Home & Garden

Your Place: More answers on ground fault circuit interrupters

Electrical contractor Bill Lutz, of Generation 3 Electric Inc. in Philadelphia, has weighed in on the letter from the reader who recently wondered whether the ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) installation in his attached garage was really overkill.

Home & Garden

On Gardening: Make room, literally, for this expansive tropical shrub

Giant heart-shaped leaves and a cluster of a hundred salmon coral flowers in a pagoda-shaped panicle make the Starshine clerodendrum among the most exotic shrubs for the tropical garden. I first saw this variety a few years ago at the Universtiy of Georgia Plant Trials in Athens, Ga. I knew if I was seeing it there it had dynamite potential in many parts of the country. It does and, as expected, it is growing superbly at the Coastal Georgia Botanical Gardens in Savannah, Ga., too.

Home & Garden

An unfussy chaise lounge made of plywood? Ply not?

Plywood tends to be associated with unfinished building construction, so it's easy to forget that several modernist designers, from the 1920s onward, were obsessed with it as a furniture medium. See, for example, Alvar Aalto's Paimio chair (1939) and Charles and Ray Eames' classic LCW or Lounge Chair Wood (1945). Now the versatile, inexpensive material - comprised of thin sheets of wood veneer (with grains layered in alternating directions for added strength) - has become a mainstay in contemporary, eco-friendly interiors, seen in everything from wall panels to bookcases to bed frames.

Home & Garden

Blesseys look back on saving home after Katrina

The home of Walter and Katherine Blessey, like those of many Biloxians and Mississippi Coastians in general, is a survivor. With origins just over a century old, it's not the oldest or the largest home on the Coast. But it has its own special story, and by golly, it wasn't going to let the most destructive storm in modern American history beat it down.

Home & Garden

12 rookie decorating moves you might be making

I was raised by an interior designer and even I have been guilty of making rookie decorating moves. In fact, just last year - mind you, I have been writing about design for eight years - I made one of the most rookie moves: I hung my kitchen pendant so low that I bump my head on it. And no I have not gotten around to fixing it. So let me just put this out there: it's okay to be a beginner or to be oblivious to what decorators consider "the basics." You live and you learn. That's what you're here for, right? Today I'm giving you the CliffsNotes on Decorating 101. Follow these and you'll have the framework for a truly beautiful space - and nothing to be too ashamed of when your most discerning friend comes over.

Home & Garden

Growing familiar vegetables that don't look familiar

Vegetable surprise sounds like the name for a hot dish, but these days it's just part of shopping and gardening. New and newly rediscovered fruits and vegetables have upturned conventional wisdom about the foods many of us grew up with: Now we eat yellow carrots, purple cauliflower and white eggplant. Well, maybe most of us don't actually eat the white eggplant, but you get the idea.

Home & Garden

Style at Home: 3 steps to a fun fall door

When I begin decorating my house for fall, coming up with an inventive display for my front door is at the top of my list. Front doors are the place where you wave hello to all the people who pass by your home every day and where you give your guests a glimpse of what's waiting for them inside. If you're itching to get going on your door now, here are the three steps we follow when we design fall doors:

Home & Garden

Yardsmart: 5 Mediterranean plants for fall

They were first cultivated by the ancient Romans, who sought aroma and flavor for their plant-based diet so influenced by herbs and vegetables. As the Empire expanded, they gathered new plant discoveries from conquered lands including some used as pesticides, others for cosmetics and still more strictly to scent homes of the elite. Species from the Mediterranean region were most common, originating anywhere from Spain to Turkey, France to Algeria and into parts of the Middle East. These plants share an adaptation to a cool, wet winter followed by a long, parched dry season extending through summer and fall.

Home & Garden

Home Fix: Should powered roof fans be used in the attic?

Q: Your response to the question was very thorough in addressing attic ventilation as it related to a slate roof and the cooling of a two-story home. However, I was hoping you could also respond to the question on whether or not you recommend powered roof fans to attempt cooling the attic. We lived in Louisiana for many years before moving to South Carolina, and powered roof fans with thermostats were the norm in that area. Would you also recommend them in the Carolinas to help release heat in the attic? We have a one-story house with an attic ridge vent that does not do the job. As a result, there is moisture collecting in the tray around the furnace (located in the attic) that builds up and drains out through the eaves' flashing leaving brown rust streaks on the siding. Could you comment on the benefits or drawbacks of a powered roof fan please?

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Home & Garden

Plumber: Flush away your water-saving toilet fears

Q: Hi Ed, I am looking to purchase a water-saving toilet. But, I don't want a weak flush, and naturally all the water-saving toilets I've checked out use less water than my present toilet. In previous columns you talked about increased flushing power with new high efficiency toilets. My question is, how can a toilet flush with more power using less water?

Home & Garden

On Gardening: Beebalm species are a magnet for flying creatures

If you are into bees, butterflies and hummingbirds, then by all means put the monarda or beebalm species at the top of your must-plant list. I find it amusing that in more than 20 years of garden writing, I've never touted a beebalm. I've always loved the scarlet beebalm, Monarda didyma, especially when hummingbirds come into feed. When examined close-up, the scarlet beebalm looks like nature's version of spectacular fireworks. The last few years however have been like a life lesson as other species have caught my attention with their ability to attract pollinators.