Blog Posts by This Old House Magazine

  • Outdoor Party Must-haves from Prepara

    outdoor party

    With the weather warming up, everyone here at TOH is dreaming about relaxing out on the lawn, deck, or patio. Hosting a cook-out or barbecue is probably the most fun (and tasty!) way to enjoy your backyard. (For more on the outdoor space shown above, see Cook Up a Great Outdoor Kitchen). -Karen Ziga for

    Dining outdoors requires the right set of tools (think ultimate grill station, not hammer) and practical accessories. Here are a few new items from Prepara that will help keep your guests happy.

    Prepara Oil MisterPrepara Oil Mister

    Salads are a fresh, cool, and healthful addition to warm weather menus. If you aren't a fan of gloppy dressing and wilted greens, try using the Prepara Tabletop Oil Mister (about $20). Create your own flavored oils and mist a thin layer of flavor on salad or veggies off the grill. Everyone will want to know where you nabbed these tabletop accessories, available in bright, contemporary colors that'll jazz up any picnic table.

    Prepara Chef's Baster SetPrepara Chef's Baster Set

    Brushing on your

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  • 3 Uses for Mayonnaise Around the House

    Mayo is more than a condiment.Mayo is more than a condiment.
    Mayo: More Than a Condiment!
    Who knew that our favored BLT condiment was so versatile around the house? In a pinch, use it to help you tackle these everyday tasks. -Sal Vaglica, This Old House Magazine
    See all 10 Uses for Mayonnaise on!

    RELATED: 10 Uses for Vinegar

    1. Erase Crayon from Walls
    Erase crayon marks from walls.Erase crayon marks from walls.
    Coat doodles on surfaces covered with scrubbable paint. After a few minutes, wipe off the mayo and crayon marks with a damp cloth.

    RELATED: 15 Decorative Paint Ideas

    2. Remove Sticker Residue
    Remove Sticker ResidueRemove Sticker Residue
    Dab mayo on stubborn price tags and the like, let sit for a few minutes, then rub off. The oil dissolves adhesives.

    RELATED: 30 Down-and-Dirty Tricks for Big DIY Savings

    3. Rub out Water Rings
    Rub Out Water Rings. Rub Out Water Rings.
    Cover water rings on wood furniture with mayo. Let sit for a minute or two. Wipe off and buff with a soft, clean cloth.

    See all 10 Uses for Mayonnaise at

    More tips on

    10 Uses for Aluminum Foil

    10 Uses for Yogurt Cups

    10 Uses for Foam Packing Peanuts

    10 Uses for

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  • Be a Medicine Cabinet MacGyver: Use Dental Floss, Toothpaste, Makeup Brushes and More as DIY Problem Solvers

    Lipstick for home improvement? Yup. These items, commonly found in your toiletries bag, can come in handy during your next DIY project. See more advice on how to be a medicine cabinet Macgyver on -Amy R. Hughes

    Dental Floss
    1. Dental Floss

    Fill in fissures. Pull a length of thin and sturdy dental floss taut and use it to work glue into splits and cracks in woodwork.

    Photo: Jessica Kaufman

    Wood Glue Guide--Which Goes Where?

    2. Toothpaste

    Polish metal. Make brass and silver shine with a non-abrasive toothpaste. Apply the polish with an old, soft-bristled toothbrush and rub it in with a lint-free rag.

    RELATED: Surprise Spring Cleaners

    Nail Polish RemoverNail Polish Remover
    3. Nail Polish Remover

    Clean up glue. Put some acetone nail polish remover on a rag to wipe off insulating foam sealant before it dries permanently.

    Kitchen-Drawer Essentials

    Baby OilBaby Oil
    4. Baby Oil

    Save stone. Baby oil is just your basic mineral oil with a little added fragrance; rub it into a soapstone countertop to hide a scratch and to

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  • Safe Ways to Handle Hazardous Household Products

    What to Toss? What to Replace?What to Toss? What to Replace?It's tempting to toss old paint, leftover cleaners, or even a busted VCR into the regular trash. But throwing away hazardous household products (HHPs)- defined as those with components that are flammable, explosive, corrosive, or toxic-without proper safeguards endangers human health and pollutes our land, water, and air. In addition to items such as paints and solvents, HHPs also include everyday products like bleach, which is corrosive, and home electronics, many of which contain mercury or lead. Bob Broz, an assistant professor at the University of Missouri's College of Food Systems and Bioengineering, offers these tips for reducing your use of HHPs and getting rid of old ones. -Keith Pandolfi

    RELATED: Surprise Spring Cleaners

    Give Away LeftoversGive Away LeftoversTIP: Give Away Leftovers
    Your next-door neighbor or even a local nonprofit organization might need the half cans of paint and stain that might otherwise gather dust in your workshop. Community gardens will often accept extra and unopened fertilizers and

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  • America's Ugliest Kitchens (and How They Became Beautiful)

    See how these homeowners turned the (often hideous) kitchens they had into the kitchens of their dreams

    Reviving a Tudor Revival KitchenReviving a Tudor Revival Kitchen
    A '60s redo had nixed this kitchen's stylistic connection to the 1920s house.

    Reviving a Tudor Revival KitchenReviving a Tudor Revival Kitchen

    The new great-room kitchen has lots of seating and open sightlines to neighboring rooms, as well as more than twice as many storage cabinets. Now the homeowners can monitor both their homemade Italian "gravy" and the kids' TV time from inside, and there's plenty of room for friends and extended family to gather. They capped the bay windows, richly stained cherry cabinets, and granite countertops with a detailed coffered ceiling. The result? A kitchen with 21st-century function tucked in a space with the finely crafted details of decades gone by. See more of this breathtaking transformation in Reviving a Tudor Revival-Style Kitchen.

    RELATED: The Ultimate Open-Plan Kitchen

    $6,000 Kitchen Redo$6,000 Kitchen Redo
    Dingy vinyl floors, yellow laminate counters, and dark cabinets made this 1970s kitchen feel dated and Read More »from America's Ugliest Kitchens (and How They Became Beautiful)
  • Top 10 Disasters that Can Hit Your House While You're on Vacation

    Photo: Roy Ritchie/Getty Images
    For most, a spring break is supposed to be a time for fun and relaxation. But if your heart is on vacation while your head is worrying about home, you won't get much out of your time off. Don't forget that spring also brings the risk of heavy rainfall or surprise heat waves. That's why we've brought you this handy guide of the top 10 bad things that can befall your house when you leave it alone. Don't fret-we also share with you expert advice on how to avoid these pitfalls. That way, you can take off worry-free, and know that there will still be a house standing when you pull back into the drive. -JEANNE BARON

    Thieves Take All Your Stuff
    Photo: Greenshoots Communications/AlamyPhoto: Greenshoots Communications/Alamy
    Unmowed grass, piles of newspapers, and revealing posts on Facebook might as well be an open invitation to burglars, says Ralph Sevinor, President of Wayne Alarm Systems in Lynn, Massachusetts. Sevinor suggests putting a hold on the mail, asking a neighbor to park in the drive, testing your alarm system, and keeping your travel plans off the

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  • 4 Wallet-Friendly Curb Appeal Makeovers

    We've all been taught that it's what's on the inside that counts; but when it comes to your home, the outside is certainly just as important. A drab exterior can make you cringe every time you approach the front door, while a handsome, thoughtfully designed one can turn the experience into a true pleasure.The good news is that you don't have to spend a bundle to enjoy a happy trip up your walkway. Budget-friendly shortcuts, such as reusing old hardware or choosing high-quality replicas of expensive materials-plus some good old sweat equity-can lead to major transformations. They can even put big projects, like adding on a new porch, within reach. Need proof? Read on. -Jessica Dodell-Feder

    See MORE smart budget curb appeal makeovers at

    A Charmer Revealed: Before
    An overgrown yard detracted from the sweet architecture of this 1938 cottage in Carlton, Oregon. By clearing the space, homeowners Darci and Matt Haney brought the focus back to the front door-and all the other

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  • 7 Celebrity Homes for Sale
    Looking for your next dream home? Take a look inside some of the most luxurious properties in the world--once homes to the stars and currently listed for sale. Tour a landmark Italianate in New Orleans that was owned by Anne Rice and explore Bruce Willis's breathtaking timber frame estate in Idaho, plus many others. Hey, we can dream, can't we?

    Anne Rice
    New Orleans, Louisiana; Inset photo: Michal; Inset photo: Michal Manas
    Long before Twilight, New Orleans native Anne Rice brought The Vampire Chronicles to the masses. The best-selling author was the owner of a few of the city's landmark Victorian-era homes, including this six-bedroom Italianate-complete with expansive double galleries and an elegant entry-on Saint Charles Avenue. Next, take a look inside.

    See the rest of Anne Rice's Italianate mansion here

    Bruce Willis
    Hailey, Idaho
    Photo:; Inset photo: Caroline Bonarde Ucci Photo:; Inset photo: Caroline Bonarde Ucci
    One of the many Western estates owned by the Die Hard star, this lakeside Idaho timber frame ranch could be yours for a cool $15

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  • How to Allergy-Proof Your Home This Spring

    A Cure!
    Most can't wait for winter weather to warm into spring. But, not allergy-sufferers. Allergies affect more than 20 percent of Americans. Medications can help relieve allergy symptoms, but removing irritants from your home is a much more effective way to stop your stuffy nose, headache, itchy eyes, and shortness of breath, according to the Allergy and Asthma Network/Mothers of Asthmatics (AANMA). Read on for the most effective ways to clear the air. -Sarah Schmidt

    See all of our advice on allergy-proofing your home at

    Common offenders are dust mites, mold, pollens, and pet dander
    1. No Brainer, But: Find Out What You're Allergic to First

    Visiting an allergist will help you focus your preventative measures. The most common offenders are dust mites, mold, pollens, and pet dander. "There's no point in making changes at home if you don't address your particular allergies," says Laurie Ross, editor of Allergy and Asthma Today. "Who knows, you might be allergic to cats, and here you are keeping your windows closed."


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  • 5 Thrifty Outdoor Dining Room Ideas

    Spring has sprung! We can't wait for grilling, fire pits, and playing our favorite backyard games! Is your backyard ready dining al fresco? See how creative design and clever repurposing can transform a sliver of the outdoors into a comfortable-and affordable-area for open-air entertaining. -Heather Smith Macisaac

    See more outdoor dining room ideas at

    Perk Up a Picnic
    1. Perk Up a Picnic: Easy Canopy

    Drape fabric between four poles sunk in the ground for a DIY sunshade. Use tent pins to anchor lines that run from the pole tops to the lawn.

    See how to get this look here!

    Carve Out a Courtyard
    2. Carve Out a Courtyard: Flagstone Floor

    Convert an unused portion of driveway into an inviting patio. Here, stone pavers with living green "mortar" replace a concrete parking pad.

    See how to get this look here!

    Add Drama to a Simple Deck
    3. Add Drama to a Simple Deck: Curtained Alcove

    Set the stage for dinner with a sunshade valance and fabric panels that frame a candle wall grid like a window.

    See how to get this look here!

    Build a Backyard Retreat
    4. Build a

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