Posts Tagged ‘DIY ideas’

Giraffe - painted

I would never profess to be a painter, but I am not afraid to open a paint can and dab away at a boring room or an old piece of furniture. The lack of fear doesn’t necessarily make me do a good job, it just means that I am not afraid to try, and if I mess up, it is my own home, and I’ll try my best to fix it.

From small picture frames to bedrooms and countertops, I have learned that painting is an unpredictable process (and there is a lot of “p’s” in this sentence). Just when I think I have it all figured out, the color will not be as expected, a paint can will rust without warning, or I will accidentally spray sunshine yellow all over my new, black shoes.

Some things are best left to the professionals, but before you make the call there are a few DIY paint repairs and ideas that you really (really) can do yourself.


Spray paint is a great, fun fix for old and dated items. Just remember to practice a bit first; give it light, slow sweeping coats (too heavy and saturated will make it drip) and I find that it is best to always do it outside (the mist can reach much further than you can ever imagine) wear old clothes and shoes, and put up newspapers or tarpaulin to protect your deck, patio, fence etc. Personally, I do any spray paint projects on the grass, away from the house, then mow over it.

For old chairs, dressers and tables, you can either sand and saturate them with paint, use a very dry brush to give them a worn, antique look, or rub and dab on some diluted color with a damp cloth to see what happens. I wouldn’t do this on anything too precious, but painting a flea market find, or refreshing an outdated piece, is a good way to while away a few hours.


You know those little annoying corners that you and the children bang into, and because the room has been painted so many times it chips off sometimes? Just spot paint them. If you have extra house paint, use that to dab onto the corner nicks, but if not, try mixing some colors from your kids paint box, or go to the craft store and look for a paint color that matches. It doesn’t get much wear, so it doesn’t have to be the exact right type of paint. Layer it, let it dry for a few hours, then add another. Three or four times should be plenty. Use a cotton bud, eye shadow sponge, your finger, or a small art brush. It will wear off again over time, but it will be a good fix for a year or two, and saves repainting the entire room.


This is for old, you-are-sure-the-water-and-the-walls-and-ceiling-have-really-dried-out stains because if you paint while they are still damp, you will lock in the moisture and cause a heap of trouble. Use a stain blocker (in a similar or identical color to the ceiling or wall) and dab it onto the stain. I find that a damp cotton cloth is often easier than a brush, and several light layers are better than one, as you can feather it as you go, and it won’t be as new looking. If it is in a very obvious place, try diluting the paint with a little water (if it is water based) dabbing it on gently, then letting it dry. Leave it for a day, then see what you think. Even softening the look of the stain will make a world of difference.


I have painted all of my light switch covers, and most of my door knobs. The outside door knobs I painted with an antique copper finish, and the light switch covers I paint to match whichever room they are in. It is ridiculously easy, makes your home look a little more personal, and lasts until it wears off – which by my estimation is coming up on twenty five years.

A few DIY Paint Notes:

  • I find that the original spray paints are the best quality, and have more staying power than the new, more specialized finishes.
  • Sometimes, it is easier to spray a bit of paint onto a plastic plate, then paint from that with a small (disposable) brush. If you do this, be prepared, as it dries quickly and is quite sticky.
  • I have had no luck with the paint that is made exclusively for plastics – it chips off at the first sign of use.
  • Rustoleum Chalkboard Paint is always in my closet. I have used it to paint my chandelier (which is brass, and I didn’t even prime it first), the stand of my floor lamp, my walls (several upstairs and downstairs), labels on Mason Jars, my bathroom floor (with a polyurethane over it for durability) and my outside light fixtures and lamp post.
  • Acrylic paint will wash off your hands with soap and water (and dries within a few hours). Oil based and Spray Paint is a lot more difficult to get off your skin (wear gloves) and can take a few days to dry.
  • No matter what google says, sometimes paint is impossible to remove from your clothes, hair and shoes.
  • When painting anything near electricity, turn the power off, cover the outlet or socket with painters tape, and paint carefully with a brush rather than using a spray (which could easily get inside the wiring).
  • If you’re not confident in the beginning, just try a very small, easy fix; the worst that can happen is that it doesn’t work, but the best is that it will.

Wendy E. Wrzos http://wendyandthebluegiraffe.blogspot.com/
Amazing giraffe art from: http://quotesgram.com/giraffe-amazing-quotes/

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Hanging chandelier

I don’t know if there is a fear of electricians out there right now, but there seems to be an increase in overhead lights that can be plugged in, instead of hard-wired to the ceiling. Of course, it is easier than wiring what you already have (and less expensive) and some homes don’t even have ceiling lights to begin with (which I am still not used to, and I don’t quite understand why they build them that way).

But, as much as I am all for quick and easy decorating, I wish these had been designed by real people, and not manufacturer’s grabbing onto a trend, throwing it into a factory, and spitting it out at the public.

Lighting a home isn’t just about being able to see; if it was, then we would all just have cheap lightbulbs hanging everywhere, or a constant supply of flashlights in our pocket. We want it to look good, and, from a design point it should somehow enhance the room, instead of looking like some temporary solution on our to-do list.

I love the idea of making decorating easy, but it is the execution and design of these lights that is wrong. They should come with instructions, and a lot more care, so that they really will look like the picture on the front of the box.
Let’s be honest, every single one I have seen lately is hanging from a wiggly cord, looped across the ceiling, and dangling awkwardly down the wall, like a really bad Andy Warhol exhibit.

So, in my effort to save you from the awful, fancy hanging lights, I have a few suggestions….

– Open the box before you buy it. If the cord is white, wrapped tight, and looks bent, don’t bother.
– If you know an electrician who can add a chain to it, and/or a thinner/clear cord, then go for it.
– Please don’t wrap the cord in fabric, but you can paint it if that makes you feel better.
– Consider where you are going to hang it, and how you will drape/hang/celebrate/disguise the cord.
– If the photograph shows just a chain, and no cord, they are fibbing. It still needs electricity.
– Most of them do look better draped (in a designery kind of way) instead of pulled taut (like a bad facelift).


Wendy E. Wrzos http://wendyandthebluegiraffe.blogspot.com

(Photograph was from Amazon, but now it has disappeared…)

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My sister alters her clothes herself; if a top is too long, she will cut it, if pants are too big, she will adjust them, and if she doesn’t like the buttons, she will sew on new ones. This seems normal to her, but when she first suggested I manipulate a shirt to suit my shape, I was a little scared. I thought you bought them, and wore them. Not being a seamstress, it never occurred to me to change them myself, and a tailor seemed like a luxury that you kept for special occasions.

So, last week, as I painted matte black nail polish over a bright silver buckle on my belt, I realized that what she was doing, what she had taught me, was what I actually do all the time with my work. We tweak it. We work with what we have, and we make it fit (creatively, of course).

It got me thinking about all of the things in our homes that we can tweak ourselves. Not big DIY projects, but small adjustments that make a difference, and make our homes a bit more personal. One of the things I get told quite often, is that clients don’t want their house to look like everyone elses; they cringe when they show me the generic print that came from the wall of a popular retail store, but they bought it because they liked it, and it fit the space. (What they didn’t like was that their neighbors also had the same print, the same size, with the same frame).

As someone who once painted her entire sofa with coffee (to create an antique finish, of course), I thought I would share with you a few easy things that are not as drastic as painting your sofa, but will still make a significant impact to normal (generic) everyday items.

– Knobs, hooks and other hardware: If shiny metal, consider using sandpaper to make them less new, and buff them with dark stain to age them. Try nail polish remover to remove some of the coating, and let them age naturally. If you want metal to look more modern, try high quality colored nail polishes (the colors are far more interesting and varied than metal paint. Plus, the brush is perfect for small surfaces).
For wood hardware, stain, paint, polyurethane or distress, depending on your style. Decide the look you what you want, then make it happen.

– Generic paintings and photographs. Change out the frame with something unexpected. If it is a fancy painting, get a simple frame, and vice versa. Buy an extra large mat (or several in different sizes) and create a big frame around a tiny picture. If it is an inexpensive print, try altering it a little with random paint splatters, a light wash of another color, or a little bit of crackle paint. Be unpredictable.

– Lampshades: Add buttons, felt polka dots, or upholstery trim with a hot glue gun. I have even painted them before, and although it works, it does alter the light that it gives off, so be careful if it is a task light. Have fun with this, and treat it as an inexpensive accessory.

– Appliances: Buy replacement knobs, and drip plans in different colors/metals. than it came with (usually on-line, and very inexpensive). Appliance paint I haven’t used, so will leave that up to you (I know one person who had a terrible time with it, and a few others who had great success with it).

Whatever you do, never assume that what you have is what you have to live with; like clothes, many things can be adjusted to suit you and your style. A generic budget doesn’t have to mean that your home is limited and boring, it just requires a little bit of creativity. But, I wouldn’t advise painting your sofa with coffee – it took ages to dry, I never got rid of the stale coffee smell, and, well, I admit, it was just kind of weird….

Wendy E. Wrzos http://wendyandthebluegiraffe.blogspot.com/ Photograph borrowed from the, always fun to read, Apartment Therapy

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