Casting Call — TLC seeks couples for $25,000 home makeover

Written By: admin - Oct• 25•10

Casting CallAre you a fun couple?

If so, the TLC network is looking for fun, outgoing couples who live together in the Los Angeles area for their new home makeover show “Our House.”

The concept: They give you $25,000 and three weeks to do whatever you want to your home’s interior. You can re-floor, re-furnish, break down walls, install extreme fixtures and make it your dream house! And you have to do it all yourself (with a little help from your friends and the occasional plumber).

They’re looking for married couples, dating couples, new home owners, long-time residents, couples who are strapped for cash and couples who just need a change. Whatever your story — as long as you own your house and want TLC to pay you to re-invent it — they want to hear from you.

To inquire, send an email to with both of your names and ages, a phone number, your house’s location, photos of you both and a brief explanation of why you want to makeover your home.

Good luck!

Photo: 100 Layer Cake

Volunteers remodel bathroom for paralyzed teen — Knoxville News Sentinel

Written By: admin - Oct• 24•10

Bathroom Remodel
By this morning, Demario Cornelius will have enjoyed his first real shower in two years.

A 2008 shooting left Cornelius, 19, paralyzed and in a wheelchair – which has always been too big to fit through the door frame of the single bathroom in the house Cornelius shares with his mother, grandmother and four siblings.

And even if he could have gotten into the bathroom, it was outfitted with a bathtub he certainly couldn’t have used.

So Cornelius has been limited to sponge baths and often was forced to eliminate in his bedroom, which is next to the bathroom. Many times, he relied on his grandmother, Jennie, and mother, Mary, for assistance.

That changed early this week, when a group of volunteers finished renovating the family’s bathroom, putting in a door he can get through in his chair and installing a shower he can roll into.

See the whole story at

Weatherstripping Doors and Windows: Fall Maintenance – DIY Life

Written By: admin - Oct• 19•10

The shortening days of autumn are a hint that winter is just around the corner. They’re also our cue to start considering ways to keep the house warm and toasty – without going broke. What’s eating up your energy bill? Often, the major culprits are as simple as your home’s doors and windows: prime escape routes for heat.

To better understand the financial impact of a drafty house, try this three-part exercise:

1. Take a $20 bill out of your wallet.
2. Walk over to one of those leaky windows or doors.
3. Toss the money out and let the wind carry it away.It sounds funny, but that’s essentially what’s happening when you let indoor air escape through door and window openings. Combat these cracks with weatherstripping: an easy, inexpensive tool for sealing openings, staying warm, and reducing your heating bills.
Weatherize Your Home
There are a few easy ways to determine if your home needs weatherstripping. First, check for gaps around the doors and windows throughout the house. On a windy day, run your hand around the sides to feel if air is coming through. Also, look for light shining through. If you can feel air or see light, weatherstripping is needed.
Weatherstripping comes in many materials, including wood, rubber, metal and foam — all of which are carried by most hardware stores and home centers. Different types of weatherstripping are necessary for different applications. Here are popular forms of weatherstipping that work well on both doors and windows:

Weatherstripping Windows

Different types of weatherstripping work best of different parts of a window. Below is a diagram for a double-hung window, the most common model, in which the upper and lower sashes move on a vertical track.

window, parts of a windowGetty/AOL

Adhesive-backed foam is the easiest weatherstripping to apply, and it’s very inexpensive — a few dollars’ worth covers one window. It works well when adhered to the friction-free parts of a window, such as the bottom of the lower window sash and the top of the upper sash. When sealing double-hung windows, do not install strips of foam weatherstripping in the vertical channels of the window frame. The up and down movement of the window will cause strips to peel off. For window sashes that move horizontally, place the foam strips on the vertical surface where the window closes. The foam will compress when the window shuts and block air infiltration.

Foam weatherstripping with an adhesive backing. (Photo: Kathy Price-Robinson)


Read the whole story at

After two years of eco-living with composting toilets and chickens, what works and what doesn’t

Written By: admin - Oct• 18•10

Green Living from L.A. Times  From the L.A. Times:

It started with gray water, then escalated to chickens, composting toilets and rain barrels. I’m talking about the two years I’ve spent transforming my humble California bungalow into a test case for sustainable living — an experience that’s cost me hundreds of hours of my time and thousands of dollars, an endeavor that has tested the limits of not only my checkbook but also my sanity — and my DIY skills.

When I launched the Realist Idealist column, the idea was to look at environmentally promising home improvement projects through the eyes of a budget-minded consumer. I had seen so much media coverage that heaped praise on newly constructed eco-manses or expensive retrofit products, but the stories didn’t answer my biggest question: For the green-minded person writing the checks, are the improvements worth the time, effort and expense?

Read more to find out the rest of the story . . .

Ryobi recalls 455,000 cordless drills for fire hazard

Written By: admin - Oct• 15•10

Kathy's Remodeling Blog WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, in cooperation with the firm named below, today announced a voluntary recall of the following consumer product. Consumers should stop using recalled products immediately unless otherwise instructed. It is illegal to resell or attempt to resell a recalled consumer product.

Name of Product: Ryobi Model HP 1802M Cordless Power Drills

Units: About 455,000

Importer: Ryobi Technologies Inc., of Anderson, S.C.

Hazard: The switch on the cordless drill can overheat, posing a fire and burn hazard to consumers. 

Kathy's Remodeling Blog
Incidents/Injuries: Ryobi has received 47 reports of the drills overheating, smoking, melting or catching fire, including 12 reports of property damage to homes or vehicles. Two of the incidents involved minor burns from touching an overheated switch.

Description: The Ryobi Model HP 1802M cordless drill is powered by an 18 volt rechargeable NiCad battery. The drills are blue and black in color with “Ryobi” appearing in red and white on the left side. The model number can be found on a white label on the right side of the drill.

Sold at: Home Depot from January 2001 to July 2003 for about $100.

Manufactured in: China

Remedy: Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled drill, remove the rechargeable battery and contact Ryobi to receive a free replacement drill.

Consumer Contact: For additional information, contact Ryobi Customer Service at (800) 597-9624 between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. ET Monday through Friday or visit the firm’s website at

The Remodel: NPR’s Three-Minute Fiction Contest

Written By: admin - Oct• 10•10

For Round Five of its Three-Minute Fiction Contest, NPR asked listeners to send original works of fiction that began with the line, “Some people swore that the house was haunted,” and ended with the line, “Nothing was ever the same again after that.”

An old empty room.
Here is one of the favorite submissions

The Remodel

By Larry Herbst

Some people swore that the house was haunted.  Me,  I’ve seen everything.  Toilets installed in living rooms, balconies you have to climb out the window to reach, even a moat with a drawbridge to the carport — must have cost the idiot 50 grand.  Haunting, now that doesn’t scare me.  I can retrofit anything.

I low-balled and picked up the place for $14,000 under market.  I was glad the dead owner’s story had been played up well in the disclosure documents.  You make your money when you buy, and this one was going to pay for a year of private school, once I gave it a makeover.

Read the rest of the story.

Read more submissions:


(Note: The competition is now closed. The winner will be announced in a few weeks.)

Daily 5 Remodel: Savvy Industry Intel from Leah Thayer

Written By: admin - Oct• 08•10

Leah Thayer - Daily 5 Remodel One of my favorite remodeling journalists of all time, Leah Thayer, has launched a new enterprise called Daily 5 Remodel. If you sign up, you get an email every weekday morning with all the news about the industry.

Each day has a pertinent and perceptive news feed that looks like this:

Morning! It’s the “all’s good” Friday edition of d5R. Long-term mortgage rates hit record lows. More cash, easier business borrowing3.2 million jobs, just waiting for the right person. Benefits rate high for employees’ health and financial security. Commercial property values up 30% over 2009. Rising mortgage apps, rebounding home salesStriking it rich in the national parks. Paints, camera, level! Home improvement/design apps for the iPhone. Economic recovery in the Great Lakes. “Who’s not for saving money?” Growing use of home-energy trackers, savers. New reverse-mortgage program helps cash-strapped seniorsMichigan remodelers in the news. From the blogs: High-performance decking diverts from the waste stream. Grilling a home inspectorWomen improve team problem-solving. Interactive:Ikea catsSlideshowfrom warehouse to wow.

Then, you get your daily five stories. Today’s are:

An Industry Breakthrough

An Industry BreakthroughIt’s official: Remodeling is now the dominant force in residential spending, and it’s only going to get bigger.Read More

Ideas: Run With Them

Ideas: Run With ThemRipped from the Remodelers Advantage Summit, these seven low- or no-cost strategies can help bolster your business on the cheap.Read More

Design-Build: the Video

Design-Build: the Video“Clients seem to love the fact that we’re offering them multimedia options for getting to know us better…”Read More

Pinpointing Your Market

Pinpointing Your MarketHmmm. How to identify every homeowner within three miles of your office who’s likely to remodel in the next year?Read More

More Than Its Footprint

More Than Its Footprint“Wow. This is much bigger than I expected.” Student-designed Lumenhaus packs expansive potential into 570 energy-efficient square feet.Read More

And Leah posts questions so contractors can see what their peers are thinking about vital topics of the day. Other sections include Benchmarks, Best Practices, Snapshots, Answers, Innovations and Blog. It’s essentially an online magazine with a whole lot of substance.

The Vanilla Ice Project: A revealing Q&A with the rapper-turned-remodeler

Written By: admin - Oct• 07•10

In 1990, he created a sensation with his hip-hop single, Ice Ice Baby. Two decades, several public controversies, and many life lessons later, Rob Van Winkle emerges from the shadow of his alter-ego, Vanilla Ice, to debut a mellow, more mature attitude and a new show, The Vanilla Ice Project, on the DIY Network

We spoke exclusively with the rapper-turned-remodeler about his life in and out of the public eye, and how he found solace as a professional DIYer.

The Vanilla Ice Project, DIY NetworkThe Vanilla Ice Project premeires October 14th on the DIY Network. In it, Rob Van Winkle renovates this 7,000-square-foot mansion in Florida. Photo: DIY Network

When you hear the name Vanilla Ice, you probably think of the young, cocky rapper who exploded onto the music scene with his 1990 hit, Ice Ice Baby – the first hip-hop single ever to top the Billboard charts. You probably would not imagine the serene, grounded, knowledgeable gentleman I spoke with by phone recently following an appearance of his in London.

During his early adulthood and beyond, Vanilla Ice — born Rob Van Winkle in 1967 — drew both fame and disdain for his outsized personality, over-the-top outfits and hairstyles, and — a bit later — his onscreen rants while destroying sets on MTV and VH1's The Surreal Life. While most of these antics happened years ago, they live on in YouTube clips and the collective public memory.

In the past decade, though, out of the camera's eye, Rob got married, had two children, rediscovered his childhood love of making things, and grew into an accomplished builder, renovator and savvy house-flipper. "A lot of the things I do in these homes are personally gratifying," Rob told me. "You can cross your arms at the end and say 'Wow. I did that,' and you can take pride in it."

Most recently, Rob landed his own half-hour series, The Vanilla Ice Project, which premieres October 14th on the DIY Network. In it, he chronicles his experiences flipping a 7,000-square-foot mansion in Palm Beach, Florida.

We had a few questions for the star of the show:

The Vanilla Ice Project, DIY NetworkRapper-turned-remodeler Rob Van Winkle installs hardwood flooring in his new TV show, the Vanilla Ice Project. Photo: DIY Network

DIY Life: How did you get into flipping (buying, fixing up and selling) homes?

Rob: I learned to invest in real estate by accident. When I was in my early 20s, I earned a ton of money; about $20 million. I'm not a rocket scientist. I don't know anything about the stock market. So I thought, "Ok, I'm going to buy a home in L.A. because I work a lot in L.A." I bought a home in New York City too — on Bleecker Street in [Greenwich] Village — because I'm there 3 or 4 months out of the year. And I bought myself a ski resort house in Snowbird, Utah.

For three years I was on tour around the world. Finally I went back home and looked [around my] houses. No one had been there, and there were cobwebs in the corners. I stood there going, "Gee, I spent all this money on these houses and haven't used any of them. [I'll just] sell 'em all and if I need [someplace to live] I'll rent something." When I sold the homes, I made money on every single one of them — hundreds of thousands of dollars. I thought, "You've got to be kidding me. It can't be this easy." Of course, that's when real estate was really good (in the 1990s).

Finally I bought a home on Star Island in Miami Beach, and I lived there for 11 years. I was a bachelor and had like 14 bedrooms. So I had [the house] decorated. I had a purple room. I had a red TV room. It was like a big nightclub. I'm talking bachelor pad to the -nth degree. I loved it for a year or so and then I'm like, "It's just not feeling like home. I want to get out of there. I want to take vacations." I didn't even want to stay in my own house. And I always had to have friends over. I'd say to them, "Can you come spend the night with me? I'm lonely. I'll pay for your plane flight."

Read the whole story

Build Like a Pro: Should I flash an exterior door under a covered porch?

Written By: admin - Oct• 07•10

flashing a door
If you want to remodel like a pro, I suggest you do what the pros do. For inspiration, many professional contractors hang out at the online forums of

This is the website of the highly respected Journal of Light Construction.

To participate in the forums, you have to be a professional contractor. However, DIYers and homeowners are welcome to read and learn.

Here’s a question that was posed recently under the Exterior Details forum:

What is the standard in terms of flashing an exterior door when it’s completely under a covered porch. Early 1900′s home. Door is set in about 3′ from the closest side so potentially some seriously sideways rain, maybe? But could I get by with just good caulk behind trim and under sill, spray foam gap from inside and call it good?

Now, notice that the two suggestions offered by other contractors look into the future of the house, not just what will work in the moment.

Answer #1:

Treat it like a regular door. The house may be powerwashed one day.

Answer #2:

Agreed. Don’t skip any protection under the assumption the door won’t see weather. That porch could be a thing of the past one day, but the door might remain.

In my opinion, looking into the future and building right for all those eventualities is the key to building like a pro. Some of this carefulness is driven by the desire to reduce future liability when things fail on a house. But it’s also the basic desire, which we all should have, to build something that will last.

Lisa LaPorta’s new website

Written By: admin - Oct• 06•10

Lisa LaPorta HGTV Designed to SellThe first thing I do when an episode of Designed to Sell comes on HGTV is check to see if Lisa LaPorta is the designer host. No offense to other worthy designers on the show, but Lisa is my favorite. She’s real. She’s talented. She’s calm. She’s classy. I just prefer to spend by Designed to Sell time with her.

Now, spending quality time with Lisa has gotten easier because of her newly launched website:

The site has these sections: Remodel. Decorate. Style. Get Organized. DIY. Forum.

As you might have expected, the site is as classy as Lisa is.

UPDATE: Aug. 21, 2012:

Lisa’s site is no longer in existence, but here she is selling Dutch Boy paints.

Looking for a new career? A lot of old wood windows need restoring

Written By: admin - Oct• 01•10

Pam-with-sashI’ve been self-employed my whole career and I could not be happier. No matter what the economy is doing, a scrappy freelancer can find work.

If I was casting about for a new career, I might consider becoming a restorer of old wood windows, like this woman featured in an Old House Journal article.

Pam Rodriguez learned restoration techniques in the northeast and then put them to use when she moved back to Texas. Her joy is taking an old wood window apart, piece by piece, and putting it back together even better. She figures that if a window has lasted 80 years already, it will last another 80 to 100 years when maintained correctly.

And here’s another thought: With climate change, as you’ve no doubt noticed, we’re seeing flooding on a level we never thought possible. When those flood waters recede, old windows often need help. Think of it as job security.

Of course, you must be aware of the dangers of lead in old wood windows. With proper practices, you will be protected from those dangers.

NEW Train2Rebuild DVD
On-the-Job Training: RRP Lead-Safe Practices

Read more about Pam’s new career and ask yourself: Do I like preserving old things? Am I good with my hands? Do I like being an entrepreneur and in charge of my own time and my own future?

If so, you might have a new career to think about.

Protect your family from lead-dust poisoning during remodeling

Written By: admin - Sep• 29•10

EPA RRPIf you live in a house older than 1978, there’s a chance it contains paint with lead in it. Now don’t freak out. Even though lead when ingested or inhaled can cause brain damage, the paint itself is not dangerous unless it’s chipping off or is turned into dust by sanding and cutting.

In a home remodel, old paint that contains lead could well get turned into dust and will potentially harm your family and pets. Do not let this happen.

If professionals are working on your home, and disturbing more than 6 square feet of surface, they are required by EPA to get certified in how to handle lead paint. The newly enacted rule is referred to as RRP and a firm operating under the law will be referred to as a Certified Firm or Certified Renovator (logo above).

If you’re doing your own work, you don’t need to get certified. That means you must take your own precautions when working on your house. If you poison your family with lead-tainted dust, you have only yourself to blame.

To check for lead, go to Home Depot or Lowes and buy some LeadCheck swabs. They cost $25 for 8 of them. To find out how to deal with and control lead dust, do a Google search and you’ll turn up all kinds of resources.

Or, if you want to see how the pros do it, you can purchase a new DVD training program that teaches on-the-job workers how to protect themselves, the homeowners and their own families from lead poisoning during renovations.

To purchase this training video, go to Train2Rebuild.

To see a movie trailer of the DVD, watch the 2-minute clip below:

‘The Vanilla Ice Project’ coming Oct. 14 to DIY Network

Written By: admin - Sep• 18•10

Vanilla Ice aka Rob Van Winkle, famous for Ice Ice BabyYou remember Vanilla Ice? The white rapper famous for the 1990s hit “Ice Ice Baby”?

Well, who knew the rest of the story? Vanilla Ice, whose real name is Rob Van Winkle, has become a very savvy home builder and investor during the past decade in South Florida, where he lives with his wife and two kids. Even in a weak market, Rob has done well, buying distressed foreclosures and short sales, fixing them up, and selling them for great profit. Read the story in the New York Times.

The Vanilla Ice Project follows Rob and his crew as they fix up a gutted 7,000-square-foot mansion in Palm Beach. I’ve seen two episodes (ah, the reporter’s life) and it’s a really terrific show. It’s like Monster Garage meets Miami Ink (for the tattoos) meets Extreme Home Makeover.

Rob is a hands-on guy and really knows his subject. Plus, he’s beyond charming. Tune in Oct. 14 and let me know your thoughts.

By the way, Rob is enjoying even more renewed success as two teen brothers in the U.K. — John and Edward, known as Jedward — have become wildly famous for their mashup of Vanilla Ice’s “Ice Ice Baby” and Queen’s “Under Pressure,” where Rob got the original beat for his song.

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

Written By: admin - Sep• 16•10

American Clay makeover winners announced

Written By: admin - Sep• 15•10

Michelle Kolb of Nantucket, Mass., won Grand Prize in the DIY category of American Clay’s Second Annual Makeover Contest. See her room before and after below:


American Clay


American Clay

The judges for the competition included Mary Cordaro, president of Mary Cordaro Inc. a certified Bau-Biologist; Eric Corey Freed, LEED AP, Hon. FIGP, author, green building expert and principal of organicARCHITECT; Kelly LaPlante, eco-interior designer and founder of Standard Magazine; and Danny Lipford, home improvement expert and host and executive producer of the Emmy-nominated television showToday’s Homeowner with Danny Lipford. American Clay CEO Croft Elsaesser also participated as a judge.

According to American Clay, DIY winner Michele Kolb “renovated a historic 1747 Nantucket house, the first LEED (gold or silver, TBD) certified historic house renovation on Nantucket. She installed American Clay walls in Porcelina’s Sugarloaf White with a lime wash to resemble what the original 1747 walls may have looked like and to achieve LEED points for healthy air and recycled products. It was used in the living room, bath, stairway, and master and children’s bedrooms. Judge Kelly LaPlante selected a few shots of this house to publish in her debut issue of her new online publication, Standard Magazine.”

According to Eric Corey Freed: “The winners showcased what I love about American Clay in the first place – a gorgeous, healthy finish that brings a room to life.”


For the professional category, the winner was Selena Holt from Hayden, Idaho.

Read the whole story

British kitchens vs. American kitchens

Written By: admin - Sep• 14•10

Somehow I got onto the mailing list of a British kitchen shop called Magnet. As I live in the United States, there’s very little chance I’ll be hiring these folks to design and build my new kitchen.

But they sent me a link to a daytime talk show This Morning where one of their kitchens is featured and it got me thinking: why is there such a vast difference in styles between U.S. and British kitchens? See the British kitchen here:

British KitchenSo I’m trying to figure out what makes this kitchen look so unusual to me. It’s obviously a high-quality kitchen with the sleek rounded island, curved window and sparkly hanging lamps. But it looks disjointed somehow. And is that a cooktop on the island, and another stove in the nook? And do I see 3 or more ovens? I do like the refrigerator with the glass door, though.

I notice the same thing when I watch House Hunters International and see kitchens in other countries. Most of them seem likewise odd.

If you’re an international kitchen observer, what do you think is the biggest difference between British and U.S. kitchens? I’d really like to know.

Celebrity boot raffle at home show to benefit BP oil disaster victims

Written By: admin - Sep• 10•10

This is brilliant benevolence. The Home Builders Association of Greater New Orleans has teamed up with Catholic Charities to raffle off boots decorated by celebrities, chefs, sports figures, politicians and others to benefit victims of the BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

The raffle happens Sept. 17 to 19 at the inaugural launch of the New Orleans Home + Design Show at the Morial Convention Center. Buy raffle tickets here.

Check out some of the boots you could win:

From Terrance Osborne, one of my favorite artists:

New Orleans Artist Terrance Osborne

From Chef John Besh:

New Orleans Chef John Besh

From New Orleans Saints Coach Sean Payton:

Saints Coach Sean Payton

And from Hoda Kotb from NBC’s “Today” Show:

Today Show Hoda Kotb

See the whole list here.

Angelina and Brad’s $40 million fixer upper

Written By: admin - Sep• 09•10

brad pitt angelina jolie italian mansion villa Think you’ve got massive remodeling challenges? Consider the issues that must be inside the $40 million Italian villa that Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt just bought. After all, it’s from the 1700s and is 18,000 square feet.

I suspect the local building community is beyond thrilled at this upcoming boost to the economy.

See the whole story on Shelter Pop.

Want to be fashion forward? Go back to the 1950s

Written By: admin - Sep• 09•10

Anna WintourIt’s been said that home fashions follow the fashion world. It’s also been said that this year’s fashion statements are right from the ’50s

And look at this photo of Vogue editor Anna Wintour and actress Blake Lively at Fashion Week in New York City. See a little ’50s vibe in the mix?

If you want to be fashion forward in your own home decorating, consider some of these iconic ’50s looks:

Kathy's Remodeling Blog
Yes, the 1950s were wacky and colorful. Who knew? Think “I Love Lucy” and “The Jackie Gleason Show.” It was a brief respite between World War II and the Vietnam War. We had the Korean War, of course, but that seemed manageable compared to what was to come. So why are the ’50s back in fashion? Perhaps we yearn for those innocent days. A little touch of this in your home may well bring about some subtle inner peace. (Photo: Apartment Therapy)

(Wintour photo: USA Today)

Did you hear the one about the rhino ‘doing his business’ on the Mohawk carpeting?

Written By: admin - Sep• 09•10

Ricko the RhinoSomehow I missed this whole spectacle last year when Mohawk lined Ricko the rhino’s pen at the Birmingham Zoo with SmartStrand carpet and let him do his thing for a few weeks. Chip Wade, the hunky carpenter from HGTV’s Designed to Sell and Curb Appeal, hosted the event.

Apparently there was a 24-hour webcam directed toward the action. The idea was to see how the carpet stood up to this animal.

A couple of observations:

I have SmartStrand carpeting in my home’s bedrooms and I love it. It’s made from corn (about 35%) and doesn’t seem to have a lot of toxins in it. At least when it got installed about a year ago, I didn’t have to hold my breath to avoid that new-carpet smell. And of course, a new-carpet smell is really toxins outgassing into your lungs. So, yes, I love the carpeting.

But this rhino test just didn’t smell right. I’m not a fan of seeing a massive wild animal pacing in a small concrete pen. Zoos do their part to let us see what is in the wild that we need to save from environmental extinction. But oh it’s painful for me to see those animals in tight quarters.

And I’m not sure how the carpeting held up. The video here shows the carpeting being steam cleaned, but we really don’t get a close-up view of the damage or lack of damage.

In conclusion, the carpeting is awesome. This challenge? Not so much.