Author Archives: Gretchen Grant

Gretchen Grant

About Gretchen Grant

General Manager at Since buying a condo in NYC, home improvement has taken on a whole new meaning for her. Her prized possession: her father’s gift of a big red toolbox.

Bob Vila Radio: What Is the Cooperative Extension Service?

Begun over a hundred years ago, the Cooperative Extension Service remains a valuable resource for farmers and backyard gardeners alike.

I’m sure you’ve read articles that suggested contacting your local Cooperative Extension Office for services like soil testing, but have you ever wondered exactly what Cooperative Extension is? Here’s the scoop.

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Listen to BOB VILA ON COOPERATIVE EXTENSION or read the text below:

Cooperative Extension


The Cooperative Extension Service was set up about a hundred years ago as a partnership between land-grant universities and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Its purpose was to spread the knowledge gleaned from university research out to farmers, where it could have practical benefits. Other Extension initiatives included the World War Two-era Victory Gardens and 4-H clubs, which continue to this day.

When the system was founded, about 30 percent of the U.S. workforce was engaged in farming; today that figure is less than 2 percent. But the service still has much to offer. Extension Offices provide guides to plants that grow well in your area, solutions to common lawn problems, and other subjects of interest to backyard gardeners. In New York, the Extension Office is at Cornell University; in New Jersey, it’s at Rutgers; in Connecticut, it’s at UConn. All have web sites with further information and instructions for contacting them.

Bob Vila Radio is a newly launched daily radio spot carried on more than 75 stations around the country (and growing). You can get your daily dose here, by listening to—or reading—Bob’s 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day.

Become a Forum Moderator!

Take the lead in our lively community forum, and apply to become a Moderator by October 15!

Become a Forum Moderator


Do you work as an architect, contractor, or interior designer? Or are you a diehard DIYer? For friends and family members, are you the go-to person when the kitchen faucet springs a leak, or when the living room needs some new decor? If this sounds familiar, then we want to hear from you! is looking for six home remodeling and repair aficionados to serve as Moderators of our forum section. Day in and day out, this already active community gets even busier, with more questions posed than our site staff can satisfactorily answer. That’s why your help is needed.

Becoming a Moderator enables you to show off your expertise to a large audience of homeowners across the country, in every state and more than a dozen countries. In your answers—at least ten per week—we encourage you to include links to your website, blog, or social media accounts. Plus, you can show off with a “badge” that every Moderator receives upon joining the team.

Take the lead in this lively community today! Email [email protected] by October 15, explaining (1) why you’d like to become a Moderator, (2) the areas about which you are most knowledgeable, and (3) your biggest accomplishment in home improvement. Once applications are received, Bob Vila will interview select candidates, six of whom will be formally welcomed as the very first Moderators of the forum section.

5 Tips for Moving: One Veteran’s Advice

Tips for Moving

Five years ago today, I moved into my condo. It was the first home that I purchased. Not only did I have a new home, but I had gained some hard-won knowledge along with a river view.

Start planning your new space before you move in. I blithely thought that since the condo was plenty expenditure enough, I would simply turn off the spending spigot and use everything from my former rental apartment. Well, the different dimensions, light, and room configurations gave my old things a new cast that sometimes just didn’t work. Exactly one year after moving in, the last new item—a side table for a corner that had the best view in the apartment—was delivered. Next time, I’d start budgeting and browsing (and maybe purchasing if I came across great sales) before the moving van arrived.

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Three Home Improvement Innovations

Induction cooktop that uses magnets to create heat.

Photo: Summit Appliance

Cooktops that use magnets to generate heat. Lawn trimmers without wheels. Dishwashers for outdoors.

Innovation is happening all over home improvement. It’s inspiring to us here at to see companies invest the best of their creative energies to address home improvement needs. We know our readers invest a lot of time and energy in their do-it-yourself projects, after all. But how do you sort through the ever-growing number options?

Here are three trends that Bob has followed throughout his career. We think they are particularly relevant today, and focusing on them is a good way to make the most of your time and budget:

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A Tape Measure with a Story

Tape Measure with a Story

Photo: Gretchen Grant

This old tape measure follows me around everywhere.  My father gave it to me, and it does the trick.  Sure, it’s a little heavier than today’s newest models and the tape itself doesn’t stay extended with a flick of a button.  But it’s a happy memory plus a working tool, and has pride of place in my belongings.

For many of us, home improvement was a chance for parents or other mentors to give us welcome advice. Do-it-yourself projects were do-it-together occasions, and we learned practical knowledge that still serves us today.  For example, from working with a tape measure I learned:

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New Product: The Flux Chair

Flux Chair plastic seating

We at are dedicated to bringing you the most practical home improvement advice.  This new chair from Flux struck us as the ultimate in smart design and small space solutions.  Shown at the New York International Gift Show this week, the flat sheet of plastic on the right assembles into the chair on the left in just a few minutes (check out the video below).  When we tried it out, we were amazed by its comfort and stability.  You can buy cushions for the seat—though the chair was plenty comfortable without one—and wall hangers are available to store it flat.

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