Planning a project? Look online for ideas and advice.

michelle.maltais@latimes.com

You can keep talking about re-tiling the kitchen. Or you can do it. Either path can be followed online with sites ranging from instructional to interactive.

A trip to Home Depot (http://www.homedepot.com) can be as fruitful in the cyber realm as it is in the physical world. Whether erecting a gazebo or simply landscaping, you can get easy-to-follow instructions on the site.

You can store your projects from the various sections, such as Fix It, Build It or Grow It, and get personalized advice for every area of the home.

Popular Mechanics offers its homeowners' clinic at http://homearts.com/pm/toc/00pmhpc1.htm. There, you'll find colorful diagrams with "cures for the common household" and maintenance hints for appliances, such as how to tune up a gas barbecue--a must before the Fourth of July.

Before you go hammering all over your yard, you should check out http://www.handymanwire.com. The site outlines projects such as building a deck and tells you all the tools you will need.

Similarly, http://www.homestore.com/home_improvement offers detailed instructions for projects and repairs, including the necessary tools.

Need more individualized attention? Head to http://www.household-helper.com and get home-repair answers via e-mail, usually within hours. Topics include plumbing, electrical, garden and swimming pool repair. There's even repair advice for the family vehicle.

List makers, take heart. The project planner at http://living.yahoo.com/living/workshop keeps track of what's been done and what's left to do. Yahoo's site offers experts and project calculators.

If your project has more to do with sunflowers than socket wrenches, check out Yahoo's garden section at http://living.yahoo.com/living/garden. For more dirt on plants, you can peruse http://www.gardenreview.com/101/plantfinder.shtmlto find just about everything you ever wanted to know about your garden.

In the realm of cool but time-consuming sites, there's http://www.bhg.com/househome, where you can lay out a room. It took about half an hour to design a virtual living room with furniture properly placed. This is perfect for those who are moving or just ready for a change. It can take a while to get the relative size of the room and the furniture right. But if it means not having to drag that sofa to yet another corner of the room, it's worth the online effort.

At http://improvenet.com, there are several useful tools that let you estimate a project's cost and visualize what your remodeling project will look like. You can also save project summaries.

Let's not forget the king of all things home improvement. Bob Vila weighs in at http://bobvila.com. As expected, he takes things to another dimension: A 3-D Room Designer lets you build your dream kitchen with cabinets and appliances in various styles and colors. The site also offers room-by-room tips on remodeling, and the home-improvement library has short video demonstrations.

Even if you're no Martha Stewart in the kitchen, you can still remodel it. Check out http://www.kitchens.com and http://www.iwantanewkitchen.com for ideas and helpful hints.

For some, the "home, sweat home" approach is a turnoff. These days, many of us are more into conserving energy than expending it. Of course, there's the traditional route here with sites such as http://www.eren.doe.gov/consumerinfo/energy_savers and http://www.ase.org/checkup/home/main.html.

Or there's the Eastern tradition of feng shui. The Popular Mechanics site also touches on keeping qi. At http://www.fengshuitips.co.uk/home.htm, you find out that you might want to rethink that red sofa and the mirror near the bed.

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Michelle Maltais is a broadcast producer and copy editor at The Times.

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