The Bungalow: America’s Home

Bungalow

Ever since it burst on the scene the bungalow has been an immensely popular style of architecture. You won’t find it listed in many books on architecture though because it is not a true architectural style like the Colonial Revival, Queen Anne Victorian, or its most closely related cousin the American Craftsman. The bungalow is a simple everyman’s house. Nothing too grand or big. No ornate gingerbread trim with extravagant 10-color paint schemes. Of all the historic home styles [...] Read on →

Demolition is a Choice, Not a Solution

Old Home Demolition

Recently, I was at a historic homes event here in Winter Park where the keynote speaker was Nicole Curtis of  HGTV/DIY Network’s Rehab Addict. In case you haven’t seen her show, she is an energetic little thing that goes around saving old houses by restoring them with her own two hands. She’s a one-woman preservation society in the Minneapolis area and its incredible! During the speech she said something that has really stayed with me. “Demolition is a choice, [...] Read on →

My 8 Absolutely Essential Tools

8 essential tools

For this week I had a completely different post in mind and my wife completely changed my mind with the most wonderful surprise. You see, yesterday was my birthday! And aside from getting to spend the day with my amazing family AND getting my choice of any meal under the sun (I chose Ahi Poke) my wife surprised me with a new tool belt. This isn’t just any old tool belt. It is an Occidental Leather 5191 Carpenter’s [...] Read on →

5 Types of Dormers

Dormer

Dormers are like the eyes of a house. Resting on roof tops they add headroom and light to upper stories and add interest to an otherwise plain roofline. I remember spending the first spring in our little bungalow sitting on the roof restoring the two eyebrow dormers that were almost rotted away. It was exhausting work being on that steep slope day after day, but when it was finished the pay off was incredible. Our house no longer [...] Read on →

How To: Build Historic Lattice

Historic Lattice

Lattice was a very common thing on old houses. Not just for flowering backyard trellises, but to protect foundations from critters, varmints and the neighbor’s nosing cat. Just because lattice performs a valuable function keeping your crawl space free of pests doesn’t mean it can’t be a beautiful part of your home’s curb appeal. Don’t settle for the dirt cheap home store version of lattice. This stuff is so thin and poorly assembled that it rarely lasts more [...] Read on →

4 Cures For a Drafty Old House

Great stuff

Old houses can be drafty. It’s a fact. But just because they are drafty doesn’t mean they have to stay that way. The good news is it doesn’t require a huge sum of money spent on big projects like windows replacement to stop the drafts. There are several very affordable and easy things you can do yourself to stop the drafts and save lots of money on your heating bill. 1. Weatherstrip Doors & Windows These are by [...] Read on →

Choosing Rot Resistant Wood

rot resistant wood

Old houses are constantly having to deal with wood rot and insect damage. While the old-growth wood used in houses built before the turn of the 20th Century are a more rot resistant wood than anything available today, no wood is rot or insect proof.  Insects and fungi (aka rot) love soft wood. Preferably soft, wet wood, which is why you’ll find termite damage in water logged areas of an old house. The soft pine, fir and other [...] Read on →

7 Great Gift Ideas For Your Handyman

gift-ideas-for-your-handyman

Christmas is right around the corner and just like you I’m scrambling to finish my  shopping list. So, I wanted to put together a list for my awesome readers of my top ten Christmas gifts for the DIYer in your life. Anything on this list is sure to get a smile and make them disappear into the garage to tinker with their new toy. There’s something on here for every budget so don’t fret. I’ve got you covered! [...] Read on →

25 Old House Terms Defined

Balusters in a balustrade

Old houses have a lot of terms that you may not be familiar with. So, having a working definition of those terms will help save you confusion and overuse of phrases like Whatchamacallit or Thingamajig. Save yourself the hassle with this handy guide to 25 old house terms you need to know. Baluster (Balustrade) – Balusters are sometimes referred to as spindles. They are the vertical members (often decorative) that make up railing on porches and stairways. A [...] Read on →

Quality or Quantity (Which Does Your Home Have?)

Image credit: greggr / 123RF Stock Photo

I grew up in Texas so I like everything big. Big sky, big acreage, big pickup trucks and big steaks. There’s something about a 36 oz steak called the “widow maker” that appeals to me. Maybe it’s the challenge. Maybe it’s just the idea of seeing a steak that size. Whatever it is I’m intrigued. Just because I appreciate the Texas mentality of ‘bigger is better’  doesn’t mean I’m a fan of all things big. America has taken [...] Read on →

Italianate Architectural Style

Italianate Style House

The Italianate style was an elaborate architectural style popular in the U.S. at much the same time as the Gothic Revival style, from the early 1840s until the mid 1880s. The Italainate style was extraordinarily popular in the northeast, midwest and particularly common in San Francisco, which transformed from a small village into a major American port city from the 1850s to the 1870s. The Italianate style is almost completely absent from the southern states because of the [...] Read on →

Choosing the Right Fastener (Part 2 Screws)

Choosing the right fastener

Last week we talked about how to pick the right nails for the job. You can read that post here. This week we’re going to discuss how to choose the right kind of screw for the job. There are tons of different kinds of screws. While you don’t have to deal with pneumatic sizing like you do with nails you have lots of variety in screws. We’ll talk about sizing which is important toward the end, but first [...] Read on →

Choosing the Right Fastener (Part 1 Nails)

Choosing the right fastener

Choosing the right fastener for your home improvement project can be daunting. Should you use a screw or nail? How long does it need to be? Galvanized? Hardened? Brass? So many options means lots of ways to make a mistake. I’ll walk you through the most important points and help you make the right choice when it comes to your next project. There are countless specialty fasteners that will defy the details I’m going to talk about here. [...] Read on →

How To: Find Studs in a Plaster Wall

How to find studs in plaster wall

If you own an old house with plaster and lath walls you may have discovered how utterly useless a stud finder can be. Most smaller items can be hung pretty securely anywhere on the wall by screwing into the wood lath, but for heavy things that weight more than 10-15 lbs, like large mirrors and TVs, you’ll need to learn how to find studs in a plaster wall. Don’t waste your money on that stud finder. Try these [...] Read on →