DIY Window Box Substitute–No Mounting Required

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.

Shiplap in a Cottage-Style Porch

If you’re thinking about building a screened-in porch and are looking for a creative way to finish the interior, look no further. Shiplap is a beautiful way to go if you are a fan of farmhouse or cottage-style decorating.

 Shiplap in a Cottage-Style Porch/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I moved to a cute little house in need of some TLC this past winter, and waited (impatiently) for spring to arrive so I could have the existing screened porch removed and re-built. Here are before and after photos of the exterior.

Before–

Shiplap in a Cottage-Style Porch/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL Porch/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

After–

 Shiplap in a Cottage-Style Porch/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Before–

Shiplap in a Cottage-Style Porch/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

After–Real landscaping will come next year.

Shiplap in a Cottage-Style Porch/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

My builder and I discussed several possible ways to finish the inside of the porch–all the usual ways. I scoured the internet hoping to find something not “usual”, but no luck.

I wanted the space to have the feel of an interior room—something quaint and cozy, and I was looking for something I could put nails into, to hang mirrors, clocks, pictures, hooks, etc…without feeling like I just destroyed something new. I like to move things around a lot, resulting in a Swiss-cheese type wall finish.

If you look closely at the before pictures at the beginning of this post, you can see that the inside walls had the exterior house siding on them. Not conducive to nails, and not very homey or interior-roomish looking in my opinion.

So here we are under construction in the next photo. I wanted a partial wall on the bottom half of the porch (as opposed to just window screen) not only for privacy reasons since I live in the city, but also to keep out as much of the weather as possible. Needless to say, construction began with no idea of how to finish the inside.

 Shiplap in a Cottage-Style Porch/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

We got about to this stage in construction, and my builder was ever-so-patiently waiting for me to figure out what to do with the inside, when then the shiplap idea came to me in a wave that made my heart flutter just a bit.

Shiplap in a Cottage-Style Porch/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I told my builder about my idea, and after he looked at me sort of funny, he called his lumber supplier to see if they carried shiplap. The response on the other end of the phone was, “Does this lady watch ‘Fixer Upper’?”  I thought, “Who on the planet doesn’t watch ‘Fixer Upper’?”, but I kept that to myself because based on the blank look on my builder’s face, he was, in fact, that one person on the planet.

This is what shiplap looks like. It’s not tongue and groove, but rather the edges are notched as you can see here.

Shiplap in a Cottage-Style Porch/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

The price of cedar shiplap made me laugh, so we went with pine. I asked my builder about the possibility of installing a faux shiplap by running treated 1 x 8 boards horizontally, in order to keep the budget down. We decided against it because as treated wood dries, it separates quite a bit, leaving gaps between the boards. And who wants to look at Tyvek lettering, right? So I took a deep breath, put on my big girl panties and went with the real deal.

In an attempt to make the wood last as long as possible, I primed and painted all the surfaces of the boards, not just the side that would be visible. I paint for a living, and my new porch isn’t all that big, but I’m here to tell you that I nearly lost my mind before I got all the sides and surfaces primed and painted–three times. And of course the notches added some extra brushwork too.

So after a coat of primer and a coat of paint, I had to repaint again after installation in order to cover smudges and nail heads.  If you decide to paint your own boards, you’ll need a lot of patience, a lot of space, a lot of time and perhaps an engineering degree in order to figure out how to stack all the boards so they can dry and not stick together.

 Shiplap in a Cottage-Style Porch/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Here’s what I should have done differently. I used an exterior primer, but the primer I used wasn’t strong enough to seal knots, and the knots bled through my primer and my two coats of exterior paint. Here’s how the knots looked when they reared their ugly heads. Irritating brownish dots. Everywhere. Shiplap with chicken pox wasn’t what I had in mind.

 Shiplap in a Cottage-Style Porch/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

So if you decide to use pine shiplap, do yourself a favor and seal the knots first–before you prime and paint–with a primer that’s meant to keep knots from bleeding through. The product I purchased to seal the knots, was for sealing only the knots and not the entire board. This worked for me because I had already primed my boards, but I would recommend searching for a product that can be used on the knots as well as the rest of the board (assuming there is such a product) so you don’t have to seal all the knots, and then prime the rest of the boards with another product afterwards. Here’s what I used to seal the knots only.

As of this writing, roughly three months after construction, the knots are slightly starting to bleed through the paint again. I’m guessing it’s because the sealer was applied over paint and primer rather than directly on the bare knots. A heavy duty primer is worth paying for.

 Shiplap in a Cottage-Style Porch/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

For my 14 x 16 porch, the shiplap cost around $800. I had enough leftover to build some planter boxes too! (See them here.) So here’s my shiplap porch all complete. I love the look of it, and the practicality of being able to nail into it with no worries. If I want to move the nails, I can leave the holes for a distressed look or I can fill them with putty and make them disappear. I could also just pound them in and leave them.

Welcome to my happy place.

 Shiplap in a Cottage-Style Porch/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Shiplap in a Cottage-Style Porch/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

This is the gable end.

 Shiplap in a Cottage-Style Porch/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I added some corbels that I bought years ago at an architectural salvage warehouse to the windows.

Shiplap in a Cottage-Style Porch/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Shiplap in a Cottage-Style Porch/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

A very kind and thoughtful neighbor who is an electrician, installed an outlet for me as a welcome-to-the-neighborhood gift.

 Shiplap In a Cottage-Style Porch/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 Shiplap in a Cottage-Style Porch/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I don’t see shiplap as a fad or something trendy that will be dated in 10 years–I don’t do trendy. I think it’s classic, timeless and lovely. Shiplap adds a relaxed, cottagey feel to a space. Thank you, Chip and Joanna. (I even watch your re-runs.)

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

DIY Pantry Spice Rack

I would like to dedicate this post to my mother, who passed away April 17th, 2016. This one’s for you, Mom. ♥

Once upon a time, I created a super-organized pantry. Then I moved. (Sigh.) But new beginnings bring new opportunities, so here’s my new and improved pantry. After much searching for different ways to organize spices and such,  I tweaked some Pinterest ideas, and here’s what I ended up with.

 DIY Pantry Spice Rack/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Let me first say that I had some reservations about this project, not because of the building of the racks, but because of the uncertainty of mounting them on a hollow-core door. If you have the same hesitation, don’t sweat it because mounting the units was easy, and they feel very safe and secure.

This project requires only basic carpentry skills. And if you’re reading this tutorial, you will also benefit from my mistakes, as I’ll also be sharing with you what not to do. You’re welcome.

My projects are usually pretty inexpensive because I use leftovers from previous projects, treasures from garage sales, and special finds from curb shopping. (I pull a ridiculous amount of wood off of curbs.) That being said, this project is no exception and cost me less than $25. A wire-coated rack would cost two to three times that much, and wouldn’t be specific to your needs like one you can make yourself.

First, I gathered up all of my spices and other items that I wanted to store in the racks, so I would know how to space the shelves and how much wood I was going to need.

 DIY Pantry Spice Rack/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I found it helpful to draw a simple sketch, although I did change some of the shelf spacing as I got further into this project. (Incidentally, the second set of numbers on my rough sketch don’t add up to the total shelf dimensions, as they were measurements of the spaces not including the wood. My math isn’t that bad.)

 DIY Pantry Spice Rack/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Since I was doing this project without help, and because of my irrational fear of mounting something on a hollow core door, I decided to break this down into two more manageable units rather than one big one. That turned out to be a very good thing.

Since spices are small and lightweight, I used thin pieces of wood to build the top section. I used Pine Mull Casing scraps that I had leftover from another project.

 DIY Pantry Spice Rack/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I have no clue what mull casing’s intended purpose is, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t created for DIY spice racks. It resembles lattice, but is thicker. I strongly suggest not attempting to use lattice for this project because nails need to be driven into the skinny side of the wood, and lattice is too thin.  The mull casing measured 3/8″ thick, and just shy of 2″ wide—just like it said on the sticker in the last photo. Imagine that.

 DIY Pantry Spice Rack/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL
  DIY Pantry Spice Rack/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Most of the spice racks I saw on Pinterest used wooden dowels to hold the spices in place, which is nice because a small dowel won’t cover up too much of a spice container’s label. However, I chose not to use dowels for four reasons. I would have had to use a wider, bulkier piece of wood to construct the frame if I went with dowels, since a dowel eats up shelf depth; because they are a son-of-a-gun to paint; because I didn’t want the stress of trying to drill the mounting holes perfectly even on the side boards and because I had something else on hand that I could use for free.

And my free dowel substitute was…(da, da-da, daaaaa), wood from a clothes-drying rack. Yes siree, ladies and gentlemen. Recycling at its finest. I disassembled the pieces, and spackled over the center holes to make them disappear. The end holes were cut off when I cut the pieces down to fit the units. I know what you’re thinking. But for the record, I’ve used these before on a similar project, and once they’re painted up, they look great. I also liked these because the edges were routed. If you don’t happen to have a broken clothes drying rack lying around, screen molding or another small piece of trim would be another option.

 DIY Pantry Spice Rack/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL I used the recycled wood pieces for the bars that hold in the taller spices, and to make a ledge to hold my smaller spices on the shelves without covering their labels.

 DIY Pantry Spice Rack/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I bought bead board paneling for the back of the shelves. Not only did it keep the shelving unit square and more secure, but it was what I screwed into to attach it to the door. Plus it looks sweet! Home Depot sells 32″ x 48″ sheets of bead board for $10, and they cut it to size for me. I laid everything out to get an idea of spacing.

 DIY Pantry Spice Rack/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

The bead board on my top unit was 18″ wide x 32″ tall, and the bead board for the bottom unit was 18″ wide by 30″ tall. My pantry door measured about 24″ x 7′, which left roughly three inches of space on each side to allow the door to open and shut freely. Very important.

I suggest priming and painting the wood pieces before you cut them. You can paint it in half the time with a lot less mess. I didn’t paint first because I was on a roll and didn’t want to stop, but this is one of those important do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do suggestions.

I cut all my pieces making sure that all of the shelves were exactly the same length, and making sure that the two side pieces were exactly the same length. If the boards are not of equal length, you will not be a happy camper when you assemble them.

For the small spice containers, the space between shelves (not including the shelf itself–air space only) was about 3 3/4″, and for the taller spice containers, the space was 6″. That spacing allowed just enough “headroom” to be able to lift the taller containers up and over the bar that kept them from falling out.

Next I pre-drilled all my nail holes. Simply put, I stink with a hammer. And since there wasn’t much room for error on this thin wood, I needed the nails to go in very straight. Also, the nails were tiny and would bend easily if I didn’t have pre-drilled holes. Bending nails while hammering them is my specialty.

  DIY Pantry Spice Rack/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I pre-drilled two holes per shelf on the pieces of wood that formed the sides of the unit, and partially inserted my nails. I knew that assembling this was going to be a balancing act, and I didn’t want to be scrounging for nails while trying to hold the boards, with a hammer clenched between my teeth.

 DIY Pantry Spice Rack/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

  DIY Pantry Spice Rack/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 DIY Pantry Spice Rack/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I glued the end of every board I nailed. And yes, I did get this unopened glue for $1 at a garage sale (note sticker). If you are buying wood glue for this project, make sure to get paintable glue.

  DIY Pantry Spice Rack/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Then I nailed and nailed…

A smaller upholstery hammer worked best for the small nails.

 DIY Pantry Spice Rack/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 DIY Pantry Spice Rack/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

  DIY Pantry Spice Rack/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

  DIY Pantry Spice Rack/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Then I laid my rack on the bead board to make sure it was square.

 DIY Pantry Spice Rack/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I loosely tacked the bead board to the shelf to keep it square while the glue dried, although that probably wasn’t necessary since it was pretty square on its own. ( Can you say OCD?) I tacked it loosely so that after the glue set up, I could remove the bead board, and paint it more easily.

  DIY Pantry Spice Rack/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 DIY Pantry Spice Rack/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Next, I repeated the same process for the bottom unit, only I used 1 x 4 pine instead of mull casing in order to accommodate larger items.

  DIY Pantry Spice Rack/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Next I primed, and then painted using a latex semi-gloss paint from Sherwin Williams in the color “Pure White”. You must prime raw wood before painting it if you want your paint to adhere.

The bead board was already white when I bought it, but I painted it so that when I had paint touch-ups after I mounted it (fingerprints, glue, hammer marks), the whites all matched. And you will have paint touch ups, trust me. I made sure I painted the edges of my bead board since they’ll be visible.

  DIY Pantry Spice Rack/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

  DIY Pantry Spice Rack/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

After the paint dried, I assembled all the wood pieces. I used nails and glue to attach the bead board backing. I also drove a nail through the back of the bead board and into the center of each shelf to prevent the shelves from sagging or warping over time.

 DIY Pantry Spice Rack/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Then came the scary installation part. This was especially nerve-racking for me because I had just installed new interior doors. And if that weren’t enough, they were special ordered from Lowe’s, so if I messed up the door, it was going to be awhile before I could get a new door to try again. Pressure. Here are the hollow-door anchors I used. A package of four was under $2 at Home Depot.

 DIY Pantry Spice Rack/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Basically, how these work is you hold your item to be hung, up on the door. You drill through your item and into the door where you want your screws to be. Remove the item, install the anchor into the hole you drilled in the door and then put the item back up and screw it on. Boom. Done. But not so fast.

I drilled holes for the mounting screws through the bead board backing where I felt the screws would be hidden behind the spices. I did this without holding the shelf up to the door since I knew it would be difficult for me to hold up the shelf and drill at the same time. Not a great idea.

  DIY Pantry Spice Rack/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Unfortunately, I didn’t take into account where the recessed panels on the door were. So when I held the drilled shelf up to the door, re-drilled through the existing holes in the bead board and into the door, the holes ended up in a recessed panel. I will admit a swear word left my lips on that one. So I ended up drilling two more holes in my bead board and my brand new door. (Personal thank you to whoever invented spackle.) Here’s a picture of where you don’t want your holes to end up.

 DIY Pantry Spice Rack/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I decided to use three anchors for each shelf unit, but four–one in each corner–would have been better.

Since my door had a handle rather than a knob, I had to be sure to place the bottom unit low enough so that it didn’t interfere with the handle’s operation.

 DIY Pantry Spice Rack/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I was still leery of this whole hollow door issue, so I decided it best to install the lower shelf first. A screw-up down low wouldn’t be as noticeable.

I stacked pieces of wood on the floor under the shelf, so I wouldn’t have to try to hold it while I was drilling. I made sure it was at the desired height, centered and level on the door. Next I drilled through my existing holes in my bead board (the second set–ugh) and into the door.

 DIY Pantry Spice Rack/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I removed the shelf from the wood stack, and screwed the wall anchors into the holes I had drilled in the door. The creaking noises during the screw turning made me cringe a bit, but I kept plugging away—ever so gently.

 DIY Pantry Spice Rack/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 DIY Pantry Spice Rack/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Since hollow core doors these days are sort of cardboardish, I was left with fuzzies around the anchors. My OCD was wanting to give that thing a hair cut, and I openly admit I started to remove it with a utility knife. But I got a grip and quit because that tiny bit of “squish-out” is never going to be seen—ever.

I propped the shelf back up on the piece of wood, lined up the holes in the bead board with the wall anchors (I could actually see the anchors through my drilled holes if I looked closely) and installed the screws.

I repeated the process with the top shelf. Installing the bottom unit first, turned out to be a good idea because I could balance the top unit on it while I leveled and drilled.

  DIY Pantry Spice Rack/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Lastly, I painted the screws and touched up the paint as needed.

I had actually stopped using most of my spices after I’d moved because it was such a hassle to find what I needed. You can see why from this “before” photo.

  DIY Pantry Spice Rack/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

And here are my after photos.

  DIY Pantry Spice Rack/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

  DIY Pantry Spice Rack/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

  DIY Pantry Spice Rack/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 DIY Pantry Spice Rack/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

It took me about a day and a half from start to finish for this project. That included figuring out how to space everything, a trip to Home Depot for supplies, painting, assembling and hanging. It was well worth the time, as these storage units have made my life so much easier, and now I have two empty cupboards in my kitchen!

If this project seems too complicated for you, and your spice cupboard is a wreck, you may want to check out my simpler “no construction” Dollar Store idea for storing spices by “Clicking Here“.

This post was written by Tracy Evans who is a Certified Home Stager, Certified Redesigner and Journeyman Painter. 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.

Built-In Storage Between the Studs

Whoever invented the idea of building shelving in between the studs in a wall is a genius. If you’ve searched Pinterest or Google for ways to find extra storage space in a small bathroom, you’ve probably seen photos of some of these.

I decided this would be a good project to try, since I recently moved to a house with the world’s smallest master bathroom. And besides being tiny, it was also a little on the boring side. Here’s my wall before the big event. (Excuse the patches–I was getting ready to paint before I got a wild hair to try this.)

 Built-In Storage Between the Studs/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

To begin, I drilled some 1/4″ holes in the wall in order to have places to insert the tip of my saw to cut a hole.

 Built-In Storage Between the Studs/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Here’s my super-useful garage sale saw. (Just had to show it.)

 Built-In Storage Between the Studs/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I tapped my saw into the hole expecting to hit another piece of drywall that typically would be behind it, but I didn’t hit anything but air. This meant there was an open cavity behind my wall, and that, ladies and gentlemen, was a very good thing. My super-smart carpenter brother, Mike, told me there probably used to be a tub behind the wall before someone converted the space to a stand-up shower. At that point, it was looking like my between-the-stud project was turning into something a little more exciting than I anticipated.

Just to be sure I wasn’t going to hit something like pipes, duct-work or electrical wires, I only cut out a smallish piece of drywall to start. I’d rather patch a small hole than a big one if I was going to run into a problem or lose my nerve.

 Built-In Storage Between the Studs/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Once I could peek inside the hole and saw nothing in the way, I made it a little larger, and then I cut out a second hole. There was a stud running down the middle of the wall that I wasn’t ready to cut out just yet.

I hadn’t decided exactly how big I wanted to make my shelving unit, so I left these two ugly holes in the wall for a week or two while I mulled the whole thing over. I would liked to have searched for a unique old door or window of some sort to make this into a cabinet rather than a shelf, but I was a little too impatient for that.

 Built-In Storage Between the Studs/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 Built-In Storage Between the Studs/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

This is a picture of inside the hole. Behind the PVC pipe is the back of my shower in my other bathroom.

 Built-In Storage Between the Studs/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Once I made my decision of how big to make my shelving unit, I finally cut the hole to the desired size.

 Built-In Storage Between the Studs/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I’ve agonized over the years about whether or not to buy a reciprocating saw, and once again I wished I had one. But I just used a good, old-fashioned hand saw–also from a garage sale–and got the job done just fine. My biceps got a work out, my pores were cleared from sweating and I’m a better person for it.

 Built-In Storage Between the Studs/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Finally I have my hole!

 Built-In Storage Between the Studs/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I decided to make full use of as much of the open space behind the wall as I could. This meant building a big box, which also meant building a heavy box. I made a frame inside the cavity out of 2 x 4’s to support the weight of my shelf unit. I added a 2 x 4 on each side of the opening to screw my box into, as well as a couple for the unit to sit on. I made sure the boards were level so my shelf wouldn’t be off kilter when I set it on the frame.

 Built-In Storage Between the Studs/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

This may seem a little backwards to a real carpenter like my bro, but I always found it easier to cut my back piece first, and build the box to fit it. I measured the opening I had cut in the wall, and then cut my piece that would be the back of my unit, a tad smaller than the opening. That way, I’d have a little wiggle room when trying to shove that bad boy into the wall.

So here’s my bead board back piece. It looked a little beat up from the move, but it painted up just fine.

 Built-In Storage Between the Studs/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I built this unit using simple butt joints–nothing fancy or complicated. I used plywood for the box, and particle board for the shelves. I prefer to use MDF, but used plywood for the box because it’s lighter weight, and I knew this shelving unit was going to be a bear to lift and slide into the wall–especially while straddling a toilet.

In addition to MDF being heavier than plywood, it swells when it gets wet, and this will be sitting right next to my shower pipes. You just never know…I used particle board for the shelves because it’s nicer looking than plywood when it’s painted, and I had no plans to put anything heavy on these shelves. The outer plywood box would protect the shelves from water, as particle board doesn’t like water all that much either.

I knew what items I would be storing on the shelves, and spaced them accordingly. In order to make the best use of the prime real estate I had discovered, I made the shelves 24″ deep. In this photo, I was just trying to get my shelf spacing figured out.

Built-In Storage Between the Studs/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

It’s actually easiest to paint the pieces with a coat of primer and a coat of finish before you assemble it. Then caulk all of the joints, let dry and put a final finish coat on.

 Built-In Storage Between the Studs/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Here’s my son, Ross, ready to help with the install. Whatever would I do without him!!!

 Built-In Storage Between the Studs/HomeStagingBloomingtonILphoto IMG_5936.jpg

Ready, set, go!

 Built-In Storage Between the Studs/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

After some man-handling, we got it into the wall.

 Built-In Storage Between the Studs/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I screwed it into the stud it was sitting on and into the studs on each side. In this scenario, if I ever needed to have my shower plumbing replaced, I could (reluctantly) remove the unit from the wall to access the pipes.

 Built-In Storage Between the Studs/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Next I trimmed it out and make it look pretty. I used this nifty vinyl trim from Home Depot. I’m all about the vinyl trim. It doesn’t crack like wood does, it’s flawless and it paints easily.

 Built-In Storage Between the Studs/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 Built-In Storage Between the Studs/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Adding trim made the shelves look more substantial.

 Built-In Storage Between the Studs/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Then I added trim pieces to the sides.

 Built-In Storage Between the Studs/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I had some pieces of a beautiful, old, wooden picture frame left over from another project, so I cut them to size, and painted them white for the top and bottom trim pieces. I caulked wherever one trim piece met another. I sunk all of my nails, puttied the holes and sanded off the excess putty after it dried. Then I painted all of the trim.

 Built-In Storage Between the Studs/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 Built-In Storage Between the Studs/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

And here she is! Beauty and function all wrapped up into one big, beautiful piece of…something.

 Built-In Storage Between the Studs/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 Built-In Storage Between the Studs/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Since the shelves were so deep, I was able to put some smallish plastic storage bins of items I don’t use too often behind the towels. This freed up space in my vanity.

 Built-In Storage Between the Studs/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 Built-In Storage Between the Studs/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

In addition to adding the shelving unit, I replaced my bathroom door with a pocket door. Making my way to the toilet to do my thing used to be like squeezing into one of those public restroom stalls where you have to straddle the toilet in order to shut the door. And I was growing a little tired of a door against my backside while I was brushing my teeth. My amazingly talented brother (yes, I’m a suck-up) installed the pocket door for me.

 Built-In Storage Between the Studs/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I ended up changing out the mirror, the light fixture and the faucet as part of my bathroom overhaul too. Next is the toilet, but that’s for another day.

I’m not a fan of having over-the-toilet cabinets in a bathroom unless it’s absolutely necessary. I’d rather look at a pretty picture, and I feel like a cabinet cuts into the space too much. But if storage is needed and you aren’t gutsy enough to cut an enormous hole in your drywall, then so be it. With my new in-the-wall storage, the toilet cabinet is no longer a must. Here’s my before picture.

 Built-In Storage Between the Studs/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

And here’s the after. The walls just have a tinted primer on them in this photo, but once it’s painted, I’ll swap out my photo and no one will be the wiser.

 photo IMG_6004.jpg

So if you need storage or maybe just a space to display pretty things in a room in your house, take a deep breath and try cutting a hole in your wall!

This post was written by Tracy Evans who is a Certified Home Stager, Certified Redesigner and Journeyman Painter. Feel free to visit her website at http://www.HelpAtHomeStaging.com to view her portfolio for 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 Remove an Old Toilet and Install a New One

I wanted to title this post “Mystery Poop”, but decided it may not attract too many viewers if I did. You see, I recently moved to a new house, and had an issue with a…well…a turd that kept reappearing in my toilet. The little “dancing turd” as my kids and I lovingly nicknamed it, didn’t belong to any of us (it came free with the house). After a few attempts, I managed to launch the little brown pest into Sewersville with my plunger. I thought my toilet issues were over until subsequent deposits made by family members, guests and myself also continued to reappear. I decided enough is enough and sprang for a new toilet.

I’d always heard that installing a new toilet isn’t all that difficult. And since I’d already paid my plumber enough money from other jobs in my new house to finance his son’s college education, I decided to tackle this project myself. Plus, I’d removed a handful of toilets in my lifetime, so I at least had experience at half of the job.

Step one. Every toilet has a shut off valve to stop the flow of water to the tank. I shut this off, and then flushed the toilet to empty the tank. If the toilet fills back up after you’ve shut the water off with the shut off valve, call your plumber. You’ve got issues. Here’s the shut off valve.

 How to Remove an Old Toilet and Install a New One/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

There will still be about an inch or so of water in the tank after it flushes, but that’s normal.

 How to Remove an Old Toilet and Install a New One/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Next I unscrewed the plastic nut that connects the hose to the tank. I had a container ready to catch water that I expected to run out, but much to my surprise, no water came out.

  How to Remove an Old Toilet and Install a New One/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Next, I removed the plastic nut in order to remove the float tower (my personal name for it) to allow the remaining water to drain out of the tank. A little water leaked out, but not too much.

  How to Remove an Old Toilet and Install a New One/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

  How to Remove an Old Toilet and Install a New One/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

After the nut was removed, I lifted out the float tower not realizing there was still quite a bit of water in the tank. My feet got wet on that one.

  How to Remove an Old Toilet and Install a New One/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

As I was working, I noticed that the hose that I had disconnected had drops of water leaking out of it, which meant my shut off valve wasn’t working quite right, so I left my container under it to catch the drips. If everything is working properly, your shut off valve should stop all the water from coming out of your hose.

Next, I removed the tank from the stool so the toilet would be lighter and easier for me to lift off of the floor. In order to do that, I simply had to remove three nuts from under the tank (two of them are pictured here).

  How to Remove an Old Toilet and Install a New One/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Sounds simple, right? Two of nuts came off with little effort using a pair of pliers. The third nut however, had rusted. Removing the final bolt would have been much easier with two people, where one person could hold the nut with pliers on the underside of the toilet, and the second person could use a screwdriver to unscrew the bolt from the top.

After several minutes of dinking around with the screw from hell, I came to the painful conclusion that it wasn’t going to come off. Ever. In a moment of desperation, I made the conscious decision to just crack the toilet to get it off. So here’s a great shot of the cracked tank.

  How to Remove an Old Toilet and Install a New One/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

For the record, I’ve heard a person can get cut pretty bad on cracked porcelain, so don’t try this at home. I would advise you to get a Dremel or a hack saw and cut the screw off if it won’t unscrew.  Or get someone to help lift the toilet off in one piece so you don’t have to take it apart.

Here are the fruits of my labor. Beautiful (or not).

 How to Remove an Old Toilet and Install a New One/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Next, I removed the caps off of the bolts that hold the toilet to the floor.

  How to Remove an Old Toilet and Install a New One/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Now it’s time to cut through the gross caulk so the toilet will come loose from the floor.

 How to Remove an Old Toilet and Install a New One/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I lifted the stool and put it on a throw-away towel in the bathtub. I tipped the stool forward a couple of times to remove the remaining water. (No lurking turds.) Make no mistake–there will be water remaining in the stool part that you can’t see, so don’t go trying to carry it across your new white carpeting to the front door without a garbage bag wrapped around it.

It would have been a good idea to set an open garbage bag on top of the towel to set the toilet into in the first place. But since I didn’t do that, I had to lift up the toilet and slide a bag underneath it. Not really too much fun.

 How to Remove an Old Toilet and Install a New One/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

  How to Remove an Old Toilet and Install a New One/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Here’s what I’m left with.

 How to Remove an Old Toilet and Install a New One/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

If you’ve been thinking this is a pretty disgusting process so far, it gets worse right about now. I put on some gloves to remove as much of the wax ring as possible. If you have a black plastic ring in the middle of the mess, that needs to come out too.

  How to Remove an Old Toilet and Install a New One/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I removed the old bolts, and stuck a rag into the opening to keep sewer gas from coming up.

  How to Remove an Old Toilet and Install a New One/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Now comes the time-consuming part of removing all of the old caulk with a razor blade.

 How to Remove an Old Toilet and Install a New One/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I found after trying both Goo-Gone and Dawn dish soap, that a very simple way to remove wax off of the linoleum was to use good, old-fashioned baking soda. I just sprinkled a generous amount on the floor, ran the plastic side of a sponge over it, and it came right off.

 How to Remove an Old Toilet and Install a New One/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Here’s my new toilet by Kohler. I chose a chair-height toilet which sits higher off the ground than a standard toilet. I also chose a round toilet instead of an elongated one since I have a small bathroom. It was about $170.00 at Lowe’s. I also saw it at Home Depot.

To figure out what size of toilet I needed, I measured the space from my toilet bolts on the floor, to the wall behind it for a 12″ measurement. This is the most common toilet size.

  How to Remove an Old Toilet and Install a New One/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

To install the new toilet, I basically re-did all of the things I un-did to get the old toilet out.

I put the new bolts right back in the flange where I took the old ones out.

  How to Remove an Old Toilet and Install a New One/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

To help with setting the new toilet over the bolts, I put blue tape on the floor next to the bolts and drew a line to where the bolts sit so I could see better where I need to go with the toilet.

  How to Remove an Old Toilet and Install a New One/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 How to Remove an Old Toilet and Install a New One/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Next comes the wax ring. My plumber uses two wax rings, so that’s what I did too. Here’s the wax ring. One came with the toilet, and I purchased a second one separately.

  How to Remove an Old Toilet and Install a New One/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I removed the plastic that the wax ring came in, and stuck the ring around the opening on the bottom of the toilet.

 How to Remove an Old Toilet and Install a New One/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

  How to Remove an Old Toilet and Install a New One/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I placed the second ring on the flange on the floor after I removed the rag from the hole. It might cause you some grief if you don’t remember to remove your rag from the opening before you put the toilet on. Just a helpful tip from me to you.

 How to Remove an Old Toilet and Install a New One/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I didn’t want to try to lift the toilet over the bolts by myself, so I called over my son, Ross, to help me. I’m not sure how a person could actually do this by himself, but I know people do it all the time. If you are going to try this by yourself, I would strongly recommend putting tape on the floor as I did, to help guide you because the toilet blocks the view of the bolts from above.

  How to Remove an Old Toilet and Install a New One/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Seating a toilet is a one-shot deal, which is what has kept me from trying this in the past. If you mess up your toilet placement, you can’t lift up the toilet and try again because you’ll break the seal on the wax ring, causing the toilet to leak. You are also not supposed to slide the toilet around too much after you seat it for the same reason. I did have to move it just a bit because it was a little cati-wampus. I sat on the toilet facing the wall, which squished the wax rings together to form the seal.

After the toilet felt like it had sunk down onto the floor, I measured from the wall to each of the two holes on the stool to make sure the toilet was set evenly. I also used a level to make sure the toilet was even. No one’s gonna want to do their business with their cheeks out of whack, right?

  How to Remove an Old Toilet and Install a New One/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Next I put on the washers and nuts over the floor bolts as directed. I hand-tightened these just barely snug so as not to crack the porcelain.

 How to Remove an Old Toilet and Install a New One/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 How to Remove an Old Toilet and Install a New One/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I then followed the directions on how to attach the tank to the stool. These directions will vary from one toilet to another. First I put on the gasket. The gasket is a squishy, rubber doughnut-like circle with a flat side that keeps the water from leaking out of the tank. Every standard toilet will have a gasket, although I’ve never seen one quite this big. The flat side generally goes against the tank, and the round side towards the stool, but be sure to read the directions for your particular toilet. If the gasket is put on backwards, the tank will leak.

  How to Remove an Old Toilet and Install a New One/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

  How to Remove an Old Toilet and Install a New One/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Then I put the tank onto the stool, and hand tightened the two screws that hold the tank to the toilet. The photo is a picture before the nuts were tightened. This part was a little tricky. I had to put the tank on and take it back off a couple of times before I got it right because it was too wobbly, yet the nuts felt tight enough. I just didn’t have it placed correctly at first.

  How to Remove an Old Toilet and Install a New One/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

The “guts” inside this particular toilet tank were already assembled inside of it, so I didn’t have to do anything there. Now for the grand finale! The toilet seat. Here are the bolts in the tabs made to hold the toilet seat on.

 How to Remove an Old Toilet and Install a New One/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 How to Remove an Old Toilet and Install a New One/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I attached these winged plastic nuts to the bolts that held the toilet seat in place. These nuts were easy to screw on because of the wing. Again, I was careful not to over-tighten them.

  How to Remove an Old Toilet and Install a New One/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Lastly, I caulked the sides and front of the base of the toilet, leaving the back free of caulk. Why? Because that’s what my plumber told me to do. He explained that if there’s ever a leak in the wax ring, it may give the water a place to go other than into the sub floor. This way, you’ll know if you have a leak.

  How to Remove an Old Toilet and Install a New One/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 How to Remove an Old Toilet and Install a New One/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

That’s all there was to it. It wasn’t difficult, it was just time-consuming. Because of the age of my house, the toilets I had were not the low-water usage ones. If I decide to get a more efficient toilet in my other bathroom, I would install that one myself too (with the help of my son, Ross, of course). It wasn’t very fun, but it was worth the effort to save myself some money.

And here she is. Of course after the new toilet looked so nice and new, I had to paint the walls and vanity, get a new vanity top, faucet, light fixture, mirror, baseboard, wainscoting…..

  How to Remove an Old Toilet and Install a New One/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

This post was written by Tracy Evans who is a Certified Home Stager, Certified Redesigner and Journeyman Painter servicing the Central Illinois area. Feel free to visit her website at http://www.HelpAtHomeStaging.com to view her portfolio for 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 Fix a Warped Cabinet Floor

I’m guessing most of you DIYers out there are familiar with the idea of installing self-stick floor tiles on the floors of kitchen cabinets—usually inside the cabinet under the kitchen sink. That’s a space that can get pretty gruesome over time.

I had been wanting to tackle this in my current home, but my cabinet floor was warped. I’m guessing the kitchen sink had a leak when the previous owners lived here. When I laid a level across it, I could see a dip of almost a full inch at its lowest point, and I knew the tiles wouldn’t adhere to a surface that dipped like a cereal bowl.

I decided since I couldn’t install the tiles, I would cover the cabinet floor with non-stick shelf paper. Not one of my better ideas. It quickly became just as ugly as it was before I tried to spruce it up. Plus the shelf paper wasn’t a solution for the warped floor. You can’t really see the dip in this picture, but here’s a before picture anyway just for kicks. You’ll just have to trust me that it was nasty under there.

How to Fix a Warped Cabinet Floor/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

So one day, a light bulb actually appeared over my head in one of those little white clouds. (Not kidding.) I had an idea. I decided to search through my stash of scrap wood for some skinny pieces to fill in the divot. Then I could cover the scraps with a thin sheet of plywood, and then I could cover the plywood with those fabulous self-stick linoleum tiles.

Since there was a divider in the center of the front of the cabinet where the doors close (you can see this in the above photo), there was no way to install a single sheet of plywood big enough to cover the whole floor. But I just happened to have two pieces of plywood that I could cut down to fit through the two cabinet door openings, and could piece them together to cover the cabinet floor.

Here’s a picture of the darker small scraps on the floor of the cabinet that are placed in the dip. I just kept layering pieces in the low part until it was level with the rest of the floor. Then I laid a piece of plywood that I cut to fit, over the top of the scraps (on the left side in the photo). The other piece I used to finish the floor is the darker piece that is leaned up against the side of the cabinet on the right in the photo. I used 3/8″ plywood that I had leftover from another project for both the scraps that are filling the dip, and for the actual “sub-floor” placed on top of the scraps.

How to Fix a Warped Cabinet Floor/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Next I laid down the second piece of plywood to complete the cabinet floor. The colors of the two pieces didn’t match because one of them was stained and one of them wasn’t, but they were going to be covered with tiles, so no biggie.

How to Fix a Warped Cabinet Floor/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I had to tack down the plywood in a few places since the pieces were a little wonky from being stored in my garage.

 How to Fix a Warped Cabinet Floor/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

How to Fix a Warped Cabinet Floor/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Here’s my new mini “sub-floor”, so nice and flat now! I was pretty happy at this point because I could see this was actually going to work.

 How to Fix a Warped Cabinet Floor/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Here are the amazing, kick-butt self-stick linoleum tiles that I bought for $2.00 at a garage sale this past summer. In case you’re not familiar with this type of flooring, think of each square as a sticker on steroids. You just peel a sheet off the back to reveal the sticky back side of the tile, and simply press it into place.

How to Fix a Warped Cabinet Floor/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I had no prior experience with these tiles, and was pleasantly surprised at how easy they were to cut using a utility knife against a straight edge. I laid the tiles on a scrap piece of wood while cutting so as not to cut directly against my floor. I started in the front/center of the “floor” and worked my way back.

How to Fix a Warped Cabinet Floor/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Here’s my finished project. My hope is that if there’s ever a leak in the sink again, that these tiles will protect the floor somewhat. The tiles, with their slick finish will also be easy to clean.

How to Fix a Warped Cabinet Floor/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

How to Fix a Warped Cabinet Floor/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

It’s so nice to have a clean area under the kitchen sink. The bathroom vanities are next on the list!

This post was written by Tracy Evans who is a Certified Home Stager, Certified Redesigner and Journeyman Painter servicing the Central Illinois area. Feel free to visit her website at www.HelpAtHomeStaging.com to view her portfolio for 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 Fix an Interior Door That Won’t Stay Open (or Shut)

I know this isn’t exactly front page news, but my bathroom door won’t stay open. In the grand scheme of the universe I suppose it’s not a huge problem, but every morning when I brush my teeth, my hind end has a door bumping into it. I reach around to shove the door back open and my elbow finds it, sending a pain like that of a taser jolt (just guessing, of course) from my elbow to the tip of my pinky finger. And I should, in theory, be able to walk into my bathroom without having to push the door open every time.

I’m guessing if you’ve done a Google search and found yourself reading this post, you’ve got the same issue, and you’re well aware of how irritating this can be. I’ve given up using a door stop, because every time I need to do my ‘thang’ in the bathroom, I have to remove the door stop to close the door. Then I have to put it back again when my mission is complete. I tried that for a while, but it’s just as irritating as hitting my funny bone first thing in the morning.

Here’s a picture of the door from hell. This is my door’s favorite resting spot. It’s only resting spot.

 How to Fix a Door That Won't Stay Open (or Shut) / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

The reason a door won’t stay put is because the hinges aren’t aligned properly. That is, all three hinges should form a perfectly plumb (vertical) line, and they don’t. Either the door jamb has shifted, the screws are working themselves out allowing the hinge to move or the house is simply falling apart. (Joking on the last one.)

In a situation where a door won’t stay open, it’s because the top hinge sits on the outside of the other two. In the above photo of the door for example, the top hinge sits to the left of the bottom two. Visually it’s impossible to recognize, but if you understand physics, it makes sense. (I paid attention in class.) To make the door stay open, I had to realign the hinges so that the top hinge sat directly above the other two.

My original grand idea was to bring the bottom and center hinges out by sliding some cardboard underneath them like so.

 How to Fix a Door That Won't Stay Open (or Shut) / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

It worked!! The door stayed open. Unfortunately, when I went to shut the door, the addition of the cardboard pushed the bottom of the door over enough that the door wouldn’t shut. It hit the jamb. This may be a good solution in some situations, however, if there is sufficient space between the edge of the door and the jamb when the door closes.

But since this idea didn’t work on my door, I went to Plan B. Since I couldn’t move the bottom hinge out (to the left as you look at the photo), I needed to take the top hinge in (to the right as you look at the photo). In order to do that, I was going to need some heavy artillery.

I got some long screws from my stash to pull the hinge and the jamb tighter to the wall, thus pulling the top hinge, and the door, to the right. Notice the difference in the screw length. The original hinge screws are on the left in the photo. The monster screws on the right are the replacements.

How to Fix a Door That Won't Stay Open (or Shut) / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Unfortunately, I only had two of these screws on hand, so that’s what I had to go with. The reason this idea worked is because the screws were long enough to reach the stud that’s behind the door jamb trim pieces, and they had enough oomph to pull the door in tighter.

 How to Fix a Door That Won't Stay Open (or Shut) / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

In this case, since my hinges and screws were oil-rubbed bronze, I used a sharpie to disguise them well enough to blend in with the hinge.

 How to Fix a Door That Won't Stay Open (or Shut) / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

If you have brass or brushed nickel hinges and screws, and can’t find long screws to match, you can purchase two ounce bottles of acrylic craft paint in a matching color (or something close), and dab it on the screw heads with a Q-tip if you don’t own any brushes. The paints only run around $2.00 at your local craft store. That’s the least expensive option.

If you can’t find a color match there, you can stick the screws in a piece of cardboard or styrofoam and spray the heads with matching spray paint. (More expensive, but oh well.) If someone comes to your house and points out that your hinge screws aren’t an exact match, you have my permission to escort them from your home.

Here are my screws after I Sharpie-fied them. They blended in just fine. Mission accomplished!

 How to Fix a Door That Won't Stay Open (or Shut) / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

If you have the opposite issue, and have a door that won’t stay in the shut position when it’s not latched, tightening the screws on the bottom hinge should do the trick. That’s all there is to it!

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