If it's time to replace that dingy 1970s-era mantel, choose one with enough depth to let you display pictures or other decorations. If you buy a ready-made mantel, don't be afraid to paint it or add moldings. To quickly and easily rehabilitate your existing fireplace, a gas or wood-burning insert adds energy efficiency to your home -- without tearing apart your hearth and mantel.
It may not be the most-used door, but the formal entry is likely the focus of your home's curb appeal. A new coat of exterior-grade paint provides an easy facelift, especially with new handles, knobs, and kickplates. Distinguish your entry door from other exterior elements by using a bold accent color. Or replace your existing door with one offering more daylight, security, or energy efficiency. If regionally appropriate, add a screen door to coax spring breezes inside.
Learn how to give your room a flawless refresh with paint. These expert tips show you how.
Dimmer switches quickly give your dining room the atmosphere of a swank restaurant or shed more light on a candlelit dinner. You can use standard incandescent bulbs, but if you prefer fluorescent light, look for special dimmable bulbs.
Inject elegance into your daily life with a faucet that ups the ante in looks and quality. Just make sure the configuration matches your existing sink, or you may end up replacing that, too.
Create a smooth transition between levels with a beautifully detailed staircase. Architectural salvage and reuse centers are hot spots for ideas and materials to replace your staircase railings.
Learn how to wallpaper any room like a pro with this step-by-step video.
Install low-voltage lighting to play up landscaping and architectural elements. Uplights, wall-washers, and footlights give a warm welcome in the evening and highlight your home's texture and dimension.
Experts estimate planting three shade-providing trees around a house can save an average U.S. household $100-$250 a year in cooling and heating costs. So what are you waiting for? Start digging and watch your savings grow!
Rent a floor sander to remove scratches and scuffs from wood floors. You'll make multiple passes by using a finer-grit sandpaper before finally achieving a smooth, like-new surface. Finish by staining or sealing. Depending on the thickness of the top wood layer, some wood-ply floors may be refinished only a limited number of times, so take caution.
A few tiles can add new interest and drama to a kitchen backsplash. Because of the relatively small areas involved, such projects are perfect for do-it-yourselfers new to tiling. To stretch your budget, sprinkle a few high-dollar, high-impact accent tiles among lower-cost field tiles. Show off your handiwork with some low-voltage undercabinet lighting.
Learn how to tile your own backsplash this weekend.
Focus cleaning urges on a specific storage challenge, such as a closet, pantry, or garage. Empty the space, then divide and conquer. Designate areas for storing items by kind or use. If an item hasn't been used for a year or two, get rid of it. Be sure to add shelves, racks, and bins to optimize your newly efficient space.
Match the historical bent of your home's exterior with signature architectural details, and don't neglect to do some homework. It will improve the overall look of your home and enhance its sense of history.
Pulls and knobs are like jewelry for your home. Accessorize your kitchen and bath with a new collection of cabinet hardware. Through home improvement centers, catalogs, online stores, and architectural salvage shops, you can match nearly any budget and look. Bonus: This is a fast fix with instant results.
A simple, twice-a-year rinse with your garden hose should keep vinyl siding looking spiffy. If the siding has been neglected for years, rub it down with a mixture of 3 parts water to 1 part bleach (cover your plants before you apply it). Don't use a power sprayer; the force of the water can bend the pliable material just enough to let water behind it.
Inspect the metal flashing around your chimney and vents for rust, which causes leaks to develop. Replace the flashing as necessary. Also, check your shingles for moss or mildew growth and treat it.
For quick installation, choose a cabinet that can mount directly to the wall above your bathroom sink, rather than cutting away drywall and recessing the cabinet between the studs. With just a stud finder and a drill, you can install the cabinet in less than an hour.
Friday night: Remove all furniture and other items from the deck. Saturday morning: Pressure-wash the deck to remove dirt; use warm, soapy water and a scrub brush to remove mold and mildew. Sunday morning: Stain the deck using a paint roller. The deck should be walkable by nightfall. Bring back your furniture on Monday night.
So you want to replace your bathroom sink. Great! Consider your needs and choose accordingly. This may sound silly, but try standing in front of the model you're considering and acting out your morning routine. Will you have enough room to brush your teeth or put in your contacts? Your choice should balance aesthetics with practicality.
Add a ceiling fan and save money by not running the air conditioner on those marginal days where all you need is air movement.
Update these often-overlooked interior elements with form and function. Switch out a boring door with a finely detailed design. Or simply upgrade with solid-core doors, which dampen noise far more efficiently than the hollow-core doors common in new construction.
If you have a window that faces the prevailing winter winds, replace it with a high-efficiency unit. If the window opening is a nonstandard size, you'll likely have to order a new window.
Shutters are architectural accessories that emphasize windows and add enduring character to your home. Boost exterior curb appeal with shutters that complement your home's style and color scheme. Introduce bold color on smaller elements, such as shutters, trim, and front doors.
If you bought your refrigerator before 1993 or your dishwasher before 1994, when federal energy-efficiency guidelines for each went into effect, consider replacing them with more efficient models.
Replacing your gutters and downspouts is a two-person job, but it's the best way to control where the rain goes after it hits your roof.