Simple Ways to Improve your Home and Living Space

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How to Paint Outdoor Pots

Potted flowers add interest and life both indoors and out, but you make them pop even more with this easy DIY paint idea. Here’s how to paint outdoor pots and add some extra charm to your flower displays.

Skill Level: Novice

Time: 24-48 hours (including primer, paint and polyurethane drying times)

Cost: Less than $50

TOOLS AND MATERIALS

  • Norcal 10-inch terracotta flower pot
  • Primer made for terracotta (or another appropriate primer, depending on the material of your pot)
  • Measuring tape
  • Pencil
  • 1-inch painter’s tape
  • Hobby knife
  • Paint brush
  • Artist’s brush
  • Exterior paint or project paint
  • Exterior water-based polyurethane (if using your pot outside)

Step No. 1
Prime the pot with a primer that is appropriate for the material of your pot. Follow the instructions on the primer container. Once the primer has dried, create a harlequin pattern on your pot. Draw the pattern in pencil using measuring tape, or you can purchase ready-made stencils in the paint department of your local home improvement or paint store.

Step No. 2
Tape off the lines with painter’s tape. Trim off the excess tape with a hobby knife.

Step No. 3
With a paintbrush, paint over the tape to create your diamond pattern. Don’t use too much paint, though, or it will bleed through the tape.

Step No. 4
Once the paint is dry, switch the tape to the outside of the pattern, and then fill it in with an artist’s brush.

Step No. 5
Simply remove the tape, touch up any imperfections and enjoy! If you plan to set the pot outside, seal it with water-based, exterior-grade polyurethane. Use two or three coats for extra protection.

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5 Great Ways to Kill Your Houseplants

Poor, innocent houseplants. African violets brighten our tabletops, English ivies freshen the air in our living rooms. And Peace lilies (Spathiphyllums) decorate dark corners.

What do we do in return for the beauty and pleasure they give us? We kill them.

Not intentionally, of course. Sometimes we neglect them. Other times we’re guilty of loving them to death, giving them more attention (usually water) than they require. Still others starve to death from lack of fertilizer, or slowly strangle in outgrown pots.

Death by brown thumb is never a pretty sight. Here are the top five most common way to commit planticide -- and how to avoid it in the future.

Step 1: Overwater.
We mean well when we water that new cactus every single day and twice on Saturdays. Overwatering is an easy trap to fall into, and it’s probably the No. 1 cause of houseplant murder. Few plants can survive constantly soggy roots, so wait until the soil in the pot feels slightly dry before you give your plant a refreshing drink. After the water drains through the pot, dump any excess from the plant’s saucer. If you can’t get the hang of how often you should water, it’s worth investing in an automatic indoor watering system. Bonus: The system will pinch-hit for you while you’re on vacation, so you won’t come home to find a desert landscape on your windowsill. Tumbleweeds aren’t a good look for anyone.

Step 2: Keep Your Plants In Their Original Pots. Forever.
Remember how you kept outgrowing your shoes when you were young? You’re not wearing the same tennis shoes you had in high school, so remember that plants are also living, growing things. After a while, they’ll outgrow the pots they came in. Don’t let them become root bound. Once a year, lift your plants out of their pots and check their roots. Have the roots grown into a tightly wound ball? If so, gently knock off the soil and unwind them. Then replant, using a slightly larger pot and fresh soil. 

Step 3: Give Your Plants Direct Sun.
Plants need light to grow, so the more the better, right? Not quite. It’s not healthy for people to be exposed to direct sunlight all day every day, and it’s not good for most houseplants either. Read the tags that come with your plants. If they need a southern exposure, give them a sunny window, but don’t place them close to the glass, where soaring temperatures can burn them. If your plant likes low light, try a north-facing window. Many other houseplants will enjoy an eastern exposure, where the light is typically bright but cool.

Step 4: Put Up With a Few Pests.
You might have to put up with a pest in the office cubicle next to you, but don’t let things get out of hand at home. A few bugs can multiply quickly and spread to the rest of your indoor plant collection, so go ahead and treat a problem when you spot it. Try knocking the pests off with a gentle spray of water from the kitchen faucet, or check with your local nursery for the right plant spray for your problem.

Step 5: Never Fertilize.
While it’s true that houseplants grow more slowly than most outdoor plants, watering will eventually cause the nutrients to leech out of the soil. Replace them with a houseplant fertilizer made especially for indoor growing conditions. You can use a diluted, water-soluble fertilizer, applied each time you water, or convenient fertilizer stakes that you insert into the soil (check your local plant store).

Easy Project Ideas - What To Do With Leftover Paint

An easy project idea is using a bulk of leftover paint to spruce up your home with some color? These five easy paint project ideas (plus some bonus inspiration) will give your leftover paint some purpose -- and give a room a fresh look to boot. (One gallon = 4 quarts or 8 pints.)




Photo:Susan Seubert/
YOLO Colorhouse

Paint project idea No. 1: Use a full gallon of leftover paint to …
Create an interesting wainscoting effect by painting the lower half of the wall around a room with a contrasting or complementary hue. Use painter’s tape to make a clean line, or use a rag or dry brush to blur the edges between the two colors for a funkier, more artistic finish.


 

Photo: Glidden

Paint project idea No. 2: Use a couple of quarts of paint to …
Rehab old wooden or metal furniture. Keep an eye out for wood rockers, kitchen chairs, vintage bureaus, washstands or small tables at flea markets and yard sales. With a fresh coat of paint, these pieces can be a simple way to add personality to a room.




Paint project idea No. 3: Use a quart of paint to …

Paint the inside of a cabinet, armoire, closet or even drawers for an unexpected pop of color when the doors are opened. Bonus: Using a light color makes it easier to see into the back corners.



Photo:YOLO Colorhouse

Paint project idea No. 4: Use a pint or two of paint to …
With painter’s tape and a ruler, create a graphic mural of squares, rectangles or triangles. Also try painting square wood panels to add a pop art element to any room.



Photo: YOLO Colorhouse

Paint project idea No. 5: Use remnants of leftover paint to …
Unleash your inner artist. Use the remnants of a can of paint to make a few bold strokes on craft paper or poster board. Or try your hand at spin art using a spin art machine. Sign and frame!

Want more fun DIY paint project ideas? Try these! If you have …

A gallon of paint:

  • Paint an accent wall to act as a focal point for a room or define a space.
  • Brighten a narrow or dark hallway with a vivid hue.

A quart or two of paint:

  • Paint a 4-inch-wide chair rail around a room to create an accent. (The rule of thumb is to paint it about one-third of the way up from the floor.)
  • Paint a faux headboard for your bed. Keep it simple with a rectangular shape, or add drama with an elegant arched top.

A pint or two of leftover paint:

  • Paint the inside of a metal medicine cabinet with a bright, cheery hue.
  • Paint just the drawer facades of a bureau for an unexpected pop.
  • Paint the edges of a bookcase to add definition and make a bold, visual pattern.
  • Create a simple stencil to make a frame around an inset shelf or niche.
  • Freshen up the frame of an old mirror.
  • Coat the inside of clear glass bottles, vases or jars with paint to make glossy, colorful decorative accessories.

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A Guide to Paint Finishes: From Flat to Fabulously Glossy

Flat, eggshell, satin, gloss: When it comes to interior décor, there are a lot of confusing terms, but at least the names for paint finishes are fairly straightforward. Even the most novice painter can guess what’s what.

Flat (or matte) is a smooth surface without luster. Eggshell resembles its namesake. Satin has a subtle sheen reminiscent of the popular fabric. And gloss is, well, glossy.

When shopping for paints you’re faced with the inevitable question: What finish? To sheen or not to sheen? But there’s so much more behind choosing a paint finish than just their names. Some finishes work better than others in high-traffic areas. Some hide imperfections that are common in older buildings. And others add extra pizazz for home décor projects.

The next time you’re choosing paint finishes, use this user-friendly paint-finish guide -- with some expert input courtesy of international color expert and designer Maria Killam -- to help you find your perfect paint.

A QUICK-REFERENCE GUIDE TO PAINT FINISHES

The Finish: Flat (aka Matte)

· The Basics: Lacking any sheen whatsoever, flat paint is light-absorbing with a smooth finish. The flat paint finish hides imperfections but also holds dirt and is difficult to clean -- rubbing it with cleanser may even damage the finish.

· The Use: Living rooms, dining rooms, bedrooms, hallways and ceilings. “If you have walls with a lot of imperfections, flat hides them,” Killam says. “And ceilings should be flat for that same reason.”

· Good to Know: It’s a good idea to keep extra paint on hand to touch up nicks and scratches in flat finishes.

The Finish: Eggshell (aka Low-Luster)

· The Basics: This low-sheen paint finish resembles the shell of an egg (so, no, the name is not a coincidence). Eggshell paint absorbs light just like its flat counterpart above. It’s best used in lower-traffic areas, and is easier to clean than flat.

· The Use: Living rooms, dining rooms, kitchens, bedrooms, entryways, hallways and trims. “I like walls to have a little shine, so I always specify eggshell for the main rooms in a house, hallways, living and family rooms,” Killam says.

The Finish: Satin (aka Pearl, with certain paint brands)

· The Basics: A subtle finish with a soft sheen that reflects light. This is one of the most versatile finishes as it falls in the middle of the spectrum. It can be wiped clean with ease, making it ideal for active areas.

· The Use: Kitchens, dining rooms, children’s bedrooms, guest or powder baths, laundry rooms, trims, doors and shutters. “Satin is great for bathrooms and kitchens thanks to its high scrub-ability,” Killam says.

The Finish: Semigloss

· The Basics: A step up in sheen from satin, semigloss paint finish reflects more light. It can be scrubbed to keep clean, so it’s a great choice in areas with high traffic.

· The Use: Kitchens, bathrooms, hallways, cabinets, doors, trims and moldings. “If you are using latex paint for trim and doors, a higher sheen will give you more durability,” Killam says.

The Finish: Gloss

· The Basics: Gloss paint finishes come with a smooth, high-shine sheen. (Opt for high-gloss paint for the light-reflecting extreme of paint finishes.) Gloss can be scrubbed clean without concern for the finish, so it’s ideal for areas that most often require washing.

· The Use: Kitchens, baths, trims, woodwork, moldings, doors and cabinets. “If you opt to use a high-gloss finish to create an interesting sheen effect, such as on a ceiling or powder room,” Killam says, “spray it on to prevent roller or brush marks in the final finish.”