Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Architecture of the Imagination

"...the Convent of the Holy Spirit was awesome. proud the [man] who had built it must have been of his beautiful house.  His wife...had been born in Paris and had taken Directoire ideas and married them to Old British Empire with verandahs.  It was built of red brick with cornices and gargoyles and was so very, very vulgar that it was magnificent.  Its total disregard of all canons of taste was dramatic and oddly endearing.

'...those gargoyles seem familiar...aha, I have it.  Notre Dame, of course.'

The left-hand of the three doors was the front door, panelled in blue glass like the wings of tropical butterflies...

[They stopped] before a wooden door which appeared to have been made out of a solid block of mahogany.

[They were ushered] across the shining sea of parquet to another door..."

From Death at the Victoria Dock by Kerry Greenwood  

The latest on design and technology in fireplaces

Thanks to burning demand by consumers for gas-fueled fireplaces, gas unit sales continue to far outpace traditional woodburning fireplaces, according to the Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Association.

That's thanks, in part, to advances in technology and design of gas-fueled fireplaces.  ...

For the rest of the article: New Products : Products : Fireplace Styles Evolving :

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Safety tips about home electronics

From: The HouseMaster eNewsletter

The consumer products safety commission has some safety tips to share regarding computers and gaming systems.     HouseMaster eNewsletter

Friday, January 26, 2007


Kitchen and bathroom remodeling remain the top two most common remodeling jobs, and master bedroom suites and great rooms are the two most popular home additions, according to remodelers who were surveyed by NAHB during the first three quarters of 2006.

For more: News : Trends : Kitchens and Baths Remain the Most Common Remodeling Jobs :


Removing walls

People are always removing walls, even load-bearing walls, and then they have to use beams or posts to support the house; and I think those naked poles are really ugly!  However, in the February Country Home, someone replaced three sets of walls (I'm not sure what they mean by three sets) with kneewalls topped with Craftsman-style pillars, which is a fantastic idea.  I'm not crazy about their particular look though.  I've seen beautiful and useful Craftsman pillars and room dividers, and I didn't like the way they cut the ones on the wall in half.  Look up the style if you decide to do that.  I love the bookcase look myself. 

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Current decorating trends

I got these ideas from the February 2007 issue of Country Home:

Collecting and decorating with antique laboratory glass is hot now.  Look for interesting shapes of beakers, jars, and bottles, along with etched measurements and original labels.

Make your own jewelry with S-hooks (I've kept the old ones from dog tags), washers, and wing nuts.  There's even a book: Hardware: Jewelry from a Toolbox.

 Tags: , ,

Builder confidence improves

WASHINGTON -- Continuing on an upward trend that began in the final quarter of 2006, builder confidence rose two points in January, according to the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI), released today. The HMI increased from an upwardly revised 33 in December to 35 in January, its highest level since July of 2006.

Source: BuildingOnline's eUpdate
Thu, 18 Jan 2007

For more info: News : Economic Indicators : Builder Confidence Continues To Improve In January :

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Utility rooms

There's a useful article on utility rooms in the February 2007 issue of Country Home.  The before picture is really cluttered.  They built a floor to ceiling closet that's 5 1/2" deep for small items and added walls to frame the washer and dryer and a laminate counter over them.  They have front controls so they can do that.  In my utility room I'd need access from the sides to retrieve clothes that occasionally fall behind the machines.  They skirted the washer & dryer to hide them.  (I have to confess I don't care for curtains for closets, etc.; they're in the way and have to be cleaned.)  They also have their recycling bin with wheels, a pegboard for paintbrushes & hand tools (now that's nifty; mine are in the cabinets), and an armoire with bins for other things.  I came across another idea for hiding your washer and dryer in the February 2005 issue of Country Home.  They're covered with painted panelling, and there are matching cabinets overhead, which make it look like a hutch.  It's a fantastic look. 

Friday, January 19, 2007

How Clean Is Your House?

I enjoy a lot of shows on HGTV: House Hunters, If Walls Could Talk, Mission: Organization, etc.; but here's a new and scary show, How Clean Is Your House?!  It's on BBCAmerica, and I just learned about it from their e-newsletter.  It sounds like it goes beyond organization to--gulp--deep cleaning.  I like those pink plastic gloves with the pink fuzzy cuffs though. 

Dust-busting divas, Kim Woodburn and Aggie MacKenzie, tackle some of the messiest, most cluttered, and disorganized homes you're ever laid eyes on! Armed with helpful tips, tough love and some major elbow grease, each week the ladies whip a new set of homeowners into shape, turning their horrifying homes into shiny new diamonds!

Premieres January 17th at 9:30pm et/10:30pm pt. Part of Lifestyle Wednesdays!


Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Construction industry update (link)

Commercial Construction Job Gains Help Offset Losses in Residential Sector
Source: BuildingOnline's eUpdate
Fri, 12 Jan 2007

The latest report from the U.S. Department of Labor shows that in December 2006, the overall construction industry lost a net 3,000 jobs, which was heavily mitigated by an uptick in new jobs on the non-residential side.  

For more info: News : Economic Indicators : Commercial Construction Job Gains Help Offset Losses in Residential Sector :


Monday, January 15, 2007

Recent publication news & tidbits

Magistria: Shards of the Goddess, the anthology sequel to Magistria: The Realm of the Sorcerer, has been postponed because of a change in publishers.  I'm not sure when it will be out.

Michael F. Flynn's novelette, Dawn, and Sunset, and the Colours of the Earth, which ran in the October/November 2006 issue of Asmimov's Science Fiction Magazine, included a segment that I (as Pagadan and Velvet)--and a number of other posters on his AOL SF Authors folder--contributed posts to.  I recently learned that it will be in a forthcoming Years Best SF #12. 

My article, Selling a Cool Book about the House That Joy Built, is in the non-fiction category of the Preditors & Editors poll.  If anyone would like to read the article, there's a link on the Preditors & Editors website: Preditors & Editors Poll or you can go straight to the publication's website: North Florida Writers ; it's the newsletter/October issue link. 

My story, Pretty Pink Planet, from the anthology, WomanScapes, is a nominee in the Short Story SF category. 

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Laundry rooms

The February issue of Country Living has an interesting article, with ideas and photos, on laundry rooms.  For large families, you can have two stackable units.  (The photo shows them side-by-side, which looks neater, but I think they'd be better off with one bigger washing machine.)  One room has a doll house attached to the wall with decorative brackets; the rooms hold various items.  It adds a fun touch.  And a laundry room near the garden can double as a potting room.  There are some colorful, quieter, and more energy efficient washers & dryers available now too; some come with a steam cycle and over-sized doors.

Friday, January 12, 2007


There's an interesting article about dormers in the March 2006 Southern Living.  "Add Distinction with Dormers" includes photos and drawings and building tips.  The most common types are shed and gable and combinations; the half-gable, half-hipped dormer is also known as a clipped gable or jerkinhead, and is tricky to build.  A side-bar tells you which dormer style looks best with which house style.  For instance, the hipped dormer works best with Shingle, Prairie, and French Eclectic. 

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Demand for lumber declines (link)

PORTLAND, OR -- (BUSINESS WIRE) After four consecutive years of record lumber consumption, demand for lumber fell in 2006 and is expected to slow further during 2007, according to a forecast by Western Wood Products Association (WWPA).

For more info: News : Materials : Forecast: Declining Demand for Lumber to Continue into 2007 :

Sugar Time excerpt

You can now listen to an excerpt from Sugar Time, along with other audiobooks, at: Hadrosaur Audio Odysseys

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Elegant undercounter refrigeration

There's a full page ad in the February issue of Saveur announcing the unveiling of Marvel's Chateau Collection--"the pinncacle of undercounter refrigeration, where details like rich ebony interiors and glide-out shelves, faced in the finest select maple, provide both function and timeless beauty."  You can learn more about the Chateau Collection at

Decorative bandages

I loved the Harry Potter bandaids, but there's a new twist that I came across in Saveur.  Accoutrements' food-shaped bandages look like bacon strips, sunny-side-up eggs, and T-bone steaks.

Monday, January 8, 2007


I recently read a series of interesting articles in the Star Beacon on silos.  I'm not sure where the paper is because a friend sent me the clippings (it might be in Ohio), but I learned that silos were made of wood, brick, or concrete.  They're no longer practical, and few are being restored, though I've seen them remodeled into homes on HGTV.  (It's amazing what you can turn into a house.)  Being from Wisconsin I remember silos and the smell of silage, which I like, though I suspect it's an acquired taste.    


Saturday, January 6, 2007

Planning for the future

Planning way ahead could include making doorways wider (at least three feet), and at least one bathroom wheelchair accessible. Halls should be at least four feet wide, and you need space to maneuver a wheelchair or walker in rooms. You have to think about sinks, toilets, appliances (a front loading washing machine, for instance), electrical receptacles, showers, grab bars, lighter doors, door handles, etc.; and if you have more than one story, you may need an elevator or powered stair ride. Some people plan for a bedroom on the main floor. Hardwood floors are good for wheelchairs. Do not put the toilet in a closet. Avoid changes in elevation--stepping up and down in the house. (Ernie White enabled us to avoid that mistake in mother's house. He pointed out the problem and raised the floor in the back porch room to the same level as the kitchen and the utility room.) But vary kitchen and bathroom countertop heights.

From Building a Cool House for Hot Times without Scorching the Pocketbook: Building a Cool House for Hot Times Without Scorching the Pocketbook: Books: Joy V. Smith

Thursday, January 4, 2007

Fireplaces & woodstoves (link)

You have many options for heating your home with wood. These options, discussed below, include space heaters such as wood stoves and fireplaces, as well as central heating systems: Heating Options

From: House Building Guide Newsletter - January Issue

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Architecture of the Imagination

"I ... made a survey.  I was in a big square sort of a hall, with doors off to the left and in the wall ahead.  To the right, instead of a wall and doors, it just spread out into an enormous living room which contained at least twenty different kinds of furniture.  My eye was professionally trained to take in anything from a complicated street scene to a speck on a man's collar, ... but for the job of accurately describing that room I would have charged double.  Two of the outstanding items were a chrome-and-red-leather bar with stools to match and a massive old black walnut table with carved legs and edges. 

...I advanced to pick out a chair to sit on, saw none that I thought much of, and settled on a divan ten feet long and four feet wide, covered with green burlap.  A near-by chair had pink embroidered silk. 

...'Come this way.' 

She turned and started for the square hall and I followed.  We went through a door, crossed a room that had a piano, a bed, and an electric refrigerator in it, which left it anybody's guess how to name it, and on through another door into a corner room big enough to have six windows....  Every object in it, and it was anything but empty, was either pale yellow or pale blue.  The wood, both the trim and the furniture, was painted blue, but other things--rugs, upholstery, curtains, bed coverlet--were divided indiscriminately between the two colors.  Among the few exceptions were the bindings of the books on the shelves and the clothes of the ... man....  The woman lying on the bed kept to the scheme...."

From: And Be a Villain (Nero Wolfe mystery) by Rex Stout

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Life off the grid

There's another helpful article by Rex A. Ewing in Log Homes Illustrated about living without access to power lines.  It covers Arco photovoltaic (solar-electric) modules for charging batteries, propane-powered appliances and generators, and keeping your inverter in Search mode rather than On so you don't need zone pumps or fan motors.  Well, I'm not sure what all that means either, but it sounds useful for those who aren't on the grid or want to save on electricity.