How to make a chic curtain rod and finial

upscale curtain rods from cheap hardware store materials

Upscale curtain rods from cheap hardware store materials

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

DIY modern starburst mirror by Lynda Makara

DIY modern starburst mirror by Lynda Makara

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.

 

 

Getting rid of gophers in my yard

What works and what doesn’t to get rid of pocket gophers

gophers in my yardI’m declaring war on gophers. They’ve been going to town in my backyard long enough. In fact, it’s been going on for decades on this property. For years my dad used traps to kill them, but that’s pretty gross and not something I can do. And they come back eventually.

After my dad was gone my mom took over. She would flood the holes for days hoping to drive them into the open. Sometimes one would pop out, wet and disoriented, and she would spear it with a garden tool. Again gross, and a disturbing picture of my mother.

My mom’s gopher spear

gopher spear

Gopher spear

So now it’s my turn. I’ve put poison into their tunnels. I might not see them for a while but then they’re back. I’ve also had success a couple of times putting dry ice down the hole (it releases odorless carbon dioxide and they die). But the last time it didn’t work and I wasted $8 for nothing.

Identifying pocket gophers

Gopher tunnel in my backyard

Pocket gophers can cause property damage and physical injury

gopher tunnel in my yard

Gopher tunnel in my yard

Digging down just a few inches reveals a gopher tunnel. Tunnels can be as long as 800 feet. This one goes underneath the concrete walkway.

Besides the appearance of unsightly mounds, gopher tunneling weakens the ground. Sometimes the ground can cave in, causing injury to people and animals. Concrete and other structures such as pools can be undermined to the point where they collapse. I’m concerned this might happen to my walkway.

Gopher feeder hole

pocket gopher feeder hole

Pocket gopher feeder hole

Besides creating large mounds of dirt in the yard, gophers also leave these feeder holes. This is where the gopher has tunneled over to a tempting patch of vegetation and pulled the plants in by the roots. Then it backfills the hole leaving a round circle of dirt.

I’ve actually seen this in progress as blades of grass disappear into the ground. The gopher is able to feed without ever coming out into the open.

Other gopher control methods

I’ve heard that putting Juicy Fruit gum in their tunnel will kill them if they eat it. Don’t believe it. I tried that and when I came outside later, they had pushed the gum out of the hole and it was sitting on top of a nice fresh pile of dirt. A dollar wasted.

One method I would love to try is to sic a gopher-eating snake on them. The thought of a pesky gopher being devoured by a snake gives me more pleasure than I should probably admit. No doubt it would be successful but then I’d be left with a snake in my yard!

Another thing I’ve heard about is this tool called a Rodenator that blows up their tunnels and kills them. Also a very satisfying thought but it can backfire, literally.

Stop feeding the gophers

gophers systematically eating my lawn

Gophers systematically eating my lawn

Lately I’ve been passive-aggressive. A couple of months ago I stopped watering the lawn they’ve been feasting on. Unfortunately, we’ve had some rain and now green shoots are popping up again, along with some new gopher holes. But I think I’m on to something. The only way to get rid of the gophers forever is to get rid of their food. I have a plan. Stay tuned and I will be sharing that with you soon.

Update: February 2014

A couple of days after publishing this, the gopher started going after a small patch of green grass. So I dug up the rest of it myself (the gardener must think I’m crazy) and I haven’t seen the gopher since. He must have gone to look for greener pastures. Even so, I’m sure I haven’t seen the last of them because they always come back.

I’m planning on getting rid of the lawn they find so irresistible, replacing it with trees and shrubs, and possibly surrounding the perimeter with wire mesh installed below ground. A drastic solution for sure, but I’m not that keen on grass anyway. I’d much rather have a garden full of flowering bushes, raised beds and a nice little patio to sit and enjoy the view.

Protect your yard from gophers

How to get rid of gophers for good

I’ve learned that you can protect your yard by installing a gopher fence underground all around the outside boundary. This would be feasible for anyone with a small to average yard.

What you do is get wire mesh called hardware cloth which runs about 24″ tall. Then you need to dig a trench 24″ deep using a pick. Hard work for sure, but a great way to work off your frustration with destructive gophers. And when it’s finished, no more gophers.

Update: April 2014

In April I began removing all the grass from my backyard. Guess what, I haven’t seen a gopher since! I’m making room for a new urban garden with concrete pavers and gravel. As an added bonus, I’ll be saving money by not having to water the lawn anymore.

Fix ceiling cracks for good

ceiling crack

Ceiling crack

The biggest problem with repairing cracks in ceilings and walls is that they always come back. The most popular methods of fixing cracks involve the use of spackle or drywall tape. The problem with these materials is that they’re rigid. To get rid of ceiling cracks for good, you need to fill them with a flexible material that will stretch when the walls move.

After years of fixing the same drywall cracks over and over again, I finally found a product to eliminate those annoying cracks once and for all, Big Stretch Sealant. The great thing about this product is that anyone can use it. Even if you’ve never filled a crack in your life, you’ll be successful because it’s as easy as spreading mayonnaise on bread. So if you can do that, you’re good to go.

Big Stretch sealantBig Stretch is different from regular caulk which has a short working time and a thick texture. Big Stretch truly has the consistency of mayonnaise and stays open for several minutes. It does, however, require two or three coats because it shrinks at it dries, so allow a couple of days for this process before painting your walls.

Supplies to fix drywall cracks

How to fix ceiling cracks for good

1. Prepare the crack by scraping off loose particles

Ceiling before

Ceiling before

You can use a putty knife or screwdriver. Here’s the before shot of the ceiling.

2. Use a paintbrush to remove dust from the crack

brush dust out of drywall cracks

Brush dust out of drywall cracks

3. Apply Big Stretch sealant to the crack

fill crack with sealant

Fill crack with sealant

4. Remove the excess with a putty knife, damp sponge or your fingers

remove excess sealant

Remove excess sealant

I prefer using a putty knife.

5. Let dry overnight

after one coat of sealant has dried

After one coat of sealant has dried

Big Stretch will shrink as it dries. This is what it looks like after the first coat dries.

6. Go over the crack again and let dry overnight

after two coats of sealant have dried

After two coats of sealant have dried

Some cracks might require a third coat.

7. Once the crack is filled in, paint your walls a divine color

ceiling after photo

Ceiling after photo

This one is called Watermelon Pink. See—no more cracks! And it’s still holding up after going through a couple of earthquakes.

 

My weird and awesome kitchen chandelier

new kitchen chandelier

My Supernova mini chandelier

Look! Up at the ceiling! Is it a spaceship? Is it a shooting star? No, it’s my Supernova Mini Chandelier!

As I was renovating the kitchen in my old 1940s house, I started searching for a new chandelier. When I saw this one I fell in love with the starburst design and the polished chrome. And it fits in with the retro modern style I’m going for.

Even though the price was reasonable, I debated about whether or not to buy it since I was spending so much to redo the rest of the kitchen. I thought about trying to make the existing chandelier work by painting over the tarnished gold finish with a high gloss black paint. But the style was too traditional and so ugly. It kind of looks like a spider. What do you think?

Old kitchen chandelier

Ugh! So hideous!

old kitchen chandelier

My old kitchen chandelier

In the end, I just had to have it. Truth be told, it’s one of my favorite elements in my new kitchen and goes so well with the new black granite countertops. Seeing my Supernova chandelier every morning makes me very happy. And meals are just more elegant now.

New kitchen with my new awesome chandelier

supernova chandelier

This chandelier looks so great in the dining area of my kitchen. Makes me feel like I’m dining someplace special.

Besides being beautiful, this chandelier puts out a lot of light. I can work at the table and really see what I’m doing, whether I’m on the computer or doing an art project.

And speaking of light…

The one thing people ask me, after they finish exclaiming about my cool chandelier, is can you get light bulbs for it. That’s a very good question because it was my concern too when deciding whether or not to buy this unusual light fixture. I understand you can get replacement bulbs at Lowe’s and they’re also available here.

Now that my kitchen is finished, I can’t help but admire the way everything has come together. I love to take it all in: the harmonious colors, the twinkling black galaxy granite and the sparkling Supernova chandelier. It’s out of this world!

DIY window film for beauty and privacy

privacy window film

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

cabinet knob finial

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

finial4

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.

Don’t buy DuraCeramic by Congoleum

chipped duraceramic tile

Kitchen flooring is quite an investment and it’s reasonable to expect it to last a good ten years. So when our DuraCeramic vinyl flooring starting flaking off after only four years, I couldn’t believe it.

Then I remembered that the manufacturer, Congoleum, has a limited lifetime warranty on DuraCeramic. Unfortunately, trying to get them to honor that warranty was an exercise in futility.

I didn’t just get a bad batch of flooring. Lots of other people are reporting the same issues with DuraCeramic and also with Congoleum.

Update 2015: There is a class action lawsuit pending against Congoleum for their defective DuraCeramic product, failure to honor warranties and false advertising. For more information on participating in this lawsuit, visit Class Action News.

(The original article continues below:)

Congoleum claims this product is tougher than regular linoleum

box of duraceramic tile

This product is a vinyl composition tile, or VCT. It’s mixed with limestone which is supposed to make it stronger. The salesman even told us it was like a hybrid of linoleum and ceramic tile. It’s supposed to resist chipping and cracking, and comes with a lifetime limited warranty.

DuraCeramic is soft and dents easily

dents in duraceramic

There are dents in the floor where the refrigerator used to sit. This is pretty consistent with regular linoleum that hasn’t been enhanced with the addition of limestone. Again, this was pitched as being stronger and more durable than ordinary linoleum.

Near the top of the photo you can also see the floor is scratched.

Thin flimsy tiles

measuring duraceramic tile

These measure just under one-quarter of an inch thick. The material is soft, pliable and easy to drill through should the need arise. In fact, the tiles must be stored flat or they’ll warp. So far, more characteristic of linoleum than ceramic tile.

No, those aren’t paint splatters. It’s just the design wearing off.

peeling duraceramic tile

These white spots started appearing about four years after installation. At first I thought someone spilled paint on the floor. Then I realized the pattern was wearing off. For that to happen this top layer must have been microthin.

Now I’ve had a lot of linoleum flooring over the years, and this problem has never, ever happened. Most of the time it seems to wear like iron and only ends up getting replaced because you’re tired of looking at it.

Flaking tiles

Some areas are worn down further into the tile

worn duraceramic tile

The damage is not limited to the top layer in some places.

Four tiles are affected so far

This area by the sink is the worst

chipped duraceramic tiles

Here’s a short video of my damaged kitchen floor

I took this video with my camera and I apologize for the quality.

What happened to the lifetime limited warranty?

When it comes time to make good on their warranty, Congoleum doesn’t want to hear from you. I believe the technical term for it is “giving you the run around.” And should you think mine was an isolated incident, please feel free to read the horror stories you can find here:

Pissed Consumer Reviews

I first contacted the salesman about the problem we were having with the floor. He said he would file a claim with Congoleum and they would come out to inspect. But they didn’t come. Instead they sent the salesman to my house to take pictures a week later.

Two weeks passed and I didn’t hear anything. I called the salesman again and he said he would contact the manufacturer’s rep about putting in a claim and that they would call me the following week.

Eight days passed with no word. I called the salesman again. This time he promised the rep would call me in a couple of days.

Another week went by and I had to call the salesman yet again. He said he would call the rep, again. The very next day he came back to my house to take pictures because somehow the first set of pictures got lost.

Fifteen days passed and what do you know, I finally got a call from the Mohawk consumer affairs rep. She said the claim was in process!

Another two weeks went by and I called the Mohawk rep to find out what was going on. She told me I had to talk to the salesman about the status of my claim. He wasn’t in and I had to leave a message for him to call me back.

The next day, nine weeks after initially contacting the salesman, he called and gave me their verdict: claim denied. If I wanted the floor fixed I would have to pay for it myself at an estimated cost of $200 for a box of tiles and installation.

Well that was it! No way was Congoleum going to get any more of my hard-earned cash to fix their lousy floor.

In conclusion, DuraCeramic is a waste of money

If you’re looking for new flooring, steer clear of DuraCeramic or anything else made by Congoleum. There are lots of other choices for quality products made by companies with integrity.

As for me, I decided to invest my money on new flooring that will truly stand the test of time—porcelain tile! And the best part is, I don’t even have to tear out the old floor. The new tile can go right on top.

How to clean and restore old grimy wood furniture

restored antique desk

Do you have some old wood furniture that needs a little sprucing up? Through the years it’s probably collected layers of grime and some scratches. Well you can bring it back to life without the hassle of stripping off the old finish and staining the piece.

I recently inherited this antique wood desk that was handed down from my grandmother. To say that it was neglected was an understatement. It was grimy and scratched but otherwise sound. I’ll show you step by step the process I used to clean and restore it using a product called Howard Restor-A-Finish. It was easy to do and I think it came out looking great as you can see in this photo.

Why I chose Howard Restor-A-Finish

No stripping involved!

howard restor-a-finishWho wants to strip furniture? Not me! I wanted to get this project done as quickly as possible and get a fantastic result.

It really does make old wood furniture (also cabinets, doors and moldings) look like new. After some preparation, you just apply it in the direction of the wood grain and wipe off the excess.

Be sure to wear rubber gloves and work in a well-ventilated area. You can store the rag and the gloves in a plastic bag to be used again.

Comes in nine different colors including neutral

The directions say to try and match the color to your wood furniture. It’s not going to matter that much because the color is very sheer. I actually got a shade darker because I wanted to change the color of my antique desk. It did end up slightly darker, but not nearly as dark as I had hoped. The product only promises to restore faded wood finishes. So if you’re thinking of changing the color, you’ll need to use an actual stain.

Removes white heat rings and blends out scratches

Fortunately, I didn’t have any white heat rings but there were several scratches, many of them rather deep. I would say the scratches were blended in, not really blended out. By that I mean they were camouflaged by the color in the product. It can’t actually fill in scratches, but it does make them much less noticeable. I’m pleased with the results I got.

Here is the before shot of my antique desk

This antique desk was dirty, grimy and really scratched

old desk before restoration

To really clean this desk I had to take some of it apart

While cleaning the desk I found some “treasure”

something hiding in old desk

The center section was really dirty and I couldn’t get all the way in there to clean it out. I was trying to figure out how to remove that piece when I saw some papers jammed into the crack.

What could it be? A long lost letter? Some forgotten piece of family history? I was excited to find out!

A look at the treasure uncovered

Just an index card and a book of 5 cent stamps

items found hidden in desk

How disappointing! Oh well, at least it gives me an idea of the age of this antique desk. The book of stamps was dated 1963 so the desk is at least that old. I think it’s probably quite a bit older though.

More views of the old wood desk before restoration

Washing the antique desk with Murphy’s Oil Soap

murphy's oil soap

I took the center section out after removing the back. Both pieces were loose and I just pulled out the remaining staples. Then I dusted the desk and washed it with Murphy’s Oil Soap, warm water and a soft rag.

After that, I let it dry for a few hours.

Lightly sanding the desk

An optional extra step

I decided to take an extra step and lightly sand the piece with fine sandpaper. This was done to remove wax buildup and grime, as well as to smooth out the numerous scratches.

After sanding, I washed the desk again with Murphy’s Oil Soap and let dry overnight. You can skip the sanding and second washing and go straight to using the Restor-A-Finish.

Following the directions, apply Howard Restor-A-Finish with a soft rag or fine steel wool

Using steel wool will help smooth out scratches

wiping on howard's restor-a-finish

You get instant gratification once you start applying the product. Do one small section at a time and wipe with a clean, soft rag.

Make sure to use rubber gloves and work in a well-ventilated area. I brought the desk into the garage for this step.

When finished wait at least 30 minutes before going on to the final step. I let the desk sit overnight.

Protect your newly restored wood furniture with Howard Feed-N-Wax

Penetrates and prevents the wood from drying out

apply feed-n-wax to restored wood furnitureThe final step after restoration is to apply Howard Feed-N-Wax which contains beeswax, carnuba wax and orange oil. Wipe it on with a small cloth. Let set for at least 20 minutes, then polish with a clean cloth.

Your old wood furniture will glow with a satiny sheen.

Directions say to use it two or three times a year to maintain the luster of your wood furniture.

See how the scratches look after restoration

Deep scratches are minimized now

scratches minimized on restored desk Another look at the restored wood desk

restored wood desk

Here you can see my antique wood desk after restoration.

Notice how I painted the wood panel behind the slots with one of my favorite colors. (It almost matches the wall color.) I did that because it was such a dark hole I couldn’t see what was down in there.

The center section and back panel were reattached using a staple gun.

A remarkable transformation!