Blog Posts by This Old House Magazine

  • 5 Thrifty Outdoor Dining Room Ideas

    Spring has sprung! We can't wait for grilling, fire pits, and playing our favorite backyard games! Is your backyard ready dining al fresco? See how creative design and clever repurposing can transform a sliver of the outdoors into a comfortable-and affordable-area for open-air entertaining. -Heather Smith Macisaac

    See more outdoor dining room ideas at

    Perk Up a Picnic
    1. Perk Up a Picnic: Easy Canopy

    Drape fabric between four poles sunk in the ground for a DIY sunshade. Use tent pins to anchor lines that run from the pole tops to the lawn.

    See how to get this look here!

    Carve Out a Courtyard
    2. Carve Out a Courtyard: Flagstone Floor

    Convert an unused portion of driveway into an inviting patio. Here, stone pavers with living green "mortar" replace a concrete parking pad.

    See how to get this look here!

    Add Drama to a Simple Deck
    3. Add Drama to a Simple Deck: Curtained Alcove

    Set the stage for dinner with a sunshade valance and fabric panels that frame a candle wall grid like a window.

    See how to get this look here!

    Build a Backyard Retreat
    4. Build a

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  • How to Know What Insulation is Behind Your Walls

    Insulation has come a long way. These days you can stuff your walls with everything from recycled blue jeans to soy-based foam to keep temps comfortable year-round. But if you live in an older home with insulation installed before you moved in, understanding what pads your walls is essential to keeping your family safe-especially if your spring to-do list includes cleaning the attic or renovating it. Here's what you need to know about three common old-house insulations. -Natalie Gingerich Mackenzie

    Find out what you NEED to know about insulation at


    What it is: A lightweight, shiny mineral that resembles mica flakes.

    How it works
    : Vermiculite absorbs water and is fire resistant, giving it myriad uses, from fluffing up garden soil to soundproofing floors. The mineral was popular during much of the 20th century as insulation, thanks in part to its easy application: It could simply be poured by the bagful between ceiling joists.

    Read More About Vermiculite at

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  • 11 Inspirational Bonus Room Remodels: Attic Suites and Basement Rec Rooms

    Why add on when you can add under...or over? When these homeowners felt crunched for space in their houses, they rolled up their sleeves and converted underused spaces into ideal ones -The Editors of This Old House

    Attic Becomes A Suite Retreat Upstairs
    Attic suite
    Sometimes in the search for more living space there's no place to look but up. When Alan Koch bought this 1933 cottage in Portland, Oregon, he knew he'd be finishing the 600-square-foot attic sooner rather than later. And as a work-at-home educational and marketing consultant, Alan hankered for a light, bright office where he could spread out. By tapping the upstairs, he figured he could carve out just such a space, as well as a comfortable master suite, reserving downstairs bedrooms for guests and TV viewing.

    Working with designer Kevin Fischer, he expanded the attic space by 100 square feet with a gabled dormer and, serving as his own general contractor, hired out HVAC and roof work while tackling demo and finish details himself.

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  • 8 Tips for Remodeling Your Laundry Room

    Organizing your laundry room.Organizing your laundry room.
    The laundry room has finally come into its own as a bright and organized cleanup command center, whether in a tidy corner of the basement or a nook next to the kitchen. For help updating yours, check out our expert advice on everything from energy-wise machines and thrifty flooring options to the best labor-saving layout and how to safeguard the house from a potential flood or fire. -Laura Fisher Kaiser

    See all our expert advice on renovating you laundry room at

    Deborah Whitlaw LlewellynDeborah Whitlaw Llewellyn
    Where to Put It
    For lots of us, the basement is just fine. But many homeowners who can spare the space and expense prefer to have the laundry closer to bedrooms or the kitchen. Here's what to factor in before making a move.

    On an upper floor
    Pros: Proximity to where dirty clothes are shed lessens schlepping distance with hampers. Can tap into existing plumbing lines if in or near a bathroom.
    Cons: Noise and vibration require extra insulation and a motion-arresting pad. Leaks can damage first-floor rooms.

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  • Quick & Easy Kitchen Upgrades to Refresh Any Space

    For many homeowners, a complete overhaul is out of reach. That doesn't mean you can't refresh your space with small upgrades. Here are Step-by-Step instructions for TOH's most popular quick and easy kitchen projects. Tackle one or more of them this weekend. -Tabitha Sukhai
    Paint Kitchen Cabinets
    Your cavelike kitchen feels that way because the dark cabinets have sucked all the light out of the room. But a brighter makeover doesn't necessarily mean replacing those gloomy boxes with all-new cabinets. As long as the frames and doors are structurally sound, you can clean them up and brush on some new paint-and within a weekend take that kitchen from dreary to sunny. As This Old House ­senior technical editor Mark Powers shows on the ­following pages, all you need is some strong cleaner, sandpaper, a paintbrush, and a little elbow grease. What you don't need is a whole lot of money, as the transformation will cost you a fraction of even the cheapest new cabinets. Get full step-by-step instructions, a shopping

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  • Our Top 7 Favorite Cottage Kitchens

    Cottage kitchens are are simply charming with an emphasis on functionality. They're built for comfort with features that help you through your routine and bring life to the hub of your home. Whether you're just refreshing your cottage kitchen or looking to add a dash of old-house charm to a new space, these TOH-featured rooms are sure to inspire.

    See all of our favorite cottage kitchens at

    Old Feel, New Height
    1. Old Feel, New Height

    The O'Learys set about turning a first-floor one-story former bedroom wing into an expansive new kitchen, bumping up the room's roof to double height for a soaring ceiling, which is lined with tongue-and-groove boards resembling 19th-century planks. New oak beams act as structural cross-ties. Clerestory windows flood the kitchen with light.

    The center island is topped with the old chestnut boards salvaged from the living room floor. Early-20th-century finishes include flat-panel cabinet doors and bin-pull hardware.

    MORE: Read This Before You Remodel a

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  • Affordable Home Décor Inspired by Oscar's Favorite Movie, the Artist

    The Artist-Inspired Products at Overstock

    Feeling inspired by The Artist, the silent film that won big at the Oscars last night? Show it with your decor. Our friends at Overstock share tasteful, affordable ways to pay homage to the wonderful film (starring Best Actor winner Jean Dujardin and Berenice Bejo) with a little bit of 1920s flair. -Tabitha Sukhai

    MORE: 11 Home Lessons We Learned at the Movies

    First, check out this vintage decorative movie projector makes a great collectible and display item.

    Chrome Vintage Brass 20-Inch Decorative Projector With Tripod; $72.99

    This Burma mirror features an intricate floral pattern. The piece is then finished with an antique copper enhancing the mirror's timeless, traditional style. Burma Antique Oval Mirror; $103.49

    A mirrored finish and two drawers highlight this Dalton accent table. This table also features faux crystal knobs. Mirrored Accent Table, $194.39

    Another gorgeous tabletop accent that looks like something out of Academy

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  • Tour the World's Wildest Houses

    It's time for another healthy dose of the wildest houses in the world! Take a tour of a castle made entirely of trash, a replica of the house from the classic television show The Munsters, and a couple of architectural wonders that take us below the earth's surface. If you'd like to experience some of these strange structures yourself, a few of them are available for sale or rental. So if cottages and Capes bore you, you may find the house of your wildest dreams here. -Karen Ziga and Tabitha Sukhai, This Old House online

    See all these wildest houses on
    Cold War Era Intercontinental Ballistic Missile Silo

    Saranac, New York

    To the naked eye, this is just a house with killer Adirondack views. But hidden below the surface is a 176-foot-deep missile silo, measuring 52 feet in diameter. In other words: a massive bomb shelter built to withstand a 200-pound-per-square-inch blast.

    Certainly not an ordinary mountain getaway, the silo was constructed by the United States Air

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  • The 5 Most Romantic Houses in the World

    If home is where the heart is, these 5 charming houses must be filled to the brim: they've held the hearts of some of the most legendary lovers in history. Though each house differs greatly-in era, in location, and in detailing-they each held a special place for their owners, either as a romantic love nest or as a memorial of a once-great love. Check out these grand palaces of affection, many of which can be visited today. -Sara O'Brien

    See more of these true love shacks on

    The Old House
    1. The Old House, Quincy, Massachusetts

    John and Abigail Adams

    Long before there was This Old House, there was The Old House, the private home of the second United States president, John Adams, and wife, Abigail Adams. Well known for their intense love and mutual admiration-preserved in dozens of thoughtful and effusive letters-the couple often lived apart as John served in various political and diplomatic posts. It wasn't until 1801, when John left the presidency, that the lovebirds were able to

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  • 7 Upgrades for a Healthier Bathroom

    Classic Bath Face-LiftClassic Bath Face-Lift
    Breathe easier in the room where you begin and end your day. Here is our best advice for cleaning up your bath and preventing mold, bacteria, and viruses from taking hold.

    See more easy upgrades to make your home healthier at!

    1. Avoid using cleansers with ammonia and chlorine (and never, ever mix them). These irritate skin and lungs, and even provoke asthma.

    2. Dehumidify. Run your ceiling vent fan after every shower. Install a switch timer to make sure it runs at least 20 minutes to vent moist, mildew-attracting air outside.

    MORE: How to Flu-Proof Your Home

    Caulk Around TubCaulk Around Tub
    3. Replace failing caulk and cracked tiles to discourage mold from growing behind the walls. For how-to advice on fixing both, click here.

    4. Sanitize faucets, where germs and flu viruses collect fast. Wipe them down with a 3 percent hydrogen peroxide solution or try wipes that use plant oils to kill germs and viruses, such as EPA-certified Seventh Generation Disinfecting Wipes ($5.75;

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