Home & Garden
This Old House

This Old House

March/April 2020

This Old House gives you the inspiration, information and instruction you need to take on home improvement projects of all sizes and succeed. In every issue, find fresh design ideas for every room, creative DIY solutions, step-by-step projects, and tips from the pros. For annual or monthly subscriptions (on all platforms except iOS), your subscription will automatically renew and be charged to your provided payment method at the end of the term unless you choose to cancel. You may cancel at any time during your subscription in your account settings. If your provided payment method cannot be charged, we may terminate your subscription.

United States
This Old House Ventures, LLC
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$8.97(Incl. tax)
$28.73(Incl. tax)
12 Issues

In this issue

1 min.
this old house

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Kathryn Keller CREATIVE DIRECTOR Robert Newman | MANAGING EDITOR Gyna Soucy EDITORIAL DEPUTY EDITOR Debra Judge Silber BUILDING TECHNOLOGY EDITOR Thomas Baker DESIGN EDITOR Nicole Esposito-Polly CONTRIBUTING COPY CHIEF Dorothy Irwin CONTRIBUTING RESEARCHERS Jeremy Lange, Mark Powers ART ART DIRECTOR Jamie Dannecker ASSOCIATE ART DIRECTOR Hannah Burkett PHOTO PHOTO DIRECTOR Meg Reinhardt PRODUCTION EDITORIAL PRODUCTION MANAGER Katharine Carew CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Deborah Baldwin, Jill Connors, Michelle Gervais, Katelin Hill, Bruce Irving, Jefferson Kolle, Nina Malkin, Tim Snyder, Ann E. Stratton, Nathaniel Wice ADVERTISING SALES ADVERTISING SALES DIRECTORS NORTHEAST Michelle Imbrogno (917-991-7112) | Michelle O’Connor (917-453-5185) DETROIT Danielle Miller (586-231-5560) MIDWEST Brigette Hackett (312-505-2981) | Chanda Plepel, SALES ASSISTANT SOUTHWEST Brian Quinn (847-302-2094) NORTHWEST Thecla A. Glueck (415-225-7590) SOUTHEAST Steve Cummings (404-803-0204) CANADA Nicholas P. Wattson (416-618-6154) RESOURCES/CLASSIFIED Jennifer Izzo (203-604-1744) OPERATIONS PRODUCTION MANAGER Kerith Amen THIS OLD HOUSE VENTURES, LLC CEO Daniel Suratt CHIEF REVENUE OFFICER Michael Burton | CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER Evan Silverman CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER Patrick Kelly | CHIEF MARKETING AND DATA OFFICER Lee Boykoff VP, MARKETING Claudia Jepsen…

2 min.
a season for fresh starts

After a winter of pondering, planning, dreaming up—or waffling about—your home-improvement wish list, hints of warm weather and the new growth it brings make spring feel like the real start of the new year. Happily, this issue offers plenty of inspiration to move your projects forward in 2020. How about brightening your outlook with a little unexpected color? If the chartreuse mudroom on our cover (and on page 22) is too energetic for you, you can still step out of neutral and add a shade of something familiar—like a soothing blue—on shelving or cubbies. We love the way it can transform the look of window trim and wainscoting (page 12) or even a slightly more daring accent wall (page 10). Paint is one sure way to put your personal stamp on a…

2 min.
the japanese sickle

The backstory The sickle is an ancient, curved cutting tool that has been used to harvest grain (and keep weeds at bay) since the dawn of agriculture. While the Western sickle is big, weighty, with a crescent-shaped blade—and a familiar icon when crossed with a hammer—the ones used to harvest rice in Japan are lighter and have shorter blades. The Japanese noko gama sickle shown here refines that tradition by adding a run of sharp teeth along the edge of its no-rust, 6½-inch stainless-steel blade. Originally exported to the U.S. for harvesting lavender, this sickle slips easily into tight spaces and does its job without harming neighboring plants. Where to use it This sickle has a place in every gardener’s tool caddy. Here’s why: • Trimming plants with one motion is faster and easier…

1 min.
ornamental grass tune-up

Cut them back Now’s the time to clear away debris that could rot the crown, and remove old stalks and leaves to make room for new growth. Cool-season grasses—including feather reed grass, blue oat grass, and blue fescue—bloom in early summer and should be cut back from late February to early April, depending on your local climate. Leave at least one-third of the plant in place; over-trimming can stunt or kill it. Warm-season grasses, which include the big grasses like maiden silvergrass, pampas grass, and fountain grass, bloom in late summer. Trimming these can wait until late April to early June. Cut them to within 6 to 8 inches of the ground, taking care not to nick or remove any green growth in the crown. Divide and transplant If you notice that grasses…

1 min.
a floor that’s hard to beat

There’s nothing like a bulletproof brick entry surface when spring mud is at its gloppiest—and creating one doesn’t require advanced masonry skills if you use one of the thin-brick products on the market, which go down like tile. Just follow these tips for an authentic-looking job. Choose real brick made of shale or clay and kiln-fired for durability, rather than a concrete substitute. Don’t just rely on photos; order a sample. Ensure a stiff substrate by layering quarter-inch cement board over your existing subfloor. Test-drive your design by arranging your bricks in the pattern of your choice before setting them with thinset. Work from several lots simultaneously to balance colors. Running bond is a simple choice for beginners. If you’re going for an antique look, Pine Hall Brick’s Preston Steele…

1 min.
trash your trash wisely

Furniture and fixtures You can rent a dumpster, but donating your old-but-still-useful cabinets, fixtures, and furniture saves money and could get you a tax deduction. If your local Habitat for Humanity ReStore (habitat.org/restores) offers pickup or deconstruction services, it can also save you effort. Fluorescent lightbulbs These contain toxic mercury and should not be tossed in the trash; some states restrict their disposal. You can drop off unbroken CFLs at Home Depot and Lowe’s stores; collection sites for fluorescent tubes can be found in the “Where to Recycle” database on earth911.com. Building materials Scrap lumber, metal, concrete, drywall, and shingles can often be recycled. Use the “Find a Recycler” tool at cdrecycling.org for a site in your state. For asphalt shingles specifically, visit shinglerecycling.org. Most recyclers welcome homeowners, but call first to be sure. Paint Water-based paints…