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Just the Thing for Cabin Fever

March 18, 2000|MARK CHALON SMITH | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

BOOKS

The craving for simplicity hits anyone with a demanding lifestyle. Dan Mack understands that, and his "Log Cabin Living" ($40, Gibbs Smith Publishing, 1999) is as much a call to relax and be more in tune with all things natural as an hommage to rustic dwellings.

Mack's nicely designed book moves with ease from log cabins across the country to the homespun furniture found inside them. Along with the many photos of these primitive but charming homes are testimonials from owners who say these retreats have enhanced their lives.

The author also spends considerable time writing about the design, utility and history of log cabins, using revealing archival documents to make his points. Finally, he even suggests how to build your own. And if that sounds too ambitious, Mack offers ways to make furniture out of branches and other things found on a mountainside.

Timmmber!

Also with a rustic sway, but not quite as philosophical, is Tedd Benson's "Timberframe: The Art and Craft of the Post-and-Beam Home" ($40, Taunton Books, 1999).

As Benson points out, timberframe houses date back to the Middle Ages. What is distinctive about post-and-beam construction is that "the buildings are framed with large section timbers, which are widely spaced and connected with intricately fashioned wooden joinery."

The huge beams, in most cases, are exposed for practical and aesthetic reasons. This results in homes with a solid and woodsy appeal. Benson focuses on superior examples from live-in barns in New England to sophisticated mountain mansions in Colorado. Architectural drawings for many are included, along with attractive interior and exterior shots.

THE WEB / Rhodie Sites for the True Fan

Readers continue to ask for more flower sites, proving that the next best thing to holding a bud under the nose may be eyeing it online. Here are a few favorite destinations, all having beefed-up their content in recent months.

If you like rhododendrons (and fans often brag that it's the prettiest flower) then head to the Rhododendron Page at http://www.nextas .com/~mckenzi1/rhodo05.html. This is an extensive, frequently updated site with much info on the origins and cultivation of the flower. There are more than 800 "rhodie" varieties, with the number growing as new hybrids emerge around the world.

For African violets, go to African Violets Online at http://ns1.internetconnect.net/~gaudin. It offers dozens of photos as well as artist renderings. There's a section on pest and other problems that affect the many varieties.

The American Hibiscus Society also runs a site, at http://www

.trop-hibiscus.com, putting the spotlight one one of the more popular flowers in Southern California. As usual, you'll find many images to download of the dozens of types (an especially attractive one is the bold "Eye of the Storm") and many growing tips.

* To have a book or Web site considered for this column, send information to: Home Design, The Times' Orange County edition, 1375 Sunflower Ave., Costa Mesa, CA 92626. Mark Chalon Smith can also be reached by e-mail at mark.smith@ latimes.com.

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