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Home Renovation in 7 Steps


You’ve been dreaming about remodeling your house. Perhaps it’s finally getting that kitchen renovation of your dreams or updating a bathroom or two. Where do you start?

The post Home Renovation in 7 Steps appeared first on RenovationFind Blog.

Renovations a handyman service can help with

Hiring an experienced professional to help with home projects and renovations has many benefits. You’ll save yourself time, headache and can ensure the work will be done right and on budget. Attempting to DIY home renovations can be disastrous if you don’t have a lot of experience.

The post Renovations a handyman service can help with appeared first on RenovationFind Blog.

Budget Power Couples: Beds And Nightstands For Every Style (All Under $600)

emily henderson affordable beds and nightstands combos
photo by sara ligorria-tramp | from: makeover takeover: julie’s huge (and diy packed) bedroom upgrade

Just yesterday I had the pleasure of talking about my love for bedding and now I am going full circle to chat about nightstand and bed combos. It’s a BEDROOM PARTY and it’s BYOB (bring your own blanket).

Full disclosure: I am currently living without a bed frame which a few years ago I might’ve told you is an intentional ~stylistic~ choice, inspired by the Parisian studio apartments I’ve seen all over Pinterest. You know, the ones with high ceilings, a balcony overlooking town square, a mattress on the floor, and books stacked lazily in lieu of a nightstand (because French women are sophisticated enough have their apartments be a bit of a hot mess). I used to envision myself in this type of Holly Golightly-esque apartment that is so unfinished it comes across as cool, my only roommate being a pet cat named Cat. But alas, my apartment doesn’t have the old-world charm that would allow me to get away with being an adult who sleeps on a mattress on the floor (and I guess my style’s changed a bit, too). C’est la vie.

But if EHD has taught me anything it’s that the right bed frame and nightstand combo can really show off your personal style and will likely make your room feel as good as it looks. So if you are like me and have yet to FINALLY make a decision on a bed or nightstand (or you’re ready for an upgrade)… we put together 12 combos that are guaranteed to work and look GOOD. Also, let’s be honest, right now we all want our bedrooms to look and feel like the oasis we need.

But before we get to the real fun, a few rules to note (which we’ve talked about before in our bedroom rules post– but a refresher never hurt anyone).

photo by sara ligorria-tramp | from: the coziest upstairs guest “bunk” bedroom

Rules For Picking A Nightstand

  1. 24”-27” is the ideal height for a nightstand but a good rule of thumb is make sure the height is within the range of 5″ higher or lower than the top of your mattress.
  2. Keep your nightstand to scale with your bed. The average nightstand is 20″x20″ which will work for most beds. However, for larger beds (like a King) you can use a larger nightstand (up to 40″) and smaller beds (like twins) maybe go a little smaller.
  3. Space permitting, you ideally want at least 36″ around all walkways to comfortably get around your space. If your room is tight and doesn’t allow for a good amount of space to walk then you could consider pushing the bed up against one wall or downsizing your bed to fit with the scale of the room. 
  4. Have fun with style/shape! (and mix-matching nightstands is totally doable if not encouraged:)).
photo by tessa neustadt | from: 1 bedroom 4 ways with the citizenry

Here’s a perfect example of a not-your-typical nightstand that still follows the aforementioned rules. The pedestal shape doesn’t take up a lot of visual or physical space and brings in a hint of traditional to this otherwise modern-scandi bedroom. And I will never not be fan of books lazily stacked on the floor, FYI.

photo by sara ligorria-tramp | from: this organic, punchy bedroom might be our new favorite makeover

In this bedroom, you can see how the nightstand is scaled to the size of the bed. It’s wider than your typically nightstand but it works because the bed and the space are both large enough.

photo by sara ligorria-tramp | from: emily bowser’s bedroom “after” is unrecognizable from the “before”

In Emily Bowser’s master bedroom reveal, her small nightstands paired perfectly with her small space and DIY’d headboard. The nightstands fit snugly between the bed and the wall, and therefore don’t stick out and block the walkway to the door. Again, taking note of your space and scale is key to choosing your nightstand.

Alright, you guys are experts now so you’ve probably had enough of my babbling. So to take up the rest of your afternoon, here are our budget nightstand/bed combos that we love love love (and many that I want want want).

  1. Slattum Bed & Porthos Home Jordan Side Table | 2. Pooler Queen Upholstered Standard Bed & Curved Terrace Nightstand | 3. Queen Azure Mei Upholstered Standard Bed & Ria Nightstand | 4. Avenue Greene Gwen Modern Metal Bed & LISTERBY Nightstand | 5. Dean Sand Eastern King Upholstered Panel Bed & Jaxpety Nightstand Bedside Table |6. Mitzi Nightstand & Francis Upholstered Platform Bed From Serta | 7. Antoinette Traditional Fully-Upholstered Queen-Size Bed Frame & Pelham End Table with Storage | 8. Carson Carrington Blaney Queen Solid Pine Wooden Spindle Bed & Cecille Groove Handle 2 Drawer Nightstand | 9. Leanora Wood Platform Bed Ash Walnut & Annette Side Table | 10. Copper Grove Ayrum Upholstered Bed Frame with Square Tufted Headboard & Wyatt Nightstand | 11. Queen Quezada Platform Bed & Touraco Nightstand  | 12. Leyton Mid – Century Modern Fabric Upholstered Platform Bed & VIKHAMMER Nightstand

Let us know if you have tried any of these pieces out and tell us what you think! Hope this helps whoever needs it right now.

The post Budget Power Couples: Beds And Nightstands For Every Style (All Under $600) appeared first on Emily Henderson.

American Home Shield Reviews, Plans, and Pricing


In a saturated home warranty industry, it can be challenging to find a home warranty company without any direction or guidance. The This Old House Reviews team researched a variety of different companies and found that American Home Shield is a top contender. Read our full review to learn more.

American Home Shield (AHS) is a veteran in the home warranty industry and has been in business for more than 45 years. The company provides some of the most comprehensive and customizable coverage, demonstrates excellent customer service, and is a great option for those who want to protect a variety of home systems and appliances. Below you’ll find information on plans, pricing, customer reviews, and how American Home Shield compares to the competition.

CTA: Get a free quote on an American Home Shield warranty today online or by calling 888-878-4576.

Pros and Cons of American Home Shield

Compare the advantages and disadvantages of signing up for an American Home Shield protection plan:

American Home Shield Plans and Coverage

American Home Shield home warranties provide extensive coverage for some of the most important items in the home. AHS is one of the few home warranty companies in the industry that offers four plans to its customers: an Appliance Plan, Systems Plan, Combo Plan, and a Build-Your-Own Plan, which lets customers choose up to 10 items to include in coverage. If customers want to go over that 10-item limit, they’ll have to pay $2 for every additional item.

The Systems Plan covers major home systems like the air conditioning and heating, the Appliance Plan covers important appliances like the refrigerator and dishwasher, and the Combo Plan covers a combination of systems and appliances.

Compare American Home Shield plans below and see the appliances and systems covered under each plan:

In addition to these home warranty plans, American Home Shield offers coverage for five additional items that you can include with any plan. You can get pricing for these additional items when you go to the AHS website and request a free quote.

  • Electronic extended warranty
  • Pool and spas
  • Well pump
  • Septic pump
  • Guest unit

American Home Shield Pricing

AHS plan pricing will depend on where you live, the type of plan you choose, and how many add-ons you include in your coverage. When our team called AHS for pricing, here are the estimates they gave us. We recommend calling them at 888-878-4576 to get a free quote for plans in your area.

In addition to a monthly premium, AHS customers pay a service call fee, a one-time fee paid to the contractor that comes out and addresses the system or appliance in question. AHS lets customers choose the service fee they want: $75, $100, or $125. Typically, a lower service fee means you’ll have to pay more each month, while a higher service fee means you’ll pay a lower amount every month.

Man replacing air filterAdobe Licensed

American Home Shield Reviews

American Home Shield has been an accredited business with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) since 1997 and has received a B rating from them. Note: BBB accredited businesses pay a fee for accreditation and their services have not been evaluated or endorsed by the BBB. The BBB rating is based on the amount of complaints received from the public and other company information—customer reviews are not included in this rating.

Take a look at a few American Home Shield reviews from current customers:

I especially like that they give the policyholder multiple options of service contractors; it gives the policyholder a chance to do some research and choose the best contractor from the list. This was my first time having [AHS], hopefully any other dealings will go just as smoothly as this recent translation.” — Dana R. on March 18, 2020

Great service! Our furnace broke and I was able to request service online. Within a day, our contractor came out. He was very professional and fixed our furnace in a timely manner. We LOVE the security of having a home warranty that covers all our appliances and major systems. Definitely recommend.” — Jamie E. on March 16, 2020

Service professional was great but the wait time for scheduling was longer than expected.” — Charles A. on February 28, 2020

AHS Compared to the Competition

If you’re not sure American Home Shield is right for you, see how the company stacks up against the competition and consider getting free quotes from each company to better understand your options.

Frequently Asked Questions about American Home Shield

Is American Home Shield legitimate?

With almost 50 years of experience, American Home Shield is one of the oldest home warranty companies in the industry. AHS has a network of more than 15,000 professional contractors that provide service in the event that a major home system or appliance breaks down or malfunctions.

Which is better: American Home Shield or Choice Home Warranty?

Both companies have their pros and cons and one may be better suited to you depending on your home coverage needs. For example, if you want to customize coverage, American Home Shield is a great option as it allows customers to pick and choose 10 items to include in their plan.

If you want a more affordable option, Choice Home Warranty may be a good pick. CHW provides two plans—a basic plan and a total plan—that cost between $36–$44 a month. AHS is slightly more expensive with plans that cost between $50–$60 a month.

Does American Home Shield cover pre-existing conditions?

No, American Home Shield does not cover pre-existing conditions on home appliances and systems.

Does American Home Shield cover roof leaks?

No, American Home Shield does not cover roof leaks, but Select Home Warranty and Choice Home Warranty do.

Does AHS require a home inspection?

No, AHS doesn’t require a home inspection to grant coverage. The age of your systems and appliances won’t affect coverage, either.

How do American Home Shield home warranties work?

If a covered item breaks down due to normal wear and tear, customers can file a claim online or over the phone. AHS will get a technician out to you within 48 hours to assess the issue. In your home, the tech will recommend a repair or replacement. At this time, you’d pay the set service fee.

Do I need an AHS home warranty if I have homeowners insurance?

Even if you have homeowners insurance, it’s recommended that you buy a home warranty to cover repairs and replacements on major systems and appliances. Homeowners insurance only covers structural damage to your house from natural disasters, fire, or theft.

How do you cancel an AHS policy?

You can cancel your AHS plan at any time. If you cancel within the first 30 days of signing up, AHS will refund your contract fees. If you cancel after the first 30 days, the company will refund you a prorated amount for the remaining length of coverage.

Our Conclusion

The This Old House Reviews team rated American Home Shield 9.5/10 and one of the best home warranty providers. It’s a great option for those who want to customize their own coverage and have generous coverage caps on important home items. It’s also a solid choice for those who want a more veteran home warranty company (remember: AHS is one of the oldest companies in the industry).

American Home Shield may not be a great option for homeowners who want to choose their own technician to complete repair work or homeowners who live in Alaska, as this is the only state that AHS doesn’t service.

If you’re ready to sign up for an American Home Shield home warranty, we recommend getting a free online quote for accurate pricing in your area.

Get a free quote on an American Home Shield warranty today online or by calling 888-878-4576.

Company Information

  • Company name: American Home Shield
  • CEO: Rex Tibbins
  • Years in business: 49 years
  • Telephone: 833-850-4092
  • Address: 860 Ridge Lake Boulevard
  • City/State: Memphis, TN
  • Zip code: 38120
  • BBB rating: B

Our Rating Methodology

The This Old House Reviews team is committed to providing comprehensive and unbiased reviews to our readers. This means earning your trust through transparency and having the data to back up our ratings and recommendations. Our rating system for home warranty providers is on a 100-point scale based on seven factors:

  • Plan options
  • Coverage specifics (5)
  • Pricing Trustworthiness (25)
  • State availability (5)
  • Customer service (10)
  • Additional benefits (5)

Our Reviews Team reviewed 45 companies and we have a full-time researcher who collects (and regularly updates) more than 100 specific data points from each company to help us compare them on key factors such as coverage, cost, service, and dependability. Read more on our methodology here.

Our T-Shirt Line Is Baaaaaaaack!

Over 10 years ago we launched a small t-shirt line featuring designs for women, men, and – yes – even dogs! I’m not kidding. Who remembers that?! We eventually retired it, so who knows how many still exist out there in the wild – beyond the dozen or so in my dad’s closet (he was our best customer) and the one below that showed up at a book signing in 2015.

Earlier this year we got the itch to relaunch the line, but this time with a shift away from logo shirts and towards styles that could fit easily into anyone’s closet… all while maintaining a distinctly Young House Love look.

So for months we’ve been fine-tuning the designs, researching the best fitting tees, and even “test-wearing” them around the house. So without further ado, we’re THRILLED to launch them today – complete with a little video to show you the whole collection (it’s actually very important that you watch this, so please press play):

Note: If you’re having trouble viewing the video above, you can watch it here on YouTube.

Continue reading Our T-Shirt Line Is Baaaaaaaack! at Young House Love.

Paradise Rising: Residents Rebuild a Year after the Fires

Courtesy of Luke Bellefeuille and Crystal Hutchison

More than a year after the town was nearly leveled by the most devastating wildfire in California’s history, a special This Old House series takes a look at how the residents of Paradise are rebuilding their homes—and community. Here are some of their stories

With his family moved to safety, Paradise native Luke Bellefeuille stayed behind for a few more hours on the day of the Camp Fire, to see if he could save their home. He captured this photo of their house, which they’d moved into less than a year earlier, before it was engulfed in flames.

Paradise, CA, fiery landscapeCourtesy Luke Bellefeuille and Crystal Hutchison

“The most off-base calls we get from journalists are the ones about ‘Paradise Lost,’ ” says Colette Curtis, now assistant to the town manager. “I get it, it’s a catchy story line, but the truth is so much more interesting and exciting.” She’s talking after her lunch hour, one of the rare ones she gets these days. “We all used to take them every day before the fire,” she says with a laugh. “Now we’re almost too busy to eat.”

Paradise, CA, house burned to the groundCourtesy Luke Bellefeuille and Crystal Hutchison
The following day, Luke returned to see only piles of twisted metal and a blanket of ash.

The Camp Fire started on November 8, 2018, and lasted for more than two weeks, killing 85, destroying more than 18,000 structures, and traumatizing tens of thousands of people. “Everybody was panicking,” Melanie Heilderberger told the Guardian newspaper, recalling what it was like to be trapped in one of the traffic jams that formed as people fled. “You can’t imagine how many different types of panic there are with each person.”

Paradise, CA, devastated house rebuiltCourtesy Luke Bellefeuille and Crystal Hutchison
The family’s new house—rebuilt by the same contractor from the same plans—almost exactly a year later.

“It was apocalyptic,” firefighter Calin Moldovan tells TOH host Kevin O’Connor at the start of the series, Rebuilding Paradise. “I didn’t know if the rest of the world was ending, but this world that involved Paradise was ending at that time.”

Kevin O’Connor in Paradise, CAEmily Nathan
Paradise, CA house burned to the groundJoe Aurentz
November 2018: The smoldering remains of Joe and Avonlea Aurentz’s house. They had moved in five years before the fire, then remodeled, painted the exterior, and put in a new kitchen; in a matter of hours it was all gone.

Many survivors report that they gauge time as “before the fire” and “after the fire.” In the days that followed, the pronouncements were dire—the town was “wiped off the map,” it would “take 100 years to rebuild”—and many were wrong. “We thought it would be three years till we could provide drinkable water,” says Curtis. It turns out that Paradise Lake, the town’s water source, emerged relatively unscathed; as inspectors tested the supply to each of the 1,100 remaining homes, they discovered contamination was not as universal as they’d expected, and what they did find could be fixed.

Nowadays, every permit the building department issues is accompanied by a notice to the water department, which makes sure the lateral supply line will be clean and ready for use when the house is finished. Step by step, action by action, the people of Paradise are working together to solve problems, and the horrific memories of 2018 are being countered by hope and progress.

Paradise, CA streetscape after the fireJosé Guevara
November 2018: José and Anna Guevara’s house, and leveled streetscape, burned to the ground by the Camp Fire.

The three families This Old House TV followed as they rebuilt their homes embody that spirit. They feel like they’re part of an informal club, says José Guevara, a flooring and tile contractor, husband of Anna, and father of two teenage boys. “Everybody in town is friendly, but when they find out you’re rebuilding, they say, ‘You’re my brother, you’re my sister now.’ ”

Like the other couples—Luke Bellefeuille and Crystal Hutchison and Joe and Avonlea Aurentz—José and Anna decided within hours of the fire that they’d re-establish their lives in Paradise. “When someone asks me, ‘How can you rebuild?,’ ” says Crystal, “my answer is plain and simple: It’s home. I feel like we’re on a mission.”

Mark McCullough in Paradise, CAEmily Nathan
After spreading a modified masonry cement on the underlayment, mason Mark McCullough lays the panels of stone veneer row by row, from the bottom up. Manufactured stone veneer: Eldorado Stone

Like most missions, this one has had its challenges, especially when the practicalities are so daunting. Crystal and Luke report that living in a trailer gets tired pretty quickly. Sewage needs pumping every three or four days, and refilling the rented 2,500-gallon water tank cost $300. Laundry gets done at the laundromat, and meals are mostly takeout or prepared food—expenses their insurance thankfully covers. Getting that money wasn’t easy though, as four different adjusters, none of them from the area, have come through and recalculated their coverage over the past year, “with all the arguing and backtracking you’d expect,” says Crystal.

Tom Silva and Mark McCullough in Paradise, CAKevin O’Connor
This Old House general contractor Tom Silva and TOH mason Mark McCullough wrap the base of an entry post at Joe and Avonlea’s house in tar paper, in preparation for adding stone veneer.

In addition to the slow process of bringing municipal water and consistent power back on line, the schools were out of commission until recently. Paradise lost two elementary schools, and the high school suffered extensive smoke damage. The number of returning students is about half the prefire enrollment; many kids commute from temporary homes.

Paradise, CA, Integrity Builders’ truckEmily Nathan
Ken Blanton’s Integrity Builders, the contractors for José and Anna’s house, send a message with their truck signage.

For everyone, debris removal has been a titanic undertaking: Curtis reports that crews have removed twice as much material as in the World Trade Center disaster, and in half the time—3.66 million tons in nine months, all of it collected, sorted, and trucked to landfills. And although the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the California Office of Emergency Services (CALOES) were set up to help pay for that, they weren’t prepared for the trees: an estimated 300,000 of them, burned, dead or dying, and all likely to fall within five years.

At $2,000 to $5,000 a tree to remove, homeowners face a real dilemma. Prodded by town officials, FEMA, whose disaster models are mostly based on hurricanes (where trees are felled), and CALOES, which had never seen such a widespread wildland-urban event, eventually put in place a payment program to help with the removal of trees likely to fall on roads and other public spaces. The town is currently applying for state and federal funding to aid citizens with the trees that still stand on their lots but don’t present a public hazard.

Richard Trethewey in Paradise, CAEmily Nathan
Paradise, CA family walking down the streetEmily Nathan
Neighborhood comeback: Luke and Crystal (on the left) walk down their street with her son, Trenton, and daughter, Jaycee.

Another surprising cost of the disaster is the wear and tear done to roads by all the truck traffic. Fortunately, town engineer Marc Mattox foresaw the issue and, right after the fire, did a laser survey of every road in town, providing a “before” to the “after” he did post-cleanup. The data will form a basis for “hazard mitigation” repair funding through FEMA.

contractor, Brett Wayland and Tom Silva in Paradise, CASara Ferguson
Contractor Bret Wayland and Tom Silva, photographed with a fire-resistant foundation vent system. Unlike conventional units, these are engineered to close automatically in high heat, preventing flames and embers from infiltrating the interior. Vents: Vulcan Vents

On the job sites TOH documented, the couples are remarkably upbeat. There have been frustrations for sure—concrete subcontractors are working flat out and have been hard to schedule; getting the necessary debris cleanup certificate (which requires submitting soil samples to the town for contamination testing) added a couple of months to Joe and Avonlea’s job.

But compared with what one often hears from folks going through building projects, these people are nearly angelic in their lack of complaint. “Everyone in town has more patience for everything,” says Luke. “We all went through something together, and we feel like we’re strong people to do what we’re doing.”

Tom Silva in Paradise, CAEmily Nathan
Jenn Nawada in Paradise, CASara Ferguson
At Luke and Crystal’s house, TOH landscape contractor Jenn Nawada hears about fire-resistant planting strategies from Derek Onstein of Green Ridge Landscaping. Carpet roses, daylilies, and other plants will be spaced out in the wide bed, which will be covered with a noncombustible mulch of black crushed rock. Sod: Zamora Sod Farm; Trees: Fast Growing Trees

Despite their hassles with their insurance companies, all three couples are happy with what they’ve been able to build—Luke and Crystal, whose brand-new house burned down, replicated it, while Joe and Avonlea and José and Anna have put up larger homes, using all the insurance money received for both the house and their belongings. “We have the same floor plan,” says José, “but it’s half again as spacious. It’s more open and friendlier, and we gained a laundry room.”

There’s some good dark humor among the rebuilders. People joke about it being a safe place to live now that everything’s burned, and Luke cites a favorite crack that trades on the fact that most folks lost nearly all of their possessions: “Nice jacket—that new?” And there’s pride in beating the predictions: “Friends told me I was crazy, that it would take five years before we could get anything done,” says José. “And here we are, on track to move in a little over a year after the fire.” Town administrator Curtis reports that officials originally figured that if all went well, 200 building permits would be issued by the end of 2019. The actual number: 700.

Richard Trethewey in Paradise, CAEmily Nathan
At Joe and Avonlea’s house, TOH plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey checks out the new systems, which include a whole-house battery backup that will keep the house up and running during the frequent power cuts Paradise continues to experience. Whole-house battery: Tesla

One prediction that is likely not to come true was made by President Trump after his visit to Paradise in the wake of the Camp Fire: “I think hopefully this will be the last of these.” Fifteen of the 20 largest wildfires in state history have occurred since 2000; there are an estimated 129 million standing dead trees in the state, raising the danger. The state’s fire season is lasting longer, as spring snowmelt happens earlier and dry seasons become hotter and longer lasting. Climate change is considered a key driver of this trend.

Those who are reclaiming their lives in Paradise are well aware of these facts and, learning from what happened, are building new homes to withstand fire. And they are not abandoning their hometown. “We feel called to this work,” says Curtis. “It’s a higher purpose.”

Their Roots Run Deep

Paradise, CA, Luke and CrystalEmily Nathan
Luke Bellefeuille and Crystal Hutchison with kids Jaycee, now 20, and Trenton, 10. With approved house plans and a willing contractor at the ready, the family was able to move in last October, 11 months after the fire. Fully finished in December, the home is a replica of what was there before, with the addition of a 100-foot “defensible space” around it.

Crystal hutchison and Luke Bellefeuille are both born-and-raised Paradisians. They had moved into their newly constructed dream home just 11 months before the Camp Fire burned it to the ground. “We called our contractor, Dave Anderson, the very next day and asked him to build it again,” says Luke. “He was all set to retire before the fire. Now he’s got at least a dozen new houses under way.”

While the house was being rebuilt, they lived with 10-year-old Trenton in a one-bedroom, 38- foot travel trailer bought with insurance loss-of-use monies, first in a nearby town and later in their old neighborhood, using electricity from a neighbor’s house. (Jaycee, 20, lives about 15 miles away.) “We had to really minimize the way we bought food, showered, stored clothing, and had company,” says Crystal. “It was cozy.” One bright spot: Thanks to a “You know you grew up in Paradise CA when” Facebook group, she learned more about her family history. “I found out my great-uncle was the pastor of Paradise Bible Holiness Church. My grandmother was the lunch lady at Paradise High School.”

At the time of the fire, Luke was working for PG&E, the local utility; last August, he quit to join his childhood friend’s engineering company, clearing debris from burned properties and helping the town rebuild. “We all went through a lot,” he says. “I wanted to be part of the communal effort.”

The Long Road Back

Paradise, CA, Anna and José GuevaraEmily Nathan
Anna and José Guevara with (from left) sons Talon, 14, and Mateo, 16, in their newly framed house.

Anna Guevara, who works for the California Department of Water Resources, was at a training session in Sacramento, about an hour and a half from Paradise by car, when a neighbor called to say that a fire had been reported several miles east of town. Fifteen minutes later, she called again: “It’s Armageddon—get home!” “That drive back took me a lot less than an hour and a half,” Anna says with a laugh. Twelve hours after they’d packed up and fled their burning town, someone sent her and her husband, José, a photo of the smoldering spot where their house had stood. José took a deep breath and said, “Well, I want to rebuild—what about you?” For Anna, a lifelong Paradisian, the answer was an easy yes.

Paradise, CA, Anna and José in protective gearCourtesy of Anna and José Guevara
The couple, in ash-protective gear, arrived to inspect the home’s remains after it was destroyed by wildfire in November 2018.

Thus began a very long journey, which saw the couple and their two teenage boys, one with special needs, living in a succession of hotels, trailers, and rented apartments—six locations in two years. Along the way, depression caught up with Anna. “The little things started to get to me,” she recalls. “Our fridge broke once, and all I could do was lie down on the couch. The to-do list since the fire is impossible to finish, and I couldn’t deal with it.” Now that their new house is almost done, she’s doing better. “The people who have reached out, the love we’ve been shown,” she says, “it’s what keeps us going.”

Paradise, CA, partially rebuilt homeEmily Nathan
Their partially rebuilt house as it looked a year after the Camp Fire.

Looking Forward

Paradise, CA, Joe and Avonlea AurentzEmily Nathan
Joe and Avonlea Aurentz, here with their daughter, Talen, were among the first to break ground on a new house after the fire.

Joe Aurentz, a stone-countertop fabricator and installer, was at work in Chico, normally a 20-minute drive south of Paradise, when he saw the smoke. “It was like a mushroom cloud,” he says. “But I kept working. The next thing I knew Avonlea was on the phone saying she was evacuating.” His wife had picked up their four-year-old daughter, Talen, from day care and was planning to wait it out, until she realized how bad things were. She called Joe to say that there was fire on both sides of the road; when she called again she had to leave a tearful voice mail. “I told him I loved him, and said good-bye just in case.” In the end they reunited in a Chico parking lot.

Paradise, CA, finishing touches to a newly rebuilt homeEmily Nathan
Their rebuilt home gets its finishing touches, including stone-veneer-clad post piers. Manufactured stone veneer: Eldorado Stone

The family—three people, two dogs, and a cat—has been living in a two-bedroom apartment in Chico since before Thanksgiving 2018, waiting for their new house to be finished. Talen really misses Brutus, their other cat, who didn’t survive the fire. Joe, born and raised in Paradise, loves spotting people he grew up with around town and shouting out, “Hey! You stayed!”

“We see the strength in the community of Paradise coming back together,” says Avonlea. “We’re very excited and feel very lucky to have our new home to create new memories. And we’ve grown to appreciate the smaller things.” One of those small things is the ultimate sign of hope: They’re expecting a baby boy sometime this spring.

Rebuilding to Fight Fire

Paradise, CA, roof rebuilt with fireproof asphalt shinglesEmily Nathan
The roof of the Guevara house is prepped for fireproof asphalt shingles. With fire-blocking OSB sheathing in place, stacks of engineered wood siding await installation. Roofing: GAF Timberline HD Reflector Series; Sheathing and siding: LP FlameBlock and LP SmartSide

California building codes dating from the early 2000s apply to the “wildland-urban interface” (WUI) that Paradise exemplifies, addressing the dangers posed by fire’s flames, radiating heat, and flying embers, which can travel as far as a mile. The building-product categories that are covered range from adhesives to roofing, siding to skylights
—more than 300 in all.

Among the most important, roofs must be “Class A rated,” meaning fire cannot pass through, and include metal, tile, and asphalt shingles that pass tests limiting flame spread. Approved sidings range from fiber cement to specially treated wood, bamboo, and vinyl, and may require a fire-block underlayment. Stick-built houses must be sprinklered.

Some of the most innovative products come from Vulcan Vents. While a house’s vents—at the foundation, soffits, and eaves—provide needed airflow, they are entry points for fire, heat, and embers, too. These vents use a honeycomb mesh that allows normal airflow but has an intumescent coating that expands in high heat, closing the vents to keep fire outside.

Paradise’s town council considered 20 new rules for buildings and lots, ranging from a mandated minimum roof pitch of 4/12 (not passed) to prohibiting railroad ties for retaining walls (passed). A proposed ban on gutters—since they hold plant debris that can burn—was modified to allow only those made from noncombustible material. The council affirmed the enforcement of the state’s WUI code requiring a 100-foot “defensible space” around a house—which means managing vegetation and fuel sources and providing safer conditions for firefighters—and went further, prohibiting combustible materials, like non-pressure-treated wood fences, which acted like wicks during the fire, within 5 feet of any structure.

Thanks to: Bret Wayland, Wayland Construction, Inc.; Jason Onstein, Green Ridge Landscaping, Paradise, CA.; Guevara house builder: Integrity Builders.

Book 2!!! Help Me Pick The Cover and Title (Plus The Shots That Didn’t Make The Cut)

My second book is due in a couple of months (eek, and not in a cute “eek” kinda way), and the cover and title decision can’t wait until life gets back to normal. As you know I like to crowdsource all my major life decisions so today I’m showing you the options to get your input, I’ve got it down to two. We had so much fun shooting it (months ago, obviously) and while there can only be one cover, I love most of these a lot. Here you go:

I want this book to be a classic, something that is timeless so – we could go more classic, thus “The Drapes of Wrath”, which seems kinda timely for these darker days but I think that “Wrath” might be too off-brand for me. Being the huge romantic that I am, I’m leaning more towards “Eat, Pray, Loveseat” as loveseats are the unsung heroes of living room seating, so plugging it into the title certainly makes me happy. That subtitle also feels right to me.

I collaborated with Daniel Craig on “The Girl With The Style Breakthrough” and you guys, he is as lovely in person as he seems (and very handsome). It does feel more like my first book title to me, with an emphasis on style, not design. “Style And The City” is what my publisher is leaning towards, but having two children that are likely going to read this book someday, I kinda wish I hadn’t posed nude for that shoot.

These two really didn’t feel right to me. “A Tale of Two Settees” just doesn’t pop color-wise. And while “Couch 22” has a nice punch of color, I don’t even really say “couch” and much prefer the word “sofa”. It’s like “vase” or “VAHHZE,” our rule is if it’s over $100 you pronounce it VAHZE (rhyming with Oz), under $100 its “vase,” like base, FYI. Free tip!!

I LOVE this one and almost called it the day of the shoot – THIS IS IT. Ryan (Gosling) felt strongly about shooting in real rain versus a set (or doing something in post-production, my suggestion) which made the shoot itself hard but admittedly he was right and it turned out beautiful. Please note the size of my hand.


I’m so, so happy with it. Bringing in Patrick Swayze (RIP that national treasure) is what tipped it from “good” to the quiet whisper of “yes, that’s it, that is THE cover.” I hope you agree 🙂

Let me know what your thoughts are!!! Which one would you buy first at a bookstore in a year from now??

**Seemed like the right day (and general time) to bring these back. We did them originally for Styled and I TOTALLY forgot about them til I referenced Dirty Dancing last week. Nobody on my team had ever seen them before so hopefully, they were new to you and made you smile today. Do you want to know what is not a joke? Brian and I used to do “the lift” at parties, TRUE STORY. Sometimes successfully, many times well, NOT. 🙂 Thanks to my friend Chandler for the photoshop work 🙂

Happy April Fools and come back later today for our VERY serious design-related content:) But seriously no more jokes. xx

The post Book 2!!! Help Me Pick The Cover and Title (Plus The Shots That Didn’t Make The Cut) appeared first on Emily Henderson.

Home Warranty Rating Methodology

Our Rating Methodology for Home Warranty Providers

The This Old House Reviews team is committed to providing comprehensive and unbiased reviews to our readers. This means earning your trust through transparency and having the data to back up our ratings and recommendations. With that in mind, we spent time creating an objective rating system to score each home warranty company. Here’s what that review process looks like:

  • We call every home warranty provider, talking to sales agents and company representatives. We get quotes, ask questions, and fully understand the protection plan offerings.
  • We test the customer service, including factors such as wait times, friendliness, and problem-solving ability.
  • We analyze the sample contracts from each brand we review. This allows us to break down the industry jargon and see what is and isn’t covered so we can give readers straightforward information.
  • We update all of this information on a continuous basis, storing it in a proprietary database that allows us to compare dozens of home warranty companies against each other.

With all of that data, we created a rating system to score each home warranty company. Our rating system is a weighted, 100-point scale on the following factors:

  • Plan options (25): Every home and every family needs the right home warranty plan for them. Providers with more options and more flexibility were rated higher than those without.
  • Coverage specifics (5): What does each plan and each provider cover? The more covered by the provider in their basic plans, the higher the score.
  • Pricing (25): Both the monthly fee and the service fee play an important role in the selection process.
  • Trustworthiness (25): There are a number of home warranty companies that aren’t reputable and don’t follow through on their agreements. We gauged trustworthiness based on customer feedback from the BBB.
  • State availability (5): Where you live plays a role in the options you have for a home warranty. Companies scored higher if they covered more states than their competitors.
  • Customer service (10): This factor is based on our own research from calling providers, as well as their guarantees for responding to claims.
  • Additional benefits (5): Some home warranty companies offer special promotions or will cover items in their plans that are usually considered optional coverage for most companies. Home warranty companies that offer these types of benefits were scored higher than competitors that didn’t.

In summary, the This Old House Review Team reviewed 45 companies to select this list of the seven best home warranty providers. To keep our ratings and data current, we have a full-time researcher who collects (and regularly updates) more than 100 specific data points from each company to help us compare them on key factors such as coverage, cost, service, and dependability.

Why you need wall panels in your next bathroom reno

When you renovate a bathroom, it’s either for improved function, aesthetics or both. If you want to give your bathroom a new look, you might not have to overhaul the entire room. Changing your showers, for example, is a great place to start to do just that and install new solid surface wall panels.

The post Why you need wall panels in your next bathroom reno appeared first on RenovationFind Blog.


When it comes to insulating your home, you want the best. In Alberta’s tough climate, keeping warm air in during the winter and cool air in during the summer is essential to home comfort. Spray foam is a great choice for insulation because it comes with many beneficiary features at a great price.

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