Archive for the 'Home' Category

lamp dimmers.

Using a dimmer on floor or table lamps gives you a lot of control – if you’re watching a movie, you can just have enough of a glow to reach for your drink without it glaring off your screen. If reading in bed, it keeps the light concentrated on your side instead of interrupting your partner. They can save energy and lengthen the life of your bulb if it’s not always fully illuminated. And everyone looks better in that candle-like glow, anyway.

Ikea has dimmers in both black and white – I’ve got a few of these scattered around my house.

Rona has information on the different wall dimmers for ceiling lights – it’s a simple project even though it deals with electricity, and won’t cost more than $15 per switch.

If you learn better through videos, here’s one teaching you how to install a wall dimmer switch. It’s detailed, too.


painter’s dropcloth.

I don’t know where my mom came up with the idea, but a few years ago she made tab curtains for her living room out of painter’s dropcloth. Thick, heavy, cream-coloured canvas hanging from black iron rods with finials. They reached the floor, and with the weight of the fabric, looked quite professional. The colour of the fabric let in a warm, filtered glow of light during the day, but was thick enough to give privacy even at night.

They looked similar to this, but cream-coloured and touching the floor.

Painter’s dropcloth is dirt cheap compared to canvas at the fabric store, and especially compared to ready-made or custom-made curtains. There is a bit more nubbiness to the fabric than fabric store canvas, but it makes for nice ‘texture’. I usually find it at places like Home Depot in various sizes.

For a 6′ wide window like mine, it would be $20 for enough dropcloth to make two floor-length curtains (to meet in the middle). It’d be about another $15 for a decent-looking curtain rod.  You just have to be willing to put in a bit of time to sew the curtains. If you were feeling really adventurous, fabric dye would cost about another $5-10, depending on how saturated you want your colour (be sure to wash the fabric before dying to avoid uneven colour distribution). I do most of my dying the easy way in the washing machine. RIT dye has instructions in the box.

I’ve also used dropcloth to recover a futon mattress and to make an apron. The weight of the canvas works far better and looks much nicer than quilting cottons (or worse, a bedsheet draped over the futon). Canvas tote bags are classic and durable. Dropcloth would make a casual tablecloth (think outdoor dinners in the summer) or sunshades for your deck, diffusing the intensity of the light instead of putting you in the shade. It’s naturally water-repelling, but to prevent mildew I’d use a petroleum-based (not silicone) waterproofing sealant for any outdoor uses.

Canvas is the perfect summer fabric, so get going on all your projects before it’s over!

black walnut trivet.


and here, for Canadians.

hospital corners.

Hospital corners always looked nice, but I never really bothered to learn how to make them. Other than for appearances, it didn’t seem to matter that much, and how many people really see your bed regularly?

I’ve found out that they really are ideal, though. If you have wide enough sheets, you can tuck them in on the sides and have the sheet nice and tight across your feet (if you like that sort of thing). If you leave the sides untucked, you have a ton of foot space to toss and turn in, while still keeping it looking neat for days on end. For whatever reason, the sheet stays tucked in place a lot longer than it ever used to.

Plus, I no longer have to heft my mattress up to stuff the sheet underneath – I suppose this is why they tuck their corners like this in hospitals where a patient often remains on the bed throughout sheet changes. I know, I’m a genius.

Here’s how:

Lay your flat sheet centered on your bed, with the top as far up as you prefer it with the remaining edges hanging over.

Tuck in only the bottom end of the sheet, straight across with no bunching.

Lifting the side of the sheet up, wrap the corners of the sheet around the side of the bed.

Tuck the piece you lifted under the mattress. If you leave it untucked, you’ll have a lot of freedom for your feet and the edges will hang down smoothly and neatly.

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