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Readers' Clever Upgrade Ideas That Wowed Us III

From baby's first bedroom to a DIY bathroom sink, these seven reader projects are just a few impressive examples of your prowess

Standout Stunners

For some, taking on a home remodeling project can be daunting. Not for these TOH readers! Here are the cream of the crop for clever updates from our Reader Remodel Contest entries.

Storage-Packed Nursery Decor

"I've been teaching myself carpentry and was Googling around for ideas to customize my newborn daughter's bedroom. Every time I saw a project, I thought, I could do better. Finally, I decided to build a wall of oversize alphabet blocks from MDF and wood, many of which I constructed as cabinets, drawers, and nooks to hold her toys and clothes."

David Lucky

Lebanon, Tennessee

Cedar Garden Arbor and Gate

"This is a honey-do project that my husband so graciously built for me. The design was based on an inspiration photo of an arbor we liked because it had a circular top and gate, and a simple grid instead of traditional lattice. We extended the fence and referenced This Old House's online story in order to build it."

Chrissy Leitch

Mattoon, Illinois

See the step-by-step How to Build a Garden Arbor.

Detailed Doorway

"I removed a vestibule addition because it hid the original woodwork and trim surrounding our front door. To highlight the beautiful details even more, I wanted to create contrast with an accent color and white paint. But before lifting a brush, I took a picture of the door, made a couple of copies, and played around with markers to see where the color should go. That way, it was easy to figure out which features to accentuate."

Mark Andrew

South Plainfield, New Jersey

Reclaimed-Walnut Sink

"I didn't know if I could pull off making a bathroom sink from wood, but figured I'd give it a shot. My wife and I designed it using CAD software and carved the drain pan with a 3-D router. Then we waterproofed it with four coats each of two-part epoxy and varnish."

Greg Flanagan


Handmade Fireplace

"Our living room needed a touch of old-world charm, so I built this fireplace surround using parts I made and added a secondhand carved arch at the top. I couldn't resist putting in a couple of cool features: a secret door that provides access to the gas key, and removable hooks for hanging Christmas stockings."

Brett Smith

Lanoka Harbor, New Jersey

Compost Camouflage

"Store-bought composters tend to look ugly—like upside-down garbage cans—so I built a surround for ours using recycled cypress. My wife designed it as a trellis, so climbing plants, like the sweet autumn clematis she planted, will eventually cover it. The gable end flips down so that you can put scraps inside, and the larger front door opens to make it easy to scoop out the finished compost."

Dan and Pat Miller

Elgin, Illinois

Butcher Block

"Inspired by the teak island top in the 2007 TOH TV project house in Newton, Massachusetts, I cut and joined 869 blocks of varying colors and patterns. In one special row, I had each family member place a piece."

Elvis Arrowood

Lake Arrowhead, California