DIY Kitchen Projects That Really Add Value to a Home

One of the best things about buying a home is that you have endless possibilities when it comes to remodeling. However, if you really want to be strategic, you want to make sure that you are planning your remodel around what’s going to actually increase the overall value of your home. It’s never a bad idea to put value first when it comes to a renovation project. You want to make sure that every bit of money you put into your home is something that you’re going to get back in time. Why wouldn’t you want to do that?

So when it comes to the house as a whole, you might not be surprised that the best place to add value is the kitchen. These days, we do a lot of things in our kitchens, not just cooking. We study for tests at school, we eat, we entertain guests, and then if we have time we actually get to cook something. So there’s a lot of emphasis being place don a great kitchen in a house. Buyers want to imagine themselves in your shoes, happily cooking away while the rest of the world turns and turns. So if you’re thinking about the same things, then it’s definitely time to start planning your kitchen project. Budget is definitely one of the first things that you will want to think about. It’s tempting to just assume that you’re going to have free reign to just spend as much as you want. If you don’t set a budget up front, you’ll get sucked into the wonders of the home improvement store, which is not a good thing at all. There are a lot of beautiful fixtures and lighting options at the store that will entice you to buy them, and it’s very easy to go over budget.

So you want to first focus on the essentials that have to be there. Redoing the lighting in a kitchen can definitely add value, as well as upgrading the applicants and the cabinets. If you don’t have the budget for a major renovation, you might want to focus on making the space more functional. The addition of a kitchen island can add space where there isn’t anymore room to put in shelving, and you can also change the lighting so that you can see the food preparations much easier than if you were to just leave the lighting as is. One thing that you’ll notice about older homes is the lighting in the kitchen is very poor — it’ll need to be on the first things that you change.

The flooring may need to be redone, and this isn’t a bad idea. The best surfaces are laminated in the kitchen for obvious reasons. You wouldn’t want to put carpet in the kitchen — that’s just asking to have mold and mildew make permanent stays in your home.

Making your kitchen more energy efficient and eco-friendly is another great project that can add value to your home at large, because everyone is focused on those things. When you can show a buyer proof that you’re really into taking care of the environment and reducing your overall energy use, you may get more interest than if you didn’t make that investment. Again, these are projects that you’re going to need to balance against your budget. There’s nothing that says that you have to do all of these things at once. You can always tackle these projects one at a time so that you don’t have to worry about all of the costs at one time.

Since you’re dealing with a space that has some plumbing and electrical considerations that need to be made, it’s important to really make sure that you’re going to be able to do the work on your own. When it comes to advanced systems, we definitely advocate the use of trained professionals. Sure, you’re going to spend more money, but when you really need to make sure that something is done properly and up to code, that’s when calling a contractor is the right way to go. Look through reviews and get referrals if you need to so that you can count on them to do the job right the first time.

Overall, there are plenty of other kitchen ideas that you could use; this guide is just to give you a few short ideas. What will you create today?

Choosing a Cordless Drill For All of Your Home Improvement Needs

If there’s one thing that matters to most people across the board, it’s definitely going to be their home. We’re big fans of the DIY movement because it gives people the power to change their own lives from the inside out. Instead of trying to wait for pricey contractors, you can actually push forward and handle your own repairs around the home. Now, there are going to be times where you will have to delegate things to a trained professional, but you would be surprised at all of the things that you can get done on your own.

Before you can get started though, you’re going to need a few basic tools. That’s actually the topic of today’s DIY guide — it all starts with a good cordless drill. Now, you might feel like there’s no reason why you would need a cordless drill when a corded variety has a pretty long cord on top of allowing you to use an extension cord. However, there’s nothing like being able to move around freely. You never know which repair will take your time next, so why not make sure that you can actually focus on the task ahead of you?

So, the first thing that we need to do is look at the cordless drill a little closer. You will want to make sure that the first thing that you consider is budget. Sure, a higher budget is going to allow you to get some fancier tools but the reality is that sometimes you’re just going to have to deal with the budget that you have. When you’re just starting out, you’re going to need to make sure that you keep your expenses low. That way you have more money set aside for tools, so you don’t want to just try to go out and get the biggest, baddest drill on the market. Most of those “super drills” are marketed towards contractors that need a higher level of durability than someone that is just making a few repairs here and there. Of course, if you do eventually want to transition into doing side jobs for other homeowners, you might want to invest in some higher grade tools down the road.

It’s also a good idea to make sure that you’re buying something that’s going to have a lot of power. That starts with the battery, because let’s face it — a weak battery isn’t going to get you very far. If you find that you’re drilling into tougher materials, you’re going to want to get a larger battery. Keep in mind that this means that you’re going to end up getting things a bit heavier, but if you aren’t opposed to a little extra weight then you will want to get the stronger battery for sure.

A really good cordless drill needs to be able to move in the reverse direction as well as forward. That will help you back out the screws you’ve put in without having to use your hands. That’s really painful and ends up damaging the surface that you were working with. A dual-speed motor is a plus, because you can control the rate that you’re drilling into the surfaces.

There are plenty of different cordless drills out there. If portability is something that’s important to you, then a smaller drill is going to be exactly what you’re looking for. On the other hand if power is the most important feature, then you’re going to want to focus accordingly.

Now is the perfect time to order a cordless drill online — why not take these tips and put them into action today?

Wallpapering – Equipment and Preparation

Wallpapering isn’t as difficult as it looks once you are equipped with the necessary tools. In addition to a paste table, brushes and some paste, you will also need shears, a spirit level, plumb line, scraping tools and sandpaper. Stairwells are the most problematic area and they are covered separately.

Calculating the Number of Rolls

To calculate how many rolls you need to buy, get hold of a wallpaper-calculating chart, readily available from most DIY stores. Measure the height of the walls from skirting board to the ceiling, coving, picture or dado rail (depending how far up you intend to cover) and the perimeter of the room. (Don’t deduct anything for the areas covered by doors or windows, unless there is a large picture window or patio door.) On the chart, find the measurement nearest to the perimeter of your room in the left-hand column then read across to find the height of the room in the right-hand column. There you will find the number of rolls required for a plain wallpaper.

If the wallpaper has a pattern you may need to take this into account. A large pattern repeat requires more paper than a random or non-matching design, which doesn’t need to be pattern matched. The best bet is to buy an extra roll on a sale-or-return basis, so that if you don’t need to open it, you will get your money back. Check when buying that the batch number printed on the label of each roll is the same. Even then, a slight difference in shading is possible, so you need to unroll all the paper at home and examine the colours in a good light. If any of the rolls are of a slightly different shade, don’t hang them on the same wall, where the difference might be noticeable.

Preparing The Walls

Before you hang the wallpaper, prepare the walls in the same way as for painting. However, where the old plaster is sound but badly crazed, or has been repaired in places over the years, it is best to hang lining paper first, as this will prevent defects showing through the wallpaper. Lining paper is usually hung horizontally, to prevent the joints coinciding with the wallpaper.

Any existing wallcovering must be stripped off completely. Some papers can be stripped off in lengths simply by loosening the bottom edge and pulling upwards. This leaves a thin backing paper on the wall which should be wetted then scraped off. Other wallcoverings may need to be soaked with water before scraping them off. Adding a little wallpaper paste or washing up liquid to the water helps the soaking process, making the stripping easier afterwards. Some vinyls and washable wallcoverings will need to be scored first, to allow water to penetrate the old paste.

If you are faced with a really stubborn wallpaper, or more than one layer, you can save time and effort by hiring or buying a wallpaper steam stripper. This produces steam through a square plate that loosens the paper when it is held against the wall. It’s a great labour-saving device and quite inexpensive to buy these days. Recently some clever cookie invented a handy little tool called an orbital scorer, which you simply run over the paper in a circular motion, creating little pin holes that allow the moisture from the steamer to penetrate behind the surface. After doing this, use both a broad-bladed and narrow-bladed scraping knife to carefully remove the old paper without damaging the plaster behind.

When all the paper has been stripped off, rub the walls down with sandpaper to remove any little nibs of paper still clinging to them.

Porous walls have to be ‘sized’ to ensure that the wallpaper adheres properly; sizing has the added bonus of making it easier to slide the paper into place when pattern matching across the lengths. Size can be bought purpose-made (a powder that is mixed with water) or you can simply dilute ordinary wallpaper paste, according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Brush size on to the wall and leave it to dry for a short while before hanging the wallpaper.

Space – Saving Ideas for Your Children’s Rooms

Often one of the smallest rooms in the house, a child’s room needs clever planning if it is to accommodate clothing, toys and other possessions. It should also leave enough space for play, homework and entertaining friends – especially as most children ‘store’ everything on the floor!

Beds

In children’s rooms, several tiers make sense. A high-rise loft bed creates space below for bookshelves and a study area, while a cabin bed provides generous under-bed storage for big toys. Bunk beds are often the only way of fitting two children into a small bedroom and are ideal for accommodating overnight guests, but they are not really suitable for children under six. If you intend to buy a conventional bed, consider investing in a guest or stowaway bed – which stores another single bed stored underneath – or a divan with drawers. For very small or awkward spaces, consider a tailor-made ‘sleep-and-study’ design or a stowaway bed.

Furniture

While small-scale furniture and a bed that looks like a boat may be very appealing, don’t forget that children’s tastes change as fast as they grow, and full-size furniture in an adaptable design will prove to be a better buy. Self-assembly bedroom furniture aimed at the younger market and made from hardwearing, easy-to-clean materials is versatile and inexpensive, and often offers desk space and storage in one package. A desk requires a comfortable chair but elsewhere children usually prefer to lounge, so squashy beanbags make excellent seating.

Storage

As well as hanging and shelf space for clothes, storage is needed for toys and books that will rapidly grow in number as the child gets older.

Simple, low-level storage is most practical for younger children. Baskets and capacious crates that will slide under a bed or can be stacked against a wall are ideal, while colourful semi-transparent plastic crates allow the contents to be easily identified. Cube storage systems are also useful and adapt easily to changing needs. Try not to fill up most of the floor area, however, as this will still be the child’s preferred play space.

From about the age of ten, toys start to make way for more sophisticated possessions and at this point you can also begin to make use of higher-level storage. Crates are still useful but appropriate containers will be needed for a proliferation of less bulky items. Remember that storage systems relevant to their interests and particularly those with an upbeat look – a state-of-the-art CD rack, jazzy box files or a professional make-up box – are more likely to get used than more mundane or childish options. If you are able to build a window seat into a child’s room, construct it with a lift-up lid for extra toy storage.

Painting a Chalkboard

If you can give space on one of the bedroom walls over to a chalkboard, it offers a child the opportunity to express him or herself in words or drawing – or just to write cheeky messages!

First cut a circular mask out of sticky-backed film. For a perfect circle, pin one end of a length of string in the centre of the film and draw the outline with a pencil attached to the other end. Cut out the shape using a craft knife on a board. Then stick the outer circle in position on the wall and mask off the area all around it with newspaper, as the fine spray tends to spread far and wide.

Using special blackboard paint in an aerosol can, spray back and forth until you achieve a flat, even surface, building up several layers. Leave it to dry overnight, after ? which time you (or your child!) can write on it with chalks.

Shelving Options – How to Create Open Storage

Putting up shelves is probably the most common DIY job – and often the most disastrous! This is simply because people don’t use the right support for the weight the shelves will carry. You can fix shelves on to an open wall or fit them into a corner or an alcove.

Creating Open Storage

Apart from choosing shelving that fits the bill, there are three important practical aspects to consider: the material of the shelves; the method of support; and how the support is secured to the wall. Get all of these right and you will have sturdy, attractive storage space.

Shelving Material

The traditional material is solid wood, but this is expensive and usually limited to a width of 225mm (9in). The most popular materials these days are faced chipboard, with a covering of melamine or thin wood veneer, and MDF. If you want really sturdy, large shelves, you could use plywood or blockboard sheet, having it cut to whatever size you want. Plywood looks good if it is well sanded and varnished.

Methods of Support

For an open wall, there are three choices: brackets, upright metal standards with matching brackets (to give adjustable shelving) and cantilever supports. Individual brackets may be metal, wood, wrought iron or plastic. Standards and brackets are usually made from painted steel, though aluminium and wood are also available. With standards, you only need to use a spirit level once when putting up a whole set of shelves and the shelves themselves can be individually spaced using the slots in the uprights. Cantilever supports are designed to take either 16mm board or 6mm prepared (safety) glass shelving. They consist of a triangular section with a slot in it; this is screwed to the wall and the board or glass shelf pushed into the slot.

All these methods can also be used to support shelves in an alcove, but here you have the option of a wider variety of side supports. As alcove walls are rarely true, these shelves have to be individually shaped to fit their position.

Fixing to the Wall

For a solid wall, drill large enough holes to take a plastic wallplug, into which you drive the screws. Use an electric drill fitted with a masonry bit suited to the screw size.

Hollow (plasterboard) walls are more of a problem, especially if you are putting up bookshelves that will take a heavy load. For display shelves, you can use hollow-wall wallplugs, but for anything else you need to find the vertical timber studs (using an electronic joist and batten detector), then fix long screws directly into these. On most partition walls, this will mean having the supports 400mm (16in) apart to coincide with the spacing of the studs.

Rules for Putting Up Shelves

Whatever type of shelf you are putting up, make sure you have enough supports. For MDF or melamine shelving, the maximum distance between supports is:

– 15mm (5/8in) thickness: 40-60cm (16-24in)
– 19mm (3/in) thickness: 50-70cm (20-27in)
– 25mm (1 in) thickness: 70-90cm (27-36in)

If using two supports, the brackets should be placed two-ninths of the shelf’s total length from the ends; with three supports, position the outer brackets one-seventh of the shelf’s length from either end. Use long enough screws – at least 50mm (2in) No 10 and preferably No 12 gauge screws. When fixing the uprights (for adjustable shelving) on a stud wall, use 60mm screws.

How to Install Different Types of Wall Beds

Ever had that feeling you could fall asleep standing up? Well here’s your chance! If lack of space is a major factor, you might want to consider fitting a bed that folds up against the wall when not in use, as this can be a great space saver. Three simple types of ‘wall bed’, as they are commonly known, are fairly straightforward to install.

There are three main types of wall bed. The simplest design, which is often referred to as a ‘swing-away’, is a plain metal bedstead fitted on a large bracket with counter-balance springs. It folds back to a depth of just 420mm when closed, but remains visible unless you construct a cupboard around it. A more sophisticated type allows you to fold the bed away into its own cupboard. Sometimes called a ‘fold-away’, this has a fake cupboard door front attached to the underside of the bed, so that when the bed is raised against the wall it is completely concealed behind the door. A ‘hide-away’ wall bed takes the process one step further, with mock cupboard doors that show at the end of the bed when it is folded down.

All three types of wall bed are fitted with straps to hold the mattress and the bedclothes in place when the bed is folded up against the wall.

Fitting a Fold-Away Bed

When you buy this type of wall bed, it should come with instructions for making up the cupboard into which it fits when not it use. The cupboard needs to be solidly constructed and firmly fixed, as it will take the full weight of the bed.

Make the cupboard from 18mm sheet material, following the instructions that will be supplied by the bed manufacturer. For the external doors, the side panels may need to be cut away and additional strengthening side panels fitted (unless the cupboard is fitted between other secure cupboards).

It is possible to fit a bedhead to the bed, which will stop things falling down behind it and into the cupboard. This can be bolted to the bed frame, but has to be in two hinged parts with chamfered edges, so that it folds down as the bed is raised.

To finish off the job, fit the fake door to the underside of the bed frame and mount the bed bracket in the cupboard, using the bolts, nuts and brass countersink screws supplied. Finally, adjust the bed until it operates correctly and is centrally mounted in the cupboard.

Fitting a Hide-Away Bed

A hide-away bed is very similar to a fold-away bed, except that the cupboard has to be bigger to take the extra doors that form the bed-end when the bed is down. It needs to be at least 500mm (20in) deep, slightly wider than the bed frame and normal ceiling height – 2.3m (7ft 6in) -though the height of the main part of the cupboard must match the bed frame exactly. The doors are attached to the bed frame and the bottom (main) door is additionally secured to the base of the cupboard (that is, above the cupboard plinth), using a continuous piano hinge. If two doors are used side by side, they should be permanently joined using metal bars. Full adjustment is provided so that the bed operates correctly.

Fitting a Swing-Away Bed

It is a very simple job to fit a swing-away bed. First screw the support bracket to the wall and floor, then slot the bed frame into the bracket and tighten the bolt. The bed is simply lowered into place when you want to use it, its end legs dropping down automatically. The only installation problem you are likely to encounter is where the wall is a hollow partition type, rather than a solid one. Unless you can fix all the screws into the vertical wall studs (you can find these with a joist and batten detector), it will be necessary to provide additional support on the wall. The easiest way to do this is to screw a large batten – say 75 x 38mm – to the studs and then screw the bed bracket to this. If space is so tight that you don’t want to lose the 38mm space taken up by the batten, you could cut away the plasterboard and part of the studs and recess the batten with its front face flush with the wall. Make good with plaster after doing this.

How to Install and Repair Shutters

Shutters are a uniquely architectural window treatment. In period properties, they would normally be installed in an angled reveal, but they can also be fitted outside the reveal or to lie flush to the frame, which gives definition to a window without detracting from its shape or the view.

Traditional louvred shutters offer privacy, ventilation and adjustable light. The louvres of most shutters are around 68mm wide, though European-style shutters have 45mm slats and plantation-style colonial shutters have deep 90mm slats. Solid panelled shutters are another option and are less versatile than those with adjustable slats. Shutters can be made to fit a window’s full height or be installed in panels, tier upon tier, with each one working independently, or as half-height cafe shutters.

Installing Shutters

Face-fixing shutters to the outside of a window allows more natural light into a room as the whole of the window is exposed and it is by far the easiest option. Shutters should overlap equally all round, with the louvres opening inside the reveal, but if the sill protrudes, fix shutters so that the bottom edge is 3mm above it. Shutters can be hinged to a timber batten fixed to the wall with wallplugs and screws, or secured with offset hinges screwed into the shutter frame and wall.

If the window is square, shutters can be fitted directly to the reveal with butt hinges, although offset hinges will allow the shutters to be adjusted if necessary. If the reveal is not square, timber battens are required. If using battens either inside or outside the reveal, try to use timber that complements the shutters or paint it to match.

First make the frame, screwing the timbers at right angles to make the corners. The frame should be 8mm wider than the shutters at the sides and the height should be the same as the shutters. Fix the frame to the window with screws and fix one half of the hinge to the face of the frame. This will cover the screws fixing the frame to the window. Fix the other half to the shutter and join the hinges.

Repair and Renovation

A drop of oil on hinges and a new set of cords may be all that is needed to restore an old set of panelled shutters to good working order. However, if you decide to strip off old paint, use chemical stripper in preference to hot caustic stripping, which can split thin panelling. Where the joints of louvre shutters are loose, carefully pull the components apart, clean up the joints and reassemble them.

How to Install a Walk-In Wardrobe

A walk-in wardrobe has the advantage that everything is completely hidden from view and you can create a fair amount of storage space, with access to clothes on both sides. You could have a hanging rail on each side or a single rail and shelves and/or drawers on the other side.

As the minimum width for a walk-in wardrobe with hanging rails on both sides is 1.8m (6ft), you will obviously need a largish room to start with. The ideal total space would be around 2m (6ft 6in) square, and preferably in the corner of a large room, this means you’ll be building two partition walls at right angles, with a door in one side.

A partition wall is normally built from 100 x 50mm (4 x 2in) sawn timber (though for this project you could use 75 x 50mm/3 x 2in timber) and consists of four elements nailed together. The floor plate runs the length of the wall and is screwed down to the floor; the ceiling plate runs the length of the wall and is screwed to the ceiling; vertical studs run between the floor plate and the ceiling plate; and horizontal noggings are fitted between the studs, about half way up but staggered (so that you can get the nails in from either side). Studs are normally spaced at 400mm (16in) centres, but for this project, a spacing of 600mm (2ft) for the unbroken wall and 450mm for the wall with the door would be better.

Check out the area. You don’t want to put a walk-in wardrobe where there is a window and, ideally, you don’t want to cover up any socket outlets (though you may be able to make use of the power to provide lighting in the wardrobe). Work out all the details on paper – the location of the partition walls and the door (as well as which way this will open), the hanging rails and shelving. As the partition walls need to be secured to joists, try to make one of the walls line up with a joist above and, ideally, with a joist below, though this is less important.

Install the ceiling plates first. Cut them to length and drill and screw them to the ceiling joists above (or to the noggings fitted between the joists), using long screws. Cut and fit the floor plates next, using a plumb line to make sure the floor plates are exactly below the ceiling plates. Screw the plates to the floorboards or, preferably, to the joists below. (You will need to cut away any carpet so that they sit directly on the floor itself.)

Mark the positions for the vertical studs and cut each one to length individually as you fit them. Hammer the nails at an angle through the sides of the timber down into the floor plate and up into the ceiling plate. At the ends of the wardrobe, shape the studs to fit round the skirting (or cut the skirting away). At the partition corner, fit three studs so that the ends of both internal and external plasterboard sheets will be supported.

Position the studs either side of the doorway to allow space for the door lining, which is 100 x 25mm (4 x 1 in) planed timber. Check this carefully so that you will be left with the correct gap for the door – that is, the door width plus 6mm – once the lining is fitted.

Add noggins between all the studs about half way up (and, perhaps, at the height you want the hanging rails), plus a longer noggin over the doorway and an extra short stud (the ‘cripple’) running from the centre of this noggin to the ceiling plate. Once the doorway is complete, cut away the length of floor plate within it.

Fit and screw the door lining to the studs either side of the doorway. It must protrude 12mm on either side in order to line up with the plasterboard. Then fix the plasterboard to the studs with plasterboard nails – grey side out if you are going to give them a skim coat of plaster, ivory side out if you intend to paint or paper them directly. Each edge must be supported over a stud; fit the full sheets first, then cut sheets to fill the gaps. Apply joint filler to all the joints.

Hang the door. You will need a doorstop for the door to close against, hinges and a magnetic door closer. To finish off, fit a light inside the wardrobe. Decorate by painting or papering the plasterboard walls and painting the door and its frame, then fit out the wardrobe.