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Index of Columns

This index contains a listing of all available columns. Scroll down the list to browse topics and short descriptions. Click on the article title to open and read the selected column.

Emotional Intelligence

Green Psychology: What Pushes Our ‘Save Home Energy’ Buttons?
The real reason we resist saving energy at home may be more emotional than intellectual.

In Builders We Trust, But Still Need Lawyers
Homeowners don’t hire an attorney to review their builder’s contract because they think it would send a signal that they don’t trust him.

Attn: Home Builders—Step Away From the Focus Group
What do buyers want? Behavioralists advise home builders to forget focus groups and use other approaches.

Retirement Living in a Multi-Gen Household
Here’s a thought: After retirement, join a multi-generation household by moving in with your adult child and his or her family.

How to Plan an Emotionally Intelligent House
An emotionally intelligent house makes you feel good every day that you live in it.

The Healing Effects of Gazing at Nature
Taking a break in your workday to soak up nature’s calming effects provides crucial benefits.

Katherine’s Top 10 Reasons Why Building Smaller Is Better
Building small can put you at a level of Zen that most homeowners would envy.

Couple’s Decision-Making Ability Is Key to Project Success
A couple’s satisfaction with any home project depends on how they make decisions, not the talents of the designers they hire.

Home Wherever You Roam With Art, Familiar Objects
When we display treasured posters or photos, a new house finally feels like home.

House Love, House Lust, How We Decide to Buy
We think practicality drives our housing choices but neuroscientists say our emotions weigh in first.

Tabled Tradition: Passing Down Family Silver, China, Furniture
Fewer young people are interested in inheriting family heirlooms these days, often to the chagrin of parents and grandparents.

When There's Too Much Room for Real Togetherness
In big houses, the frequent interactions between family members that help children learn important life skills occur less frequently.

Sizing Up: Big Houses and Happiness
Will a new home purchase make you happy? Economists suggest that when your motivation is to impress others, you won’t be satisfied for long.

Bringing Kids to the Design Table
When the kids offer suggestions for the new house, design is often enriched.

House Planning: How Much Input From Kids?
When planning a new house, should the parents decide everything or can the kids participate?

Do Dogs Care About House Design?
Though man and dog have cohabitated for 12,000 years, Fido is not interested in design.

Does Your House Make You Crazy?
Many a homeowner has been driven crazy by insufficient storage where it’s needed most.

Divvying Up Family Heirlooms Takes Diplomacy
Dividing cherished family possessions is more about saying goodbye to your past than about furniture.

Bedroom Suite for Sisters
When Los Angeles architect Murray Milne designed a house for his growing family, a key concept was flexibility.

Do Children Benefit From Sharing Bedrooms With Siblings?
When siblings share bedrooms, they learn important life skills.

Getting Started

Katherine Test-Drives a Model Home
After a two-day stay in a furnished model townhouse in the Mosaic District, Fairfax, Virginia, Katherine still loved the house but would do a few things differently.

Katherine’s Childhood Home Adapts for Today’s Lifestyles
Returning to the suburban Washington, D.C., house where she grew up, Katherine discovers that the home, built in the late 1930s, adapts well for 21st-century buyers.

Trends: ‘And the Most Popular Home Plan Is...’
Spotting trends in best-selling home plans, Katherine guides readers through the No. 1 seller and talks popular features with its architect and other industry experts.

When a Parent Ages in Place at Your Place: Planning Beyond Design
If it takes a village to raise a child, it also takes one to care for an elderly parent.

Make a Smaller House Feel Bigger (Really)
When you opt for a smaller house, you can’t have everything — but most homeowners haven’t gotten the message. But there are ways to make rooms feel bigger.

‘Smart Money’ Home Building: Hire Experience, Control Costs
In home building, “smart money” is budgeted money used wisely, getting you the best house, not the biggest with the most trophy features for the least money.

Parents Moving In? Kids Back? Read In-laws, Outlaws, and Granny Flats
If you’re considering a granny flat for extra space, the advice in Michael Litchfield’s latest book, In-laws, Outlaws and Granny Flats, will get you organized.

Insights: Dan Gregory, Editor of Houseplans.com
Dan Gregory, acquisition editor of Houseplans.com, is the best in the business!

Livability: The Ultimate Take-Home Test
Livability: The Ultimate Take-Home Test

Ex-HUD Secretary’s RX for Housing: Quality
Henry Cisneros said the No. 1 issue in housing is quality of construction.

Get Inspired by Iconic Designs of Famous Architects
Dominic Bradbury’s The Iconic House will inspire you to visit houses you have never heard of.

Organize to Downsize: Here’s Where You Start
To organize your thoughts about downsizing, try the journalists’ tool for framing a story: Who, What, When, Where, Why and How.

Best Planning Tool for a New House? Your Current Home
Before you build a new house, carefully assess where you live now.

Moving Day: Box Buying Tips to Send You Packing
Corrugated fiberboard boxes are cheap, green and miracles of engineering.

Real-Estate Love Is Blind, Bring Along This Reality Checklist
When I finally found the apartment of my dreams, I failed to notice any shortcomings.

You, Your Builder and, Yes, a Real Estate Prenup
With a prenup or any other contract, the sensible person consults an attorney before signing.

Sizing Up the Idea of Downsizing
Katherine and her husband took a trial run of downsizing, moving temporarily from their house in Michigan to a New York City apartment.

Architect Fees Made Simple(r)
The fee charged by an architect will be based on a percentage of construction cost, an hourly rate, or a combination of the two.

Turn a Good House Into a Great House
Hire an interior designer to help you select colors and materials to match your lifestyle.

Room by Room



Handmade Touches Add Flair in Modern Kitchens
The “something old, something new” kitchen combines millennia-old craft traditions with modern technology.

Pop Goes Kitchen Color as Homeowners Stay Put
Homeowners throw resale caution to the winds and opt for colorful kitchens.

Kitchen Cabinets: The Case of Beauty v. Functionality
With kitchen cabinetry, most homeowners have no idea how much extra they are paying just to get a certain look. Functional upgrades will make daily life easier.

Designing a Kid-Friendly Kitchen
Designing a kid-friendly kitchen is surprisingly easy, without adding to the cost.

The House Hunter’s Kitchen Quiz
What makes one kitchen better than another?

Joy of Comfortable Cooking: Johnny Grey’s Kitchen Ergonomics
Every designer brings his life experience to his work. But few do it as well British kitchen specialist Johnny Grey. 

Johnny Grey’s Kitchen Design Stirs the Senses
British kitchen designer Johnny Grey has a background in architecture and takes a refreshingly different approach, applying “soft geometry.”

Bath & Laundry

Say Ahhh to Radiant-Floor Heat in Bathroom
From November to May, start your day with a toasty warm bathroom floor.

Bathroom Vanity, Thy Name Is Wow
A bathroom vanity can be 100 percent utilitarian — or something else entirely.

Splashing Playful Design in Master Bath
Designer Jeff Jenkins creates playful bathrooms that make you see the world a little differently.

Family Room

In Search of the Family-Proof Sofa
A kid-proof sofa has a hardwood frame, lots of cushioning and commercial grade upholstery fabric.

Kid-Proofing the Family Room
When your kids are young, your family room’s décor should be spare, durable and comfortable.

Well-Designed Party Space Works for Everyday Living
A party space that works well for everyday use presents special design challenges.

Home Office

The Home Office Chair: Think Multiple-Adjustment Chair
A multiple-adjustment office chair helps you maintain good posture and avoid stress-related keyboard injuries.

Kitchen Cabinetry Works in Home Offices Too
Using standard kitchen cabinetry you can design a home office that’s tailored to your needs.

To Do: Organize Home Office
In a well-organized home office, your work will go more smoothly and productivity will go up.


Tile Italian-Style: Stunning, Revolutionary
Italian tile makers are revolutionizing the world of tile, as Katherine reports from the Cersaie 2014 trade fair in Bologna, Italy.

Cambria’s Vision for Quartz Countertops
Connecting the dots between Cambria’s Waterstone quartz countertops and Winslow Homer, J.M.W. Turner and the Grand Canyon.

Closet Chaos Theory: Why Clutter Expands to Fill Space
Bigger houses with bigger closets do not by themselves reduce clutter; you need sensible strategies as well.

So You Think You Can Sit! Check Out the Chairs of Peter Opsvik
Peter Opsvik’s novel-looking chairs allow you to move, squirm, fidget, turn, rock, twist and tilt.

After 30 Years, She Gets Eames of Her Dreams
With its curved and playful profile, the oh-so-comfortable Eames lounge chair is a furniture classic.

Local Artisans Deliver Custom Touches
Local artisans can add a custom touch for a surprisingly affordable price.

Choose Chairs for Comfort First, Looks Later
When choosing furniture for your new house, consider comfort and ergonomics before focusing on looks.

Stealing Space for Storage
New houses do not have "nooks and crannies," so where do you put books and other things?

Other Spaces

Check Out These Home Libraries
Even in a digital world, home libraries retain popularity with people 40 or older for a variety of reasons.

The Big Picture

Looking Backward for the Next American Dream House
A tour through 20th century housing design produced some startling sources of inspiration for today’s architects.

Witold Rybczynski on Modern Home Design, Why We Stick With the Familiar
Author and architect Witold Rybczynski talks with Katherine about the evolution of modern home design, what’s ahead, and why we’re slow to embrace change.

Beyond McMansions: Fresh Takes on Early American Designs
Architect and author Russell Versaci encourages us to take inspiration from America’s rich cultural heritage in domestic architecture, adapting for 21st century lifestyles.

'Modern Classicism' — A Style That Makes Sense
Combining classical proportions and modern practicality, “modern classicist” architects take a no-nonsense approach to design of buildings, neighborhoods and towns.

Can Land Planning Create a Sense of Community?
Can land planning create that elusive sense of community? Kentlands is a case in point.

Home Building

Builders on Floor Plans: It’s All About Adaptability
From a home builder’s perspective, the ideal floor plan adapts to changing priorities of buyers without a major overhaul.

Crossover Design Works for Young and Old
Details intended for older buyers make life easier for buyers of all ages.

Top 5 Must-Do Home Maintenance Chores
Many home maintenance chores can be done on an “as needed” basis, but these five tasks should be performed regularly.

Diligent Home Maintenance Pays Off at Resale
Homeowners who paint exterior trim, caulk, clean gutters and do other maintenance on a regular basis are better positioned for resale.

Buying an Unfinished Foreclosed Home
Top this bargain strategy: buy a partially completed foreclosed house for cheap and finish it.

Affordable, High-Performance House as ‘Theater’ and ‘Stage’
Tedd Benson thinks of a house as two distinctly separate entities: permanent “theater” and the transient “stage.”

Prefab Homes: Why We’re Not There Yet
The goal of affordable, factory-built homes remains elusive, but not for lack of effort, as exhibited at New York’s Museum of Modern Art.

Generation Gap? Choosing and Using a Backup Power Generator
Tips to help you compare options and costs for backup generators.

Durability Is a Big Deal
A home’s durability is attributable to two things: quality materials and fanatical attention to building details.

Value Beyond Cost Per Square Foot
For most new home buyers, the gold standard for assessing value is the cost per square foot, but this figure is misleading.

Going With the Faux in Building Materials
Most homeowners are maintenance averse and want faux materials that require little or no attention.

What Home Buyers Do That Drive Builders Crazy
The buyers make the builders as crazy as the buyers claim the builders make them.

Be Realistic About New-House Construction Standards
Buyers should be realistic, not perfectionistic, about the construction quality of their new house.


Ceramic Tile + Digital Tech = Stunning New Possibilities
Digital Technology transforms ceramic tile industry, creating a new aesthetic.

To Refresh a Room, Unfurl Wallpaper, Imagination
Wallpaper lets you dramatically change the look of a room without major remodeling.

Remodeling the ‘Center Hall Plan’ for Today
Duo Dickinson reconfigures the classic “center hall plan” for a 21st century lifestyle

Primer on Paint Picks: Price, Performance and Pigments
Paint varies widely in price. At first, any paint will look fine, but how well it performs over time is determined by what’s in the can.

Home Stretch: Katherine Remodels Her Back Porch
When a columnist with an architecture degree becomes the homeowner in a renovation project, many truths are learned.

Green & Greener


Green Building

The Passive House: Built for Energy Savings
This Bethesda, Maryland, Passive House uses 90 percent less energy for heating and cooling compared with a conventionally built house.

Are Green-Certified Products the Best Choice? Not Always
For building professionals, durability, a good track record in the marketplace and familiarity with the product may trump green certification.

Build a Healthy House, Avoid Red List’s Dirty 15
The Living Building Challenge, developed by the International Living Future Institute, includes a Red List of 15 materials and chemicals to avoid in building materials.

Green Builder’s Innovation Is Good for Business
Doug Selby is a rarity among home builders – a man who constantly innovates.

Big House or Green House? Can You Have Both?
A big house can be green but a smaller house is always greener.

Greening It Up at 2010 International Builders Show
Green is seen as the salvation of the home building industry and new green products abounded at 2010 IBS.

Shipping Containers as Houses? Yes, They Pack Promise
Shipping containers are easily converted into housing, widely available, inexpensive, and the finished houses look cool!

Building With ‘Deconstruction’ in Mind
Buildings can be designed and constructed to be taken apart more easily at the end of their useful life — with more of the salvage usable for new construction.

Deconstruction: Old House Salvage Builds New Home
Taking apart an old house, instead of smashing it, produces a tidy pile of salvaged framing lumber for building a new house.

Into the Engineered Woods: ‘Green’ and Outperforming the Real Thing
Engineered wood performs better than the real thing for a wide range of home construction uses. It’s made with tree species previously considered to be worthless and left to rot in the forest.

Home Price Versus Lifetime Cost
Using higher quality, costlier materials to build a house increases its sale price, but saves money over time in vastly reduced operating and replacement costs.

Build Green With Common Sense
Homeowners and home builders have embraced green building, but confusion remains as to what makes a house green.

Green Remodeling

Home Energy Audit Leads to Simple Fixes, Savings
Every remodeling project takes longer than expected and costs more than you anticipate — even minor energy-saving upgrades.

Why Replacing Windows Isn’t Always a Good Call
Should you replace or refurbish your old wood windows?

Greening Your Interiors

Countertops of Recycled Content, Choices Galore
Companies that manufacture countertops with recycled content focus on varied environmental issues. Katherine discusses who makes what, from what.

Looming Trend: Recycled Carpet
Mind-boggling quantities of worn carpet are removed from buildings every year. Shaw industries is pioneering ways to recycle all of it.

Rolling Out Paint Recycling Programs
Clean out your garage and recycle your old paint.

Green & Gorgeous: Countertops From Crop, Wood Waste
Great-looking green countertops made with unusual materials add cachet to any kitchen.

Remodel With Urban Timber (Think Globally,
Chop Locally)

Turning your backyard trees into your cabinets is the ultimate in local sourcing.

Step Up in Style With Reclaimed Wood Floors
Is that gorgeous flooring marble or wood? Bamboo or tigerwood? Check out some surprising options in green floors.

O Ecotextiles: Oh So Comfy, Green Upholstery Fabrics
Finding hypoallergenic, environmentally benign upholstery fabrics is more challenging than most consumers realize.

Turn Your Trees Into Floors, Furniture
How to turn your trees into flooring for your new house.

Backyard Tree Could Be Your New Floor
Homeowners and municipalities cut and trash vast quantities of hardwood that could be recycled into flooring and furniture.

Greening Your Exteriors

New Lawn at Dream House Can Be Nightmare
The soil around new homes is often so poor that experts call it dead soil.

Choosing Trees for Your New Yard
How to select trees for privacy and shade for a new house.

Plant Living History in Your Yard
Planting the seedling of a historic tree gives your home a tangible connection to history.

Home Energy Use

What Color Is My Underwear? LEDs and CRI
The inside scoop on LEDs and color.

LED Update: 2015 Buyer’s Guide
The quality of LEDs gets better and better!

How ‘Smart Grid’ Can Help You Manage Electric Use
Real-time information from smart-grid technology lets consumers better manage their electric use — and save on their bills.

‘Energy Use Pyramid’: Getting Biggest Bang for Your Energy Bucks
To help homeowners spend their energy-saving dollars wisely, Peter Pfeiffer designed an “Energy Use Pyramid.”

No Place Like Home for an Energy Audit
A home energy audit pinpoints where heating and cooling energy losses occur and recommends improvements.

Older Homes As Energy Hogs? Facts and Fixes
Older houses are energy hogs; plugging air leaks and adding insulation can help solve this problem. 

'Limits to Growth' & the Passive House Strategy
Planning of an eco-friendly home should include strategies for dealing with power shortages.

Sustainable Planet

Win-Win: Why Dollar-Wise Home Purchase Is Best for Environment
A hard-headed business perspective can lead to a home purchase that is more environmentally benign.

Why Most Builders Don’t Push ‘Save the Planet’ Message
Home builders avoid connecting home energy use to global warming because they fear it will affect sales.

Parents’ Housing Choices Affect Environment Kids Inherit
Why is energy efficiency such a non-starter for home owners?

Eat Your Way to a Smaller Carbon Footprint
A sobering explanation of why, if everyone in the world lived like most Americans, it would take 5.2 planets to support our needs.

Stepping Up With a Smaller Eco Footprint
Katherine explains the concept of “ecological footprint” in the context of individual lives and community life as she examines plans for a community in California that would step lightly on the earth.

Spotlight Homes

K. Hovnanian Reinvents the Suburban House
Challenging conventional wisdom that houses with a sleek, modern flair won't sell, one of the nation’s largest home builders brought in the Dutch design firm Piet Boon, upping the ante on quality and details.

How a Book Led to Line K Homes
National home builder’s move to a radically different look started with a book.

Oklahoma! Where the Price Tower of Frank Lloyd Wright...
Katherine reports on her stay in a duplex apartment at the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Price Tower in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, the legendary architect’s only high-rise building.

Restoring 3 Midcentury Modern Homes
Many historic preservationists eschew Midcentury Modern homes, even though today’s informal lifestyle originated with this style.

Inside Looking Out: Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater
In designing Fallingwater, Wright put nature front stage center. Once you’re finally inside, he quickly turns your attention to what’s outside.

A Comfy House for the Next 50 Years
Design details that let you “age in place” can be so seamlessly incorporated they are invisible.

House or Home? Peter Eisenman on the Difference
Internationally acclaimed architect Peter Eisenman talks about the difference between houses and homes.

A Green Good Thing: Martha Stewart, KB Home Create ‘Concept House’
KB Home collaboration with Martha Stewart creates stunning “concept house” for 2011 International Builders Show.

Virtually There: How Helpful Are Virtual-Reality House Tours?
Computer images of houses that exist only as a set of construction drawings are so detailed now, you will think you are looking at a real house.

‘A’ for Architect: Barry Berkus Designs His Home With Poetry, Surprises
Over a 50-year career, architect Barry Berkus has designed thousands of houses for home builders. Here’s what he designed for himself.

Looking Through the Glass House, Philip Johnson’s Modernist Icon
A visitor to the Glass House learns that this see-through, all-glass, one-room house is complicated.

A Backdrop for Life: The Home of Charles and Ray Eames
The California house that legendary designers Charles and Ray Eames created for themselves in 1949 was a radical departure from conventional residential design.

Suburban Ranch Is American Original
The ubiquitous ranch house is America’s most important contribution to residential architecture.

Villa Savoye: Still Provocative After All These Years
Le Corbusier’s Villa Savoye is aesthetically provocative, but fails the quotidian test.



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