Your Natural Home
Creating a cozy hearth for the family

4 Upcycling Projects for Your Home

Spring has officially sprung, which means its housecleaning season. Out with the old, in with the new, right? Rather than throwing away perfectly good materials, you could upcycle them instead. This way, you’ll be keeping trash from the landfill, while sprucing up your home. Take a look at these four projects to get the creative juices flowing.

1. Cereal Box Organizers

Since we’ve only just begun, let’s start with an easy project. Brightened up with colorful washi tape, these cereal box organizers are a cinch to make and they look great in your home or office.

To start, take two cereal boxes and cut them at an angle, from a top corner to midway down. Then bind them together with some regular tape to make the next step easier. Now you’re ready to start wrapping with washi tape!

Starting at the bottom, wrap the boxes in washi tape, changing the pattern each time you go around. To finish the edges, trim the tape close to the box and cover with some contrasting tape, folded lengthwise. And there you have it, a colorful organizer just waiting to be filled!

small mason jars for canning jelly
Photo by Adobe Stock/ckimballphoto.

2. Mason Jar Lanterns

These cute Mason jar lanterns are great for nights where you just want to sit and unwind on the back porch with a good book. These lanterns are as simple as placing a tea light in the jar and hanging them on hooks.

But it you want to get a little craftier, you can tint the jars before you hang them up. Take some Mod Podge or Elmer’s Glue, mix with some food coloring, then paint the outside — or inside — of the jar with the mixture. Turn it upside down, and let it drip dry for at least an hour.

To finish, heat your oven to 175 degrees F and bake for 10 minutes. Turn the jars over, and bake for another 20 or 30 minutes. When they’re done, the glue will turn semi-transparent and glossy.

Find even more unique, creative ways to reuse your Mason jars around the house.

3. DIY Greenhouses

As it turns out, you can make a greenhouse out of some pretty surprising materials! If you have some old storm windows lying around in the garage, fasten them together to make an attractive mini-greenhouse.

If you have enough of them, you can even fashion a greenhouse out of plastic bottles fixed to a frame. These greenhouses can be anything from simple open rooms to enclosed — and bottle-coated — sheds.

raw reclaimed wood shelves
Photo by Peter Murdock via
The Kitchn.

4. Reclaimed Wood Decorations

If you’re really serious about upcycling, there are tons of projects you can do with reclaimed wood. Reclaimed wood has several distinct advantages over modern lumber. For one, you’re decreasing your dependency on our shrinking forests. It’s also far more durable and stronger than anything you’re likely to come across nowadays and, because the wood is so old, it has quite a bit of character.

Reclaimed wood is super versatile. To start simple, try fashioning reclaimed beams or planks into floating shelves. More experienced woodworkers may want to try their hands on larger pieces of furniture, like a reclaimed wood platform bed. Whatever the project, you’re sure to be impressed with the results.

Discover more ideas for adding warmth and charm to your décor with these 6 Reclaimed Wood Designs from Houzz.

Upcycling an old object into a fashionable new one is a rewarding experience. It engages your creative side, all while reducing your dependence on stores and keeping junk out of the trash. After working on a few projects, you may even have a new hobby on your hands! Create useful items for your home, interesting elements for your office or unique gifts for friends and family.

Simple Ways to Personalize Your Living Space

I’ve been living in rented spaces for nearly a decade and, while I have managed to make most of them quite homey, decorating can be overwhelming. At times, it even seems impossible due to limited space and strict lease guidelines.

You have no choice in wall color, flooring, cabinets or accents. On top of that, many property managers don’t allow tenants to paint the walls and request that no holes be put into them. Even though you probably paid a security deposit, you don’t necessarily want to lose it, if and when you find your forever home or choose to relocate. Save your security deposit and add your personal style to any living space with these simple—often upcycled—decorating projects.

indoor plants in pots
Photo by Adobe Stock/

Create True-to-You Planters

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has ranked indoor air pollution as on the top threats to human health. Luckily, some studies have shown that indoor plants can help purify the air by eliminating potentially harmful agents. In addition, houseplants have been shown to improve mental health, reduce stress levels, as well as boost productivity and mood.

Incorporating plants, even into a small space, is easy and thrifty. Repurpose aluminum cans into small, tabletop planters for succulents or cacti. You can also create a vertical, indoor garden out of an old spice rack or other cubby cabinet.

Prefer potted plants? No problem! Transform an old shower caddy or create minimalist plant stands.

simple wall decor
Photo by Adobe Stock/mamako.

Decorate with DIY Wall Art

Maybe you’re not supposed to use nails or screws in a rental, but filling holes is easy and takes next to no time when you’re ready to move out. So, dress up those drab, neutral walls!

Add bohemian vibes with a simple wall hanging or keep things looking upscale with a Pollock-esque canvas in your color scheme. If you’re fond of nature-inspired art, or need something special for the kitchen, create prints using cut fruits, veggies or your favorite foliage.

Another option for wall décor is contact paper. Unlike painting or wallpaper, it’s easy to apply and remove, is inexpensive and can be used in so many ways.

One upside to renting? Most places are painted and decorated with neutral tones, which means you can choose furniture, dishes, bedding and other simple accents that you love and ensure that they’ll be a match wherever you end up.

Looking for more ways to personalize your living space? Check out these projects:
A to Z: Personalized Wall Art
12 DIY Projects to Bring Nature Indoors
Modern Macramé Hanging Planter

DIY Backyard Projects for Summer

As summer inches ever closer, spend some time building one (or more) of these DIY projects to create your ideal outdoor living space. We scoured our archives to inspire and help you design the perfect summer retreat—right in your own backyard! Whether you’re a grill-master or gardener, these additions are sure to impress guests and neighbors.

fire pit
Photo by Adobe/alwayspp.

Fire in the Hole

Add a simple fire pit for ambiance and to provide lighting. They’re attractive focal points for any yard and serve as the perfect gathering spot for barbecues. If you want to show off your grilling skills, you could even add a grill grate.

vertical pallet garden
Photo by Adobe/Anna Baburkina.

Grow Up

Vertical gardening is perfect for small spaces, such as balconies, but can look just as beautiful in a full-fledged backyard. Perhaps your yard is small and you want to save as much space as possible, or the soil quality is too poor to grow the garden of your dreams. No worries! A pallet garden will solve all your problems and barely break the bank.

pond with flowers
Photo by Adobe/Krawczyk-Foto.

Serenity Pond

If you want to create a peaceful, relaxing sanctuary in your backyard, consider a garden pond. Basic ponds are simple to build and allow you add your own personal touches, like your favorite flowers. They also vibrancy and life to any space.

homemade swing
Photo by Pixabay/qimono.

Swing, Swing

Whether you’re young-at-heart or have grandkids, a classic rope swing will provide hours of entertainment. These simple swings can keep kids occupied during cookouts, dinner parties or before Fourth of July fireworks start.

Although most of us enjoy spending time nature, we often feel like we have to go “into the wild” to do it but that’s simply not true. A few small investments can create your ideal outdoor space—no travel required.

Want more ideas for designing your dream backyard? Check out 10 Secrets to Creating the Perfect Outdoor Living Space.

4 Areas to Declutter in Your Office

Spring has sprung and that means its Spring Cleaning time! Although not everyone is keen on this annual tradition, ensuring that your work and living spaces are free from clutter will create a more positive environment—externally and internally.

Recent studies from UCLA and Princeton have shown that clutter can increase stress levels, influence mood and decrease focus. Most of us have experienced these outcomes: Whether it’s a sink full of dirty dishes distracting you from your checkbook or a table littered with assorted papers irritating you. Clutter and chaos won’t help you actually make progress on projects or any tasks at hand.

When considering your professional goals, organization is crucial for achieving them. Forbes suggests keeping your work space as clean as possible. Keep lesser used items in drawers or displayed on shelves for easy access.

home office with plant
Photo by Unsplash/Tran Mau Tri Tam.

Clean Surfaces

Use disinfectant wipes to clean your desk, keyboard, phone, mouse and other often-touched surfaces that are likely to harbor a number of germs from the winter season. Don’t forget to clean your computer screen with a microfiber cloth or electronics wipes, along with any other office appliances you use regularly (i.e. printers, calculators, etc).

Inbox Upkeep

Digital clutter is just as prevalent as real-life clutter, and email is likely your main form of communication while at work. If a message can be answered quickly or requires your immediate attention, answer it. If the message doesn’t pertain to you or isn’t something you need to save, it can be deleted.

There are, of course, emails that need to be held on to for the future. Create an inbox folder system that works for you to keep track of your important, save-for-later correspondence. Once you’ve responded, file them away in their appropriate location to keep your inbox (and your brain!) from becoming overwhelmed.

Get Organized

From your physical desktop to the one on your computer, organize your space to maximize your productivity.

• Back-up any old files you need to keep for future reference, but that aren’t used on a regular basis.
• Remove any unnecessary files and programs from virtual desktop.
• Create a filing system for physical papers you need to keep track of.
• Organize your incoming mail to make it easier to attend to daily. Create inboxes for different types of mail you receive or based on priority.
• Keep the things you use, every day, within easy reach on your desk so you never have to go searching for them again.

Calendar Clean-Up

One area you probably wouldn’t even think of adding to your spring cleaning list is your ever-useful calendar, so why bother? Oftentimes, appointments and meetings get rescheduled or canceled, but don’t ever get removed from your calendar.

• If you have regular reminders, like “go to the gym,” in your weekly calendar, consider removing them. These are great when you’re getting started on any routine, but after awhile it becomes second nature and the reminders don’t really serve a purpose anymore.
• Merge your various calendars together so you can see all your appointments in one place. This will help you avoid double-booking.
• Color-code appointments, meetings, and personal engagements so they’re easy to find at a glance. Plus, it will make things a little more appealing to look at!

6 Simple Spring Crafts to Make

Photo by iStock

Spring isn’t just a time for cleaning. It’s also a great chance to get outside, go hiking and perhaps invest in learning a new skill. Use the boost of energy you get to try out some of these ideas. Don’t worry if you aren’t a crafty kind of person — these ideas can be done by almost everyone.

DIY Flower Pops

Popsicles are a spring and summer treat, and nothing gets less pretty by adding flowers. There’s a huge variety of edible flowers, so this unusual take on a classic treat will definitely get people’s attention. Pick and wash some edible flowers, and drop them into Popsicle molds. Then pour in lemon-lime soda or fruit juice, freeze and serve to the delight of everyone. If you’re feeling ambitious, tie a bow with ribbon onto each stick.

Try Your Hand at Jewelry Making

Jewelry isn’t always about the bling sometimes it’s just about the feeling it evokes. A few small purchases can allow you to craft a huge selection of jewelry items. For the simplest item, you’ll need a stone, wire, leather cord and wire cutters.

With these things, you can make beautiful, bohemian wire-wrapped pendants. Just wrap the wire around the pendant, making it tight enough to hold it. Leave a place to slide the leather through, cut the wire and tie it on.

Create Your Own Wreath

Making your own wreath is surprisingly easy, and it’s a ton of fun. All you need is an undecorated wreath, faux flowers, wire cutters and a hot glue gun. Pull the flowers off their stalks, and remember to save some of the foliage. Use the hot glue gun to attach the flowers to the wreath. That’s all you have to do.

Of course, a little bit of planning goes a long way. You don’t want to limit yourself to just flowers. Foliage and berries are great additions, and you need to think about the placement of big and small flowers. Even a wreath needs a focal point.

Redo Your Reflection

A broken mirror is supposed to mean seven years of bad luck. If you want, though, a broken mirror can mean a new art project! You can create beautiful wall art, glass mosaic tables, or even a glass wall hanging. Glass can be picked apart and put back together to create an entirely new project.

However, keep in mind that you’ll be dealing with broken glass. That means you need to handle it safely, and this is not a project that’s appropriate for kids. If the mirror was broken by accident, take care cleaning up. If that’s done, grab the pieces you want to use along with a hot glue gun, and sketch out the pattern you want. Then just glue the pieces of mirror into the pattern and hang it on the wall.

Use Mason Jars for Everything

You can use mason jars for much more than just food. Use a long, slim piece of wood and attach hose clamps to the wood. Use the hose clamps to secure the jars. Once they’re on, hang the wood piece and fill the jars with necessities like Q-tips, toothbrushes or utensils, depending on where they’re hanging.

You can also drill a hole in the top, put in a pump, add some hand soap and boom! Instant, or almost instant, soap dispenser. Mason jars are also great for pedicure kits or planters for herbs. They can hold sewing materials, or be turned into candle holders. Seriously, you can use them for everything.

Craft Fairy Gardens

Fairy gardens are the cutest little details to add to your home. If you have kids, this is a great project for them to help with. The best part is that it’s kind of a never-ending one. You can build a small home and leave it at that, or add to it for years to come. It’s basically an outside, whimsical doll house, and you can craft it however you like. For an easy starting point, get a small birdhouse to paint. Glue on some moss, and use small stones or glass beads to create a path to the door.

Depending on what you want to do, you can arrange your fairy garden in your yard or set it up in a large flowerpot. This particular craft is very free-spirited, so you can take it as far as you want. Fairy bridges, streams, even just a door at the base of a tree can make the entrance to a charming little world. Whatever fairy garden ideas you get, you’re sure to find an excuse to keep going.

These are simple ideas for spring crafts, but don’t feel limited to these. Make up your own crafts and enjoy the fun of learning new things.


5 Household Uses for Thyme

Herbs have been household staples throughout the centuries due to their culinary and medicinal uses. Today, most herbs have been relegated to the kitchen and thyme (thymus vulgaris) is no exception. Although this herb does add delicious flavor to meats and stews, it has plenty more to offer.

Recent studies have shown that thyme oil is among the most effective essential oils for battling E. coli and other harmful food-borne bacteria. In addition, it has been used through the ages to treat muscle spasms, cough and infection. Take thyme out of the spice rack and boost the health of your family with this simple household uses.

cup of fresh thyme tea
Photo by ThinkStock.

1. Cough Eliminator: Thyme can be infused into a tea or tincture to help relieve respiratory ailments such as cough and sore throat. Traditionally used to treat whooping cough, it’s also safe for babies and small children. To use: Add 2 teaspoons of fresh or dried thyme to 1 cup of hot water and steep for 10-15 minutes for best results.

2. Tummy Soother: In The Herbal Apothecary, author JJ Pursell shares that thyme can also be used to relax muscles in the digestive and reproductive systems which may relieve stomach or menstrual cramps.

3. Healthy Mouth: Thyme was traditionally used to treat cavities, due to its antioxidant and antibacterial properties that make it useful in combating infections. Add thyme to natural, homemade mouth rinses to give them an extra boost of antimicrobial action.

4. Kitchen Disinfectant: Due to the new studies that have demonstrated thyme oil’s efficacy in killing food-borne bacteria, keep thyme essential oil on hand for cleaning countertops and other surfaces that frequently come in contact with foodstuffs. To use: Combine 1/2 cup distilled white vinegar, 1/2 cup water and 10 drops of thyme essential oil to a spray bottle. Spray the solution on countertops, tables or sinks to keep bacteria at bay.

5. Erase Acne: With antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, thyme can help reduce the appearance and occurrence of blemishes. Add a few drops of thyme to a carrier oil that suits your skin type and use as a facial cleanser or moisturizer. Thyme can also be added to a facial steam to help balance skin.

Sustainable Home Improvement Ideas for Spring

Photo by iStock

Spring is just around the corner, and that means it’s time for some cleaning and redecorating to banish those winter blues. I try to give my house a fresh feel every spring, just to change the mood and vibes of my space. I try to make sure that I make my living space a little more sustainable than it was before, so as to reduce my impact on my surroundings and make my house feel more “one with nature.” While conservation and redecorating aren’t something most people consider together, I do believe that there is a sustainable alternative to most actions. Here, I’m going to share some spring home improvement ideas I’ve incorporated over the years - hopefully these will inspire you to make your house more eco-friendly.

Clutter-free Countertops

As winter comes to a close, there’s nothing I detest more than seeing all sorts of items flung across the counter, especially considering that countertops, especially large ones, are one of the most eye-catching features of any space. The first step is to de-clutter any unwanted items that have made your counter their temporary home. Personally, I find that a relatively empty countertop gives an illusion of space, so I make it a point to only have minimal items like a vase of fresh flowers on my counter. If you prefer to keep your counter covered because it’s ugly - don’t fret! Spring is a great time to change it out for something beautiful. If your budget allows, go ahead and change your counters.  With the variety of absolutely stunning granite options out there, it’s easy to turn your counter into a work of art. Since granite and marble are naturally found stones, choosing an indigenous variety helps reduce the environmental impact of long distance transportation.  

Work the Windows

Windows cause a lot of heat loss, especially during times of extreme weather.  Replacing windows not only increases energy efficiency, but also is the perfect way to add some new style elements to your space. You can use the opportunity to create a new feel to your living quarters, by allowing for more light, different angles, and new textures. To make sure you are maximizing on energy efficiency, you will have to consider some factors while choosing your window replacements. These include choosing the type of panes (double or triple-paned), and the types of frame (wood, aluminum or vinyl). Finally, choosing an energy efficient design, such as double-hung windows will help reduce costs overall.

Perfect Lighting

While this isn’t a redecoration project, replacing your lights is a springtime project that will serve you well for the year to come. Replacing regular incandescent light bulbs with LEDs or fluorescent light bulbs is a wonderful energy saver. What's more, energy efficient light bulbs last much longer than regular bulbs, making them cost-efficient too. This report by the Department of Energy explains some of the more technical differences between incandescent and fluorescent light bulbs.  

Quick ‘n’ Easy Mood Changers

So, maybe you aren’t ready to invest in some serious redecoration, or you just don’t have the time. What then? Well, I’ve found it’s easy to change the feel of any space even with the smallest alterations. For example, something as small as rearranging your bookshelf can give your room a more open and airy feel if you set up your books in a certain way. Placing some horizontal and some vertical is aesthetically pleasing to the eye and this sort of book arrangement goes well with other accessories on your shelf, such as photo frames and trinkets. If you feel like changing your walls in a more drastic way, then consider getting some custom removable wall papers or murals printed, to make your walls unique. These can be switched out every season, or whenever you need a change of scenery. Similarly, changing pillows, adding throws to couches, and changing the way your art/frame display is set up will leave your living room feeling completely different. An easy way to do this in keeping with reducing your overall wastefulness is by collecting and keeping fabrics, reusing and upcycling old linens, and then changing them out seasonally rather than buying and throwing away new materials each year. One of the best ways to liven up any space is by bringing home some life, aka a plant! Having a burst of green screams spring, and having plants at home help cool down temperatures and naturally clean the air!

I hope these home improvement ideas inspire you to make your house more eco-friendly, because in the long run, having a sustainable living space will have better consequences for you and your surround environment.