927 Lee Road 268, Valley, AL (706) 773-9274

Photoshop Redo: From Dreary to Cheery Cottage

Photoshop Redo: From Dreary to Cheery Cottage 3 × Personality Supports Personality Supports Illustration by Drawgate Inc. An entry porch offers protection from the weather. Its flared roof and timber supports add personality. 4 × Finishing Touches: Door Color Finishing Touches: Door Color Photo (paint dab) by Brian Henn Cottage-style additions—from paint to plantings—freshen up a sleepy street front A summer-sky-inspired shade—called Spa—on the new paneled door extends an upbeat welcome and enlivens the whole facade. From $48 per gallon; Sherwin-Williams 5 × Finishing Touches: Wall Light Finishing Touches: Wall Light Illustration by Drawgate Inc. A single sconce in antiqued…

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5 Companies That Make It Easy to Upgrade Your Ikea Sofa

Seven years ago, Izabella wrote about the “thrillingly transformative” Ikea-ready slipcovers from Swedish company Bemz. (You can read her story here.) Since then, more businesses have popped up to help customers upgrade their Ikea sofas, either with new legs or custom coverings. We rounded up our five favorites, starting, of course, with Bemz. Featured photograph courtesy of Bemz. Bemz There are so many reasons to like Bemz—and not just for the quality and uncommon stylishness of their slipcovers. The company is big on sustainability, which means every cover is sewn to order (to prevent waste), and all materials are natural,…

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Urban Rustic: Installing an ERV

Editor’s note: This post is one of a series by Eric Whetzel about the design and construction of his house in Palatine, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. A list of Eric’s previous posts appears below. For more details, see Eric’s blog, Kimchi & Kraut. Building with Passive House principles in mind, we knew that in addition to maintaining a tight building envelope and installing substantial amounts of insulation, we also would need continuous mechanical ventilation. Our system, using either a heat-recovery ventilator (HRV) or an energy-recovery ventilator (ERV), would have to be highly efficient. It would need to hold onto…

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Bathroom Before and After: Kid-Friendly Remodel

Bathroom Before and After: Kid-Friendly Remodel 1 × BEFORE | Crowded and Dated BEFORE | Crowded and Dated A bath where children start and end each day should set a cheerful tone. That means enough elbow room for a squabble-free cleanup zone—a challenge at Claudia Van Dijk and Chris Ciarallo’s 1912 foursquare in Denver, where the existing bath was too cramped for their three children to share. It was dark, too, with its one window looking into a laundry room that had been tacked on to the house long ago. Shown: The crowded bath was dated and looked into the…

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Domestic Science: How to Sweep a Floor, Perfectionist’s Edition

Everybody should know how to sweep a floor. I got into the habit in college when I lived with a half dozen other reprobates in a shambolic wood-frame home on the edge of campus on the low Iowa prairie. Our house was a typical undergraduate hovel, with yellowed linoleum tiles that curled up at the seams and a Sears stove that hadn’t been cleaned since the 1950s. Some kind of rodent lived behind it. One of my roommates, a real freethinker, was the first to take up sweeping. Gradually, it caught on with the rest of us and me in…

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Bike-Friendly Cities Should Be Designed for Everyone

This narrow street, lined with parked cars but devoid of people, is both unwelcoming and unsafe for cyclists. Image credit: Anne Lusk CC BY-ND Anne Lusk, CC BY-ND Designing for bikes has become a hallmark of forward-looking modern cities worldwide. Bike-friendly city ratings abound, and advocates promote cycling as a way to reduce problems ranging from air pollution to traffic deaths. But urban cycling investments tend to focus on the needs of wealthy riders and neglect lower-income residents and people of color. This happens even though the single biggest group of Americans who bike to work live in households that…

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