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Recent Columns

What Color Is My Underwear? LEDs and CRI


The color of an object depends on the light illuminating it. As I discovered when I recently purchased underwear that appeared to be black in the store under not great fluorescent lighting, then navy in the same store under somewhat better fluorescents. When I got home and looked at my purchase under the light of a newly installed LED, I realized that the underwear is actually purple. What’s going on here?


LED Update: 2015 Buyer?s Guide


You should find the transition from the old incandescent 40-, 60-, 75- and 100-watt bulbs to their LED equivalents pretty seamless. Light given off by the new bulbs is so close to incandescent that you probably won’t even notice a difference. And you can mix brands because for a given wattage equivalency the amount and color of light produced will be the same brand to brand (whew). For specialty bulbs, such as Par 38s or BR30s that are designed for recessed ceiling “cans,” however, the brightness and amount of light produced can vary by manufacturer. Be prepared to experiment with different brands of specialty LEDs to find out which works best for you.


Tile Italian-Style: Stunning, Revolutionary


Fifty years from now, historians of the decorative arts will likely describe the current era of tile making as "The Great Revolution." Combining advances in the manufacturing process with the wonders of digital photography, ceramic tile makers today routinely produce tiles that were unimaginable in size, application and appearance only a few years ago. Tiles ¼-inch thick can be as large as 5 by 11 feet.


K. Hovnanian Reinvents the Suburban House


Ara Hovnanian, president of K. Hovnanian Homes, challenged conventional wisdom that buyers demand traditional style. His Line K Homes in Loudoun County, Virginia, are proudly contemporary, with materials and precise detailing typical of custom builders, not production builders. The kitchen island looks like sculpture. Andersen windows were specially made, and a band of floor-to-ceiling windows runs across the back, bringing the outside in.


New Lawn at Dream House Can Be Nightmare


The soil that surrounds new houses in most production-built communities in the Washington, D.C., area, is of such poor quality that foresters and turf specialists call it “dead soil.” The “death” is attributable to the compaction method that most builders employ to stabilize the subsoil around the house. The cure not only improves the subsoil, it also reduces the amount of fertilizer in the runoff and the quality of water that eventually goes into the Chesapeake Bay.


Choosing Trees for Your New Yard


Once you move into your new house, selecting trees for a privacy screen may become a top priority because the neighbors are closer than you realized when you chose a lot on an empty street with no houses on it. In most new home communities now, the space between houses is only 10 to 20 feet.


Cambria?s Vision for Quartz Countertops


When Katherine looks at quartz countertops, she’s not usually thinking about the work of famous painters or places she’s visited. But these are exactly the connections she made when she saw very large slabs of Cambria’s Waterstone collection at the 2014 Kitchen and Bath Show (KBIS) in Las Vegas.


Say Ahhh to Radiant-Floor Heat in Bathroom


For most people, pampering in the bathroom means luxury materials like marble and showers with multiple shower heads or fancy lighting. Radiant heating under your bathroom floor is a perk that’s often overlooked, but it’s one will help you start every day in winter on a high note.


Katherine Test-Drives a Model Home


Usually you have to buy the house and move in before you discover things that make you wish a do-over were possible. Katherine had the rare opportunity to road test a furnished model townhouse in the Mosaic District, Fairfax, Virginia. After two days, she still loved the house but would change a few things: nix the fireplace, install an intercom to easily communicate between four levels and engage a lighting expert to deal with glare issues.


How a Book Led to Line K Homes


It’s practically an article of faith among large national home builders that houses with contemporary styling won’t sell. So when K. Hovnanian Homes, the nation’s seventh largest home builder, builds a new subdivision that is unabashedly contemporary in style, it’s definitely noteworthy. Katherine reports how it came about as the result of the book, “Piet Boon 1.”





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