Interview: Timothy Dahl, a Full Time DIY Home Improvement Blogger

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We first took notice of Timothy Dahl and his blog, Charles and Hudson, last month when he published his excellent home DIY City Guide to Los Angeles. Upon further exploration, his blog revealed a wealth of useful information for those looking to upgrade their home on their own. From snaking your own sewer line to buying a backyard fire pit and an electrical outlet orientation, there's a lot to learn from him. So we ask a few of our own questions about Los Angeles and more...

Age and occupation: 35, Editor of CharlesandHudson.com (full-time on the blog since November move from NYC to LA!)

Home town: Tucson, AZ - couldn't wait to get away but now realize what a funky place it actually is.

Current LA neighborhood: West LA - I'm almost under the freeway at the 10 and 405 that feels central to everything but near nothing.

How long have you lived in LA, and where

Four months in LA. 8 years previously in the west village in NYC (Charles & Hudson cross streets). I'm starting to understand the pleasures of living here and they start with the SUN.

Why the move?

I'll always love the city and how it's affected me personally and the opportunities I had professionally, but in the end the juice wasn't worth the squeeze and the opportunities and lifestyle in LA seemed much more appealing. My wife's a fashion designer and NYC was and is the only place to make a mark in that industry, but LA is catching up. We're both more savvy now and as the adage goes "If you can make it in New York you can make it anywhere" so we're going to give it a go here and see what happens!

So what is Charles & Hudson all about for you and for your readers?

There are plenty of mainstream media websites and TV shows that push elegant decor and easy how-to solutions but if you're not a pro and don't have the budget it can be difficult to replicate their projects. C&H is focused on independent resources such as homeowners, house bloggers, and craftsman that share their experiences of how to finish a project professionally and within their means.

What's the story behind the blog? How did it come to be?

I started C&H in 2005 while working at This Old House. I recognized an untapped niche of home enthusiasts who wanted to share their stories and were seeking recognition for their own projects as well as a place to search for alternative building techniques and materials that were outside the scope of my employer that generally stuck with their own experts and products of advertisers.


What's been the best thing about launching your own DIY blog?

The DIY community is tight and unlike some industries folks are interested in sharing their experiences and helping others learn from their mistakes. I've met some great people through C&H that are singularly committed to building a better home for themselves and their family. I'd say they've got their priorities straight.

Give us your favorite DIY tip

Using a small block with a hammer makes pulling nails a cinch!

nailsponge.jpg Okay, that was good, how about another?

And a sponge with a hammer will protect your wall from marks. Gotta keep'em simple!

As a DIYer, what differences are you finding between NYC and LA?

Obviously the space limitations make dealing with an NYC apartment a unique task but the only thing stopping most people are their landlords and neighbors. It's not uncommon to see ambitious do-it-yourselfers on their front sidewalks running an extension cord through their window to their miter saw and cutting boards in the street. We've got the luxury of space out here and the pace to finish projects is not as heightened. Plus from what I've seen, Craigslist LA pwns Craigslist NYC for home related finds.

Unlike NYC, we have earthquakes here, what's your DIY plan for that?

Funny you should ask. We experienced our first quake about a month ago and it felt like a truck hit our house (familiar feeling to long-time residents), but being noobs from the city we broke out the flash lights and walked around the house expecting to find a car or light pole lodged in a wall. Our welcome to LA moment. We were in NYC during 9/11 and since then we always had a "get-out-of-dodge" bag and meeting point. I'd say we should apply the same thinking here and I've always been a proponent of keeping a water supply on hand.

What DIY/home living blogs do you like and recommend?

I've been a long-time reader of Apartment Therapy which also fills an underserved niche of home dwellers. Others include Houseblogs.net, 1912bungalow.com, Shelterrific.com and Toolsnob.com.

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Timothy playing at his uncle's farm on a cross-country roadtrip
Have you yet to find your favorite book/CD/movie/TV show about LA?

So many! Growing up in Tucson I always felt LA was such an enormous and untouchable thing (which it kinda is) but I was always fascinated by the movie depictions of beach culture (Point Break), Crime (Heat, Colors), and the hip scene (Swingers). GnR (with Slash and co.) will always be the standard that I hold LA music too.

Describe your best LA dining experience so far.
Soot Bull Jeep was smoky but the charcoal was worth it!

LA has the best...Movie Theaters

You haven't really lived in LA until... you speak Spanish (I'm working on that)

You probably have an LA pet peeve, right?

Blue-tooth ear pieces 24-7.

What is the "center" of LA to you? Anawalt Lumber on Pico & Sepulveda.

It's 9:30pm on a Thursday. Where are you, and where are you going?

In my truck headed to Inglewood to pickup free palettes I scored on Craiglist.

Are you ready for the big one?

Anyone who says they're ready is kidding themselves.