May 2012 Archives - 2/11 - Bob Vila

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Bob Vila Radio: Pressure Washing

You can get several years’ worth of grime off your deck and siding in minutes with a pressure washer. Whether you buy it or rent it, it’s a great tool to have.

Pressure Washing


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But go easy. Pressure washing with more than twelve hundred PSI will strip flaking paint, and it can easily damage your siding. For cleaning, volume is more important than pressure. You want to stand several feet from the house and work from the top down. Use a wide-angle spray nozzle and keep the spray at about 30 degrees from the surface to avoid leaving marks.

A narrow nozzle at high pressure at a right angle to the surface will damage your siding… and it can hurt you, too. Always wear safety goggles and protective clothing when you’re pressure washing. Avoid using chlorine bleach; it can turn cedar and redwood black and kill your plants.

Bob Vila Radio is a newly launched daily radio spot carried on more than 75 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.

For more on pressure washing, consider the following Bob Vila articles and video:

 Green Cleaning: Outdoors
Quick Tip: Boost Your Home’s Resale Value With Paint
Pressure Washing the House, Prepping for Painting and Beginning Kitchen Cabinet Installation

Bob Vila Radio: Outdoor Furniture

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—or reading—to Bob’s 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day. Today, it’s all about Outdoor Furniture.

Outdoor Furniture


Listen to BOB VILA ON OUTDOOR FURNITURE, or read text below: Read the rest of this entry »

Memorial Day Salute!


While this is the weekend that generally kicks off the summer season with family get-togethers, cookouts, and three-day get-aways, let’s not forget the true reason why the holiday exists.

Memorial Dayoriginally known as Decoration Day—was first observed on May 30, 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery. It has been celebrated ever since then as a day to honor veterans of foreign wars and all the men and women currently serving in the armed forces. Take some time this weekend to recognize the true meaning of the holiday and share the history with your children.

Memorial Day Weekend has also become known for mega retail sales, and this year is no exception. Here is a sampling of just some of what you might want to check out on sale, whether you’re shopping in stores or online.

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2011 Trends in Outdoor Entertaining

From the cooking experience to the guest experience, the 2011 Kitchen & Bath Show in Las Vegas offered up numerous innovations in outdoor entertaining.

Outdoor Entertainment

Kalamazo Outdoor Gourmet Kitchen. Photo: Joshua J Phoenix, Owner HD Estates

When home entertaining moves outdoors with the warmer weather, the gourmet cooking experience doesn’t have to be confined indoors, helped by a variety of products shown at this year’s 2011 Kitchen & Bath Show in Las Vegas. From the cooking experience to the guest experience, the Show offered up numerous innovations.

Outdoor Dishwashers & Range Hoods
Now there’s no need to sacrifice enjoying the outdoors when it comes time to clean up.  Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet has expanded beyond its grills and outdoor refrigerators to offer the first outdoor dishwasher, specifically designed to deal with dishes that have been sitting outdoors or hard-to-clean pots and pans used over a grill.  Built to withstand extreme outdoor conditions, hot and cold, the dishwasher offers many features for big-time entertainment, including capacity for 12 full place settings and special supports for wine glasses.

Another exhibitor, Air King , specializes in customizable range hoods, which keep barbeque smoke and odors from ruining your backyard event.  Bringing Air King’s professional expertise to the consumer, the Outdoor Kitchen Professional Range Hood series, which are Energy Star qualified, comes with a range of size and blower options. 

Outdoor Entertaining
Outdoor entertaining is, of course, all about ensuring a great time for your friends and relatives.  Eldorado Stone , with its Eldorado Outdoor products encompassing stonework and cabinets, has focused on adding luxury to backyard spaces.   The company displayed a complete outdoor living space at the Show, using its “building block” construction, which allows installation by either a contractor or, to save time and money, an experienced DIYer.

For enjoying TV or listening to music outside, why not a fireplace, too?  In addition to its range hoods and shelving products, Raw Urth Designs offers a number of eco-friendly outdoor fireplaces made from recycled steel, using green manufacturing techniques.  Or if you’re having a group of beer drinkers over, True Professional Series ’ Beverage Dispenser might be for you, an Energy Star rated product that keeps your brews at the perfect temperature, and features a lock to keep out minors.

Even outdoor pests have not been overlooked.   Danver Stainless Steel Cabinetry , a top manufacturer of outdoor kitchen equipment, exhibited a perimeter insect control system for backyard cooking and entertainment areas.  It automatically sprays a fine mist of insecticide, two or three times a day, to zap the mosquitoes and other biting insects that could disturb your guests.

3 Designers Go Head-to-Head for a Good Cause

New York was buzzing last week with Design Week and ICFF taking place, but there were also a few other cool events happening around the city. Lowe’s was in town kicking off their Designer Challenge, which asked three designers to create an 11′ x 11′ space using elements from the retailer’s 2012 Outdoor Spring Collection.

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Bob Vila Radio: Maintenance Checklist

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—or reading—to Bob’s 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day. Today, it’s all about the Maintenance Checklist.

Maintenance Checklist


Listen to BOB VILA ON THE MAINTENANCE CHECKLIST, or read text below: Read the rest of this entry »

Top Tips for Choosing Kitchen Cabinets

Choosing Kitchen Cabinets

Photo: JNoonan

The first things we chose during our eight-hour selections appointment for our new construction home were our kitchen cabinets. Cabinets are chosen first during these meetings, because they are the biggest investment in the kitchen. And the kitchen is one of the biggest investments in the house.

In our open floor plan the kitchen cabinets are viewable from nearly the entire first floor, making a big impact on the overall design and feeling of our home. And there are so many choices between door style, finish, and hardware. For me, i was an overwhelming decision, and it must be the same way for many remodelers.

Related: 5 Creative Alternatives to Traditional Kitchen Cabinetry

Kitchen cabinets are of course subject to trends. Remember the pickled maple craze of the early 1990s? I renovated our pre-war New York City apartment with those, and I loved them—for about four years. By the time we put that apartment on the market 15 years later, they looked hopelessly dated.

I decided to go with something more classic this time, something contemporary that wouldn’t feel out of style in five years. We went with maple again, since I like its understated grain, but this time we selected a simple panel door with full overlay mounting (in a cherry finish with glaze add depth).  Brushed stainless steel hardware gives the cabinet array something of a “now” look, but the pulls won’t be expensive or difficult to change when they begin to feel “totally 2010.”

Choosing Kitchen Cabinets - Single Panel Doors

Photo: JNoonan

There are so many things to consider when choosing cabinets! Here are the biggies I recommend focusing on:

Materials – Solid wood remains a popular choice for kitchen cabinetry, but other materials like metal, thermofoil, stainless steel, and melamine are readily available.

Door style – A door style exists for every taste, whether it be very traditional or country or ultra-modern. More complicated wood detailing, like raised panels and beading, are generally more expensive and require more work to clean.

Door Mounting – There are many mounting options for cabinet doors, the most common being overlay, where the door lays over the cabinet case. Regular overlay allows the face frame to be seen around the doors, whereas full overlay mounting fits doors closely together, hiding the cabinet case behind. Inset doors are less common, with the doors being installed flush inside the frame.

Finish – Solid wood cabinet colors can be left in their natural state or can be finished or stained. Decorative finishes are available—distressing, glazing, crackle, and more. Remember that lighter cabinets, counter to intuition, actually hide dirt better than darker ones do.

HardwareHardware can really impact the final look of your cabinets. It can either dress them up or down and make them look more contemporary, country, or traditional. Knobs and drawer pulls are easy and inexpensive to change later in comparison to cabinet doors or finishes.

I’ve learned even more about cabinets since living with this new kitchen—more than can be mentioned in one blog post. One thing I still haven’t mastered, apparently, is organization. Despite beautiful new cabinets, I never seem to be able to find the right measuring cup when I need it!

For more on kitchen remodeling, consider:

Cabinet Door Styles:  What’s Yours?
Kitchen Countertops 101
Planning Guide: Kitchen Remodeling

Coolest Kids Products at ICFF

The International Contemporary Furniture Fair is filled with amazing designs for the modern home, and not to be forgotten are the kids who also deserve beautifully designed furniture.

There were at least a few pieces on display at ICFF that speak to a child’s sense of wonder and playfulness without being juvenile.

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Bob Vila Radio: Home Journal

I got a question from Jim in Toledo, wondering what’s the best way to stay on top of home maintenance every season without forgetting something. Sounds like you need a home journal, Jim!

Photo: adulau via


Listen to BOB VILA ON THE HOME JOURNAL, or read text below:

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5 Seating Picks from ICFF

Hours before the International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF) closed its four-day run on Tuesday, the winners of this year’s ICFF Editors Awards were named. The top exhibitors in a range of categories are recognized annually, but while innovation and world-class design are always hallmarks of the Fair, the style and ingenuity rampant in the Seating category this year must have made for stiff competition.

Danish powerhouse Fritz Hansen ultimately took the top honor. The miniscule™ Chair joins practicality and stylishness in a compact, lightweight, and cozy creation. As the designer Cecilie Manz attests, “The chair has no secrets. You have the shell and you have the leg frame, and that’s about it. It is what you see.”

miniscule chair

miniscule™ Chair by Cecilie Manz for Fritz Hansen

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