Michelle Chin

Before and After: Stock Tank Gardening Project
I’ve been in love with galvanized stock tank gardens for a long time and posted a roundup of my favorites last summer. Finally, I’ve gotten the chance to exercise my green thumb and take the first, small step to adding a little style to the exterior of my home.After nearly a year of renovations to the interior of my home, I’ve finally had the chance to start adding a little curb appeal.
Jul 17, 2020
The 10 Most Dramatic Before & After Projects
Thinking about the new year might be the time for home improvement resolutions, or at least some serious list-making. From a formerly dingy little caravan, to kitchens, gardens, dining rooms and a few entire homes, we have run the entire gamut of before and after projects this year. The following selections represent the most dramatic and inspiring of 2011 to help ring in any 2012 renovation plans.
Mar 11, 2020
Bathroom Before & After Projects
We’ve had a great year of bathroom before and afters. From the controversial orange bathroom redux to the double renovation of a studio apartment bathroom, we’ve seen a lot and found inspiration even if we didn’t agree with every single choice someone made. I don’t think I would have had so much courage to tackle my own projects this year without Re-Nest and Apartment Therapy, so hopefully these will embolden someone else to do the same.
Mar 11, 2020
Growing Citrus Indoors: 5 Helpful Tips
As someone who’s obsessed with citrus fruit, I can’t imagine not having fresh satsumas or Washington navels during the holidays. The scent of the blossoms alone will instantly put me in a good mood. For those in less ideal citrus climates, you need not feel left out! You can grow the dwarf varieties of these trees indoors and reap the benefits by following a few simple steps: 1. Buy the right tree.
May 7, 2019
10 Tips for Extending the Life of Your Washer and Dryer
The laundry area in my new home is much more compact than it was in my old rental, resulting in the purchase of a stackable washer/dryer unit. One thing I’ve encountered that I didn’t with the traditional side-by-side units is a persistent vibration during the spin cycle of the washer. After some research, I learned a few new things about proper care of my appliances that I thought were worth of sharing. 1.
May 7, 2019
Before & After: My Cheap, Green Kitchen Remodel
When I moved into my home, only one out of the three units was livable. The downstairs had been gutted and wasn’t much more than a glorified storage unit. You’ve gotten a glimpse of the bathroom via my Ace Hotel-inspired shelving post. Now I’m going to share my mostly recycled kitchen-on-a-shoestring.Diving into this project as a novice homeowner included lot of naivety and the necessity of getting a unit rented ASAP to help pay the mortgage.
May 7, 2019
Before and After: 1960 Split-Level Green Makeover
Used as a rental for years, Gregg Olsen, the owner of this 1960 split-level in Boulder, CO had a vision to add a second story to his home. When that plan promised to cost $100,000 – $150,000 more than he had budgeted, a change of plans was in order. The new concept included energy efficiency and modern design elements.Mr. Olsen hired VaST Architecture to realize the extensive renovation on his home.
May 6, 2019
6 Plants Your Cats Will Love
So many of us battle with our feline friends over the houseplants we’d rather they not eat. Ever wonder what plants you can grow specifically for cats? There are the obvious ones that I’m sure we can all name, but there are some less known plants that will make your kitty very happy.1. Cat Grass (dactylis glomerata)- this is an obvious one, but why spend $4 – $6 a pop at the store when you can grow it yourself?
May 6, 2019
Before & After: San Diego Garden Renovation
There’s nothing to fuel inspiration more than a really great set of before and after images. We definitely find that here, with this wonderful front garden renovation at the home of Dee Randolph and David McQuaide in the North Park area of San Diego. Especially wonderful is the replacement of sod in favor of drought tolerant plants.The homeowners also changed the trim color and red tiles on the roof to better compliment the newly completed garden.
May 6, 2019
How To Drill Holes in Plant Pots
I’m sure we all have them: plant pots sans drainage hole(s). Sure, sometimes they can be perfectly fine as a decorative piece. But if you want something living inside it, you will need a second, hidden planter inside that does have drainage holes. But you still run the risk of root rot from standing water unless you’ve placed gravel or something else in the bottom of the decorative planter. So, what can you do to remedy this? Create your own drainage hole!
May 6, 2019
Before & After (& Really After): Studio Bathroom Redux
When I moved into my home, the bathroom in the studio over the garage was sad and depressing. When I embarked on my very first home improvement project to update it, I was really proud of the work I did, but it only held up to daily use for two years. The subfloor wasn’t level, so the composite floor was cracking, and the cheap composite counter top on the vanity had a corner chipped off.
May 6, 2019
Before & After: Replacing Icky Carpet With Wood Laminate
October was a ridiculously busy month for me. I welcomed three sets of out of town guests, as well as renovating the studio over my garage. Earlier this week, I posted about the bathroom. The final project was replacing the dingy, smelly carpet with wood laminate.Though the previous tenant had the two year old carpet cleaned before vacating, it had an overwhelming musty odor, an attempted repair where an iron had burned the carpet, and the seams were coming apart.
May 6, 2019
How To Make Homemade Reed Diffusers
Ban those plug-in air fresheners for good.
May 6, 2019
Before & After: Ottoman Transformation
When I saw the photo of this ottoman, I had to look twice because it’s just like one I picked up at the local thrift store several months ago! Just like the one above, mine isn’t in terrible shape, but the upholstery is certainly outdated and could do with a bit of sprucing up.Jill Browning is certainly more proactive than I am and she did just that, gave her ottoman a fabulous makeover. And where, pray tell, do you think she got that lovely fabric from?
Apr 12, 2012
Before & After: Bright Craft Room Redux
From all-purpose craft room/storage room to spectacularly organized and inspiring workspace, this craft room makeover is enough to make the best of us a little envious.I love the industrial touches with the work stool, table legs and chains that hold up the shelving. It doesn’t go over the top and retains a refined edge.The makeover was done by Real Simple so of course they focused not just on the aesthetics, but functionality and organization.
Apr 5, 2012
Before & After: Leg-o-matic Chairs Rehab
Another great project from one of my favorite DIYers, her projects are always creative and impressively well-executed. She doesn’t disappoint with her latest project, refurbishing vintage Leg-o-matic chairs. Had you ever heard of these chairs before? I hadn’t but totally want some now! See her amazing results after the jump.The craftswoman is Janine from Salvage Love. She found these 1962 vintage Leg-o-matic chairs at a local thrift store and was smart enough to snap them up.
Mar 8, 2012
DIY Paper Flowers From Recycled Maps
A friend of mine “pinned” the above image on Pinterest and I instantly fell in love with the idea. So, I tracked down a tutorial on how to make them…which basically involves old maps (or books or any paper that has otherwise outlived its original useful life).Amber at Fancy Pants Weddings was wonderful enough to post this easy tutorial for creating lovely paper flowers.
Feb 10, 2012
Any Truly Green Alternatives to Termite Tenting?
This last week, I had my 2-story garage tented for dry wood termites. I didn’t want to use toxic gas (Vikane, also known as sulfuryl fluoride), but both eco-friendly pest control companies I called for inspections advised that I go with tenting to save the structural integrity of the building. But, even now, I have my reservations and regrets if it was the right solution because of the toxicity involved.
Oct 19, 2011
Learning To Love Caulk: 5 Eco-Friendly Options
Caulk. If you’re 13 years old (or me), you giggle when you say it unless you emphasize the “L.” For the rest of the world, caulk is one of those household items that you don’t learn to properly respect until you undergo a sizable home renovation project. Before that, it’s just the gooey stuff you put around your bathtub, shower and sink to keep water from leaking out and rotting the walls and floors.
Oct 6, 2011
DIY Mishaps: Removing Latex Paint From Clothes
As I’m deeply entrenched in renovations to the apartment over my garage, many cans of paint have been purchased. Sometimes, I’m too lazy to put on my official painting garb (old, holey overalls and t-shirts that are past their prime) and stay in the jeans or yoga pants I’m already wearing. The thought, “I’ll be careful. No worries about getting paint on this,” is often what one might call, “famous last words.
Sep 26, 2011
Hot Tip: Trim Cellular Shades to the Perfect Size
I knew from the moment I bought my home that I’d want top down/bottom up window treatments. I don’t want folks being able to look in my windows, nor do I want to necessarily look at my neighbor’s roof. So, the task was to find shades that fit. For most of the windows, I made do with mounting them on the outside of the windows (partially to accommodate the cats wanting to sit on the sills).
Aug 16, 2011
When Not to Feel Guilty About Cutting Down a Tree
Trees bring so many benefits to our lives: they clean the air, provide homes for wildlife, cast shade, help your home be more energy efficient, and they can provide food and offer a glimpse of history, depending on how old they are. So when is it okay to chop one down? I never thought I’d be in a spot where this would have to be a decision. When my dad chopped down an (allegedly) diseased tree from the front of our home back in high school, I felt personally wounded. But now I get it.
Aug 15, 2011
Tin Can Luminaries
Cook-outs on warm summer evenings need to be lit by something so you’re not left sitting in the dark. How about making some very inexpensive metal lanterns out of recycled tin cans? They’re easy to make and require minimal materials (unless you want to get extra fancy).If you’ve ever used a pumpkin carving kit for Halloween, you already have the skills to create a tin can luminary.
Jun 17, 2011
True Confession: How I Saved My Carpet From Cat Urine
The rogue houseguest who inspired 10 Tips for Being a Good Houseguest had more of a lasting effect than I could have ever imagined. It seems one of my cats wasn’t exactly stoked by her presence and as soon as she left kitty decided to, ahem, “cover” every last bit of her scent in the guestroom. I had no idea what he was up to until it was too late.I’ll start out by saying, I don’t exactly love the carpet.
May 11, 2011
What To Put in a DIY Disaster Preparedness Kit
As I view the images following Japan’s 9.0 earthquake, each more heartbreaking than the last, the sober realization that many folks are cut off from food, water, medicine and adequate shelter is becoming greater by the hour. As someone who lives in California, I’ve grown up with the reality of earthquakes and the fear of “the big one.” But, the simple fact is, many of us aren’t prepared properly, if at all.
Mar 14, 2011
How To Make a Recycled Newspaper Pom Pom
When asked to co-host a his and hers baby shower in a downtown Los Angeles loft for some dear friends, I knew I wanted the decor to be fun, made of recycled materials and not pink. I started with pom poms. Usually they’re made of tissue paper, but having a pile of newspaper on the porch, I needed to put it to good use.MaterialsNewspaper (8 sheets per pom pom)Floral wireString, raffia or monofilament to hang the pom poms with ToolsVery strong scissors 1. Lay out 8 sheets of newspaper.2.
Mar 7, 2011
How To Make Your Own Pine Tree Car Air Freshener
The ubiquitous pine tree air freshener. Call it what you will: kitsch, cute, ghastly. One thing it isn’t is natural. So, if you like the look of the staid and true conifer (or want to get creative and make your own design), have we got the tutorial for you.Kristina Hoglund at ReadyMade has put together this clever DIY for making your own organic air freshener that will put all those service station pine trees to shame.
Feb 18, 2011
Yay or Nay? Cat Genie Self-Cleaning Litter Box
The Cat Genie is one of those things that can seem really green or really un-green, depending on how you look at it. I bought the first version of it after I had been in a car accident and injured my wrists pretty badly. I wasn’t able to carry heavy loads, which meant clumping cat litter and the Litter Robot I had considered purchasing for my four felines was out of the question.The glory of the Cat Genie is that it uses washable litter granules (made from recycled plastic).
Jan 28, 2011
Common House Plants that are Toxic to Pets
We often talk about the benefits of house plants for indoor air quality. If you’re a pet owner, you might not know that some of the most common plants can be harmful (and even fatal) to Fluffy or Fido. To avoid unexpected vet visits, I’ve compiled a list of some of the most common toxic plants for cats and dogs. I was shocked reading this list because I have many of these plants either indoors or out and have not personally encountered any problems.
Jan 26, 2011
5 Green Fire Log Options
It made me cold just watching all the news coverage on New York’s “Snowpocalypse” last week. Not that it hasn’t been cold in California (where our older homes tend to be very poorly insulated), but we can’t really make a fair comparison. No matter where you live, if you’re lucky enough to have a fireplace, you are no doubt using it. I’ve found some earth-friendly fire log options for you to keep your toes warm and your conscience clear.1.
Jan 6, 2011
How To Refill A Vintage Makeup Compact
I’ve always admired vintage makeup compacts, but found it rather sad that refills weren’t available and chalked these fancy little accessories up as a lost cause. Sure you could possibly use one as a fancy pill case or just use the built-in mirror, but it’s just not the same. Then, randomly, my friend forwards this “how to” my way!Vixen Vintage worked out the details on how to turn loose powder into a perfectly pressed cake, ready for a night on the town.
Dec 9, 2010
Preserving Your Herbs: Choosing The Best Spice Jars
As we make our way through the 20/20 Cure, some of us may find our kitchens in need of some organizational attention. (If you’re following the Kitchen Cure, then you know this!) Ever realize that you have 4 different containers of cinnamon or cream of tartar lurking in the back of a cabinet?
Nov 4, 2010
How To Patch Drywall: Easier Than it Looks!
image:a23c229c6810ae0bf83bad0b6bc541b29034871a w:540 s:"fit" class_name:"mt-image-center" show_pin_button:"true" show_image_credits:"true" Once we’re out of college, patching holes in drywall involves more than a little toothpaste. Large areas of repair might seem overwhelming and easily subbed out to a contractor or handyman, but it really is a relatively easy endeavor. In my case, I wanted to take out the dinky vintage medicine cabinet in the apartment above my garage.
Sep 2, 2010