DIY Doorbell Faceplates: A Loser And A Winner

July 13, 2011   //  Posted in: DIY, Entryway   //  By: Emily   //  4 responses

Doorbell drama. Really not a bad kind of drama to have, unless, you know, someone touches the wires that you left dangling beside the doorknob for 2 months and sues you. This kind of turned into a long-winded post about a tiny, tiny part of my house, so here’s the executive summary:

I DIY’ed two doorbell encasements. One was a failure, the other was the shizz. Continue on if you’re interested in lots of pictures, driftwood, and Frank Lloyd Wright.

Anyways, fortunately for my insurance policy, no one was zapped by the dangling doorbell, but it has taunted me daily since the entryway storm door was replaced. How did I leave this doorbell in such lousy condition for months?

Not sure. Well, that’s a lie. I was just suffering from a case of the indecisives + anti-conformities, both of which I’m sure are not medically traceable conditions, but effect me often.

Old discolored doorbell, unattached.

I had disconnected the doorbell encasement when I had needed to paint the trim of the front door before re-installing the all-glass storm door. The existing discolored rectangular doorbell was just due for an update, and I had full intent to update within a day or two. Read: Not within a month or two. I did shop around, the trouble was, I didn’t like most of them. Or, any of them. They were a little blah, lookin’ cheap, way too expensive, or in the shape of a lizard. Overall, most were just too “expected” or just not me.

Instead of cave and buy something that didn’t ring my bell (little pun there, did you catch it? Wink.), I paid $3.50 for a simple round button that would have to be inset into the door trim or a separately sold doorbell encasement (like, the lizard, or its friends the seahorse or cow).

The new store-bought doorbell unit.

I never did find a separately sold encasement that I was excited about, despite online, in-store, and Pinterest searches for everything related to “bell,” “doorbell,” “entryway,” and “front door”. So after those few months of searching, I got crafty. My first doorbell encasement effort involved upcycling regular old paint stirrers from Home Depot, cutting them into 45-degree and 90-degree angles, and piecing the puzzle together into a pattern resembling a herringbone or, actually and accidentally, a Frank Lloyd Wright-esque pattern. You know how much I like both the herringbone and the FLW.

Doorbell encasement loosely assembled (out of paint stirrer pieces)

By wood-gluing a few leftover pieces of paint stirrer to the back of the concept, I was able to both thicken the future doorbell plate and keep all the pieces reinforced in place. Voila! It was sanded down, smooth, lightweight, and really pretty cool.

Back panels used to attach the pieces together securely with wood glue.

I even got as far as to cut the necessary 5/8″ hole into it for the doorbell to sit within. I was about to paint/stain/poly it in preparation for install, and then realized I had a problem – the two layers of paint stirrer weren’t thick enough to let the doorbell sit flush against the wall. Whomp, whomp. See, this is where I started to see the project as a failure, as happy as I was with the concept overall.

The FLW doorbell cover. See how shallow the hole is?

I did consider two options:

  • Drill into the trim with a 5/8″ bit so that the wired end of the doorbell backs inside the trim just a little. (But would I accidentally drill through the existing wiring? That’s what I was afraid of.)
  • Make the FLW/herringbone faceplate thicker. (That decidely would take away from the flat, flush look I had been considering with a plate of that size).

Shame on me for not being totally aware of the thickness of the button before I got started on this first effort. In any case, it was totally freebie thanks to the free paint stirrers and my imagination.

Effort #2, and the winning solution came to mind when I was thinking up other wood encasements that might be DIYable. I considered drilling a hole into a piece of premium pine scrap that I had on hand, but then I realized I had lots of extra pieces of driftwood bits from the driftwood magnet project I had so ambitiously worked on, and those might work for a more rugged and authentic concept. I drilled a piece quickly with the 5/8″ bit to see how it’d look:

Extra pieces of driftwood, and the drilled doorbell encasement.

The pieces of wood were thick enough to conceal the doorbell without having to make extra holes into the trim, and I really liked the idea of a round encasement to complement the round bell button. The natural driftwood material was an added bonus, and as much as I say I don’t have a beach themed house, this might push me a little closer. Push. As in push a doorbell. Another pun. Sorry, I don’t know what’s gotten into me.

Wired doorbell in place. And it worked on the first try.

And to affix the whole encasement to the wall, I threaded the leftover wires into the trim and used a few dabs of wood glue; it wasn’t a heavy unit, and I didn’t want to disrupt the cleanliness of it with wood screws, although in terms of cleanliness, I do have some touchup work to do regarding the old doorbell holes you see in the picture. The glue seems to be doing just fine. I should also note that the entryway is very sheltered from the various eaves and doesn’t take a beating from the weather.

Completed and attached doorbell.

Crafty doorbell #2 was an overall success, and something I’m really happy with. Now that it’s done and I’m happy, I’ll be doing a matching one on the side entryway, which is also due for a doorbell update. Best of all, the only expense was $3.50 for the bell itself; how’s that for savings?

The Workpad: Delta Faucet Company’s I3 Studio

July 12, 2011   //  Posted in: Work-pads   //  By: Emily   //  2 responses

I really love a good, functional, collaborative workspace and hope if I ever find myself back in a corporate work environment, I can land in a space as innovative and cool as the I3 studio at Delta Faucet Company’s headquarters. After visiting the site last month for the 2011 Home Improvement/DIY Blogger event, I was uber-interested to learn more about the loft-like office space and share a sneak peek of the real-life workpad that the company’s industrial design, engineering, marketing, and purchasing teams come to every day.

Delta Faucet Company's I3 Studio

Unique from a competitive perspective, the fully-customized I3 studio environment represents the merger of inspiration, innovation, and imagination; it was among the most enviable workplaces I’ve had the pleasure of touring, and I’ve been excited to share it with you fellow workspace dorks.

  • Tall ceilings and exposed vents? Yes.
  • Dark paint and lots of natural sunlight? Yessir.
  • Dry erase boards and corkboards galore? Yep.
  • Movable furniture? Seriously, lots of it, yeah.

Not only is the space maintained for maximum inspiration with conference rooms and walkways lined with textures and objects that would make anyone go ga-ga over, but the workspaces that accountants and financiers would call cubicles are instead formed from custom-designed walls on casters. The walls are embedded with utility, from magnet boards to dry erase surfaces, there’s no lack of space for sketching, planning, and playing. With no doors and no formal ceiling, the space was designed to encourage collaboration, innovation, creativity between the various departments that call I3 (work)home. There’s no one in the photo, but it was an office alive with activity, communication, and laughter, like an innovative adult’s playground.

Delta Faucet Company's I3 Studio

I went wild for the lighting and exposed shelving in this next meeting space. The shelves are ever turning over colorful objects, prototypes, magazines, unlikely textiles like metallic mesh that would make a great New Year’s skirt, and raw materials like natural sponges and gem stones. Ergonomics are key, and while the teams in this space operate very methodically to make their products the best for the consumer, they’ve also integrated design theory to make the best work space to for themselves. Cool chairs, dudes.

Delta Faucet Company's I3 Studio

It’s forever refreshing to see traditional offices get revamped into inspiring workspaces, and something I’ve been passionate about for a long time; I don’t have a case study to back it up, but I love how a inspiring office yields inspired employees and innovative processes and technologies. It’s creative madness, and in an environment that wants to foster imagination and collaboration, it shouldn’t be any other way.

*Note: All photos in this post can be credited back to Delta Faucet Company. They’re not my own, but they are nice, eh?

The Pinned Trials

July 11, 2011   //  Posted in: Decor, DIY   //  By: Emily   //  9 responses

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery?


And with inspiration abundant online, between amazing blogs, search engines, and aggregators like Pinterest, project tutorials of all kinds are right at your fingertips. Hallelujah! I finished up a few DIY projects that I had bookmarked-slash-pinned, and thought you might enjoy hearing about what I liked and what I did differently depending on what I had on hand, hence, “The Pinned Trials”. Maybe it’ll become a regular series. If there’s anything you want me to try, point me at it please!

Numero Uno: Driftwood Magnets

Thanks to ManMade for showing some photos of beautiful, natural magnets made of tree branches; while I didn’t have any fresh (or dried) tree lumber, I have an abundance of driftwood thanks to good ol’ Lake Ontario. Taking one of the straighter, longer branches, I used the miter saw to make straight cuts, exposing the natural wood rings in each piece. Pretty, right? I got carried away, chopping about 50 pieces. I only needed a few, but I wasn’t going to let the rest of the driftwood go to waste.

Lots of driftwood pieces, chopped from a single straight branch found on Lake Ontario.

The diameter of my magnets were larger than the version used in the ManMade tutorial – 3/4″ to be exact, but they were strong little buggers that I wanted to make good use of. Larger magnets yielded larger bit yielded the need to have thicker pieces of cut driftwood so that the drilling tip didn’t go through the opposite side. Luckily I had many pieces to pick from, since I had figured these logistics out after I had gone chop-happy with the miter saw. I found 4 pieces from the original 50 that would be thick enough to use.

3/4" bit with an adequately thick piece of driftwood.

Drilling into the center of each piece of driftwood carefully (so as not to drill my own hands, I should have been wearing gloves anyways), I created an inset area for the magnet to sit.

Drilled inset area in each piece of driftwood.

It’s important to note that the magnet does not sit flush; it’s about 1 tiny millimeter from being flush to ensure that the magnet would have maximum contact with the fridge, magnet board, where ever it would live. I glued the magnet into the wood with E6000 (one of Pete’s favorites, and one of our more common go-to’s for everyday projects).

Close-up of magnet glued - note that it's not totally flush with the wood.

The finished pieces were clamped overnight, and proved to be excellent kitchen accessories when I popped them up to get busy with some coupons and photos on the magnet board (which is just a nice little thing I bought at IKEA awhile back).

Finished driftwood magnets doin' their thing.

Nice, right? Next!

Numero Dos: Outdoor Not-So-Christmas Lighting

When I pinned this garden lighting inspiration, I commented that I was going to do this immediately:

DIY Chandelier via

I already had two baskets (the ones I painted that ended up looking like CB2 products) and draping a line of christmas lights into one of them couldn’t have been easier, of course, I didn’t have a whole bunch of clear glass ornaments on hand, but I added two clear canning jars and covered them with another strand of lights in the basket to mimic that effect, although I did that on the fly once I realized that the single strand (shown below) wasn’t going to cut it. The basket I had was even already hung with a chain just like the inspiration.

Hanging light in the daylight.

With an extension cord extended into the dining room, it lights up nicely. Only after the fact did I realize that the inspiration lights were on a white strand, but no big deal.

Hanging light at dusk.It even looked really pretty lit from inside the house; casts a nice glow on the deck and the backyard.

Looking out the dining room sliding glass door.

Numero Tres: Paint Brush Cleaning

I know I’m not the only sloppy paint brush cleaner out there. And I’m cheap, so you’d think I’d try and make mine (and Pete’s) brushes last longer, but I’m tired and impatient and overall lousy when it comes to thoroughly cleaning the paint out of the brushes. Truthfully, I use both the brushes and the rollers for many more applications than they’re intended to endure. The new roller I “splurged on” when I painted the side of the garage was the first I had bought since 2009, whhhat?

When I saw the brush cleaning tutorial on This Old House by way of Pinterest, I knew it was worth a shot. I gathered the worst-of-the-worst, shown below. The one furthest to the left was actually considered a lost cause before this experiment (very stiff and rough).

Bad brushes. The one on the left was especially stiff.

Step 1: Make white vinegar hot. I put 4 cups on the stovetop for a few minutes, removing before it reached a boil.

Step 2: Pour it over the filthy brushes in a bowl/glass that can tolerate the heat.

Step 3: Go do something else for 30 minutes.

Soaking brushes in hot vinegar.Step 4: Dispose the vinegar, rinse out brushes with soapy water.

Let them sit happily on the back deck to dry in the sun. Try to think about anything besides going to find salt and vinegar chips because now you have a craving. And be impressed, because even the stiff brush that was on the far left in the first picture was cured and will be usable once again in a pinch.

A perfectly soft brush post-soak/wash/dry.