Easy Ways to Make Your Furniture Look Brand New

Most furniture continues to be durable and strong long after it has stopped looking like it did when you took it home from the store. But drab, dull, and “worn” looking furniture can significantly detract from the appearance of a room. Thankfully, you don’t have to immediately toss your weathered furniture to the curb and shell out big bucks on an entire new suite for your living room, bedroom, or dining room.

There are plenty of easy ways to restore the appearance of faded furniture, and in most cases, it involves nothing more than a little cleaning, polishing, and waxing. There’s a huge market for furniture restoration, so you’ll have no trouble finding the right products to turn back the clock on your favorite couch, coffee table, or nightstand.

Check out some of the easiest ways to get your furniture looking brand new:

Shave your fabric-covered couch and chairs with a fabric shaver

The matte and clean appearance of fabric couches and chairs can quickly become drab and worn due to an unfortunate effect called pilling. This refers to small balls of fiber that form on fabrics and cloths.

Everything from blankets and pillows to your own clothing and pet hair can accumulate on fabric, resulting in major pilling that causes an unintentional “distressed” look on your couches and chairs. The easiest way to remove pilling is by shaving the fabric. Specially-designed fabric shavers can quickly and easily remove tiny layers of fabric, shedding the pilling in the process. If you want a quick and easy fix without spending extra money, a spare razor also works for removing pilling.

Use colorants and fillers to restore leather

A brand-new leather couch or chair is a head-turner in any room. But like fabric furniture, leather can also wear out and become cracked, faded, and discolored over time. It may seem impossible to restore leather to its factory-appearance, but there are several products designed specifically to do just that.

It’s important to first prep leather by cleaning it with specially designed cleaning products or warm water with a mild cleaning solution. After the leather is clean, you can use a filler to repair fine cracks that naturally develop over time. After that dries, you can use a colorant to restore the original color of the leather and help protect it from future fading.

Sand, scrape, and strip worn wood to reveal the beauty underneath

Like fabric and leather furniture, tables, dressers, nightstands, chests, and other wood furniture is subject to wear and tear and the ravages of time. If you have a well-ventilated area, you can begin stripping off the worn outer layer of your wood furniture in minutes with an aerosol spray paint stripper, which quickly causes the finish to lift off the wood. Next, you’ll need to use a scraper to remove the finish. A quick cleaning and light sanding with 150-grit and then 200+ grit sandpaper will finish the job.

Once the unsightly outer layer has been removed, you can apply a fresh stain to the wood surface that will give the furniture a colorful and shiny appearance. Just make sure to wipe away any excess stain to avoid streaks or raised areas. After the stain dries, apply a layer of clear coat to seal the stain and protect the wood. One or two coats later, use your fine-grit sandpaper after the clear coat dries to smooth away any imperfections before applying a final coat.

The last step is to let the furniture cure and settle in a well-ventilated area for around 24 hours before you place it back inside your home.

5 Things You Should Plant Right Now

Whether you’re an avid gardener or a homeowner looking to add a little color and life to your outdoor area, you know that timing is of the essence when it comes to making sure your plants and flowers thrive for the long haul. If you plant things too early in the season, they may get damaged by cold weather and fail to sprout. And if you plant too late, they may fail to absorb the nutrients, sunlight, and water that’s abundant in the springtime and early summer.

Getting the timing just right when it comes to planting anything can make a huge difference in the appearance and the yield of your garden and landscaping. Late March is the perfect time to get a head start on your spring planting, and there are several plant varieties that will thrive throughout the rest of the spring and into the summer and fall if you take action now.

So if you’re ready to roll up your sleeves and start digging in the dirt, check out Blindster’s list of the top 5 things to begin planting today:

Cold-season flowers that can withstand late winter/early spring frosts.

Calendulas

The arrival of spring doesn’t always guarantee several months of warmer weather. Freezing air can be a possibility well into April and May for many parts of the country, leaving plants exposed to damaging low temperatures early in their lifecycle. If you live in an area that stays cold well into the spring season, it’s better to be safe than sorry in mid to late March by sticking with cold-season annual flowers. Pansies, primulas, snapdragons, and calendulas or marigolds are hardier than many other types of flowers and can withstand low temperatures without significant damage, allowing them to thrive once the weather warms up for the long haul.

Cool-weather vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, lettuce, and beets.

Lettuce

Much like flowers, many vegetables can be planted early in the spring or even in the weeks leading up to spring, but doing so can put many varieties at significant risk of suffering damage and ill health due to unexpected cold snaps and frosts. If you live in a climate that is prone to freezing temperatures in late March and early April, it’s a good idea to wait until the weather is stabilized before planting any vegetables that will be harshly affected by cold weather. However, there are many cool-weather crops that are known for their ability to survive even in harsh conditions, including broccoli, cabbage, lettuce, and beets. Even with these cool-weather vegetables, it’s still a good idea to protect them on cold nights with the use of things like frost blankets and mulch.

Warm-weather grass seeds like Bermuda, Zoysia, and St. Augustine.

Grass

The best time to seed your lawn or outdoor area depends heavily on your local climate. But in general, choosing the right month or season to begin preparing your lawn can be as simple as deciding on the type of grass you want to have. Warm-weather grass thrives when planted early in the spring, as it can grow and become healthy and hardy in time for the high temperatures of the summer months. The cool weather and frequent rain showers of late March and all of April create the ideal growing environment for varieties like Bermuda, Centipede, Zoysia, and St. Augustine. Depending on where you live, you may need to experiment with different types of grass and different sowing schedules to get the perfect lawn.

Trees such as evergreens, conifers, and container-grown trees.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Trees can make a huge difference in the appearance of your lawn, garden, or outdoor area, but they can carry a large price tag—especially if they’re relatively mature trees. Because of the high cost of trees and the potential impact they can have on your home’s appearance and property value, it’s important that you plant them at the right time to maximize their health and lifespan. If you live in a cold climate, spring time—or the time when the ground first thaws—is the perfect time to plant. For warmer climates, varieties like evergreens and conifers are best suited for the mild temperatures of mid to late spring that help the trees establish strong root systems.

Potted indoor plants like peace lilies, areca palms, and ficus trees.

Peace Lily

Indoor plants have the luxury of stable temperatures, reliable watering schedules, and abundant sunshine in window sills. Because of those favorable factors, there’s no bad time to pot or re-pot indoor plants. However, there is a great time to do it—and that’s right now. Re-potting your indoor plants in mid to late March just as the sun’s rays are becoming stronger and the days are getting longer ensures that your plants will continue growing and be able to handle the stress of re-potting better than at any other time of the year.

Easy DIY Easter Decorations

Spring is almost here, and that means Easter is right around the corner. In addition to being a great time for spring cleaning, Easter is also a perfect opportunity to decorate your home for the holiday and warm weather. Spring/Easter decorations are an easy way to bring color into your living space without breaking the bank, as many projects and décor ideas are DIY and can be completed in just a few hours of your time.

Best of all, many Easter-related decorations can be left up throughout all of March, April, and May, which means you don’t have to rush to take them down after the holiday. So if you’re ready to begin creating your own Easter and spring décor, check out Blindster’s top tips for easy DIY projects that will get your home ready for the arrival of warm weather and outdoor fun:

  • Bring flowers indoors and plant flowers outdoors.

Spring Daffodils

Via Driven By Decor

 

The beautiful pastel colors associated with the Easter holiday are perfectly complemented by a variety of spring flowers like tulips, irises, and daffodils. Whether you display bouquets inside your home or plant outdoors, spring flowers are a beautiful and easy way to celebrate Easter and the arrival of warm weather. They also make excellent hiding spots for Easter eggs, but make sure you remember all the hiding spots you chose for the eggs—especially if your hunt takes place indoors!

 

  • Make Easter wreaths for your doors and windows.

DIY Easter Wreath

Via Stage Tecture

 

Although holiday wreaths are most commonly associated with Christmas, they also make great decorations for Easter and springtime. Making an Easter wreath at home is simple: start with an plain wreath made from natural or synthetic materials like vines or fir. Then, use a strong adhesive and attach colorful plastic Easter eggs throughout the wreath. You can also include other colorful elements like ribbons, bows, and plastic flowers to add more design elements.

 

  • Display Easter baskets throughout your home.

Easter Mason JArs

Via The Wow Style

 

Easter baskets are a perfect décor craft to do with the kids. To get started, find unused wicker or plastic baskets and stuff them with grass, pine, and other plants. Then fill them with Easter-related items and décor, including Easter eggs, ribbons, bows, and other colorful flourishes. You can also add small decorative rabbits and garden-related items to complete the look. If you’re looking to get especially creative, change your baskets from wicker to glass by using small mason jars filled with grass and Easter eggs.

 

  • Make Easter egg planters.

Easter Egg Planters

Via Yes Missy

 

Intact egg shells with only the top portion removed make adorable Easter planters and pots. To remove the top of an egg shell and create a tiny planter, use a sharp knife and carefully cut through the shell without cracking the areas around where you are cutting. With the inside of the shell emptied and rinsed out, stuff the egg with grass and flowers. Paint the shell a solid pastel color, or take the time to paint small intricate designs to make your Easter egg planters stand out when displayed around your home.

 

  • Fill your wheelbarrow with flowers and colorful plants.

Wheel Barrow Planter

If you’re looking for a creative way to add color and beauty to your outdoor area, the solution may be in your garage or toolshed. Wheelbarrows are great to have around when you need to move soil or heavy items, but when they’re not in use, they can take up large amounts of space. If you’re not planning on using your wheelbarrow anytime soon, put it to work by turning it into an improvised planter. Fill it with soil and beautiful flowers then place it in a prominent location in your outdoor area.

 

  • Stuff your old rain boots with flowers and hang up your umbrellas.

Rain Boot Planter

Via Twelve Oaks Manner

 

Although the warm weather of spring can be a major relief, but frequent rain showers and thunderstorms can drive you back indoors. Because there’s a strong association between spring and rain, you can take advantage of that fact with your décor by utilizing an old pair of rain boots and an unused umbrella. Stuff your rain boots (preferably ones that are brightly colored) full of grasses and flowers for a quirky and creative display, and hang up old umbrellas complete with Easter adornments like flowers, bows, and ribbons as substitute wreaths or just as general wall hangings.

 

  • Paint Mason jars Easter/spring colors and display them in your kitchen.

Spring Mason Jars

Via Mason Jar Crafts Love

 

It can be tough to incorporate an Easter/spring theme in your kitchen, but if you have a handful of old Mason jars in your cupboards, you’re just a few coats of paint away from having a beautiful display. Make sure that your jars are thoroughly cleaned and dried—then, apply a few coats of pastel paint across every square inch of the surfaces of the jars. Make sure the paint you use is completely dry and nonflammable, because when you’re done, you can place small tea candles inside of the jars to create a beautiful glowing Easter display in your kitchen or anywhere else in your home.

Upcycling Project Ideas

Most of the furniture we use and display in our homes is simple in its design and purpose, but many of the core items range from hundreds to even thousands of dollars in price at furniture stores. If you’re sick of paying an arm and a leg for new furniture, upcycling may be the answer to your problems. Many homeowners may already have several items in their homes that, with a little refurbishing and elbow grease, can be used to replace old, worn-out furniture and save them a ton of money.

Objects that would ordinarily be discarded can be upcycled in ways that increases their value, either monetarily or functionally. In addition to potentially saving you money, upcycling can also give you a great sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. Not only is it great for the environment by reducing trash from your home, it also gives a second life to objects that may need only a few minor alterations.

To start working your upcycling magic and learn the joys of creating your own furniture, check out Blindster’s tips below:

  • Use old lockers as storage.

Upcycled Lockers

Via Caught In Grace

 

 

As it turns out, old lockers have many more uses than holding heavy high school textbooks. With their metallic and rustic appearance, old lockers fit perfectly with contemporary furniture and home décor. They’re also excellent for storing clothing, shoes, and anything else that you need quick access to throughout your home. You can even turn a single vertical locker on its side and use it as a coffee table or an ottoman.

 

  • Convert an old-fashioned wood grain television into a retro shelf.

Vintage T.V. Upcycle

Via Hauspanther

Wood grain tube-style televisions are relics of the past, but it’s wasteful to relegate them to a landfill—especially when you see the intricate wood carvings and finishes of these former living room centerpieces. If you’re handy with electronics, it’s a simply process to remove the “tube” and other inner workings of an old television set and create a beautiful and highly vintage shelving unit in the empty space. Just make sure you leave the original knobs and switches intact—they’re essential for maximizing the nostalgia factor.

  • Turn an old sewing table into a serving table.

Sewing Table Upcycle

Via The Weekend Country Girl

 

If you have an old sewing table that doesn’t get much use, don’t throw it out—instead, convert it into a serving table. Remove all of the electronic and mechanical components and place a waterproof lining inside the empty space. You can use that space to store drinks and the flip-top to showcase mixers, cups, and snacks for your guests.

 

  • Create spool tables.

Spool Table Upcycle

Via Maison De Pax

 

Large construction-sized spools are used to store wiring, cables, and other industrial components. Their shape also makes them a natural fit for being upcycled into furniture. A spool that’s turned vertically instantly becomes a rustic table. If you prefer a more traditional look, a few hours of sandpapering and staining can turn even the most neglected spool into a statement piece in your home. An extra-large spool combined with smaller ones can easily create an entire seating area, or a spool with dividers installed around its circumference works great as bookshelf.

 

  • Stack old pieces of luggage for décor and storage.

Luggage Upcycle

Via DIY Ready

 

Modern luggage is typically stored at the back of people’s closets until it’s ready to be used, for good reason, as it’s designed primarily for function over form. Luggage from the past was much more elegantly designed. Despite being outdated in 2016, old luggage still has a place in modern homes as beautiful vintage décor. Cleaned-up and restored suitcases and travel bags can be stacked as accent pieces or to create small tables or shelves, and best of all, they can also be used to store lots of household items.

 

  • Use pallets to create coffee tables, outdoor sectional couches, and shelves.

Pallet Upcycle

Via 101 Pallet Ideas

 

Used in almost every warehouse to quickly transport goods, pallets are inexpensive and can be an extremely useful material for upcycling. Convert pallets into make great coffee tables that also feature convenient built-in storage nooks. For outdoor seating, stack and combine them with cushions to create small chairs or even entire sectional seating arrangements. Finally, shelving and displays are the natural result of hanging a pallet vertically on your wall. The gaps between the large pieces of wood make excellent places to store or display books, photos, trophies, and other items.

  • Use barrels to create tables, seats, storage spaces, and ottomans.

Barrel Upcycle

Via Mom 4 Real

 

Old barrels are just as versatile as pallets when it comes to upcycling furniture. Full-size barrels are the perfect height to use as tables. In fact, a barrel with no alterations whatsoever creates a perfectly functional end table. If you need more space, it’s easy to adhere a glass or metal top to expand it and turn it into a wine table, breakfast table, or card table. Barrels can also be used to create comfortable seats with just a cushion, or cut shorter to be an ottoman. And even if you don’t use a barrel as furniture, a polished and stained barrel can serve as a beautiful accent piece that’s also handy for storage purposes.

Geek Chic: 8 Nerdy Home Décor Ideas

During the past decade, nerd culture has moved from being a small niche market, to the forefront of everyone’s attention. Movies, music, books, television shows, and even conventions are now dominated by all things nerd. More people than ever connect with the themes presented in traditional “nerd” media, whether it’s science fiction, high fantasy, or time traveling doctors. The appeal of such genres isn’t just limited to popular media in 2016—it’s now crossing over into the way people decorate their homes.

With DIY websites also becoming more and more popular in recent years, adding a touch of nerd culture to your home—or completely transforming your home into a nerd paradise—is easier than ever. Best of all, many of the tips involve inexpensive projects that can be completed in just one day. To get started on creating your own nerdy home décor, check out Blindster’s list of tips below:

 

1. Frame some of your favorite comic books.

 

Framed Comics

Via Youseph

Many comic book collections end up tucked away on shelves, in binders, or stashed at the back of closets in boxes. While those are great options for safekeeping, they so nothing to showcase your collection or just a few of your favorite issues. Comic book covers are bright, colorful, and eye-catching, and they always look great when framed and displayed prominently. Framing and displaying your comic books keeps them protected from the elements and adds a huge splash of your color and character (no pun intended) to your home. Up, up, and not away (pun completely intended)!

2. Create shadowboxes of your favorite hobbies and interests.

Star Wars Shadowbox

Via Somewhere On The Ice Planet

If you’re a diehard fan of a particular video game console, author, television series, or movie trilogy, hanging posters of your obsession in your home may seem a bit too cliché past a certain age. But if you’re dead-set on showing your love for your favorite nerdy franchise to the world, you can’t go wrong with creating a shadowbox. Throw in a collection of both classic and modern video game controllers, some iconic books by your favorite author, or DVD/Blu-ray cases of your favorite television/movie series and secure them behind the glass to create an homage that’s both sophisticated and delightfully nerdy.

3. Make your own music Wall of Fame.

Vinyl ARt

Via Records on Walls

If music—particularly hits from the 60s and 70s—is more your thing, you know that it’s tough to beat the audio quality of the original vinyl pressings of classic albums. But vinyl albums aren’t just great for their sound quality—they’re also great for the beauty of the album covers themselves. Like comic books, vinyl album covers feature iconic artwork that’s often reproduced on posters and t-shirts, but there’s nothing like the real thing. Buy some replacement protective sleeves for your vinyl records and frame the album covers to be displayed on your wall to create a beautiful homage to your some of your favorite music. Totally groovy, man.

4. Paint your staircase risers to represent your favorite books and authors.

Book Staircase

Via Etsy

If you have an artistic flair—or if you’re feeling bold about your décor ideas—bust out your paint brush, paint, and some multi-surface tape and start studying the designs on the spines of your favorite books. If you’ve got the creative chops to transfer those designs to the risers of each step, you can transform your staircase into an oversized “library” of classic novels and timeless literature. You can also use your risers to paint inspirational quotes from your favorite books, music, movies, and video games. Just be careful not to trip over your own words.

5. Create classic video game scenes on your walls.

Pac-Man Wall Decals

Via Geek Alert

Classic video games like Pac-Man, Space Invaders, Donkey Kong, and even Tetris all take place on solid colored backgrounds. That makes scenes from these iconic games easy to create on your walls. A few coats of solid black or blue paint and some pre-made or homemade pixelated decals strategically adhered to the wall can turn an ordinary room into an oversized display of an 8-bit classic. These large displays are the perfect touches for game rooms, man caves, home offices, and media rooms. But, you might want to avoid putting Pac-Man and Ghosts in the same room!

6. Use test tubes, beakers, and other scientific glassware for storage.

Test Tube Spice Rack

Via Instructables

There’s never been a better time to love all things science. But short of hanging up a large periodic table of the elements in your home, it can be hard to show your appreciation for it. One creative way to display your love for all things chemistry, biology, and physics is to bring the “lab” into your home with scientific glassware. Test tubes, beakers, flasks, and cylinders aren’t just great for decorative purposes—they’re also great for actually storing things. Use them in your kitchen, bathroom, and laundry room to store everything from soap, detergent, and even spices and oils. Want extra nerd points? Put house hold items in containers that are labeled by their chemical name, ex.: jewelry in container that says Au, bananas in bowl labeled K or a salt shaker with NaCl on the front.

7. Build a “nerd shrine” to display your favorite items.

Tardis Wardrobe

Via Scrappy Jedi

If you love the idea of showing off your nerdy interests, but you’re a little reluctant to spread the décor throughout your home, a nerd shrine may be the perfect option. Whether it’s a prominently located shelf, bookcase, or even your fireplace mantle, choose one spot in your home and dedicate it to all of your favorite hobbies, interests, and pop culture items. Having everything in one space will go a long way towards filling your nerd décor “quota” will still giving you room for more traditional décor throughout the rest of your home.

8. Build your own classic arcade game cabinet.

DIY Arcade

Via Intructables

This tip requires some technical know-how (or a willingness to follow some pretty extensive online guides), but it’s a great way to display your love for classic 80s arcade games without breaking the bank and buying an original arcade cabinet. An LCD screen, an inexpensive computer, and an empty arcade cabinet can be transformed into iconic games from the past at a fraction of the price of buying the real thing.

Top Gardening Tips and Trends for 2016

Having the space and the available land to grow your own garden is one of the greatest perks of being a homeowner. It’s hard to beat the sense of satisfaction that comes from preparing meals with fruits and vegetables that were grown in your own backyard. Like all aspects of homeownership, gardening is constantly changing, and new ideas for maximizing the beauty and yield of gardens are in no short supply thanks to social media and other lifestyle-sharing websites.

So whether gardening is your passion, your hobby, or just a way for you to be more eco-friendly, there’s always room to make your garden more effective, efficient, and enticing. To transform your garden this spring and truly harness its potential for your family, check out Blindster’s list of the top gardening trends of 2016:

Go natural and go “wild”

Garden Wild

Via Judy’s Cottage Garden

 

One of the top trends in gardening in 2016 is to take a more hands-off approach when it comes to flowers, grasses, shrubs, and other decorative plants. Creating a perfectly manicured garden where not even a single blade of grass is out of place can be difficult work—especially if you’re short on time or energy after a long week at work. Instead of fussing with a never-ending quest to keep Mother Nature under control, many gardeners prefer to allow nature to take its course—within reason, obviously. Densely packed and free-growing plants can create a beautiful assortments of colors, shapes, and textures, even without the constant trimming, pulling, and fertilizing that many gardens require.

Buy and plant local

Buy and Plant local

Many of the plants you see at your local nursery or flower shop may be from parts unknown. In fact, it’s not uncommon for many plants to require a heavy dose of chemical preparation and a plane ride that costs thousands of dollars in fuel before they arrive at a store where they can be purchased by local homeowners. Instead of relying on exotic plants that require a huge amount of resources and specialized care and attention to survive in your backyard, consider filling your garden with plants that are indigenous to your area instead. They’ll thrive in their ideal climate and help your garden be a more eco-friendly space that showcases the variety of the local flora.

Make it dog and pet friendly

Pet Friendly Garden

Pets are a huge part of our lives, but many homeowners cringe at the sight of their dogs and cats running wild through their gardens. The result is often dug up or damaged plants, dirt kicked up everywhere, and the early death of plants that were just beginning to bloom. In addition, many homeowners also worry about their pets’ health if they happen to eat something that was treated with pesticides or other dangerous chemicals. These concerns are a big reason why many gardens are going pet-friendly, and that means creative fencing, hardy plants that can withstand pet damage, and instituting a strict rule that keeps toxic chemicals and plants far away from the garden itself.

Concentrate on herbs

Herbs

Home gardens are often associated with traditional fruits and vegetables that are staples of the modern diet, like tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, squash, and zucchini, and for good reason—they’re delicious and easy to grow. But one overlooked perk of having a home garden is the ability to grow a wide variety of herbs that can take your home cooking to another level. Herbs are being incorporated into more and more popular dishes—especially at farm-to-table restaurants—and having your own supply in your garden can encourage you to experiment more in the kitchen and truly unleash the flavors that you’re capable of creating.

Turn your garden into a showcase for all things art

Succulent Art

 

Via Better Homes and Gardens

 

Homemade art pieces have exploded in popularity during the past half-decade due to project sharing websites. What better place to show off your artistic side and share it with the world than your own garden? Combining the beauty of nature with the beauty of art—whether it’s created, found, or salvaged—can create a stunning result and transform your garden into a true outdoor paradise. A garden is all about expressing yourself through your own living creations, and taking advantage of that creative atmosphere with collected or created artwork can be a highly satisfying experience.

Pay close attention to the soil

Pay attention to soil

The key to having a healthy and productive garden is having high-quality and highly fertile soil. But over the years, soil can lose its natural nutrients and ability to produce harvests for your family to enjoy. Paying extra attention to your soil and its quality—or lack thereof—can make gardening a breeze and your plants grow much more easily than they ever have in the past. There’s no magic bullet for creating the ultimate garden soil, so experiment with things like wood chips, leaves, compost, mulch, and other natural soil enhancers to find what works for your outdoor space. The sooner you begin prepping your soil, the better your results will be when trying to grow new things in the future.

Incorporate your gadgets into your gardening experience

Gardening App

 

Via Seasoned Homemaker

 

Gardening and smartphone apps may seem like the most unrelated phrases in the English language, but there’s actually a huge variety of helpful apps related to gardening. Whether you want to more easily identify plants and potential plant diseases, set and maintain a schedule for watering and fertilizing, plan out your garden months or even years in advance, and easily record your garden’s progress with pictures and notes, look no further than your smartphone or tablet’s app marketplace. In addition, there are countless online gardening communities where you can share your creation and seek help and advice from others.

Give a gnome a home

Gnome Home

The humble gnome has made a slow and steady climb back to the top of the list of garden adornments, and now they’re on pace to dethrone fairies, frogs, and other small animal figures from home gardens. With their colorful clothing, gnomes can provide a splash of color to your garden and even an “Easter egg hunt” activity for small children. Place them in hard to find spots—hiding behind mushrooms, peering out from flower pots—and continue adding to your collection over the years. Unfortunately, there’s no scientific evidence that gnomes scare away pests or unwanted insects, but it can’t hurt to try.

DIY Cup Cozy

This easy cup cozy is adorable and will keep your hand safe when drinking your morning coffee. Our sample shades fabrics work perfectly for small DIY sewing projects like this one. We found this cute striped pattern in a thick fabric that will hold up to close contact with heat and continued use, just like our shades! You could also use any durable pieces of scrap fabric that are big enough.

This is a perfect project to bring the kids in on. It takes less than an hour to complete and is a great way to teach kids basic sewing skills. They can use their cozy for a cup of hot chocolate with marshmallows. To get started, gather up all the materials you will need.

You will need:

  • Two 5-1/2” by 12” fabric pieces
  • One 5-1/2” by 12” piece of batting
  • Button
  • Hair Elastic (without metal)
  • Coordinating Thread
  • Pins
  • Scissors
  • Sewing Machine
  • Needle

Step 1

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Cut your fabric pieces and batting to fit around your cup or use a template like this one. Make sure all of the pieces are the same size.

Step 2

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Place the fabric you intend to have showing wrong side down on top of the batting, matching up all the edges.

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Squeeze two sides of the hair elastic together to make an 8, then, pin it in place to the center of one straight edge of the fabric at the middle of the 8.

Step 3

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Place the second piece of fabric, right side down, on top of the elastic and first fabric piece. Make sure all the edges match and then pin it all together. Leave some space at the edge for sewing.

Step 4

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Using the coordinating thread, sew along the edges of the rectangle with a 1/4” seam, leaving a 2” gap for turning.

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Make sure to backstitch over the elastic several times for security.

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Step 5

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Turn the cozy right side out using the gap and push out all the corners. Turn under the unsewn edges and topstitch around the entire cozy.

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Step 6

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Sew the button the opposite right side of the cozy. Check that both the elastic and button are securely fastened. Then your cozy is ready to be wrapped around your to-go cup!

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3 Easy DIY Tree Trimmings Projects

Decorating the Christmas tree is a big part of a lot of holiday traditions, but before you can decorate, you have to trim up the bottom to place the tree in its stand. Throwing away those beautiful pine branches just seems like such a waste, so we came up with a few ideas to put them to good use!

If you don’t have a tree to trim this year, you can always head over to your local tree lot and pick up any loose branches from the ground. Most places don’t mind and you could actually be helping them with their cleanup! Once you have your trimmings, try your hand at one or all of these DIY projects.

Easy Wreath

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This simple wreath takes no more than twenty minutes to make and turned out so amazing.

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To begin, gather all the branch clippings you want to use. You can make this as big or small as you want, depending on the clippings you have. Just make sure that it looks even and full. We only had to use three.

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Next, use wire (we used green because it seemed to blend) to bind the trimmings together at the top.

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Make sure it is tight enough because it will be hanging downward and you don’t want the clippings to fall out of the wire. Then, use your favorite ribbon to create a bow that mostly covers up the wire.

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You can decorate the rest of the wreath with whatever you like or have on hand. We used little jingle bells and ribbons. To hang up your wreath, slip a piece of twine under the wire and create a loop.

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Christmas Tree Bouquet

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This project works best with a larger vase, if you don’t have one on hand, you will have to further cut down your trimmings. Fill your vase about half full of water to ensure your trimmings will stay green until Christmas.

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We gathered the clippings with the longest stems, so that they would reach the water. Arrange the trimmings in the vase so that it looks full, but also a little haphazard. You can then add small, light ornaments to the trimmings. We finished our vase off with a bow.

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Natural Wrappings

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To add a little extra flair to your presents this year, try tucking a small clipping of pine or rosemary into your bow.

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We started with a freshly wrapped gift in a clean square box.

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We used twine to secure the package and create a loose bow on top.

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Then, we tucked the stems of a couple trimmings into the knot of the bow and then double knotted.

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The double knot will keep the clippings secured to your gift. We love how these trimmings look with our festive wrapping paper!

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5 Last Minute Fall Centerpieces

We know how it is. You’re out there living your busy life, when suddenly, the holidays are here with you completely unprepared. So you’re scrambling, trying to make things as perfect as they can be with a large dinner to prepare, screaming kids who don’t want to wear the nice outfit you picked, and family members who insist on bringing extra people (how nice of your cousin to invite her new boyfriend she met a week ago). It’s enough to make you crazy, or at the very least make you forget some of the important little things. But you can’t let them see you sweat! One of the easiest ways to make your family believe you have it all together is with a perfectly placed centerpiece.

Most of these centerpieces can easily be put together with things you already have around your home or backyard this time of year. They add a festive touch that your guests will appreciate and are sure to help bring together your dining room.

Rustic Lantern

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These lanterns are everywhere lately and can easily be picked up at your local craft store. We added a large candle inside that can be lit for a nice glow or left just a filler. Use small pumpkins left over from Halloween to add a little color and depth to your centerpiece.

Gourds

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Everything about these gourds says fall, from their color to their connotation. Placing a few in the center of your table is about as easy as it gets! You could also use fall veggies like pumpkins and acorn squash for a fresher feel.

Wheat Bouquet

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Bunches of wheat like this can be found at a craft store or your local florist. If you live in the country, you might be able to pick some up in your neighbor’s field! To make the wheat look more put together, you can tie a ribbon or some twine around the bottom and place it on top of a pretty cake stand (if you aren’t already using yours for pie).

Dried Flowers

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You might have to go out of your way to get some of the items for this centerpiece, but it would be worth it! You do these holiday gatherings every year, so why not have something to use year after year?  Just fill a vase you already have with dried flowers and foliage that will last you for years to come. We added little pumpkins around the base for a little more detail.

Backyard Pine Cones

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Pick up any cute container around your house and fill it with pinecones, fall leaves, and maybe some Spanish moss from your backyard. Make sure to clean the items you pick up as good as possible, so you don’t end up with a bunch of dust and dirt on your table (not appetizing!). This centerpiece looks so natural and you didn’t have to spend a dime!

Don’t worry, if all else fails and you don’t have time to put any of these together, you can always just use the turkey as your centerpiece. Happy holidays!

How to Dress Up Your Windows for Halloween

Decorating your home both inside and out is a fun way to celebrate Halloween. Whether you’re planning a Halloween party, preparing your home for trick-or-treaters, or you just want to have the most impressive-looking “haunted house” in your neighborhood, a few well-placed decorations can make a big difference.

However, one key aspect of completely transforming your home into a true haunted house is decorating and dressing up your windows. While you can’t leave out the all-important spider webs in trees, fake headstones on your lawn, and spooky Jack-o-Lanterns on your porch, choosing the right props for your windows is an easy way to take your Halloween décor from good to great.

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  • Cover your windows with spider webs.

Fake spider webs make a great Halloween decoration for your trees and the eaves in your front porch, but they’re also perfect for windows as well. Most fake spider webs are sold in large rolls, which means you’ll have plenty to spare after you’ve decorated the rest of your home. After you’ve attached the webs to your windows, be sure to add a few fake spiders for the finishing touches.

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  • Smear “bloody” handprints on the window glass.

Every cheesy horror movie includes at least one scene involving a bloody handprint, so why not incorporate that tried-and-true cliché into your own Halloween decorations? Just buy a small amount of fake blood and pour a quarter-sized amount into your palm. Place your hand against the window and move it back and forth until the liquid makes a distinct red hand print on the glass. If you’re wary of using fake blood on your windows, you can also purchase window clings that accomplish the same effect.

 

  • Place black lights or strobe lights in your windows.

Lighting has a huge effect on the appearance of your home from the street—especially at night when all the windows are lit up. Take advantage of that fact by placing black lights just inside each window. The eerie blue, green, or orange glow produced by the lights will give your home a unique appearance and make your other outdoor decorations stand out even more. You can also use strobe lights just behind your windows to achieve a true horror-film inspired look that will draw the attention of everyone who passes your home.

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  • Hang caution tape across your windows.

Like fake spider webs, novelty caution tape is an inexpensive purchase that can create a dramatic effect on your home’s Halloween décor. Nothing says “gory crime scene” quite like the infamous yellow plastic tape, and stringing it up across your home, including your windows, can make your home look like it’s straight out of a classic zombie or slasher horror film.

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  • Play classic horror films in your windows.

If you have a few spare TVs in your home, put them to good use this Halloween season. Place them facing outward in your windows and play classic horror films on repeat. Alternatively, you can purchase special DVDs that play creepy animations of everything ghosts and monsters to zombies and giant spiders.

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  • “Board up” your windows.

No, you don’t have to actually board up your windows to accomplish this effect. Fake window boards are available at many Halloween stores, but you can also make your own at home if you have some spare cardboard or Styrofoam. First, cut the pieces into traditional 2×4’ planks that will cover your windows. Then, use a brown paint or wood stain to get a realistic wood look, and then use a heavy-duty double sided-tape to attach each plank to your windows. For an added effect, wrap them in fake spider webs or place bloody handprints on a few planks.

 

  • Add ghostly faces to your windows.

What’s a haunted house without menacing ghosts flying around inside? To make your home look truly spooky, buy a few “ghost” masks at your local Halloween store or supermarket. Then, wrap them cheesecloth to create a long “tail” that falls several feet below the mask itself. When you hang them in your window, it will look like your home has been taken over by flying apparitions.

 

  • Create a flame or blood effect with orange or red tissue paper.

If you want your windows to merely enhance your décor rather than be the center of attention, this tip may be perfect for your home. Tape several layers of orange or red tissue paper in your windows, and make sure you cover up all gaps to prevent light leaks. Then, place lights directly behind each window to create a striking colorful display. You can also glue black construction paper to the tissue paper in the shapes of eyes and mouths to create a Jack-o-Lantern effect in your windows.

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  • Create your own spooky silhouettes and place them in your windows.

One of the most inexpensive ways to dress up your windows for Halloween is to create silhouettes and place them directly against the glass. This tip requires nothing more than a large roll of black paper, which you can find at most arts and crafts stores, a white pen or pencil, scissors, and any of the countless silhouette templates you can find online.

 

After you’ve found the silhouettes you want to display in your windows, do your best to sketch them on the paper using the white pen or chalk. Don’t worry about drawing perfectly, as the silhouettes are meant to represent shadows. Once you’re satisfied with the drawings, cut out the silhouettes and tape them to the insides of your windows.