Category Archives: DIY

Labor Day Projects

A pink front door? Yup. Totally works.

Feels like you just finished spring cleaning huh?  Sure does. Nonetheless, fall and winter are perched on the edge of the breeze and ready to blow in. And so, we must heed our list for closing out the season. It’s a fine time to work on curb-appeal projects that increase your home value, such as exterior painting, landscaping or installing a new front door. We also encourage purging the stuff that didn’t get much use in the last six months. A sample to-do list:

1. Paint. Interior, exterior, the front door. A new wash of color can completely change the way you look at your home and feel inside it. We don’t recommend interior painting with the windows closed (unless you’re using a no-VOC paint like Mythic), so tackle room makeovers before the weather turns. Here are some fall colors we like (holy Tangerine Tango!). And remember, we can custom match paint at our stores.
2. Clean and caulk windows. We’re talking washing the inside andoutside of your windows. While you clean, look for cracks or any places that may need caulking. Sealing your windows (and doors) keeps your home warmer and your utility bill lower in the winter. Something else that helps with insulation: Blinds. If you’ve been thinking about installing window treatments, now is the time!
3. Scrub and seal your deck. Your deck takes a beating year-round from weather extremes. Scrub it down with deck cleaner to get rid of mold and then apply a stain or sealant to protect it from the elements during the upcoming months.
4. Clean out the clutter. Don’t save this project for once a year in the spring. Make “out with the old” a semi-annual mantra. There will be less to tackle and the task will go that much quicker. Donate unwanted items to charity or host a garage sale, and store out-of-season clothes in massive plastic tubs.
5. Seal the driveway. Cracks and holes in your driveway could get worse with winter weather. Seal or repair your driveway to prevent further damage.

Now, can we talk a hot minute about how awesome this Labor Day sale is? 20% off Clark+Kensington paint for starters…

Make Your Own Terrarium

Courtney at our Waverly store, loves a dainty terrarium. Her tips for making one of your own. You can pick up all the ingredients at our stores.

Step 1: Choose a container. Any clear container will work, like a vase, aquarium, or Mason jar.

Step 2: Add first layer of coarse sand or pebbles. This bottom layer allows for good water drainage.

Step 3: Add second layer of activated charcoal or carbon. Charcoal filters the air in the terrarium and assists with gas exchange. It can be found at any aquarium supply store. A must with closed containers, but can be skipped with open containers.

Step 4: Add third layer of spaghnum moss. Moss allows water to move through the terrarium but prevents soil from falling to the bottom. A very fine screen would also work but needs to be replaced once rusted.

Step 5: Add soil. Regular potting soil will do, but quick draining soil used for cacti or palms works best. Good drainage is key to happy plants! Try Miracle Gro Garden Soil For Palm, Cactus and Citrus Trees.

Step 6: Add plants. Place the plants so they are set in the soil. Cover any exposed roots with soil. Succulents, moss, mushrooms, air plants, cacti, and many other varieties of plants do well in terrariums. You could even collect moss from outside for decoration!

Step 7: Decorate. Personalize your terrarium by adding rocks, gems, figurines, or anything else that brings joy and happiness to you!

Step 8: Enjoy your terrarium! Allow soil to dry between watering.

Fun Things to do w/ Duck Tape

Fixing things with Duck Tape is so 1982. Yes, you can totally go MacGyver with the old silver style, but with so many bold colors and designs, this formerly functional adhesive has gone practically couture.

Kim at our Glover Park location went bold and a little wild with her countertop re-do in zebra print Duck Tape ($6.99). If we knew what kind of sound zebras made, we’d make it!

No laminate required. Just press down firmly and go over with the edge of a credit card so you don’t get snags. Straight lines = ruler.

Mix it up with a varied design.

Yellow walls are a bold complement (that’s Pratt & Lambert 12-7 Sutter’s Gold). And we love the floral arrangement – it’s a lovely juxtaposition to the geometric animal print.

Duck Tape also comes in leopard, camo, pink zebra, paint splash, fire, dragon and skull designs, as well as bold solid colors.

Post-Holiday Plumbing

If an influx of family and friends took over your home this holiday (or  are still occupying the guest room), you’re pipes may be experiencing some, uh, stoppage from the volume of food, waste and items not suitable for flushing. When the craziness dies down, you’ll want to tackle plumbing issues right away. By taking stock in a few key tools and tips and gaining some basic plumbing knowledge, you can avoid having to call a plumber and save a few of those already tight, post-holiday dollars.

  • Know your pipes’ limits. Understanding how your plumbing works will help you to better diagnose a problem and either solve it yourself or resort to calling a professional, if necessary. Invest in a do-it-yourself book on plumbing to help “un-complicate” your home’s plumbing system.

  • Use the correct tools. A good plunger is a must for both toilets and sinks, and should be tried and exhausted before resorting to other means. A plunger will unplug most clogs, especially in the toilet, but there is a right way to use one: When plunging, compress the plunger slowly, then pull it vigorously toward you on the upstroke. This draws the clog upward.
  • Opt for a snake. If the plunger isn’t doing the trick, another option to try is a snake. Made of bendable steel, a snake is maneuvered into a drain with a crank handle that can sometimes be attached to a power drill. It can reach clogs up to 25 feet away and break them apart with a gentle twist or tug. While this may sound like advanced plumbing, a snake is extremely easy to use and will cost you about $30.

  • Use caution with chemicals. If elbow grease and conventional methods aren’t solving the problem, you may need to try a drain-clearing chemical. Most of these are made for hair and grease, but will do the trick on a slow-moving kitchen sink, too. Just be careful not to get hurt when you use them and keep them away from children. Follow the instructions on the bottle exactly to avoid damaging the pipes.

  • Turn to a plumbing pro. Some plumbing problems are caused by a bigger, more complex issue, so if your efforts aren’t making things any better, calling a pro is the next best route. A good plumber should be able to identify the problem and take the necessary course of action. Check your local phone listing for plumbers in your area and be sure to ask questions about licensing, insurance, fee structure and experience when you call.

5 Tips to Hiring a Contractor

hiring a contractor

Don’t let contractor horror stories scare you into DIY submission. Some projects go well beyond typical homeowner skill.  We talked to Marla Ray of Urban Referrals, a DC-based company that connects people with contractors, about what to look for in a contractor and how to go about securing one.

1. What’s the most important thing to look for in a contractor no matter what it is you need done?

No matter how large or small a remodeling job may be, you always want to make sure they hire a company that is licensed, insured (including worker’s compensation) and EPA RRP certified if they live in a home built before 1978. There are a few trades that do not require licensing, however insurance is always required and protects both parties.

2. How many contractors should you get in touch with for a quote?

I always suggest consumers meet with two companies to assess their project and to discuss ideas and pricing. Please note, it’s key to ensure the contractors are bidding on the exact same scope of work.

If they don’t feel comfortable with the companies they meet with (they arrived late, took too long to provide a proposal, is booked too far out, personalities did not mesh) or the quote differs dramatically, a third meeting may be necessary. I see too many people getting four, five and six estimates, and it creates havoc and wastes everyone’s time and in the end, that person was just looking for the lowest price.

This leads me to a popular myth: “If I tell the contractor how much I can spend, they will make their bid match my budget.” Not true! Reputable companies have software and metrics they use to create estimates. These tools enable them to create a proposal in which they can do the job and make money for their business. Length of the job, number of employees needed and material costs are factored into pricing. Nine out of ten times, consumer budgets are not enough for the entire scope of work, so it is key to start off your contractor meetings with open communication and honesty about what kind of funding you have to work with. The contractor can then make recommendations regarding what work can be done and what materials can be purchased.

3. When is it worth it to pay a little more?

The old saying “You get what you pay for” is 100 percent true. I see too many customers go with the lowest bid then come back to us after the job was not finished or done incorrectly. They end up having to spend more money to get it re-done or finished properly.

4. Not every contractor is worth their salt, but it might not be overtly obvious on first meet. Tell us about some red flags that could be tip offs.

I always have contractors provide us with their licensing, insurance, EPA RRP certification (if required), business cards and customer references. If a company does not have all of these components, you may want to disregard meeting with them.

5.  If someone has concerns with someone they hired, what is the best first step to take?

Communication is key. If you are upset or confused by something going on with your home renovation, talk to your contractor right away. Do not wait until the job is done. Most reputable companies will be more than happy to address your concerns.

Driving Small Screws In Tight Places

Driving screws without a magnetic screwdriver in tight places like under the counter can be a pain. We found a solution involving saran wrap. Prepare to be schooled.

Choosing Blinds: In-house help!

architella hunter douglas blinds

Alustra Duette Architella Blinds by Hunter Douglas

Picking out the right blinds for your home can be a tricky process—don’t even get us started on window measuring!

To help take out the guesswork, our interior designer Roslyn Ashford of ra reDoes rooms will be keeping Saturday office hours at our Tenleytown and Logan Circle locations starting February.

Bring in an interior pic of your windows and spend some time going over the custom Hunter Douglas options we carry. While you’re there, schedule a house call to get your windows measured.

Or, email pics (with name & phone number) ahead of time to redo[at]rarooms[dot]com.

p.s. There are a number of energy-savings rebates going on through Hunter Douglas so if new blinds are in the cards for you, this is a GREAT time to purchase.

Office Hours Schedule: 10 am-2 pm

2/19 Tenleytown Ace Hardware, 4500 Wisconsin Ave. NW

3/5 Logan Hardware, 1416 P St. NW

Can’t make it to the store? Call for a free in-home consultation. 202-670-2434