In Just A Weekend...

You can take one of these five budget-minded projects start to finish. Come Saturday morning, gather your supplies and get going!


Enlarge Image Bifold closet doors from a home center are transformed into a folding screen with a stencil, paint, and imagination.

As a room divider or an attractive vertical element in a living space, folding screens can't be beat. This one, which is made out of hollow-core bifold doors, imparts serenity to its setting thanks to a soothing color scheme and fresh design.

A simple folding screen can block light, divide space, or just spice up a dull corner. Follow our design, or customize one to fit your space.

Materials
  • Two sets of bifold doors, such as those used for closets (1-1/2Dx18Wx72H), available at hardware stores and home centers
  • Six hinges
  • Screws (for hinges and feet)
  • Wood glue
  • Paint in various colors (we used bright blue, blue-gray, bone, white, and golden yellow)
  • Wax or varnish (optional)
  • Wood furniture feet (optional, from home centers)
Skill Level

You'll need only basic tools to put the screen together. Painting may take a little practice first.

Estimated Cost

$100

Grab Your Gear
  • Stencil brush
  • Clear polyester film, such as Mylar (for stencil), or a ready-made stencil (both available at crafts stores)
  • Scissors or crafts knife
  • Drop cloth
  • Primer
  • Paint roller
  • Cheesecloth
  • Small artist's brush
  • Clean rags
  • Chalk
  • Fine-grit sandpaper
  • Quick-release tape
Get Going

Create your own stencil by sketching your design (we used a leaf motif) on a sheet of clear polyester film and cutting it out within the design's outline with scissors or a crafts knife.

Protect the floor with drop cloth. Begin painting by rolling a coat of latex primer onto doors; let dry. Coat with latex paint in the color of your choice (we used bright blue).

Step 1. "Antique" the screen by scrunching cheesecloth, dipping it into blue-gray paint diluted with water, and dabbing it onto the panels side by side as they'll be hinged. If desired, glue and screw wooden feet to bottoms of doors. Using your stencil, create the design you want with chalk before you begin painting. Nothings permanent, so play with the design until it looks right. Draw in details, such as the stems with chalk, too.

Step 2. Once you're happy with the design, tape and release the stencil as needed to start painting. Dip your stencil brush into paint (we used bone), and dab brush into the stencil, which will impart a variegated, mottled look. (You can paint right on top of the chalk.) Blot off any excess paint immediately because it dries quickly. Paint in details with a small artist's brush, and add some highlights (we used white and golden yellow on our leaves to add interest and warmth). Once the paint is dry, attach the doors with hinges and screws.

Step 3. Lightly sand the folding screen with fine-grit sandpaper to reveal undercoats and bring out a patina. Wipe dust off with a damp cloth. Then seal with wax or varnish, if desired.

Enlarge Image Colorful handsome tiles are interspersed with chunks of black store-bought tile in this kitchen backsplash.

Fancy ceramic tiles can surface your kitchen or bath in style, but they can also put a dent in your pocketbook. Make your own using a few simple materials, then use them in a mosaic. It'll take one weekend to make and fire the tiles and another to install them.

Materials
Enlarge Image You can arrange the tiles in a regular pattern or a free-form shape, as in this kitchen.
  • Earthenware or terra-cotta clay (available at crafts stores)
  • Underglaze in desired color (available at ceramics supply shops)
  • Overglaze in desired colors
  • Mastic
  • Premixed grout
  • Polyurethane or other sealer
Skill Level

You'll need intermediate skills and supplies to make these tiles.

Estimated Cost

$50 (for glaze and clay to make about eight tiles, depending on size)

Grab Your Gear
  • Rolling pin
  • Crafts knife
  • Tracing paper
  • Marking pen
  • Unbleached canvas
  • Paintbrushes
  • Putty knife
  • Hammer
  • Cloth or sponge
  • Latex gloves or old socks (to protect your hands)
Get Going

Step 1. Roll a chunk of clay out like dough on the unbleached canvas to 1/4-inch thickness.

Step 2. Draw your design (we chose a salad bowl, 6 inches wide) on tracing paper with a marking pen. Place template over clay. Cut through the paper and into the clay with a crafts knife to lightly incise details and outline.

Step 3. Remove template and finish cutting the tile outline. Let clay dry fully (two to three days). Take it to a ceramics shop to fire per their instructions (the store may charge a small fee, around 50 cents to $1 per tile).

Step 4. Paint tile with underglaze; fire again. Paint tile with overglaze, fire again. Apply 2-3 coats of sealer to protect the finish; let dry between coats. Now you're ready to adhere the tiles to the wall. We bought ready-made tiles to fill in between the handsome pieces. We covered the black tiles with a towel, then broke them with a hammer into small, irregularly shaped pieces. Determine the placement of each custom tile on the wall (because these will be the focal points).

Step 5. Apply mastic to the back of each tile with a putty knife, press into place. Hold for a few seconds, wiggling tile a little to secure it to the wall. Using the same method, apply the broken black pieces around the homemade tiles to fill in the spaces. Let dry 24 - 48 hours.

Step 6. Following manufacturer's directions, apply grout to the wall with a gloved hand. Push it into the crevices between tiles. Wait 15-30 minutes for grout to set. With a damp cloth or sponge, wipe off the surface of the tiles to remove any grout residue before it dries. Allow grout to cure for a period recommended by the manufacturer, then brush on two or three coats of sealer.

Enlarge Image Basic crafts skills are all you need to personalize a plain roller shade with color and photographs.

The humble window shade beams with personality with the addition of photographs and color. If you'd like, cut out pictures from magazines or find some prints from an old book to jazz up your shade.

Materials
  • Plain roller shade
  • White paper
  • Photographs or pictures
Skill Level

You'll need basic crafts skills to make this shade.

Cost

$25

Grab Your Gear
  • Color photocopier
  • Scissors
  • Felt-tip markers
  • Spray adhesive
  • Mat medium
  • Artist's brush
  • Paint
Get Going

Choose images that you'd like to feature on your shade (we chose photographs of women who inspire us). Photocopy these images onto plain white paper, and cut out with scissors, leaving a narrow border.

Step 1. Color the borders of the pictures with markers, and add other designs, if desired.

Step 3. Brush on mat medium to protect photos. We also painted the bottom strip of the shade bright red. Hang and use the shade following manufacturer's directions. The sun may discolor the images after a while, but you can always copy new ones onto white paper and adhere them to the shade.

Enlarge Image To make this project simpler, choose a bold, geometric shape that's easy to cut out and transfer to the pillow.

A method usually used for printing T-shirts, screening can also transfer a design onto other fabric. Don't worry about a few imperfections--that's the beauty of making it yourself.

Materials
  • Pillow with case made of natural fibers
  • Textile pigment or acrylic fabric paint
Skill Level

You'll need basic crafts skills to print this pillow.

Estimated Cost

$15

Get Going

Wash and dry the pillowcase. Cut kraft paper to the size of the silk screen (not including the frame).

Step 1. Draw your image on kraft paper, and go over it with a marking pen.

Step 2. Cut out the image with a crafts knife on a cutting mat. Remember that the negative space will print, so remove only that part of the image.

Step 3. Tape the stencil to the screen right side down. Lay the screen on the fabric, making sure it's centered.

Step 4. Apply paint to the screen in a line along the top. Swipe the squeegee down the length of the screen to distribute pigment. Remove the screen from the fabric once you've transformed the entire design. Rinse the screen with water immediately after use.

Step 5. Brush fabric with additional paint, if desired. Once pigment is dry, turn the fabric inside out so the two right sides are together. Separate them with a piece of scrap fabric, and press with a warm iron for two to three minutes to set the design.

Enlarge Image Dividing the closet vertically into two unequal sections provides space for both kids' and adults' clothing and jackets.

Get beyond the common closet by dividing the space: adult things on one side and up high, and kid stuff on the other and in easy reach down low.

To do away with closet chaos, divide and conquer with compartments built of melamine panels (composite-wood boards coated with thin plastic film). Cubbyholes at the top and bottom organize the little things, such as gloves, hats, and scarves. And because the bottom row of cubbies does not extend to the back wall of the closet, there is an out-of-sight space for shoes and boots.

Enlarge Image Diagonal dividers help organize small items, such as mittens and caps, that typically get buried in larger storage spaces.

Instead of a wide closet door that obstructs a hallway when open, two slim doors reduce morning traffic jams and are easier for children to open.

Note: If the width of your closet opening is significantly less than the width of your closet, you may want to consider removing the front of your closet and reframing to create a larger opening. Otherwise, upon installing the vertical organizer box, you will waste storage space to one side of the closet. If the wasted space is only a few inches, don't worry about reframing. Besides, the "dead"space can be used to store valuables if you add an inconspicuous access panel.

Skill Level

You'll need basic carpentry skills and tools to complete this project.

Estimated Cost

$200

Materials

Dimensions listed are for the project shown here, which is 36x80 inches (excluding the platform); you may need to modify them to fit your space.

Cut the following from 3/4-inch melamine panels:

  • Two sides (A), 24x55 inches
  • Two pieces (B), 11x24 inches
  • Four pieces (C), 12x37 inches
  • Eight pieces (D), 11x12 inches
  • One piece (E), 6x55 inches
  • Two doors (F), 18x80 inches

Cut the following from 1/4-inch birch plywood:

Cut the following from 1x4 pine stock:

  • Two side casings, 81-1/2 inches long
  • One top casing, 42 inches long
  • Two closet poles (K), 1-1/8x11 inches each
  • Closet pole (L), 1-1/8x23-1/2 inches
  • 1-1/1-inch-wide baseboard molding
  • Two 2x6s
  • 1/2-inch plywood (cut to width and depth of closet)
  • No. 8x1-5/8-inch coarse-threaded drywall screws
  • 1-1/2-inch finishing nails
  • Six institutional overlay hinges, nonmortise hinges, or 1-1/2-inch loose-pin butt hinges
  • Two door pulls
  • Two magnetic catches
  • Iron-on melamine edging
  • Primer
  • Paint
Grab Your Gear
  • Clothes iron
  • Power drill/driver
  • Sawhorses
  • Circular saw with carbide-tip blade
  • C-clamps
  • Straightedge
  • Pencil
  • Tape measure
  • Hammer
  • Level
  • Paintbrush
  • Wood glue
  • Wood shims (optional)

Half of the 50 cubic feet in a typical closet is often unused. Our closet redo uses space more efficiently and puts storage where kids can reach it.

Get Going

Remove existing moldings, including casings, stops, and head and side jambs. Then measure the width of the opening: the children's compartment should be one-third of the total width. Use the same dimension, or one close to it, for the height of the top and bottom cubby boxes.

Carefully plan out all that will be cut from the melamine panels and birch plywood. Secure panels and plywood to sawhorses with clamps, and cut to required sizes with circular saw. Use a 40-tooth or finer carbide-tip blade, and work slowly to avoid chipping the melamine. Finish plywood pieces with primer and paint; let dry.

Step 1. Assemble melamine pieces of the vertical and cubby boxes with glue and drywall screws. Ease assembly by taking glued-up pieces together with finishing nails and driving drywall screws afterward. Drill 3/32-inch pilot holes to prevent splitting the panel edges.

Step 2. Glue and nail plywood backs (G, H). Apply melamine edging (available in rolls) to any unlaminated panel edges by pressing the strips into place using a clothes iron set at the cotton setting. Clamp plywood cubbyhole inserts (J) to sawhorses, and cut 1/4x6-1/2-inch slots as shown; fit together and into center cubbies.

Step 3. Frame a 6-inch-high platform with 2x6s spaced at 16 inches on center and covered with 1/2-inch plywood. Cut a length of baseboard molding and nail it to the platform front.

Step 4. Place the bottom cubby box, allowing the front edge to stick out 3/4 inch. Install vertical and top box in niche; secure units in place with clamps. Install the jamb molding (E) with nails. Use a 2- or 4-foot level to check that framing is plumb. If not, use shims (thin wood wedges) to adjust box alignment. When all units are level and plumb, fasten to framing studs with drywall screws.

Step 5. Fasten the bottom cubby box to the platform with 1-1/2-inch finishing nails. Cut the 1x4 pine stock casing moldings (the frame around the opening) to fit space, and nail in place to frame opening.


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Your Comment:
  • One back (G), 12-1/2x55 inches
  • Two backs (H), 36x12-1/2 inches
  • Four pieces (J), 12x15-1/2 inches

Step 6. Hang doors using hinges. Install closet poles, door pulls, and catches.

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