At Home / DIY

Spring Lawn Care

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Find out how to optimize your lawn's potential with these tips on fertilizing, going organic, and more.

The sun is shining, the grass is growing, and you're ready to go outside and invest a few weekend hours in making your lawn more beautiful. However, conventional wisdom about spring lawn care may not tell the whole story. In fact, the pervasive notion that spring is the ideal season to begin lawn maintenance may have more to do with your own mood than it does with the growing cycle. What practical steps can you take right now, while you’re feeling inspired, to improve your lawn’s appearance?

Energy-Saving Strategies You Can See

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It’s no fun to spend money on something you can’t see. Therefore, some green homebuilders are giving you a peek inside their homes’ walls via full-scale "deconstructed" models in order to showcase their energy-saving features.

Homebuilders are finding that green homes, which save owners money in addition to helping the environment, are a powerful differentiator in today’s real estate market. However, buyers may be more motivated to invest in goods that they can actually see. Companies such as Central New York builder Miller Homes and Utah’s Garbett Homes are using deconstructed models to show prospective buyers – as well as building industry professionals and members of the general public – actual sustainable products located inside their buildings’ walls. Miller Homes was awarded a grant from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority to implement high-performance building practices, with a focus on tightening the building envelope, and then partnered with Dow Building Solutions and CDH Energy to build an educational, deconstructed duplex. Garbett Homes has built several deconstructed models to reach out to their target market, first-time home buyers. Referring to a Garbett deconstructed model, Rene Oehlerking, director of marketing at Garbett Homes, says, “Nothing is mocked up. We built the home and we stripped the walls, basically taking parts of the home and peeling them back so people can see the actual application. Everything in our deconstruct is a standard feature.”

Upcycled Coat Racks

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Find out, step by step, how to create two very different DIY coat racks using both natural and recycled materials. Watch {Re}habitat, Rachael Ranney’s online video series, to learn how adaptive reuse can add fun and function to your space.

I am constantly looking for ways to create new and inexpensive storage for my small home. Throughout the winter and spring months here in the Midwest, my house is always cluttered with a flurry of coats, gloves, and other cold weather gear. Installing a coat rack near your front door will add storage capacity to your entryway and can help you to clear up some of the chaos.

An Energy-Efficient Home Is Patriotic

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Jeff Wilson shares his views on how the ordinary DIYer can perform acts of patriotism while improving things around the house!

It’s not often that you pick up a hammer, get back to work on that DIY home improvement project, and consider it an act of patriotism, but that’s exactly what we should be doing – each and every one of us.

On the Floor at the International Builders’ Show in Orlando

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The NAHB International Builders' Show is the place to go to check out the latest building products. Jeff Wilson attended the 2012 show in Orlando and here shares his favorite finds.

There's nothing like escaping the Midwest and going to Florida in the middle of winter. That’s what I got to do recently in Orlando at the National Association of Homebuilders’ International Builders’ Show 2012. While I attended as a host and presenter for LP Building Products, I also got a chance to check out the booths and exhibits.

House of the Month: Saratoga Creek House by WA Design

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A single-family home conceived as a series of pavilions harmonizes with its site, while showcasing several art-meets-architecture pieces.

David Stark Wilson, AIA, is one of those rare architects who pursues passions beyond his profession. An avid mountaineer and photographer (his third monograph is soon to be hot-off-the-press), Stark Wilson’s love of nature is evident in his built work, particularly in his designs’ relationships with their sites and his subtle incorporation of texture and color. He founded the design/build firm WA Design in San Francisco’s Bay Area in the mid-1980s. Since then, the firm has completed a range of residential and commercial projects including the Saratoga Creek House, for which it simultaneously served as architect and contractor.

Home Automation

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Will home automation become something that we can’t imagine living without? Jeff Wilson takes us on a tour of a design showroom that highlights some of the time- and energy-saving benefits of automation.

Home automation sounds a little intimidating. Just the mention makes me think of the USS Enterprise on Star Trek – seamless integration of controls for everything from lighting and sound to heating and air-conditioning to security and energy-efficiency. Oh, and don’t forget to set those phasers to stun.

Green Home of the Month: Ross Street House in Madison, Wisconsin

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This month’s featured home in Madison, Wisconsin, is the personal residence of Carol Richard, AIA, LEED AP, and founding partner of Richard Wittschiebe Hand, an award-winning firm in Atlanta, Georgia.

Architect Carol Richard isn’t new to the challenges and rewards of designing and building green homes. In fact, she has spent her entire career helping her clients to marry livable, modern aesthetics with sustainable design. So when she and her husband, mechanical engineer Fred Berg, began to make plans to build their full-time residence upon retirement, the experienced duo was determined to pour all of their collective knowledge and expertise into a sustainable-living dream home.

House of the Month: Kent House by Gray Organschi Architecture

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A second home in Connecticut features an earthy materials palette that is detailed to look clean and contemporary.

Architect Alan Organschi’s experience as a cabinet maker and carpenter colors his firm’s thoughtfully detailed designs, which celebrate materiality. He believes this hands-on approach has set the ethos for his practice, Gray Organschi Architecture, which he founded with partner Lisa Gray in New Haven, Connecticut. The duo has designed a range of institutional, commercial, and residential projects, such as the Kent House. The design of this home exemplifies the unique balance the firm has achieved between functional and bespoke.

Sourcing Materials Locally

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No matter where you live, you are bound to find a unique building material that is made close to home.

Generally speaking, I’m not much of a shopper. Like a lot of guys, I like to dodge into a store, make a quick purchase, and then skedaddle. Things change a little when I head to my local home center or hardware store. More than once I’ve come home from what was supposed to be a short jaunt to pick up some lumber to hear my wife ask, “What took you so long?” OK, maybe I was perusing the new LED lighting or trying out a new multi-tool. I was definitely NOT shopping.