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10 DIY Projects for Empty Nesters

Sean Murphy, DIY specialist for provides these steps for installing a ceiling fan:
  • 1. Before you do anything with your new ceiling fan, cut the power to the room.
  • 2. Disconnect the wires of the old fixture and keep them separated.
  • 3. Once the wires are disconnected, remove the old fixture.
  • 4. If your new ceiling fan comes with a ball end socket, attach that to your junction box.
  • 5. Attach the ceiling fan's blades to the motor housing before you hang it.
  • Putting it together on the ground and hanging it as one unit is much easier than trying to attach the fan blades when the motor housing is hanging from the ceiling. And ceiling fans can vary greatly by manufacturer, so be sure to follow the manufacturer's installation instructions in order.
  • 6. Hang the new ceiling fan. Start by making sure the canopy is in place if your ceiling fan comes with one.
  • 7. Reconnect the wires according to color.
  • Once your new ceiling fan is installed, you'll either have a hand-held remote or a wall-mount control. If you have a wall-mount control, all you'll need to do is connect the wires from the switch and the remote according to color.

    Banquette seating

    Adding banquette seating (built in seats, similar to window seats) to your kitchen table area is a relatively inexpensive renovation that's bound to transform the kitchen.

    Philadelphia-based interior designer Ani Semerjian of Semerjian Interiors shares tips on how to build banquette seating around the windows of your kitchen.
  • 1. Build the base
  • You can go to Ikea, Lowe's or Home Depot to purchase the cabinets. Some of these stores will work with you for your exact dimensions so bring your measurements to pick the right cabinet widths. A 15-inch cabinet height is recommended.

    In order for the doors to open, you need to raise the cabinets off the ground. Otherwise they will scrape the floors. You can do this by laying 2x4 planks of wood across the span of where you want the cabinets to lay (similar to a train track).
  • 2. Install cabinetry
  • Install cabinets on top of the 2x4s and secure them to the existing flooring with construction adhesive and screws.

    Add trim work on face of the 2x4 for a finished look. A 1x4 toe kick painted the same color as the cabinet is recommended. You can purchase these at any home improvement store.

    Seat cushions

    Once you've built your new banquette seating, you're going to want to add decorative seat cushions -- and Semerjian tell us how to install the cushions:
  • a. Purchase fabric and poly foam (the actual "cushion") at a local fabric store.
  • b. Measure the bench to determine how much wood you'll need for the seat and purchase plywood from a home improvement store. They will cut this for you.
  • c. Cut the poly foam with a serrated knife to fit on top of your wood and use wood glue to glue the foam to the wood.
  • d. Once the glue is dry, cover the foam with batting and trim to fit. Use a staple gun to staple the batting to the underside of the wood. Take extra caution to make sure the batting is smooth.
  • e. Lay the wood, batting side down on top of your upside-down fabric. Fold the fabric like you are wrapping a present around the batting to ensure no loose corners. Pull the fabric super tight and staple to the wood with a staple gun all around the underside perimeter.
  • f. Cut excess fabric and secure the cushion to the bench seat using construction glue.
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