Editor's note: Follow the progress as the Hammonds' house takes shape by going to www.startribune.com/newhouse to visit their blog, and watch Homes for periodic updates.
There seem to be a great many doorbells that bear the markings of early American Colonial design. The doorbell must have reached its peak as a home feature during the mid-1970s, while the United States was celebrating its Bicentennial. Various manufacturers appear to have locked onto this design trend, then fired their design department. Now there's a huge void in the market for really cool modern doorbells and chimes.
With the wild success of companies such as Target and Ikea bringing good design at affordable prices to mainstream America, one would think that the big-box stores would offer something other than the "Liberty Bell" series of doorbells and chimes.
I found on the Web a couple of cool, modern doorbells -- but they come at premium prices. Sites such as moderndoorbells.com, sporeinc.com and jacobjensen .com offer some of the bolder options, while other sites, such as nextag.com, provide links to a wide range of manufacturers and retailers.
Now we have to decide whether to spend extra money on a specialty doorbell and chime, retrofit one of the available ones or find the most nondescript model we can.
Jason Hammond is at firstname.lastname@example.org.