Before and After Photos How To's

Simple Porch Column Plans – Wrap your ugly 4×4

Have you ever looked at a porch column that was nothing more than a 4×4 and thought it just didn’t fit the scale of the porch/house?   Even worse, you could have 2 2″ x 4″‘s sistered up to make the 4″x4″.  It isn’t too difficult to wrap your 4×4’s with some off the shelf lumber to give a look that will be more in scale with your porch/house.

I had a project a couple of years back and decided that I would simply wrap my columns with 1x pine.  Pine was used (rather than pressure treated) since this was a well protected corner of the house, the porch had a nice overhang and the wood was to be painted.

You might look at this plan/design and think that it was a waste of quite a bit of material and you could be correct.  However, pine boards are inexpensive.  If you are in the Buffalo or WNY area, check out LenCo Lumber (  LenCo has fantastic pricing on pine boards (side note… and MDF trim).  In our case, we had just torn out some pine storage shelves and had an abundance of free material that we were able to upcycle.

You could just wrap your column one time with pine and beef it up by 1 1/2 inches each way.  By following our plan you will be going one step further and giving your home a custom look with a raised panel style design.  Take a look below and take a look at the plan at Sketchup.  Keep in mind, this is not meant to be structural.  This is a decorative touch.

Tip: You should be sure to avoid direct ground, or flat surface contact with your pine.  The wood will wick up any water that it comes in contact with.  You can avoid (or delay) this by sealing the end of each board with a primer or sealer (I smear caulk on my end grain for protection).  In addition, you should elevate your bottoms by about 1/8″-3/16″ and then fill that gap with caulk.  This will add many years to the life of your porch columns.

You can find the full Sketchup Plan for the column here:

Take a look at the end result:

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How To's Interior Projects

Window Seat With Hidden Storage…

This is a simple plan for a DIY window seat.  If you have your own bay window and space is being wasted, you MUST build this window seat in your bay.

This builder used applied MDF panels to create depth and a nice design.  You could do the same, or if you are shorter on material, you could do a simple applied molding.  To be honest, if you have the MDF it will be cheaper, faster, and easier.

window seat plans with storage


Free Plan: DIY: Window Seat With Hidden Storage

Interior Projects


A small change can make a big difference in a room.  With many of the cookie cutter 4 bedroom, 2.5 bathroom homes that have been built over the past 15-20 years, one appears to be just like the next.  If you are looking to set your home apart things like crown molding and chair rails won’t cut it anymore.

A classic look such as a cofferred ceiling, or other designs are taking it to the next step and helping a home to stand out.

One thing to keep in mind with this design change.  If your ceiling height is below 8′, this might not be the best idea.  Even a couple of inches can make a room feel much smaller.  If the room started out small (12’x12′ or less) this will make it feel much more cozy.  If the room is large, and the ceiling height is only 8′, this will make the room feel small (especially if you are going with a dark stain).

wood ceiling plans

Free Plans: Small-Town Idaho Life: MASTER BEDROOM WOOD CEILING {DIY}.

Before and After Photos Interior Projects

This DIY Board & Batten Will Make a World of Difference

If you have a boring entry, or really any room, you can add a ton of character by simply adding a board and batten wall panel detail.  It is not expensive, but it is a classic look that adds a lot of charm to a space.

Your situation might differ depending on your existing baseboard and/or casing, but the 2 examples below should help you to create your own paneled wall detail.  Here are a couple of before and after pictures.

Give this project a try.  You will be amazed at the difference in feel that a board and batten wall detail will provide in a space.

Version 1: (original post)

Before and after board and batten entry

Version 2 (a variation for 1 wall)

diy board and batten wall panels


Project Version 1:

Project Version 2:

Tools and Reviews

From Design to Completion… Lay it Out to Get Ahead

If you are a handyman, contractor, or house flipper, you can always get ahead of yourself by designing your projects in a program like Sketchup (formerly Google Sketchup) prior to beginning your work. I’ll give you a couple of examples of how I use this technique below.

Typically I will use Sketchup prior to owning a property, or prior to getting approval from the person I am working for (my wife).  The window seat bookcase below demonstrates the technique.  We purchased a property (0ur cottage project) and since we are in NY, had about 60 days from the time we went under contract and the time we closed on the property.  This time can be used wisely.  Most contractors will have other work occupying that time, but there are certainly rain days, or sick days, where sitting at a computer is not a burden.

The window seat bookcase was designed in a couple of hours.  We took measurements of the window during our home inspection and built the 4 basic boxes used in this design (2 towers, header shelf, seat box) off site.  Designing in Sketchup allowed us to review design options, shelf spacing, and divider spacing.  By doing so, we were able to bring the pieces in, level, fasten, and then work on our face frame that tied everything together.  By doing it off site we were able to utilize our best tools rather than our site table saw, limited clamps, etc.  Click the image to view the full size collage.

Designing in Sketchup before a project begins

The scale used in Sketchup can literally be anything you want.  You could work on a 4mm watch gear, or something the size of the Eiffel tower.

I began using Sketchup years ago when working on a fixer upper house (Garfield Project).  Again, with 60 days until closing, we had plenty of time to plan.  This project was a complete gut job and Sketchup allowed us to test some wall removal, kitchen layouts, flooring choices, transitions, and front elevations.

floorplan garfield

If you have done a fixer (flip) before you know that creating a plan is the key to getting the project done quickly.  You can literally have your demo plan, rough plan, and purchase list complete before you ever close on the property.  This is a huge time saver and will result in a much better finished product since you will be able to focus on the details that will set the property apart from others.

Give Sketchp a try.

How To's

DIY Drywall Lift

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