Mom’s console TV becomes flat screen TV cabinet | retro modern makeover

My mom loved her Zenith TV console. Me, not so much. When she died it became mine and, even though I thought it was an eyesore, I kept using it because it still worked. And for the most part I don’t like to get rid of things that are still useful. And that’s another thing I inherited from her.

zenith tv console
My mom’s old Zenith console TV

Anyway, one fine day the old Zenith finally pooped out and I was able to get a new 32 inch flat screen TV.

I was sure someone on Craigslist would love to take this precious relic off my hands for the bargain price of $10. A month later I officially gave up that dream and considered my options.

Option 1: smash it into little bits and throw it out, or
Option 2: convert it into a cabinet for my new flat screen

While Option 1 was very tempting, I still needed a cabinet for my new TV and didn’t want to spend $100 to $200, so I chose Option 2.

And so the transformation began.

Important: Wait before disconnecting the TV tube

It turned out to be a good thing I didn’t attempt this project sooner because I discovered that you need to let the electricity drain out to avoid electrocution or, at the very least, a nasty shock. But if you’re in a hurry, here’s a short YouTube video showing how to safely discharge the tube.

How to safely discharge a TV

Dismantling the old TV cabinet

I’m not gonna lie. If I had known upfront what I was in for, I might have gone for Option 1. There were so many things that were screwed into things, that were screwed into other things that were bolted here, there and everywhere…it just seemed endless. But I decided this thing was not going to defeat me so I kept on.

back of console tv
TV console back
inside console tv
Inside the TV cabinet. So many wires!

Then it came time to disconnect and remove the TV tube.

tv tube plug
TV tube plug

I braced myself and pulled the plug. I did not get shocked. But I did get some weird red stuff on me.

tv tube plug underneath
TV tube plug removed
red fluid under tv tube plug
Weird red stuff that got all over me

I don’t want to know what it was.

Then I took it down to Best Buy for recycling. That was an adventure in itself because a 25 pound roundish TV tube is not easy to maneuver. I put it in a box and made it safely down there.

Customizing my new flat screen TV cabinet

When I was done removing all the innards and taking off the fake plastic molding from the front, it was just a plain old wooden box.

plastic tv cabinet molding
Fake plastic molding
empty tv cabinet
Inside the empty TV cabinet
dismantling tv cabinet
Cabinet upside down to remove casters

My plan was to put in a shelf to hold the new TV with enough room underneath to place my satellite receiver, DVD player and CDs/DVDs.

And I wanted to add chrome legs to the bottom to make it taller and metal trim on the front to make it go with my retro modern coffee table.

Being a resourceful DIYer and not a carpenter, I made do with the few tools I have. I used my jigsaw to cut the metal trim and wood for the shelves. And then smoothed the rough edges with my mouse sander.

jigsaw cutting wood
Cutting wood with my jigsaw
cabinet bottom
Cabinet bottom after TV tube removed
gluing wood to cabinet bottom
Gluing wood to cabinet bottom

Tricking out the new cabinet

I put wood veneer edging on the outside edge of the shelf and at the bottom of the cabinet where I had added a piece of wood for reinforcement.

wood veneer and metal edging
Wood veneer and metal trim (Everbilt 3/4 x 1/2 x 1/16 x 48 in)

I spray painted the shelves, back and inside cabinet black with Rustoleum gloss protective enamel.

black spray paint
Rustoleum black gloss protective enamel
spray painting tv cabinet
Spray painting TV cabinet

On the bottom front of the cabinet I did some faux finishing.

before faux finishing
Before faux finishing, three strips of veneer with space in between

I mixed up some acrylic paint (black, brown, red and wine) to match the dark wood stain and painted the three wood veneer strips. For the spaces in between I used metallic silver acrylic paint.

faux finishing paint
Faux finishing supplies
faux finishing
Faux finishing, silver stripes

Then I coated everything with satin varnish.

I added the legs, glued on the metal trim and voila! My new cabinet was done! And it only cost me about $30 in supplies.

And here is the final result. I love my TV cabinet!

tv cabinet transformation after photo
Retro modern flat screen TV cabinet

Front door privacy curtain

Privacy is hard to come by when you live in the city. People are always walking up and down the street, cars are driving by, the neighbors are always coming and going.

So when I’m sitting on my couch with the front door open, I feel like I’m on display and I don’t like that.

I already have a security screen to keep bugs and intruders out and now I can keep people’s prying eyes out with this quick solution—a front door curtain!

And if you want to put up a curtain at your front door, it only takes about five minutes. Here’s what you do.

Screw in a couple of cup hooks at the top of the door frame.

cup hooks as curtain rod holder

Cup hooks as curtain rod holder

Insert a cheap curtain rod.

Curtain rod fits into cup hooks

Curtain rod fits into cup hooks

Find a cute curtain to put on the rod, one that isn’t too sheer (because that would defeat the purpose now wouldn’t it). A regular curtain should work fine. No blackout curtains.

I happened to have the cup hooks and curtain rod lying around but needed a curtain. I found just what I wanted at Walmart. It’s white with sequins and silver threads running through it because in my world you can’t have too many sequins.

door curtain5

The only thing is the curtain is 84″ long and my doorway is 78″ tall. I turned up the hem 5″, zip zip on the sewing machine, and it was perfect.

Well, almost perfect. I took one additional step and created an elastic loop attached to the curtain that fits over the doorknob to keep it from billowing in the breeze and blowing my cover!

Elastic loop sewn to curtain

Elastic loop sewn to curtain

Slips over doorknob

Slips over doorknob

The curtain lets in lots of light and keeps me incognito.

Front door curtain for privacy

Front door curtain for privacy

My 5 simple rules for a small bathroom makeover

A few years ago we converted a closet into a much-needed second bathroom. Actually, it’s just a half bath with a toilet and the tiniest sink you’ve ever seen. We managed to make pretty good use of what little space there is, about 41″ by 64″. But it was basically a boring white box, until now.

In just two days I added fun and more function to this small bathroom. I love the result! And if you’re looking for an easy, inexpensive bathroom makeover, try following my five simple rules. I’ll show you step by step how I applied these rules to my own bathroom makeover.

Rule #1: Add color

Put a nice pretty color on the walls. White paint won’t make your small bathroom look bigger, just bland. Color is dynamic and fun. It makes you feel something.

Boring white bathroom

bathroom before picture

Bathroom before picture

Bright colorful bathroom

bathroom after picture

Bathroom after picture

Rule #2: Add a night light

My closet-turned-bathroom has no window and can look like a dark hole when the ceiling light is turned off. A small night light provides just enough light to make the space look inviting any time of the day or night.

My other bathroom, which is also small, has a window but I put a night light in there too. These are lights that come on automatically and just make the rooms look pretty.

bathroom nightlight

Bathroom nightlight

Rule #3: Keep accessories to a minimum

I tend to think less is best when it comes to accessorizing, especially in a small space. Choose accessories that are functional as well as decorative. Do you really need candles, toilet cozies and chachkies? More useful options include colorful towels, a stylish towel bar, a cute soap dispenser or a small shelf.

Desperately in need of personality

bathroom before picture

Bathroom before picture

This bathroom didn’t have too many accessories, but what was here added nothing to the decor. Even the bright pink towel was not enough to liven up the space.

Two small changes made a big difference

bathroom after picture

Bathroom after picture

I switched out the nondescript towel ring for a handmade wrought iron towel bar with a decorative star.

A little basket shelf was added next to the sink to compensate for the lack of counter space. Overnight guests will find this handy when using their grooming accessories.

Rule #4: Keep personal items out of sight

Nobody wants to see your toothbrush, hairbrush or toilet brush. I don’t even want to look at my own stuff! Which leads into rule #5.


bathroom before picture

Bathroom before picture

This toilet brush needs to go away.

Rule #5: Maximize storage

A mirrored medicine cabinet will hold a lot of toiletries. A wall cabinet over the toilet can store extra towels and toilet paper. I like a cabinet with doors for a cleaner look. And don’t forget to utilize the space under the sink. For a wall-mounted sink with no cabinet, you can make a sink skirt which hides the plumbing and becomes the perfect place to store the toilet brush.

Ahhh, that’s better!

bathroom after picture

Bathroom after picture

A cute pleated sink skirt creates additional storage for the toilet brush and a few other things.

Just to recap

From drab…

bathroom before picture

Bathroom before picture

To fab, modern and fresh!

bathroom after photo

Bathroom after photo

A $4 can of spray paint saved me over $200

A new coat of paint can do wonders to revamp your decor. And you’ll be amazed to see how far one cheap can of Rustoleum spray paint can go.

My old and tarnished porch light, floor lamp and dresser pulls were instantly transformed. Now they look like new and I saved a lot of money by not having to replace them. And that makes thrifty me very happy!

At my local hardware store, Rustoleum spray primer and enamel each cost around $4 including tax. The coverage is really great and it comes in several different colors and finishes. I prefer enamel gloss but you can also get matte.

Spray painting is easy to do, keeping a couple of simple things in mind. Following are the step by step photos and a breakdown of how much money I saved on each project, totaling over $200.

How to spray paint metal lights, lamps and knobs

  1. Clean the surface by washing with soap and water or by using glass cleaner
  2. Lightly sand to give it some tooth
  3. Either mask off the area (if painting in place) or put the items on top of a large piece of cardboard
  4. Paint outside if possible
  5. Begin spraying before the piece, sweep across it and finish beyond the piece. Try to go at an even speed.
  6. Use spray primer first. Do two coats, letting it dry for a few minutes in between. Follow up with two coats of the spray enamel.
  7. Several light coats are better than one heavy coat

Porch light

Porch light “before” photo

porch light before photo

Porch light before photo

With the outside of the house being recently painted, the old black mailbox and tarnished porch light needed attention. After all, they’re right by the front door, and that’s the first thing visitors see.

I was able to get the mailbox looking pretty good by just cleaning it and switching out the rusty handle. The 15 year old porch light, however, needed more than cleaning.

Porch light taken apart and cleaned

disassembled porch light

Disassembled porch light

I unscrewed the bottom so I could remove the glass inserts and set them aside. The other pieces were placed on cardboard for painting.

Light fixture masked off

porch light taken apart and masked off

Porch light taken apart and masked off

Using painter’s tape, I covered up the light socket. Then I took a large piece of brown packing paper and taped it around the fixture.

Primer coat applied

primer coat on porch light

Primer coat on porch light

The light fixture and these loose pieces got two coats of primer.

Porch light sprayed with gloss enamel

spray painting porch light

Spray painting porch light

Everything was sprayed with two coats of black gloss enamel paint.

Masking paper and tape removed

porch light with two coats of spray paint

Porch light with two coats of spray paint


Porch light “after” photo

porch light after spray painting

Porch light after spray painting

Everything put back together. Looks like new!

Floor lamp

Floor lamp “before” photo

torchiere before photo

Floor lamp ready to spray paint

This torchiere lamp is about 20 years old. The gold finish is tarnished and wearing off.

Here the shade was removed prior to being spray painted. I also masked off part of the cord.

Once again, two coats of primer and two coats of paint.

Floor lamp “after” photo

spray painted floor lamp

Spray painted floor lamp

All shiny and new. Maybe it will last another 20 years!

Furniture pulls and knobs

Dresser pulls “before” photo

old brass furniture pulls

Old brass furniture pulls

These brass dresser pulls are nearly 50 years old. They were really gunky and gross. This is what they looked like after being cleaned. I wanted to give them a more modern look by painting them shiny black.

Dresser knobs “before” photo

brass furniture knobs

Brass furniture knobs

The dresser also had knobs.

In this picture you can see that the knobs are screwed onto cardboard for painting. Once again, these received two coats of primer and paint.

Dresser “after” photo with handles and knobs installed

spray painted dresser pulls and knobs

Spray painted dresser pulls and knobs on newly painted dresser

The directions on the can of spray gloss say that you can apply a sealer on top. I called Rustoleum to find out if that was necessary. Since handles get a lot of “handling,” I didn’t want black paint rubbing off. They told me that was an optional step so I skipped it. After several months of use, I’m happy to report that there is definitely no paint transfer. I’m very pleased with the durability as well as the look.

The dresser also had a matching chest of drawers. Altogether there were 21 pulls and 24 knobs.

Breakdown of savings

Total savings: $270.50

Based on the prices in effect today, I would have paid:

$24.00 porch light
$78.00 floor lamp
$153.50 furniture handles and knobs (45 pieces)

$255.50 subtotal
+$23.00 tax

$278.50 total
-$8.00 primer and spray paint

$270.50 grand total

Now that’s a pretty good return on investment!

How to paint a ceiling fan without taking it down

It’s true, you really can paint a ceiling fan without taking it down or even taking it apart.

Most people will tell you that to paint a ceiling fan you must remove it or take the blades off. That’s simply not necessary. My way saves a lot of time and no one will ever know the difference. I painted this one with the blades intact. The only things I removed were the light bulbs and glass shades.

So follow along with the step by step instructions as I show you the fastest way to paint your old ceiling fan.

Ceiling fan before photo

A run-of-the-mill ceiling fan

bedroom before photo

Bedroom before photo

Here’s your typical fake wood grain ceiling fan. The gold finish is tarnished. I wish there was a paint that would make it invisible, but the next best thing is to make it part of the new decor.

Everything in this room is about to change.

Supplies used in this project

  • A dropcloth
  • Paper towels and Windex
  • Painter’s tape
  • Fine grit sandpaper
  • Small paint brush
  • Primer (I used Kilz brand)
  • Your favorite latex paint
  • A tall ladder

Ceiling fan painting tutorial

Step 1: Clean the ceiling fan

This is messy and my least favorite part of the project. Even if you think your fan looks clean, believe me, there’s a lot of gunk hiding up there.

Cover the area underneath with a drop cloth. Then use your dry paintbrush to remove all the loose dirt. There will be a lot of stuff on top of the blades and inside the arms. The round thing that covers the motor will be dusty as well.

After that, clean the fan with paper towels and Windex. Make sure to clean the top and the bottom of the blades. When it comes to cleaning the motor cover, don’t spray Windex directly on it. Spray the paper towel instead.

Step 2: Sand the ceiling fan

sand ceiling fan prior to painting

Sand ceiling fan prior to painting

Before tackling the fan, the bedroom was painted a yummy shade of purple called sugar plum.

Sanding the fan makes it easier for the paint to stick. I only sanded the metal parts.

Step 3: Tape off the ceiling

tape around ceiling fan

Tape around ceiling fan

Adhere the painter’s tape to the ceiling. I managed to slip it underneath the fan.

Step 4: Apply primer coat

primer coat applied to ceiling fan

Primer coat applied to ceiling fan

Paint a thin coat of primer. Notice how I only used a small amount of paint on the brush to avoid dripping. Make sure to keep the paint out of the motor.

Painting ceiling fan blades: You only have to paint what people can see, so you do not have to paint the top of the blades.

It can get a little tricky painting them because they move. You need to hold on to one that hasn’t been painted to keep them still. To paint the last blade, you can put one hand on top of it while you paint the underside with the other hand.

Let paint dry for a couple of hours.

This is what it looks like with a coat of primer

primed ceiling fan

Primed ceiling fan

I painted everything, including the chain.

Step 5: Apply two coats of paint

ceiling fan painted in place

Ceiling fan painted in place

I painted two coats with a semigloss latex paint, allowing it to dry at least two hours in between. This was the same paint I used on the bedroom furniture.

Here it is all finished and with the painter’s tape removed. It looks so much better painted all one color.

Ceiling fan after photo

Bedroom makeover complete

bedroom after photo with painted ceiling fan

Bedroom after photo with painted ceiling fan

Whimsical painted furniture ideas, painting DIY

When I inherited my mom’s wood furniture, most of it had already been around for a good 50 years. I was grateful to get it, but also tired of looking at it. So I decided it was going to get a fresh whimsical look with paint.

Many people are reluctant to paint wood furniture, but it makes such a dramatic difference for a small investment of time and money. By creating fun designs on furniture, you can break out of the beige box and your give your home a unique personality.

This furniture painting tutorial provides the basic instructions along with a gallery of photos to inspire your own whimsical designs.

The basics of furniture painting

A good video demo.

Step by step instructions for preparing and painting wood furniture

  1. Remove all the hardware and clean it. You may also wish to prime and paint it using Krylon spray paint.
  2. Clean the piece thoroughly. I recommend washing with Murphy’s Oil Soap. If you intend to sand all the old finish off, you can skip this step.
  3. Lightly sand the furniture with fine grit sandpaper. Wipe down after with a tack cloth.
  4. Apply a coat of primer. I recommend Kilz brand if not using spray primer.
  5. Apply at least two coats of paint. You can use Krylon spray paint, latex paint or acrylic craft paint in semigloss or gloss. Use a small foam roller (if you’re not using spray paint) for faster painting. You’ll also need a small brush for tight areas.Let dry completely in between coats. Lightly sand before the next coat.
  6. Add your decorative paint designs. Go crazy!
  7. Apply a coat of sealer (optional). This will make the surface more durable.
  8. Put the hardware back on.

Tools for painting furniture

roller and brush for painting furniture

Roller and brush for painting furnitur

My funky furniture transformations

Before photo: Microwave stand/cabinet

before photo: cabinet

Before photo: cabinet

I thought I had a better photo of this without a chair being in the way, but I think you can still see most of it.

I never liked this setup with the microwave stuck in a corner of the kitchen. After my mom died, I relocated it to the countertop and debated whether or not to chuck the cabinet. It was one of the few pieces that was not solid wood, just particleboard. So I banished it to the garage for a while.

Later I decided it could be salvaged after all.

After photo: Black cabinet with hot pink polka dots

Photo of black and hot pink polka dot cabinet © 2014 by Lynda Makara

After photo: black cabinet with hot pink polka dots by Lynda Makara

By far my favorite furniture transformation! This cabinet now has a proud place in my living room. The colors coordinate with my furniture, a hot pink sofa and black club chairs.

I also modified the design of the doors. I took off the old cabinet pulls and added that round piece of wood in the center, a craft store wood plaque cut in half with my jigsaw. Then I glued and screwed it onto the doors, covering up the two holes left by the old cabinet pulls.

I had two crystal knobs left over from making curtain rods and finials, and they were added to the doors. Now I love it!

Glitter anyone? Yes, please! A closeup of the cabinet detail.

crystal knobs and glitter on cabinet

Crystal knobs and glitter on cabinet

The outer edge of the wood circle is painted silver then layered with silver glitter. A fun accent for the crystal and silver cabinet knobs.

The wavy stripes were penciled in, then painted.

Before photo: Chest of drawers

before photo: chest of drawers

Before photo: chest of drawers

I liked the size and relatively simple design of the chest, but it was just blah (and in desperate need of cleaning!).

After photo: Chest of drawers painted white and black with polka dots

after photo: black and white polka dot chest of drawers

After photo: black and white polka dot chest of drawers by Lynda Makara

This one shows a bit of restraint for me, but it still pops. I decided to accent the top and bottom trim, along with the knobs, by painting them black. Then I simply added white polka dots here and there. It sits in my craft room, along with the cabinet pictured below.

Before photo: cabinet with shelf

before photo: cabinet

Before photo: cabinet

Another uninspiring piece. It had been used to hold a large stereo with enormous speakers, along with other assorted junk.

After photo: Cabinet with black and white swirls and dots

after photo: funky black and white cabinet

After photo: funky black and white cabinet by Lynda Makara

This cabinet has been turned into a table for my craft room by using it with a file cabinet and a piece of wood laid on top. It now holds my printer, Betty Boop doll and trash can, with storage below.

Gallery of whimsical painted furniture

Funky painted bench

funky painted bench

Funky painted bench by Lynda Makara

This was just a plain wooden bench I got at Walmart. I added all the little triangles, finials and doodads such as wooden beads and ceramic animal heads. Then I painted it a bunch of different fun designs.

Note: If you’re painting outdoor furniture, make sure to use outdoor paint.

Really clever dresser makeover with paint and decoupaged Marilyn Monroe poster, a video tutorial

Side table

painted table by patti haskins on flickr

Sunflower painted chair

colorful painted chair by donna reed on flickr

Red stool with purple motif

Colorful red and aqua bench

custommade bench by sarabbit on flickr

custommade bench by Sarabbit, on Flickr

Glitzy makeover of old dresser with white paint and silver glitter—LOVE!

Whimsical chair

an artful chair by marilyn roxie on flickr

Revamping a girl’s dresser. Repairing, painting and decoupaging tips.

Rustic cabinet

Rustic commode by Meg Lessard, on Flickr

Fun parrot chair

Parrotdise by grahamc99, on Flickr

Small funky painted table. Furniture painting motifs.

Swirling vines painted chest

Treasure Chest - Nadeau by Seth Anderson, on Flickr

Abstract blue and yellow table

Painted chairs galore. Photo gallery of funky painted chairs.

Funky furniture design tutorials

Projects and inspiration

Painting Furniture (anyone can do it!)
Lots of furniture makeovers including this turquoise dresser with asymmetrical flower motif

Gallery of whimsical end tables
Inspiration and tutorials from the Decorative Paintbrush

Painted Ikea Furniture
A boring Ikea cabinet transformed

Furniture painting shortcuts
Purple fantasy dresser tutorial and no sanding involved!

How to paint whimsical furniture
Dresser with handpainted flowers by Shizzle Designs

Recommended reading

Furniture Makeovers: Simple Techniques for Transforming Furniture with Paint, Stains, Paper, Stencils, and More

Painted Chairs: 25 Fresh and Fun Projects “Print on Demand Edition” (Pastimes)

Painting and Decorating Furniture

Fabulous Painted Furniture

How to make a chic curtain rod and finial

Buying curtain rods can get really expensive, especially if you need the extra long ones. I discovered this recently when I redecorated my entire house, including all new window treatments.

I learned how to use cheap materials from the hardware store to make sturdy, professional curtain rods in different lengths.

The average cost per rod, including brackets, was only about $5 apiece.

I also figured out how to make finials that snap into the rods perfectly using a technique I have not seen anywhere else.

This tutorial details how to make curtain rods (from electrical conduit), brackets (from straps, corner braces, nuts and screws) and finials (from knockout seals and cabinet knobs).

Let’s see how easy it is to make your own cheap but chic designer curtain rods.

Supply list

Supplies for the curtain rods: Electrical conduit

conduit for diy curtain rods

Conduit for DIY curtain rods

Get down to your local hardware store and pick up some electrical conduit, a lightweight but sturdy hollow metal tubing. The best part is it comes in 10′ long lengths for something like $2 each.

If you happen to have a window wider than 10′, you can easily put pieces together to make the size you want using couplings (described later on).

Conduit comes in different diameters, but for curtain rods I suggest choosing from ½”, ¾” or 1″. I chose the ¾” for my project.

Then for heaven’s sake try and get someone at the hardware store to cut these for you!

A note about painting rods and hardware

It certainly can be done, but I don’t recommend it. But if I were going to, this is what I’d do:

Wash and dry the metal, go over it with sandpaper to give it some tooth, clean the metal with alcohol, use spray auto primer followed up with at least two coats of Krylon spray paint.

Supplies for the brackets: Straps, corner braces and screws

supplies for diy curtain rods

Supplies for DIY curtain rods

The curtain rod brackets are made from straps, corner braces, nuts and screws.

Straps. Buy the same size strap as the conduit. For example, my conduit was ¾” so I got ¾” straps. You need two per window.

Corner braces. These come in various sizes but I chose 1½” corner braces. That’s how far the rod will stick out from the wall. I would not go any smaller than that. (I wish I had gotten 2″ braces, but, oh well.) If you have a 1″ rod, I would suggest getting a 2½” brace (larger rod, larger brace). Again, you’ll need two braces per window.

Nuts and screws. I used machine screws #10-32x¾”, whatever that means. All I know is you need two per window.

You’ll need to use a wrench and screwdriver to put these together. You will also most likely need plastic anchors for attaching the brackets to drywall, along with screws of course.

Supplies to cap the conduit: Knockout seals

knockout seals for conduit

Knockout seals for conduit

The important thing to remember is that you need a knockout seal one size smaller than the conduit. I bought ½” knockout seals because my conduit was ¾”. Once again, you need two seals per rod.

If you didn’t want to make finials, you could opt to use just the knockout seals for a streamlined industrial look. But to make the finials, you’re going to need cabinet knobs. The hardware store has a nice selection, but you might also want to shop around online.

Supplies for finials: Cabinet knobs

winpoon 30mm crystal cabinet knobs

Winpoon® 30mm diamond shaped crystal cabinet knobs/drawer pulls

Here’s where you’re going to spend a few extra bucks, but it’s worth it for that designer look.

These are the ones I chose because they look like a big old diamond and I’m all about sparkle! The size is good too because I’ll never have to remove them to get my curtains off the rods.

You’re not limited to silver knobs. Feel free to mix metals—it’s très chic!

Make the rods

Cut conduit to size

cut conduit with dremel

Cut conduit with Dremel

If you’re lucky, the hardware store will do this for you. They actually did cut mine but later I discovered one piece was a little too long. That’s when I broke out my Dremel.

If you need to cut the pipe and you don’t have a rotary tool, you should buy an inexpensive pipe cutter. A hacksaw would also work if you have the patience for that.

Ream out the inside

using dremel to ream curtain rod

Use Dremel to ream curtain rod

The cut end of the pipe needs to be reamed out. If the hardware store cut the pipe, they’ll do this for you too.

I had to use my trusty Dremel again to ream out the end I had just cut. It also smoothed away the rough edges.

Note: Be sure to wear safety glasses when using power tools.

Remove labels from conduit

remove label from conduit

Remove label from conduit

Remove adhesive from conduit

remove adhesive with baby oil

Remove adhesive with baby oil

A sticky reside will be left behind when the label’s removed. I used a little baby oil on a cotton ball to dissolve it. Any oil will work, even cooking spray.

Then to remove the oil I went over it with rubbing alcohol and a paper towel.

How to make extra long rods

couplings to join pieces of conduit

Couplings to join pieces of conduit

To make extra long rods, you need couplings the same size as the rod. You can connect as many pieces as you want to make rods of any length.

The longest rod I needed was 96″ and that one didn’t require piecing together. But I did end up with two, short leftover pieces. I like the look of these conduit rods so much that I decided to make a new rod with these leftovers. Together they were just the right size for the window in my craft room. That made my inner cheapskate very happy, and the new rod looks great!

Screw coupling to one piece of rod

attach coupling

Attach coupling

New rod made from two shorter pieces

two short pieces of tube joined together for curtain rod

Two short pieces of tube joined together for curtain rod

Use knockout seal on the end for an industrial look without a finial

knockout seal for conduit

Knockout seal for conduit

It takes a bit of work to get the knockout seal into the end of the rod. You’ll definitely need to pound it in with a hammer. You might even have to bend the prongs in a little.

Removing a knockout seal: Once in, the seal can be removed with a screwdriver and hammer. The seal has an edge that extends past the rod, so you would need to put the screwdriver on it and tap it out with the hammer.

Make the finials

Cabinet knob for finial

cabinet knob finial

Cabinet knob finial

When you’re using cabinet knobs, the screws that come with them are going to be too long. That’s because they’re meant to be screwed into a piece of wood at least a half inch thick. The knockout seal is much thinner than that. You can either find shorter screws or chop off the ends.

I decided to shorten the screws by about ½”. Once again, my Dremel saved the day.

Mark the center of the knockout seal

mark center of knockout seal

Mark center of knockout seal

Use a Sharpie to mark the center point. You will need to make a hole in the seal large enough for the screw.

Punch hole in knockout seal

make hole in knockout seal

Make hole in knockout seal

As you can see, I did this old school with a hammer and nail. This step was by far the hardest part of the whole project. It would have been much easier with a drill but my big drill was broken. You might not have one either, so this is the next best way.

I used different sizes of nails until the hole was large enough.

Attach knob to knockout seal

attach knob to knockout seal

Attach knob to knockout seal

While holding the knob on the outside of the seal, screw in from the inside. Make sure all the pieces fit snugly together.

Cap the rod with new finial

finished finial for conduit curtain rod

Finished finial for conduit curtain rod

As I described in an earlier section, getting the seal into the rod takes some work. The prongs will need to be bent in a little, then you’ll need to place a screwdriver on the edge, tapping it in with a hammer.

Make the brackets

Assemble the brackets to hold the curtain rods

make brackets for diy curtain rods

Make brackets for DIY curtain rods

The screw goes in from the top and is held in place with a nut underneath.

Use a wrench and screwdriver

screwing bracket pieces together for diy curtain rods

Screw bracket pieces together for DIY curtain rods

Use a wrench to hold the nut.

All that’s left now is to mount the brackets onto the wall and snap the rods in place.

The finished rods and finials

Easy, cheap DIY curtain rod

diy curtain rod with finial

DIY curtain rod with finial

Love it!

My living room with the new rods and curtains

easy cheap diy curtain rod

Easy cheap DIY curtain rod

The rods in this room, with finials, cost under $13 apiece. That brings the total for the living room to $38 for three windows.

To me, it looks like a million bucks!

DIY modern starburst mirror

I love starbursts, sunbursts and atomic art decor and recently became obsessed with getting a starburst mirror for my living room. When I saw how expensive they were to buy, I decided to see if I could make one. And this is the result: a fantastic work of art that only cost $13 to make!

There are many pictures and tutorials on the web, so I picked out my favorite style, one that uses simple supplies like craft mirrors and wooden dowels. There was also a great YouTube video to go along with it (featured near the end). I added my own unique touches and tips, different from the video, which I’ll point out as I go along.

Supplies used to make this starburst mirror

mirrors and dowels for starburst mirror

Mirrors and dowels for starburst mirror

I found all the mirrors at Michaels for a total of $11, and the dowels and skewers at Walmart for $1 apiece.

The finished mirror measures about 26″ across, with the center mirror being only 5″. It’s scaled down from the one demonstrated in the video.

Supply list

  • 5″ round mirror
  • 4 packages of 25 pc assorted round craft mirrors (measuring 1″, 3/4″ and 1/2″). You need a minimum of 80 mirrors as follows:
    16 large (1″)
    32 medium (3/4″)
    32 small (1/2″)
  • 16 dowels, 12″ long and 3/8″ in diameter
  • 16 bamboo skewers, 9″ long
  • 22 gauge wire
  • wire cutter or craft scissors
  • needlenose pliers
  • compass
  • cardboard and paper
  • hot glue and tacky glue
  • paintbrush and your choice of paint

Use a compass to make a circle on cardboard

draw circle on cardboard for starburst mirror

Draw circle on cardboard for starburst mirror

If you don’t have a compass you can make one using a string tied around a thumbtack. Just be sure to make the circle slightly smaller than your mirror.

Mine was 5″ across so the circle I made was 4¾” across.

Cut out the circle

cut out circle for starburst mirror

Cut out circle for starburst mirror with X-acto knife

I used an X-acto knife but scissors will work just as well.

Cut a circle out of paper, a step I added which is not in the video

Fold the circle into 16 equal sections

make a paper circle divided into 16 sections for starburst mirror

Make a paper circle divided into 16 sections for starburst mirror

Here’s an easy and accurate way to divide the circle into sections.

Make a paper circle smaller than the cardboard circle you just made. Fold it in half, then open it up and fold it half going the other way. Repeat until you have 16 folded sections on the paper. This will be used to mark the placement of the dowels on the cardboard.

Use the paper circle to mark sections on the cardboard circle

mark cardboard backing for starburst mirror

Mark cardboard backing for starburst mirror

Pin the paper to the cardboard at the center point, then transfer the markings to the cardboard.

You could use a protractor but this is easier.

Connect the dots

draw placement lines on cardboard

Draw placement lines on cardboard

Draw lines on the cardboard from one side to the other, being sure to intersect the center point.

The marked cardboard circle

cardboard circle marked and ready for gluing

Cardboard circle marked and ready for gluing

After all the lines are drawn, make a 1″ circle in the middle. The dowels will start at this point.

Glue dowels to cardboard

glue dowels to cardboard for starburst mirror

Glue dowels to cardboard for starburst mirror

Attach dowels on top of the drawn lines with hot glue.

Add skewers in between the dowels

glue skewers in between dowels for starburst mirror

Glue skewers in between dowels for starburst mirror

Make a wire hanger

make wire hanger from 22 gauge wire

Make wire hanger from 22 gauge wire

Cut two 4″ pieces of 22 gauge wire and twist them together using needlenose pliers.

Insert wire into cardboard

insert wire into cardboard

Insert wire into cardboard

Make two small holes inside the center circle and push the ends of the wire through.

Glue wire hanger in place, a step I added which is not in the video

glue wire hanger in place

Glue wire hanger in place

On the other side of the cardboard, twist the ends of the wire together, press them flat against the cardboard and fill in the circle with hot glue. This will keep the hanger from pulling through the cardboard over time.

Add more glue to the wire hanger

add glue to wire hanger

Add glue to wire hanger

Put a couple of dots of hot glue over the holes. Notice that the hanger is bent slightly away from the cardboard to make it easier to hang.

Choose a paint color

paint for starburst mirror

Paint for starburst mirror

Use any color you want to paint the dowels. Gold and silver metallic paints are popular choices because they make the finished product look more like metal. Of course you can select any color you think will fit in with your decor.

I chose black because I wanted it to stand out against the aqua walls. Black is also a color I’ve used to accessorize with throughout the house.

The paint I selected is Folk Art enamel in Licorice. I used this because it’s shiny and doesn’t need a sealer on top. One coat of this paint was enough.

Paint the cardboard and dowels

paint the starburst mirror

Paint the starburst mirror

Elevate the piece to make it easier to paint. I put mine on top of a paint can. After one side is dry, flip it over and paint the other side. Make sure to paint the edge of the cardboard.

When the whole thing is dry, it’s time for the really fun part, gluing on the mirrors!

Diagram of mirror placement on dowels and skewers

guide to making starburst mirror

Guide to making starburst mirror

The dowels get three mirrors (a large, medium and small), spaced out at 3″ and 3½”. The skewers only get two (medium and small), 3″ apart.

Use hot glue to attach mirrors

glue mirrors to dowels using a ruler for spacing

Glue mirrors to dowels using a ruler for spacing

Hot glue a large mirror to the end of each dowel, holding each one in place for a few seconds. The trick here is to make sure it ends up being fairly level.

Then glue a medium one to the end of each skewer. Glue the rest of the mirrors spacing them out with a ruler for accuracy.

I placed my ruler underneath the piece rather than marking the wood directly.

Secure the back with more glue, a step I added which is not in the video

add more glue to back of mirrors

Add more glue to back of mirrors

This is a step I added because one of the small mirrors popped off of a skewer as I was handling the piece. The skewers in particular are so narrow they don’t hold a lot of glue.

When all the assorted mirrors are glued on, flip the piece over and put more hot glue on each one. This makes the glue base larger, more secure and less likely for things to come off. It looks a bit messy but no one will be able to see it once it’s hanging on the wall.

Glue the center mirror with tacky glue, a step I added which is not in the video

Glue the center mirror with tacky glue

Glue the center mirror with tacky glue

This also was an addition not in the video I used as a precaution against the center mirror coming off.

Put a whole bunch of tacky glue in the center, then place the 5″ mirror on top.

With tacky glue you have the advantage of being able to reposition that you don’t have when using hot glue. Nothing would be worse than a focal point being off center. At least, that would drive me crazy! Tacky glue will also hold it forever.

Hot glue is great for instant gratification but it doesn’t always hold up depending on the type of surface being glued and extreme fluctuations in temperature.

Leave the piece to dry on a flat surface for about 24 hours.

Fill in the spaces with more hot glue

put hot glue in between dowels on starburst mirror

Put hot glue in between dowels on starburst mirror

Put a bead of hot glue in between each dowel and skewer. It should also connect with the center mirror. Getting in there can be a little tricky.

Hot glue tip!

When you’re all done with the hot glue, use your blow dryer to melt any stray glue strings (and there will be many). Glue strings are not attractive and will make your beautiful work of art look cheap, and that’s no good.

The finished starburst mirror

finished starburst mirror

Finished starburst mirror

This is the result you’ll get by following the referenced video. It looks pretty but I wanted to take it a step further.

Adding embellishments to customize the look

extra mirrors added to starburst mirror

Extra mirrors added to starburst mirror

I had some mirrors left over so I decided to add on a few extra ones. Can you spot them? This makes the pattern look more random and funky which I think is visually more pleasing.

I love how the etched mirror design can be interpreted as heat swirls, and the extra little mirrors appear to be pieces of the star flying out from the center.

A grand statement for a small cost

funky diy starburst mirror

Funky DIY starburst mirror

One of the first things people see when they walk through my front door. Well, this and my hot pink sofa, but that’s a story for another day.

The inspiration video for the making of this starburst mirror. Less than five minutes long.

I loved the style of this mirror although I decided to make a smaller version. The one demonstrated here uses an 8″ central mirror, dowels that measure 16″ long and skewers that are 12″ long. That makes the finished mirror about 34″ across which is quite spectacular but needs a large space for hanging.

This is the mirror featured in the above video

starburst mirror amazonIf you’re going to make a mirror just like the one in the video, you’ll need this 8″ mirror. I really love the scalloped edge. It adds more sparkle and interest.

I bought all my mirrors at Michaels, but for some reason they didn’t have this particular one. I ended up using a smaller one anyway. Here it is for your convenience.

DIY window film for beauty and privacy

As much as I love my neighbors, I really don’t love looking at their hot water heater. And I don’t particularly like the idea that someone might be peering in at me at any given time.

And then I discovered DIY window film, a simple and low cost solution for creating privacy and hiding an undesirable view.

The not-so-appetizing view from my eat-in kitchen

It had to go

ugly view without privacy film

I mean, who wants to look at that when you’re trying to have a nice meal? Short of building a super high fence around my property, privacy window glass film was just what I needed.

Better than curtains and blinds that can darken a room, frosted glass window film allows natural light in. It’s easy to apply, reposition and remove without leaving a sticky residue behind.

Decorative glass film is perfect for both homeowners and renters, whether their privacy needs are temporary or long term.

My favorite frosted glass window film in a fun circle pattern

Apply to clean glass. No adhesive or water required.

circle pattern privacy film

I fell in love with this circle design, from the many designs available, and bought some for my kitchen window.

This is a heavy duty vinyl with a peel off paper backing. It’s really sticky yet leaves no residue on your fingers or the glass if you need to remove or reposition it.

It can also be applied to walls for an interesting texture, like wallpaper without the commitment.

I only wish it came in a wider width (it measures about 17.5″W x 6.5’L). I had to use two pieces to cover my kitchen window. Overall I’m very happy with my choice, and you can see how it turned out below.

You don’t necessarily have to cover the entire window. Some people like to apply it just to the bottom half. I’ve also seen designs made on windows using strips of film in various widths.

How to install DIY privacy film

Start at the top and work your way down

peeling off window film backing

Cut off a length of window film a little longer than you need. Grid lines on the paper backing make it easy to cut a straight line.

Peel down the paper a few inches and stick the film onto the window.

Very important: Using a credit card or plastic scraper, smooth out the vinyl from the center, working outwards on both sides. This is to remove air bubbles.

Continue pulling down the paper a few inches at a time, smoothing as you go.

If you make a mistake along the way, you can pull up the vinyl, reposition and continue on.

A note about air bubbles

privacy window film

Should you discover some air bubbles after you’re done, simply remove them by sticking a pin in them and pressing the air out with your fingers.

Leave a little excess at the bottom

applying privacy film to window

Cut off the excess with a sharp blade

cutting off excess window film

I used a utility knife.

Half the window is done

What a dramatic difference

window half covered with privacy film

Bye bye ugly view

Hello privacy

window covered with DIY privacy film

Here’s the window with both sides done. There’s a small seam overlapping just a smidgeon down the middle but it doesn’t bother me. It looks at least a thousand times better than it did.

Complete privacy with curtains and frosted glass windows

It just feels more serene, and I can run around in my pajamas now

window with diy privacy film and curtains

With curtains covering up the side windows, I can have total privacy or peek out the windows if I want to without anyone peeking in at me. What bliss!

Makeover old curtain rods with DIY finials

Cabinet knobs make great finials for old curtain rods

When it comes to curtain rods, it’s all about the finials. They add style and flair to what would otherwise be an ordinary pole.

But what if you can’t afford to replace your old curtain rods. Even just buying new finials can be expensive.

So I have a quick and cheap trick for giving a glam new look to old curtain rods. You’ll be saving money and recycling at the same time.

Get creative and save money

When you’re decorating on a budget, you have to get creative. I have quite a few of those basic cafe curtain rods, you know, the kind you get at discount stores. My kitchen is being renovated and those tired old rods don’t fit with my artistic vision. But after shopping for new ones I realized they were actually going to cost more than my new curtains. So then I thought, are those rods really that bad? Maybe I can figure something out.

Basic curtain rod from discount store

cheap curtain rod with brass finial

Quick and cheap solution to update old cafe rods

And here’s what I came up with, a simple, fast and cheap curtain rod makeover. I decided to replace those small ugly brass finials with a cabinet knob. They’re a lot cheaper than finials and there are many to choose from at your local hardware store.

cabinet knob for finial

These are the ones I selected. They were $2.50 apiece and I needed four of them. That’s a total of $10 for “new” rods.

I think they’re going to look fantastic with my new retro modern chandelier. The round silver cabinet knobs echo the design of the chandelier.

How to replace finials on plain cafe rods

There are two ways to replace the finials. You can either remove the old finial or leave it on and use it as a base for the new finial. The method you choose depends on the size of the knob you’re using and how well the base will fit into the rod.

The best scenario is to choose knobs that will fit inside the rod pretty snugly. In that case you need to remove the old finial as outlined in Method 1.

For knobs that will be either too large or too small to fit inside the old rod, please refer to Method 2.

Method 1: remove the old finial

removing old curtain finial

I discovered that brass finials are just clamped onto the end of the rod. The rod extends all the way inside the finial. With a bit of effort you could actually pull them off but you risk twisting and warping the rod.

The best and fastest way to remove the old finial is to cut it. Find the seam in the rod, take a utility knife and start cutting through the finial.

Cut a slit into the bottom of the finial

removing old curtain rod finial

Keep cutting until you can get the utility knife in to pry up an edge.

Peel back the edge with needlenose pliers

removing old finial

This is similar to opening a sardine can.

Pull off old finial

pulling off old finial

After you’ve peeled a bit of the metal back, the old finial will just come right off. The whole process takes about five minutes.

Now it’s time to insert the new cabinet knob finials


The knobs I chose are a pretty close fit.

Glue the finials for added security

gluing new finials to curtain rod

Put a little E-6000 inside the rod, a good glue for nonporous surfaces. This step ensures the finials will not pop out.

Put more glue around the base of the knob

glue cabinet knob finial

 Insert the knob into the curtain rod

new finial on old curtain rod

You can see some of the paint is gone near the end of the rod. If that bothers you it can be touched up with some enamel paint. Let it dry and cure per the instructions on the product.

I’ve decided not to do that because the curtain will completely cover up that spot.

Make sure to push the knob down as far as you can

new finial on old curtain rod

Let the knobs dry overnight by standing the rods up in a corner. Any excess glue that oozes out will go down inside the knob.

Before and after

old and new curtain rod finials

The new finials have a lot more impact.

Method 2: use the old finial as a base for the cabinet knob

When the base of your cabinet knob is either too large or too small to fit snugly inside the rod

You may find knobs that are too narrow at the base to make a tight connection inside the rod. In that case you can make an appropriately sized hole in the old finial for the knob to fit into.

This will also work in situations where the base is much bigger around than the rod. Take the screw that comes with the knob and screw it into the bottom. Then make a hole in the finial to fit the size of the screw.

Begin by punching a hole in the top of the finial

punching hole in old finial

The metal is thin so this is easy to do.

Enlarge the hole with a bigger instrument

putting hole in finial

A can opener can create an even larger opening

putting hole in finial

Finish by gluing the knob to the old finial

Then you would take the new knob and put glue around the base (or the screw if that’s being used as a post). Insert new knob into the old finial. Let dry overnight.

Bonus tip: paint the old finial

old finial with glittery paint

Here’s an even easier way to change the look of an old cafe rod with paint and glitter.

I painted the brass finial with silver metallic paint and while it was wet dipped it into microfine silver glitter (‘cuz that’s how I roll). After the glitter dried I brushed on two coats of Delta satin varnish, drying in between coats.

And there you have it, curtain rod glam makeover complete!

curtain on new madeover rod

I’m really happy with the look. Now I just need to get my new curtains.