Ty's Tricks: Home Repair Secrets Plus Cheap and Easy Projects to Transform Any Room

Ty's Tricks: Home Repair Secrets Plus Cheap and Easy Projects to Transform Any Room

by Ty Pennington

From the beloved and sexy carpenter on The Learning Channel's Trading Spaces comes a creative, fun, and practical how-to book for home repair and improvement projects.

Home improvement heartthrob Ty Pennington fuses carpentry with style in this practical and inspirational how-to book for tackling household projects both large and small—from decorating


From the beloved and sexy carpenter on The Learning Channel's Trading Spaces comes a creative, fun, and practical how-to book for home repair and improvement projects.

Home improvement heartthrob Ty Pennington fuses carpentry with style in this practical and inspirational how-to book for tackling household projects both large and small—from decorating to home repair. Pennington shares the expertise gained from his years of experience as one of the carpenters on The Learning Channel's Trading Spaces and as a home renovation pro to create an accessible guide to eclectic decorating and renovation.

Ty gives readers a sneak peek at some of the projects he's done in his own home and shows how they can be recreated. He also gives readers the lowdown on great tools—and provides a list of his favorite cheap and easy ways to transform any room. Filled with helpful tips, this inspirational book will help readers to explore their own personal style while building their confidence at the same time. It is a one-of-a-kind, fun, user-friendly guide, from a trusted and admired source.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Pennington, touted as "the beloved and sexy carpenter on The Learning Channel's Trading Spaces," has written an excellent, albeit somewhat nontraditional, guide to a wide range of DIY projects. Somewhat comedic and filled with double entendres, his prose makes for an easy read, but, more important, the information is accurate. Pennington offers tips on selecting a basic toolkit and covers a number of the most common repairs, including walls, flooring, lighting, and painting. Projects include a sink made from a metal salad bowl, a koi pond, a bamboo wall appliqu , and lights made from opaque plungers (they sound ridiculous but are quite attractive). Although there are many beefcake photos, for every reader who is put off, there is probably another who is thrilled. Essential owing to the popularity of Trading Spaces and its dead-on material. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

Hachette Books
Publication date:
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
8.30(w) x 10.80(h) x 0.60(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Read an Excerpt

TY'S tricks

By Ty Pennington


Chapter One


As a carpenter on the television show Trading Spaces, I engage in what is more like "invading places." Accompanied by crazed designers, I barge in on willing but apprehensive homeowners, disturbing their nests and sometimes leaving them in tears from either exhaustion or fear. So, I thought that it would be cool to "trade spaces" with you. I'm inviting you into my house for a change.

But before I take you through my house, let me explain how and why I bought one in the first place! Along with my brother and two other partners, I had recently renovated an old two-story warehouse, converting it into seven loft apartments; I finished out one of these apartments for myself and it turned out pretty swank.

Although we didn't make much money converting that "diamond in the rough," we did get a good return on what we had invested, which was our time. Anyway, living in the converted warehouse was great because I had a shop downstairs where I could build cool furniture, sometimes using some of the old parts from pianos left over from the building's warehouse days (see Chapter 2, Cool Stuff: Building Outside the Box). Now, if I describe the downstairs as cool, I would definitely have to say that the upstairs was hot. Especially when it's August in Atlanta and you're living in a loft with windows that won't open. Oh, and did I mention that we had no central heating or air conditioning? So, when the building sold, I was ready to step into the ring-o-fire of relocating and renovating a house of my own.

I bought my house exactly one year before being hired as a carpenter on Trading Spaces.

The house was an old Victorian bungalow located near the oldest park in Atlanta. It was being sold as a bank foreclosure and was selling super-cheap. I knew that if I didn't jump on it, the house, along with my money, would be gone in a week. I had exactly $15,000 left from selling the warehouse. I made a down payment of $5,000, which left me with $10,000 to start the renovation.

Now, $10,000 may sound like a lot of money, but when it comes to remodeling a house, it's barely enough to scratch the surface. We're talking serious shoestring budget.

The moment I walked through the door of the house that was to become my home, I knew I was going to have to get creative. With a little TLC and a lot of OT, I knew I could turn that turn-of-the-century eyesore into a modern-day miracle.

The house was all original except for an addition to the rear of the house, built sometime in the seventies. The original frame was built in "shotgun" style, with two rooms and a very small kitchen/bath on each side. The seventies-something renovations converted the house into a three-bedroom, two bath home, making it larger than the other shotgun bungalows built throughout this historic neighborhood.

Except for termite damage, structural damage, corroded pipe, uneven flooring, and useless windows and doors, the house was in pretty good shape. Well, let's just say that it had plenty of character. Another diamond in the rough!

The good news was that the walls were in pretty good shape because new drywall had been installed over the plaster. Also, new electrical wiring had been run through the house. Most of the real work to be done was cosmetic. Now for the bad news. The kitchen was a wreck, sporting a hideous purple countertop. Then there was the peeling linoleum floor left off where a new floor began. This marked the start of the old renovation, which featured lovely half-walls installed to separate the room and make it smaller. There was also a sliding glass door, streaked from old age, which, if it wasn't struck, would lead into the backyard. Oh, and did I mention the drop ceiling filled with asbestos ceiling tile? I won't even tell you about the smell, but I think you get the idea. And that was just the kitchen!

I figured that my first priority was to eat in a clean kitchen, so I decided to start there. I had worked with my friend Will installing cement board and laying tile for other clients. The one thing I knew for sure about laying tile is that the materials are fricking seriously heavy. Tiles come in boxes weighing up to thirty-five pounds. You can bet that anything called cement board isn't going to be light. Throw in a few twenty-five-pound bags of mortar and grout, and you've thrown your back out before you even lay your first tile. So Will wasn't surprised when I decided to quit working on my house for a while However, he was surprised when I called him again later to ask to borrow his double-suspension "man-van." I needed his vehicle in order to carry all the tiles I would need for my new kitchen floor in one trip. I, of course, had to agree to help paint his house in exchange for the use of the van.

I decided to use Spanish terra-cotta or Mexican tiles not only because they matched the color of my tongue-and-groove flooring but also because they are easy to install, extremely durable, and hide imperfections in both the subflooring and the installation (see Tile with a Smile, page 147).

Now that I had gotten the tile home, I needed to raise half of the kitchen floor 6 inches before I could start on the tile. By using plywood, I finally got the floors fairly even. Then I used latex thin set to level the seam and screwed down cement board.

Of course, after raising the floor, I would have to raise the sliding glass door, which meant installing a new header.

Anyway, after pulling off the baseboards and masking off the ones I couldn't pull off, I mixed the mortar and set the tiles, soaked my back and knees for the night, and then grouted and cleaned the following day.

Using Mexican tiles made the job cheap (about $2 a tile) and easy (tile is masking free). And the tile made the room look totally huge when it totally wasn't. Doing the job myself was not only good for my ego but also was financially rewarding as well. The materials cost around $1,500, but my labor was free!

Doing it yourself is, without a doubt, a way to save money. When you have a really tight budget, you can save additional dollars by using functional but unconventional materials. This allows you to save on costs without losing style (see Chapter 2, Cool Stuff: Building Outside the Box).

For example, placing tile in the kitchen ensured not only a clean but also a Durable surface to walk on. I decide to give the countertops a workable surface as well. Instead of replacing the purple countertop with the typical countertop materials, laminate and particleboard, I used a butcher-block alternative: thick, durable, prelaminated hardwood with the oak, all for under $3 a square foot!

All wood needs a sealer, and polyurethane makes a great one. It is waterproof And easy to clean. Another good choice is mineral oil, which should be used if you plan to do any cutting, slicing, or chopping on the wooden surface. The good news is that mineral oil is also a laxative!

After I finished the countertop and built "nook" supported by galvanized pipe and floor flange (also very cheap materials), my cooking area was almost done. All I needed now was a kitchen sink. I replaced the old stainless steel sink with a heavier, stronger white porcelain sink that I bought at a salvage yard for $35. Then I hooked up the water lines, fixed all the leaks, and sealed the edges with silicone caulk (see Chapter 7, Flooring). I ended up spending around $120 for my new countertops and sink. That is Pinching Pennies, People! And it looked killer.

Now, seeing as how the new theme of the kitchen was turning out to be all earth tones, featuring the beautiful natural wood countertops and the terracotta flooring, I thought that I would continue the earthy color scheme right up to the ceiling. First, I had to rip down the existing drop ceiling and tiles. Then, I created a new ceiling and substrate with two-by-fours and 3/4-inch plywood, cutting holes for some totally cool can lights to be installed. Then I nailed pre-finished Brazilian cherry flooring to the ceiling (see Chapter 7, Flooring), using a finish nailer. I relied on an electrician friend to hook up the can lighting. He gave me a deal, charging me only by the hour, and I'm here to tell you that a few hours of professional electrical help are well worth the cost, because you don't want to be on the wrong end of a hot wore. Trust me there, Sparky.

I have to say, I think the kitchen turned out great especially when compared to what it looked like before I started. In fact, the change was as dramatic as any of the changes that you see in our before-and after shots on Trading Spaces.

I could have saved more by using maple plywood instead of Brazilian cherry on the ceiling, but sometimes you have to spend a little more in order to get more when you sell your house. And that, my friend, is all about the look.

So the kitchen was almost finished, except for a few last things. I needed a few hanging lights over the kitchen nook. To put a little light, not to mention a little humor, on the subject, I made hanging lights out of ordinary (but stylish) household plungers (see Chapter 2, Cool Stuff: Building Outside the Box). They ended up looking pretty cool, a bit like Japanese lanterns, adding to the minimal, Zenlike designs that flow through the interior, exterior, and furniture of my house. I also needed a little more color in the kitchen than just the "cantaloupe" chair rail and that flat white paint. So, in order to save money, space, and, most important, messages, I installed red, orange, yellow, and black construction paper on chrome clipboards and mounted them to the wall. These primary and secondary colors (see Choosing Colors, page 123) complemented the cantaloupe chair rail as well as pulling the room together by tying the chrome into the hardware and appliances. The clipboard arrangement gave me simple, clean, industrial art that was not only beautiful in form but quite functional as well. It gave the room a bold splash of color that would change with every new color of paper left in place on the clipboard. I then added a long black and white "action" painting (from my kung fu series) to the opposite wall. It not only complemented the clipboard colors (especially the black) but was also a nice contrast as well. Now my kitchen was complete.

The next most important room to me in the house was the bathroom. Not only is it important to the resale value of the house, but it is also important in the event of an overactive bladder. If you have ever lived with another human, then you know the joy of living in a house with more than one bathroom. Luckily, my house had two, so when my guest was "going to the party," I could too.

The guest bathroom was small but complete, with a tub, shower, toilet, and sink that looked like it had been custom fit for a small child. The sink was wall mounted and so low that it literally hit you above the knees. I thought it was kind of cool, so I left it intact. I did, however, change a few other things. I wanted my guests to feel that taking a bath should be like going on a relaxing journey to a tropical island. So I said to myself "Phuket" (pronounced) Pû-ket), which is an island off the coast of Thailand. With that theme in mind, I grabbed the table saw, ripped some bamboo poles in half (see Chapter 2, Cool Stuff: Building Outside the Box), and nailed them to one wall with a finish nailer. They extended up from the floor to the ceiling and gave you the feeling that you were peeking inside a bamboo forest (off the coast of Ty-land). I replaced an old glass fixture with a wastebasket made from burlap encased in resin that I bought at a thrift store for $2. I covered the ugly linoleum floors with leftover tongue-and-groove flooring from the master bedroom. I "fluffed" the room with accessories ranging from tiki god candles to stalks of lemongrass (which is used as a spice in the other Thailand). But my absolute favorite bathroom fixture was the toilet-paper holder. I made it by screwing a curtain rod holder to the wall and sliding a piece of bamboo over it (see Chapter 2, Cool Stuff: Building Outside the Box).

In keeping with the harmony of the house, I transplanted several varieties of bamboo to create a zen garden complete with a "Buddha" ful waterfall and koi pond. Then I built a deck and stylish Asian planters out of pressure treated lumber. I used unwanted but not unusable slate roof shingles that had been thrown out in Vern's neighborhood, nailing them to a concrete retaining wall that I had poured after digging out the pond in, yes, two days (see Cool Stuff: Building Outside the Box).

After a long vacation from renovation, whether it be peeing or bathing in a bamboo forest, or meditating and fishing for koi in a zen garden, it's always nice to come home to a comfortable, clean, and private bedroom with a bath.

But if you thought the kitchen needed work, you should have seen the bedroom. The floors, or lack thereof, were covered with what used to be a light blue, wall-to-wall seventies shag carpet that smelled like a kennel, even after it had been cleaned! The room did, however, have one thing that is quite useful in a master bedroom: a walk-in closet. It also had a bay window overlooking the backyard. And most important, it had a master bathroom complete with not only an interesting puke-yellow-green toilet but also an awesome bedpanshaped shower to match. The shower was so swank, and so "seventies," that I almost installed a disco ball in the bedroom, but I couldn't take the excessive "funk." So the first thing that I did in the bedroom was "cut a rug" and rip out the carpet and "the funk."

Before I laid the hardwood floors, I wanted to add both space and light by installing two huge windows. This meant that I had to install another long header to span the length of both windows. But that part of the job, ripping off the siding, cutting out the drywall and such, would be easy. Refraining the wall without disturbing the electrical outlets, not to mention lifting two huge 5-foot windows into place, would not be easy. Once the windows were in, I replaced the drywall (see Chapter 5, Walls), then finished the window with a window seat made from the "truck-flooring" in the kitchen. I used Douglas fir to build the frame and leftover tongue-and-groove cypress for the trim. I left the tongue, but more important, the groove, on the lumber for a pretty cool reason. I created "shoji" screens by sliding 1/4-inch white Plexiglas into the groove to help hold the acrylic in place (see Chapter 2, Cool Stuff: Building Outside the Box). This was not only nice to look at, but served a function as well. It allowed the Plexiglas to act as another pane, thereby insulating any large window from hot and cold air. Also, it worked as a light-diffusing screen, casting shadows but not graphic images of what goes on in your bedroom to your viewing audience of neighbors.


Excerpted from TY'S tricks by Ty Pennington Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Ty Pennington is the founder of Furniture Unlimited, a company that specializes in Ty's custom-designed furniture and accessories for the home, available at www.tythehandyguy.com. He is a carpenter on TLC's Trading Spaces and was named one of People magazine's "50 Most Eligible Bachelors" of 2002. He lives in Los Angeles.

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