Upgrade a Basic Bookcase

Put a personal spin on an off-the-shelf bookcase with these easy DIY makeover ideas.

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Stairway Railing Ideas

Stairway railings serve more than a functional purpose -- they give stairs a visual presence and make a staircase a work of art. Find ideas for the perfect railing for your stairway.

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Beach Chic Porch Renovation

A family put a new roof over their heads by turning their back deck into a coastal-inspired covered porch. Learn how they made the big change from their existing porch to their new, cozy family hangout area.

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Give a Plain Mirror a Makeover

Take a plain mirror to the next level with these easy DIY embellishments.

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DIY Outdoor and Garden Projects

Sprucing up your outdoor space doesn't need to be a massive undertaking. Use these inspirational small projects -- including painting rocks to hanging new house numbers -- to instantly improve the look of a garden, patio, deck, or backyard.

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Add Storage Around Stairs

Step up your home's storage capacity by making the most of underused areas below and beside your stairs. Here's a look at 18 homes that beautifully optimized stairwell and staircase spaces.

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Popular in Home Improvement

How to Read a Blueprint

Blueprint symbols are the universal language of builders and contractors. Once you've learned the language, you, too, will be in the know.

The codes shown here are in general use in the building industry but may vary slightly from architect to architect. Consult with your contractor if you don't understand a symbol on your blueprints.

Additional notes:

  • In the kitchen, appliance and door swings are noted on blueprints, which will help you visualize the flow of the space and anticipate any potentially awkward problems.
  • A circled number with a triangle means there is additional information elsewhere in the set of plans, or it indicates a revision.

1. Casement window hinged left [A] and right [B]; elevation view

2. Awning window [A] and hopper window [B]; elevation view

3. Casement window; plan view

4. Awning window [A] and hopper window [B]; plan view

5. Double-hung or fixed window

6. Vent or louver

7. Horizontal sliding window

8. Sliding doors

9. Bifold doors

10. Pocket door

11. Accordion-fold door

12. Recessed light, wall sconce

13. Arched opening

14. Exterior door

15. Interior door

16. Swinging door

18. Double electrical outlet

19. Three-wire range outlet

20. Special-purpose outlet

21. Brass floor receptacle

22. Single-pole (on/off) switch

23. Dimmer

24. Three-way switch

25. Phone jack

26. Heat-supply duct

27. Return-air duct

28. Wiring in wall or above-grade plumbing waste pipe

29. Wiring concealed under floor or below-grade waste pipe

30. Hot-water pipe

31. Cold-water pipe

32. Compacted earth fill

33. Gravel fill

34. Poured-in-place cement

35. Lightweight concrete

17. French doors

37. Brick

38. Finish wood

39. Framing lumber

40. Rigid-board insulation

41. Batt or loose insulation

42. Steel-stud framing

43. Wood-stud framing

44. Glass block

45. Glass

46. Plywood (on small scales)

47. Plywood (on large scales)

48. Blocking

49. Swinging door with two fixed sections

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