Home & Garden

Mon
06
May

Three reasons to have your soil tested this spring

Did you know that one pound of phosphorus from excessive fertilization can produce anywhere from 300 to 500 pounds of algae if that phosphorus reaches a lake or river?

Wed
01
May

Updates that add value — to your home and your life in it


This knotty-pine-paneled porch had seen its day, and its owners hoped to work it into a plan to create a kitchen-greatroom area. Don Hruby says his challenge was to unite a 1970s enclosed kitchen with the porch and with a raised dining room. “We had to lower the floor of the dining room 16 inches, for a start.” (photos courtesy Rossbach Construction)

The classic ‘70s kitchen, complete with a harvest-gold stove, needed major surgery to open it up so the homeowners could host friends, neighbors and a growing family of kids and grandchildren without being cut off from the action.

Believe it or not, this is the same kitchen -- note the window location and curtains. Now, the kitchen is open to the dining room and has a high counter where helpers -- or eaters -- can interact with the cook. Instead of that classic earth-tone stove, the homeowners have an Advantium combination microwave-convection-conventional oven. Hruby notes that he and Rossbach crews joined neighbors, family and friends a la “This Old House” for a luncheon to celebrate the project’s completion. “I think the owners just couldn’t wait to use that new kitchen,” he says.

The blue cabinet fronts and worn counters in this kitchen scream “dated,” as does the dark backsplash with aging grout. From any viewpoint -- homeowner enjoying working in the kitchen or buyer deciding between houses -- it was past time for a change. The challenge: there was no way to expand the room.

Yes, this is the former “blue kitchen,” with the same footprint but a welcome new look. It now has quartersawn oak cabinets with inset doors, Mission-style drawer pulls and a decorative stone backsplash that reflect its 1906 heritage. Taking the cabinets up to the ceiling offered more storage and the opportunity to add a wide transom over an expanded window space. New fixtures include a combination microwave-convection-conventional oven, quartz countertops and, of course, a farmhouse sink.

This bungalow’s front porch had been converted into living space some years ago, with the addition of non-period picture windows and without changing the entryway. The result: an oddly anachronistic look and an indoor space divided by foot traffic. “We were able to change the entryway so it made sense, in part because the bricks were falling off the front of the house,” Don Hruby of Rossbach Construction quips.

Now, the homeowners can really take advantage of the space they gained by finishing the porch. An architect’s vision called for Pella three-over-one paned windows to reflect the period and a pergola to help define the entry. Hruby had to go on a search to find matching bricks, but the new, retucked with colored mortar next to the old, look fine. Crews also redashed all the stucco.

1980s gray vinyl siding as far as the eye can see. When it’s time to replace exterior finishes, it’s good to think “outside the box” and not just exchange one monotone color for another.

Surprisingly, the pavers on the porch and walk are original to the home; Hruby had to match the siding, trim and stone treatments to them. The result: a home that says quality, permanence and welcome without saying a word.

Now, the home has the depth and richness that make for instant curb appeal. The siding is new fibercement panels that won’t dent with the next hailstorm, and the trim is a combination of wood and resins that boasts woodgrain appearances and rot resistance. The garage and front entry columns were given solid quality appeal with cultured stone facings.

Where can homeowners invest in remodeling projects that pay back the most both in dollars and enjoyment?

Kitchens, bathrooms and exteriors, say the experts.

Tue
16
Apr

How late is it, anyway?

According to seasonal averages, this spring is “behind” the average by about a week and a half, assistant state climatologist Pete Boulay says.

Spring 2012, on the other hand, came four weeks early.

Tue
16
Apr

What to do with a late spring?

Last year saw throngs flocking to garden stores the first two weeks of April.

Mon
08
Apr

Check the foundations, the roof -- and the radon

An estimated one in three Minnesota homes harbors high levels of radon, and the Minnesota Department of Health urges people to have radon levels checked before buying or selling a home.

Fri
05
Apr

'Rehab Addict' host Nicole Curtis transforms local house


This spring, viewers of “Rehab Addict” have been watching host Nicole Curtis restore this 1,264-square-foot house, which was built in 1889 on the East Side of St. Paul.

The front of the restored 381 Case Ave. house, with the woodwork on the front porch intact, is shown on a sunny day. (photo courtesy of DIY Network.)

In the 381 Case Avenue home, the ‘Rehab Addict’ team tackled ceiling and wall damage, a worn floor and an original fireplace mantel and pocket door in need of restoration. (photos courtesy of Ariel Photography)

The kitchen needed extensive work on the ceiling and floors, as well as a better-organized workspace. Nicole Curtis moved the built-in cabinet from a facing wall to a spot over the sink and added more counter space for modern cooks. (photos courtesy of Ariel Photography)

Relocating a virtual traffic jam of doors and exposing more of the chimney brickwork set the stage for a spacious, serene bedroom. (photos courtesy of Ariel Photography)

An unused nook in the dining room, just left, becomes a perfect place to display a period buffet, and repaired windows let the light shine in.(photos courtesy of Ariel Photography)

One East Side home full of memories gets brought back to life, soul intact

Fri
05
Apr

Q & A with Nicole Curtis of 'Rehab Addict'


Nicole Curtis (photo courtesy of DIY Network)

In the Case Ave house, a little-used porch, at top, becomes a great place for a breezy breakfast or supper. The “car siding” that adds such a warm tone to the space is now reflected by the restored plank flooring. (photos courtesy of Ariel Photography)

In the bathroom of the Case Ave house, Curtis used a couple new fixtures with old-time style, but kept the lovely claw-foot tub. To make the tub useful as a shower, it was easy to add a shower spray and curtain, but the team also had to make the wall alongside the tub waterproof. The glazed subway tile Curtis chose looks like it’s been there since the 1880s. (photos courtesy of Ariel Photography)

TV host talks about her latest project and popular show

Fri
05
Apr

Spring tips for official clean water

Spring is a challenging time for our lakes, rivers and wetlands.  Snowmelt and rain wash many pollutants into these water bodies.  Because the ground is still frozen, water cannot be absorbed or infiltrate the ground. Instead rain and melting snow act like a water hose, washing the landscape free of sand, salt and debris.

Mon
21
Nov

Cooking fires peak on Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is the peak day for home cooking fires, according to the National Fire Protection Association.

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