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Bob Vila Radio: Recipe for a Retro Kitchen

You might not be able to serve up a malt, but a little paint and planning can get you the 1950s look for less.

If you love classic kitchens but can’t afford a renovation, there are still plenty of ways to add retro appeal. Start by digging up a few old photos with design details you want to recreate at home.


Photo: bigchill.com

Listen to BOB VILA ON RETRO KITCHENS or read on below:

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A lemon yellow, turquoise, or bubblegum pink accent wall will take your kitchen back in time in an afternoon. For cabinets, go with a vintage-inspired pastel on the outside or remove the doors and paint the back panel to create eye-catching open shelving. When everything is dry, finish the mini-makeover with chrome drawer pulls and knobs. And while you’re at it, swap out a builder-grade light fixture with a few pendant lights to brighten up your counter or island.

Experienced DIY-ers can build their own cozy breakfast nook with hinged benches. The compartment below the seat is the perfect place for seldom-used cookware. If you’re not that handy, a 50’s-style dinette set will give your family a place to gather.

Another option? Look into retro-inspired brands that are cashing in on the new-again trend with candy-colored appliances and range hoods. Finally, put those vintage kitchen linens and dishes you’ve collected to use. They’ve stood the test of time for a reason!

Bob Vila Radio is a 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day carried on more than 186 stations in 75 markets around the country. Click here to subscribe, so you can automatically receive each new episode as it arrives—absolutely free!

Buyer’s Guide: Room Humidifiers

A heated home doesn't have to go hand in hand with dry air. Pick out the perfect room humidifier with the help from our guide, and you'll rest comfortably indoors all season long.

Best Humidifier – Buyer's Guide

Photo: istockphoto.com

Heating and air conditioning strip your home’s air of its natural humidity. The result: An uncomfortable dryness that leaves your skin feeling dehydrated, contributes to sinus and respiratory problems, and even promotes static electricity—that annoying shock you get every time you cross a carpeted room and touch the television. A little added moisture in the air helps alleviate dust mites and soothes irritated nasal passages. In addition to a handful of household hacks, homeowners can rely on humidifiers to help the situation. Humidifiers have been around for decades but today’s models offer more choices than ever before. We’ve done the legwork and found out what features buyers want most in room humidifiers as well as which models they rate as the best room humidifiers.

Best Humidifiers – Buyer's Guide

Photo: istockphoto.com

Demystify cool mist versus warm mist. Both cool mist and warm mist humidifiers add much-needed moisture to dry indoor air, with slight differences.

• A standard warm mist humidifier brings its water to a boil to inject the room’s air with a little extra moisture; this high heat reduces the risk of bacterial transmission, leading it to be considered slightly healthier. Warm mist humidifiers are also typically quieter to operate since steamy mist naturally rises, eliminating the need for an internal fan. They do require additional cleaning, however, because the boiling process leaves behind mineral deposits.

• A cool mist humidifier uses a fan to blow air through a damp wick, so it can be noisy when it turns on. Cool mist humidifiers are preferable to warm mist humidifiers, however, in homes with small children since undo the dry air without presenting a risk of steam burns to little fingers.

Understand ultrasonic technology. Ultrasonic humidifiers—the new kids on the block—can disperse a warm mist or a cool mist, or both. Cool mist option is more common, but some models include an internal heater that facilitates a cool mist in the summer and warm mist in the winter. Instead of utilizing a strong fan, as your standard cool mist humidifier might, an ultrasonic humidifier breaks up water droplets into mist using a ceramic diaphragm that vibrates at a frequency too high to be audible to the human ear. Best of all, most ultrasonic humidifiers are whisper-quiet, so they won’t interfere with your sleep.

Size up your needs. A humidifier that is too small may not be sufficient, while one that’s too large could add so much moisture in the room that droplets appear on furniture and other surfaces. Fortunately, humidifiers are rated by intended room size. A small room humidifier effectively treats rooms with less than 400 sq. ft. of floor space. They are often portable and lightweight, making them a good choice for bedrooms, nurseries, kitchens, and other small rooms. Medium-size room humidifiers treat rooms between 400 to 900 sq. ft. and are only semi-portable. For a room with 1,000 sq. ft. or more, look for a large room humidifier. Large room humidifiers feature bigger water reservoirs and therefore are stationary.


Here’s what reviewers—everyone from the experts who tested selections out in their laboratories to the consumers who have grappled with the pros and cons to find the best room humidifier long before you—said about today’s top models.


Best Humidifiers – Buyer's Guide

Photo: amazon.com


Vicks Warm Mist Humidifier with Auto Shut-Off ($30)
In the warm mist humidifier category, SweetHome recommends one of the oldest names in the vapor industry, Vicks. The Vicks Warm Mist Humidifier with Auto Shut-Off is a small, affordable choice for those who prefer warm mist. This model holds one gallon of water and runs for up to 24 hours before needing to be refilled. For extra decongestant and sinus-soothing power, fill the built-in medicine cup with Kaz Inhalants or Vicks Vaposteam. This model’s lower noise level and soft nightlight option earn the machine a strong 4-star rating on Amazon. The auto shut-off feature turns the humidifier off if the reservoir runs dry. The medicine cup, removable tray, and mist chimney are dishwasher safe for easy cleanup. Available on Amazon; $29.86.


Best Humidifiers – Buyer's Guide

Photo: istockphoto.com


Luma Comfort Cool and Warm Mist Humidifier ($110)
Home Depot reviewers give the Luma Comfort Cool and Warm Mist Humidifier an enviable 4.5-star rating. This preferred table-top model’s reservoir is just under one gallon and easily humidifies a room up to 538 sq. ft., making it suitable for any mid-size room in your house. Running on its lowest speed, a single fill-up can last up to 40 hours. You can set the timer for up to 12 hours, and with the Luma’s built-in hygrometer, you can select the level of humidity you prefer, from 30% to 70% relative humidity. While the Luma Comfort humidifier tops the charts in cool mist humidifiers, it has the additional advantage of being able to switch over to warm mist if desired—its demineralization cartridge reduces hard water deposits formed from the boiling water, make cleaning a snap. Available at Home Depot; $109.99.


Best Humidifiers – Buyer's Guide

Photo: kohls.com


Boneco Air-O-Swiss® 7144 Digital Warm & Cool Mist Ultrasonic Humidifier ($230)
Good Housekeeping puts the Air-O-Swiss 7144 at the top of the list of best-performing ultrasonic humidifiers. This model earns high praise for its large, easy-to-see digital display and the use of silver ions that reduce microbial bacteria transmission. With a hefty 3.5-gallon tank capacity and high output, the Air-O-Swiss easily humidifies rooms up to 650 sq. ft. for up to a week on a single fill. That sort of capacity makes it ideal for larger mid-size rooms, like great rooms or recreation rooms. In addition, this model is virtually silent, so it won’t disrupt sleep or study. It comes with the ability to disperse either warm or cool mist, and you can set the timer so it turns on and starts emitting comfort an hour or so before you’re due to arrive home. At just over $200, it’s the most expensive model in our roundup, but customer reviews, at 4.3 stars, indicate it’s worth the extra money. Available at Kohls; $229.99.

5 Things to Know Before You Invest in New Siding

Siding can make or break the appearance of a home. But remember, beauty is more than skin deep: If a siding replacement project looms in your future, make sure you choose a material that will offer durability, ease of maintenance, and insulation as well as looks.


Photo: istockphoto.com

The blistering heat of the Southwest. The bitter cold of the Northeast. Every region faces a set of unique climate challenges that—no matter where you live—slowly but surely work to erode the integrity of your home. As a first line of defense, exterior siding goes a long way toward keeping the elements at bay, and it may do so unfailingly for decades. But no siding lasts forever. Indeed, it’s only a matter of time before yours will succumb to driving rain, whipping wind, and the other threats it once protected against. When the time finally comes for siding replacement, many homeowners proceed with the project intending merely to restore the status quo. But according to Jim Eldredge, a product manager with Sears Home Services, re-siding actually presents a rare opportunity. “In one fell swoop,” he says, you can “boost not only the outward look of your home, but its performance as well.” Of course, as in any home improvement project, only careful consideration and planning can ensure satisfying, if not jaw-dropping, results. At the outset, therefore—before you make any final decisions or spend any money—the wise course is to learn more about the role siding plays in the home and the clear-cut advantages replacement offers. For a detailed discussion of the main considerations to weigh in your decision making, continue reading now!



Photo: istockphoto.com

Cladding the entire home from the foundation to the roofline, siding easily ranks as the single most conspicuous element of the exterior. That being the case, its condition has a huge impact on curb appeal, largely determining the impression your home makes on first-time visitors and passersby. If your siding has begun to rot or crumble—or if it’s developed a great many cracks, holes, and gouges—then it’s compromising not only the appearance of your home, but also—and much more importantly—its structure. “Don’t rule out the possibility of repair,” Eldredge of Sears Home Services says, pointing out that modest fixes can be made to modest-sized problem areas. In cases where the extent of damage makes repair prohibitively expensive, Eldredge says, “replacement often offers a cost-effective alternative.” The key is not to delay. After all, unsound siding leaves your home in a precarious position. For one thing, even small breaks in the material allow moisture to reach and potentially rot wood components of the interior, including the framing. And openings that let in water can also invite potentially damaging pests and other unwanted critters. True, many of these invaders are more nuisance than threat, but some are capable of causing extensive, expensive-to-resolve headaches. That’s why Eldredge summarizes, “If you want to keep living in your home, you need siding that can keep it protected.”



Photo: istockphoto.com

It’s not cheap keeping a home at a comfortable temperature year-round. In fact, heating and cooling equipment consumes more energy than most other appliances combined, accounting for more than half of the monthly utility bill in average homes. That said, if your current siding isn’t performing up to par—if it’s allowing air to exit and enter the home freely—you may be paying even more than strictly necessary. Why? To counter the heat lost or gained by air leaks, your HVAC system must work harder—and consume more energy—to maintain the target temperature set on the thermostat. Although “it’s rarely something that homeowners expect from the project,” Eldredge points out, re-siding can help make your home more tightly sealed, not only eliminating the discomfort of drafts, but creating the ideal conditions for climate-control technology to operate with peak efficiency. Of course, on its own, siding of any material can offer only so much insulation. If you insist on better thermal performance, limit your search to siding products like the Weatherbeater line, routinely and exclusively installed by Sears Home Services. Thanks to a special foam underlayment, Weatherbeater siding boasts an enhanced insulating capacity, or R-value. In fact, all three levels of Weatherbeater siding are certified by Energy Star for their efficiency advantages.



Photo: istockphoto.com

How long does siding last? “It’s tough to generalize,” Eldredge says. Much depends on the siding you install, and whether you’re prepared to maintain it. While some siding materials deliver first-rate performance without asking much in return, others require regular care to remain viable. For instance, wood siding appeals to many for its traditional beauty, but according to Eldredge, “it’s probably the most demanding of all.” In addition to seasonal inspection, wood requires periodic refinishing to look and perform its best. In the past, if you were hesitant about such a high-maintenance siding material, “you’d probably have chosen to go with aluminum instead,” Eldredge says. But over the years, “aluminum proved to be a lot more hands-on than expected.” The metal itself would last for decades, sure, but once its enamel coating faded, the material would require repainting. As well, its tendency to become scratched, pitted, or dented often necessitated the hassle and expense of repair. Fortunately, the market now includes a broader, better range of options. Today, Eldredge says, vinyl siding trumps others in popularity, because it provides the “best of both worlds”—that is, the look of traditional wood siding without all the hassle. In fact, low-maintenance Weatherbeater vinyl siding from Sears Home Services rarely needs anything more than a rinse with a garden hose.



Photo: istockphoto.com

As they say, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” Of course, while the phrase is typically used to emphasize the importance of eye contact and a firm handshake, it also applies to our homes—especially their exteriors. To approaching guests, or simply to people walking or driving by, the outward appearance of your home can express a great deal about your personality, your style, and your priorities as a homeowner. If you suspect that your current siding isn’t sending the right messages about you, there’s no easier, less expensive, or more effective option than painting. The catch is that although a fresh coat of paint may be able to usher in a dramatic new look, it cannot solve deeper, performance-related problems with your siding. But don’t forget: Although you may be choosing to install new siding for expressly practical reasons, you can leverage the project to resolve your aesthetic concerns at the same time. The sheer number of options makes it easy to find a combination of color and texture that reflects your preferences, highlights the architectural style of your home, and suits the surrounding neighborhood. Eldredge concludes, “There are dozens and dozens of possibilities, even if you look only at the Weatherbeater line,” the siding installed by Sears Home Services. In other words, he says, “homeowners are spoiled for choice!”



Photo: istockphoto.com

When homeowners undertake a home improvement project, they often do it begrudgingly. “Nobody likes to spend money,” Eldredge points out. Put off by the price tag? Think of it this way—you’re not the only one who knows that re-siding involves considerable costs. Prospective buyers are also aware of this fact, and often act on that awareness by walking away from homes that have siding that needs work. You may not have any immediate plans to move, but whenever you do decide to sell, having chosen to re-side your home could work to your ultimate advantage. Plus, Eldredge says, “don’t forget that you’re making an investment, not simply throwing money away.” When it comes time to sell, the purchase and installation of new siding often gives a boost to home value. In fact, Eldredge estimates that upon resale, homeowners typically recoup more than half of the project cost. Certainly, not every home improvement offers a favorable return on investment, but siding replacement definitely does—especially when you add in the amount Energy Star-rated options like Weatherbeater siding can save you on climate control. To gain even more confidence in your re-siding project, make it a point to find a solution that’s backed by a solid guarantee. For instance, Sears Home Services provides peace of mind with a one-, two-, or three-year limited warranty (view details).


Typically, homeowners undertake an improvement project on their own timetable, to enhance their enjoyment of their house. Sprucing up the kitchen, adding a deck in the backyard—these are purely elective projects. Re-siding, in comparison, may not be quite as fun, but in terms of consequence it edges out most others by a mile. Indeed, siding replacement can help ensure the continued health and happiness of your home. Under the circumstances, and recognizing that the eventual success or failure of new siding hinges largely on proper installation, it’s only prudent to work with professionals whose skill and experience are commensurate with the importance of the job. Don’t simply flip open the phone book and settle on the first name you find. Do your due diligence. Hire well, and you can look forward to getting the job done on time, on budget. But if you opt for a well-established, nationwide company like Sears Home Services, you get something else too—peace of mind. To begin, schedule a free in-home consultation right now. Expert project consultants can help you assess the condition of your current siding, and if replacement proves necessary, they can guide you each step of the way through the entire process. Perhaps best of all, in a demonstration of its commitment to the quality of your customer experience, Sears Home Services supports all its work with a Satisfaction Guarantee.

Photo: istockphoto.com

This article has been brought to you by Sears Home Services. Its facts and opinions are those of BobVila.com.

How To: Use a Screw Extractor

Have you ever just been zipping through a project only to run up against a broken screw or stripped screw head? No problem! Pick up a screw extractor, and you'll be picking up right where you left off in no time.

How to Use a Screw Extractor

Photo: istockphoto.com

At some point in the never-ending list of do-it-yourself projects, nearly every handy homeowner encounters a stripped screw—and this small obstacle can turn even the most straightforward home improvement project into a drawn-out affair. Stripped screws commonly occur when you’re dealing with worn or weathered fasteners, such as those found on door hinges, cabinet hinges, and door strike plates. And, once you’ve managed to damage or warp a screw head, it’s almost impossible to get that screw out with a common Phillips-head or flat-blade (slotted) screwdriver. Even worse, the odds of removing the screw decrease each time the screwdriver slips in the slots. Enter a seasoned DIYer’s go-to tool: a screw extractor.

While the specific design of this inexpensive implement varies, it most commonly takes the form of a tapered drill bit with a reversed thread. When you put it to use, the extractor penetrates a hole punched or drilled in the top of the screw and its reversed threads grab hold so that the screw can be twisted out. A selection of screw extractors can be found in most hardware stores—whether brick and mortar or online—available in many different sizes to accommodate a wide assortment of screw sizes. Once you’ve snagged one as an immediate fix (and future repair tool), read on for the guidelines on how to use a screw extractor and save the day.

- Screw extractor
- Safety glasses
- Center punch
- Hammer
- Drill bits
- Variable-speed reversible drill
- Thread cutting oil
- Penetrating oil (optional)
- Wrench

Using a screw extractor entails drilling, striking, and cutting screws, all of which can potentially send small shards of metal flying. To prevent eye injury, wear safety glasses.

How to Use a Screw Extractor

Photo: istockphoto.com

Align the center punch with the center of the stripped or broken screw, and lightly strike it with a hammer. You want to create a small indentation in the center of the screw to help guide the drill bit.

Select a drill bit that is smaller in diameter than the screw or fastener, and secure it to the power drill. Apply a small drop of thread cutting oil to the head of the broken screw for easier drilling. If the stripped screw is rusted or affixed to metal, place a small drop of penetrating oil on the threads to help loosen its grip.

Align the drill bit with the punched spot on the screw head. Drill slowly and carefully, making sure to keep the drill and bit aligned straight with the screw. Drill about 1/8 to 1/4 inch into the screw head; the depth will depend on the size of the screw extractor you’re using.

Finally, insert the tip of your handy screw extractor into the bored hole. How to use a screw extractor will depend on the particular model you’ve chosen, but you’ll likely employ either a wrench or drill to turn the tool counterclockwise. As you turn the screw extractor, its threads will draw it in until it bites into the hole. Once you feel the extractor take hold, continue turning counterclockwise and pull to completely remove the stripped or broken screw.

3 Reasons to Build with Metal Roofing

These three hidden benefits build a strong case for an equally strong roofing material.

Installing Metal Roofing

Photo: abcmetalroofing.com

A homeowner doesn’t usually give much thought to the roof on his or her home until the worst happens and it’s time for repairs. So, under normal circumstances, “upgrade the roof” doesn’t sit toward the top of most homeowners’ to-do lists, which are usually crowded with curb appeal projects or energy-saving fixes—but maybe it should. Modern metal roofing boasts numerous benefits, from its long, low-maintenance lifespan to the year-round energy savings it generates, that have made its use more attractive. Read on for just a few of the reasons why customers of American Building Components—one of the leading manufacturers of residential and agricultural steel products—select, install, and love their metal roofs.

Gone are the days of “tin roofs” on barns, sheds, and shacks. Modern metal roofs are better engineered than ever before, promising even stronger shelter and a wider selection of colors, styles, and profiles. Roofing manufacturers like American Building Components offer panels in “Radiant Red,” “Hawaiian Blue,” “Desert Sand,” and more than two dozen other color options—a rainbow array to complement any style of building.

Now that there’s no need to compromise curb appeal for durability, a metal roof can stay stylish for as many decades as it remains functional—and this is a significant span of time, as a properly installed, warranty-backed metal roof has the potential to outlast your lifetime. In fact, a recent study conducted by the Metal Construction Association determined that metal roofs last at least 60 years, a strong selling point for those homeowners who want their next roof to be the last one they’ll ever need, as well as those concerned about their home’s resale value later on.

Installing Metal Roofing - Dormer Detail

Photo: istockphoto.com

While a premium metal roof may incur a higher initial cost than other roofing materials on the market, the minimal maintenance it requires over its long lifespan saves homeowners a bundle. And then there’s the money this investment puts back into your pocket: From energy savings to tax credits, even potential insurance savings, this home upgrade starts to pay off immediately.

Metal roofing can have a significant impact on a home’s energy consumption, especially in the summer. Specially formulated paint pigments applied to the metal create “cool roofs,” or surfaces that reflect and emit the sun’s energy rather than soaking in the heat and trapping it in the attic. With cool roof technology available from suppliers like American Building Components, a homeowner could see energy savings of up to 40 percent, depending on the climate in his region. Additionally, because the cooling units in these homes don’t have to work as hard to keep interiors at a comfortable temperature, there is the potential to actually extend the lifespan of your air conditioner—ultimately saving you from shelling out extra money for a replacement. If that isn’t enough incentive, add to those yearly savings a one-time tax credit of up to $500 on Energy Star roofing materials purchased before the end of 2016.

Then there’s the insurance-savings potential that comes from the roofing’s impressive durability during many types of natural disasters, including fires and hurricanes. After a 1991 firestorm in Oakland, California, wiped out more than 3,200 homes, one famous image depicted a lone house standing unscathed amidst a fire-razed neighborhood. What saved it? Its metal roof. Meanwhile, other roofs of asphalt and wood were lost to the tiniest of sparks in those arid conditions. Today, fire safety isn’t the only reason insurers love metal roofs. Engineered metal roofing, like that offered by American Building Components, stands up well to most inclement weather: snow, hail, even hurricane-force winds of up to 140 miles per hour. Ask your insurance broker about discounts for weather-rated, impact-resistant, and fire-resistant metal roofing. In some places, homeowners see a savings of up to 35 percent on their policy.

A roof that fails midwinter under the weight of snow is every homeowner’s nightmare—except, that is, for a homeowner who sleeps underneath a metal roof. The winter months are when metal roofs work hardest. First, the sleek roofing material is designed with grooves that shed snow and sleet, thereby reducing the burden that a couple of feet of snowfall might otherwise put on a rooftop overnight. Additionally, snow guards can be used to break larger mounds of compacted snow into smaller piles to safely offload the icy precipitation. Then indoors, the metal structure and its insulating underlayment prevent heat loss, so the heating system doesn’t have to work as hard to keep the house toasty.

Homeowners ready to make the switch and reap these benefits this winter, as well as those who—as a result of snow damage—end up needing to repair their existing roofs midseason, will be happy to know that this particular installation is not off-limits in winter. In fact, there may even be savings to be gained by installing in December or January. Because most homeowners rush to get their roofing needs met before the first snowfall, doing the work in midwinter might mean that local roofing contractors will have less work lined up, so you may be able to negotiate a better rate on labor. (Let’s not forget the tax benefit you could get if you squeeze the project in before December 31, 2016.)

If you’re looking into repairing or replacing your existing roof, consider saving yourself some long-term hassle—as well as a fair chunk of money every year—by investing in metal roofing panels. There’s no reason to delay. Make this the last time you ever worry about your home’s roof.

Installing Metal Roofing - Top View

Photo: istockphoto.com

This article has been brought to you by American Building Components. Its facts and opinions are those of BobVila.com.

DIY Lite: This Stunning Room Divider Looks Better than Real Walls

Create cozy nooks and separate spaces out of an open floor plan when you assemble this striking (and surprisingly easy) room divider. Plywood panels have never looked so good!

DIY Room Divider - Splitting Up the Floor Plan

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

No matter whether you live in a large house with open-concept floor plan or a small condo wherein your living room occasionally doubles as a guest bedroom, there comes a time when you need to delineate your spaces for their various functions. The easiest way to implement a little extra privacy? Build a room divider. This particular 6-foot-tall paravent design successfully partitions a space when you want it, then folds for easy storage when you’re readying your space for a larger gathering—all only using a stack of humble plywood and 1×2 lumber.


DIY Room Divider - Supplies

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

- 6mm plywood
- Circular saw (optional)
- Handsaw
- Palm sander
- Sandpaper (120 grit)
- Wood stain (2 colors)
- Brush
- 8-foot-long 1×2 lumber (17)
- Hammer
- 2-inch nails (156)
- Wood glue
- Varnish
- 2-inch hinge with screws (6)
- Drill

DIY Room Divider - Step 1

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

This DIY room divider is a simple grid build assembled from 1×2 lumber. Its conversation-starting geometric design—thankfully, in a harder-than-it-looks sort of way—comes from the numerous eye-catching and privacy-creating plywood triangles that fill the grid. That’s where we’ll start!

Trace 27 10-inch squares on your 6mm plywood board, and cut them with a circular saw. Once you have all of your squares, cut each across the middle from corner to corner so that you’re left with 54 right-angled triangles.

If you don’t own any power tools fit for the task, you may be able to rent a circular saw from your local hardware store, or even ask them for a few starting cuts when you purchase the plywood board. If the store cuts the board into 10-inch strips, you only need to cut the strips every 10 inches and then in half diagonally using a handsaw.


DIY Room Divider - Step 2

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Sand all sides of the triangles with a 120-grit paper, especially the cut edges, and wipe away all dust using a microfiber cloth. Now they’re ready to stain. (We suggest choosing two complementary colors for visual variety; half of ours were coated with Oak and the other half in Early American.) Cover both sides completely, following the directions on the stain you choose.

Let them dry.


DIY Room Divider - Step 3

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Meanwhile, you can start building the divider’s frame from your lumber. Start by making your cuts on the 1×2s: You’ll need two 73-inch pieces, seven 32-inch pieces, and 12 10-inch pieces for panel (of which you’ll make three total).

For the first panel, lay two 73-inch posts vertically and perpendicular to each other on a flat surface—these will become the vertical posts. To connect them, you will place the seven 32-inch cuts horizontally. Begin at the top so that the first 32-inch piece is aligned with the ends of the two posts, then leave a 10-inch gap between each of the next pieces of lumber.

Note: With all of these pieces, make sure that the narrow, half-inch edges lay are the ones resting on the floor. Then you can proceed to assembling the panel, one vertical post at a time.


DIY Room Divider - Step 4

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Remove the 32-inch horizontal pieces one at a time, apply wood glue to both ends, and then replace it between the posts.

As the glue dries, hammer two 2-inch nails through one vertical post and into each horizontal piece; repeat the nailing along the second adjoining vertical post.


DIY Room Divider - Step 5

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Now that the basic framework of a panel is complete, let’s add the smaller vertical divisions within each row.

Grab your 12 10-inch cuts of 1×2. Place two vertically between the top of the panel and the horizontal bar beneath it; these should be equidistant from the posts and each other (leaving a 10-inch gap to fit the triangle), keep their half-inch sides flat on the work surface, and fit snugly.

Once you see how they fit, remove both to coat each end in wood glue and replace. Hammer two 2-inch nails through the horizontal post into each end of the 10-inch dividers.

You’ve finished what we’ll call Row 1; now repeat in rows 3 and 5. Tip: Alternating the rows will help you in gluing and nailing them to the horizontal lumbers.


DIY Room Divider - Step 6

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Now fill in rows 2, 4, and 6 with two 10-inch dividers apiece, spaced 10 inches apart—here, though, only affix them with glue. As best you can, try to align all of the vertical pieces to give the impression of complete and sturdy vertical posts.

Once the glue is dry, sand the structure to remove any clumps and glue stains.


DIY Room Divider - Step 7

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Finally, fill the gaps with your stained (and now dried) triangles. Leaving the structure flat on the floor, grab nine triangles from each wood stain (18 total) and arrange them in the panel of one grid until you are happy with the design. There’s no right or wrong way to do this—we varied the part of the square the triangle filled on ours so that it looked more artistic than entirely uniform.

Once you are satisfied, start at the upper left corner of a panel and work your way down to stick each in place. Line the 10-inch edges of each triangle with wood glue, and fit it back snugly into the square opening. To help it dry centered within the square frame, first place scrap wood or bottles caps behind (rather, underneath) the triangles to prop them up.


DIY Room Divider - Step 8

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Congratulations, you’ve finished a panel! To complete the DIY room divider, you’ll need at least three total, so repeat Steps 3 through 7 to build two more.

Once the three panels are assembled, coat them in a protective coat of clear varnish.


DIY Room Divider - Step 9

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Last, but not least, connect the three panels using hinges. First, lay two panels next to one another and place three hinges down the middle: one near the top (Row 1 of triangles), one in the middle (Row 3 of triangles), and one near to the bottom (Row 5 of triangles). Be sure the panels’ feet align with each other before you screw it in place.

Once attached, flip the two panels face-down and place the third next to them. (It won’t matter which side is the front or the back on this DIY room divider because you’ve stained each side of every triangle—not to mention, each side will been seen when it’s set up to divide a space!) Affix three more hinges as you had the first set. When finished, the three panels will open in a “Z” shape that can expand nearly 8 feet long.


DIY Room Divider - Made from Plywood and Lumber

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

DIY Room Divider - Wall Art When Not in Use

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Ama is a DIY addict and the creative mind behind Ohoh Blog. She likes home decor, lighting, and furniture projects that may involve painting, sewing, drilling…no matter the technique! Whatever she has on hand is inspiration to create, and fodder for her serious addiction to upcycling.


DIY Projects Anyone Can Do

All of the Best Hands-on Tutorials from BobVila.com
Get the nitty-gritty details you need—and the jaw-dropping inspiration you want—from our collection of the favorite projects ever featured on BobVila.com. Whether your goal is to fix, tinker, build or make something better, your next adventure in DIY starts here.

How To: Make Your Own Oven Cleaner

If you’ve put off the task of banishing your cooker’s baked-on grease, grime, and crud because commercial products are unpleasantly harsh, try this all-natural homemade formula.

Homemade Oven Cleaner

Photo: istockphoto.com

It’s common to ignore oven spills and splatters until you can’t avoid seeing—or smelling—them on the walls, racks, and window glass. Yet you needn’t resort to strong chemical solvents to get your oven sparkling again. This totally non-toxic, inexpensive formula is a snap to mix up and it really works. All it takes is a bit of pre-treating and proper application techniques. You’ll be back to baking, braising, and roasting in no time.

- Glass bowl
- Baking soda
- Water
- Essential oil(s)
- Mixing spoon
- Spray bottle
- White vinegar
- Metal spatula
- Old newspapers
- Clean microfiber cloth
- Sponge
- Dish rag

In a glass bowl, combine two cups baking soda with three-quarters cup water. For a fresh but not overpowering fragrance, add eight to 16 drops of your favorite essential oil. Lemon, by itself or mixed with lavender, is particularly nice for the oven. Just be sure to steer clear of metal or plastic bowls, which could react badly with essential oils. Mix with a spoon until a thick but spreadable paste the consistency of slightly gritty cake icing forms.

Make sure that the oven is off and completely cool before you bring in your homemade oven cleaner. Then pre-treat the individual components to loosen built-up grime and make them easier to wipe clean.

Homemade Oven Cleaner

Photo: istockphoto.com

• Remove the racks and lay them as flat as possible in an empty sink. Sprinkle with enough baking soda to form a layer, approximately one-eighth inch thick, on the rack, then spritz with vinegar from a spray bottle. When the baking soda stops foaming, fill the sink with hot water to submerge the racks overnight.

• Using a metal spatula, gently scrape food residue from the sides and ash from the floor of the oven chamber. Then, taking care to avoid the heating elements (usually located on the roof and floor of the oven chamber), spread the homemade oven cleaner over all visible interior surfaces, including the back wall. Let the oven absorb the baking soda paste for six to eight hours.

• After the paste has had its chance to work, open the door flat and spread the remaining homemade oven cleaner evenly over the surface of the window glass. Give it only 15 minutes of dwell time.

To protect your kitchen floor from liquids used in these next steps, spread newspapers all around the oven. Then, tackle the window glass first. Wipe it down with a damp microfiber cloth to banish grime. To remove any residual baking soda paste, rinse the glass with water and wipe dry.

Using a damp sponge, wipe the surfaces of the oven chamber. Start with the sides, then move to the back of the chamber, wiping these surfaces from the top down to allow ash chunks to fall to the floor of the chamber. Then, taking care to avoid the upper heating element, wipe the roof of the chamber from back to front. Lastly, tackle the floor of the chamber using back to front motions. Rinse the sponge as needed with clean water and repeat until no baking soda remains.

Drain the sink and scrub the oven racks with a dishrag to remove debris. Rinse and dry the racks before replacing them. Discard the soiled newspaper—and break out your favorite recipe!

Solved! What to Do About Condensation on Windows

Sure, a little water on the inside of your window seems harmless—unless it's actually a sign of bad ventilation, mold, or mildew. Do you want to find the real reason for the fog? Read on for a few sanity-saving tips.


Photo: istockphoto.com

Q: My windows consistently gather condensation on the inside. I wipe them down, but the moisture keeps coming back. How big a problem is this, and what can I do about it?

A: The short answer? Moisture buildup isn’t a huge issue on its own. But left untreated, it can lead to more serious problems like mold, mildew, and water damage. Tracking down the root cause of window condensation can be tricky, but in general, condensation occurs when warm, moist indoor air collides with a cooler surface. Because glass is one of the coldest materials in your home, excess water vapor condenses there first, causing that all-too-familiar fog effect. If the inside of your window simply refuses to dry up, we can help you track down the source—step by step.

Take a closer look. If you live in an old house with equally old windows, take note of where this window condensation appears. For double- or triple-pane windows, moisture between the glass is usually caused by a faulty seal. If that’s the case, consider yourself lucky: You can correct the problem by replacing the insulated glass panel, and it’s a relatively inexpensive fix.


Photoo: istockphoto.com

Weatherize your windows. Whether or not you found a bad seal, preventing condensation on windows starts with good insulation. In especially old homes, adding a storm window and weatherstripping accomplishes much of what newer, higher-tech windows do at a fraction of the price. Even better, you’ll have warmer nights and lower energy bills.

Those with brand-new windows or an abode built in the last decade have a little more troubleshooting to do. That’s because modern homes are more buttoned-up than ever before, and they come with energy-efficient doors and windows that greatly reduce heat loss. But if you don’t crack yours open once in a while over the winter, you could be trapping all that warm, moist air inside your house, thereby creating or exacerbating steamy problems. To get all that moisture under control, try some of the following strategies.

Start with easy-to-spot sources of humidity. Plants release moisture into the air as they grow, so move them off your windowsill during the cold season. And, if you use a humidifier at home, consider turning it off in the winter, or running it less frequently than you have in the past; it may be that the air in your home isn’t so dry that this appliance needs to run constantly. Invest in a hygrometer to keep close tabs on the humidity level.

Have faith in fans. Since the bathroom and kitchen are humidity hot spots, using an exhaust fan to send some of that excess moisture outside should help dry out indoor air. Most bathrooms have an exhaust fan, and the vent on your range hood can work the same magic in your kitchen. Just be sure to turn the fans on, whether you’re showering or cooking up a storm!

Check for ventilation issues. Just like water won’t collect on an empty glass, condensation won’t form on windows in a house that can’t hold humid air. Start your detective work in the laundry room by confirming that your dryer’s vent hose runs to the outside of your home. If it does (and the hose and duct are leak-free), your next stop should be your fireplace: Inspect the wall around your hearth for beading water. An unused, sealed fireplace limits air circulation, creating the perfect opportunity for mold and mildew to move in. If you notice a musty smell or discolored spots on your wall, your home may already be playing host to fungi.

Hire a pro. Hey, it’s nothing to be ashamed of! If you’ve winterized your windows, ruled out the likely causes listed here, and checked for ventilation problems, hiring a home inspector (or a mold and mildew specialist) is your best bet. They’re trained to look for other hidden sources of moisture, like rainwater seeping into your foundation or crawl space. Moving quickly and working with a specialist will prevent further damage to your home, so it can be a smart investment.

All You Need to Know About Heat Pump Water Heaters

Don't wait for your water heater to give out, leaving you shivering in the shower. Instead, do your homework and learn about an energy-efficient, cost-effective option that might work for you.

Heat Pump Water Heaters

Photo: ge.com

Homeowners rarely think about their water heater or its vital contribution to the convenience of modern living. Likewise, relatively few think about hot water’s surprisingly high price tag—$400 to $600 per year for an average family, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) ENERGY STAR program. How could an everyday home essential cost so much? There’s a simple explanation: conventional water heaters are notoriously inefficient, accounting for about 20 percent of total household energy consumption (and 20 percent of each utility bill). The good news is that in recent years, a flood of innovative, high-efficiency water heaters have come onto the market. Unfortunately, too many homeowners fail to capitalize on this technology, opting instead for the default solution—an energy-guzzling conventional model. To transition smoothly to a high-efficiency unit, experts recommend beginning to plan for a new water heater well before you’re faced with an emergency situation. Only then can you survey all of the options and decide which type of water heater would be best for you. There are pros and cons to each competing water heater technology, of course, but heat pump water heaters may be the most intriguing. Continue reading to find out why.



Heat Pump Water Heaters - Unit Operation

Photo: energystar.gov

Conventional water heaters use energy—usually either gas or electricity—to generate heat. Heat pump water heaters (HPWHs) operate in an entirely different way. They, too, use energy, but not to generate heat, rather to move it from one place to another—from the air surrounding the appliance to the water held in the unit’s storage tank. It may sound like magic, but the reality is that refrigerators work in pretty much the same way. While a refrigerator expels hot air from inside its storage compartment, HPWHs accomplish the reverse, pulling heat in from the surrounding air. It’s a complex yet highly efficient process in which the heat pump successively condenses and evaporates a special refrigerant fluid, capturing heat along the way. There’s only one drawback: HPWHs take a relatively long time to heat a volume of water to the preset temperature. In order to avoid falling behind on the demand, particularly at peak times, most HPWHs are equipped to provide traditional electric-resistance water-heating as well. However, when properly installed under the right conditions, a HPWH rarely needs to revert from its primary, high-efficiency mode to its less efficient backup mode. But, because they’re capable of both, HPWHs are sometimes called “hybrid” models.



Heat Pump Water Heaters - In Closet

Photo: ge.com

The popularity of HPWHs stem not from the nuances of their underlying technology, but from their remarkable efficiency—and more specifically, how inexpensive they are to operate. In fact, of the many water-heating technologies available today, HPWHs offer the lowest running costs of all, saving the homeowner every month for as long as the appliance lasts (an estimated 13 years). Those incremental savings really add up over time. According to the EPA, an ENERGY STAR certified HPWH can save the average family as much as $3,500 over the full duration of its useful lifespan. As an added benefit, ENERGY STAR HPWHs also help save the planet. EPA calculates that if an ENERGY STAR HPWH were installed in place of every electric water heater in the U.S., it would prevent approximately 140 billion pounds of annual greenhouse gas emissions—the same as taking more than 13 million vehicles off the road. While savings are achieved across households, a number of factors influence precisely how efficient a HPWH would be in your home. We’ll discuss these variables in the next section.



Heat Pump Water Heaters - Collage 2

Photo: energystar.gov

Before purchasing a HPWH, it’s vital to confirm that your home can provide the appliance with what it needs to operate with greatest efficiency—a sufficient supply of warm air. While it’s possible to install other water-heating technologies in areas as small as a closet, HPWHs usually need at least 750 or 1,000 square feet. Any location big enough must also be stable in temperature (ideally never going below 40 degrees or above 90 degrees). Not every home contains an available space that satisfies both requirements. Plus, if the only suitable area for the HPWH happens to fall within a part of the home that you pay to heat, there’s a tricky tradeoff. After all, if your HVAC system must work harder (and consume more energy) to counteract the cooling effect of HPWHs on their immediate surroundings, the money-saving benefits of the high-efficiency water heater may be diminished, at least during colder months. Given the number of variables at play, it’s wise to consult with a contractor. Generally speaking, homeowners in cold climates are typically successful installing HPWHs in unconditioned areas with exposure to the heat of a furnace, boiler, or washer and dryer. In warm climates, garage installations are most common.


Some homeowners don’t even consider HPWHs because the technology requires a relatively large up-front investment. The purchase price of a HPWH typically runs three or four times higher than a conventional model. To fairly judge the cost-effectiveness of a water heater, however, you must consider the cost of running it as well as the cost of the equipment itself. By virtue of their unparalleled efficiency, HPWHs often cover their extra cost within a few years, and from then on any savings go right into your pocket. Another important factor to weigh in your decision: There are a number of rebates available to help mitigate some of the purchase price. For instance, if you install an ENERGY STAR HPWH unit in 2016, you qualify for a $300 federal tax credit. The utility, energy service provider, or municipal government in your area may offer additional incentives. Visit the ENERGY STAR Rebate Finder for a comprehensive list. Don’t delay. If you do your research now, as soon as your existing water heater approaches the end of its 10- to 15-year lifespan, you’ll be ready to act promptly to replace it, if not with a heat pump water heater, then with any unit boasting the ENERGY STAR label.

Heat Pump Water Heaters - In Garage

Photo: ge.com

This article has been brought to you by ENERGY STAR. Its facts and opinions are those of BobVila.com.

Beyond Security: 3 More Reasons to Install a New Floodlight

Despite being an essential for basic nighttime safety and home security, outdoor lighting upgrades are often passed over for other easy exterior updates that directly affect a home's curb appeal quotient. After living with a new and improved floodlight for a week, this homeowner discovered three surprising reasons to prioritize this simple switch.

Installing a Floodlight

Photo: Glenda Taylor

Where I live out in the country, the nights can be very dark—no city lights down the street, and nothing more than the stars (as long as it isn’t cloudy) to cast a dim light. But early sunsets this time of year don’t dictate when I arrive home, so I still find myself stumbling and feeling my way around the corner of the garage in the black of night so that I can find the winding sidewalk that leads to my back door. It’s an all-too-familiar scene for many homeowners, arriving home well past sunset to a darkened house and shadowy yard.

Even when I knew I’d be getting home after dark, I could never justify leaving the porch light on all day. There’s no sense in wasting all that energy and shortening bulb life! That meant that my covered patio’s light only really got use when I was spending the evening outdoors, and didn’t really offer much in the way of safety. I needed to upgrade to a motion-activated light, but not any old model. I was holding out for one with LED technology for high illumination at reduced operating costs to provide visibility from the sidewalk, up the porch steps, and to my keypad door lock. Enter the new Eaton Revolve 270° LED Floodlight.

After less than 20 minutes of “out with the old, in with the new,” I can never go back. Besides crossing all of the checkboxes I had, my new light went above and beyond with three pleasant surprises.


1. Illumination coverage can be adjustable.

Traditional floodlights illuminate in a circular pattern, creating a strong spotlight effect in the center but fading away at the edges. The Eaton Revolve LED Floodlight, however, features three individual optics that can be manually rotated 360-degrees to cast three separate beams of light exactly where you need them most. That meant I could point one optic toward my back door, aim another down the sidewalk that connects the patio and garage, and direct the third toward a corner of the patio where I’ll soon install the steps and walk that lead to my small garden house. No more shadows, no more tripping—just clearly lit pathways whenever activated by movement within 50 feet of the light fixture!


2. Unnoticeable, even attractive, floodlights do exist.

In the past, when I’ve searched for a floodlight, the last thing I’d worry about was a good-looking design. As far as I knew, the market was full of a lot of the same: obvious, industrial-looking lights. The Revolve LED floodlight, however, managed to merge form and function. Its low-profile housing tucks up under my covered porch just so that, unless you’re looking for it, you’ll pass right underneath without ever knowing it’s there during daylight hours. Even if you do catch a glimpse, you’ll see that its housing is sleek, fashionable, and thankfully without the large, unsightly reflectors that come standard on traditional models.


Installing a Floodlight - Process Shot

Photo: Glenda Taylor

3. Replacing my old light was a snap.

Replacing any old light fixture can be intimidating—sometimes enough so to delay an upgrade—but the Revolve LED simplifies the process. Instead of holding a light in one hand while you attempt to connect old wires directly to the light itself, you have two hands free throughout the most technical aspects of the job.

Once I removed my old light, which was brimming with dead insects, I quickly connected the home’s electrical wiring to an adapter cable using wire nuts that would easily snap to the light’s wiring. Then, threaded through the center of the light’s mounting plate (which I secured to the soffit’s structure with screws), all I had to do was hook the cords together and tuck the extra length neatly into the junction box. Voila! The light was wired.

Already an easy installation, the cherry on top was the that the floodlight’s screws came pre-inserted. When you’re teetering on a ladder, balancing a light, and trying to run screws into the mounting bracket, this little convenience is a godsend. All I had to do was align the screws on the light fixture with the raised holes on the mounting bracket, and I could tighten them with a Phillip’s head screwdriver in one go.

One word of advice for installation: The Revolve LED floodlight is not a wimpy light. The die cast aluminum fixture weighs nearly 5 lbs, so make sure the light box in your soffit or ceiling is firmly attached to a joist or to structural blocking wherever you choose to install it. The soffit material, itself, won’t be enough to support this light.


Installing a Floodlight - Eaton Revolve

Photo: Glenda Taylor

Though only up and running for few days so far, I’m already pleased my new directional floodlight. Experimenting with the motion detector’s sensitivity settings helped me find the “sweet spot” that recognizes a visitor walking along the sidewalk but won’t activate whenever a moth flutters by. Plus, I’ve customized the light duration for just the amount of time it takes for me to get to the door, unlock it, and enter. Perhaps the only thing missing from my outdoor lighting now is a matching floodlight in the soffit out above the center stall of my three-car garage! After my experience with this first one, I won’t be hesitating to make an installation like this again.


This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Eaton. The opinions and text are all mine.