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June / July 2014

6 Team Work - BIC Homes 10 Mismatching - Basic Rules 15

Trackless Doors - The latest

16-17 Out & About Live! 19 The Latest Brick Trends 21

Hardwood Floors Basics

26 Cooking and Dining Spotlight Homes is published bi-monthly and is also available digitally on or For questions, comments or advertising opportunities please contact: 915-595-2492 Member


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THE HOUSING SCENE by Lew Sichelman

NAHREP's members, 75 percent of whom are realty agents and 25 percent of whom are in the mortgage business, report that the first-time buyer clients are "losing out" to investors who can pay cash.

ispanics recovered quickly from the housing downturn, according to a new report on the state of Latino home ownership in the United States.

Lew Sichelman has been covering real estate for more than 30 years

Prior to the housing crisis, the report notes, investors were a negligible part of the housing market.

But the study also found that the demographic hit a wall last year, blindsided by investors who gobbled up houses for cash -- easily outbidding buyers who required financing -and by more stringent lending rules.

In 2011, both mom-and-pop companies and big outfits with pockets full of money accounted for just a 5-percent share of all single-family home transactions. But last year, according to real estate data firm RealtyTrac, more than 40 percent of all sales were made to cash buyers.

"This astounding trend of cash sales and increasing percentage of sales to institutional investors ultimately results in a reduction of up to 50 percent of the available housing inventory to owner-occupant buyers," the report says.

Absent those two barriers, the growth of Hispanic ownership "would likely have been much stronger" in 2013, concludes the annual report from the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals (NAHREP).

The trend is particularly acute in markets with a heavy Latino population.

Between 2000 and 2013, the Latino population accounted for nearly half of the increase in homeowners, with Latinos achieving an ownership rate of 46.1 percent, according to the study. Since 2010, though, Hispanics accounted for an even larger 56 percent of the country's total net ownership growth, making it a "crucial driver" of demand during the housing recovery.

In Miami, for example, two-thirds of the homes sold last year were for cash. And in Atlanta, the fastest growing major city for Hispanics, 48 percent of the sales in last year's fourth quarter were to institutional investors.

In more expensive markets like Los Angeles and Chicago, sales to investors did not exceed the national average. But they were higher than the historical norms.

Latinos also experienced a strong rebound in the value of their homes, the study found, rising 25.3 percent from the bottom of the housing recession in 2011.

Worse, perhaps, is that the "land grab" of inexpensive, firsttime buyer houses artificially drives up prices to the point where Hispanic and other owner-occupants are driven out of the market, the report says.

But the gains came to a screeching halt last year.

The Hispanic ownership rate recorded only a "modest net increase" of 84,000 households, far less than the increases recorded in the previous two years -- 127,000 in 2011 and 348,000 in 2012.

"The net effect of this trend is that it destines many Latino families to be renters by systematically edging them out of the prospect of home ownership," the report says. "Communities that were once dominated by owner-occupants have become rental communities."

The main reason: "far and away" a lack of inventory suitable for first-time Latino buyers, according to NAHREP co-founder and CEO Gary Acosta.

NAHREP also faults tighter credit standards for the fall-off in first-time Hispanic buyers. New lending regulations and higher down-payment requirement have simply made it more difficult for any rookie buyer, Latino or not, the group says.

In a nationwide survey of NAHREP members, nearly half -- 42 percent -- said inventory shortages due to competition from cash investors was the "primary barrier" to Hispanic ownership last year.

But it says "misguided government programs" that favor investors "have had unintended consequences that have contributed to the severe lack of housing inventory in dozens of Hispanic neighborhoods, leaving thousands of qualified buyers on the sidelines while inviting an unprecedented wave of institutional investors into the market."

More than 78 percent said they had at least one qualified client who had been actively searching for a house for more than three months without success. And 40 percent said they had more than five who have been unable to find a place they liked or who have seen their offers rejected because they involved financing. 5

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hen you buy a home built by BIC Homes, you are buying a building built on teamwork and principles. Two of the main parts of the BIC Homes company are Sergio Cuartas, Jr., and Antonio Cervantes. As Cervantes puts it, he himself is the engineer. He oversees the precision each home needs to stay sturdy and strong. Cuartas is the architect and the heart of the company. He's the owner who wants to see an aesthetically pleasing home being built. Together, they create beautiful homes that are built with the latest innovations to bring you a meticulously built home that is a joy to live in.


"Another detail we built into every home is the way we insulate our air conditioning ducts. In most homes, the roof mounted unit blows air first through the attic, which could be in excess of 140 degrees in the El Paso summer. By running the ducts throughout the insulated interior of the home, we lose less cooling energy." He further described how even their concrete slabs are insulated from the surrounding ground. The home then is able to retain its temperature more efficiently.

BIC Homes does serve a fairly large market by making homes from 1300 sq ft which usually includes 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms in a one story home to their more popular customized homes that are around 2300 sq ft that sell for around $254,000. "The smallest home we build is built with the same highly efficient energy specifications and our most up to date building techniques and products that we put into our biggest homes." Cervantes explained this company is a good fit for him because while he is cautious and meticulous to specifications, Sergio Cuartas, BIC founder and owner, is more driven and more creative. Cuartas also brought a strong code of ethics into his business that he calls "The Bic Way". "Every decision that has to be made has to go through the principles of The Bic Way, from ourselves down to our real estate agents and our contractors. In the end, we have to make sure that everything we do is positive for our customers, our environment and our team. We have long term relationships with our agents and contractors. We continuously train them so they know our expectations. Ultimately, it is better for them because they get trained in a different method of doing business and it’s better for us because we get a more consistent product."

Cervantes explained that Cuartas began his company in 2002 as only a custom builder, building maybe 10 to 15 homes a year before he invited Cervantes to come in as an engineer. Since then, BIC Homes builds fully custom and less expensive semi-custom homes. "We offer standard homes with custom changes as well. We are building smaller homes with custom building details like better floor plans and better quality. We don't cut corners. We are here to build quality homes. We want to build the customer's loyalty. Everything we do goes into that."

"One of our staff members, Philip Duran, is the Customer Care Coordinator or the Si Si Si as we call him, and he's the advocate between the buyer and us, the builder. He finds out what the customer needs and how we can provide it. He uses that code of ethics the most from day to day."

Cervantes tells of how he began in the building industry, starting in the field checking for safety and quality of former employers. He still does that as part of his duties for BIC Homes. "I love engineering. It is in my blood, dealing with the problems of building homes. I love working here because we are delivering a good product in the most efficient way. It makes for a better product for us and for the customer." Cervantes is a structural engineer with a master's in construction management. Part of his job now takes him to the job sites to check that each home is being built to their specifications

Part of that code of ethics requires them to give back to the community. “For every house closing, we donate a part of the sale to nonprofit organizations like the El Paso Diabetes Association and the Humane Society of El Paso. We give our customers a choice on where that donation goes. We are also able to give a voucher to our customers for a free pet adoption. Quite a few of our customers actually go with that option so they can start a home complete with a new pet! We wanted a variety of donation options, so we have adults and animals, and we work with other non-profits during Christmas for the kids.”

Cervantes described some of the energy efficient and ecologically forward thinking innovations that are built into every BIC Home, no matter if it is a more expensive fully customized home or not. "We use a Manabloc plumbing system that reduces the risks of leaks. It's like a routing system that starts at a central hub. It uses no connections, no elbows, and no joints. Each faucet has an independent line from the hub to the faucet. It's more efficient and requires less maintenance. If you have a leak, let's say in the master bedroom, you simply shut off that line and work on it instead of closing off the main line from the street."

So if you are in the market for a well-built home, built with attention to detail, that is energy efficient and socially conscious, think about BIC Homes. Find out more about them and The BIC way of building at


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How to update a traditional setting: Blend contemporary ideas and art, then shake things up with a bit of whimsy. Photo: Philip Ennis

DECOR SCORE How to Master the Mix of Then and Now

and traditional in the "swellegant" room we show here, created for the 2014 Mansion in May show house in New Jersey (


At ďŹ rst glance, the room may look straight out of "Downton Abbey," only recolored and polished up for American taste. But look again. This is POSH, as the English would say, brightly repurposed for living today. Ostrom says she took the "staunchly traditional architecture" and made it a "light and airy and sought-after retreat," using furniture -- and abstract artworks -- you'd never ďŹ nd in a l9th-century estate.


: Our house is traditional, but we are not. My husband and I like things with a contemporary edge, especially the art we have collected over the years. We recently moved into the colonial-style house he inherited from his aunt and are having trouble reconciling our modern taste with the formal architecture. Is there a secret?

A: Hardly a secret -- any interior designer worth his Pan-

Her very modern sense of whimsy is also at play: What looks like traditional blue-and-white garniture over the doorway is a just-for-fun trompe-l'oeil painting.


tone swatches knows how to manage the marriage of traditional and modern design: It's all about mastering the mix ... about blending styles, cross-referencing colors and patterns, and enjoying the juxtaposition of then and now.

: I love traditional decor: the more historic, the better. I could move happily into "Downton Abbey." Is anybody still making furniture like that?

A: You bet your silver candelabra! And not just historic. Some

Good, clean modern design can be every bit as "formal" in its attitude as the most historic traditional design. See how top designer Barbara Ostrom orchestrates a mix of modern

of today's reproduction furniture comes pedigreed, too, straight from Althorp, the sprawling English estate that has


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been home to the aristocratic Spencer family for five centuries. Think George Washington, Winston Churchill and, of course, the late Princess Diana, who is buried on an island in the lake at Althorp.

teenager. Now, proceeds from the Theodore Alexander collection help keep the estate alive and working "as a 21st-century home," he says. About Mansion In May Mansion In May is the preeminent designer showhouse in the New Jersey-New York area, attracting over 25,000 visitors. Since its inception in 1974, this signature fundraiser has raised over $8 million for worthwhile causes at Morristown Medical Center. The grandeur and historic significance of BLAIRSDEN allows us to support two causes to benefit the children of our community.

Her brother Charles, 9th Earl Spencer, has given furnituremaker Theodore Alexander permission to create pieces based on the furnishings at Althorp ( So now you, too, can live like gentry with such treasures as the Master of the Seas Chair, inspired by an earlier Earl Spencer's decision to appoint Horatio Nelson commander of the English Fleet -- Trafalgar and all that. This is a chair for a true chair man, with a crown topping its back rail and arms made into little bronze-finished cannons.

About Althorp Beyond the public face seen by the tens of thousands who visit Althorp each year, the Althorp Estate extends much further covering 13,000 acres of beautiful countryside in Northamptonshire, Warwickshire and Norfolk. The Estate encompasses cottages, farms, woodlands and villages, which combine to give a rich mix of landscapes, habitats and activities.

Also introduced to the Althorp collection at this spring's Furniture Market in High Point, North Carolina: an eight-legged Gothic library table and a lamp shaped like a griffin with its finial shaped like the Spencer coat of arms. There's potentially more -- much more -- to come, based on the vast furnishing found throughout the estate ("estimates talk of around 100 rooms," says Charles, who isn't sure of the number himself).

The management of the Estate seeks to balance commercially based activity, with good stewardship of the landscape, wildlife conservation and a recognition that the countryside is increasingly used for leisure, recreation and sport. The aim is to promote a thriving rural environment, which makes a positive contribution to the local economy.

You can go see the originals in place: Althorp has been open to the public in the summer for more than a half-century. The 9th Earl himself led tours "to earn pocket money" as a

Mansion In May

Photo Credit: Wing Wong/ Memories TTL


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It Took a One Track Mind to Create Johnson Hardwares New Trackless Door Guides


Johnson Hardwareís Trackless Door Guides provide a clean, streamlined appearance, improve traffic flow and eliminate the need for dust-catching bottom guide tracks.

or as long as anyone can remember, bypass and multi-pass sliding pocket doors always required bottom guide tracks to deliver the best opening and closing operation. But Johnson Hardware isn’t one to follow the same well-worn track.

inch (57 mm). The 200MP can be used on wall thicknesses of 11-¼ inch or more, and the 200BP can be used on wall thicknesses of 9¼-inch or more.

Engineered for standard commercial grade and residential applications, the 100MP, 111MP, 100BP and 111BP feature a top precision extruded aluminum “jump proof” box track and can be used on door thicknesses of 1-3/8 inch (35 mm), 1-¾ inch (45 mm) or 2-¼ inch (57 mm).

Providing a more streamlined appearance, new Johnson Hardware Trackless Door Guides eliminate the need for a threshold or bottom guide track. So it’s now much easier to travel through an entryway, especially for people who use walkers or wheel chairs. Nor is there any track or threshold to gather dirt and dust, meaning maintenance chores are a lot easier. Of course, since there’s no bottom guide track or threshold needed, bypass and multi-pass pocket door systems install easier and faster.

The 100MP and 100BP can be used with a maximum door weight of 200 lbs. each. The 111MP and 111BP are best suited for doors with a maximum weight of 150 lbs. each.

Johnson Hardware trackless door guides are available on Series 200MP, 100MP and 111MP Sliding Multi-Pass Pocket Door Hardware, and Series 200BP, 100BP and 111BP Sliding ByPass Pocket Door Hardware. All feature fully adjustable/removable door hangers for a precision installation, and smooth rolling nylon encapsulated ball bearing wheels for easy gliding operation.

The 100MP and 111MP can be used on wall thicknesses of 9-¼ inch or more, while the 100BP and 111BP are designed for wall thicknesses of thicknesses of 7-¼ inch or more.

Since 1958, Johnson Hardware has been a leader in manufacturing pocket door, wall-mount, bypass and bifold hardware for heavyduty commercial and residential applications. To learn more about Johnson Hardware trackless door guides, visit or call 800-837-5664.

Designed for heavy-duty commercial grade applications, with a maximum door weight of 400 lbs. each, the 200MP and 200BP feature a precision extruded heavy-gauge aluminum I-beam top track and can be used on door thicknesses of 1-¾ inch (45 mm) or 2-¼

Courtesy: Home Improvement News and Information Center


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Out & About Live

June / July

Dancing in the City - Dancing in the City is an outdoor dance series at the Convention Center Plaza. It is scheduled on Saturdays. Dance Lessons are from 78pm and concert from 8-10pm. Hope to see you there! June 7, 2014 - July 26, 2014 Convention Center Plaza Chamber Music for Winds/Piano — Music Forum El Paso presents Winds of the Chamber Music Consortium of the Southwest 2:20 to 4:30 p.m. Sunday, June 1, at El Paso Museum of Art’s Auditorium, with Carl Fels, Oboe; David Ross, Clarinet; Celeste Shearer, Horn; Page Bartz, Bassoon; and Leah Houpt, Piano

Your source for live events happening around the area. USTA Pro Circuit — The Hunt Communities $25K women’s professional tennis tournament runs June 1-8 at Tennis West Sports & Racquet Club, 1 Tennis West Lane.

‘Ruthless! The Musical’ — Las Cruces Community Theatre, 313 N. Downtown Mall, closes its season with the musical comedy by Joel Paley and Marvin Laird June 6-22. (575) 523-1200 or

Cool Canyon Nights Mckelligon Canyon Amphitheatre May 8-July 24th Miss El Paso TX and Miss El Paso Teen Texas June 20th 7pm At the UTEP Magoffin Auditorium

ances and a children’s ballet. Latina Leader Summit — Wise Latina International hosts it “Strength, Power & Influence” Summer Summit 2014”, is Friday and Saturday, June 13-14 in Downtown El Paso.

The Music of Pink Floyd — El Paso Symphony Orchestra’ tribute to the rock legends at 8 p.m. Saturday, June 7, at the Plaza Theatre.Information: 532-2776 or

Chamber music concert — Vocalist Kelli Rumba and UTEP Flautistas perform at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, June 15, at Zion Lutheran Church, 2800 Pershing. Information: 747-7798.

Barbara Driscoll School of Ballet The ballet school presents its 53rd annual student recital Saturday, June 14, at the Plaza Theatre, featuring students from pre-school to adult, in technique perform-

Jeff Dunham — The comedian/ventriloquist performs at 5 and 9 p.m. Sunday, June 15, at Inn of the Mountain Gods Resort and Casino in Mescalero, N.M. Tickets:

Jeff Dunham

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Belinda June 19, 2014 - 8:30 PM Abraham Chavez Theatre

and composer Manuel de Falla’s “El Amor Brujo.” Tickets $15 at the door (cash only). Information: 755-1414. Shamrock Run for Education — St. Patrick Cathedral’s 5K run and 1 mile walk is 7:30 a.m. Saturday, July 20, at St. Patrick’s, 1111 N. Stanton. Proceeds Benefit Fr. Rick Matty Memorial Scholarship. Cost (through July 18) is $20 ($15 students). Late registration (July 19-20) is $25. Information: Chris Rowley, 478-5663. Online registration at raceadventures

Run for Heaven Gate — The 5K run/walk and 1 mile walk benefiting Christ the Savior Catholic Church’s building fund is 7:30 a.m. Saturday, June 7, at the church at 5301 Wadsworth. Cost: $20 per event through June 5; $25 June 6-7. Discount for teams for 10 or more.

Patriotic Celebration — El Paso Wind Symphony’s annual Independence Day performance of patriotic music is 7:30 p.m. Thursday, July 4, at the Chamizal National Memorial amphitheater. The concert also will introduce the symphony’s new music director, Conductor Bohuslav Rattay.

Run Through the Clouds 10K — Cloudcroft Runners host the 10k run/walk and 1 mile Kids Dash benefiting Cloudcroft School Tutoring Program Saturday, June 7, starting at Zenith Park in Cloudcroft, N.M. Kids Dash starts at 8 a.m. and 10K at 8:30 a.m. Run is on a mountain course with dirt and paved roads throughout the Village of Cloudcroft. Kids Dash is a 1mile gravel trail loop around Zenith Park.

‘In The Heights’ - UTEP Dinner Theatre closes its season with the 2008 Tony Award winning musical by Lin-Manuel Miranda July 5-21.

‘Take Me Out to the Ballgame’ — Paso del Norte Foundation host its inaugural fundraiser to see El Paso Chihuahuas take on the Round Rock Express, at 7 p.m. Saturday, June 14, at Southwestern University Park’s Santa Fe Pavilion. Ticket includes exclusive club-like setting, open-air dining, silent auction and fireworks. El Paso Ram Dealers Southwestern International PRCA Rodeo — The 85th annual rodeo is June 5-8 at El Paso County Coliseum, 4100 E. Paisano. Cowboys and cowgirls from all over the world are scheduled to participate in El Paso’s only professional rodeo featuring nightly performances and live entertainment. Performances are 7:30 p.m.

Mike Epps June 27th at The Plaza Theatre Mike Epps has generated an extraordinary amount of buzz among his peers within the entertainment industry for being one of the funniest comic actors to emerge in the Hollywood scene.

K-9 Classic — The Humane Society of El Paso’s 25th annual one-mile pet walk “Walk for Animals” is 8 a.m. to noon Sunday, June 1, at Eastwood (Album) Park, 3001 Parkwood. Proceeds benefit the Humane Society, with music, food, pet contests and vendors in the Auxiliary Gym and more.

Dancing in the City — The City of El Paso Museums and Cultural Affairs Department and Convention and Visitors Bureau present the 4th annual outdoor dance concerts 7 to 10 p.m. Saturdays through July 27, at Arts Festival Plaza featuring local and regional performers.

Pop Goes the Fort’ — El Paso Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Andres Moran, will perform patriotic and Broadway pops music 7:30 p.m. Thursday, July 4, at Fort Bliss’s Biggs Park. Fireworks display follows. Hosted by Bliss’s MWR. Lawn chairs welcome; no pets, coolers, glass containers or alcohol permitted. Admission is free and the public is welcome. Information: 532-3776 or

‘Viva El Paso!’ — The summertime pageant at McKelligon Canyon Amphitheatre is at 8:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays through Aug. 10. Tickets:$18- $24 and $18 ($4 off children ages 2-12; $2 off military and seniors 65 and older). Music Under the Stars — The 30th summer concert series, Music Under the Stars World Festival, features local and international performers 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. Sundays through Aug. 11 (except July 7) at the Chamizal National Memorial Amphitheater, 800 S. San Marcial. Admission is free.

‘Pasión Flamenca: Amor Gitano’ — Gallegos y Baile Flamenco! one of the Southwest’s premiere flamenco troupes, presents the traditional flamenco show at 7 p.m. Saturday, July 27, at Chamizal National Memorial, 800 S. San Marcial, with flamenco version of highlights from Spanish playwright 17

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Brick Trends Boost Curb Appeal

Whether remodeling, buying or building a new home, the lat-

•Libraries/dens •Man caves

est brick trends inspire natural style with sustainable value – both outside and in. “Genuine clay brick pays back through its superior performance, durability, lasting beauty and resale value – and it’s a sustainable choice,” said Ray Leonhard, president and CEO, Brick Industry Association (BIA). With a virtually endless palette and design options, the latest ways to add whole-house style include:

Photo courtesy of Brick Industry Association (BIA)

Brick Landscaping/Paver •Patios and walkways: D-I-Y and installed options offer color permanence, character and charm •New shades including grays and whites •Driveways •Garden gazebos •Knee walls •Outdoor kitchens •D-I-Y kits for grills, ovens, fire pits, mailboxes, garden benches and columns

Brick Exteriors •New textures include sanded, artisan, papercut, wirecut and tumbled •New classic colors and rough textures that offer Colonial charm •Glazed brick walls with diverse and brick colors alongside muted hues/grays •A mixed palette with contrasting brick and trim colors •Custom detailing through special shapes and accents, including arches, water tables, quoin corners, bullnose, sills and copings •If remodeling, renovations that maintain original brick elements

Made in America from abundant natural resources, brick offers competitive benefits including low- to no-maintenance exteriors; enduring beauty; 1-2% less energy use than vinyl siding; thermal mass to help save on heating and cooling costs; superior durability (a 100-year life span vs. a 25- to 50-year life span for vinyl siding); severe weather/storm resistance; a one-hour fire rating by itself (unlike vinyl siding); superior moisture resistance and competitive pricing through low mortgage rates and financing options.

Brick Interiors •Dining rooms •Kitchens •Monochromatic painted brick walls •Brick screen walls with a porous design •Exposed brick walls adjacent to sleek interior finishes

For homeowner resources including idea/photo galleries, D-I-Y resources and more, visit BIA’s website at 19

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Hardwood Flooring Trends A Touch of the Creative

Transition from one room to the next with this creative blend of species – maple and walnut. Photo Credit – National Wood Flooring Association


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an antiqued look, and at the same time hiding small imperfections that can appear in flooring over time, like small scratches or dents. This distressed effect that can also be achieved in the factory.

he recovering U.S. housing market has led to increased demand for certain luxury items, including hardwood flooring. Exciting trends are influencing the marketplace and for today's consumers, there are more hardwood flooring options than ever before.

Stains and Finishes

"Savvy consumers want variety and flexibility in their flooring choices," says Linda Jovanovich of the American Hardwood Information Center. "With American hardwood species running the gamut of color, and because hardwood is a product that can adapt to many different decorating styles and décors, hardwood provides a degree of diversity, as well as long-term value, that cannot be matched by other flooring materials."

The National Wood Flooring Association,, also reports that flooring manufacturers are introducing new lines geared to satisfy the emerging trends toward gray stains and finishes - ranging from very subtle to very dark - and metallic finishes. Metallic finishes?

These wood floors incorporate softly shimmering metallic accents by embedding the metallic materials into the hardwood. The result is a pronounced grain that shimmers softly in contrast to the rest of the wood. It is difficult to predict if this trend will catch on longterm, but it has become increasingly popular, particularly on the West Coast.

From the trend-watchers at independent market research firm, Market Insights Torcivia, and the National Wood Flooring Association, this look at what's trending now.

A Touch of the Creative

Get Inspired

• Using multiple wood species is very popular, typically using one species in the main field of the room, then introducing other contrasting species incorporated as a border or other subtle design element in the room.

As the U.S. economy continues to recover, more and more consumers will enhance their living spaces with flooring, cabinetry and other luxury items made from American Hardwoods, the ultimate in value, versatility and style.

• Mixed media incorporates hardwood with other flooring options like stone, tile, carpet, or even metal. This approach often helps to define different seating or functional areas within a large, open space.

About the American Hardwood Information Center

• Installing wood floors in a non-linear format is increasing popular as well. Custom parquet patterns can achieve this look, but even traditional linear floors can accomplish the same goal by installing the linear pattern on a curve.

The American Hardwood Information Center is the authoritative resource for consumers and professionals looking for information about American Hardwoods. The Center provides information on how to select hardwood species and build with American Hardwood products and offers advice from industry experts on decorating, care and maintenance and design trends. The Center’s goal is to promote the use of American Hardwoods in home and building products ranging from flooring, cabinetry and millwork to furniture and building materials. For more information on American Hardwoods, visit

• Consumer preferences are gravitating toward darker species, like walnut, over the more traditional, medium colored white and red oak. In many cases, however, existing oak floors are being refinished and stained to achieve this look without replacing the floor. • Buyers are moving away from the traditional 2¼" strip floor to wider plank flooring, 3" and wider. Random width planks are also popular. This creates a very casual look, while utilizing more of the raw materials during the manufacturing process. •

Courtesy: Home Improvement News and Information Center

Distressed flooring - hand-scraping the boards to achieve


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Spotlight Homes Everything old is new again: 19th-century design warms up a 21st-century bath. Photo Courtesy American Standard.

DECOR SCORE Golden Oldies: Hotties in the Bath

This photo shows the first, the look that came in when the toilet itself first came into the house. The setting, as well as the fixtures, holds water, historically: The first Victorians that boasted indoor plumbing installed it in a spare bedroom properly decorated with wallpaper, carpets, curtains and plants. So proud were they of being "modern," they even invited over guests to admire their sleek new white furnishings.


Q: Are we crazy? We are redoing the master bath in our Victo-

rian-style house and want to make it old-fashioned to go with our overall decorating theme. We've found vintage (real and look-alike) appliances for the kitchen. Now we're looking for old stuff for the bath but are worried the items may not be up to code, with all the new eco-requirements and all.

American Standard's new "Classic" ensemble is also bright white, fitted out with platinum nickel and shown off in a setting that's company-ready, with its mirrored privacy screen, gas fireplace and formal draperies. See all the new DXV offerings at

A: No, you're not crazy, just nicely obsessed with living in earlier,

Q: What's the word in cutting-edge furniture design? A: How about "cutting-edge"? Standouts at this month's chic Ar-

gentler times. (You're hardly alone -- some 10.2 million Americans watched the latest season of "Downton Abbey.") The good news is, you can have it both ways: yesterday's styling with today's efficiencies. Modern manufacturers may be lifting design concepts from earlier times, but they're bound by presentday laws to build eco-smart features into appliances, such as low-flow showers, low-flush toilets and low-voltage light fixtures.

chitectural Digest Home Show in Manhattan were "made" furniture: one-offs, as the Brits say, designed and hand-built by a re-emerging army of individual craftsmen, working mostly alone in studios from coast to coast.

And yes, they tend to put the cut edges proudly on display. Vermont wood artist Daniel Oates ( also leaves the tree bark to frame his rugged chests and tables. Tucker Robins ( mounts a long erratic slab of edgy kumbuk wood on a steel base. And Washington State artist Greg Klassen ( adds glass and flowing blue-water motifs to his "River" collection of room-maker tables and other pieces wrought

This means you can relax and enjoy the fun of recreating the past with present-day furnishings. American Standard just gave you a huge boost "backward." Honoring the company's beginnings back in l872, they've introduced the DXV collection of bath ensembles paying homage to the four major design movements that have taken place in the past 15 decades.


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in walnut, maple, cedar and even dogwood. As Klassen explained: "I live and work and am inspired by the Pacific Northwest." It's artistry in wood that also works, Klassen told his admirers at the Architectural Digest Show.

"I'm just one man. I start with a slab of wood -- a rough, dirty slab of wood. And I don't create products -- I create functional art."

Color Your World? Maybe Not Q: I admit it: color makes me nervous! You keep saying we should

all be brave and use a lot of color, but I am most comfortable around neutrals -- black, white and especially beige. I know this makes me sound dull as dishwater, but I can live with that. Am I just being defensive?

A: I admit it: I love vanilla -- ice cream, pudding, vanilla-flavored

everything, including color schemes. But I crave deep, rich colors for my natural habitat at home, which doesn't make me a hypocrite, not anymore than your affection for neutrals makes you a dull person.

Top designer Mariette Himes Gomez famously eschews color in her rooms, but she keeps on winning major awards -- and applause from her clients, who appreciate her cool, calm, architecturally integral interiors. See for yourself at Ditto for English designer, author and TV personality Kelly Hoppen (, who is also celebrated for her affinity to taupe, white and gray. In fact, she's known as Kelly Hoppen, MBE: "Making Beige Exciting!" Exciting enough for the BBC Two, where she stars in a show called "Dragons' Den," and interesting enough for such celeb clients as David and Victoria Beckham.

The bedroom we show here is a quiet case in point, all about uncolor, but still completely interesting. By the way, both the bed and those smart little taupe, white or gray bedside cubes are Hoppen's

original designs. They're custom-made-to-order, but don't even ask about other colorways!

Q: Love furniture history? A: I maintain that one could tell what was happening in the outside

world by studying the furniture we've put inside our homes down through the centuries. Think of the sturdy, hard-to-carve oak pieces of Tudor England. Then watch how they lighten up when the migrating colonists reinterpreted the furniture they'd left behind, using maple, pine and other woods they found in the New World.

Think of the French fauteuils of the l7th century, made low and wide to accommodate the enormous skirts of the women courtiers. And of the wing chair, designed to shelter the sitter from the heat of an open fireplace.

Furniture tells stories. Historians listen. As modern trend forecasters get their clues from varied sources -- the economy, the prevailing mood of the times -- historians can assess an antique and tell where it was made, by whom and when.

It was great fun following curators Margaret Pritchard and Ron Hurst at the Colonial Williamsburg (Virginia) Foundation through a new exhibit entitled "A Rich and Varied Culture: The Material World of the Early South" earlier this month. Comprising 450 pieces, the exhibit is arranged into four categories by geography and time, from the first arrivals in Chesapeake, Virginia, to the later settlements along the Gulf Coast. "Rich and Varied," indeed: As those earliest Americans arrived, they built up layer upon layer of designs that reflected both their own cultures and New World influences. Native Americans and enslaved Africans also spiced the interesting mix that made up the "Material World of the Early South."

If you're anywhere near Colonial Williamsburg during the next five years (the show goes to 2019), step into the l8th-century building that houses the Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg and let the furniture itself tell you about the early history of America and our multifaceted home design. Learn more at

Uncolored, but hardly colorless, a sophisticated big-city bedroom coolly shifts into neutral. Photo courtesy Kelly Hoppen

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Spotlight Homes

Five Obvious Signs A Home Needs Insulation 24

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Spotlight Homes

3. Temperature inconsistency: If cold spots are coming from the walls or attic, or one room is drafty and another one warm, it is another sign of poor insulation. The fireplace, walls and attic are prime spots for drafts. Look for insulation that can fit snugly in rafters and other tight areas. For example ROXUL COMFORTBATT insulation, made from recycled stone, can be cut with a serrated blade for an exact fit.

he average family spends more than $1,000 each year nearly half a home's total energy bill on heating and cooling costs, according to the U.S. governments ENERGY STAR program. Ultimately, a large portion of those expenses are wasted due to poor home insulation. Homeowners can stop the energy waste cycle by taking a closer look at their homes insulation. One of the fastest and most costefficient ways to reduce energy waste and lower bills, insulation traps warm air inside a homes walls similar to how a fleece sweater does for the body to regulate a homes temperature.

4. Melted roof hot spots: When shingles are exposed after a recent snowfall, chances are these hot spots are indicative of warm air escaping. Check the attic for adequate insulation. If the floor joists are visible, it needs more insulation, such as stone wool, that wont sag or lose density over time.

Fortunately, there are telltale signs that can alert any homeowner that its time to add to or replace their homes insulation before the temperature plunges even further and the energy bill rises, says Mike Benetti, segment manager at ROXUL, a leading manufacturer of stone wool insulation.

5. Mold Growth: Mold in the corners of ceilings could mean current insulation slumps and holds moisture. If this occurs, its time to replace old insulation with insulation that does not store or transfer moisture and is completely resistant to mold, mildew, rot and bacterial growth, such as ROXUL COMFORTBATT.

The experts at ROXUL advise homeowners to run through the following checklist to determine whether their home has adequate insulation:

Whether working with a contractor or installing insulation as a doit-yourself project, ROXUL stone wool products can offer superior benefits over traditional insulation, making them safer and more cost-efficient over time. In addition to providing thermal benefits, ROXUL is fire resistant, water repellant and mold resistant, giving homeowners extra safety features that other commonly used insulations cannot claim.

1. Vintage home: Prior to consistent building codes, most homes built before 1980 were not insulated. If a home has no materials trapping heat, energy conservation is an uphill battle. Walls, ceilings and floors are the most important areas to add insulation for an immediate, positive impact on a homes energy usage and bills.

2. Non-stop furnace: If a furnace seems to run non-stop in the winter, it may not have adequate insulation. Having adequate insulation leads to less maintenance on a heating system, as it lasts longer, runs less and will require less maintenance for long-term cost savings.

For More Information Learn where to insulate, where to buy and how to install.


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Spotlight Homes Pair this versatile relish salad with any grilled item of choice, but meat or not, it's delicious. It's a perfect way to eat fresh corn without all the hassle of keeping it hot for your picnic. And it's fast -less than 15 minutes after the corn is cooked. Any type of freshoff-the-cob corn is wonderful. For pretty-as-a-picture presentation, though, I love to use speckled corn. But if it's fresh corn, you're going to love this salad. Enjoy! Approximate values per serving: 57 calories, 0.3 g fat (0 g saturated), no cholesterol, 1.3 g protein, 14 g carbohydrates, 1.2 g dietary fiber, 117 mg sodium.

Fresh Corn Relish Salad

KITCHEN SCOOP Photo by Alicia Ross for Kitchen Scoop.

Start to finish: 45 minutes Yield: 10 servings (1/2 cup serving each)

6 ears fresh corn 1 cup fresh tomato, unpeeled and chopped 1 cup fresh cucumber, chopped 1/4 cup green onions, sliced 1/4 cup sugar 1/2 cup white distilled vinegar 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/4 teaspoon coarse ground pepper

by Alicia Ross


t's officially picnic season! And we can always use an easy-totake-along salad that is fresh and bursting with flavor. Look no further than today's recipe for Fresh Corn Relish Salad. As the name implies, it's full of summer's freshest ingredients; this salad actually improves as it waits to be served.

Place the shucked corn in a large pot and fill with tap water until all ears are just covered. Place over high heat and bring to a boil. When water is rapidly boiling, cook for 5 minutes. Then immediately drain and rinse corn with cold water. Set aside to cool.

I have used tomatoes, cucumbers and green onions for my corn relish salad. But you can add bell peppers, celery or sweet onions, if you choose. It's really that adaptable. Because there's no oil in the salad, it is low in fat, yet off the charts in flavor!

In a large bowl, cut the corn from the cobs and scrape the cobs well. Add the tomato, cucumber and onions to the freshly cut corn.

In a small jar with a tight-fitting lid, combine the sugar, vinegar, salt and pepper. Cover and shake well to combine until sugar is dissolved. Pour the dressing over the fresh vegetables and toss to coat well. Serve immediately, or cover tightly and store in the refrigerator until ready to serve, up to 24 hours.


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Photo by Alicia Ross for Kitchen Scoop.

1 cup cooked brown rice 1 teaspoon peanut oil 1/4 cup raw cashews, roughly chopped 1 cup carrots, thinly sliced 1 cup celery, thinly sliced 1 cup green, red or yellow bell pepper, chopped 1/4 cup yellow or green onion, chopped 1 tablespoon bottled minced fresh garlic 2 teaspoons bottled chopped fresh ginger 1 cup vegetable broth 2 tablespoons dry sherry 1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce 1 teaspoon dark sesame oil 1 tablespoon cornstarch Red pepper flakes to taste Cook rice according to package directions. In the last 15 minutes of cooking rice, prepare stir-fry.

think Father's Day should be a celebration of the special men in your life, whether it is your neighbor, father, brother, husband, partner, friend -- or all of them. So I'm stepping away from the classic Father's Day dish of heavy meat protein and starchy potatoes and making a delicious vegetable stir-fry instead.

Including some form of protein in your veggie stir-fry ensures no one will leave the table hungry, and for this special day, I have chosen cashews. They are a little fancy and full of flavor. Starting with raw cashews allows you to toast them to perfection right in the skillet. If you can't find raw cashews, grab unsalted, and you can still feel good about your choice.

Cooking for another person is truly a gift that goes way beyond the actual meal. And when you serve something as delicious as today's recipe for Vegetable-Cashew Stir-Fry, everyone will leave your table satisfied. Happy Father's Day to all the terrific men out there.

Heat oil in a 10-inch or larger frying pan over medium-high. Add the cashews; stir and cook for 1 minute or until cashews begin to lightly brown. Add vegetables to the cashews. Stir and cook for 3 to 4 minutes until vegetables begin to tenderize.

Approximate values per serving: 623 calories, 14 g fat (2.5 g saturated), no cholesterol, 15 g protein, 95 g carbohydrates, 8 g dietary fiber, 918 mg sodium..


Add the garlic, ginger and vegetable broth and bring to a boil.

Vegetable-Cashew Stir-Fry Steamed brown rice Sliced oranges

Meanwhile, in a small jar with a lid, mix the sherry, soy sauce, sesame oil and cornstarch. Cover the jar and shake vigorously. Add the cornstarch mixture to the vegetables and bring the mixture back to a boil, stirring constantly until thickened.

Vegetable-Cashew Stir-Fry

Start to finish: less than 20 minutes, not including brown rice Yield: 2 generous servings

Serve immediately over hot brown rice. Sprinkle with red pepper flakes, if desired. 27

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Spotlight Homes

Electrical Contractors Help Boomers Upgrade for Whole-House Comfort


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aby Boomers upgrading their longtime homes can benefit from the electrical contractors who know the established neighborhoods. “Since Boomers typically live in homes that are 30-40 years old, the electrical contractors who initially wired the homes have extensive experience – they know where everything is, and offer unique expertise,” said John Maisel, publisher, Electrical Contractor magazine, published by the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA), Bethesda, Md.

From home automation to security systems to lighting upgrades, increasingly reported projects include: • An electrical heating grid under sidewalks and driveways: especially in colder climates, to save on snow shoveling • Heated bathroom floors

• Undercounter lighting in kitchens, and skylights in unused attic space

• Remodeling garages into state-of-the-art man caves: including additional electrical outlets; pulling wire for cable TV, telephone and Wi-Fi connections • Electronic shading: including wireless electronic shading for automated lighting and shade control

• Lighting controls: universal dimmers that control a variety of lighting hardware; photosensor controls that turn off when daylight is sufficient; motion sensors that fit into standard wall boxes and switch off the lights when nobody is around; help with compact fluorescent (CFL) and light-emitting diodes (LEDs) during the incandescent phaseout

Spotlight Homes • Energy management control systems to govern the overall heating, cooling and lighting systems

• Increasing the amperage in the kitchen to allow simultaneous use of multiple appliances • Adding outdoor outlets for holiday lighting

• Wireless technology: lead by Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, including computer networking, gaming and movies, home office, appliance and energy management, smartphones, home security, power strips, thermostats, energy controllers, smart meters and other devices • Home automation: New apps on tablets and smartphones can manage homes remotely; since many homeowners install an entertainment system in one room with plans to integrate lighting controls or thermostats in the future, electrical contractors can put an automation backbone in place ahead of a completely integrated system • Solar and wind power products: recommending and installing offthe-shelf wind generators and solar energy products on rooftops and in backyards that may also qualify for state and federal rebates

Combining similar projects with neighbors – such as installing outdoor spotlighting on plantings — can also help save on home upgrades. For more information, go to Electrical Contractor magazine at and click onto the Residential tab. Courtesy: Home Improvement News and Information Center

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Spotlight Homes - June-July 2014