"Do-It-Yourself Home Improvement" by Julian Cassell, Peter Parham and Theresa Coleman DK Publishing, $35 This is an amazing book. It actually makes us...

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“Do-It-Yourself Home Improvement”

by Julian Cassell, Peter Parham and Theresa Coleman

DK Publishing, $35

This is an amazing book. It actually makes us feel as if maybe we could do it ourselves. And that’s saying something.

The folks behind this colossally comprehensive guide realize two important DIY facts:

• You can’t do a project if you don’t know what you’re doing.

• And just because you don’t, doesn’t make you stupid.

So the authors wisely start with the basics — “How to Use This Book” (yes, this guide needs its own guide). They then tell us — and show us — how our house works, inside and out. Next up are tools and materials (with a three-step photo guide to using a hammer) and then totally thorough step-by-step directions, information and tips on more than 400 home-maintenance, home-repair and home-improvement projects.

Each section contains an overview, a preparation section and a list of options — and not a single word is condescending or incomprehensible.

In fact, the text is easy to navigate, with 3,000+ helpful, clear color photos (even of house pests!) spread over nearly 500 pages.

Yes, your mortgage would be paid off by the time you read every word — so don’t. Use it as you need it — it may be the only guide you ever need.

“Stenciling the Arts & Crafts Home: A Comprehensive Guide to Beautifying Your Bungalow”

by Amy A. Miller

Gibbs Smith, $24.95

First things first: Miller would like to make it perfectly clear that when she talks about stencils, she does not mean smeared pink Care Bears on little Tiffany’s headboard.

Miller is talking about art. A lost art. Specifically, stencils from the Arts and Crafts movement, a distinct period of history from about 1900 to 1925.

And when you read her book, you’ll believe her.

Miller not only shows how modern crafters can master this art, but she also provides lovely examples of historic stencils for inspiration. And not just for walls — back then, homeowners stenciled just about anything they could get their crafty hands on — curtains, pillows, linens, picture frames, even aprons.

Miller’s stencils — both old and new — are lovely, and her directions are thorough and encouraging, accompanied by helpful how-to color photos.

Her audience probably is rather limited, but for those who really want to stencil like they mean it, this is the guide.

Compiled by Sandy Dunham, Seattle Times desk editor