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Welcome back to One Good Thing! This week I got a tip from a friend that there was a new trend around washing your clothes at home with this thing called the Breathing Mobile Washer. At first I was skeptical and I also thought it looked like a plunger, but then I tested it and found it to be a surprisingly smart new tool for the home. Why? Because, although I have an electric washer in my apartment now, there were many years when I didn’t and this thing would have made my life a lot easier.
Simply put, this Breathing Mobile Washer allows you to wash small batches of clothing really well in your bathtub, sink or a large bucket. Unlike a washing machine which simply agitates the water around your clothes, this thing pushes and pulls water in and out of your clothes, pulling the dirt right out as well. Gentle on the clothes and quick to use, I heartily recommend this as an alternative for any of you who want a great home washing solution when you don’t have a machine. Additionally, it’s good for delicates that you wouldn’t want to put into your machine. Check it out and leave me your comments below!
The Top 6 Most Popular OGTs
(I keep changing this each week based on your clicks!)
Maxwell left teaching in 2001 to start Apartment Therapy as a design business helping people to make their homes more beautiful, organized AND healthy. The website started up in 2004 with the help of his brother, Oliver. Since then he has grown ApartmentTherapy.com, added TheKitchn.com, our home cooking site, and has authored four books on design. He now lives with his daughter in a lovely apartment in Brooklyn.
Scrolling through DIY Instagram is one of those things that’s both incredibly satisfying and completely mind-boggling. Seeing before-and-afters gets you dreaming of what could be possible within your own home, until you consider the all-important question: When do they have the time?!
There are the big-time DIY bloggers who secure sponsorships with every home improvement company under the sun and turn their craft into a career. They dedicate every waking hour to mastering molding and cultivating carpentry skills. But for every one of those unicorns, there are 100 other DIYers who are making it work and doing incredible, professional-grade projects, all while holding down a 9-to-5 job.
Apartment Therapy talked to five weekend DIY warriors who are tackling impressive projects both big and small about how to make it work on a mornings, nights, and weekends schedule. Here’s the wisdom they shared.
Break big projects into small tasks and celebrate every win.
Leona Rosenblum and Garrett Berntsen are the couple behind The Olde Standard, an Instagram account dedicated to renovating their 1870s Italianate row house in Washington, D.C. They’ve tried their hand at everything from retiling, wallpapering, and adding molding to their vestibule to creating an interior transom — and they both work demanding Washington jobs by day.
The two former consultants use their work skills to focus on one DIY at a time and break projects down into small, digestible tasks. They knock out simpler items before or after work and, to keep the momentum up, they track their progress in Todoist and celebrate every win.
“For big tasks like installing paneling or painting, we do those on weekends and prep the night before so we can wake up, drink coffee, and get started fast,” Rosenblum says. “Because we’re new to DIY, we factor in the time to watch a bunch of videos to know what we’re supposed to do next, the time for making mistakes, and the time for fixing our mistakes.”
Rosenblum adds, “Most importantly, we try not to get stressed if things aren’t going quickly. This is our first time trying many of these projects, so we try to cut ourselves some slack and just keep doing our best.”
Set goals and expectations, then reset as needed.
Callie Plemel, a lawyer, mom, and DIYer, runs Homeonharbor, where she chronicles the projects that make her Cleveland house a home. In the past year, she and her husband, Robert, who also has a busy full-time job, have installed hardwood floors, renovated their fireplace, remodeled their master bedroom, and created a built-in desk wall out of leftover IKEA bookshelves for their home office.
Again, both work full-time jobs.
How do they do it? Plemel says, “My advice is to live through a global pandemic and have nowhere else to be.” She adds, “I’m somewhat joking, but not having other plans certainly helps to tackle projects. Almost all of our spare time has gone into our home.”
The two have a toddler son, so they work after bedtime and during nap time, which means realistic expectations and deadlines are critical. She says, “It might take others a weekend to paint a room from start to finish; sometimes it takes us a few weeks. We set goals for ourselves from week to week, and reset them when we don’t get everything quite done.”
Despite resets and a sometimes-slower pace, Plemel says, “In the thick of it, it often feels like we’re getting nowhere fast. But, when I look back on it, it’s amazing to think we’ve accomplished so much!”
Consider how you actually need to use your home in the process.
Maryland-based Jackie Whisman works at a technology think tank by day and takes on DIY design projects by nights and weekends — not to mention stepping in as a homeschool teacher for the past year and launching her design firm, Jackie Whisman Interiors, in March 2020. To say she’s skilled in time management is an understatement.
How does she do it? Advance planning down to the hour. “I set alarms for when I need to start each next step,” she says. She also considers how spaces within her home may need to be used during the process.
Whisman says, “I try to do as much advance planning as possible, especially when I’m working on areas that I can’t afford to leave unfinished, like a kitchen or bathroom. This could mean doing the project in phases. When I painted my kitchen counters, I knew I couldn’t go without some counter space for the full week it takes for the epoxy to cure, so I did two-thirds of the counters one weekend, and saved the last bit for a few weeks later.”
Schedule time and honor it.
Emily Bichard, a full-time teacher who restores furniture in her free time, gives us one key tip: “Lots of COFFEE!” She explains that she sees working on her DIY projects as a form of self-care. Just as she schedules and respects her time for her day job during the school day, she schedules and respects her time for DIY passion projects on nights and weekends.
Bichard says, “I make sure that I set aside at least an hour or two a week for my hobby as a form of self-care. I actually write it on a schedule so I don’t schedule anything else during that time. It’s something I look forward to it, so finding the energy is never an issue — though the coffee helps! It’s just making sure I allow myself the time.”
Always be prepared to work when inspiration strikes.
A master of DIY in a small rental space, Liz Malm, a D.C.-based VP and head of marketing at a government affairs firm, takes a project-management-inspired, step-by-step approach to her frequent off-hours DIYs. But the real secret is in her preparation. As a city dweller without a car, she can’t easily stop by Home Depot when she dreams up a new project. Instead, she has to plan ahead for success.
Malm says, “I always have a running list of things I’d like to get done around the house in the Notes app on my phone. If it’s something that requires measurements or supplies, I include those in the list to make sure I’m prepared if I happen to find myself at the hardware store.”
She also keeps extra supplies from small projects so that items can be repurposed and recycled for future projects. “There are times when inspiration strikes, and I knock out a full project because I happen to have what I need on hand. On a recent Sunday evening, I decided I wanted to paint an arch in my entryway and mount a sconce. I got it done in a few hours — but I had all the paint and other supplies, like a laser level and painter’s tape, on hand from previous projects. Keeping your ‘leftovers’ can make it easier and cheaper to tackle future projects.”
Painted arches were the wall accent of 2020. Who didn’t define their bar cart or their dining nook with a simple but striking colorful semicircle?
Anna Jennings, however, decided to try a new, artsy take on a quick and easy DIY painted accent. She knew her small bathroom needed something, but given the size, she was apprehensive about going all-in on a new color. Wallpaper seemed like an interesting option, but that could be physically tricky in a tight bathroom — plus, it’s often time-consuming.
Jennings then came across a wallpaper mural that caught her eye, one that seemed like it might be easier to replicate in paint than to actually install. And she did exactly that — with a circular painted accent that took just an hour.
To get started on her DIY painted accent, she created a large-scale compass as a guide. She put a nail at the center of the wall and tied a piece of thin rope around it. With a pencil tied an inch out, she drew a circle, moved the pencil another inch out, then drew another circle. Jennings repeated the process until she had covered the expanse of the wall.
Using a regular paintbrush and semi-gloss black paint left over from a project in her son’s room, she applied random strokes and freehand dots along the guidelines she’d drawn. The more effortless and irregular the marks were, the better. Sixty minutes later, a circular painted mural added a bold, graphic punch to the previously blank bathroom.
Jennings finished the project by installing a shelf and styling decorative items found around her home. The grand total for this DIY painted accent? Zero dollars.
Jennings reminds would-be DIYers that this effortless project is best when perfectly imperfect. “I love everything about how it turned out. It was easy and it didn’t need to be perfect. It’s a one-hour project and very forgiving. Don’t overthink it. Have fun with the design.”
Whenever falls rolls around, I like to experiment with unique decorations that stray a bit from the traditional orange pumpkins and red leaves. This year I made a unique triangular shaped wall hanging with a decidedly bohemian vibe… and today I’m sharing the tutorial with you guys. Keep reading to check out the full tutorial!
3/8″ square dowel rod, 16″ long
Leather (or vegan leather) cord, 36″ long
Dried wheat, about 15 pieces
Seeded eucalyptus (can be dried, artificial or fresh)
Begin by gluing the ends of the leather cord to the ends of the wooden dowel on the back side. Overlap the wood and cord by about 2 inches.
Next, lay out 15 pieces of dried wheat so that the pods are aligned. Put a line of hot glue along the back of the dowel and quickly place it on the wheat stems (about 4-6 inches above the pods).
Once the glue has dried, carefully flip everything over and put another line of glue over the stems to made sure they’re secure. Let the glue dry and then trim the excess off of the stems.
Now it’s time to attach the eucalyptus. You’ll want to cluster it in the bottom right side of the wall hanging so that it extends about 2/3 of the way across the dowel and 2/3 of the way up the right side of the cord.
Next, add some pinecones to the corner. Use them to hide any noticeable globs of glue. Attach them so that they point in a variety of different directions. Last, glue the white flowers in random spots surrounding the pinecones.
The last step is to mount it on the wall. You’ll need two nails for this: one for the top, and one for the bottom left corner where the wood meets the leather (otherwise your wall hanging will be super crooked since the right side is heavier than the left).
And that’s it! This wall hanging is perfect for fall, with its muted color scheme and autumnal elements.
There’s something about the triangular shape and materials that lends a super bohemian vibe to this wall hanging. The boho trend is wildly popular right now, so this is a great way to dip your toes into this fun style.
And as with most of our projects here on Curbly, this one can be customized to fit your style – try brightly colored flowers or another kind of cord for a different look. Happy crafting!
When you walk into an empty room, what do you notice? Maybe it’s high ceilings, incredible natural light, or stunning original hardwood. The best DIYers have a gift not only for seeing those things, but for spotting the potential to turn a blank canvas into a perfectly designed space.
That could mean envisioning expansive built-ins or beams in an otherwise simple room, or it could mean looking at the quirks in a home and realizing that rather than obstacles to overcome, they’re actually design elements to embrace.
Want to improve your own ability to bring an empty space to life? This is how six DIY and design experts spot potential.
1. Imagine the day-to-day flow.
Whether they’re working on their own home or tackling projects for others, Danielle Kyle and her husband, Jeron, the duo behind Danielle Kyle Design and Kyle Build, always look first to functionality in a space. A great space is only as good as the life that occurs inside its walls. “What really matters is thinking about living inside the space,” Kyle says. “We ask ourselves questions like where we want to be sitting with our morning cup of coffee and where friends would gather for a great conversation.”
Only then do they turn their attention to the Instagram-worthy details. “We look at each space from different angles until we are able to identify the room’s aesthetic and structural strengths. Picture windows, unique built-ins, and existing arches are all an immediate plus, but they should work with what the home already has to offer,” she says.
2. Keep an eye out for architectural features to show off.
Stephanie Watkins of Casa Watkins Living, a globally inspired blog and Instagram account, creates incredibly lush, bohemian spaces, so she always looks for architectural features to turn into beautifully styled vignettes. Great natural light and surprising spots are key.
Watkins says, “Though I believe any space can be turned into a beautiful creation, I’m a big fan of big windows/French doors for great plant life, plus some sort of architectural feature which could be a bump-out, archway, or a nook. These types of details make great potential for an interesting feature in a space.”
3. Visualize the potential without furniture to cloud judgment.
For Kera Jeffers, blogger and interior designer at Haute House Love, an empty space is actually an incredible opportunity to visualize the true potential of a room. Some people need to see furniture to envision a room as functional, but she welcomes the opportunity to let her imagination fill in the void.
When she looks at any empty space, that’s when she can go wild with design and DIY ideas. “For my crazy design brain I can always see the most potential in an empty space because there aren’t any furnishings to cloud judgment. For me seeing the potential has less to do with specific elements and more to do with being able to exercise the part of the brain that can dream big.”
4. Look at wall and window space as a blank canvas.
Megan Duncan of The Minted Vintage loves to add DIY detail to add character and charm to her new-build home, so she looks for opportunities in an empty space while treating it like a blank canvas. A plain room is just waiting for trim, molding, and other built-in additions to spruce it up.
Duncan says, “When looking for potential in an empty space, I look at where a built-in cabinet or shelves can be added for storage and styling or a wall treatment like board and batten can be installed. Next, I envision how to dress windows up with custom trim. Even small windows will look bigger with a little extra detail.”
When her DIY dreams get even more ambitious, she looks up to see whether there’s room to add ceiling features that can help make a space feel more intimate and unique. “I love to add wood elements throughout a space, so features like cased openings and ceiling height are next on my list. Wrapping an opening with trim work and installing faux beams on the ceiling can really make a space feel extra cozy.”
5. Embrace the quirks and locale as design elements.
Designer Sarah Glenn is on her third home full of DIY renovations and she’s an expert at looking for unique and quirky elements to embrace rather than hide. In her current home, she saw a chance to take a dormered ceiling — an element some might shy away from — and turn it into a cozy treehouse for her son’s nursery.
Reflecting on the project, Glenn says, “I love to look for something quirky to highlight in a space, especially in a way that connects the room to the sense of place around it. My son’s nursery has 7-and-a-half-foot ceilings and a dormer looking out over a canopy of trees in our backyard. The space has a natural coziness to it and reminds me of a treehouse. I embraced that feeling by painting the room a dark hunter green, layering in shades of blue through textiles and art, and incorporating natural materials with a vintage wool rug, leather rocking chair, and an antique pine dresser.”
6. Recognize the unique characteristics.
Erin Spain, a DIY blogger with a knack for turning basic rooms into bright, styled spaces, knows that there doesn’t need to be anything grand or fancy to complete an impressive makeover. Good, unique bones can be as simple as well-placed windows or classic molding.
“Sometimes it’s the scale of the space or architectural details like molding; sometimes it’s the layout or the amount of natural light it gets,” Spain says. “Each space is unique, so I try to envision what it could become based on whatever assets it might already possess.”
Building an outdoor TV cabinet isn’t hard at all. And the result is more than worth the effort. Best of all, you’ll be able to watch the game — or anything else — while dining or lounging on your deck or patio.
Half-inch treated plywood
Coated deck screws
TV mount and hardware
Peel-and-stick roofing starter strip
How to Build an Outdoor TV Cabinet
Before you attempt any woodworking project, always wear safety glasses. In addition, take necessary precautions to ensure a hazard-free project area.
1. Install the back. Start with a piece of half-inch pressure-treated plywood. This board attaches to the fence or wall on the back side and it’s where you’ll install the TV mount on the front side.
This plywood also forms the back of the cabinet’s ‘box.’ The piece’s dimensions are determined by the size of the TV. Just allow a few inches of extra space on each side.
2. Install the sides. On either side of the plywood, attach pressure-treated 2-by-6s by driving coated deck screws at an angle into the fence. These 2-by-6s serve as the four sides of the outdoor TV cabinet. However, a deeper TV may require wider material.
3. Screw in the TV mount. Install the TV mount on the plywood, as directed on the mount’s package. Allow space for the TV to hang on the rails.
4. Build the cabinet doors. We’re making cabinet doors from pressure-treated fence boards. This will mimic the pattern of the fence behind the cabinet. The boards overlap each other by about an inch. We’re using waterproof wood glue and galvanized nails to secure everything together.
5. Add reinforcement. On the back of each door, we attach a horizontal piece at the top and bottom, with a diagonal piece running between to add strength.
6. Install hinges. Attach the doors to the cabinet using ordinary gate hinges.
7. Add water resistance. To keep out the rain, we apply peel-and-stick roofing starter strip to the top of the cabinet. Make sure it overlaps the front edge. Then we cover that edge with a strip of the fence material to create a shed-style roof for the cabinet with the scraps from our fence boards. Again, we use 1-inch overlap patterns.
8. Stain it. Once we coat the cabinet with stain to protect it, we’re ready to mount this outdoor TV cabinet and begin enjoying it!