Before and After

Although we haven’t posted in a while, we’ve been busy with lots of small projects throughout the house.  The following are a highlight of recent projects, including before and after photos.


In exploring shelving options on-line we came across a great design from Dave Wirth.  It’s a simple, yet super sturdy, design that is made with 2×4’s and OSB plywood.  This was the perfect solution to organize all the stuff left over from the move that didn’t have a home.

Basement Storage – After

Basement Storage - Before

Basement Storage – Before

These shelves are built like a tank and can handle lots of load.  Total build cost was $48.

Fireplace Mantle

Another one of the things missing in our house was the fireplace mantle.  While there was a nice brick ledge where the mantle was previously, the mantle itself was no where to be found.

Fireplace Mantle – Before and After

The solution for this project was no further away than the garage.  We had a friend give us a stack of walnut lumber.  The design is very simple, both boards are 1½” thick, the bottom board is 11” wide and the top board is 13” wide.  We glued a small piece to the end of each board so it wraps around the mantle to the wall.

The richness of the walnut came out great with a few coats of polyurethane.

Loose Trim

Having a gap between the trim and the wall really sticks out.  We had a couple of these that were very noticeable in high traffic areas, including the stairway trim.  To close the gap, we used a clamp (in reverse / spreader mode), pre-drilled pilot holes (so the board doesn’t split) and then drove trim screws through the face of the trim to the studs in the wall.`  You could use small brads to tighten the boards, however if you have traffic areas like stairs, using screws keeps the trim from loosening up from vibration.


Trim screws are great for tightening up loose boards, especially in areas with lots of traffic.

Gutter Guards

I remember as a kid how much I loved maple tree ‘helicopters’.  You’d throw them up in the air and they would spin all the the way to the ground.  This is the first house we’ve had with fully grown trees including a silver maple.  I now think of maple tree tree helicopters in a whole different way in that they quickly clog our gutters.

After cleaning out the same gutter three times in two weeks, something had to change.  We researched many options and decided on metal gutter guards from Invisaflow.  Both Menards and Lowes carry them [].  These particular guards slide under the last row of singles and snap into the outer edge of the gutter.  Many reviewers commented on how these metal guards held up well,  compared to plastic guards that melted over time. Another advantage of this particular model is that they follow the angle of the roof line making it less likely for debris to accumulate on top.  We’ve had them in place now for several weeks and they’re working great.  These cost $2.50 for a three foot section, which is a fraction of what it would cost to have gutter guards installed by a contractor.


Maple tree helicopters look a lot better when they’re not in your gutters.

Garage Storage  – Rakes and Shovels

We needed a solution for hanging all of the shovels, rakes and other yard tools that were in the garage.  We gave thought to making hooks to hold everything individually but that takes up a lot of wall space and most yard tools are only used for a season or two.  We decided to make use of the small wall area located on each side of the garage.  The solution was simple and consisted of only three 2×4’s.  The first 2×4 is used as the back mounting board, the next two boards are mounted near the center of the mounting board with a gap in between to accommodate the handle of the yard tool.  The back side of the center boards are at a slight angle (5°) so they lean upwards keeping the tools from sliding off the end.

The size of the boards will vary based on the size of your wall and the tools you have.  In our case, the backboard was 28” wide and the center boards were 18”long with a 5” gap between them.

Yes - we live in Michigan and really do need four snow shovels.

Yes – we live in Michigan and really do need four snow shovels.

We made two of these, one for each side of the garage.  The nice thing about these racks is that they are super simple and long enough so you can rotate off season tools to the back. They took about 20 minutes to make and hang up.  We used scrap lumber, however if purchased, a single 2x4x8′ board will make one unit and only costs $2.50,

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