Neat Features

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Solar Powered Lanterns

March 18th, 2013 Posted in DIY, Neat Features, Outdoors Tags: , , ,

One of the long-running themes at Neat Features has been the idea that you don’t need to spend a lot of money to have something that’s neat.  In fact, I’d be willing to say that a lot of the things I think best describe the Neat Features of a house are the things that don’t cost a lot of money.

That’s what’s so great about this particular DIY project.  If you live in suburbia, or even large portions of most cities, you likely have a fence.  And if you’re a good neighbor your turned the “nice” side of your fence to your neighbors view.

That leaves you with the “ugly” side.  So what can you do?  Well with a little creative shopping and some creative thinking you simply add some solar powered lanterns to the braces.

Like many Neat Features, this solves a particular need for my (very) small city yard.  We’ve been wanting to add some variety in our backyard as a place for the family to hang out, especially on nights when we are grilling or using the fire pit.

This small tweak gives us a lot of flexibility.

For more great ideas like this one, check out the cleverly named blog: Running With Scissors

Felt Christmas Tree for the Kids

December 18th, 2012 Posted in DIY, Fun Tags: , , ,

It seems these days we’re always looking at ways to do two things: kid proof the house and have the kids “join us” for more activities.  Usually these are mutually exclusive.

However, some unkown (or at least unkown to me because I cant’ figure out who started with this idea) person came up with the idea for a wall-mounted felt Christmas tree.

What a great way for the kids to get to decorate – and play – with their own tree, while also making sure they won’t destroy anything.  A quick search of the interent turns up a bunch of trees and styles.  But there are two that caught my attention.  The first is from Sol and Rachel do a Blog.

The other design I like is from Johnny in a Dress:

So if you’re looking for something fun to do with your kids – and something to keep them out of trouble – a felt tree might just be the thing.  Although just between you and me, I know my kids are still going for the ornaments on the real tree.  It’s the forbidden fruit of Christmas after all!

A Christmas Tree for the Porch

December 14th, 2012 Posted in DIY, Fun Tags: , , ,

My wife loves Christmas.  I mean really, really loves Christmas.  If I am not careful, we’ll have Christmas trees in every room in the house.  Of course that’s her secret goal (that’s not really so secret.)

But when I saw this, I thought it might be a nice compromise.  We have a small front porch, and it’s always a challenge to find something to do with it.  Especially since we don’t have any outside electrical outlets.  However, this tree would sit nicely on the porch, without taking up too much room.

So how about it – how do you decorate your front porch?

This design comes from Two-Twenty One.




Decorating a Nursery

June 12th, 2012 Posted in Bedroom, Children, DIY Tags: , , ,

When my wife and I found out we were going to have a baby we were thrilled. Of course having a baby meant needing a nursery. And the only room available was my freshly decorated / built office. (I’ll let you guess who no longer has an office.) Deciding what to do with the nursery was one of the hardest tests our marriage had yet faced. Fortunately we live in the internet age and were able to use Pinterest as a way to fight a proxy war for decorating the room. And over the course of a few months, we eventually settled into a design.

I firmly believe that without Pinterest, we’d still be arguing over paint colors.

While it all worked out for our family (and our son loves his room, except, of course, at bed time.) What I wished I had seen though was this fun idea for decorating a nursery. For this nursery they had everyone who came to the baby shower bring a different letter – and then used those letters to hang on the wall.

One of the hardest parts of decorating a nursery is finding what to use. Pictures are nice in living rooms and dining rooms. But for a nursery you want things that are more sentimental. Simply hanging a picture to fill a wall just doesn’t feel right.

Plus, kids love looking (and touching) things. So the more texture you can have, the more they’ll enjoy being in their room. And let’s face it, when Junior wakes up at 2 AM, you’ll love just about anything that will keep him in bed!

Donkey Kong Shelves

June 12th, 2012 Posted in DIY, Fun, Neat Features Tags: , , ,

Odds are if you grew up anytime in the last 30 years, you’ve played Donkey Kong. In fact, Donkey Kong is one of the reasons why nearly every house has an Xbox, Playstation, or Wii in their living room. And if you didn’t grow up then, you probably saw your kids play. That’s how big Donkey Kong was. In many ways it defined entertainment for a generation.

So how do you reflect that impact? Obviously by creating shelves that look exactly like the levels in Donkey Kong!

Are these shelves practical? Well if you mean “practical” in the sense that they hold a lot of stuff, then obviously not. However, there is no doubt that they are fun and would look great in a “gaming room” or bedroom for someone who likes a little bit of nostalgia or old school gaming. One of the things we like to highlight around here are just some of the fun things you can do to your house. Not every room needs to be a white / grey color scheme!

Of course this isn’t the first time we’ve blogged about Donkey Kong on Neat Features, so if you’re not into building your own shelves, then you might want to try out these Donkey Kong Wall Decals.

(As an added bonus, for those of you who are gaming inclined, there are even a few Easter Eggs in that picture.)

Wine Cork Planters

May 22nd, 2012 Posted in DIY, Neat Features Tags: , ,

One of my favorite things about writing Neat Features is finding all of the amazing and creative projects that people have made.  Seriously.  The list is pretty amazing.  We’ve seen DIY Family Trees, ways to organize your kid’s artwork into art,  we’ve seen some neat wiring, and of course how to cover the cracks in your walls.

But today’s project, Wine Cork Planters, has to be at the top of that list.

Until I saw this image, I had no idea this was even a possibility.  What a great and fun way to decorate your house.  I’d love to have tiny little plants decorating my refrigerator, on my walls, or even a way to take some greenery into a dorm room.

Of course it’s not just in your house that these work well – think about your office or cubicle at work.  You could easily attach these to your cubicle wall to give it a nice reminder of the outside.  (If you happen to live in the world of cork that is.)

If you’re interested in these, you can buy some straight from Etsy.

Family Trees Redux

May 1st, 2012 Posted in Children, DIY Tags: , ,

A while back I talked about family trees.  Not the kind that grow in your yard, but the kind that you hang on a wall.  Well this time we’re back with another version.

I think I like this one better.  (And the good news is you can buy it on Etsy!)  But what’s clear is that family trees aren’t meant to be stuffed into a bookshelf and forgotten.  They are meant to be displayed as one part art and one part history.

A Neat Door

May 17th, 2011 Posted in Bedroom, DIY, Neat Features Tags: , ,

Question: Why do doors have to be boring?

Answer: They don’t when they’re bright yellow and actually a barn door for your bathroom.

Dana Miller at House * Tweaking shows us that doors can be functional and fun.  (Although I must admit, that’s not really a sentence I ever imagined myself typing!).

She took wood from a fence and recycled it into a sliding door for the master bathroom.  And then painted it a bold yellow.

I know this sounds weird, but this really is one of the coolest doors I’ve seen.  I actually feel inspired by this door.  (Again, weird.)  But hey, what can I say, I love this door!

image by Dana Miller from House * Tweaking

Hanging Plants on Walls

April 1st, 2011 Posted in DIY, home design Tags: , ,

I have cats. And while most people think that sounds “fun” or “cute”, I see it in a different light. Because my cats are certified plant assassins.  Every plant I’ve ever brought home, whether potted or a dozen roses for my wife, end up with hundreds of tiny teeth marks in them by morning.

Some end up far, far worse.

Personally I’d love to have some plants.  Not only can they really add a sense of style, but they can actually improve the air quality of your house.  Considering we’re heading into allergy season here in Cincinnati, I’m willing to try just about anything to stop sneezing.

That’s why I am so intrigued by the Wally Pocket system.  (Not to be confused with the Disney flick.)  I think it might stop my cats from being vegetarians and maybe even get rid of a bit of house air pollution.  Plus it’s a pretty simple DIY project.

What do you think?

Some Neat Wiring

March 25th, 2011 Posted in DIY, Neat Features Tags: , ,

It seems that when you own a home, your work is never done.  Perhaps that’s something that should be put in one of the documents you sign at closing?

But I have no one to blame but myself.  I’ve found that I actually enjoy making home improvements.  As much as I love my job and writing for things like Neat Features, there’s something rewarding about being able see, touch (and yes, sometimes smell) a project coming together.

That’s how it is with my newest ambition: a complete installation of a wired internet network.  For the most part this should be “easy”.  However my house is 100 years old, and so far nothing has gone “easily.”  But there has to be a first time, right?!

While I look forward to creating a network to stream music and movies around my house, I’m still not thrilled at the idea of crawling through my attic to drill holes into the ceiling.  So perhaps instead of all that work behind the walls, my wife will let me do something like this?


More pictures can be found on the highly create Maisie Maud website.  Do you have a Neat Feature of your own? Consider submitting it, and we may post it.