I just finished cleaning the bathroom. The mirror is spotless, the sink is clean, and the toilet is cl… ARGH! I just cleaned the toilet and that flaking hinge just dropped another metal flake on the seat!

Do any of you have a similar problem? Or is your seat old and looks dirty no matter how much elbow grease you use?
Don’t put up with ugly toilet seats any longer! This fix is inexpensive and takes about 15 minutes.
New toilet seats start at $20. I splurged on this soft close lid for $35. I’ll tell you why later.
You will need pliers and a phillips or flat head screw driver (depending on your bolts).
I received the adjustable Irwin Groove Lock pliers from Irwin to test, and I do have to say that I like the convenience of adjusting it with the push of a button. That sure beats looking for the right size socket or crescent wrench! {I was not paid to say that, see my product review disclosure here}
Locate the bolt and nut under your toilet bowl. Use your pliers to loosen the nut (remember lefty loosey to unscrew.) 

Once the nuts on both sides have been removed, you should be able to lift the old seat straight up and off the toilet.
Locate the two seat bolts for your new seat. (Be sure to familiarize yourself with the instructions for your new seat since they may vary slightly from this post. Some seats have the bolts attached to the seat already.)
Insert them into the holes in the toilet.
Thread the nut onto the bolts from underneath. Then tighten the bolts with a screwdriver and hold the nut with your pliers. Be careful not to over-tighten the bolts or your toilet bowl could crack.
The seat I bought has a quick release hinge so you can thoroughly clean the seat and around the hinges. Simply snap the seat on top of the bolts and then rotate the hinge cap clockwise to lock it in place.

And the seat is installed. I love that our toilet seat has a soft close feature.

Now the true reason I bought the soft close seat:

These two boys in training think it is pretty cool and are MORE likely to lift up the toilet seat when using it and return it to the down position when done! Any of you who have little boys in your home, you know what I’m talking about, right?! You have to start training them young! (I never want to sit down in droplets of pee ever again. Ewwww!)


Happy New Year! I love January 1st. It is a new beginning, with new goals, resolutions and a chance to start fresh.

We had an open house style party on New Year’s Day. I was talking with my friend Leslie about how little changes can really make a big difference in your home and attitude. It is better to make some small alterations to your home instead of waiting to make bigger changes. We all have many reasons for waiting:

  • Lacking Money
  • Lack the skills
  • Lacking a vision
  • Lacking time
  • Lacking motivation
  • Insert your own reason here!

When we first moved into our home I didn’t want to do anything to our master bathroom because I knew we would need to gut it one day.

But, I can’t tell you how awful I felt every morning as I stepped into that hideous bathroom.

Finally I stopped waiting and made a few changes. I didn’t rip out the tile, I just added some paint, stain and new fixtures. And it really made me happy! Sure I still have to step into a harvest gold tile coffin to shower. And I will have to wait until we have the funds to renovate the room one day. But, at least that room makes me happy for now.

So, in the spirit of a fresh start, I decided to give our Master Bedroom a little face lift this week.

Our bedroom was the first room we painted when we moved in, and I stopped loving the room last year. Especially when these showed up!

Yuck, I’m not sure how our roman shades got stained. I think it might have been from the vaporizer I run in our bedroom because I can’t find any other places where water could have penetrated the window.

I admit, I was in a holding pattern. I found myself stalling, thinking that I had to wait until we scraped our ceilings. Then we could re-do that room.

The truth is that I had all the supplies to give our room a mini-facelift. Back when Layla posted about her new window treatment in her master bedroom, I was all eyes!

Our bed is situated in the same location as her’s (in front of two windows.) I had struggled with what to do with our bed and those window until I read her post. Luckily, I was able to find these natural grass shades at Bed, Bath & Beyond on clearance. $9.99 per blind! SCORE!

Thank you [email protected] for sharing your window treatments!

But, I waited another 2 months to do anything with those blinds! Sheesh, I can’t believe it took me that long to pull on my big girl “go ahead and do it” panties?

I started by removing the old stained blinds. Sadly I sewed them myself only three years ago. Sniff, sniff.

Then, I held up the new blinds to the height I wanted them. I hung them higher than the window to give the illusion that the window was taller, and also to be sure not to block too much natural light from the room.

Made a mark on the wall with pencil.

Next, I used a level to mark a line across the whole window.

I measured the width of my blinds and held up the first bracket at one end. Lucky for me I had already located a stud near the one end of the blind. (Read about stud finding HERE.)

Here is the first trick you NEED TO KNOW about hanging any window treatments! Those screws that come with blinds will not hold up your window treatments over the long haul even if you are screwing them into a stud. Especially if you have small children that may try to play Tarzan on them one day.

The wimpy 1″ screws are not long enough to go through the drywall and into your studs. And DO NOT expect them to hold if they are simply screwed into drywall either.

Be sure to purchase some extra drywall or wood screws that are 2″ long.

Also have some of these wall anchors on hand at all times! They screw into the wall when a stud is not behind your bracket. I can’t tell you how much better these are than those cheap wall anchors that you get for free.

Next I drove the screws into the bracket using my cordless drill. (Finishing off at the end with a screwdriver.) I used two of the wimpy screws and two longer screws.

I repeated the process to hang the other bracket. Then followed the directions for hanging the blinds I bought.

I was able to hang the other side the same way and used my level line to make sure both blinds were hung at the same height.

Next I adjusted the cord stop and pulls to fit our windows. Because the blinds weren’t custom made for our windows, they hung down below the window sill. I started by closing the blinds to the bottom of our windows. Then moved the small stop bead to the top of the cord.

Next I moved the pull knobs to a location in the middle of the blinds, added new knots to hold them there and then cut off the excess.

Next up on Pretty Handy Girl. How to hang curtains and a no-iron way to iron your curtains!

Plus, I have some more frugal changes that cost me – ummm – nothing! I added a big graphic element to the side wall (Tutorial HERE.) I know, sorry to tease you like that, but if you follow me on Twitter, I gave away the secret there.

Until then, I encourage you to embrace the New Year by making a small change to a room you really don’t like.

  • Try hanging a new picture.
  • Try hanging new blinds or curtains.
  • Cover up something you don’t like with fabric.
  • Buy some new throw pillows.
  • Change around your accessories.
  • Or switch out your bedding.

If you have a little more time and energy, It really is amazing what a new coat of paint can do for a room!

So, please don’t wait. Make yourself happy! Change out something today! It doesn’t mean you have to buy something new.

I am planning on swinging by our local Goodwill this week. You should have seen the lines of people donating their items before the new year (myself included!) I bet there are some treasures to be found this week.

Addendum: Monique sent me an email asking if she would be at risk of electrocuting herself when using the longer screws. Good question Monique. Here is my answer:

When I used the 2″ screws I was screwing them into the studs. See THIS post to determine how to find a stud. It is about halfway down the post past the bench assembly. Electrical is not normally in a stud, occasionally it is run through a stud, but the 2″ screw is actually only penetrating the stud about 1/2″ to 3/4″. Sometimes electrical wires are fed through a hole in the stud, however, it is normally centered in a 2″ x 4″ stud, so about 2″ back. But, normally electrical is not run up near the ceiling through studs (where I was hanging the blinds). The electricity for your outlets is down near the outlets. The electrical for your ceiling light would run vertical from the switch and up through the ceiling. Most of those wires are either loose in the cavity between the studs or stapled to the middle of the stud (about 2″ back).

If you are mounting your bracket into the drywall cavity (not a stud) I wouldn’t use just the screw. That is where I would use the plastic toggler anchors that I showed above. The cavity in the drywall is 3 3/4″ deep (the width of a stud.) Should an anchor touch the electrical (which that would be rare, it is sheathed in thick plastic and would normally flex away from the anchor. Plus, because it is plastic it wouldn’t conduct electricity.)

In other words, long explanation short, you don’t need to worry about shocking yourself if you are using anchors in the hollow areas and 2″ screws into the studs.

I hate to break up the holiday glamour-fest, but it is time to put on my tool belt and share with you an important safety device. As some of you may remember, we had an oven fire this past September. We ended up replacing our oven and when the new one was delivered it came with an anti-tip device. All new free-standing and slide-in ovens should come with one. Be aware that most stores that deliver your stove WILL NOT install the anti-tip device when they deliver (shame on them!)

Oven.jpg

If you don’t know what an anti-tip device is, let me show you:

BracketParts.jpg

That’s it! Just a bracket and a few screws. But, that little device can prevent this:

TippingPics.jpg

The whole oven can and will tip very easily with very little weight on the open oven door. Stop reading RIGHT NOW and go open your oven door. Then press down to see if you can tip your oven!

If you can tip it, you can call the manufacturer of your oven and they should send you a device for free or just a shipping charge. To find an anti-tip device for your stove, contact the manufacturer.

Installation is super simple. The hardest part is pulling the stove out and cleaning all the goodies that have fallen beneath the stove for years. Apparently our stove doubles as a matchbox car garage!

CarGarage.jpg

Safety Alert: If you notice in the picture above, there is a metal box lying loose on the floor with black and grey wires entering it. This is the junction box where our wiring for the stove is hardwired into the house. The fact that this junction box is lying loose on the floor is dangerous! Should we (or the firemen) had pulled hard enough when removing the stove, the connections could have come loose and there would be 240 volts of live (or should I say life-ending) power exposed! Therefore we hired an electrician to wire an outlet into the wall before we installed our new stove.

One more safety tip, if your oven catches on fire (specifically the heating element is burning) you will need to stop the oven from receiving any power. Be sure to turn off the circuit at your circuit breaker! This probably would have saved me from having to call the fire department, I thought just turning the oven off would stop the element from continuing to ignite and burn, BUT NO IT DID NOT!

Anti-Tip Bracket for Your Oven Installation:

If your oven is hardwired, before installing the bracket be sure to shut off the power to the appliance. Even if you have an outlet, be extra safe and turn off the power to that outlet. Once you have removed all foreign objects from under the stove and cleaned the floor. Layout your template lining up the corner of the sheet to the corner of your cabinet and the wall.

LineUpTemplate.jpg

Drill through the crosshairs marking the location of the screws (remember to use a drill bit slightly smaller than your screws.)

DrillHoles.jpg
Remove your template, line up your bracket with the holes and drive the screws through the holes on the base of the bracket and then into the wall at the back of the bracket.
LineUPBracket.jpg
Once your bracket has been installed, grab a helper to help you guide your oven back behind the wall.
InstalledBracket.jpg

If you are having trouble lining up your stove with the bracket, you may need to remove the storage drawer and look underneath your oven. You also might need to adjust the feet on your oven up or down to give enough clearance for the whole foot to slide into the bracket. (You do this by screwing or unscrewing the feet.) Be sure to adjust the foot on the opposite side to level your oven.SlideFootUnder.jpg
And you are done, this installation is relatively easy as long as you don’t encounter things like electrical code violations (aka improperly hard-wired appliances.) Feel free to email me with any questions and I will try to assist you. Again, I have one extra anti-tip device for a GE stove if you would like it.

Now it is time to bake some cookies! YUM!

I spent the weekend in Norfolk, VA with my two wonderful sisters (Alana and Caitlin) and Alana’s boyfriend, Eddie. We had fun kicking some DIY butt! 

Most of the projects were centered around Alana’s kitchen. The kitchen was remodeled a few years ago, but it was never really finished. Our mission this weekend was try to complete some of those unfinished projects.

One of the tasks we accomplished was installing knobs on the kitchen cabinets. Another was touching up paint on the walls (but that is another post for another day.)

  

Caitlin made a template out of cardboard that made it a snap to install the knobs.

First she measured the corner square on the cabinets. It was 1.5″ square.

Then she made a hole in a piece of cardboard 3/4″ from two edges of the template. This way we knew our hole would be centered in the square every time! And she marked the outside corner with a little arrow.

I lined up the template at the corner of the cabinet, making sure the arrow was pointed at the outside corner. (We used the edge of the raised panel, instead of the actual corner of the cabinet.)

I used my drill to make a mark where the hole would go.

Then I removed the template and slipped a piece of scrap wood behind where the hole was being drilled.

Then I drilled into the cabinet until I felt it enter the scrap wood.

Can you name my facial expression? a) I just got a whiff of old yeasty bread. b) I’m really concentration on my drilling. c) I’m trying not to laugh at my sister taking my picture.

Then Caitlin threaded the bolt through and screwed on the knobs. Perfectly beautiful and those of us with fat fingers and short fingernails can get into the cupboards now.

For your viewing pleasure, I thought you might get a laugh out of one of the outtakes of our  Charlie’s Angels inspired picture. We were doing our best at making a sexy face. Caitlin said  “sexy facial expressions” must not run in the family. Not sure what’s with that fish face I’m sporting. So much for my sexy look.

How often have you removed a screw, accidentally dented your drywall, or had a hole that couldn’t hold a screw anymore? And, how long has that hole stared glaringly at you? Let’s talk about repairing holes.

Today, I will empower you to fix that hole! Or give you the tips and tutorial to handle that future hole.

A month ago, you probably saw this post on turning a closet into a reading nook. I removed the closet doors and needed to patch the screw holes left behind.

Repairing Holes

Patching small holes in wood (or drywall):

Materials:

(I’ve included affiliate links for your convenience. I earn a small percentage from a purchase using these links. There is no additional cost to you. You can read more about affiliate links here.)

1. Use your putty knife or utility knife to scrape off or cut away any edges of the hole that are not flush with the wall or trim.

2. Put a small amount of putty (or spackle) on your putty knife.

3. Push the putty (or spackle) firmly into the hole as you slide the knife over the hole.

4. Scrape the excess off the surface.

5. Use the damp rag to wipe excess putty (or spackle) off.

6. Wait for putty (or spackle) to dry, and sand smooth.

On the same project, my three year old had nearly pulled the tie backs out of the door casing, leaving two stripped holes. I wanted to hang the tie back up in the same location, so I had to repair the holes and leave it strong enough to hold up to a 3 yr. old!

How to fix a stripped hole in wood:

Materials:
Toothpicks
Wood glue
Damp rag
Hand saw
Sandpaper

1. Dry fit toothpicks so they are snug in the hole.

2. Remove toothpicks in one bunch and add glue to the tips of the toothpicks and more glue in the hole.

3. Push the toothpicks firmly into the hole.

4. Wipe any excess glue up immediately.

5. When the wood glue dries, saw off the toothpicks as close to the hole as possible (without damaging your trim.)

6. Use the sandpaper to smooth the toothpicks flush with the wood.

7. Follow up with putty if necessary for cosmetic appearance. (You can use the above directions for patching a small hole.)

Yesterday I showed you the transformation of a curbside chair named Daisy. She had a few holes that needed filling where I had removed the spindles.

How to fill a hole in wood (non-structural):

Materials:
Wood Putty
Putty Knife
Damp rag
Sandpaper

1. Clean out hole of any dirt or debris.

2. Roll wood putty in hand to fit in hole.

3. Insert putty in hole and then push it in using a pencil or similar blunt object.

4. Continue filling the hole until you are almost flush with the top.

5. Use your putty knive to apply final topping of putty.

6. Wipe excess off with damp rag and create a flush top with the surrounding wood.

7. Putty will shrink slightly when dry, so you may need to add another top layer of putty.

8. Once putty is thoroughly dry, sand it smooth.

Also in the transformation of a curbside chair named Daisy, I had to add new finials to the top.

 

How to fix a slightly larger hole in wood (that needs to be structurally sound):

Materials:
Wooden peg (to size of hole)
Gorilla glue
Wet rag
Hand saw

Sandpaper

1. Dry fit wooden peg so that it fits snug in the hole.

2. Remove peg and dampen inside of the hole.

3. Squeeze in a small amount of Gorilla glue (this glue will expand as it cures.) And insert peg back into hole.

4. Wipe any excess glue up immediately.

5. Clamp peg in place until Gorilla glue is dry.

6. After the glue dries, saw off the top of the peg as close to the hole as possible.

7. Use the sandpaper to smooth the peg flush with the wood.

Screwing into repaired hole:

1. Choose a drill bit that is slightly smaller than the screw you are using.

2. Predrill your hole.

3. Screw in your screw (or in my case, the finial).

Also, during the making of the closet turned into a reading nook. I accidentally knocked a hole in the drywall. The hole was too big for just spackle.

Repairing larger drywall holes (up to 3 inches):

Materials:
Joint compound
6″ taping knife
Utility knife
Webbed tape (or webbed patch kit)
Sandpaper

1. Use your putty knife or utility knife to scrape off or cut away any edges of the hole that are not flush with the wall or trim.

2. Adhere webbing over the hole.

3. Put a small amount of joint compound on your taping knife and push the compound gently into the hole as you slide the knife over the webbing.

4. Extend the compound beyond the taping.

5. Scrape the excess off the surface.

6. Wait for compound to dry and add another layer. Your goal is to have a smooth layer on top that hides the webbing and bumps out ever so slightly above your wall surface.

7. Use damp rag to wipe excess compound off and to smooth any visible edges.

8. Again, wait for compound to dry, and sand smooth so the patch is flush with the wall.

9. The best way to paint over a larger patch job is to use a paint roller and paint at least 2 thin layers of matching wall paint over the repair area.

Repairing holes is easier than it sounds. If you have larger holes or need more information on patching drywall holes, check out this video tutorial.

Over the weekend I finally cleaned up our garage. This is our multi-purpose space, so it had multi-multi-multi items strewn everywhere. Check out this cool Hanging Jar Storage.

Because our garage is small (fits 1.5 cars) space is a premium and I knew where I could find more space. One place I found space is under the shelves. Another place was inside my workbench (but, I’ll show you that in another post.)

I had been saving jars and lids (which I had to fish out of the trash a few times. Ewww!) for storage of odds and ends in the workshop/garage.

This project turned out to be a super easy and quick project (unlike taming the wild multi-beast our garage had become.

1) First I put the jar lid on top of a scrap piece of wood. 2) Then I centered my drill. 3) And drilled through the lid (check the size of your screw to make sure you choose a drill bit that equals the diameter of the screw, but not large enough for the screw head to go through.

Then I used a screwdriver and attached the lid to the underside of my shelf.

Then simply screwed the jar into the lid! Repeated that process three more times and filled the jars with the odds and ends that needed a place to be stored.

Ultimately, I finished cleaning the garage so I have room to set up a spray tent and start working on this sad little chair I found on the curb. Look here to see her transformation! I have to tell you, it is going to be quite a job. I took her completely apart, but I can rebuild her. I have the technology. Better, stronger, faster than before! (oops, The Six Million Dollar Man started playing in my head.)

Update: I was feeling pretty embarrassed after showing you my messy garage. So, here is proof that I really did clean it up. We still have a lot of stuff to fit in a small area, but at least I can walk around and find things now!

So, this is one of those not so pretty posts, but I promise it is Oh So Handy! Especially if you live in an old house (20 yrs. or more). Our home was built in 1978 and most of our outlets are almond colored and many are so worn that they won’t hold a plug anymore. I used to get annoyed EVERY TIME I vacuumed downstairs and turned the corner only to have the vacuum plug slip from the outlet. Not only is this frustrating, but it is also a fire hazard. Old outlets should be replaced for safety reasons (but, hey, I’m okay if you just want to change them to a pretty white outlet.)

old outlet to new outlet

Changing Out an Old (UGLY) Outlet

I distinctly remember my father showing me how to wire an outlet when I was about eight years old. I didn’t remember exactly what he taught me, but I do remember the feeling that – yes, I can do this myself! Being the father of three girls, Dad taught us all the things he would have taught a son. This is a picture of my Dad, my sisters and me teaching him all we knew about bows, barrettes and bobby pins.

Changing Out an Old (UGLY) Outlet

I know several of you would never think of taking apart your outlet. You might say electricity scares you. Well, that is a good thing! A healthy fear of electricity will make you more cautious, so don’t lose that fear. It is a good thing to double and triple check your safety when working with electricity. Now, are you ready to update your outlets? This is a relatively easy task to do. And, I promise I will show you step-by-step instructions.

I highly recommend performing outlet replacements during daylight hours (or have a lamp that you can plug into an extension cord from another room.) Also, don’t let your little ones watch you, we don’t want them to stick a screwdriver in the outlet when you aren’t looking. Therefore, it is best to handle this fix during nap times.

Materials needed:

(I’ve included affiliate links for your convenience. I earn a small percentage from a purchase using these links. There is no additional cost to you. You can read more about affiliate links here.)

Changing Out an Old (UGLY) Outlet

* It is safest to work with tools that have rubber or plastic handles that won’t conduct electricity.

Changing Out an Old (UGLY) Outlet

Optional tools:

  • vacuum to clean out the receptacle box (there will be dirt and dust in there and this may be the only opportunity you will have to clean it!)
  • cushion to sit on
  • power drill with screwdriver bits to speed up the process

Required Safety Instruction:

Turn off the power to the outlet you are working on. I highly recommend putting a night light or light in the outlet and turn it on. Then shut off the circuit at your circuit breaker and check to see that the light has gone out.

Also note that just because two outlets are in the same room, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are on the same circuit. Plus, it is possible for the top and bottom of one outlet to be on separate circuits. Always check both the top and bottom of an outlet before you work on it.

Instructions:

Okay, let’s begin. Take a deep breath and realize that if an 8 yr. old can do it, so can you!

1. Turn off your power, double check both outlets with your light to make sure the power is out to both top and bottom outlets.

2. Now take out your voltage tester. Insert a probe into each of the top two holes.  If the tester lights up, you need to back up and turn off the power to the outlet! If it doesn’t light up, then check the bottom outlet as well. Still no light? Perfect, the power is off to your outlet.

Changing Out an Old (UGLY) Outlet

3. If you haven’t done so already, remove the face plate from your outlet by unscrewing the middle screw.

4. Unscrew the two mounting screws as shown below.

Changing Out an Old (UGLY) Outlet

5. Gently pull the outlet out of the receptacle box. Inspect the outlet and see if you have the same amp replacement outlet. (Usually there are marking denoting 15A 125V or 20A 120V on the silver tabs, on the back or near the screw hole in the middle of the outlet.)

6. Note which wires are attached to the outlet and where. Then make a drawing if you need to of their position. Or work by transferring one wire at a time.

Changing Out an Old (UGLY) Outlet

7. If the wires are wrapped around screws (lucky you), unscrew your wires and skip to step 10.  If your wires are poked into holes in the back of the outlet, you may choose to try to release them by poking a flat head screwdriver into the slot next to the wire, or you will need to cut the wires as close to the outlet as possible.

Changing Out an Old (UGLY) Outlet

8. Now strip about 1/4 inch of the insulation from the end of your wire. Gently use your wire strippers to clamp down on the wire being sure it is scoring the insulation. If you need to, rotate your wire strippers 90 degrees and cut through the insulation again. then while the strippers are still around the wire, pull gently towards the end of the wire to remove the cut insulation.

Changing Out an Old (UGLY) Outlet

9. Next take your needle nosed pliers and grasp the end of your wire and twist the end to make a shepherds hook shape. Do this for all your remaining wires.

Changing Out an Old (UGLY) Outlet

10. Looking at the back of your new outlet, you will see that one side has silver screws and/or markings on the back that says white wire. The other side of the outlet should have gold screws and/or markings indicating hot wires (the black wires). And one screw towards the bottom that is green, this screw is for your bare or ground wire.

Changing Out an Old (UGLY) Outlet

11. Hook each of your wires around the appropriate screw (Gold Screws = Black wires;  Silver screws = White wires;  Green screw = bare or green wire).

Changing Out an Old (UGLY) Outlet

12. Using your needle nosed pliers, pinch your wires tightly around the screws attempting to close the loop.

Changing Out an Old (UGLY) Outlet

13. Tighten each screw being sure that the wire stays tightly wrapped around the screw.

 

Changing Out an Old (UGLY) Outlet

14. If all your wires have been screwed tightly onto the outlet you can gently push your outlet back into the receptacle box. Try to rock the outlet in by alternately pushing on the top and then the bottom. If your outlet doesn’t go in, pull it out and rearrange the wires so they fold neatly behind the outlet and try again.

Changing Out an Old (UGLY) Outlet

15. Screw in the mounting screws.

16.  Replace the faceplate.

 

Changing Out an Old (UGLY) Outlet

Now you can turn the power back on and use a nightlight or lamp to make sure your outlet works!

Hey, you are done! Congratulations, you did it. Reach up and pat yourself on the back because I’m proud of you! Now that you know how to change an outlet, I have a next level swap for you! You can use the same tutorial to install a USB Charging outlet!

Let me know how you did. It was easy, wasn’t it?!

If you’ve been following the Pretty Handy Girl blog, you will recognize this copper wall sconce from the reading nook post. It was a $5 find at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore!

The sconce was a wall mount, but plug in kind. The lamp was in excellent shape, but it needed a longer cord, I wanted to ditch the brown cord, and add a switch on the cord.

I have to tell you, re-wiring a lamp is one of the easiest electrical DIY projects to tackle. Especially on this sconce since it doesn’t have a long pole that the wires have to feed through. Hopefully, after reading this post, I can convince you to go ahead and fix that lamp. Or put a rolling switch on a light fixture you currently use.

Required Safety Tip: BEFORE WORKING ON ANY ELECTRICAL DEVICE, BE SURE IT IS UNPLUGGED OR YOU HAVE TURNED OFF THE POWER TO THE LIGHT FIXTURE OR OUTLET. 

Okay, now that we have that out of the way, don’t be scared, you can do this!

At this point, I actually looked inside the lamp. What the heck is that? Where are the threads?

Oh drat, someone broke a bulb and left the base screwed inside the fixture. I have never tried the “potato” solution, but this other method works great for me every time!

The Pretty Handy Girl’s Guide to Removing a Broken Light Bulb

1. Unplug your lamp :-).
2. You need two needle-nosed pliers to grip the metal base of the bulb at the 9 o’clock and 3 o’clock positions.

Gently twist the base to the left or counter-clockwise. Always remember: Lefty Loosie, Righty Tighty!

3. Keep twisting until your base is free.

Voila, it is fixed!

Now, time to remove that ugly brown wire and then add a switch to the cord.

Rewiring a Light Fixture

Tools needed:
New lamp cord
Utility Knife
Wire strippers/cutters

1. Unscrew the wire nuts. And untwist the wires.

2. Firmly pull the cord out of the hole. If you have a lamp with a long pole body, you will want to tape the new cord to the old so that the new cord is fished through the lamp as you are removing the older one.

3. Then feed the new wire back through the hole.

4. At this point (if you need to), you can trim your lamp cord to size using wire cutters. Then you will need to separate the cords slightly using your utility knife to cut gently on the center seam. Then strip off about 3/4″ of the white insulation using your wire strippers to expose your wires.

Wire strippers are pretty easy to use. Choose the hole that will just lightly cut the insulation, but not the wires inside. You can gently clamp down and watch as the insulation is scored. then you may need to rotate the cord 90 degrees and repeat. With the wire strippers firmly closed around the cord, pull the strippers toward the end of your cord. If the insulation is cut all the way through,it should slide right off.

5. Look carefully at your lamp cord. There should be two wires enclosed in the protective tubing. One side will either have writing on it or will have ridges that run the length of the cord. This “marked or identified” side is the neutral side. It will connect to the white wires in your lamp.

6. Twist the neutral side with the white wire in your light fixture. Twist the smooth unmarked side with the black (or hot) wire on your lamp.

* For some odd reason, my light fixture also had a bare wire (can also be green) or ground wire. I suspect that my fixture used to be a hard wired kind, but someone converted it to a plug in. If this happens to you, see my note at the end of this section.

7. Then twist wire nuts onto your wire connections being sure that you cannot see any exposed wires. If you do, cut your bare wires a little shorter and re-twist them together. Then for extra security try to fold the two wires so they are away from each other.

Hey, congratulations! You just rewired a light fixture!

If you want to install a switch on your cord, stay with me…If not, go treat yourself to a cappuccino! You deserve the reward.

* Note about bare or green wire: If you have a green or bare wire (ground) on your lamp, it is advisable to ground the wire by connecting it to something metal that is separate from the lamp. I chose to wrap the bare wire around the screws I used to mount it on the wall.

Installing a switch onto your lamp cord

Tools needed:
Switch
Instructions (if they came with the switch follow them instead of mine.)
Utility Knife

Wire strippers/cutters
Screwdriver

Required Safety Tip: BEFORE WORKING ON ANY ELECTRICAL DEVICE, BE SURE IT IS UNPLUGGED OR YOU HAVE TURNED OFF THE POWER TO THE LIGHT FIXTURE OR OUTLET. 


Sorry, just needed to remind you. No need to lose any readers due to electrocution.

1. Determine where you want your switch located on your cord.
2. Using your utility knife, cut a 1 1/2″ slit between the two cords at the location the switch will be.

3. Look carefully at the wires. You will be cutting the smooth or unmarked wire in the center of your split area. This is your hot wire.

4. Open your switch with your screwdriver. Be careful not to lose the screw or the nut on the reverse side.

5. Now lay your cord inside the switch as shown. If the cut side doesn’t fit neatly on the divided side of the switch, you can cut one of the wires a little shorter.

6. Place the cover back on the switch and screw it back on tightly. You will need to make sure the cover and back fit snuggly together with no gaps. It might help to squeeze the covers together firmly before inserting the screw. This is important, because there are little metal prongs that need to pierce into the wire insulation and touch the bare wire in order for the switch to work.

7. Go ahead and plug in your cord and test the lamp. Roll the switch, if it doesn’t work you will need to UNPLUG THE CORD and press the switch together firmer and/or tighten your screw.

DONE! You just installed a switch on your lamp cord.  Congrats to you!

For my sconce in the closet turned reading nook, I used cable tacks to secure the cord around the trim of the closet. Then snaked the cords as close to the trim and baseboards as possible. This keeps the cords out of the way and makes it look cleaner.
If you need more pictures or information on wiring a lamp or adding a switch. Check out Family Handyman’s website.

Geez, this has got to be one of the least visually appealing posts I’ve written yet. Are you still there, or are you asleep?

Well, if you stuck with me through this post, I have some eye candy for you.
A view from my flower bed this morning:
Lonely rose amongst the black-eyed susans
Abundant flowers in the flower bed, speaking of bed…
…Come sit with me on this bed turned bench and have some lemonade in the shade.

Top Ten Reasons to Do-It-Yourself

Top 10 Reasons to Do-It-Yourself!

Over the course of the last ten years writing this blog, I’ve met numerous people who have lamented that they wished they had skills like mine. Or have professed that they just didn’t have it in their DNA to be handy. Consequently, I’ve spent a lot of time trying to persuade people that they are handy but just don’t know it yet. Granted, growing up in a family of DIYers helped me take the leap of faith from paying someone else to fix, build, or create something to doing it myself.

If you’re still on the fence about taking on a DIY project, let me give you the Top 10 Reasons to Do It Yourself:

    1. Save Money, Save Money, Save Money. (Do I need to emphasize this again?) When you do something yourself, you keep the money in your pocket that you would have paid otherwise. Why not create a jar and put money in there every time you save money doing it yourself versus buying or paying someone else? Did you know that taking on your own room renovation could save you as much as 50% of the cost to hire out?
    2. Try It. If you fail, Watch and Learn. You’re sink faucet is leaking or your toilet is running. You get ready to pick up the phone to call the plumber but then you remember the bill last time he was at your house. If you are trying to repair something, you will either fix the problem or need to call a repair person anyway. (That being said, recognize your limitations. Don’t take on a complicated electrical project if you don’t know what the black, white, or green wires are!) Go ahead and call that repair person, but stick around and watch how the repair is made. Ask questions. A lot of times you will realize that you could have done the repair yourself and next time you will!
    3. Help is All Around You. If you can read and able to follow directions, there is a 95% chance that you will succeed at your DIY project. There are so many resources to assist you. Here are just a few:
        • Instruction manuals that come with the fixture to install
        • Online resources, try googling “how-to” instructions for the project
        • Ask a professional or home improvement store employee for advice
        • Search for instructional videos on Youtube.com
        • Check out a DIY book at your library
        • Buy a DIY book at your local home improvement store
        • Ask a friend, family member, or neighbor who you know has the skills
    4. The Time is Now. You can complete your project now instead of waiting for someone else to do it.
    5. Get into Your Zone. You may love the process of working with your hands. If you are a parent, you’ll appreciate the fact that unlike children, wood and building is predictable. The materials will bend to your will (or tools.) Personally I find DIY projects relaxing.Modified King Size Farmhouse Bed with Storage Drawers | Pretty Handy Girl
    6. Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease. Learn something new. Studies have shown, that challenging your mind improves your brain functioning and prevents Alzheimer’s.
    7. Lose weight. If you involve yourself in a DIY project, you will probably sweat a little! You will likely be climbing, moving, and generally using your body. Engaging in a DIY project will definitely get you off the computer and keep you moving until the project is done. Talk about finishing your move goals!
    8. Discover a New Skill. How do you know you can’t tile or paint or build? If you never try, you won’t know if you actually have a talent for DIY.
    9. Bragging rights. Simple, but if you DIY something, you must brag about it to the world.
    10. Sense of Accomplishment. Do you remember the last time you tackled something new or difficult? Wasn’t the sense of accomplishment you go when you succeeded HUGE?

Install a Post Mounted Birdhouse | Pretty Handy Girl

That’s the Top 10 Reasons to Do-It-Yourself! Did I forget any? If so, leave me a comment below.

Tomorrow you’ll get your third step in this Guide to Learn How to DIY Anything! Be sure to check your email inbox, it’s going to be a good one.

Ready to jump into your next DIY project now? You’ll find an entire gallery of projects to try here: