Archive for the 'Outdoors' Category

Look to neighbors for ideas on vintage architectural details

The nice thing about remodeling an older home in a neighborhood of such homes is that you need simply walk around the area with your eyes open to find ideas for exterior architectural details. That’s what Aaron Raymond did when he remodeled his 1942 French Normandy home in the Windsor Hills area of Los Angeles. [...]

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Remodeling in History: 1948 — President Truman slammed for building a balcony off the White House

In 1948, President Harry Truman wanted to add a balcony on the side of the White House and his detractors were up in arms. “Women especially seem to resent the fact that Mr. Truman is altering the White House a few months before the people are choosing a president,” David Lawrence reported in the Spokane [...]

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Add a front porch; save the world

Have you ever driven or walked past a house that was so alluring, so charming, so warmly inviting that you felt an urge to go in and sit a spell? I bet that house had a front porch. I’m convinced that our future as a species would be more hopeful if we all had front [...]

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Chip Wade from HGTV’s ‘Curb Appeal: The Block’ answers some of our questions

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New Product Review: KILZ Clean Start Primer

One day, when I wasn’t looking, my once-charming front porch went from shabby chic to just plain disgusting. I waited for the crew from HGTV’s Curb Appeal to show up. When they didn’t come, I decided to take on the job. Here’s the porch I started with: As you can see, I had many challenges: [...]

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New: A non-toxic primer from Kilz

 Q: What’s even better than blocking stains with KILZ primer-sealer? A: Doing so without poisoning yourself. I’ve been a fan of KILZ stain-blocking primer for years. It’s one of those rare products that lives up to its hype. And now it come in a formulation with no volatile organic compounds, or VOCs. That word “organic” [...]

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Aerial hedge trimming

Here’s a photo from the quirky former website Burbia.com. This fellow found a unique solution to that pesky hedge-trimming job. This beats the heck out of standing on a tall ladder and leaning over with a hedge trimmer in your hands. Hey, if this is safe and you’ve got the right equipment, why not?

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$60,000 pool adds only $5,000 to home’s appraisal

From Baton Rouge Real Estate Appraisals: I ran across a situation in the Greater Baton Rouge Housing Market where a homeowner, located in a subdivision where the average home is worth $150,000, installed a $60,000 Gunite Inground Pool recently. Now, their home is on the market and they are about to be taken through the [...]

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End-of-the-Month Giveaway: Backyards: A Sunset Design Guide

UPDATE: We have a winner! Congratulations to Jose, whose name was chosen at random from all who entered. Check back at the end of August for another chance to win. This month's giveaway is an excellent book titled Backyards: A Sunset Design Guide, which I reviewed here. To enter, you must do two things: 1. [...]

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Oops! LP recalls 48 million linear feet of potentially rotted decking

This is a big recall, folks. LP, Louisiana-Pacific, is putting out notice that its decking under the brand names WeatherBest®, ABTCo. and Veranda may rot and you may get hurt falling through the decking.  Already there have been 37 reports of composite decks breaking, resulting in 14 injuries, including a broken wrist, sprained ankle, minor lacerations and [...]

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It’s official: barter works

So what do you do when your prized market umbrella goes flying off in the wind and breaks two spokes? And what do you do when your avocado trees are putting out so much fruit you fear the boughs will break? In my case, with this very scenario, I put a free ad on Craigslist [...]

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Ask an Expert: Repair or replace damaged deck?

Question: My house was built 20 years ago with a second-story redwood deck that is about 250 square feet. The deck has been stained, power-washed and decently maintained. But some of the deck joists and all four uprights have been diagnosed with dry rot/fungus and dry-wood termites. Should I replace the damaged joists and uprights [...]

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The ipe conundrum — green or not green?

For several years, ipe (pronounced EE-pay) decking from Brazilian hardwood trees has been the darling of green builders. This beautiful wood looks like mahogany, and it does not require a finish (and typical finishes are often petroleum-based), as do softer woods. Also, ipe is durable, with a lifespan of  25 years outdoors, compared to 10 to [...]

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Oops! They did it again! Home-related recalls for March (so far)

Holiday Lights Recalled by Universal Distribution Center Due to Shock and Fire Hazard The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, in cooperation with Universal Distribution Center LLC, of Edison, N.J., is voluntarily recalling about 52,000 Holiday Ultra-Brite Lights. The lights have undersized wires that can easily pull out of the plugs and light sockets becoming exposed. [...]

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The Tightwad Remodel — Patio furniture on the cheap

It's time to get thrifty, people. This patio furniture was bought by Felix Neals and Arleen Flores-Neals, a young couple I met in L.A. Arleen found these pieces at a big-box store and she noticed they were faded and scratched from hanging around the store too long. So she haggled with the manager and got [...]

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Famous folks at home: quiz

Isn’t this a lovely garden room? The owner calls it a teahouse and may not visit for months on end because of a busy schedule. The garden was designed by Dan Bifano, who has also designed gardens for such high-profile clients as Barbra Streisand. The garden is filled with roses, wisteria, hydrangeas and plants like [...]

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I’m not just enjoying my patio, I’m preventing disease

Do you ever feel you spend too much time outside enjoying yourself? I do. While the dishes and laundry and dust are building up inside, I can usually be found outside watching the birds, fiddling with a fountain, pulling weeds, keeping track of my polliwogs and frogs, contemplating the garden, pondering my fall plantings. And [...]

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Would this make your cat purr?

I’m not a cat person so I can’t judge this home-improvement innovation. Would your own kitty like a “cat run” like this for sunbathing, bird watching, tree climbing? And all without the danger of getting eaten by coyotes and other howlers? I mean, why should dogs have all the fun in their runs? What would [...]

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Ask the Resident Builder: Can my neighbor prevent me from building a playhouse?

Question: I was recently building a children's playhouse and began to put the walls up. As I did, the neighbor who lives behind me came over and said that we were blocking her view. The view she has is of the back of our house. The playhouse would be approximately 8 to 9 inches above [...]

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SoCal Garden Forum: What’s wrong with this elm tree?

Dear SoCal Gardeners: My mother-in-law gave me this Chinese elm tree (click photo to enlarge) and I planted it about five years ago. It’s never done that well. It grows fast but the leaves get blackened and the branches break off. The latest break took off about a third of the tree, and it looks [...]

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