An Easy, Procrastinator-Friendly Halloween DIY Made from a Summertime Staple

An Easy, Procrastinator-Friendly Halloween DIY Made from a Summertime Staple

When it comes to setting a scene worthy of the year’s spookiest holiday, it’s no wonder that two design details are used again and again: black finishes and flickering candles. But as great as this combination looks, the truth is that most high-impact candles are expensive — and their hefty price tags can haunt your bank account all autumn long. 

That’s why this TikTok decorating hack is so appealing. Lydia of @_cemetery_gates created an ultra-spooky faux candle collection in her fireplace, and she used items that are cost-effective and probably already hanging around your house.

To build her display, she upcycled the summer staple of pool noodles into variously sized tapers, slicing them down with a butcher knife and cutting the tops off at an angle. Using a hot glue gun, Lydia then adhered the candles together — placing taller ones in the back and shorter ones toward the front — to make a centerpiece. As she glued the noodles together, she also dripped the glue down the tops and sides of the cylinders to give the illusion of melting wax.

Once the glue dried, Lydia used a can of spray paint to cover the neon pool noodles in a moody shade of black, and did the same to several battery-powered candles. For the finishing touches, she placed the candles inside individual noodles, and centered the entire project inside her fireplace. The end result is decidedly gothic, with black candles that glow in an eerie light. In other words, it’s the perfect budget-friendly decor piece for celebrating Halloween. 

If you plan on doing this project yourself, you’ll have an easier time if you use something stronger than a butcher knife to slice through your pool noodles — try a utility knife or a hand saw if you have one. It’s also a good idea to spray paint objects with cardboard or newspaper underneath (it looks like she did this step on a leather base, which is fine and maybe a bit fancy, but not too common). Nevertheless, this black candle decoration is sure to set a memorable scene this Halloween, and it’ll probably cost you less than a few bags of candy.

A Classic Contemporary San Francisco Home Has a Cool and Cozy Breakfast Nook

A Classic Contemporary San Francisco Home Has a Cool and Cozy Breakfast Nook

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Name: Anthony Rodriguez (he/him), husband Garrett (he/him), and Echo: (dog) – the center of our universe. She’s tri-color Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
Location: San Francisco, California
Size: 1,326 square feet
Type of Home: A traditional 1930s row house that is attached on both sides.
Years lived in: 2.5 years, owned

We had very specific wants when we started the hunt for a single-family home in San Francisco. Having spent over a decade living in 700 square feet in the heart of the Castro District in San Francisco we knew we were ready for more space, the quiet, parking, and a yard for our sweet Cavalier King Charles to play in.  

Being an interior enthusiast, I also knew that I wanted a home that I could put my very own stamp on. I didn’t want anything too turn-key. We instantly fell in love with this 1300-square-foot 1930s row house perched high up on a mountain top. It was huge — at least to us — and generously offered up three bedrooms and two full baths with a big overgrown yard, a garage, and bonus room that I converted into a walk-in closet. Even better is that she was nestled into a storybook neighborhood that we instantly fell in love with, full of ancient trees, wildflowers, and friendly neighbors — each more charming than the last.

It was a logical next step for us in terms of a home and neighborhood. The location was still close to everything we knew and loved, but with the added space, views of the San Francisco city, and with easy walks through mountain peaks and forests. All of these vistas and idyllic strolls are all just five minutes from my front door. I take long nature walks daily with my Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Echo. I just love that we feel so close to nature but are still in the heart of the city all at the same time. It’s really the best of both worlds. Everyone says this neighborhood is the best-kept secret in San Francisco.

Fridays are date night. We almost always walk from our doorstep to one of the many amazing eateries to help with the transition from work to weekend. Weekends are spent in the garden; we started with an overgrown jungle that we have slowly cultivated into our very own garden oasis complete with Japanese Maples, blackberries, tomatoes, rosemary, basil, and thyme. We even have made friends with the raccoons, squirrels, and skunks that migrate the northern tip of the property nightly. We cook a ton and dine on the deck often. In the end, life is simple and joyful at 136home. Between home DIY projects, hitting the trails, cooking in the kitchen, lounging on the deck while watching the clouds whip overhead, it’s a leisurely existence — often filled with sleeping in, lots of coffee and a healthy dose of reality television.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: I describe my aesthetic as classic contemporary. I love to mix both old + new to create a big bold look one detail at a time. My look is often signature by mixing both high and low. I love a good deal just as much as the next guy.

My aesthetic often includes mixing in thrifted treasures from Facebook Marketplace, Chairish, etc. along with local flea market and thrift stores. Some of my favorite pieces in my home are from Facebook Marketplace — like my nightstand, the oil painting above my fireplace, and even a vintage steamer truck that I flipped on its side to make a side table in my living room. I swear these pieces were meant to live here. I just love bringing in pieces to my home that have a story — or things that are even discarded and made a new, ready to tell a brand-new story in my space right next to a Pottery Barn or CB2 piece as well. Both can live together in perfect harmony.

I love my designs to be livable and not fussy.  But I always stress that each moment needs to be intentional. I do this thoughtfully curating my space over time — without the rush of a big reveal. One detail (or corner) at a time. I find that designing a home over time makes for the best results. I just love to source the exact right pieces (at the best price) to make my vision come to life. If I can do it so can you.

Inspiration: I believe that good design (and inspiration) can come from just about anywhere. That means a gorgeous fallen tree branch — that can be pruned and styled to make your mantel sing. Or even a scuffed-up candlestick that will look like a million bucks on your coffee table. I just love seeing the beauty in the little things. I find that most people do too — if you take the time to notice.

Gone are the days where you had to be in the pages of Architectural Digest to share your talent for beautiful styling + design. Now you can engage and reach other like-minded folk much easier. I love to get inspired by the DIY and interiors community, and the community we serve. It really is a great place to be online. I can’t get enough. Here are my favorite home DIYs.

Favorite Element: I am so proud of my home — it’s been slowly curated and designed with love and attention to detail over time. It’s hard to pick just one thing. I love the decision to go black for our doors and kitchen cabinets; we even swapped out builder grade hardware for brass and crystal doors knobs. I love the addition of archways for extra character in both the main floor hallway and in my primary-suite. Of course, the breakfast nook is always a pleaser, as is the brass bistro shelf in our kitchen.

But if I had to pick just one element that brings me the most joy — it’s probably my hallway gallery wall (I have three in my home). I just love how a gallery wall is an instant moment to wow and reflect. I have found that great art helps us connect with our guests — offering opportunities to share a story or learn more about one another. My gallery evokes so many fond memories, and tells a story — reflecting the joys of life, the feelings of uncertainty and even sorrow. But, in the end it all blends together beautifully leaving you thinking. The prints are all hand-picked over time (are you seeing a theme here?), and I love that I am always able to change it up, swapping things in and out as I collect pieces. My gallery wall is by far the thing I get asked most about — mostly how to do one just like it. Head here for my tips and supplies to do it all on your own.

Biggest Challenge: There were many! While in great shape and perfect on paper, the home really lacked character. We also had the tiniest, unattractive lime green bathroom attached to our primary suite. It was tricky because we knew we needed to expand the space, it was just too small for two grown men — and that meant pushing into our much-prized garage while still leaving room to park. Worse? This meant that we had to move our plumbing for our washer and dryer as well as moving around a ton of air ducts. But the good news is that with some smart space planning and some great advice (and city permit) I ended up with a bathroom that I am so in love with — it feels like it was always meant to be. The new configuration allows for my husband and I to wash up for the evening and tease one another every night before bed. I just cherish the memories this bathroom configuration has afforded us. Gone are the days of having to take turns to get ready for bed at night! It’s the little things that matter, guys!

One other really odd design challenge we had to solve for was a pesky 8” soffit that ran the perimeter of our downstairs primary suite. It couldn’t be removed because it’s part of the foundation. Living attached to a mountain side, this was necessary to keep the bedroom dry and attached to the hillside. But it was really shrinking the room. Remember, we wanted to find authentic and budget friendly ways to infuse charm into our home that didn’t break the bank — and don’t forget that fireplace and bathroom remodel took up a good amount of the budget! So, the addition of two arch bookcases built right on top of the soffit (I also added arches to our upstairs hallway passthrough space) was the perfect solution. Not only was it an affordable way to only cover up that pesky 8”, but it also maximized the vertical space in our bedroom, transforming an otherwise dead space into an amazing styling opportunity to display my thrifted treasures.  

Proudest DIY: I absolutely love to DIY. I have a ton of amazing and affordable DIYs in my space including: gallery walls, new faucets, furniture restoration, accent walls, hardware upgrades, wallpaper, and even restoring a vintage door knocker. But, by far my favorite — because it’s fast, easy to do, and makes a huge statement — is to simply switch out the builder grade vents for new brass registers. I replaced all of mine in a single day in my home and I am still blown away by how this tiny detail upgrade makes all the difference, especially in my hallway. This DIY just personifies everything I love about home design and how I approach things. This upgrade was one of the first projects I ever did when I started sharing DIYs on my blog — and maybe in part because it was my first, I have an extra soft spot in my heart for this project. All this DIY takes is a screwdriver, and a bit of time.

Biggest Indulgence: By far our fireplace addition was our biggest cost. It also had the most delays and setbacks. You have to permit with the city, and you have to install and order just the right pieces to pass code! I’m happy to report that in the end it was well worth it; the space just comes to life now, as it was screaming for a focal point fireplace pre-renovation. It’s temperate and foggy in San Francisco, so while it was an expensive addition, we use it almost every day. I just love the streamlined minimal look and curling up and clicking on the fireplace at the end of a long day. Plus, the mantel provides me plenty of opportunity to decorate seasonally and bring in fresh cut stems into my home from my morning walks. The fireplace addition instantly made the living room feel complete with tons of charm. I am so glad we did it.

What are your favorite products you have bought for your home and why?

This house tour’s responses were edited for length and clarity.

A Furniture Flipper’s Denver Home Is Full of Fabulous Budget Furniture Facelifts

A Furniture Flipper’s Denver Home Is Full of Fabulous Budget Furniture Facelifts

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Name: Leslie Jarrett and Sean Jarrett, two kids, and a baby on the way
Location: Denver, Colorado
Size: 1900 square feet
Type of Home: House
Years lived in: 8 years, owned

Formerly a high school math teacher, Leslie Jarrett is now a furniture flipper, totally transforming old and unloved pieces of furniture. “My passion for furniture flipping started in college when I needed a dresser and I didn’t have a lot of money to spend, so I found one in the garbage to give it a new life,” Leslie begins. “Since then, I’ve loved the hunt for quality and unique pieces to fill my home. Once I ran out of space in my own home I started to flip pieces to sell through Facebook Marketplace and Instagram: @wonderfullymadebyleslie.” 

“Furniture flipping has allowed me to be home with them and also work when they nap or play in the backyard.  I’ll be in the middle of painting a dresser when someone falls and needs a hug from mom.  I love that I have a creative outlet and a way to make extra money for my family,” she explains. “One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned making our house a home is that it takes time, but it doesn’t have to take a lot of money. Furnishing our home with unique Facebook Marketplace finds and old pieces my family was getting rid of has become one of my biggest passions. There is something special about bringing pieces that were on their way to the landfill back to life!”

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Cozy and Simple Traditional

Favorite Element: It has to be my furniture. Our bedroom dressers came from my grandparents and they are pieces I will never part with. Each room of our house has pieces I’ve refinished that I love.

Biggest Challenge: The hardest challenge is finding pieces that are the right size and price point. I can’t control what secondhand inventory is out there! This also means I have to look consistently for pieces so I don’t miss out on treasures! 

Proudest DIY: I love the cane cabinet in my entry room. The cabinet only cost me $40 from Facebook Marketplace. At first I was so bummed that it was missing a pane of glass but that pushed me to try cane for the first time! The inside of the cabinet doubles as a “mudroom” for us, which I love because it’s easy for my boys to get jackets and boots. And if I’m lucky they can easily put their things away too! The cane cabinet is also on a wall that I hand painted to look like wallpaper. It took a lot of time, but it was free because I used leftover paint!

Biggest Indulgence: The wicker chairs in my living room cost $65 each. This might not seem like much, but I almost never spend more than $50 on secondhand furniture!

Is there something unique about your home or the way you use it? More than 75 percent of our furniture is secondhand finds. I am hoping one day this number will be closer to 95 precent; I don’t know if I’ll ever convince my husband secondhand couches are okay! We purchased several pieces from IKEA when we first got married, and I am slowly swapping those out for unique solid wood pieces.  

What’s your absolute best home secret or decorating advice? Once friends and family found out I was flipping furniture they started offering pieces to me for free! I also think scrolling FB Marketplace consistently helps find the best treasures. 

This house tour’s responses were edited for length and clarity.

Adrienne Breaux

House Tour Editor

Adrienne loves architecture, design, cats, science fiction and watching Star Trek. In the past 10 years she’s called home: a van, a former downtown store in small town Texas and a studio apartment rumored to have once been owned by Willie Nelson.

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B&A: IKEA Is the Secret Sauce in this 100-Year-Old Kitchen’s Sophisticated Redo

B&A: IKEA Is the Secret Sauce in this 100-Year-Old Kitchen’s Sophisticated Redo

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It’s safe to say that all kitchen renovations are not created equal. Some kitchens really only need some paint on the cabinets, new hardware and couple days of work for a fresh face lift. But other kitchen projects can take months, a bit more money, and a whole lot of patience. That was the case for Sylvia Bermudez and her husband Tim Murray, whose kitchen needed a lot of love (and labor).

Sylvia and Tim live in a 100-plus-year-old home with a kitchen that hadn’t been renovated in years. To put it simply, it was not working. “We had a very aged kitchen with very little storage and lacking functionality,” Sylvia says.

There was an odd patch of checkerboard backsplash above the sink, tons of yellowy oak cabinets, and dark, beat-up hardwood floors. Plus, the kitchen had an old coal-burning (!) fireplace that Sylvia just couldn’t figure out how to tie into her vision for the space.

“Since it is a century-old home, we tried to give a nod to its beautiful ancestry while also modernizing its look,” Sylvia says. Their first move was to get rid of the fireplace and replace it with a wall of white cupboards from IKEA for storage. That helped Sylvia feel comfortable getting rid of the upper cabinets altogether for a cleaner, more modern look. Now, where the upper cabinets were once mounted, there’s a a sleek floating shelf that houses plates and glasses.

The countertops are new, but the couple stuck with the neutral white to go with their fresh blue cabinets from Semihandmade. And the wall behind the sink that was a yellow-ish beige color is now a sophisticated dark navy blue color, too.

Shiny gold hardware with a vintage look matches the new gold-toned faucet and pot filler, giving this entire wall a luxurious modern-meets-vintage feel. The pot filler in particular has been a worthy splurge, Sylvia says: “I’m really surprised how often we use the pot filler.”

While lots of people prefer hardwood floors throughout their home, Sylvia and Tim wanted something more practical for their kitchen. “Food and particles would get lost between the old wood planks,” Sylvia says. “So instead, we opted for classic mini hex tile and I designed the black tile outline to give it an extra pop.”

This entire project — a $30,000 endeavor — took about three months from start to finish — not bad for such a huge transformation. Sylvia loves it all, but has one thing she’d change if she could do it over: “The only thing I may have done differently is install heated floors,” she says.

The success of this kitchen remodel comes down to Sylvia and Tim’s desire to merge practicality and beauty, so that their kitchen isn’t just for show. As Sylvia advises, “Take your time in the design process to make sure you think function before just aesthetic.”

Inspired? Submit your own project here.

Savannah West

Home Assistant Editor

Savannah is a master binge-watcher and home cook. When she’s not testing new recipes or re-watching Gossip Girl, you can find her on Facetime with her grandma. Savannah is a news producer turned lifestyle blogger and professional homebody. She has a bachelors in journalism from Clark Atlanta University, a certification in Digital Storytelling and is earning her Master’s degree from Harvard University. Savannah believes every day is a good day and there’s nothing good food can’t fix.

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