How to Patch Unused Electrical Boxes and Other Holes in Drywall

California patch/drywall repair

If you have non-functioning electrical boxes in your walls that are an eyesore, or a hole in your drywall from a doorknob or perhaps a body part, there’s a patch lovingly referred to as a “California Patch” that works like a charm. I’m not saying this is the best way, the right way or the only way to patch a drywall hole, but I’ve used this method several times, and I won’t patch holes any other way.

I had four electrical boxes within a few feet of each other in my kitchen. Three of these boxes were non-functioning, so they had to go.

Welcome to the outlet convention.

How to Patch Unused Electrical Outlets or Other Holes in Drywall/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

My home’s previous owner had installed new counter tops, but moved before patching and painting, so I fixed the counter top area at the same time as the boxes. As you can see in the next photo, the messed up counter top area was very close to one of the boxes that had to be patched. So before I began with the outlets, I removed the caulk between the back splash and the wall so I could patch everything at the same time.

 How to Patch Unused Electrical Outlets or Other Holes in Drywall/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

How to Patch Unused Electrical Outlets or Other Holes in Drywall/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I started with the two upper boxes that were previously phone jacks. I removed the plates and the wires that were attached to one of them.

I knew the phone line wasn’t active, so I didn’t have to worry about getting shocked. And yes, you can catch an electrical thrill off of a phone line—sort of like putting your tongue on a 9-volt battery. And who hasn’t done that? The point is, a shock from a phone line won’t injure you, but it’s not exactly a warm fuzzy feeling either.

How to Patch Unused Electrical Outlets or Other Holes in Drywall/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

How to Patch Unused Electrical Outlets or Other Holes in Drywall/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I discovered these two outlets were connected. The original phone jack was the one on the right, and the wiring was fished into the box on the left.

How to Patch Unused Electrical Outlets or Other Holes in Drywall/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

So I cut the wire, and pulled it out.

 How to Patch Unused Electrical Outlets or Other Holes in Drywall/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

How to Patch Unused Electrical Outlets or Other Holes in Drywall/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I did a little happy dance when I noticed the blue tabs were on top of the drywall on this box.  That told me that it was added after the house was built, and would be easy to remove.

 How to Patch Unused Electrical Outlets or Other Holes in Drywall/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I removed the screws and pried the box out of the drywall.

 How to Patch Unused Electrical Outlets or Other Holes in Drywall/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 How to Patch Unused Electrical Outlets or Other Holes in Drywall/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Removing a box before patching is ideal, but as you’ll see when I get to the second box, you can still patch a hole with the box still inside if there’s no way to remove it.

The next steps are to clean off any rough spots on the edges of the box, to clean up the corners with a knife so that they’re nice and square and to remove any lumps and bumps on the surface of the drywall around the hole.

I cut a piece of drywall two inches bigger than my opening, so I’d have at least one inch extra on each side of the opening.

 How to Patch Unused Electrical Outlets or Other Holes in Drywall/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Then I measured the size of the hole and transferred the measurement onto the front side of the piece of drywall.

 How to Patch Unused Electrical Outlets or Other Holes in Drywall/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I scored each line using a straight edge. I tried to score just inside my lines to be sure the patch would be just a tad smaller than the actual hole.

 How to Patch Unused Electrical Outlets or Other Holes in Drywall/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I wasn’t strong enough to snap the drywall, so I went along each scored line, and pushed my knife into the drywall in several places to help the drywall snap more easily.

 How to Patch Unused Electrical Outlets or Other Holes in Drywall/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

After making the deeper cuts,  I was able to snap along my scored edges, being very careful not to tear through the paper on the back of the drywall.

 How to Patch Unused Electrical Outlets or Other Holes in Drywall/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I peeled off all of my edge pieces, leaving the center rectangle stuck to the drywall paper. This is my patch.

 How to Patch Unused Electrical Outlets or Other Holes in Drywall/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 How to Patch Unused Electrical Outlets or Other Holes in Drywall/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Important tip #1: It’s important to score deeply into the drywall because if you have to use a lot of force to pop the edge pieces off, you may tear off the back paper, and the paper has to stay intact in order to repair the hole.

Next, I tested the patch to be sure it would fit into my hole in the wall. Magnificent!

How to Patch Unused Electrical Outlets or Other Holes in Drywall/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

If a patch doesn’t go into a hole easily, I don’t force it because I’ll need to be able to take it back out in order to mud. If it doesn’t go in, I shave off some areas around the opening in the wall until the patch goes in snugly, but I don’t want it so tight that the paper tears off the back when I try to remove it.

I know it looks sort of like a square butterfly, but bear with me.

 How to Patch Unused Electrical Outlets or Other Holes in Drywall/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Since this first patch was on my back splash, I wanted to reinforce it in case I decided to put up tile at some point. I didn’t want to pop this patch back out when pressing on the tile. I also would do this next step if I were patching in an area that might take some extra abuse like a child’s room or a main hallway.  I chose not to do this next step on my other two patches because of their safe locations.

I took a piece of scrap wood—in this case a stir stick—and I put it up inside of the hole and screwed it in place.

 How to Patch Unused Electrical Outlets or Other Holes in Drywall/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 How to Patch Unused Electrical Outlets or Other Holes in Drywall/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I made sure to countersink my screws a little bit.

 How to Patch Unused Electrical Outlets or Other Holes in Drywall/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Then I drove two dry wall screws into the front of the patch to secure it to the wood.

And with that, patch number one is ready to mud, but I need to get my other two patches ready first.

The second patch had to be repaired with the outlet box still inside because it wouldn’t budge. It was clearly installed when the house was built, and was secured to a stud. The obstacles on this patch were going to be the two spots inside the box where the screws held the cover on. These screw spots were going to be in the way of my patch, but I had a plan…

 How to Patch Unused Electrical Outlets or Other Holes in Drywall/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

But before my master plan, as with the first box, I scraped off any lumps and bumps, including the area around the screw hole above the box that had drywall paper edges coated with paint sticking out of it. (Notice in the last photo. Looks like I turned an outie into an innie.)

 How to Patch Unused Electrical Outlets or Other Holes in Drywall/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

So now, for the plan. In order to get this next patch to fit around the screw mounts inside the box, I used a drill bit the same size as those pesky screw holders, and drilled a hole in the corresponding spots on my patch. Here I measured for the correct size bit. This one was the winner!

 How to Patch Unused Electrical Outlets or Other Holes in Drywall/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I put blue tape on my bit as a guide so I wouldn’t drill too deep. I didn’t want to drill completely through my patch. If I did, I’d have to patch my patch!

 How to Patch Unused Electrical Outlets or Other Holes in Drywall/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Here’s one of my two partial holes.

 How to Patch Unused Electrical Outlets or Other Holes in Drywall/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Then I cut this patch the same way as the first one.

How to Patch Unused Electrical Outlets or Other Holes in Drywall/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

It worked like a charm! If you don’t have a drill, I’m sure cutting away some of the drywall with a sharp knife would also work. I had a drill handy, and I decided to go that route so I wouldn’t have to worry about poking a knife through the front of the patch.

 How to Patch Unused Electrical Outlets or Other Holes in Drywall/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Now with patch number two ready, it’s on to patch number three. The box closest to the floor housed a TV cable. I had cut off all 2000 of the Direct TV cables off of the outside my house months ago. Cheers to whoever invented wireless technology! The side of my house looked like a black licorice factory before I removed all the tv cables.

 How to Patch Unused Electrical Outlets or Other Holes in Drywall/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

This one was different from the other two, as it had this funky metal face plate that was mounted to the face of the stud behind the drywall. I felt around inside the box and realized that if I moved the plate around and beat it with a hammer at just the right angle, I could remove it.

 How to Patch Unused Electrical Outlets or Other Holes in Drywall/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I want to stress one last time how important it is to remove all the junk around the wall opening, especially on the face of the wall. This hole was particularly bad. If you have any bumps under your patch, it’s not going to work! See how much smoother after a cleaning?

 How to Patch Unused Electrical Outlets or Other Holes in Drywall/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 How to Patch Unused Electrical Outlets or Other Holes in Drywall/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Finally all my patches were test fitted.

 How to Patch Unused Electrical Outlets or Other Holes in Drywall/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Then I finally broke out the mud! This process was the same on all of three of the patches.

I chose to use Durabond because it’s stronger than regular joint compound, dries much faster, and I always have it on hand. It’s a powder that mixes with water to form mud. I used 20 minute Durabond. (Meaning you’re supposed to have 20 minutes of working time, but it doesn’t usually last that long.)

How to Patch Unused Electrical Outlets or Other Holes in Drywall/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I removed my patches after their test fits, and then I spread Durabond around the hole to use as “glue” for the paper flaps on my patches to stick to.

 How to Patch Unused Electrical Outlets or Other Holes in Drywall/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I inserted my patch.

 How to Patch Unused Electrical Outlets or Other Holes in Drywall/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

After pressing the paper down into the mud with my fingers, I took my broad knife, and pressed firmly enough to squish as much mud as possible out from behind the patch, so it was as flat as possible. I was careful not to tear the paper.

 How to Patch Unused Electrical Outlets or Other Holes in Drywall/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

After I removed as much mud as possible, I spread a coat of mud over the entire surface of the patch, and yes, it was ugly. It’s always ugly. Expect it. You may end up with tiny pin holes at this point too, but don’t worry about those at this stage. I spread the least amount of mud on as possible. If I applied too much mud, I’d either have an awful lot of sanding to do or I’d have a massive hump on the wall, neither of which excites me.

 How to Patch Unused Electrical Outlets or Other Holes in Drywall/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I told you this was ugly. I could go over this and over this and try to make it look pretty all day long, but at this stage, it’s just not gonna happen. It’s also normal to be able to see the outline of the patch after the first coat.

 How to Patch Unused Electrical Outlets or Other Holes in Drywall/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

After it dried, I sanded with a sanding sponge until I just barely started to see my patch underneath. You can see here in the lower center of the next picture that I actually sanded into the drywall paper, which you really should try to avoid.

However, I’m not a professional drywall finisher, so it works best for me to sand until I just barely start to hit the paper on the first sand only. That way I can see where I’m at, and I know I don’t have a lot of excess mud before applying the second coat.

Let me be clear on this one. As soon as I see the smallest spot of paper, I stop sanding. I’m not suggesting that you sand off all your mud so all the paper on your patch is exposed. For me it’s best to get close because less mud on the patch means less floating later trying to level out the raised area I just created.

 How to Patch Unused Electrical Outlets or Other Holes in Drywall/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 How to Patch Unused Electrical Outlets or Other Holes in Drywall/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I applied subsequent coats of mud in order to get rid of the raised area I created with the thickness of my drywall paper from my patch (aka the butterfly wings), as well as the mud I applied. In order to do that, I had to make the patch bigger and float the mud out farther until the raised part very gradually tapered off into the finished wall. Since two of the patches were close together, it made sense to join them into one, level patch. I re-coated two more times, sanding in between coats, until the raised areas seemed to disappear.

 How to Patch Unused Electrical Outlets or Other Holes in Drywall/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 How to Patch Unused Electrical Outlets or Other Holes in Drywall/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

This is messy and takes a little bit of patience.

How to Patch Unused Electrical Outlets or Other Holes in Drywall/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Important tip #2: If you feel like your patch is finished, rub your hand over the whole area starting on the finished wall, then over your patch and then onto the finished wall on the other side of your patch. If you feel waves or humps on your wall that you can’t seem to get rid of, either keep sanding until the humps go away or float more mud out on the edges of your patch to level it out. If you can feel the wall isn’t right, those issues will be magnified once you’ve painted your wall. And once you’ve painted over the humps, you can’t sand them any more!

One more time. A patch might appear to be visually ok on the stark white mud that has no sheen to it. But if you can feel humps on your wall, once you paint, the sheen from your paint will highlight them and they’ll show. And they may not be too noticeable with primer either, but once painted, they will rear their ugly heads. Trust me on that one.

The most difficult part of a California Patch is getting rid of the raised area. The secret is floating the patch way out so that the patch blends slowly and gradually into the existing wall.

Here’s my (almost) outlet-free wall! Much better!

 How to Patch Unused Electrical Outlets or Other Holes in Drywall/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

And of course, I have to do at least one before and after photo! Keep in mind I still have to caulk and paint. This is part of a mini kitchen remodel, and I won’t be painting for a while yet. I’ll try to add a more finished-looking “after” photo once the kitchen is painted.

 How to Patch Unused Electrical Outlets or Other Holes in Drywall/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 How to Patch Unused Electrical Outlets or Other Holes in Drywall/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

California patches are best used on “smallish” holes—up to about 6 inches or so. I’ve repaired dryer vent holes, holes from old intercom speakers and holes from door knobs this way. It’s a nice way to go because in most cases, it doesn’t require paper tape, mesh or any materials other than a scrap of drywall and mud.

This post was written by Tracy Evans who is a Journeyman Painter and Certified Home Stager /Redesigner. Feel free to visit her website at www.HelpAtHomeStaging.com to view more before and after pictures of her projects. And if you enjoy gardening, you may want to visit her gardening blog at MyUrbanGardenOasis.

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How to Improve Access to Dead Kitchen Cabinet Space

DIY Pull-out drawers for kitchen cabinetry.

How could this happen? Who did this? The cabinet in my kitchen with the tiniest opening—a mere 7.5 inches wide—was the cabinet that had the largest amount of storage space inside of it. I’d like to speak with the person who designed my kitchen.

This post is the second in a series on how I’m improving my small, non-functional kitchen on a budget. Since I can’t afford a complete kitchen overhaul, I’m keeping the majority of my lower cabinets, but the runt of the litter recently underwent a little surgery, and that’s what this post is about. More specifically, I’m sharing how I made access easier to the large, dead-space corner cabinet in my kitchen.

Here’s what I started with. The cabinets are actually sturdy and in good shape so I’m keeping as many as is practical. They’re just not functional and not all that attractive. The 80’s are alive and well in my cabinets.

How to Improve Access to Dead Kitchen Cabinet Space/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

You can see how much space is inside this cabinet, but the opening is so tiny that it’s difficult to fit anything in it. I had a mountain of stuff piled in there.

 How to Improve Access to Dead Kitchen Cabinet Space/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I wanted to cut out part of the board to the left of the opening to make it bigger, but I knew it would be impossible to make a nice cut with a jig saw–especially in oak. And my original plan was to then install a stationary shelf to put a basket on, and leave the cabinet open.

So I consulted my super-smart carpenter brother, Mike about my dilemma. He suggested removing that board entirely, cutting it down to a smaller size, and then replacing it with the factory cut edge showing.

You can see here that it’s a separate piece.

 How to Improve Access to Dead Kitchen Cabinet Space/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Here’s what the piece looked like from the inside of the cabinet.

 How to Improve Access to Dead Kitchen Cabinet Space/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

He told me in order to remove the board, I’d have to hit it like a carpenter, not a painter (I just happen to be a painter). He said I’d have to hit it hard. Real hard. So I prepared myself for battle.

First I carefully removed the stile with a jig saw.

 How to Improve Access to Dead Kitchen Cabinet Space/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Next I took a 2 x 4, put it against the cabinet and took a mighty swing. The hammer bounced off that board like a soccer ball, and I laughed so hard I nearly passed out. I tried again and again…and again. Honestly, my brother had way too much faith in me on this one.

So I carefully took my jig saw, and cut as far as I could along the top and bottom of the board. I couldn’t cut through the entire length of the board because my stove was in the way of the saw. After cutting as far as I could, I decided enough was enough, and gave that board a Ninja kick that I’m confident would have impressed Jackie Chan.

 How to Improve Access to Dead Kitchen Cabinet Space/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Finally!

 How to Improve Access to Dead Kitchen Cabinet Space/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I cut out the remaining dowel rods that held the piece in place, and sanded them smooth.

How to Improve Access to Dead Kitchen Cabinet Space/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I decided to replace the board from hell with the smallest board that I could, but being sure to leave enough clearance around the oven door for pull-out shelves. I changed my mind about the stationary shelf. A woman’s prerogative.

So I used a 1 x 3 in the space.

 How to Improve Access to Dead Kitchen Cabinet Space/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 How to Improve Access to Dead Kitchen Cabinet Space/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

This was my first opportunity to use my new Kregg Jig K5 for drilling the pocket holes in the 1 x 3. Now if I decide to change the cabinet again someday, all I have to do is unscrew the piece instead of risking a fractured foot.

 How to Improve Access to Dead Kitchen Cabinet Space/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Here’s the piece installed. I planned to paint my cabinets white, so I didn’t have to worry about wood types matching. I’ll be filling the grain on the oak before I paint so they’ll look the same after painting.

 How to Improve Access to Dead Kitchen Cabinet Space/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Here’s a side view looking through the stove handle showing proper clearance for the pull outs.

 How to Improve Access to Dead Kitchen Cabinet Space/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I whipped up this simple shelf for the inside of the cabinet. It’ll be tucked in to the left of the opening, and will sit beside the pull-out shelves.

 How to Improve Access to Dead Kitchen Cabinet Space/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 How to Improve Access to Dead Kitchen Cabinet Space/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Fast forwarding here, I built a simple box for the first pull out drawer. I used the hardware from the original drawer and scrap wood I had on hand.

How to Improve Access to Dead Kitchen Cabinet Space/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I tried the first one out before making the second one. It was a good thing, as the first one didn’t fit the opening and I had to disassemble it and make it smaller. Ugh. Here’s drawer number two. There was a pull out drawer in this cabinet originally, so I was also able to use the hardware from that one too. I just had to build a new  drawer the right size for the opening.

 How to Improve Access to Dead Kitchen Cabinet Space/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Since the hardware for the pullouts wasn’t white, I had to spray paint it so it would blend in better. The photo is of the drawer upside down.

 How to Improve Access to Dead Kitchen Cabinet Space/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

How to Improve Access to Dead Kitchen Cabinet Space/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 How to Improve Access to Dead Kitchen Cabinet Space/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I had this dentil molding leftover from an old project, and had just enough to use as decorative face plates for the pull outs.

 How to Improve Access to Dead Kitchen Cabinet Space/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 How to Improve Access to Dead Kitchen Cabinet Space/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

For your amusement, here’s an ugly picture of the cabinets after I filled the grain prior to painting.

 How to Improve Access to Dead Kitchen Cabinet Space/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Now it’s starting to look like something!

Here’s the much more functional cabinet. It’s not any bigger than it was before, but with the added shelf unit inside, the larger opening and the pull out drawers, it just makes life easier.

How to Improve Access to Dead Kitchen Cabinet Space/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 How to Improve Access to Dead Kitchen Cabinet Space/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Here are some before and after photos.

How to Improve Access to Dead Kitchen Cabinet Space/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

How to Improve Access to Dead Kitchen Cabinet Space/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

In case you missed the original peninsula re-do which was the start of this makeover, here are before and afters of that too. (See peninsula tutorial here.)

 photo IMG_6775.jpg How to Improve Access to Dead Kitchen Cabinet Space/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I’ve got many steps left on this makeover—making a wooden counter top and cutting down another one until I can afford new ones, building open shelving, replacing the current 30″upper cabinets with taller 42″ ones, adding trim and hardware, having a few doors drilled for hidden hinges and more. Baby steps.

This post was written by Tracy Evans who is a Journeyman Painter and Certified Home Stager /Redesigner. Feel free to visit her website at www.HelpAtHomeStaging.com to view more before and after pictures of her projects. And if you enjoy gardening, you may want to visit her gardening blog at MyUrbanGardenOasis.

Add Character to a Kitchen Island/Peninsula-DIY

DIY Kitchen Peninsula Upgrade

Want to get rid of that builder grade faux wood paneling on your kitchen island or peninsula? You know the stuff. It resembles those wood panels that used to be on the sides of station wagons. I’ve had it in every kitchen I’ve owned. But I’ve learned that I don’t have to live with it. And neither do you.

This peninsula update is the first step of many to come in a mini DIY remodel that I’m about to undertake in my small, non-functional kitchen. I’ve had smaller kitchens, but my current kitchen, hands down, wins the award for the least functional. It also ranks right up there with the least aesthetically pleasing.

So here are my before pictures. Pretty standard as far as peninsulas go. This kitchen is one big ball of patterned brown. I love brown, but there are brown patterns that fight each other in the oak grain, the flooring and the countertops. Makes me dizzy. This kitchen is not a safe place for anyone who is prone to seizures—that’s for sure.

 Add Character to a Kitchen Island/Peninsula-HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 Add Character to a Kitchen Island/Peninsula-HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I’ve been collecting posts on Pinterest for kitchen ideas, and to give credit where credit is due, I copied this design from “Remodelaholic”. And I combined her project with a photo I saw on “DIY Network”. This transformation can be done with basic carpentry skills, and isn’t all that expensive.

Step one was to remove the corner trim piece so I could pry back the existing paneling and locate the studs, water lines and electrical wires. My dishwasher is in my peninsula, so I was aware that the potential existed for an electrical shock or a flash flood if my nail hit just the right spot.

 Add Character to a Kitchen Island/Peninsula-HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Unfortunately the installer for my new dishwasher had to remove some studs in order to get it to fit into the space where the old one was. That leaves me with only a few studs to attach my boards to. I knew that was going to be my biggest challenge. However, I was relieved to find no water lines running through the studs like I had in my last house, and there were only two electrical wires that were going to be relatively easy to avoid. Here’s one of them.

 Add Character to a Kitchen Island/Peninsula-HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

So I marked my stud locations on my counter top with some tape, and I taped another area to mark a board from the back of a cabinet that I could use to nail into. And of course, there will always be a 2 x 4 on the floor, on the outside corners and against the wall that were used in framing.

 Add Character to a Kitchen Island/Peninsula-HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I had to remove a piece of baseboard on the wall adjacent to the peninsula since it was going to have to be trimmed down afterwards.

 Add Character to a Kitchen Island/Peninsula-HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

The only other out-of-the-ordinary item I had to deal with, was an electrical outlet that I had to move up about 1/2″.

 Add Character to a Kitchen Island/Peninsula-HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I decided to use bead board paneling for this project, and Lowe’s had a new kind that looked like traditional bead board on steroids. The routed groves were much larger and farther apart. A  4′ x 8′ sheet of traditional bead board paneling ran around $20. The more unique version that I decided to use was $30 a sheet. The extra $10 was worth it to me.

Lowe’s will cut plywood for their customers, and so will Home Depot. Not only does it save me the hassle of cutting it, but a 4′ x 8′ sheet won’t fit in my tin can of a car. I had them make me four panels which required four cuts. The first two cuts were free, and the second two cost me 25 cents. Again, worth it. I also had a large scrap piece leftover to use on another project.

I had the panels cut to a size that was 1/4″ shorter than the actual height of my counter tops so that I could mount them off the floor a bit. Dishwasher + leak = potential water on the floor at some point. Cutting it short also allowed for any wonkiness as far as the possibility of the sheets not being cut perfectly square (sorry Lowe’s) or my floors/counters etc…not being square (sorry house).

So I attached the bead board to the peninsula, setting it on a ruler to raise it while I hammered. I’m happy to report I only hit my thumb once, but I’ll admit I did bend a handful of nails that had to go in the garbage. I also broke two drill bits while pre-drilling. Like I said, I’m not a carpenter. I also used a level to make sure each sheet was plumb.

Add Character to a Kitchen Island/Peninsula-HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Here’s a photo after the bead board was attached. Since I didn’t have much of a selection of studs to hammer into, some of the pieces only had one nail on top and one on the bottom, but I knew when I added the trim, some of those nails would also be penetrating the bead board to hold it on too. The trim itself would also help secure it.

 Add Character to a Kitchen Island/Peninsula-HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I had to trim around the outlet, and I also had to shave down part of the toe kick that extended past the end of the cabinet in order for the bead board to lay flat against the cabinet.

 Add Character to a Kitchen Island/Peninsula-HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 Add Character to a Kitchen Island/Peninsula-HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Next, I added 1 x 4 pieces of MDF that I cut down from a leftover sheet I already had, and attached those. I also kept those up off the floor. MDF and water do not mix.When MDF gets wet, it puffs up like a toasted marshmallow.

Add Character to a Kitchen Island/Peninsula-HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Next came the horizontal pieces. I had to cut a hole in the trim piece that went around the outlet.

 Add Character to a Kitchen Island/Peninsula-HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Add Character to a Kitchen Island/Peninsula-HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Here’s how it looked with the horizontal pieces added.

Add Character to a Kitchen Island/Peninsula-HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

The bottom board is a 1 x 8, so that once I put the baseboard on, there will be a reveal equal to the rest of the 1 x 4 trim.

The next step was to install the remaining vertical boards. These will cover the areas where the sections of bead board paneling meet.

Add Character to a Kitchen Island/Peninsula-HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

The previous photo shows that my vertical board placement didn’t line up with any studs (marked by the blue tape on the counter top). In order to attach these two pieces, I just pre-drilled at an angle so my nails would go into the horizontal pieces that were nailed into studs. This is where I managed to snap my last 1/16 bit. Sigh.

Add Character to a Kitchen Island/Peninsula-HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

A suggestion from the “Remodeloholic” post, was to round over the edges of the trim boards, so that once installed, there is an intentional space where the trim boards meet. That way, there’s no need to caulk or putty those areas.

 Add Character to a Kitchen Island/Peninsula-HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 Add Character to a Kitchen Island/Peninsula-HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Here all of the trim pieces were installed.

 Add Character to a Kitchen Island/Peninsula-HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Next came the baseboard. The baseboard is the only piece placed directly on the floor to cover the gaps from the bead board, the corner trim and the 1 x 8’s. It would be simple enough to replace if it were to get wet.

Add Character to a Kitchen Island/Peninsula-HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 Add Character to a Kitchen Island/Peninsula-HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

In order to keep costs down on my projects, I usually buy “lesser” quality pine boards and then spackle over any knots or dings at the same time I putty all my nail holes. I sand and paint, and the imperfections are impossible to find afterwards.

 Add Character to a Kitchen Island/Peninsula-HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 Add Character to a Kitchen Island/Peninsula-HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Next a coat of primer.

 Add Character to a Kitchen Island/Peninsula-HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

After the primer dried, I caulked every place that the trim met the bead board, and along the top of the baseboard. This is an important step, and makes everything professional looking.

 Add Character to a Kitchen Island/Peninsula-HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 Add Character to a Kitchen Island/Peninsula-HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Then I painted everything with two coats of paint, sanding in between coats. Finished!

Add Character to a Kitchen Island/Peninsula-HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Add Character to a Kitchen Island/Peninsula-HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Now the traditional before and afters.
 Add Character to a Kitchen Island/Peninsula-HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Add Character to a Kitchen Island/Peninsula-HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 Add Character to a Kitchen Island/Peninsula-HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Add Character to a Kitchen Island/Peninsula-HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Since I had some of the pine boards and MDF already, I don’t know exactly what this project cost, but I would approximate not more than $50, with $30 of that being for the bead board.

A cheaper version would be to leave out the bead board and mount the trim directly onto the existing faux wood paneling. Give the paneling a light sand, a good primer and a good quality paint and you’re on your way. I’ve done that too!

Honestly, the worst part of this project was the major splinter I got in my hand when picking out the wood. It was all smooth sailing after that.

Author’s edit: And here she is after surviving nearly two weeks in the palm of my hand. My daughter, Sophie, was my splinter remover, but she moved to Los Angels. Now I’m on my own in the foreign object removal department. (Thus the two week hibernation period.)

 photo IMG_68361.jpg

Now on to another cabinet…

This post was written by Tracy Evans who is a Journeyman Painter and Certified Home Stager /Redesigner. Feel free to visit her website at www.HelpAtHomeStaging.com to view more before and after pictures of her projects. And if you enjoy gardening, you may want to visit her gardening blog at MyUrbanGardenOasis.

Winter Curb Appeal With Window Boxes

DIY window box decorated for winter

A big thank you to Mother Nature for beautifying my window boxes with the first snow of the season here in Central Illinois today!

I must also thank my sister, Dee. She knows I can’t turn down cast offs like some lanterns she gave me that were damaged when a tree fell on their house during a storm this past summer. I don’t think she throws much away without asking her hoarder sister first. And just to clarify, I prefer to call it recycling. And recycling her lanterns made for a beautiful winter window box.

 Winter Curb Appeal With Window Boxes/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

My “window” boxes are technically planter boxes, since I didn’t have the nerve to mount boxes to my bricks. Here’s one naked right after I made it.

  Winter Curb Appeal With Window Boxes/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

To decorate them for winter, I thought the most convenient way would be to leave the pots inside the boxes,  cover the tops of the planters with a couple of boards and then mount my Christmas items on top of the boards. You can see in the four corners there are the recessed boards that form the legs.

  Winter Curb Appeal With Window Boxes/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Those are what I rested my boards on to form a “table” for my goodies. Plywood would have been easier, but I didn’t have any on hand. Sorry there are no pictures. It was way too cold out there to be lolly-gagging around taking photos.

After I set the boards in place, I screwed the lanterns onto the boards and then drilled holes where necessary to insert stems of greenery. I also used screws to attach garland and berries and such. We’ll see what’s left after the winter winds take their toll!

 Winter Curb Appeal With Window Boxes/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

These were very cheaply done, since everything in the planters was either recycled, free or purchased at garage sales. This doesn’t have to be an expensive venture. Thrift shops would be another great place to find greens and ornaments for window boxes. I’m guessing I paid no more than $10 or $15 to decorate both of these.

Since my landscaping is new and very small, these planters will be the only form of curb appeal I’ll have in the wintertime for a few years, so they’re pretty necessary.

Merry Christmas, everyone! Yes, Merry Christmas!

This post was written by Tracy Evans who is a Journeyman Painter and Certified Home Stager /Redesigner. Feel free to visit her website at www.HelpAtHomeStaging.com to view more before and after pictures of her projects. And if you enjoy gardening, you may want to visit her gardening blog at MyUrbanGardenOasis.

How to Replace Interior Doors–DIY

Door knob upgraded with new door

If your home has interior doors that are dated, look like a machine gun had its way with them or perhaps have “artwork” on them from precious little humans, swapping them out isn’t difficult. I’m just an oldish-but-not-yet-elderly woman, and I managed to do this so you can too.

First let me show you what my old doors looked like.

 How to Replace Interior Doors--DIY/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 How to Replace Interior Doors--DIY/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

They were in amazingly good shape, which made me feel a little guilty for swapping them out. But I ended up using them for a couple other projects. More about that later.

Flashback: I once bought a house with a hole in the bedroom door that the neighbor said was from a high-heeled shoe. As the story goes, the shoe stuck in the door after being thrown like a tomahawk during an argument. I guess either he ducked at the right time or the Mrs. was a bad shot. (This was never verified, however.)

So the first thing I did was talk to the door dude at Lowe’s. I certainly can’t speak for all of the employees at every Lowe’s in America, but the door dude at my local Lowe’s knew his stuff. His name was Elvis. Yes. Elvis. And he was a treat—funny guy. He had the sideburns and everything.

At any rate, Elvis told me what measurements he would need in order to make the new doors fit into the existing openings. He first tried to talk me into ordering the doors and jambs that come pre-assembled (aka pre-hung doors). I said no thanks. All I need is the door, I said. He said it’s much easier to rip out your existing jamb and install the whole sha-bang, brand spanking new. I said, nope. Not easier for this girl, Elvis. Just need the door.

Just to be sure, I asked my trusty carpenter brother, Mike about that and he agreed with Elvis. He said it’s easier to tear out the existing door and jamb, and install a pre-hung door, than it is to install just the door into an existing jamb. That may be true if you’re a burly, hairy man who scratches, chews and spits. I know my limitations. Just doors, thank you.

In a nutshell, if you are wanting to replace only your interior door and not the jamb, you want to measure everything that makes the door fit into its existing opening—the height and width exactly, the location of the hinges and where the doorknob sits. You want that new door to be a carbon copy of your current door (only cuter). Don’t round up or down when measuring.  Use exact measurements.

My first door measurement for Elvis was from the top of the door, to the top of the top hinge. Eight inches. Good.

 How to Replace Interior Doors--DIY/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Then I measured from the top of the door, to the top of the second hinge. And again to the bottom hinge. That tells the door-making folks where to route recesses for your hinges. If you measure exactly, they’re gonna fit. All of mine fit perfectly and matched up with my jamb hinges.

My existing hinges, fortunately, were the same size and shape as the ones that Lowes uses when they route for you if you don’t want to route your own. This is what they looked like. As I recall, there was a small fee for them to route the hinged areas. Worth it for me! (I spray painted my existing brushed nickel hinges an oil rubbed bronze color.)

 How to Replace Interior Doors--DIY/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

The next measurement was from the top of the door to the center of the bore hole. The bore hole on the edge of the door that is, where the latch comes out. Mine was 44″.

 How to Replace Interior Doors--DIY/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

This is where the dead latch (male part) of your door hardware will live. From this single measurement, they will bore both holes that you need in order to accommodate your door hardware. One hole will be drilled into the edge of the door for the dead latch, and the other into the face of the door for the door knob or handle.

When you go to order your doors, be sure to write down each door’s location and the measurements that go with that particular door. That’s important because you’ll need to be able to tell your Elvis which way the door swings, and if the handle is on the right or the left. Just going in with a list of measurements without knowing which measurements go with which door, will be a headache if you don’t keep them straight.

Tip: Even if the doors look identical, take the time to measure each item on each door.

If you’re nervous about all of this, you can do what I did and just order one door, and try it before you invest a bunch of money into a whole house worth of doors that aren’t right. I was glad I did that because I made a mistake on my guinea pig door width measurement. I rounded to the nearest 1/4″ thinking Lowe’s probably couldn’t go that exact. But they can. I had to shave a strip off the hinge side of the door, which cut off my routed hinge spots, but I still managed to finagle the door and use it.

So here’s my hallway with the old doors removed. I was in the process of changing out some of my door casings and baseboards, and painting my trim white, so my photos are going to show different stages of these projects going on.

 How to Replace Interior Doors--DIY/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Tip: When you remove your old doors, remove the top hinge last or wear a hard hat. Trust me on that one.

The doors I purchased were pre-primed, so all I had to do was paint them. I did sand them lightly with a sanding sponge first because there were little bits of stuff here and there that I didn’t want to paint over. It was especially important to sand the edges, which were very rough. I also lightly sanded in between coats.

 How to Replace Interior Doors--DIY/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 How to Replace Interior Doors--DIY/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I leaned them up against the wall and went to town. I used Sherwin Williams “Pure White” color in a semi-gloss. It’s the perfect white.

How to Replace Interior Doors--DIY/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Now to install. Since I did this by myself, I decided it best to pre-drill all of my hinge screw holes.

 How to Replace Interior Doors--DIY/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I first screwed the hinges onto the jamb.

How to Replace Interior Doors--DIY/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I then put a block of wood under the door to jack it up to the right level, and then screwed the hinges onto the door. I tried also screwing the hinges onto the door first and onto the jamb second, but didn’t think one way was any easier than the other. I believe the professionals put the hinges on the door first. It was a balancing act to hold the door in one hand, the drill in the other hand and the screws in my teeth, but I managed to do it without swallowing any hardware.

.

How to Replace Interior Doors--DIY/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 How to Replace Interior Doors--DIY/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

For whatever reason, I had one door that rubbed very hard on the carpet when I tried to pull it shut, so I had to remove some of the bottom of that door. Not fun, since I already had it installed and I thought I was done. It was the last door and I was pooped, but I took a breath, put my big girl panties on and decided to carry on.

 How to Replace Interior Doors--DIY/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I drew a pencil line where I needed to cut.

 How to Replace Interior Doors--DIY/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I put some painter’s tape on the line so I could see it better when the sawdust started to fly, and so I wouldn’t scratch the door. I also put tape underneath to keep damage to a minimum on the underside.

 How to Replace Interior Doors--DIY/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 How to Replace Interior Doors--DIY/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Since I can’t seem to cut a straight line to save my soul, I decided to make a fence just to be safe.

 How to Replace Interior Doors--DIY/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 How to Replace Interior Doors--DIY/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Done! What a sawdusty mess!

 How to Replace Interior Doors--DIY/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

My “cardboard” door ended up with some fuzzies, but they sanded right off.

 How to Replace Interior Doors--DIY/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 How to Replace Interior Doors--DIY/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

And what’s a new door without a new door handle!

 How to Replace Interior Doors--DIY/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

And here’s what’s inside.

 How to Replace Interior Doors--DIY/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

All you do is screw the strike plate on the jamb like so.

 How to Replace Interior Doors--DIY/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Insert the dead latch, and screw it in.

 How to Replace Interior Doors--DIY/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

How to Replace Interior Doors--DIY/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Now we have this.

 How to Replace Interior Doors--DIY/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Next, you insert the knobs/handles, and screw them in.

 How to Replace Interior Doors--DIY/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Now with any luck, the dead latch will go right into the hole in the strike plate so that the door will latch.

 How to Replace Interior Doors--DIY/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

That’s all there is to it! What a difference a door makes!

 How to Replace Interior Doors--DIY/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 How to Replace Interior Doors--DIY/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 How to Replace Interior Doors--DIY/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 How to Replace Interior Doors--DIY/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

And of course we always want to recycle when we can, so I used my old doors to make shelving for my garage, and to make a workbench. Someday, I’ll post how I did these projects.

 How to Replace Interior Doors--DIY/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 How to Replace Interior Doors--DIY/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 How to Replace Interior Doors--DIY/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

After I installed these doors, the closet doors looked out-of-place so I changed those out too. But that’s another post too!

This post was written by Tracy Evans who is a Journeyman Painter and Certified Home Stager /Redesigner. Feel free to visit her website at www.HelpAtHomeStaging.com to view more before and after pictures of her projects. And if you enjoy gardening, you may want to visit her gardening blog at MyUrbanGardenOasis.

How to Replace an Old, Nasty Doorbell

DIY door bell replacement

If your doorbell has seen better days or you’d just like an updated version, it’s an easy fix. Perhaps you’ve gotten new door hardware and now your doorbell doesn’t match. Or maybe you’re putting your house on the market and want your home’s first impression to be a good one. Either way, it’s an easy process. Ladies, you can do this!!

Here’s what my old doorbell looked like. Besides the fact that it’s just worn out, I wanted one with a light. And I recently painted my front door, which made the bell-from-hell look even worse.

How to Replace a Doorbell/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Like many builder-grade doorbells, mine was a non-recessed one–meaning it’s basically a box that sits on top of the siding, with the “guts” of the doorbell inside of it.

The new one I chose is a recessed one, that sits flat against the siding with the guts recessed into the wall. I picked this one up at Lowe’s.

How to Replace a Doorbell/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

A couple of things to consider if you’re shopping for a replacement doorbell, are the location of your current screw holes, and the type of doorbell you currently have.

Lowe’s had a gorgeous, round, ornate doorbell that I fell in love with, but I knew by looking at it that it wouldn’t cover the screw holes I currently had. Chances are, new screw holes aren’t going to match up to old ones, and that’s ok as long as they’re covered by the doorbell itself. Since I didn’t want an empty screw hole on my vinyl siding next to my brand new doorbell, I had to go with my second choice. My point is, it’s a good idea to measure the distance between your current screw holes before you shop so that you can be sure the new doorbell will cover them.

As far as what type of doorbell to get, there are the two types I mentioned already. Most of the super-awesome, fancier ones seemed to have a recessed mount. Meaning that the “guts” of the doorbell sit back into the wall instead of on top of it. You can see through the packaging that this one is recessed. You can see the guts sticking out the back.

How to Replace a Doorbell/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Either type of doorbell can be installed regardless of your current doorbell’s type. It just adds an extra step if you go from a non-recessed to a recessed one like I did. Here’s how.

Before you begin, find the breaker that goes to your doorbell and shut off the power. Next remove the screws that hold your doorbell onto your house. You should end up with something that looks like this.

 How to Replace a Doorbell/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Loosen the screws that are holding the wires, and remove the wires from behind the screws. Now throw that nasty, old doorbell in the garbage.

Hold the new doorbell up to the hole in your house where the wire is coming out. The hole will probably be too small to accommodate your new guts (as is in my case in the next photo). If you already have a recessed doorbell, your new doorbell should fit into the existing hole. If it does, congratulations and skip this next step. Also, congrats if you chose a standard, non-recessed doorbell because that will work no matter what. If not, this is where the extra step comes in. Well worth it for the doorbell of your dreams in my opinion.

How to Replace a Doorbell/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

The hole has to be made bigger, so here’s what I used. My can’t-live-without-it Dremel moto-tool. If you don’t have one, buy one. I promise you’ll use it for all sorts of things.

Being very careful not to nick the wire, I whittled away the vinyl siding to a 5/8″ diameter hole. If you don’t have a moto-tool, you might be able to use a sharp utility knife to shave off some siding. However, when I replaced a doorbell at my last house, I also had to go through OSB that was underneath the siding. Not a big deal, as OSB was no match for my great and powerful Dremel, but you may have to resort to Swiss-cheesing the OSB with a small drill bit if you don’t have a moto-tool.

How to Replace a Doorbell/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Once I felt the hole was big enough, I loosened the screws on the new doorbell.

How to Replace a Doorbell/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I then placed the wires around the new screws and tightened them. It doesn’t matter on a doorbell which wire goes on which screw. Honestly, you can’t screw this up.

How to Replace a Doorbell/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Then I pushed the wires and guts into the wall.

How to Replace a Doorbell/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I turned the breaker back on so I could test the doorbell before I went any further, just in case…And it worked! A doorbell never sounded so good.

Of course, as I expected, the new holes didn’t match up with the old ones.

How to Replace a Doorbell/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I drilled two new holes and screwed the doorbell to the siding. Soooo much better!

How to Replace a Doorbell/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

And here she is at night.

How to Replace a Doorbell/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

This is a simple thing to do to make your entry look nice. There were only three steps in the instructions, for heaven’s sake. You can do this!

How to Replace a Doorbell/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Changing out this doorbell took me between 15 and 20 minutes from start to finish, and was well worth the $15.00 it cost. The most time-consuming part was figuring out which breaker to shut off, which is a real treat if you’re doing this by yourself and have to go up and down a flight of stairs.

And just for kicks, here’s my freshly painted, sunny yellow front door with my new doorbell in tow. The door was white before and very, very dirty. Now my entry says, “Hello!”

Yellow Front Door/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

This post was written by Tracy Evans who is a Journeyman Painter and Certified Home Stager /Redesigner. Feel free to visit her website at www.HelpAtHomeStaging.com to view more before and after pictures of her projects. And if you enjoy gardening, you may want to visit her gardening blog at MyUrbanGardenOasis.

DIY Window Box Substitute–No Mounting Required

DIY Window Box

If you’ve always wanted beautiful window boxes but were afraid of the installation, planter boxes are a DIY-friendly alternative. They’re easy to build, and can be decorated seasonally with non-plant items if you live in a planting zone that doesn’t allow for live plants in the winter. You don’t have to leave them stark and empty in the off-season!

 Window Box Substitute/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I moved into this house this past winter, and it was in desperate need of some curb appeal. I had all of the half-dead, overgrown trees and bushes removed, and decided to start from scratch. How sad and lonely she looks. Window boxes will cheer this house (and me) right on up!

 Window Box Substitute/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Unfortunately, I did have a problem with my window box idea. The actual construction of the window boxes wasn’t an issue, but my fear of drilling into my bricks to install them certainly was. And to be honest,  I wouldn’t have been all that excited to drill into vinyl siding, wood siding or any other siding for that matter. Thinking about mounting a window box securely enough to handle the weight of the wood, the dirt and the plants made the hair on the back of my neck stand up.

So I decided that instead of window boxes, I would make free-standing planter boxes. And when I say free-standing, I mean “$free$”-standing.  I recently had a screened porch added to my house (click here to view) and wrestled some of the wood scraps away from my builder. Wood scraps = free planter boxes.

 Window Box Substitute/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I decided to build the planter boxes so that pots that my son, Ross, gave me a few years ago would fit inside of them. You don’t necessarily have to have pots inside of planter boxes, and if I hadn’t had these already, I probably wouldn’t have bothered to buy some. I would have just lined the boxes with a weed fabric so that dirt wouldn’t seep out of the cracks, and filled them with dirt. These pots have seen better days, but I love them, and they were perfect for putting inside the planters.

 Window Box Substitute/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I wanted to use treated 4 x 4’s for the legs, but I only had four that were long enough, and I needed eight. I did, however, have some treated 2 x 4’s left from the porch that I decided to double up and use instead. I knew if I ran a bead of caulk where the two boards met, and then painted them out, they would look just like the 4 x 4’s. My goal here was to not buy anything in order to make these planter boxes, so I had to be creative.

 Window Box Substitute/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

The actual sides of the boxes were built using leftover shiplap that was also left over from the screened porch. It was already primed and painted, but I still had to give it another quick coat after I finished assembling the boxes.

Window Box Substitute/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I don’t know how long this shiplap will last out in the weather since it’s pine. The primer and exterior paint should protect it for a while, but if it rots after a few years, I can replace it. I’m also hoping that by using pots inside of the boxes, the shiplap will last a little longer since there won’t be wet dirt resting up against it.

Here are my first two sections I put together after measuring how tall and wide I wanted the planters to be. You can see that the section on the right is made up of the sandwiched 2 x 4’s, so I used that section for the back side of the planter.

 Window Box Substitute/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Here I’ve added a second piece of shiplap.

 Window Box Substitute/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Since I was too lazy to go to the basement to get my super-duper saw horses that my son, Brandon, got me for Christmas, I just used my cute little Honda Fit (Love that car!) to steady my two sides while I screwed in the end pieces. And yes, I was careful not to scratch the car.

 Window Box Substitute/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

In this photo, you can see that I cut the legs a couple of inches shorter than the finished height because I wanted to be able to rest pieces of wood on top of them. I wanted to be able to decorate these boxes for fall and Christmas using non-plant items like pumpkins, ornaments, birdhouses and such. Wood laid across the tops of the legs would give me a hidden platform to set items on.  The pots with the dirt will only be used in the spring and summer for live plants.

 Window Box Substitute/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Next, I took 2 x 8’s (because that’s what I had on hand–a curb score) and notched out spaces with a jig saw in order to accommodate the legs, and toe-nailed them in from underneath. I chose to leave a space down the center so the water from the drainage holes in my pots would run through onto the ground rather than sit on the wood. If I decide at some point to fill the planters with dirt without the pots, I’ll add another board to complete the bottom.

 Window Box Substitute/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

And it fits! My plan for when my square pots go to pot heaven some day, is to buy pre-potted arrangements and just set the pots inside the planter boxes.

 Window Box Substitute/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

The planters looked a little blah-zay to me so I decided to jazz them up a bit. I had these scraps that were already cut at a 45 degree angle on one end. The 45 inspired me to cut another 45 on the other end, and I tacked them on the front of the boxes to add a little interest. In addition to the 45 degree angle adding some interest, it also helps the rain run off rather than sit on top of the boards.

Window Box Substitute/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Can you tell it was getting dark outside? Well, it was, so I did the painting the the next day. I primed the raw wood first, then I painted the primed wood, then painted the whole thing one more time.

Window Box Substitute/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I caulked around the decorative pieces and some other areas that I didn’t want water to get into. Some of the 4 x 4 legs had splits in them, so I caulked those, as well as the cracks where I joined the 2 x 4’s for the back legs. Then, a fresh coat of paint. It always amazes me what a fresh coat of paint can do.

Window Box Substitute/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I looked through my stash of goodies, and found some white, decorative iron pieces I’d bought a few years ago at Hobby Lobby, and added them to the fronts after rubbing some watered down gray paint on them. And wha-la! Here are my 100% free window box planters!

Window Box Substitute/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

See what a difference these make for my once sad little house! Before–

 Window Box Substitute/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

After–

 Window Box Substitute/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

And here they are all decorated for fall. I put these together after I realized mums were not happy living in my planter boxes due to lack of sunlight. I had my heart set on mums, but these will do just fine!

 Window Box Substitute/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

And yes, I painted my shutters and gave them some jewelry. Now, for your viewing pleasure, another set of before and after photos!

Before–
 Window Box Substitute/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

After–

 Window Box Substitute/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Here’s the second planter box. Even the fall pretties I used to decorate with were budget-friendly. I grew the pumpkins myself, the hydrangea were given to me by a friend, and everything else you see in the planter boxes was from my stash or from garage sales.

Window Box Substitute/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I like the planters better than window boxes because I can move them to the back yard and fill them with flowers or veggies if I want to. I was also able to make them bigger than most window boxes would have been–a window box this large would have been very heavy. If I get tired of them (fat chance), I can remove them and there’s no damage to the house underneath. And God forbid, if I ever move again, I can take them with me!

This post was written by Tracy Evans who is a Journeyman Painter and Certified Home Stager /Redesigner. Feel free to visit her website at www.HelpAtHomeStaging.com to view more before and after pictures of her projects. And if you enjoy gardening, you may want to visit her gardening blog at MyUrbanGardenOasis.