Blog Posts by This Old House Magazine

  • Save Money with Upgrades that Slash Energy Costs

    The This Old House TV crew gave a once drafty and underinsulated New England house a state-of-the-art efficiency makeover. Here are some money-saving upgrade ideas for your old house -From thisoldhouse.com

    Upgrades That Slash Energy CostsUpgrades That Slash Energy Costs
    Sealing The Envelope
    As with any home built before the days of insulation, house wrap, and double-pane windows, there'd be little point in installing high-efficiency HVAC equipment without first buttoning up the leaky exterior shell. TOH TV general contractor Tom Silva applied spray foam insulation, which yields slightly-better-than-code R-43 in the roof and R-21 in the walls. The foam, which requires professional installation, is about two to three times the cost of fiberglass batts but offers two to three times the effectiveness. And because it fills every crack and void, creates a vapor barrier, and won't settle over time, it eliminates drafts, too.

    But a wall is only as airtight as its windows. Fixing the existing ones proved too expensive, so Tom replaced the rattly old

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  • Easy Kitchen Makeovers: Beautiful Backsplash Ideas to Steal (Part 2)

    Solid-surface backsplashSolid-surface backsplash
    If installing a traditional tile backsplash feels a little out of your DIY league, putting up one made from a single sheet of solid surface material may just be your saving grace. Shaping, cutting, and gluing up this inexpensive stock material-available from companies such as Swanstone, which makes the beadboard backsplash shown here, in a variety of colors and patterns-is a weekend project most amateurs can conquer with confidence. Check out our Step-by-Step breakdown in How to Install a Solid-Surface Backsplash.

    Bright backsplashBright backsplash
    Use graphic encaustic cement floor tiles, such as these Moroccan imports, on the wall. The thick handmade squares fit together like puzzle pieces to form colorful medallions. Similar to shown: 8-by-8-inch tiles in the Meilla pattern, $7.25 each; villalagoontile.com

    RELATED: 26 Low-Cost, High-Style Kitchen Upgrades

    Stacked subway tileStacked subway tile
    Lining up tiles horizontally in parallel columns creates a polished, contemporary look. Similar to shown: Rittenhouse Square tile in Matte Black, $1.70 per square

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  • Space-Saving Bunk Bed Design Ideas You'll Want to Steal

    Bunk bed design ideasBunk bed design ideas
    The 2013 This Old House Reader Remodel Contest yielded a few impressive bedroom solutions. Among them this installation in Portland, Oregon, by reader Dawn Shelton. "My sister and I have four kids between us, and we wanted a place for them all in one room. We used 4x4s for the corners, extra kitchen cabinets for the bases, plywood for the platforms, and old spice racks for the bookshelves between the two bottom bunks. The kids love the privacy and the fact that everyone has his or her own reading light," she said.

    RELATED: Best Bedroom Before and Afters of the Year

    Crafty kid's roomCrafty kid's room
    In Smart Storage Solutions, one reader fits slumber spots for two kids in the space of one with built-in bunk beds. Here, Amagansett, New York, architect Darren J. Helgesen had extra room to work with at the foot of the beds, so in place of a standard ladder he designed a staircase with V-grooves cut into the treads to give little feet traction for climbing; the angled stair wall serves as a handrail. To eliminate

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  • 5 DIY Ways to Refinish and Refresh Old Furniture

    Your tables and chairs have seen better days. But don't put your once-prized pieces out on the curb without trying an easy DIY solution first. Inspired by the popularity of our How to Fix a Furniture Finish gallery, here's a guide to This Old House's best how-tos and Step-by-Steps on repainting, refinishing-and refreshing-your furniture.

    Lime a Table
    How to lime a tableHow to lime a table
    Giving a plain wood table an aged, whitewashed look takes no more than a few simple tools and products any beginner can tackle. Lime wash, a lime-and-water solution that gives wood a whitewashed look, was once applied to barns and fences for practical purposes: to deter insects and protect them from the elements. Today it's evolved into a purely decorative treatment, with less caustic liming wax lending hardwoods, such as oak and ash, that faded, aged appearance. Here, Floyd Rosini, a third-generation furniture restorer in Rocky Mountain, North Carolina, offers insight into the process, sharing his go-to products as well as a few

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  • Top 5 Carve-less Pumpkin Decorating Ideas for Halloween

    Create spooky, funny, or off-the-wall Halloween pumpkin decorations without the danger that comes with sharp cutting tools. SEE ALL: 19 Carveless Pumpkin Decorating Ideas for Halloween

    Bloody Mini Pumpkins

    Blood pumpkinsBlood pumpkins
    Pumpkin guts may be orange, but these ghoulish mini pumpkins are bloody fun. Stock up on fun-sized pumpkins, coat them in white paint, and squeeze blood-red puffy fabric paint in their creases. See more horror movie-worthy pumpkin details on Almost Makes Perfect.

    Mummy Pumpkin

    Mummy pumpkinMummy pumpkin
    Wrap up this adorable little mummy in a cinch with a length of gauze and a pair of craft-store googly eyes. See the full pumpkin DIY on Canadian Nickel Scrap'n.

    Furniture Nail Pumpkins
    Furniture-nail pumpkinsFurniture-nail pumpkins
    Grab the extra brass upholstery nails from your last chair makeover project and leave the hammer behind. Simply push the nails into the pumpkins' surfaces to create interesting patterns. Get a detailed view of all the pumpkin designs on Lovely Indeed.

    Pumpkin Planters
    Pumpkin plantersPumpkin planters
    Make your favorite fall flowers pop in a

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  • Easy DIY Ways to Button Up Your House for Fall

    Save yourself thousands in future repair, maintenance, and energy costs by not leaving these minor problems to get out of hand.

    Beef Up Insulation in an Unfinished Attic Beef Up Insulation in an Unfinished AtticBeef Up Insulation in an Unfinished Attic
    WHY NOW:

    Baby, it's cold outside-or it will be soon. "So pop your head up in the attic and check insulation levels," says Mike Rogers of GreenHomes America, which specializes in energy-efficient improvements. In addition to sealing gaps in the attic floor and framing, Rogers recommends upping insulation levels to R-49 or even as high as R-60 for most areas of the country.

    HOW TO DO IT:
    If insulation is level with or below the ceiling joists, add loose fiberglass or cellulose-even over existing batts-using a rented blower. Make sure the material is well distributed, with no low spots. "Even a small gap greatly undermines performance," Rogers says.

    THE PAYOFF:
    Up to 10 percent savings on your utility bills.

    RELATED: See all 12 Easy DIY Fall Fix-Ups at thisoldhouse.com

    Remove Aggressive Vines

    Remove Aggressive VinesRemove Aggressive Vines
    WHY NOW:
    On brick or

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  • Easy Kitchen Makeovers: Beautiful Backsplash Ideas to Steal (Part 1)

    Backsplash design ideasBacksplash design ideas
    If you want to refresh your kitchen but can't afford a full-scale remodel, a smart place to start is with tiling a backsplash, which only takes a weekend. You can switch out a backsplash without moving cabinetry or appliances, and the sky's the limit in terms of material choices, colors, and patterns. If your kitchen currently only has bare walls, you'll also delight in the easy clean-up a smart backsplash provides. As you start dreaming up your design, get inspired by a few of our favorite backsplashes from thisoldhouse.com.

    RELATED:
    Top 10 Tips for Kitchen Backsplashes

    Repurposed Summer-Front Backsplash

    Summer-front backsplashSummer-front backsplash
    "We bought this 'summer front' at a farm auction for $110," says Kentucky homeowner Renay Davis, who had been looking at pricey basket-weave tile to protect the wall behind her cooktop. This Victorian-era cast-iron antique, once used to cover a fireplace during the off-season, is now a fancy focal point that saved the Davises more than $800 in materials. The Davises coated the

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  • Late-Summer Yard and Garden Upgrades to Extend Your Growing Season

    Nix the Labor-Day BluesNix the Labor-Day Blues
    Summer's over but don't despair! You can still have a well-groomed lot and enjoy the outdoors well into the fall. There are even a few easy prep steps you can take now for a vibrant landscape come next spring. Here's your late-summer outdoor upkeep guide from the TOH pros.

    SEE ALL: 12 Late-Summer Yard and Garden Upgrades

    Keep Your Lawn LushKeep Your Lawn Lush
    Keep Your Lawn Lush. A picture-perfect lawn takes ongoing maintenance. This time of year, weeds aren't the only thing standing between you and the turf of your dreams. You've also got to watch for pests, fungal diseases-and even Fido. Find symptoms and remedies to help you troubleshoot 8 Common Lawn Problems here.

    Attract Good BugsAttract Good Bugs
    Attract Good Bugs. Your yard is crawling with insects-but not everything that buzzes, creeps, or wriggles is there to decimate your begonias. Some of these bugs will help make your landscape beautiful by serving as pest predators, plant pollinators, and soil aerators. See why you should Meet the Good Bugs and nix chemical pesticides.


    Consider Adding These Late-Summer BloomersConsider Adding These Late-Summer Bloomers
    Consider Adding These

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  • 7 Inspirational Home Offices You Can Copy

    Carve out a work area where you won't mind spending some time. Steal a few design ideas via thisoldhouse.com

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    Quirky Cottage-Style Home Office

    Quirky Cottage Home OfficeQuirky Cottage Home Office

    A home office should be functional, but not at the expense of character-or even a little risk-taking. The design of this workspace, for example, is traditional English cottage style with a twist. It's where nature-inspired wallpaper and 19th-century antiques, such as a spindle-back armchair and a rustic pine chest, take supporting roles to a scene-stealing mid-century brushed-steel desk with an industrial edge.

    "There's a quirky juxtaposition of styles and periods, but the harmonious colors and weathered finishes make it work," says Ros Byam Shaw, author of Perfect English Farmhouse (Ryland Peters & Small), which features this room. The contrasts continue with accessories such as a graphic flat-weave rug, which enlivens and warms up the

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  • Editors' Picks: Steal Ideas from These Sensational Sheds and Outbuildings

    Make the most of sheds and outbuildings! Create a DIY getaway right at home. Here's some inspiration via thisoldhouse.com

    Shed bonus roomShed bonus room
    A garden shed can be more than a place to store rakes and trowels. It can serve as an extra workspace, a hobby room, or even a retreat, a place to get away from it all. Whatever activities go on inside, a primary consideration should be what it will look like on the outside, to ensure it's a landscape enhancement, rather than an eyesore. Garden writer Sharon Lovejoy built a sheltered workspace with a traditional look that enhances her home's vintage charm. With multipaned windows and board-and-batten siding, the shed at looks like a cottage retreat, just steps from her home. Take a tour of her gorgeous outbuilding in "The Ultimate Bonus Room Just Might be a Shed."

    Cape remodelCape remodel
    In this remodel of a 1960s Cape, charming sheds that mirrored the design of the main house were also alled. An oversize door and a birdhouse tucked in the gable (see larger) reinforce the garden shed's

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