Your 2014 Calendar

Your 2014 Calendar

Welcome to the UK Oak Doors' month-by-month plan designed to help you transform your home in just 12 months; whether you're a DIY novice or a renovation veteran.

Use the links below to skip to a particular month, or get the downloadable, printable PDF version here.


2014 Home Improvement Calendar




























We all begin the year with the very best intentions; stop eating junk food, exercise more, sort the house out, clean for five minutes a day rather than rushing madly to cram everything in to a cupboard before your parents arrive. The list goes on.

However, as life begin to catch back up with us it becomes more and more difficult to keep on top of the promises you made to yourself. What you really need is someone to organise all of this for you and keep you on the straight and narrow.

If you’ve been meaning to sort your house out this year, whether it’s just sprucing up the garden, finishing off that little bit of painting you’ve been meaning to do for months, or finally clearing out your clutter, this month-by-month DIY calendar will make sure you get all of your household maintenance done on time and right first time.

Each month, you’ll find a list of tasks that need completing along with a list of tools that are required and simple step-by-step instructions. Before you know it, it’ll be December and your house will look as good as new. With all of those niggling DIY project and tasks safely behind you, you can look forwards to a stress-free year.

So, what are you waiting for? Get started now!

Happy DIY-ing…


January“Start the year by being a sponge. Look for ideas everywhere, but take the time to live with your home, room, furniture and work out what you really need. Then you can seek out the perfect additions gradually, building up your rooms so they work for you.”

Torie Wilkinson at Klaus and Heidi


January is traditionally the time of year when people go on a house-cleaning spree, throwing away old and unwanted possessions, taking down decorations, and giving their homes a thorough cleaning. Sadly, for many people this enthusiasm for cleaning and decorating doesn’t last long, and by February any New Year’s resolutions are forgotten. This year, why not take your spring-clean to the next level and start the year the way you mean to go on by preparing yourself for a year of successful DIY.

January Is A Month Of Planning

Resist the temptation to try to start tackling all of your indoor jobs in January. If you rush in to doing lots of jobs right away, there’s a good chance you’ll burn out and get sick of spending your weekends surrounded by screwdrivers and paintbrushes. Instead of rushing to get jobs done in January, let yourself relax after the festive season, and ease into the year’s projects by spending your time off doing some research.

Make a list of all of the jobs that you want to get done this year (including tasks such as re-turfing the garden or fixing the roof, even though those jobs will have to wait until the warmer months). Try to find out which jobs you can tackle yourself, and which you will need to pay a professional to do for you.

Using this list, put together an annual budget for your DIY projects, and work out how much you’ll need to set aside each month to afford all of the jobs you’ll be doing throughout the year. If it helps you to divide your finances strictly, you may want to consider opening a second bank account or instant access savings account online so that your DIY funds aren’t sitting there in your main bank account - easy to access for impulse spending!

If any of the jobs on your to-do list require planning permission, call your local authority and find out how long the application process takes. Make sure that you start the application process early to ensure that you have a nice time buffer to work with in case there are delays or problems with your paperwork.

Practical Shopping In The Sales

The January sales can be a great time to pick up cheap tools and consumables. While everyone else is rushing to the clothes, gifts and electronics aisles, take this opportunity to head on over to the DIY section. You may find cheap gardening tools, paint brushes, rollers, trays, and other handy items.

That sort of shopping might not be as exciting as shopping for a new TV in the sales, but you could save a fortune. You can always pick up some shiny new electronics later in the year, when new models have been released and you’ve finished your renovation work.

Spring Cleaning

Your DIY projects will go much more smoothly if you have time to work. It’s a good idea to try to find some time for de-cluttering and spring-cleaning. If you have a lot of clutter to sort through, consider trying the Fly Lady approach - break down the cleaning into lots of small tasks, doing a few minutes each day rather than trying to clean an entire room in one go. Once you have tackled a room, make a point of trying to keep it uncluttered. It’s easier to tidy up after yourself each evening than it is to clean up a week’s worth of mess in one


January“When you buy a new build you miss out on the chance to fully make a house a home. When you renovate a house from scratch it becomes a part of you, especially after all the building work, and you then get to research colours and fabrics and the overall interior design of a room which is mega fun!”

Katie at Sunflower Teeth


By February, life is returning to normal for most people, and the enthusiasm felt for those New Year’s resolutions set in January are starting to fade. However, if January went according to plan for you, then you should be in a good position to start tackling common DIY tasks.

February is a good time to start working on interior DIY jobs. Hopefully, your home should be fairly clutter free at the moment, so a good starting point is replacing your interior doors.

Choosing Doors That Suit Your Home

Choosing the right design for your interior doors it can really make a big difference to how your home looks. You should try to pick a door colour or design that complements the rest of the room’s decor, or contrasts with it in a striking manner.

For example a bright door that complements the other, perhaps softer, colours used in the rest of the room. Alternatively, a bold design would work well in a themed room.

In addition to thinking about colours and patterns, spare a thought for the material of the door too. If your room does not get a lot of natural light, you may want to use a glass paned door to make the room feel brighter and more open. However, if you will have a desk opposite the door, you’ll probably want a solid door so that you don’t have to worry about glare on your computer screen (or in your eyes) while you are working.

Fitting Doors - A Step By Step Guide

Fitting doors can be more challenging than you might think, especially if you live in an older home. Doors come in a range of standardized sizes; if your interior doorways match the most common sizes you can just walk in to a shop, order a door, have it delivered, and hang it easily.

If your home was built before the current standard sizes became fashionable, then you may have difficulty sourcing the right size of door. To find out what size you need, you should measure the height, width, and depth of the door. Note the measurements in both inches and centimetres (to save you having to worry about unit conversion while you’re in the store).

If you can’t find doors that match your home’s door frames brand new, you may want to try buying period doors from a place that specializes in reclaimed fixtures and fittings.

Once you’ve bought a door, you need to figure out where the hinges go, and where the latch will sit. This should be obvious on a solid door, but can be more difficult to figure out on a hollow core door. Most door manufacturers will print some markings on hollow core doors to help you locate important areas, for example:

  • LB = Lock Block
  • T = Top
  • H = Hinge

The exact markings may differ for each manufacturer.

Before you try to hang the door properly, try putting it into the door frame as-is. This will highlight any problems with the fit. If the door is too tall or too wide, you can plane it down to fit. Work slowly and methodically - it’s better to find you’ve removed too little and need to spend a bit more time planing than it is to chop too much off in your first attempt and end up with a door that’s too short.

You should aim to have a 2mm gap between the door and the frame on the left and right hand sides, and a 6mm gap at the bottom of the door. The 2mm gap is important to give the door freedom to rotate.

If you’re replacing an old door, you probably already have a spot chiselled out for the hinges on the door frame. Carefully measure the position of the hinges, and mark out spots for them on the door. Drill a pilot hole and then secure one screw for the top hinge, and then one for the bottom, to ensure that the door still hangs correctly. Once those two screws are done and if you’re happy with the fit you can repeat the process for the rest of the screws.


march“I love swapping out décor items to transition through seasons. After a cold and dark winter I’m itching to introduce uplifting pops of color throughout our home. Energetic hues of fuchsia, citron and coral are some of my favorites. And statements do not need to be big and bold. Adding some colorful frames, vases, pillows or even fresh flowers can help to signify spring’s arrival.”

Gabbi at Retro Ranch Renovation


By March, the weather should be improving, and you’re probably wishing that you could spend some time outside. This month is a great time to start working on your garden, and you can show off your green fingers (and prepare for a chance to show off your cooking skills) by starting a small vegetable garden

Even if you have limited space in your yard, there are a few things that you should be able to grow at home:

Vegetables For The Garden

If you’re lucky enough to have a decent-sized garden, then there are several vegetables that you can grow at home. This month is a good time to plant the following vegetables:

  • Beetroot
  • Leeks
  • Lettuce
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Radish
  • Parsnips
  • Early Turnips

If you have a greenhouse then you can add tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers to that list.

Take the time to put together a gardening calendar so that you know which plants will need looked after and when! If you plan your crops well you can have something growing almost year-round.

Window Box Vegetables

If you have limited space, then you don’t have to miss out on gardening. There are many vegetables that grow well in a window box. You will need to fill your window box with some good compost, some water-holding gel (to ensure that the plants don’t dry out), some bubble wrap, and some gravel to use as drainage material.

Vegetables that do well in a window box include:

  • Short-rooted carrots such as Kundulus and Parmex
  • Runner beans (dwarf varieties)
  • Spring onions
  • Parsnips (if your window box is deeper than six inches)
  • Loose-leaf lettuce

You should take your time when preparing the window box. Line the box with bubble wrap, and then add a layer of gravel. Mix some compost and water-holding gel together, and fill the window box until the compost is a couple of inches away from the lip of the box. Gently flatten the mix out with your fingers, and then top up the soil until the box is almost full. Water this soil well, and leave it to sit overnight so that the soil has a chance to settle. Once this is done you can plant your vegetables.

Get The Family Involved

Gardening is something that the whole family can get involved with. Consider giving older children a small section of the garden that they can care for themselves. Younger children may not want the responsibility of having a full garden of their own, but they could still have a lot of fun with their own mini “window box”. Cress is incredibly easy to grow, and can usually be eaten around a week after it is planted. This gives children the chance to see the results of their work quite quickly, rather than having to wait a few months before they can take it out of the ground.

If your family does find that they enjoy gardening, then you can rotate different crops throughout the year, enjoying fresh, tasty home grown vegetables (and their associated cooking projects) as the year goes on.


april“With spring already in full swing and the warmer weather just around the corner, it’s time to start thinking about getting your garden into shape, too. As well as having a general tidy and clean, think about adding some splashes of colour to your outdoor space - even the smallest garden, yard or balcony can be brightened up with some fun accessories and colourful planting!A simple hanging basket and some bright, colourful cushions can make a huge impact on the feel of your space. But don’t just stop there; think about adding some lighting, too. We love to have different sized lanterns dotted around. The warm glow of the candles instantly makes any space feel cosy, welcoming and ready to enjoy all summer long.”

Christine and Jane from Little House On the Corner


April is a good time to make a start on outdoor DIY jobs. The weather can still be unpredictable, so it’s not a good idea to start any big painting or construction tasks, but you should have enough nice weekends that you’ll be able to get your home ready for the summer. The more you get done now, the more time you’ll have to enjoy yourself during the (most likely brief) June heat wave.

Getting Your Hands Dirty

This month is a good time to do some of the more heavy-duty tasks such as cleaning your patio, hosing down your summer furniture, weeding the garden, cleaning your gutters, and fixing your garden fence if it suffered any damage during the winter.

If you’re working on gutters or tall fences, put safety first! Always wear the appropriate safety equipment for the tools you’re handling, and don’t over-reach or take chances when you’re working at the top of a ladder.

Easy Summer Gardens

If you want your garden to look great this summer, then you should start planting appropriate plants now. The best plants, for most gardens, are ones that are fairly low maintenance, and that bloom for a long time.

Good plants to invest in for your garden include:

  • Hydrangea Macrophylla
  • Hibiscus Syryacus
  • Echinacea Purpurea
  • Salvia X Sylvestris

Weed your garden carefully before you start planting, water the garden regularly, and take care to deadhead spent flowers on a regular basis, and you should have a garden that blooms nicely until late August.

Building a Summer Deck

Building a decking area is a good way to transform your garden into a relaxing, enjoyable place to spend summer evenings.

The key to putting together a nice deck is to plan carefully. Measure your garden and sketch out a design before you start work. You may want to mark out the area that the deck will cover in your garden to make sure that you’ll like it once it’s in place. Make sure that your deck won’t cover any manholes, air bricks, or any other important areas.

Once you’re sure you have the perfect layout, it’s time to prepare the ground. Firstly, measure out the perimeter of the deck and mark it with pegs and rope or clothesline. Clear all of the ground of vegetation, and pat the soil down so that it’s flat and firm. Lay the deck fabric over the cleared ground to prevent weeds growing under the deck.

Next, put down concrete paving slabs. Use a spirit level to ensure that the deck slants appropriately. For every metre of deck, there should be a 10mm drop, and the deck should slant away from the house.

Once the concrete slabs are in place, put a layer of bitumen BPC membrane over those slabs. Now you’re ready to start laying the timbers. The outer framework should rest on top of the concrete slabs, and the joists should be fixed with rustproof screws and outdoor wood glue. If you’ve made any fresh cuts to the wood you’re using to build the deck, treat those cuts with a timber preservative to make sure that the wood does not rot.

Once the framework is in place, you can start putting the outer boards in place. Be sure to pre-drill the screw holes before you place the boards; this will reduce the likelihood of the boards splitting when you drill them.

You can treat your deck boards with oil that penetrates the wood and gives it a nice aged-look, or you can let the wood age naturally.

You should check your board for damage every year, repair any loose boards, and wash the deck to remove any moss or algae that is growing on it. After you wash the deck, apply another oil treatment to preserve the timbers.


may“Often when we want to re-decorate, the temptation is to jump in feet first. I’ve learnt the hard way that preparation is the key to a professional finish. Use green frog tape on edges to create a sharp finish and make sure you cover the floors with plastic sheeting stuck down with gaffer tape. If you’re putting up wallpaper, make sure you have everything ready to go and definitely get someone to help you if you can! Finally, never throw away paint after you have finished - you may need to touch up areas subject to heavy traffic later on.”

Louisa at West Egg Interiors


If you’re planning on redecorating, you will want to make sure that you have a good base to start from. You spent the first few months tidying your home and cleaning the exterior, now you need to prepare the interior.

Most homes have some cracks on the walls or the ceiling and around chimney flues. Homes with a significant amount of plasterboard can have cracks or chips in the walls caused by previous DIY projects gone wrong. However, most of these problems are minor and can be easily fixed.

Diagnosing Cracks

Before you start patching up your damaged walls, you need to make sure that you aren’t simply sticking a Band-Aid over a more serious problem.

Small cracks across the ceiling are usually nothing to worry about, as are cracks around chimneys, and in plasterboard walls. However, if you have a crack that is more than a couple of centimetres wide, or that appears suddenly and gets wider and wider over a short space of time, then this could be a sign of subsidence. You should get this looked at by a qualified surveyor immediately.

Become a Plastering Expert

Plastering is actually a complex skill, and to be truly good at it takes a lot of practice.

Professional plasters require careful mixing, and must be applied quickly otherwise they could set before you’re finished working, producing uneven results.

There are DIY grade plaster mixes that are far easier to work with, and if all you’re doing is smoothing out some cracks or fixing up a couple of small holes, then you should use those mixes.


For plastering work you will need.

  • A bucket to hold the plaster
  • A stiff bristled brush
  • A plasterer’s hawk
  • A plasterer’s trowel
  • A straight edge
  • Joint tape

Absorbent Surfaces

Before you start applying plaster to a surface, you must prepare that surface properly. If you apply plaster to a surface that is dirty or damp then you could end up with some serious flaking problems. To prepare a surface for plastering, brush it thoroughly with a stiff-bristled brush to remove dirt and dust. Next, splash some water over the bricks. If the water stays on the surface, then you can apply plaster to that surface with just a little dampening. If the bricks soak up the water immediately then they’re too absorbent to take plaster in their current state, and you should prepare them by brushing them with water before plastering.

Highly absorbent surfaces such as concrete blocks will need further preparation with a bonding agent before you can use plaster on them.

Preparing Tiles

Tiles, especially ceramic tiles, need special treatment. Prepare a mix of two parts sharp sand, one part cement, one part bonding agent, and one part water. Mix this together until it forms a fairly consistent slurry, and brush this over your tiles. Allow this application to dry before you start applying the regular plaster mix.

Achieving a Smooth Finish

You should work quickly but methodically when applying plaster. Put a generous dollop of plaster on the hawk and then load a small amount of that plaster on to the trowel. Spread the mix on to the wall in a sweeping arc, keeping the trowel slightly angled. Never push the trowel directly in to the wall. When the plaster has dried out slightly you can smooth it with the trowel.

If you’re working in a small area, use the straight edge to level the plaster off. If you’re working on plasterboard, you can cover the joints with joint tape if you don’t want to fill them with plaster. This works best if you will be papering over that area.


“If you really can’t miss Corrie, then a TV in the bathroom is a must. Or watch people struggle to renovate semi-derelict buildings while you chill in a cloud of bubbles – bliss!And if you can’t decide on the bath for you, and there are many amazing style to choose from, why not go for a bath fit for a king or queen and go for copper or gold! Certainly a talking point! Or if is not your thing, you can now buy baths that you can paint the outside yourself, so ensuring it is a one off, personal design to you and your bathroom – enjoy!”

Jo at A Passion for Homes


By June, the weather is getting a lot warmer, and this gives you more scope for the sorts of jobs you would want to work on. However, there is more than just weather to consider when planning DIY jobs. If you have school-aged children, then June is the last month during which you’ll have entire days to work uninterrupted for quite a while. The summer holidays feel like they’re getting longer every year, so if you have any major jobs to get done, and don’t want children underfoot while you’re doing them, then now is the time to start them!

Bathroom related jobs are one good example of DIY tasks that are best done when the house is nice and quiet. Children and plumbing don’t mix, so tackling the bathroom before the summer holidays is a good idea.

Tiling and Grout

Tiles are not particularly challenging things to lay, but they do require patience and planning. If you rush the job, they’re likely to look messy and un-even. If you work slowly and carefully you can achieve great results.

To lay tiles, you will need:

  • Some grout
  • A bucket
  • Water for mixing (some mixtures require latex)
  • A sponge (for the grout)
  • A rubber grout float
  • An old toothbrush (for use as a grout tool)

You should also have some rubber gloves to protect your hands, and you may want to wear safety goggles too - check the instructions on your grout package, and follow whatever it recommends.

Prepare the wall by brushing it down to make sure that it is clean and free of dust. Measure the wall so that you know the number of tiles you will need to cover the area you’re planning to tile. Lay the tiles carefully and let them set overnight, then use a rubber float to scoop up the grout. Hold the float at a 45 degree angle to the tile joints and let the grout fill the joints. After the grout has set, use a sponge to clean the front of the tiles. Smooth the grout using the handle (not the bristles) of the toothbrush. Give the grout some time to set, and then polish the surface of the tiles again.

Top Tips For Fixing or Repairing Bathroom Fittings

If your bathroom, sink, or toilet is looking a bit tattered, why not replace them? You can get new plastic baths quite inexpensively these days, and even the basic models look nice.

Before you invest in new bathroom fixtures and fittings, take care to measure all of the pipes, including the waste pipe and the one feeding the taps. You should also measure the bath itself, to make sure that the new one will fit. If everything fits easily, then you can do the job of installing the new bath, toilet, or sink yourself. If the pipe measurements don’t quite work, then it may be a more complicated job.

When fitting a bath, measure everything up carefully and mark the positions of the pipes on the wall. You should also draw a line near where the top of the bath should be, so that you can make sure that the bath is level.

Fit the taps and the waste overflow before you put the bath in place - this may seem counter-intuitive, but trying to do it when the bath is already in place is extremely difficult.

When you’re working with bathroom fixtures and fittings, it’s essential that you make sure everything is watertight. A leaky bath could cause you some serious problems in the long term. Make sure that all of the pipes are securely attached and that they are tightly sealed. Where most people go wrong is by not properly sealing the area where the bath meets the wall. Make sure that all surfaces that you’re sealing are clean and dust free. Wipe down the area around the bath, and then apply a watertight sealant to the bath and the wall tiles. You can shape the sealant to make it look neat and tidy by using your finger, or the handle of a teaspoon. Once you’ve applied the seal, leave it to dry for 24 hours before you use the bath.


“We’ve been renovating 47ParkAvenue for a little over two years now, and just when you start to think the rooms are finally coming together and making headway, you find yourself thinking… This interior doesn’t reflect me, who I am and what I’m about! Why are all the decisions I’m making wrong?! I can’t help you get through this, it’s all part of the renovation process I guess. BUT - step back, and take some time out from thinking about the house. When it becomes all-consuming and you’re continually thinking about it, it’s hard to see the wood from the trees. You could end up running the risk of doing something out of anxiety rather than the LOVE of it, if you’re in the wrong frame of mind! Just stop, focus on something else for a while, and come back to it with fresh eyes. See what the house really looks like and what you want to do with it next!”

Michael at 47 Park Avenue


July is the perfect time to start doing some outdoor work. If the exterior of your home has some problems - such as rotten window frames or cracked fences, then you’ve probably been itching to tackle these jobs. It’s a bad idea to do those kinds of tasks in the spring, however. You can be sure that no sooner than you apply the “needs 12 hours to dry” varnish, the heavens will open and your hard work will be ruined.

Of course, you can’t trust the weather in the summer either, but by waiting until July, and watching the weather forecast carefully, you can increase the chances of the job going well.

Finding the Cause of Rotten Woodwork

Before you even think about fixing rotten woodwork or cleaning up mould and repainting areas damaged by damp, you should try to figure out what has caused the problem

Common causes of water damage are:

  • Leaking roofs
  • Blocked drains
  • Clogged gutters
  • Leaking pipes

Sometimes, the cause will be obvious - if you have a leaky roof there should be signs of plaster damage, for example. Sometimes, you might have to take a look in the attic, or crawl around under counters to see if there are signs of damage hidden away in rarely seen places.

Repairing Rotten Woodwork

Once you have identified, and fixed, the cause of your problem, you can focus on fixing the issue at hand. In some cases, the damage is superficial and you can just sand away the peeling paint, treat the good wood underneath with a water-resistant sealant, and call that a job well done.

For cases of more serious damage, however, you may need to remove large sections of damaged wood. To do this, follow the instructions below:

  • Using a hammer and chisel, chip away at the rotten wood until you get down to a layer of healthy, yellow coloured wood.
  • Using a ¼-inch drill bit, drill holes ½ an inch deep into the healthy wood. Drill several of these holes approximately 2 inches apart across the frame.
  • Clean up the wood shavings using a stiff bristled paint brush
  • Fill the holes with an epoxy consolidant, and cover the entire surface of the wood with it. Once the first coating has dried, apply a second coating.
  • Apply more epoxy coatings until a hard layer has formed.
  • Now use an epoxy filler to fill in the area that you’ve chiselled away - mould the filler with your hands until it matches the shape of the frame.
  • Use sandpaper to sand down the filler so that the frame is smooth, and repaint the frame so that the filled-in area is almost invisible.

If the rot has spread too deep for you to be able to just chisel away the damaged area, you may need to replace the entire frame. Consider investing in a hybrid wood/aluminium frame or a UPVC frame that is more weather resistant.

If the damaged wood is part of a fence, it may be easier to just remove that one piece of wood and replace it entirely.


august"August is the perfect time to get cracking on outdoor jobs. Make the most of the long days and (hopefully!) good weather to smarten up the exterior and weather-proof in time for winter. A fresh lick of paint will do wonders to freshen up the look of your home and add some kerb appeal."



Nick at UK Oak Doors


For most of us, August is the height of summer; the weather is glorious, the holidays are in full swing, and we all want our homes to look great so that we can be proud of them when people come round to enjoy the annual barbecue.

This makes August a great time to start painting the outside of the house, and while you’ve got those paint brushes out, you may as well do some weather treatment work too, so that you’re ready for when winter comes around; which will happen sooner than you think!

Tips for Great Looking, Long Lasting Paint Jobs

Before you start painting, make sure you have all the tools you need in place. You will need:

  • An edge pad or cutting brush (for painting around door frames)
  • Paint rollers (for cleaner results than brushes)
  • Paint brushes (for painting in small areas)

Careful preparation is essential if you want your paint job to look as good as possible. Repair the wall or fence before you start painting it, and make sure that the surface is clean and dust free. You may want to wipe it down with a clean, damp sponge before you start painting.

Check the weather forecast before you start painting. You should aim for a warm, dry day, ideally following another warm, dry day so that the surface is fairly dry. Don’t paint if it’s humid - the water in the air could ruin the paint.

It’s not a good idea to paint in direct sunlight. The sunlight will dry the paint out too quickly, which could cause an uneven looking finish. Try to paint when the sun is on the other side of the building, so that the paint dries at its natural speed.

If you’re painting a door, use an elastic band to secure a bag over the doorknob to prevent it getting covered in paint.

Safety First

Make sure that you stay hydrated while you’re painting and wear sunblock if you’re spending a long time outside. Take care when using ladders, and don’t take any chances with leaning or reaching to paint hard to reach areas. It may be annoying to climb down, move the ladder closer, and climb back up again, but it’s better than having a nasty accident.

Tips for Weather Treating Surfaces

You should weather treat wooden surfaces every year to prevent them from getting seriously damaged during the winter months.

Weather treating is similar to painting in that the surface should be clean, dust free, and dry before you start work. You can find weather treatments in a range of finishes, including stained looking finishes, solid finishes, and semi-transparent finishes. The type of finish you choose will depend on the surface you’re treating. Stained finishes are great for giving wood a nice aged-look.

Some people like to let wood age for a few months before they weather treat it, but this is generally a bad idea, and can cause damage to the wood. Some brand-new pressure treated lumber should be left for 30 days before treating, but most woods can (and should) be treated immediately.

If you’re using a clear coating, give the wood two coats. Don’t forget to seal the open end grains of the wood carefully; these are the most vulnerable parts.


september“When painting a space, branch out from the usual neutral tones. Vibrant and colorful tones are an easy way to infuse your space with personality, so don’t be shy! Dark colors are also a tried- and-true way to make a small space feel bigger, as they trick your brain into creating negative space, making the walls (and don’t forget the ceiling!) visually fall away into shadow. And if all else fails, my personal rule is to paint it black — it feels more chic than white or beige and makes nearly every kind of decor pop in an elegant, unexpected way.”



Tabatha at Turn Right at Lake Michigan


September is a good time to head indoors and start looking at doing up your interior in preparation for the festive season. It’s a good idea to start painting your interior in September, while the weather is still good enough for you to leave your windows open for ventilation. This month, we’ll look at repainting your home safely and efficiently.

Preparing for Interior Decorating

As with any other form of painting, careful preparation is essential. You should take care to strip any old wallpaper thoroughly (use a steam stripper if possible), and remove as much old paint as you can. In some cases, you can get away with painting over the previous layer of paint, but this isn’t always ideal.

Once the surface has been stripped, wipe it down with a damp sponge to clean it in preparation for painting.

It’s a good idea to move as much of your furniture as possible into the middle of the room before you start work. Cover your furniture with dust sheets while you’re painting - even if you don’t think there’s any possible way that paint could travel that far, you’d be amazed what can go wrong - paint splashes can travel a long way, so it’s worth protecting all of your furniture.

You can buy plastic covers to lie over your carpet while you’re painting, but you may want to go one step further and use a combination of newspaper and masking tape to protect the parts closest to the wall.

Give yourself plenty of time to finish the paint job. You don’t want to end up rushing the job and ruining the finish.

Depending on the kind of paint you are using, you might want to lay a primer coat before the main colour.

When you have finished painting, give the paint plenty of time to dry. Don’t put everything back in place yet; you might want to add a second layer to ensure that the paint looks as good as possible.

Safety and Older Homes

There are many safety issues to think about when painting indoors. The first one that you should think about is ventilation. While modern paints are far safer than the paints of several decades ago, solvent based paints in particular aren’t something that you would want to be inhaling the fumes from for many hours per day. Try to select an environmentally friendly paint type that is designed for use indoors.

You should be particularly careful when stripping old paints, especially if you have any reason to believe that those paints are from many decades ago. Very old paints were often based on lead, and can be incredibly toxic if inhaled. Long term exposure to lead can cause liver, kidney, and even central nervous system damage. You can reduce the risk to your health if you wear a mask while working, and keep the area as well ventilated as possible.

One final area that you should pay careful attention to is ladder safety. Ladder related accidents are far more common than you might expect and most of these accidents are easy to prevent. Make sure that you choose the right size of ladder for the job, and that you place them on a flat, non-slippery surface. Always wear shoes with a strong grip when you are climbing on a ladder. Never climb ladders in bare feet, and never climb to the top rung, over-reach, or lean too far when you are working on a ladder.

Do not jump from a ladder. When you are finished with working on the ladder, climb down slowly. You should always use the three-point rule, always having two feet and one hand (or two hands and one foot) on the ladder, stabilizing you in case you fall.


October“Summer is over and the nights are starting to draw in, those draughts that you enjoyed during the hot summer months will not be quite so nice now that the weather is getting colder.  Now is the ideal time to get to grips with insulating your house, there are many options available to you but we have found the easiest and most cost effective way is to use Rockwool. This can be cut to size and inserted into every gap and hole in your house, making sure that all of your windows are sealed and the loft has a thick cover.Rockwool can be added easily into your loft space and pushed into gaps around your windows. Safety must be considered as the fibre glass is not good for your skin, always wear a protective suit over your clothes and gloves to cover your hands and a face mask to ensure you do not breathe in the fibres. When you have finished wash your clothes and rinse your hands and face in cold water before showering to ensure that all fibres are removed. This is not the nicest job around your house but the benefits of having a fully insulated house far outweigh the hassle of achieving these benefits; just think of yourself sat on those cold, snowy winter nights cosy and warm in a draught free room, mmm…”


 Jenny and John at Renovation of a Derelict House


With the changing of the seasons, many people find themselves craving a change of scenery in their homes too. One way to achieve this is by sprucing up the wallpaper in their kitchen and living room. Washable wallpapers can last a long time, but eventually you will want to get rid of your old designs and replace them with something a little different.

If you choose clean and simple designs, you’ll find that they’re quite versatile, and you can get a lot of mileage out of them by changing your curtains, window blinds, or paintings over the course of the following year.

How to Hang Wallpaper Like A Pro

When you’re buying wallpaper, you should read the label carefully. If the wallpaper is fairly plain then you may be able to just hang it strip by strip, without worrying too much about how the pattern matches up. However, if the pattern repeats throughout the roll, you’ll have to cut the roll in multiples of whatever the length of the pattern is. This means that you may end up wasting a lot of paper, and you’ll need to buy more rolls than you expect. Calculate the amount of paper you need carefully, and buy at least one extra roll, just in case you make mistakes.

It’s better to buy more paper than you need than it is to risk running short; when you buy paper, the store gives you rolls with the same batch number. If you run out, and come back a few weeks later, they may not have rolls from that batch available, and paper from a different batch might be a slightly different shade. While the rolls are on the rack, this might not stand out, but when two sheets from different batches are next to each other on the wall, it can look horrible!

Once Again, Preparation!

As usual, careful preparation is essential. You need to make sure that your walls are clean and smooth before you start work. You should also make sure that you have plenty of space to work with, and that nothing will get in the way when you’re hanging the paper.

To start work, you will need:

  • A bucket (for the paste)
  • A wooden spoon or other stirring device
  • A few different sizes of brush
  • A large, flat table for pasting the wallpaper
  • A tape measure
  • A long ruler and a pencil
  • Some string, and a small weight
  • A trimming knife and a pair of scissors
  • A sponge

If the room you’re going to be papering has a chimney breast, use that as a starting point. Draw a line down the middle of the chimney breast - that’s where two sheets will meet. Tie a weight to the string and use that as a plumb so that you can make sure that line is straight. Use that as a starting point to make sure that all the sheets are straight up-and-down. This may leave you with a slight overlap at the floor or ceiling. Use a knife to trim those bits off.

If the wallpaper pattern repeats, say every 70cm, then you should cut the wallpaper in multiples of 70 - so if your wall is 2m45cm from floor to skirting board, don’t just cut 2m45cm, cut 2m80 (which is 4x70cm), and match up the pattern on the previous sheet, then trim the excess off the bottom once the paper is on the wall.

Once you’ve cut the wallpaper, cover it with paste (starting at the inside and working out), and then place the paper on the wall. Slide the paper slowly into place, and then gently smooth out any bubbles. Try to get rid of as many bubbles as you can while the paste is still wet, but don’t worry if you can’t get rid of them all.

If you can’t do the entire room in one go, do one wall at a time. Leave the paper to dry overnight. You should find that any remaining bubbles vanish when the paste dries. If there are some annoying ones that won’t go away, carefully cut a cross in the paper with a knife, apply a small amount of paste to the underside, and then stick the paper back down.

When you’re wallpapering, take care while working on ladders; don’t lean or stretch to try to reach awkward places, and try to choose the right height of ladder for the job (don’t use a stepladder or stool if you need to reach the ceiling!). In addition, try to keep the room well ventilated. You shouldn’t come to any harm if you’re stuck wallpapering a small, poorly ventilated room, but let’s face it, wallpaper paste isn’t the nicest smelling substance, and fresh air will make the job go by faster.


novemberThink about appropriate textiles, and therefore textures, for the space – this is especially true in a home situated in chilly climates, and particularly heading into the winter months. Putting careful thought into how the different spaces are actually used means well planned furnishing details that will really enhance those spaces, and their uses, in a sensorial way. Using textured rugs, such as fluffy sheepskin beside the bed, means there is something really special and warm to put cold feet onto each winter morning. Faux fur throws on beds or sofas provide a piece of wonderful evening warmth and softness, having being out in the freezing world all day. Use sheepskin or small and shaggy woollen floor rugs to line dining table benches, or draped over hard wood dining chairs. This makes table seating ridiculously comfortable and cosy for long merry weekend dinners late into the night, when no one really wants to head off to bed and break up the party.”

Katya at Chalet De Soie


By the time November comes around, you’re probably ready for a holiday - not only from interior decorating, but work and day to day life too! The days are getting shorter, the weather is getting colder, and it’s tempting to just curl up in front of the TV with a hot drink and try to forget about how dreary it is outside.

However, there are some things that you can do to keep yourself busy and keep your mind off the dull weather. If you’ve followed this diary throughout the entire year your home is probably in great shape, but there’s always more jobs that need doing.

Take a few minutes to look around the house and make a list of the jobs that need done, both small and large. Some of the bigger jobs may need to wait until the weather gets better, but there are some jobs that you can tackle this month, for example fixing leaky taps, creaking doors, and frayed carpets.

Preparing for the Bad Weather

Your priority for this month should be preparing for the coming bad weather. Bring in your patio furniture and lock your garden tools in the shed. Make sure your gutters are clean and your drains are not clogged. Check that your fences are in good repair, and give your lawn one last mowing before the winter hits.

If you have gas central heating, you should make sure that you have it inspected before the winter hits. Not only will this inspection ensure that your heating is in good condition, and will keep you warm during the winter, the inspection could save lives. Carbon monoxide poisoning is a real danger, even with modern heating systems. You can’t smell, taste or see carbon monoxide, but a damaged heating system or one with a blocked up flue could be producing some, and it could kill you.

Christmas Clutter

Christmas is just around the corner, and you’ll probably be very busy next month shopping, cooking, entertaining, decorating, and attending parties. You’ll find next month far less stressful if you take some time now to de-clutter and make space for all of the gifts and decorations you’re going to end up with.

If you plan on having guests staying with you, now is a good time to clear out the guest room and get some clean bedding and fresh toiletries together for your guests. There’s a good chance that you’ve overlooked the guest room when working on the rest of your house, or that you have ended up using the room as a dumping ground for odds and ends from other areas of the house. Now is the time to get organized.

Another area to clean up now is the kitchen. Go through your cupboards, and the freezer, and throw out any goods that are past their sell-by date. Defrost the freezer now, so that it’s fresh and ready for all of the festive foods you need to buy. You may want to clean out the fridge as well; it doesn’t take long for odours to build up in the fridge, and you won’t want your best seasonal cooking to be ruined by stale food smells.


december“Why not make an eco-Christmas like we’ve done two years’ running? Truth be told, it is the same ‘tree’, but we have hung it in two different ways. Although we used driftwood because we live near the beach, there is no saying one could not use limbs from a local forest, wind-fallen branches in a city, or even ‘recycled’ timber out of a skip. Almost anything can be made beautiful and functional with thoughtful re-design.”

Nelson and Lebo at Eco Thrifty Life


The year is almost over! December should be a month for celebration and relaxation, so put away those paint brushes and give yourself a well-deserved pat on the back. You will, of course, spend some time putting up the tree and the other decorations, but you can do this at your leisure. If you’ve been working hard on renovating your home over the last few months then you should have a house to be proud of, and this is your chance to show it off.

Getting The Whole Family Involved

Why not share the load this month and get the whole family involved in making Christmas decorations? Young children can have fun with cardboard, coloured cellophane and paint (making window decorations), while older children may enjoy doing some “adult” DIY by cutting and sanding balsa wood to make ornaments.

If you have more than enough Christmas decorations to go around, there are still things that your children can do to get involved with the feeling of Christmas. Making a festive candy-cane is a quick and easy job (all you need is some candy canes, and some pipe-cleaner or ribbon to tie around the long part of the cane, along with perhaps some mistletoe for a little festive flair), and they make a great table decoration.

Older children that have dextrous fingers, and a lot of patience, could make special embroidered handkerchiefs for family guests. A white handkerchief with a red initial embroidered on it is a stylish but simple gift, and the knowledge that it’s hand-made makes it even more special.

Last-Minute Tips For Christmas

No matter how organized you are, it’s inevitable that something will go wrong during the festive season. Perhaps guests will arrive a day earlier than expected, leaving you scrambling to clean up the bathroom. Or, perhaps you’ll run out of chilled wine or beer and have to scramble to find something to quench the thirst of your guests.

When things go wrong, the important thing to remember is to remember the Hitchhikers Guide to The Galaxy’s core phrase: “Don’t panic”. While the empty shampoo bottle and soap box in the bathroom may leave you crimson with embarrassment, there’s a good chance that your guests won’t even notice. A temporary delay in the flow of liquid refreshment at your Christmas Eve party might raise a couple of eyebrows, but as long as you keep the party moving, it will be forgotten by the end of the night.

If you have some last minute cleaning to do, don’t worry about doing it well - grab some boxes, stuff the “stuff” that you need to clean up into them, and put them on top of a wardrobe in your bedroom. You can sort everything out properly once your guests have gone.

If you need to cool some wine or beer quickly, put the warm beverages in a bowl, and cover them with ice. Pour some water over the ice, and then add some salt (make that a LOT of salt) to the mix. Stir the saltwater mixture and let the drinks sit in it for a few minutes. Your drinks should go from warm to ice cold in just three or four minutes. Be sure to rinse the bottle off before serving it!

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