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h&ome Garden Top photos by

Kyle Mills

inside:

Δ calling a bridge home Δ it’s all in the design

Bottom photos by

Barry Kough


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HOME & GARDEN

T H U R S D A Y, M A R C H 2 0 , 2 0 1 4

Living on a bridge takes on new meaning The house may look like an unfinished bridge but it depicts a marriage of nature and a man-made structure

Tribune/Kyle Mills

The steel structure of the home adds modern lines to the outdoor deck hanging over the Potlatch River.

Tribune/Kyle Mills

ABOVE: Nestled below Colter’s Creek Vineyard & Winery, Mike and Melissa Pearson’s home is perched on the banks of the Potlatch River, near Juliaetta. The home rests on its own bridge, out of the flood plain and safe from weather. LEFT: A long hallway lined with windows takes vistors past the media room, guest bedroom and bath into the main living area of the house. By PEGGY HAYDEN target publications

JULIAETTA — This home could be seen as a marvel in modern house architecture or it could be seen as the unfinished bridge on the Potlatch River. Either way it is a unique and award-winning design. Mike and Melissa Pearson wanted to live near their winery, Colter’s Creek, but weren’t sure how possible that idea was considering the

location of the winery. Their home, guest house, winery and vineyard are located on 70 acres next to the river with a single-lane, unpaved road being its only access. But they did it with the help of architect Paul Hirzel, professor at the School of Design and Construction at Washington State University in Pullman. “We had input as far as what we wanted in terms of an overall design,� Mike said. “He took our thoughts and turned them into this.� Hirzel was able to design a home so that it would sit safely over the flood plain, not disturb much of the pristine landscape surrounding it and be an eye-catching modern design that the Pearsons could feel at home in. It also won Hirzel a merit award from the Seattle chapter of the American Institute of Architects in 2013. Hirzel worked with Bozeman, Mont.-based Thomas Dean & Hoskins Engineering on the design of the structure. Broemeling Steel & Machine in Lewiston completed all of the steel work, constructing the bridge on which the house is built and R. Wilson Construction Inc. based in Troy did the home construction. The bridge structure is made of galvanized steel and provides protection from flooding as well as an encasement that allows the house to be shielded from damaging weather or too much sunlight. It also makes the exterior very low maintenance, giving the Pearsons time to care for their grapes. Being close to the vineyard was what inspired the couple to build a house here, and they knew and liked Hirzel’s work so they contacted him to build their dream home. This 3,000-square-foot house has an open living room, dining room and kitchen at the river side of the home and is filled with exposed woods. The large windows and many glass sliding doors that take up much of the exterior walls provide an abundance of natural light and a spectacular panoramic view of the riverside landscape. A catwalk surrounds the home allowing for easy access to every window for cleaning. Each area of the home is its own unique space and can be closed off from other parts of the house, allowing for heating and cooling efficiency as well as insulating each room from the hallway that takes you from one part of the house to the next. This means the temperature in the hallway can be kept at a lower setting without making the house uncomfortably hot or cold. The living room faces the Potlatch River and has a large deck, which hangs out over part of the river. It is partially covered so it can be enjoyed during a rain storm or when the sun is shining. The deck also allows for an increased living space as the wall facing the deck is two large glass sliding doors, giving the living room area an opportunity to become much larger. The living room flows flawlessly into the dining area, which can double as a work space when they need to work from home. One wall of the dining room is taken up by built-in cabinetry, which has windows between the upper and lower cupboards. The cabinet is open on top like a bookcase or display shelf, and has drawers and open shelves on bottom. On the other side of the room the wall is made up of two more glass

4see Bridge home page 10

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HOME & GARDEN

Online retailer wants to make the world a greener place, one room at a time

MCT

Susan Aplin is the founder and CEO of Bambeco, an online retailer that sells sustainable home furnishings, left, that are made of reclaimed, recycled, repurposed, renewable, natural or organic materials. She is shown in Baltimore on Feb. 7. By Lorraine Mirabella The Baltimore Sun

BALTIMORE — Susan Aplin worked behind the scenes for two decades helping run some of the biggest retail stores around — Williams-Sonoma, Sports Authority, Staples, The Gap, Banana Republic, Old Navy and Pottery Barn. But it wasn’t until she and friend Carolyn Wapnick took a vacation to Alaska’s Prince William Sound that she found her true calling: retail with a cause. As a result of the trip, the duo founded Bambeco, an online seller of sustainable home furnishings. Since 2009, the Baltimore-based retailer has grown from two employees to nearly two dozen and attracted more than $4 million worth of investment. The company, which would not disclose annual sales, actively sells and ships its thousands of sustainable products to every state and Canada and expects to nearly double its workforce this year. Aplin, the company’s CEO, also said she is working on the retailer’s first brick-and-mortar deal: selling a line of glassware through a major grocer she can’t name yet. “Our mission is to change the world, one room at a time,” Aplin said. The idea to promote sustainable living through home decor, she said, grew out of that 2006 Alaska trip. “My eyes were opened by the glaciers receding and I saw the impact on the climate.” She returned to her home in Washington, D.C., determined to examine her own carbon footprint. She began looking for greener ways to commute, clean the house and do laundry. But when she needed to replace some household furnishings and sought sustainable products, she hit roadblocks. “I couldn’t find anything that was fashionable,” she said. “You could find pillows for sale, but they were made of hemp. I believed I wasn’t the only one out there who felt that way.” Her research supported that belief. One survey showed that more than half of consumers would buy sustainable items if they were readily available, including a portion of die-hard shoppers who would go out of their way to make such purchases. As the idea to start a business evolved, she left her job, sold her house in Washington and moved to a cabin she owned in West Virginia. In Moorefield, W. Va., she and Wapnick, who has a media and technology background and is now Bambeco’s chief technology officer, found a distraction-free and economical place to hammer out a business plan. All the merchandise — rugs, pillows, vases, clocks, serving pieces, dinnerware, duvets and blankets — are made from recycled, reclaimed, organic or natural materials. The current collection features root wood appetizer plates for $28, organic cotton bath towels for $68 and reclaimed timber Spanish olive trays for $110. Shoppers can find Adirondack chairs made from recycled detergent bottles and milk jugs, chemical-

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tion: “What sustains you?” Among the handwritten answers from staff and visitors: “hope,” “creative thinking,” “birthday cake” and “a cool breeze.” Bambeco goods are showcased throughout, including a yellow serving tray that Aplin found out only recently had been used on the set of TV show “Modern Family” and is made of biodegradable polyurethane. Most items are created by Bambeco designers and made in factories, many of them family-owned, that agree to make products to Bambeco’s sustainability specifications. To assemble a collection for each season 12 to 18 months in advance, Aplin said the company uses practices common to other home furnishings retailers. Designers develop specific products by closely watching dining, cooking and other lifestyle trends. One of the biggest challenges for Bambeco, as with every e-commerce site, comes down to finding the customers in the most cost-effective way, Delistathis said. “We know the customers are out there,” he said.

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free natural fiber rugs and recycled glassware. Thanasis Delistathis, a managing partner of New Atlantic, said Bambeco has all the right elements: a unique market and products; loyal customers; healthy margins; and a high percentage of items shipped from suppliers, reducing inventory costs. In addition, he cited Alpin’s experience with iconic brands, a plus for filling what he views as a hole in the growing retail e-commerce market for a brand driven by a sense of mission. As demand has grown, mainstream retailers have responded as well. Pottery Barn advertises furniture with soy-based cushions and sustainably harvested wood. Ikea says it has increased its use of recycled wood and the share of cotton from sustainable sources. Crate & Barrel sells bamboo furniture and organic cotton towels. Consumer research released last fall by the Sustainable Furnishings Council showed “the consumer is more aware about sustainability, especially as it pertains to energy savings and reclaimed materials,” the council’s executive director, Susan Inglis, said in a statement. The study found almost half of consumers surveyed were interested in buying green home furnishings if the style and cost were about the same as other choices. Delistathis said Americans spend more than $157 billion a year on home furnishings, but nearly twothirds say they can’t find eco-friendly choices. For Bambeco, that’s translated to one of the highest rates in e-commerce of converting web visitors to customers, Delistathis said. Aplin and Wapnick had no direct connection to Baltimore before moving Bambeco there in 2010. When it was time to establish a bigger corporate office, they wanted to be close to top talent in a sustainable setting. They narrowed down a list of a half-dozen cities — among them New York and San Francisco — to Baltimore, which they liked for its sustainability and ranking on a top 10 green cities list. They found space in a rehabbed building in Brooklyn on the city’s southern end, a former grocery warehouse that had been converted into a windand solar-powered geo-thermal office building. Since then, the company has lured experts from top retailers and brands, including Levi’s, Timberland and Under Armour. The Baltimore office seems fitting for a seller of green products, with open space, exposed brick walls, natural light from large windows and workspaces made of wood from recycled doors. Some employees choose to bring their dogs to work or park bicycles near desks. Plants hang in containers along the walls, near a whiteboard that poses the ques-

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T H U R S D A Y, M A R C H 2 0 , 2 0 1 4

Extended family at the core of this showcase home

The New American Home in Henderson, Nev., showcases the latest products and building techniques in February. By Lauren Beale Los Angeles Times

HENDERSON, Nev. — Sometimes it’s not what’s on the walls but what’s in them that makes a home stand out. That was the case this month at the unveiling of the New American Home 2014 outside Las Vegas, an annual demonstration of the latest in residential design and construction. The showcase house is somewhat subdued-looking outside with a color scheme drawing from the desert landscape. But the residence shines in ways that aren’t visible, such as the spray-foam insulation hidden in the walls that helps make it the most energy-efficient demonstration home constructed in the 31 years the National Association of Home Builders has been hosting such projects. The builder “took it to heart when I told him he needed to build an above-ground submarine,” said

Drew Smith, an energy and green construction consultant on the endeavor. The result, which debuted as part of the recent International Builders’ Show, is a contemporary with a stoneveneer exterior that appears vaguely pueblo or adobe in style. What the two-story house at first seems to lack in outward pizazz it makes up for in practicality. The low Home Energy Rating System number of 22, Smith said, is partly the result of hybrid insulation that in some areas is moisture permeable and in others creates an air and water barrier. Other factors include smart siding, overhangs, solar roof panels, high-efficiency windows and LED lights. The house also uses less than half the water of a standard home and is surrounded by regionally-appropriate landscaping. Green and sustainable building materials reduce offgassing, or that “new house smell.” Inside the front door, a two-story waterfall

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serves as both a piece of art and a way to add humidity to the air. The high-ceilinged great hall also lets light into the center of the home and allows air to circulate while a wide porcelain-tile runway leads to ground-floor living spaces such as the open-concept dining and living rooms. This wall-less hall pulls visitors past a floating-riser staircase and through the house toward the backyard swimming pool and cityscape views. “It’s important to design a home that feels good and flows well,” architect Jeff Berkus said. When people move around a house, he said, they don’t want to get stuck in corners. The launching point for the design of the 6,706-square-foot house was its intended purpose as a multi-generational residence. A double-island design in the kitchen defines areas for food preparation and seating. “You want to engage with people

living in and visiting the house,” Berkus said of the layout, which helps keep the cook in the conversation. The dual islands play into the idea of extended families living together — large extended families based on the size of the island, which can seat eight comfortably or a slew of studious children with textbooks spread across the counter. “Our approach was to be mindful of family living,” said Mark Tremblay of Marc-Michaels Interior Design, based in Winter Park, Fla. “To allow the occupants to be connected.” Beyond the common areas where family members can gather are more private spaces that encourage independent living. A second-floor suite includes a small kitchen and living space as well as a bedroom and bathroom. Accessible by an elevator, it could be used by elderly parents, adult children or live-in help. The bedrooms are also a place for individual expression, offering a break from the largely neutral interiors with some splashes of color. A lime green toilet compartment, for example, added vibrancy in a downstairs bedroom suite. The interiors mix wood, stone and metal with fire and water elements. “The overall feel is welcoming and inviting while being sophisticated and glamorous,” said conventiongoer Lauren Carroll of Atlanta-based Blue Door Interiors. The designer said she particularly liked the water garden outside the front door and the way the swimming pool and spa appeared to seamlessly connect to the indoor space. Although now open for tours, the house will eventually be for sale in the $5 million range. But the ideas inside are free for the taking, and many are inexpensive to implement. Recycled construction site lumber was sanded and stained, then stacked vertically on the stairwell wall. The different widths created a textured effect. A bedroom accent wall was created using standard decorative moldings cut at 45-degree angles into footlong pieces and applied in a chevron pattern. “These are both ideas that (my employer) can utilize in clubhouse or common space areas to add interest at low cost,” said visitor Laura G. Plassmeyer, a manager with affordable multi-family housing builder USA Properties Fund. Embedded stone and tile treatments enliven the bathrooms, as do textured wallpapers. The reaction, builder Josh Anderson said, has been unexpected. “People come through touching the walls and fabrics,” said Anderson, president of Element Building Co. “They experience the home in a different way. It’s tactile.”

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QUESTION: We are no longer able to pay our mortgage due to a hardship. After doing a lot of research, including reading your columns, we decided to try a short sale. We listed the property, found a strong buyer and submitted all the required paperwork to our lender. Now the lender wants us to auction off the house. What gives? — Shirley ANSWER: In a short

4see Short sale page 12


T H U R S D A Y, M A R C H 2 0 , 2 0 1 4

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HOME & GARDEN

Kids invited to grow a great cabbage GETTING IT GROWING: If you want to grow your own colossal cabbages at home with or without kids, here are some tips from Bonnie Plants on how to get them growing: ď Ź Let the sunshine in. Cabbages need at least six hours of full sunlight, more if possible. ď Ź Survey your site. Bonnie O.S. cabbages need at least three feet on each side to spread out. If you don’t have that much space, use a large container. ď Ź Amend the soil. Work some compost into the soil — cabbages love nutrient-rich soil. ď Ź Feed the beast. Start your cabbage off right with an all-purpose vegetable fertilizer, then fertilize it every 10 days to keep it growing strong. ď Ź Water wisely. Your cabbage needs at least one inch of rainfall each week. If it doesn’t rain, use a watering can or garden hose to gently water your plant at soil level. ď Ź Tend to trouble. Keep weeds out of the cabbage patch — they compete for the food and water your cabbage needs. Be on the lookout for brown or white moths — these come from worms that love to munch on cabbage. If you see any, get rid of them right away. Cold weather can damage your cabbage. If the weather gets below 32 degrees Fahrenheit, cover your cabbage with a bucket or clothe covering. ď Ź Heave-ho the harvest. In just 10 to 12 weeks, you should have a huge head of cabbage you can be proud of and that will provide you with lots of creamy coleslaw. To see all the 2013 winners and learn more about the 2014 contest, visit www.bonnieplants.com.

MCT

Alabama third-grader Jackson Brown shows off his winning cabbage grown in the “Kids Grown Green: Cashin in Cabbage� program. By KATHY VAN MULLEKOM

DAILY PRESS (NEWPORT NEWS, VA.)

Another growing season invites third-graders nationwide to participate in the “Kids Grow Green: Cashing in Cabbage� program by Bonnie Plants. Bonnie Plants is a brand of starter vegetable plants sold nationwide at independent garden centers and mass merchants like Lowe’s, Home Depot and Walmart. Launched nationally in 2002, the program awards a $1,000 scholarship to one student in each participating state. At the end of the season, teachers from each class select the student who has grown the “best� cabbage, based on size and appearance. A digital image of the cabbage and student is submitted online at www. bonnieplants.com. That student’s name is then entered in a statewide drawing. State winners are randomly selected by the commission of agriculture, in each of 48 participating states. Typically, 1.5 million thirdgraders take part in the hands-on gardening experience, some of them raising cabbages that are as large as

a basketball, tipping the scales at more than 40 pounds. In 2013, winning cabbages MCT weighed 46 pounds in Alabama, South Carolina winner Olivia Yandel shows 38 in Florida, 16 in Texas, 20 in off her winning cabbage grown in the “Kids Arizona, 59.78 in South Carolina, 28 in Pennsylvania and 30.4 in Grown Green: Cashin in Cabbage� program. New York. In McLean, Va., winner Leo stations nationally, delivers free O.S. Massery, a third-grader at Kent Gar- Cross, or oversized, cabbage plants dens Elementary School, grew a cab- to third-grade classrooms for teachbage that weighed 21.6 pounds and measured 40 inches across one way ers who have requested them online. As the kids grow and nurture the and 37 inches the other way. “When I got my plant I went home cabbages, teachers can incorporate and on the weekend my Papa and I science and math lessons into the planted it,� he said. process. “We used compost and fresh fish Why a cabbage? Cabbages were guts under the plant as fertilizer. We the first plant sold by Bonnie in 1918, went fishing that weekend for trout and used the guts, heads and tails and the cabbages used for the proas fertilizer. It worked great. I also gram produce giants that make the weeded it and watered it as needed. process adventurous for kids. I checked on it every day. We also “The program is a wonderful way used organic bug spray to keep the to engage children’s interest in agbugs from eating it. It was the big- riculture, while teaching them not gest thing I ever grew. It was a lot only the basics of gardening, but the of fun.� Participating is easy for third- importance of our food systems and grade teachers who want to sign up. growing our own,� said Stan Cope, Bonnie Plants, which has 72 plant president of Bonnie Plants.

Crucial facts about FHA loans you need to know member, or a grant from a state or local government down payment assistance program. Closing costs may be covered: The FHA allows home sellers, builders and lenders to pay some of the borrower’s closing costs, such as an appraisal, credit report or title expenses. For example, a builder might offer to pay closing costs as an inducement for the borrower to buy a new home. Lenders typically charge a higher interest rate on the loan if they agree to pay closing costs. Borrowers can use the good faith estimate of closing costs — commonly known as the GFE — to compare interest rates and closing costs on different loans and figure out which option makes the most sense. A lender must be fha-approved: Because the FHA is not a lender, but rather an insurance fund, borrowers need to get their loan through an FHA-approved lender (as opposed to directly from the FHA). Not all FHAapproved lenders offer the same interest rate and costs — even on the same FHA loan. That’s another reason, Bott said, borrowers should shop around. “We encourage consumers — from a cost, service and underwriting standard — to shop around many lenders or mortgage brokers to make sure they understand what the best

What is an FHA loan? In the wake of the housing bubble’s collapse, FHA loans have taken on renewed importance for today’s mortgage borrowers. Simply stated, an FHA loan is a mortgage insured by the Federal Housing Administration, a government agency within the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Borrowers with FHA loans pay for mortgage insurance, which protects the lender from a loss if the borrower defaults on the loan. Because of that insurance, lenders can — and do — offer FHA loans at attractive interest rates and with less stringent and more flexible qualification requirements. Here are seven facts all buyers should know about FHA loans. Less-than-perfect credit is ok: The FHA doesn’t mandate a minimum credit score, according to Vicki Bott, HUD deputy assistant secretary for single-family housing. Instead, each borrower’s creditworthiness is considered in context. Some leeway is allowed, even for borrowers who’ve filed for bankruptcy. That said, however, lenders can overlay their own requirements on top of the FHA’s guidelines. Some lenders might require a minimum credit score. Ask prospective lenders about such a requirement if your credit is less than perfect. “Lenders underwrite FHA loans to ensure that the customer has the willingness and capability to repay the loan, but we do have flexibility beyond pure credit score to look at Premium the borrower’s financial Carpet, situation,â€? Bott said. Area Rugs, Minimum down payVinyl, Tile, ment is 3.5 Percent: Hardwood, The FHA requires a and Laminate down payment of just Flooring 3.5 percent of the purchase price of the home. That’s a fraction of the Largest in-stock selection in the quad cities! percentage typically required on most other loans and a “huge attraction,â€? said Dennis Geist, vice president of government programs at Wells Fargo Home Mortgage in Carlsbad, Calif. • Free Estimates and Measuring • Borrowers can use their own savings to 213 Thain Rd. 810 S Grand Ave. Lewiston Orchards Pullman make the down payment. But other allowed (208) 743-5100 (509) 332-6700 sources of cash include 1-877-743-5100 | georgiacarpetworks.com a gift from a family

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fit is for their particular situation,â€? pairs to their homes. The chief adBott said. vantage of this type of loan, called Mortgage insurance is a must: a 203(k), is that the loan amount is Two mortgage insurance premiums based not on the current appraised are required on all FHA loans: The upfront premium is 2.25 percent of the loan amount, and the annual pre- SEE FHA LOANS page 12 mium is 0.55 percent of the loan amount. The upfront premium must be paid when the borrower gets the loan but can be financed as part of the loan amount. The annual premium is paid in chunks of 1/12 of the total along with each month’s mortgage payWK6W1RUWK‡/HZLVWRQ,' ment. 746-1155 “The perception is ZHVWHUQĂ€RRUV#KRWPDLOFRP that that sounds expensive,â€? Geist said. However, he added, borrowers need to compare the FHA-insured loan to a loan that’s not FHA-insured (and consequently requires a much larger down payment). In many cases, the FHA loan is still the best choice, he said. Extra cash available for repair: The FHA has a special loan product for borrowers who need extra cash to make re-

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T H U R S D A Y, M A R C H 2 0 , 2 0 1 4

Common items used to make an interior design pop The interior design of this house demonstrates how fencing material and toolboxes can be girly

Tribune/Barry Kough

ABOVE: An alcove on the north wall accomodates the colorful dining set, which Jacquie Richel backed with a padded wall treatment. BELOW: The entire top floor has been turned into Richel’s bedroom with many of the accents having been made by her.

Tribune/Barry Kough

The first view inside the front door is suddenly the view of an art gallery.

area a mechanic’s toolbox is used as a TV stand, which makes you have to Entering this Lewiston house built in 1940 do a double-take to won’t take you back in time, but it will take you be sure it really is straight into the pages of a magazine. what you think it This chic house with its river view and great outdoor spaces provides your eyes with an array is. It’s just another way she has of exciting colors and textures to take in. The previous owners had updated the house af- maximized the use of the space. With ter a fire in 2002, which allowed Jacquie Richel all its drawers the to use her talent as an interior designer to make each room and outdoor space pop instead of hav- toolbox is a great ing to spend money updating the house when she storage area and doesn’t take up a bought it about three years ago. great deal of space. “You know, I didn’t spend a lot of money,” Richel’s kitchen Richel said. “It’s just finding oddball materials is a large room and getting creative with it.” on the main floor The outside entryway to the house includes a water feature, surrounded by greenery, giving it of the house. The Tribune/Barry Kough kitchen has a clasa great sense of privacy. Upon entering Richel’s Like the rest of the house, the sic black and white home you instantly see a small dividing wall acwell-organized studio in the cessorized with what looks like cuckoo flowers, a motif with shiny basement is flooded with natmetal accents. A white faux mountain goat head and a large mirror that is also accessorized with cuckoo flowers small kitchen pass ural light and bright accents. through lets you on its frame. see into the sitting She has made what would traditionally be a living room and dining room serve as three inter- area. “They’re not high-end finishes,” she said. “I changeable areas that now include a sitting area, love that it doesn’t have to cost a ton to have good a dining area and an entertainment/TV area. design.” Richel used a border made of aluminum fencing She made the upper level of the house, which material to tie the areas together. looks as though it was once the attic and was Richel used her know-how to create a unique later converted into a loft, into her bedroom. and inviting dining “This is probably my most favorite space,” she area in an alcove off of said. the sitting room. She Simply by using the right pieces of furniture designed a padded wall and some simple wall decor, some of which she complete with its own made herself, Richel has made the room seem lighting element that much larger than it actually is. is alluring. Her dinThe basement includes what was once a faming table is simple and elegant with a glass top ily room, which she converted into two separate rooms by adding a sliding door that acts as a and accompanied by wall. On one side there is now a large walk-in bright orange chairs closet that any woman would love to have, and on that make the area the other side a dressing area complete with two stand out. In the entertainment mirrored dressers. The basement also contains what was the master bedroom and is now ATTENTION HOME OWNERS Richel’s studio, where she can be creative and design her jewelry and art. Stop renting paint & start saving on The outdoor space heating & cooling costs. continues the magazine-esque quality of VINYL SIDING the house, providing several separate but inNew Wall System Stronger Than Wood Over 1½” foam insulation ~ 7.64R factor lowers heating & cooling costs clusive areas to enjoy. A zen sitting area created High Quality by Richel has a JapaCompare nese garden feel, laid Insulated Typical out in front of a mass of Siding Vinyl greenery. To the side Siding of the sitting area the zen quality continues with a wood, bamboo Also...Insulated Vinyl E and metal divider wall LIFETIM Replacement Windows Y T N that acts as a fence. A Seamless Made, Custom R WAR Steel Siding and Roong. The yard is a very green space complete Free Estimates with many levels that Call the “Siding Professionals” or stop by our showroom include another water Serving the area since 1965

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T H U R S D A Y, M A R C H 2 0 , 2 0 1 4

7

HOME & GARDEN

‘Boomerang’ buyers get another chance at homeownership

MCT

Ganel Appolon lost his last home three years ago in the economic downturn but recently purchased this home in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. He is shown with his family, from left, Stanley, Jessica and his wife, Maude. By PAUL OWERS SUN SENTINEL

Just 10 days before Christmas 2009, Ganel Appolon found an envelope taped to his front door. He and his family were being evicted from their Tamarac, Fla., home. Appolon had fallen behind on his mortgage payments and the lender repossessed the property under terms of his bankruptcy filing. Despite the financial setback, Appolon vowed to own again. He spent the next four years saving money and rebuilding his credit. Last fall, he qualified for another mortgage and in December bought a three-bedroom home in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., for $177,500. “I feel free,” said Appolon, a 46year-old electrician. “My kids are really, really happy. They kept saying, ‘Thank you, Daddy. Thank you, Daddy.’ ” Appolon’s experience may give hope to tens of thousands of people snared in the housing collapse. Many of those people thought they’d never own again — or at least have to wait a decade or longer to even think about it. Instead, lenders and real estate agents say many former homeowners are recapturing the “American Dream,” as “boomerang buyers.”

“Time will heal everything, and that’s what’s happening here,” said Jim Flood, regional manager for Supreme Lending in Plantation, Fla. “I think it’s great that people are getting a second chance. Don’t we all want that in life?” How many are getting that chance? No one knows. The government and housing industry don’t track it. But lending titans such as Bank of America, as well as community banks and credit unions, typically follow the guidelines from government-run mortgage companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which together insure about half of the nation’s home loans. Fannie and Freddie require someone with a previous foreclosure to wait seven years before qualifying for a new mortgage. But if the foreclosure was included in the bankruptcy, as it was for Appolon, the borrower has to wait only four years. A person who unloaded a home before the bank foreclosed — such as through a short sale — must wait two years to get another Fannie or Freddie loan. A consumer seeking a Federal Housing Administration-backed loan can qualify three years after a foreclosure or short sale.

Former owners who lost a home because of at least a 20 percent cut in pay may be able to qualify for another mortgage after only a year through FHA’s Back to Work program. Catherine Perez used that program to buy a four-bedroom home in Pembroke Pines, Fla., in November. Three years ago, she lost a Davie, Fla., townhome in foreclosure after her adjustable-rate mortgage payment jumped $400 a month to $2,200. Perez, 32, lived with her mother for a year to save money and then rented. She signed up for a credit restoration program through the nonprofit agency United Financial Counselors, raising her credit score by more than 100 points to 672 — enough to get a mortgage. The highest score is 850. Perez and her fiance ended up qualifying for a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage at :H'HOLYHU 4.375 percent. They put RU down about $18,000 on S the $335,000 purchase. <RX3LFN8 “I’m so relieved,” she said. “I wanted to have a home for my future kids.” Homeowners who lost

This is the year of the horse in home furnishings By PATRICIA SHERIDAN PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE

LAS VEGAS — A new kind of equine elegance galloped into the Winter Las Vegas Home Furnishings and Gift Market. It wasn’t only the Year of Horse on the Chinese Lunar calendar, it was clearly the year of horse decor, as well. According to Chinese astrology, this is the year of the wood horse, applicable to people born in 1954 and 2014. The year of the horse comes every 12 years, and is characterized, in turn, by the five elements of metal, earth, fire, water and wood. Intelligent, restless, ambitious, hard-working, impatient, adaptable and romantic. People born in the Year of the Horse include Kobe Bryant, James Franco, Jerry Seinfeld, Jennifer Lawrence, Denzel Washington, and both Franklin D.

their properties make up a pool of potential buyers who could help bolster demand just as last year’s frenzy cools, analysts say. “We’re about three years past the peak of the foreclosures, and that’s about the time when most people would qualify for another loan,” said Daren Blomquist, spokesman for RealtyTrac in Irvine, Calif. “The market really needs boomerang buyers to maintain the current recovery.” Some boomerang buyers are required to make down payments of at least 20 percent, while others can put down as little as 3.5 percent or 5 percent — much the same as people without credit problems. In Appolon’s case, he ended up qualifying for favorable loan terms: a 5 percent down payment (about $13,000, with closing costs) and a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage with a 4.5 percent interest rate, according to his lender, Stephen B. McWilliam, head of Florida State Mortgage Group in Fort Lauderdale. When Appolon applied for a mortgage last fall, his credit score was 700. He is not sure what his score was at the time of the bankruptcy, but a person in similar circumstances probably would have had a score of 550 or less, McWilliam said. Kevin Maher, community outreach coordinator with DebtHelper.com, a West Palm Beach-based counseling agency, said the best way to rebuild credit is to pay credit cards and other bills on time and not add new debt. People who take those steps can see their scores rise significantly within a year, he said. “It’s very easy to rebuild your score up to what you need to get back into homeownership,” he said. “You just have to stop the bleeding and start something positive.” Ryan Paton, head of Capitol Lending Group in Fort Lauderdale, said he frequently hears criticism about giving mortgages to people who have short sales or foreclosures in the recent past. But lenders are willing because they realize a large group of otherwise responsible borrowers were trapped in an extraordinary housing debacle not likely to be seen again, he said. “As long as they’ve saved money and re-established their credit, they’re fantastic buyers,” he said.

and Teddy Roosevelt. As far as we know, the only people who had trouble with wooden horses were the Greeks. The horse year means rapid success, so Rough Riders aside, manufacturers decided not to look a gift horse in the mouth and hopped on the back of this trend with unbridled enthusiasm. Here is a roundup of the steeds they were showing:

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HOME & GARDEN

T H U R S D A Y, M A R C H 2 0 , 2 0 1 4

‘Renegade Gardener’ Don Engebretson turns dictums upside down By Craig Sailor

The Tacoma News Tribune

TACOMA — Don Engebretson’s take on garden mythology and the peddlers of worthless products. His website, The Renegade Gardener (www.renegadegardener.com), carries no advertising. “I need to be free to state my opinions,” said the Minnesota-based garden writer and landscape designer. “Your average garden writer is too often beholden to the industry. As a horticultural speaker you want to be beholden to facts.” Engebretson has written for “Better Homes & Gardens” magazine and dozens of newspapers. He’s appeared on HGTV and worked as the on-camera landscape designer for the PBS how-to program “Hometime.” He’s published five books on gardening and design, and keeps a busy speaking schedule. In between all that he operates a residential landscape renovation business. “My one slim talent is I can make people laugh. I can give a good saucy gardening talk,” Engebretson said. Sometimes his opinionated stance wins him both admirers and detractors. A column he wrote titled “Enough with the damn day lilies” railed against the overuse of the pretty but gangly plant. “They quickly grow into a giant monster that looks like Jabba the Hutt,” Engebretson said. Engebretson soon heard from daylily gardeners all over the world. The reaction was both negative and positive. He said he sometimes finds himself on a stage sponsored by a busi-

ness that creates the very products he’s not too fond of, such as concrete retaining wall blocks. He uses natural stone in his walls. There are just too many products out there being sold to solve problems that don’t really exist, Engebretson said. “The garden industry freaked out and decided that gardening was too complicated and too much work, and that everything needs to be easy and foolproof. They are the only industry that I know of that tries to reduce the time people devote to their hobby,” he said. Engebretson urges gardeners to educate themselves rather than buy labor-saving devices and products. “People are being bamboozled into ridiculous products and erroneous shortcuts,” he said. If a greenhorn green thumb learns about gardening, such as knowing the Latin names of plants, it becomes easier and more enjoyable for them, he said. “There’s a ton of stuff to learn and you get better and you develop your own style and evoke your own personality,” Engebretson said. It’s a confusing horticultural world out there for the budding gardener. And some of the nurseries that cater to them aren’t helping. Already in Washington’s Puget Sound, a few stores are putting out petunias, pansies and primroses in full bloom. Most likely they were grown in greenhouses, not outdoors. “There’s absolutely no reason to sell plants that early,” Engebretson said. But, in the same breath, he said he’s sympathetic to the trade. “Nurseries make 65 to 75 percent of their income in the spring,” he said. They need to sell as much

as they can as early as they can. So growers will force plants to bloom early with fertilizer and hothouses. Engebretson loves to bust myths. And he has no shortage of them. They come from the industry, your local nursery and even universities. “And, of course, most of them come from your grandmother or your neighbor.” A common one he hears is the admonishment to never amend the soil when planting a tree. That came from university research, he said, which has since been discredited. The truth is: Only the soil knows for sure. MCT “If you’re digging Don Engebretson, aka the Renegade Gardener and your hole and what you writer/scouter for Better Homes and Gardens magaare digging is fairly zine, travels the county, dispensing his brand of nodark and crumbly, it drains well and has nonsense landscape design. organic content (you don’t need to amend than 25 feet to a house, he advised. it.) If you’re digging it and you disHe’s against landscape fabric as cover it’s potter’s clay or it collapses an alleged weed preventer. “That’s a because it’s sand, bring in organic perfect example of a product that’s amendments — copious amounts of unnecessary, superfluous and harmcompost, peat moss,” he said. You may end up digging a larger hole but ful. It doesn’t block weeds,” he said. Instead it inhibits water and drastiit’ll be worth it, he said. Another myth Engebretson dispels cally reduces oxygen levels in soil. is that wood mulch attracts termites. “It winds up harming the plants and Termites need solid wood in which to they don’t develop into what they bore and make their nests and can’t could be.” Instead, use mulch, which survive in chips. But, in that same will naturally decompose over time. vein, wood piles — which do attract “You want your mulch to disappear. termites — should never be closer You want to replenish your mulch.”

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evergreen hedge or informal screen along your boundary. This defines your property line in a friendly way. It also adds a ribbon of green that looks good all year, but is most noticeable and cheerful in winter. Selecting plants for this project starts with an understanding of their requirements for sun, shade or something in between. Plus you must think about how short or tall, how wide or narrow you wish the hedge or screen to grow. Basically a hedge is kept short and clipped on the sides and top to give a rather stiff, vertical effect. The effect is formal and looks good when done right. It is usually kept short enough for a person to trim it, late each winter, while standing on the ground. Most often, a single kind of MCT plant, such as Japanese holly, A Hydrangea bush in full bloom. English laurel or Japanese boxwood, is chosen. This may be the best choice when space By Nancy Brachey is limited and you want to avoid any The Charlotte Observer intrusion into sidewalks or driveways. A screen is a looser, more inforMany landscapes are at their thinnest this mal look, with shrubs allowed to time of year. Leaves are reach their normal mature height. off the trees and shrubs, It is a bigger look, but one to work and you can see through on over time and cherish. The effect where you used to see on the sides is soft, sometimes even green. This may raise the feathery. And this type of screen desire to plant a clipped lends itself to a mix of plants that

can even include deciduous shrubs such as forsythia, barberry, quince or hydrangea. While a long stretch of deciduous shrubs may look boring in winter, a mix of evergreen and deciduous looks fine, especially if the evergreens present the background. Here is where your particular taste for such things as color (blue hydrangeas for summer or golden yellow kerria for spring), late-winter flowers (witch hazel or wintersweet) or fragrance (winter daphne) can be explored and then enjoyed for years. People tend to plant clipped hedges single file in rows of varying lengths. It must seem like the natural thing to do, and it does create smooth sides to the hedge. But an informal screen almost always looks better when planted in a zigzag pattern with every other plant slightly forward of its neighbor. This gives rhythm to the look and allows for closer, easier spacing because the plants have more breathing room (meaning room to grow) on their sides. Since the intended effect is loose and free, this looks better. It will also reduce the chances that you will prune the plant and probably reduce the amount of flowers. You can do this work on days when it is nice to be outdoors, but try to get it done by mid-spring. This will allow roots of the new plants to get growing, Careful attention must be paid to watering in dry weather through the summer the first year and probably the second.

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T H U R S D A Y, M A R C H 2 0 , 2 0 1 4

9

HOME & GARDEN

Owners again borrowing against homes as market recovers

MCT

Raising home prices made it possible for retirees Owen and Wana Klasen to qualify for a home equity credit line on their home in Fillmore, Calif., which they used to paint and reroof their house. he sought a second mortgage to paint and re-roof his house. LOS ANGELES TIMES Home prices hadn’t risen enough, the loan officer told him. Retired aerospace engineer Owen But last month, the same loan ofKlasen was rejected last year when ficer offered him more than double

By E. SCOTT RECKARD AND ANDREW KHOURI

the credit he needed. “I told him I needed $25,000” on a home equity line of credit, said Klasen, who lives in Fillmore, Calif. “He said we were qualified to go up to $60,000.” Klasen is among a wave of homeowners nationally who are again putting their homes in hock — despite the costly lessons of the housing meltdown. After a home equity credit binge during the housing bubble, banks shut off the tap as home prices plummeted. Sobered homeowners stopped viewing equity as free money for cars, vacations and college educations. But now second mortgages are back in vogue. Bank of America, for instance, saw its home equity business surge 75 percent last year compared with 2012, said Matthew Potere, who oversees home equity lending for the Charlotte, N.C., giant. In the fourth quarter, Bank of America issued $1.9 billion in new home equity credit lines, up from $1 billion a year earlier. The most popular use of equity lines is home improvement, followed by debt consolidation, said Kelly Kockos, Wells Fargo’s senior vice president of home equity. But some borrowers are using the credit to double down on real estate, a popular move during the housing bubble. Adam and Kimberly Smith work at high-tech firms in San Francisco, where prices skyrocketed last year. They recently obtained a credit line on their two-bedroom North Beach condominium. The couple, in their early 30s, plan to rent out the condo and buy a home in the high-end East Bay suburbs. Three-bedroom homes there start at $1 million. Borrowing $50,000 to $100,000, combined with their savings, will give them a 20 percent down payment on the suburban home they crave. “We know we can make an offer this weekend,” Adam Smith said. Home equity lines of credit are a type of variable-rate second mortgage. They enable homeowners to borrow up to a pre-defined amount at their discretion. A homeowner with a $200,000 first mortgage on a $400,000 house, for instance, might take out a $100,000 line of credit. If the homeowner borrowed the maximum, the mortgage debt would total $300,000 — 75 per-

cent of what the house would bring in a sale. Nationally, the total of second mortgages authorized climbed to an estimated $60 billion last year from a low of $49 billion in 2010, according to the trade publication National Mortgage News. That’s still way down from a record of $430 billion in 2006, but experts predict another surge in home equity lending this year. For lenders, the credit lines are riskier than first mortgages, which would be paid off first in case of a foreclosure. Still, these are no longer the easy-money loans of the housing boom, bank officials assure. Applicants who get approved today have high credit scores, along with ample savings and equity in their homes. During last decade’s housing boom, the standards were quite different — sometimes nonexistent. Banks have lost billions on loan defaults from that era. The losses aren’t over. The way the credit lines are structured has created a new problem — payment shock on credit lines issued during the bubble. That’s because the credit eventually runs out. At that point, often 10 or 15 years later, borrowers must pay back the entire amount or make set payments on the debt monthly, as with a traditional loan. That can cost borrowers hundreds of dollars a month extra — payment shocks that will reverberate as the credit lines come due. National bank regulators have calculated the draw periods will end for $29 billion in home equity credit lines this year at the nine largest U.S. banks. Those numbers rise to $52 billion next year, $62 billion in 2016 and $68 billion in 2017. Officials at Bank of America and Wells Fargo & Co. said they have begun reaching out to borrowers well in advance of the date their credit lines mature, making sure that they are prepared for higher payments and, if necessary, talking about modifying the terms of the credit lines. Meanwhile, lenders are wading back into the business of issuing new home equity credit. In high-end markets, which recovered first, some borrowers are using home equity credit lines of $100,000 to $250,000 “as a financial tool” to buy more real estate, said mortgage broker Richard T. Cirelli in Laguna Beach, Calif.

Bright ideas for outdoor furniture to spruce up outdoor spaces By KIM COOK

ASSOCIATED PRESS

to create an inviting space, even if it’s a tiny terrace. Pier 1’s Paris-inspired Neely Bistro Set comes in red or peacock blue rust-resistant cast aluminum. Frontgate’s powder-coated aluminum side and bar chairs in fresh colors like aqua and melon come in whimsical designs like curlicues and floral motifs. The Rock Point acacia wood bench can be had in red, marine blue or dandelion yellow, and has the added benefit of being foldable for off-season storage. Synthetic rattan chairs are weather resistant and come in an array of clean, crisp brights like ocean, purple, orange and yellow. Z Gallerie’s Madison garden stool comes in gold for a touch of metallic flair. You’ll also find the Mimosa lantern, featuring a filigreed Moroccan motif in mandarin, white, lemon and aquamarine. A patio umbrella is a quick and inexpensive style changer. Start the party by setting up

Earthy hues that blend into the landscape tend to dominate the outdoor furniture market. Understated woods, metals and cushions are easy-to-incorporate neutral elements. But outdoor spaces also offer the chance to be more adventurous than we are inclined to be indoors. Maybe bolder balconies and peppier patios on your redecorating radar? “Vibrant color has dominated the home furnishings arena since last fall, and after an unusually cold winter, the time’s ripe for bright color to become a focus for our outdoor spaces. Color is a great energizer,” said Jackie Hirchhault, marketing vice president for the American Home Furnishings Alliance, based in High Point, N.C. Aimee Beatty, in-house stylist at Pier 1, said lively outdoor pieces give people a way to make a statement: “Incorporating pops of color with furniture and accessories adds personality and flare.” She suggested adding a colorful bench to the patio to coordinate with a more traditional or neutral dining set. “One new piece is a simple, budget-friendly way to make a big impact,” she said. “Brightly colored furniture is also a quick dŚĞĨŽƵƌďĂƐŝĐĮďĞƌƐƵƐĞĚŝŶĐĂƌƉĞƚƐƚŽĚĂLJĂůůŚĂǀĞƚŚĞŝƌŝŶĚŝǀŝĚƵĂů way to punch up a small ƐƚƌĞŶŐƚŚƐ͘ǀĞŶŵŽƌĞŝŵƉŽƌƚĂŶƚůLJ͕ƚŚĞLJĂůůŵĂŬĞĞdžĐĞůůĞŶƚĐĂƌƉĞƚƐ͘ space,” she added. A bistro table and chairs zŽƵƌƵůƟŵĂƚĞĐŚŽŝĐĞǁŝůůďĞĚĞƚĞƌŵŝŶĞĚďLJƚŚĞĐŚĂƌĂĐƚĞƌŝƐƟĐƐ in playful hues sets the ƚŚĂƚĂƌĞŵŽƐƚŝŵƉŽƌƚĂŶƚƚŽLJŽƵ͘ůƚŚŽƵŐŚƐŽŵĞĐĂƌƉĞƚƐĂƌĞ stage, and you don’t need much more than ŵĂĚĞŽĨďůĞŶĚƐ͕ŵŽƐƚĂƌĞŵĂĚĞĞŶƟƌĞůLJŽĨŽŶĞŽĨƚŚĞĨŽůůŽǁŝŶŐ a few additional pieces

Hayneedle’s shaggy acrylic Palapa umbrella, a 6-foot-wide hula skirt on a pole with thatched strips of acrylic in lime, whiskey, raspberry pink or lemon yellow.

SEE OUTDOOR SPACES page 12

What Carpet Fiber is best for you?

ĨŽƵƌĮďĞƌƐ͗Nylon Carpet,ƚŚĞŵŽƐƚĐŽŵŵŽŶůLJƵƐĞĚĐĂƌƉĞƚĮďĞƌ ƐŝŶĐĞƚŚĞĞĂƌůLJϭϵϲϬ͛Ɛ͘Polyester (PET) Carpet,WŽůLJĞƐƚĞƌŽīĞƌƐ ĞdžĐĞƉƟŽŶĂůƐŽŌŶĞƐƐĂŶĚĐŽůŽƌĐůĂƌŝƚLJ͕ĂŶĚŝƚŝƐĂůƐŽŶĂƚƵƌĂůůLJƐƚĂŝŶ ĂŶĚĨĂĚĞƌĞƐŝƐƚĂŶƚ͘PTT (Triexta Polyester) CarpetŝƐĂƉŽůLJĞƐƚĞƌ ĮďĞƌ͘WŽůLJƉƌŽƉLJůĞŶĞ;ŽůĞĮŶͿĂƌƉĞƚ͕hŶůŝŬĞŽƚŚĞƌĮďĞƌƚLJƉĞƐ͕ ƉŽůLJƉƌŽƉLJůĞŶĞǁŝůůŶŽƚĂďƐŽƌďǁĂƚĞƌĂŶĚƚŚĞĐŽůŽƌǁŝůůŶŽƚĨĂĚĞ͘

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10

HOME & GARDEN

T H U R S D A Y, M A R C H 2 0 , 2 0 1 4

Tribune/Kyle Mills

The front of Mike and Melissa Pearson’s Juliaetta home does not look like the typical house entrance. Visitors approach the front door via a plank-like walkway.

4 Bridge home cont. from page 2 the house, tying the three rooms together nicely. They make it almost feel like the inside of a log cabin. The kitchen continues the area’s theme with exposed woods for the cabinets and has granite countertops. A breakfast bar separates the kitchen and dining room and stainless steel appliances tie the inside to the outside of the house. The cork flooring adds another piece of nature to this unique house. Just off the kitchen, in the center of the house, is a screened sitting porch that is protected from the weather and can be used year-round for enjoying the nature this house has melded into.

On the other side of the indoor porch is the master suite, which is its own separate area in the house with its own deck, walk-in closet and bathroom, complete with a shower and a tub with a view. The room is on the south side of the house and its deck takes you right out into the woods. It almost gives you the feeling of camping — but in luxury. With no traditional yard to speak of this hillside home has numerous outdoor spaces. A glass sliding door on the north side of the house takes you to a ramp leading down to a large circular cement pad that provides the Pearsons with yet another outdoor space to enjoy. The house also includes another bathroom and bedroom as well as a laundry room and theatre room that are accessible from the long hallway. At the east-facing side of the house, which is

the front of the house, is an entryway that has plenty of room for several guests to enter the house at the same time. The front glass sliding door separates inside from outside without leaving you feeling like you have left the beautiful scenery this house is stashed in. And to add to the nuance of the house the front door is accessed by a walkway reminiscent of a gangplank. About 100 yards to the north of the house is a place for guests to stay. The guest house is built above the flood plain so it is more of a traditional style house. It has one bedroom and a loft for sleeping. The guest house also has a large deck overlooking the river.

——— Hayden may be contacted at phayden@lmtribune.com or (208) 8482243.

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Accented with natural wood, the master bedroom has two walls of sliding doors with a view of the river valley. There is also a private deck off of the bedroom

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11

HOME & GARDEN

Roofs are getting colorful By DIANA MARSZALEK ASSOCIATED PRESS

Tribune/Barry Kough

Tucked in between the main living area and the kitchen is a bright sitting area.

ď&#x20AC;´ DESIGN cont. from page 6 feature, a patio for entertaining and a staircase built into the hillside leading you from the back to the front of the house. â&#x20AC;&#x153;It doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t have to cost a million

bucks to have a nice looking home or a fun home,â&#x20AC;? Richel said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s my biggest purpose, is to find interesting materials to use and not be afraid to use them.â&#x20AC;?

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;â&#x20AC;&#x201D;â&#x20AC;&#x201D; Hayden may be contacted at phayden@lmtribune. com or (208) 848-2243.

Fast route to successful gardening? Buy smart By DEAN FOSDICK ASSOCIATED PRESS

Garden centers, with their vast collections of plant colors, sizes and shapes, can be intimidating to inexperienced buyers. But you can become a discerning purchaser with a little homework and by quizzing the sales people as you shop. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Usually, when shopping, I go early before the crowds and also before the staff are worn out,â&#x20AC;? said Jack McKinnon, a garden coach from the San Francisco Bay-area. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I like asking questions like, â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;What are you getting in next?â&#x20AC;&#x2122; â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;What is new?â&#x20AC;&#x2122; and â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;What is the most popular now?â&#x20AC;&#x2122; If it is early (in the season), you may learn a lot that puts you ahead of the masses in designs and trends.â&#x20AC;? The most important factor in plant shopping, however, is the health of the plant, McKinnon said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;As one nurseryman I trust says: â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t accept ugly plants.â&#x20AC;&#x2122; And he doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t give refunds.â&#x20AC;? How can you tell if a plant is diseased, pest-ridden or beyond its prime? â&#x20AC;&#x153;Look for any unusual brown, black or gray spotting on the foliage,â&#x20AC;? said Rizanino (Riz) Reyes, a landscape designer and owner of RHR Horticulture in Shoreline, Wash., a Seattle suburb. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Any dead sections that are beyond just grooming to make it look good should be avoided,â&#x20AC;? he said. Also avoid plants â&#x20AC;&#x153;that may be unusually red or sickly yellow looking.â&#x20AC;? Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a good idea to check plant roots at the nursery. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s risky to buy plants that are root-bound, too wet or too dry, although that may mean removing them from the pot to examine them. â&#x20AC;&#x153;If you politely ask a garden center

staff member, any reputable retail center should stand by their product and allow you to do it, or they may do it for you,â&#x20AC;? Reyes said. Other plant buying like a pro tips: ď Ź Shop by price and shop the sales. Find out when new plants are usually delivered and displayed. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Try to have a relationship with the nursery owner or staff,â&#x20AC;? McKinnon said. ď Ź Bare-root, container grown, or balled and burlapped? â&#x20AC;&#x153;Bare-root plats have not had a chance to get root-bound in a pot, and you can see what youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re buying,â&#x20AC;? McKinnon said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Both are definite advantages.â&#x20AC;? ď Ź Work from a plan. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I recommend having a general list so you avoid too many impulse buys on plants that may not end up getting planted or worse, get forgotten,â&#x20AC;? Reyes said. ď Ź Annuals vs. perennials: â&#x20AC;&#x153;Perennials come back and can look great the year-round,â&#x20AC;? Reyes said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Annuals provide traffic-stopping impact and remarkable color. You save and have the most incredible garden by integrating both.â&#x20AC;? ď Ź Buying tropicals and houseplants: â&#x20AC;&#x153;Take care in transporting these from the store to your vehicle as some may be very sensitive to the cold,â&#x20AC;? Reyes said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Plant them right away or keep them cool but not frozen. Keep them watered and moist.â&#x20AC;? ď Ź Choosing bulbs, corms, tubers and rhizomes: â&#x20AC;&#x153;Look for plump, firm bulbs,â&#x20AC;? Reyes said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Usually, the bigger the better. Hardy bulbs like lilies are ready to plant as soon as possible. For dahlias and other tender bulbs, wait until after frost to plant or pot them up and start indoors.â&#x20AC;?

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When a 2011 storm destroyed their black shingle roof, Carol and Ray Knoff of Vinton, Iowa, opted to replace it with a roof in vintage Victorian colors: a clay-like red and gray. Victorian homes typically had red slate roofs, which weathered gray over time, so the blend worked, said Carol Knoff. â&#x20AC;&#x153;It took Vinton a while to like it,â&#x20AC;? she said, but the neighbors have since come around. The 1901 house is among several Victorians built when Vinton housed one of the worldâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s largest canneries. Many homeowners these days are shunning monotone roofs of brown, black and gray, and perking things up with color â&#x20AC;&#x201D; blues, reds, purples, greens or combinations of those hues. â&#x20AC;&#x153;A lot of people are going with roofs that stand out on their own,â&#x20AC;? said Kate Smith, a Newport, R.I.-based color consultant. â&#x20AC;&#x153;They want something different that expresses them and expresses their personality.â&#x20AC;? Which could be a tricky proposition, said Smith: â&#x20AC;&#x153;You want to stand out while still fitting into your neighborhood,â&#x20AC;? she said. She admitted to being taken aback herself when colored roofs first came into vogue several years ago. Exterior home color should always be used judiciously, she said. But it is even more crucial to use it correctly when youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re adding it to a large fixed feature, like a roof, that is not easily changed with a fresh coat of paint. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Anything thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s permanent needs to blend,â&#x20AC;? she said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;You donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t want to have too many colors that arenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t working together.â&#x20AC;? One trick for doing that, Smith said, is to select roof colors true to your homeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s history and architecture, and in natural shades. For instance, Victorian homes originally had colored roofs â&#x20AC;&#x201D; reds, orange, purple and green were typical â&#x20AC;&#x201D; because the color of the slate varied so much, she said. Homeowners wanting to restore that look should match those subtle tones. â&#x20AC;&#x153;When you saw purple, it was not a bright Barney purple,â&#x20AC;? she said. Bright metal roofs â&#x20AC;&#x201D; most often red or green â&#x20AC;&#x201D; are better suited for farmhouse-style homes, or used over small structures like porticos or bay

Associated Press

This 2012 photo provided by DaVinci Roofscapes shows a red and grey colored roof that replaced a storm damaged black one at Carol and Ray Knoffâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s home in Vinton, Iowa. The colors, produced by DaVinci Roofscapes, are typical of the original roofs on Victorian homes. windows. Steel blue is more European. Colored roofs are also starting to crop up on â&#x20AC;&#x153;new American-styleâ&#x20AC;? homes, which Smith describes as combining popular styles and materials â&#x20AC;&#x201D; perhaps, say, a stone and brick exterior with a copper roof. The demand for colored roofs led DaVinci Roofscapes of Kansas City, Kan., to create faux slate and shake (wooden shingle) roofing in 49 colors â&#x20AC;&#x153;so homeowners can mix and match those if they want to get really creative,â&#x20AC;? said the companyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Wendy Bruch. DaVinciâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s palette is based on the naturally occurring colors seen on historically accurate roofs, she said. But custom colors are increasingly popular, too. â&#x20AC;&#x153;There can be some crazy things going on because we can create new colors,â&#x20AC;? Bruch said. DaVinci has worked with customers to create colors ranging from a chateau blue for a French provincialstyle house to a green that matched the color on a metal roof with weather-related damage. Many customers appreciate help picking the right shades, Bruch said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;It can make it confusing for the homeowner when you have too many options,â&#x20AC;? she said. For Knoff, the risk of installing a colored roof was well worth taking. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We absolutely love it,â&#x20AC;? she said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;When you see our house, it really stands out. But Victorians are supposed to be homes that stand out.â&#x20AC;?

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4 short sale cont. from page 4

4 OUtdoor spaces cont. from page 9

sale, your lender is accepting less money than it is owed to release your property from its mortgage. Short sales are supposed to be sold for market value to ensure the lender recoups the most money possible. Lenders historically have relied on a report from a real estate agent called a broker’s price opinion, or BPO, to help determine market value. In an effort to make sure the short sales are sold for the highest prices, lenders in the past six months have started turning to auctions. The various parties involved are told they must submit to this new procedure or the short sale will be denied. Once everyone signs off, the seller’s real estate agent will be asked to re-list the property and hold an open house to let potential bidders view it. An online auction company then holds an auction, with the initial buyer’s offer as the highest bid. If nobody submits a higher bid, the short sale is approved. If there is a better offer, the initial buyer has the opportunity to counter. Once the auction concludes, the lender issues its short sale approval and the closing takes place as it traditionally has. While this new process requires more effort from everyone — and provides more uncertainty for buyers — the participants have little choice but to jump through these hoops. It’s important to remember even with this additional hurdle, a short sale usually is the best choice for unloading a house you can no longer afford.

4 fha loans cont. from page 5 value of the home but on the projected value after the repairs are completed. A so-called “streamlined” 203(k) allows the borrower to finance up to $35,000 in nonstructural repairs, such as painting and replacing cabinets or fixtures, Geist said. Financial hardship relief allowed: FHA insurance isn’t intended to be an easy out for borrowers who feel unhappy about their mortgage payments. But loan servicers can offer some relief to borrowers who have an FHA-insured loan, have suffered a serious financial hardship and are struggling to make their payments. That relief might be a temporary period of forbearance, a loan modification that would lower the interest rate or extend the payback period, or a deferral of part of the loan balance at no interest.

4 Horse furnishings cont. from page 7

Walmart’s got a well-priced basic market umbrella that can be had in a fresh sunny orange, deep green or canary yellow. Grandin Road’s op-arty Lulu planter in a loopy black-and-white graphic would be an exclamation point to colorful outdoor furniture. Their Sea Life collection of outdoor pillows includes stylized starfish and sand dollars in brilliant hues. Usable as either planters or beverage receptacles, LED-embedded resin GardenGlo containers provide glowing illumination in a range of colors. Consider adding a few glowing orbs to the garden, pool, pathway or anywhere you’d fancy ambient light. A remote control lets you run through a variety of soft colors or switch to just white. They’ll last eight hours on one battery charge. Seattle-based designer Nicole Ketchum creates lightweight acrylic chandeliers in 11 colors that can be hung from trees, deck roofs or any-

where you’d like. Choose a faux ornate pattern or an octopus. Outdoor polypropylene rugs add color and give outdoor spaces a more finished, room-like look. Horchow’s Geometric Twist collection puts a crisp white graphic on a tangerine, lime or navy background for preppy punch, while Dash & Albert’s indoor/outdoor rugs feature East Asian graphic motifs, chevrons and sailing stripes. Dash and Albert’s new outdoor pillow collection includes exuberant retro-Hawaiian prints, sea horses, crewel florals and bubble patterns, all in a riot of fun-loving colors. Designer Elaine Smith has come up with a collection of outdoor pillows that reflects a childhood surrounded by global art, and a love of both fashion and nature. “I like using and reimagining traditional motifs, and creating designs with a timeless feel.” She’s done an Asian toile pattern in a pretty aqua/white combination, a zebra print in chocolate or blue, and a hula skirt motif in a kaleidoscope of tropical hues.

Making sure your home’s electrical system is safe By Angie Hicks angieslist.com

Ideally, you want to be able to take your home’s electrical system for granted. It should power your lights and appliances reliably, safely and invisibly. But it’s important to notice warning signs that an experienced professional should examine a system. Our researchers compiled these indicators, based on interviews with highly rated electricians: l Flickering lights, a sizzling sound when lights are switched on or off, plugs that spark, plugs that fit loosely in receptacles or lights that dim when appliances start. These may signal a loose wiring connection, which can be a fire hazard. l Warmth in a wire, extension cord or fuse box. This may indicate a faulty or unsafe wiring connection, which could cause an overload and lead to fire. l A breaker that repeatedly trips, indicating an overloaded circuit. l A breaker that never trips, especially in an older home. That may be a sign that your wiring system lacks adequate electrical safeguards. Also, make sure you know what kind of wiring winds through your home. Copper is the ideal material. Pre1940s knob-and-tube wiring and 1960s-era aluminum wiring are associated with greater fire risk. Knob-and-tube systems feature porcelain knobs that anchor wires to studs and floor joists and insulated tubes that carry wires through walls and other obstructions. Such systems have separate hot and neutral wires that run parallel to each other and dissipate heat into the air. They can become a fire hazard if overburdened, improperly retrofitted or come in con-

l Blue Ocean Traders added a prerusted castiron pony to its ouadded a pre-rusted castiron pony to its outdoor, indoor sculpture collection, which also The includes a pre-rusted horse’s head for horse is a garden bed. l Go Home showed several equine galloping elements for home decor including an into the 80-inch-high teak steed and a smaller home 34-inch table-top version in driftwood. decor Both are created by assembling smalland gift er pieces of wood. l You could literally saddle up and markets. watch TV on Cisco Brothers’ leather This bust horse. It gives new meaning to the term is from “clothes horse,” as you toss your disA&B carded wardrobe on its back. The comHome pany also debuted Leonardo, a massive sculpture cleverly constructed of reInc. cycled auto and motorcycle parts. It’s best kept corralled in a room with caMCT thedral ceilings. l A tamer, more playful look was seen at Silk Route. It displayed a papier-mache Chindi horse wrapped in colorful yarn, handmade in Nepal. The Serving Moscow, company also showed a Pullman and all giraffe, a pig and a lion. communities on Locally Owned l A & B Home Inc. the Palouse. & Operated was in step with its white porcelain horse bust, the right size for a bookshelf $ or mantel. It did, however, Minimum Charge $125. Coupon required, one coupon per household. Not valid go off the reservation with with any other offers. Coupon has no cash value. Coupon expires 5-31-14. its own tall wooden horse made in Indonesia. Carpet Cleaning • Upholstery Cleaning • House Cleaning l Studio A showed Ming Commercial Janitorial • Disaster Restoration Dynasty, a small wire (208) 882-5326 horse sculpture. 408225CT-14

T H U R S D A Y, M A R C H 2 0 , 2 0 1 4

tact with insulation. Problems with aluminum wire generally occur at connections, where exposed aluminum wire may rust, resisting current flow and generating heat. Aluminum also expands and contracts in response to load and temperature changes differently than copper or other materials, so connections between aluminum and other metals can lead to problems that reduce conduction. If you live in an older home and aren’t certain of its wiring type or safety status, schedule an inspection by a licensed, experienced electrician. In the case of knob-and-tube systems, you may be able to upgrade one room at a time, especially during a remodeling. With aluminum systems, an electrician may recommend total replacement with copper, or may replace connection points where aluminum wire is exposed to other metal types or air. No matter what kind of wiring you have, experts recommend these do-it-yourself safety steps: l Trip GFCI receptacles monthly to be sure they’re working properly. The initials stand for “Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter.” GFCI receptacles have “test” and “reset” buttons. Press the test button to turn the receptacle off. The reset button turns it back on. l Make sure your home has enough smoke detectors. The U.S. Fire Administration suggests installing one in each sleeping area and on every level of the home, including the basement. Test batteries regularly and replace once a year. l Inspect appliances and electronic equipment for old or broken plugs and cords. Replace anything that’s frayed, tattered or worn. l Leave repairs to an experienced electrician who is appropriately licensed, bonded and insured. Also ask about whether parts, labor or both are under warranty and how long that warranty is effective.

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Home & Garden, 2014