design hack

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DIY Projects

Design Hack: Blackboard Canvas

High-impact art that changes at a whim, for a fraction of the cost of an original? Yes please. The solution is easy: just coat a framed canvas, available at art stores, with blackboard paint and start drawing (or let the kids loose). It’s a quirky, family-friendly and inexpensive way to…

Hallways & Stairs

Design Hack: Rope Bannister

In designer Philip Mitchell’s Chester, Nova Scotia, guesthouse, heavy nautical rope is a breezy alternative to a traditional handrail. Source brackets and fittings from a sailing supply store or online retailer like Stair Ropes, and use one well-affixed bracket for every meter of rope. For safety, choose a…

Decorating Advice

9 Dorm Room Decorating Hacks

Consider the dorm room as a perfect blank canvas for test-driving a fledgling decor sensibility. It’s pretty democratic since everyone is given the same raw materials, and it can be freeing to convey personality without permanence. Here are quick, inexpensive ways to customize a space and carve out a signature look…

Decorating & Design

Design Hack: Plywood Plank Flooring

Wide plank flooring is a hot look, and luckily it’s possible to fake it with inexpensive plywood planks (a sheet of plywood can yield 12 planks of “hardwood”), glued to a wood subfloor. Have a sheet of plywood cut into 8″-wide planks, and then halve them to make 12 8″-wide planks:…

DIY Projects

Design Hack: Baseboard Molding Boost

Skip the cost of extra-deep baseboards (and the labor to install them) with a clever paint fake out. Space a bevelled base cap about 1″ or 2″ above your existing quarter round and base and then paint the wall space between to get the appearance of a single tall baseboard.

Decorating & Design

Design Hack: Faux Windowsill

An easy and effective way to create the illusion of a beefed-up window frame is to paint a trompe l-oeil sill. Search online for a style and profile that suits your space, then blow up the image to the appropriate size and print it. Make a stencil by tracing the printout…

Decorating & Design

Design Hack: Tree Stump Dining Table

Are you the woodsy type? If you have access to a felled birch tree, make like art director Carmen Dunjko and fashion four stumps into legs for an inexpensive, rustic dining table. Carmen used a wooden plank wrapped in artist’s canvas as the top and intended the table to be…

Bedrooms

Design Hack: Bamboo Headboard

A tropical vibe is easy to capture with inexpensive materials. Stylist Jenn Cranston subs a bamboo screen for a headboard in the bedroom of her cottage, and disguised the ugly cords of the pendant lights by wrapping them in raffia for a vacay vibe.

Decorating & Design

Design Hack: Mudroom Storage

A family-friendly mudroom looks like custom millwork, but it’s actually a quick solution that can be created in a weekend by sandwiching a ready-made bench with two narrow bookcases used as storage cubbies. Back the wall with a primed MDF beadboard panel — topped with hooks — for a finished…

Decorating & Design

Design Hack: Kitchen Counter Skirt

Hide dated appliances or tired cabinets in a rental unit with a whimsical curtain that’s hung on a rod with hooks. A ready-made panel, rod and hardware are available through big box stores, or use leftover fabric for a custom curtain. The curtain slides open to easily access lowers for…

Bathrooms

Design Hack: Table Vanity

Want a bathroom vanity with a ton of surface area that doesn’t look heavy? Aussie designer and blogger Anna Spiro of Absolutely Beautiful Things converted an old wooden table into a vanity that’s big enough to accommodate double sinks and a towel rack. A surround keeps items secure and…

Decorating & Design

Design Hack: Diamond Floor By Sarah Richardson

Take a page from Sarah Richardson and a create high-end diamond floor pattern using plain 12” tiles from a big-box hardware store. Choose tiles in three different colorways for contrast (these are marble, but porcelain tiles could be easily subbed in for a similar look). Cut the tiles in half…

Decorating & Design

Design Hack: Faux Brick Wall

Want a hit of Brooklyn character, but lack the requisite exposed brick wall? No need to strip things back to the studs. A lightweight faux-brick veneer painted bright white does a credible job of looking like the real thing, and is a quick, inexpensive way of adding texture to plain…

Decorating Advice

Design Hack: Bench Bookshelf

Double-duty furniture is a must-have in small spaces and family homes, and this combined bench and bookshelf in senior editor Sally Armstrong’s basement is a particularly clever solution. Shelves built under the seat not only keep clutter at bay, but also add visual interest, putting a collection of…

Decorating Advice

Design Hack: How To Avoid A Messy Fridge

Kids’ artwork, coupons, grocery lists – they all seem to make their way onto the front of the fridge for lack of a better place to live. The result is a cluttered surface that looks a bit chaotic. The solution? Create a designated spot for these miscellaneous items so they don’t end up…