55 home decorating projects
Dig into our DIY projects library for fun new ways to personalize your home
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Flowers or cuttings ― such as these leucadendron blooms ― extend through the opening of a picture mat to create an organic work of 3-dimensional art.
Group two or three frames on the wall or use one for a tabletop display. Change the background and cuttings for a new look any time you like.
Here, tree-like twigs edge a stream bed of green pebbles running down the center of a sealed 30-inch piece of redwood.
More: Make tabletop forests
For our base, we selected a small side table with a 22-inch-square top from Ikea's Lack series (from $7.99, available in 13 colors; 800/434-4532).
For the surface, we chose Kirei Board - an environmentally friendly, plywoodlike product from Japan (kireiusa.com or 619/236-9924 for dealers).
1. Our piece of driftwood happened to lie flat against the wall; if yours doesn’t, use a band saw to cut off one-third of the driftwood lengthwise.
2. With four round hook screws (available at home improvement stores) and a handheld electric drill, drill four holes into the bottom of your driftwood, angling them forward slightly so the hooks won’t lean against the wall. Use a drill bit the width of your screw’s shank.
3. With the help of a wrench, screw the hook ends into the wood, tightening them so they all face forward.
4. Secure your driftwood to a wall using two long screws, spaced so each is secured in a wall stud.
Choose four simple frames of the same size and cut your remnant or sample to fit. Frame each piece as you would a photograph and mount on the wall, using a ruler to ensure even spacing between each. You can also frame four different patterns in complementary colors; experiment to find thebest arrangement. Birchwood Frieze in Thatch from Bradbury & Bradbury Art Wallpapers ($3 for 12- by 15-in. sample, or $42 per yard; www.bradbury.com or 707/746-1900).
More: Hand-printing designs
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2. Spray-mount. Adhere your enlarged map segment on foam-core board (corkboard works too).
3. Personalize. Label meaningful landmarks with strips of paper and pushpins.
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1. Have a piece of lumber cut down to your desired candleholder size. We started with a 4-foot 4-by-4 (more than enough to make 8 to 10 candle- holders from 3 to 6 inches tall).
2. Sand edges of cut sides.
3. Measure and cut a piece of craft paper to wrap around all four sides of the pillar lengthwise. Trace around the bottom of the pillar for a square piece of paper to cover the top.
4. Standing the pillar upright, use a brush to cover the four sides with a thin coat of matte-finish Mod Podge or decoupage glue (available at most art and craft stores) and carefully adhere the paper. Smooth surfaces and let dry 15 to 20 minutes. Trim any excess paper with a razor blade.
5. Apply a thin coat of Mod Podge to the top of the wood and lay your square paper to fit. Let dry.
6. Apply a thin coat of Mod Podge to seal the pillar, covering all surfaces. Dry completely, then set a candle on top.
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1. Visit www.sunset.com/hawaiiantable to download our floral template. Depending on your table size, use a copy machine to enlarge or reduce template onto heavy paper or cardstock.
2. Cut out pattern pieces with scissors or a utility knife.
3. Arrange petal pieces on tabletop as desired.
4. Dip a small paintbrush in paint and lightly trace around the outside edge of each pattern. Remove pieces.
5. Apply a thick coat of paint (for petals, start near flower’s center and fill in one at a time). Let dry, then apply one or two more coats.
6. Once petals’ final coat is dry, arrange flower centers, then repeat steps 4 and 5.
7. Once centers are dry, arrange stamen pieces and repeat steps 4 and 5; freehand the stamen dots.
1. Choose 12 seasonally appropriate images.
2. Take your images to a copy or photo shop and have them enlarged to 8 by 10 inches and reproduced in sepia tone.
3. Align 14 sheets of 11- by 17-inch card stock; drill a hole through the center of the stack, about half an inch down from an 11-inch edge. Have the stack spiral-bound at the copy shop (ask for binding that allows you to lay the pages flat).
4. Create your calendar grid using Microsoft Word or a similar program and print out the 12 months on stationery. Trim just inside the outer borders so each sheet measures about 5 3⁄4 by 10 inches.
5. Using acid-free scrapbook tape, attach the appropriate photo and calendar month to the bound 11- by 17-inch pages, leaving one page for the cover and one for the back.
Designer Sarah Caska used a fine-tip black permanent marker and enamel paint formulated for glass to create these Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired designs. The cost was about $36 for 8 decorated glasses, including stemware.
More: How to paint glassware
They aren't full-length, so these tricksters require far less fabric than the real McCoy and can often be made from inexpensive remnants.
To make the tabletop, start by edging a rectangular piece of plywood with 2-by-2s.
Take it to a sheet metal fabricator and ask the shop to make a covering that fits over it like a shoe-box lid. Then glue the metal top to the plywood, sand and wax it, and add a set of ready-made legs.
More: Get the complete how-to
Create your own romantic lighting for an outdoor dinner party by suspending votives (we used mini recycled-glass tea light lanterns) at varying heights from low-hanging branches. Use clear fishing line and be sure to keep candles a safe distance from the leaves.
For a stained-glass version, cover chandelier lanterns with tissue paper and get a soft glow. Don’t be afraid to try different patterns, abstract shapes, and colors. We designed ours as a nod to artist Mark Rothko.
Supplies: Ruler, pencil, scissors, tissue paper, small foam brush, Yasutomo Nori or similar paste, and glass lanterns or jars
1. Measure and cut tissue paper into desired shapes and sizes (we used long strips for easy application).
2. Dip foam brush into paste. Holding a piece of tissue paper against the outside
of the lantern, paint an even coat of paste onto tissue paper and adhere to glass.
3. Repeat until lantern is covered. Let dry overnight, then hang.
Tip: Keep lanterns away from moisture.
1. Remove any wax residue with paint thinner and a clean cloth.
2. Mist one coat of spray paint primer for metal onto the candlesticks, holding the can 10 to 12 inches away. Cover evenly with paint.
3. Once dry, spray two light coats of spray paint for metal. Hold the can at a distance to avoid drips. Cover the detail grooves evenly.
We used: Rust-Oleum Painter’s Touch sandable spray primer in white and Rust-Oleum Painter’s Touch gloss spray paint in navy blue.
These intense, cocoa-dusted truffles are actually simple to make ― so simple, in fact, that their flavor depends entirely on the ingredients you start with. A good-quality chocolate is worth the expense; choose one you would enjoy eating on its own.
Then wrap it in a truffle box you can make in 3 easy steps.
The secret is etching cream. You simply apply it to the glass, and the surface turns into a translucent white. The results are beautiful, subtle, and lasting.
More: How to etch glass
You can paint one freehand or work with a favorite printed design.
Gather leaf cuttings from your garden (ginkgo and Japanese maple are other good choices).
Press them in a book overnight to keep them from crinkling, then use one or two Glue Dots on the back of each stem, affixing each leaflet to the outside surface of the glass.
This customizable message board project combines three different surfaces ― chalkboard paint, magnetic paint, and cork ― with a frame that you paint to blend in with your kitchen.
From the book Photocraft: Cool Things to Do with the Pictures You Love: Scan or crop your images to the size of a CD case (5 3/8 in. wide by 4 5/8 in. high) then print on good photopaper and trim. We recommend using standard (not slim) cases. Discard plastic inserts.
Back each photo with cardboard or foam board and snap the cases shut. Attach them to the wall with 3-inch strips of sticky-back hood-and-loop fasteners (such as Velcro).
All you need is a sink, a little counter space, and a few essential tools. See what you can do with a single bloom, and how to turn just about any vintage vessel into a vase. (Tip #1: Start with the freshest flowers you can find.)
More: Flower shop secrets
How-to: Slip a drawer organizer into a fabric-covered box or other storage tote and stock it with a few travel-size essentials in coordinating materials and hues. Tie a washcloth with colorful string; wrap a bar of soap with wide ribbon; use letter stamps and a label sticker to personalize a scented candle.
Cover the door with self-healing vinyl board cover (available from art and drafting supply stores). The closer you can get the board cover to the exact size of your door, the better.
Stencil a basic measuring system onto the board cover, and you'll never need to hunt down a measuring stick.
Time: Four hours plus drying time
Cost: About $175
Add a Pre-Waxed Medium Bleached Wick with Wick Clip (by Yaley; $2.99 for six; from joann.com) to make elegant, long-burning votives.
Just dip the cutting edge of a cookie cutter (we used snowflakes and scalloped circles) into white heavy body acrylic paint (sold at art stores in 4-oz. tubs).
Stamp the cookie cutter onto a sheet of colorful paper, starting at a top corner. Create your own patterns by either joining or overlapping the shapes.
If the paint is too thick or lumpy, add a few drops of water and stir gently until thinned and smooth.
Bring nature's magic indoors with this simple project: Just gather a few of your favorite leaves or flowers, flatten them under a book, then copy them with a color photocopier.
Glue prints to canvas-covered boards (about $2 in art supply stores). Glue a small inexpensive wood frame to the back to act as hanger; it also sets off your print from the wall.
More: How to make a leaf print
To make this one, we removed the drawer handles, lightly sanded all surfaces, and applied one coat of primer and three coats of Benjamin Moore’s high-gloss Bunny Gray paint (2124-50).
We painted the tabletops with a chevron pattern using a stencil fashioned from 1- and 2-in.-wide painter’s tape.
Use a star stencil and colored vellum to make red and blue stars. Glue them to white paper bags. For beautiful (and safe) illumination, use a small tap light instead of a candle.
Let the future contents guide your design, using a kitchen motif for a cookbook, or a pocket with pencil for a travel journal. Add as many blank pages as you like.
You'll end up with a personal gift or keepsake for about $20.
Air plants: They’re almost a work of art in themselves. A collection of frames from Santa Monica designer Josh Rosen lets you treat them as such. Mount one or two air plants (tillandsias) into the rust-proof aluminum frame for a minimalist look, or “a bunch to create a dense painting,” he says. Just hang the frame in bright filtered light and dunk in water overnight once a week. AirplantFrame: white, black, or orange; from $90/11 in. by 11 in.; airplantman.com
3 more ways to hang tillandsias
- Bike wheel. The crisscrossing spokes are perfectly positioned for tillandsias’ hooklike leaves. Hung above a bed, it’s basically the urban gardener’s dream catcher.
- Cooling rack. The same space that lets air move under fresh-baked cookies is good for tillandsias. “I see the plants glued in shells or shoved into terrariums,” says Rosen. “But they need air circulation.”
- Branch. Loosely mount tillandsias on branches with fishing wire. If the plants thrive, they’ll actually root themselves around the wood over time.