Archive for the ‘DIY’ Category

By Home IQ Team

Heloise doesn’t work here.  But we’re exposed to so many cool brands, gadgets, tips, tricks and tools that we actually do know a thing or two about how to fix some problems around the house and yard.  And, with the help of some heavy-hitting “problem solving” resources like Real Simple magazine, www.problemsolvers.com, and even Sky Mall, there are almost too many options out there.  (Don’t deny that after a few business flights, you’re tempted to order the lean-forward Skyrest Travel Pillow.  That guy looks so comfy!)

Our goal is to shine some light on our favorite problem solvers that add some more value or are a bit more unique than the many uses for dryer sheets and vinegar… which by the way, are still worth a read.

There are a few categories to explore.

  • New/Unique At-Home Services
  • The world of gadgets
  • Cool tricks

One of my favorite new and unique at-home service category has everything to do with, well, poop.  Or, as they call it “pet waste removal.”  Doody Calls is a franchised business that comes to the home to remove your pet waste.  Marketed to the busy, the elderly, the pregnant woman who doesn’t want to touch her litter box, this service aims to educate about the hazards of letting your pet waste sit around your house or yard.  The website even lets visitors take the “Dog Poop IQ test.”  Awesome.  The service has merit, as silly as it sounds initially, and is expanding franchises around the country.

The world of gadgets is a vast, vast space.  The mere sight of the “handheld kitchen appliance” wall at Bed, Bath & Beyond is enough to overwhelm the average person.  Add the garden, automotive, outdoor, safety, cleaning and organization categories into the mix and we can’t keep up.  The gadget market is driven by need and frustration.  What problem am I having, and what’s a new way to fix it?

Here are two of our recent discoveries – the avacado saver.  Yes, it has a belt.  Yes, you can laugh.  Yes, it works.   Also worth checking out – the mock rock.   This rock actually looks decent and adds to the yard.

Finally, in the words of the folks on “Yo Gabba Gabba” (for those with toddlers), Cool Tricks!  Cool Tricks!  Here are a few interesting resources to explore:

  • Householdtips.org, where topics are categorized in an easy-to-reference list, and we learned how you can save woolens that mistakenly got washed.
  • Realsimple.com where you get tips and tricks along with products that are vetted and attractive.  With a few clicks, we were reminded that the best time to water plants is in the morning when the temperatures are cooler and water evaporates less quickly.
  • Heloise. We just couldn’t leave her out.  She’s the icon.

Handmade Nation: DIY Redefined

By Green Experts Team

handmade nation 300x169 Handmade Nation: DIY Redefined

As the economy began to weaken, language including “Staycation,” “DIY” and “weekend warriors” started becoming regular vocabulary in mainstream consumer America.  DIY is largely seen as a way for homeowners and consumers to save money and tackle challenges on their own, without the help of a professional.  But a second, completely different definition of DIY is becoming mainstream: DIY for art, individuality and culture.  Made of consumers, artists and creative sprits, the Handmade Revolution is slowly growing its voice in consumer culture.


Defining Handmade

Describing an object as “handmade” may conjure notions of amateur, country crafts or our grandmothers; the modern definition is anything but. Today handmade can be defined as a convergence of craft, art and necessity.  As consumers and homeowners across the nation began doing improvement projects on their own, such as adding a garden, replacing hardware and laying new flooring, similarly a number of those same consumers began to look at how they can apply the same philosophy to things that would go inside the house.  Whether it’s jewelry, blankets, wall art, clothing or the other countless examples of handmade items, the movement is taking crafting to a new level.  The modern handmade world isn’t your grandma and her friends knitting over a cup of tea, its members are not only artists, but advocates for individuality, creativity, sustainability and the idea that people really can do it themselves.  The movement is driven by a simple but obvious pairing of Internet access and the DIY culture.


Leaders of the movement

In 2008 The New York Times produced a profile piece on The Handmade Nation and its leader Faythe Levine.  The article portrays two sides to The Nation – first the creative and hands-on part that shows people doing something they love, and second that it’s not all hot glue and fabric – the Handmade Nation is a business thriving on entrepreneurial spirit.  As The Handmade Nation documentary and book show there are many crafters and creatives across the U.S. that make up this Indie nation. Mass networks of talent, including The Handmade Nation and associations like The American Craft Council, are truly giving the movement a voice.  Etsy, an online marketplace where crafters and enthusiasts can buy and sell their handmade items, features everything from clothing to home goods.  The site is a leader in the handmade trend, and even spurred the development of chapters or local coalitions like BEST – The Baltimore Etsy Street Team.


The Business

Design*Sponge recently featured a post on Kari Chapin’s new book, The Handmade Marketplace: How to Sell Your Crafts Locally, Globally and Online.  Taking a closer look at the business side of the handmade movement, it’s clear that its success is heavily due to the pairing of the internet market and the DIY trend.  In today’s economy, the bottom line is people want to save money in all possible ways.  As a result, a number of trends have seen growth because they each provide a different approach to meeting that bottom line.  Sustainability and handmade are two movements that have successfully developed into this type of trend.  Buying and living sustainably allows consumers to save on energy costs and other resources but also gives them the satisfaction that they’ve done something greater and good for the environment.  Practicing handmade crafts and buying handmade puts a creative and fun approach on saving money and recycling materials and everyday objects.  The handmade and sustainable movements give consumers a little bit of that control and power back that they thought they lost during the recession.


The Culture

We said before that handmade is successful thanks to the mix of the Internet and DIY.  It’s taken off as a trend, and more and more people are leaving the big boxes behind to find or create something unique to meet their needs.  Last month Wired.com featured an article on the Revlolution in Micromanufacturing that describes the take off of the trend.  Just as there’s a satisfaction in creating or buying something that allows you to save or recycle, there’s also a wanting among consumers to be individualized.  The handmade movement is highly fueled on aesthetic appeal, which is something in higher demand now that many consumers have had to cut back on those unnecessary items or “wants” in the down economy.


There are so many facets of The Handmade Nation, and we can’t narrow it down to one post.  Over the next few months we’ll be producing a series highlighting different parts and people of handmade. Until our next post, take a look at some of our favorite blogs that feature handmade works:


Design*Sponge

ScoutieGirl

HelloCraft

CraftZine

TheCraftyDevils

Etsy-Love


By Home IQ Team

According to our friends at Charles & Hudson, This Old House and The Money Pit have teamed up.

Charles & Hudson shares: “Kevin O’Connor, host of the Emmy-winning PBS television series This Old House, along with the show’s general contractor Tom Silva, plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey and landscape contractor Roger Cook, will join The Money Pit radio hosts Tom Kraeutler and Leslie Segrete on their show every week for a special This Old House segment. Beginning later this month, the content will air across the entire The Money Pit Media Radio Network of 200+ radio stations, on XM/Sirius Satellite Radio, as well as via the top rated The Money Pit Podcast and online at MoneyPit.com and at ThisOldHouse.com.”

For more information, feel free to visit this post.

By Home IQ Team

Over the past year, the home improvement industry has seen many shifts in consumer behavior as people across the country reevaluate their spending habits in light of the current economic climate. Undoubtedly, one of the biggest changes that the industry has seen involves more individuals tackling remodeling projects themselves with little to no help from a pro. In short, the “weekend warrior” mindset is on the rise and has been for quite some time.

While many would argue that there are certain projects that require the experience of a skilled tradesman, it only makes sense that the DIY population is growing by the day in these uncertain economic times.

As more “do-it-for-me” consumers convert to the land of “do-it-yourself,” it is not surprising that sites dedicated to helping people accomplish their home improvement projects are becoming more popular than ever.

For example, look at Howcast, a site that houses thousands of how-to videos that cover a wide range of topics from jump-starting a car, typing faster on a cell phone, cooking and diagnosing symptoms of swine flue.

As consumerreports.org reported earlier this week, Howcast even has a Home Improvement category that offers DIYers the advice they need to tackle the home improvement projects that may have once been contracted to a pro.

Given the fact that the site includes a social voting feature where users can rate the videos that they watch, the site is very user-friendly and lends itself to meeting the needs of even the busiest DIYers who just need a quick reference before completed their project.

Finally, users can also find more professional video clips from The Home Depot or ServiceMagic.com. Check out the below video as an example.


By Home IQ Team

Apple boasts more than 35,000 apps available for its iPhone devices, ranging from the functional to the frivolous. Whether users want cooking apps or fitness instructions, the technology for iPhone apps is growing at a record-setting pace.

Hoping to capitalize on this growing market, the home improvement industry is now jumping on the bandwagon – and smartly so. More and more companies are developing home décor and decorating apps to add to Apple’s list of options.

Recently, Benjamin Moore debuted ben Color Capture, which allows users to snap a picture of any color inspiration, anywhere in the world, and instantly match it to one of the more than 3,300 hues that comprise Benjamin Moore’s color system.

HandyMan SideKick and iHandy Carpenter also recently launched new applications designed to help the weekend warrior successfully complete their projects.  

Is this the wave of the future for the home industry?

picture 1 DIYers Turn To A New Tool – the Apple iPhone

Photo Courtesy of www.appleinsider.com

Yes, we think it is given the fact that the list of home improvement companies developing iPhone apps seems to be growing. The home industry, just like many others, is looking to reach the iPhone generation in new and exciting ways to promote its products and services.

To learn more about this new trend and get ideas on how to apply to your business, check out:

By Becky Shankle

1013 45 banner home industryinsider2 (de)Sign of the times: Garden Friendly Kitchens
So more folks are doing the staycation thing, eating in has become the new eating out & they’re even growing their own food. The common denominator of all those things? The kitchen. Preferably one that is a pleasure to use & spend time in – that time we used to spend someplace else.

What is Garden Friendly?

One of my clients has a worm composting bin in her kitchen. If you make them correctly, the worms are perfectly happy to hang out in their cozy home, & not venture forth to co-mingle withyour foodie zone. They pull double duty – munching away on your table scraps, & producing rich compost for your garden out back. And the smell is minimal. Really. I smelled it myself.

Zoning the kitchen

But just in case you’re worried about separating the worm operation from the human ones, there’s always the option for a stand alone cabinet with countertop. That way there’s room for neatly sorting & sifting what goes in & comes out of the composting system. We often use pull-out shelving for the worm bin itself. Frees up the counter for the table scraps while you sift, or for filling the transport bucket to the garden. compactkitchen mediumbrown 288x300 (de)Sign of the times: Garden Friendly Kitchens

Somewhere near that same cabinet we store cardboard, which becomes compost while it keeps the weeds from taking over the garden. Sometimes we spec an entire tall cabinet dedicated to just the recycling. Since larger sheets of cardboard work better at thwarting weeds, they get their own section of a tall & deep cabinet. The remaining sections are dedicated to the usuals: glass, plastic, newspapers.

Prep for the dormant season

What do you do with the backyard bounty you can’t give away or consume as quickly as it’s produced? You freeze it. A freezerless fridge allows more space for garden goods – especially if it’s a big garden. Some people are even opting for smaller refrigerators, or even under counter fridges for 2 reasons:

  1. Valuable counter space is gained, which means prep area for jarring & freezing increases.
  2. More efficient chest freezers can live in the garage or some other adjacent room without gobbling precious footprint area in the kitchen.

Last but not least

Aside from the normal cooking features like an oven & range, we try to maximize counter space by both the sink & cooking areas. You need a place for cleaning newly plucked lettuce & peppers, & getting them ready for your taste buds. There’s also a mobile countertop option on a cart that
can be stored out of the way.

And for those who don’t want to bother with transporting the goods from the backyard to inside, there’s always an outdoor kitchen & grill option. Or, you can just graze directly in the garden.

Learn more about garden friendly kitchens by visiting Eco-Modernism’s Web site: http://www.eco-modernism.com/

Outdoor Living Tips and Trends

By Home IQ Team

Homeowners Forgo Lavish Vacations, Look to Create the Perfect Outdoor Oasis

The perfect summer oasis may be closer than you think. As more people forgo their traditional summer vacations to save money, many homeowners are looking for ways to spruce up their backyards to create a relaxing outdoor paradise where they can escape from their day-to-day troubles, unwind and enjoy the warm summer sun.

picture 13 300x193 Outdoor Living Tips and Trends

Photo Courtesy of RogersGardens.com

After doing a little online research, we have uncovered the top five tips for revitalizing an outdoor space just in time for the summer season. Although most homeowners will not be able to jet off to a tropical destination this year, they will be able to indulge themselves with an updated patio, deck or balcony.

  1. Uncover Your Green Thumb – A garden is the perfect compliment to any outdoor space by providing color, aroma and perhaps the perfect ingredient for your summer fare. By adding bold colors to the garden, homeowners can energize their space and create the perfect tropical look. Looking for additional benefits of having a garden? According to The Reading Eagle, gardens provide great havens from stress and can help consumers significantly cut costs at the grocery store.
  2. Add Some Water – Water features such as bird baths, rain chains, fountains or even ponds are perfect for adding soothing ambiance to any outdoor space. By drowning our everyday noises such as street traffic, water features help ease homeowners into a state of  complete relaxation. For more ideas visit The South County Times.
  3. Update your Patio Furniture – Patio furniture has moved beyond the traditional hard metal chairs with minimal cushions. In fact, today’s outdoor furniture is much more stylish with plush cushions, gorgeous fabrics and deluxe accessories that compliment interior home furnishings. Some of today’s latest trends, especially for trendy city-dwellers, include bar height dining sets and deep seated, ultra comfortable lounge chairs. For those with more space, outdoor day beds are becoming more popular as well.
  4. Light It Up – At any local home improvement retailer homeowners will find a collection of stylish lighting products for fit for outdoor spaces. By incorporating the latest fixtures, including outdoor lamps, lanterns or even chandeliers, any space will take on the perfect atmosphere after the sun goes down. LightPost offers consumers directions for adding just the right amount of light.
  5. Create Some Shade – Whether your patio, deck or lawn revolves around outdoor cooking or relaxing, it’s important to have some shade to increase the use of the space during the hotter days of the season. A large cantilever patio umbrella creates the perfect coverage over a dining set, while a hammock or swinging chair can utilize shade already available in your yard. If you wish to design your own shade, visit Fine Homebuilding for some examples, or Real Outdoor Living for a chance to win $1,000 gift card to the home improvement retailer of your choice in the “Backyard Oasis Giveaway.”
picture 25 300x277 Outdoor Living Tips and Trends

Photo Courtesy of backyardcity.com


By Home IQ Team

We all know that many consumers are trimming their household expenses by letting go of the professional lawn care services and cleaning crews they once enjoyed.

As a result of having to do more around the house and yard than they’re used to, many homeowners are finding that they are becoming savvier with tools that were once reserved for the pro’s.

According to retailers and manufacturers, tools like log splitters, garden tillers, sanders, power washers and even excavators are sources of interest and revenue growth among the newly converted “do-it-yourself” crowd.

Among other retailers, The Home Depot is experiencing a spike in tool rentals. In fact, according to a recent Wall Street Journal article, the company’s tool rental division experienced a 22% increase in revenue from log splitters alone in Q1.

While this is not the first time that companies have seen do-it-for-me consumers convert to the do-it-yourself demographic during tough economic times, there are three main differences this time around, including:

  1. More women are actively engaged in yard work and other home improvement-related tasks
  2. Homeowners are more adventurous and willing to take on larger projects on their own
  3. Homeowners are doing more in their yards to save money overall. Whereas do-it-yourselfers are often most interested in building a deck or creating an outdoor oasis, today’s consumers are also in need of tools that will allow to build the ultimate vegetable garden. After all, vegetable gardens are becoming a popular way for homeowners to save money in the grocery by growing their own produce.

According to Ken Hughes, vice president of communications for the American Rental Association, there is a “widespread trend of stores stocking smaller, easier-to-use machines that increasingly entice homeowners.” In the Wall Street Journal’s article, Hughes continues to say, “The machines have come down to meet the DIY level and the DIYers’ confidence has come up to meet the equipment.”

By Home IQ Team

According to a survey conducted by Lowe’s and reported in Home Channel News, eight out of 10 homeowners are planning a lawn or garden project in the next 12 months that they will do themselves.

Additional survey findings further prove the huge resurgence for DIY projects and include:

  • 35% of respondents say they hope to save money by doing household projects themselves
  • 84% of respondents said that lawn and garden projects are the top DIY project that they have planned this summer
  • 82% of people placed interior painting at the top of their DIY project list
  • 65% of people said that exterior painting is their top DIY project slated for the next few months
  • 56% of respondents said that installing a floor is at the top of their list
  • Remodeling a new bathroom is at the top of the list for 55% of respondents

By Home IQ Team

1013 45 banner home weeklyintel2 Weekly Intel: News You May Have Missed

Take a look at the links below to see what news and trends you have missed this week.


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