There are plenty of ways to improve your home and garden without blowing a hole in your wallet or locking yourself in a wood shed for weeks on end!, a home and garden website packed with ideas and DIY’s to help you better your space, has tons of enthusiastic DIYers who find smart and thrifty ways to get their projects done. And the best part? They love sharing how they do it! These 10 bite-sized projects from Hometalk bloggers will help you achieve the home you’ve always wanted — the bright, clean, and up-to-date home of your dreams — before New Years comes around.

1. How To Light Up Your Outdoor Space With Mason Jars
Project courtesy of Dee from Thrift Dee

We all love a good mason jar, but instead of using yours to can goods, store grains, or hold loose pens and pencils, turn a simple mason jar into a whimsical outdoor solar lantern. With $2 solar lights and a couple of jars, home and garden blogger Dee was able to light up all of her outdoor spaces in just one day. First, she gathered up some sturdy Classico Tomato Sauce lids and traced the panel of the solar light onto each one. Then, using sharp shears, she cut out the shape, leaving a small square hole in each lid. At this point, Dee primed the lids and then covered them in a coat of Oil Rubbed Bronze paint. Once the lids were dry, she removed the solar cells from the lights and glued the cells face down into the cut lids, so that the full square panel was exposed to the sun. After leaving them to dry for 24 hours, Dee screwed those solar tops onto blue ball mason jars and added some wire, so that she could hang each lantern. These portable pretties are just the thing to line your porch, hang from your fence posts, or set in the center of your picnic table.

2. Make a Holiday Lantern Out of Ice
Project courtesy of Jessi from Practically Functional

Decorating your outdoors for the holidays is one of the most festive and exciting parts of the season, and this year it’s about to get even better. Turn 5 minutes of crafting into hours of outdoor winter lighting, with this clever no-cost ice lantern from blogger Jessi at Practically Functional. To create your mold, place a large can in your sink or tub and fill it with water. Next, fill a small can with stones and place it in the middle of the larger can. Add strips of tape to the rims of the smaller and larger cans to keep the tops level. Next, add bits of faux greenery, berries, or whatever decoration you please to the water between the cans and carefully put your creation in the freezer, leaving it to solidify over night. All that’s left now is removing the cans, finding the perfect spot on your porch or walkway for your ice lantern, and filling it with a tea light! If you want your ice creation to last longer, use a battery-powered LED light instead of a real candle. Just imagine how impressed your holiday guests will be when they arrive and see these icy lights glowing.

3. How to Naturally Freshen Your Air (Before Guests Arrive)
Project courtesy of Jessica from Mom 4 Real

Instead of stressing about stale air or lingering odors, prepare for holiday company by creating your own budget-friendly odor absorber with all natural materials. Jessica, the savvy blogger behind Mom 4 Real, came up with this simple little trick on her search to clear the air in stinky rooms (like bathrooms or baby rooms). All you need to make your own odor absorbing air freshener is a 4 oz. jar, a lid that has a removable insert (like a mason jar lid), ½ cup of baking soda, 15 drops of your favorite essential oil, and some decorative paper. First, remove the lid insert, trace it on your piece of paper, cut it out, and place it on the side. Next, mix the baking soda and essential oil in your jar. Place your paper insert into the lid, close up your jar, and shake it gently to mix the contents. Now, let that fresh scent out, by poking holes in your paper lid, using a small sewing needle. By placing this handy freshener in your guest room or bathroom, you’ll give your guests the holiday gift of clean-smelling air, without any extra scrubbing.

4. How to Use an Old Crib Rail to Dry Your Clothes
Project courtesy of Kim from Hunt & Host

This brilliant crib rail upcycle is exactly why we never throw anything away! Like blogger Kim from Hunt & Host, you can increase your laundry room drying space by turning an old crib rail into a drying rack that folds down from the wall. Before you start, paint your crib rail in the color of your choice so you’ll like how it looks on the wall. Using wooden boards, create a back panel for your drying rack. Measure the boards so that they extend a bit wider and taller than your crib rail, and connect them with two boards or furring strips. Flip your panel over and attach it to the bottom of the crib rail with two hinges. Drill a hole at each upper corner of the crib rail and run a chain through each side, securing each with a loose nut and bolt, so that you can adjust the extendibility as needed. Now, add a latch to a top corner of the rail, so you can secure the rack against the wooden back panel when it’s not in use. That’s all! This simple design doesn’t take long, and it’s an easy way to add function and flash to your laundry room.

5. How to Build Your Own Cold Frame On The Cheap
Project courtesy of Jim and Mary from Old World Garden Farms

Looking to grow fresh vegetables well past the traditional growing season of your area? Lucky for you, this cold frame DIY can keep your greens growing nearly year around, or, at the very least, extend your season by a month on each end. According to farmers and bloggers Jim and Mary Competti, of Old World Garden Farms, all you need for a great cold frame is 2 windows and a few pieces of 2×10 lumber. Specifically, you’ll need two pieces of 2 x 10 x 10’ regular framing lumber (untreated), two recycled window sashes (without lead paint), four 3” hinges, and twenty-four 3” exterior screws. Your lumber cuts will vary depending on your window size, but this DIY used 27” x 24” sized windows, three 54” boards for the front and back of the rectangle, and three 21” boards for the sides. Trace a diagonal line from the top end to the bottom end of one of your sideboards, and then use a circular saw to cut along the line. These angled end pieces are where your window will rest. Just screw your pieces together, add the hinges to attach the windows, and you’ll be ready to plant!

6. Build a Firepit With Pavers in Just 30 Minutes
Project courtesy of Ellora from Creatively Southern

Enjoy chilly nights in the backyard, with this easy 30 minute DIY that turns a basic fire bowl into a family-friendly stone-lined firepit, perfect for a cozy cookout or an evening of s’mores and stories. To add this toasty feature to their backyard, Creatively Southern blogger Ellora and her husband used a 35″ firebowl and 48 pavers. To measure the space, they laid the mesh lid of the fire bowl in the center of their concrete patio and lined it with a row of blocks. They then removed the lid, and added the second row of blocked, staggering them slightly so that they didn’t match up perfectly with the first row. They did the same thing for two more rows, so that they’re paver pit was 4 rows, or 16″, high. They didn’t use any mortar or adhesive for the blocks, so that they could move the firepit in the future if need be, and so that the heat from the bottom of the bowl would have cracks to escape through. Once all the blocks were in place, they dropped the fire bowl on top of the pit, put in the grate, and ushered in a new season of backyard BBQs.

7. Make a Free Patio Furniture Set from Pallets
Project courtesy of Aniko from Place of My Taste

This pallet patio furniture idea from Aniko at Place of My Taste is quick, free, and pretty straightforward. Decide the depth of your pallet benches based on the size of your outdoor space. For their own version, Aniko and her husband cut standard sized pallets in half. Whatever width of pallet you choose, collect enough to stack them, so that you’ll have two layers of pallet the entire length of your bench. Before connecting the two layers, cut legs for your bench from a 4 x 4 wood panel. Attach a leg at each corner of your bottom row of pallets using small tie plates. Next, secure the pallet layers together, again using small tie plates. Then, attach a long 2” X 6” piece to the back of the pallet bench to secure it further. Once your bench is built, add paint or stain and then seal it, to protect your piece against weather damage. For the patio table, simply stack two standard sized pallets, connect them with small tie plates, and paint or stain them. To add cushions to your bench, cut a large piece of foam to size and cover it in outdoor fabric.

8. Turn a Tomato Cage into Stylish Storage
Project courtesy of Lin from Hot for Houses

According to Lin from Hot for Houses, you might just be shopping for stylish storage in the wrong place. All you need to stow things with class is a tomato cage, painter’s tape, and colorful twine or string. Start by cutting the legs off of your tomato cage — you’ll need a flat ring for the bottom, but you can choose the second or third ring, depending on how deep you would like your basket. Next, tie your string to the bottom ring and start wrapping it under and over along the basket from top to bottom. Once you’ve covered the entire basket, secure your string along the top with pieces of painter’s tape. Add your second layer of string the same way. When you’ve finished wrapping the sides, tie your second string to the bottom ring of your basket, and then weave it back and forth along the bottom ring, turning the basket slightly as you go, so that you cover the entire bottom. When your basket bottom is filled in, use a needle to weave the string through the bottom and tie a tight knot. Cut the extra legs of string from each knot, and you’ll be ready to fill your basket.

9. How to Make a Personal Space Heater Using Tea Lights
Project courtesy of Jeremy from Simply Dixon

With the cold weather on its way in, we’re looking for easy ways to stay warm without spending too much time or money, and we think we’ve hit gold! According to Jeremy from the blog Simply Dixon, you can stay warm and save energy this winter, by making your own easy and inexpensive personal space heaters, using a glass dish, aluminum foil, tea lights, and two clay pots. He was skeptical at first, but after giving it a go, Jeremy figured out that this quick warm-up trick really works! To make your own, collect a glass or metal bread dish, 4 small tea lights (get extras if you plan to keep your heater going for a longer period of time), a small clay pot, and a larger clay pot which can fit over the small one. First, line your bread dish with the aluminum foil. Next, place the tea lights in the center of your dish and light them. Take the smaller clay pot and rest it upside down on top or your dish, so that it sits on the rims. Next, add the larger clay pot on top of the smaller one, covering a larger portion of the dish.

10. Turn a Cabinet into a Double Duty Kitchen Island
Project courtesy of Corey from Sawdust 2 Stitches

Have you ever come across a bargain and known just what to do with it? That’s exactly what happened when Corey of Sawdust 2 Stitches stumbled upon this $5 garage sale cabinet. Here’s how to turn a battered piece like this into a trash-stowing island. First, remove doors, shelves, and trim. Measure your trashcans to ensure that they fit into your space. Separate the storage spaces with a DIY cubby. Secure your cubby inside the cabinet, and then use 1×3″ and 1×2″ fingerboard to trim your piece. Use thinner boards to trim the cubby section. For each cabinet door, cut rails and stiles, and add grooves to fit the central panel. Connect three sides of the frame, leaving out one stile. Slide the panel into the frame, add the last stile, and fasten the joints. Attach your doors to the cabinet with two hinges along the bottom of each door. Fill holes, and then sand and paint your piece before adding door pulls. Add a cleat to the inside of each door at the height of your trashcan lip, and a chain from the interior of the cabinet to the door. The lip of the can rests on the cleat, making it swing out when the door is opened.

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This article was originally published in The NEW PIONEER™ Winter 2016 issue. Subscription is available in print and digital editions here.

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