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7 Daring DIY Decor Ideas You've Never Seen Before

You know you can refinish your hardwood floors. You know you can paint. But there are dozens of small improvements you can make that pack a big punch. Here are 7 daring and unique upgrade ideas for truly adventurous DIYers. -Tabitha Sukhai, NEW AT TOH: Upgrade Ideas From Our Favorite Bloggers

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1. Repurpose Your Pulls

To add a hint of texture to a sleek, neutral bath, this homeowner ditched the expected metal vanity pulls in favor of knotted lengths of ¾-inch manila rope, made from durable natural fibers, that she bought from a local marine-supply store. Each pull is threaded through a hole in the cabinet door or drawer and held in place by overhand knots on the front and back. "If the knots loosen, I use a bit of epoxy to hold them together," Martin says. "And the rope stands up well to bathroom humidity, since it's tough enough to be used in ocean water."

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2. Don't just paint wood floors. STAIN THEM.

A checkerboard floor is inherently playful. It's also timeless: During the colonial era, a decorative painted floor was a major upgrade over bare wood. For an updated tweak on the tradition, trade painted squares for stained ones in a dark espresso hue, like the one shown. For more how-to info on getting the look shown here see 13 Thrifty Ways to Give Your House Vintage Charm

3. Rethink Your Rails

While poking around under their newly acquired bungalow, in Newport Beach, California, these homeowners (and lovers of all things nautical) found a cache of boat supplies, including an oar so old that it had a leather binding. Burr painted 
the blade nautical red and white and hung the oar along a set of steep stairs.

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4. Don't Use Flooring On the Floor

As she was renovating her home's first floor, architect Erica Bröberg Smith couldn't bear to part with the leftover wide-plank pine flooring she still had on hand. So she turned it into wainscoting on her eat-in kitchen's walls. For a more finished look, her contractor routed a bead to fit between the two horizontal boards and added a simple baseboard and cap. Bröberg Smith still hasn't decided whether to paint or pickle the wood, so in the meantime its natural look goes with just about any decorative scheme she dreams up for this space. Also consider using flooring on the ceiling.

RELATED: Custom Wainscoting for $4.49 a Square Foot. #DEAD

5. Bring the Outdoors Inside

After this homeowner finished the powder room in her Norwich, Vermont, house with tree-themed wallpaper she took salvaging a step further by scooping up birch branches, cutting them down with a Japanese pull saw, sanding the edges, and fashioning a towel bar—and a matching handle for the plunger. "The trick is to find the right branch," he says. "If it's a good piece of wood, the bark stays on."

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7. Go for an UNfinished Look

Architect Joseph Kennard wasn't yet sure where he wanted to mount items like wire shelving or a light over the sink when he was renovating his kitchen, so he needed a wall covering that was sturdy and inexpensive and would allow him to experiment. He opted for oriented strand board, a sheathing product with a textured-looking surface that's made from wood chips bound by adhesives. It's typically used beneath finished walls or floors, like plywood is. Using drywall screws, he mounted ½-inch-thick 4-by-8-foot sheets to the walls behind his sink and cooktop. "The material camouflages nail and screw holes, so I can relocate things without having to patch it up," he says.

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