Blog Posts by This Old House Magazine

  • Small-Space Solutions From a This Old House TV Project

    rban living for young families is on the rise, but with it comes a need to think creatively about making the most of limited space. Karen Shen and Kevin Costello loved the extraordinary craftsmanship of their four-story 1904 Renaissance Revival brownstone in Brooklyn, New York, site of the current This Old House TV project. Here are some pointers from their big remodel.


    Use Paint to Open Up a Room Paint crown molding to match the ceiling to widen a narrow room. Painting both the crown and ceiling white in this skinny space creates the illusion that the ceiling is wider than it is, minimizing the tunnel-vision effect. Here's another trick: Install flooring, whether it's wood or tile, in a diagonal pattern to help make rooms appear wider than they are.

    TOH Tip: Keep compact rooms simple by using small-scale furniture instead of overstuffed pieces.

    MORE: Gorgeous Period Details in the TOH TV New York City House

    Mirror, Mirror

    Read More »from Small-Space Solutions From a This Old House TV Project
  • Attic Before-and-After: The Ultimate Kid's Bedroom Suite

    Ask kids, and they'll tell you the ideal place to sleep is in a tree house or on a sailboat, like Max in Where the Wild Things Are. Architect Darren Helgesen incorporated that spirit in this attic redo at a century-old house in East Hampton, New York, where he used warm finishes and smart details to turn the dark, sloped-ceilinged space into a shipshape two-bedroom suite. The homeowners, Bill and Cory Laverack, had already renovated the rest of the house. "We used a lot of beadboard and liked it," says Cory, an interior designer, so Helgesen continued it here, calling on general contractor Ronald Gray and carpenter Paul Stisi to fit together beaded boards and built-ins as neatly as jigsaw pieces. The team also rejiggered an existing bath and put down a pine floor. "It was always their favorite place," says Cory, recalling how the couple's four kids would hide out upstairs with friends every chance they got. "And now it's the ultimate sleepover space." SEE THE ENTIRE GALLERY FOR THIS

    Read More »from Attic Before-and-After: The Ultimate Kid's Bedroom Suite
  • 5 Easy Things You Can Do Today to Slash Your Utility Bills Forever

    So you've swapped your incandescent lightbulbs for CFLs, turned down the thermostat, and only wash clothes on cold. Then why are your utility bills still so high? Air leaks are likely culprits, but so are "phantom" power suckers, such as flat-screen TVs, which draw energy even when they're off.

    To help pinpoint exactly where you are burning through resources-and cash-we polled energy consultants across the country. The simplest route, they agree, is to have a professional auditor detect leaks with sophisticated tools, such as blower doors and infrared cameras. Your local utility may offer this service for free, but if it doesn't, the cost is typically $400. Or you can do some easy tests yourself and put your money toward addressing the problems. "There are many steps homeowners can take before calling a pro," says Jeffrey Gordon, spokesperson for the New York State Energy Research Development Authority. "With a little knowledge and determination, you might be surprised by your next

    Read More »from 5 Easy Things You Can Do Today to Slash Your Utility Bills Forever
  • CHECKLIST: How to Do Your Own Fall Home Inspection

    Since inspectors always seem to find something wrong, it stands to reason that any homeowner who uses their kind of thorough thinking as a model during a once-a-year maintenance review-preferably in the fall, before rough weather sets in, and with a notepad in hand-will catch small problems before they balloon into major expenses. You don't need to hire a pro, though it may be warranted under certain circumstances. But just knowing where and how to look will help you create a didn't-miss-a-thing repair list, from which you can check items off one by one to keep your house in good health. "You won't be able to do everything a pro inspector does," says This Old House general contractor Tom Silva, "but you'll stay one step ahead of the wind and the rain."

    MORE: Easy Fall Prep for a Warm and Cozy Home

    Here's our full 5-step plan of attack for looking at your house with the careful eye of a pro.

    The logical place to start any fall maintenance inspection and

    Read More »from CHECKLIST: How to Do Your Own Fall Home Inspection
  • Button Up Your House for Fall and Slash Heating & Energy Bills

    We all know the drill: You wake up on a Saturday with every intention of doing some pre­-winter maintenance but ditch your best-laid plans as soon as you feel the late-summer sun on your shoulders. Take a tip from the experts and avoid putting off till next Saturday (or next year) what you can do in a snap today-whether it's replacing old weather-stripping or adjusting the pitch of the gutters. You can always put your feet up later, when it's time to rake the leaves.-SAL VAGLICA, This Old House magazine

    See ALL of our Fall Upkeep tips at!

    How to Do It:

    Seal gaps larger than 1/8 inch around windows and doors to cut your winter heating bill by up to 15 percent. On windows, press adhesive-backed closed-cell foam onto the bottom of the sash. Secure a loose sash by applying a strip of plastic V-channel weather stripping in the groove the sash slides in, securing it with finish nails. Use foam strips on the sides and tops of doors, and install a door sweep on the bottom.

    Read More »from Button Up Your House for Fall and Slash Heating & Energy Bills
  • Quick & Easy Building Projects You Can Start (and Finish!) This Weekend

    You can do it! TOH general contractor Tom Silva walks beginners through some simple home center projects, including how to build a desk with easy-to-find stock materials, a tool bench with basic lumber, and more.

    How to Build a Desk With a Storage Hutch. If you lack a dedicated spot for paying bills and stashing loose papers, a good desk is a must. And you can make one yourself with basic materials. To simplify construction, This Old House general contractor Tom Silva came up with a compact, drawer-free design. It'll take less than a day to build. Here's How to Build a Desk.

    MORE: Inspirational Kitchen Office Design Ideas

    How to Build a Tool Bench.
    Amy Paladino is a pro at juggling the demands of her job and family. But as with many of us, when it came to organizing tools for DIY projects, she needed a little assistance. Enter This Old House general contractor Tom Silva, with a plan for a size-it-to-your-space tool-storage bench that doubles as a work surface. Though it may look

    Read More »from Quick & Easy Building Projects You Can Start (and Finish!) This Weekend
  • 5 Back-to-School Must-Haves You Didn't Even Know You Forgot

    By outfitting your kid's study station with the coolest new essentials and gadgets, your little learners just might find themselves enjoying homework time. Here are a few kid-approved picks for smart students everywhere.-TABITHA SUKHAI & KAREN ZIGA, This Old House online

    See all our back-to-school shopping essentials at!

    1. Posture In Style Ergonomic Chair and Desk
    If you're investing in new furniture for your study station, this is as good as it gets. Posture in Style's ergonomically designed desks and chairs promote proper posture to prevent back-pain and fatigue, all while encouraging good penmanship. All of their pieces are adjustable, so they'll grow as your child does. You can create a truly custom space with changeable seat covers and desk system additions. Pricing and how to buy

    MORE: How to Outfit Your Home to Help Your Kids' Study Habits

    2. Under-the-Bed Storage Organizer
    Stash all those extra supplies you scored at back-to-school sales under the bed. DIYers

    Read More »from 5 Back-to-School Must-Haves You Didn't Even Know You Forgot
  • 7 Weekend Projects to Tackle Before Summer Really Ends

    Even though school is beginning and Labor Day weekend is upon us, there it is still technically a little summer weather left before Autumn rolls in. These step-by-step, do-it-yourself projects only require a weekend and will help prep you for fall.

    See all of our weekend DIY projects at!

    1. Brick Path
    When crossing your muddy yard to fetch the daily paper turns into an obstacle course of slips and slides, perhaps it's time to think about an alternative path-literally. Instead of sinking up to your ankles in the name of the morning stock report, take a weekend to lay a brick walkway.

    As This Old House senior technical editor Mark Powers shows, in just one weekend you can turn a swath of dirt into a ribbon of elegance, able to withstand anything from a winter gale to a summer lawn mower. See How to Lay a Brick Path to get started.

    MORE: Follow the This Old House Home Solutions Calendar

    2. Garage Floodlight
    We hate to be the bearers of bad news, but fall-with her longer

    Read More »from 7 Weekend Projects to Tackle Before Summer Really Ends
  • 5 Paint Colors That Make You Happier

    Your home's neutral paint scheme may go with everything, but all that beige and gray can really get you down. It's a living space, so make it lively with vibrant splashes of color. See these inspiring options that can brighten your mood, stimulate lively conversation, even help you wind down after a taxing day at work. Then get out the brushes and paint with bold soulful hues you love.

    See more mood-lifting paint colors and ideas at!

    1. Get Friendly with Red

    Conventional wisdom says to use red as an accent color because it's too intense and attention grabbing in large amounts. But choose a softer hue, and it's great for spaces where the family gathers.

    This sitting room and library are painted with an ochre shade, Benjamin Moore's Claret Rose, that's cheerful without being overwhelming. Trim painted Benjamin Moore's Guilford Green, the shade opposite red on the color wheel-creates a convivial atmosphere.

    MORE: How to Create a Colorful Cottage Kitchen

    2. Go for Gutsy

    Read More »from 5 Paint Colors That Make You Happier
  • Before and After: An Attic Becomes a Master-Suite Retreat

    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.__Charlotte Barnard, This Old House magazine

    MORE: 5 Steps to Finishing an Attic

    The existing unfinished attic rose 7 feet to the collar ties. With the structure reworked, the bedroom gained a 9-foot ceiling with a large skylight to brighten the dressing area.

    MORE Inspirational Built-In Storage Ideas*

    By apply space saving design techniques in the attic, the homeowners were able to include a home office in the layout. The office opens up to the library in the stairway

    Read More »from Before and After: An Attic Becomes a Master-Suite Retreat


(369 Stories)