Executive Editor at BobVila.com and avid DIYer. Formerly Executive Editor for Country Living Magazine, Larry spends most weekends updating a 1890s house in The Catskills, New York. Check him out on Google+!
In June, we officially welcome summer. In keeping with the season, this month’s must-do projects include lawn care, do-it-yourself backyard improvements, and fun, kid-friendly ideas for painting.
1. MAINTAIN YOUR LAWN
Perhaps the biggest challenge facing homeowners this time of year is keeping the lawn healthy and green. One critically important aspect of growing grass is watering. Though it seems so simple, doing it right often eludes people. Conditions vary, but the following general guidelines should serve you well:
Water Enough. Most lawns require about one inch of water per week. How do you know if you’re watering enough? Simply set out a small container, turn on the sprinklers, and track how long it takes for the container to fill with one inch. If it takes 60 minutes, that’s how long you need to water your lawn each week.
Water Early. Water your lawn during the early morning hours, around 5 a.m. or 6 a.m. At that point in the day, the air is cooler and the winds are calmer, so evaporation is less likely to occur, and your grass will also have a chance to dry out before the sun really starts beating down.
Water Evenly. Make sure that your sprinklers are reaching every part of your lawn. Test your system by dispersing several small containers around your property. After a session of watering, compare levels in the containers, making any necessary adjustments to the positioning of your sprinklers.
Water Slowly. Only water as much as your lawn can absorb. If you water too much too quickly, excess water will run off your lawn—a waste of water and money. One strategy is to run your sprinklers for half the usual time, allowing the initial watering to absorb before you give the grass another drink.
Water Infrequently. Instead of watering a little bit every day, give your lawn a good soak every three days or so. Watering less frequently encourages roots to grow directly downward in search of water, making your lawn more stable overall.
If you know the signs, your lawn will tell you when it needs watering. As you walk over the grass, your footsteps should readily disappear; if they don’t, you need to water. A bluish-green color is another indicator of dehydration. So are curling glass blades. You might also try the screwdriver test: Pushing a screwdriver into the ground is difficult when the soil is very dry. Remember, the goal is to keep your lawn happy but not to become its slave!
2. PAINT IT UP
A coat of paint can work wonders on surfaces of all kinds. Before you commit to eggshell or high gloss, however, consider what chalkboard paint has to offer. Whereas it was once available only in black, today’s chalkboard paint comes in a range of colors. It can be applied easily with a brush, roller, or spray can, and you can use it almost anywhere, for countless purposes—personalizing mugs, labeling drawers, decorating stair risers, you name it.
3. CONTROL THE PESTS
If summer pests have begun to plague your house, many non-chemical treatment options are at your disposal. To deter flies, for instance, you can place potted basil plants on the kitchen counter and around doorways and windowsills. Problem with spiders? A mixture of water and unsweetened lemon or lime juice should do the trick. These and other natural pest control hints will help you maintain a critter-free home.
4. STRIKE A NEW PATH
Few elements define your landscape as effectively as a walkway or garden path. This summer, consider adding one to the yard using pavers or stones from your local home improvement center. Choose whatever material best suits your needs and DIY skill set, but one easy, beautiful approach is to lay a stone path. For a different look that is more challenging to achieve, think about patterning brick or artfully arranging flagstone.
5. SHOWER OUTDOORS
A favorite summertime luxury is the outdoor shower. Of course, a basic installation involves a garden hose, shower head, and tree branch, but you can make your own free-standing unit without much trouble, and without spending a fortune. If using wood, guard against rot by employing cedar, redwood, or pressure-treated lumber. For convenience, locate your shower is near an outdoor spigot; that way, you’re spared having to tap into the household plumbing or run extended hoses. Don’t miss these amazing outdoor shower designs for inspiration!
VTech's IS7121 Two Handset Answering System with Audio/Video Doorbell.
Maintaining your home used to require close attention and diligent care. Thanks to a bevy of home automation products, however, life is now so much different—and easier—for the homeowner, so long as he or she has opted to install the right time and labor-saving equipment.
It’s amazing what these gadgets and gizmos are capable of. You can get a thermostat that adjusts itself automatically, according to your family’s daily routine. Or your oven can perfectly cook your roast beef for you, based on weight and what time you want to eat.
In other words, we are living in the future. And if you needed further proof, here it is: The new VTech IS7100 series cordless phone and video doorbell allows you to see who is at the door without having to stop what you were already doing.
The first device of its kind, the VTech IS7100 series combines all the features of a cordless home phone with that of a digital video camera doorbell, so even if you are lounging comfortably on the living room sofa, you can still identify and communicate with your visitors.
If that level of convenience isn’t enough for you, consider these additional reasons to bring the technology of a video doorbell into your home:
1. Complete Control. When the doorbell rings, a digital picture is sent to the handset. Activate streaming video to see more of your visitor, enable live audio, or do both in order to have a whole conversation without ever needing to unlock the door.
2. Visitor Log. Curious whether anyone came a-knocking while you were away? Whether you were absent for an hour or several days, VTech’s built-in visitor photo log lets you scroll through photos of all who have graced your entryway. Think of this feature as a caller ID log for your front door.
3. Color LCD Screen. A 1.8-inch, full-color LCD screen appears on the face of each portable handset. So that means no matter where you are in the house, you can see who is at the door. No more missed deliveries, and you can save time by screening visitors remotely.
4. Night Vision. V-Tech’s video intercom helps homeowners feel safe and secure. Discreetly monitor entrances throughout the day and “after hours,” too. Automatic night vision makes it possible for you to see who’s at the door, even when it’s too dark to learn much by looking out the window.
5. Do-It-Yourself Installation. For the DIY weekend warrior, installation is a breeze. The doorbell can be mounted either to the door frame or the door panel, replacing the existing doorbell. While the battery-operated model is wireless, the AC version calls for some basic hardwiring that even a novice could handle.
Although the most exciting aspect of the VTech IS7100 series is its video doorbell technology, don’t forget that it’s also a phone, offering a range of features that includes voice-announce caller ID, a digital answering system, and push-to-talk communication between household handsets (think walkie-talkies). With the product’s HD-quality sound, you’ll always get the message loud and clear.
Looking to cut energy costs and improve home comfort? Focus on your heating and cooling systems. While it is imperative to choose an Energy Star-certified unit properly sized for your home, a variety of factors influence the effectiveness of your system, according to the experts at Lennox. And some of those factors, it turns out, have very little to do with areas of the home that you actually live in.
Everyone knows that a new shower head can be a stylish, water-conserving improvement for any bathroom—but why stop there, when you could win the Delta shower head of your choice plus $2,000 to jump-start your dream bath remodel in Bob Vila’s “April Showers” Give-Away?
Today and every day in April (until 11:59 a.m. EST, May 1, 2013), you can enter to win one of four Delta shower heads (options shown below) in addition to a $2,000 Visa gift card!
Delta's (clockwise from top left) In2ition® Two-in-One Shower, Dryden, Contemporary, and Transitional shower heads, each with H2Okinetic Technology
Each shower head features Delta’s H2Okinetic™ technology—an innovative internal system that controls the speed, movement, and water droplet size to create a custom shower experience like no other. The shower actually sculpts water into a unique wave pattern that provides more coverage, more intensity, and more warmth (since the larger water droplets retain their temperature longer). Best of all, you get the feeling of more water without actually using more water.
So, go ahead: CHOOSE YOUR SHOWER HEAD and seize your opportunity to win $2,000. Remember, you can enter Bob Vila’s “April Showers” Give-Away daily to increase your odds of winning.
To learn more about Delta H20Kinetics, click here.
The “Bob Vila’s Spring Showers from Delta Faucet” sweepstakes is open only to permanent legal U.S. residents of the 48 contiguous states and the District of Columbia; residents of Alaska and Hawaii are not eligible. Void in all other geographic locations. No purchase necessary. Contest Period runs from 12:00 p.m. (EST) Monday, April 1, 2013 through 11:59 a.m. (EST) Wednesday, May 1, 2013. 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. In the event that Winner fails to provide Sponsor with a choice of shower head, Winner’s prize package will include the Default Selection. See Official Rules.
What could the grandeur of a Roman fountain and an end-of-days bomb shelter possibly have in common? Must be time for the annual NAHB International Builders’ Show, held this year (January 22-24) in Las Vegas, NV. The event, which draws builders, contractors, manufacturers and industry professionals from around the country and the world, is renowned for showcasing the latest in new building products, materials, technology, trends and innovations.
While we were hard-pressed to cover the entire 360,000 square feet of exhibition space, we were able to discover some true show-stoppers. Here are ten of them to whet your appetite. Read the rest of this entry »
If you have to do laundry in 2013, wouldn’t you prefer doing it in style and with energy savings in mind? We thought so. That’s why we reached out to our friends at Amana® to sponsor Bob Vila’s “2013 Love Your Laundry” Give-Away.
Starting today and every day through the month of January (until 11:59 p.m. EST, Thursday January 31, 2013), you can ENTER TO WIN a new Amana 3.6 cu. ft. High-Efficiency Washer with Stainless Steel Wash Basket, valued at $649 (MSRP), and 7.0 cu. ft. Traditional Dryer with Interior Drum Light, valued at $479 (MSRP).
Amana® 3.6 cu. ft. High Efficiency Washer and 7.0 cu. ft. Traditional Dryer.
Experts on all things home aren’t always confined to hammer and nail. Many have picked up another set of tools altogether—pencil and paper. Looking to spread knowledge beyond their own toolboxes, today’s voices of interior design, craft inspiration, and historic homes have made 2012 a banner year for the home improvement book. Just in time for the holidays, we’ve gathered a fresh new trio of favorite stocking stuffers:
The Things That Matter
Photo: Spiegel & Grau
In designer Nate Berkus‘s recently released The Things That Matter, we are reminded of how one’s personal experiences shape who they are and how they live. Berkus fills the book with intimate stories of his childhood, introduces us to people who influenced him and encouraged him along the way, and opens up about the remarkable experiences that have changed him forever. Readers get a personal glimpse into Berkus’s home as well as 12 others, from a sleek metal-and-glass high-rise in Chicago to a rustic cottage in the Hudson Valley. Each property proves a revealing portrait of its owners lives and of the inspiring choices that shaped them. More…
Young House Love
Photo: A Beautiful Mess
In 2006, armed with a can-do attitude and zero formal training, husband-and-wife duo John and Sherry Petersik embarked on an ambitious home improvement journey. Six years, two whole-house renovations, and one enormously successful blog later, the Petersiks decided to move their crafty ideas from the computer screen to the glossy pages of a beautiful book. Young House Love: 243 Ways to Paint, Craft, Update & Show Your Home Some Love is a fun and upbeat source of inspiration. With instructive images accompanying each easy-to-read project guide, renters and homeowners alike will find themselves seeing new possibilities for every forgotten corner at home. More…
Houses of the Presidents
Photo: Little, Brown
Anyone who has gone through a major remodel knows that estimates are likely to run a tad long. If it brings any comfort, even Presidents have had to endure the same misery: It took Thomas Jefferson 54 years to complete his beloved Monticello! In Houses of the Presidents: Childhood Homes, Family Dwellings, Private Escapes, and Grand Estates, you’ll find a wealth of additional information on the homes (birthplaces, residences, retreats) of the American Presidents—from George Washington’s Mount Vernon to Punachou Circle Apartments in Honolulu, where Barack Obama lived with his grandmother. Author Hugh Howard, co-author of several Bob Vila books, weaves an intimate portrait that combines architectural history with intimate family stories and political lore to shed light on the men who have occupied the nation’s highest office. Color photographs by Roger Straus III bring these homes and furnishings vividly to life. More…
We hear a lot about lighting and energy efficiency, but can the right light bulb really be effective in reducing monthly bills and utility consumption? Yes, it can!
According to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star site, if every American home replaced just one light bulb with a bulb bearing the Energy Star label, we would save enough energy to light 3 million homes for a year, save roughly $600 million in annual energy costs, and prevent 9 billion pounds of greenhouse gas emissions, equivalent to those from about 800,000 cars.
In the spirit of the holiday season, do something to give back to your community this December. The Family Handyman, one of the most respected media brands in home improvement, has teamed up with IKEA® for its 2nd Annual Rescue Remodel Contest. From now until December 15, 2012, communities can nominate their local organizations—firehouses, boys and girls clubs, soup kitchens, food pantries, etc.—to win an IKEA kitchen makeover valued at $25,000.
Entries must explain in 500 words or less how the renovation will benefit the local organization and the community, along with what makes the group truly deserving of the makeover. Nominees must be active community organizations and part of a not-for-profit group to qualify. The winning organization will receive a fully customized kitchen—from new cabinets and appliances, to cookware and food storage—from IKEA.
A panel from The Family Handyman will select the five top community organizations from those nominated. The vote will then be open to the public from February 1 until March 30, 2013. A winner will be selected on April 12, 2013, and the completed kitchen unveiled in the magazine’s September’s issue and on its website, as well as on www.RescueRemodel.com
To find out more, including official rules and how to submit a nomination, visit Rescue Remodel—but you only have until December 15th to nominate your community organization.
With so many dishes and serving utensils, not to mention the number of guests, Thanksgiving puts your dining room to the true test. Here are eight ways to get more out of the space, maximizing your enjoyment of the meal and the day’s family joys.