Interior Painting Tips

Let's face it, painting is tedious, messy business but we do it anyway because it protects our walls, cabinets and furniture. Giving the interior of your home a new glossy (or matte) finish is essential to the upkeep and appeal of your home, but properly executed painting projects should be given the time and planning it deserves. So, here are our top tips on surviving a painting project.

Sampling and Testing

Go down to your local paint store and get some small cans of samples, some brushes and and some squares. The store can mix these sample paint colors for you if you ask them. For each room you want to paint, create 5 or 6 closely related but different shades of you color and hold them up on the wall. Invite a friend to come help you by offering a second opinion, because you really really want to get this right the first time. There are fewer things more frustrating than finishing a pain job only to realize that you picked the wrong color. There are various online tools you can use by uploading photos of your room. Obviously this approach won't work with furniture, but it will for cabinets. If you're unsure about it, keep trying new ideas and samples. This isn't a race.

Preparation and More Preparation

They say prep is the most important part of a paining project, and that's be cause it is. You're going to need plastic covers, tape, rollers, brushes, sand paper, scrapers, blades, screw drivers, drills and probably a few other items. Take you time getting your job prepped, you'll thank yourself later. Clean and sand surfaces with a fine sandpaper so that any loose paint or bumps on the surface get smoothed out.

Water or Oil Based?

Opinions on this have changed over the years, and most DIYers like water or latex based paint because it is easier to apply, doesn't give off a strong odor, is easier than oil to clean up, and offers the same level of quality and protection. Water based paint is suitable for general painting for walls and ceilings. Oil or acrylic based paint is messy, smells very strong, is hard to clean if it gets on the wrong surface, is generally more difficult to apply and takes longer to dry. But, many experience decorators and painters will tell you that in some cases, it is worth the trouble to use oil. Those cases are:

  1. When you're applying paint to an older layer of oil paint. A new coat of oil based paint will will adhere better to an existing layer of old oil based paint.
  2. You've got a new piece of wood furniture with no finishing, that requires extra protection and appeal. Oil and acrylic pain will last longer and provide long and better protection over the years.
  3. Any item you really want to paint only once. Oil based paint is more durable than water based paint.


Always choose the right brush or roller for your pain job. While it might not sound very important, the brush and roller you use are key to getting the final finish you want. For walls and ceilings you'll be using water based paint, so use rollers and brushes designed for water based paint. The same principle applies for trim and oil based paint, though you'll pay more for oil paint brushes. Ask your paint store if you have questions about what to use.


As we mentioned in the beginning of this guide, proper preparation will help you cut down on excessive clean-up. Paint inevitably gets on surfaces where it doesn't belong, and if it's water based, cleaning it up won't be too much trouble. But if you've done your prep work correctly, unwanted drip and marks should be minimal. One of the reason oil paint isn't used much anymore is because of its toxicity and threat to environment. Depending on where you live, there are recycling and disposal options for leftover paint and chemical. Here is more information about the proper disposal of hazardous household waste (HHW) from the EPA. Or, even better donate your excess supplies to a local charity. They'll appreciate the donation and you'll feel better about the impact you project has on landfills and the environment.


Take your time in planning for and preparing for your indoor painting project. You'll love the results, hopefully stay withing your budget, and enjoy your newly renovated living space.


Easy Home Projects: DIY Window Treatments

Window treatments can blend in with your walls or stand out as the crown jewel of a room. Once you’ve decided which role your windows should serve, try one of these DIY window treatments to make plain old curtains look like they were customized by a professional designer.

“As far as dressing up curtains, you can add any kind of trim simply with a hot-glue gun,” says Marian Parsons of Mustard Seed Interiors, a blogger and interior designer featured on “I’ve also seen people add embellishments such as lace doilies.” Try these easy DIY decorating ideas to upgrade your windows.

Trim It
Tailor a custom look for curtains by sewing or gluing a decorative trim along the edges that perfectly complements your space. Your trim of choice may determine the placement. Consider adding it with a running stitch along the top, bottom, or all the way around the edges.


A Glimpse of Lace
Lace provides an extra oomph to solid curtains in a room with lots of natural light. Measure your curtains and buy lace cut to the exact measurements of each panel. Use aerosol glue spray to adhere the lace to the back of the panels, taking care to trim the lace to meet the hems of the curtains. (Remember, the lace side might be visible from the outside.) If you want extra security, use thread that matches the existing stitching on your curtains, then rip out the stitching and sew it back with the lace tucked underneath the hems.

Matching Rods and Panels
Often times, the curtain rod is just as important as the window dressings. Make the rod blend in with the curtains by covering it with fabric from an extra panel. Or create more contrast by using a different fabric. You can create a slipcover perfectly tailored for your curtain rod with a simple running stitch. Once the slipcover is in place, secure it with a few more stitches. Curtain rods are far away from viewers’ eyes, so your stitching doesn’t need to be perfect.


Dip-Dyed Ombre Effect
The color gradation trend is easy to achieve on your window treatments with a dye of your choice and a container large enough to accommodate your curtain panels and ties-backs. Guide the tops of each panel onto a broomstick to control them during the dyeing process. Cover the floor in your dyeing area with a tarp to avoid stains.

Measure and mark with a straight pin the boundaries between three equal sections from top to bottom on each panel. Don’t dye the top third to achieve the saturated gradient look. Dyeing intervals will vary based on the brand of dye you use, but plan to let both second and third intervals soak in the dye, then soak just the third section for the same amount of time. If it’s lighter than you desire, let it soak a little longer. Leave ties-backs in the dye longer for an even bolder look.

Ribbon Stripes
Vertical stripes add depth and movement to any room. Fake striped curtains by purchasing wide ribbon in a color of your choice. (You can never go wrong with black!) Use a yardstick and a level to mark where you’ll secure the ribbon for stripes. Attach with a running stitch or iron-on adhering tape, making sure to tuck the ribbon ends underneath the curtain for a neat finish. Create even more visual interest by using two or more colors of ribbon. Use leftovers as tie-backs.  


Color-Blocked Tones
Have you found a fabric that would complement your existing decor? Sew a foot-tall border of it onto the bottom of your curtains. This DIY window treatment won’t take long but will make a big statement.

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Affordable Bath Updates

Is your bathroom in need of some updates but your budget doesn’t allow much in terms of wiggle room? The cost of a complete bathroom remodel can quickly add up.

Fortunately, there are several small, inexpensive projects you can do to give your bathroom a makeover without breaking the bank. Here are the ten most common small projects to turn your bath into a cozy and relaxing retreat and start upgrading your bathroom step by simple step.

1) Update Your Bath Cabinet Hardware

These small items say big things about your bathroom style. Changing out your knobs and pulls to brushed nickel or bronze can create a whole new decorative touch.

2) Update Your Bath Faucets 

The faucet is one of the most frequently used items in your bathroom, so it's important to select one that truly reflects your style. Updating your faucet with a new low-flow model is a relatively inexpensive way to cut water consumption while adding a refreshed look to your sink area.

3) Replace Your Showerheads & Hand Showers 

Showerheads and hand showers add a nice touch to your overall bathroom design, and they can make your showering experience more enjoyable. Replacing a showerhead is usually a quick and inexpensive project. Hand showers can be used as fixed showers or hand-helds and provide maximum versatility. Drill-less models are easily installed.

4) Update Your Bath Hardware 

A bathroom is not complete without hooks, towel bars and a toilet paper holder. Coordinating bath hardware items can liven up your old bath décor and add impact to your bath's overall design. And for both style and safety, don't forget to include decorative grab bars for your bathtub and shower.

5) Update Your Lighting Fixtures 

A new lighting system will add a touch of illuminating ambiance to your bathroom. Consider updating the existing fixtures or adding a few decorative sconces to complement your faucets and hardware.

6) Paint Your Bathroom Walls 

Color is the key to any room's personality. The right wall color will make all your other bathroom updates really stand out. For a look that takes center stage, choose a color that complements your countertop, faucet and hardware.

7) Update Your Bath Fan 

Bath fans play an important role in removing excess moisture and odors from a bathroom. Newer models are fashionable as well as functional, offering quieter operations and an assortment of decorative features to complement any bath lighting system.

8) Refresh Your Vanity Top 

Whether you choose to go with laminate, granite or something in between, a new vanity top can add dramatic new texture, style and color to your bathroom. The variety of styles, materials and finishes make replacing a vanity top the ideal project for any budget.

9) Replace or Update Old Cabinets 

Replacing old, outdated cabinets can transform your bathroom into an entirely different space. With styles ranging from eclectic to traditional, new cabinets can greatly enhance the storage, functionality and look of any bathroom.

10) Replace Your Toilet 

Most people think of toilets as purely functional, but today's models offer a level of performance, efficiency and style that wasn't available a decade ago. Choosing an economical high-efficiency or ultra low-flow toilet offers substantial water savings without sacrificing performance or aesthetics. 

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10 DIY Home Décor Projects to Get You Through Winter

Forget winter doldrums! Power through the cold and the gray with these fun and inspiring DIY home décor projects.


1. Boring Cabinet Redo

Skill level: Moderate


Why we love it: We all know those store-bought, low-personality furniture pieces. They’re great on the budget, but not so good for making a style impact. Naomi, of Design Manifest, saw the potential in two boring-and-basic dressers and turned them into a one-of-a-kind TV console.


2. Sweet Fabric Votives

Skill level: Beginner


Why we love it: Not only does this DIY home décor project from Claire at Fellow Fellow offer a perfect way to put those favorite fabric scraps to good use, but it also reuses glass jars in a unique way. And if making Mother Earth happy weren’t enough, these pretty little beauties create a sweet display for dinner parties -- or any occasion.


3. Yarn-Wrapped Frames

Skill level: Beginner


Why we love it: Even home accessories need a winter sweater! Rachel, of 52 Weeks Project, gives old frames a new, cozier life by dressing them in her favorite colors of yarn.


4. Dip-Dyed Vases

Skill level: Beginner


Why we love it: You know those basic, clear vases you get with florist arrangements? Here’s another idea from 52 Weeks Project that’s a quick-and-easy way to add some artistic style to them (and your interior!).



5. Geometic Duct Tape Lamp Shade

Skill level: Beginner


Why we love it: The end result of Justina Blakeney’s project is an attention grabber that you won’t find in any home décor store. And all it takes to achieve the look is some duct tape and a little creativity.


6. DIY Stair Runner

Skill level: Advanced

Why we love it: Jenny Komenda at Little Green Notebook gave her stairs a refreshing new look by ripping out the existing carpeting, refinishing the stairs (for the eventually exposed wood floor) and laying down affordable area rugs to create a sleek runner. Whether or not you have carpeted or wood stairs, this is an easy way to spruce up a bland stairwell.


7. Books Headboard

Skill level: Moderate


Why we love it: Reading in bed has never looked so stylish. The most difficult part of this DIY home décor project from Design Every Day’s Kassandra is finding the perfect selection of books to fit your needs. But the end result is a stunner -- and would make a great accent wall too.


8. Rope Vases

Skill level: Beginner

Why we love it: Want to repurpose or give a new look to old vases? Justina Blakeney has another great idea that’s even easy enough for kids to do. These rope vases will add a unique rustic style to your interior.


9. Refinishing Furniture

Skill level: Advanced

Why we love it: Jenny Komenda’s easy DIY instructions for stripping paint from vintage furniture (to refinish and beautify a console table) is a helpful how-to for any homeowner who has a beloved piece of furniture or a random vintage find that needs a little TLC. Take on this DIY to check off that “I’ll get to it someday” home décor project you keep putting off.


10. Antique Mirror Project


Skill level: Moderate


Why we love it: Cheryle Rhuda and Danika Herrick came up with O’verlays, an awesomely affordable way to add architectural detail to furniture. They can also help you achieve that antique mirror-frame look. If you’ve been eyeing that pricey vintage mirror at your local antiques store, take on this project and it’ll be a thing of the past (yet again).

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Holiday Décor: Home Decorating Ideas for Inside and Out


  • Branching out. This free home decorating idea takes just a minute. All you need is a large leafless branch and a pitcher or hurricane lantern. Fill the pitcher with enough sand to hold the weight of the branch, then place the branch in the sand. If you’re using a clear lantern, fill with colored sand. Add more personality with a set of twinkling lights or ornaments with a theme or color. Set near the front door or stairway or make two to flank a fireplace.

  • Inside the box. Cut florist foam to fit an old wooden box (the more weathered, the better!). Add greenery -- try trimmings from your Christmas tree -- plus snippets of juniper, hemlock and holly branches. Tuck in pinecones, votives in glass canning jars or apples and pears for a rustic centerpiece for your mantel or table.
  • Family sentiments. The holidays are all about family, so place them front and center in your home decorating. Ask each member of your family for one word they feel sums up the holidays. Print their words on a piece of heavy-duty paper and cut each word out. Embellish the cards with a stencil, if you wish. Attach a piece of florist wire to the mantel or stair rail, then clothespin each word to the wire. Cover each end of the wire with a large velvet or burlap bow.
  • Forgo the red and green. Just because red and green are the holiday colors doesn’t mean you have to use them. If your living room is a color that clashes, play up that hue instead. For instance, a silver-sage living room becomes the backdrop for a white-and-silver color scheme. Choose white candles, silver candelabras, paper cutouts or German feather trees, spray-painted pine cones and twig wreaths, white poinsettias and white and silver pillow covers and throws.
  • Keep it simple. You don’t have to go crazy with the decorations. A grouping of same-color candles in the fireplace, a bowl of ornaments on the dining room table, an unadorned swath of greenery on the mantle all give nod to the season while staying subdued. If you have an open or glass-front china cabinet, add some pinecones or ornaments to the shelves. Have a collection of pitchers or glassware? Add a few bare branches to your favorites.


  • Gather the greenery. Swap out the flowers in your window boxes for an armful of cut evergreen and berry branches. Insert a florist bow and plastic gold or silver balls too. If you prefer, use potted dwarf conifers such as golden false cypress, boxwood, Old Gold juniper or even lavender.

  • Dine al fresco. Who says Christmas dinner needs to be in the dining room? Move the meal outside if you live in a warmer climate (or use outdoor heaters). Use an old plaid blanket as a tablecloth and set the table with mismatched white or old holiday china patterns. Add a runner of evergreen and twigs woven through with a colorful or burlap ribbon. Place hurricanes with candles intermittently down the center. Don’t be formal and matchy-matchy. Remember: you want rustic! Tie place cards to pinecones or natural brush ornaments.
  • Deck the outdoor halls. If you live in a warm climate, bring the holidays to the lanai or porch by incorporating the colors of the season. Typical holiday plants such as poinsettia or amaryllis will do just fine outside. And a plant on each table or a swag across the fireplace makes the season merry.
  • Festive façade. Dress your house for the holidays with a wreath on each window. The look is timeless, but you can easily make it modern with grapevine wreaths or rustic with naked evergreens and no bows. Too many windows for this to be practical? Center a battery-operated votive on each windowsill instead; flameless candles can be bought for about $15 a dozen.
  • Festival of lights. You don’t need to be Clark Griswold to light up your home-- and you don’t need to use those “little twinkling lights.” Try a giant chain of snowflakes so your house twinkles in a different way, and add some to the trees, too.

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Photo: Corbis Images