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Ty's Tricks    by Ty Pennington order for
Ty's Tricks
by Ty Pennington
Order:  USA  Can
Hyperion, 2003 (2003)

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* * *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

While I'm sure many young women would buy Ty's Tricks just for its numerous pictures of the hunk carpenter of that hit TV program Trading Spaces fame, this is a legitimate home help guide. Ty Pennington reveals his tricks to make home repairs easy and interesting. Ty also opens the door to 'cheap and easy projects to transform any room'.

Ty doesn't claim to know all there is to know about home repair, renovation, or décor. He is knowledgeable about many aspects of the work required to do all these things, but he is also smart enough to know when he needs to call in an expert. He says, 'This book could have been called 'More for Less – Cheap and Easy Tricks to Do It Yourself with Style' because more or less, it is a how-you-can-do-it book for doing more while spending less and creating style instead of stress'. Don't skip the Introduction, as it lets you know where the author is coming from and where he hopes you will be going. It's no coincidence that almost every picture of Ty in this book shows him smiling. He loves his life and he loves his work. This is truly a happy man.

The first chapter, 'How I Built a Champagne House on a Beer Budget', is an eye opener. Ty has transformed a 'Victorian bungalow' into an airy, light filled, contemporary home that almost anyone would be thrilled to inhabit. He fashioned lamps out of plumber's plungers! And he did the whole job, including a koi pond, for $10,003.00. Amazing. The next chapter gives the now motivated homeowner the skinny on how to create some of the same things he did in his house. The plunger lamps, the salad bowl sink, the sundial clock made of piano keys, the paint can lantern, the bamboo faux forest. The guide continues in the same vein, with all sorts of great suggestions that you can take and run with, and embellish with your own ideas. The book is studded with 'Ty's Tips'. Pay attention to them. They make sense.

He gets into hiring someone to do the work you can't or don't want to do - what questions to ask and how to measure the handyman's performance and references. Get a contract before the work starts. I like his statement that 'Tools are instruments made by man that return the favor.' Ty believes in having the right tools for the job and lists those necessary for most work. Did you know that 'A one-dollar bill is exactly 6 inches long and can be used in a pinch for measuring'? The author lists the top ten power tools and admonishes that 'You're only as sharp as your tools.' He suggests that you con a buddy into helping with those things that require more than two hands - such as hauling and installing drywall. Use beer and food as a bribe if necessary.

Ty gives wonderful advice about color and painting. Then he moves onto installing new floors. He even gets into small plumbing repairs – the ones that a plumber charges an arm and a leg for, but that can be done by yours truly. He finishes with advice about creating your own style. After all, it's your house and should reflect you. Ty's Tricks is a must for every home owner or apartment dweller. Keep it in a visible place to be used over and over again. And it makes a great gift.

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