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Hire the Home Help You Need—Instantly

When you don't know have the time, interest, or know-how to take on one of life's many chores, turn to Handy for help.

Handy Instant Booking

Photo: handy.com

Today, Americans buy everything from groceries to furniture over the Internet without thinking twice. But what’s true of products hasn’t been true of services, at least not so far. However, it stands to reason that perhaps millions of people would appreciate the convenience of booking cleaning and repair appointments with click-of-a-button ease. Or so thinks Oisin Hanrahan, a founder of Handy, a four-year-old company that seeks to become “the Uber of home maintenance”.

Using the Handy site or its companion mobile app, customers are able to book a maid, plumber, electrician or general handyman in mere minutes. On the strength of that convenience, the company has expanded to 37 locations, including most major U.S. cities. Though its growth has been rapid and wide-reaching, Handy hasn’t wavered in its mission. Hanrahan, who once dabbled in real estate, knows it’s a hassle to find reliable pros. Handy exists to simplify that search.

Handy Instant Booking - App Screenshots

Photo: handy.com

Here’s how it works: After filling out an online form with basic information, you receive a list of qualified local pros and price quotes for the task you want tackled, be it painting, plumbing, housecleaning or something else you don’t want, or don’t know how, to do. (You can even hire someone to assemble that “simple” wall unit you bought from IKEA.) As early as seven the next morning, the work you ordered can be underway—with a 100% money-back satisfaction guarantee.

Not surprisingly, Handy has been party to no small amount of buzz. For instance, Forbes ranked the company among the “Hottest Startups” last year. Meanwhile, it’s also witnessed negative press, some of it in connection with a lawsuit over alleged labor-code violations. There may be some critical kinks left to work out, but for time-starved homeowners and renters, there’s reason to hope that Handy ultimately succeeds, because, well, the whole thing sounds pretty handy, doesn’t it?

Handy Instant Booking - Animated Gif

Photo: handy.com

For more information, visit Handy.


Bob Vila Thumbs Up: The Repurposed Door Competition Starts Today

Vote now—and vote daily—to choose your favorite among the repurposed door projects competing to win this month's Bob Vila Thumbs Up competition!

Photo: fotosearch.com

A savvy DIYer knows that home renovation isn’t only about bringing in the new, but it also frees up a lot of materials that can be repurposed into unique projects. One of the most versatile cast offs is the wood door. Its sturdy structure makes it the perfect candidate for a table and its natural height makes the perfect frame for a tiered bar station. But that’s not all you can do with this trusty resource, as you’ll see in this month’s Bob Vila Thumbs Up competition.

SEE ALL PROJECTS HERE

Bob Vila Thumbs Up highlights some of the best and brightest DIY bloggers, and this month we’re thrilled to share for totally unique repurposed door projects. They all win points for creativity and style, but we’re counting on you to help us name one blogger as the champion of this month’s competition and the prize—a $250 gift card.

SEE ALL PROJECTS HERE

So cast your vote today and every day in May to help your favorite blogger become this month’s Bob Vila Thumbs Up winner. After all, it’s your vote that determines the outcome of this competition.

Congrats to last month’s winning blogger, Dwelling in Happiness. Read more about the winning Bob Vila Thumbs Up project right here.

Would you like to recommend a blogger for the next Bob Vila Thumbs Up? Tell us about it on Facebook or Twitter!


Streamline Kitchen Renovation with Quick-Ship Assembled Cabinets

Kitchen renovation just got faster and more convenient, thanks to high-quality preassembled cabinets that are waiting for you now at The Home Depot.

Quick-Ship Assembled Cabinets from Home Depot

Photo: thehomedepot.com

Overseeing a renovation job is similar in many ways to conducting an orchestra. If one section of the ensemble isn’t there to play its part, the show simply can’t go on. That’s why contractors appreciate the importance of setting—and keeping—work schedules. Besides the obvious inconvenience, even minor delays can end up being quite expensive. Ultimately, for the job to get done on budget and on time, all parties involved must uphold the initial project plan.

If you’ve ever worked on a kitchen remodel, you know that stock cabinets can take weeks to be delivered, with custom work taking as long as six months. The variability here can be especially problematic because, in many kitchens, the cabinets must be delivered, built, and installed before a slew of other jobs can get under way—sink plumbing, for instance, or appliance installation. Coordinating a satisfactory timeline can therefore be, to put it mildly, a real challenge.

To the rescue comes The Home Depot, which now enables you to sidestep the hassles cabinets so often introduce to kitchen remodeling. The Home Depot now stocks a wide variety of high-quality preassembled cabinetry. That means you no longer need to wait weeks for your cabinetry; on the contrary, those cabinets are now waiting for you at the nearest location. Do you prefer delivery? Products ship within as few as seven days.

The Home Depot ships directly to the job site within a maximum of only 10 days.

Once the cabinets arrive on-site, you can immediately begin installation without having to spend time scratching your head over the manufacturer’s instructions and proprietary tools or fasteners. Along with quick-ship availability, the time-saving convenience of preassembly means that cabinetwork no longer has to be a big question mark in your project plan. You know what to expect and may schedule accordingly. Kitchen remodeling has changed!

Quick-ship assembled cabinets from The Home Depot come in a broad mix of styles, ranging from classic to ultracontemporary. Finish options abound, although if you wish to handle the staining or painting yourself, there are unfinished cabinets too. At $55 per linear foot (with large orders eligible for discounts), the price may be as appealing as the designs. Scroll down to see only a few of the attractive cabinetry lines that are available right now.

 

HAMPTON BAY SATIN WHITE

Quick-Ship Assembled Cabinets from Home Depot - Hampton

Photo: thehomedepot.com

Low-cost and high-quality, the Hampton Bay line boasts classic raised-panel doors and a furniture-quality satin-white finish that lends a clean, crisp, and refined look to any kitchen. Three quarters of an inch thick, the interior shelves are robust and sturdy, and they’re also fully adjustable, allowing the homeowner to maximize, customize, and easily reconfigure storage space. Fully assembled, Hampton Bay cabinets come with a limited lifetime warranty.

 

HOME DECORATORS COLLECTION HARGROVE CINNAMON

Quick-Ship Assembled Cabinets from Home Depot - Hargrove

Photo: thehomedepot.com

Inspired by timeless Shaker design, Hargrove cabinets offer a geometric flat-panel appeal balanced by an earthy cinnamon-color finish. With practicality to match its good looks, the line’s solid-wood doors open to reveal integral shelves and optional roll-out trays or wastebasket pullouts. With half-inch-thick plywood backings, Hargrove cabinets are rigid in construction and built to last. Perhaps best of all, like others from The Home Depot, these cabinets arrive fully assembled.

 

HOME DECORATORS COLLECTION KINGSBRIDGE CABERNET

Quick-Ship Assembled Cabinets from Home Depot - Kingsbridge

Photo: thehomedepot.com

With a reddish-brown cabernet finish, Kingsbridge cabinets and drawers feature durable all-plywood construction. Their full overlay doors, meanwhile, include three-inch-wide solid birch frames that surround recessed panels of birch-veneer medium density fiberboard (MDF). Enhanced by soft-close technology, those doors will provide smooth, quiet operation for years. In fact, the line carries a limited lifetime warranty—and yes, the cabinets arrive fully assembled!

 

Restore reliable scheduling to your kitchen remodeling projects—and save valuable time on installation—by choosing from among the many lines of quick-ship assembled cabinets at The Home Depot. For more information, visit your local store or shop The Home Depot online for its full range of products.

 

This post has been brought to you by The Home Depot. Its facts and opinions are those of BobVila.com.


Genius! Prop Up a Pallet for Instant Shed Organization

Want to whip your shed into shape at next to no cost? This pallet project offers lots of organization for your bulkiest of garden tools, for only a little bit of effort.

Photo: flickr.com

Among shots of cats napping on windowsills and family vacations, there’s a wealth of DIY ideas on Flickr. This one, shared by Nic Robinson, shows a perfectly simple addition for a shed that lacks built-in storage. You might even have the necessary materials stashed in your garage left over from your last pallet project! While pallets are often broken down for wooden slats or used together as building blocks in a larger construction, the beauty of this truly clever design is that it relies on a single, intact pallet and requires no additional construction. So long as you stand it so the outside slats run horizontally, this structure is ready to corral outdoor tools.

If you don’t already have a pallet on hand, you can often pick one up for free at most garden, grocery, and home improvement stores, if you ask nicely. While you’re out, purchase some wood screws—they’re the only other materials you’ll need for this project. Once you get the pallet home, remove any extra nails and sand down splintered edges until the wood is smooth. Then, grab your drill and secure the pallet to the wall with the wood screws. It’s that easy!

Store rakes, shovels, and brooms in the shipping pallet’s hollow center. And don’t forget about the horizontal slats! You can use those to hang garden gloves and a rag—handy in the unlikely event you break a sweat finishing this DIY.

FOR MORE: Gardenista

Photo: flickr.com


Enter to Win Bob Vila’s $3,000 May Makeover Give-Away—TODAY!

Enter today and every day in May to increase your chances to win!

Patio season is officially here! For most homeowners, there’s nothing better than relaxing by the fire pit and entertaining friends and family in a beautiful backyard. But if your patio has seen better days, it can take a serious investment in order to ready it for summer fun. That’s why we’ve teamed up with Quikrete to bring you this month’s give-away—with the chance to win one of two patio makeovers worth $1,500.

ENTER HERE TO WIN!

Starting today and every day in May (from 12:00 p.m. EST Thursday, April 30th, 2015 until 11:59 a.m. EST, Sunday, May 31st, 2015), you can enter to win one of two prizes consisting of a Pavestone Rumblestone Round Firepit Kit, concrete, cement colorant, concrete stain and sealer,  as well as forms , tools, and materials, valued at $1,500 ! (See Official Rules below.)

Photo: Pavestone.com

Concrete patios are incredibly simple to build, but their best feature is that they can be custom-tailored to your tastes. For instance, if an easy-to-clean flat surface doesn’t suit your backyard style, try using the Quikrete Walkmaker® concrete forms to create surprisingly simple faux brick or stone surfaces. Maybe you’re yearning for a color palette that’s more decorative than your usual sidewalk-gray? Not a problem! Simply mix in Quikrete colorants for a look you love, like rich terra cotta red or a sleek charcoal hue. If you win this month’s give-away, you’ll have all the concrete, colorants, sealers, forms, and tools you need to build the perfect patio for your home. And no matter which designs or colors you dream up for your patio, you will be able to enjoy it’s beauty while gathered around your new Pavestone Rumblestone Firepit.

So get ready for a patio you’re proud to call home! If you win the $3,000 May Makeover Give-Away, the perfect backyard is only a daydream away!

To learn more about Quikrete and their productsclick here.

The “Bob Vila’s $3,000 May Makeover Give-Away” sweepstakes is open only to permanent legal U.S. residents of the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Void in all other geographic locations. No purchase necessary. Contest Period runs from 12:00 p.m. (EST) Thursday, April 30th, 2015 through 11:59 a.m. (EST) Sunday, May 31st, 2015. One entry per household per day on BobVila.com. 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. See Official Rules.


The Secret Ingredient Your Cleaning Routine Needs Right Now

You may have seen essential oils listed in more than a handful of homemade cleaner recipes, but their scented superpowers do more than hide vinegar's acidic stench. If you haven't tried essential oils yet, now's the time! Pick up a starter set and read on for how to use them.

Uses for Essential Oils - Citrus

Photo: shutterstock.com

While there are plenty of products on the market that promise a fresher-smelling home, just looking at the long list of unpronounceable ingredients is enough to make you wary about spraying them where you eat and sleep—yikes! Instead, try a natural alternative: essential oils. Found online or even at your supermarket, these come in a variety of scents, each with its own appealing properties. If you’re not sure what scents you might enjoy, get an essential oil starter set. It will help you by offering scent-mixing suggestions until you get the hang of it. You’ll quickly find ways to dab them everywhere, giving yet another meaning to the term “essential.” To get started, check out these eight around-the-house uses for essential oils.

Uses for Essential Oils - Eucalyptus

Photo: shutterstock.com

1. Don’t let the bugs bite. Repel household pests like mice, spiders, and other bugs using a minty alternative to scary poisons or traps. Just place a few drops of peppermint essential oil on a cotton ball and put them wherever you see bugs or signs of mice. While it sounds too good to be true, these unwanted critters can’t stand the scent and should stay away.

2. Get a good night’s rest. There’s nothing like crawling into a lovely smelling bed at the end of a long day. To bring a spa-like calm to your own bed, fill a clean, empty spray bottle with a cup of water and add a few drops of an essential oil. Lavender is a proven soother, but be wary of citrusy scents; they are invigorating and might keep you up!

3. Freshen the bathroom. While it can be one of the harder areas of the home to keep smelling good at all times, there’s a simple trick to freshen the bathroom with very little effort. Simply squeeze a few drops of essential oils onto the inside of your toilet paper roll and get a scent boost every time someone unrolls squares before flushing.

4. Clean house. An essential oil that packs a punch? You’ll find tea tree oil in a lot of green cleaners for a reason. Mix one teaspoon of the essential oil with a cup of water in a spray bottle, spritz over the tile in your shower, and let it dry. Don’t rinse and it will help fight mold and mildew.

5. Mask food smells. Got guests on the way? Make your cooking space smell amazing by adding some of your favorite essential oils to a simmering pot of water on the stove. It will help banish those less-than-welcoming odors like fish or intense spices left over from your last meal.

6. Scent laundry on your own. Everyone loves the smell of clothing fresh from the dryer. Personalize your scent even further by adding a few drops of essential oil to a piece of old (but clean) towel, and toss it in with your wet clothes before you start your dryer. It will add subtle scent, without harsh chemicals, to your favorite outfits.

7. Freshen carpets. Vacuuming can be a pain, but doing it with a vacuum that smells old and musty is even worse. To give your machine a refresh, place several drops of lemon essential oil on a small piece of tissue and suck it up. It will give off a refreshing scent every time you vacuum your carpets and rugs.

8. Save yourself from itching. Bug bite season is on its way, and we know how much you’ve missed dousing yourself with stinky bug spray. For a less offensive alternative, though, you can rub lavender essential oil on pulse points and down near your ankles to keep mosquitoes away.


Got Pests? Expert Advice to Deter Unwanted Houseguests

April showers don’t just bring May flowers. They also bring springtime pests. Check out these top home improvement projects to ensure a pest-free spring.

Spring Pest Control - Cockroaches

Photo: fotosearch.com

The blooming flowers, sunny skies, and much-anticipated return of warmer weather across the country are not the only signs that spring has officially sprung. The change in seasons is also marked by the emergence of common springtime pests—from ants, cockroaches, and flies to termites and stinging insects. In fact, the pest control industry deems this time of year the start of pest season, as many insects begin to emerge from their winter hiding spots to mate and find new places to form colonies, and that often includes our homes.

Pest Prevention Tactics
The best way to minimize the chance of an infestation this spring is prevention. The National Pest Management Association (NPMA) recommends conducting an audit around the perimeter of your home to look for potential pest harborage sites, such as abandoned tires, rotted tree stumps, and piles of leaves or debris. There are also a handful of other do-it-yourself pest prevention tactics that you can complete in a day’s work to help keep bugs and rodents from becoming unwanted houseguests.

Spring Pest Control - Centipedes

Photo: fotosearch.com

8 Home Projects For a Pest-free Spring
Consider these eight simple home improvement projects to ensure you enjoy a pest-free spring.

1. Seal any cracks and crevices with silicone caulk, paying special attention to areas where utility pipes enter the structure. Young cockroaches, for example, only need a crack as thin as a dime to crawl into.

2. Screen windows and seal potential entryways, repairing any rips or tears in screens. Also, screen attic vents and openings to chimneys.

3. Replace weatherstripping and repair loose mortar around basement foundation and windows.

4. Clean out leaves and other debris from your gutters to prevent standing water, which can provide the perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes and other pests.

5. Repair fascia and rotted roof shingles, as some insects like carpenter ants and termites are drawn to deteriorating wood.

6. Properly landscape around the home to avoid providing pest harborage sites. Keep shrubbery trimmed and ensure mulch is at least 15 inches from the foundation.

7. Direct water away from the house through properly functioning downspouts, gutters, and splash blocks. Repair leaking faucets, water pipes, and AC units.

8. Be sure to keep basements, attics, and crawlspaces well ventilated and dry.

Being proactive can go a long way in preventing a pest infestation, but there is always the chance that a creepy cockroach or army of ants could find its way inside the confines of your home, especially during the spring and summer months when pest pressure is at its highest. Once inside, some pest species can cause serious health threats to our families, while others can inflict extensive property damage.

If you suspect an infestation, contact a licensed pest professional who has the tools and expertise needed to inspect your home, properly identify the problem, and recommend the best course of action. Oftentimes, people are tempted to take matters into their own hands to try and get rid of a pest problem, but the truth is that pests are better left to the professionals.

For more information on common household pests, visit PestWorld.org.

Spring Pest Control - Ants

Photo: fotosearch.com

This post has been brought to you by National Pest Management Association.


Bob Vila Radio: Best Practices for Mounting Outdoor Speakers

Outdoor speakers bring the party outdoors, but to enjoy optimal sound and to maximize product lifespan, remember these simple installation guidelines.

If you often host outdoor get-togethers and seek a better method of providing music, installing outdoor speakers is the way to go. Here are some issues to consider before tackling the job.

Photo: bethesdasystems.com

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Listen to BOB VILA ON INSTALLING OUTDOOR SPEAKERS or read the text below:

First, make sure to purchase speakers expressly made for the outdoors. And know that even specialized outdoor speakers last longer if you minimize their exposure to the elements. You can do so by mounting them under an overhang or an awning. Don’t be tempted to hang your speakers to gutters or flimsy aluminum siding. It’s far better to screw them into sturdy wooden posts.

Audio experts say that for optimal sound, it’s best to mount outdoor speakers about ten feet high and ten feet apart, tilted slightly downward. Try to be precise in determining how much speaker wire you’ll need, so you don’t run any more than you have to. Excess wire takes away from the quality of sound.

A final point: Even if you have everyone on the deck dancing, don’t go overboard with the volume—that is, unless you invited all your neighbors to the party!

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.


One-Step Spring Upkeep with a Multitalented Outdoor Tool

Photo: JNoonan

Here’s what the real estate agent doesn’t say: Owning a home near the ocean is rarely a day at the beach. Salt air puts vulnerable components to the test, and thanks to frequent strong winds, all manner of dust and debris gets whipped against the home’s exterior surfaces. That’s why our spring cleaning routine tends to focus as much on outdoor decking and house siding as it does on things like forgotten closet shelves and the neglected hardwood floors beneath heavy furniture.

Photo: JNoonan

Although there’s a fully exposed deck in our backyard, the covered front porch typically takes more of a beating due to its orientation toward the sea. Here, the floorboards are made of a composite material touted for its low maintenance requirements. In my experience, composite may need less upkeep than natural wood does, but it calls out for at least yearly attention, particularly in our neck of the woods.

When we clean the porch, our goal is not only to refresh its look, but also to discourage the growth of mildew, an unsightly, damaging menace that always looms threateningly in the background around here. Our usual tools for the task are a humble assortment of buckets, brushes, and garden hoses. But this year, we took things up a notch by trying out the new HYDE PivotPro Outdoor Cleaning Water Wand.

PivotPro fits onto your garden hose and gives you more concentrated power from your garden hose. As with some other quality hose nozzles and wands, you’re able to obtain more pressure by forcing the water through a constricted nozzle. But PivotPro surpasses others with the patented feature for which it’s (presumably) named. By pushing or pulling a grip on the barrel of the tool, you can rotate—or pivot, if you will—the spray along a radius of 135 degrees. So without bending or stretching, you can attack grit and grime from every angle.

The PivotPro Outdoor Cleaning Water Wand Kit includes a built-in scrub brush as well as a spindle brush. While the oversize scrub brush works well for flat surfaces, such as my porch floor, the spindle brush lets you clean narrow crevices where even hands can’t easily fit. I used the spindle brush on my porch rail, both along the top and up and down the balusters, and I must admit that that’s probably the most attention those unsung heroes of the porch have ever received in my career as the home’s owner.

The other feature that distinguishes PivotPro is its integral 16-ounce mixing reservoir. Here, you can pour in your chosen liquid cleanser and, at the push of a button, set the tool to spray soapy water at one of six preconfigured soap-to-water ratios. In years past, we applied deck-cleaning solution first, then followed up separately with a scrub and a rinse. Today, armed with PivotPro, we were able to do all three at once.

After adding deck cleaner to the reservoir, I set the soap-to-water ratio I wanted, then got to work spraying soapy water even as I scrubbed. The combination of a powerful spray, crud-cutting soap, and the stiff-bristle brush worked wonders to eliminate the muck that hadn’t seemed like it was going to budge. To finish, I moved the bristle brush out of the way, disengaged the soap dispenser, and rinsed with clear water. Clean!

It’s well worth noting that PivotPro accepts not only its own attachments, but a range of third-party components as well. That’s encouraging, because as much as I love my garden-watering hose attachment, it’s not perfect. This summer, I hope to hook it up to the PivotPro, a tool that, at 46 inches in length, would certainly help me reach those flower-filled baskets that I always hang but usually can’t water without a stepladder. I’m also really looking forward to using the HYDE PivotPro Boat/Auto Cleaning Water Wand, because after those last few weeks of winter, my poor station wagon would surely benefit from a bit of—no, a ton of—TLC!

For the time being, though, now that the porch is sparkling, I can’t wait to sit out in the morning with a cup of tea, reading the newspaper as the sun comes out.

Photo: JNoonan

This post has been brought to you by Hyde Tools. Its facts and opinions are those of BobVila.com.


How To: Clean a Coffeemaker

You'll serve up a fresher pot of coffee tomorrow morning if you take some time today and follow these easy instructions to give your coffeemaker a good cleaning. Trust us—you'll thank yourself later.

Cleaning a Coffee Maker with Vinegar

Photo: shutterstock.com

Bleary-eyed fumbling for that first cup of joe can lead to spills, yet despite this repeated abuse during the morning rush, your coffeemaker may be one of your most neglected kitchen tools. Sometimes it’s those appliances that we use every single day that accumulate the most dirt and germs—and the least TLC. Think back now: When was the last time you gave your coffeepot a thorough cleaning? The worst part is, this isn’t just about aesthetics: The mineral and coffee oil buildup in your appliance can actually be making your java taste terribly bitter—and that’s no way to start your day. To brew a fresh cuppa that you and your family can enjoy, follow these simple steps that will get your coffeemaker back into pristine condition.

TOOLS & MATERIALS
- Water
- White vinegar
- A dish sponge
- Hot water
- Dishwashing liquid
- A clean, dry towel

Cleaning a Coffee Maker with Vinegar - Fresh Coffee

Photo: shutterstock.com

STEP 1
First, fill your coffeemaker’s water chamber with equal parts water and white vinegar, then start the brew cycle.

STEP 2
Halfway through the brew cycle, turn off the coffeemaker and let it sit for 30 minutes. This wait time will give the vinegar a chance to do its job, which is cleaning and disinfecting the insides of the appliance. When the time is up, turn the coffeemaker back on and let it complete its cycle. Let it cool.

STEP 3
Pour cool water into the water chamber and run the machine again without stopping. Let it cool. Repeat two or three cycles of clean water to make sure all the vinegar is removed—that can taste more bitter than the burnt-on coffee oils.

STEP 4
Once the carafe and machine have cooled, wash the inside and outside of the carafe with warm water and dishwashing liquid using a dish sponge. Next, turn back to the countertop appliance and thoroughly wipe down the entire outside, paying extra attention to crevices and buttons. Now’s the time to clean off any last sticky spot that might be left over from a morning spill.

STEP 5
Dry both the machine and carafe thoroughly with a soft towel, then fill the water reservoir again—because all that work deserves a fresh brew!