Ultra Easy Custom Art - No Artistic Talent Required!

by Robin

I've had this fruit-style "art" on display for so much longer than I ever meant to. I found them (including frames) for a steal - $10 each! And when I bought them I meant to do something more interesting with the 'art'. I've never had much love for them.  I put the grouping up on the wall in our dining room as a placeholder, knowing it wouldn't be long until I made them special.

Flash forward fifteen years later - they're still there.  FIFTEEN YEARS!!!

I have no logical explanation for why I left this up on my walls for so long.  I think I just stopped seeing them?  Our current dining room shares space with our front hall - so every single time we come in and out - or welcome guests - this meh "art" is what greets us.  How did I leave this so long??!?!

Today I woke up with a burr in my bonnet (-is that the expression? I'm notorious for messing these things up [- Ed's note: No - it's not an expression]).  I was NOT going to live with this a moment longer.  I've had an idea of what to do with these frames for years - and today was the day I finally got 'er done.

So, I made a trip to my local discount fabric store and roamed the aisles until I found something that spoke to me.  

Using fabric and spraypaint - and no artistic ability - I made some much more interesting art for our walls.  It cost so little - I spent less than $15!  Check out the ultra simple how to here...


How to Make a DIY Faux Brick Wall Look Real

Intro by Robin
Steps by Ed

What a transformation our guest room has had!  Above is a Before shot, clearly.  An adequate space for guests to sleep - but completely uninspiring.  I think it's fair to say it had no character.  

It wouldn't be going too far to say it's more like a "character vacuum" - somehow this bland box sucks character from other spaces and people to make people instantly feel less interesting and life feel less vivid.

OK, yes, that was going a bit far.

The room has come a long long way.  And one of our goals, along with making our guests feel welcome and comfortable, was to add layers of texture and interest to this supremely boring space.  We've achieved a lot through some of our previous projects:

This latest project adds even more texture.  I've long loved the interest and historic feel old brick give to spaces.  I'm fond of painted brick - though I've never gotten up the nerve to paint real brick.   I always have images of needing to strip the paint later - and I've stripped many layers of paint off things and it's AWFUL.

But cheap brick panelling - that's my comfort zone - I could paint that all day!  We found these sheets of textured brick panels at Home Depot, affordable and the texture is really good.  I'm not a fan of the colour - they tried - but it's not perfect.

These brick panels have great texture!

Here's how we made a DIY faux brick wall - using brick veneer panels - and made it look pretty darn real. 


3+ ways to get fit for almost no money

by Ed

For me, fitness has been about two things:

  • First, Low cost - both in terms of time and money and 
  • Second, External Social pressure - to make me actually show up and work out. I am totally fine with letting myself down, but I’m not good at disappointing others, so building that (psychosis) into my routine has helped too.

I’m not here to tell you how to leverage your own personal manias, but I can help with the first part.

Over the last few years, I’ve tried to limit my fitness spending to the cost of a pair of shoes. Here are the tools that have helped me make regular physical fitness part of my life on a budget.


How to Make a Paneled Wood Basement Ceiling on a Budget

Intro by Robin
Steps by Ed

This ceiling! I adore how it turned out and I can't believe how little it cost.  Less than $150 for the whole room!  Whaa!??!  Yes!

We were unhappy with the old ceiling. 14 years ago - in our beginner DIY days - we put up the only easy, affordable ceiling we could think of: cardboard, acoustic ceiling tiles.

This photo doesn't show well enough how awful these looked in person, they sagged in spots and had chipped edges that showed cardboard brown through them.

Now, ceiling tiles are a great, budget option and they served us well for years.  But they have their challenges.  If one gets damaged - which is what happened to us a bunch of times - it's really tough to replace it.  Each one slides into the one before it and is stapled.  Easy install the first time = nearly impossible to fix.

And, they aren't much to look at.  In a strange role reversal, this ceiling tile issue bothered Ed more than me.  They drove him around the bend, while I was merely indifferent.  This almost never happens!  

We priced out a few available options - including some new products geared towards basement ceilings.  We had seriously entertained a product that would have cost us about $1000 for this approximately 100 square foot room.  And the more we researched it, the more we leaned away from it.  My big hang up was that it couldn't be painted.  I don't like limits, especially when it comes to colour.  I LOVE colour and this product would seriously cramp my style.

So we resorted to our old standby for idea generation: wandering through the aisles Home Depot and hoping a solution jumps at us.  It worked! 

We love when we can discover a new product that we didn't know existed - especially when it solves our problem perfectly.  (This is precisely what happened with our $50 bathroom floor a few years ago.)  

Eurkea!  We found a great product that let us make our basement ceiling on a budget - and a wood panelled one at that!  It wasn't that hard and it turned out really well. 


WiFi Weak Spots at Home? Don't upgrade your service! Try these 6 internet boosters.

By Ed

WiFi weak spots are frustrating and common.  Did you know there are some simple things you can do to boost your wifi signal strength without spending much money or hiring someone?  Yes - you can totally DIY your internet range!

For many people, Internet service and Wifi have entered the same category as electricity and plumbing. And while I agree with the 'it's pretty essential now' part, I don't think you need to give it near the respect that people have for flowing current and water.

Simply put, tinkering with your wifi signal won't get you killed or flooded.  It will likely just, you know, boost your signal strength.

With some experimenting, you may find that you can seriously improve signal reception in all parts of your house.

I've even stretched ours to the point where it covers the front porch, back deck, detached shed/workshop and (on a good day) the kid's clubhouse in the far corner of our yard (about 80' from the router).

I've done all of this with a very affordable budget router  - and a few other snazzy add-ons. So before you lose it and call your Service Provider and pay for a better package or upgraded router like an expensive MESH system try some of these things first.


How to Make Vertical Shiplap Paneling (on the cheap!)

Intro by Robin
Steps by Ed

I LOVE a dramatic before and after - you too?  And this room has me smitten.  

Our vision was to create a cozy welcoming guest room that doesn't feel like it's in the basement.  Have we achieved that?

I can't get enough of this before and after!  It was just a dreary, bland box that screamed BASEMENT!  Maybe a step up from sending our guests into a dungeon room filled with hand me downs.  

Instead of saying, "Welcome, friend" it said something more along the lines of, "Don't get too comfortable.  You aren't staying long."

Of course, as always, our second goal was to achieve this transformation on a budget.  This project is a great example of doing more with less.  See that lovely green panelling in the after photo?  That cost us about $25 - including paint!  

If you're curious as to how we made beautiful vertical shiplap paneling on a budget, we've got you covered.  It all started with a leftover material from our wall-to-wall bookcase...

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Ultra Easy Custom Art - No Artistic Talent Required!