Blog Posts by This Old House Magazine

  • Simplehuman helps you take the trash out

    Modern kitchens are no strangers to sleek metal details and accessories. Take your techy look a step further with smart stuff like the Rectangular Recycler from Simplehuman. It takes trash collection from gross to gorgeous with a fingerprint-proof finish, two color-coded removable inner buckets (which work great for me beacuse I carry them both out and empty them directly into my Waste Management containers), a wider all-steel pedal than past designs have had, and Odorsorb charcoal filters integrated into the lid to neutralize the yucks. Bonus feature: The internal hinge design allows the can to fit flush against walls, without lid hitting said walls in the opened position. 10-year warranty included. About $199*.

    *Don't yell at me yet! 'Tis true that you can get a run-of-the-mill kitchen trash can for much less, but you'll replace it often. And, it won't be nearly as awesome. I promise. Besides, if you shop around and clip a few coupons (say for Bed, Bath, & Beyond, where I got mine)

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  • One more reason to go low...low-VOC, that is

    Unless you've been living under a rock, you probably know that using a paint low in volatile organic compounds (VOCs) is both better for your health and the environment than using regular paint. But in case you need stronger persuasion to finally make the switch, a recent study claims that painting your children's bedrooms with VOC-laden paints could cause them to develop chronic health conditions.

    The study of 400 young children in Sweden found that those exposed to higher rates of propylene glycol and glycol ethers (particular classes of VOCs in paint) in their bedrooms had higher rates of asthma, sinus conditions, and eczema. The researchers also hypothesize that higher levels of VOCs in homes (due to paint and other sources of the compounds) could be behind the sharp increase in "allergic airway diseases" since the 1970s. So, next time you stroll through the home center, go for the greener paint option and breathe a little easier that you're making the right choice for you and

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  • Make Beautiful Pumpkin Luminaries in 4 Easy Steps

    Check out what we did with a drill, some pumpkins, and a couple of strings of Christmas lights. Studded with tiny bulbs in swirling or geometric designs, the gourds shown here make brilliant use of white and orange outdoor bulbs (for the most bang for your buck, use energy-efficient LED bulbs)-plus they look far more sophisticated than the average toothy jack-o'-lantern. Come trick-or-treat time, simply plug this crop into your nearest power outlet to illuminate even the blackest night. Here's how to do it in just 4 steps.

    1. Hollow out your pumpkin
    (For detailed step, and access to shopping and tools lists, click the image)

    2. Draft and transfer your pattern
    (For detailed step, and access to shopping and tools lists, click the image)

    3. Drill holes
    (For detailed step, and access to shopping and tools lists, click the image)

    4. Pop in the lights
    (For detailed step, and access to shopping and tools lists, click the image)

    More from
    5 Steps to Pumpkin Carving

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  • Top 5 American Murder Houses...That Also Happen to Be Haunted...Or So They Say

    To see the rest of the Top 13 American Murder Houses got to

  • You Can Do It: Install a Programmable Thermostat to Control Energy Costs

    Q: I'd like to put in a new programmable thermostat to better control my energy costs. Can I install it myself?
    -Sam Aleksy, Chicago

    Lance Marques, HVAC contractor, Swezey Fuel Co., replies: Sure you can. Upgrading to a thermostat that automatically changes the indoor temperature setting is fairly easy, and it can trim about $180 off your annual heating and cooling costs, according to the EPA.

    Simple models that only control heat are sold at home centers for around $25. More expensive products, such as the Honeywell Prestige that I installed here, handle many more functions, including cooling and humidifying. Typically they're purchased through and installed by HVAC contractors, but you can also buy them online.

    Before you buy a replacement thermostat, however, take a peek at your existing wiring. If there are only two wires, the simplest solution is to get a replacement with a battery-powered display. Full-featured devices like the Prestige need power from a third wire, something

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  • Slash Utility Bills With a DIY Energy Audit

    See more tips, including draft-proofing doors, sealing leaky ductwork, and much more at

  • 5 Smart Ways to Shrink Your Energy Bills This Winter

    To see 5 more ways to shrink your energy bills this winter, see the full article at

  • How to Carve the Perfect Jack-o'-lantern

    How to Carve a Pumpkin

    You've seen their creations in our Inspirational Pro Pumpkin Carving gallery. Now, here are the expert carvers' tips and secrets for every step of the pumpkin-carving process. Follow their advice to create an award-winning masterpiece, and enter the 2010 Pumpkin-Carving Contest for your chance to win the $500 Grand Prize.

    1. Select It

    Whether you're opting for a gourd straight from the patch, or choosing to carve a synthetic pumpkin, make sure you consider your design or pattern when making a selection. Pick one that's large enough and shaped to accommodate the length and width of whatever design you're going to carve. And before you leave the pumpkin patch, Ryan Wickstrand of Zombie Pumpkins recommends the following: "Make sure it can stand well on its own, and never carry a pumpkin by its stem."

    If you dread seeing your hard work turn to mush-even with good care, a carved pumpkin will last about a couple of weeks-consider an artificial pumpkin,

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  • Top 3 Easy Fall Prep Projects for a Warm and Cozy Home

    Get Ready for the Cold Season

    Fall means vibrant red, orange, and yellow foliage, lots of pumpkins, and refreshingly cool temps. But, it also means winter isn't far away. Here are a few projects-from looking after your exterior to maintaining your heating system-that can help your home brace for the cold and save you some cash.

    See a project you could use some help with? We've got the step-by-step instructions, shopping lists, tools lists, and other helpful information you need to get the job done right.

    Prep Your Landscape and Start Composting

    "Grass roots keep growing until the ground gets down to around 40 degrees," says TOH landscape contractor Roger Cook, "so this is a good time to feed them." Apply a high-phosphorus (12-25-12) mix to lawns in fall to encourage roots, so turf greens up earlier in spring. It's also a good time to seed a new lawn, start a compost pile, and trim shrubs and trees.

    See Roger's entire Fall Groundwork Checklist for more seasonal landscaping

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  • Vintage Bath on a Budget

    If the bath of your dreams seems out of reach, you've typically got two choices: Cut corners or compromise. Or, you could follow Susan and Mark Nitchman's lead and get creative-and a little dirty. For this couple, affording a spa-like retreat for their 1876 Queen Anne in St. Charles, Missouri, started with bidding their contractor farewell once the drywall and subfloor were in.
    Susan and Mark resolved to do the finish work themselves to stay under the $6,000 cap they'd set for completing their master bath addition filled with high-end fixtures and finishes, such as a claw-foot tub, marble tile floors, a generous glassed-in shower, and a furniture-style vanity. And because there were no existing materials to preserve, they also knew they'd have to be resourceful-shopping garage sales, building all the cabinetry, even making their own trim. Keep reading to see more of their tips and the products they used.

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