DIY diva Barbara Kavovit shares her expert advice
You may recognize Barbara Kavovit from The Real Housewives of New York, but she’s no superficial reality television star. The New York native is the founder and CEO of Evergreen Construction, one of the few female-led construction companies in Manhattan, and the author of two home improvement books, Room for Improvement and Invest in Your Nest. It all began at the age of 9, when Kavovit’s father handed her a hammer and enlisted her help constructing bunk beds.
“That experience really set the groundwork,” the Bronx native said. “It was a self-esteem booster and it made me want to empower other women to feel secure and knowledge doing work in their homes.”
Kavovit also recently debuted her her first novel, Heels of Steel, giving readers an inside look into the cut-throat business of hardhats and hammers, based on her own experiences working on projects at Rockefeller Center, Carnegie Hall Towers and the Empire State Building.
“Between the ‘Me Too’ movement and ‘Times Up,’ I thought writing a novel talking about breaking through the glass ceiling without throwing people under the bus was an important topic,” she said.
Following the success of the book, a sequel is already in the works, as well as a new television show. But, Kavovit has not lost sight of her first love. The do it yourself queen, whose been featured on Today and in Oprah Magazine, shared her expert home decor tips for refreshing your home for spring.
“Spring is a great time to accomplish things around the house,” she said. “It is not too cold or too humid. You can open the windows and let in a new season.”
Give your deck a face-lift
After a long winter a deck can look pretty dismal. Before summer temps make it too hot (above 85 degrees). First wash or power wash your deck (you can rent a power-washer) or scrub it by hand. Use a long-handled bristle brush and warm soapy water. A cup of bleach added to two gallons of water removes mildew and moss. Rinse thoroughly using a high-pressure jet hose and let the deck dry completely. Pour deck stain in the shade of your choice into a paint tray and use an extended handle roller to apply. Let stain dry for 24 hours.
Replace your AC filters
If you have an individual air conditioner unit, remove it from the window and change its air filter. For less than $20 a new air filter will allow proper air flow from your furnace. If you have an HVAC system, change that filter as well. Replacing the filter every three months keeps hot and cool air clean and breathable. A dirty air filter forces your system to work harder and less efficiently.
Fix your screen
Stop the bugs from coming in this spring. Buy screening, screen spline (a thin, narrow piece of wood, metal or plastic that fits into or onto the edges of the window and holds the screen taut), a screwdriver, 1¼ putty knife, a utility knife, clean paintbrush, small clamps, screening tool that has a convex wheel at one end and a concave wheel at the other. Next, remove the window or door. Using a flat head screwdriver or putty knife to pry out the old spline. Remove the screen and clear the channel with a clean paintbrush. Cut a new piece of screen two inches larger than the opening. Use the screening’s tool’s convex wheel to push the screen into the channel all around the window, keeping the screen smooth and taut. Cut a piece of the spline six inches longer than the perimeter of the opening. Use the concave wheel on the screening tool to push the spline and the screen into the channel all the around the window, maintaining tension. Finally, cut any excess screen from outside the spline with a utility knife.
Install a ceiling fan
Ceiling fans efficiently and effectively reduce the need for air conditioning. Reverse the fan direction in summer so the airflow creates a wind-chill effect, making you feel cooler and allowing you to turn down (or off) the AC.
Organize your garage
Here’s how to quickly organize your garage including hanging your bikes, yard tools, hoses and extension cords.
Tools Needed: Hammer, power-lite cordless drill, tape measure and level
Materials: Bike and tool hooks, 16 penny common nails, bungee cords, stud finder, 3-inch wood screws
Hang your bikes
Once you have purchased your bike hooks from your local home center, find a location in your garage to hang your hooks, keeping in mind leaving access for your car(s) and a clean route to the house entrance. Use your stud finder to locate the ceiling joists and pre-drill a hole into the joist. The hole should be half inch the diameter of the thread on the hook. You can now hand screw the hook into your joist and are ready to hang your bikes. Use your tape measure and find your next joist, which is 16 inches away in either direction and repeat the process for additional hooks.
Hang your hoses/extension cords:
Find your wall studs and hammer in a nail on a 45 degree angle. Use a bungee cord and hook one end on the nail, pass the other end through your rolled up cord or hose and hook that end on the nail. You have now freed the clutter from your garage floor in a quick, economic way. Install the foam insulation where the top and or bottom of sashes are to block out any outside air infiltration. You are now ready to plug in and cool off.
Make your own cleaning solutions
Ounce for ounce, homemade cleaning formulas cost about one-tenth of commercial counterparts and they are better for you and the environment. You can save $50 or more per year on commercial cleaners. A good all-purpose cleaner can be made with ½ cup of baking soda, 1-cup distilled white vinegar, ¼ cup basic liquid detergent and a drop of any essential oil you like (for a natural fragrance). Mix in a bowl and place in one or two glass jars. Use a sponge to wash almost any surface. Use hydrogen peroxide and lemon juice to wash white and brighten colors (much gentler than chlorine bleach) and let white dry in the sun to bleach and refresh them further.