Dear James: It's a mess carrying firewood indoors, so I want to modernize my old brick fireplace with one that uses gas logs. Are there any tips on how to do this project myself? -- Kathy H.
Dear Kathy: Replacing an old brick fireplace surround and hearth with newer modern designs and a fresh coat of paint on the walls can completely transform ...Read more
Dear James: An architect is almost finished with the plans for my house. I need to select a good general contractor, but have heard of many potential problems. What is the best way to insure a good job? -- Julie F.
Dear Julie: Everyone has heard horror stories of how a contractor has taken someone's savings and not completed the job or not ...Read more
Dear James: We are downsizing to a new house. We are trying to determine the best colors to paint the rooms to make it look more spacious. What do you recommend for various rooms? -- Renee K.
Dear Renee: The particular colors you select will impact the sense of spaciousness and overall feeling in a room. In addition to the basic color, you ...Read more
Dear James: We have vinyl kitchen flooring which is badly worn. We think a ceramic tile floor would look good and wear well. Can this be put over any old floor and what are some installation tips? -- Michael T.
Dear Michael: Ceramic tile is an excellent material for kitchen floors. Not only is it very attractive, but it also is durable and ...Read more
Dear James: I am remodeling two rooms. I hung and finished drywall in one room, but there are shadow lines at many joints. Do you have any joint finishing tips to create flat, hidden joints? -- Steve K.
Dear Steve: The drywall joint problem you are experiencing is actually called shadowing by professional drywall installers. It is typically ...Read more
Dear James: The wood frame windows in my vintage house are pretty deteriorated. I want to repair them, not replace them, to maintain its character. What repairs to them can I do myself? -- Don H.
Dear Don: People are often surprised by the significant impact of window style on the overall appearance of an older house. Unless the frames are ...Read more
Dear James: I want to add a bathroom vent fan with an overhead light. The window does not provide enough light. What are some tips for installing one and venting it up through the the roof? -- Kathy T.
Dear Kathy: Although having a window in a bathroom with its natural light is great for putting on makeup, it is not always the best ventilation ...Read more
Dear James: All my children have allergies. We are planning to build a new house and I need to avoid the "sick house syndrome" from poor indoor air quality. What things should I consider for it? -- Lisa T.
Dear Lisa: Sick house syndrome refers to much more than just allergies and can be a serious problem in today's newer airtight homes. The ...Read more
Call Me Pomeroy [Kindle Edition]James Hanna
Pomeroy, a street musician on parole, joins the Occupy Movement in Oakland and its spinoffs in London and Paris. He does not join for political reasons but to get on television, land an agent, and score a million dollar recording contract. A zany collection of tales ...
Dear James: I am not the most accurate with projects. My measurements are often off just enough so things don't fit. Do you have advice regarding which measurement tools/techniques to use? -- Sal L.
Dear Sal: If you don't make accurate measurements, even the best materials and power tools cannot salvage the job. It is not difficult to measure ...Read more
Dear James: I have always liked cedar closets and want to add a small one in my bedroom. How do I build a closet with cedar wood and how do I maintain the cedar scent for years? -- Jamie P
Dear Jamie: Cedar closets are wonderful for storing clothing because the scent repels moths and other insects that may damage the clothes. Cedar also gives ...Read more
Dear James: My balance is worse than when I was younger so I want to build a seat for my shower stall. What are some basic construction and sizing tips for making one myself? -- John A.
Dear John: A shower seat is a wonderful convenience feature for any age group. While you are building and installing the shower seat, you should also install ...Read more
Dear James: We decided to install wallpaper in our kitchen. It installed easily and looked great, but started coming loose in less than a year. Could it be from bad wallpaper or our application? -- Sharyn K.
Dear Sharyn: If the problems occurred in only one small area, it may have been a bad roll of wallpaper. If it is happening in many spots ...Read more
Dear James: Our old fireplace always made the room smoky. Will the location of the fireplace in our new house we are now planning affect the amount of smoke? - Ron V.
Dear Ron: A smoky fireplace can completely spoil the ambiance and pleasure of a crackling fire. In many cases, the cause of smoke being drawn back down the chimney into the house ...Read more