Design: All Quiet on the Homefront

The old-fashioned home has built-in sonic barriers: walk-in closets, pantries, corridors, separate floors, thick walls.

But in today's one-story, "open-plan" efficiency home, bedrooms abut on "family rooms," kitchens spill over into dining areas, and walls are wafer 'thin — affording, altogether, about as much privacy as a day on Candid Camera.

To prove that all can be made quiet on the homefront again, a group of Texas builders have opened 20 model homes in San Antonio that claim to be the quintessence of tranquillity.

Staggered Studs. Instead of placing sleeping and living areas wall to wall, the builders separate them with rows...

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