Finders, fixers.

diy desk with industrial pipe and reclaimed wood

Weekend project: DIY desk with industrial pipe and reclaimed wood

Here at the homestead, we’ve got an underused office/spare bedroom that we’ve been trying to do… well, something with. We did replace our beaten-up, college-era spare bed with an awesome IKEA trundle daybed that’s both pretty and practical. But the weakest link in the room was the cheap, coffee-stained, white laminate particle-board desk we got at Target many years ago. So,…

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this old house cast crew including tom silva and kevin o'connor at right

Bonus DIY tips from the set of ‘This Old House’

In December, I got to meet two of my home improvement heroes: Tom Silva and Kevin O’Connor of This Old House. Tom is the show’s longtime general contractor, whose construction know-how (and friendly, patient ability to dumb it down for the rest of us) is the stuff of legend. Kevin is the show’s host, an…

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how to whitewash brick fireplace with limewash

Using all-natural lime to whitewash a brick fireplace

Let’s be upfront about something: I’m not a big believer in tinkering with classic red brick. It’s generally beautiful – perfect, even? – just as it is. My friend Kirk put it best: “Even decent-looking classic brick is sort of unimpeachable.” That said, some bricks are not the classic rusty red. There are tan bricks, for some reason,…

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old pipes in basement - don't start DIY projects on a weekend

Be careful with weekend DIY projects

Weekends are the perfect time (often the only time) to tackle the DIY and home improvement projects you’ve been planning. Just be careful not to bite off more than you can chew. I was reminded of this important lesson while I tried to replace a steam valve on our heating pipes in the basement this…

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chip and joanne gains from HGTV's fixer upper - is flipping houses a good idea?

Flipping houses is a sexy but terrible idea

The Boston Globe this weekend profiled Jackie Falla, a young woman aiming to buy and flip 10 properties in 10 years. Falla’s currently on her fourth flip since 2008, and she’s made a total of $160,000 in profit in that time (she blogs about her projects at questforthenests.com). Regular old home improvement, especially in a high-priced…

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replacement windows

Seven things I wish I’d known before getting replacement windows

I’ve got a story out in the Boston Globe this weekend about replacement windows, including why and when it can make more sense to restore your old windows than to install new ones. As I wrote in the Globe, I totally bought into the idea of replacement windows back in 2009, when there were some hefty…

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five-plug outlet

What the house is that? The five-plug outlet

Welcome to a new feature on House & Hammer, where we explore some of the quirky features found in old homes — what they are, the history and purpose behind them, and what, if anything, to do if you see them in your house. Quirks like this incredible five-plug outlet, for example. I found this in the…

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remodeled ikea kitchen - how much should your kitchen remodel cost
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How much should my kitchen remodel cost?

For my latest piece in the Boston Globe, I dug into one of the great mysteries of home ownership: How much should you expect to pay for some of the most common home improvement projects, in ballpark terms? How much should a kitchen remodel cost, in general? How about a bathroom remodel? Or a new roof? This…

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starter toolbox

15 must-have tools for DIY homeowners

Making the leap from renting to home ownership means fixing a lot more stuff on your own — and that’s not to be feared. It’s actually awesome in many ways. You might be surprised by how quickly you grow to enjoy the very visible, tangible reward of repairing and building things with your own hands. I used…

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ikea bookcase, before, during and after

I guess this is growing up: Converting an old IKEA bookcase to nursery storage

Note: This post comes to us from guest author and friend Matt Mags.  Like so many of us coming out of college in the late ’90s, when jobs were still somewhat available and I started paying off my loans, I was able to afford a new bedroom set from Ikea. It was a great place to…

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ikea cabinets vs. home depot cabinets
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DIY kitchen cabinets: IKEA vs. Home Depot

A few years ago, we did a budget remodel of our gross, outdated kitchen. You can read about it here in detail, but here’s a before-and-after shot to provide a visual summary: During our planning, I researched the hell out of stock, ready-to-assemble, and custom cabinets. We ultimately decided to go with IKEA cabinets because they’re cheap, pretty easy…

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delivery at boston building resources center

Shopping the Habitat ReStore and Boston Building Resources Center

One of the challenges of owning an old house — and there are many! — is finding stuff that matches your home. It can be tough to find doors that go with the ones in your 1890s Victorian or window molding as wide or as detailed as the trim in your 1920s bungalow. And that’s…

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