Author Archives: Larry Bilotti

Larry Bilotti

About Larry Bilotti

Executive Editor at and avid DIYer. Formerly Executive Editor for Country Living Magazine, Larry spends most weekends updating a 1890s house in The Catskills, New York. Check him out on Google+!

Let Your Attic Help Improve Home Comfort Year Round

attic ventilation


Looking to cut energy costs and improve home comfort? Focus on your heating and cooling systems. While it is imperative to choose an Energy Star-certified unit properly sized for your home, a variety of factors influence the effectiveness of your system, according to the experts at Lennox. And some of those factors, it turns out, have very little to do with areas of the home that you actually live in.

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Enter to Win Our “April Showers” Give-Away

Everyone knows that a new shower head can be a stylish, water-conserving improvement for any bathroom—but why stop there, when you could win the Delta shower head of your choice plus $2,000 to jump-start your dream bath remodel in Bob Vila’s “April Showers” Give-Away?


Today and every day in April (until 11:59 a.m. EST, May 1, 2013), you can enter to win one of four Delta shower heads (options shown below) in addition to a $2,000 Visa gift card!


Delta Showerheads

Delta's (clockwise from top left) In2ition® Two-in-One Shower, Dryden, Contemporary, and Transitional shower heads, each with H2Okinetic Technology

Each shower head features Delta’s H2Okinetic™ technology—an innovative internal system that controls the speed, movement, and water droplet size to create a custom shower experience like no other. The shower actually sculpts water into a unique wave pattern that provides more coverage, more intensity, and more warmth (since the larger water droplets retain their temperature longer). Best of all, you get the feeling of more water without actually using more water.

So, go ahead: CHOOSE YOUR SHOWER HEAD and seize your opportunity to win $2,000. Remember, you can enter Bob Vila’s “April Showers” Give-Away daily to increase your odds of winning.

To learn more about Delta H20Kinetics, click here.

The “Bob Vila’s Spring Showers from Delta Faucet” sweepstakes is open only to permanent legal U.S. residents of the 48 contiguous states and the District of Columbia; residents of Alaska and Hawaii are not eligible. Void in all other geographic locations. No purchase necessary. Contest Period runs from 12:00 p.m. (EST) Monday, April 1, 2013 through 11:59 a.m. (EST) Wednesday, May 1, 2013. One entry per household per day on Alternative means of entry for Drawing is available by faxing your name and address to 508-437-8486 during the applicable Entry Period. Odds of winning depend on the number of eligible entries received. In the event that Winner fails to provide Sponsor with a choice of shower head, Winner’s prize package will include the Default Selection. See Official Rules.

10 Show-Stoppers from Las Vegas

Caesars Palace

Caesars Palace. Photo: LABworks360

What could the grandeur of a Roman fountain and an end-of-days bomb shelter possibly have in common? Must be time for the annual NAHB International Builders’ Show, held this year (January 22-24) in Las Vegas, NV. The event, which draws builders, contractors, manufacturers and industry professionals from around the country and the world, is renowned for showcasing the latest in new building products, materials, technology, trends and innovations.

While we were hard-pressed to cover the entire 360,000 square feet of exhibition space, we were able to discover some true show-stoppers. Here are ten of them to whet your appetite.
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ENTER TO WIN This Amana Washer & Dryer!

If you have to do laundry in 2013, wouldn’t you prefer doing it in style and with energy savings in mind?  We thought so.  That’s why we reached out to our friends at Amana® to sponsor Bob Vila’s “2013 Love Your Laundry” Give-Away.

Starting today and every day through the month of January (until 11:59 p.m. EST, Thursday January 31, 2013), you can ENTER TO WIN a new Amana 3.6 cu. ft. High-Efficiency Washer with Stainless Steel Wash Basket, valued at $649 (MSRP), and 7.0 cu. ft. Traditional Dryer with Interior Drum Light, valued at $479 (MSRP).

Amana Laundry Pair NED4700YQ and NTW4750YQ

Amana® 3.6 cu. ft. High Efficiency Washer and 7.0 cu. ft. Traditional Dryer.

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Books for the Love of Home

Experts on all things home aren’t always confined to hammer and nail. Many have picked up another set of tools altogether—pencil and paper. Looking to spread knowledge beyond their own toolboxes, today’s voices of interior design, craft inspiration, and historic homes have made 2012 a banner year for the home improvement book. Just in time for the holidays, we’ve gathered a fresh new trio of favorite stocking stuffers:


The Things That Matter

The Things That Matter by Nate Berkus

Photo: Spiegel & Grau

In designer Nate Berkus‘s recently released The Things That Matter, we are reminded of how one’s personal experiences shape who they are and how they live. Berkus fills the book with intimate stories of his childhood, introduces us to people who influenced him and encouraged him along the way, and opens up about the remarkable experiences that have changed him forever. Readers get a personal glimpse into Berkus’s home as well as 12 others, from a sleek metal-and-glass high-rise in Chicago to a rustic cottage in the Hudson Valley. Each property proves a revealing portrait of its owners lives and of the inspiring choices that shaped them. More…


Young House Love

Young House Love

Photo: A Beautiful Mess

In 2006, armed with a can-do attitude and zero formal training, husband-and-wife duo John and Sherry Petersik embarked on an ambitious home improvement journey. Six years, two whole-house renovations, and one enormously successful blog later, the Petersiks decided to move their crafty ideas from the computer screen to the glossy pages of a beautiful book. Young House Love: 243 Ways to Paint, Craft, Update & Show Your Home Some Love is a fun and upbeat source of inspiration. With instructive images accompanying each easy-to-read project guide, renters and homeowners alike will find themselves seeing new possibilities for every forgotten corner at home. More…


Houses of the Presidents

Houses of the Presidents by Hugh Howard

Photo: Little, Brown

Anyone who has gone through a major remodel knows that estimates are likely to run a tad long. If it brings any comfort, even Presidents have had to endure the same misery: It took Thomas Jefferson 54 years to complete his beloved Monticello! In Houses of the Presidents: Childhood Homes, Family Dwellings, Private Escapes, and Grand Estates, you’ll find a wealth of additional information on the homes (birthplaces, residences, retreats) of the American Presidents—from George Washington’s Mount Vernon to Punachou Circle Apartments in Honolulu, where Barack Obama lived with his grandmother. Author Hugh Howard, co-author of several Bob Vila books, weaves an intimate portrait that combines architectural history with intimate family stories and political lore to shed light on the men who have occupied the nation’s highest office. Color photographs by Roger Straus III bring these homes and furnishings vividly to life. More…


For more holiday gift ideas, consider:

Bob Vila’s 2012 Gift Guide: For the DIY Mom
Bob Vila’s 2012 Gift Guide: For the DIY Dad
Bob Vila’s 2012 Gift Guide: For the Gardener

Did You Know? Bulb Matters

Energy Saving Light Bulb Types


We hear a lot about lighting and energy efficiency, but can the right light bulb really be effective in reducing monthly bills and utility consumption? Yes, it can!

According to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star site, if every American home replaced just one light bulb with a bulb bearing the Energy Star label, we would save enough energy to light 3 million homes for a year, save roughly $600 million in annual energy costs, and prevent 9 billion pounds of greenhouse gas emissions, equivalent to those from about 800,000 cars.

For more on lighting, consider:

Light Bulbs: The Shape of Things to Come
Smart New Choices for Outdoor Lighting
How To: Save Money and Electricity

Calling All Nominations for the 2nd Annual Family Handyman-IKEA “Rescue Remodel”

Sponsored Post

In the spirit of the holiday season, do something to give back to your community this December. The Family Handyman, one of the most respected media brands in home improvement, has teamed up with IKEA® for its 2nd Annual Rescue Remodel Contest. From now until December 15, 2012, communities can nominate their local organizations—firehouses, boys and girls clubs, soup kitchens, food pantries, etc.—to win an IKEA kitchen makeover valued at $25,000.

Entries must explain in 500 words or less how the renovation will benefit the local organization and the community, along with what makes the group truly deserving of the makeover. Nominees must be active community organizations and part of a not-for-profit group to qualify. The winning organization will receive a fully customized kitchen—from new cabinets and appliances, to cookware and food storage—from IKEA.

A panel from The Family Handyman will select the five top community organizations from those nominated. The vote will then be open to the public from February 1 until March 30, 2013. A winner will be selected on April 12, 2013, and the completed kitchen unveiled in the magazine’s September’s issue and on its website, as well as on

To find out more, including official rules and how to submit a nomination, visit Rescue Remodel—but you only have until December 15th to nominate your community organization.

5 Easy Woodworking Projects for Beginners

For maximum productivity and enjoyment, beginners are wise to start small. Here are five easy woodworking projects perfect for novices.

Woodworking Projects for Beginners


Don’t miss 10 Surprisingly Simple Woodworking Projects for Beginners

For the uninitiated, woodworking may seem far too daunting to even consider tackling. Dovetail joints, mitered corners, chamfer bevels—these are terms that would put fear into anyone. But the fact remains that with every new project you gain skills and a renewed sense of confidence. The best advice we can offer the wannabe woodworker is to start out small, employing basic tools for simple projects involving minimal materials.

Here are five “really easy” do-it-yourself woodworking projects for novices.

Window boxes add enormous curb appeal and for city dwellers, they provide a rare gardening opportunity. They are easy to make, too. Even a beginning woodworker can make a window box using scrap wood and a small set of basic tools. For a how-to on window box woodworking projects, see our DIY tutorial.

The homemade birdhouse is a classic—and with good reason. For many youngsters being introduced to tools, it’s a fun and accessible first project. Quick, simple, and inexpensive to build and maintain, birdhouses provide a lasting reward, as they become homes for feathered friends hanging out in your backyard.

Woodworking Projects - X-leg TableIf you’re thinking birdhouses are only kid’s stuff, think again! Bust out the saw, pick up some lumber (or make use of any scraps you have on hand), and dedicate an afternoon to creating one. Or ten! For a how-to on birdhouse woodworking projects, see our DIY tutorial.

While it may be tempting to try making a picnic table, if you’re new to woodworker, you may want to start smaller. We love this table by home blogger Sarah M. Dorsey Designs—brilliantly conceived and oh-so-easy to make. Using leftover fence boards, Sarah was able to make this beautiful X-leg table in little over an hour. Get the full how-to here.

We all need extra storage, and there are plenty of bins and crates available for purchase at stores. But why not build one of your own? This is another easy woodworking project that requires little in the way of materials, tools, and carpentry expertise. Early in the process, be sure to consider how the crate will be used and where it will be displayed. An open-slatted design will make it more decorative—so will knotted rope pulls, like this gem from Bob Vila Nation blogger Cher-Ann Texter.

So many creative woodworking projects begin with scrap wood that is easy to source. For example, you can repurpose shipping pallets into functional furniture of all kinds—desks, hanging plate racks, unique kitchen islands. The same is true for wine and apple crates; they’re easy to come by (and usually free) and can be transformed into just about anything. You may need to perform some deconstruction before you’re able to start building something fresh, but you still get the benefits of creating something by hand and learning woodworking skills in the process.

woodworking projects upcycled shipping pallets

8 Ways to Make the Most of Your Dining Room

Space Planning Dining Room Thanksgiving


With so many dishes and serving utensils, not to mention the number of guests, Thanksgiving puts your dining room to the true test. Here are eight ways to get more out of the space, maximizing your enjoyment of the meal and the day’s family joys.

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Hurricane Sandy: Disaster Preparedness

Disaster Preparedness Hurricane Sandy Threat Index

If you are among the estimated 50 million people in the path of Hurricane Sandy, you are hopefully heeding the warning of local authorities and taking disaster preparedness seriously. That may include evacuation if you live in a flood-prone area or of course anywhere where a mandatory evacuation notice has been issued.

The rare hybrid storm, currently off the coast of Cape Hatteras, NC, is expected to make landfall along the central New Jersey coast sometime this evening, bringing with it extended periods of heavy rain, tropical storm-force winds, and a potentially historic tidal surge along the East Coast (including Long Island Sound and New York Harbor), according to the National Weather Service.

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