Connect with H&H

DIY Ideas

I just moved into a new condo with my spouse, and although the layout is perfect, it's a bit plain, a tad boring, and a whole lot of basic; the perfect blank canvas! We were on a tight budget but still wanted to add some personality to the space. A kitchen or bathroom renovation would have been out of our budget, and the condo isn't old enough to need an overhaul in those spaces, so we started with a bedroom makeover. (Watch the transformation come to life on Online TV!)

The walls were "primer white", the carpet was wall-to-wall "dirty ivory", the ceiling had a popcorn finish, and the window covering, well, it was downright offensive: a faux marble pattern on vertical blinds — enough said! Here's the before photo:

We managed to change all of the above on our tight budget, with plenty of DIY projects. Here's how:

After emptying out the room, the first thing to go was the carpeting. The apartment was a rental before we purchased it, so it was quite dirty, plus we have a cat, so I didn't want wall-to-wall carpet. If you live in a condo, be sure to check with your condo board regarding the rules — some condos require you to have flooring on top of the concrete. I wanted to leave the concrete floor exposed, so the carpet tacking along the sides of the room had to be removed once the carpet was up. I used a crow bar to remove the strips and nails in the floor. Then I cleaned and scrubbed the gunk and spray paint off the concrete — leftover from the condo's original construction — with a wire brush, trowel, soap and water. You can use a chemical concrete cleaner like this one from The Home Depot, but I found I didn't really need it. I did, however, need a lot of elbow grease! This is what the floor looked like before I scrubbed it clean:

Once cleaned, I filled the holes leftover from the tack strip nails with concrete filler — wear goggles if you're going to attempt this! I forgot to put my goggles back on after taking a small break and some of the filler splashed into my eye, resulting in a wonderful half hour spent with my face under the tap flushing my stinging eye out with water — not fun! Safety first!

When this process is finished you can leave the floor as-is and put a rug down or you can take it a step further and seal the floor with a concrete sealer, to protect the porous surface from staining. I layered an affordable jute rug from Ikea and a cowhide right on top of the concrete and I'm really happy with the industrial feel that it gave the room.

I've heard so many horror stories about scraping popcorn ceilings that I was really dreading the task. Luckily, the ceiling had never been painted and the popcorn came off with very little effort. I simply picked up a spray bottle, filled it with water, and sprayed a 2-foot by 2-foot area at a time, waited about 30 seconds for the water to absorb and then scraped off the popcorn texture with a large trowel. The trick is to not oversaturate the ceiling or you might damage the drywall underneath (I'm guilty of a few gouges in our ceiling). Be sure to use safety goggles and a dust mask. Also keep in mind that this task is extremely messy, and appropriate prep is a good idea. If your flooring is not being replaced, cover it with a plastic drop cloth and use painters tape to tape the edges of the drop cloth to the walls so that there are no gaps. If you don't plan on cleaning and painting the walls, use plastic to cover your walls, too. If your home is older, you'll want to test for asbestos in the ceiling texture and/or call in a professional to get rid of it. Once you've finished scraping, wipe the ceiling down with a damp sponge — I used a handy drywall sponge from The Home Depot. It has a textured side that will scrape any remaining rough parts off the ceiling easily and quickly. Then patch any gouges, sand and prime the ceiling before painting or covering in wallpaper. Treating the freshly smooth ceiling with a fun paint colour or patterned wallpaper is a good way to celebrate the removal of the popcorn! We splurged on a bird print and finished the look with crown moulding. It's an inexpensive material with minimal installation costs, and really made the wallpaper pop.

After much deliberation regarding lighting, I chose to hang an oversized drum shade fixture from Ikea. I really loved the look of their new Nymö shade with copper on the inside, but the perforated detail felt a bit busy against the wallpaper. With a few modifications, I was able to achieve the look that I wanted using their original large white Nymö shade spray-painted with a copper finish. To prevent the blotchiness of the paint from showing through the shade when the light is turned on, I gave the outside of the shade a quick coat of white paint. Something dramatic like black would also be a great choice. To hang the shade, I used a cord set found at a local hardware store. I love an oversized pendant in a small space because it draws the eye upwards and can actually make the space feel larger. I made mine for a fraction of the price that higher-end versions sell for.

My existing nightstands lacked character and were too small and boxy. I found an old nightstand at a hotel liquidator with a traditional shape, which I sanded, primed and painted matte black. I paired it with a modern, marble top tulip table for an eclectic look.

The art above the nightstand is a photo I took of a contemporary art installation at Centre Pompidou in Paris while we were on vacation. I made some colour modifications to the original in Photoshop, printed and framed it in an awesome square brass frame from CB2. A unique piece of art for around $50!

The larger artwork next to the bed was made using a section of an old drop cloth that had been used over and over again for various painting projects. It had some really interesting and abstract markings on it. I was originally going to paint something abstract myself onto a canvas, but I felt the pressure of a blank canvas staring back at me. I toyed with the idea of different abstract painting techniques, but when I saw this drop cloth at the office, I knew it was meant to be. I cut off the best section and stapled it around a blank canvas with a wooden frame. It gave the space the right amount of gritty edge.

My least favourite part of the space was the marbled vertical blinds. I wanted a window covering that would allow for two different light levels in the room while providing privacy. Ikea had the perfect drapes at the right length, for the right price. I installed the Ritva drapes, which let plenty of light through, onto the existing track that was used for the vertical blinds. I manually made a pinch fold in the drape every few inches and wedged the fabric into the grips that previously held the plastic vertical panels. For the second layer, I chose the Sanela dark grey velvet drape for its rich texture and light-blocking thickness, and hung this layer from a curtain rod. Now I can use the first layer to let soft light in during the day, or I can shut the second layer to darken the room when I want to sleep in.

Last but not least, I should mention the wall colour, which is the change that made the most impact for the lowest price. I've been inspired by shades of oxblood in fashion shows for a while now, and I knew I wanted a deep and dark wall colour, so Benjamin Moore's Bewitched (CSP-450) in a matte finish was the perfect choice to add the drama that I wanted.

All in all the transformation didn't break the bank and I achieved the rich layers and character I was after. Now I'm contemplating which room to tackle next!

Watch the transformation come to life on Online TV, where you'll find a complete list of products, as well.

Photo credits:
1-8. Jennifer Koper


Jennifer Koper

Designer Kimberley Seldon of HGTV fame takes gingerbread house decorating seriously. Using ready-made kits available through Metro, Seldon suggests ways to customize a house based on your decor preferences. What else would you expect from a design diva?

The Traditionalist

Traditionalists rely on the classic colour combinations found in the candy that accents this look. Choose symmetrical details for the exterior of the house, like twin candy cane pillars. Create a wreath with coated chocolate candies and enhance 'curb' appeal with a mint-square doormat. Finish with snowy dusting of shredded coconut.

The Modernist

The modernist makes a statement with simple graphics and uncomplicated details. To make a contemporary wreath, slice the top off a white marshmallow and ring by black-and-white licorice allsorts. Use a halved black jelly bean as a doorknob, and chocolate-coated mints to mimic rooftop tiles.

Classic Elegance

You love to make a splash and get noticed. Take a similar approach when creating a gingerbread house and lavish it with metallics in the form of a gold dragée starburst and luxe gold-wrapped truffles that fill in for winter planters. White-chocolate pretzels stand in for lattice on the side of the house, while the walkway is lined with silver candy balls to create a grand entrance. Sprinkle crystal sugar coating on the roof, and kick things up a notch with a row of silver bling down the peak.

Photo credits:
1-4. Metro


Wendy Jacob

A little while back I did a segment on an episode of The Marilyn Denis Show on one of my favourite DIY projects, inkjet transfers.

I like a DIY project that's fast, inexpensive, doesn't require tons of special skills or equipment and that delivers high-impact finished results. Pretty stringent criteria, but this project meets every one. I experimented with the technique again recently and thought I might share the step-by-step instructions. The coming holiday season might be just the time for you to try this method to create some pretty and affordable gifts.

The main supplies you'll need are Avery 03276 Clear Decals for Ink Jet printers (a pack of 6 sheets is about $11). I found them at a Staples store, but you can also find them online here. You will also need an inkjet printer. I didn't have one on hand, so I borrowed one from Brother Canada. They sent me the Brother Business Smart Series MFC-J4510DW. I like to consider myself fairly tech savvy, but I was a bit intimidated at first. I had never set up a printer before without the aid of an IT pro. But I'm quite proud to say I got this one up and running in minutes, all on my own. It packs a lot of functionality in a compact and handsome package. The materials you'll need are: transfer sheets, a printer, and something to transfer onto. I chose ceramic and glass vessels, since the decal sheets work best on these smooth surfaces.

Step 1: Find Images
You can use any digital file for this project, such as your own photos, text, monograms, a scanned fabric or book image. I went to Vintage Printable to search for images. The site has hundreds of images to choose from and you can search by browsing galleries or entering a keyword.

Step 2: Print
Test print your selected image on plain paper and experiment with the print size. When you are ready to print the final transfer, load the decal sheet into the manual feed tray one piece at a time to print. Follow the instructions enclosed with the decal sheets to ensure you print the image on the correct side.

Step 3: Cut out the transfer
Use scissors to cut as close to the edge of the printed design as possible.

Step 4: Apply, protect
Peel the backing off the cut out design and apply to the surface of the vessel. Try not to rub the surface of the transfer as the ink may smudge if not yet dry. Protect the finished project by spraying with Krylon Crystal Clear spray sealant, which will help prevent the ink from smudging.

I like the effect of these black-and-white transfers. The grey tones look as if the designs on the pitchers have faded over time.

On glass the colours become translucent for an ethereal effect. I'm thinking of covering several clear glass bottles with holly leaf transfers and using the bottles as candleholders for the Holidays. Also, one last note about this project — the transfers peel off easily and leave no residue so you needn't worry about damaging your vessels.

Photo credits:
1-3, 8.-10., 12., 13. Margot Austin
4-7: Vintage Printable
11. via Krylon


Margot Austin

Recently one of my best friends married her high school sweetheart. To anyone that knows them, it really is a match made in heaven, and a perfect couple could only mean a perfect wedding so I was so excited when they asked me to help with the decor.

I quickly learned that wedding decor is a lot like home decor. It's always best to start with a few inspiration shots or a feeling you're trying to capture, then develop a palette and fill in the blanks with various details. The bride and groom are two of the most fashionable people I know and had some great ideas about what they wanted — I just had to help them bring those ideas to life.

The wedding took place on an old estate with a gorgeous property. There were multiple barns, gardens and ponds that gave it so much character and charm. With this in mind, they knew they wanted the decor to be lighthearted and at home in the country landscape.

The palette we developed was very natural yet pretty with lots of burlap, barn board and linen, accented by rich navy blue, sparkling glass and tarnished silver.


The bride knew she wanted long tables and cascading centerpieces, which meant extra long table runners. I found burlap for $1.55 yard at Designer Fabric that I then cut down the middle to make runners. The trick was to figure out how much was needed based on the size of the tables; I waited to cut the individual runners on site so each was exactly the right size. I left the edges raw to add to the relaxed aesthetic.


The bride also had an inspiration shot of great zig-zag fabric being used as runners. I was able to find the same fabric in navy that we then used as accents. I lay the burlap runners down the length of the table, and made smaller runners to place across the width of the table, spaced accordingly.

Like the burlap runners with the raw edges, this was also a no-sew project that saved a lot of time. Instead of hemming all four sides, I folded over the outside edges and ironed them in a way that looked finished. Also, because it was actually an outdoor fabric it hardly frayed and spilled liquid just pooled on top.

I have to admit, when it was all pulled together, the final look was really beautiful. And most importantly, the bride and groom loved it. Various shapes and sizes of jars and bottles were filled with white blooms. Some of the bottles were tied with loose pieces of ribbon, string and trinkets for a more personal touch.

A small thank you message was placed at each setting as well as candles (also in jars) and menu cards.

The bride also requested a dessert table. I hung a piece of Dwell Studio fabric in a vintage bird print behind the table, then flanked it by linen drapes. My favourite touch would have to be the "Love is Sweet" sign painted on barn board and hung above.

Photo credits:
1-8. Joel Bray


Joel Bray

I recently tried my hand at a DIY chalkboard as my girlfriend was having a hard time finding one within her budget. While looking for tips online, I came across some other fun ways to use chalkboard paint. It was amazing to see how creative people got, especially when it came to their walls.

We know wall-to-wall chalkboards are a great way to keep kids entertained (it sure beats monthly paint touch ups) and baristas do a lovely job with daily menus at our local cafés, but check out how some people took this chalkboard fad to a whole new level and turned the versatile canvas into art.

Would you consider an entire wall in your home coated in chalkboard paint?

Photo credits:
1. North blogspot
2-4. ScrapHacker blog
5. Simple Design Ideas
6. Our Fifth House blog 


Floriana Paonessa

Do you remember this copper display rack DIY? Clearly, I'm still hooked on copper in the kitchen!

I love this super simple DIY featured on the Remodelista website (originally posted on the Finnish blog Bambula). I think I might tackle this one myself and inject a little hit of warm metal into my kitchen.

For the full how-to, check out Remodelista's post. (For those fluent in Finnish, Bambula's blog post has detailed instructions!)

Photo credits:
1, 2. Bambula blog


Reiko Caron

While perusing one of my favourite blogs, Riazzoli, I stumbled upon a DIY that's so simple, it requires no explanation. It's a magazine rack made from a towel rail! I should've thought of that...

Install multiple racks in a column configuration: the repetition gives a more orderly look. If you're looking for long, stainless steel rails such as the ones shown here, you'll want to pick up the GRUNDTAL rail at Ikea. Too easy, right?

Photo credits:
1-2. Stil Inspiration blog


Reiko Caron

After being jostled out of the spotlight by white metals for eons, gold is back with a vengeance. Here are some ways a can of gold spray paint gives projects a luxe lift.

The spare lines of dark mid-century modern style wood shelves are enhanced by hardware in a warm metallic lustre.

And a gold base makes this white lacquer table from Ikea seem less sterile. The brand used for this project is Rust-oleum Specialty Metallic Gold spray paint, cited as the go-to for the perfect shade of gold that's not too brassy.

But you can decide for yourself (the Krylon and Valspar have a more coppery, rose-gold hue, while Design Master skews towards old gold with a green tinge).

Even humble bamboo bowls are elevated by a coat of white paint on the exterior and lashings of gold inside.

The lustrous interior of Tom Dixon's Beat lights (left) have fueled a mania for gold-enhanced lighting, and no doubt inspired this Ikea hack, using the Jära drum shade.

Photo credits:
1. Weekday carnival blog
2. Just a bella blog
3. Chris loves Julia blog
4. Le Zoe musings blog
5. Tom Dixon and Ikea hackers blog


Wendy Jacob

Stumped for a last-minute Father's Day gift? Check out our photo gallery of gift ideas, or make something yourself if you're feeling extra thoughtful. I came across this easy DIY project for leather card holders on the crafty blog Caila Made. (Visit Caila's blog for complete instructions and template.)

Dad can stash his credit cards and driver's license in one of these simple envelopes. Your local fabric store will surely have an array of colourful leathers, so choose a shade you know he'll love. You'll also need a sewing machine, leather needle and heavy-duty thread. Match the thread to the leather or choose a different hue that will stand out, like Caila did with hers.

Simple yet thoughtful. And useful.

Happy Father's Day! If you're planning on hosting brunch or dinner, check out our Father's Day Recipes for tons of great ideas.

Photo credits:
1-2. Caila Made blog


Gwen McAuley

Pretty pastels, chocolate eggs and Sunday morning hikes with the bouncy Golden, Darcy, make me impatient for the upcoming season. What a drag the tail end of winter is.

I was feeling an extra itch for spring this past weekend, so I set up to work on a DIY centerpiece for our Easter lunch. Join me at my craft table for a simple and inexpensive papier-mâché project to give your home a cheerful nod to spring. Invite the kids to help, too!

I found these foam eggs at DeSerres but you can find them at dollar stores as well.

I opted for a glue mixture rather than the traditional flour and water. You can also use Mod Podge but white glue is cheaper and does the trick for this craft. Mix two parts glue and one part water in a bowl.

You can find floral napkins and bright tissue paper just about everywhere this time of year. Both are the perfect thickness but make sure you separate the napkins. Then rip the paper into uneven strips.

Wrap the paper strips around your foam eggs and polish with generous amounts of glue. Set aside on a wire rack to dry for a few hours.

Faux bird's nests are available at most craft stores but I decided to go the less expensive route and use brown gift basket shred from Michaels.

Use any type of shred or straw to arrange a nest in a cloche or jar. I bought this large glass jar at HomeSense some time ago, and decided to place the nest of eggs inside for a lovely display.

I'm determined to shake off the last bits of winter, pronto. For more great ideas for outdoor DIY projects as the weather warms up, see our DIY Guide.

Photo credits:
1-6. Floriana Paonessa


Floriana Paonessa

Comment Guidelines

We welcome your feedback on H&H reserves the right to remove any unsuitable personal remarks made about the bloggers, hosts, homeowners and/or guests we feature. Please keep your comments focused on decorating, design, cooking and other lifestyle topics. Adopt a tone you would be willing to use in person and do not make slanderous remarks or use denigrating language. If you see a comment that you believe violates any of the guidelines outlined above, please click “Flag as inappropriate.” Thank you.

Syndicate content