Our kitchen needs more cabinets—and more counter space. Indeed, who has a kitchen with enough of these precious amenities? The only friends I know with sufficient cabinet space are tall people who can actually reach all those upper cabinets, or house-dwellers with a “great room” floor plan that boasts vast expanses of wall space devoted to cabinets. The rest of us struggle to make do with the space we have.
Welcome to Bob's Blogs
- Kitchen >
- Free Your Pots & Pans from Cupboard Captivity: Install a Pot Rack
Free Your Pots & Pans from Cupboard Captivity: Install a Pot Rack
- Doors & Windows >
- The Hidden Costs of Windows
The Hidden Costs of Windows
One benefit of moving to suburbia from New York City and building a new home was getting to customize our space. At the top of our must-haves list for the house was what we’d had too few of in our old apartment—windows. You have to understand, city life can be dark. In many midtown apartments, you’re lucky to have more than three or four windows, and even luckier if they don’t face an air shaft. So when we were choosing options for the house, we chose light, light, light!
- Green >
- Learning to Love Recycling
Learning to Love Recycling
Fact: According to the EPA, Americans are recycling more than ever. In 2010 alone, homeowners helped keep 85.1 million tons of glass, plastic, paper, and yard waste out of the country’s bulging landfills.
Confession: I’d like to say that I get great joy from recycling, but the reality is I hate all the clutter. Don’t get me wrong: I’m happy to do my small part. It’s just that I’ve never had a very good system for keeping everything organized. In my hometown of New York City, recycling has been mandatory since 1989. Like my neighbors, I dutifully stockpile soup cans, aluminum foil, wire hangers, soda pop bottles, and towering stacks of newspapers and catalogs, then haul everything to my building’s basement recycling bins every day or so.
- Tools & Workshop >
- Brad, Jeremy, Harrison and Bob? An Oscar Salute!
Brad, Jeremy, Harrison and Bob? An Oscar Salute!
It may strike you as odd for a home improvement web site to publish an Oscar-related blog post, but while Bob Vila is surely a leading man of our DIY world, it may surprise you that he actually shares common ground with a number of Oscar-nominated actors—including one up for top honors this Sunday. With just three days before the live telecast of the 84th Annual Academy Awards in Los Angeles, here is our salute to some of the other leading men of home improvement:
We know HARRISON FORD for countless films, from American Graffiti to his best-actor-nominated performance in Witness, but he is most often remembered for his role as Han Solo in the original Star Wars trilogy and as the title character in the Indiana Jones movies. Before his career took off, Ford paid the bills as a carpenter—a self-taught carpenter, that is. “I bought a house in the Hollywood Hills and started to fix it up,” the actor told Barbara Walters in a 1977 ABC Specials Reports. “I got some books on carpentry and started buying a few tools. Pretty soon I had too much invested in tools to buy materials. So I went and got a job as a carpenter,” he said. In that role, he became a stagehand for The Doors, built a sun deck for Sally Kellerman (the original “Hot Lips” Houlihan in M.A.S.H.), and assembled a recording studio for musician Sergio Mendes. It was his carpentry work for director George Lucas, however, that would be the job that paid off. In 1975, Lucas hired Ford to read lines for actors auditioning for parts in Star Wars and eventually cast him in the part of Han Solo. Clearly, good carpentry pays off!
- Kitchen >
- 5 Creative Alternatives to Kitchen Cabinetry
5 Creative Alternatives to Kitchen Cabinetry
There are hundreds of companies who will gladly sell you stock kitchen cabinets and storage solutions, and master cabinetmakers who will offer a more customized approach to your specific needs. Perhaps there are even a few of you BobVila.com fans who are trying to build and install your own cabinets—and you should. But, don’t be fooled into thinking that the standard “uppers” and “lowers” is the only way to go. Sometimes, looking outside the realm of classic cabinets and drawers is just what a kitchen needs for a bit of extra character.
With that in mind, here are a few creative alternative to kitchen cabinetry; all work just as well—if not better than—traditional units, and they can even save you money in the bargain. Can’t beat that!
1) Tool Chests
These steel, drawered workshop standards are built to last and house lots of heavy duty gear, which is exactly what you want from kitchen storage! Many tool chests slide under standard countertop height surfaces, making them a great solution for an island or extra prep station.
- Basement & Garage >
- Basement: To Finish or Not?
Basement: To Finish or Not?
Late in 2010, my husband and I, and our two young children (2 and 9 months old), moved from our teensy New York City apartment to Southern Delaware and began the process of building a new house. It was like hitting the square-footage jackpot—we could afford so much more for the same money. We were like kids in a candy store. First on our wish list: a full basement. We fantasized about a home gym, an office, a playroom for the kids, storage for tools, a craft area, media room, kitchenette, and guest room with an extra bath!
- Tools & Workshop >
- Making Friends with a Detail Sander: Refinishing Your Front Door
Making Friends with a Detail Sander: Refinishing Your Front Door
I love wood. Maybe it’s the way the surface glows when sunlight suffuses the grain, lighting up any room with golden radiance. Or maybe it’s the tactile pleasure of rubbing my hand over a smooth, sanded finish. Whatever the reason, I enjoy bringing out the inner beauty of wood with sanding and staining. Over the years—and multiple refinishing projects—I’ve learned that you don’t always have to do things the hard way, rubbing your fingers raw with sandpaper to get into cracks and crevices. That’s where my second love—the detail sander—comes into play.
The detail sander and I made our acquaintance several years ago, when I decided to refinish the front door to our house. The front door had been a sore point with me for many years. Although I loved the fact that it was constructed of solid wood and had decorative appeal, I loathed the paint job, which was stark white with blue trim. When the paint started to look a bit shabby, I decided the time had come to tackle the job.
- Kitchen >
- Backsplash Idea: Faux Stone Re-Finish
Backsplash Idea: Faux Stone Re-Finish
My wife, Mary Ann, hated the backsplash tiles in our kitchen, and I agreed they were slightly dated. Unfortunately, the crackled glass that we wanted to replace them with was amazingly expensive: $17 per square foot (more than $500 for the 30 sq. ft. that we would need). So I did what any good husband would do—I stalled.
But one day, while she was at work, I decided to do a little experiment. I applied a mixture of primer, glaze and artist’s oils to some spare tiles to see if I could create a faux stone finish that would give the existing tiles a fresh new look—at little to no cost. And it worked!
Here’s a step-by-step of how I created the look:
- Painting >
- Chip It! Sherwin-Williams’ New Color Tool
Chip It! Sherwin-Williams’ New Color Tool
Thanks to the Internet, there’s no shortage of inspiration when it comes to bringing color to your home. Ah, but the ability to pick complementary colors for the lovely image you’ve just found online; that’s usually hard to come by. But the new Sherwin-Williams color tool, Chip It!, could save the day. The free service loads through your Facebook or Twitter account and sits on your browser’s bookmark menu bar.
- Walls & Ceilings >
- Character Building: A Case for Moldings
Character Building: A Case for Moldings
I live in an old house that was virtually stripped of its moldings in the 1970s. It was an act of modernization, ever so popular back then when it was the style to simplify. My house, however, was built in 1867, when trims were considered the finishing touches to a room. It would have been considered bad taste not to have a fancy wooden or plaster molding crowning the upper walls.
On the parlor floor, where the public rooms of the house are located, crown molding survives only in the dining room and library. It offers a glimpse of the well-conceived decorative trim that once dressed the 12-foot walls. The adjacent room—which we plan to use as a small family sitting room—had some insignificant 2-inch trim that looked very out of place by comparison. Upstairs, it appears that moldings were never installed, making the 10-foot-high ceilings look naked.
Before I could find a suitable molding profile, I needed to educate myself on a variety of fronts and turned to the folks at Good Millwork to help me understand the four terms that are bandied about in millwork selection: height, width, thickness and projection.
Next, I needed to learn some basic rules: