go to Home Page

Click for Safety Tip

Favorite Quick Fixes

This page shows some reasonably quick and easy DIY projects that are fun and/or functional, and relatively inexpensive. These are down and dirty explanations so if you want more detail, let me know!

Hover over photos to see alternate views.

rope light fixRope Light Fix

Our lower-level family room faces north. While it has a large sliding French door, there is still very little light. For decades, it felt like a dark cave to me and I never liked the room, but now I do! Once we "brought the garden inside" with the 9-foot door and painted the dark walls and beamed ceiling the palest green, we fixed the lighting for TV watching. The fix? Cove molding installed on one side of each ceiling beam contains a length of rope lighting hooked up to a central wall switch. The result: a soft uniform glow, no glare on the TV, but enough light to read the remote control!

(Note also the shelf that runs around the top of the room. This is another great fix, adding unobtrusive storage for off-season pots (as here), or books, decorations, collections, etc. We've used this system in bedrooms too.

vertical blind re-useVertical Blind Re-use

Another issue when remodeling the family room was (and still is!) the one utility area in the house—an el off the main room leading to the laundry. It's also serves as basement, storage, and garage, and housed the kitty-litter box. We needed to shut it off but maintain easy access, for us and for the cat. The Fix? A great re-use of those awful vertical blinds removed from the large window when installing the French door. Painted the color of the walls, they close the area off well, but can be opened fully or partially, and the cat could slip through any time nature called!

porchpost window treatmentPorch-post Window Treatment

We loved our sleek 3-panel French door leading onto the garden and we loved the slim blinds encased under a third pane of glass—great light control, dust-free, out of the way. But it still "needed something" in the way of decorative window treatment. The Fix? A porch post! Rustic, weathered to a fine patina, we'd kept this single post (from a demo job) for decades waiting for just the right moment. Sliced in half, attached to the wall, the post now flanks the doors, adding just the right garden feel to the room, without the fuss and bother of drapes!    <Top>

Cabinet Between Studs

Cabinet between studs

We have a small house with small rooms, but lots of furniture inherited from family over the generations. Our crowded bedroom is arranged for optimal floor space, so while my side of the bed has a nice bed-side table, his side had no room for one! The fix? We built a cabinet into the wall between 2 sets of studs—a great solution for any inside wall. After he cut out the drywall, I wall-papered the surfaces, right over the studs and the back of the drywall in the adjacent room. It worked great! We added little shelves (yes, they're only 3.5" deep but you'd be surprised at all the stuff that can fit on them—and some of it is even useful! ;-). We framed our cabinet off center intentionally to fit the great vintage bi-fold cabinet doors (salvaged off a kitchen job) which can shutter the contents out of sight any time.    <Top>

painted fireplace brickPainted Brick!?

I know what you're thinking! "You should never paint brick!" And that it was we thought for many years. I do love the look of exposed brick , if it's good brick with good character. But ours was pink-ish '50s brick with no character, and messy mortar too. Finally, in January '09, I was given the go-ahead, and by 5 pm that same day I was done! We really love the results.

I'd been worried about the possibility of the paint peeling, so I was careful about process. The fix? I used 1/3 paint (the ecru color of the LR walls), 1/3 water, and 1/3 glaze. The thinned-down paint soaked right in, so no danger of peeling, and it left the organic, irregular effect that I was going for. It also really brightened up the room and gave it a unified neutral appearance.    <Top>

home made hose guardsHome-made Hose Guards

Hose guards are a great way to protect plants from heavy hoses dragged through the garden, but they tend to be very expensive to purchase.

The Fix? Home made! Using copper pipe from your local hardware store, cut to the desired length (leave a long end to drive firmly into the ground!) and top with an ornament of your choice. We attached glass doorknobs to long bolts and popped them into the open end of the pipes.

doorknobLike garden jewelry, and functional too!