Archive for the ‘DIY’ Category

Easy Ways to Give Your Home that Much Needed Makeover

Easy Ways to Give Your Home that Much Needed MakeoverThere are many inexpensive ways to give your home a makeover that will not only make you feel better about your home but might even increase, even slightly, its resale value. These cheap makeovers will certainly cause admiration among your visitors and guests. Here are a few of them:

New Window Treatments

An uninspiring window can be spruced up immensely with new window treatments & coverings. These can be a snazzy pair of curtains or heavy drapes made of a sumptuous but inexpensive fabric that are allowed to puddle on the floor. Blinds and window shutters also improve the look of windows. Shutters give a window a classical look and they can be painted and stained. Shutters can be made of wood or polymers. Shutters made of polymers give the window a good look without the risk of warping that wood is subject to. Contact for more information.

Replace Your Kitchen Faucet

Your kitchen faucet might be looking a bit dull. It might even leak on top of being unattractive. Fortunately, there are many types of brand new, gleaming faucets on offer in big box and hardware stores that will give your sinks and counters a whole new modern look. Faucets can be two handled or single handled, and they can come with separate sprayers or spouts that can be pulled out of the faucet and used as a sprayer. Replacing the sink at the same time will give you even more options.

Add New Towel Racks

Few things cost less than a new towel rack for your bathroom walls. You can put one where there never was one before or take out an old, boring rack and replace it with something a little more up-to-date. Most racks are installed the same way. They use either a hidden bracket with a set screw or visible screws that are drilled into the wall. However they’re installed, towel racks need to be perfectly level and secure.

Closet Shelving

Closet shelving not only gives you more space for your stuff, but it looks very good if it’s installed correctly. Indeed, an efficient closet shelving system may look so good that you might not want to hide it behind closet doors. Among the shelving that can be installed are cubbies for shoes, bins, storage boxes and separate areas for skirts, pants, shirts and accessories. It might take a bit of measuring and work, but it’s not expensive and it’s efficient as well as beautiful.

Lighting Solutions for Homes that lack Natural Light

Circumstances often cause people to choose properties more suitable for their price range than the home they really want, and this can result in negative effects. For example, one of the more common problems with certain property types (e.g. maisonettes) is a lack of natural light. As a result, properties are dimmer and require an overreliance on artificial light, and this can be a huge turn-off for potential buyers. Natural light is a big draw for people, and with good reason. Lack of natural light can have a surprisingly adverse effect on your health; it drains you of energy and has also been known to have a negative impact on your mood. People who live in homes with mostly artificial light often suffer from low moods, and in some more extreme cases poor health. Artificial lighting, for example, can cause headaches as well as being stressful on the eyes, whereas more natural light can help to increase productivity and improve on mood. What, then, are the solutions available for homes that lack natural light?

lighting solutions for homes that lack natural light

One option is to install tubular skylights. Tubular skylights don’t use electricity, instead they filter the natural sunlight from outside into the house. You can have these skylights routed anywhere into the house, even the basement if you like, meaning that you will have access to natural light even though the design of your house. However, this is not entirely reliable as the skylights are clearly dependent on the light outside; if there is cloud cover, they will not be particularly effective. But then you could argue that this is the issue with natural light in general: it’s not consistent. You can’t be entirely reliant on natural light even if you live in an open plan place, because a cloudy day will leave you enshrouded in a dim and gloomy darkness.

Instead, there should be a focus on balance in order to ensure the best lighting possible. Ideally, you want a home that is not dependent on either light source, but makes use of both. Artificial lights are much more bearable to people if they are adjustable; having a dimmer switch installed can make a great difference as you can adjust it to different requirements and prevent the lighting from becoming too harsh. There are also other methods to help increase the amount of natural light coming in. Instead of having curtains and blinds, use net curtains instead to help the light outside filter through softly and complement the lighting you already have in place. Lamps, too, are a good substitute for overhead lighting as they generally provide a softer, warmer light that people prefer.

It’s not difficult to change up your lighting scheme in order to create a more even balance between natural and artificial light. Companies like Litecraft provide a range of different light fixtures for good prices and will help you to plan out a scheme better suited to the design of your house. Just because your home lacks natural light doesn’t mean you can’t change that.


Home Repairs to Do Yourself

diy toolsWhile there are some repairs you should always leave to the experts, there are several things you can do around your house for a fraction of the cost and on your own time. Whether it’s replacing an old door handle or fixing a leaky faucet, repair or renovation is often easier than you might expect.

Entries and Exits

Spruce up an entryway or silence a squeaky one in minutes. For squeaky hinges, rub a bit of petroleum jelly on them. This cheap fix takes only a minute to employ and can help keep your door from sticking. If the door still squeaks, look at the hinge pins, and give them a good scrubbing with steel wool. For stubborn doors, pick up a rotary tool with a planer from the home improvement store, and shave off any bits that overhang. Before breaking out the new tools, check first to make sure all screws are tightened.

Maybe it’s time to update that old knob with a lock. Home improvement stores sell doorknob sets for all types of doors and require nothing more than a screwdriver to install. For a dingy door, cleaning can go a long way to bring back new life to your entryway, but a new coat of paint is even better. While white is the classic choice, add a bold statement to your house that showcases your personality by choosing a color you love.

Plumbing Problems

The leaky faucet is the hallmark of home repair, and even a small leak can cost you thousands of gallons every month. To repair a leaky faucet, begin by shutting off the water. Most leaks can be fixed with a simple washer, but getting to the washer may require a little hunting. You can begin by removing the handle followed by the packing nut, which will require pliers. From there, remove the valve stem to find the washer. The washer will likely be in poor condition at this stage, so do your best to remove it intact. Once you have the washer, you can find a replacement at the home improvement store. Not every faucet can be fixed this way, but it’s a great place to start.

Another common problem is the clogged toilet. First, check for any objects that may be stuck in the drain. If you can’t see any obstructions, use a plunger or plumbing snake to work the clog out. Home improvement stores also sell chemicals to eat through common clog sources, but these can be harsh for your home and should be used as a last resort. You can use baking soda and vinegar for the same results if you have time to let the mixture set overnight.

The Tools of the Trade

Before you can become your own DIY-er, you need to have a few tools on-hand. Many of these items can be purchased at your local home improvement store, but some items you may already have in your home.

  • Flat-head screwdriver
  • Phillips screwdriver
  • Hammer
  • Stud finder
  • Level
  • Measuring tape
  • WD-40
  • Drill
  • Saw
  • Locking pliers
  • Needle-nose pliers
  • Crescent wrench
  • Allen wrench
  • Utility knife
  • Crosscut saw

While these tools should form the basis of your toolkit, you should also keep a stock of other items on-hand for cleaning or lubrication.

  • Baking soda
  • Cream of tartar
  • Vinegar
  • Lemon juice
  • Petroleum jelly


Jon Engle writes for the California Apartments Blog providing tips on home improvement, first time home buyers and apartment community reviews. For those looking to bypass the challenges of home ownership and take advantage of  care-free apartment living, consider the new gallery421 or 1900 Ocean luxury apartments from Lyon Communities.

5 D.I.Y Projects You Can Complete In a Weekend

Now that spring is on its way, it’s time to think about accomplishing those home projects that you’ve been putting off. Don’t worry they won’t hinder you from enjoying the warmer weather and longer days. These simple DIY projects can be accomplished over the weekend with plenty of time to spare.

spring flowers
It’s amazing what a fresh coat of paint can do to enhance the appeal and mood of a room. Prior to painting, make sure you have the right tools – a roller and roller pan, brush and painter’s tape. Cover the floor and tape off all baseboards window frames and other areas you don’t want painted. As you paint with the roller, make sure you start with an upward stroke and follow an M pattern.

Replace Lighting

Nothing brightens a room up like new ceiling lights. If you have outdated fixtures pick out new ones that compliment the décor of your house and brightens the space. Before you do anything, make sure the power is off. Then, remove the fixture and mounting bracket and disconnect all wires. Connect the new wires, mount the new bracket (if need be create new holes with a drill). Attach the ground screw to the wires then mount the new fixture.

Restore Wooden Furniture

Old and warn furniture doesn’t always need to be replaced. Instead, re-finishing will make dreary wood new again. Make sure you match the finish. Then clean the wood thoroughly and apply a new coat of finish. If you’re retouching completely, sand down the warn spots, clean well and then re-stain and apply a finish.

Give The Kitchen a Facelift

Add some pizzazz to the kitchen with a bold new tile or glass backsplash. First remove the old tiles with a hammer and chisel and scrape the walls with a razor to remove residual mortar. Then, use a pencil and tape measure mark out the new layout. Building you way up the wall, apply a thin layer of mortar and attaché tiles and spacers. Let it sit for at least 12 hours before removing spacers then fill in the grout.

Spruce Up The Yard

Soon, you’ll be yearning to spend those warm summer nights out a beautiful garden. Get a head start by clearing all the dead flowers leaves and debris, fertilise the lawn and trim tree branches and shrubs. To create a more dramatic entrance, install a free-standing arbor and decorate it as you please.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Building with Reclaimed Wood

Reclaimed wood comes from old buildings that are being torn down. Since the wood has not been part of a tree in a long time it is a very green option for people looking to save the planet. It is also beautiful in most cases which makes it a great option for anyone. The use of Reclaimed wood in building projects may qualify them for LEED green building tax credits as well.

Advantages of Building with Reclaimed Wood

Reclaimed wood is recycling for buildings. Material from old buildings that are torn down would wind up in the dump if it were not for reclamation projects. Some of the wood that is reclaimed for building projects is over a hundred years old and legitimately antique. These pieces of history make interesting and beautiful conversation pieces as well as being a green option.

Regardless of its initial purpose, reclaimed wood can be turned into many different structures in the house including flooring, interior or exterior siding and beams. Buildings made with enough reclaimed wood may be eligible for LEED green building credits. These tax credits were created as an incentive for companies to incorporate green building materials into their projects and to help allay the greater cost of some green materials.

It is possible to find reclaimed wood in almost any species with enough patience. The predominant species are determined by the part of the country the reclamation project is being carried out in. Woods that are not possible to harvest sustainably may be available in an eco-friendly format as reclaimed woods.

Disadvantages of Building with Reclaimed Wood

There is a higher waste factor when dealing with reclaimed wood because the pieces have to be milled again in order to achieve a uniform size. Sometimes only part of the piece may be of a high enough quality for reclamation and that limits the size of the wood. All of these factors lead to an increase in cost for the buyer since large amounts of the reclaimed wood cannot actually be sold.

Bug holes are common in reclaimed wood. As long as the bugs are no longer living in the wood this isn’t usually a problem. However, for people who do not appreciate the aesthetic of old woods even with a few bug holes, new wood might be a better fit. Careful inspection and treatment of most reclaimed wood ensures that there are no current bug tenants in most cases. If you buy “raw” reclaimed wood this may not have been treated.

Various types of wood are available from reclamation projects but the majority will be made up of a few species. These species are usually the ones that are indigenous to an area. If the type of wood you want is rarer it may be harder or impossible to find.


Karlee Wiggins writes on various topics for Many building projects have been completed with carriage bolts from When Karlee isn’t writing, you can find her hiking, building furniture for her two boys or rooting for her favorite football team.

Don’t Call an Expert: Top Five Home Repairs You Can Do Yourself

You can eliminate labor costs and wasted time by tackling some simple home repair jobs with your own two hands. Here are some quick fixes for common household repair issues.

Constantly Running Toilet

toiletA running toilet is not only annoying, but can waste large amounts of water. Determining the cause of a running toilet is simple, and fixing it may not even require repair parts.

Step 1: Lift off the tank lid and observe the water movement. If water is spilling into the tube that sticks up from the bottom, the water level should be adjusted.
Step 2: Adjust the float arm by bending downward. Some newer toilets may have adjustment clips that slide down for adjustment purposes.
Step 3: If water does not spill into the vertical tube, the rubber “flapper” covering the tank drain likely needs replacement. Turn off the water and pull out the flapper. You can obtain an identical one at any hardware outlet.

Faucet Washer Replacement

A leaky faucet can put a dent in your bank account and your sanity. A faulty washer is usually the culprit.

Step 1: Shut off the water.
Step 2: Remove the faucet handle and packing nut. You will need a screwdriver and pliers.
Step 3: Unscrew the valve stem and take it out of the fixture housing. Then unscrew the washer screw, and remove the washer. You may to need loosen it with oil.
Step 3: Find a replacement washer at any hardware outlet.
Step 4: Reverse steps to install the new washer.

If your faucet still leaks, it may require replacement. Be care while unscrewing the faucet as if your water lines are older they could be brittle from water corrosion and break, costing you a little extra and a trip to the hardware store to replace.

Hole in the Wall

Broken or dented interior walls are usually the result of rambunctious teenagers or unrestrained doors. Wall dimples or holes create unsightly decor, but leaving them unrepaired can generate more maintenance. Before you call a carpenter, try this simple fix for your damaged wall.

Step 1: Crumple newspaper to a reasonably solid wad.
Step 2: Wedge the paper wad tightly into the hole or dent, leaving a space of approximately one-quarter inch between the paper and the outside wall surface.
Step 3: Fill the space with joint compound. Smooth the surface of the compound to match the wall surface, using a putty knife or other wide-bladed tool. Let the compound dry according to package instructions.
Step 4: Use fine sandpaper to refine repaired surface before painting.

Squeaky Hinges or Sticky Doors

Always keep a can of household lubricating oil for squeaky hinges. Wet, dry or spray lubricants can work equally well. If your door does not close without hitting the frame, loose hinges, wood expansion and warping are probably to blame.

Step 1: Examine the door hinges for loose screws. Hinges may need to be moved down, if the screw holes have been damaged. An extra set of hands may be required.
Step 2: If hinges are not loose, rub colored chalk on the door frame where it meets the door. Close the door and observe where chalk rubs onto the door. Shape these areas with a rotary grinding tool.

Damaged Furniture or Woodwork

Scratches and dents can be sanded out of wood trim or furniture items.

Step 1: Remove old paint or stain from the affected area with sandpaper or steel wool.
Step 2: Fill with wood filler product and let dry according to package instructions.
Step 3: Sand new surface and paint or stain.

Gina McNeely works with PartSelect, an ecommerce company that sells replacement appliance parts for all types of appliances.  An appliance repair can save an appliance from a landfill, and it is often far less expensive than replacing the whole appliance.

The 5 Best Home Improvement Apps

home improvement appsNo matter in what stage or focus of the design process you find yourself, chances are there is an app that will reassure, inspire, and generally fill your head with impossible or outright brilliant ideas on how to funnel an obscene amount of money into your living space for the sake of aesthetics and function. This means that most of these apps are pretty cool and are only getting better. Here are a few of the best:

●     Houzz Interior Design

This site is a comprehensive library of interior design ideas and advice. As a social media similar to Pinterest where people can post photos and add products, design advice, and inspiration, Houzz is a great reference for the ‘do it yourself’ designer. The free app offers the same great info and photos so you can stay on top of the fluctuating trends on the go.

●    iHandy Level

If you’ve ever been trying to perfectly align a picture frame or set a piece of molding, you understand the importance of a level. Unfortunately, unless you are a seasoned handyperson and keep a level at the ready, you probably wish you had this tool. Enter iHandy. This free app gives you a precise measurement for alignment from the comfort of your handheld phone. Use it for any home improvement project and never hang a lopsided frame again.

●     ColorSmart

Do you want to match paint colors without having to make a trip to the hardware store to fiddle with colored pieces of plastic? How about assessing a living space and designing it with different colors remotely? If so, the ColorSmart app is an essential. Browse an array of paint colors, take photos in a color match feature and pull up an accurate suggested color, and try out colors in digital rooms.

●     Home Design 3D

When you need to look at the big picture of the project, this app lets you visualize everything in the planning process. From structural elements to choosing the right wood for your living room floors, you can create a 2D or 3D rendering of your design vision with this app. This one comes with a price tag of $5-6 for iPhone or iPad.

●     Photo Measures

Precise measurements are essential in any design or renovation project. The best part is that the days of pencil and paper measurements are looking pretty inefficient next to apps like this. Simply take a photo of a room and draw in measures to get an accurate count of size and distance. This app is great for the planning and construction stages of a project.

Ben Vaughn is a contributing writer for A Plus Garage Doors and specializes in garage door apps, garage door design, and the mechanics of garage door openers.

Safety Issues When Working on Electricity Projects

OutletEven professionals who have been employed in the industry for decades need to be careful with electrical work. However, when you’re taking care of your own small-scale electrical work at home, it’s even more important that you’re safe, since it’s unlikely that you have the same training or experience as a professional electrician.

Below are some of the major safety precautions that you should take when working on an electrical project.

Tools and Gear

Wire SnippersWhen you’re about to take on a small-scale electricity project, make sure that you have the appropriate tools and safety gear necessary. Safety gear for electrical projects includes gloves, masks, appropriate shoes and glasses, so that you’re not putting yourself in danger when you start on the electrical work. If you need to use a ladder, make sure that the ladder is absolutely not aluminum. If you don’t have the gear and tools needed, don’t even think about getting started until you do.

Is the Power off?

Once you’ve got all of your gear on, and all of your tools set-up, make sure that all of the power is turned off. If you’re unsure, you can purchase a device from a hardware store that can find out for you, so you don’t have to put yourself in harms way when working on your own electrical work.

Monitor the Weather

It’s common knowledge that a heavy storm may cause electrical problems in your home or place of work. You can protect the electricity in your home or office by using surge protectors on all of your most important devices, so you don’t run the risk of a massive storm or flood affecting your equipment. When you have surge protectors installed in your home or office, you can save on the amount of electrical work that must take place as a result of a power outage due to a storm or flood.

If you absolutely need to work on an electrical project in wet conditions for some reason, make sure that your hands are not wet and that you’re wearing water-proof boots and clothing to prevent electrical shock. You really should never have to work on an electrical project in this type of weather, as electrical work in wet weather is something best left to the professionals.

Be Vocal

If you’re working on an electrical project in your home or office, make sure that you let other people know what you’re working on and try to place signs on the circuit panel, so that people know that the power is off for a reason. If you don’t, you run the risk of someone turning the power back on when you’re in the middle of the job, which could cause a large problem for you safety-wise. It’s also smart to have someone with you when you’re work on your electrical project, so that you’re not alone in case something goes wrong.

Also, make sure that you and those around you are trained in CPR and electrical safety.

Should I Hire a Professional?

Before taking on any electrical work, it’s best to determine if this project is something that you can handle without the help of a professional. If you do your research, you can find a professional who is able to take care of your electrical work, without charging you an arm and a leg. In cases when you just don’t think you have enough knowledge or experience to handle your electrical work, it’s always best to be safe, rather than sorry, and go with a professional.


Lahav Group is a Ventura county contractor. We have been serving Californians for over 14 years in electrical contracting projects, residential and commercial renovations.