Tag Archives: DIY

5 Mailbox Ideas to Try Before Holiday Cards Arrive

By: Brenna Malmberg, Houzz Editorial Staff

Communications come in many forms, such as text and email, but physical mail still has its place, and so does your mailbox. Here are 5 ways to update this “in-box” before holiday cards — and guests — arrive this year.


1. Liven up the entry. A lime mailbox paired with a colorful doormat brightens up this entry, but a mailbox could be done in any color of the rainbow.

“Pick a color that you love!” says Ami McKay, the owner of and lead designer at Pure Design. “We always ask our clients what colors they are most drawn to and find creative ways to implement them into the design.”

This client fearlessly loved color, so McKay saw this as an opportunity to add bold hues to the dark and neutral exterior, and have fun with outdoor accessories.


2. Coordinate with the front door. A mailbox that matches the front door can lead guests from the curb right up to the house.


3. Match the hardware. The similar materials used for the mailbox, doorbell and front door hardware keep the small details of this entry consistent, creating a unified design that lets guests focus on the bright yellow door.


4. Let letters fall into the house. A slim mail slot allows the mail to fall right inside the front door. Large packages go in the lockbox to the right of the door.


5. Put it on the fence. You can save the mail carrier a trip to the front door and make getting the mail a bit of exercise for yourself by adding your mailbox to a fence. It’s also a great way to maintain privacy and security up near the house.

Your turn: What does your mailbox look like? Tell us about it and post a photo in the comments!

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Make a Sophisticated Natural Wreath for Fall and Winter

By: Annie Thornton, Houzz Editorial Staff

Each of us decorates differently around the holidays, but a homemade wreath hung on the front door is a welcoming vision to all in fall and winter. Rhiannon Smith from San Francisco’s Farmgirl Flowers shows us how to make a holiday wreath using year-round favorites such as rosemary and olive foliage, along with the seasonal flourish of bittersweet berries.


Follow her instructions to create the wreath pictured here, or choose foliage cuttings from a local florist or your own backyard for a completely custom look.

Plant Materials

Foliage sprigs cut 4 to 5 inches long, such as (from left):

  • Seeded eucalyptus
  • Olive
  • Rosemary
  • Silver bell eucalyptus
  • Bittersweet, or other winter berries

You can use many kinds of foliage for your wreath, or keep it simple with just a few. The wreath Smith demonstrates here is made from olive, rosemary and Oriental bittersweet. (In areas where the Oriental variety is invasive, American bittersweet is a good substitute. Both species are toxic.)


Other Materials and Tools

  • Pruning shears
  • Floral stem wire cut 4 to 5 inches long
  • Wire cutters
  • Wire wreath frame (8-inch frame shown here)
  • 22-gauge paddle wire

1. Cluster together five or six sprigs. Try to keep them somewhat uniform and their cut edges aligned. ​Smith puts olive and rosemary at the back, and a couple of bittersweet pieces toward the front for visibility in the wreath.


2. Wrap a piece of floral stem wire a little more than halfway down the sprigs to form a bundle. Wrap as tightly as possible and secure the wire end.

3. Make 10 to 20 bundles, depending on the wreath’s size. Use the same foliage combination for each, or vary the the materials. Here, the bittersweet is in only half the bundles. Smith suggests assembling all the bundles before you start wiring them to the frame. This will help you achieve a more uniform look.


4. Place the first bundle on the frame and wrap the paddle wire three times around the bottom of the bundle and the wreath frame as tightly as you can to keep it in place. Do not cut the wire.

5. Put the second bundle on top of the first so that its loose leaves conceal the paddle wire and wreath frame beneath. Wrap the wire around the bundle and frame three times. Continue adding bundles (and leaving the paddle wire uncut), varying them if you made different kinds. As you work your way around the circle, make sure none of the paddle wire or frame is visible.

6. Tuck the ends of the last bundle under the loose leaves of the first.


7. Wrap the paddle wire around the foliage and frame a few extra times, then cut it with a wire cutter. Tuck the loose end into the greens to hide it.

Add a bow or ribbon, or just hang the wreath from the wire frame.

Your wreath will stay fresh for about a week, but it will slowly dry and last one to two months or more as a dried decoration.


Experiment with different foliage combinations. Here, Smith used olive and silver bell eucalyptus. Try other foliage types that may be more available where you live, including bay, pine or oak.

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Low-Boo Halloween Decor for the Little Ones

By: Mary Jo Bowling, Houzz Contributor 

Interior designer Kristi Will spends most of her time creating high-end, luxury interiors. But for clients with small children, she turns her mind from custom furniture to decorating pumpkins at Halloween time. “It started last year,” she says. “Because the kids are young, the family wanted me to help them find something that was Halloween but wasn’t superscary.” That first year she decked the halls with what she calls “happy monsters.”

This year while visiting the family, Will noted the youngest child’s affinity for Sesame Street’s Elmo and, with that in mind, designed a new Halloween look that thrills more than it chills.


The large picture windows on her clients’ home make the perfect frame for spooky decor, and last year Will dressed them with friendly monster silhouettes she designed and cut from foam core.

But after spending hours holding an X-Acto knife, Will decided to take an easier Halloween route this year. She created a friendly ghost, a gentle “boo” and a nonthreatening, lantern-bearing witch silhouette, then sent them to Dezign With a Z, a company that makes vinyl wall and window decals. The window decor was installed in an afternoon.

She used the same technique for the not-so-warm welcome on the front steps, although the sweet dog at the top of the stairs seems poised to wag his tail rather than bare his teeth.


But once the young residents get closer to the entry, something more treat than trick awaits them. “The children love Sesame Street, and when I was visiting them, they were playing an Elmo song featuring Colbie Caillat called “Belly Breathe.” It’s about having a monster inside that is calmed with deep breaths.”

The idea stuck in Will’s head and, tapping into the skills she had honed while volunteering as an art teacher in her own kids’ school, she created pumpkins in the likenesses of the residents of one of America’s most puppet-populated neighborhoods.


On the step are some of the best-known characters: Elmo, Bert, Ernie, Count von Count and Oscar. Flying above the Count are numbered bat silhouettes. “The kids are just learning to count, so we thought it would be fun,” says Will. She used a Cricut, an electronic craft cutter, to make the bats and the numbers. “They are wonderful machines,” Will says. “They are a great tool for parents.” Also key to the installation is Uhu putty. “It keeps the bats on the stucco, but it doesn’t damage the house when it comes off,” says Will.

For the pumpkins she used the novel technique of shaping the features from Crayola’s Model Magic, a clay that hardens when exposed to air. She shaped the features, let them dry, painted them with acrylic paint and attached them to the pumpkins with a hot-glue gun.

“Making the eyes, noses and mouths with the clay gives them an extra dimension they wouldn’t have if they were just painted on,” she says. “This way they look more like actual Muppets — who, of course, also have their features glued on.”

For Oscar, Will glazed the pumpkin with a light green glaze and shredded some fabric samples she had in the studio for his hair and eyebrows. (Bert and Ernie have manes crafted from a costume wig.)

Of course, Oscar is at home in a garbage can. “Elevating the pumpkins is key to the look,” she says. “We also purchased dark gray crates of various sizes and used them as pedestals. We draped a black tablecloth from Target around them to finish it off.”


In addition to ease of installation, the decals are great because they can be enjoyed from the street and inside the playroom.

“The business of interior design can be 90 percent paperwork and 10 percent creative work,” says Will. “This small project was the opposite: 90 percent of the job was creativity. It wasn’t in any way typical for me, but it was fun.”

The bonus was witnessing the youngest members of the family see the finished project for the first time. According to Will, their faces lit up like jack-o’-lanterns.

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Smart Solutions for Nonexistent Entryways

By: Laura Gaskill, Houzz Contributor

If you live in a home without an entryway in the traditional sense (that is, a nice, wide hall or an open foyer), I can feel your pain. Perhaps someday I will be lucky enough to have a formal entry with room for a full-size table, lamps, benches and all the works, but for now I must make do with what I have: a door that opens onto a sliver of wall, smack in the middle of my living room/dining room/office. Thankfully, smart solutions do exist for remedying a number of entryway challenges — so whether you have a very narrow hall or no hall at all, there are ways to make your space work efficiently and beautifully. Let’s get started.

MAK Design + Build Inc.

Dilemma: An Open Entryway

This is such a common scenario, especially in smaller homes: The front door opens directly into the main living space, with no defined foyer or hall. In this situation the challenge is creating a transition from outside to inside without breaking the flow of the rest of the space.

One smart solution is to use a console table behind a sofa positioned near the entry door. This creates the enclosed feeling of a hall and provides a place for mail, keys and bags.

If you prefer to keep the space open, try setting up a wall-mounted system near the door instead. A mirror hung above a floating cabinet is a foolproof combination. Having a few drawers is great for keeping messy piles of paper and other odds and ends out of sight.

Jennifer Grey Interiors

Another sleek and efficient option is to hang a row of hooks on the wall and place a boot tray on the floor below. If your space is small, don’t worry about not being able to accommodate tons of guests’ coats — those can go in another room (or on a rented rolling coatrack). A few hooks for daily use is all you really need. A market basket on one of the hooks can hold odds and ends.

If you have children, two rows of hooks are wonderful for corralling everyone’s gear. Having child-height pegs or hooks helps little ones gain independence, as they can reach to put their own coat away.

Dilemma: An Extremely Narrow Hall

With an entryway this narrow, a table (or even floating shelf) is out of the question. Use what little floor space is available to wrangle umbrellas in a chic holder, and attach a few small hooks to the wall to hold keys.

Photo credit: Ricci Shryock
Design details: In a tiny hall, you can use the surfaces to bring in color and pattern. Here, the patterned tile floor, pendant light and glossy black door paint dress up the space, and even the narrow radiator cover is used to hold a vase of flowers.

If your hall is a smidgen wider than the space above, you may have room for a full-length mirror or chalkboard propped against the wall. And if a full-width console table is too wide, look for a half table that attaches to the wall. If you are handy, you could even attempt your own DIY version with a wooden table.

Moroso Construction

Dilemma: The Door Opens Onto a Stairway

Many older homes have a formal entrance that opens directly onto the stairway, with no real space for a table. In this case you may want to redirect to a wider spot in the next room with a full table. Otherwise it’s time to put every little sliver of wall space to work.

If the stairs are very close by and you have little wall to work with, consider installing a wall bracket or a few decorative hooks on the stairway wall to hold essentials.

Barbara Egan - Reportage Photography

A wall-mounted coat tree is a smart idea for those with a bit more space beside the door — it adds personality and performs a necessary task, yet hardly takes up any space at all.

Tell us: What has been the biggest challenge in designing your entryway?

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Could the Inside of Your Front Door Use a New Color?

By: Janell Beals, Houzz Contributor

Painting the exterior of a home’s front door a distinctive color is one of the fastest ways to add character and enhance curb appeal. But too often that’s where the color stops, resulting in a missed opportunity to carry the improvement into the entry by painting the other side of the door as well. If this is the case at your home, consider extending the exterior door color inside — or select another hue that both coordinates with the exterior while setting the design tone for the entry.

Here’s an entry that’s simply bursting with happy personality, thanks in large part to the color of the door. Just imagine if the door was white — much of the impact and charm would be lost.

Built by Highland Custom Homes

Source: Built by Highland Custom Homes

When deciding where to stop the color, there’s no right answer. Paint just the door, the door and sidelights, or go all out and paint the door, sidelights and trim. Such is the case here, with Benjamin Moore’s Midnight Blue making a dramatic statement in this entry.

Massucco Warner Miller Interior Design

Source: Massucco Warner Miller Interior Design

Red is another top choice: From apple red to the brighter shade of ripe tomato here, it’s a color that brings a sense of excitement and energy.

Ramona d'Viola - ilumus photography

Source: Ramona d’Viola – ilumus photography

Here, Al Green by C2 Paint, a sophisticated yet edgy muted lime, stands out among the pale gray walls and white trim.

Feldman Architecture, Inc.

Source: Feldman Architecture, Inc.

Is there a favorite color you’d like to see enhancing the inside of your front door? Painting a door is a fairly simple one-day or weekend DIY job, depending on experience level. Here are the supplies and steps to get you on your way to a more colorful entry:

(Note: The steps will vary slightly depending on the door material and any previous paint, varnish or stain used on the door.)

Step 1. Begin by gathering your supplies: medium- and fine-grit sandpaper, tack cloth, painters tape, brush, adhesion primer and semigloss paint.
Step 2. Lightly sand the door to remove the top layer of varnish, paint or stain and give the surface a “tooth” for the primer to adhere to. Start with medium-grit sandpaper and finish with fine-grit; wipe clean with tack cloth.
Step 3. Tape the door edges and any hardware, leaving only the surfaces to be painted exposed.
Step 4. Paint a layer of primer. Consider KILZ Adhesion Primer, designed to bond to a variety of tough-to-paint surfaces.
Step 5. Let the primer dry, then very lightly sand with fine-grit sandpaper.
Step 6. Wipe clean with tack cloth.
Step 7. Apply the first coat of paint. This may be enough in many cases, or, depending on the color used, a second coat may be required for optimal results. If so, repeat steps 5 and 6, followed by the second coat.

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A Warm Welcome: Forget decking the halls—it’s fall! Prep for all the fun of the season by adding creative décor to your entry doors.

Ahhh. The cooler days are finally upon us. With the leaves falling and Thanksgiving on the way, we felt compelled to give our Masonite doors a little lift. So we talked to Atlanta-based designer Gay Pennell Payne for a number of tips. Through her company, DIY Decorating Plan, Payne teaches clients to add fun and attractive touches to their homes—and how to do it themselves. Much of that, of course, comes down to doors. Payne proclaims she’s “a door person.” As she tells it: “I love doors. I love French doors. I love unique doors. On my Pinterest page, I actually have a section called “Door Love,” because doors, to me, are the introduction to your home. They say so much about you and your personality. Whenever I see a really cool door, I always think that there must be a really cool person living inside that house, because they’ve taken the time to think about the first impression they’re showing to the world.” We couldn’t agree more.

We know that entry doors sell the home, and decorating that door is a tremendous part of that first impression. One of the biggest trends Payne is seeing at the moment is the showing of team spirit—especially in gung-ho college towns. “From hound’s tooth hats for Crimson Tide to hanging pendants that show school spirit, sports memorabilia is everywhere.” Burlap is big, too, she adds. This inexpensive fabric works wonderfully outdoors, because it wears well in all weather and comes in a range of vibrant colors. Browns and oranges are big for autumn and, as Payne explains crafty folks are using it to create shapes like footballs or pumpkins to adhere to their front doors as adorable ornaments.

Crisp autumn days invite a host of new decorating inspirations. Fall foliage is a given—think leaves, grape vines, pumpkins, mums, autumn wreaths, corn husks and corn cobs. But as Payne points out, you can venture far beyond that. “There’s a big trend happening right now, and it’s all about returning to our roots and the industrial age,” she notes, offering a couple suggestions for jumping on that bandwagon: Hang garden tools on the door to tribute a time of harvest. Fill a Mason jar with natural elements gathered in the yard, and place an electric tea light inside to set the scheme aglow. Your neighbors will be dazzled. If you’re out of ideas, just visit the art store. Grab a glue gun to take home, and you’ll be surprised by all you can accomplish. One example Payne loves? Little banners spanning your entryway that spell out family surnames or phrases such as “Happy Fall or Happy Autumn.”