Modern homes feature ample windows that serve a plurality of purposes. Not only do they open up the interiors towards the great outdoors, they also fulfill more practical goals, such as ventilation, passive natural heating and soundproofing – all of them key aspects to consider, when striving to achieve a house design that is at once visually pleasing and environmentally friendly. There are many styles of windows out there to choose from. The range of glazing technologies to choose from is also wide. What you need to do in terms of selecting the right windows, when planning to build or purchase a new residence is to consider the location’s specificities, your family’s needs and cost-efficiency. It may sound complicated, but, in reality, there are just a few pointers that you need to follow for good results.
Hot or Cold?
First off, analyze weather reports of the area you’re going to move in. Even if it’s an exclusive residential neighborhood, try to visit the location at least once a week for a month, prior to the designing stage of the home or the purchase. Every neighborhood, every block and every street essentially acts as a microclimate. Modern homes with good glazing usually take all the particulars of the location into consideration. If the area is particularly windy or rainy, you will want to limit the glazed area on your most weather-exposed wall. This will improve your home’s thermal proofing, while also preventing you from prolonged exposure to a drab, rainy and ultimately depressing sight.
Framing the View
Lots of modern homes make use of picture windows, but knowing just where to have them put in is a skill that can be elevated to an art. Ask a landscaper or interior designer for help or make the choice yourself. Your goal is to perfectly frame the best looking part of your yard, garden or neighborhood with one wide window. Think about what you would want to see every morning, first thing, for the rest of your life. Is it the spires on the cathedral dome nearby? The park with its ever-changing leaf colors? Weigh your options carefully and also take into account the possibility that your neighbors might decide to build their own home right next to yours, thereby limiting your side views.
Floor-to-ceiling windows and sliding doors are all the rage with contemporary, modern homes. They open up any room and allow the interiors to engage in dialog with the outdoors. However, bear in mind that the exact amount of glazing you will have put in is the exact amount of glazing you will have to clean regularly of handprints. Additionally, glass walls, while striking and very modern-looking, also limit your home’s soundproofing and thermal insulation. This is precisely why floor-to-ceiling glazing should be primarily considered by homeowners who live in exclusive residential communities, preferably located in warm climates.
About the Author
Donna Jackson is a home improvement security expert and a contributor writer. She enjoys offering her expertise to homeowners and recommends sgg-ltd.co.uk for security products.
Last Updated on February 27, 2012
Every spring, March Madness takes over television sets across America. Arguably one of the busiest playoff series in college sports, March Madness shows the top college basketball teams fighting for the right to be called the NCAA champion. But what does March Madness have to do with home remodeling? Well, not only is March the start of one of the busiest seasons for home remodelers, but the playoff series also inspires men and women across the country to update their basements or “man caves” in order to enhance these spaces before the next season.
Granite Transformations, known primarily for home kitchen and bath makeovers, also has done extensive work in boat remodels, particularly those with kitchens and/or bathrooms that need a transformation for its current countertops or backsplash. The picture above shows off the latest boat transformation completed by our Miami location. What is unique about the Granite Transformations process is that our engineered stone is the perfect option for non-traditional remodels like boats and RVs. With those super fast installations, remodels take only a few days to complete allowing no disturbance to the boat owner’s schedule. Everyone knows you never want to interfere with that upcoming fishing trip or vacation to the Bahamas.
Last Updated on February 27, 2012
For those considering remodeling a home or those considering building a home, there are a wide variety of flooring options. Regardless of the material, color or style that you are looking for, there may be an eco-friendly option that will suit your needs. Eco-friendly flooring is good because it helps reduce indoor pollutant levels. Carpeting in particular can introduce toxic chemicals into the home. In addition, carpeting also holds a variety of allergens that can cause long-term health concerns.
In addition to the health benefits that eco-friendly flooring offers, there are many environmental concerns that they address. Eco friendly floors are also generally being made without the use of harsh chemicals, the flooring is created from materials that are easily sustainable and provide long-lasting beauty to all homes.
Types of flooring available
Many people believe that eco-friendly flooring limits their options. However, this is not the case. Eco-friendly flooring options include hardwood, bamboo, cork, tiles and even carpeting. For those who have smaller budgets, there is also an option that is similar to linoleum.
For those who love the look of linoleum, they may want to consider Marmoleum for their kitchen or bathroom. Marmoleum is the eco-friendly option. Marmoleum contains no toxic volatile organic compounds, commonly called VOCs. Marmoleum is available in a wide variety of colors that are suitable for any home. This option is also easy to clean and is highly durable.
Eco-friendly tiling may be created from either glass or ceramic. These are great options for both kitchens and bathrooms. These tiles are made from recycled materials and offer years of long-lasting beauty. They are also available in a wide range of colors guaranteed to suit any home. These tiles resist scratching and are durable and easy to clean. Tiling can be used in playrooms, or any other room in the home.
Typically when we think of new carpeting, we think of the “new carpet smell” that nearly all of us have experienced at one time or another. This new carpet smell is the result of harsh chemicals that the carpeting has been treated with. These chemicals provide stain resistant coatings but also add to the toxicity of the carpeting. In addition to the chemicals in the carpeting, glues and padding also contain toxic chemicals.
Fortunately, there are some carpeting blends that are made from post-consumer recycled products. Some carpeting is also made of wool or jute and have fewer toxic chemicals and also provide long-lasting beauty. These eco-friendly options provide all the luxury of carpeting without the harmful chemicals. Eco-friendly padding and glues for installation are also available.
Wood floor options
Many of us love the look of hardwood floors. When you want the beauty of hardwood flooring but want to get this look with the ability to continue to protect the environment, there are options. Reclaimed wood flooring is created by using flooring that is discarded from homes that were destroyed or renovated. In fact, wine barrels and siding have also been used to create reclaimed wood floors. This wood is carefully processed to remove metal from nails, chemicals and other toxins and is remanufactured into suitable flooring.
FSC-Certified wood is available in oak, maple and cherry and has undergone testing by the Forest Stewardship Council. Suppliers are required to guarantee they are following strict guidelines in preserving the environment. These hardwood floors are not only beautiful, but the material to create them is guaranteed to be replaced through replanting.
Bamboo and cork flooring are also available for those who want the beauty of a hardwood floor without contributing to damaging the environment. Because bamboo grows quickly, it replaces itself very quickly, unlike hardwoods that may require as many as 150 years. In addition, bamboo is extremely durable. Cork flooring offers consumers several colors and textures and can be purchased as either planks or tiles. Cork is stripped from the lower part of plants and therefore does not completely remove them from their natural environment. Some of the best things about cork flooring is it provides an insulating factor in the home, deadens sounds and may help reduce heating costs.
Eco-friendly flooring can add beauty to your home without the addition of harmful chemicals. In addition, these floorings are processed without harming the environment. The options are broad enough that regardless of what type of floor you are interested in, there is an eco-friendly flooring solution that will meet your needs. As we learn more about our ecosystem, each of us has a responsibility to ensure that we are doing everything we can to contribute to keeping our ecosystem strong. Electing eco-friendly flooring may not only help improve the health of our families by keeping harsh chemicals out of our homes but also helps make sure that we are not depleting natural resources.
Last Updated on February 11, 2020
Each month, Granite Transformations’ newsletter features a recipe from its “My Table” cookbook, a collection of delicious recipes from around the world. In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, we have included a recipe for Miniature Irish Potatoes from My Table, the perfect dish to use as a side or as an appetizer at a party:
Last Updated on February 27, 2012
Eco-friendly and green technology have taken the world by storm — from hybrid cars, to natural household cleaners and more. With everything else turning green, how does your home do on the eco-friendly scale?
Sure, you recycle and try to take your reusable bags to the grocery store instead of using plastic, but what about the everyday appliances in your home that could use a little energy efficiency makeover? With spring-cleaning season on the reason, consider updating some of those energy-hog home appliances with a “greener” version.
Newer appliances are designed to be smaller and more energy efficient allowing you to reduce your monthly energy bill. Pictured below are some of the leading eco-friendly kitchen and bathroom appliances, designed to be the next best thing in green technology.
For a comprehensive list of green appliances check out energystar.gov.
This eco-friendly refrigerator from Whirlpool is designed to use about the same or less energy than a conventional light bulb. It has “6th Sense” technology in the form of a button that can quickly chill foods in half the time of a normal refrigerator.
Tatjana Voronova Pure Washer
The “Pure Washer” by Tatjana Voronova, is a rotating dual sink and dishwasher. It is designed to save space and uses degassed water technology to remove oil and dirt from plates without using any soap or detergent! So you can save on cleaning supplies and reduce your exposure to the harmful chemicals of detergent cleaners.
Induction cooktops from Electrolux are all the rave in energy efficient stovetops. They use a magnetic technology to heat. You can put any size pot on this top and when turned on, the energy is only concentrated where the pot is, leaving the rest of the range cool to the touch.
Bamboo Kitchen Cabinets
When remodeling, don’t forget about your kitchen cabinets and floors. Green experts advise people to remember about renewable materials like bamboo and cork when designing floor plans. In this kitchen, the cabinets and the floors are entirely made from bamboo.
Cosentino ECO Counter tops
The ECO by Cosentino counter tops are made from 75% recycled post-industrial or post-consumer materials and constructed using environmentally friendly corn-oil resin. They are made of recycled glass, mirror, porcelain, crystallized ash and stone scraps from quarries that are fully resorted. 94% of the water used in manufacturing is recycled and emissions are controlled to prevent harm to the environment.
Eco Bath System
The “Eco Bath” toilet uses graywater from your sink to flush. The used water from the sink is stored in a tank and connected to the toilet with two pipes, one for the used water and one for fresh water. When you flush the toilet, a mixture of the used and fresh water combine to fill the bowl and flush it.
Joo Diego Schlmansky from Brazil’s Fog Shower uses microscopic droplet technology to reduce water waste by almost a twelfth of that of a regular shower. It consumes just two liters of water during a five-minute shower. Instead of a traditional shower head, this shower uses a fog of heated water vapor that takes less energy to produce than to heat up water in a traditional, energy-saver water heater.
LED lights are not only energy efficient, but when placed strategically they can also be very stylish. LED lights are very bright allowing you to focus light where you need it the most like above and surrounding your bathroom mirror. These small lights can be installed in a gentle design to fit any bathroom theme.
These cool, eco-friendly appliances are all designed to help you reduce your footprint on the planet. With green technology, you can design a home that is not only built to last, but also built with nature in mind.
About the Author
Viki Caneva is a content contributor for the direct mortgage lender, New American Funding. When you are ready to update your home with a greener sense of style, you can use their home improvement loan calculators and tools.
Last Updated on February 27, 2012
Once February hits, most of us are sick of winter and are suffering under the weight of cabin fever. Dreams of sunshine, singing birds and buds on the trees start to fill our heads. It’s when we start to feel like this that our thoughts turn to spring decorating. What better way to welcome spring than with a beautiful front porch? Here are five great ways that you can welcome spring to the neighborhood, right on your front porch, and if you’re decorating your porch on a budget, check out this great article on All You.
Look in the shed; chances are you’ve got a few gallons of paint. Paint the front door or just the trim. Adding a coat of bright white or even a pale yellow can lend a feeling of spring to even the dullest porch! If painting the front door is a bit too bold, consider painting the porch floor or even your furniture. Remember: it’s just paint! You can always change it back to the way it was if you don’t like it.
Nothing screams spring like beautiful whicker furniture and colorful cushions. Look at garage and tag sales, flea markets, or even second-hand shops for new-to-you pieces that you can add to your porch. You don’t have to spend a lot to achieve a great look. Just remember to bring your furniture in for the winter or give it a good coating of weather protector; doing so will ensure that you can enjoy your furniture for years to come.
A few planters scattered strategically around your porch will lend a tremendous amount of curb appeal this season. When choosing plants, think mums, daisies and hydrangeas. Springtime colors like pink, yellow, white and lilac will look perfect! You can easily find planters at garage sales and flea markets, but you might find things lying around your home that you can use. Buckets, barrels and even large stockpots make great planters. To give your plants a chance to drain, drill holes in the bottom of your container or put a few pieces of Styrofoam in the bottom.
Along with planters, various types of greenery will liven up your porch. Add a beautiful wreath to your front door, hung with a wide ribbon. Construct window boxes and plant shade-loving plants; ivy looks particularly lovely flowing out of a window box. Your greenery doesn’t have to be real; it just has to look real! Look around your local craft store and see what they have in the way of “fake” greenery. A few ivy vines will look fantastic hung over your front door.
Since you can do all of the above on a budget, pull out your low interest credit card and use it to purchase new accessories. Porch lights, wind chimes, cushions and welcome mats are all easy ways to add a bit of spring to your home. Look at the front of your house from the sidewalk and look for any accessories that are outdated. Refinishing or replacing these accessories will make you feel like you’ve bought a new house!
You don’t have to go broke to welcome spring to the neighborhood; you just have to be creative. Take a drive around the block and see how others are welcoming the sunshine! You might just bring some inspiration home with you.
Andrew Bennett is a writer for granite credit card — check them out if your credit history is less than ideal.
Last Updated on February 13, 2012
Since the housing bubble burst in 2008, the United States (as well as nations all over the globe) has been struggling to right the ship after the storm. According to some experts, the storm has yet to clear. This leaves many homeowners and potential homebuyers wondering if the bottom has truly fallen out, or whether we’re in for another wave of plummeting house prices, massive foreclosures and government cleanups.
Millions of homeowners are waiting to see if they should hang on to their homes in the hopes of recovering values, or whether they should just cut their losses and be relieved of what they would consider to be dead financial weight. On the other side are the homebuyers, also waiting to see if now is the time to buy, or if they should wait for further decline in home values.
For those who have questions, there are answers. But the answers may not provide comfort. Here’s a recap of housing market statistics:
In the first three months of 2011, the fewest new homes were sold than any previous three-month period ever, since records began in 1962. The last five years have seen a steady decline and experts believe it will continue.
In February of this year, housing starts (new residential building construction) saw its biggest drop since 1984.
The national unemployment rate still hovers around nine percent—improved by 0.08 since last year. Although not a direct indicator, it provides the assumption that unemployed folks don’t buy houses.
The Case Shiller House Price Index, which calculates a composite of house prices in 20 major cities, shows the average house price in January of $140,710, which dropped to $137,630 in March, then rose in August (the latest data available) to $142,840. Averages from the previous year show a consistent decline with brief increases since January 2010, when the price was $145,310.
With all the above information, we can see that there is no significant improvement in any of the indices, which would indicate a rebound if one was on the horizon. We can therefore posit with a certain degree of safety that the housing crisis is nowhere near over. Some experts predict that we will have several years of continuing decline or stagnation in the housing market before things start turning around.
As to when the crisis will end, there is no clear-cut answer. Numerous factors contribute to the stability and growth of the housing market—not the least of which is the general state of the economy. The most compelling factor in this scenario is the homebuyers themselves. The housing market will not recover until people start buying houses and people aren’t likely to buy houses until the economy improves. But, the economy is going to take longer to improve unless people start buying.
This “Catch-22” situation has many potential homebuyers frozen in their collective tracks. The truth of the matter is that now could be a great time to buy homes. Of course, two months or two years from now, we may see a deeper drop in home prices. No one has a crystal ball. But, what is known is that the economy and the housing market will continue to flounder until and unless homebuyers get out there and start the ball rolling toward recovery.
This article is brought to you by the writers from JW Surety, a nationwide surety company who sell mortgage bonds for brokers.
Last Updated on February 13, 2012
Keeping up with appliance trends can be difficult since most of us do not shop for appliances on a regular basis. Appliance companies have made some big improvements to appliances over the last 5-10 years. New appliances have more technology than ever, and they use much less energy than they did in the past. But, what should you look for when shopping for new appliances? Here are five must have features when shopping for new appliances.
Fully Integrated Dishwasher Controls
A common new feature that you will find when shopping for dishwashers is fully integrated controls. What this means is that instead of the buttons being located on the front of the dishwasher, they are now located on the top part of the door. With the controls on the top side of the door, it gives the dishwasher a nice clean look on the front panel. It also makes cleaning easier because there are fewer grooves for stuff to get into. To select and start the cycle on an integrated model dishwasher, you will open the door, select the cycle, hit the start button, and after you close the door the dishwasher will start the cycle.
Have you heard the buzz going around about steam washers and dryers? You may be thinking to yourself, I don’t need steam in my washer or dryer. Steam washers can be very useful for removing stains in clothing, and on some models the steam will even remove allergens. If you don’t like ironing, then a steam dryer is just for you. Steam dryers have a short steam cycle (usually around 15 minutes) for you to throw a garment in the dryer and it will remove odors and wrinkles, almost getting rid of the need for ironing.
If you bake a lot, then getting a convection oven should be on your top priority list. Convection ovens use a fan or multiple fans on the back side of the oven to circulate the air around the inside of the oven. Doing this shortens the time things take to bake, and evens out the heat inside the oven. There are two kinds of convection ovens that you will find, one has a fan on the back of the oven, and the other has a fan with a small heating element that goes around the fan. The fan with the heating element around it will do the best job of baking and giving you consistent temperatures.
High Efficiency Washers & Dryers
Washers and dryers have changed a lot in the last ten years. They used to be something that people would hide in their basement, but now people are showing them off on their main floor of there house. Not only do they look a lot differently, but they also work and perform a lot differently too. Washer and dryers now come in “High Efficiency”, HE for short. The high efficiency washers have a larger capacity drum, use less water, and have a faster spin speed to cut down on drying times. High efficiency dryers use sensors inside the dryer to sense when the clothes are dry to prevent over-drying and use less electricity. A high efficiency washer/dryer set can really help cut down on the utility bills and save you money over time.
French Door Refrigerators
The old side-by-side style refrigerator has been popular for years, but lately french door model refrigerators have become increasingly more popular. French door refrigerators put the refrigerator section at eye level, so you don’t have to bend over to access the items in the refrigerator section. Since most of us use the refrigerator section more than the freezer, this is a big benefit. Ever had trouble fitting something wide into your side-by-side refrigerator? Pizzas, platters, and anything wide will easily fit into a french door style refrigerator. And now the french door models even offer the ice and water dispenser in the door, so you won’t loose out on any of the features that your side-by-side model had.
The outdoors has been influential in interior design for years. From log cabins to Southwestern flare, all types of natural influences have made their way into our homes. But now more than ever, less “themed” inspiration is taking center stage.
Soil, trees, wood, stone…all of these come to mind when thinking of the outdoors. These elements are perfect additions to any space, allowing a room to look organic, rustic, and welcoming. However, we’re not talking gaudy outdoor à la dark woods, flannel, and deer heads. It’s easy to add outdoor influences in a modern and sophisticated way. Here are three ways to subtly bring the great outdoors into your home.
Flooring is a great way to bring the outdoors into your home. By choosing untraditional flooring like beech you can completely transform a room to look light, airy, and clean.
Natural Vaulted Ceilings
If you have the opportunity to remodel your ceiling, consider adding an architectural statement with beams in raw wood. It can add some rustic flare while simultaneously giving off a streamlined aesthetic.
Stone Accent Wall
Accent walls can bring a room to life and add to dimension. Rather than painting it a different color, why not play with texture and use natural stone? It can look both modern and welcoming when done using a stone with minimal lines and a subtle texture. Or add a bit more texture to give off the impression of a fireplace minus the functionality and upkeep.
Adria Saracino is a freelancer, blogger, and home décor enthusiast. She writes for 5.11 Tactical, which sells everything from flashlights to its signature 5.11 Tactical polarized sunglasses.
It’s the greenest thing since buying a Prius and creating a backyard compost heap: using upcycled home décor. Along the same lines as recycling, the idea behind this trend is to take an old object and use it for a new purpose. Rather than simply recycling, the goal with upcycling is to transform the old goods into something hip, funky and a step above the original. Have old mason jars lying around? Textbooks you never read? Good news: you’ve got options.
Suitcases to Chairs
If you have an old hard-cover suitcase lying around in a closet, you can get some use out of it without lugging it to the airport. Hard suitcases and old trunks make great chairs, whether closed and used as a stool or open with cushions inside. Check out any thrift or vintage store to find funky suitcases if you don’t own one, and don’t hesitate to spruce up an existing one with paint or fabric.
Books to Shelves
What better place to stack a pile of books than on top of another book? If you couldn’t sell back that old calculus textbook and you’re certain you won’t be dying to read it anytime soon, you can use it for a unique shelving option. A simple Internet search will teach you how to complete this project, and you’ll be left with an awesome conversation piece. Try using several at different levels on the same wall to mix things up.
Mason Jars to Chandeliers
The possibilities with this project are endless – so no matter what your personal decorating style, you can create something that fits. Hang the jars upside down, right-side up, sideways – whatever you want! You can mix it up by painting the jars or adding other ornamental gems to your masterpiece. For safety purposes, be sure to do your research on proper electrical wiring with this one!
Vinyl Records to Bowls
If you just can’t bring yourself to part with that old Simon & Garfunkel album, you can find a new way to cherish it without letting it collect dust on the shelf. Toss that record in an oven on low heat (about 200 degrees) and wait until it melts just enough to be flexible. Remove it with tongs and an oven mitt, immediately sandwich it between two bowls to create the right shape and give it a few minutes to cool – and like magic, you’ve got yourself a new bowl. Record bowls make ideal planters because of the built-in hole in the bottom, and are also a great place to toss your keys and other small knick-knacks on the entryway table.
Scrabble Tiles to Magnets
Have a passion for word games? Let it show in your home décor! Keep an eye out for old Scrabble sets at your local thrift stores or ask around for friends looking to ditch theirs. Pick up a strip of magnet backing at a craft store, heat up a hot glue gun and get to work. The end result will not only leave your refrigerator looking hip and fresh, but you’ll have endless entertainment while you’re waiting on those vinyl records you put in the oven.
Author Byline: Katie Hawkes is a freelance blogger for Heritage Crown and Millworks, an Arizona company that offers professional installation of crown moulding in Phoenix.
Last Updated on February 6, 2012
Many homeowners who have an older bathroom desire something more modern and appealing; however, a complete renovation may not be practical or affordable. Installing new tile in a bathroom is a project that most homeowners can do themselves and it does not have to be as costly as they may think.
Installing New Bathroom Tile
The most time consuming part of the project must be tackled first, which is the removal of the bathroom fixtures, large and small. This includes the shower stall, vanity, light fixtures, sink and commode. Upon removal of the shower stall, it may be necessary to repair the wall after installing the new shower base. This should be accomplished through the use of water resistant sheet rock. The new shower base should then be installed and the plumbing reconnected.
Preparing the Sub Floor
Removing the existing floor covering is the next step. Depending on the type of floor being removed, it may be necessary to install cement board over the old sub floor, and its surface must be clean before beginning the installation of the new floor. Cement board can be installed over the old flooring, but if one chooses this route, he or she must keep in mind that this will raise the height of the floor by an inch or more, making it necessary to plane the bottom of the bathroom door.
Laying the New Tiles
It is necessary to mark the starting point prior to laying the new tiles, which should be made with a pencil precisely in the middle of the room. Next, one must use a trowel to spread a generous layer of glue on the sub floor. As a general rule, the area covered with glue should be equal in size to the amount one can tile in a half hour or less. This ensures that the glue will not dry out before the tiles are put in place. Grooves should be made in the glue by holding the notched side of the trowel toward the outside of the area where the glue was placed.
One should begin by positioning the first two tiles, which should be installed on either side of the pencil mark. A spacer tile down should then be positioned in the corner where the first two tiles meet, and the tiles should be pressed together firmly in the direction of the spacer and towards the floor at the same time. Completing this step correctly is essential, as this will determine how snugly the tiles fit together. An adequate amount of time should be allowed for this step, as it does little or no good to finish the task quickly, but end up with loose fitting tiles that look sloppy and unattractive. It is also imperative to start in the middle and work outwards to avoid becoming “tiled into a corner.”
When all of the tiles have been installed, the grout should be added. When the grouting has dried, the bathroom fixtures should be carefully reinstalled, and any excess glue or grout should be wiped up with a wet sponge. The tiles should be allowed to set for 48 hours, and the grout should be polished with a damp cloth or according to the directions on the container of sealant.
Tracey Roper is a content contributor for floorwarmers.co.uk, an electric underfloor heating company based in the UK