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Home improvement blogs offer expertise, support

Think you're the only one out there trying to figure out which toilet you should buy or how to get authentic replacements for your Craftsman home? Or perhaps you've measured, you've cut, and now the sink doesn't fit? You are not alone.

You'll find kindred spirits on the Web, bloggers who share the minutiae of home improvement in exacting and sometimes humorous detail. As with so many blogs, the writers go by first names or nicknames, but that doesn't mean the information isn't helpful or entertaining.

Take, for example, the former contractor-drywaller-cabinetmaker-carpenter of Remodeling for Geeks ( who provides this quiz to gauge your DIY addiction.

"Remodeling is like any other human activity. You can get addicted. Some sure signs that you are hooked:

• You stop by Home Depot on your way home from work.

• You bring baked goods to the neighbor with a pickup truck.

• You go for Saturday coffee at the building supply store.

• The shop vac is your most important cleaning tool.

• You never leave the house without a tape measure.

• You Tivo HGTV.

• You are reading this and nodding your head."

Want to trade home improvement dreams and nightmares with folks just like you? Here are a few blogs that may help you through today's project, or at least give you someone to share your obsession with. They welcome comments.

A Constructed Life

Amy, a self-described country girl from Wisconsin, subtitles her blog "Remodel an entire house. Stay sane. Remember to have a life." Since 2007 she has been chronicling the remodeling of her 1913 four-bedroom, one-bath house, writing about learning how to talk to installers to finding the wisdom to accept defeat. She is pregnant now, and the baby is likely to arrive before the house is finished.

Words of wisdom: "We've all heard the saying 'Use the right tool for the right job.' Well, what about putting the right tool in the right spot so you can actually find it when you need it? In other words, every tool should have a home, and that home should make sense for that tool."

Bossy Color Blog

Washington, D.C., designer Annie Elliott is a confident voice in the world of interior noise. Skip over the current postings about how to select fireplaces (who needs that here?) and peruse the photos of interiors and exteriors. You'll get cool ideas, plus get schooled on design. A trip may be in your future to check out some of the places she writes about, such as the Washington Design Center (

Words of wisdom: "The first thing a kitchen designer on a tight time frame should do is nail down the cabinetry."

Area Rugs Club

No detail seems too small for the Area Rugs Club (yes, you read that right) that maintains this blog about rectangles of softness for your floor. It may sound like Too Much Information, but when you're wondering Oriental or Persian, where else can you turn? This blog also has something to sell you from its online area rug outlet.

Words of wisdom: "Mixing rug patterns can be tricky. Remember, if the patterns are related by form, color or texture, the mix is more likely to succeed."

The Building Brows

Jim and Brandy Brow (like snow, not cow) have been living in an 822-square-foot mobile home with six kids while they build a house in Vermont. By themselves. With no loan. We wouldn't be surprised if they are the Next Big Reality Show. Their comments are wide-ranging (they list recalls, too) and their religious convictions strong. A DIY addict will be enthralled.

Words of wisdom: "Running wires through an open ditch is highly stupid, so do not take this as a good idea from The Building Brows."

House in Progress

Aaron and Jeannie are rehabbing a nearly 100-year-old house in the Chicago area. We got a kick out of their blog's subtitle: "We call it improvement because it can't get any worse." Lots of before and after photos. They want to stay true to the house's Craftsman roots, and they shop on eBay.

Words of wisdom: "Our big lesson learned from this bathroom remodel? Refinish the tub at the end of the project! (And strip the woodwork BEFORE you put the 'walls' back on.)"

West Ave East Town

If you've ever waited and waited and waited for your new furniture or that coveted appliance to arrive, you'll enjoy reading the exploits of Gregg and Danielle and their first house up North. They've been blogging since 2005 and have done quite a bit to their home. A new homeowner will find plenty to relate to and learn about, especially in the permitting department.

Words of wisdom: On patience, "Every day we tell ourselves that this will be the last day working on the shed. It never seems to go that way."

Janet K. Keeler can be reached at or (727) 893-8586.

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To find more folks like you, search terms like "home improvement" in the blog search field on Google.

Home improvement blogs offer expertise, support 02/20/09 [Last modified: Friday, February 20, 2009 3:30am]
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