Blog Posts by This Old House Magazine

  • Build a Trellis: No Space to Grow a Garden? Think Again!

    How do you make room for growing beautiful climbers and ramblers with limited space? Grow up! These easy-to-build trellis projects take vertical gardening to new heights and are sure to get your small-space garden "off the ground." -Tabitha Sukhai, thisoldhouse.com
    Build a pyramid trellisWhether you call it a pyramid, an obelisk, or a tuteur trellis, this distinctive garden structure is a hallmark of cottage style. Trellises have a long history of supporting climbing and vining plants, and the tapered, freestanding version shown here remains a fixture of many an English garden, where it gives clematis and other flowering climbers a sturdy platform and a chance at sun. But we wouldn't fault you for using a trellis in a purely decorative way, either. For full step-by-step instructions to build this in just a couple of hours, see How to Build a Pyramid Trellis.

    TrellisA wall covered with climbing vines may benefit the fairy-tale suitor who scales it to reach his true love, but in the real world the twisting tendrils

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  • How to Hire the Best Contractor for Your Home Renovation

    TOH General Contractor Tom SilvaTOH General Contractor Tom SilvaConducting the Interview. Once you've settled on three potential contractors, arrange a time for each one to take a look at the project. You're looking for someone with a good reputation who has the skills and experience to deliver a quality job at a fair price, sure, but that's not all. The contractor and his crew will be spending a lot of time in your house, so ask a lot of questions.

    Ask about anything you don't understand, including terminology. He might refer to "bullnose" or "ogee" when discussing countertop edges, and if you don't know the difference you might not get the shape you want. Ask about things you do understand, too - it's a great way to assess the scope of someone's knowledge. Gather information in one interview and use it in the next. If Contractor Jones says, "I'd replace that trim rather than trying to repair it," ask Contractor Smith, "Do you think it's worth repairing that trim, or should we just replace it?" There may be more than one right answer in a given

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  • Spring Cleaning: Create a Garage Storage Plan

    Make the most of untapped potential in your garageMake the most of untapped potential in your garageThere's untapped potential in any garage to make room for more storage. Here are some rules from the pros. By Scott Schilling

    RELATED: Clutter-Busting Guide to Garage Organization

    1. CLEAR OUT
    Weed out all the junk you don't need. Keep only what you use; give away what you don't, and throw away what's broken and taking up precious space.

    2. MAKE A PLAN
    Treat your garage like any other room in the house. Take measurements and draw a floor plan to help you visualize what will fit and where it can be placed, just as you would for a kitchen or a dining room.

    RELATED: 14 Smart Kitchen-Storage Accessories


    3. CATEGORIZE
    Decide what items you'll use often, like garbage bags and cleaning supplies. These things should be kept nearest the door. Next, map out space for seasonal equipment: lawn mowers, weed-trimmers, snowblowers, etc. Avoid planting big items, such as lawn mowers, in a corner where they'll chew up space. Try to park them under a shelf unit. And be sure to clip ladders, shovels,

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  • 5 Household Problem-Solvers for Less Than $6

    VelcroVelcroThese clever little helpers do jobs much bigger than their size and their price tag. -by Melissa Thomas for This Old House

    Wrangle a Stack of Materials

    What it is:
    Self-locking reusable ribbon "tape" (think one-sided Velcro).

    Why you need it:
    Because it ties together pieces of molding and stacks of lumber without sticking to the surfaces-again and again. Scotch Bundling Wrap, available at 3M.com

    RELATED: Be a Medicine-Cabinet MacGyver

    AdapterAdapter

    Cut Power to Appliances

    What it is:
    A single-plug adapter with an on-off switch.

    Why you need it:
    Because your toaster oven shouldn't be a vampire when it's done browning your English muffin. Outlet Switch, available at harrietcarter.com




    RELATED: You've Already Got the Best Cleaner for the Job...in Your PANTRY


    Furniture risersFurniture risers

    Steady a Table

    What it is:
    A set of adjustable feet that can raise furniture ½ inch to 1¼ inches.

    Why you need it:
    Because the stack of matchbooks just won't stay put underneath your wobbly coffee table. Leveling Trio, available atRead More »from 5 Household Problem-Solvers for Less Than $6
  • 5 Handsome Entry Sets to Transform Your Front Door

    Queen Anne-styleQueen Anne-styleSometimes the smallest upgrade can make the biggest impact. If major overhauls are out of your reach (budget-wise, anyway) there are a few easy DIY ways to gradually transform every part of your home. For example, a handsome entry lock set is one way you can refresh the look of your door. We've got Step-by-Step instructions to help you Upgrade Front-Door Hardware. And, here are some of This Old House's favorite entry set styles to inspire your project.

    Queen Anne-Style. This stamped brass repro of a late-1800s design from famed 19th-century hardware maker P. & F. Corbin has an antiqued finish that doesn't use lacquer. -Sal Vaglica


    Folk ColonialFolk ColonialFolk Colonial-Style. In the late 1700s, blacksmiths pounded hot iron into graceful, curved handles. This modern-day thumb latch set in forged brass has a flat finish that looks like wrought iron. SV

    RELATED: Get the Right Door for Your Particular House










    ContemporaryContemporaryContemporary. This easy-to-grab lever is paired with a Grade 2 dead bolt. Most off-the-shelf dead bolts for

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  • Plan the Perfect Mudroom: 3 Pro Designs You Can Copy at Your House

    Builtin storage ideasBuiltin storage ideasPrized for organizing all manner of gear, from backpacks to tennis rackets, mudrooms also double as spaces for chores as diverse as doing laundry and potting plants. What's more, they act as an intermediary between the dirt and germs that reside outside the house and the freshly swept and dusted surfaces inside.

    To get the most out of your mudroom-whether you're adding a new one or reworking the one you already have-carefully consider how you'll use it and how much square footage you can realistically allocate for it. If you just need to stow a few coats and a laptop bag, a tidy row of hooks behind the entry door will suffice. For families with kids, more spacious digs decked out with shelves for stashing school supplies and sports equipment off a side or back door may be in order.

    RELATED: How to Build a Mudroom Bench

    The finishing materials you choose and extras you add also play a role in how the mudroom looks and functions over the long haul. Its highly trafficked

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  • 7 Clever Home Improvement Hacks

    1. Use sand to give paint some grip
    Give paint some gripGive paint some grip
    In a bucket, combine 2 cups of paint with ¾ cup of sand. Use the mixture to coat stair treads; let dry, then top them with a coat of regular paint. See more ways to get smart with your sand.

    2. Peel-proof your paint job
    Use vinegar for more than just salad dressingUse vinegar for more than just salad dressing
    Before painting galvanized metal or concrete, wipe down the object or surface with vinegar, using a sponge or lint-free cloth. This little trick will help your paint job last longer. Believe it or not, there's more to vinegar than just salad dressing.

    3. Tighten up loose fittings
    DIY dental flossDIY dental floss
    TOH general contractor Tom Silva has used dental floss instead of Teflon tape, to block leaky gaps around parts that screw into place. He just winds a length around the fitting's threads half a dozen turns before screwing it on.

    4. Space tiles with pennies
    Perfect spaces? Priceless!Perfect spaces? Priceless!
    When setting tile, place pennies on end between the corners of each piece for spacers that are easy to remove. See more in 10 Uses for Coins .

    5. Lighten the load of a heavy planter with packing peanuts

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  • The Don't-Get-Burned Guide to Hiring a Contractor for Your Home Remodel

    Gary Geiselman and his crew work on Speedwell Forge, a nearly 250-year-old Lancaster County houseGary Geiselman and his crew work on Speedwell Forge, a nearly 250-year-old Lancaster County houseOur social media channels and online communities are abuzz with homeowners planning the daunting task of a home remodel. When the weather warms and home-improvement projects begin, renovation rip-off artists come knocking, so many of you are rightfully concerned with how to avoid hiring a crook. Start with getting recommendations. Talk to your friends and family and then check in with the National Association of the Remodeling Industry for a list of members in your area. You can also talk with a building inspector, who'll know which contractors routinely meet code requirements, says This Old House general contractor Tom Silva, or pay a visit to your local lumberyard, which sees contractors regularly and knows which ones buy quality materials and pay their bills on time.

    Once you've settled on three potential contractors, arrange a time for each one to take a look at the project. You're looking for someone with a good reputation who has the skills and experience to deliver a quality

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  • 7 Ways to Save Money on Your Home Remodel

    Increase Efficiency, Not SizeIncrease Efficiency, Not SizeBusting the budget is everyone's biggest fear when it comes to renovation. And with good reason. Even if you follow the essential advice we've been doling out for years-build in a 20 percent cushion to cover the nasty surprises, get contractor references and check them, banish the words "while you're at it" from your vocabulary--it's hard not to end up shelling out more than you want to, even if you want to pen a check for a million bucks.

    But why scale back a project or forgo that Viking range? No, what you need to do is get your dream at a price you can afford. And not by cheaping out, either. With some strategic thinking about design, materials, and timing, you can cut costs without cutting corners. We'll show you the ways, from the big (knock down the house and start over) to something as small as choosing a wall sconce over a recessed light. But another universal truth about renovations is that every little thing adds up. So save a little here, save a little there, and pretty

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  • 3 Ways You're Destroying Your Home by Accident (and How to Fix it with DIY)

    Your home is falling apart...unless you're doing regular maintenanceYour home is falling apart...unless you're doing regular maintenance

    "From small things, Mama, big things one day come," as the song goes. It's especially true when it comes to your house. 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. "Don't wait until it's an emergency," says This Old House master carpenter Norm Abram. "Spot-check areas around your house, preferably twice a year, in the fall and spring."

    Is mold taking over behind your walls?Is mold taking over behind your walls?1. YOU'RE ALLOWING MILDEW TO TAKE OVER FOUNDATION WALLS
    Potential problem: Overgrown foundation plantings can channel water down exterior walls, leading to mold and sill rot. What's more, roots can work their way into foundation walls and pipes.

    Fix it now:
    Trim shrubs yourself. Better yet, replace them with dwarf varieties that won't be a perpetual pruning headache. In many parts of the country, planting in early fall gives shrubs a head start at

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