Blog Posts by This Old House Magazine

  • DIY Lessons We Learned at the Movies

    Who says you can't learn anything at the movies? Oscars aren't handed out at the Academy Awards for best bathroom renovation or best converted barn, which is too bad, since over the years many silver-screen houses have outshone the stars. In fact, these dwellings offer the house-wise viewer the kind of life lessons you can learn from a statue-winning character.-C.J. Hughes

    See more DIY lessons we've learned at the movies at!

    1. Gone With the Wind (1939)
    The Old, Deep South loves well-built Greek Revivals, and nowhere in movieland was this as apparent as in Civil War blockbuster "Gone With the Wind." Scarlett O'Hara's (Vivien Leigh) stately white house, Tara, named for the hall of Irish kings, is certainly regal in its proportions, with four huge columns fronting a wide front porch.

    Moral: Though the Union forces were unrelentingly destructive to Southern plantations, they spared Tara; even Yankees recognize good craftsmanship when they see it.

    MORE: American House

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  • 5 Ways to Refresh Your Rooms with Color

    A fresh paint job enlivens a ho-hum interior, but picking the right color (or combination of colors) and figuring out where best to put it and how much to use can prove perplexing. See these paint tips put to work in 5 colorful spaces. Then steal a few to stylishly and inexpensively update any tired rooms in your house.-Jill Connors

    Find more refreshing color ideas at!

    1. Unify Your Living Spaces

    Wall colors that relate to each other draw the eye from one area to the next, creating a harmonious flow.

    Try Muted Opposites: An entry hall and adjacent room in soft shades of complementary red and green-opposites on the color wheel-has a soothing effect. Paired with a honey-hued wood floor, the brick red and olive green work as neutral earth tones.

    Paint: Yolo Colorhouse

    More: Choose Paint Colors With a Color Wheel

    2. Use White to Highlight Your Color Choices

    "Painting trim white will ensure that warm hues don't look dingy or cool hues too stark," says McGuire. Even

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  • 5 Must-Know Home Improvement Skills for Every Homeowner

    What DIY skills should every homeowner learn? Here are our top recommendations. -Thomas Baker

    See all of the Top 10 Home Improvement Skills at

    1. Saw Without Splintering the Wood
    A portable circular saw is the tool to use when you need to shorten a door to fit an existing opening or to accommodate a new layer of thick carpeting. But, even the newest, sharpest blade will tend to splinter the top surface, especially if it's a veneered door.

    See How To eliminate the splintering when using a circular saw.

    This no-splinter sawing technique also works well when crosscutting sheets of plywood and wall paneling.

    More: All About Circular Saws

    2. Clean Caulking
    A continuous, watertight seal along the top edge of a bathtub or shower base is crucial. If the caulk is cracked or missing in spots, water will seep in and ruin the wall.

    Repairing a caulked joint is easy and takes less than 30 minutes. Start by scraping out all the old, dried-out caulk using an awl or narrow-bladed

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  • Top 10 Easy Paint Ideas to Revive Your Rooms

    Tired of the same-old, same-old paint? Check out 10 of our best DIY ideas to add some personality to your walls!

    MORE: Tips to Know Before You Start Painting

    1. Paint a Color Wash
    Tired of boring old one-tone walls? Indulge your creative spirit with a DIY paint job and watch how a little bit of texture can transform your room.Whether you're trying to mask uneven walls or liven up pristine ones, this old-world effect can be achieved with just a few brushes and a combination of complimentary hues. For full step-by-step instructions, see How to Paint a Color Wash.

    2. What's New is Old Again With Strie
    What is strie, you ask? Before rollers and latex, paint was a thick emulsion that went on with tedious brushing. Bristle marks were often visible, and they became more prominent as years and dirt accumulated. The strie technique mimics the look of centuries-old paint altered by dust and sun. In other words, it's a really cool paint effect. You should try it.

    For full step-by-step

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  • Things You Can Fix Now to Save Yourself (A Lot of) Cash and Stress Later

    Left unchecked, seemingly minor things-a gutter pitched the wrong way, a bit of crumbly grout-can lead to bigger and expensive issues. The good news is that, in many cases, all it takes to head off catastrophe is a little preventive maintenance or an inexpensive repair. "Don't wait until it's an emergency," says TOH master carpenter Norm Abram. "Spot-check areas around your house, preferably twice a year, in the fall and spring. And when you do fix something, do it right so that you don't end up making the problem worse."-Laura Fisher Kaiser

    Learn the telltale signs of 3 of the most common household breakdowns just waiting to happen-and how to fix them. Don't miss more easy fixes at!

    MORE: Tricks That'll Save You Money on Your Remodel

    1. Tired Tub Caulk and Grout.
    Puckered, missing, or shrunken caulk can allow water to seep into a wall cavity, leading to mold or even wall failure. Likewise, a chunk of missing grout in a tub surround can cause serious water damage

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  • Laws You Didn't Know You Were Breaking

    You'd be amazed at some of the wacky ordinances still on the books around the country. We went looking for some of the strangest laws that affect homeowners, and here's what we found. Read 'em and learn 'em-or risk the clink.-Linda Gallant

    See even more outlandish homeowner laws at THISOLDHOUSE.COM!

    Kitchen: Put Down That Plate and Step Away From the Sink, Ma'am!

    Forget about using a dish towel in the state of Oregon or in Minneapolis. Letting china air-dry is the only allowable way.

    In Florida, you're in trouble if you shatter more than three dishes per day, or chip the edges of more than four cups and/or saucers. If you get your kicks tossing plates, don't try it from any window above the ground floor of a house or apartment in Freeport, Illinois.

    In Kansas, you can't stack plates more than eight high.
    MORE: Futuristic Kitchen Products

    Dust and Rugs: When The City Fathers Vowed to "Clean Up the Town," Is This What They Meant?

    Watch out for gangs of rug beaters on the streets

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  • 5 Summer Upkeep Ideas To Add Curb Appeal

    Remember all those outdoor fixup projects you put off last winter, waiting for the warm summer months? Well, summer's here and it's time to think about getting some repairs in while the temperatures are still agreeable. Keeping your home in tip-top shape not only adds to its curb appeal but it saves you money as you ward off more expensive fixes down the road.

    But look at it this way: Spend a couple of weekends outside, basking in the beautiful weather, and make sure your home looks fantastic while you can still enjoy its charms. Soon enough, it will be time to pack it up and head inside. -Alexandra Bandon, This Old House online

    Find other DIY curb appeal upkeep ideas at THISOLDHOUSE.COM.

    1. Let the Sunshine In

    One of the simplest but most satisfying fixups you can do is to make your windows sparkle and shine, letting in clear summer light. Make the job easier by learning from a professional in How to Clean Windows Like a Pro.

    MORE: All About Wood Windows

    2. Fix Up the Front Door

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  • Cool Ideas for Using Chalkboard Paint

    Wouldn't it be fun to scribble anywhere? Chalkboard paint lets you turn almost any surface into a scribble-worthy canvas. It isn't a new kind of paint, but creative minds keep coming up with new ways to use it.

    Here are 3 clever ideas to use chalkboard paint around your home. See even more ways at

    1. Wall Calendar
    This dramatic calendar began with a floor-to-ceiling coat of standard gray chalkboard paint. Most chalkboard paint comes in a classic deep gray. A paint store can lighten a quart by adding white colorant. Back home, dark and light can be blended to get a couple of different shades in between. Once it's had a couple of days to cure, the chalkboard should last years.

    See how to get this look!

    MORE: Easy Paint Ideas That Wow

    2. Make Labels
    Let opaque canisters reveal their contents with labels that are writ large and easily changed.

    MORE: Best Kitchen Gadgets Under $50

    3. Message Board
    With the addition of chalkboard paint, a wood tray becomes a neatly

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  • Kid-Friendly DIY Projects You Can Do Together This Summer

    A sandbox brings a little bit of the beach into your backyard, and playtime is even more fun when the box itself has an imaginative shape. Kids can "drive" at the playground for hours of fun in this red car. It even has special storage under the hood for when you're ready to make a pit stop. For the full step-by-step project, see How to Build a Sandbox at

    And, here are a few more fun, do-it-yourself projects you can do with the kids this weekend.


    One of the best ways to encourage your children's budding creativity is to give them a place to practice their talents. This sturdy, portable artist's easel is compact but holds colorful paints, brushes, pencils, markers, and more. And since it has two sides, your kids can enjoy drawing and painting with friends and siblings. See How to Build an Easel for full step-by-step instructions.

    A backyard fort is the perfect place to let kids' imaginations run wild. They can

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  • How to Keep Your Grill Cooking All Summer Long

    Nothing announces the arrival of summer like firing up the grill. Unfortunately, nothing sours a summer party faster than a grill that won't light, smokes too much, or cooks unevenly. Grease, marinades, and sauces wreak havoc on gas burners, while charcoal grills suffer the corrosive properties of charcoal.

    Grills of all kinds, from simple kettles to stainless steel restaurant-grade infrared grills, require maintenance to ensure that they perform and last.

    Here are 3 tips to keep your grill in shape.-Sal Vaglica, This Old House

    Don't miss all of our expert advice on grill maintenance on THISOLDHOUSE.COM.

    MORE: Get to Know Your Gas Grill

    1. Inspect the Chassis (Cart or Frame)
    Grills with welded joints or connections with pop rivets can rust. Scrub rust off with a stiff wire brush or coarse steel wool, apply a rust-inhibiting primer, and paint the grill's exterior with rust-resistant metal paint. Keep fasteners tight to ensure the base is stable and safe. Replace damaged grill

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