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10 DIY Projects for Empty Nesters

Installing a chandelier

While chandeliers add a striking look to your living room or foyer, they don't come cheap.

To save money, Murphy offers these tips to installing a chandelier:
  • 1. Before you do anything with your new chandelier, cut the power to the room.
  • 2. Disconnect the wires of the old light fixture, and be sure to keep them separated.
  • 3. Remove the old light from the ceiling.
  • 4. Install the bulbs and shades onto your new chandelier.
  • 5. Attach the wires of the chandelier to those in the junction box, making sure to match the colors correctly. If your chandelier has a canopy, be sure to place the canopy on the ceiling before you connect the wires.
  • 6. Turn the power back on, flip the switch in the room and to turn on the chandelier.
  • Insulation

    If you're noticing high electric bills, you might need to take a look at your home's insulation, which helps to keep the home warm in the winter months.

    Sally Morse, director of Creative Services for Hunter Douglas, offers the following tips to ensure your home is well-insulated:
  • 1. Significant savings can be made simply by blocking air leaks.
  • If you can rattle doors and window frames or see daylight around them, that's a sign they leak air. Additionally, check electrical outlets, switch plates, baseboards, fireplace dampers and air conditioners. Look for gaps around pipes, faucets and mail slots. Apply caulking and weather stripping where needed.
  • 2. Leaks in the attic or basement are harder to spot, since they may be hidden in the insulation.
  • Large gaps are also often found around plumbing pipes, light fixtures, chimneys and soffits. Ensure openings for items such as pipes, ductwork and chimneys are sealed with expanding foam caulk. Seal any electrical boxes in the ceiling and cover the entire attic floor with insulation. Be sure the attic hatch is insulated, weather-stripped and closes tightly.
  • 3. On the outside, start by checking areas where two different construction materials meet, such as siding and chimney and the foundation and the exterior brick or siding.
  • Look for cracks and holes in the mortar, foundation and siding, and seal them with the appropriate material. Check the exterior caulking around doors and windows and ensure that exterior storm doors and primary doors seal tightly.

    Painting doors and trims

    Repainting an entire room is a big DIY project. However, repainting the doors or trim is a less stressful task and is bound to update the look of the room.

    Joe Kowalski, training manager at Glidden reveals these tips for painting doors and trims:
  • 1. For doors and trims, use two coats of a latex semi-gloss or high-gloss enamel.
  • 2. Two coats is recommended as the enamels perform better applied in thinner coats and two coats makes the finish more resistant to the scratches and dings doors receive.
  • 3. For people preferring the look of oil on their trim, oil based finishes leave a higher sheen with a more durable finish. In either fashion, be sure to use a high-sheen paint.
  • Library

    Do you have bookshelves where your kids would keep textbooks? Chances are it's time to upgrade the shelves to add a more sophisticated look. Here's what Semerjian advises:
  • 1. Repaint the bookcase to a neutral color -- a mix of beige and gray is recommended.
  • 2. Recover the old books with some craft paper -- brown masking paper from a home improvement store is a clean look and will make those old books you don't want to get rid of into a beautiful focal point.
  • 3. After covering the books, use letter stamps that you can purchase from a craft store and stamp the title and author on the spine of the book. You can make it look like lettering from a typewriter for a more charming look.
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