Archive for March, 2011

Seeking unique or unusual appliances such as wall-mounted fireplaces and outdoor steel fireplaces? Don’t begin your search at a home improvement store. For crying out loud, start by examining the list of recalled appliances at the Consumer Products Safety Commission. Yes, friends, it’s that time of the month to evaluate the latest voluntary recalls by manufacturers who should have pumped more time and energy into R & D and less into marketing.

Regular readers of this blog know how the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) spares homeowners the agony of buying products that blow up, catch fire or take out an eye. This March roundup of recalled items is unique: it includes both indoor and outdoor fireplaces that, well, give you more heat than you bargained on.

Fireplaces that sizzle


Sunjoy has issued a voluntary recall on some 20,000 U.S. and 400 Canadian versions of its Freestanding Steel Outdoor Fireplace. The CPSC has received reports of 14 incidences where the decorative powder coat finish on the outdoor wood-burning fireplaces caught fire.  Read more about the Garden Treasures Living fireplace.

Nailing the dismount

wall mount fireplace

While we’re talking fireplaces, consider this month’s recall of some 6,000 Colin Cowie Gel-Fuel Wood Fireplaces. These unique appliances are wall mounted and the manufacturer has received complaints from more than 20 consumers that watched in horror as the plastic mounting screws bent in the heat and the fireplaces plunged from the wall. The Chinese-made fireplaces were sold on Home Shopping Network between October and November 2010 for about $250.

Is it safe?


If you’re one of the 63,100 consumers who have installed Stanley 6K and 7KC series Medium Duty Locksets, don’t buy a wall-mount fireplace!  Latches in these Stanley Locksets have a tendency to stick, with at least one consumer reporting that they were trapped in their house.

Feel the surge


Some 2,500 Sanus Elements Surge Protectors have been recalled due to shock hazards. Most were sold to consumers seeking protection for their home theatre systems. The recall is for model ELM205 low-profile power conditioners or surge protectors.

(Note to manufacturers: Just stop it!)

Wealthy, fashionable, well-educated people of old money occupied the fictionalized “West Egg” community in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby.  Now the home that is said to have inspired the mansion of the novel’s Tom and Daisy Buchanan in New York’s Long Island village of Sands Point is about to be razed for the construction of five $10 million homes.

According to Yahoo Real Estate, the 25-room mansion is one of the remaining Sands Point homes that are going down to make room for new money dwellings.

I thought this apocryphal novel and its inspirational home would mark the perfect occasion to view the homes of other famed American writers and the architecture that framed their imaginations. The designs vary widely, except that most of the homes share a spacious quality.

Across the Caribbean and into the trees

hemingway finca vigia

Hemingway loved La Finca Vigia in Cuba’s San Francisco de Paula. He loved the open air designs and adjacent dock to the sea and his boat the Pilar that pulled against the moorings. He loved the palms that stood sentry to the whitewashed walls and thick wooden door. He loved to fill the house with books and the wood furniture, and the library was rich with leopard skins and lion skulls he had gathered in the first light of an African morning.  (See the finca photos at the Hemingway Society.)

The architecture of Rowan Oak

rowan oak_faulkner

William Faulkner’s house at the end of an august drive of hackberry trees stands shimmering in the same august and lifeless air that cloaked the Mississippi countryside when slaves pushed their carts and pigeons strutted like majorettes in the fluid, smeared dawn-light beginning another peremptory false spring during the feud between northern brothers and Confederate sons.

The Edinburgh villa of J.K. Rowling

JK Rowling in Perth scotland

J.K. Rowling, the woman who wrote the four-million-seller Harry Potter series, lives along the banks of the River Tay near Aberfeldy, just a little amble from Edinburgh. Aberfeldy is abundant with arbors and angular hills. Read more about literary homes and locales at Novel Destinations.

The real Fitzgerald

fitzgerald real house

F. Scott Fitzgerald lived in his parents’ Saint Paul Cathedral Hill row house at 599 Summit Ave. He had retreated ignobly to Minnesota after, having found college much to his displeasure, met Zelda Sayre at a country club party in Alabama but could not support her hand in marriage.  It bears but little resemblance to the gallant mansions or wretched ash heaps of West Egg and lesser Long Island.

Recent Comments

  • Kid's stuff:Bedroom furniture for dreamers

    Hey Woodrow,

    You've put together a great post here. Hardwearing and long-lasting bedroom furniture is so important when you have young children, and choosing pieces which can handle the rough-and-tumble that comes with having little ones is key!

    Best wishes, Alex.

  • Awesomely Oddball Lawn and Garden Accessories

    I plan to do this. What was your process in painting the bottom...outside portion of the tub?

  • Poor staging can crush your home sale

    Woodrow, you have once again 'nailed' the essence of the issue of staging your home for sale with easy to understand pics and words. These are definitely rules to live by, oh wise one! I know I"m soaking up the knowledge you share--- now excuse me while I wring myself out. Can't wait for the next issue.

  • To everyone, a room of one's own

    We've recently bought a house which needs A LOT of work and I'm trying to convince my other half to let me build a "room of my own" for the house, one where I can put my games console and beer fridge. She's not gone for it yet though. The most I've managed to get is an office I can work out of ... not quite the same ... LoL.

    Mine would certainly be like the car boot room in the first image :)


  • Home designs you haven’t seen before

    I wonder how far the folks in the Rock House are able to drive in their car? Maybe down to their boat? It's so true that home is where you are at the moment.