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- Bob Vila Thumbs Up: The Best of 2014 Competition Begins Today!
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!
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.
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.
- Interior Design >
- 1 Coffee Table, 3 Ways
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.
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.
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.
- Green >
- How To: Get Rid of Pantry Moths
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.
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.
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.
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!
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?
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.
- Painting >
- How To: Paint Your Front Door
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.
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
- Primer (optional)
- Exterior acrylic paint
- Paint roller
- Putty knife
- Lint-free cloths
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
- How To's & Quick Tips >
- Genius! DIY Pencil Dish Rack
Genius! DIY Pencil Dish Rack
What would you do with 30 pencil stubs and an extra cutting board? This DIYer made something truly unique.
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!
- Wood cutting board
- Pencils (more than 30)
- Hand saw or band saw
- Safety mask
- 1/4 wood drill
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- Contests & Give-Aways >
- Enter Bob Vila’s “Pick Your Present” Give-Away from Wayfair!
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!
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!
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.
- Contests & Give-Aways >
- Bob Vila’s Pick Your Present Give-Away From Wayfair Official Rules
Bob Vila’s Pick Your Present Give-Away From Wayfair Official Rules
- Major Systems >
- Bob Vila Radio: Avoid Common Mistakes to Minimize Heating Costs
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.
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.
- Basement & Garage >
- Convert Your Crawl Space into a Storage Area
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- Historic Homes & More >
- In Lake Tahoe, a 1969 A-Frame Gets a Thoughtful Update
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.