By July 1, 2015

Stay-Cool Weekend Upgrades



By In&Out Staff — If beating the heat with an escape to cooler terrain isn’t an option, why not stay in and make your house cooler? We’re not talking about bumping down the thermostat, we mean making your humble abode a more comfortable place to hole up in during days when the mercury soars.

Take note of something you’d love to change, and decide if the project is within your DIY reach. Some projects are best performed while you are on the couch and the handyman wields the tools. (Check out In&Out classifieds here for a list of helpful handy folks.)

We’ll rev your creativity with six of our favorite projects that can easily be tackled in a day or a weekend.


  1. Recessed Runway Tired of all those can lights dotting your ceiling? Break-up the monotony and add some decorative flair by swapping out the cans for decorative pendants above the kitchen island, the sink or breakfast bar.

Pendants will bring the light down to where you need it, and allow you to customize the glow based on the style of shade (fabric, art glass, metal with reflective liner, or plain Edison bulb). You adjust the height and choose the style.

The good news: Recessed light conversion kits can be had at most hardware stores for around $15. The process involves removing the light bulb from the socket and attaching a threaded base with an electrical cord into the socket in place of the bulb. The cover plate of the pendant will cover the old recessed lighting hole. Lowe’s has a pretty good selection of pendants you can then attach.

Some manufacturers have made the conversion as simple as changing a bulb by combining the conversion kit and the pendant in one.  Unscrew the bulb, screw in the new pendant.



Plate-Glass After


Plate-Glass After

  1. Makeover Your Mirror That plate-glass, builder-installed bathroom mirror is unremarkable, and many opt to replace it. But, there is something to be said for a huge mirror. It gives a better view and makes the room feel spacious. So, rather than hassle with removing the glass, retexturing the wall and painting behind it, why not just add a decorative frame?

If the mirror is secured with clips, you can remove the mirror, frame it and hang it back up. More than likely, the mirror is attached with adhesive. Don’t worry, you can frame it directly on the wall.

Measure the mirror, head to your local home improvement store and pick out the decorative trim or molding of your choice. You’ll need a mitre box to cut the 45-angles for the corners. If that scares you, avoid it by adding rosettes at each corner for interest. Or, ask your local hardware clerk to make the cuts for you.

Paint all sides of the molding—including the back as it will be reflected back once installed— and let dry thoroughly before framing. Position the molding first using blue painters tape and a dry erase marker. Start with the bottom molding and attach using a two-part epoxy as this will be durable, heat- and moisture-resistant. Do the sides next, then the top. creates custom frame kits based on measurements you provide. They come in a dazzling array of styles and are placed on top of your existing mounted mirror.


  1. Hide Your Trash Sleek and uncluttered is in. So hide that trash can in one of your kitchen base cabinets. Surely, you have one cabinet that is full of junk you never use. Get rid of that junk
  2. and install a sliding trash container. Buy a kit for $60–$100. You can buy the kind that has two cans so you can have one for trash and one for recycling, but the cans are smaller. The unit is simple to install requiring a drill for pilot holes and a screwdriver. While you’re at it, splurge for the door mounting kit so you can open the cabinet and pull out the trash can in one simple motion.



  1. Make a False Drawer Functional You know those fake drawers in the sink cabinets? They look like drawers, but they don’t budge. It’s actually pretty simple to turn them into tilt trays to hold your sponges in the kitchen or your nail brush, cotton balls, hair ties or other small items in the bathroom. Head to your hardware store for a tilt-out tray kit, which includes the hinges and tray to make the drawer functional. The false front on the cabinet just pops out with a good push from the inside. Remove the existing hardware and replace with the tilt-out hinges. You might want to use pulls instead of knobs to make the tilt-tray easier to open.


  1. Color your Kitchen Painted cabinets are all the rage and provide a whole new look for relatively little money. Choose a simple or bold color that plays up the counters. Some are opting to go light and bright, while others prefer dark greys or black. Many are mixing colors choosing a light color for the upper cabinets and a dark color on the base cabs or a punch of color on the island. A coat of primer will go along way toward making your paint job last. This more ambitious project can be completed in a weekend if two or more of you pitch in. Before you tackle this one, see [“Stroke the Oak,” In&Out, Feb. 12, 2015].

Begin by removing existing hardware and cleaning all surfaces. Depending on the type of wood (oak is especially grainy, so fill any holes and cracks with paintable filler and give it a light sand with 150-grit sandpaper. Vacuum and wipe down with a tack cloth.)  Next, prime the cabinets using an acrylic brush. Go over the surface lightly with 220-grit sandpaper then vacuum and wipe with a tack cloth again before applying the finish coat. Apply at two coats of high-quality acrylic paint.

When the paint is completely dry, add pulls and knobs to finish the new look and keep the greasy fingerprints at bay.


  1. Aaaah, Black-out It’s hotter than blazes and your AC is running continuously. Nothing to do in the heat but watch TV or work on the computer and the glare coming in from the slider is annoying. Wait… Do you still have those horrible vertical blinds on your slider? Toss those clackety things during the next bulk pick-up and install a curtain rod for some elegant looking blackout for that slider. It will darken your room nicely, reduce the heat and glare, and put an end to the broken, noisy, swinging vertical blinds.

Measure your slider for the rod and the panels. You’ll want to hang the rod higher and wider than the door (higher to make your door look luxuriously tall, wider to accommodate the open drapes when you want to expose the full window), so be sure to add some inches to your measurement. The width of the panels should be at least 1.5 times the width of your window so it still has folds when fully closed.

The simple solution is to buy curtains with black-out liner sewn right in. Or, buy the black-out liner to use with your chosen drapes. For more control over your room light, use a double rod and put the blackout panel on its own rod.

Pocket panels are a little harder to operate, so consider tab-panel or grommet style, or buy additional hooks or rings and clips. For a more formal look, opt for pleats. IKEA has a one style of black-out curtains in grey—notable because they come in a harder-to-find 98-inch length. If you don’t need extra long, try Kohl’s, Pottery Barn or Bed Bath & Beyond for a better selection.
You’ll need some spackle and touch-up paint to repair any holes where your old window covering was hung. You’ll also need a drill to install anchors to hold the rod. Determine the height of your bracket by the length of your panels plus added clips, if any. (Measure twice!)


Posted in: Home & Garden
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