Beat the Summer Heat in an Rental

Living in a rented home or apartment limits your options when it comes to increasing the insulation value in your home. You can’t rip out our walls and install more insulation and replace windows and doors with new more efficient models. Even if you own your home, many of us don’t have the financial resources to do a major overhaul on the insulations in our homes. Fortunately, there are several great options to reducing the heat entering your home (or keeping the heat in in the winter). These are great options that can help lessen the burden on your thermostat and save money on the cost of heating and cooling in a rental or on a budget.

When insulating your rental home on a budget, there are a variety of solutions to improve including sealing windows and using sun blocking curtains. Even after implementing these options there was still one room in the back of our home that just wasn’t staying cool so we decided to take slightly more drastic steps to cool things down! By ordering a handful of supplies and spending an afternoon working on it, we were able to easily install a faux wall on in our daughters room to lock out more heat! Not only did this work noticeably well, but we also created an accent wall in her room that she loves.

The supplies for this project were pretty minimal. I decided to get a wood-grain, white wallpaper to keep the room bright while also adding some texture. My girls love all things unicorn so I also bought some oversized wall stickers. These added some magic to the room while also helping conceal some small bubbles of air I missed when installing the wall paper. Lastly there is the pink, 2″ foam boards which most home improvement stores carry. The 1″ boards may be cheaper, but they are less effective!

One of the things I love about the foam is that the height of the foam is 8 feet which is a standard height of a wall. This means that if you have carpet, you can push the walls into place and the fit is snug enough to hold the panels in place. If you don’t have a carpet or the fit is not snug, some double sided tape between the wall and the foam should hold everything in place. The last board was a little to wide so I used my table saw to cut it to width. Since it is foam, an exacto knife should work relatively well if you don’t have a table saw.

Once we had the foam cut to width and in place along the wall, my husband and I cut the wall paper in strips the length of the wall and mapped out where we would put each piece.


This wallpaper is waterproof which increases the effectiveness of the insulation and seal. Putting up teh wallpaper takes two people and it works best if you work slowly in 3″ segments to prevent bubbles and wrinkles.

After the wallpaper was up, we added the stickers. Not only did this turn out cute, but also our daughter’s room is much cooler!

The hardest part of this project was the self-adhesive wallpaper. If you try to get it on too fast, it is easy to get bubbles of air trapped between the wall and the wallpaper. We also found that having the wall paper perfectly level was critical to making sure that we didn’t have gaps or too much overlap..

What tips and tricks have you used to beat the heat and keep cool in the summer?

Easy Rustic Plank Table Top

Osborne Wood Products, Inc. has just released a table top kit so you can make your own top at home. Not only does this give you uber bragging rights, but the cost of shipping a kit is so much lower than if you buy a premade top that needs to ship freight.

The planks have a dowel and pocket hole joint that was super-easy to assemble. I’m making a small table for 2 people (or maybe a desk) but Osborne will be offering kits to seat up to 8 people!

Check it out here.

Nic Nac Shelf Kit (part 2)

If you were following along in Part One of the Nick-Nack Shelf Kit, your shelf is assembled and ready to paint. There are several ways you can finish this shelf to give it a unique look. A few ideas are:

  • Use a stencil to paint your family name in the center of the shelf
  • Attach picture frames or clips to hold family pictures
  • Install some hooks/knobs to make this nick-nack shelf double as a coat rack so that keys, coats and purses can be collected at the front door!

Because I’m using the mission corbel shelf, I chose some matching mission-style cabinet pulls from Osborne to use as hooks and tie the look together.

While the paint is drying on your shelf, prepare your wall to hang the shelf. The keyhole brackets on the back of the shelf are spaced 16″ apart, which is a standard distance between studs in many houses. If you want the most secure installation, installing directly into a stud is ideal, but it isn’t always the most practical if the studs aren’t where you want the shelf. Fortunately this shelf kit comes with self-drilling drywall anchors so you don’t have to be limited by your stud locations. Make two marks on the wall where you need to install your hardware.

Use a level to make sure that the dots are level so that the shelf will hang straight. When I was doing this project I couldn’t find my level, so I turned my shelf upside down and used my measure app on my iPhone as a level. Then I drew a line to connect my two dots to make sure they were level, using the shelf as a straight edge.

Once you have double checked that the locations of the marks for the screws are where you want them, use your drill to screw the anchor into the wall. The anchor will drill the hole in your drywall without needing a hole pre-drilled!

Once the anchors are in, take the last two screws and install them into the drywall anchor but don’t tighten. You want the head of the screw protruding enough to get the shelf on but tight enough that the shelf is snug up against the wall.

The last step is to line the keyholes up over the screws. You should be able to give the shelf a little downward push to get the screw heads set into the keyholes.

The last step is to take a picture of your shelf and share it!

 What kind of corbel style did you choose?

Nick-Nack Shelf Kit

(Assembling the Shelf)

Whether you are a mom or you are looking for the perfect gift for your mom, this shelf kit is the perfect Mother’s Day Project. The back and top board are a paint grade maple and there are three paint-grade corbel options to choose from. All you need is a power screwdriver or drill, a measuring tape, and some creative ideas on how to put the finishing touches together.

The corbels have keyholes on the back side for attaching to the wall, but we don’t need them for this build. The first step is going to be to remove this hardware from the back of the corbels.

Use your power drill or a screwdriver to remove the phillips head screws that are holding the metal brackets on. Since these aren’t needed for this project, put them in your stash of hardware for another project!

Shelf Kit Backboard Reference

The backboard for the kit comes with pocket holes predrilled to attach to the top of the shelf as well as predrilled holes for screwing into the corbels. You will also see the keyhole brackets that can be used to attach the shelf to the the wall when completed.

Attach top and back boards with the Smaller Screws

Attach the backboard to the shelf top by placing the top on a flat stable surface, then setting the backboard on the top edge of the top and centering it. If you have wood clamps, it is easier to attach if you can clamp the boards to the work surface, but no worries if not. You can hold the board in place while you tighten the screw. (Use the 1″ grey screws)

With the shelf still upside down on your workstation, add the corbels on the ends. There is a little room to decide how close to the ends you want it, but make sure that the predrilled holes are at least 1/2″ inside the outside edge of the corbel on either side. (Use the 1.25″ black screws)

Now your project is ready to paint!

Super Simple Upholstered Bench (Part Two)

  • 3/4″ Sanded Plywood cut to length and width
  • Fabric (a heavier material will have a longer life)
  • Multi-Purpose Project Foam 1″
  • Quilt Batting
  • Oversized Buttons
  • Upholstery Needle
  • Staple Gun and Staples
  • 10 x 1″ Phillips Flat Head Wood Screws

In Part One of this project, we covered the steps to order and assemble a table base kit as well as sanding and painting the base. In Part Two we will outline assembling the upholstered top and attaching to the top.

The plywood top for the bench should be cut to length and width. Most home improvement stores (such as Home Depot) will cut the plywood for you for a small fee if you don’t have a table saw. Otherwise, use your table saw to cut the plywood to length, then mark the desired location for the buttons. Use a measuring tape to ensure that each mark is evenly spaced and uniform, then drill a 1/8″ hole where you placed each mark.

Unroll the foam over the plywood and trim it to size. (If scissors aren’t doing the trick, try an exacto knife.) I used two layers of the 1″ foam for extra padding which made installing the buttons a little more challenging. Then unroll the quilting batting material on top of the foam and flip everything over to staple the batting under the bench top.

Pay attention to the folds on the corners, neatly tucking the batting then stapling it in place. This will keep everything smooth and clean cut.

Once the batting is stapled on all sides, lay the fabric along the long edge of the bench and staple a straight line done the length. Staple slightly farther in on the fabric than you did on the batting so that the staples don’t overlap. Then flip the bench over as shown to wrap the fabric around the top of the bench and back under on the other side. Staple the length of the other side then trim the excess fabric.

On the ends of the bench, pay special attention to the folds for the corner. You may want to add several staples as you pull sections tight and fold the end over and in. Once everything is neatly folded, tucked and stapled, trim off any excess fabric.

The last step is to combine the top and the bottom of the bench. Simply place the top upside down on a clean surface and set the bench frame on top of it. Screwing through fabric can be tricky if you don’t place sufficient pressure on the power drill while you tighten the screw. If possible, have someone help hold the frame in place centered on the upholstered top while you place a screw in each of the pocket holes of the base and drive it into the bench top. Use #10 x 1″ Phillips Flat Head Wood Screws, and be careful not to over tighten the screw. Tighten the screws snug at each corner of the bench then install the remaining screws.

Super Simple Upholstered Bench (Part One)

Building the base for the bench

If you have a farmhouse style table for your family, you might want a bench to squeeze the little ones onto. An upholstered bench adds a little more cushioning and color!

Woodworkers with beginner to intermediate skills may not be up to the task of making mortise and tenon joints to connect the apron to the legs of the bench. While a Kreg jig can be used to create pocket holes to screw the apron and legs together, the pocket holes alone, or even with glue are less than half as strong as a mortise and tenon joint.

A pre-cut bench base kit is just the thing! Osborne Wood Products offers a bench base kit with most of their bench legs. The kit comes with bench legs, apron boards, corner braces and hardware to assemble the kit. The mortise and tenon joints give maximum strength which makes these kits a piece that can become a family heirloom. And the best part is they will make it any size you want!

Items Needed for the base

  • Osborne Bench Base Kit
  • Wood Glue
  • Wood Clamps
  • Electric Screwdriver
  • Q-Tips or a small paint brush
  • Primer
  • Paint
  • Sandpaper

First, measure your table to find the perfect bench size. Ideally the bench will be shorter than the inside distance of the table legs.

Then jot down the length and width for your bench. A standard width is 14″. Benches are typically about 18″-19″ tall. This will be a smidge taller with the cushion, but it will still work nicely.

Once you have established the length and width you want the bench to be, you are ready to pick out bench legs to complement your table and order your bench base kit. Osborne Wood Products frequently ships orders the same day so depending on where you are (in relation to Georgia) you could get your kit as soon as the following day or in about a week if you are on the west coast.

I didn’t want my bench to have any overhang. The website base kit tool requires you to enter an amount for overhang, but Osborne Wood’s customer service can help get your kit set up if you want to skip the overhang.

Osborne Wood Products has a great video on assembling their base kits which you can see here:

Dry fitting everything first is important. Just assemble all the pieces like a jigsaw puzzle to make sure the joints fit. You may need a rubber mallet to snug the pieces in. Then disassemble to glue the joints.

Once you have everything put together and the glue has dried, check for any glue drips and sand them off if you have any. Check everything over for any spots that aren’t smooth and sand them before painting.

Before painting the color of your choice, use a quality primer. Follow the instructions on the can of primer application and pay attention to the dry time. If you are finishing the bench base outside, cool temperatures can increase the time to dry.

Check the base for any paint drips and sand them smooth once the base has dried before adding a second coat of paint. Make sure to paint all the exposed wood to ensure a good seal on the wood. This will help ensure a long life to the bench!