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The BS* + Beer Show: High-Performance House Tour: A Living Building Challenge Case Study

This episode of the BS* + Beer show features Michael Klement, Bob Burnside, and Amanda Webb—the team responsible for the world’s second residential Living Building Challenge (LBC)−certified project. Burh Becc at Beacon Springs Farm is a study in regenerative design, meaning it is intended to improve the site on which is was built. Michael’s presentation begins with an overview of the global issues that spurred the clients to pursue the demanding certification. He dives into many of the more challenging aspects of completing a project so hemmed in by restrictions—particularly around materials. Amanda talks about Red List materials, the vetting…

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Current Obsessions: Design Respite

Above: A quiet corner from Creative Flow: A Novelist’s Elegant Pied-a-Terre by Colombe Studio. Photograph by Kasia Gatkowska, courtesy of Colombe Studio. A few things we’re noting this winter weekend: “At a time when we’re all starved for adventure, this long global list, divided into categories (such as stationery, interiors), makes for great armchair browsing,” says Margot. Spotted on Dezeen: The Royal Institute of British Architects has awarded Scottish-Ghanaian architect Lesley Lokko the 2020 Annie Spink Award for architectural education. Rikumo is giving away give themed “mystery bags,” each filled with products “specifically curated to maximize your creature comforts,” for the…

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Whole Home Surge Protectors: How Effective Are They?

Not long ago, electrical contractor Allen Gallant was about halfway through the job of completely rewiring a 3,200-square-foot house in Acton, Massachusetts, when the owners decided to save some money and not install whole house surge protection against surges from lightning or downed power lines. Sure enough, soon after the house was finished, Gallant got a phone call from the distressed owners: Lightning had struck a utility pole near their house, sending a tidal wave of voltage through the wires, past the main breaker panel, and into the house. “It burned out the motherboard in the Sub-Zero refrigerator, fried the…

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How to Repair Plaster Walls

Project details Skill 1 out of 5 Easy Drilling lath holes and smoothing plaster takes special care Cost About $50 Estimated Time 3 hours the 1st day, 1 hour the 2nd day, 20 minutes the 3rd day You just gotta love plaster. That rock-hard substance, which was applied to the walls and ceilings of nearly every house in this country until the 1950s, gives us surfaces that are seamless, mold resistant, fire resistant, and noise deadening. But what to do when plaster cracks, buckles, and pops loose? It's a perplexing question for many of our readers, including Tim Thorp, whose…

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A Guide to Manual Lawn Mowers

Photo by Brad Wrobleski/Masterfile Come summer, no other tool in your shed sees more action than the lawn mower. It's what tames turf's wild-and-clumpy nature, turning it into a living carpet that's host to family picnics, ball games, and lounge-chair lazing. But like any machine that gets used a lot—about 30 times a season—it wears out and needs to be replaced. If it's been a while since your last mower purchase, you might be surprised at what's available. Those noisy, exhaust-spewing 2-cycle gas engines have been replaced by quieter, cleaner, 4-stroke machines. Mower decks have been reshaped so that mulching…

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Sophisticated Charm: An Elegant and Artistic Paris Apartment

“I see in each project the possibility of bringing out a poetics of space: through light, materials, and circulation,” says interior architect and designer Olivia Massimi. After starting her Paris-based agency in 2012, Olivia has created many subtly elegant interiors with her careful eye and ability to bring elegance to any space. In the chic district of the 7th arrondissement of Paris, Olivia designed  apartment that has a feeling of both sophistication and warmth. In Olivia’s words, “the style of the flat plays with Haussmanian bourgeois codes and contemporary lines.” The goal was for artwork to be a pronounced theme…

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