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This Old House

This Old House January/February 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.

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United States
This Old House Ventures, LLC
43,21 kr(Inkl. moms)
138,44 kr(Inkl. moms)
4 Nummer

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2 min
gathering space or a cozy place?

For some time now, I’ve been staring at the cased opening that separates living room from dining room in my house. I’m pretty sure that we could carve out a few extra feet side to side before we’d have to deal with load-bearing structure (cue stricken look on project-weary husband’s face). Even a bit of extra floor space would make moving around easier and bring more light into the rooms. But with a galley kitchen to one side and a narrow sunroom on the other, that’s as open and airy as our first floor is ever going to get. Still, I have to wonder if having more open space would improve life at home. With the holiday crush now behind us, I want to say, “Yes!” Our 1925 house’s small footprint…

12 min

FUEL UP FOR WINTER A better wood splitter This axe’s off-kilter head speeds the task of breaking down logs into firewood—and makes it safer. TOH building technology editor Thomas Baker gets into the fine points. The backstory Since the Bronze Age, people have been splitting logs with wedge-shaped axe-heads attached to long handles. And for thousands of years, the tools worked pretty well, despite their tendency to get stuck, or skip off and slice into the ground, or, heaven forbid, a foot. In 1995, Finnish woodsman Heikki Kärnä set out to create a safer, more effective tool. After 20 prototypes, he perfected a design that uses levering action to separate wood fibers—hence its name, Leveraxe. How it works As Leveraxe’s tapered blade strikes, it sinks about ¼ inch into the wood, and the head rotates sharply…

3 min
colorful and comfortable

IF CULINARY SUCCESS is 10 percent inspiration and 90 percent preparation, a kitchen short on workstations simply can’t cut it. That’s one reason interior designer Cillesa Ullman was eager to renovate the cook space in the open-plan 1964 post-and-beam home she shares with her husband, Eric, in Oakland, CA. “There weren’t enough countertop areas, but there were lots of underutilized spaces,” Cillesa says. The island cooktop across from the sink also made two-person meal prep a problem, and the huge vent hood over the island was more eyesore than focal point. Early on, to give the kitchen a cosmetic update, the couple painted the cabinets “lipstick red” to tie in with a favorite chair in the adjacent living area, and swapped the tile counters for black granite. When the Ullmans were…

2 min
universally appealing

BE HERE NOW—and plan for later as well. Kim Kelly, who has complementary careers in both interior design and real estate in St. Simons Island, GA, had no trouble keeping that mantra in mind when reimagining the master bath of her 1982 ranch house. “Resale value is an important consideration when renovating,” she says. “I live in a community popular with retirees, so while I wanted the clean lines of a curbless shower, I also felt I needed it for resale. And I went with warm neutrals and traditional yet interesting textures to appeal to a wide audience.” To personalize the space, Kim chose a weathered wood table topped with concrete as a sink console, a wall-mounted coatrack for towel storage, and industrial-style lighting. “The updated bath is clean, calm, and a…

15 min
ask this old house

My fireplace has some cracked bricks. Can I cut them out and replace them without causing further damage? —BYRON BARBOUR, MISSION VIEJO, CA TOH MASON MARK MCCULLOUGH: Sure you can. As long as you have the right masonry tools, and materials that match the existing fireplace, in most cases the technique of removing and replacing bricks is fairly straightforward. The hardest part of this kind of project is finding replacement bricks. Take pictures and measurements, then visit masonry supply stores, both local and online, to identify bricks of the same size, color, and texture. With luck, you’ll turn up just the ones you need. For tools, you’ll need an angle grinder with a diamond blade to cut the mortar; brick chisels and a 3-pound hand sledge to chip out the broken bricks and the…

1 min
norm’s tricks of the trade

We are getting new spindles for our staircase. They come primed. What is the best, easiest way to apply the finish coat?—RON KOSTKA, CHESTERBROOK, PA TOH MASTER CARPENTER NORM ABRAM: When I had to paint 47 new balusters for the stairway at my house, I built this simple rack out of 2×4s, drove some 4d finishing nails into the crossbar, and leaned the whole assembly against the wall. Then I drove a drywall screw into the top end of each baluster, tied a length of string to the screw, and hung the pieces from the crossbar nails. Painting them was a snap. I held the baluster tenon in one hand and brushed on the paint with the other. The setup allowed me to spin the baluster as I brushed, so I could…