Just another weekend? Not if you take advantage with one or more of these 5 great projects you can easily pull off for under $300.
Most of the cost of these DIY weekend projects is in the materials. The labor — that’s you — is free. All you need now are the hours. But, hey, you’ve got two full days — plenty of time to be a superhero weekend warrior and grab some R&R.
Project #1: Add a garden arbor entry.
The setup: Install an eye-catching portal to your garden with a freestanding arbor. It’ll look great at the end of a garden path or framing a grassy area between planting beds.
Specs and cost: Garden arbors can be priced up to thousands of dollars, but you can find nice-looking kits in redwood, cedar, and vinyl at your local home improvement or garden center for $200-$300. Typical sizes are about 7 feet high and 3-4 feet wide. You’ll have to assemble the kit yourself.
Tools: Screwdriver; cordless drill/driver; hammer; tape measure. Kits come pre-cut and pre-drilled for easy assembly, and usually include screws. If fasteners aren’t included, check the materials list before you leave the store.
Time: 3-5 hours
Project #2: Install a window awning.
The setup: Summer is super, but too much sunlight from south- and west-facing windows can heat up your interiors and make your AC work overtime. Beat that heat and save energy by using an awning to stop harsh sunlight before it enters your house.
Specs and cost: Residential awnings come in many sizes and colors. Some are plastic or aluminum, but most are made with weatherproof fabrics. They’re engineered for wind resistance, and some are retractable. A 4-foot-wide awning with a 2.5-foot projection is $150-$250.
Tools: Cordless drill/driver; adjustable wrench; tape measure; level. You can install an awning on any siding surface, but you’ll need a hammer drill to drill holes in brick. To prevent leaks, fill any drilled holes with silicone sealant before you install screws and bolts.
Time: 3-4 hours
Project # 3: Screen off your air conditioner from view.
The setup: Air conditioning is great, but air conditioner condensers are ugly. Up your curb appeal quotient by hiding your AC condenser or heat pump unit with a simple screen.
Specs and costs: An AC screen is typically 3-sided, about 40 inches high, and freestanding — you’ll want to be able to move it easily when it comes time to service your HVAC. For about $100, you can make a screen yourself using weather-resistant cedar or pressure-treated wood to build 3 frames, and filling each frame with plastic or pressure-treated lattice.
Or, buy pre-made fencing panels. A 38-by-38-inch plastic fencing panel is about $50.
Tools: Hammer; saw; cordless drill/driver; measuring tape; galvanized wood screws.
Time: Build it yourself in 4-6 hours. Install pre-made fencing in 1-2 hours.
Project # 4: Add garage storage.
The setup: Shopping for garage storage solutions is definitely a kid-in-the-candy-store experience. There are so many cool shelves, hooks, and hangers available that you’ll need to prioritize your needs. Take stock of long-handled landscape tools, bikes, paint supplies, ladders, and odd ducks, such as that kayak. Measure your available space so you’ll have a rough idea of where everything goes.
Specs and cost: Set your under-$300 budget, grab a cart, and get shopping. Many storage systems are made to be hung on drywall, but hooks and heavy items should be fastened directly to studs. Use a stud finder ($20) to locate solid framing.
If your garage is unfinished, add strips of wood horizontally across studs so you’ll have something to fasten your storage goodies to. An 8-foot-long 2-by-4 is about $2.50.
Tools: Cordless drill/driver; hammer; level; measuring tape; screws and nails.
Time: This is a simple project, but not a fast one. Figure 6-10 hours to get everything where you want it, plus shopping. But, oh the fun in putting everything in its place!
Project #5: Edging your garden.
The setup: Edging is a great way to define your planting beds, corral garden mulch, and to separate your lawn from your garden or patio.
Specs and cost: Wood and metal edging looks like tiny fencing; they’re 4-6 inches high. Some include spikes that hold the edging in position; other types must be partially buried. Cost is $1-$5 per foot.
Plastic edging can be molded and colored to mimic brick, wood, and stone. About $20 for 10 feet.
Concrete edging blocks are smooth, or textured to resemble stone. $15-$25 for 10 feet.
Real stone edging is installed flush with the surrounding grade in a shallow trench on a bed of sand, so digging is required. Stone is sold by the ton and prices vary by region. You’ll need about one-third of a ton of flagstone to make an 8-inch-wide edging 50 feet long, costing $150-$200.
Tools: Shovel; wheelbarrow; tin snips (for cutting plastic edging); work gloves.
Time: Pre-made edging will take 2-3 hours for 50 feet; stone will take 6-10 hours.
"Overall, market conditions continue to remain favorable for a sustained and healthy real estate market in Greater Atlanta. Median Sales Price and Total Home Sales continue to hover at recent highs and inventory continues to rise," said Atlanta Board of Realtors President Todd Emerson, "While sales for June initially reflected a decrease in sales year over year, the updated information based on additional reported closings now reflects a slight increase over 2013. We fully expect similar results to be reported for July of this year as well."
Additionally, Todd Emerson stated, "Another positive indicator is the number of homes for sale continues to rise, primarily due to a continuation of Seller confidence. This trend also benefits Buyers in the marketplace as it presents more purchase options. The Month's Supply of available Inventory is now at 4.4 months and is moving closer to what is traditionally known as a Balanced Market."
Coca-Cola’s brand has remained strong through the years, but soft drink magnate Asa Candler’s former Inman Park mansion gradually lost its fizz. Its roof, rotting columns and cracked tile on its two-story portico were tarnishing the look of the historic home.
A national search for materials and craftsman to replicate original molding and ornamental details, often by hand, were essential in the painstaking restoration of Callan Castle, which completed construction in 1904 and is on the National Register of Historic Places.
It took Candler two years to build the red brick home in Atlanta’s first suburb.
“Inman Park was really a sign of the growth of Atlanta and prosperity,” says Judy Mozen, president of Roswell-based Handcrafted Homes, Inc., which completed a year-long restoration of the mansion in 2011. “When people would create a suburb and put lots of money in beautiful houses, it meant ‘We’re staying, we’re established and we believe in Atlanta.’”
But as Inman Park, like other intown neighborhoods, went through a decline in the following decades, even landmarks like Callan Castle began to deteriorate.The damage was overwhelming. Some of the 100-year-old ornamental cornices and corbels disintegrated in Mozen’s hands as she tried to remove them from the home in order to reproduce every original detail. The columns also were sinking, threatening the Greek Revival-style portico.
Mysteries popped up during the restoration, notably with the roof. Mozen discovered it was metal, but since the original design was not available, she undertook an extensive search to find someone to make the tiles. Three brothers, using an old government press outside of Chicago, created 4,240 pieces of galvanized steel tiles.
Some of the bricks were so soft and fragile that water leaked into the interior walls, requiring Handcrafted to repair the bricks with a special mortar mix and process. Layer after layer of moldings needed to be reproduced to curve around the veranda, while ornamental pieces in a motif similar to ribbons-and-bows were handmade out of rosin.
The biggest disaster was the porch’s black-and-white tile, which was uneven and had been filled in with concrete, creating an unsafe and unstable entryway. Mozen’s team first tried a slightly larger porcelain tile that horrified them because it looked like the floor of a fast-food restaurant, not a historic home.
Taking a cue from an old Coke slogan, Mozen says she and the homeowner agreed: “We’ve got to find the real thing.” It took three months before they identified a small Arkansas company that could replicate the porcelain tile, snowflakes and Greek key border.
“I loved the idea of restoring the home to its original look,” Mozen says. “It’s a centerpiece of Atlanta architecture.”
You’ve finally purchased your dream house in that trendy zip code you’ve been coveting for the past decade. However, in order to comfortably ease into the good life, your new home is going to have to be dressed for success with some must-have luxury amenities. Here are 10 things that will make the neighbors green with envy.
1. Nothing says luxury like antique furniture. However, unless you’ve inherited a 19th century settee or a set of winged-back chairs, you’re going to be rummaging through expensive antique stores in search of the right furnishings. Furthermore, an antique couch might look luxurious but sitting on it might prove to be unbearable. You can find classic and comfortable pieces at Baker Furniture.
2. An indoor kitchen is a necessity, but an outdoor kitchen in a luxury. If you want to impress with your culinary skills, outfit your patio with a Viking outdoor kitchen.
3. Is there anything more luxurious than a teak deck? How about a built-in hot tub on that deck? Calderas Spas and Hydropool Industries are the elite brands in hot-tub design.
4. There’s no point spending money on a health club membership when you can use one of the extra rooms in your home as a personal gym. A stationary bike, treadmill, rowing machine and weights should be enough to kick-start your exercise routine. A personal trainer is optional.
5. Nothing says luxury like hardwood floors. Whether you replace the kitchen linoleum with gleaming hardwood, or gut the living room carpet in favor of wide planks and a light, sun-kissed shade, hardwood floors are the way to go.
6. You don’t have to live in Florida or California to enjoy the benefits of an outdoor pool. This classic amenity will never go out of style.
7. Stainless steel appliances are must-haves. From a commercial stove and a Sub-Zero refrigerator to a microwave that doubles as a second oven, the right appliances can make or break a kitchen.
8. Speaking of refrigerators. You’re going to want to keep those bottles of Chardonnay chilled. Set aside some kitchen space for an Electrolux Icon Designer Series wine fridge.
9. Whether you know some local artists or just want to support the arts, adorning the rooms with artisan décor is an ideal way to exhibit your personal taste.
10. Landscaping is essential. Remember those green with envy neighbors? What are they going to say when they see your Zen-style garden and Koi pond? From bamboo fencing to a stone and rock walkway, you want a landscape that is as dignified and well designed as your house.