Dear James: I entertain outdoors often and could use a patio cooking center, but I am on a tight budget. What options do I have for building one myself by the gas grill? -- Bonnie K.
Dear Bonnie: Outdoor patio cooking centers are wonderful for entertaining or for just your own family. The most elaborate ones are as extensive as the typical ...Read more
Dear James: I'm planning a veggie garden on my sloping lot so I need a retaining wall. I have used timbers before, but blocks might hold up better. Which method do you prefer? -- Steve W.
Dear Steve: Both methods for building a retaining are effective and can be attractive depending on the landscaping appearance you are seeking. Retaining wall ...Read more
Dear James: I really need to organize my bedroom. I have noticed how organized my friend's room is. Do you have any suggestions for some easy-to-install shelves that won't take up my already limited floor space? -- Theresa H.
Dear Theresa: There comes a time when people need to get rid of stuff cluttering their lives. There also is a time when ...Read more
Dear James: I want to remodel my living room cathedral ceiling by changing it from drywall to decorative real wood. Can it just be nailed or screwed to the old ceiling? -- Don M.
Dear Don: Natural and stained wood ceilings are very attractive and can dramatically change the decor of the room. A sloped cathedral ceiling is a good candidate for ...Read more
Dear James: I am having a house built and I am ready to purchase the appliances and heating/cooling equipment. Is it better to purchase extended warranties for everything or a home warranty? About how long to various appliances last? -- Patrick S.
Dear Patrick: You will certainly be more relaxed in your new home knowing if the hot water heater ...Read more
Dear James: I had painted a concrete patio before, but it peeled off over time. I want to decorate my new patio by my garden. How can I add a pale pink tint to the concrete surface? -- Cindy R.
Dear Cindy: A pale pink tint on the concrete should create attractive contrast with the green from the new landscaping. You are wise to choose just a ...Read more
Dear James: We are in the design stage of a house for my family and my mother. She uses a walker or a wheelchair. What special design features should we consider for her mobility? -- Kyle F.
Dear Kyle: It is wise for you think of access to the house entrances at the initial design phase of your new home. Providing proper access can have quite ...Read more
Dear James: I am half way through my kitchen remodel. I find I cannot afford now to replace the old linoleum flooring. Is it possible to paint the old flooring and will it hold up? -- Kim S.
Dear Kim: It often happens that you run out of money near the end of a project and have to change your plans. Since the floor area is large and has a major...Read more
Secret of the Warlock's CryptTom Hayes
Cryptic drawings, maps, strange symbols. This is what Mike Hilliard discovers as he investigates the long-dead millionaire Titus Morley. The strange symbols & drawings hover in Mike’s dreams as he rambles through the summer with Billy, a photography intern at the historical society ...
Dear James: We have a neighborhood problem with kids mashing mailboxes. What do you think about building a decorative brick mailbox and perhaps adding a light? -- Steven S.
Dear Steven: Your problem is not uncommon. Driving through many nice neighborhoods, you always seem to see a mailbox which has been smashed the night before. Building a ...Read more
Dear James: Our swinging doors use a lot of wall space when open. Our house is small, so we want to install sliding or folding doors. Which design is better and how are they installed? -- Marcia L.
Dear Marcia: Hinged doors do take up a lot of space. Since they are normally in the fully opened or closed position, it may not be apparent how much...Read more
Dear James: I seldom use my old noisy range hood. I thought about making a new one from decorative wood myself. Does this make sense or should I buy a standard metal one? -- Kent F.
Dear Kent: People often don't realize how important it is to use a range hood when cooking. Odors are the least of the concerns. Without at range hood running, ...Read more
Dear James: Now that I am getting older and have to play the TV louder, I have trouble hearing the doorbell. Can I install a new louder one myself? I'm not an electrician. -- Mick H.
Dear Mick: Hearing the doorbell over the normal sounds of a family can be difficult at times. If you have your dishwasher or clothes washer running, it is even ...Read more
Dear James: Our mother just moved in with us, so we could use a carport. There is room next to our garage. What is a simple, low-cost carport design we can build? -- Samantha T.
Dear Samantha: Building a carport is a great idea, especially if you have family visiting for extended periods. In addition to protecting the car from the weather, when...Read more