Sunday, January 3, 2010

Small Space Sunday with ERiCA.....

The Non-DIYers Home Survival Kit

-Handy-dandy products and items every household should gather together-

Ok. Not everyone is a “Do It Yourselfer” (DIYer)… not everyone lays their own tile, fixes drywall, sews their own draperies and bedding and makes custom furniture. Heck, some people can’t even hang a framed picture straight! For those of you that may fall into the, uh, later category, you can remove your fix-it guys phone number from your speed dial and know that you too can tackle many home projects all by yourself!

First, do not be afraid!!!! I’m not talking about major installations or roof repair here… just a little paint, glue and simple sewing. Nothing you can really mess up! I mean, sure, maybe you should consult a professional before refinishing a piece of antique priceless furniture, but that’s just common sense! So, let’s create a basic rule of thumb before beginning any project: Google it, TEST IT, and proceed with confidence!

Now for your “At Home, DIY Tool Kit.” These are some items that I use often and would be lost without.

· A staple gun and a pack of refill staples

o Great for reupholstering dining room chairs, ottomans and other simple pieces, giving old furniture new life. This staple gun is $20 at Lowes.

· A mini glue gun and refill glue sticks

o Don’t buy the big macho glue gun… really, the little guy is cheaper and easier to use. This one is from Michael’s crafts and retails for about $8.

· An iron and ironing board

o No, this is not just for pressing your slacks and hopefully everyone already has an iron and ironing board. We’ll get to the other uses soon…

· A small sewing kit complete with a pack of needles, all-purpose thread (at least in white, black and grey), small scissors, a seam ripper, measuring tape, straight pins and if you want to be classically correct, a thimble.

o Don’t be frightened if you can’t sew… for simple fixes like sewing on a button and fixing a falling hem, it’s easy. Thread the needle with about an arm’s length of thread or a little less, tie a knot in the end, begin from the wrong side of the fabric and go in and out, in and out. When finished, tie off in the back and DONE! Of course there are more complete directions out there, so if you need them, Google it! This sewing kit is $10 at Joann’s Fabrics.

· No sew heat bonded hem tape

o This stuff is great for quick no sew hemming… but do test first as it is not great for sheer or very light weight fabrics. Use this to easily mend a fallen hem in your favorite skirt, or to “sew” your own DIY curtains! All you do is first (after you do a test of course), iron in your hem (hence the ironing board above), cut the Stitch Witchery to length ($3 for 13yds at Joann’s Fabrics), follow the heating instructions on the back of the package, and VOILA! Like double sided tape for fabric!

· A basic tool kit with a hammer, nails, both a Phillips and Flat head screwdriver, measuring tape, wrench, needle nose pliers and a utility knife.

o I know, seems obvious, but every home should have a tool kit with AT LEAST these items… and people not afraid to use them! I think out of everything, I use the needle nose pliers the most because they are great for fixing all kinds of things that just get “bent out of place” or you need to grip and crimp something back into place. This tool kit has it all and is $50 at Lowes, a wonderful investment and makes a great gift for any new homeowner or even a college kid!

· Hobby enamel paint, like model car paint and disposable brushes or Q-tips AND/OR Nail polish

o Enamel paints are PERFECT to touching up small scuffs on colored shoes (come on ladies, you know it happens and shoe polish just doesn’t cut it for your fabulous red patent leather pumps!), but also for dings in factory painted household items like picture frames, some furniture and lamps. Go to Michaels or another craft store and in the hobby model building aisle you will find LOTS of little bottles of enamel paint. The awesome part is they are super small, cheap and come in lots of metallic options and various finishes (matte to hi-gloss). Testors makes the best and they are about $2 at Michaels. Nail polish also works, but is typically not as opaque as model car paint.

· Super glue and nail polish remover with Acetone (be careful as Acetone needs to be used with caution, read instructions and do not use near eyes or mouth)

o Super glue is awesome and will stick to almost anything. Super glue is great for repairing costume jewelry and shoes, but is also great for household use… just be careful and use with care. It will bond skin and even if it just gets on one finger, it feels yucky on your skin. That’s why you should keep some nail polish remover with acetone on hand. Check out the Super glue website… there’s a glue for everything!


· Foam/sponge brushes

o For when you need to touch up the wall paint, and just don’t feel like making it a huge ordeal. These brushes retail for $0.25-$1.50, depending on where you get them, size, and if they happen to be on sale. One time, I got 20 brushes for $1 at Michaels! They can be washed and reused a few times, but if you just don’t feel like it, whatever, just toss it when you are done with the touch up. Easy… ok, and lazy too, but “you’re allowed.”

Ok, that’s enough for now. Of course you don’t need to run out right now and get all of these items all at once! These items are really useful and EASY TO USE, and I just wanted to share some of my favorite “tools.” Know they exist and when you think, “Ooh, I’d like to recover these chair seats” or “When did that picture frame get nicked?” you’ll know that YOU can make it or fix it!

I love to fix and make things myself, and I do have a bit of knowledge in my little brain, but even I do research before beginning a project. That’s how you learn! So remember, there are lots of experts out there and some like to share their knowledge on blogs or how-to websites. Google is your friend, use it!

Oh, one last recommendation, for you, the crooked picture hanger out there:

The Black & Decker GeckoGrip Spirit Level helps you hang those frames perfectly and level every time! We have one and it is awesome! Go get it at Target for $20.

Happy fixing and making! You can do it! The more you do, the more confidence you will have, and the more confidence you have, the more (and bigger) you will do. I love it…



PS… Do you have any good tips or products you’d like to share? Comment on this post and let us know how you “make and do!”


  1. Great suggestions! I have only a few of those items. I guess I better look into some of the others. I think the brushes will come in handy for touch-ups or trying out paint colors before buying a gallon...I might be able to pain the bed in the guest room with them? What do you think Erica? How can I paint that bed without moving it out of the room?????? I don't look forward to that! I have some olive/green paint swatches that I think will look good in there. Great suggestion. What if I was to pain the bed the same color as the walls????

  2. I do have a lot of these items and tools. However, i could not learn from my father, but I can from you!!

  3. My wife said my husband has all the tools, but he needs hands-on experience.

  4. Love it!!! I'm gonna start on my kit right away!!!

    Happy New Year!!

  5. Thanks for reading everyone!

    Patti, Yes, as far as I know, the sponge/foam brushes would work well to paint the bed, especially if you are using a hi gloss or enamel gloss paint. You definitely should do it dark brown, as I fear a green of the wall may seemed washed out. Whatever color you choose, a hi gloss will look more finished and professional. But do consult a paint expert at the store about the enamel. That will give you the best look, but it may be an oil based product... which means easy clean-up if you can use the foam brushes! And, I would suggest waiting until spring if you choose to do it in the room, so you can open all the windows to ventilate. Anyway, you know how to find me, we can talk!

    Everyone else, good luck with future projects... start something new and maybe soon we will all be DIYers!

  6. Yesterday we bought Super Glue! A broken vase was fixed and it is impossible to see where the vase was patched! Thanks for the advice! Master Carpenter swears by "iron-on" tape. He has done all his sewing projects with it......works like magic! You do need to have a good steam iron and an ironing board handy.

  7. Thanks for the input Erica. I'll keep that advise in mind. Good thought about waiting till spring..more time to put it off! I better paint the room first anyway. Another question...ideas for over the fireplace mante. We wanted to have a family picture taken and blown up and framed but that may not happen. Any other ideas for the wall area and on top of mantel??? I'll take anyone's ideas too. I'm looking for something a little different than the norm....

  8. Well..............Patti, you do have a very talented Daughter who would be happy to design a fabulous piece just for you!!!
    She will be doing something for our wall over the mantle that will be entirely different than the abstract pieces she has done for us.

  9. True! I may save her for the guest room - a large Erica piece in there would be awesome!

  10. whatever you need, let me know :) A cool sculpture would be cool over the mantle, Patti!

  11. Patti....Guess what? I had an Epiphany!

    Why not put a tall mirror with an arched frame at the top to "mirror" the windows on the mantel. The mirror. It would reflect light into the room and also show off the foyer.

  12. hmmm I think that would be cool! I suppose, when in doubt, consider a mirror!

  13. Thanks for the suggestions...we'll just see what happens.....