Find out how to complete the following DIY projects around your home or yard:

Fireplace Mantel: Build a fireplace mantel in your shop from solid wood and medium density fiberboard.

Window Seat: Construct a window seat from solid oak and oak plywood with storage space inside.

Refinish Furniture: Find out how to strip, sand, and refinish old furniture to make it look like new.

Remove Wallpaper: Learn how to strip off that old wallpaper to give your walls a fresh, new look.

Window Covering: Make a window treatment from 1/2″ plywood, upholstery batting, and fabric.

Hang Chandelier: See how to replace your old ceiling fixture with a hanging chandelier, and replace a standard wall switch with a dimmer switch.

Arbor Swing: Create a retreat in your backyard by building an arbor swing complete with sun blocking roof and trellis from pressure treated lumber.

Stepping Stone Path: Lay a simple stepping stone walkway in your backyard.


This week on Today’s Homeowner we’ve got a great collection of projects for you weekend warriors. Everyone wants to improve their home, and most of us do it between Friday and Monday. So we’ve assembled a great weekend DIY project for any set of skills and every area of the house.

When you own a home there will always be projects that you need to do. Now a lot of these projects are things you have to do in order to properly maintain your home. But there’s other projects that are a lot more fun. Those weekend projects that allow you to improve the look of your house or the function of your place, and that’s what we’re focusing on this week. The first one- how to build a nice looking fireplace mantel. Now I’m in the home of a buddy of mine, Scott who’s a fairly avid woodworker and he created this whole fireplace mantel for less than 75 dollars in materials.

What he did was went down to the home center and bought some stock crown molding and some MDF what is a medium density fiberboard, a very commonly used material in cabinetry and mantels and he used it and created the shelf part of the mantel and even put a nice little detail on the front using a router and a nice little router bit. And he also built these little fluted side piece, which actually you can buy these pieces at the home center and then he finished it off with some white base molding at the bottom and several coats of paint to make it look this nice.

Now, if you’re not as confident as Scott is with your woodworking skills, then you can buy an entire fireplace mantel kit either online or from a home center. You need to make sure you measure you measure your fireplace so that you’re getting the right size kit. Then, when you have the kit, a little bit of layout, a little bit of cutting and assembling and stain or paint, it’ll look great. Now Allen has a project that a lot of people are considering these days.

You know the great thing about a window seat is not only are you adding a lot of seating space to the room but you can create additional storage space if you make the top of that window seat a hinged lid which is exactly what we’re going to do today. Now we’ve got almost eight feet to work with here, so we’re going to create a lot of additional storage. Now one of the most important things to consider when you are building a window seat is what the finished look will be. You’ll either want to match the room or compliment it somehow. Now we’ve got an older home here. We’ve got some great paneling back here. It’s beautiful, but we’re never going to match this.

Now, what we can do is very carefully remove the paneling, which means we’ll have to cut on either side of the window, take it and place it on the front wall of our window seat. But to be honest, that’s a lot of work and if you mess it up, then you’re going to create even more work for yourself. So what we’re going to do is compliment the room instead. We’re going to use the same material and finish as an existing oak cabinet on the other side of the room. So our first step is to frame up our window seat. I’m laying out the height of the seat at 21 inches. That’s low enough to be comfortable but deep enough for plenty of storage.

The frame work of the seat is made from 2 by 4s and the front of it is built like a small wall with studs every sixteen inches. The bottom plate is secured to the concrete slab with a powder actuated nailer before the top leg goes on. As the frame comes together, it’s really important that the front and back be level so that you don’t feel like you’re sliding off the seat when it’s down. Once the framing is complete, I can cut my oak plywood for the seat. I’ve recruited some help because I want the grain vertically and pushing plywood through a table saw at this angle is defiantly a two person job.

For the face frame of the top I’m ripping down solid oak to one by twos which I join together with a face frame nailer. Now these little fasteners are fired right into the backside, bridging the seams to hold the pieces together. You can also use long finished nails on the edges for this job. The doors are banded with smaller strips to hide the edge grain of the plywood. Then I putty and sand these joints to give them a finished look. The front and the top are nailed in place along with the trim strip I made to transition to the wall. Finally we’re ready for stain, two coats of polyurethane and the hardware to hold it all together. Not too bad for a weekends work, and it’s a great improvement for the come.

Creating these type of projects can be a bit of a daunting task because it does require a fair amount of carpentry skills, but there’s another project that just requires some basic skills and just a few hand tools but a lot of patience and that’s refinishing furniture. Now it might be a family piece like this sewing machine that’s been completely refinished. Looks great and the homeowners can enjoy the look of it and the fruits of their labor each and every day.

Now, if you’re about to refinish a piece of furniture in your house there are a few things you need to consider to make the project a success. A chemical stripper is the quickest way to remove an old finish but there are a lot of varieties, so make sure you follow the directions carefully. If they leave it on for ten minutes, then leave it on for ten minutes, before you begin scraping. A putty knife with rounded edged is great for this job because it won’t tend to gouge the wood you’re working on. Now you can remove the stripper residue with water or mineral spirits depending on the type of stripper you’ve used.

Now begin sanding with a more coarse gritted paper then work up to a finer grid. The stripper, scraping and solvent will raise the grain of the wood so you’ll want to smooth it back out. It’s messy but if you apply the stain with a rag, you’ll have a little more control. Then, when the stain is dry, you’re ready for several coats of finish sealer to protect the piece.

Most weekend projects start with the simple home repair. In this case we have an outside wall corner that’s been damaged by run ins with the vacuum cleaner and the moving of furniture and also a few hit and run accidents with a tricycle. Now inside this corner is a metal corner bead like this here. And it was installed to protect the two pieces of drywall and to create a nice clean edge along the corner. Now when it gets dented up like this, the only solution is to take a hack saw, cut out the damaged section and put in a brand new piece of corner bead.

After making a cut a few inches above and below the damaged spot, cut along the edge of the metal corner bead with a utility knife before prying it off the wall. Then I can cut a new piece of corner bead the size then nail it in place before applying joint compound to cover the repair. Okay now we’re going to let this try then sand this lightly and then apply one or two thinner coats of joint compound then we’re going to prime it and paint it and in the end you’ll never know the repair was made.

After the break, we’re moving from the workshop to the dining room for some great ways to upgrade your decor.

We’re back looking at a number of very simple weekend projects that you can do at your home to improve the look of your home as well as make it a little more your own. Boy a real common thing to hear from a lot of homeowners is hey I just purchased a house and I don’t have any idea what to do with the wallpaper that I inherited in this home. Well, it’s a common problem and I’ve never seen anybody that purchased a house and walk in and go, “Boy, I love all the wallpaper.” And it also, most people just like to have a painted wall because it’s easier to change from time to time and you tend not to get tired of it as much, and it makes the room feel a little more spacious than a heavily patterned wall paper.

Well, there’s a couple things you can do. One, you can paint right over the wallpaper if it’s really stuck to the wall well and it’s not a vinyl paper. That’s what the homeowners did in this room, and they did a fairly good job, even though you can see a seam here and there if you catch the light just right.

But really, the best way to change a wall papered room to a painted room is to remove the paper. And there are some great solutions out there to just that. I like to mix the solution with warm water in a pump up sprayer, but before I apply it to the wall, I score the paper with a utility knife. Now these horizontal cuts every few inches, will allow the wall paper remover to soak behind the paper as it runs down the wall. Then, after it’s soaked in for several minutes, you can begin peeling back the paper with a dry wall knife. And you want to be real careful not to gouge the drywall, so be real patient.

And it’s not uncommon for the top layer to top layer to come off and leave the back layer on. So just wet it down again and the back layer will peel right off. With a little time, patience and effort, the walls are clean and ready for whatever comes next. What’s next for us is a cool window treatment from Allen and designer Diane Berry.

Okay, if you say so. So listen, if you have priced window treatments lately, you know they can be astronomical. Diane has promised me an easy design. Looks fairly simple. Tell me what we’re going to put up here.

I think the perfect treatment for this room is a cornice. And we’ll use a fabric cover cornice so we’ll actually cover it with fabric and a little bit of trim to give it a dressy look and it’ll pull the room together. We don’t have any privacy issues as far as needing to cover the window and no sun issues, obviously. So this is the perfect room for a cornice.

And you don’t mind if, with this size, this 118 or so inches, so I can put a seam in it.

No problem, you can put a seam because we’ll cover it with fabric.

Okay, alright, now before you go on, you just said that I know I can build this. I can’t cover it with fabric; I can’t make it look good.

If you can build it, I can help you dress it out.

Then let’s do it.


We start with half inch plywood rip it down to 24 inches and connect two pieces with metal mending plates to stretch it to the 118 inch length that we need. Next we lay out the arch Diane wants, and I cut that out with a jigsaw. These sides will hold it off the wall and the header, made from scrap molding, will keep the top rigid. As soon as I bring the frame inside, Diane goes to work in upholstery batting. The fabric is stapled along the back edge of the header, then folded back over to cover the corners before we lay it face down so she can finish attaching the fabric to the back side.

The corners will take a little more care. She also covers the back with plan white fabric so the neighbors can’t tell its homemade. Hot glue secures the decorative fringe along the lower edge and “L” brackets hold this weekend projects along this wall. Now while we admire our work, Danny has another bright idea to improve your home.

Most people are a little scared when it comes to electrical work, but this is about as easy of an electrical project as you can do. Of course the first thing you need to do is to turn the power off at the breaker box, not just the switch. Once the power is off, you can remove the fixture very safely.

Now, the fixture we had here wasn’t necessarily ugly but just kind of inappropriate for a small dining room like this. So we took the globe off and the bowl off and removed the fixture. So like so many times when you’re doing a remodeling project, you find something you didn’t want to find. Well we had no idea that under the fixture that the ceiling would be unfinished. But we’re going to turn it into a positive by installing this ceiling medallion that will make it look even nicer than we had imagined.

A crucial part of assembling a chandelier is to determine the right length to the support chain. The supply wire will be a bit longer. In this case, after we thread on the fixture’s trim ring, we’ll add the ceiling medallion too, before we connect the whole thing to the electrical box with the threaded tube. The electrical connections are made next using wire nuts before the medallion, and then the trim rings, can be pushed up to the ceiling. A lock nut threads on to hold them in place and the chain hook goes on just below that.

The perfect complement to chandelier is a dimmer switch so we’re installing one here while we still have all the power turned off. Be sure to select a dimmer with enough capacity for the fixture you’re installing. The directions on these things, well they’re pretty clear about how to hook them up, but often the challenge is stuffing the device and all the wires back into the electrical box. This is the perfect room for a dimmer. You know, after you’ve had dinner, maybe to turn the lights down a little bit, but there’s other areas in the house that can also benefit by having a dimmer in the room. You know, your bedroom, or your family room, or maybe you have a whirlpool tube in your bathroom and you want to turn the lights down a little bit.

Anyway, you see how easy it is and very inexpensive. Now, so far this week we’ve spent a lot of time inside looking at projects, but next we’ll head outside for some great ideas to improve your home. But first, Emilie has this great Best New Product that’s perfect for the weekend gardener.

You know I love working in my garden, but I hate keeping with all the tools that I need to do different chores around my yard. You too right? But what if you could reduce the number of tools you needed by designing one tool that could do a variety of different jobs. Well that’s exactly the new idea behind the 7 in 1 Planter’s Buddy from Ames True Temper. The curved stainless steel blade is designed to be used the way professional landscapers plant. By stabbing and separating the soil instead of just scooping it out like I do.

The serrated edge is great for opening bags of mulch and soil while the straight blade on the opposite side is perfect for cutting sod. This is a hook style twine cutter, and the notch on the tip of the tool is ideal for prying of weeds by the roots while the butt of the handle can be used to tamp down stakes, markers or landscape spikes. Finally, the whole thing acts like a ruler with one inch increments along its twelve inch lengths.

The planters buddy has a lifetime warranty, and at about 15 dollars, I think it’s a pretty good value for any active gardener.

We haven’t forgotten you outdoor types. When we come back, we’re headed outside.

These weekend we’re looking at a couple of weekend projects. You know, those projects you think about all week long, and then you head down to the home center on Friday and pick up all the materials. And then Saturday you’re all gung-ho and you get out and start working on the project and maybe finish up the loose ends on Sunday. Then, you have that sense of accomplishment that comes along with completing a project in just one weekend.

We’ve been inside looking at a number of projects. Now we’re outside, obviously, looking at a project that kind find you a nice, relaxing place to sit in your backyard and becomes quite a focal point. It’s the sun arbor you see right behind me that I had built in my yard a couple of years ago. Now this one took a little while because we had a lot of cuts in the style of arbor that we were looking for, and it took a little longer than a weekend because of all of the painting involved. We had to do a little sanding, priming, two coats of paint, but if you use weather resistant wood, and you want a more natural look, you can complete something like this in just one weekend.

I built one of these on a much smaller scale for a friend of mine. It was primarily designed to support a garden swing so it really didn’t have to be that large, but it did need to be sturdy, so we built each side with four by fours and two by sixes before we stood them up in the holes where they would rest. The front and back pieces we created from 2 by 12s with little bevels cut on the ends to add a little character. Now I like to put the basic structure together first, and make sure everything is level and plum. Then, you can brace it to stay that way before adding concrete to the post holes. You know, it saves a lot of hassle later by doing it this way.

It’s also very important outside to use fasteners that are galvanized or coated so they won’t rust over time. On top, we used two by sixes with a similar up swept cut, but, truthfully, we didn’t plan too well because toe nailing them in this tight space was a pain. We might have done better to buy some long screws. We also cut down some one by material to create a latter trellis on either side of the arbor. Finally, we added the swing. Then, we added a few vines to climb up the trellis on each side. Again, a nice piece of work for a weekend project.

This arbor is located right beside the swimming pool. Not a bad place, but so many times, homeowners will want their arbors located in let’s say a more remote part of their yard to create that real retreat feel. And what’s really cool is to have an attractive pathway between the house and that retreat. Allen has a great way to solve that problem.

You know, whether your restful retreat is an arbor like Danny just put together or a swing under a tree, one of the simplest ways to create a path is with stepping stones. Now, it is a little bit labor intensive, but once you get past that, it’s pretty easy. Of course, the first thing is just laying out the stones into a comfortable stride. Once that’s done, you’re ready to take out a sharp tool and cut out the sod around your stone, which I’ve already done, right here. Now you’re going to notice a couple of things right off the back. It’s deeper, and it’s wider than the stone.

Two reasons, very important that you do this. First of all, if the stone were too high, that would be a tripping hazard and a great way to ruin a lawn mower blade. But the second reason is that you want a very good base for that stone to sit on. That can be accomplished with something as simple as gravel or even a little bit of sand. You put that in place, you’re going the level that across the ground, and make sure that your stone is level too, as you see right over here.

And then comes the second part: why it’s so much wider. You don’t want that stone moving over time. So once everything is in place, it’s level, tapped down well, you’re going to come back in with some more sand or gravel to keep that in place. Now, I use concrete pavers here, but the good news is, this method can be used whether it’s concrete pavers, natural stone, or brick pavers.

Hey Danny, I’ve always heard if you maintain your water heater it will last longer. What does that mean?

I get that question a lot Allison. You know you can totally ignore a water heater and have no problems or maybe have ten, fifteen or even twenty years. The whole point in maintenance is to prolong it’s life even longer which is a great savings for you, and all it takes is a few simple inspections. Once a month check all the pipes, the valves, and underneath the unit for any signs of a leak. Even a small, slow leak can cause a lot of water damage and decay.

If the heater is a gas model, be sure the vent model is in place and unobstructed. And about once a year, check the pressure relief valve by pulling up or pressing down on the valve handle to be sure that hot water comes out of the overflow pipe. Finally, you should drain a bucket of water from the faucet at the bottom of the tank to remove any sediment in the heater which could corrode the heater and efficiency.

If you lost count, be sure to stay tuned so you don’t miss any of our 8 great weekend projects.

You’ve just seen eight great weekend projects, and these are the kind of projects that are a lot of fun. You can start and finish them in just one weekend. And, you brag about them to your family and friends.

Maybe you want to build a mantel, or just install one from a kit. Build a window seat for relaxation and storage, or just revive an old piece of furniture. For some, getting rid of that old wallpaper or maybe that tired light fixture, will make you a hero, why dressing up a window will do it for others. And who would enjoy a place to relax or a path for an afternoon stroll.

Each one of these projects are very simple and every one of them will add value to your home. Now if we didn’t touch on one that you’re interested in, let us know.

If you have a tiny dated bathroom and a tiny budget to go with it, tune in next week for our budget bathroom makeover.

Editorial Contributors
avatar for Danny Lipford

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,, and Checking In With Chelsea, a décor and lifestyle blog.

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