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Local homeowners tackle five DIY projects for ‘The Weekender’ show


Jesse and Alex Coulter are handy people who love to tinker in the garage of their Round Rock home. She paints furniture. He does woodworking.

Their garage is also where their children, 1-year-old twins Walt and Whitney and 4-year-old Turner, keep many of their outdoor toys as well as use as a play space. It was becoming difficult to work and use the garage with all the kids’ stuff mingling with tools and wood.

Hannah Kight had very little experience in the do-it-yourself world aside from painting walls. Her North Central Austin condominium looked like it was straight out of 1977 — because it was. It also was filled with mismatched hand-me-down furniture that the 26-year-old acquired from family.

Kight and the Coulters were chosen to be part of Lowe’s online home improvement show, “The Weekender,” which takes one room and shows you five things you can do to transform it during the course of a weekend.

“This is actually for real homeowners,” says show host Monica Mangin. “It’s all so doable.”

That’s how Mangin got her start. She’s a mother of four and a homeowner who was tackling her own projects. Soon she was working behind the scenes on HGTV shows and then in front of HGTV shows and on “Live with Kelly!”

Mangin and her crew traveled to Austin in January to shoot the show. The Coulters’ episode began streaming on Lowes.com on Thursday. Kight’s episode will be available March 9.

It’s the second season of the show. Last year, the show was shot in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, around where Mangin and her crew live. This year, the show shot in Charlotte, N.C.; Nashville, Tenn.; New Orleans; Miami; and Austin. All the homeowners had to apply to be on the show with information on which room they would want to transform and why.

The Coulters actually applied first to do the living room and then applied to do the garage. Kight wanted her kitchen to be done but ended up getting the living room, dining room and kitchen, because it’s considered one big room.

Each episode of “The Weekender” has a video showing how the work got done as well as a written how-to for each project with a list of materials and then step-by-step instructions with photos.

It helps to have some basic tools and a circular saw, but you also can have Lowe’s cut your lumber to your measurements before you bring it home, Mangin says.

In the Coulters’ garage, Mangin and the Coulters tackled these five projects:

  • Paint. They repainted the garage to give it a fresh look and painted the door to the house with chalkboard paint to create an area for kids to be creative.
  • A mudroom. They used beadboard panel, plywood and kitchen cabinets to build storage for shoes, bags and other items for each kid. It looks impressive, but Mangin explains that it’s just building a series of boxes.
  • A storage rack system. Using plywood and 2-by-4 lumber, they built a free-standing shelving unit that fits those big blue bins. Each bin gets labeled with items such as “X-Mas Lights” and “Camping.” They also added a system for hanging bicycles.
  • Flooring. They added vinyl roll flooring that looks like wood. Like many of us in Austin, the Coulters use their garage as another living space and storage area, not a place to park cars. Mangin says it gives the space “a homey feel to it and it’s easy to wipe up.”

A workbench area and scrap lumber bin. Before, it was a big effort to pull out the workbench and start working on a new project. Now the workbench is easily accessible, as are all the tools and paint in cabinets. Plus there’s now a rolling cart to keep scrap lumber, rather than just a pile.

The project that the show doesn’t count is cleaning out the garage before “The Weekender” crew arrived, and then as they got ready to start work. The Coulters got rid of about 40 percent of what was in the garage.

Now, everything has its place. “We’re going to really try,” Alex Coulter says about keeping it that way.

In Kight’s living room, dining room and kitchen, “The Weekender” tackled these projects:

  • Signature tile wall. Kight had upper shelves in her kitchen that didn’t do much for space. By taking them out, it gave Mangin the opportunity to create a signature piece in the condo — one that is viewed from the entrance. Black matte tiles with white grout get used on both this wall and in the backsplash on another wall.
  • New sink. Gone is the one with the hole in it. In its place, a black matte sink.
  • New counters. Mangin opted to save money by going with laminate counters that look like marble. The new laminate counters make it worth reconsidering what you thought about laminate, she says. “It’s so budget-friendly and easy to install,” Mangin says. Other materials, like granite, she says, “isn’t something you DIY.”
  • Refreshing the cabinets. Instead of buying and hanging all-new cabinets, the crew refurnished them with olive green paint and added hardware.
  • Display shelf/bookcase. Mangin used plywood and dowels to create a bookcase unit with movable dowels that allow Kight to adjust it as her display items change.

Mangin wasn’t done with just those five projects. She also brought in new furniture, a rug and paintings from Lowe’s. Most people probably don’t realize that Lowe’s carries indoor furniture in its stores, but also even more online.

“She had a great blank slate,” Mangin says. “It just needed style and sophistication.”

“The Weekender” never spends more than $4,000 a room on materials. That seems incredible, especially in Kight’s kitchen, dining room and living room combination room.

“They really did show me that it could be done in an affordable fashion,” Kight says. “I could have actually afforded it on my own.”

Kight, who had very little DIY experience, had done some things to her condo when she moved in, such as getting new floors installed.

Now that she’s done “The Weekender,” she says she could do many of the projects again but would probably still need help. “I wouldn’t be very good at finishing out the edges,” she says of the counters. And the tile “wouldn’t look as perfect.”

The Coulters had a lot more experience working with tools than many of the homeowners on “The Weekender,” but it was the first time Jesse Coulter used a power saw, and she also got to use a paint sprayer.

“It was great for me,” she says. “I’d like to do more kinds of projects that do use power tools.”

One of the most satisfying parts of “The Weekender” is teaching homeowners how to get comfortable doing home improvement. “We work with homeowners where they are,” Mangin says.



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