We’re helping homeowner Michelle Howard tackle some cool interior projects to improve the décor of her home.

DIY Interior Decorating Projects:

    • Custom TV Picture Frame: Build a mitered frame from stock molding and standard lumber with a faux finish to improve the look of a television set.
    • French Door Photo Gallery: Convert an unused french door into a wall-mounted family photo gallery and coat rack.
  • Whitewash Furniture Finish: Apply a homemade, whitewash finish made from latex paint and water to a bedside table.

Further Information

  • DIY Pinterest Projects for Your Home (article/video)
  • Decorating Tips for Your Home (article/video)

Danny Lipford: More and more people every day are getting home improvement project ideas from social media, so stay tuned to Today’s Homeowner to find out how to put those ideas to work.

Michelle Howard: Turned out great, Chelsea. Good job.

Chelsea Lipford Wolf: Good job.

Danny Lipford: Once upon a time, people got their ideas for home improvement projects from magazines and TV shows like ours. But these days, social media sites like Pinterest, Instagram, and others allow people to share their ideas with everyone.

This week, we’re going to help homeowner Michelle Howard turn a few online ideas into real-world improvements. She and her husband, Stuart, built this house about 11 years ago, but improving it has been an ongoing project for Michelle ever since.

Michelle Howard: I love the house, that it’s so large that we get to change things up. We love outdoors. We do outdoor activities, I think, a lot. So I think I’ve just kind of incorporated those outdoor feelings, I guess, into inside. I think I like things that are casual and easy, comfortable.

Stuart Howard: She’s the most creative, and I don’t know why. She just is. I’m always preoccupied with other stuff, I guess.

Michelle Howard: Paying for everything.

Stuart Howard: Yeah. I pay for stuff, she thinks up the ideas.

Michelle Howard: I like to salvage things, you know, to take things that are already in existence and make them into something.

Danny Lipford: And that’s exactly the kind of thing we love to do, so this should be fun.

OK, you’ve been looking around a little bit. I bet you found a lot of different ideas there, huh?

Michelle Howard: I found a ton of ideas. I’m so excited about the ones I found, though.

Danny Lipford: Now, what about the television idea?

Michelle Howard: You know, it was something I never would have thought of, like, too much. But I found this and…

Danny Lipford: Oh, look at that.

Michelle Howard: It really dressed up the TV and, you know, our TV just sort of—it’s just there.

Danny Lipford: I like that. That’s a good one.

Michelle Howard: OK.

Danny Lipford: OK.

Michelle Howard: That’s the one. And then the other one was whitewashing a table. I have a space in there that needs, like, a bedside table.

Danny Lipford: Yeah.

Michelle Howard: And with the colors that I have in there, sort of a neutral palette, I thought whitewashing would really look good.

Danny Lipford: That’s cool.

Michelle Howard: Yeah. So I found several sites online that would have something like that available.

Danny Lipford: Wow, you have been busy.

Michelle Howard: Yeah. The last one, which is going to be the best one…

Danny Lipford: Uh-oh, a door project.

Michelle Howard: A door project.

Danny Lipford: Lots of door projects out.

Michelle Howard: We take and paint the door.

Danny Lipford: Right.

Michelle Howard: And then add photos. And then hooks at the bottom. So I have a great wall upstairs.

Danny Lipford: Oh, really?

Michelle Howard: It’s a long wall. There’s nothing there, and I have a ton of photos that I’ve just never printed.

Danny Lipford: So those are things—you know in the construction business, of course, we call them 15-lite. OK. 15-lite french doors, so do you have 15 photos you want to display?

Michelle Howard: At least.

Danny Lipford: OK, good, good.

Michelle Howard: Probably a lot more than that.

Danny Lipford: So the framed TV project is first on the list, and Allen can’t wait to put his cabinetmaking skills to work.

Allen Lyle: All right, Michelle.

Michelle Howard: Hey!

Allen Lyle: I’m going to get some measurements for you here.

Michelle Howard: All right.

Allen Lyle: All right. Now, you have to be accurate. You have to be very accurate.

Michelle Howard: That may be a problem.

Allen Lyle: All right, 48 and 15/16ths.

Michelle Howard: OK.

Allen Lyle: When’s the last time you operated a chop saw?

Michelle Howard: Uh, I would say never.

Allen Lyle: Oh boy, this is going to be fun. OK.

Michelle Howard: Wow.

Allen Lyle: Very good. The measurement we had, and what was my measurement, Michelle, the long one?

Michelle Howard: That would be 48 and 15/16ths.

Allen Lyle: 48 and 15/16ths. All right, Michelle. This one’s all you.

Michelle Howard: All right. This is kind of fun.

Allen Lyle: All right. Hang on before you do anything.

Michelle Howard: We don’t want to get any fingers.

Allen Lyle: Wouldn’t want to do that. All right, very slowly.

Michelle Howard: All right. You ready?

Allen Lyle: Mm-hmm.

Michelle Howard: Whoo!

Allen Lyle: Very good.

Michelle Howard: All right.

Allen Lyle: That’s our board.

Michelle Howard: So measure twice, cut once?

Allen Lyle:That’s it.

Michelle Howard: That’s what my Daddy always said. Doesn’t sound right.

Allen Lyle: Other than lifting it up at the end.

Michelle Howard: That sounded bad.

Allen Lyle: Let’s see what we got here. It’s pretty good. You did OK.

Michelle Howard: OK. Could use some sandpaper.

Allen Lyle: Yeah, a little bit. Here’s my question for you.

Michelle Howard: OK.

Allen Lyle: When you are looking at this piece, and you’ve got a box, basically, that’s surrounding the television…

Michelle Howard: Right.

Allen Lyle: Do you want to see the frame where you have a little bit of a reveal, so you can actually see part of this wood beyond.

Michelle Howard: Right.

Allen Lyle: Gives it a little character, a little depth.

Michelle Howard: Yeah.

Allen Lyle: Could do it flush. Totally up to you.

Michelle Howard: I think I like character and depth.

Allen Lyle: You like character.

Michelle Howard: Absolutely.

Allen Lyle: That’s why you called me.

Michelle Howard: That’s right.

Allen Lyle: I got it.

Danny Lipford: So Mr. Modesty also gives Michelle a nail gun tutorial while they assemble the frame.

Allen Lyle: That’s it.

Michelle Howard: Just like that.

Danny Lipford: Now, once the frame is complete, they can take the measurements for the trim that surrounds the frame. I need a mark…

Michelle Howard: Like a pencil?

Allen Lyle: At 35 and three-quarters.

Danny Lipford: Then make the cut. And finally put it all together.

Michelle Howard: Think I like this thing.

Allen Lyle: Good.

Michelle Howard: I feel powerful.

Allen Lyle: Right in there.

Michelle Howard: I can target-practice with my deer back there.

Danny Lipford: While these two decide whether to finish up this TV frame or hunt Styrofoam deer with a nail gun, let’s check in with Joe for a Simple Solution.

Joe Truini: One of the challenges of drilling with a cordless drill is how do you know when the bit is perfectly straight so you get a perfectly straight hole?

Well, you may have seen this trick before where you can take any square block of wood—in this case a two-by-four—and you hold it in place. And you put the bit up against it—you align the bit with the block—and now you know you’re perfectly straight. Right?

That’s a great tip, except what about this direction? It doesn’t help you with this direction, only in one direction. So here’s a better idea.

I just took a couple of little pieces of one-by-four. I screwed them together to form this inside angle—that’s what you need, that inside corner. And now, when you put the bit in place—the drill—and you hold this jig up against it, you put the bit right in the corner.

And now, as you can see, it’s being held in both directions—perfectly square—and you just drill your hole.

And if you cut the block the right length, which I did here purposely. And you see I have three-quarters of an inch sticking out, and that’s exactly what I need—a three-quarters-inch deep hole.

And so I can just drill down. And when the chuck hits the top of the jig, your hole is done.

Danny Lipford: This week, we’re helping Michelle Howard complete some great DIY projects that she got ideas for online. She and Allen just completed a decorative frame for the TV in her family room, and now her friend Jennifer, who’s a decorative painter, has dropped by to help her decide on how to finish it off.

Jennifer Vought: The fireplace right now has a lot of motion, a lot of layers on it. And if we do that on the box around the TV, we’re going to have competition between the two.

Michelle Howard: Yeah.

Jennifer Vought: So I feel like we should go with the same tones, more of a muted layers. And we’ll tie that all in so it’ll kind of sink back into the wall.

Danny Lipford: Jennifer has painted several pieces in Michelle’s house, so she has a good handle on what Michelle likes. But she’s a professional, so she also knows what homeowners in general are interested in.

Jennifer Vought: For your average homeowner, this is not a difficult process. It is important to be prepared, to sit back and see what you are trying to achieve, what the colors you want to use. And then you take those in and it’s all layers and steps. So it is important to have somebody to maybe guide you in the beginning.

Danny Lipford: Jennifer is showing Michelle how the colors will work together on a sample.

Jennifer Vought: We’re going to start with your wall color. OK?

Michelle Howard: OK.

Jennifer Vought: So we take a little bit of that and just lightly go over so that you kind of get striated with it.

Michelle Howard: Oh, OK.

Jennifer Vought: It kind of blends in, and what we’re going to do is we’re going to do a couple of passes with it, and then we’re going to let it dry.

Michelle Howard: OK.

Jennifer Vought: This next color that we’re going to do is the main color of your mantel, so we’re going to go, take that, we’re going to dry-brush it on. Little bit thicker this time, but you can see in the pieces that we have the wood still showing. A little bit of your wall color. See, but now, you know, in the beginning, there were two different, you know, color kinds of wood. So right now, they’re coming together.

Michelle Howard: Right.

Jennifer Vought: So we’re going to put those on; and then, once again, we’re going to let this dry.

Michelle Howard: OK.

Jennifer Vought: This is a dark chocolate glaze.

Michelle Howard: Oh, I really like that.

Jennifer Vought: And this is going to make the piece a little warm. What you can do, come back even with the paper towel, smear it in a little bit.

Michelle Howard: Oh, OK. Wow. I really like that.

Jennifer Vought: See, so it’s not as harsh.

Danny Lipford: So while Jennifer gets to work on the finished frame, Michelle and I get started on her next project.

Well, Michelle, I love this idea of using a door to display photos—it’s pretty innovative—but where did you end up with this great-looking door?

Michelle Howard: Well, I looked online on Craigslist, and someone had it leftover from a project.

Danny Lipford: Yeah.

Michelle Howard: Had several doors they were trying to get rid of, and it was a great price.

Danny Lipford: Yeah, perfect.

Michelle Howard: So yeah, it worked out great for me.

Danny Lipford: Works well for this. So I have a drill over there, if you want to go ahead and remove the hinges.

Michelle Howard: OK.

Danny Lipford: And I’ll start on cutting the door off. Now, if you’re faced with a project around your house where you’re having to cut a door off, you need to do a few things to make sure that it doesn’t splinter and really mess up the door.

Whether you’re cutting a door to even up the margins on the top and bottom, like we are. Or you’re having to trim off a door to accommodate that new tile floor you just installed. It’s important to begin with a straight, square line.

But don’t stop with the pencil mark. Use a sharp utility knife and a straight edge to score the surface of the wood. That way, when you run your saw through it, the face of the door won’t splinter.

All right. If you want to grab that little piece of sandpaper. It won’t require much sanding, but you may want to sand it just down that edge just a little bit.

Michelle Howard: All right.

Danny Lipford: And I think, at this point, we pretty much can turn it over to Jennifer. Did you notice the plastic on here?

Michelle Howard: Yeah.

Danny Lipford: That’s going to make it real nice to be able to do all of the painting without doing that. They do a lot of the newer doors that way, so…

Michelle Howard: Well, I’m happy to see that plastic.

Danny Lipford: Looks like you’ve done this before. Wow.

Michelle Howard: Once or twice.

Danny Lipford: Pretty good. All right. Well, I’ll tell you what, I did my part. You and Jennifer can do the painting, and then I’ll help you hang it a little bit later.

Michelle Howard: All right. Thanks, Danny.

Danny Lipford: Bye.

Jodi Marks: You know, I’m thinking of all the projects that I’ve done, and I’m trying to remember, is there a project where I didn’t use a tape measure? I don’t think so, because this is probably the most popular tool in my tool box.

But, you know, not all tape measures are created equal, and let me show you why. I know you can’t see it, but can you hear that? This is a metal tape, but it’s been coated with nylon. What that does is it makes it more durable, it’s not going to crack like my old metal tape measure does. It actually is going to last up to 10 times longer than a typical metal tape.

Another feature on this is, look, if you’re working by yourself and you’ve got metal studs or you’re working with conduit, it’s got dual magnets on the end. So look, it can hold it in place while I go down the line to get my measurement.

But I have to admit that this is probably the best feature of all, in my opinion. You know how when you extend it out and you lock it into place, and then when you release it, nine times out of 10, it snaps back on your finger?

Well, this little bar right here stops that, so when I release it, look, it stops it from smashing your fingers. That right there is worth the price of admission alone.

Danny Lipford: Michelle Howard loves to get home decorating ideas from social media sites. So this week, we’re helping her give some of them life. Right now, we’re converting a 15-lite french door into a wall hanging to display family photos.

Michelle’s friend Jennifer is about to add a unique finish to the project, and I’m curious to find out what it is.

So what did you end up, as far as the finish? Jennifer came up with a great idea to do a red and some glazing.

Jennifer Vought: We’re going to do a red barn wood antique finish.

Danny Lipford: Oh, I see.

Jennifer Vought: So we’re going to do a layer of a spray primer that’s a dark, rustic red. Come over it with a lighter red, and then finish it off with an antique glaze.

Danny Lipford: Wow. Wow.

Jennifer Vought: And then, after that point, we’ll…

Michelle Howard: I’m excited!

Jennifer Vought: We’ll do the edges and distress those, kind of give it…

Danny Lipford: That’s a lot different than the finishes around my camp, you know? Well, I will do a little spackling, and then I will just leave it to you guys to put all that artistic stuff together there.

Michelle Howard: OK. Sounds good.

Jennifer Vought: Sounds good. So what we’re going to do is shake that really well.

Danny Lipford: Their first step is the spray primer. Isn’t there an exercise device that does this?

Jennifer Vought: That’s right.

Michelle Howard: So we’re going to exercise.

Jennifer Vought: This is your exercise. OK. We’re going to put a complete coat to where you do not see the wood at all.

Michelle Howard: All right. Do you want me to go ahead and start on the lites on the inside?

Jennifer Vought: Mm-hmm.

Michelle Howard: That’s fun…ish. Beats brushing for sure, doesn’t it?

Jennifer Vought: Uh-huh. At this point, we’re going to let it dry.

Michelle Howard: OK.

Jennifer Vought: Completely dry before we start our second coat…

Michelle Howard: OK.

Jennifer Vought: …of a dry brush.

Michelle Howard: Sound good. Good deal.

Jennifer Vought: OK. So we’re going to start with this second coat. So we’re going to go one direction.

Michelle Howard: OK.

Jennifer Vought: OK, now, I know you’re probably like, “Whoo, that’s red!”

Michelle Howard: Yes.

Jennifer Vought: But what we’re doing is we’re creating depth. For this job, a sample—sample amount of paint—works just fine because we’re going to be layering.

Michelle Howard: Oh, OK.

Jennifer Vought: OK. We’re ready for coat number three. This…

Michelle Howard: Oh, wow!

Jennifer Vought: …is actually a peat moss color.

Michelle Howard: I was going to say, it looks kind of green.

Jennifer Vought: So what we’re doing here is we’re bringing in…

Michelle Howard: It’s a little bit more warm.

Jennifer Vought: …kind of a little green to it, so it adds a little bit of cool on top of it.

Michelle Howard: Oh. I love it.

Jennifer Vought: And then we will come back and we’ll distress the edges. And what that’s going to do is that’s going to bring that beautiful wood color that is underneath…

Michelle Howard: Right.

Jennifer Vought: …to life on the edges and give, especially these light areas, just make it pop.

Danny Lipford: Hey, look who I found. I found Chelsea wandering around out in the front yard.

Chelsea Lipford Wolf: Hey, there. I didn’t know you were going to go with a red. This looks really good.

Michelle Howard: Thanks! We are very happy with it. We decided to kind of make it kind of rustic with the upstairs.

Chelsea Lipford Wolf: Awesome. I think it’ll look really good with the hooks I picked up, too.

Danny Lipford: You’ve got all the hooks here, let’s me see.

Well, do you have that table that you ordered?

Michelle Howard: I do. Came in today. Ordered it online, and it was in in just a few days.

Danny Lipford: Oh, you’re good at assembling things like that.

Chelsea Lipford Wolf: Yeah, we can put it together and whitewash it.

Danny Lipford: Perfect. Well, you guys tackle that, I’ll put these on. And, Jennifer, what are you going to be doing?

Jennifer Vought: I’m going to scrape the plastic off of each of the lites so that the photos will pop.

Danny Lipford: Perfect. OK. All right, you all get busy.

Chelsea Lipford Wolf: Thanks.

Danny Lipford: So while Jennifer and I get the door ready for those pictures, Chelsea and Michelle wrestle with pages of instructions…

Chelsea Lipford Wolf: Oh, yeah, there you go. Yeah, that’s going to look great.

Danny Lipford: …and a pile of hex-headed screws.

Chelsea Lipford Wolf: These Allen wrenches are tricky. All right, you ready to go whitewash it?

Michelle Howard: Let’s do it.

Chelsea Lipford Wolf: All right, so we’re going to whitewash with some flat latex paint.

Michelle Howard: OK.

Chelsea Lipford Wolf: So, basically, we’re diluting it with some water and then we’re going to rub it on like you would any other stain.

Michelle Howard: All right.

Chelsea Lipford Wolf: So, basically, we’re going to do a half-and-half dilution—so half water, half paint.

Michelle Howard: Oh, that’s a pretty color.

Chelsea Lipford Wolf: It’s a little bit white, little bit gray, little bit pink. All right. It’s about mixed up, so we’ll just take the rags and saturate it really well down in here, and then just rub it on.

Michelle Howard: OK. Do we need to go in the direction of the grain?

Chelsea Lipford Wolf: Right.

Danny Lipford: After the first coat, the wood grain may rise, making the wood seem rough. A little light sanding will fix that. And in no time, these two have a finished piece.

Chelsea Lipford Wolf: Aw, I like it.

Michelle Howard: Oh, I do, too. It turned out great, Chelsea. I like it a lot.

Chelsea Lipford Wolf: Awesome.

Michelle Howard: Good job.

Chelsea Lipford Wolf: Good job.

Michelle Howard: Thanks. No, good job to you.

Danny Lipford: Meanwhile, the door is complete, so Michelle gets Stuart and their son Preston involved with cleaning glass and selecting the photos to mount. But it may be a little difficult to reach a consensus.

Michelle Howard: This one good?

Stuart Howard: No, no.

Michelle Howard: This one?

Preston Howard: I like that one.

Michelle Howard: All right. Everyone happy?

Danny Lipford: Once the photos are mounted, we can move the piece upstairs to the wall where it will hang. For something this heavy, you’ll want to use several long screws, driven into the wall studs before you call it complete.

OK, look, if you’ll just hold that right in the center of that hole for me, we will assume everybody put 16-inch centers on this thing.

Michelle Howard: You know what they say. I’m very happy.

Danny Lipford: Downstairs, Allen has added some felt to the inner edge of the TV frame to keep it from scratching the set, and an elastic strap to secure it to the back. And finally, we’re installing the project that got all this started.

Allen Lyle: There we go. That’s it right there.

Michelle Howard: So am I supposed to be, like, mortified that they’re banging my TV? Is that the expression you were looking for?

Danny Lipford: You will need to get it repaired, but it…

Michelle Howard: The frame looks good. It doesn’t work, but, hey, it looks better than it did before.

Danny Lipford: Oops.

Michelle Howard: OK. Wow, it looks really good. I really like it. Cannot believe how much it added to the—

Danny Lipford: It really does look good. I’ve never done that before.

Michelle Howard: No, that looks so good.

Danny Lipford: A question we often hear from do-it-yourselfers is, “How do I choose the right sandpaper for the project I’m doing?”

The answer is as simple as one, two, three because sandpaper is rated numerically by its grit. The lower the number, the more coarse the sandpaper.

For example, you might have a 60-grit sandpaper on a belt sander to remove lots of wood from the edge of a sticking door. A 100-grit paper would be a good choice to remove old varnish from the face of a door or smooth out a newly constructed piece of woodwork.

When you really want a smooth finish, it’s best to begin with the most coarse paper first and work your way up to the finer grits. So after the varnish is stripped on that door, step up to 150-grit paper, then 220. And between coats of the new finish you’ll be applying, you can use 400-grit sandpaper.

This week, we’ve been helping Michelle Howard take some project ideas she found online from just ideas to great accessories for her home. The TV frame Allen helped her build adds a great look to the family room, especially with that cool faux finish that Jennifer added.

She also used some of her painting tricks on the 15-lite door we converted into a wall hanging for the upstairs hallway. It’s a great way to display family photos, not to mention Preston’s hat collection.

And the easy whitewash finish that Chelsea and Michelle mixed up helps that simple bedside table blend right into the décor of the guestroom.

You know, I really enjoy being with you each week and sharing a few little tips and ideas to help you improve your home. But, boy, when we work with enthusiastic homeowners, like Michelle, that’s as good as it gets.

You know, she’s been thinking about these projects for several months, and we were so happy to be able to take a couple of days and help her complete a few of them.

And if you want some ideas of a few things you can do around your house, well, you know what I’m going to say. Go to TodaysHomeowner.com to pick up some great ideas. A lot of information for you there.

Hey, thanks so much for being with us this week. I’m Danny Lipford. We’ll see you next week, right here on Today’s Homeowner

Michelle Howard: You’re the gum holder, right?

Danny Lipford: No!

Michelle Howard: Oopsie.

Danny Lipford: Close enough.

Camera Operator: And we’re rolling.

Editorial Contributors
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Danny Lipford


Danny Lipford is a home improvement expert and television personality who started his remodeling business, Lipford Construction, at the age of 21 in Mobile, Alabama. He gained national recognition as the host of the nationally syndicated television show, Today's Homeowner with Danny Lipford, which started as a small cable show in Mobile. Danny's expertise in home improvement has also led him to be a contributor to popular magazines and websites and the go-to source for advice on everything related to the home. He has made over 200 national television appearances and served as the home improvement expert for CBS's The Early Show and The Weather Channel for over a decade. Danny is also the founder of 3 Echoes Content Studio, TodaysHomeowner.com, and Checking In With Chelsea, a décor and lifestyle blog.

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