Sunday, June 14, 2009

How to Cheat at Home Repair

Cheating can be a good thing as long as no one gets hurt; you don’t break any laws (no cheating on tests) and best of all you save time and money! Enter a great book I highly recommend to help anyone with "the joys of home ownership, although this works for apartments and condos too: How To Cheat At Home Repair, by Jeff Bredenberg. I interviewed him for my radio show on Saturday and found his tips, based on talking to dozens of repair men and women and endless others, to be handy to have!

Here’s his deal—Try and take the emotion out of any home repair that is suddenly needed. Look at whatever is broken logically (I know it may be tough but stick with me). Fact is, if you hold off on picking up that phone to call the repairman or woman that an instant, you’ll discover you may be able to do this on your own, and save time and money.

Knowing how to repair stuff is not all about the tool box and heavy duty fix-its. Granted it is a great idea to have your indoor “quick tools” and outdoor tool kits organized and accessible. This book helps you with that, but it also offers some very simple, non-conventional tricks of the trade to fix things you own but didn't realize can be fixed. Life happens and stuff gets broken. Let’s fix it without stressin’, know your limits, have your support staff, but as my dad would say “give it a go!” Here are some of my favorites:

1- Wooden Furniture Gouge- Break out the crayon box to repair a scratch on wooden furniture. Thing of the coloring and the color options! The wax seeps in and covers it up. You want to overfill the gouge and then use a credit card to scrape the leftovers.

2-Ouch...A Tear in Your Leather Couch- Not to fear! Super or Krazy Glue can fix little rips in leather, vinyl, or even cloth. To use it, first pull the edges together. Apply to the very edge on just one side of the rip NOT both sides. Hold for a few minutes until it dries.

3-Map Out Your Circuits – What, you haven’t done this? It’s a one day thing and if you don’t have a second person to help it can be a one-man job with a radio. Go room to room and test the circuit breaker. Label each lever to know which room the electricity is going to. The radio idea is helpful if you are by yourself. Plug it in and crank it up. When you turn off that circuit on the breaker, you’ll know hear which room it is.

4-Grinding Glass in the Garbage Disposal NO SO GREAT- My mom used to do this.

Don’t because it’s a myth the glass will somehow “sharpen” the blades. Better to toss a lime or lemon in the disposal.

5- The Dye-Test for the Toilet- Have you heard this? It’s a plumber’s secret to knowing if you truly have a toilet leak. Lift off the tank lid and put in a few drops of food coloring in there. Let is sit for about 15 minutes. If the coloring has made its way into the bowl, either the float that shuts off the intake is not working, or the rubber stopper in the bottom of the tank needs to be replaced.

6- Spot Busting Weapon for Carpets-According to the experienced contractor quoted in this book, the “Stain Extinguisher” made by Chem-Dry is THE BEST. I haven’t tried it but will and fyi it can be found on the internet or purchased by the carpet cleaning company.

7-Finding a Great Repair Person – You need your ‘team’ in place before problems strike as a back up plan. Get input form your neighbors and friends, go online. I recommend which is community referral based for contractors and services of all kinds. Once you find them, treat them like family because someday you'll really need them. Got your own cheating at repair techniques? Let me know!

You can find this book at


Saturday, June 13, 2009

Fun and Inexpensive Plant Container Ideas

I am addicted to plants and am proud of it. But have you noticed if you want to pot your plants in a container it can be tricky in the hunt for something that is clever, creative and cost effective all in one?

Here are some ideas that will solve that in a hurry!

I chatted recently with the editor of Garden Ideas and Outdoor Living Magazine and boy did he have some amazing suggestions I had to share with you.

1- Chimney pipes can be painted in bright colors and they look expensive as an instant planter. You can either fill it with soil and plant, or do it the easy way and just stick the plant you've bought as is inside. Try bright glossy paints in blue, orange and yellow, or whatever you love.

2- Love this stage for potted plants that Better Homes and Gardens makes and sells. It comes in unfinished wood and you give it your own creative spin by painting it as you like. It's a fun way to fill a cornor with plants without repotting and can work on a condo or apartment deck, as easily as a larger home/garden space. Best part is seasonally you can change out the plants! It is easy to assemble and goes for $275. Go here: - and reference "home cottage"

3- You can also try the DIY tropical version of the above. You need some bamboo posts and bamboo edging/fencing. See how great it looks!

4-Stack em up! Here's another great idea discovered in Garden Ideas and Outdoor Living.
It's simply stack a small container on top of a larger one, and connect them with a metal rod or piece of rebar. This creates instant height and style without spending a fortune. You can use terracotta clay pots or even plastic. Just fill them with overflowing plants and your finished product will look gorgeous!

Good luck and let me know how it goes!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

A Planter and Coffee Table in One!

It’s a Planter and a Coffee Table in One

LA area Designer Lawrence Rizkowski used this at a recent home tour and I think it’s an amazing but simple idea. He turned a planter – think concrete, ceramic, whatever you like, and then topped it off with glass that has been cut with a square hole in the middle. This allows room for you to have a live plant in the container, you can water it, and it still provides room for your beverage and snacks! It looks great outdoors!


Man Crafts

Okay all you manly men, time to get busy with Man Crafts! What are they? Yes tools ar involved, although in some cases just your hands. This is a book out by the editors of Popular Mechanics, based on their historic step by step post war booklets. It takes you back to the early days of post World War II, when servicemen returning home turned to new skills and trades to master, make a living and a future for themselves and their families. For today's world the Man Crafts outlined have an appeal not only for nostalgic reasons, especially if you have a relative who served in WWII, but also important skills that translate to home improvement projects of today.


Some may sound a little Martha Stewart, but keep your mind open guys:

Things like:

*Stenciling a border of words in a room

*Carpentry 101 and how the Coping Saw helps

*Making furniture from a table to a chair

*Book binding

*Leather working

It's a quick read and whether you are a Man, or a Woman really, can pick up some pointers that you may find relaxing, and simple in our high tech world. Man Crafts,


And follow me on twitter:

Secret to Sensational Succulents

The key to great succulent container gardens is to avoid over-loving the plants.

We blow it by over-watering, not allowing for drainage and then these guys that are used to getting dried out from time to time, get mushy, sick and may die.


Here's my formula for healthy soil and happy succulents.

1- Choose a great well draining cactus soil. Many specialty nurseries offer a better drainage version than pre-packaged varieties in big box stores. But definitely don't use standard potting soil

2- Cut a small piece of screen material and place in the base of your container, over the drainage hole. This will stop ants from getting in and spreading disease.

3- Then add a pottery chip over the drainage hole to again help with drainage.

4- A secret I learned to help even more is sand on top of the cactus soil. Use 2/3 cactus soil in your container. Then top it off with 1/3 sand. This will allow the water to trickle down and not drench your plant.

5- Top off your cactus/succulent container with stones, glass, whatever you like for mulch and artistic appeal. My personal favorite is sky blue/white, almost glacier like recycled glass chips.

6-Try for a fresh, cool look - like adding jewelry or bling to your container garden design! And it's a surprising contrast with heat loving plants like aloe, echeverias, and agaves.

7- Remember succulents are drought tolerant and when in doubt, think drought-less watering is more and let them dry out in between watering - no more than 1 x a week.


Monday, June 1, 2009

How to Get the Grill of Your Dreams!

Whether it's burgers, hot dogs, chicken, ribs, salmon, or even shrimp on the "Bar-B" --getting hungry thinking about all the options, this is the best time of year to spend more time cooking outdoors. If you are in the market for a new one, here are some smart grill shopping tips.

1- First don't think you have to buy the most expensive to get the best! Consumer Reports Magazine tested 40 different models and found that sometimes the cheapest one wins! They found the Fiesta Blue Ember, and the Char-Broil Red, both at $450, surpassed the grills going for more than $1400. ( See the complete test study at

2- To save money, be open to having less stainless steel on your grill. Many manufacturers are adding color to the grill, to cut back on cost, yet also add some pizazz to your patio. Check out the Weber Genesis in Green and Blue.

3- If stainless steel is important to you, they do last longer and fight corrosion, make sure yours is really loaded with it. A great way to test is to take a magnet with you to the store. If it sticks to the grill, don't get it--it's made with a LOWER grade--Magnets will fall off the higher grade stainless steel.

4- Where stainless steel IS critical is the grates. Make sure yours are steel, or porcelain coated for better searing of your food.

5-After you've done your research and determined your price-point, consider buying after Fourth of July. And there should be a lot more rebates this year.

And from the "What will they think of next department"?-- Look for some of these new features and gadgets on grills:

The Fiesta Blue Ember iQue - Really does have "IQ" beause it has a touch-screen display and uses sonar to gauge how much propane is left in the tank. It is being billed as the "world's first computer controlled grill," meaning you need it plugged into electrical to work. It goes for $900 dollars.

The NexGrill (Makers of grills under Jenn-Air, or Kirkland) now offers a mini-fridge with space for a few six-packs and condiments below. Not sure how cold that stays considering you are heating /cooking above, but may be worth checking out. It sells for $860.

Happy grilling and let me know what you love to grill on!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Solar Powered Outdoor Lanterns

Here's a trendy and eco-smart way to light up your Outdoor Living experience!
Check out these Solar Powered Outdoor Lanterns! They were a huge hit at a recent home tour in the Los Angeles area and I found where you can buy them online for about $20 doll
Go to:

You can hang them on a hook, or around a tree limb and the best part is no electrical wiring needed! Plus when the sun goes down, you have an instant glow on your patio!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Cool Ways to Go Green

If you've been thinking of bringing more green into your world, here are some very fun and cool ways to do it. There are "shades" of going green, or being energy efficient and environmentally friendly. I attended the Alt Build Expo ( Alternative Building Materials) in Santa Monica, California where I found these creative ways to do just that and go green.

Like TOTALLY FLUE-less! This is one of the coolest is this clean burning fire place called The EcoSmart Fire. It is an Australian innovation that is clean burning, uses Ethanol, it is flue-less and does not require any installation , or utility connection for fuel supply. You can use it as a fireplace or a free standing fire tower surrounded by glass. Here it is in the Tower form. You can put it inside your home, or outside on the deck/swimming pool area. You can even qualify for a $1500 dollar Tax Credit because it is eco-friendly. Here's their website:

Terrazzo tiles made of recycled glass and concrete! Great for counter tops and striking too!

Collagen for your walls! We've heard of collagen injections to keep the skin looking youthful. Here is an environmentally friendly method of painting with Collagen paint! It's for the interior of the home and is made from used eggshells that would end up in landfills. They are cleaned, dried, and ground into fine powder. The pain is odorless, natural, no harmful chemicals and no volatile organic compounds ( VOC's). It comes in a complete palette of 120 colors. Check:

GreenSwitch -Here's how to control all of your electrical control switches throughout the home with one master switch that will help you reduce home energy consumption. A wireless signal is sent to all of the GreenSwitch components, ( wall plugs, light switches, thermostat) . Designated light switches and wall plugs turn off automatically as you leave your home and then you just flip back to on when you return. Average home installation is about an hour. See more at :

How about going green with a living rooftop? What started in Europe is becoming more popular here from municipalities and corporations to homeowners! Green or living roofs are waterproof and drainage system is installed along with landscape of your choosing. Green roofs not only reduce energy costs with it's insulation, it reduces urban heat island effect, alleviates stormwater runoff, reduces noise pollution and creates a serene, gorgeous vista. Check

Let me know what you think!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Great Kitchen Finds from KBIS Kitchen Bath Show Atlanta

We never seem to have enough time or space in our homes, especially the kitchen right? And since multi-tasking is our way of life, Kohler is out with a new kitchen sink called the Stages Kitchen Sink, that I really like. It helps you maximize the space and time you've got, and helps you prep a meal in various stages in the same single sink. Suddenly you are a big time chef!

Here Kohler's very nice Executive Chef, Ulrich Koberstein shows me how it works.

FYI, did you know that Kohler makes their own chocolate now?

Speaking of sinks, here's another good one, made by Blanco, The Silgranite II. What is especially handy is how you can't scratch it for the life of you. Here we tried the fork test and all it did was take metal off the fork which did not penetrate through the sink which is 80% granite and 20% composite. It comes in 5 colors and sells from $400 to $1500.

Here is an amazing kitchen faucet I've fallen in love with. It is made by Brizo called the Talo. It has a pull down feature that reconnects on its own with a trademarked "Magnedock". This one is venetian bronze but comes in several other metallics.
Watch how it works:

Where to put the spices, small snacks, your kitchen supplies and all of those little doo-dads you need in the kitchen? The Hettich company has an incredible new solution with it's under-counter Oraga T Wing with customized storage.

And here is the above stove or cook top storage organizer, the Cosario also made by Hettich.

Here's the new refrigerator by LG that helps you stay organized and avoid wasting food you forgot was there (out of sight out of mind) of with its newest version with 4 doors. The freezer has two drawers, so you can keep the turkey and larger portions in one with smaller snacks and items in the other.

The better to see you with my pretty--This is the new refrigerator by Electrolux

It offers luxury lighting that is ramped so you can see food way in the back, even when some things are so big they might otherwise hide the light. It also features a drawer that can hold 3 cases of beer and a tri-level freezer for more space-MSRP $3799.

Here are the new Washer Dryer Machines by Electrolux. The red ( the one you see in the TV commercial with a woman dressed in red) is made with BMW paint and is SO red it has metallic flakes in the
paint. Gorgeous.

Equally pretty ( one more reason not to put off doing the laundry) is the new Turquoise Sky model. This picture doesn't do it justice but had to share. It was launched on Earth Day and $200 dollars on every pair you purchase goes to support Research to fight Ovarian Cancer

And if you want to die for counter tops and budget isn't a concern-- why not go precious stone? It's expensive but so out of this world beautiful. These are made by Prexury

- $15,000 for a slab for your counter but it's in Amethyst, Wild Agate, Rose Quartz, and just stunning! Maybe you could use some of this for a backsplash or top off an island and stretch the budget with another material on the larger spaces?

Let me know your thoughts!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Luxury Bathroom Finds at the Kitchen and Bath KBIS Show in Atlanta

No matter how you feel about your Bathroom, when you see all of the amazing new innovations at the 2009 Kitchen and Bath Industry Trade Show (aka KBIS) that just wrapped up in Atlanta, you can't help but want to do something new, and maybe splurge. This trade show is a total sensory experience, and the end result of many months and years of trends and technology research, product testing and design creativity by the hundreds of manufacturers showing off their stuff. Take a look at some of the spectacular finds I discovered to enhance your sense of luxury and style in the bathroom.

Bathe by Moonlight!- It's one of TOTO's latest designs called the Luminist and like it
sounds it is luminescent and gorgeous. It is a hybrid epoxy with the translucence of glass that can be lit from below-hence the moonlight vibe for your bathtub, your sink, even your toilet! TOO cool!

TOTO's Luminist technology can also transform your sink/lavatory and is breathtaking!

Speaking of TOTO another hot trend is to save space and water by installing a toilet that is mounted to the wall. Here is the new Neorest II Wall Hung Dual Flush

It is a smart toilet that is energy and water efficient and also incorporates that beautiful Luminist glow on the push plate to coordinate with a lavatory and soaker tub.

How about a shower and bathtub experience in one? WHAT? Well, TOTO has the solution in the form of its GyroSteam which brings the relaxing qualities of the bath culture to our love affair with the shower! Here's how it works--TOTO brings a water flow through nozzles on two different axes that tilt and rotate, resulting in greater and more consistent water distribution. The result is a body drenching experience as if you were in a bath!

Check out the hand-painted high-art known as TOTO's Waza Collection the Miyabi series of toilets and lavatories that Asian cherry blossom designs for each of the seasons, including one that is 24 carat gold!

I also found some great plumbing fixtures by Brizo. Check out the Brizo Sensori Shower that promises to give you indulgence with a customized head, hand and body spray in the shower.

Less glam and more practicality, there is the Odor Proof Toilet. Not the first, but a company called VIP says it is the best.

Here's how it works. The VIP toilet system has a battery-powered fan that removes foul air from beneath the user and flushes it out into the sewer along with the accompanying waste. It installs just like a regular toilet with no additional construction.

Discover more by listening to Home Wizards live Saturday's 8-9 AM PST/11-Noon EST or archives at Email me at and let me know what you think!

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Kitchen and Bath Show 2009 KBIS in Atlanta

If you go ga-ga for Kitchen and Bath anything, this is the place! KBIS, the largest Kitchen Bath Industry Trade Show is underway in Atlanta and I'm here to share all the scoop with you!
Here's the buzz I'm hearing so far and it's good news for our economy, or so says one group that completed a national poll which says we as homeowners who like to improve our home are feeling more confident and going from the "stay-cation" to "feathering the nest," and perhaps launching into bigger projects! We'll see. More on that in my upcoming blogs from KBIS.

For the next several days I'll take you "shopping" with me, since this really gives you a great overview of all the neat new things you can get and do for your home-- mainly the Kitchen and Bath. And here's just a taste of some of the hot stuff I've discovered so far. We're talking 900 leading manufacturers all here unveiling their latest toys and technologies for the home!

How about an Outdoor Kitchen and Cabinetry made of Bamboo, Teak or Cyprus? Atlantis makes it so your fun in the sun can withstand any kind of weather, rain or shine, snow or sleet too! And it's available in a bunch of colors. It is the "ironman" of outdoor kitchens because of its weatherproof Perma-Panel engineering and beautiful custom wood designs.

Check out:
I love this Tiki bar above, made of Teak.

Talk about Bling for your Kitchen--this is not a chandelier or disco-ball but a range hood full of pizazz! An Italian based manufacturer called Elica makes these gorgeous varieties of range hoods. This one is appropriately called "Star" that goes for $ 3750. They use the patented All-in One Evolution system-- so, it decorates, illuminates and ventilates!

Don't have space for a washer AND a dryer or just want to create more room in your laundry room? Consider Fagor's latest creation. It's two in one and measures aboaut 2 feet by 2 feet- a washer and dryer in one machine! Great for condos, boats, spare washer/dryer in the garage.

You eliminate the need of removing your clothes from the washer to another unit to dry them, save space and energy too!

Looking for a splash of zen in your bathroom? You may like this bathtub made by Viaggi and is the MAAX collection. It's an egg shaped tub that sits on top of a bamboo wooden frame and is a work of art on its own.

Here is a cool way to introduce the look of metallic to your home without breaking the bank. ACP has the look of it in metal wall paneling for your home or garage. It's called The Fascade Wall Panels.

They are made of composite thermoplastic and are water and corrosion resistant!!! 19 different finishes from chrome to aluminum...and they also have embossed stampings and patterns. They also make metal tile that looks like a metal back splash but is a 3 x 6 inch tile that you peel and stick! Plus they are made from 60 percent recycled material. Talk about an easy weekend DIY project!

What's your favorite? And would you like me to hunt for? Email me at:

More to come!!

(You can hear me talk about it live on my show online at Saturday 8-9AM PST/11-Noon EST)

Monday, April 27, 2009

Outdoor TV ROCKS!

We are all in the mood to spend more time outdoors right? And since we can't live without the TV (Picture watching the SuperBowl outside) here is a great find. It's a TV made by Sunbrite You could hose it down and it wouldn't hurt this thing! Imagine this on your patio! And the great thing is, the pricepoint isn't bad--roughly $2500. Check it out! I especially love how it's not only weatherproof, and resists dirt and scratches, it is a great monitor in terms of outdoor quality picture and resisting glare! In my view the MUST for any outdoor living room!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Fabric For The Ceiling And Beyond

Don’t forget “the fifth wall”- the ceiling and instead of paint, why not try fabric! Amy Devault, a designer at the 2009 Pasadena Showcase House (Pasadena, CA) did in the Library she made over and it looks great! The fabric has a metallic sheen to it and you can find it inexpensively in the downtown Los Angeles Fabric/ Fashion District. Here it was stapled with a staple gun to the ceiling! The designer trick here is by making the ceiling the focal point, it will open up a small space, by diverting the eye! Very clever!

Here Larry Rizkowsky Designer at the Showcase House used outdoor fabric for a tent effect on his Grand Terrace. Notice how he created a palette of black and white which started from the grand piano also on the patio/terrace.

Think Outdoor Sunbrella Fabric for the Indoors as well as outdoors! It’s what top designers are doing at the Pasadena Showcase House. For example, these curtains from Designer David Dalton’s Adult Male/Guest Room space are outdoor fabric. It’s more durable, fade proof and an awesome trendy choice!

Prada Fabric Chair and Great Room Scent

This citron yellow leather chair is featured at the Pasadena Showcase House in the Young Adult Male/Guest room, done by Designer David Dalton. When I saw it, and touched it I said, this reminds me of a Prada bag. Turns out the fabric IS genuine Prada, made from a raincoat and it is so soft! Really a fun use of yellow pop up a room.

Not only do I love this chair but the entire room/space! It’s an excellent example of how and why we need not be afraid of using bold color in our homes. Here David used yellow, with black, white, and some chocolate brown. It has a mod but also optimistic and refreshing feel!

LOVE this candle, a special fragrance of fresh lemon and herb. It smells great before you even light it! It’s a product sold by one of the Showcase Designers and a recent guest, Larry Rizkowsky.

Go to