Blog Posts by This Old House Magazine

  • Skillbuilder: Get rid of icky wall grease on nonwashable wallcoverings

    Most washable wallcoverings can be scrubbed clean with a sponge and nonabrasive cleanser. Try that with a nonwashable wallcovering, and you'll ruin the surface. A little-known secret: Most greasy, grimy stains and spots can be drawn out of nonwashable wallcoverings with a standard electric clothes iron. Place both layers of a regular brown grocery bag right over the stain. Press the paper with a warm iron - no steam - for a minute or two. The paper will absorb the heated grease. If necessary, repeat the process with clean paper until the stain completely lifts out.

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  • You Can Do It: How to craft a custom bookcase alcove


    Create DIY custom storage for books, CDs, collectibles, and other stuff. Here's how to do it.



    (Click image to enlarge)

    For this built-out storage unit, use doubled-up plywood, rather than solid boards, to cut costs, add stability, and prevent long shelves from bowing. The bookcases' sides are equal to 1½-inch-thick planks; make them by gluing and nailing together two ¾-inch plywood sheets. The shelves are 5/4 inch thick, made from ¾-inch and ½-inch plywood. All visible edges are then capped with poplar strips.

    More: Brilliant Built-in Storage Ideas

    To begin, rip sides to the desired depth of the bookcases, cut them to length, and drill for adjustable shelf clips, mapping out the holes with a hardware store jig.

    Cut shelves to the same length and depth, but make the ones between the two bookcases longer for a spacious alcove.

    More: Choosing and Using a Circular Saw

    Finish by raising both bookcases on a 1x4 platform wrapped with a toekick and shoe molding.

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  • A week's worth of TOH "Deals of the Day"

    Colorful-Plant-6-tile-Cermaic-Wall-MuraColorful-Plant-6-tile-Cermaic-Wall-MuraEnhance a kitchen backsplash or create a beautiful tile mural out of these hand-painted ceramic sets. Get the Peacock 6-pc. set for $49.99 or the Colorful Plant 6-pc. set for $50.99










    folding work benchfolding work bench Enhance your garage or workshop with this foldable metal work bench ($28.49). It features SAE and Metric ruler, 0 to 180-degree protractor, four clamps and 24 dog holes.








    1591_93185_mm_0824 Save on on-demand food prep surface space and kitchen storage. This folding tile-top trolley ($99.99; Reg. $129.99) is a space-saving solution that folds flat for storage. The drop-leaf trolley (not shown; $29.99; Reg. $59.99) is also available.

    BONUS: Use promo code BHNEW at checkout and save 20% on your highest priced item (good thru 1/25).




    stacking tablesstacking tables Save 60% on this clever set of 4 stacking tables ($31.99) and use them as a shelving unit, or take them apart to use as end tables. See this, and other clearance deals at brylanehome.com

    BONUS: Enter promo code BHNEW at checkout and get 20% off your highest priced item (thru 1/25)

    digital media playerdigital media playerSave

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  • 5 smart DIY 'quickies' to spruce up your space


    Quickie #1:
    Dust your TV with a sheet of fabric softener. Static guard will slow the dust resettling process.

    Quickie #2: Use baking soda to clean your bathroom surfaces. (Not the mirror and windows, of course.)

    More uses for baking soda

    Quickie #3: Choose a pretty paint color for your bedroom ceiling. You've got to look at it, after all, and where is it written that it has to be white?

    Choose paint colors with a color wheel

    Quickie #4: Label your electrical cords, especially if they all meet at one loaded strip. No more unplugging the alarm clock by accident.

    Quickie #5: Swap out switch plates for a fast, affordable detail upgrade.

    Shop for beautiful switchplates at Switch Hits

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  • 3 tips for single women homebuyers

    We suspected as much, but now we have the proof: Single women are the fastest growing segment of the real estate market. In fact, they are buying homes at more than twice the rate of single men, snatching up one out of every five properties sold in the U.S. So we at This Old House decided to conduct an informal poll of both future and current homeowners to identify their biggest concerns about going it alone.

    Close proximity to the workplace and cultural activities are important, but perhaps the major issue for a single woman in the market for a new house has to do with personal safety, as well as the security of her property. Worries about keeping up with home repairs, and fear of being taken advantage of by a crooked contractor or another trade professional, also rank high on her list.

    The following advice should help alleviate the stress of setting up house on your own.

    What tools you'll need: Even with a newer home, drains still get clogged, shelves and drapes still

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  • 3 DIY upgrades to boost the value of your home

    Even if you're not looking to sell, there are a few projects you can take on that will freshen up your abode for the new year, and add interest and value to your home. Here are a few popular ideas, and all the information you need to get the job done.



    1. An affordable and easy way to freshen up any room is to give it new coat of paint. But, don't bother doing it if you're going to be sloppy. Home stagers recommend painting in neutral colors, but if that's too "blah" for you, consider applying decorative painting techniques like the one shown here: The strie technique mimics the look of centuries-old paint altered by dust and sun. It's best used on paneling or other woodwork; in white, it's perfect for creating French country kitchen cabinets. You can get the job done yourself in a weekend. Here's how.



    2. Add architectural interest to rooms with crown molding (in less than a day), ceiling medallions (in just a few hours), and other details. Consider installing wall frames in the

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  • Putting away the holidays: 6 smart ways to store decorations


    Here are 6 products-and some pro organization tips-to help you "put away" your holiday 'til next year.

    Holiday decorating can go from fun to frustrating in no time flat. The only thing more frustrating? Putting it all away. But 'tis the season, and to help you get it done we've gathered a few clever storage solutions, along with pro organizational tips, from Lea Schneider, author of Growing Up Organized and a member of The National Association of Professional Organizers.

    "If you take the time to stow decorations properly after the busy holiday season passes, next year will be easier," Schneider says. Keep reading to see how to store fragile holiday items, and save yourself a few headaches next holiday season, too.


    In a battle between a decorator and a wad of tangled lights, the lights will almost always win. "Use a piece of masking tape and a permanent marker to label each strand. Your note can indicate how long it is or where it was used for easy replacement next year," advises

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  • Announcing the This Old Gingerbread House contest winners...

    Gingerbread-house-winner-x
    It's almost a shame to just call them "gingerbread houses." Dozens of you entered your masterpieces into the 2nd annual This Old Gingerbread House contest. Then, hundreds of readers came back to vote. We're thrilled to announce this year's winners: Grand Prize winner Stephanie S. in West Palm Beach, Florida, created the amazing Victorian palace shown up there. She'll get a $200 gift card from Home Depot.

    The four runners-up rounding out the Top 5 will all receive a Dremel rotary tool. They are Gerhard P. of North Salt Lake, Utah, Denise J. of Coronado, California, Marjorie Ann and Ronald M. of Carmel, Indiana, and Barbara A. of Florham Park, New Jersey.

    Take a look at all of the This Old Gingerbread House contest entries at youroldhouse.thisoldhouse.com/gingerbreadhouse

    Congratulations to the winners, and happy holidays! Have a safe and merry Christmas.

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  • TOH's 'Hardware Aisle' | Image Inspiration: Desktop Christmas Tree

    Photo

    Just because you're working up until the actual holiday, doesn't mean you can't add some cheer to your workspace. Whether you're in a real office or just your home office, this little D.I.Y Christmas tree - cut out from an old catalog and held together by paper clips-will do the trick. I got the idea and instructions for this cute little decoration from our friends at Casa Sugar. Mine's a little rougher around the edges than theirs, but it still brings a little smile to my face (and my co-workers!)

    Plus, this one took just five minutes to put together and it requires way less maintenance than a real tree. But don't forget to give some TLC to the live evergreen you've got in your living room, too, with these tips and tricks.

    __Natalie Rodriguez, This Old House Assistant Editor

    See more at the This Old House blog,"The Hardware Aisle"
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  • Home Upgrade Resolutions: 5 ways to pretty up your rooms with paint

    Want to freshen up your home without spending a wad of cash? Give your rooms a new look for 2010 with some of these painting solutions from This Old House. Check out each of the following Step-by-Steps which include detailed how-to information, shopping lists, tools lists, and everything else you need to get the job started, and finished in no time.


    For a one-of-a-kind look that is more personal than wallpaper, grab some blackboard chalk and start sketching. Here's How to Paint an Oversized Wall Design


    Your cavelike kitchen feels that way because the dark cabinets have sucked all the light out of the room. As long as the frames and doors are structurally sound, you can clean them up and brush on some new paint-and within a weekend take that kitchen from dreary to sunny. Here's How to Paint Kitchen Cabinets for a Fresh New Look


    The burgundy red floor in the master bedroom of Sara and Andrew's Massachusetts farmhouse didn't fit the fresh and energetic personality of the newlyweds.

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