“I know the price of success: , hard work, and an to the things you want to see happen.” unremitting

dedication devotion

Strive not to be a success, but to be of .


~Albert Einstein

“Success is going from failure to failure without losing

~ F ra n k L l oy d W r i g h t

~Winston Churchill

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APRIL |MAY |2006

THEME ROOMS 14 A Finishing Touch 18 Hot Enough for You? 22 The Well-Read Family Room 24 A Sensual Indulgence 28 Let There Be Light 30 Changing Channels on the Traditional Media Room SPECIAL SECTION 34 The Ultimate Dream Home


30 34

Luxe Living in Las Vegas

42 44

4 6 Reading Room

The New Modern House

For Those About to Bake
10 Gardening

Garden Rooms
42 Gallery

Nature Becomes Art
44 Destination

Adventures in Alaska

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APRIL | MAY | 2006

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Copyright 2006 Twenty-Two Five Publishing Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Recipients of Home By Design magazine receive their subscription as a free gift of a real-estate professional, mortgage lender, or other professional service provider. The Home By Design magazine program is an exclusive marketing program created by Twenty-Two Five Publishing Inc.Twenty-Two Five Publishing Inc. has contracted with its professional clients to provide this free subscription to you.Twenty-Two Five Publishing Inc. has contracted with these professionals that Twenty-Two Five Publishing Inc. will not use the supplied mailing list for any other purposes other than to mail copies of Home By Design magazine and other Home By Design communication products.Your name and address information will never be leased, sold, traded, or used for any other purposes. For more information on our mailing list policy or for more information on Twenty-Two Five Publishing Inc. and our Home By Design custom publishing program please contact us at 208-772-8060.
Home By Design Magazine is for entertainment purposes only.This magazine is not intended to solicit other broker’s listings. If you are currently working with or in contract with another broker, please disregard this information.

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The m-house Architect: Tim Pyne Photographer: Wyn Davies


Publisher: Princeton Architectural Press Price: $35


The New Modern House
Nanguo Valley near Beijing. The long narrow structure (144 feet by 16 feet) crosses two elevations of land. A few of the homes presented are less site-specific. Rebelling against the United Kingdom’s construction controls and planning constraints, Tim Pyne designed the m-house, a kind of “mobile home” that adapts the principles of prefabricated technology to create a living space that skirts many of the United Kingdom’s building restrictions. Jones also shows other examples of architects taking similar advantage of the mobile and prefabricated technology in design for affordability or efficient land use. Some of the homes designed with a strong aesthetic emphasis show the client’s whimsy. San Francisco’s Pixel House echoes nearby Silicon Valley’s technology obsession with humor by using a computer screen pixelization theme. Beige Design used a pixel pattern throughout the house with “pixel cutouts” in a solid medium-density fiberboard façade and backing it with a layer of translucent fiber. The cube-shaped Piano House in The Hamptons, New York, seems interesting but self-indulgent.This “guest house” created by Rafael Viñoly sits peacefully at the back grounds of his home yet holds a roomy, acoustically tuned 25-seat auditorium for piano recitals.Visiting guests stay in basement living space. Some might say Jones’ book shows off only the collaboration between the right client and the right architect. Instead, the case studies in the book invite residential architects, home builders, and home owners to open their eyes to the opportunities possible for new materials and ideas that break from the traditional.


any of us are traditional-minded when it comes to conceptualizing housing designs. We think homes should evoke ranch or Street of Dreams styles.Will Jones’ book The New Modern House (Princeton Architectural Press, 2005, 176 pages, $35) retunes our notions of aesthetic housing. Jones provides readers with 40 case studies and 300 pictures of novel homes to explain the design variety in housing architecture today. These case studies come from sites around the world and include groundbreaking single-family, multifamily, and vacation homes.Through his selection, Jones tries to show the breadth of design opportunities that new materials and technologies are making possible. Each of the book’s unique homes tackles key architectural considerations—building conditions, materials, the environment, budget, or aesthetics. Because housing affordability is a universal issue, he provides readers with some designs attacking economics of housing. The East Asian Fin-Topped House and the Ethiopian Growing House show the high- and low-tech approaches to affordability, respectively. The ultramodern Fin-Topped House lessens materials by stretching a thin aluminum skin over stiff ribbing to pre-stress it.The result offers a techno-cocoon-like feel in a reasonably priced home. At the other end of the scale is the Ethiopian home. It attacks affordability from a “keep it local” perspective and is built using only nearby natural and environmentally appropriate materials to create an inexpensive dwelling with a rustic, open feeling. Sometimes the houses Jones shows might appear out of place if built anywhere else. In no other country could the Edge Design Institute build a long and narrow timber-clad Suitcase House overlooking China’s enduring Great Wall in the


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letter from the editor


Every year we do a “Theme Room” issue, and it always ends up being one of my favorites. I like to see how other people personalize their homes with their own style and their own hobbies. Some people are really into movies, and so they create phenomenal movie theaters right in their homes. Others like to read and create a library refuge where they can enjoy a good book and escape the cares of the world. Each issue we find more and more unique theme rooms for this issue. We always find wonderful wine cellars. It seems to me that, like my husband and me, more and more people are starting to appreciate wine. Or maybe it’s just our stage in life that is causing us finally to join the wine enthusiast club.We are currently in the design stage of converting an oversized closet in our basement into a wine cellar. It is really a fun project for us to do together. In this issue, I was drawn to the British-style conservatories. As a transplant Californian living in North Idaho, there are winter days when I miss the sun and think this type of room would be a great complement to our home. I like the elegance and personal touch that is built with each conservatory and that it is specially designed to look as if it is an original room of the home. I would find it a relaxing place to sit and enjoy a little sun and warmth on a cold winter day. I hope you enjoy this issue. Maybe you can use the rooms enclosed to find a great idea for your next home remodel. Or maybe you finally will find the inspiration you need to tackle your next home or design project. As always, please remember to thank the special person who has sent you your subscription to Home By Design. They appreciate you and would love to hear from you.


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for those about

to Bake

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It’s a secret long held by the savviest of real-estate agents. Increase your chances of getting that home sold by…baking a loaf of bread. Nothing beats the smell of baking bread or muffins for adding to the warm and cozy factor of any home. The olfactory hit turns home into homey just like that! Who can resist the pleasant aroma of fresh-baked, still-warm muffins right out of the oven? For those who love to bake and are always looking for new renditions of classic bread and muffin recipes, Laura Swayne has provided a sampling of her favorites. Whether you favor fruit, bran, or pumpkin or are fond of bread or muffins, Swayne has you covered. Whether it’s a healthy bran or banana muffin to start the day, a slice of flavorful pumpkin or lemon bread for a light evening dessert, or a batch of fresh peach muffins with streusel topping to bring to a party, these recipes are sure to carry you deliciously through your choice baking days.

STACIE’S BANANA BREAD Swayne is always looking for a better banana bread recipe; this one may mark the end of her search. It’s easy to make and is moist and delicious.Any type of soft fruit can be used. Pictured are banana muffins and shredded apple bread loaves made from the same basic recipe.
(SERVINGS:Two regular loaves, or 12 large muffins plus two small loaves) Prep Time: 20 minutes Bake Time: 45-60 minutes for loaves, 20-25 minutes for muffins 1 2 3 3 3 1 1 3 1⁄2 4 1 cup vegetable oil cups sugar eggs teaspoons vanilla cups flour teaspoon salt teaspoon baking soda teaspoons cinnamon teaspoon baking powder cups mashed or shredded fruit cup chopped nuts or chocolate chips (optional)

JOYCIE’S LEMON BREAD This is Swayne’s mother-in-law’s signature recipe. Swayne says that all who know her look forward to a loaf of her famous bread when they visit. Substitute buttermilk for the milk in this recipe for a tangier bread.
(SERVINGS:Two loaves) Prep Time: 25 minutes Bake Time: 1 hour FOR CRUST 1 cup butter, softened 2 cups sugar 4 eggs, slightly beaten 1 teaspoon vanilla 21⁄4 cups flour 1⁄4 teaspoon baking powder 1⁄4 teaspoon salt 1 cup milk or buttermilk 3 teaspoons grated lemon rind 1⁄2 cup chopped walnuts (optional) GLAZE 1⁄4 cup sugar 1 tablespoon lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease bread or muffin pans. Beat together oil, sugar, eggs, and vanilla until light in color and fluffy. Mix dry ingredients together, and then mix into the egg mixture until well-blended. Gently fold in fruit and nuts or chocolate chips, if desired. Pour into prepared pans. Bake until firm to the touch, about 45-60 minutes for loaves, 20-25 minutes for muffins.
CHEF’S HINT: Swayne prefers to make muffins

Preheat oven to 325°. Grease and flour pans. Cream together butter and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla. Sift dry ingredients together, and alternate adding dry ingredients and milk or buttermilk to wet ingredients, mixing after each addition. Stir in lemon rind and walnuts, if desired. Pour into pans. Bake one hour, or until firm to the touch. Prepare glaze by whisking sugar and lemon juice together. Glaze immediately and cool in pans.

without paper liners, but she says the liners work well with any of these muffins-and they cut down on the clean-up process quite a bit!
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PEACH MUFFINS WITH STREUSEL TOPPING Fresh peaches are best for these muffins, but frozen work great, too!
(SERVINGS: One dozen large muffins) Prep Time: 25 minutes Bake Time: 20-25 minutes TOPPING 11⁄2 cups chopped walnuts 1⁄3 cup flour 1⁄3 cup brown sugar 1⁄2 teaspoon cinnamon 3 tablespoons butter, softened

OLD-FASHIONED BRAN MUFFINS Swayne says that baking these muffins conjures great memories of spending time with her grandparents when she was little. Her grandmother would make a batch of the batter and store it in jars in her refrigerator for up to six weeks. Swayne and her cousin would spend the night and wake up excited to have “Mamma” bake muffins from the jar just for them!
(SERVINGS:Three dozen regular muffins) Prep Time: 20 minutes Bake Time: 15-20 minutes 1 3 4 2 1 5 5 1 1⁄2 4 2 cup shortening cups sugar eggs, beaten cups Nabisco 100% Bran cereal (or other bran flake cereal) soaked in quart (4 cups) buttermilk cups flour teaspoons baking soda teaspoon salt teaspoon cinnamon cups Kellogg’s All-Bran cereal (soaked in 2 cups boiling water) cups raisins (optional)

PUMPKIN BREAD Swayne loves anything with pumpkin, and this bread is her favorite.The orange juice gives a nice hint of citrus.The streusel from the peach muffin recipe is a delicious topping for this bread, too.
(SERVINGS:Three loaves) Prep Time: 20 minutes Bake Time: 1 hour
1⁄2 3 2 4 2⁄3 1 31⁄3 1⁄2 2 1 1 1 1

Mix together first four ingredients in a medium bowl. Blend in butter with fingers or a fork. Set aside.
BATTER 2 cups flour 1 cup sugar 1 teaspoon baking powder 1⁄2 teaspoon baking soda 2 teaspoons cinnamon 1⁄2 teaspoon cloves or nutmeg 1⁄2 teaspoon salt 3 eggs 3 tablespoons butter, melted 11⁄2 cups sour cream 1 tablespoon vanilla 11⁄2 cups peeled, pitted, and chopped peaches

cup butter, softened tablespoons molasses cups sugar eggs cup orange juice 29-ounce can of pumpkin cups flour teaspoon baking powder teaspoons baking soda teaspoon salt teaspoon cinnamon teaspoon cloves cup chopped nuts or raisins (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease large muffin tins. Mix together dry ingredients in a large bowl. Set aside. In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, butter, sour cream, and vanilla. Fold into dry ingredients just until mixed. Add peaches. Spoon batter into muffin tins to about three-quarters full. Lightly press reserved streusel onto tops of muffins. Bake until tops spring back slightly when touched, about 20-25 minutes. Serve warm.
CHEF’S HINT: Be careful not to overmix the

Cream together shortening and sugar. Beat in eggs. Stir in Nabisco cereal that has been soaked in buttermilk. Mix together dry ingredients and add to above. Stir in soaked All-Bran. Add raisins, if desired. Pour into greased muffin tins and bake until not moist or shiny on top, about 15-20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease pans. Cream butter, molasses, and sugar together until light and fluffy.Add eggs and beat well.Add orange juice and pumpkin. Mix well. Mix together dry ingredients and add to pumpkin mixture. Stir just until moistened. Fold in nuts or raisins, if desired. Top with streusel, if desired. Fill pans two-thirds full. Bake about an hour, or until toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean. Allow to rest in pans for five minutes, then turn out on racks to cool.

The batter can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to six weeks.

batter when making muffins!

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Pumpkin Bread Peach Muffins with Streusel Topping

Joycie’s Lemon Bread Old-Fashioned Bran Muffins

Garden Rooms

Just as your home is divided into rooms, so can your garden be made into spaces of varying use and theme. Even a small garden will seem larger when you create mystery and intrigue with new discoveries around each corner. One of the hottest trends in gardening is to make the outside of the house as livable as the inside, and that is what garden rooms are all about. My garden in Seattle, on a small city lot, has a number of spaces.A sitting room lies just outside the back door, complete with cozy chairs. From there, a path leads to other spaces, much like a hallway in a home does, lined on both sides with plants instead of paintings. An arbor shelters a bench halfway along the path that continues on to an open terrace. Last year I added one more room in a corner where I never previously knew what to do. An octagonal pavilion shelters a table and chairs, seating eight for dinner, and it is now a favorite family dining space. Several more nooks and crannies in the garden are scaled for small children and also serve as access paths to tend plants, which in my collector’s garden are packed in very tightly.Then there is the compost/nursery/flotsam-and-jetsam area essential to every garden tucked out of site by the alley. When you divide your garden, you have a choice of materials for the walls of your rooms. Spaces can be separated from each other with fences or open trellises, which can support climbing plants that add texture and color in the vertical dimension. Summer flowering clematis is a good candidate for a vine, adding vibrant bloom. Plants on their own also can serve as dividers and can be formal hedges or informally arranged plants. They don’t have to be very tall, just eye-level; shrubs, tall grass, or even 5-foot perennials will do the job. Feather reed grass (Calamagrostis acutiflora “Karl Foerster”) with its slender profile will make a screen in a narrow space. Consider adding a ceiling to set a space apart. An overhead arbor creates a sense of intimacy and is one more place to grow a plant. Add a wisteria to drip flowers into your retreat, or consider a grapevine for edible treats over a dining area. Creating smaller spaces within your garden will allow you to have different themes as well as functions. You paint your rooms different colors, so why not your garden? How about white flowers for a room where you linger as the sky darkens? Imagine the White Wings Rose with big single flowers glowing in the dark, Casa Blanca lilies floating their scent in the air, and an Artemisia Powis Castle shining with its silver leaves. Rooms also imply furniture. I think nothing is more inviting in the garden than a simple pair of chairs. Even if no one ever sits in them, they suggest friendship and conversation.To provide for larger gatherings, a carefully chosen table and seating makes for an instant party. Have fun choosing your furniture, and, just as you would inside, play with echoing the style of it with the other furnishings, which in your outdoor room can be the plants. Tropical prints or colors can be reflected in the exotic leaves of a canna lily. Rustic Adirondack chairs can be reinforced by plants native to your area.Victorian-style chairs insist on the accompaniment of ferns and hostas. Add the warmth of a fire to your outdoor living area. Fireplaces with a hearth and a chimney can rival those inside in construction and materials. Fire pits can be rustic and reminiscent of a campfire. Outdoor kitchens also are an element that is moving outside into the garden. Accessorize outdoor rooms as you would interior ones. Pots filled with water or plants or standing on their own add color and style. Garden sculpture adds whimsy or drama, depending on your choice. Lighting becomes important as you move outdoors at night. Low-voltage lights are easy to add to any landscape.A variety of fixtures are available that will bring light just where you want it. Even simpler and softer in appearance are candles in sconces or lanterns. The best reason for creating garden rooms is that your outdoor spaces can be as expressive as those indoors. Plants and accessories outside can be as effective as art and furnishings inside in reflecting your personality and interests.



Phil Wood

Clockwise from top left: Garden sculpture provides a focal point in a garden. Two chairs set on a circle of lawn create an intimate space within a large garden. A partial view of the author’s garden showing the layout of paths and terraces. A simple shelter with open sides defines a sitting space surrounded by flowering plants. An outdoor fireplace adds warmth to any space. Phil Wood

Phil Wood

A Room to Personalize your HOME
Theme rooms have become a more important
element in new homes and remodeled homes. New home builders have found that adding a special sanctuary or a special room for a favorite hobby has helped new home sales. Additionally, more manufacturers have created products to cater to the residential market that traditionally have been created only for resorts and restaurants. Adding a theme room also adds a special-interest factor to a house and can turn a run-of-the-mill home into a great place for entertaining. Please enjoy these special rooms!

A Finishing Touch

A couple transforms a dark, cold basement into a wine cellar that completes their home.


Imagine a room 12 feet by 7 feet encased by thick, 10-feet-high concrete walls in a cold basement.What exactly would you do with this seemingly hopeless space? For one ambitious couple in Hayden, Idaho, the answer was fairly simple—turn the drab space into a classy wine cellar. They realized the basement’s concrete walls provided the ideal insulation for wines, enough that the room wouldn’t need any structural alterations such as a humidifier or temperature control to cool the couple’s growing wine collection. Though the idea seemed fairly simple, it took seven years of debating about the potential wine cellar’s logistics for their dream to become a reality. At the start, they focused on the functional details of the room and put its aesthetics on hold, following the traditional method of many remodels. “I was definitely looking at both aspects [of design], but it had to be functional first,” the homeowner says. “If it wasn’t functional, then we’re not going to use it.The aesthetics had to be second, but it was very simple to pull off both.” The first task was coming up with a series of measurements to help determine the width, heights, and families of wine racks they should order.These numbers also facilitated their ability to fit multiple wine racks into the closet-sized room. During this stage of the design, they also decided to use radius corners for the wine racks.These racks allowed them to stack bottles in every corner of the room and utilize every inch of the small space. “It’s not a very big room, but we wanted to maximize the capacity of what we had,” she says. “It can hold about 1,500 bottles. That was our goal. We didn’t even know how many bottles we would collect, but we wanted to see how many we could get in there.”
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Soon after she completed the measurements, the homeowner found herself knee-deep in redwood rack assembly kits from a wine distributing company. With the help of her teenage son, she tackled the most difficult part of the assembly, configuring the corner racks with only screws, woodworking tools, and the number for the company help desk. Though the racks were intended to stand away from the wall, the homeowner made the cautious decision (as one might do when a large wine collection is concerned) of hiring a finishing contractor to mount them to the walls.This move also stabilized the half-racks of wine she loaded on top of the full-size base racks. For a finishing touch, the contractor polished the racks’ rough edges, which added a gleam to the room that started to give it character. “The wine racks themselves add so much warmth to the room that in themselves they add a lot of interest,” says the homeowner, though she freely admits they aren’t the most captivating pieces in the room. Though the rows of racks are visually stunning, the most striking and characteristic elements of the tiny room are the mosaic bar and the warm lighting. Each aspect of the design scheme was gleaned from her years of visiting Napa Valley wineries. “I visited Napa once a year and paid attention to what things interested me the most and what things I could do,” says the homeowner. “When I was in any place that had a wine room or wine cellar, I just really looked to see how they looked and what I liked best.” Working from the memory of her trips, the homeowner decided on some basic designs for the cellar. “For the color scheme, I knew I wanted to use a natural stone like the slate,

so that was a start. I knew I wanted to give it a Tuscan or a Napa feel,” she says. “I wanted it to be contemporary but not hard or cold, and I wanted it to have a little bit of warmness in it.” She started working on this scheme by picking a dark mossy green for the walls. Painting the tall walls was one of the more grueling tasks of the remodel, and after three coats, she called it quits and turned her focus to the lighting. She realized that the right lighting would accent the wines and minimize the walls and their potential flaws. “I wanted something that would spotlight the walls where all the wine was. So we found this light fixture that highlights the walls but doesn’t give any light to the ceiling. It almost looks like the ceiling goes on forever,” she explains.
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The ceiling in this room remains an invisible mystery, while the floor is one of the most eye-catching aspects of the room. The homeowner started with 12-inch-square slate tiles and then complemented the base shade with green- and metallictoned tiles to move forward with a contemporary design. Though the work was tedious, she cut and laid the tiles herself. The homeowner also used similar slate and porcelain tiles for the mosaic bar that sits in the middle of the room. The homeowner had thought the mosaic on the central bar would be a quick task. But, as intricate projects often do, mixing the mortar and cutting and laying the tiles took far longer than she expected. “It wasn’t a huge surface area, and I thought I could get it done quickly. I got started at 9 o’clock [p.m.],

“The wine racks themselves add so much

warmth to the interest

room that in themselves they add a lot of .”

and by 4 or 5 in the morning, I was still working,” she says of the stunning mosaic she created out of dark cabernet- and merlot-colored tiles. At the end of the late night, she left her project to dry, and upon returning later in the morning she discovered that the dust from her work had been dispersed throughout the room on the newly arranged wine bottles. She was about to dust each bottle when she realized the potential of her little accident. The new contemporary cellar looked as if it had aged overnight. “I thought that couldn’t be more perfect. It gave it so much character,” she says. “Instead of being this brand-new cellar it had a bit of a vintage look to it.” This mix of contemporary and old in the cellar has been a

topic of conversation at the couple’s dinner parties, as the space often fulfills the role of a wine-tasting room. “If anything else, I hope our room inspires people to do it themselves,” she says. “Cutting tile is very simple, as is assembling the racks. Going through the process is just a matter of putting a little time and effort in it. It’s rewarding to take friends into it now and see the reaction you create.” For this couple, the room has provided a place to house their hobby and was the project that completed their home. “I would say this room gave us a finished look,” she says. “It was the last unfinished portion of the house….It has been on my written to-do list since we moved into the house, and I finally got to cross it off.”
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Hot Enough for You?


Imagine living in a land of long, cold winters, a place where more than a third of the land area lies north of the Arctic Circle. Imagine winter temperatures that fall as low as 22 degrees below zero. Imagine being very, very cold, for a very, very long time. No wonder the people of Finland had to invent the sauna. According to The Finnish Sauna Society, a cultural association founded in 1937, the people of Finland have been enjoying the benefits of sauna for more than 2,000 years. Although other cultures have their own versions of the sweat bathincluding the Roman balneae and thermae, the Turkish hammam, the Native American sweat lodge, the Mexican and Guatemalan temascal, the Japanese hot water baths sentoo and ofuro, and the Russian bania—the Finns have made enjoyment of the sauna ritual a way of life. What exactly is sauna? The word itself (the only Finnish word found in the English dictionary) means “bath” or “bath house.” The modern Finnish sauna consists of an insulated room built of softwood. A special heater warms the room to about 180 degrees Fahrenheit, and stones placed around the heater and covering the heating element get hot enough to produce steam when water is poured over them.A sauna is not the same thing as a steam room or a steam bath. Unlike the 100 percent humidity of the steam room, the environment in
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a sauna is relatively dry, maintaining about 20 to 25 percent humidity depending on how much water is used. The traditional sauna, as recommended by The Finnish Sauna Society, is a relaxed 11⁄2-hour ritual, although most Americans typically spend only 20 minutes. The society recommends starting with a shower to moisten the skin, then entering the already-warm sauna. Saunas traditionally are enjoyed in the nude. The air initially may be dry, but a few ladles of water over the hot sauna stones produces steam.After ten or twenty minutes, one then exits the sauna to take a cool shower or a swim. After cooling off, one re-enters the sauna for another hot round.This is when the Finns traditionally use short bundles of birch branches called “vihtas,” tapping or beating them against their skin until it tingles. After a stay in the sauna, it is time for another cool shower.This round of hot and cold may be repeated as often as one wishes. Finally, the whole process is finished off with a shower. Proponents of sauna emphasize that the final shower should be a thorough cleansing in order to wash away toxins that have been sweat out through the pores. In addition to relaxation, what are the advantages of sauna? Many health benefits are attributed to sauna, including soothing tired muscles, relief from stress, increased circulation and metabolic rate, improved resistance to illness, and the elimination

Steam is produced when water is poured over the hot sauna stones.

Perhaps the best testimony to the

benefits of

regular sauna comes from the Finnish people:The life expectancy of a Finn is among the

highest in the world.

of toxins from the body. Perhaps the best testimony to the benefits of regular sauna comes from the Finnish people: The life expectancy of a Finn is among the highest in the world. When Finns first came to the United States, they brought the sauna with them. But sauna remained largely limited to those of Finnish heritage until the 1960s.That was when Reino Tarkiainen, a young Finn who had come to the United States at age 15, decided that he would introduce the benefits of authentic Finnish Sauna to the American public. Together with his wife, Marilyn, Reino Tarkiainen began educating Americans about sauna. Located in Portland, Oregon, the newly founded Finlandia Sauna got off to a slow start; only six saunas were sold in the first year. For the first three years the young couple held other full-time jobs while building their business. Over time, Finlandia Sauna prospered. Originally housed in a small metal building next to the Tarkiainens’ home, Finlandia is now the largest privately owned sauna manufacturing facility in the United States and occupies 55,000 square feet of officewarehouse space. Finlandia has built thousands of custom saunas for customers ranging from luxury hotels, such as the Grand Hyatt Wailea in Maui and the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, to military installations, such as West Point and even the Pentagon. But the heart of Finlandia’s business is the home sauna. The growing popularity of home saunas in the United States
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comes as no surprise to Finns such as Reino. After all, there is one sauna for every four people in Finland. “That’s more saunas than cars,” points out Reino. He also notes that many Finns have two saunas: one in their homes and another in their lakeside summer cabins. Many of today’s American homeowners, inspired by the lush spas they have visited in luxury hotels, desire to bring the same level of comfort to their own homes. Companies such as Finlandia Sauna exist to make that possible. There are several options when adding a sauna to your home. Finlandia offers precut sauna packages that are intended for use in any size space that is framed and insulated. All Finlandia material packages are made to order, and, according to the company, anyone with general carpentry experience can build a sauna out of the FPC parts. Another option is a modular prefab sauna. These are complete free-standing self-contained units that can be installed anywhere you have an open space. These saunas can even be taken apart and moved to a new location. Finlandia offers these in sizes from 4 feet by 4 feet to 12 feet by 12 feet. Even after 42 years in the business, the Tarkiainens are still involved full-time with Finlandia, as are their children and other family members, and they remain enthusiastic boosters of the sauna experience. Reino says his dreams are the same as when he started the business in 1964: “My goal is to educate and help Americans enjoy the benefits of the sauna as much as I do.”

A traditional sauna experience includes alternating between the warmth of the sauna and a cool shower.

The Well-Read Family Room
This room serves double duty as a family room and a home library.


“One of the most difficult things about this space was designing it around all the criteria the clients set out for me,” says Jean Akerman of Jean Akerman Interior Design. But it was a challenge that she enjoyed. The family—a couple with four children—moved into this home and planned to renovate. Their previous home had housed a two-story library, presenting Akerman with the challenges of finding room in the smaller home for the family’s extensive book collection and using an existing sectional and ottoman from the previous home, all while incorporating the other functions normally associated with a family room. Akerman begins any design process by asking questions to get to know the family. “I try to get a handle on who these people are, what they enjoy doing, how they spend their leisure time, and their daily movements,” she says. “I want to know how they want to use this room.” She also encourages the family members to show her pictures of rooms they like. Akerman says that after this process, she has a better idea of their needs for the room. “I know a little bit about them, a little about how they live, a little bit about how they entertain, a little bit about their personal needs for each specific place and their tastes,” she explains. “From there, I develop a concept and a floor plan. Sometimes there’s more than one possibility, so I’ll show them that by drawing it out and discussing it.” Family rooms offer an informal place to gather. The family members knew they wanted to house their books in the room, but they also wanted an area where they could simply sit and
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enjoy each other’s company. Additionally, they wanted the option to view television in the room, even though it would not be one of the room’s prime functions. Once Akerman knew these details, she set about solving the problem of housing all of their books and making the sectional look as if it had been designed for the room. Sectionals present a special challenge. By their nature, they tend to take up at least two walls of a room. Akerman solved this problem by making one of the walls behind the sectional a library wall. “I think it worked out well because these are books that aren’t always used,” Akerman says. “You don’t need to have daily access to them, so the shelving forms a nice backdrop for the furniture, and yet you can get behind the sofa to access the library shelves if you wish.” The tall wall units are designed to accommodate the many oversized law books and leather-bound collections the family owns.The wall unit in front of the sectional houses more books as well as a television. The doors in the unit allow for extra storage and keep the room looking neat and tidy. The reddish cherry stain of the shelving contrasts nicely with the deep walnut coloring of the oak floors.The rich tones provide a warm contrast to the distressed deep-blue leather of the sectional. The family was quite happy with Akerman’s design, which naturally makes her happy. “I leave when the job is done, but they live there,” she says. “They have to love it when I leave. My job is to show them what’s possible and help them make good choices.To do that, you really need to know who your client is.”

The library wall provides an interesting backdrop for the distressed, deep-blue leather of the sectional. Custom shelving holds the atypically shaped books in the family’s collection.

simply sit and enjoy each other’s company.

...they wanted an area where they

A Sensual Indulgence

A neglected storage space is transformed into a room with a view.


Life in Cape Cod has a saltwater fragrance. It is painted with textures of sand and driftwood and accompanied by the rhythmic chant of the sea. In one of the houses perched on a hill above the ocean, a porch full of possibility was being squandered as a storage room. The owners commissioned Rita Pacheco, a designer and avid gardener, to turn storage into living space. When she arrived on the scene, she took in the waves, the sunflooded gardens, and the rustic wood of the overlooked porch, and saw a room with a view where the family could bask in the beauty of the landscape. “My vision was an English gardening room and a transition place between the outdoors and the interior of the house,” Pacheco explains. “The porch was unattached from the main house, yet still connected by a covered walkway. If you had been working in the garden and you weren’t quite ready to go inside, the porch would be a shady place to sit and catch your breath. You could put your gardening tools down, or maybe make a flower arrangement, or sit down with a book and relax.” The dark pine of the room’s structure had a rugged quality, providing the foundation for the emerging design. She began by redoing the floor. Working with freelance artist James Tobey, they repainted it to resemble birch by superimposing a faux birch-tree finish over the original wood. She then divided the room into four sections: an entrance space, a living space,

a dining area, and a working garden space with a potting bench. Pacheco placed a rustic twig bench made of birch and cypress branches in the entrance space where a weary gardener or a sunburned child could pause and listen to the gentle music of the wind chimes. “It was not a lie-down bench, but it was very comfortable, and it created a garden feeling,” she says. The twig bench was painted green and then distressed to look like a family heirloom. Large clay pots filled with smaller pots and topped with round glass became tables.While the lines of the bench are long and low, the ivy topiaries dotted with tiny clay pots and tall plants draw the eye up to an old birdcage, which both add the impression of a conservatory. She placed a bird nest on the windowsill and a book on the bench, as if someone had just left the room. The working area contained an unusual potting bench. “I had James Tobey make it from different pieces of reclaimed wood because I wanted it to have some history,” she explains. The back piece was made from an old headboard, and the shelves display the patina of mossy clay pots.The green British Wellies, the straw hat on the wall, the basket of dried flowers, and the gardening tools forged in a classic Cornwall style all add to the atmosphere. Pacheco mounted rough wooden pegs above the windows and strung curtains of flowers to dry. The glass cloche on the

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The use of silverware that resembles twigs and clay-pot saucers as chargers brings elements of the garden into the dining area.

The designer used a fisherman’s net as a rug in the living area to tie in the house’s proximity to the sea.

bench could be used to start seedlings, and an antique fan with a green glass base offers relief. “The fan was very unusual,” she says. “You don’t often see a fan made of glass—and it still worked! It looked special, like it had once been someone’s treasure.” She created a living area, with its own perfume of citrus and rose petal potpourri. The space is enclosed by a twig end table and a magazine rack. A dark arch of branches hangs above the windowed doors like a rustic swag, and white silk hydrangeas add splashes of light. Comfortable, bowl-shaped chairs cluster around a twig “coffee” table, with a fisherman’s net in place of an area rug. “The house overlooked the ocean, and the porch overlooked the gardens,” Pacheco explains. “I wanted to stay true to the garden

“My vision was an

inviting place for a meal, a
the top of a three-tier iron basket. The vertical shape of the iron basket is balanced by a whimsical white ceramic wedding cake topped with ceramic tulips. Pacheco hung a black wrought-iron chandelier over the center of the table and used inverted clay pots instead of candles. A wild arrangement of branches, draped above the windows, defines the borders of the space. The overall intent was to create a comfortable retreat for the family. “I’d go back and add something here and there like a bird’s nest or the starfish underneath the fisherman’s net— objects that the family might gather on the beach or in the garden,” Pacheco says. “The idea was to indulge in all the senses in this room.You could smell the scent of the garden; you could hear the tinkling of the chimes and see the beauty of the garden around you.” When it was finished, the room achieved and surpassed the designer’s vision, being transformed into a private oasis welcoming the family at the end of a busy day.
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cocktail in the afternoon, or a lighthearted tea party.”
theme, but since the house was on the Cape, I couldn’t ignore the sea environment. I decided to bring in just one element, but I didn’t want a bowl of seashells. So I used the fisherman’s net.” The overall effect is an intimate place for conversation or lying around browsing through whatever is housed in the twig magazine rack. The room is completed by the bright white of the dining space. “My vision was an inviting place for a meal, a cocktail in the afternoon, or a lighthearted tea party,” Pacheco says. “Or if you had planned a luncheon in the garden and it was inclement weather, you could bring the party inside.” Adirondack-style chairs and an antique table painted decorator white are the focal point. The chairs are higher and straighter than true Adirondack chairs, allowing the family and guests to sit comfortably at the table. Pacheco turned the saucers of clay pots into charger plates and lined them with glass dinner plates. The handles of the silverware look like twigs, and a papier-mâché pear wrapped with leaves sits on

Let There Be Light
Conservatories offer the best of both worlds— the outdoors from inside.


Come out and sit in the garden. Is it raining? Doesn’t matter. Snowing? No need to bring a coat. Because this garden can be enjoyed from inside and in comfort-in a conservatory. Conservatories are classic glass houses built onto the home. At their best, they suit the house’s architecture and the living style of the family; they bring the outdoors in and provide more interior space. They are more than a humid, earthy greenhouse, where seeds are started and plants are grown; conservatories take the best qualities of an indoor space— protection from rain, wind, and snow—and add the benefits of natural light and a view of the garden that can’t be beat. But that’s not to say that all conservatories are alike. Prebuilt modular units come in a limited range of styles and can look tacked on and incongruous. For a conservatory to be an integral part of its surroundings, a custom design is needed. Parish Conservatories in Fairfield, Connecticut, builds what the British call bespoke conservatories, which means they are custom-designed and built to complement the house. Instead of looking as if they were an afterthought, the conservatories become a part of the whole. Paul Zec, who works for Parish, which is the U.S. dealer for British company David Salisbury, knows the value a tailored conservatory can add to a home. At Parish, the design for the conservatory is distinctive and personal, and, in this way, the new room is an element of the home, not an attachment. Windows above and around make enjoying nature easy, no matter what the weather. Zec says that the new room often becomes the most popular place in the house, often to the surprise of the homeowner. In fact, one client loved hers so much that she had two more built onto her home. One reason for the popularity of conservatories is the incredible amount of natural light the windows provide. It’s an ideal place for houseplants and a great spot to get orchids to bloom again. In winter, it can be a snug refuge for family as well as for potted plants that would not survive the temperatures outside. Precious plants spend the winter protected, and
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in spring the pots are set back out on the patio or deck. A conservatory doesn’t need to face south for the light inside to increase.The amount of glass alone allows in so much natural light that it is as if you were outside no matter what the position of the conservatory. At first thought, the south or west side of the house may seem to be the best placement, but the added warmth in summer might be too much. An eastern or northern exposure will let in plenty of light and offer a cooler location for summer. Zec says that most homeowners prefer to have the conservatory off the back or the side of the house. The kitchen is a favorite locale, he explains, because it suits the flow of traffic inside and creates the perfect situation for entertaining. No one can stay out of the kitchen anyway, and with the conservatory adjacent, guests can enjoy sampling the fare and relaxing in the garden at the same time. Conservatories were all the rage in Victorian England, and the largest built during that time period had enough space for Queen Victoria and Prince Albert to ride a carriage through it. Owners of large estates even built glass houses called orangeries so they could grow citrus. Fortunately, size is not an issue when it comes to conservatories: Even a room 10 by 15 feet can provide the benefits of natural light and usable living area. Zec says that the average size he builds is 150 to 200 square feet, but with a custom design, there is no one-size-fits-all building plan, so the homeowner can decide on how much space he or she would like. Zec has designed and installed conservatory windows in the roof of a larger room—two of them each 6 feet by 6 feet— that acted as enormous skylights. Who could resist such a warm, bright atmosphere on a cold winter day or the chance to see more of spring even when it’s raining? A conservatory gives you the light and the plants without the rain and the bugs. For more information on Parish Conservatories, visit or call 800-761-9183.

The open feeling and natural light of a conservatory make it the most popular room in the house.

A careful custom design integrates the conservatory with the home’s architecture and the environment. Homeowners are able to create a landscape that further ties the new room to the existing house.

warm, bright
atmosphere on a cold winter day?

Who could resist such a

Changing Channels on the Traditional Media Room
Atlanta-based interior designer Stephen Pararo creates a multi-functional space.


When Atlanta-based interior designer Stephen Pararo was invited to create a media room for a Designer’s Show House in Buckhead, he viewed it as the perfect opportunity to challenge himself and the common notions people have of what characterizes a “media room.” While Pararo had carte blanche in designing the room, he didn’t want to resort to the traditional theater-style space that is prevalent these days. “In your typical media room or home theater, everything is focused on the screen, and I was looking to provide more usability than that,” Pararo says. “I wanted to create a room that had more than one purpose—a space that was conducive to conversation and listening to music, as well as watching the screen.” And so the journey to transform the 25-foot square room began. Because the owner of the house is a bachelor, Pararo was drawn to a masculine men’s suit fabric for the wall coverings —a medium check design in gray with a wool texture—which became the inspiration for the entire room. Pararo points out that upholstered walls are perfect for acoustical purposes, as the fabric helps to absorb the sound. “When you are pumping a lot of sound into a room,” he says, “you have to be concerned about the reverberation. Incorporating fabric on the walls— much like theaters use draperies—helps to absorb the sound.”
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In this case, Pararo’s team took thin padding and glued it to the wall and then sewed the panels of suit fabric together and stapled them to the wall, using welting to cover the seams, much like one would upholster a piece of furniture. This became the backdrop for a room with a color scheme of gray, black, silver, and chrome. The seating arrangement—four chairs and a sofa—is organized more as a living room so as not to be as one-dimensional, and the pieces need only be turned slightly to view the screen. To complement the sofa, the chairs are black leather that has been tooled to resemble faux alligator and are in a rectilinear style with a mid-century feel.The luxurious choice of fabrics lends to the overall appeal of the room. “I wanted to bring emphasis to the room beyond the screen and make it a pleasant space,” says Pararo.That is why he chose to incorporate sepia and black-and-white etchings from the Czech Republic, some of which are figures and some of which are scenes, and had them framed in gold. Other artwork includes 7-foot-tall stainless-steel sculptures and two large blue panels with seemingly human figures and a three-dimensional quality that mimics the feel of the television screen and serves to pull that element across the room. “The key was to use textural artwork versus just realistic and graphic designs,” notes Pararo.

The chairs are black leather tooled in a faux alligator pattern; they serve to anchor the overall color palette of gray, black, silver, and chrome.

This elegant, nontraditional media room for adults was designed to be multi-functional and conducive to making conversation, listening to music, and watching television.

The seating pattern of this media room, which can comfortably seat seven, adds to the charm of the room, as the designer wanted to avoid conventional theater-seating arrangements.

Key Considerations When Planning a Media Room
When designing a media room, Stephen Pararo believes certain elements must be considered. These include: • • • • • A good viewing angle toward the television or screen The right balance in the speaker system Acoustical treatments on the wall to soften the reverberation An easy-to-operate entertainment system The ability to control light

This last element is why most media rooms tend to be located in basements with no windows; if the media room is planned for a space with windows, Pararo recommends blackout drapes.

The room is brought together by ebony bookshelves that surround the sofa, providing another element of “media” in the room, as well as a deep mahogany Baker contemporary or modern horizontal wood chest of drawers. The coffee table also incorporates mahogany and shiny chrome, and all of the chair legs are deep mahogany, keeping the dark color scheme and bringing focus to the artwork and the television. When it came to lighting, Pararo noticed that people often use wall sconces in a media room, so he deliberately chose not to light his room in this way. Instead, he situated lamps on either side of the room and employed general can lighting, which is directional halogen lighting in black fixtures against a black painted ceiling so that the only thing the eye sees is the light source. “This is undoubtedly a media room for adults,” says Pararo. “It is a sophisticated space for conversation, television, and interaction. There are no beanbag chairs, and people aren’t supposed to lie around on the floor!” Yet one thing Pararo has noticed about media rooms is that more and more people are interested in them these days. “I don’t care what demographic you are talking about,” he said. “Everybody is thinking about the new technology available in televisions today and incorporating it into their home, even if a media room is in one bedroom of a three-bedroom house!” And as technology continues to evolve, Pararo sees the trend of more media outlets in houses where plasma and flatscreen TVs are placed in odd places and are used for both entertainment and information. “I can envision a person sitting in their recliner, flipping a toggle switch, grabbing a mobile keyboard, and then surfing the Internet in their media room,” Pararo says.“As the media becomes more and more widespread, I see a blending of purposes where it’s not just a television; it’s a screen, and it overlaps between the disciplines of television and the Internet.” But Pararo does caution homeowners to be careful when it comes to technology: “The primary mistake that most people make when doing a media room is that they tend to get too complicated with the entertainment systems they buy.” Pararo laughs when he thinks of a few of his clients who don’t use their media rooms because the television and sound systems they selected are too complex to operate.

Artwork is an important element in this media room because it gives guests another object on which to focus other than the screen.

sophisticated interaction.”
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“It is a

space for conversation, television, and

Dream Home
A spectacular residence overlooking Las Vegas showcases the latest in luxe living.



curious about what your neighbor’s home looks like inside, chances are you’ve checked out a few open houses. A company called Street of Dreams Inc. takes the open-house concept to a grand new level, giving potential homebuyers (or the merely curious) the opportunity to tour a collection of multimillion-dollar custom show homes—fully furnished and accessorized—on a single street in an exclusive development. Karen Butera, principal of her eponymous interior design firm based in Corona Del Mar, California, was the interior designer for “Windermere,” one of four Street of Dreams show homes built at MacDonald Highlands, a luxury hillside community in Henderson, Nevada, near Las Vegas.This stunning 7,000-squarefoot residence not only earned Butera multiple design awards

Whether you’re shopping for your next home, searching for interior design inspiration, or just but also sold the very day it opened—a real testament to its

undeniable appeal. And considering that all the furnishings are included when the home is sold, this lucky buyer hit the jackpot. “In a project like this, you’re creating a home for an imaginary buyer,” Butera says, which can be both challenging and liberating. “We wanted to design something that was completely different from anything we’d done before.”The “we” to which Butera refers is the design/build team from Sun West Custom Homes, with whom she had partnered on several other high-end projects prior to this one. “The home had to be unique and memorable,” she says, “yet fit with the streetscape and environment of the community, which is innovative and cutting-edge.” Judging from the market response, the project was a hands-down success.
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First impressions The home’s dramatic elegance is evident the moment one steps into the courtyard entrance, where a panel of Lucite etched with the “Windermere” name is suspended from the roof. Water gently cascades down the vertical panel into a stone base filled with greenery, creating a seemingly freefloating and shimmering water feature. “It sets the tone for the entire home, which is peaceful,” Butera notes. Inside the double front door is a formal entry leading to the main living area that seems to go on forever. One’s eye is drawn past floor-to-ceiling glass walls that look out over an infinity-edge pool to a breathtaking panorama of the Las Vegas Strip, the DragonRidge golf course, and the red-rock mountains beyond. “When you walk in, you can’t tell where the interior ends and the outdoors begins,” she comments. “We treated the interior and exterior as a single, unified living space, using sliding pocket doors of glass wherever possible for a seamless transition.” Two more Lucite panels create twin retractable waterfalls by the custom pool, which has a swim-up bar/cabana with inwater seating. “We also added drapery panels to frame the covered patio for privacy and to protect from the intense sun or inclement weather,” Butera explains. Back inside, you feel the same sense of expansiveness throughout the home. “The design is very linear, with no curves or architectural elements to interfere with the clean lines,” she says. And the color and design palette is neutral. “We used 21 different shades of white,” she notes. Neutral doesn’t mean bland, however. Windermere is exceptionally warm and inviting, made so by Butera’s generous use of rich and varied textures. “We used green quartzite
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slate flooring in the majority of the living area,” she says.The slate flooring also was carried through to the outside living area, further reinforcing the seamlessness between indoors and out. “We used awalnut plank flooring in a dark finish for both the floors and ceilings in many rooms,” Butera says. “To counter the dark woods, we used light fabrics in the furnishings. Ribbed glass in many interior glass doors also added texture. And we used soft materials to create warmth—sisal carpeting, area rugs, leather, rattan, and ultrasuede furnishings, even woven cloth on some ceilings. This softness countered the hardscapes as well as enhanced the acoustics.” Every room needs a focal point Butera believes that every room needs a focal point in order to be memorable, and each distinctive room of this home is a case in point. In the living room, it’s the jaw-dropping view. In the presentation kitchen—a chef’s delight—it’s a beautifully framed, detailed marble backsplash behind the cooking area. In the family room, it’s a custom entertainment/media center that conceals the television behind sliding glass doors. In the formal dining room, it’s a soothing waterfall wall. “Water played a big part in this home’s design,” Butera notes. “It’s soothing, quiet, and peaceful.” But to focus on a single feature of a room—no matter how dramatic it may be—doesn’t do justice to other extraordinary design details that speak to both form and function. In the kitchen, for example, the only lighting seen is decorative. “The rest—mood, task lighting—you feel,” Butera says. Travertine and stainless-steel countertops, Viking appliances, and warm cherry cabinets add to the room’s rich aesthetics and efficiency. In the formal dining room, there is a pass-through butler’s

pantry and wine storage. In the family room, with its twosided fireplace made of ledger stone with inset bands of marble (the other side opens to the patio), there is a lounge area with wet bar and kitchen. The wow-factor continues in the master suite, with its floor-to-ceiling walls of glass that afford panoramic views of the city and the surrounding mountains from the home’s hillside location. It’s equally dramatic when looking in from the outside. “When you view the master suite from the living area, across the pool, it looks as if it’s floating on water,” Butera says. The master bath, a large and lavish spa retreat, features a steam shower, a disappearing-edge bathtub in the center of the room, and custom his-and-her closets. “The secondary, or guest, bedrooms were designed with distinct masculine or feminine themes,” Butera says. One decidedly feminine bedroom—done completely in soft shades of white— is dominated by a canopy bed draped in gauzy white fabric. A great home for work or play Windermere’s design team, believing that the imaginary buyer would love to entertain, created fabulous spaces in which to do so. A spacious home theater room offers plush, leather-upholstered tiered seating, a custom surround-sound and front-projection audio/visual system, fabric-covered walls for optimal acoustics, decorative uplighting in the ceiling coffers and the elegant marble wall panels, and an artfully framed screen with an automated sliding curtain. And for refreshments before and after the show, there’s a wet bar. Outside the theater is a lobby decorated with movie star photos. The lobby connects to Windermere’s game room— also accessorized with movie memorabilia—where there is a billiards table, built-in niches for electronic components, and a wet bar.The dramatic focal point of the game room is a giant

aquarium, through which you can look into the depths of the home’s swimming pool. Butera also points out that in the dining nook off the kitchen, there is a rear-screen projection system built into the window that faces the outdoor living area. “A transparent screen drops down electronically so you can watch television from outside,” she says. Outdoors, the pool-area patio overlooks a private putting green. And a rooftop patio, complete with fireplace, bar, and spa, offers another vantage point for taking in the home’s magnificent views. Windermere’s home office provides an efficient and elegant environment for taking care of business—if one must. Built-in cabinetry provides ample storage, and executive-style furnishings complete the look. Another valued feature of this home is its attention to stateof-the-art electronics. An integrated whole-house automation system puts control of home security, lighting, video surveillance, music selection—virtually anything electronic—at your fingertips with easy-to-use controls that can be located in any room. In a home filled with so many innovative and elegant design features, what is Butera’s favorite room at Windermere? “Probably the one that takes your breath away,” she replies. “And that would be the family living area, with its incredible views.” And of what is she most proud? “We tried to create a residence that said home,” Butera replies. “What makes it a real success is that, when all is said and done, the public loved it,” referring to the non-stop parade of visitors that toured Windermere during the Street of Dreams show house event at MacDonald Highlands. “And then, when it sold on the day it opened, well....” Enough said.

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nature becomes




At a very young age, California artist Nancy Kaestner began honing her skills in painting and drawing with coloring books and crayons. Over the years, Kaestner’s love of art and painting continued to grow without benefit of formal training-outside of high school art classes and the encouragement of her parents. When asked where she has studied painting, Kaestner’s reply is that her school has been her studio, where years of painting have succeeded in producing the style and quality of her work. “I believe that painting or any skill is a God-given gift that one must work at to develop,” says Kaestner.And develop her skill she did. “I have been seriously painting for about 30 years now,” she says. Born in California, Kaestner calls the Sierra Foothills her home. She finds that her creativity thrives in the natural surroundings of the area, while the ever-changing seasons provide an endless source of inspiration. “Translating onto paper the image of a delicate flower, the richness of its colors, and the way it seems to rejoice in being alive is a constant challenge,” says Kaestner. “For me there is a joy in painting subjects found in nature. Capturing a reflection of what the Creator has set before us brings me joy.” Kaestner began painting small, detailed vignettes of fruits and flowers. Gradually, the paintings grew to include still-life groupings, bouquets, flower baskets, birds, and small animals. “My favorite subject is botanical illustration,” says Kaestner. “Not only painting the plant for identification in detail, but accurately illustrating the root system and seed pods, balancing the composition while remaining true to the likeness of the plant.” She finds that the 17th- through 19th-century botanical painters have had a great influence on her work. Inspired by the old masters, she continues to perfect her skills.

Watercolor has been Kaestner’s choice of medium for many years, portraying floral and animal subjects in the greatest of detail. “Colored pencil used with watercolor can add sharpness and depth,” Kaestner says.Within the last five years, however, she has rediscovered a fondness for oil painting on canvas. “Oil is more forgiving and allows for making changes that are not as easily done in watercolor,” says Kaestner. She also enjoys etching and photography, which she says is helpful in capturing and composing future ideas. “I could spend hours in, and rolls of film on, a flower garden.” During the past 15 years, several companies have licensed Kaestner’s work commercially for use as greeting cards and prints and on household products, stationery, wine labels, pillows, heat transfers, bath products, and plates for The Franklin Mint. One company commissioned her to develop a hummingbird and lily theme collection that was used on more than 25 products. Kaestner also was asked to paint three large floral displays in oil for a newly commissioned Royal Caribbean cruise ship. In addition, a selection of her paintings was chosen to be displayed in several U.S. embassies, including Luxembourg, where she had the opportunity to meet the ambassador. “He subsequently purchased my painting for his private collection,” shares Kaestner. Kaestner’s work has been shown for several years at the D.E. Craghead Gallery in Carmel, California; the Foxhall Gallery in Washington, D.C.; and LALOO in Nevada City, California. Samples of Kaestner’s work and more information can be found by visiting her Web site. To purchase one of Kaestner’s pieces, one may contact her directly by phone or e-mail.

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Alaska by rail


Forget the planes, forget the automobiles; the best way to see our 49th state is via railway. If you are thinking of exploring Alaska this spring or summer, traveling through the Last Frontier State by railway could prove to be a grand experience. Imagine getting up close and personal with some of Alaska’s most beautiful landscapes; your delight when you spot a grizzly bear with a cub or two in tow; or the instant when the silence of a misty fjord is shattered by a pod of giant humpback whales, breaching high into the air and crashing back against the sea?
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Traveling in Alaska is said to be like traveling in no other place on earth. There are 586,000 square miles of land and almost that many experiences in which to partake. Alaska Railroad For the first-time Alaska visitor, stepping aboard a train bound for the wilderness such as those on the Alaska Railroad is the beginning of a journey filled with adventure and surprise. Every year, more than 500,000 people ride the Alaska rails, whether for traveling to other parts of the state or for the sheer romance of it. Alaska is one of the few places in the country with a working railroad hauling passengers and freight


daily. Only one-third of Alaska is accessible by car; journeying by train offers scenery options that go beyond what a highway traveler can see. The trip might start like any other: The train pulls away from the station, the sound of metal wheels on rails building to a steady rhythm. Secure in a comfortable seat, you sit back, relax, and watch the countryside unfold around you. But within minutes, passengers realize the trip north from Anchorage toward Fairbanks is special.Around each curve, the majesty of glaciers, mountains, or Alaska wildlife comes into view: A moose might be grazing near a stretch of braided

river.The blue of a glacier peeks out from under melting midsummer snow on a mountainside. A view of Mount McKinley, North America’s tallest peak, emerges in a splendor afforded only by the routes traveled by Alaska’s trains. The Alaska Railroad, the largest state’s train system, has the distinction of being the only “flagstop” train system, meaning passengers can stand by the side of the track in the vast wilderness and hitch a ride. Journey Options The 75-year-old system runs through Alaska from tidewater at Whittier and Seward north to Anchorage, then through the
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heart of Alaska to Fairbanks, the commercial hub for northern communities. Most of the tracks are surrounded by wilderness. Long stretches of the railroad parallel the rugged coastline of south-central Alaska, offering spectacular panoramas, all at a pace that recalls the beginning of the 20th century and the Alaska Railroad. The 12-hour trip north from Anchorage to Fairbanks threads through Denali National Park and features seemingly endless views of mountains, wildlife, and rivers. Onboard, guests enjoy the hospitality and amenities that originally gave train travel such a decadent reputation. Cocktails and other beverages are served throughout the day, while gourmet meals feature a hearty New York steak or a selection of fresh seafood. The trip begins in Anchorage, Alaska’s largest city. With almost 265,000 people, Anchorage is a popular urban setting with all the advantages of a much larger town. The waters of Cook Inlet meet the steep foothills of the Alaska Range. And
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just minutes east of downtown, the pristine wilderness of the Chugach Mountains begins. Heading north from Anchorage, the train passes through the Matanuska Valley, known for scale-busting vegetables grown under the midnight sun. Another 75 miles north, train travelers can catch what is often the highlight of their trip: the first spectacular view of Mount McKinley, which towers at a height of 20,320 feet. And if the sight of the highest peak in North America isn’t enough, the route affords views of several of the 20 highest peaks in the country. When the train pulls into Fairbanks—“The Capital of the Interior” and Alaska’s second largest city—visitors can explore a city that began as a trading post and mining town in 1901. Other Excursions Travelers looking for a shorter excursion from Anchorage may want to consider a trip south to Seward or Whittier. A four-hour trip from Anchorage takes passengers along the

Calendar of Upcoming Events
21st-Annual Homer Jackpot Halibut Derby - Homer May 1, 2006 to September 30, 2006 Alaska’s largest halibut derby, with more than $210,000 in prize money. (907) 235-7740 Juneau Jazz and Classics - Juneau May 19, 2006 to May 27, 2006 Renowned blues, jazz, and classical musicians play in varied venues. (907) 463-3378 Sitka Summer Music Festival - Sitka June 2, 2006 to June 23, 2006 Evening concerts and other events showcasing classical chamber music. (907) 277-4852 Swing into Spring - Anchorage June 9, 2006 The sixth-annual golf tournament extravaganza. (907) 694-4702 Midnight Sun Festival - Fairbanks June 21, 2006 The largest one-day event in Fairbanks on the longest day of the year. Live music, vintage and classic cars, children’s rides, petting zoo, gold panning, and delicious food. (907) 452-8671

Turnagain Arm of Cook Inlet to the port city of Seward. Established in 1903 by railroad surveyors as an ocean terminal and supply center, Seward has a frontier-town atmosphere with homes and buildings dating to the early 1900s.The Kenai Fjords National Park offers coastal cruises past tidewater glaciers, whales, nesting seabirds, fur seals, and sea otters.Visitors may explore the new Alaska SeaLife Center, with glass tanks that let viewers feel as if they’re under the sea. Visitors also may take a 21⁄2-hour trip from Anchorage to Whittier on the “Glacier Discovery” train, allowing passengers access to the many tours available in Prince William Sound and the massive tidewater glaciers for which the sound is known. Daily seasonal service from Anchorage to Seward and Whittier operates from mid-May to mid-September. White Pass Route Another option is to take a train ride on the White Pass & Yukon Route, where passengers ride in vintage parlor cars on

a three-hour trip. The train travels alongside the Skagway River, through a narrow box canyon, along a mountain shoulder, and through a tunnel before it reaches the summit of White Pass. Whether you’re an outdoor enthusiast in search of adventure, a family looking for a little vacation fun, or someone just hoping to be inspired by the beauty of Alaska, the state’s railroads have a journey suited to your interests.
Alaska Railroad (800) 544-0552 P.O. Box 107500, Anchorage, AK 99510-7500. Alaska visitor information (800) 862-5275 Dept. 712, P.O. Box 196710, Anchorage, AK 99519-6710 White Pass & Yukon Route (800) 343-7373 fax: (907) 983-2734 P.O. Box 435, 231 2nd Avenue Skagway, AK 99840

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