We recently moved into a Cape-style house that has good curb appeal except for the driveway, which is weedy gravel with a couple of potholes. My neatnik husband wants to pave it with asphalt, but I think that would be out of place in our rural setting. We have a limited budget. What are the options?
We have a bunch of scuffed, plastic stacking chairs as well as a plastic playhouse in faded, once-garish candy colors. The chairs are useful when we have family get-togethers, and my kids love the hideous playhouse, but I’d really like the back yard to look less like a junkyard. Is there any help for plastic?
This seemed like a question about energy efficiency, so I plunged into the web and found a site called ENERGYguide.com that began by informing us that “doors are necessary for access”—a point I think we can all agree on. That fact established, the site then offered more useful information, which suggested that good weather stripping and a tight seal are more to the point than a storm door. On the other hand, if you have an old, wooden door, ENERGYguide.com suggests that a storm may, in fact, help conserve energy.
Q: What’s the best, low-maintenance area rug to put under a dining table? I’d like something that I could clean myself if there’s a spill, or that wouldn’t cost a fortune to clean if I had to send it out. I’d also like it to wear well, considering chairs will be pulled in and out. And can you offer advice on what colors best hide stains? — D.N., Rye
I want to redo our master bedroom, which is currently painted cream and furnished with a black cast-iron bed, oak dressers, and two small club chairs. The bedding is mostly white, and the curtains are a subdued floral. Our house is a Victorian (although not the frou-frou kind), so I’d like something that fits in but looks a little more up-to-date. Our budget won’t run to replacing everything, but can you offer any suggestions about color or furnishings?
My daughter just bought her first apartment in a co-op. The one problem is that she’s on a busy street and there’s constant noise. What are the soundproofing options?
Q: How do you know if your contractor is taking advantage of you? My contractor is a sweetheart, a perfectionist, and a seemingly hard worker. But the work was supposed to be completed last July — he now predicts March of this year. Every time he touches something it seems, oops, there’s a big problem that needs to be addressed. As a result our bill has more than doubled. The house is looking great, but...are we being taken?
Q: I have a problem with our deck railings. When it’s cold in winter, the wood contracts, so the vertical balusters don’t fit snugly into the horizontal handrail. Some have popped out. And the handrails themselves are also pulling out of the notches in the newel posts. I don't want to just put nails in there to hold them together, but what else I can do? – George A., Mohegan Lake
Can I sue the inspector who supposedly inspected my country house? The guy essentially found little wrong with it — and it’s a disaster. It’s costing at least twice as much as we’d anticipated to fix the wreck. The basic problem: water damage. There is so much of it because it turns out there is no sub-floor in the living room or kitchen (my contractor fell through the floor when he began working on it). Shouldn’t the inspector have noticed? There was also so much mold in the bathroom that the walls had to be power-washed and redone. My contractor calls the thing a money pit. ¬¬What are inspectors good for if not finding a home’s issues?
I’m converting my messy, cluttered home office into an office/study/art studio. (I paint with oils and mixed media; a tabletop easel would work). I don't know what to do first, how to prioritize the space allotment and arrangement, or what to keep versus what I need to buy new—especially the floor, which is now covered by linoleum-type tiles. I'd like the room to be sleek, functional, and comfortable. It's about 9 feet by 13 feet.