Tip to keep cats from spraying your door

A few months ago I noticed with some indignation that cats had been spraying my front door! Well, I’d clean it up only to find a new spot appear a few days later.

Going in search of an easy solution I learned there are a few things cats don’t like such as aluminum foil, citrus scents and spiky surfaces.

I went for the aluminum foil method first since it was already on hand, wrapping it around my welcome mat. That method worked very well, so well in fact that nobody wanted to step on it, not even people. But it was very unsightly and had to be redone periodically.

aluminum foil anti cat mat

Aluminum foil wrapped around the welcome mat

After a while it was time to step up my game. Orange oil or some other citrus spray might work, but it would have to be reapplied frequently. And how would you know when to do it other than finding more cat pee on your door?

Unacceptable.

So I decided to hit the hardware store and get a piece of clear plastic carpet runner. The key to making this work is to put it upside down so the grippers are sticking up. It won’t hurt them, but any cat who puts his feet on that will get a nasty surprise.

So far it’s worked perfectly.

This is the one I got from Home Depot. It comes 2′ wide and you get it by the foot. I got 4′ at $1.28 per foot. Then I cut it half so I would have two pieces 1′ wide by 4′ long. I put one at the front door and one at the back door because the little buggers started spraying that one too.

And this is what it looks like up close.

Upside down carpet runner

Upside down carpet runner keeps cats away

You can barely see it. And it’s going to last forever.

I put it about eight inches away from the door so people can step over it and onto the mat.

Now my front door is a no-pee zone. Victory is sweet!

anti cat mat

The anti cat mat installed at front door

DIY garbage can fence

Trash cans. We all have them but who really wants to look at them. Mine were in full view from my kitchen window so I decided to make them disappear behind a fence.

After not finding anything suitable online (in terms of size, style, material and price), I thought maybe I could just make one. How hard could it be, right? And it was actually pretty simple except for one teensy little thing which I’ll tell you in a minute.

While browsing at the hardware store, the corrugated roof panels caught my eye. The galvanized steel looks modern and the silver color blends in well with the gravel and concrete pavers. I figured I could attach those panels to metal posts, the kind that go into the ground by stepping on them.

This is what I bought:

Materials for making a garbage can fence

  • 2 corrugated roof panels, 24″ x 6′, $23.08
  • 2 14-gauge steel u-posts, 5′ long, $5.40
  • 5 boxes of machine screws, #12-24×3/4″, $5.90
  • Wiss tin snips (straight-cut), $9.88

Altogether I spent $44.26 plus tax.

Other tools used

A drill, level, tape measure, wrench, screwdriver, garden gloves, straight edge and marker

The plan

My plan was to cut the panels to 54″ tall, bolt them together, mark and drill holes to match the posts, install the posts and bolt the panels to the posts.

Normally you’ll see outdoor garbage can screens in an L shape. I wanted to have access to the bins from either side, so I just needed a fence with one panel.

For an L-shaped fence, I would have installed another section at a 90 degree angle to the first one.

And here’s what not to do

Do NOT, and I repeat, DO NOT drill the holes for the posts before you put the posts in the ground. Because, believe it or not, trying to get the posts in the right position to line up with the predrilled holes is practically impossible.

That caused me hours of aggravation.

What I should have done

I should have put the posts in first, then marked the holes and drilled them. Oh well, live and learn.

How to make a fence for trash cans

Step 1: Mark cutting line on panels

If the panels need to be shortened, mark the portion to be cut off using a straight edge and a marker.

Note: Handle these panels with care or use garden gloves. All the edges are very sharp!

Mark cutting line on roof panel

Mark cutting line on roof panel

Step 2: Cut with tin snips

Be sure to protect your hands with heavy garden gloves while cutting.

The cut edge will be rough and a little wavy. I planned to install the panel with the cut edge on the bottom, buried in gravel.

Cut roofing panels with tin snips

Cut roofing panels with tin snips

Step 3: Mark drill holes

Mark panels for holes that will be used to attach the panels together.

to attach panels together

Mark holes

Step 4: Put matching holes in the panels

I find it easier to make a starter hole before using the drill.

Step 5: Bolt the panels together

Use a screwdriver and wrench to tighten the nuts and bolts.

Panels bolted together

Panels bolted together

Step 6: Put fence posts in the ground

For this step you need to know how far apart the posts will be and how deep to put them. Posts will fit inside a groove on each end of the steel panel.

Mark the spots on the ground where the posts will be placed. I made a hole in the ground with a screwdriver.

Put the posts in by stepping on them. Use the level to check that they’re straight. Use a tape measure to make sure the posts are the right distance apart and at the same height.

Step 7: Mark holes on panel to match the holes in post

Position the panel on the post and mark the holes with a Sharpie. The panel should be placed with the cut edge being on the bottom.

Mark holes for attaching to posts

Mark holes for attaching to posts

This step would be much easier with two people, but you can use wood or bricks to prop up the panel at the right height.

I used bricks to hold the panel in place.

Use bricks to prop up the fence panel or have someone hold in place

Use bricks to prop up the fence panel or have someone hold in place

Step 8: Drill the holes and attach panel to posts

After the holes are marked, take the panel down and drill the holes. Then prop (or hold) it back up while you put the bolts in. And you’re done!

Before and after pics

So there you have it—a simple DIY fence for under $50.

Ah, no more trash cans in view. It’s a beautiful thing!

Click here for the next installment in the backyard makeover,

DIY hose guides from solar lights

With my new flowerbeds in place, I’ve been finding it darned near impossible to drag that heavy hose through the yard and keep it out of the beds. So I decided to look for some hose guides and found that there are two choices: really cheap and ugly ($4 apiece), or decorative and expensive ($20+ apiece).

So I thought, there must be a way to make one that’s cheap AND decorative. And for good measure, I also decided it should serve another purpose.

Here’s what I came up with: a solar garden light turned into a hose guide. Brilliant!

Looking at the features of a good hose guide, I found they should have a long, sturdy post with a section in the middle that spins around, making it easier to pull the hose.

I decided to use rebar for the post. It comes in different lengths but I went with the ½” rebar that’s 24″ long, and costs just under $2 apiece. (Getting a longer length and cutting it yourself would be even cheaper.)

rebar and solar light

24″ long rebar and solar light

The crucial part was finding a solar light with a cylinder that would fit over rebar, with enough room for it to spin.

I found these really pretty solar garden lights that change colors. Comes in a set of 12. The tube is just the right size.

The hardest part about this project (which is not that hard at all) is hammering the rebar into the ground. It took less than a minute. I just hammered it in until the piece sticking out was the same length as the tube, about 8”.

rebar pounded into groundThen all you do is drop the solar light on top. Boom, you’re done! Easy, peasy and only $4.50 apiece.

During the day, they look like a nice modern accent in my landscaping.

hose guard from solar light

Hose guard from solar light

And at night, they’re enchanting!

solar hose guard at night

Solar hose guard at night

Painting outdoor concrete walls

Painting concrete and masonry is extremely tedious work, but the payoff is so worth it. I decided to paint my backyard walls as the next step in my modern backyard makeover. It was the only way to unify the look of three different cinderblock walls and the side of my neighbor’s garage.

I learned a few things in the process, with the main one being you need way more paint than you think.

With that in mind, the first thing to do is figure out the square footage of the walls to be painted. The formula is: Length x Height = Square Feet. Or you can just plug the numbers into this handy square footage calculator.

Tip for choosing a paint color

Paint swatches on cinderblock wall

Paint swatches on cinderblock wall

Before buying paint, bring home paint chips, several in each color. Cut them apart and combine the small swatches to make one larger swatch. Tape them to your outside wall and look at them during different times of the day.

Colors look so different depending on the amount of light. Usually you need a more intense color that won’t get washed out in the bright sunlight.

How much paint to buy

I went to the hardware store to get Kilz2 primer and Behr Premium Plus exterior flat paint. Coverage for Kilz2 primer is listed as 300 to 400 square feet per gallon, and coverage for Behr is 250 to 400 square feet. So I bought what I thought was enough to do the job and ended up having to go back a couple more times to buy more. It turned out the actual coverage was about 89 square feet per gallon. BIIIIG difference!

My cinderblock walls had never been painted before and their texture is extremely rough which is probably the worst case scenario in terms of coverage.

And here’s what else I learned.

Supplies needed for painting concrete

Besides paint, you also need a brush, tray, roller with a long nap (¾”), a long handle for the roller, cardboard or tarp to mask off the ground.

How to paint concrete and masonry

Step 1: Clean the surface

Either power wash or use the hose to wash down the walls. Let dry overnight.

Step 2: Apply primer

Primer applied to cinderblock walls (not garage)

Primer applied to cinderblock walls (not garage)

I believe this step is necessary for walls that have never been painted before. I used Kilz2 primer. I also used a large piece of cardboard to keep paint from splattering all over the ground.

One thing I noticed when painting is that I had to press really hard to try and get the paint down into all the nooks and crannies.

Step 3: Apply paint

Painting on top of primer coat

Painting on top of primer coat

The next day after the primer is dry you can apply the paint. Again, I used Behr Premium Plus.

Step 4: Touch up or add a second coat

The following day, go around looking for spots you missed, and there will be a few.

Step 5: Bask in the glory of your newly painted concrete walls

And treat yourself to a well-deserved glass of wine!

Check out the before and after

Here’s the before:

Before painting concrete walls

Before painting concrete walls

And here’s the after:

Concrete walls after painting

Concrete walls after painting

Soooo much better! Now I have a nice background to work with.

More projects and tutorials to follow as the backyard makeover continues.

Purple: Love it? Hate it?

Let me know what you think about this paint color. Would you dare to be this bold?

How to install 24″ concrete pavers

Last year, after a long and never-ending battle with gophers eating my lawn in the backyard, I decided to rip it out and install modern, low maintenance landscaping. I also felt it would add value to the property by creating an outdoor living space.

So I hired a landscape architect to draw up a plan for me. The main component of the plan was the installation of 24″ x 24″ concrete pavers with gravel in between.

Architectural drawing for modern backyard design using 24″ concrete pavers

Backyard landscape drawing with concrete pavers

Backyard landscape drawing with concrete pavers

Those little squares are the pavers. They create a path from my back porch (bottom right of the drawing) to three patio areas (toward the middle).

This is what $500 got me, but I’m passing it along to you for nothing, so if you can use it, you’re welcome.

How to install 24″ concrete pavers

Step by step photos and instructions

Being the DIYer that I am, I really wanted to save a ton of money and do all the labor myself. The project started off well with me tearing out all the grass. Then I wanted to learn exactly how to install the concrete pavers.

My landscape architect was not forthcoming at all about the process. Extensive searching on the internet yielded nothing in the way of step by step instructions. But I did learn that each 24″ paver might weigh about 100 lb, so I caved in and hired someone to do it for me to the tune of $7,200, OUCH! This would have been much cheaper if the whole thing had been done with poured concrete, but the pavers give it a modern and unique look.

Adding to the cost was my choice to use the highest grade of concrete paver (who knew they came in different grades?). I think it’s called Stepstone and they’re supposed to be a lot more durable. They also had to be special ordered.

I ended up taking photos to share with you in case you’re brave enough to attempt this on your own. The plan was modified a little by eliminating the space between pavers on the three patio sections. All the other stones have 6″ between them.

Step 1: Mark out the design

Unfortunately I didn’t get a photo of just this, but what they did is use wooden stakes and string to outline the area. (You can see a few of them in the picture below.) This included the pavers plus a 6″ border on all sides. The rest of the yard I would do myself later.

Step 2: Level the ground

digging out and leveling ground

Digging out and leveling ground

They removed 4″ of soil and leveled it as they went along.

Step 3: Cover the area with weed blocking fabric

Cover the ground with weed block fabric

Cover the ground with weed block fabric

Be sure to use a commercial grade weed block for this step.

They also threw some sand on top of it which I believe served to hold the fabric in place.

Step 4: Add a layer of aggregate and compress

Add aggregate on top of weed fabric

Add aggregate on top of weed fabric

This photo shows aggregate being placed on top of the weed fabric. Aggregate is primarily coarsely crushed stone. It adds a stable base for the pavers to sit on. Eventually it becomes almost as hard as concrete.

Aggregate smoothed out

Aggregate smoothed out

Machine used to compact aggregate

Machine used to compact aggregate

Then the aggregate was smoothed out and compacted with this gas-powered piece of equipment. I don’t know what it’s called, but this is what it looks like.

I’m guessing this layer was about 2″ thick. They had to leave room for sand and the pavers which are about 1½” thick.

Step 5: Add a layer of sand and level

Add sand on top of aggregate

Add sand on top of aggregate

The sand is meant to fill in all the gaps to make a smooth surface for the patio stones.

The sand was leveled by laying two parallel metal rods on the ground and dragging a piece of wood over the rods.

Sand leveled over aggregate

Sand leveled over aggregate

This photo shows most of the sand after being leveled.

Step 6: Lay pavers

Install pavers on top of sand

Install pavers on top of sand

Lay the pavers on top of the sand.

Keep pavers in a straight line

Keep pavers in a straight line

To keep the pavers going in a straight line, rows were marked with string and stakes, with pieces of wood to act as spacers in between.

Step 7: Fill in cracks with sand

Fill in cracks with sand

Fill in cracks with sand

Sand goes in between the blocks that are pushed together. It gets laid on top of the cracks and then a broom is used to sweep it into the cracks and sweep away the excess.

Step 8: Fill in spaces with gravel

Put gravel in between concrete pavers

Put gravel in between concrete pavers

Gravel was used to fill in the 6″ gaps in between pavers.

See the before and after

This is what the backyard looked like before starting this project:

Backyard before grass was removed

Backyard before grass was removed

And this is what it looks like after installing the concrete pavers:

Patio pavers installed

Patio pavers installed

And there’s lots more to come

So what did you think about this project? Do you think this is something you could do yourself? I’m just really glad I hired someone to do it for me. They did a fantastic job. And since then I’ve been busy working on the rest of it.

Wait ’til you see what else has been done! You won’t believe the transformation! Check back later for updates.

The next installment is here.

If you want to see the completed backyard makeover, please click here.

New year, new website!

This is my first official post on LyndaMakara.com and I just wanted to say hi to everyone and let you know what’s going on.

Even though I just launched my site at the end of January 2015, you’ll find articles here dating as far back as 2011.

That’s because for the last four years I’ve been writing for various other sites. I’ve also been selling my art on Etsy for roughly the same amount of time.

Now with my new website I’m bringing everything together. There are still some things that need tweaking, and I haven’t finished setting up my art store. Hopefully I’ll get that done soon, so please bear with me.

And there are lots of new posts coming up about my DIY adventures remodeling my house and creating a modern low-maintenance backyard oasis.

I’ve got some new art projects planned as well, such as a sleepy moon wall sculpture. Sleepy Moon is the name of the artwork used in the header. I think she’s divine, don’t you?

I would also love to hear your suggestions for tutorials. Please let me know what you’re interested in.

Here’s to a great new year!

Love,

Lynda and Koda

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.

Ugh!

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

Nice!

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!

Easiest way to dig up grass

Digging out your lawn is a tough job, but I’ve discovered there are ways to make it somewhat easier.

Right now I’m nearly finished removing all the grass in the backyard, almost 2,000 square feet, to make way for new landscaping. And I’m doing it all by myself with a shovel.

In the beginning it seemed like an endless task until I got a system going. Read on to find out the easiest way to dig up grass.

Landscaping your yard? Call 811 before you dig.

Notify the utility companies by calling 811 from anywhere in the USA. They will come out and mark buried utility lines.

Backyard “before” photo

backyard before photo

Backyard before photo

There’s not much going on this backyard. The grass is doing nothing except feed the gophers, which is my main reason for wanting to get rid of it. In its place I’m going to create an urban garden with sitting areas, raised beds and planters.

The little yellow flags along the left side are there to mark the gas line. I won’t be planting anything in that section.

Save money and do the digging yourself

Want to find out how much you can save by doing the work yourself? Check out the link below.

Protect your body before digging

  • Wear two pairs of gloves. This is crucial. I started getting blisters fast when I was just wearing one pair of regular gardening gloves. So I looked around and found a pair of soft white cotton gloves. They fit very snugly. I started wearing them underneath my garden gloves to prevent friction, and that kept my hands from getting new blisters.
  • Cover up from the sun. Make sure to wear long sleeves and long pants so you don’t get fried.
  • Use sunscreen or a large hat to protect your face. If you’re going to wear sunscreen, I recommend one with zinc oxide. Or you can do what I do and wear mineral makeup as sunscreen.
  • Wear sunglasses
  • Drink water before and keep water handy. This seems like it would be obvious, but the first day I didn’t take any water outside with me and didn’t drink enough later. By the end of the day I was a little dehydrated and my kidney started to hurt.

Wearing two pairs of gloves will help prevent blisters

wear two pairs of gloves to prevent blisters

Wear two pairs of gloves to prevent blisters

Tips for the easiest way to dig up grass

  1. Work in sections about 5 feet long going across the width of the yard
  2. Cut strips about 12 to 14 inches wide using a spade
  3. Dig all around the strip with a shovel, about 6 inches deep to get all the roots
  4. Roll up the strip of grass
  5. Shake off the excess dirt while rolling up the grass

Step by step photos for removing grass

Step 1: Work in 5′ long sections

dig out grass in rows

Dig out grass in rows

A row in progress.

Step 2: Cut a strip of grass

cut a strip of grass

Cut a strip of grass

Ideally you would use a spade for this. I didn’t have one so I found this handsaw in the garage. It works just fine.

Step 3: Dig all around the cut strip of grass

dig out a strip of grass

Dig out a strip of grass

Be sure to dig down at least 6″ to get the roots.

Steps 4 and 5: Roll up the strips of grass and remove excess dirt

roll up strips of grass

Roll up strips of grass

You need to remove the large dirt clods as you go along to make rolling the grass easier. My soil is very heavy clay and I chopped at the clods with the shovel or used the handsaw.

At this point the yard is about half done

finishing a section of yard with grass dug out

Finishing a section of yard with grass dug out

You can see the rolled up grass along the newly dug up rows.

Leave the rolled up strips of grass at the end of the row

grass strips rolled up

Grass strips rolled up

Let the grass dry up. Afterwards, you can compost it, throw it out or chop it up and dig it back into the ground to improve the soil.

Backyard “after” photo. Mission complete! No more grass.

backyard after photo

Backyard after photo

Altogether, it took about three weeks for me to dig up this large backyard by hand. The next step is to install pavers, gravel and plants. The little mounds you see in the photo represent my landscape plan “drawn” with dirt.

Setting goals

Mental games

To make an overwhelming task seem more manageable, I set daily goals for myself. For example, I would try to do one 5 foot long section per day. Then I broke that down into smaller goals.

In the morning I would decide to tear out four strips of grass before taking a break. Later one I would come back and do four more, etc. Sometimes I felt good enough to keep going. Altogether I worked about four or five hours a day.

Should you dig up your grass or kill it first? Depends on the type of grass. Get these answers and more in this video.

Removing your lawn will save you money with lower water bills. And you can even get paid to do so. Most communities have a program which will reimburse you up to a certain amount. Check with your utility company for more information.

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