Discovered that your apartment isn't exactly in "move-in condition" as advertised? Make the best of it with these easy do-it-yourself tips.
Home improvement can be ecstatically enjoyable if, somehow, you're already rich enough to own a home worth improving. For the other 99.99 percent of us not yet living in our dream dwelling, "home improvement" is more akin to "necessary chores" - interchangeable with the phrase "fixing all the broke stuff in my shack." We'd just like to get it over with quickly and cost-effectively.
That's why we like Gene and Katie Hamilton, authors of the syndicated column "Do It Yourself Or Not?" and founders of HouseNet.com. They have an encyclopedic knack for improving the home-improvement process, perhaps eventually saving us enough time and money to actually afford that dream house someday.
Here's a mere sampling of their many clever fix-it tricks:
- To restore the shine of chrome fixtures in the bathroom, use a piece of paper towel soaked in white vinegar. Wrap the towel around the fixture, let it set for about five minutes, and then just buff it with a dry rag. For tough water stains, try a second application.
- When removing wallpaper in a room, use plastic drop cloths and masking tape for protection and easy cleanup. Run the tape along the top of the floor molding and attach the plastic drop cloth to it. Unfold the plastic into the room. When the job's done, just roll up the plastic with all of the wet and soggy shreds of wallpaper inside it.
- To remove a rust stain, make a paste of hydrogen peroxide and cream of tartar and rub it into the stain. Let it set about 10 minutes and then wipe away. A second application might be needed, but it works!
- To prevent drips from spilling down the side of a paint or varnish can, use a hammer and nail to punch holes in the lid groove every couple of inches around the groove. As you wipe excess paint from the brush against the inside of the can, it will spill into the holes and then back into the can.
- To remove corrosion from brass, add one tablespoon salt and one tablespoon white vinegar to two cups of hot water. Soak the brass in the mixture for about 10 minutes and use a scrubber to rub off the corrosion. Then polish the brass, and it looks like new.
While most of these tasks can be undertaken without consulting your landlord (in fact, he'll probably thank you for doing the stuff he should have done), don't forget to ask before painting or undertaking other major improvements.