Month: July 2013

Repurpose, reuse, recycle – Funky shelves made from… crutches?

Upcycling is a new buzzword in do-it-yourself circles. Finding new and creative ways to reuse and recycle old, everyday objects to create something unique has become more than a hobby; it’s a movement and an industry unto itself.

Some call it shabby-chic. Some call it vintage-modern, which is kind of an oxymoron. The people who practice it are interested in keeping things out of the landfills that can be used again.

Pinterest is a great website to find ideas for projects. So is Facebook. Here’s one that is making the rounds.

Wooden crutches can be seen in thrift shops, antique stores and garage sales. And it seems they never sell. Making something from them presents a challenge. A set of shelves made from a pair of crutches and three or four scrap pieces of wood is a fun and funky project that anyone can do cheaply.

The great thing about this project is that you can paint the shelves to match any color in your home. The shelves will necessarily be different sizes, giving you the opportunity to show different size pieces on the shelves.

For a steady stream of great up-cycling projects, check out the Recreate Design Company(link to website and follow them on their social media sites. They pull project ideas from artists and do-it-yourselfers from all over Europe and North America, which will give you inspiration for everything from decorating to functional home improvement ideas.

(You can find the photo on Recreate’s Facebook page –

Looking to DIY? Check out these websites

Whether you’re a serious do-it-yourselfer, need some information on how to complete a honey-do, or just want to save a little money on a home repair, check out some of these D.I.Y. sites for what you’ll need to get it done yourself.

Ask The Builder (Link to

Their slogan is, “Do it Right, Not Over.” The expert tries to tell you the simple facts. Some jobs are easy, but others may be very difficult. He has decades of hands-on experience in every aspect of residential construction and can tell you the truth about the complexity of different tasks. (Link to

You probably know Bob Vila from three decades on TV. He hosted a variety of shows including This Old House, Bob Vila’s Home Again, Bob Vila, and Restore America with Bob Vila. The site includes DIY improvement projects, bulletin board, reviews on new designer tools, and a useful tip library, which make the site an excellent site for any DIY homeowner.

DIY (Link to

From the makers of HGTV and Food Network, DIY Network’s programs and experts answer questions and offer creative projects for do-it-yourself enthusiasts. The experts on DIY Network help people with how-to project instructions for homes and landscapes.

DIY Repair and Home Improvement Forums (Link to

This is a community of DIY obsessives who love to share their knowledge and experience in the areas of home repair and improvement. A great place to post your topic and get excellent replies from homeowners who have done it themselves.

Do It Yourself (Link to

This site was established to provide consumers with unbiased home improvement and repair information in a community environment. With comprehensive how-to content, features, interviews and community forums, the site makes it easy and fun to tackle even the most complex home improvement projects.

Forums for the Chaotic Home (Link to

This is an Australian site, and originally a gardening site, but has grown to be a useful website covering all home topics including DIY, craft ideas and hobbies.

Green Upgrader (Link to

If you’re interested in living a more environmental lifestyle, this site may be for you. Being green doesn’t have to be difficult and it shouldn’t be overwhelming. The site provides you with options that can help you live a greener life. The goal is to make sustainable living accessible to everyone, and the site provides information about interesting and novel products, recipes, tutorials and how-tos, green ideas and sustainability news.

Home and Garden Television (Link to

A menagerie of home remodeling programs and articles. The site is arranged by room and also includes a large selection of craft and decorating programs. This is a great resource for accumulating home improvement ideas and learning generally what is required in any DIY project.

This Old House Online (Link to

This easy to navigate site offers expert advice on home improvement, remodeling, upgrades, tools, and products. You’ll find ideas, photos, how-to videos, and step-by-step projects on every room in your house and more.

Lowe’s and Home Depot also offer advice on home improvement projects on their websites. Other sites that you might check for information include Wikihow, eHow, YouTube and Pinterest.

Stay on budget when you’re doing a home renovation

If you’re planning to do some remodeling, it’s important to have a budget and stick to it, whether you’re doing a minor project or a major renovation.

One of the first things you’ll need to do is to establish the budget by examining the value of the room in which you’ll be working. Multiplying your home’s value by the percentage will help you set the baseline for your budget. According to the Appraisal Institute(link to, each room accounts for the following percentage of your home’s value:

  • kitchen – 10% to 15%
  • bathrooms – 5% to 10%
  • half-baths – 5%
  • finished basement or attic – 10% to 15%

That being said, remember that what you spend does not necessarily mean that you can increase the asking price on your home. So you’ll want to do your level best to save money where you can on home renovation projects.

Save money where you can

Doing some of the work yourself can save you a ton of money. If you’re putting new cabinets in your kitchen, the demolition is relatively easy. Although it does require some attention to detail, painting the interior is something that can be done relatively easily and cheaply.

By avoiding doing projects that will completely change the blueprint of the room, you can save thousands of dollars by updating rather than overhauling bathrooms and kitchens.

Finally, you can save money on fixtures and appliances by doing some of the legwork yourself. Some appliance outlets and even large department stores offer big discounts on discontinued, scratch and dent, and returned merchandise. Find restaurant supply stores in town for major appliances; many don’t require you own a restaurant in order to purchase from them.

The most important tool you have when it comes to home renovations is the budget. You’ll recoup much of what you spend when you sell by not overspending. Set a budget and stick to it.

How to remove painted and stripped screws

One of the most annoying things you’ll have to deal with when doing projects around the house is a screw that just won’t come out. They’re either stripped or painted over and you can’t get a bite with a screwdriver. But before you destroy the thing trying to remove the screw, give these methods a shot.

Removing painted-over screws

  1. Scrape it out with a screwdriver. You have to be careful, though. This often results in scratching the woodwork, gouging fingers, or stripped screw heads, which means you’ll need to look for tips to remove stripped screws.
  2. Trim it out with a sharp utility knife. This requires some patience and is hard on the fingers.
  3. Melt or soften the paint by using a heat gun or apply a couple of drops of paint thinner or stripper and then pick it out with a sharp implement.
  4. Nail and drill it. No, this isn’t what you’re thinking. Grab a four-penny nail and put it in the drill point first to create a mini grinding wheel. You can clear the slot with the edge of the spinning nail head.

Removing stripped screws

  1. The easiest method is to buy busted screw removal bits and keep them handy. You can pick them up at any hardware or home improvement store for about $10.
  2. If you have a rotary tool (Dremel or the equivalent), you can use it to cut a notch in the screw head.
  3. Drill a small hole in the center of the screw head, but not too deep. That might be enough for your screwdriver to get a bite on the screw.
  4. Find a wide rubber band and put it across the screw head. By pushing really hard with your screwdriver, the rubber band will give you enough traction to remove the screw.
  5. Tap the screwdriver with a hammer. This is often just enough to get the screwdriver to seat without damaging whatever you’re working on.
  6. If the screw head is above the surface, you may be able to use needle nose pliers or vise grips to grab the head and unscrew it.
  7. If the screw is only slightly stripped, use a Phillips screw driver that is slightly too big for the hole. Push down hard and tilt the screwdriver at a slight angle and turn.