Finders, fixers.

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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electric lawn mower vs. gas mower
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Electric lawn mower vs. gas mower: Don’t fear the cord

When we first bought our house, we had no idea what we were doing. We were overwhelmed — not just by the house, but by the yard as well. While I’d grown up mowing the lawn every weekend at my parents’ house, it had been decades since I’d had a yard to deal with. And this one…

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before and during bathroom remodel

Bathroom remodel: Part 1

One of the things we really liked about our house when we first saw it was the dated but relatively big (for Boston, anyway) bathroom. It was never nice, and certainly not modern or trendy. In fact, it was kind of dingy in spots. But cheerfully so, if that makes any sense. The pink-and-white checkered…

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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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the best ways to save energy include installing LED bulbs

4 resolutions to save energy this year

This post is sponsored by Choose Energy, an online marketplace where you can compare rates from electricity and natural gas suppliers. I’m a bundle of good intentions. I’ve got so many New Year’s resolutions I can barely keep them straight. My phone alarm now goes off nightly at 8:45pm, reminding me to either exercise or practice Spanish for at…

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leaky pipes; photo by 13 of clubs via flickr

Plumbing is sexy

A friend of mine recently bought her first home, and it’s an old one. Real old. Like 200-year-old farmhouse old. Now, as much as there is to love about an old house like that, you know you’re probably going to discover some unpleasant surprises — especially if you’re the first ones to update it in…

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mass save rebates for energy savings - wood pellets - photo by andrew writer https://www.flickr.com/photos/dragontomato/

10 ways Massachusetts can save you money this winter

Here’s a little secret about government programs: There are TONS of them — especially in a progressive state like Massachusetts — and unless you’re some kind of mega-wealthy plutocrat (in which case you’re probably reading the Wall Street Journal and not my humble blog), a number of them can likely help you out in some way. They…

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rooftop solar panels - photo by edmund tse
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3 green improvements that will add to your home’s value

I wish more people (myself included) would do good for good’s sake — and sometimes they do. But by and large, people’s decisions are driven by money and self interest. This is painfully true when it comes to the environment. Forget, for a moment, that an unfathomable half of Americans don’t even accept the scientific consensus around climate change…

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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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new home checklist: couple moving into new house

New home checklist: 12 things homeowners should do right away

The weeks leading up to a home purchase are super stressful. Between the home inspection and finalizing your financing, you also have to start packing up your entire life and maybe arranging for movers — or even selling your old house under a tight timeline. Then there’s the actual closing, when you sign your life…

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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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