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Bob Vila Thumbs Up: The Best of 2014 Competition Begins Today!

Vote now—and vote daily—to choose your favorite from among this years previous Bob Vila Thumbs Up winners and pick one to be the best of the best!

Best of Bob Vila Thumbs Up

Best of Bob Vila Thumbs Up 2014

Photo: Shutterstock

Six months ago, we started Bob Vila Thumbs Up as a way to recognize the incredible work of DIY bloggers—from the well-established pros to the up-and-coming makers. Along the way, we’ve been impressed again and again by the ingenuity, craftsmanship, and creativity of all the Bob Vila Thumbs Up competitors. And your votes have determined 6 amazing winners from among those ranks.

SEE ALL PROJECTS NOW!

So this December we’re highlighting those past winners once more—and we’re asking you to vote your favorite to award the winning blogger a $250 Amazon gift card. All of these bloggers are winners, without a doubt, but only the project with the highest number of votes can win the prize. So vote today and everyday through December 17, 2014 (midnight EST) to help us choose this month’s winning Bob Vila Thumbs Up blogger!

A hearty congrats to each and every Bob Vila Thumbs Up competitor in 2014. Thank you for sharing your inspiring projects—and good luck to this month’s competitors!

Congrats to last month’s winning blogger, Domestic Superhero. Read more about her 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!


1 Coffee Table, 3 Ways

What are the keys to a great piece of furniture? Sturdy construction, attractive styling, and flexibility—qualities this adaptable little coffee table has in spades.

What I love most about quality furniture is its staying power. Over the course of its at times decades-long career in the home, a well-made piece can serve multiple purposes. After all, a nightstand is a nightstand only if you place it beside the bed. Choose another location for the same piece, accessorize it accordingly, and that same small table can easily perform an entirely different function. As your life and your needs change, quality furniture adapts.

Since the fall, our lift-top coffee table from Sauder has been sitting in the living room, where it’s been doing those things a coffee table does best—displaying books and magazines, for example, and keeping beverages within arm’s reach. Because the tabletop lifts, the piece has also served as a casual work surface and has even functioned as an impromptu snack bar. Lately I’ve been thinking of yet more ways to take advantage of the coffee table’s versatility. That is to say, what if I didn’t actually use it as a coffee table? The same qualities that make it work so well in the living room—built-in storage and a low profile—would allow it to work equally well elsewhere at home.

ENTRYWAY

I love my house, but it’s not perfect. Particularly in the colder months, I’m annoyed by the lack of a coat closet in the entryway. Especially now, as the holidays bring guests, and those guests bring parkas, peacoats, and puffer jackets, I knew something had to be done to contain the approaching onslaught of winter paraphernalia.

Out back, we have a mudroom that goes a long way toward keeping our kids’ stuff organized. I thought, if it works for the kids, then it can work for anyone. So I set out to re-create the mudroom’s magic in the front hall. The recipe for success involved three crucial ingredients: a place to hang coats; a spot to store miscellaneous items, such as hats and gloves; and an area for people to sit while taking off their big, bulky boots. The coffee table, of all things, ties all these requirements together.

Whereas in the living room we’d used the coffee table’s cubbies to store board games and DVDs, here the same cubbies hold winter boots, lunch boxes, and a basket to catch wayward mittens. With the addition of a coat rack and umbrella bin, our winter wear solution became complete. To make the area as attractive as it is hardworking, a small graphic rug warms up the space, and cozy pillows and a throw blanket invite visitors to rest upon arrival or as they prepare to leave.

All told, it took me just 15 minutes to move and restyle the coffee table, and I feel certain that, in its new location, it’s going to serve us well through the season.

WINDOW SEAT

My kids are learning to read, and it’s wonderful to see them so excited about books. To encourage their new pastime, I’ve wanted to create a special place where they can lounge comfortably with a favorite book. A built-in window seat in the playroom would be perfect, as the exposure looks onto the garden and has a beautiful view of the sunset. We may be a year or two away from actually building that window seat, but in the meantime, I couldn’t help testing out the design concept.

Here, the coffee table serves as both a bench and a mini library. A well-made piece of solid-wood furniture, it’s sturdy enough to support the weight of a 40-pound child. And the integrated cubbies fit books of all sizes, keeping them off the floor in a room whose carpet often cannot be seen for a blanket of playthings.

On top of the table, I placed a long, cushy pillow covered in a fabric that unites my girls’ love for both rainbows and animals. A couple of fuzzy throw pillows round out the look. A beanbag chair, which we already had on hand, sits next to the bench, so both girls can occupy the nook at the same time if they want.

Sure enough, before long my youngest planted herself on the window seat to browse her latest find from the library.

I’d hate not to have the coffee table in our living room, where it fits right into the decor and our lifestyle. But I love knowing that if the room ever evolves to the point where the table no longer belongs, I can easily use it elsewhere. That’s what I call staying power, and it’s the reason to buy quality wood furniture.

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

 


How To: Get Rid of Pantry Moths

There's nothing quite like an unwelcome guest who eats you out of house and home. But when that vexing visitor is a pantry moth, it's as much a stomach-turner as anything else. Here, learn how to rid your home of these pests and prevent them from returning.

How To Get Rid Of Pantry Moths

Photo: shutterstock.com

Like their closet-lurking cousins, pantry moths are destructive pests. Act fast before they eat through (and lay eggs on) the stored food in your cabinets or pantry. Even if it’s a minor problem that hasn’t yet escalated to a full-blown infestation, take these steps to get rid of pantry moths and prevent them from ever returning.

STEP 1
Empty out the affected area—completely. Remove every can, box, bag or bottle. Along the way, look for larval sacs (or webs of any sort). Also, keep an eye out for small holes in packaging. Remember that you’re pursuing the pantry moths themselves, but also their larvae. So check under the lids of jars; moths are known to lay eggs here. If you’re intent on keeping any jars that’ve been kept in an affected area, wash the jars under hot, soapy water in combination with a scrub brush.

How to Get Rid of Pantry Moths - Moth Detail

Photo: shutterstock.com

STEP 2
Next, dispose of any dry goods with open packaging. And definitely throw away any boxes or bags found to have any holes that you didn’t make. Be thorough as you look over these items: If you’ve seen even one pantry moth near a certain cupboard or inside your pantry, then—troubling as it may be—all non-airtight packaging within the area may have been compromised by pests. To repeat: be thorough!

STEP 3
If possible, remove the shelves in the affected area. Either way, vacuum every square inch you can reach. Once finished, empty the vacuum bag, tie it off in a garbage bag, and take the garbage outside. Proceed to wash the affected area with a 50-50 solution of vinegar and warm water. If you have any or can get some, add peppermint oil into the mixture (pantry moths hate peppermint). Finish by mopping the floor with the same 50-50 mixture. And just to be on the safe side, why not bleach your mop head?

STEP 4
Wait a few weeks before restocking the area you’ve now cleaned. It pays to patient. If the problem hasn’t gone away, you can repeat the steps above, this time widening the scope to adjacent areas, without going through the hassle and expense of tossing the food you purchased to replace what you had already lost.

Once you’ve successfully gotten rid of pantry moths, take the following measures to keep them away:

• Store dry goods in plastic or glass containers with air-tight seals.

• Leave peppermint, bay leaves, mint or cedar chips exposed within the area, perhaps in a sachet.

• Inspect your cabinets and pantry on a regular basis. Whenever you spot pantry moths—and we hope, after this, you never spot them again—always act quickly in order to limit their spread as much as possible. After all, it’s easier to clean a single cabinet than it is clean every cabinet with food inside.

Finally, it’s well worth mentioning that pantry moths often piggy-back home with you from the grocery store. Disgusting but true. Before purchasing flour, cereal, bread or pet food, scrutinize the packaging. Leave any suspect packaging right there on the shelf, then run the other way!

How To: Paint Your Front Door

A can of fresh paint is all it takes to boost home's curb appeal and brighten your mood upon pulling into the driveway. Cleaning up that lackluster paint on your front door is a simple and satisfying job, so why not make a day of it? Follow this step-by-step for an easy home update.

How to Paint a Front Door

Photo: shutterstock.com

Front doors undergo wear and tear on a daily basis, not least from the elements—precipitation and wind and the glaring-hot rays of the sun. That being the case, it’s no surprise that every so often, depending on the architecture of your home, it becomes necessary to paint the front door. Some might see this as a chore, a purely maintenance-oriented responsibility, but why not capitalize on the chance to paint the front door a new color? After all, a new look for the entryway can go a long way toward boosting curb appeal, and I think the change can make it more enjoyable to return home after a day at work or weekend away. Of course, painting is one of the easiest home improvements one might undertake, and if you start in the morning, you can have the project completely finished by nightfall.

MATERIALS AND TOOLS
- Screwdriver
- Primer (optional)
- Exterior acrylic paint
- Paint roller
- Paintbrush
- Putty knife
- Lint-free cloths

STEP 1
For best results, particularly if you are painting both sides of the door, I highly recommend remove the door from its hinges. Certainly, it can be a hassle to do so—after all, front doors are heavy—but wouldn’t you rather inconvenience yourself for ten minutes than suffer the sight of a poor paint job over the next few years?

How to Paint a Door - Blue Paneling

Photo: shutterstock.com

STEP 2
Prepare an adequate work area. That includes laying down an old sheet or drop cloth to catch paint drips, then bringing a pair of sawhorses (or makeshift stand-ins) into position to hold the door off the floor. Finally, ask a friend or family member to help you lift the door and place it over the supports.

STEP 3
If the existing paint on the door has cracked or peeled, remove it with a putty knife. Just be careful not to gouge the door with the tool. Next, smooth rough areas with fine-grit sandpaper before washing the surface with warm, soapy water. Wipe the door down with a lint-free cloth and be sure that it’s completely dry before you start to actually paint. Remember, preparation is key in any paint job.

STEP 4
Take off all removable hardware, including the doorknob and lockset. If the door features any immoveable details, such as an integrated pane of glass, cover those carefully with blue painter’s tape.

STEP 5 (optional)
You don’t have to apply a coat of primer, but if the new color you’ve chosen is lighter than the existing one (or if you’ve had to remove a lot of old paint), then it’s probably wise to take this extra step. Priming the door will save you from having to do an extra topcoat or two. Of course, if you buy a primer-paint combination, and you should if possible, then you can very likely complete the job with only two coats.

STEP 6
Stir up the paint before beginning to apply it. Use a three- to four-inch paintbrush around the outside edges and corners of the door, then brush the edging around any raised or recessed panels. Switch to a small paint roller to make quicker work of the flat parts of the door. Assuming you’ve used a water-based—which is to say latex—paint product, each coat should take a few hours to dry in low humidity.

STEP 7
Apply the final coat in the same manner as above, starting with the outside edges and corners. Once finished, allow a little extra drying time—perhaps an additional hour. Finally, remove the painter’s tape, reattach the hardware, and replace the door on its hinges. That’s it—see, I told you it wouldn’t take long!


Genius! DIY Pencil Dish Rack

What would you do with 30 pencil stubs and an extra cutting board? This DIYer made something truly unique.

DIY Dish Rack

Photo: project-re.blogspot.com

When designer Samuel Bernier found himself with an excess of pencil stubs (don’t ask!), he was determined not to discard them, but to put them to use in something entirely new. Voila—his DIY dish rack. Genius.

So does Samuel actually use the clever dish rack he designed and built. Short answer: yes. “I used it for a year while I was in Canada,” he says. But he had to part with his creation after a transatlantic move to Paris. “My parents now have it,” adds Samuel.

We asked him how the pencils hold up to the moisture that a dish rack naturally invites. “Pretty good actually, since they are painted,” he says. “The cutting board absorbs the water a little bit more, but it dries fast.”

But where does he get his inspiration? “Most of the time, it just happens,” he says. “I either have something to repair or something I just need, and since I’m a maker… I make those things the way I like.”

Check out his DIY dish rack tutorial!

MATERIALS
- Wood cutting board
- Pencils (more than 30)
- Hand saw or band saw
- Safety mask
- 1/4 wood drill

STEP 1

DIY Dish Rack - Materials

Photo: project-re.blogspot.com

You will need to start drawing a lot or find somebody who does. Any wooden pencil with an eraser at the end will do the job. If you are the type of person who chews the tip their pencils… this project might not be for you.

STEP 2

DIY Dish Rack - Cutting

Photo: project-re.blogspot.com

Cut all the pencil tips to the same length. If you cut them too long, your plates wont fit and if you cut them too short be careful with your fingers. I suggest a length of six centimeters.  You can use manual saw or band saw and put a mask to prevent inhaling pencil and graphite dust.

STEP 3
Once you have enough pencils (more than 30), find a good support. I used a wooden cutting board because it is cheap, easy to drill and looks good.

STEP 4

DIY Dish Rack - Printing Holes

Photo: project-re.blogspot.com

I printed a drilling template to make sure  every hole was equally distant. I used a size 1/4 wood drill for 1.5 cm deep holes. Depending on the thickness of your plates, the distance between each hole should be between 3 cm and 6 cm.

STEP 5

DIY Dish Rack - Adding Pencils

Photo: project-re.blogspot.com

Depending on the pens you used, you might have to adjust the holes. You should be able to insert the pencils in the board manually. One little truck is to use a sharpener to cut the edge of the pencil tips. This will make the insertion way easier.

Samuel is no stranger to the art of upcycling. If you like this project, check out his hack of an IKEA Frosta stool or his website for even more great projects!


Enter Bob Vila’s “Pick Your Present” Give-Away from Wayfair!

Enter to win the holiday prize of your choice, courtesy of Wayfair!

Around the holidays, it’s easy to get caught up in the frenzy. This year, gift yourself a chance to win one of four fabulous prizes from Wayfair:

No matter which one you pick, the prize is bound to help you host memorable holiday get-togethers. With a spacious dining set, you can serve a festive meal in comfort and style. The wine cabinet adds a feeling of luxury to parties, large and small. Guests are sure to be comfortable on the microfiber sofa. And for grand lighting that suits the celebratory mood, there’s an eight-bulb chandelier!

ENTER HERE TO WIN

Today and every day this month (from noon EST Sunday, November 30th, through 11:59 a.m. Wednesday, December 31st), enter to win one of four these special gifts from Wayfair!

Holiday Table Setting

Photo: wayfair.com

Wayfair started out modestly in 2002 before quickly expanding, both at home and internationally. Today, they are one of the largest online retailers of home goods in the world. Its sheer scale allows Wayfair to offer unmatched product variety, everything from furniture to home improvement supplies, at low prices.

To learn more about Wayfair and their wide variety of home decor and home improvement products, click here.

The “Bob Vila’s Pick Your Present Give-Away From Wayfair” 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. Void where prohibited. Contest Period for Prize runs from 12:00 p.m. (EST) EST Sunday, November 3oth, 2014 through 11:59 am Wednesday, December 31st, 2014. 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. By entering, all entrants agree to the Official Rules.


Bob Vila’s Pick Your Present Give-Away From Wayfair Official Rules

Bob Vila’s “Pick Your Present Give-Away From Wayfair” (the “Sweepstakes”) is sponsored by BobVila.com, LLC, Post Office Box 835, West Barnstable, MA 02668 (“Sponsor”). The Sweepstakes consists of one (4) drawings. The Sweepstakes begins at 12:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time (“EST”) on November 30th, 2014 and ends at 11:59 a.m. EST on December 31st, 2014 (the “Sweepstakes Period”).  NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. MAKING A PURCHASE DOES NOT INCREASE YOUR CHANCES OF WINNING. ODDS OF WINNING WILL DEPEND ON THE TOTAL NUMBER OF ENTRIES RECEIVED. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. ONLINE ENTRY ONLY AND INTERNET CONNECTION REQUIRED. AFFIDAVIT OF ELIGIBILITY AND RELEASE OF LIABILITY FORM MAY BE REQUIRED. Open only to permanent legal U.S. residents of all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Void in all other geographic locations. Employees of Sponsor and its respective parents, affiliates, subsidiaries, and advertising and promotion agencies and any other entity involved in the development or administration of this Sweepstakes, and their immediate family members or household members are not eligible to participate in or win the Sweepstakes. Sponsor reserves the right to disqualify any person who fails to meet the eligibility requirements or any person it determines, in its sole discretion, to be sufficiently connected with the Sweepstakes such that such person’s participation could create the appearance of impropriety. Entries generated by script, macro or other automated means are void, and Sponsor expressly reserves the right to disqualify any entries that it believes in good faith are generated by an automated program or via scripts. Entries that are determined, in the sole discretion of the Sponsor to constitute advertisements, commercial messages, or “spam” will be disqualified and deleted. Void where prohibited by law. All applicable federal, state and local laws apply. No purchase is necessary to participate in the Sweepstakes. You may enter any given Drawing one (1) time per household per day by visiting the BOB VILA website at http://www.bobvila.com and submit your name and email address using the online “Bob Vila’s Pick Your Present Give-Away From Wayfair” submission form. Each entry submitted in response to a Drawing and in accordance with the Official Rules will constitute an official entry. Duplicate entries submitted through either method within one day will be deemed void. If you do not have internet access, alternative means of entry for each Drawing is available by faxing your name, address and phone number to the Sponsor at 508-437-8486 during the applicable Entry Period. One (1) alternative entry per household per day. Any additional entries submitted via fax within one day will be deemed void. Entries received after the end of the Sweepstakes Period will be deemed void. Normal time, toll, connection and usage rates, if any, charged by your Internet service provider will apply. All entries become the property of the Sponsor. By entering any Drawing during the Sweepstakes, you will be agreeing that any information collected in connection with the Sweepstakes may be used by Sponsor in accordance with BobVila.com, LLC’s Privacy Policy, a current copy of which can be found here. By participating, all entrants agree to abide by these Official Rules. At the end of the Entry Period, there will be four (4) drawings in which one (1) potential winner (“Winner”) shall be selected from all eligible entries received for each prize available during that Entry Period by employees or representatives of the Sponsor to receive the prize designated for the Drawing for that Entry Period. Each winning entry will be chosen at random. The number of eligible entries received during the Entry Period for a Drawing determines the odds of winning for that Drawing. The Sweepstakes will be conducted under the supervision of the Sponsor. If the Winner is determined to be ineligible, forfeits or does not claim the prize, the prize will be re-awarded, in Sponsor’s sole discretion based on a subsequent drawing from the pool of eligible entries. Other restrictions may apply. Decisions of the Sponsor are final and binding with respect to all matters related to the Sweepstakes. All prizes (or in the event of a lost, misdirected, or otherwise unavailable prize, a prize of equivalent value) will be awarded. In no event shall the Sponsor be obligated to award more prizes than the number of prizes stated in these Official Rules. Winners shall be responsible and liable for all federal, state and local taxes on the value of their prize. To receive a complete list of winners or a copy of the Official Rules, send a self-addressed stamped envelope to Prize Fulfillment, BobVila.com, LLC, PO Box 835 Barnstable, MA 02668. Specify winner’s list or rules on your request. The Winners will be notified by email, or in the case of alternate entry, by phone; Sponsor reserves the right to determine the method of notification. Winners must claim their respective prize within twenty-four (24) hours after the date of notification of their prize. A Winner’s failure to respond to the prize notification within the specified twenty-four (24) hours will be considered such Winner’s forfeiture of the prize and an alternate Winner may be selected from the pool of eligible entries. If an entrant is found to be ineligible, an alternate Winner may also be selected from the pool of eligible entries. Sponsor reserves the right to ship prizes directly to the mailing and/or email address (as applicable) provided by Winners during their entry to the Drawings. The prize for the Drawing during the Sweepstakes Period shall be one of four holiday prizes offered by Wayfair. Gift cards are subject to any and all restrictions stated thereon. No transfer, substitution or cash redemption will be awarded in lieu of Prize. Limit one prize per entrant. Prizes shall be delivered within 30 days from end of the Sweepstakes Period. An entrant or winner may be disqualified from the Sweepstakes, and his or her entry may be deleted, if he or she fails to comply with each provision of these Official Rules, as determined in the sole discretion of the Sponsor. Participation in the Sweepstakes is at entrant’s own risk. Sponsor shall not be liable for (1) failed, returned or misdirected notifications based on inaccurate information provided by the winner on the Drawings entry forms, (2) entries and responses to winner notifications which are lost, late, incomplete, illegible, unintelligible, postage-due, misdirected, damaged or otherwise not received by the intended recipient in whole or in part or for computer or technical error of any kind, (3) any electronic miscommunications or failures, technical hardware or software failures of any kind, lost or unavailable network connections, or failed incomplete, garbled or delayed computer transmissions which may limit an entrant’s ability to participate in part or wholly in the Sweepstakes, (4) any technical malfunctions of the telephone network, computer on-line system, computer equipment, software, program malfunctions or other failures, delayed computer transactions or network connections that are human, mechanical or technical in nature, or any combination thereof, including any injury or damage to entrant’s or any other person’s computer related to or resulting from downloading any part of this Sweepstakes or (5) any warranty of fitness or merchantability of any prize or the function or operation thereof, which shall be the sole responsibility of the manufacturer of the prize. Sponsor does not make any, and hereby disclaims any and all, representations or warranties of any kind regarding any prize. Unless prohibited by applicable law, your entry constitutes your permission to use your name, photograph, likeness, voice, address (city and state) and testimonials in all media, in perpetuity, in any manner Sponsor deems appropriate for publicity purposes without any further compensation to such entrant. By entering or accepting a prize in the Sweepstakes, Winners agree to be bound by these Official Rules and to conform to all federal, state and local laws and regulations. When applicable, the Winner (or, if the Winner is a minor, the Winner’s parent or legal guardian) may be required to execute and return to Sponsor within three (3) business days an Affidavit of Eligibility, a Liability and Publicity Release and relevant tax forms to be eligible for the prize or an alternate winner may be selected. Winner may be required to furnish proof of identity, address and birth date in order to receive a prize. By entering, an entrant agrees to indemnify, release and hold harmless Sponsor and each of its respective parents, subsidiaries and affiliated entities, directors, officers, employees, attorneys, agents, and representatives (collectively, the “Released Parties”) from any damage, injury, death, loss, claim, action, demand, or other liability (collectively, “Claims”) that may arise from their acceptance, possession and/or use of any prize or their participation in the Sweepstakes, or from any misuse or malfunction of any prize awarded, regardless of whether such Claims, or knowledge of the facts constituting such Claims, exist at the time of entry or arise at any time thereafter. Suppliers of prizes (Laura Ashley Home, Wildon Home, and Carolina Preserves) are not official contest sponsors. Released Parties are not responsible or liable to any entrant or to any Winner or any person claiming through such Winner for failure to supply the prize or any part thereof, by reason of any acts of God, any action, regulation, order or request by any governmental or quasi-governmental entity (whether or not the action, regulations, order or request proves to be invalid), equipment failure, threatened terrorist acts, terrorist acts, air raid, blackout, act of public enemy, earthquake, war (declared or undeclared), fire, flood, epidemic, explosion, unusually severe weather, hurricane, embargo, labor dispute or strike (whether legal or illegal) labor or material shortage, transportation interruption of any kind, work slow-down, civil disturbance, insurrection, riot, or any other cause beyond the Released Parties’ sole control. The Released Parties are not responsible for: (1) any incorrect or inaccurate information, whether caused by entrants, printing, electronic or human errors or by any of the equipment or programming associated with or utilized in the Sweepstakes; (2) viruses or technical failures of any kind, including, but not limited to malfunctions, interruptions, or disconnections in phone lines or network hardware or software; failed, incorrect, incomplete, inaccurate, garbled or delayed electronic communications or entry information, any error, omission, interruption, deletion, defect, delay in operation or transmission, failures or technical malfunction of any computer online systems, servers, providers, computer equipment, software, email, players or browsers, whether on account of technical problems, traffic congestion on the Internet or at any website, or on account of any combination of the foregoing; (3) the unavailability or inaccessibility of any transmissions or telephone or Internet service; (4) unauthorized human intervention in any part of the entry process or the Sweepstakes; (5) technical or human error which may occur in the administration of the Sweepstakes or the processing of entries; (6) any injury or damage to persons or property which may be caused, directly or indirectly, in whole or in part, from entrant’s participation in the Sweepstakes or receipt or use or misuse of any prize; or (7) late, lost, misdirected, illegible, incomplete or mutilated entries or for theft, destruction or unauthorized access to, or alteration of entries. These indemnification and release provisions shall survive expiration of the Sweepstakes. Persons found tampering with, abusing, or otherwise disrupting any aspect of this Sweepstakes, or otherwise attempting to defraud Sponsor, as solely determined by Sponsor, will be disqualified and their entries will be deleted. If disqualified, Sponsor reserves the right to terminate the entrant’s eligibility to further participate in this Sweepstakes and future promotions and sweepstakes of Sponsor or any of its subsidiaries or affiliates. Any attempt by an entrant or any other individual to undermine the legitimate operation of this Sweepstakes may be a violation of criminal and civil laws. Should such an attempt be made, sponsor reserves the right to seek damages from any such person to the fullest extent permitted by law. This Sweepstakes is strictly for promotional and entertainment purposes and may not be used in connection with any form of gambling. In the event this Sweepstakes is challenged by any legal or regulatory authority, Sponsor reserves the right to terminate the Sweepstakes, or to disqualify entrants residing in the affected geographic areas. In such event, the Sponsor shall have no liability to any entrants who are disqualified due to such an action. Sponsor reserves the right to modify these Official Rules in any way or at any time. Sponsor reserves the right, in their sole discretion, to cancel or suspend this Sweepstakes should viruses, bugs or other causes beyond their control corrupt the administration, security or proper play of the Sweepstakes. In the event any portion of this Sweepstakes is compromised by any non-authorized human intervention, actions of entrants, or other causes beyond the control of Sponsor which, in the sole opinion of Sponsor, corrupt or impair the integrity, administration, security, or operation of this Sweepstakes, Sponsor reserves the right, at its sole discretion, to suspend, modify, abbreviate or terminate the Sweepstakes without further obligation. If Sponsor elects to abbreviate the Sweepstakes, Winner(s) will be determined from all eligible entries received for Drawing(s) prior to the action or compromise giving rise to the suspension or termination of this Sweepstakes. In the event of cancellation, abbreviation or suspension, Sponsor shall promptly post a notice on the Sweepstakes entry page to such effect. This Sweepstakes shall be governed by New York law. By participating in this Sweepstakes entrants agree that New York courts shall have jurisdiction over any dispute or litigation arising from or relating to this Sweepstakes and that venue shall be only in New York City, New York. The failure to exercise or enforce any right or provision of these Official Rules shall not constitute a waiver of such right or provision. If any part of these Official Rules is held by a court of competent jurisdiction to be invalid or unenforceable, that part will be enforced to the maximum extent permitted by law, and the remainder of these Official Rules will remain fully in force.


Bob Vila Radio: Avoid Common Mistakes to Minimize Heating Costs

Heating and cooling the house isn't cheap, but by knowing which frequent missteps to avoid, you can cut out unnecessary expenses.

Home heating bills are high enough already; don’t push yours even higher by making these common mistakes.

Efficient Heating - Vent

Photo: shutterstock.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 EFFICIENT HEATING or read the text below:

First, avoid obstructing the flow of air through return vents. Though vents may not be the most attractive fixtures in your home, covering them with such things as furniture and drapes ultimately cuts down on the overall efficiency of your heating system. Likewise, don’t be tempted to close off vents in unused rooms. That, too, will make your system work harder than needed, driving up costs.

Meanwhile, make sure your thermostat isn’t exposed to heat from direct sunlight or from heat-producers like lamps or AV equipment. That can fool the thermostat and trigger activity that does not make your home more comfortable.

Finally, use the correct air filter. Cheap, flimsy filters reduce the quality of air in your home, while overly efficient filters, counter to intuition, can make systems work harder, especially older systems. Check your manual or call your HVAC supplier to determine the most appropriate filter for your HVAC components.

Bob Vila Radio is a newly launched daily radio spot carried on more than 60 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.


Convert Your Crawl Space into a Storage Area

There's nothing stopping you from storing off-season items in your crawl space—nothing except for moisture, mold, insects and potentially rodents. Here, learn what's involved in converting your crawl space into a safe haven for belongings you want to keep but don't frequently need access to.

Crawl Space Solutions - Dirt Floor

Photo: basementsystems.com

For children and perhaps even many adults, the crawl space is shrouded in mystery. Rarely do we think of the dark, dingy, low-ceilinged, and dirt-floored crawl space as providing opportunity. And yet, with planning and elbow grease, you can make even the most intimidating crawl space into an ideal storage area for off-season items. Plus, many of the improvements you’d pursue to make the environment storage-ready would also contribute to overall home comfort and energy efficiency. You’ve got nothing to lose! Read on to learn what crawl space solutions other homeowners choose, then decide which are right for where you live.

Assessment
What’s this going to take? That largely depends on the crawl space’s current condition. For most homeowners wishing to convert a crawl space into a storage area, moisture is going to be the main impediment. Your crawl space may not have a moisture problem, but there’s only one way to know: get down there and assess things. Look for evidence of mold—on the walls, joists, ductwork or insulation. Where there’s mold, there may also be insects, including termites—and the presence of insects might one day attract rodents, if it hasn’t already. Mold also indicates a level of moisture that could eventually affect the flooring, drywall, and insulation in the upper portions of your home. So before you can confidently keep any of your belongings in a moldy, potentially rodent-ridden crawl space, your first order of business is getting the moisture under control. And it’s worth doing, not only for the immediate benefit of additional storage, but because your home might otherwise be at risk to a host of moisture-related problems. For help here, consider consulting a contractor who specializes in basements and crawl spaces.

Photo: basementsystems.com

Moisture Control
In crawl spaces, much of the humidity and moisture comes from the soil floor. To contain that moisture, line the floor (and the foundation walls) with a plastic vapor barrier. Proper installation of the vapor barrier depends on your climate and the product used, but generally speaking, the liners overlap, with taped seams, to leave no patch uncovered. There are many types of vapor barriers on the market, with varying composition, thickness, strength and durability. Because you’ll be using the crawl space for storage, choose a product thick and durable enough to withstand foot traffic. Of course, some homeowners eschew vapor barriers in favor of poured concrete, the best and longest-lasting defense against crawl space moisture. But given the complexities of working within a crawl space, we recommend that approach only to experienced do-it-yourselfers or those prepared to hire a professional crew to handle what’s not an inexpensive job.

Photo: thehomedepot.com

Insulation
Insulation further protects against moisture by helping to control the temperature within the crawl space. A bonus: If pipes run through the crawl space, the insulation prevents them from freezing during the coldest parts of the year. Of course, there are many types of insulation available, but only rigid board insulation is appropriate here, because it resists water damage. Install these foam boards against the foundation walls—not along the ceiling—using either construction adhesive or mechanical fasteners. Once the insulation is in place, the vapor barrier goes up on the walls. Climate depending, it may also be wise to install mat insulation over the earthen floor (below the vapor barrier). For advice specific to your home and region, invite an expert to take a look.

Photo: crawlspacedoors.com

Ventilation
You wouldn’t think so, but crawl space ventilation is a contentious topic. For years, building codes required crawl spaces to be vented, and many still think year-round venting makes sense. (In coastal areas, vents are undoubtedly necessary to prevent a buildup of water pressure from destroying the home’s foundation during a flood.) But more and more experts are saying crawl space vents fail to do what they were designed to do—eliminate moisture. Those experts argue that on the contrary, crawl space vents invite moisture, particularly in the summer when moist, warm air from the outside meets the cooler air under the house. Given the competing opinions and that there are geographic factors at play, we recommend getting advice from a local contractor steeped in the issues at play.

Crawl Space Solutions - Dehumidifier

Photo: basementsystems.com

Conditioning
If you go so far as to block or seal up the vents to your crawl space, the only way for moisture to escape is by means of a dehumidifier (that is, if it’s impossible to install an HVAC register in the crawl space). Dehumidifiers vary widely, from small, portable units to crawl space-specific models plumbed in to the home’s drainage system. Similarly, the cost of a humidifier can range anywhere from a few hundred dollars to well over $1,000. A dehumidifier may not seem necessary for your crawl space, but if you find that moisture problems linger, be sure to purchase a unit whose size is up to handling the square footage of the crawl space.

Crawl Space Solutions - Storage Bin

Photo: thehomedepot.com

Storage Matters
Even if you’ve eradicated most of the moisture (and its attendant issues), we recommend storing items in airtight plastic containers. Depending on the height of the crawl space, you might consider shelving. No matter what storage methods you opt for, be sure so leave enough space around plumbing and ductwork, in case a contractor needs access for repair work. Now that you’ve converted the crawl space, you should have many more square feet of storage than ever before. Though inappropriate for frequently used items, crawl space storage works great for those items you can’t bear to part with, but which you don’t need regularly.


In Lake Tahoe, a 1969 A-Frame Gets a Thoughtful Update

In renovating his own vacation home, architect Curtis Popp used many of his professional skills but relied most of all on his gift for restraint.

A-Frame Remodel - Homewood Exterior

Photo: plarch.com

Curtis Popp believes in the power of editing. As partner in Sacramento-based Popp Littrell Architects & Interiors, he knows that some projects require gut renovation and that, in some situations, new construction makes good sense. But for his own vacation house, a charming 1969 A-frame situated on Lake Tahoe, he opted for a light, thoughtful approach. He explains it this way: “We wanted to eliminate the things that weren’t working and exploit the things that were.”

Related: House Tour—An Architect Edits His Own Vintage A-Frame

When he bought it in 2011, there were many things to love about the cedar-hewn retreat, dubbed Homewood. Still, there was work to be done before his wife and two children would be comfortable in the two-story two-bedroom. The goal was to usher the place into the 21st century without sacrificing the funky modernism that’d initially attracted him. ”If it ended up feeling too slick, it would be out of place,” Popp says, acknowledging the casual rusticity of the California countryside.

Previous owners had added superfluous touches, including a decorative foam anchor on the roof. That was among the first things to go, followed soon after by the doilies that had been on the windows. The windows themselves were aluminum, and Popp swapped those out with wood-framed replacements that not only perform better in terms of efficiency, but also complement the wood paneling that covers all of the walls—and even the ceilings—of the A-frame interior.

A-Frame Remodel - Homewood Interior

Photo: plarch.com

While the floor plan remains true to the original program, Popp re-did the bathrooms and kitchen. In the latter space, he chose small, European-made appliances, because in such a compact home, he feared that full-size appliances would leave the kitchen out of scale with the other rooms. The “micro” refrigerator, dishwasher, and range fully integrate with the cabinetry, allowing more real estate for countertops while minimizing the visual weight of the kitchen overall.

Related: House Tour—An Architect Edits His Own Vintage A-Frame

Another of Popp’s successful editorial gestures is the color scheme, what he likes to call “chocolate and peanut butter.” It’s a combination of matte black trim and the “pecky” cedar that so defines the home, past and present. In discussing Homewood, Popp reserves a sense of humor, for as much as A-frames are practical in design, they also possess an uncommon degree of personality. As Popp quips, “They keep the snow off the roof, but they make people smile, too.”

Somehow, given all the work that’s gone on, Homewood looks like it’s barely been touched. “It’s a respectful update of a period A-frame,” according to Popp. And if that’s true, then it’s only because the home’s editor respected the original building enough to make only the most thoughtful changes.