Making the most of your home appliances and cleaning tasks - Home Front

Joanie Sprague
Feb 15, 2018

Joanie Sprague is joining the team on TLC's revival of Trading Spaces. Joanie is a home improvement expert and she will be a carpenter on the show's return after the show's ten-year hiatus. She has been on DIY Network's Run My Renovation and Man Caves. She will be appearing at the Capital Remodel and Garden Show at Dulles Expo Center during its February 23-25 run.

Every week, Jura Koncius helps you in your quest to achieve domestic bliss. She and weekly guests, whether Martha Stewart, the Property Brothers or Nate Berkus, answer your decorating and design questions. Jura is always happy to whip out her paint chips, track down a hard-to-find piece of furniture or offer her seasoned advice on practical living and decluttering. For more than 10 years, Home Front has been an online conversation about the best way to make your home comfortable, stylish and fun. We invite you to submit questions and share you own great tips, ideas and gripes. No problem is too big or too small, send them over.

Joanie Sprague is joining the team on TLC's revival of Trading Spaces. Joanie is a home improvement expert and she will be a carpenter on the show's return after the show's ten-year hiatus. She has been on DIY Network's Run My Renovation and Man Caves. She will be appearing at the Capital Remodel and Garden Show at Dulles Expo Center during its February 23-25 run. Send in your questions now.

Hi Everyone!! This is Joanie Sprague!  SOOO Excited to be here with you this morning.  Hope everyone had a great Valentines Day.. I'm here to answer any questions you have about Trading Spaces, or just some tips on DIY!   Lets have some fun!

How is this Trading Spaces different from before?

This year some of the fun differences are - me and Brett - the New Carpenters! Also, we have increased our budget to $2,000 instead of $1,000.  Its definitely still quite a challenge to do a room at that price!

I would like to tile my shower with glass tiles. I understand they cost more and are harder to place, so aren't really a DIY project. Is there anything more I should know about them, such as do they chip easily? I love the look, but want to make sure I won't regret it in a few years.

I love glass tile, and honestly you can't go wrong with this option.  Tile work is one of my favorite things because there are so many things you can do.  With glass however, there are often times less color options.  Also, yes, you should use a pro with glass tile install because the glass is usually translucent, and you can see the adhesive through it. (so better not to attempt insulation solo)  The other great thing about glass though is it 100% does not absorb water and mildew doesn't grow on it. WIN WIN for cleaning!


Are there any grants to help redo an almost 100 year old home. I have to do everything...almost $100K just to fix lentils, stucco, roof...then I have to go inside and do HVAC, plumbing, electric, drywall, appliances. It would be a good educational tool for construction skills.

Thanks for your question.  I've wondered this myself, because a lot of homes back east are quite old, and would be considered 'historic'.  You should check with your city, or municipality and any historical society in your area.  100 years, although older, may not be old enough in some cases to be deemed historic... but there may be some tax incentives out there.  I'd ask around to other home owners in your area and with a historical society.

How did you learn carpentry skills? Do you actually do your own work at home?

Hey there! Great to talk to you.  I had learned a lot about home renovation as a kid, working with my dad.  He was a glazer for almost 20 years before he became a pastor.  So I followed him a lot, handing him tools, etc.  But as I got older, my own interests led me to carpentry, furniture refinishing, and construction.  Even though I modeled, I was always doing some sort of project with my hands, on the side.  I even landed a show on the DIY Network 9 years ago where I really got into construction and learned from some of the best cabinet makers in the business. Although I'm still quite green in some aspects of carpentry, its become a passion and something I work at everyday. xo

Hi Joanie, I am really excited for the upcoming Trading Spaces Revival, congratulations on the new show. My question is in regards to DIY, I am new to DIY projects and am wondering when to DIY and not to DIY? I just put up a pallet accent wall, with surprisingly no problems! So I am now a little braver than before, where do I need to cool my jets?

YOU GO!!!! WOO HOO!!  This is so awesome to read this!  Taking that first project head on is such a rush but you did it!  I think it just depends on what you're looking to do next.  I think if you can do a pallet wall, you could easily handle a tile or beadboard backsplash, or maybe even building some fun outdoor furniture!  Check out The Rehab Life on Youtube.  They are perfect for beginner furniture builders!! Congrats again.

Do you think that stainless is a must if you are getting a new appliance?

HI!  No, not at all.  Stainless is pretty awesome, yes, but it depends on the look of your kitchen.  Is it more farm style?  Do you have a lot of natural light?  A lot of appliance brands are coming out with black stainless, or wood and faux wood fronts on refrigerators, etc.  Also, white is classic and a lot of people don't want to deal with fingerprints.  You can also have a custom cabinet panel installed over your fridge to match your kitchen.  (and who knows, stainless could go out of style too one day!) 

Jura, In the spirit of cleaning out unnecessary items, I've found a couple of old posters that I had framed in glass with metal frames. I can take out the posters, but how do I get rid of the frame which I no longer need? I live in a high rise so can't just easily smash the glass and dispose of it in trash or recycling - are frames something that can be thrown away or recycled?

Hi there.  I had this happen to me too.  When we re did our bathrooms, I took out these giant old mirrors.  I had NO clue what to do with them.  I didn't want to toss them in the dumpster, and they were literally just sheets of glass with no frame, so I couldn't give them away and feel safe about it.  The best thing you can do, is criss cross duct or blue painters tape across the front and back, wrap it in and old blanket or bubble wrap, more tape and label it "GLASS for DISPOSAL" and set it downstairs next to your dumpster.  They will take it.

What's the best way to clean a moldy deck?

Hi there!  I just cleaned and re painted my deck recently too!  Power washer for sure.  Steam if you can get one.  Otherwise a regular power washer is fine.  You can add vinegar or some agent to the water too.  When its cleaned off and dry, (and make sure its BONE dry before you re treat the area), treat the deck, and make sure your gutters don't spill on to the deck, you sweep it weekly, getting the debris out of the cracks as best you can, and keep greenery /plants away from the deck if you can. ( I have a fiddle leaf ficus and some succulents that I don't water very often but thats it)

Is Crown Molding really a must in a living room?

Hello!  I don't think crown is needed in every space. (we don't have it in our apartment at all)  If you have higher ceilings though (over 9-10 feet, it does look great)  But you can also have a very contemporary home with 8' ceilings and still have molding, just remember to keep it smaller if you have lower ceilings, you don't want 12'' molding on walls that high.  I would use max 3-4" on 8" walls.

Is your Uncle Dave really a genius, or is that just a rumor?

Hi Uncle Dave...  ( I love my family )

see if salvation army or goodwill will take them. Your trash is someone else's treasure.

Why not donate to Goodwill or another thrift store?

Thanks for your question.  I go back and forth with this too. There are some publications that say that certain companies don't really serve the people they say they serve, and that CEO's collect massive salaries.  I can't confirm that.  But if its in your heart not to give to these places, I would recommend something like  Its a FREE donation platform online.  I use this all the time.  I feel good about it because its going directly into someone hands that really needs/wants my item.

What's the best product to use for a spot clean on an upholstered chair?

Super important question.  I have RUINED things by using the wrong products.  First, what is the stain on your chair?  If its oil, make sure you use a two step process, with a damp cloth with (very little) detergent and then a dry cloth to press it just after.  Dab Dab, not scrub.  If its blueberries, you may try Oxy cleaner, just make sure your fabric doesn't bleed when wet, spot check on the underside of the furniture to test.

Hi Joanie! We are planning to install a back splash in our kitchen and we are having the hardest time sourcing the tiles. We have been to high end tile stores to the big box stores and need help figuring out the cost and whether we install it ourselves (never having done this) and hiring someone. Our indecision is leaving us with a blank space - do you have an formals for figuring this out?

Sourcing tiles can be overwhelming.  Especially if you don't have a ton of options.  Have you tried looking online too?  If you are going to do this yourself, there are a lot of fun options at actually.  They ship for free too which can help with your cost.  (this is not a plug, I actually use them a lot)

When I bought my first house, my former roommates gave me a book called "How to Fix Things in Your Home" and that's what got me started. Later, I took a non-credit class in home repairs at the local Community College. Home Depot and Lowe's also offer seminars on specific tasks such as ceramic tiling.

You rock!  I love all these things that you've done to learn.  Lowe's and Home Depot have so many fun classes, its a great place to learn!  Can't go wrong at a Community College too!  Proud of you.

Which already has hard mold. How to clean it at this satge

Mold is tough.. especially black mold.. Is the mold on your washer black?  You can try bleach, ammonia, baking soda, and even some essential oils, but if its gotten that bad, you might call a pro.

Is it worth reupholstering a sofa if it's a good quality design and is still in good shape? What about slipcovers?

If its a super good quality frame, and you love the design I say go for it.  This could be a GREAT weekend project for you.  TIP:  Make sure you get QUALITY fabric and materials, and either rent to buy a powered staple gun to do the upholstering.  

I had a great time with you today!  Make sure to watch Trading Spaces on April 7th and come on out to see me next weekend in Chantilly, VA at the Capitol Remodel and Garden Show. Hope you all have a great day and good luck on all your projects!

Good luck on your new show. Next week join me and Estella Chung, Director of Collections at Hillwood Estate, Museum and Gardens in Washington. She will be discussing entertaining as Marjorie Merriweather Post did at her beautiful homes as well as the new show at Hillwood "The Artistic Table: Contemporary Tastemakers Present Inspired Table Settings." Until then.

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Jura Koncius
Jura Koncius is a Washington Post staff writer who specializes in home and design. Read her daily twitter feed @jurakoncius for the latest in decorating trends, shopping, decluttering, organizing and DC retail.

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Joanie Sprague
Joanie Sprague of Trading Spaces
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