Saturday, 16 January 2021

Kelly Strom | Books offer home-project ideas

It seems I wait all winter for the weather to be nice enough to work outside. Besides the hours I spend gardening, I also enjoy making things and upcycling items for the indoors and out. We have many new books at the library with ideas and instructions to create your own masterpiece.

In “Upcycling Outdoors” by Max McMurdo, the reader is treated to 20 beautiful projects for the garden, simply by upcycling things you may already have.

With lovely matte finish color pictures, instructions are given for scavenging materials, items needed for each project and detailed directions for completion. It starts a bit easier with fun planters, then moves on to things like outdoor structures, games and furniture. The expertise level ranges from beginners to upcycling pros, and I found several cool ideas that I’d like to try.

One in particular that seemed easy and cute was a living wall made from old gutter remnants. All that was needed was the gutter pipe, rope and end caps. Fill with soil and your favorite flowers and you are good to go.

Cool Springs Press has published an updated edition of “Kitchen Ideas You Can Use” by Chris Peterson. If you’re looking to modernize your kitchen décor, then this is the book for you. With loads of photos, this is more of a visual presentation of ideas, without a lot of text.

The beginning goes over some popular styles, like contemporary, farmhouse, beachy and modern. With the wide variety here, anyone can find the kitchen of their dreams in this book.

Detailed photographs of countertops, backsplashes, appliances, faucets and light fixtures ensure that nothing is left out.

The back of the book includes a list of resources used in the designs and includes upscale companies, as well as mainstream manufacturers like American Standard and WilsonArt.

Even if you’re not planning a renovation, it’s fun to sit and look through the pics while you dream.

“Handmade Bird, Bee, and Bat Houses” by Michele McKee-Orsini has instructions for making homes for some of the wild critters in your neighborhood and ways to attract even more.

Finished projects are in color photographs, while all of the instructions are accompanied by easy-to-follow illustrations. Some of the designs are practical, with exact measurements needed for the desired bird, but others look to be more decorative.

I have a rabbit problem amongst my gardens, as they are eating everything in sight — even roses! So I’m interested in building the owl house to scare away the little bunnies.

I also would like a better way to attract cardinals in my yard. I fear the crows and squirrels are finding all of the seed I put out for the red birds.

With butterfly and bee restoration in the news a lot lately, you can help out that population of pollinators with some easy-to-build sanctuaries as well.

I get that bats eat icky insects, but I’m a little queasy about inviting them into my yard — with a home! But if you’re more adventurous, there are plans for just the right space for the bats as well.

Better Homes and Gardens has printed a colorful book called “150 Quick & Easy Furniture Projects: Clever Makeovers in a Weekend or Less,” and I can’t wait to get started on these.

All you woodworkers out there — no concerns — I would never paint over an antique or something of quality wood. I prefer finding those mid-level pieces that simply look a little outdated or impractical and re-imagine those.

This book is broken down by rooms in the house, starting with living rooms and ending with outdoor spaces, with lots of ideas in between.

Did you know that you can paint upholstery? It sounds pretty iffy to me, but I have seen this repeatedly in books, on TV and on Pinterest. Apparently, all you need is the right materials. After seeing some of the cute designs, I may be experimenting with that in the near future.

Lest you think all of the designs are farmhouse style, a la “Fixer Upper,” I can promise that we see more modern and traditional ideas as well. I’d like to try the yardstick table and maybe the leather-look chest.

Lastly, “Wood Pallet Wonders: 20 Stunning DIY Storage & Décor Designs Made From Reclaimed Pallets” by Samantha Hartman is full of ideas for using those old wooden pallets that businesses will often give away.

Options include tables, nightstands, bar carts, planters and even a big farmhouse clock like you see on all the DIY shows. I liked the vintage looking medicine cabinet and the chevron coffee table.

With these five books, and loads more available here at the library, you should have a long list of ideas to try out this summer and fall. I know I do.

Kelly Strom is the collection manager at the Champaign Public Library. She orders books, ebooks, magazines, newspapers, audiobooks and CDs.


« »