Blog Posts by This Old House Magazine

  • 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 thisoldhouse.com!

    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; seventhgeneration.com).

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  • 5 Ways to Makeover Your Staircase

    Add distinction and character to plain old stairs with these 5 creative tips. -THE EDITORS OF THIS OLD HOUSE

    See more staircase upgrade ideas at thisoldhouse.com.

    Salvaged LightSalvaged Light
    1. Go Salvage Shopping

    Wiring runs from the basement through the newel post to light this ornate, late-19th-century pot-metal salvage find. A unique way to illuminate a stairway for safety.

    MORE: How to Use Salvaged Building Materials in New Construction

    Attic LibraryAttic Library
    2. Library Landing

    A long run of surface-mount, low bookcases transforms the space at the top of the stairs into a library. The second-to-last one on the right (not shown) is set on casters, so it can be pulled out to access crawl-space storage.

    MORE: How to Build a Bookcase

    Painted StairsPainted Stairs
    3. Tear Out Old Carpet on Your Stairs

    How to do it: Refinish the treads and paint the risers white-or get creative and paint a runner-like pattern.

    Estimated cost: 1 gallon of white paint, sandpaper, wood putty to fill tack holes, 1 quart of stain, and 1 gallon of clear polyurethane, about $95; Lowe's

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  • 3 Fixes for Common Remodeling Regrets

    The new high-gloss cabinets show every fingerprint, the handsome farmhouse sink is a wine-glass graveyard. You sprang for the best your money could buy. So why aren't you totally elated? Here, readers reveal the downside of some of their upgrades, while TOH offers short-term fixes-and longer-term advice. -DEBORAH BALDWIN

    See more solutions to common remodeling woes at thisoldhouse.com.


    breaking dishes
    1. Deep China Sink Breaks Dishes and Glassware

    "Our porcelain farmhouse sink hits the right vintage note, and it's deep and wide enough to hide stacks of dirty dishes when we entertain. The problem: Within a week we dropped, and broke, two nice glasses while washing up. And the carnage continues."

    How to cope: Cushion falls-and shorten them-with a thick plastic sink mat. And start saving your skin and your cash by donning a pair of nonslip rubber gloves.

    Next time: Get farmhouse style without those cold, hard landings: Think about buying a basin in more forgiving Corian, copper, or stainless steel.

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  • Oh, Glow On...There’s Radioactive Stuff in My Home? Seriously?

    radon
    We all know that exposure to radiation can be very, very bad for you. It's been fodder for sci-fi movies for decades, turning tiny tots into mutated henchmen (The Gamma People, 1956) and transforming a cowering homemaker into a giantess with a score to settle (Attack of the 50 Ft. Woman, 1958). The real-world risks of chronic high-level exposure are known to be equally dramatic-and deadly. But you may be surprised to learn that some of the materials and products sitting around your house could be emitting low levels of radiation.

    With that in mind, This Old House has taken a fresh look at the everyday household objects that might just be unhealthier than you think. Here are three possible radiation sources that could be under your roof right now. -Keith Mulvihill

    See more surprising sources of radiation that could be in your home on thisoldhouse.com.

    kitchen counter
    1. Stone Countertops

    Mining stone for countertops may unearth some potentially scary radioactivity as well. Granite countertops are

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  • 3 Ways to Use Vodka...Around The House!

    vodka
    If you've stumbled upon a bottle of spirits that's not fit for a mixed drink, reuse it as a handy household solution. While it's pricier than rubbing alcohol, this bar staple has the same antiseptic properties, making it a clever replacement in a pinch. Here are spirited ways to put it to use. -Jennifer Stimpson

    See all 10 uses for vodka on thisoldhouse.com!

    weeds
    1. Kill Weeds

    Mix 1 ounce of vodka, a few drops of liquid dish soap, and 2 cups of water in a spray bottle. Apply on a sunny day to broadleaf weeds that grow in direct sunlight; the vodka will help remove the leaves' waxy coating, causing them to dry out.

    MORE: Best of 10 Uses for Common Household Products

    rust removal
    2. Remove Rust from Screws

    Leave a weathered screw in vodka for just a few hours, then wipe to get rid of rust.

    MORE: 10 Uses for Vinegar

    remove odor
    3. Stop Odors

    Boots smelling ripe? Spritz the insides with diluted vodka; let dry. No more odor.

    MORE:
    10 Uses for Sponges

    See more ways to put unwanted vodka to use around the house on

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  • Danger on the Homefront: 4 Ways Your House Can Kill You

    killer house
    We love our homes. They provide us with warmth, shelter and, best of all, security. That's why it's so darn shocking when they turn against us. Like it or not, a house can be a virtual arsenal of lethal weapons. Whether its poisonous gasses, fiery flames, rabid bats or electrocuting appliances, even the sweetest Colonial Revival can be as armed and dangerous as Rambo on a bad day. Here are 4 ways our home sweet homes can take us down. -Keith Pandolfi

    See more ways your home can be deadly at thisoldhouse.com.


    electrical
    1. Uncontrolled Electrical Currents

    If old Ben Franklin only knew the careless way some of us deal with electricity these days, he would've kept his discovery to himself. Whether it's overwhelming a frayed extension cord with holiday lights, or exposed outlets like the one taped to a conductive metal support in this flood-prone basement, home electrocutions account for around 1,000 deaths each year in the U.S alone. At the least this homeowner could have used a GFCI receptacle so

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  • 5 Must-Know Appliance-Buying Tips

    Think of it this way: Unlike a rug, lamp, or hat, you can't take it back-or at least not easily. That's why it's called a major appliance. Here's how to avoid major buyer's remorse. Find more tips on purchasing appliances at thisoldhouse.com. -Deborah Baldwin

    appliances
    1. Never Make an Impulse Buy

    Admit it-you almost bought a car once because it had really great cup holders. You can avoid similar behavior in an appliance showroom by making a list of your priority features ("energy efficient," "lifetime warranty"). Staple it to a list of competing showrooms and Web retailers so you can comparison shop for the best model with the best combination of features at the best price. Wait for a sale if you can; they say fall is the best hunting season because showrooms are trying to clear space for next year's models. Whenever you go, ask a friend with a level head to come along.

    MORE: Colorful Countertop Small Appliances

    appliances
    2. Make Sure You Don't Destroy the Foyer

    You'd be surprised by how many

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  • 3 Savvy Saving Tips for Buying Home Products This Winter

    shopping
    When it comes to scoring tools and home goods on the cheap, half the battle is knowing when the serious sales take place. We tapped Daniel Butler of the National Retail Federation for tips on what items you should spend on now to save in the long run. -Danielle Blundell

    See all our tips for getting the best deals over the winter at thisoldhouse.com!

    Furniture
    1. Furniture

    New styles of sofas, dining sets, and more debut in February, often at promotional prices. The real deals, though, are the "as is" floor samples that retailers mark down beforehand to make room for fresh stock.

    MORE: How to Get Home Decor at a Bargain Price

    grill
    2. Big Appliances

    During cold-weather months, demand for summer essentials plummets, so look for slashed prices on last season's air conditioners, fans, and outdoor gas grills.

    MORE: 28 Thrifty Ways to Customize Your Kitchen

    tools
    3. Tools

    Once the holidays end, contractors line up new work, so big-box retailers begin discounting power tools in February to lure them in.

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  • Smart Home Solutions for 2012

    Did you resolve to update your home's decor and function in 2012? We've got a great design idea for every month of the year. Check out these home solutions from The Editors of This Old House and plan your own year's worth of upgrades.

    january
    January: Update Your Decor on the Cheap


    Have a pile of inspirational magazine pages you've been waiting to make a reality? January and February are the best times to nab furniture at serious discounts-up to 60 percent off in some cases-as stores hold clearance sales to make room for new spring inventory.

    Also add personality to your fireplace in January: Tin-Tile Fireplace Surround

    Related: Editors' Picks the Top 12 Budget Reader Remodels

    February
    February: Turn a Closet into Office

    When you're tight on space, a home office may seem like a luxury, but carving one out from a seldom-used closet is easier than you think. Just take out the existing rod and follow our 6 tips.

    March
    March: Get Your Garden Going

    Once the threat of frost has passed, nudge your garden back

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  • Best Reuse Ideas for Your Christmas Tree


    Used Christmas Tree
    When the holidays are over, take down the tinsel, but don't bag the tree. Its needles, boughs, and trunk can do more than hold ornaments. -Jennifer Stimpson

    See ALL our clever ideas for recycling your Christmas tree at thisoldhouse.com!

    hardwood mulch
    1. Mulch With Needles


    Pine needles dry quickly and decompose slowly, making them an excellent moisture- and mold-free mulch for ground-covering crops, such as strawberries, to rest on.

    Related: All About Mulch

    Bird Feeder
    2. Create a Bird Sanctuary

    Place your tree in its stand outdoors. Fill bird feeders and hang them from the boughs, or drape the tree with a swag of pinecones coated with peanut butter.

    Related: How to Build a Bird Feeder

    Perennials
    3. Insulate Perennials


    Cut off boughs and lay them over perennial beds to protect them from snow and reduce frost heaving.

    Related:
    How to Propagate Fall Perennials into Spring Plants

    Edge garden borders
    4. Edge Your Borders


    Cut the trunk into 2-inch discs and set them into the soil to edge flower beds or walkways.

    Related: How to Lay a

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