeling inspired to see what else reclaimed wood can do? Check out....
    In the Spotlight: Eco-Friendly Flooring
    Trend Spotting: Five Non-Paint Wall Ideas
    Design Influence: Wood - Shelterpop

    And for experienced woodworkers, watch how to make a coffee table from reclaimed wood...


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    If you've tried to start up your own online shop, you know that competition can be fierce and it can be hard to get noticed. But in this excerpt from Craftfoxes' interview with designer-and-crafter Regan Saunders of regansbrain, we've learned that tapping into the resourced of the crafting community can pay off. Saunders' shop has had over 500 sales (and counting).

    How did you come up with the name for your shop?

    Do you remember the commercial, "This is your brain. And this is your brain on drugs. Any questions?" That inspired me to think about my own brain - Regan's brain.

    What's one important lesson you've learned about your business?

    There are a lot of other shop owners and crafters that want to see you succeed. They are willing to help you if you let them. It's a huge "scratch my back, I'll scratch yours" mentality out there. Don't be afraid to ask someone else for help, or reach out to other shop owners and bloggers. We are all in this together!

    Have a simple tip for other sellers?

    Take great photos. I still feel like I need work on this, but I learn new things all of the time. Shoot and re-shoot until you get it right!

    For the whole interview (including tips and links to awesome new shops), visit Craftfoxes.


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  • 09/15/11--06:52: Hardware Store Decor
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    Looking for chic, industrial housewares? Look no further than your local hardware store. The new book "Home From the Hardware Store: Transform Everyday Materials Into Fabulous Home Furnishings" shows you how to transform utilitarian items into furniture and accessories that really work.

    Machine-Age Candlesticks, as seen on page 106 of Stephen Antonson and Kathleen Hackett's book, require no tools to assemble. Photo: Lesley Unruh

    For co-authors (and real-life couple) Stephen Antonson and Kathleen Hackett, it all goes back to a chandelier in Paris. Shortly after they began dating, Kathleen moved to the City of Light for six months. On his first visit, Stephen noticed the peaked ceiling in her rented apartment, thinking it could really benefit from a chandelier.

    That day, while Kathleen was running errands, Stephen took a quick trip to the hardware store and picked up four supplies -- a pair of pliers, a single jack chain, a baling wire, and four candles -- which he used to make a chandelier by the time she got home that afternoon.

    "I make a lot of things...whenever we need something I make it," says Antonson, who met Hackett when we was a home editor and she was an executive book editor at Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. Soon after that chandelier was hung, he and Hackett realized they had a book idea on their hands. To come up with enough projects to fill an entire book, Antonson would wander the aisles of local hardware stores (they live in New York City) each morning with a cup of coffee, in search of inspiration.

    The end result, "Home From the Hardware Store: Transform Everyday Materials Into Fabulous Home Furnishings" (Rodale Books, $23), was published in early November. It contains dozens of affordable DIY decorating projects, which use common hardware store items in brilliant yet simple ways to create modern, industrial decor. "If you can wrap a birthday present, you can do half this stuff," says Antonson.

    Not familiar with hardware store items? Not to worry; you don't need to know an item's intended use. Instead, look to the lines, materials and beauty in each individual piece.

    (Left) The Space-Age Coffee Table uses galvanized elbows (a type of pipe fitting) as an unexpected table base. (Right) The Periscope Lamp turns a crimp elbow (also a pipe fitting) into functional art. Photo: Lesley Unruh

    Some of our favorite projects from the book include the Machine-Age Candlesticks (pictured, top), which require no tools except your own two hands. We also love the Periscope Lamp (pictured, above right), which transforms a crimped elbow into display-worthy light source.

    The authors were kind enough to let us share with you our favorite project of all, the Space-Age Coffee Table (above left) -- an ideal DIY project for a weekend warrior.

    To fasten the tiers together, you need to assemble the base without screwing anything together, and then disassemble it in vertical sections, which is not exactly an intuitive process, given the way the base it stacked.


    Eight 90-degree galvanized elbows, 7" each
    Four 90-degree galvanized elbows, 4" each
    Eight zine bolts and nuts, 8=1" x 32
    Twelve #6 sheet metal screws. 1/2" each
    36" x 1" round solid pine panel
    One quart primer
    1/2 quart paint in desired color (we used Benjamin Moore Soot/#2129-20)
    Industrial strength adhesive-backed Velcro, 35" x 2" strip


    Black permanent marker
    Drill with 3/16" and 1/8" bits
    Phillips-head screwdriver
    120-grit sandpaper
    2" all-paints paintbrush


    1. Join four 7" elbows to form a circle. Repeat with the remaining 7" elbows, and then join the 4" elbows to make a smaller circle.

    2. Stack the circles on top of one another to form tiers, aligning the ribs and placing the smaller tier in the middle. Find the seams where two elbows meet. On the ribs adjacent to the seams, mark the tiers deep in the middle, where they meet, with a horizontal line.

    3. Pull the stack apart in half vertically, making note of the top and bottom of the base. Using the marks as guides, mark an X 1" beyond them, toward the center. Use a drill with a 3/16" bit to drill a hole at each X.

    4. Break the tiers into quarters so you can fasten one quarter of the base together at a time. Rest the elbows on a work surface so that the openings of the elbows are facing you. Align the holes, slide the bolt through, and fasten the nut with your hands. Don't fasten it too tightly -- once you put the entire base together, you'll need a little room to play. Repeat with the remaining three sections of the base.

    5. Put two sections together to make half the base. Use an 1/8" bit to drill a hole 1/2" from the seam on each tier, through two layers of elbow. Screw in the sheet metal screws. Repeat on the other half of the base. Put the two halves together. Screw them together in the same manner, drilling a hole 1/2" from the seam on each tier, through two layers of elbow, and fasten with the sheet metal screws. Set the base aside.

    6. Sand the top, bottom, and edge of the pine round. Wipe it down with a soft cloth, brush with a thin coat of primer on the top and edge, and let it dry. Sand the round all over and wipe it down with a soft cloth again. Apply a coat of paint on the top and edge and let it dry. Apply a coat of paint on the bottom and let it dry.

    7. Cut the Velcro into twelve 3" pieces. Separate the hooks from the loops. Wipe down the top of the table base with a soft cloth to remove any traces of grease or residue. Remove the adhesive backing from one of the loop pieces and fasten it 3 1/2" from the outer edge of the base, along a rib. (This is the high point, where the tabletop makes contact with the base.) Repeat with the remaining loop pieces and ribs.

    8. To determine where to put the hook sides of Velcro on the underside of the table, set it on top of the base. Use a pencil to mark the underside of the tabletop where the Velcro is attached to the base. This is where the outside long edge of the hook sides of the Velcro should be attached. Place the tabletop wrong side up on a work surface. Remove the adhesive from the hook pieces of the Velcro and fasten them to the table, using your pencil marks as guides. Flip the tabletop over and set it onto the base, aligning the Velcro pieces.



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    Take an old ladder to new heights with these fun craft-it-yourself ideas.

    I'm willing to bet that you have an old step ladder in your garage or basement. You know the one -- covered in old paint with the wobbly leg. Too bad it's useless, right? Wrong! You can reuse that old ladder without stepping on a single rung. Here are a few fun ways to re-purpose that ladder and put it to good use around the house, without spending a dime.

    diy ladderPhotos: Charles Walton IV for Southern Living/Deborah Ory for Woman's Day

    If your ladder is a bit dingy, clean it up, scrape or sand off the old paint unless you're going for that shabby chic look. Tighten up that wobbly leg, and try one of these nifty ideas:

    1. Bookshelf. You've seen ladder-shaped bookshelves, right? Well, obviously, they were inspired by the real thing. You can use an old ladder as a bookshelf and save yourself a lot of cash while still getting the same look.

    2. Pot rack. How fun is this idea we spotted over on Woman's Day? Just take an old ladder and place it on its side, affix to the ceiling and use it to hang your pots and pans!

    diy ladderDo these photos inspire you to dig up your old ladder? Photos: This Old House/Living, Etc

    3. Towel rack. You know those ladder towel racks that run upwards of $50 or even $75? Why not use your old ladder instead and save that money for some new bath salts or a towel upgrade?

    diy ladderAn instant purse rack! Photo: Holly Becker, decor8

    4. Plant stand. You can actually buy ladder plant stands, but why spend $99 when you have a free one collecting dust?

    5. Closet organizer. Ladies, do you want somewhere to hang or rest your purse collection? What about sweaters, or maybe you need somewhere to hang your pants or rest your shoes? An old ladder in the closet is a great place to organize your clothing and accessories.

    6. Nightstand. If your ladder has flat rungs that are like small shelves, you can use a ladder as a nightstand. Simply place the ladder next to the bed and use the rungs to place your alarm clock, books or magazines and phone (or whatever else you keep next to the bed).

    7. Wall decor. Hang an old ladder on the wall as art! Paint it a fun color to match your room, or affix family memorabilia to the rungs and use it as a wall display.

    Want more repurposing ideas? Check out 5 things you can do with an old t-shirt.


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    Thinking of installing new kitchen flooring in time for spring? In this five-part kitchen flooring series, we'll lay the groundwork -- and you make the decision. In this second installment we take a closer look the DIYer's kitchen flooring material of choice: Linoleum.

    kitchen flooring, linoleumLinoleum flooring. Photo: tuchodi, Flickr

    How It's Made: Linoleum is a mixture of cork dust, ground limestone, linseed oil, mineral pigments, recycled wood flour and tree resins -- all pressed together and mounted onto jute backing. Interestingly, its name is a combination of the Latin words for flax (linum) and oil (oleum).

    How It's Sold: Linoleum kitchen flooring is available as tile, sheeting and even cutout pieces that look similar to area rugs. It sticks to the floor with adhesive. Tile is sold in all sizes and sheeting is typically sold in 6-foot x 7-inch widths and multiple thicknesses.

    Pros: Linoleum is considered a green material because no hazardous chemicals are associated with its creation or disposal. It's also naturally antibacterial and biodegradable, easy to clean, comfortable to stand on and scratch- and gouge-resistant -- excellent for high-traffic areas just like the kitchen. Linoleum can last 40 years or more.

    Cons: Although it's rugged and easy to work with, linoleum just doesn't have the same appeal to some consumers as higher end materials.

    DIY Degree of Difficulty: Very Easy (Tiles) to Tough (Sheeting)
    While any eager 8-year-old assistant could help you lay a linoleum tile kitchen floor (just spread out latex adhesive, place tiles on it, then set with a roller), laying sheet linoleum is another story. The adhesive makes linoleum sheeting shrink in length and expand in width, which adds up to a potential nightmare situation. So it's wise to leave the sheeting installation to the pros, and take on tile installation yourself.

    Care & Maintenance: Dust mop and/or sweep regularly with a soft-bristled broom. Vacuum with the soft floor attachment (careful: the ends of certain attachments can scratch delicate finishes). Remove stubborn scuff marks with a clean rag dipped in undiluted linoleum cleaner. Wash by hand with a natural vinegar-based solution or use a damp mop as needed. Recoat floors once per year with acrylic sealer to maintain performance and luster.

    Cost (per square foot)
    Linoleum tile is typically priced from $2 to $7. Sheet linoleum costs $3 to $4 installed.


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    Sometimes you just can't help but grab a few paint sample cards at the home improvement store. If yours are piling up, here are a few genius ways to get some use out of them.


    Upcycling Idea #1: Bunting
    Perhaps paper bunting is an obvious paint sample craft, but so are "Your Mom" jokes, and yet we still love them. Moreover, they're easy - a paper punch and a threaded needle are all you need to complete this cheery décor. For the complete tutorial, visit Little Bit Funky.

    Upcycling Idea #2: Mosaic Table Top
    Need to hide a few of your coffee table's scrapes and bruises? Cobble the table via paint samples for an easy-meets-trendy makeover. It's your call whether those sassy paint sample names get to show, but we vote yes. To see how to do it, visit Craft Ahoy.

    Upcycling Idea #3: Mosaic Art
    For unique wall decor, consider creating this paper mosaic using clipped paint samples. Straight lines and striking colors are the key to this design, but don't let that stop you from curving outside the lines. Get the full directions to make your own art piece at How About Orange.

    Want to see 7 more ideas for upcycling paint samples into impressive accents? Visit Craftfoxes.

    And don't miss these great stories...

    The Beginner's Guide to Scrapbooking
    Vintage-Style Aprons from "Oh Sew Easy" (Pattern)
    Knitting vs. Crochet...What's The Difference?


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