Home and Garden

Page 1

An advertising supplement of the Lewiston Tribune and Moscow-Pullman Daily News

Photo by Barry Kough


Photo by Steve Hanks



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Bringing a 20th century house into the 21st century

Tribune/Barry Kough

ABOVE: Daylight floods the living room with plenty of seating for watching television, which is hidden behind sliding doors above the new fireplace. LEFT: Sheri and Frank Jeschke of Pullman stand in their home, which they have remodeled.

Do-it-yourself couple has made their old house a modern home fireplace from a corner that took up a significant portion of the room. Once the original fireplace was taken out they were able to use that space to When Frank and Sheri Jeschke moved create a built-in bookcase. to Pullman from Oak Harbor, Wash., in They purchased the insert from Pullman 2000 they left behind a new house they Heating & Electric Inc., and installed it themhad built and purchased a home built in selves. They also installed a wood stove in the 1978. Since then they have remodeled downstairs of the house to stave off the expenses most of the house and brought it into the associated with the original heat source. 21st century. Above the insert is a hide-away for the TV, There isn’t much, if any, of the origiwhich is undetectable to the naked eye when nal interior design left. closed. These changes have increased their The house was originally heated by space in the room. radiant ceiling heat, but that doesn’t They also remodeled the kitchen in 2002 to be get used much anymore except in the modern and functional. The original design made two bedrooms downstairs. Their most it difficult to stand at the sink and load the dishrecent renovation was putting a fireplace insert washer, so they moved it over by about two feet. in the living room and removing an existing They replaced all of the cabinets and countertops

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with ones purchased from Home Depot. The new cabinets include what Sheri refers to as an “appliance garage,� which frees up counter space leaving the room clutter free. They added a unique touch to the kitchen with knobs that are shaped like branches, bringing a certain woodsy feeling to the room. They opened up the kitchen to the dining room, removing a buffet with a small pass-through and replacing it with a breakfast-nook bar. One corner of the kitchen, which once sat empty, now has a built-in desk perfect for cupon cutting and recipe saving. The main floor includes the living areas, the master bedroom and a bathroom. The stairs leading to the lower level of the house separate the dining area from the living room, but still allow for an openness so communicating from one room to the next is not difficult. They remodeled the upstairs bathroom, replacing the tub with a large shower. They removed the original cabinets, replacing them with a more fitted countertop that has an above-counter sink, providing

more moving-around area than the original layout. Infinity Custom Construction LLC of Pullman helped the couple remodel the bathroom. The Jeschkes have also textured and painted the walls throughout the house, making it feel all-themore modern. Sheri gives credit to Design Effects Interiors of Pullman for helping them come up with a lot of the ideas they used in remodeling the house, like bringing in wood floors and creating an accent wall. The main room downstairs is used primarily as office space with his desk built in along one wall and a desk for her on the opposite wall where she sews. The bathroom downstairs was remodeled as well. There are his and hers vanities with wall mirrors that she framed with wood she painted to give the room a more finished look. She got the idea from a do-ityourself website. He resurfaced the vanities in this bathroom saving them time and money while bringing it up to date. This bathroom once had a sauna at the back wall and a stall shower, which they removed

Tribune/Barry Kough

ABOVE LEFT: The basement family room also has a new, efďŹ cient wood stove, two computer desks and a comfortable recliner for winter reading in a warm room. RIGHT: Sheri Jeschke framed the bathroom mirrors herself in the downstairs bathroom. She got the idea from a do-it-yourself website. and replaced with a large jetted tub and linen closet. Their next project is to remodel a laundry room downstairs to include a stackable washer and dryer as well as a pantry. The 13 years the Jeschkes have been in the house have been spent updating it, a hobby they seem to enjoy. ——— Hayden can be reached at phayden@lmtribune.com or (208) 848-2243.

Reward yourself with the food from your own garden He shares his expertise at extending the growing season with home cooks, chefs CHARLOTTE, N.C. — No and various TV audiences, matter where she goes, Barso they can have access to lobara Damrosch can find hercal food for more of the year, self talking with someone about as he does. the rewards of growing fresh, Damrosch, 70, came to the wholesome foods at home and farm in 1991, the year she becoming less dependent on married Coleman. She has other sources. emerged as a champion of It’s a lifestyle that was popugardening as a central part lar in the 1960s and ’70s. Toof family and community day a natural food movement life, even as big corporate has re-emerged as the nation’s farms grew and overshadecology and health force us to owed small, local agricultally things being lost to conveture such as theirs. nience. Their family garden is a Nutrients and fuel use can showcase of the plant diverbe tradeoffs when foods travel sity that is considered vital long distances to reach us. Pesto a healthy ecosystem but ticides and food waste also take frightfully lacking in largea toll. scale agriculture. They As measures of the pros and grow old, heirloom varieties cons continue, many people alongside newer hybrids. are going off-grid for food. OthThe couple’s new book AP ers are puttering in the soil for The Four Season Farm Gardener’s Cookbook (Workman Publishing) inthe joy — and the flavor — of a is a complete four-season cookbook with 120 cludes pictures of their home-based harvest. gardens, growing tips and “There is a new awareness of recipes from Barbara Damrosch and Eliot recipes that Damrosch crethe value of homegrown food,� Coleman, who show how to maximize the ated with produce from their said Damrosch, co-author of the fruits and vegetables from your own garden. fields. newly released “Four Season The book was published by Workman and re“The deep green of the Farm Gardener’s Cookbook.� leased in February. spinach and bluish cast of “We’re trying to make it easier the broccoli leaves tell us for people to get out there and we’ve fed these plants well, grow their own food.� and that they will feed us well in return,� the couple Damrosch’s husband, Eliot Coleman, has been write in the book. farming in Maine for more than 45 years. Coleman, 74, In her weekly column for The Washington Post, started what is now Four Season Farm in 1968. called “A Cook’s Garden,� Damrosch shares pictures Today, the operation occupies less than two acres of her home-grown vegetables and fruits with the pride but provides enough food for a farm stand that is open of a parent posting her babies’ pictures. June through September, a mobile stand for farmers At a time when digital automation makes so many markets, as well as a year-round wholesale business. chores seem effortless, the prerequisite of toiling for



Home prices up in January, CoreLogic reports to enter the spring selling season on sound footing,� said Mark Fleming, CoreLogic’s chief economist. LOS ANGELES TIMES The January price increase was the 11th straight and the largest year-over-year increase since April WASHINGTON — U.S. home prices rose 9.7 per- 2006, before the housing market crashed. cent in January from a year earlier, the biggest inPrices in January were up 0.7 percent from the crease since 2006, a real estate data analysis firm previous month. reported recently. Overall, prices throughout Arizona were up 20.1 The best-performing area of the country was Phoe- percent in January from the previous year, followed nix, where prices of single-family homes, including by Nevada at 17.4 percent, Idaho at 14.9 percent, foreclosure sales, were up 22.7 percent, according California at 14.1 percent and Hawaii at 14 percent. to CoreLogic. Only Illinois and Delaware did not show price Next was Southern California, with prices up 12.2 increases in January from a year earlier, Fleming percent in the Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale said. market and 12.1 percent in the Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario market. The data added to recent reports showing a housing rebound. “With these gains, the housing market is poised

weeks or months to grow one’s own food seems too costly for many people, especially when a supermarket is on the way home. Damrosch said even the smallest plot can be an abundant source of food for much of the year. The book includes tips for making gardening manageable and efficient, even for those with limited time. For Damrosch, the garden is a path to better flavor, better nutrition and perhaps hope more of our greatgrandchildren will want to know the magical flavor of food grown in the backyard. The transformation of pretty herbs and tomatoes to food for the table, as illustrated in the book, is perhaps the best argument we are missing something special when we don’t harvest from our land or at least buy from a neighboring farm. “People are looking for stuff that’s real and not diluted with chemicals,� Damrosch said. “It doesn’t taste the same.�

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Hate cleaning the grill? Some hire the work out By AMY LORENTZEN ASSOCIATED PRESS

Nick Escalante enjoys grilling his family’s meals a couple times a week year-round, but doesn’t like cleaning the greasy mess that comes with it. So he uses a professional grill cleaner. “I really am not a fan of cooking food for my family on a grill that has leftover food from previous uses all over it,� said Escalante, 47, of Mesa, Ariz. “They come and do the dirty work for us.� Proper grill maintenance can make cooking safer and extend the life of your barbecue. Celia Kuperszmid Lehrman, deputy home editor for Consumer Reports, said homeowners can do the job on their own. “There is not some huge skill set here that the average person can’t handle,� she said. Many quality grills sell for between $200 and $300. Doing your best to clean the appliance and then replacing it may be more cost-effective than paying for professional upkeep, she said. Whether you do it yourself or hire an expert, there is some regular upkeep required for your barbecue, which includes scraping grates before and after you cook, washing flavorizer bars occasionally, and emptying grease traps. Gas grillers should regularly check their propane tank and replace if it has corrosion or dents, and inspect and replace cracked or brittle hoses, Kuperszmid Lehrman advises. Most grill parts, cleansers and tools can be purchased inexpensively at home stores. Check the manual to ensure you don’t use anything that could void your barbecue’s warranty.

Jeffrey Krentzman, founder and owner of The BBQ Cleaner in Hackensack, N.J., recommends a professional grill cleaning at the start and end of barbecuing season, or more if you grill year-round. Professional grill cleaners take the barbecue apart; steam, spray or soak the pieces; and use special tools to scrub in spots the average homeowner may not easily reach. Many use food-safe and environmentally friendly products designed for grills. Professional cleaners also advertise their services as making barbecues healthier by removing potentially cancer-causing substances from the grill. Those substances are produced when foods are cooked at high heat, and especially when meats are charred. The Department of Agriculture advises preventing flares when barbecuing for added food safety. You can do that by trimming fat, precooking to release fatty juices and keeping the barbecue free of greasy buildup. Besides not handling spilled or splattered grease from your barbecue These February photos provided courtesy of The BBQ Cleaner shows Kevin and nearby floor- Chavez, authorized technician of The BBQ Cleaner, professionally cleaning a gas ing, Krentzman grill for a client in Mesa, Ariz. said one of the biggest bonuses when hiring a professional is you don’t have to mess with propane. “We are dealing with the gas, so there’s not that risk,� he said. That was one of the selling points for Escalante, who said he tried cleaning and fixing a problem with the grill himself before calling a professional. “I thought I could save money and do it myself, but there was a little bit more to it than I expected,� he said. “I didn’t want it to blow up on me.� Escalante added he likes the barbecue he has and wants to keep it as long as possible. “I’m used to it,� he said. “I know how it works, and it works well.�

“I really am not a fan of cooking food for my family on a grill that has leftover food from previous uses all over it.� — Nick Escalante


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many of us just run to the home center, pick a color and start slapping it on. Even the familiar is not necessarily a good choice. “When choosing paint, don’t assume a leading brand you swore by last time will do just as well this time around,� said Bob Markovich, home and yard editor for Consumer Reports. “Our tests found paints can vary year to year — and a bigger name does not always equal a better product,� he said. In Consumer Reports’ tests of interior paints, Clark & Kensington, available only at Ace, was tops in satin and semigloss finishes. While new formulas have improved some paints, others performed worse than they did just a year ago in Consumer Reports’ tests. Compared with earlier versions, the Behr Premium Plus Satin Enamel wasn’t quite as good at hiding and became dull when cleaned. Some paints, such as Olympic One Flat Enamel, improved at hiding. Better hiding also helped move Valspar Signature matte and semigloss up in Consumer Reports’ ratings, joining Behr in besting Benjamin Moore, which costs roughly twice as much, among flat and semigloss paints. You can check out the complete test results in the March issue. Since colors often look different in different lights, Consumer Re-

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ports suggests buying a sample, painting a patch and living with it for a day or two before buying more. Here are three more things to consider: 1. Go online before hitting the store. Manufacturer and retailer websites and Facebook pages offer a wealth of tips on choosing colors, including photo galleries of finished rooms and calculators to help consumers figure out how much paint they need. 2. Find the perfect color. Certain hues are specific to a brand, but retailers can often match colors. Paintcolor formula books and color-matching computer technology means consumers don’t have to rely solely on the skills of a salesclerk, though one with a good eye and mixing equipment with clean nozzles may be able to match colors, too. 3. Match sheen to surface. The best low-luster satin and eggshell paints offer easy hiding and durability, making them ideal for most surfaces. Flat paints hide flaws better but are less resistant to stains and smudges, so use them in low-traffic areas. Semigloss works well for trim and other surfaces that don’t need to be wiped frequently, because repeated cleaning will dull most finishes.

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Outdoor lighting options abound, find what fits your outdoor space By MELISSA RAYWORTH Associated Press

Many Americans have embraced outdoor decorating, filling their yards with fluffy sofas, gleaming end tables and even outdoor rugs. But what happens when the sun goes down? Chris Lambton, landscape designer and host of HGTV’s “Going Yard,� advises his clients to give as much thought to the lighting of their outdoor space as they do to the furnishings. Forget yesterday’s glaring porch light, he said. You can now choose from a wide range of much subtler lighting options. Many are inexpensive and stylish enough to quickly turn a basic patio into a chic entertaining space. Here Lambton and two other outdoor decorating experts — Los Angeles-based designers Jeff Andrews and Brian Patrick Flynn — offer advice on the newest, most attractive and safest options for outdoor lighting.

Indulge your indoor style: Many indoor furniture designs and fabrics are now available as outdoor items, Lambton said, and the same goes for lighting. Companies are creating outdoor versions of their most popular indoor ABOVE: This publicity photo provided by Brian Patrick Flynn shows furniture of this outdoor living room designed by Flynn for Hayneedle.com that is arranged around an outdoor chandelier. BELOW: Light-up plastic planters have been added to an outdoor lamps and fixtures. Flynn is a fan of outdoor family room by Flynn to make it functional at night as well as in the daylight. chandeliers on patios or decks that are covered: “They’re an lets. Once turned on, a light bulb excellent way to make any hum- inside the transparent plastic illudrum outdoor space feel like an minates and the entire area glows actual room.� softly. This is so genius because But, he advised, choose wisely: it requires no electrician whatso“To get them right, you’ve got to ever.� take scale and proportion into Even simpler options: thin strips consideration. Install one that’s of lights that can be attached along too small, and it will look like an the underside of deck railings, or afterthought. Install one that’s strands of lights in the shape of too big or hangs too low, and it everything from simple bulbs to will completely overwhelm the stars, hearts or jalapeno peppers space.� strung overhead. Flynn also recommended using No matter which style of light floor lamps and table lamps de- you choose, Andrews said, add signed for outdoor use. Prices vary dimmers to your outdoor light widely (from more than $1,000 to switches. “Everything in the less than $100), so he suggested world,� he said, “needs to be on a hunting online for deals and the dimmer.� perfect style. Another option: Create your Go beyond your deck or own outdoor fixture. Many elec- patio: tricians can rewire your favorite Don’t forget to light the far indoor lighting to be safely used reaches of your yard, Lambton outside, Lambton said. “Search said. It will make your property for whatever fixture you like,� he feel bigger and banish the feeling said, “then put an outdoor conduit of being enveloped by darkness in and attach it to a switch.� when you entertain outside.

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It costs little to place a few perfect ambience.� small, solar-powered lights at the “Vintage is always a key to good bases of trees and shrubs. He also Combine safety and lighting,� Andrews said, “indoors suggested attaching a few to tree and outdoors.� beauty: “Recently I got these really branches. “And I love to uplight Home improvement stores and ornamental grasses,� Lambton cool, inexpensive Moroccan lanwebsites offer a huge array of opsaid. “It adds nice depth to the terns� with a vintage look. Rather tions for lighting outdoor pathways than simply displaying them on a yard.� and deck stairs, adding beauty table, he hung them from outdoor Don’t forget the fire: while making your space safer. branches. “I had them wired for Fire pits of all sizes — from huge And what about the safety of outside and hid the wires in the outdoor fireplaces to small tableleaving lighting out in all weather? trees,� he explained. top containers — provide golden, If it’s outdoor-rated, Andrews said, When the vintage lanterns glow flickering light for your outdoor it should be fine. But keep your clifrom the tree branches at night, space. mate in mind. it gives the yard a “romantic and Display a collection of pillar Flynn prefers not to leave “most kind of European feel.� candles in varying sizes (battery- lighting sources out year-round powered or real), either clustered unless an outdoor space is covForget the flood light: Rather than one or two bright on their own or tucked inside ered,� he said. “The only type porch lights, all three designers large, glass lanterns to “add a bit of lighting I’m worry-free about suggest using a variety of softer of sparkle� to your yard, Andrews for the outdoors is festival-style said. string lights. They’re pretty much lights. Or create an outdoor chande- the same thing as holiday twinLambton has used faux stone lier with candles: “I tend to try blocks with LED lights hidden in- my hand at rustic do-it-yourself kle lights. My favorite styles are strands with mini-lanterns; they side, alongside traditional light- ideas,� Flynn said. “In my own really help light the perimeter of ing. Flynn has done the same with outdoor dining room, I suspended a space.� illuminated planters. a candelabra “Sneaking in ambient light in made from reunexpected ways is something I claimed pine love to do,� Flynn said. “In Los planks, rope, Angeles, I turned the middle of a family’s Los Feliz backyard into mason jars and a full-fledged family room, comfy tea lights above sectional sofa and all. To bring the dining table. light to the space, I used mod- When my famern, plastic planters that light up. ily comes over They have cords on the back of for pizza night, them and connect to exterior out- it creates the

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Clarkston home a show piece inside and out The view of the Snake River from Art Johnstone’s deck is amazing, but it’s not the only amazing thing this Clarkston house has to offer By Peggy Hayden Target Publications

Art Johnstone welcomes guests to his home from a naturally lit foyer with skylights and a mirrored closet door, making the room feel much bigger than its actual size. The coat closet behind the mirrored doors is accessible from the foyer as well as the other side on your way out to the garage. So if you walk in the house through the garage and hang your coat in the closet, then later leave through the front door you


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can retrieve your coat right there in the foyer on your way out. The 3,400-square foot custom-built Clarkston house was completed in 1996 and overlooks the Snake River on more than 2 acres of land. Having retired from real estate, Johnstone knew what he was looking for when he had the house built. “The main thing I was concerned about was efficiency,” he said. He acknowledged he had help in the process: “Dick Spooner was instrumental in guiding me through the process and letting me know what would and wouldn’t work.” The living room and dining room are combined in an open great room with a spiral staircase leading down to the bottom floor. The kitchen is also open to the great room, with a breakfast nook bar that doubles as a display cabinet in the front for some of Johnstone’s fancier dishes. The view from the great room is of the Snake

River. And what a view it is — there are five sliding doors that are wider than the average slider, making up the entire east-facing wall of the room. Another feature of the living room is a wall of mirrors that serves two purposes: one, it makes the large room look even larger, and it hides the TV and other items a person must find room for in their living area that Johnstone said creates clutter. The kitchen comes complete with an island that has a stovetop with interchangeable burners. There are also two — yes two dishwashers — that Johnstone switches between. One contains dirty dishes and the other clean; once the dirty dishwasher is full he switches. Making it unnecessary to ever unload the dishwasher. The countertops are granite, and are the one thing Johnstone’s late wife chose when they married. He is thankful for her doing so. “I probably would have picked something white that wouldn’t have held up the way this has,” he said. “And I would have regretted it.”

ABOVE: The eastfacing wall of the great room is all sliding-glass doors providing Art Johnstone with an unobstructed view of the Snake River. RIGHT: Johnstone stands in the foyer of his Clarkston home. BOTTOM RIGHT: The kitchen has an island with a builtin stove as well as two dishwashers. Tribune/Steve Hanks

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T H U R S D A Y, M A R C H 2 1 , 2 0 1 3



Home style: Book on gardening basics; Peel Away Pots; microwave-only dish healthy root system. The sides of the pot peel apart, so you can remove the plant without disturbing the roots. The pots are washable and reusable. ON THE SHELF: They won a 2013 Green Thumb Award BOOK TEACHES GARDENfrom the Direct Gardening Association. ING BASICS Garden guides often teach people Peel Away Pots are available from how to deadhead and treat for pests Gardener’s Supply Co. in 2- and 4-inch and improve the soil, but they don’t sizes and in two colors, red and brown. always share all the fundamentals be- Prices range from $9.95 for sets of pots ginners need — how to buy a shovel, alone to $24.95 for kits containing pots for example, or where to buy plants. and a self-watering tray. Jim Fox covers those basics and They can be ordered at more in “How to Buy the Right Plants, www.gardeners.com or (800) 955Tools & Garden Supplies.” Fox, a horticultural consultant, who 3370. also works in the retail nursery busiQ&A: ness, based the book on the questions he’s been asked through the decades. DISH MADE ONLY FOR Despite its title, the book is more than MICROWAVE USE a buying guide. It focuses on helping Q: I have a Corningware microwave readers choose plants that will thrive browning dish I used many years ago and invest wisely in implements, but it in my microwave. Would it be wise to also helps them understand the condi- use this pan in a conventional oven tions they’re growing in and teaches and on my stove top? them how to plant properly. A: No. The browning dish was in“How to Buy the Right Plants, Tools & Garden Supplies” is published by tended for use only in a microwave Timber Press and sells for $14.95 in oven, according to the instructions that came with the product. paperback. Corningware’s microwave browning WHAT’S NEW: dishes had a special coating on the bottom that was designed to absorb microPOTS PEEL APART FOR wave energy. The user preheated the EASIER TRANSPLANTING Peel Away Pots are designed to pro- dish in the microwave, and the heated duce healthier vegetable seedlings bottom would then sear or brown foods that are easier to remove at transplant that were added to the dish immediately. time. The instructions specified the The cube-shaped pots are made from a porous Velcro-brand fabric that browners were not to be used on stove lets air get to the roots, promoting a tops or in conventional ovens.

By Mary Beth Breckenridge Akron Beacon Journal

Tribune/Steve Hanks

Art Johnstone’s Clarkston home includes a landscaped yard with a giant flagpole, which you can slide down, and an 8-foot bronze statue that can be seen from the roadway.

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The house was built for entertaining. From the front door to the yard, and from the garage to the lower level, there are many features that make entertaining here easy. For one thing the flow and openness of the house make having many people in it at one time bearable because of its large rooms and the easy house-to-yard access. On the outside of the house is a wrap-around deck that comes complete with a gate, which opens to provide you access to a giant flagpole, that you can slide down. There is also a spiral staircase for the less adventurous who would rather walk down to the yard below. The master bedroom also has mirrored closet doors, as well as three arched windows reminiscent of a villa. The master bath has a two-person shower. It is the length of a bathtub but all shower, complete with two benches for sitting. There are also his and hers vanities and plenty of storage for towels and other things. The three-car garage and the patio downstairs have a smooth concrete floor for dancing if the mood strikes. The downstairs has three bedrooms, one that Johnstone uses as an office, which has a large walk-in closet. There is also a bathroom with a jetted tub. In the yard next to the flagpole situated atop a 2-foot deep concrete base is an 8-foot bronze statue called “The Dance of Love,” which can be seen from the roadway. Johnstone had the piece commissioned by sculptor Bob Wilfong of Clarkston. Johnstone had the yard landscaped to require minimal maintenance. In fact, it only takes him 15 minutes to mow all of the grassy areas in the yard. ———

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T H U R S D A Y, M A R C H 2 1 , 2 0 1 3

Make a room your own with custom fabric, wallpaper By MELISSA DUTTON Associated Press

When Renee Pedro bought a house with mid-century decor, she decided to embrace the look. Drawing inspiration from the 1963 Philco oven in her kitchen, she began hunting for towels and table linens with a mod ’60s vibe to complement the appliance. “That oven was my style. My thing,� said Pedro, of Philadelphia. She was disappointed by the lack of choices and in 2009 began looking for a way to create her own textiles to decorate the kitchen. “I couldn’t find something that fit my aesthetic, so I decided to make it,� she said. After a year of looking online, she found a company that would allow her to design her own fabric. Now she runs her own online business, Crashpaddesigns. com, selling tea towels, pillow cases and table linens in mod, bright, geometric or flowered patterns that she designs herself. Many companies have begun to offer consumers the chance to create custom fabrics and wallpapers. Advances in printing have made it more affordable to create small runs, and to make highquality products faster and cheaper, said Aaron Kirsch, president of Astek Wallcovering Inc., in Van Nuys, Calif. He sells directly to consumers via his company’s website, Designyourwall. com. The company also makes custom products for the fashion, hospitality and motion picture industries.

Demand for the custom products has been steadily rising, Kirsch said. Homeowners can create their own wall covering for about $6.50 a square foot, he said. Custom fabrics run about $18 to $30 a yard, said Rysa Pitner, founder of Fabric on Demand in Los Angeles. Custom options appeal to “individuals who love to author their own stuff,� she said. You can upload photos, original artwork or computer-generated designs on her company’s website, Fabricondemand. com. Some manufacturers have designers who help customers develop the look they want. Do-it-yourself designers can usually preview the order online or order a sample piece. It normally takes less than a month for orders to be processed. The websites also have a wide variety of premade patterns available. Nile Johnson of Nile Johnson Interior Design in Kennett Square, Pa., said custom pieces help his firm accomplish its goal of creating spaces that reflect a client’s personality. “It really helps the interior show and breathe who they are,� he said. “It’s not just pretty. It’s not just functional. It really tells their story.� Johnson has used the custom printing process to create a window shade depicting a child’s favorite storybook. He is currently creating wallpaper that is coordinated with a client’s checkered dishes. Creating rolls of wallpaper for an accent wall or producing yards of fabric

Today’s casual decor meets ‘Downton Abbey’ style Kristie Barnett, an interior design blogger in Nashville, Tenn. “That doesn’t mean it can’t be family-friendly.� “Downton Abbey,� in production for Intrigued by the drama and inspired by the sophistication of British aristo- its fourth season, features the noble crats in “Downton Abbey,� some fans Crawley family “upstairs� and its serare plotting to bring the series’ style into vants “downstairs� in a sprawling countheir own homes, from gilded finishes to try estate. The characters are struggling to bring the estate and their traditional opulent upholstery to portrait paintings. sensibilities into the 1920s, a time of so“We’ve gone so casual in the last de- cial and political ferment. cade in terms of home decor. I think Ornate drawing rooms, flowing bouthere is a desire to be a little more for- doirs, vibrant gardens and crisp, clean mal, or a little more glamorous,� said servants’ quarters make the gorgeous backdrop for the PBS Masterpiece melodrama. So how do you bring some of that aristocratic look into a comfortable modern home?

By AMY LORENTZEN Associated Press


This photo, taken March 3, shows a detail of custom wallpaper that Sarah Rowland designed for Dixie Donuts in Richmond, Va. Owners Betsy Thomas and J Frank asked Rowland to design the custom wallpaper for an accent wall at the shop. to make curtains, bedding or furniture covering allows homeowners to create layers of design, which contributes to the look they are after, added Los Angeles designer Kate Albrecht, who runs the website Mrkate.com. “It’s a layered look where they feel like each little element of a room

speaks about their personality,� she said. “As a designer, you have this idea for a perfect fabric in your mind and sometimes you can’t find it. Sometimes that fabric needs to be created.�

Your Place: Moving tiles; removing feline odor; pump out your septic tank

Q: I am redoing my kitchen. I have lovely delft tiles I installed as a backsplash in 1981. I am now moving everything from one side of the room to another and want to reuse the tiles. Do you have any ideas how to do it, and maybe even a reference for someone who has had success with it? I have asked some of the architectural salvage places — where Gilded for glamour you find old tiles from One of the simplest ways to time to time — and no achieve the “upstairs� look of one has any ideas. “Downton Abbey� is to apply Do you think it is posgold metallic paint for a gilded finish on wood furniture, sible to remove them picture frames, mirror edges without breaking them? and other decorative items, I understand some may including bookends and lamp break, but I’d like to get most of them off. They stands. In her living room, Barnett, were expensive then and who blogs at TheDecorologist. even more so now. A: Removing tiles com, used gold paint to make AP a barley-twist coffee table ap- from a wall successfully These publicity photos show Downton Abbey- pear worthy of nobility. Gold- seems to depend on the inspired decor (salon-style art grouping in din- en candlesticks and a crystal wall and on the adheing room) in home of Kristie Barnett. Intrigued doorknob atop piles of books sive used. For example, it has been my experiby the drama and inspired by the sophisticated finish the look. ence that tiles on plaster lifestyle of British aristocracy, many “Downton walls that were installed Abbey’’ fans are plotting to bring the PBS series’ after the plaster cured style into their homes. are much easier to salvage than those stuck to drywall. The worst luck I’ve had is with wet-bed inBRING THE BEST stallations — tiles emZERO -TURN TECHNOLOGY HOME bedded in wet concrete. It is virtually impossible and incredibly labor-intensive to do so. Delft tiles continue to be made and sold. You would be taking on more work than is warranted. ———


By Alan J. Heavens Q: Would you possibly have any suggestions for removing cat-urine smell from a painted concrete basement? We have disinfected, scrubbed, hosed down, and dried, all with three small windows open and fans blowing. This basement has painted, pargeted stone walls, a painted concrete floor, and an unpainted and exposed floor-joist ceiling. It appears clean as a whistle, but is rank. A: Concrete is porous, so cleaning the surface isn’t likely to solve the problem for very long with the methods you have described. You might also try a commercial cleaner designed for such removal. They’re all over the Internet. You’ll need to seal the floor once this is done, or maybe even go as far as coating the floor with a thin layer of concrete when you are finished.


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If the odor persists, I highly recommend contacting a professional to tackle it. Real estate agents typically recommend such action before putting a house on the market and it is a good one. ——— It has been eons since I lived in a house with a septic tank, but I know some of you still do and this is for you. The Environmental Protection Agency has some tips on how to keep waste in its place and not let septic-system problems get out of hand: Spread laundry and dishwasher loads throughout the day. Consider fixing plumbing leaks and installing faucet aerators and water-efficient products. Too much water use at once can overload your system, particularly if it hasn’t been pumped in the last couple years. Avoid pouring fats, grease and solids down the drain, which can clog your system. Homeowners should have their septic system inspected every three years by a licensed contractor and have their tank pumped when necessary, generally every three to five years. Regular inspection and pumping of a septic system can save homeowners from costly repairs. On average, it costs homeowners $250 to pump their septic system, while the price of replacing a conventional septic system is $5,000 to $10,000. When the holidays approach, consider having your tank inspected and pumped. Ask guests to put in the toilet only things that belong there. Dental floss, disposable diapers and wipes, femininehygiene products, cigarette butts, and cat litter can clog and potentially damage septic systems. Remind guests not to park or drive on your system’s drain field, because the vehicle’s weight could damage buried pipes or disrupt underground flow, causing system backups and floods.

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Mildew starts with few little spots, then spreads By CAROLE FELDMAN ASSOCIATED PRESS

WASHINGTON — It may start with a couple of small dark spots on the grout where the shower stall meets the tiled wall. A few days later, they multiply. Mildew. “For most people it’s just kind of an ugly pain. Their bathroom gets these black stains,” said Ken Collier, editorin-chief of The Family Handyman. For others, though, “it’s an allergen, like cat hair, dog hair,” he said. If it’s not removed, it can result in respiratory problems or other allergy symptoms, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Mold and mildew, which the Federal Emergency Management Agency calls “mold in early stage,” can grow on a wide range of surfaces, as long as moisture is present, and they can give your house a musty smell. “It’s an indication of dampness, like in bathrooms that are not ventilated very well,” said Kathie Birenbaum, who works in households at Strosniders Hardware Store in Bethesda, Md. “Molds can gradually destroy the things they grow on,” according to an Environmental Protection Agency online pamphlet for consumers. “You can prevent damage to your home and furnishings, save money and avoid potential health problems by controlling moisture and eliminating mold growth.” It’s important to do both — control the moisture and clean up the mold — to keep it from growing back, according to the EPA. Cleaning large areas — more than 10square feet, advises the EPA — might require a contractor trained in mold removal. For smaller areas, it can be a do-it-yourself job. Frequently, the bathroom is the first place that a homeowner or apartment dweller might notice mildew. “A lot of people take a shower, get out of the shower” and go on their way, Collier said. “Basically, they’ve left all this water on the walls and floor of the shower and surprise, surprise, the bathroom is damp and you find mildew growing on the grout.”

Often, condensation — not a leak — is the source of the moisture, Collier said. “The bathroom fan is a big part of keeping the moisture level down in the bathroom,” he said. “If there isn’t one, put one in. If there’s a small one, put in a bigger one or use it more.” Opening the bathroom window also helps, as does more frequent cleaning, according to the EPA pamphlet. Collier also suggested using a squeegee to wipe down the shower walls. There are many products available for cleaning mildew and mold, but homeowners also can mix their own. A bleach soluAP tion the CDC advises This photo demonstrates mold forming on a ceiling under a duct in a studio. Warm, moist air should be “no more than 1 cup of bleach condenses and forms water on ducts carrying cold air through the attic or crawl space. The conin 1 gallon of water” densation is a sign that the duct is not insulated or missing a vapor barrier. Eventually the water can be used to clean saturates the insulation and drywall, and mold spores take root. and kill mildew. “For the typical “Sometimes people find it in closets discovered elsewhere in her house. homeowner, they would scrub it down where there’s limited air circulation, Weingarten, who has severe allerreally well with bleach water and then and where maybe there’s a cool wall gies, developed a fungal infection in they should seal the grout, seal it once her sphenoid sinus and had to have sura year or so to keep it water tight,” Col- and it’s humid,” Collier said. Or there could be condensation gery. After spending tens of thousands lier said. Wear protective gloves while clean- around heating ducts and you’ll find a of dollars on remediation and related ing. The CDC also recommended pro- moldy patch on the ceiling. costs, she now has an environmenMoisture from roof leaks also can tal engineer test her house every six tective eyewear. If you can’t get rid of the mildew with lead to growth of mold and mildew. months and remove any mold spores. If you paint over mildew, the paint bleach, you might have to dig out the She has the air filters in her heating and will likely peel. Birenbaum has special grout and replace it, Collier said. air conditioning system changed every primers that inhibit mold growth. For those looking for an environmenMona Weingarten of Washington, three months, and a dehumidifier runs tally friendlier alternative to bleach, D.C., wasn’t aware there was mold in in her basement. Collier said one of the products mold “It’s not something you want to reexperts recommend is Concrobium, her house. She didn’t see anything or which also can be used as a fog if a smell anything. But when one of the peat,” she said. ——— tiles on the bathroom floor became whole room is affected. Online: It’s not just bathrooms where you’ll loose, she called a contractor to fix it and he discovered mold. Mold later was www.epa.gov/mold/pdfs/moldguide.pdf find mold or mildew.

Holly berries create a bird feeding frenzy

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It was like a scene out of “The Birds,” one of my favorite Hitchcock movies, except the birds weren’t attacking people but every berry-producing plant in the garden. It seemed to make no difference, hollies, nandinas — and even the Chinese fringe tree’s plump blue fruit — were all fair game. The fruit had been just sitting there all winter and then, on a cold misty morning, they descended. It was the loud chatter of robins and cedar waxwings that brought me outdoors and made my jaw drop. I grabbed my camera to try to capture the moment. As horticulturists, we are always promoting planting native hollies because they are durable, beautiful and a terrific winter asset loaded with bright red berries that also feed wildlife. Among the hollies the birds found particularly delectable were the native yaupons. Known botanically as Ilex vomitoria this holly is native from the Deep South northward to zone 7. You’ll find these available in your typical standard upright multitrunked form and also as a weeping specimen. Also high on the menu was the American holly, known botanically as Ilex opaca, which is native to 28 states and has a wide cold hardiness range stretch-

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T H U R S D A Y, M A R C H 2 1 , 2 0 1 3

Hellebores are cold-hardy beauties

Robins feed on holly berries.


NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — Almost two decades ago, Cheryl Turner decided to spruce up her yard, specifically an east-facing backyard with trees. “I began researching shade garden plants and fell in love with Hellebores,� she said. “They bloom when nothing else is blooming, and brighten up a winter garden.� Hellebores are forgiving plants, said Turner, who gardens in southeastern Virginia. Once established, they require minimum maintenance — just trim back the earlier year’s growth so the new blooms can emerge and be enjoyed. The best tip, she said, is to make sure the plants are watered regularly when they are first planted. Then sit back and enjoy the annual show, which often begins with early bloomers like Jacob in December. The genus Helleborus includes several cultivars, the most common being Helleborus orientalis, nicknamed Lenten rose, which is cold hardy in Zones 3 to 8. Hellebores are cold-hardy beauties for several reasons — deer and voles do not like them. They tend to dislike being transplanted, so place them where you want them and leave them be. They also give you dozens, sometimes more, new plants because they reseed and spread. “Hellebores are the most fabulous dry shade ground cover — ever!� said Liza Ziegler of The Gardener’s Workshop (www.shoptgw.com), an online gardening shop based in Hampton Roads, Va. Her fields are a cut-flower farm that provides bouquets — including Hellebores — to local florists and specialty food stores. “Planted at the base of large trees that suck the life out of others, Hellebores seem to shine. They are evergreens that bloom in winter, last till


 BIRD PLANTS cont. ing from zones 5 through 9. Both the yaupon and the American holly make excellent choices for screens and look exceptional in clusters of three. Equally cold hardy and among birds’ favorites are the deciduous hollies like the possum-haw, Ilex decidua and the winterberry, known as Ilex verticillata. You might not think you would like a deciduous holly, but once you see them loaded up with berries way too numerous to count you will be forever hooked. These hollies mentioned above, so high on everyone’s lists, have male and female plants. So if feeding the birds or cutting berry-laden branches for Christmas is high on your list, you will need female selections. Some recommend a male for every three female but if you live in an area with hollies this is normally not an issue. Talk to your nursery staff about superior berry-producing varieties that are available for each of the species mentioned. Hollies top my list of plants and deserve to be placed in a prepared fertile bed, not mixed with turf, but incorporated with other shrubs. Several of these hollies can be the bones or foundation for a home’s landscape. Use them in companion plantings with azaleas or rhododendrons. Repeat these plantings in the landscape, placing redbuds and dogwoods in between the groups. Use them at corners to naturally lengthen the front of your home. Even though these are tough, persevering shrubs, they do need water to get established at your home. During the first year make it a practice to train them to go deep with their root expansion by watering deeply but infrequently. Though I am touting hollies, please remember I said everything that had a fruit seemed to be a prime target for the feasting birds. So if you live in an area that can’t grow hollies you can still do your part to make the landscape, bird or wildlife friendly. One more thing, though the day may be cold and misty you best head to your botanical garden anyway you just may be surprised.


ABOVE: Hellebores are vigorous growers in a shade garden, even when competing with the roots of a large tree. BELOW: Hellebores come in shades of pink, as well as purple. June or so and deer don’t eat them — what’s not to love?� When planted in organicrich soil in the fall, the plants need little care, Ziegler advised. Planted in early spring, they need supplemental watering to get established. “We mulch — but not too deeply to allow the seeds that drop to have contact with the soil to germinate into a plant,� she said. “We might spread some compost as mulch every couple of years and top with a thin layer of leaves. No fertilizers needed. “It takes up to two years to get a 6-inch plant, which makes them pricey. It takes time to grow them into the half-gallon pot that you pur-

chase for $20.� Ziegler said her entire Hellebores collection, which numbers in the dozens, started with three plants she purchased in 1991. “Most folks cut them too early to have a long-lasting cut flower,� she said. “Once they have bloomed and the heads that initially are facing the ground lift upward, the color changes to green and the seed pods have developed in the center we harvest for cut flowers.�

Happy hour starts in your garden By DEAN FOSDICK ASSOCIATED PRESS

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Gardening can be an intoxicating hobby, especially if the botany is boozerelated. Consider the possibilities: grapes fermented into wine, corn distilled into bourbon, hops used to flavor beer and fruit to sweeten liqueurs. Why run to a liquor store when you can savor the harvest from your own cocktail garden? Three processes are involved in converting plants into serviceable drinks: fermentation, distillation and mixing, according to Amy Stewart, author of the new book “The Drunken Botanist: The Plants That Create the World’s Great Drinks� (Algonquin Books). “Virtually anything that produces sugar — fruit and grains — can be used distilled, fermented or drunk,� Stewart said in an interview. “Most people get involved with the mixers.� Fermenting — adding yeasts to turn plant sugars into alcohol — came first, she said. High-proof beverage alcohol (20 percent and above) came later with distillation, or heating fermented liquids into a vapor and then re-condensing that into a more concentrated mix. A cautionary note: It’s illegal to distill anything in

the United States without a license. “You can ferment but you can’t distill without the feds knocking on your door,� Stewart said. In addition, know your plants. “Understand what you’re doing if you’re out there gleaning,� Stewart said. “A lot of plants become solvents when mixed with alcohol. Don’t pick anything that might become potentially deadly.� A dizzying array of plants has been converted into alcohol over the ages, everything from agave (tequila) to yams (beer and vodka). Many plants are used primarily as garnishes, such as spearmint (mint julep), olives (martini) and cherries (Manhattan). The marketplace is untapped for this emerging type of niche gardening, said Tim Russell, a spokesman for Territorial Seed Co. in Cottage Grove, Ore. Territorial is teaming with Stewart to sell a cocktailfriendly line of herbs, fruits, vegetables and flowers. “A lot of young people are looking to do cooler things in their gardens like grow their own cocktail ingredients,� Russell said. “We’re hoping this will draw them further into gardening.� The average liquor bottle contains a great deal more than straight alcohol, Stewart writes. “Once a spirit leaves the

still, it is subject to endless experimentation with herbs, spices, fruits, nuts, bark, roots and flowers,â€? she said. “Some distillers claim to use over a hundred different botanicals in their secret recipes.â€? So if distillers are continuing to experiment, why not gardeners? Stewart’s garden-themed recipes can be the foundation for: ď Ź Infused vodkas. Fill a clean jar with fruit, herbs or spices and then add vodka. Seal, store and sample until your taste buds tell you it’s ready to drink. ď Ź Homemade grenadine. Peel a half-dozen pomegranates, leaving the seeds and membranes intact. Squeeze and filter until you’ve made about two cups of juice. Pour that into a saucepan, add 1 to 2 cups of sugar, simmer and stir in an ounce of vodka, which acts as a preservative. The syrup should be good for about a month. ď Ź Maraschino cherries. Clean and pit a small batch of fresh, sour cherries. Loosely fill a Mason jar with the cherries and cover with brandy or bourbon. Seal the jar and refrigerate. Use them in drinks or over ice cream. ——— Online: www.territorialseed.com/Tips— on—growing—a—Cocktail—Garden


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T H U R S D A Y, M A R C H 2 1 , 2 0 1 3



‘Active’ house blends old- with new-style energy efficiency By TIM BRYANT


WEBSTER GROVES, Mo. — David and Thuy Smith’s new house blends well with its neighbors, some more than a century old. From its clapboard siding and stonetrimmed foundation to its wraparound porch with tapered Craftsman-style columns, the Smiths’ house appears at home, so to speak. But behind the old-time appearance is the latest in residential energy efficiency and low maintenance. Going green was the Smiths’ goal when they decided in 2011 to leave their 1940s bungalow in Brentwood, Mo. What they are getting is the first “active” house in North America, according to those involved in the project as well as specialty trade magazines. “Active” construction combines energy efficiency, healthy indoor air and designs that take advantage of sun, shade and breezes. To compare, “active” house techniques are similar to those in LEED houses in the United States. The Smiths and their daughter, Cameron, 6, plan to move in next month. In his design for the house, architect Jeff Day of St. Louis included numerous skylights to brighten the interior and, when open, to provide ventilation. The broad porch — something common before air-conditioning — shades first-floor rooms and protects part of the home’s fiber cement siding. The durable siding is attached to the home’s structural insulated panels. That, in builder talk, is a term for energy-efficient exterior walls. SIPs, as they’re called, have a foam insulation core that’s sandwiched between sheets of high-strength oriented strand board. The use of SIPs remains rare in St. Louis, but Matt Belcher, a specialist in “green” construction, said they have advantages over traditional building methods. One is quick construction because SIPs arrive at building sites ready for use. Belcher, manager of the Smith project, said the home’s walls went up in a week. InsulSpan of Blissfield, Mich., provided custom-made SIPs shipped by truck. Belcher works with Velux Group, a Danish manufacturer of skylights and solar panels that helped form the Active House Alliance in 2010 in Copenhagen. The group has promoted construction in Europe of about two dozen “active” houses, many of starkly modern design. Kim Hibbs, whose Chesterfieldbased Hibbs Homes is building the Smiths’ house, said last year when the Post-Dispatch first reported plans for the project that “active” construction is a Danish version of LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) construction without the detailed documentation of efficiencies required for LEED certification. He said last week that the traditional design for the Smiths’ house shows that “active” homes don’t have to look like “a spaceship,” an appearance the owners wanted to avoid.


ABOVE: The exterior of the Smith residence, a custom built home in Webster Groves, Mo., has been billed as the nation’s first “active” house designed on Scandinavian principles of efficiency. BELOW: Carpenter Andy Jensen measures the kitchen island’s countertop built from reclaimed palette wood inside the Smith residence, March 4. “You can build a deep green house in a St. Louis neighborhood, and it will look like it has been here for decades,” he said. The Smiths’ house is the deepest of greens. In addition to SIPs, the house has two arrays of rooftop solar panels — one to heat water and another to provide much of the home’s electrical needs. Electricity-sipping LED lighting exits throughout. Grains of quartz in the roof shingles will reflect summer heat and help keep the home’s interior cool. All of the upstairs bedrooms have skylights. Two more at the top of the stairwell can be opened to allow breezes to circulate through the house and vent unwanted heat. The Smiths’ detached garage is wired for a car charger if they opt for battery-powered transportation. The garage also has space to store compressed natural gas in case the family chooses a vehicle that runs on CNG. David Smith, 38, said he and Thuy, also 38, got involved in every facet of the house project, especially after learning from Belcher, Day and Hibbs that “active” construction can be adapted to any location. “The great thing about what they’re doing is that it’s a building standard that can be done anywhere,” he said. Belcher said “active” design emphasizes comfort. “It all starts with a good design with a good envelope,” he said. “Then it’s creating a home that won’t take a lot of energy to operate.” While the Smiths’ home cost about

$500,000 to build, its energy bills will be negligible, Belcher said. The University of Missouri’s Center for Sustainable Energy will monitor and document the home’s energy statistics for a year. Smith, an accountant, said the figures should be valuable in promoting the spread of “active” construction. The Smiths’ house replaced a stucco dwelling built in 1921. Instead of simply flattening the one-story house, workers hauled two truckloads of its windows, cabinets, casework and other items to Habitat for Humanity’s Re-

Store. Craftsmen took pine lumber used to pack the SIPs for shipping to build the butcher-block top of the Smiths’ kitchen island. Belcher said shingles from the old house were ground up to use in new asphalt. Roy Ruckdeschel, who lives next door, said he is looking forward to having new neighbors. “I’m pro-environment,” said Ruckdeschel, a retired professor of social work at St. Louis University. “I’m glad they’re doing something like this.”

Spring prints have artsy vibe, bring ordinary room alive with style By KIM COOK


Visiting this spring’s decor previews often felt like exploring an art gallery. There was an artistic vibe to everything from dinnerware to drapery, art photographs to textiles. Manufacturers are now able to reproduce artwork with impressive detail and precision. Originals that may have been painted or inked retain evidence of brush and pen. Computer-generated designs have greater depth of color and pattern than in the past. And photo prints are even more striking. Zara Home has a bouquet of lovely throw pillows for spring with vintage prints or botanical ones reminiscent of paintings by the Masters. “Mariposa” features a flock of Edouard Traviesesque exotic butterflies on a white background; “Lula” evokes a Renoir still life; “Spring” has a sweet cottage floral; “Lannion,” “Hawaiana” and “Hojas”’ tropical motifs have a retro vibe.

A spring walk through the Chicago Botanic Garden inspired artist Matthew Lew to create an exuberant burst of white and tan blooms on a bright orange background, rendered at CB2 on a hand-tufted rug. The retailer’s got another modern rug featuring a graphic brush stroke of linen white on tonal carbon gray. And artist Katherine Finn-Gamino’s colorful multi-media geometric pillow is abstract art for the sofa, botanical and swoosh rugs, and pillow. Watercolor paintings of many popular dog breeds, including Labs, golden retrievers and little terriers, are available from Pottery Barn on linen throw pillows with personalized monograms. The needle arts are showcased here, as well, on linen lampshades stitched with tonal ikat or floral motifs, and a pillow depicting a vintage bird postcard in finely-detailed embroidery. Photographic art is an excellent way to bring a creative or unusual element to your room. Pottery Barn continues

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Preparing your home for storms By Jamie Smith Hopkins The Baltimore Sun

BALTIMORE — Jill Sorensen’s basement flooded after a winter storm knocked out her power, then again in 2011 during Hurricane Irene. What stopped another encore performance during last year’s destructive wind storm (called a derecho)? She’d installed a sump pump that uses her home’s water pressure to kick in when the power conks out. Knock on wood, she hasn’t had a flood since. That purchase — about $800 — is one of several moves she’s made to prepare her home for bad weather. “We’ve taken the inevitability of storms more seriously,” said Sorensen, who lives in Baltimore. So have an increasing number of Americans, after the last few years of hurricanes, tornadoes and other damaging weather events cutting a wide swath across the country. Weather disasters causing at least $1 billion in damages hit the United States nearly 30 times in the last three years, more than in the entire decade of the 1980s and at a much faster pace than in the following two decades, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The agency adjusted costs for inflation to compare apples to apples. With bad weather has come more extended power outages — among other problems. Companies that sell generators and backup sump pumps say they’ve seen sales soar. Some in the construc-

tion industry, meanwhile, are hoping that concerns about storm severity will eventually revolutionize homebuilding. “Without politicizing the conversation, moving forward, I think most people accept that the environment is changing,” said Joseph Rogge, marketing director for ForeverHome, a new joint venture selling all-concrete homes. “Storms like we just saw with Hurricane Sandy are not typical, and these cycles are getting more and more frequent. It’s going to force people to think of different ways to build their homes. I think that the paradigm has to shift.” ForeverHome, based in Wisconsin, intends to manufacture homes from precast concrete and work with builders to erect them. The company’s prototype is in Florida, hurricane central, but it’s trying to get into all coastal markets. Two builders are interested in working with the company in Maryland and elsewhere on the East Coast, Rogge said. A 1,200-square-foot home would go for about $170,000, not including land, he said. The models can hold up against a 200-mile-per-hour wind burst, would be much less expensive to insure and cost about 70 percent less to heat and cool, Rogge said. And they don’t look like the grim fortresses that the word “concrete” might bring to mind, he added. Communities hit harder by storms are more active in the push to build and rebuild with materials that wind and water can’t so easily damage. Take Greensburg, a Kansas town that was almost completely leveled by a 2007 tornado. Daniel Wallach, executive director of

Greensburg GreenTown, said half of the 300 homes rebuilt in town were erected to be more storm-resilient, more energy-efficient or both. Greensburg has a demonstration home made of concrete and another under way using a “wood block” system that’s stronger than traditional building methods because the wood interlocks like Legos, he said. He doesn’t think anyone in the country should count themselves safe from storms. “Basically, any environment at this point is subject to more intense weather than in the past,” he said. “You adapt or you die. That’s just kind of a rule of nature.” Kohler Power Systems, which makes “standby” generators to be permanently installed, says it had record sales last year. Generac Power Systems, which has the lion’s share of the generator market, said its revenue doubled between 2010 and 2012. “Certainly in the wake of the storms that you folks have had in the Northeast over the past year, we’ve seen a great surge in interest for backup power systems of all kinds,” said Art Aiello, a spokesman for the Wisconsin-based Generac. Generac makes portable and permanently installed generators. Its portables generally sell for less than $1,500, while the most popular of its standby brands — which automatically switch on when the power goes off — retails for about $4,600. Stuart Merenbloom, a retired teacher who lives in Catonsville, Md., said he

can attest to the wild demand for portable generators after Sandy hit. “Even a month after the storm — even online, like places in the Midwest — they were out,” he said. Merenbloom is seriously thinking about buying one, given that the derecho and Sandy each cut power to his home for four days, but he has reservations. The thought of storing gas in the shed to power a portable generator worries his wife. He looked into getting a standby generator instead, but a contractor told him the backyards in his neighborhood of rowhouses aren’t big enough. Merenbloom’s not planning to move, so his storm-prep options strike him as fairly limited. “You can only do so much,” he said. And you don’t want your preparations to backfire, either. Ed McDonough, spokesman for the Maryland Emergency Management Agency, said portable-generator owners must be very careful to avoid carbonmonoxide poisoning by running them outside the home - and away from areas where the fumes could get back in. “Sometimes people think a garage is OK, and it’s not,” he said. “And sometimes people think a porch is OK, and it’s not.” McDonough also suggested homeowners consider their yard if they want to be more storm-conscious. Falling trees and tree limbs are a major cause of power outages during storms and they can pose a hazard to homes, too.

a variety of million bells, or calibrachoa. Easy-care, disease-resistant and sun-loving, they bloom through summer’s heat until frost, bringing a fresh, crisp look to your annual bedding plant display and hanging baskets. See them at Park Seed (Parkseed.com). Fragrance makes scents: In addition to the delicate creamy peach glow of their petals, Sentiment Sunrise flowers carry a sweet, subtle scent, a trait plant breeders have finally succeeded in establishing in tuberous begonias. Great for hanging baskets in shady areas, Sunrise and the related pink Blush can be found at White Flower Farm (Whiteflowerfarm.com). Grafted vegetables: Why would vegetables such as tomatoes, peppers and eggplant need to be grafted? Adding characteristics of select rootstocks can enhance yields, resistance to pests and diseases and strengthen the structure of more fragile varieties such as Mortgage Lifter heirloom tomatoes and Big Bertha hybrid green peppers. Find the grafted collection at Jung seed (Jungseed.com), where

these grafted plants have earned the title “Superhero Vegetables.” Culinary wish list: Pepper trio kitchen gardens are in, and with them comes the demand for tasty fresh vegetables with pizzazz, to be grown and harvested just steps from the back door. Three stout mini sweet peppers, each only 2 inches in diameter, make a colorful culinary presentation. Orange You Sweet, Yes to Yellow and Right on Red work well together when stuffed and served hot or cold. Gurney’s Seed and Nursery (Gurneys.com) offers all three. Organic seed: USDA-certified organic seeds and produce are in demand, and the variety of available sources for gardeners has expanded greatly in recent years. Organic and heirloom seeds are available through online catalogues such as Renee’s Garden (Reneesgarden.com). Beyond the more familiar tomatoes and zucchini, you’ll find it easy to locate some less-usual organic heirloom seed such as broccoli raab, Leafy Diana dill and Doll Babies watermelon.

Native find: Throughout the seasons, The Rising Sun redbud bears leaves that change color: First, they’re a rosy tangerine as leaves emerge, then gold and finally light green. This native tree grows to only about 12 feet in height, making it a fantastic specimen for the home landscape; it’s also a companion to the ever popular purple of Forest Pansy redbuds. Find this winner of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society’s 2012 Gold Medal Award at Forestfarm (Forestfarm.com) and White Flower Farm (Whiteflowerfarm.com). Rare and collectible hosta hybrid: Stunningly different from other hosta leaf patterns, Mito No Hana displays parallel and furrowed mellow-yellow veins that fade to cream and then green as they run the length of its vibrant emerald foliage. Hybridized in Japan, this rare, shade-loving gem grows to about 20 inches tall and 30 inches wide; it bears purple flowers on 40-inch stalks. It doesn’t come cheap, however: Klehm’s Song Sparrow Farm and Nursery (Songsparrow.com) is selling each plant for $175.

New choices abound for your garden or landscape By Susan Smith-Durisek Lexington Herald-Leader

If you’re looking for something different to grow in your garden this year, the 2013 crop of plant catalogs has more than a few ideas. Plant breeders and nurseries have been paying attention to garden trends and have come up with interesting innovations. From surprising container-friendly vegetables to newfound native plants, here are nine of this season’s new selections and sources where you can find them. Place your order early because these tempting picks sell out quickly. Container gardens: Who would have guessed there would be a crop of sweet corn that could be grown in patio containers? Burpee (Burpee.com) is offering seed for its On Deck hybrid corn. Nine seeds planted in a 24-inch container could yield about two dozen ears of bicolor sweet corn in about two months. Another pot-friendly vegetable is the compact Fairy Tale eggplant, an AllAmerica plant trials winner that bears clusters of petite 5-inch purple eggplants about two months after planting. Ideas from abroad: Distant cousins of the tomato, Goji berries, which resemble small red cherry tomato-size fruit on 5-foot tall shrubs, are relatively new to North America, but they have been grown in China for hundreds of years. Proven Winners (Provenwinners.com) carries two varieties: Sweet Lifeberry Missed Us at the Show? and Big Lifeberry. Find them at local garden shops that carry Proven Winner products. They are winter-hardy in places such as Kentucky. Razzle-dazzle color pattern: Superbells Lemon Slice probably will be a hot item at garden stores this spring. These annuals, with flowers that appear to be yellow and white petunia pinwheels, are actually

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