The TOH Top 100: Best New Home Products 2011
The editors of This Old House hunted high and low to find this year's best products for homeowners and DIYers
How great would it be if someone invented a bath fan that stays on until the humidity's gone? Someone did, as you'll see on slide 17. And wouldn't it be nice if someone could make energy-efficient CFLs more attractive? Check out slides 85 and 86. While we're at it, shouldn't there be a friendlier way to select moldings for your walls? We refer you to slide 46. Okay, but what about stone veneer that requires no mortar to install? It's here too—along with many other not-so-humble products for your abode. One hundred, to be exact, many of them surprises, all of them terrific in their own way. TOH editors hunted high and low to find them because we know that people who love old houses also appreciate new ways to fix them up. Which is to say, in the following pages, we hope you'll find as much inspiration for next year's project calendar as we do.
We all want granite countertops—until that first glass of malbec topples. Lovely stone, but so much TLC! That's why we're so impressed that these dead ringers give you the look without the hassle. For instance, the lightly stippled surface of Formica's new Faux Granite Laminate ($16-$19 per square foot; formica.com) catches light like the real thing.
Not to be outdone, Silestone's easy-to-clean Galactic Series ($54-$82 per square foot; silestoneusa.com) features six earthy options that hold up to wear and tear without needing to be sealed.
Now there's no need to finagle your way into a trade-only showroom to score a height-adjustable kitchen faucet—Lowe's will do. Meet the first off-the-shelf kitchen faucet whose spout telescopes to three different heights: 8 inches for splash-free rinsing; or up to 11 inches to fill deep pots.
Elevate EXT Pull-down Kitchen Faucet, by Pfister;$198; lowes.com
Forget plain glass globes. We're ready to go classy over the sink or kitchen island with a set of these striking fixtures that update 19th-century Holophane-style glass by capping it with a gleaming metal hemisphere.
Winfield pendant light, by Hudson Valley Lighting. From $299; hudsonvalleylighting.com
We didn't know SodaStream could get any better, but it has. Now, patented chip technology lets you dial in your desired level of carbonation.
Fizz Soda Starter Kit, by SodaStream USA; $170; sodastreamusa.com
Here's to true innovation: an entire suite of pro-style stainless-steel appliances (oven, stove, microwave, dishwasher) for under $8,000. The marquee player, a 30-inch continuous-grate gas cooktop, has a go-to burner that can crank out 18,000 BTUs or settle into a gentle simmer.
Distinctive Series, by Dacor; $1,049; dacor.com
This fire-slayer doesn't blast, it blankets. Train it on a stovetop grease fire, and it swallows flames with a nontoxic powder that's technically edible (we'll take their word for it). Small enough to stash undercounter and light enough to wield one-handed, it's a no-brainer.
Kitchen Fire Extinguisher, by Kidde; $20; kidde.com
The luminous finish on this solid brass spigot captured our attention not only for its rose-gold gorgeousness. It reflects a new electroplating color finish developed by Premier Copper, which offers a lifetime warranty to go along with claims that it's as durable and tarnish-resistant as chrome. Two handles let you choose how to control the flow, if not your enthusiasm.
Wall-Mounted Pot Filler, by Tru Faucets; $399; trufaucets.com
A spongy mat is one of those things you don't miss until you're standing to peel a bushelful of green chilies. Hide its homeliness with a patterned polyester sleeve that can go straight in the laundry.
Seasons Removable Mat Covers, by WellnessMats. $40 for the cover; $120 for mats; wellnessmats.com
That fancy new prosumer range deserves—demands, actually—ventilation just as powerful. This breakthrough model's DC motor sips 75 percent less energy than its AC equivalent, making far less racket, yet moves 715 cfm of air, so nobody has to know about that shrimp flambé experiment.
Venezia Vent Hood, by Zephyr; from $1,200; zephyronline.com
We perked right up at this fresh alternative to white fixtures and finishes. A cross between cream and light gray, it's mid-priced among Kohler's finish options, so adding a hint of warmth won't break the bank.
Dune, by Kohler; Kohler.com
Match up grams on one dial with teaspoons on another and see precisely how much cumin that recipe requires. Sticky fingers? Tilt the phone to turn the dials.
Free for iOS; kitchendial.com
Nothing wakes up tired walls quite like a shapely silhouette, and this fixture earns a slot for its softened hourglass curves. Conical shades screw into a brushed-aluminum center plate, making this lamp a show-stopper whether used in a pair to flank a mirror or mounted horizontally above it.
Gemini Mid-Century Modern Wall Bracket, by Rejuvenation; $175; rejuvenation.com
Bath fans nix odors, excess steam, and moisture—so long as they're on. This is the first one that switches on when someone enters and stays on as long as it detects high humidity.
WhisperSense Ventilation Fan, by Panasonic; from $312; panasonic.com/ventfans
We're glad to throw our weight behind the trend in textured tile. Artistic Tile's Knot mimics the natural end-grain of cut lumber, and provides slip-resistance ($9.25 per square foot for 6-by-24-inch planks; artistictile.com).
A tub molded after an antique cast-iron soaker that's easier to install because it's lighter? Love it. Paint or polish its rust-proof aluminum alloy exterior, and order its enamel lining in just about any color. Hand cast in England, this reproduction weighs 100 pounds less than the original—and supposedly costs half the price.
St. Versailles Tub, by The Bath Works; $7,750 as shown; thebathworks.com
You don't even have to muss the fancy new champagne-bronze finish to turn on this faucet: Tap the faucet or wave a hand within 4 inches of it and a sensor that picks up static electricity starts the water flowing.
Addison Faucet with touch20.xt, by Delta; $416; deltafaucet.com
This compact vanity—about 16 inches wide and deep—makes the most of a tiny powder room without sacrificing storage on the altar of traditional style.
Lillangen Sink and Cabinet, IKEA; $174; ikea.com
Why splurge on a new dual-flush toilet when you can retro-fit yours? The toilet is still the biggest water hog in the house, and this snap-on system uses only what's needed to clear the bowl—half flush for liquids, full flush for solids.
Duo Flush System, by Fluidmaster; $30; fluidmaster.com
Thanks to baby boomers' clamoring to age in place, universal design is starting to look pretty sharp. Moen's Designer Grab Bar series (towel bar, paper holder, shelf, $59.90 each; moen.com) gives good grip without the nursing-home look. D-shaped anchors mean you don't need to hit a stud.
Enter a room's height, circumference, and the number of windows and doors, and you'll get the amount of paint required to cover it. Ditto wallpaper, tiles, and carpet.
99 cents for iOSl; clevermatrix.co.uk
Pit the company's toilets against stuff you'd never dream of trying to flush—hot dogs, molding clay, cotton balls—and watch oddly mesmerizing videos of it disappearing.
Free for iOS; itunes.com
Who says a sliding miter saw must slide on rails? Not us, after beholding the clever accordion-style arm here. It allows you to station the saw right up against a wall or to work in a tight area, like a hallway.
Axial Glide Miter Saw GCM12SD, by Bosch; $800; boschtools.com
Ten minutes till kickoff, the new flat-screen is almost installed, then pfzzz—your drill/driver konks out. If it's a 12-volt lithium-ion Craftsman, don't sweat it. In three minutes, this charger fills a dead battery to 25 percent capacity, enough to drive 70 more screws.
NEXTEC 12 Volt QuickBoost Charger 29497, by Craftsman; $40; craftsman.com
The truth? This Gumby-like 43⁄4-by-9-inch bendy funnel is our favorite pick of the year. Shape it to capture oil from hard-to-reach drain plugs, pour gas into the snowblower, or funnel grass seed into the spreader—perhaps not in that order. Better get two.
Form-a-Funnel TLS706, by New Pig; $9.95 each; newpig.com
Man has been painting the walls since fire first cast a glow upon them—and we can't believe it's taken all this time to perfect the roller frame. Gone are the four stiff wires that distort a roller cover and make it skip like a four-sided wheel. Instead, an easy-to-clean polypropylene axle turns on nylon ball bearings. Pretty slick.
Cageless Frame 140751129, by Purdy; $10; purdy.com
Senco's Fusion nailer possesses the portability of cordless nailers without the hassle of gas fuel cells, and the rapid-fire power of pneumatic tools without the compressor. How? Its sealed-air cylinder, powered by an 18-volt lithium-ion battery, acts as a compressor to drive 18-gauge nails from 5⁄8 to 21⁄8 inches long.
Fusion F-18 FN55AX, by Senco; $389; senco.com
Banging 31⁄2-inch 16d framing nails used to be the province of 28-ounce steel hammers or lighter titanium versions costing four times as much. Now that we have DeWalt's 15-ounce MIG-welded steel hammer in our mitts, those options seem obsolete. Equally easy on your wallet and your shoulder.
15-ounce framing hammer DWHT51138, by DeWalt; $60; dewalt.com
For the price of one heirloom-quality hand plane, you could get this three-piece set of very, very good planes. No kidding: African rosewood handles, ductile cast-iron bodies, and high-carbon steel blades in a quiver fit to touch up molding, shave end grain, and smooth rough stock.
Ultimate Cabinetmakers Kit 152763, by WoodRiver; $370; woodcraft.com
Small, 1-gallon compressors aren't up to heavy-duty framing jobs, but lugging a 5-gallon one upstairs to install window trim is no more productive. Let us introduce the combo compressor: plenty powerful when both tanks are assembled, but easy to break down into two separate tanks for smaller jobs or powering tools in different rooms.
Tri-Stack 5-Gallon Air Compressor OF50150TS, by Ridgid; $250; ridgid.com
You can have your plastic protractor. We'd rather read an angle as a clear-cut digital integer—no squinting—on this new tool-box essential.
Digital Sliding T-Bevel No. 828, by General Tools & Instruments; $35; generaltools.com
It takes a hammer drill to drive a fastener into concrete or brick, and it's nice to see that specialty function built into a daily-driver 12-volt drill. You get 275 in.-lb. of torque and 22,500 beats per minute for taking on masonry, and a 22-position clutch for sinking screws.
M12 Cordless ⅜-inch Hammer Drill Driver Kit 2411-22, by Milwaukee; $159; milwaukeetools.com
The only thing more useful than a utility blade is one that lasts five times longer. Like this one. Powdered tungsten carbide—fairy dust second in hardness only to diamonds—is heat-fused to the cutting edge with a laser. Band-Aids not included.
Carbide Utility Blade 11-800, by Stanley; $5 for five; stanleytools.com
Search the digitized version of the U.S. Army's 223-page Field Manual on carpentry to find anything from how to plan a deck to the actual measurements of nominal lumber.
$1.99 for iOS; doubledogstudios.com
Scroll through 288 species to compare hardness, density, and movement—how much a board expands or contracts in various conditions. A must for us.
$3.99 for iOS; woodshopwidget.com
Hinged-steel-beam construction means your custom home arrives on a standard semi—a first—and that it's ridiculously sturdy. Mostly, though, we love that you can finally have the advantages of factory precision in a traditional design.
Lofthouse, by Blu Homes; from $355,000; bluhomes.com
Batt insulation made of recycled plastic bottles and virgin polyester means no itchy glass fibers and no need for a mask. It won't sag, and an R-13 batt provides an R-value of 4 per inch.
EnGuard GlassFree Insulation, by Vita Nonwovens; 72 cents per square foot; enguardinsulation.com
Let your walls do the air scrubbing with drywall that converts airborne nasties, such as VOCs and formaldehyde, into harmless compounds and locks them into its gypsum core. Skip the oil-based paint, since it would seal the surface. No biggie: Latex is our go-to interior wall choice anyway.
AirRenew Drywall, by CertainTeed; About $19 for a 4-by-8-foot sheet; certainteed.com
Besides enlisting the likes of molding whisperer Brent Hull to faithfully resurrect 65 early American profiles, what's deserving here is the catalog itself. It groups moldings by style, not profile. So if it's Greek Revival you're into, you'll find baseboard to crown in the same section.
Classical Moulding Catalog, by Kuiken Brothers; Free; kuikenbrothers.com
Finishing the basement just got simpler, thanks to interlocking EPS foam panels that clip right onto concrete walls, sparing you the chore of installing stud walls and vapor barriers. Top it with drywall to meet fire codes.
Refit Interior Energy-Efficient Finishing System, by Arxx; about $1.85 per square foot; refiticf.com
Finally, a truly DIY stone veneer, one that requires no mortar or trowel. We see it as a beautiful new way to replace vinyl siding or disguise cinder block. Or just glue the jigsaw panel pieces to an interior accent wall, stand back, and admire what looks to everyone else like dry-laid natural stones.
ModulaStone, by Pierrexpert; $9.50 per square foot; modulastone.com
Heat-reflective granules on these shingles can turn back up to 40 percent of the sun's infrared radiation, and unlike most solar-reflective roofing—this is the part that won us over—they're available in dark colors.
Landmark Solaris Platinum Roof Shingles, by CertainTeed; $200 per 100 square feet; certainteed.com
We've been waiting for this new silicone-enhanced acrylic sealant. It goes on bubble-gum pink and, as it dries, fades to white—your all-clear sign to paint. A good caulk just got better.
Colorcure Pink 2 White Caulk, by Reddevil; $3.98; reddevil.com
Replace carriage bolts, not to mention the rigmarole of drilling pilot holes and tightening the bolts, with a specially designed screw that you drive straight into a joist while finger-tightening the nut.
ThruLok Fastener, by FastenMaster; $25 for six 8-inch through bolts; fastenmaster.com
Building this replica of the Robie House, with its 2,276 pieces, gives you some small sense of the challenge Frank Lloyd Wright's builder faced in 1910 when standing up the original 9,062-square-foot house in Hyde Park, Illinois. Just the second of the master's houses to be translated into interlocking plastic.
Architect Series Robie House, by LEGO; $200; lego.com
This tough wood-vinyl composite trim snaps right onto exposed flanges on Andersen's 200, 400, and A Series windows and doors, eliminating measuring, miter cuts, and nails.
Exterior Trim System, by Andersen; about $10 per foot; andersenwindows.com
Lay down the hardest of hardwood deck boards in a jiffy thanks to a newly developed screw with an augering tip that hogs out wood as it goes. The spacing tool uniformly positions each board and directs the screws through the sides.
CAMO Hidden Deck Fastening System, by National Nail Corp.; $60 for a kit to cover 200 square feet; camofasteners.com
Craft a house plan in 2-D and 3-D, complete with floor coverings, fixtures, and finishes, in about 20 minutes—the first time you use it.
$3.99 for iPhone, $5.99 for iPad; livecad.net
Punch in staircase and handrail dimensions, choose the configuration, and this app saves you the tedium of calculating baluster spacing. Hallelujah.
$2.99; iOS and Android; gabrioconstruction.com
Waxed beechwood handles, solid-brass ferrules, and an ergonomic grip tailored for women's smaller hands lend these garden tools the style and quality of heirlooms-to-be. No surprise, then, that they're designed by the daughter of contemporary furniture icon Terence Conran.
Sophie Conran Garden Tools for Burgon & Ball; $23-$25 each; shovelandhoe.com
A big shout-out to hosta honcho Bill Meyer for hybridizing this particularly thick-leaved variety of one of the easiest plants to grow. Its whimsical curly leaves rebuff slug damage better than many and feature a cream-colored rim.
'Wheee!' Hosta, by Walters Garden; $20 for a 1 gallon plant; waysidegardens.com
Most battery-powered blowers don't do much more than whisper to patio debris, but this bad boy generates a stream of air that clocks in at 102 mph and moves 385 cubic feet per minute (cfm). That is, its 36-volt battery is comparable to an emissions-spewing machine, and at a neighbor-friendly 64 decibels.
BGA 85 Cordless Blower by Stihl; $500; stihlusa.com
We couldn't resist this fresh take on the trellis. Handmade from powder-coated steel, which will last for decades, these playful structures offer a no-fuss way to brighten up the garden.
Akoris Tuteur, by TerraTrellis; from $279; terratrellis.com
Our favorite innovations are those that seem so obvious after the fact, like this combo patio heater/lamp. A hidden propane tank fuels the lampshade-shrouded flame, and a rechargeable battery pack fuels the LEDs, which illuminate the bulbous composite body in any of seven colors you select on a remote.
Allison Kindle Heater Lamp, by Kindle Living; $2,454; kindleliving.com
Prime spot near the stadium entrance? Check. Tickets? Got 'em. Hibachi? Fired up! Now all you need is a wheelable 2,000-watt inverter generator to power the flat-screen—and the fridge—for the pregame show. It'll run 4-plus hours on a tank of gas. If only it could drive you home, too.
RYi2000T Portable inverter Generator, by Ryobi; $600; ryobitools.com
Not everyone wants or needs a monster outdoor kitchen, so Char-Broil shrunk its flameless infrared technology to a size fit for patios. You can still get 12 burgers under its easy-to-clean porcelain-coated shell.
Patio Bistro Grill, by Char-Broil; $180; charbroil.com
This is the first well-priced upholstered outdoor recliner we've seen that's stylish and comfy enough to lug inside each year come football season. The chair's sturdy steel frame cradles weather-resistant cushions that come in four colors and include a coordinating lumbar pillow.
Pompasian Recliner, by La-Z-Boy; $374; lazyboyoutdoor.com
If you've ever lost hold of, say, a load of concrete, you'll appreciate the design of these new wheelbarrow handles as much as we do. The looped shape means you can change your grip as you dump, to keep things under control.
Total Control wheelbarrow, by True Temper; $70 as shown; amestruetemper.com
We would be lost without this nifty new visual encyclopedia of plant perturbers that makes identifying problems with your potted friends as easy as swiping through a photo library.
Pest & Disease Detective, by Gardener's Supply Company; Free; gardenersupply.com
How often do you get to bust out the chain saw? After a big storm? Maybe for a Halloween party? This one's 40-volt lithium-ion battery won't discharge after long stints of inactivity, so there's no more coaxing dormant gas-powered engines to life. It's quieter, too.
PowerNow CS250 40v max Cordless Chain Saw, by Oregon; from $400; oregonpowernowtools.com
Sorry, but we already found the Holy Grail: a deck whose boards require no fasteners. Instead, 14 hardwood treads with grooved channels snap onto sleeper-mounted rails. The upshot is a spa-worthy deck whose beautiful boards—ipe, padauk, merbau, afromosia, or teak—easily peel off if necessary.
Softline System, by Vetedy; $16 per square foot for ipe; montrealdeck.com
Take a pic of that mystery tree's leaves and this app will try to match it to a photo database of trees and their flowers, fruit, seeds, and bark. N.Y.C. and D.C. only—for now.
Free for iOS; leafsnap.com
Ogle more than 9,400 plants from our hero Michael A. Dirr's The Manual of Woody Landscape Plants, and sort by foliage type, growth rate, the amount of sunlight they need, and more.
$15 for iOS; itunes.com
Behold, the first affordable Sonos: a networked streaming jukebox that beams digital tunes from your computer or the Internet to this powered speaker. Perfect for the kitchen window or garage workbench.
Play:3, by Sonos; $299 for one, $49 for wireless bridge; sonos.com
We give an A+ to the design student ace who reimagined the surge protector. Joints between receptacles let it accommodate bulky power packs and plugs alike. Good work, Jake Zien.
Pivot Power Flexible Power Strip, by Quirky; $30; quirky.com
As the Edison bulb phase-out begins in January, this universal switch tops our list of easy upgrades. Most notably, it handles finicky compact fluorescents—at least a few of which you'll need until a full range of LED bulbs arrives. Ditto any relic incandescents you come across.
C.L Dimmer, by Lutron; $26; lutron.com
Here's our kind of innovation: an upgrade that bolsters a home's traditional character with 21st-century features. Install the Voyageur in your existing masonry-built fireplace, load it with a bundle of wood, and watch it burn—for up to 12 hours!
Voyageur wood fireplace insert, by Quadra-Fire; from $2,779; quadrafire.com
The average heating and cooling duct is about as airtight as a sieve and totally inaccessible, which is why this magic leak-plugger made the cut. A vinyl-acetate-polymer mist pumped into ducts fills gaps as wide as your thumb, sealing your system tight.
Aeroseal Duct Sealant, by AerosealFrom; $1,100; aeroseal.com
With robot vacuums, there's the bump-and-grind approach and then there's this one's: It tracks an infrared beam on the ceiling to triangulate it's location in your space and then sweeps or mops the floor in neat rows—corners and all (thus the shape).
Mint Plus Automatic Floor Cleaner, by Evolution Robotics; from $299; mintcleaner.com
What's the point of purifying your air only to pollute it with ozone? This claims to be the first purifier that produces no ozone, it's nearly silent, and its vacuumable filter captures 99 percent of airborne contaminants.
ZON Air Purifier, by Humanscale; $299; at wayfair.com
Slip this little guy between an outlet and any device that draws power when idle—cable box, phone charger, flat screen—and it blocks the flow completely. Its software even lets you monitor and cut power remotely—a handy feature when you're halfway to Orlando.
Modlet, by ThinkEco, Inc.; about $50; thinkecoinc.com
If you have single-pane vinyl windows—and we sincerely hope you don't—this triple-pane draft beater promises to be 83 percent more energy efficient. We can almost hear your HVAC bill shrinking.
350 Series Windows, by Pella; from $359; pella.com
Tankless gas water heaters are already thrifty—about 86 percent efficient—but a condensing coil that absorbs heat from escaping exhaust squeezes 94 percent out of this one. It'll vent with plain old PVC.
Prestige Condensing Tankless Water Heater, by Rheem; $1,200; rheem.com
This cherry veneered unit shines in a traditional setting while seamlessly incorporating features designed to blow you away, like built-in Boston Acoustics speakers and vented shelves to let your beast of an amplifier fill its lungs.
Louis-Philippe 75" Nvelop Credenza, by Bassett; from $2,000; bassettfurniture.com
Cooler than a baby monitor, simpler than a home-security system, this winner lets you keep tabs from a distance—like anywhere your phone works.
DropCam, by DropCam Inc.; $199 to $279; dropcam.com
Never forget to book the chimney sweep before the holidays with an app that tailors a seasonal maintenance schedule to your home and sets alerts.
Free for iOS and Android; servicemagic.com/apps
It took a couple of British designers at Hulger to transform the compact flourescent's utilitarian spiral into a sculptural form begging to be left bare: the Plumen 001 ($29.95; plumenshopus.com).
Nud Collection brings us the textile-wrapped Nud Cord in 44 colors and patterns, a sassy alternative to those baggy sock coverings for pendant wires ($14; nudstores.com).
Traditional turned legs and a painted gray finish at IKEA? We were surprised too—pleasantly so. A drawer equipped with self-closing hinges means finding the remote has never been easier.
ISALA Coffee Table, by IKEA; $199; ikea.com
Laminate has its place, and it's right here on our list. It's a graphic pattern, yes, but a wire-brushed surface with glossy contrasts mimics the natural grain of oak. Good luck finding a pattern repeat, as duplicate planks come fewer than one in eight.
Black Forest Oak Laminate Flooring, by Mannington Mills; $4.99 per square foot; mannington.com
In the industry shift to high-efficiency DC motors, we have to applaud Kichler for revamping aesthetics, too. A ribbed motor case recalls classical columns, yet unadorned blades resonate in more contemporary settings.
Walker 52-inch Ceiling Fan, by Kichler; $636; kichler.com
This hand-loomed rug's oversized check packs just enough visual punch to enhance bare floors without overwhelming them. Not too traditional, not too trendy, it's bound to last for ages, and reversible sides promise twice the wear.
Houndstooth Flat-Weave Wool Rug, by Garnet Hill; $278 for 5 by 8 feet; garnethill.com
What a rock-solid idea: a mix of nontoxic resin and ground marble and stone that feels as smooth as traditional wallpaper. Except there's no actual paper involved, so it's waterproof and resists rips. It and comes in 26 bold, nature-inspired prints.
Stoneground, by Trove; from $13 per square foot; troveline.com
Anything that makes masonry easier is a winner. Fasten four separate pieces to the wall in half a day and suddenly you have a fireplace surround that looks like carved limestone.
Limestone Fireplace Surround, by Eldorado Stone; from $1,499; eldoradostone.com
This storage solution gets your shoes off the floor, out of the dust bunnies, and up to a browsable level. Various sizes hold from 12 to 25 pair of shoes.
The Lazy-Shoe-Zen, by Rev-a-Shelf; $483 as shown; revashelf.com
Talk about smooth operators—these boxy, sand-cast-brass bin pulls raise the game for cabinet hardware by marrying a pleasing heft with a liquid-metal look. We see them in a crisp white kitchen, where the three sizes can shine on various pieces, from spice drawers to dishwashers.
Queslett Pulls, by Horton Brasses, Inc.; $21-$57; hortonbrasses.com
Leave it to the lords of the gourmet butcher block to devise such a stunning way to recycle scraps of American black walnut. Leftovers from their full-length rail countertops are butt-jointed and laid up to create the 13⁄4-inch-thick tabletop, which expands from 7 to 81⁄2 feet with one leaf, or 10 feet with two.
Walnut Dining/Conference table, by John Boos; $6,079 as shown; johnboos.com
Why spend $1,000 or more on a vintage-style library ladder when you can make your own for half the price? This kit comes with all the hardware—top-notch stuff—and detailed plans for how to install it. You supply the wood for an 8-foot ladder.
Rolling library Ladder System, by Rockler; from $520; rockler.com
Spray-paint jobs almost always look better over a coat of primer. This new spray-paint-and-primer in one—a first—promises superior adhesion on metal, wood, wicker, ceramic, and glass, eliminating the temptation to skip a step.
Dual Paint and Primer, by Krylon; $5.99; dualpaint.com
Draw measurements and notations directly on pictures of your rooms so that you'll have the numbers you need on hand when you stumble across the possibly perfect sofa.
$4.99 for iOS; bigbluepixel.com
Sort a library of 175,00 pictures (and counting) by room, style, and location, then save favorites to digital idea books to share with family, friends, or pros you might hire.
Free for iOS; houzz.com/iphone