Last Updated on August 26, 2014
Vote for your favorite home style among the most popular home styles in America!
Whether you’re a first-time home buyer and are looking for a larger home for your expanding family or you are downsizing from your empty nest, knowing which home style is best for your lifestyle is half the battle. Here’s a snapshot of the most popular home styles and why one of them may be your “home sweet home”:
Craftsman Bungalow – This is a triangular-shaped designed home with a low-pitched roof. This popular home style is made of mixed materials of brick, wood and stone. Typically, Craftsman Bungalows homes have recessed covered porches with tapered square columns, overhanging eaves, decorative brackets and exposed rafters.
Spanish – Often found in Western states, Spanish style homes are architecturally appealing and made of pale stucco, tile roofs and are defined by arched entries and windows. They often have terra-cotta tile flooring and courtyards donned with lush gardening. Since most Spanish style homes are made of stucco, they are more energy-efficient as they keep the house cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. Stucco can also help reduce sound transmission by buffering outside street noise. Finally, stucco is fire-retardant and resists rot, mildew and mold.
Tuscan – The Tuscan home style is similar to Spanish style as it is often made of stucco, but typically has more exterior stone. Tuscan style homes are often designed in vibrant warm colors like terra-cotta, gold and varying shades of brown. Since Tuscan homes are made of stucco, Tuscan homes offer the same energy efficient benefits as Spanish style homes.
Colonial – This is the most common home style with both the widest appeal and the best value, as it maximizes square footage and minimizes cost. The traditional floor plan is a two-story layout with three or four rooms on the first floor (including a kitchen, dining room, living and/or family room) with the bedrooms and baths on the second floor. Colonials often have shutters flanking the windows and they may be trimmed in keystone.
Victorian – Characterized by charm and elegance, Victorian style homes typically have spacious rooms, bay windows, fireplaces and grand covered wrap-around porches. They are typically older homes, so renovations may be necessary. (But the gingerbread charm may be well worth it!)
Tudor – Varying in size (from smaller cottage style to a larger estate), classic Tudors are characterized by iconic traits like multiple gables and steeply pitched roofs, and they may include arched entries, brick chimneys and common half timbering design on the second story.
Farmhouse – Typically found in the country and suburban communities, Farmhouse style houses have clapboard siding and are known for their charming wrap-around covered porches, supported by square or round columns.
Ranch – This is a one-level style of home with a low roof line, simple floor plan, small porch and attached garage. They are often made of materials that reflect their region (like brick or wood siding). Ranch homes are ideal for those who have difficulty climbing steps and prefer an open floor plan.
Contemporary – Almost always a reflection of the builder’s vision and style, contemporary style homes are famous for their stark geometric lines and rectangular elements. Common elements of this modern style include exposed concrete, singular glass panes and horizontal wood siding.
Last Updated on August 19, 2014
Creating a Private Retreat When Your Neighbors are Too Close
Spending time in your backyard is one of the perks of enjoying the warmer weather. Relaxing on a hammock, reading a book, or spending time with family and friends are great ways to enjoy your outside space in the privacy of your own home – except when that privacy is invaded by peeping neighbors or open spaces. Today, larger homes are being built on smaller lots, leaving homeowners feeling as if they are living in a fishbowl. Homeowners searching for backyard solitude have discovered some unique privacy solutions (as well as some old standbys) to create a peaceful and private retreat.
Here are some ideas to beautify your backyard while keeping your space under wraps:
• Privacy Planting – Property-line planting is a beautiful way to create a natural year-round fence or screening around your side yard or where space is at a premium. Privet hedges and fast-growing columnar evergreens like Italian cypress and arborvitae are perfect solutions for separating adjoining yards. For larger yards, mixing and staggering deciduous or evergreen trees, shrubs and perennials is a creative way to conceal a neighbor’s view from a second-story or terrace.
• Container Gardens – These are perfect for creating a natural screen around a raised deck seating area. Pots should be lightweight or raised on casters so they can be easily moved for parties or deck repairs. Mixing colors, textures and foliage types is a fun way to add flair and character to your seating area.
• Fences – The quick fix when you need privacy in a hurry (like after installing a new pool, patio or playground), but this may require pulling a permit. Fences (such as the common 6-foot wooden board fence) may be the best solution in a side yard or where space is tight, since they require less space to install than planting trees or shrubs. Although board fences may not be the most aesthetically pleasing, they are available in different styles and can be stained to match or complement the color of your house. Planting flowering shrubs in front of the fence or adding an open lattice top can distract from the solid appearance of the fence and add more character to your outdoor space.
• Stone Wall Topped with Fencing – This is a perfect combination of masonry and charm. A 2-3 foot stone wall is a great way to distract from sight lines, while the mounting of a shorter 3-4 lattice or picket fence on top adds extra privacy with a lighter feel.
• Masonry Walls with Ornamental Ironwork – The placing of 5-6 foot masonry walls of stone or stucco can feel less oppressive by the inclusion of cutouts decorated with ornamental ironwork.
• Panels and Pergolas – Small defined areas like patios, outdoor kitchens and decks are typically easier to screen than an entire yard. Enclosing them can recreate an intimate feeling of dining or entertaining indoors while still enjoying your outdoor space.
• Lattice Wood Panels – Cozy corners can be transformed into a secluded haven by installing lattice screens or sections of ornamental iron.
• Using Fountains to Buffer Noise – Even if you’re not in earshot of your neighbors, you may still be close enough to hear intrusive noises that range from traffic to loud AC compressors. Adding a fountain can mask unpleasant sounds with the soothing sounds of trickling water.
Last Updated on August 11, 2014
Think of landscaping as the ultimate accessory for your home. The perfect balance of trees, shrubs and flowers can enhance your street appeal and welcome your friends and family to a showcase of beauty. Most often, however, this makeover comes with a hefty price tag. Traditionally, homeowners may expect to pay anywhere from 5% to 15% of their home’s value on landscaping (which is based on a median-home value of $213,000 in the U.S.), so could run you over $10,000 at the end of the day. To avoid breaking the bank, DIY landscape experts suggest following these tips to create a garden design that looks like it was done by professionals.
- Determine a landscape or garden design idea – Choosing the same variety of fast growing and border plants creates a unified look throughout your property and reduces the appearance of clutter. Creating a unified palette allows for more creative planting of beautiful flowers and flowering plants that add splashes of color to highlight your home. Buying smaller plants in bulk can save you money when buying the same variety. Don’t worry about the size, because depending on the species, they could double in size in two years. Buying plants at the end of the season can also save you money.
- Improve Your Soil – Investing in beautiful plants and flowers is money out the window if you’re planting them in unnourished soil. Experts agree that investing in good soil and Miracle-Gro® is the first step to creating a lush, healthy and flourishing landscape.
- Preserve What You Have and Work Around It – Homeowners may find they have a treasure growing in the yard (which may have gone unappreciated hidden under overgrowth). Prune and cut back any trees or foliage you can work around. It will not only save you money, but will preserve a part of the nostalgia associated with the home.
- Perennials – Planting perennials will save you the headache of replanting annuals every year. Perennials bloom every year and grow a strong root system, ensuring their survival during the harsh winter months. While annuals often provide more color variety, perennials (like hydrangeas, hostas or roses) can be very colorful and will require less maintenance.
- Hire Yourself – You can save money by doing as much of the work as possible yourself. A three-gallon bush can cost $15 if you purchase and plant it yourself. Hire a professional, and the cost just doubled for the same plant.
- Share Costs with Neighbors – If your land abuts your neighbor’s, plan what plants or foliage you want together and split the cost!
- Plant in Stages – Divide your project into phases and save money to pay as you go. In other words, break your yard into sections. For example, focus on the front areas that people can see first, then migrate to the backyard, and then save the furthest out, largest or hard-to-reach areas for last.
- Know Where to Plant – Roots love to travel and can damage concrete blocks, driveways, sidewalks and in-ground pools, so do your homework before putting a shovel in the ground. The rule of thumb (preferably a green one) is to plant large trees at least 30 feet from these areas.
- Watering – The latest EPA statistics reveal that outdoor water usage accounts for 20% of total home water usage. Try selecting plants that are drought-tolerant to save money on your water bill. Set your sprinklers to only run for a certain period of time.
- Mulch – Mulch is an inexpensive (an average of $2.50 a bag) and perfect way to give a brushed-up, tasteful look to your landscape design. Mulch comes in a variety of colors, including traditional red, contemporary beige and the more trendy black.
- Freebies – Check with your local city for free trees, mulch and compost. Some cities offer groups of neighbors large amounts of trees in exchange for planting and maintaining them. If you see that your neighbor has overgrowth of a particular plant in their yard, ask them if you could take a few – they might really appreciate it!
Last Updated on August 11, 2014
Summer is the perfect time to indulge in the bounty of berries that are available to us at local farm stands and grocery stores. Here is a delicious way to enjoy a variety of berries all at once while savoring the comfort of a flaky baked dessert.
Berry Slab Pie Recipe
- 1/2 of 17.3 ounce package frozen puff pastry, thawed (1 sheet)
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped crystallized ginger
- 1 1/2 cups fresh assorted berries (like blueberries, raspberries and blackberies)
- 1 egg
- 2 tabelespoons water
- Coarse sugar (optional)
1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or foil. On a lightly floured surface, roll thawed puff pastry into a 15×12-inch rectangle. Transfer to the parchment-lined baking sheet; set aside.
2) In a medium bowl, stir together the 1/4 cup sugar, cornstarch, and ginger. Add berries to sugar mixture, and gently toss to coat.
3) Spoon berry mixture onto one crosswise half of the prepared puff pastry, spreading evenly to one inch from the edges. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and water. Brush some of the egg mixture on the uncovered edges of the pastry.
4) Fold over the uncovered pastry half to enclose the fruit. Using a fork, firmly press together edges of top and bottom pastry to create a seal. Brush the top of the pastry with the egg mixture and sprinkle with coarse sugar (if desired). Cut two to three slits in pastry top.
5) Bake in the preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until pastry is golden and filling is bubbly. Transfer to wire rack and let cool. Cut into bars. Makes 16 bars.
Recipe from “Better Homes & Gardens”