Friday, February 29, 2008

Installation costs (discussion link)

"We bought a tankless water heater at a fair price, but install prices are coming in at over $2,000. Why are the bids so high...."

Link: Tankless Water Heater Installation - Topic Powered by eve community  (

Hmm.  I see why it might be better to have the installer supply the item.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Downsizing (link)

"... According to the data compiled by NAHB's 50+ Housing Council, more than a quarter of a million people will buy new housing in communities specifically built for those ages 55 or better, and more than 100,000 units constructed in 2008 will be targeted to this growing niche market.

The report, "Profile of the 50+ Housing Market," also dispels some common perceptions about the older home buyer: first, "downsizing" is a relative term ..."

Link: News : Trends : Older Buyers Seek To Downsize -- a Bit :

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Wet windows (link)

"(from Ask Ed) Our windows have a lot of moisture inside due to humidity. We run a dehumidifier, what else can we do?...."

Link: Ed Del Grande: Ask Ed -- Wet Windows  (

[I have this problem too.  On really cold mornings, we have to wipe the windows down at least twice.  Only one bathroom has a fan.  (The others have windows.)  I wonder if that would work.]


Monday, February 25, 2008

Home ideas and Living Green Tour

The March 2008 Better Homes and Gardens has some useful ideas.  Put a Lazy Susan under your bathroom cabinet for easy access for your bath products.  Use shelf paper or vinyl place mats on the shelves.  (I've used leftover vinyl floor tiles for cabinets and wrapping paper for drawers.)
Better Homes and Gardens and Green Works Living Green Tour is visiting 15 home & garden shows across the country, including Hartford, CT (Feb.29-March 2); Greenville, SC (March 6-9); and San Francisco, CA (March 21 & 22).  See the website for more info:
Link: Registration  (Apparently you have to register)

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Recycling and flooring choices

The Early Spring 2008 issue of Renovation Style takes a look at some salvage shops in New England.  I am so glad that these old house materials are being recycled.  The article also has interesting side trips near each store.  I haven't visited these places, but there are salvage stores in Florida (DeLand) and Louisiana (Nachitoches) also (I'm not sure of the spelling).
I also enjoyed the article on the recycled church; it's now a lovely home.  (I love Rezoned on HGTV.)  There are some other good house and garden articles in this issue too.
And David Johnston, a top environmental building specialist, says that linoleum, ceramic tile, and bamboo are good flooring choices; however, only a handful of the thousands of bamboo species make good floors.  (See my earlier blog post on bamboo floors.)  He also points out that in many homes the master bedroom is far from the water heater, and you waste a lot of water waiting for the shower water to warm up.  He recommends a Metlund Hot Water D'Mand system.  (These point of use water heaters are becoming popular, but I've read that you can't have too many people using it at once.  Hmm.  Better research it.  I'm sticking with my big water heater--especially since I just replaced it.)

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Dawn, and Sunset, and the Colours of the Earth

Dawn, and Sunset, and the Colours of the Earth, the Hugo-nominated novelette by Michael F. Flynn, is available now on a podcast:

(It takes a while to get to the story, so you might want to hit "Play" and then move the runner to 32:00, since you may not want to listen to the rest of the podcast.) 
This intriguing story is told from multiple points of view.  (Btw, the story incorporates fictional forum posts that Mr. Flynn invited regulars on his AOL SF Authors folder to write , and two of mine were used--Pagadan and Velvet.)  It appeared originally in the October/November 2006 issue of Asimov's Science Fiction magazine and then in Year's Best SF 12, edited by David G. Hartwell and Kathryn Cramer.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Publication news

Building a Cool House for Hot Times without Scorching the Pocketbook is still on this top ten Barnes & Noble list: Barnes & Books / Home & Garden / House & Home / Home - Do-It-Yourself / Architecture, Domestic->Amateurs' manuals
Why Won't Anyone Play with Me? received an enthusiastic review in the December 2007 issue of Children's Bookwatch (The Midwest Book Review's online book review magazine).  Link (Picturebook Shelf):  
My story, The Trees of Home, is available online at: The Trees of Home  (May-July issue of Sorcerous Signals)
Paulie, a short story about a man seeking redemption, is in the December 2007 issue of Art and Prose: Art&Prose Magazine
And Magistria, a shared world anthology about magic and mages, is upcoming.

Home and decorating ideas

There's a fun bathroom vanity with sink and single handle faucet--The Mailbox vanity--that was inspired by the postal service classic--in the March 2008 issue of Country Home.  There's also a furniture-style pedestal sink with long legs and a drawer at the bottom. 
An interesting idea in Country Home is using for a bathroom door a salvaged commercial restroom door (the one in the magazine says Women).  And you can make a partial wall from a solid shutter to separate your toilet from the rest of the bathroom.  Add a crescent moon to your shutter for a nostalgic touch.  For a rustic touch you can use a big slab of wood--with bark on the front--for a bathroom vanity counter.  Another of their ideas is using a Pez collection to add color in a small space.
The April 2008 issue of Early American Life has an article on how to hide your appliances in a period kitchen.  (You don't have to, btw; you can let them just be there or make them blend in).  You can panel them (dishwashers and refrigerators) or put them behind doors (refrigerators).  Stoves, ovens, and cooktops, however, get hot.  Be sure to read the article for the various warnings before going to such extremes.
"Your House, My House" is the title of an exhibit at The Children's Museum of Memphis that runs through May 26.  It's an interactive exhibit that looks at houses, apartments, houseboats, and more.  There are three walk-in homes, and it sounds like a lot of fun.  I'd sure go if I lived near there.  Link: Welcome to The Children's Museum of Memphis!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Unforeseen remodeling problems and costs (link)

"Our contractor said the old fan vented into the attic, and there'd be an extra charge to vent the new fan through the roof...."

Link: Ed Del Grande: Ask Ed -- No Fan of New Bathroom  (

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Architecture of the imagination

"[Harriet] saw a stone quadrangle, built by a modern architect in a style neither new nor old, but stretching out reconciling hands to past and present.  Folded within its walls lay a trim glass plot, with flower-beds splashed at the angles, and surrounded by a wide stone plinth.  Behind the level roofs of Cotswold slate rose the brick chimneys of an older and less formal pile of buildings--a quadrangle also of a kind, but... keeping a domestic remembrance of the original Victorian dwelling-houses that had sheltered the first shy students of Shrewsbury College.  In front were the trees of Jowett Walk, and beyond them, a jumble of ancient gables and the tower of New College, ..."

From Gaudy Night by Dorothy L. Sayers

Friday, February 15, 2008

Modular homes and insurance (link)

"I learned something from some of the comments to my previous blog about Systems-Built Houses. It sounds like people who own them sometimes run into trouble getting homeowners insurance because insurers assume that a "manufactured" home is a trailer and therefore not very durable."

Link: Marjie O'Connor: The Buzz on Building -- Modular Houses and Insurance  (

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Cork flooring (discussion link)

(from Green Team) We wanted to find a product that was healthy, durable, sustainably produced, and economical....

Link: Andrew & Stacy: The Green Team -- Popping the cork - getting to know cork flooring

[I've thought about cork flooring.  I believe it has to be sealed really well; and it's interesting that it fades in the sun.]

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Decorating ideas

I like this idea from the February 2008 issue of Country Home: Put up an old mantel piece or cornice board near the front door and attach hooks for hanging hats, purses, dog leashes, etc. 
Other ideas include framed maps, game boards, quilts, pillows, collectibles, and more. 
The magazine also spotlighted a Kohler's freestanding bathtub made of a lightweight, fiberglass material "that takes its inspiration from Japanese ceramic tableware."  [Do not get into this bathtub during a storm!]
My favorite decorating idea, however, was edible--a handmade heart made out of swirled dark and white chocolate.  It's beautiful and might not make it to the cake it was made for. 
For decorating with a western theme, check out Crow's Nest website (I got their catalog today): Rustic Furniture, Southwestern Decor, and Women's Western Apparel by Crow's Nest Trading Co.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Architecture of the Imagination

"... the eye was instantly caught by Pemberly House, ...  It was a large, handsome, stone building, standing well on rising ground, and backed by a ridge of high, woody hills;--and in front, a stream ... without any artificial appearance.  Its banks were neither formal nor falsely adorned.  Elizabeth was delighted.  She had never seen a place for which nature had done more, or where natural beauty had been so little counteracted by an awkward taste.
The rooms were lofty and handsome, and their furniture suitable to the fortune of their proprietor, but Elizabeth saw, with admiration of his taste, that it was neither gaudy nor uselessly fine, with less of splendor, and more real elegance, than the furniture of Rosings."
From Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Lingering odor clean-up... (link)

"We bought an older home that was neglected and filthy. We had the entire house professionally exterminated, disinfected and scrubbed clean. This has made a world of difference, but the bathroom still has a urine odor..."

Link: Ed Del Grande: Ask Ed -- Dirty Old Odors

As Ed told her, this requires a thorough cleaning!  Years ago in Boston, a friend had to clean the bathroom of an apartment where a very elderly gentleman had lived.  I never saw it, but her description was nauseating.  (Not just urine...)

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Systems-built Houses (link)

"It's hard to find information about systems-built houses. ... and it's not [a]common [term] outside the construction industry.  ... a homeowner [is] likely to search for "manufactured house," ending up with a lot of info about what used to be called trailers.

I know this because the first time I tried to find information about "pre-fabricated" houses on the Internet, that's exactly what I got: lots and lots of photos of double-wides. When I changed the search term to "modular house," however, I had much better luck."

Link: Marjie O'Connor: The Buzz on Building -- Systems-built Houses  (