Custom Barn Door Installation

One of my favorite clients was updating her rental property in the west Pilsen neighborhood – close tot he Lagunitas brewery and the Cinsespace industrial park. She requested I make and install a barn door for her. This custom barn door fabrication project was one of my favorite pieces.

I used 2×6 pine so the door would be light weight. Using a claw hammer, an angle grinder and some wood stain, I weathered the boards and assembled them as pictured above.

I used a splotchy staining technique and 2 different colored stains to bring out some character in the wood. I found a basic sliding door hardware set up on amazon and the result was great.

If you are thinking about a custom barn door fabrication project, please let me know. I really enjoy hearing about custom project ideas.

Kitchen Cabinet Refinishing

We recently finished a kitchen cabinet refinishing project in Chicago’s thriving west Loop neighborhood. Our Client was selling the unit and wanted to update the aesthetic to facilitate quick sale.

The Process for kitchen Cabinet cabinet refinishing can take 2-4 weeks depending on the number of doors and drawer fronts. First we remove all door and drawer fronts – these will be refinished in our work shop.

When the doors have been refinished, We return to the home and paint the cabinet boxes in place. the process takes about 3 days. Special care is taken to mask off all areas surrounding the painted surfaces to protect the home.

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Email photos of your kitchen or bathroom vanity for a free quote

Preparing for a winter storm

With a record Low temperature approaching Chicago, It is a good Idea to prepare your home to increase comfort and reduce energy costs. the biggest culprit is Heat Loss – places your home is letting warm air escape, or cold exterior air enter. Here are a few key areas a home owner can address on their own.

  1. Doors – If you can see daylight, you have heat loss. Run your hand along the cracks of your Sliding doors and entry doors. I you can feel cold air – you have heat loss. Quick fix – Tape. Duct tape or packing tape will instantly reduce your heat loss and save on your electric bill.
  2. Windows – Be sure to close storm windows. According to, replacing single-pane windows with ENERGY STAR qualified storm windows can save you up to $465 a year on energy bills. Closing curtains and blinds will also create a barriere between you and the cold. Plastic on your windows is also a great way increase your comfort and reduce your energy bills
  3. Bath and Kitchen Exhaust fans – Most kitchen and bath exhaust fans vent to the exterior of your home. Exhaust fans can remove 30% of your homes heat in One hour according to some estimates. If your vent does not include a damper – your vent could be pulling heat out of your home even when it is not running.

Chicago Handyman can provide home energy audits if you are ready to increase the comfort of your home and decrease your energy consumption. Bundle up out there!

No Foolin’: Improve Indoor Air Quality With These Simple Terrariums


With spring finally finding its way to Chicago, many people are excited to tend to their fall planted seedlings start to sprout. They pull out their garden gloves and tools, ready for another spring of planting, pulling weeds and pruning. But what about those doomed to apartments? No greenery or garden patches for miles. Well, this project takes old glass jars and creates green terrariums to not only add pretty plants to a home but also vastly improve indoor air quality.

First locate a jar. This should be a clear, empty glass jar, nothing too large. If there’s none available in the home, jars can be picked up from any local secondhand store.


Then decide on the plants. They should be tiny plants that fit comfortably into the jar. For the greatest success, put succulents with succulents, ferns with ferns, etc. Buy the proper soil for each type of plant. This soil, activated charcoal and some rocks will be on the bottom for a false drainage layer.

Start cleaning the inside and outside of the container, removing any residue. Following this step, fill the bottom of the container with rocks or pebbles. Depending on the size of the jar, the depth of rocks should range from 1/2″ to 2.” Cover the rocks with the activated charcoal and then fill the jar with enough soil to so each plant will have enough room for the plant’s roots.


Finally, plant your plants, gently breaking the soil ball until reaching the roots. Dig into the soil with a spoon to create holes to place the plants in and then compact the soil around the plant.


Just as with any other plant, make sure to maintain the plant by watering it regulary with just a shot of water.


Breathe in the fresh air of the home with these new terrariums!

For a more complete guide, check out Inhabitat’s step-by-step directions.