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HOMES AWAY FROM HOME: Ah, home sweet homes! Aging baby boomers and a booming economy have contributed to a steady growth in the number of second and vacation homes. The U.S. Bureau of the Census projects a 6.2 percent increase, from 1998 through the third quarter of 1999, in the number of second and vacation homes. The total is an estimated 6.4-million. The most popular states for vacation homes are California, Florida, Texas, New York and Michigan.

NOTHING DOWN: The most effective way to increase the number of renters who can afford a house is to subsidize the down payment, a U.S. Census study says. Reducing the amount of required down payment and lowering mortgage interest rates had less impact on the ability to buy a house, the report said.

DOING YOUR HOMEWORK: Although the number of Americans who telecommute has multiplied over the last decade, a survey by the American Management Association found that most companies provide no advice or support for these employees. The association offered advice to ease telework difficulties, such as providing adequate hardware, software and remote access capability, establishing clear requirements and expectations and encouraging teleworkers to set ground rules with their family members for working at home.

KITCHEN TRAFFIC: When you're designing a new kitchen, make sure your passageways are wide enough to accommodate the traffic. With only one cook in the kitchen, 42-inch passages will be adequate. For more than one person, you will need 48 to 54 inches in order to prevent traffic jams.

ON THE WEB: American Standard has enhanced its Web site with easy-to-navigate menu-bar selections. Among the new features are "Product Showcase," "Design Center," "Tips of the Trade," "Bathroom Reading" and "Where to Shop." The site address is