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Posts by Lauren Busser
Spring has arrived, but as winter weather continues to appear I find myself seriously considering a move down south. To keep myself warm and bring on the arrival of spring, I have been putting on a lot of old movies that feature Southern plantation houses that look majestic in the sunlight.
Now, you might be imagining a home like the one from Gone With the Wind or even one of the homes from The Help, but Southern styling reaches across a wide variety of house plan styles to combine charm, elegance and historical flair.
When you think of Southern plantation houses you probably think of the Old South and the antebellum style. These houses were largely based on the Greek Revival and neoclassical periods. The columns, the stately silhouette, and other features we think of as being Southern were introduced by Anglo-Americans who moved to the South after the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. Modern Southern architecture has transformed to incorporate a wide variety of tastes.
In the early 1800s, Americans identified more with the Grecian style of architecture than the British styles. If you imagine the Parthenon, you can tone down some of the decorative details and get an idea of what these stately homes looked like. Commonly these home were made of white clapboard exteriors, decorative pilasters, and dentil moldings and heavy cornices. Though there are still some of these historical buildings around, many of the more modern takes blend the Greek Revival style with the Southern Colonial style.
Colonial style originated in the Southern American colonies. Unlike the Northern colonial styles the Southern style had a chimney at the end instead of the center. Other features were a centered front door, multi-pane and tall double-hung windows, steep gabled roofs, and a narrow plan, often only one row deep. There are also tall foundation walls to protect against moisture damage and a large welcoming porch.
With a range of styles from the simple cottage to stately homes these houses share a few common features. Unlike Victorian or craftsman homes, these houses are often symmetrical with porches, columns and shuttered windows. Some are also raised off the ground in order to give a good view of the surrounding landscape. Gables and dormers are also a key feature where the roof design is concerned.
Regardless of whether you choose a French Creole, Antebellum, Greek Revival or Georgian inspired Southern house plan, you will find that these plans are warm and inviting, embodying the spirit of Southern hospitality.
Spring is just around the corner and as green starts to make its presence known in the grass and the trees there are simple things that everyone can do to green their new home. You can look for eco-friendly building materials and green solutions to many of your home building processes, but while you wait to move in, here are a few more simple solutions to consider.
Update Your Appliances
One of the things that no home should be without is an ENERGY STAR rated refrigerator. The refrigerator is one of the biggest energy hogs in a home. When a fridge, ten year or older is replaced with an ENERGY STAR rated model, the average home owner can save up to $150 according to the Environmental Protection Agency. And according to ENERGY STARS’s website, if one in ten homes used ENERGY STAR appliances, it would be the equivalent to 1.7 acres of new trees.
Watch the Temperature
Almost half of a home’s energy is consumed during heating and cooling. You can save that energy by being mindful of the temperature. Keep the thermostat down in cold weather and up in warm weather. For each degree you lower your thermostat during colder weather saves you between 3 and 5 percent more on heat energy. During warmer weather, keeping the thermostat at 78 degrees will help you save money. You can also consider using ceiling fans instead of air conditioners.
If you are planning for next winter, you can also consider buying a new furnace. Furnaces made today are 25 percent more efficient than those made in the 1980s. You can also find furnaces that carry the ENERGY STAR label as well.
Adding things like an aerator or a low-flow toilet, or showerhead can help you towards saving water. You can save water simply by changing certain behaviors. For example, shutting off the water while you brush your teeth saves 4.5 gallons every time and using a broom instead of a garden hose to clean your driveway will save 80 gallons of water.
When it comes to living green, using green materials is half the battle, but there are always little things that you can do to save more energy and water. Living green doesn’t have to mean making compromise after compromise. You can have style and still be green with some simple lifestyle changes and one of several award winning ENERGY STAR rated house plans from Direct from the Designers.
It might not feel like it right now, but spring is on its way. Sunday March 10th marks the beginning of daylight savings time, and we will once again spring forward into daylight. A few more hours of daylight are a precious commodity that can heighten spirits as we move into springtime.
What can you do with extra daylight? According to Lowe’s, you can prepare your home for use during the long warm late spring and summer nights.
1. You can begin by cleaning and washing the exterior of your home, including your patio and desk. It is important to finish cleaning before you plant your garden beds so that you don’t disturb any new plants. You can also clean your outdoor furniture and consider covering it until after the pollen has fallen.
2. Then, you can tune up your outdoor power equipment. This includes making sure that your lawn mower is in perfect condition. You can take the initiative by checking the engine oil, changing the blades, and even restringing your trimmer.
3. Trim and shape bushes around your yard and cut down low hanging tree branches. It’s best to complete this task early and clean up the pieces before you plant in your flowerbeds.
4. Place a new layer of pine straw or mulch in your beds to freshen them up. Just be sure to check with your homeowner’s association for restrictions.
5. Plan. This step is the most fun. Take a moment and plan where you want to add color with your spring landscape. Consider adding spring bulbs or perennials to your flowerbeds or you can decide to undertake planting a vegetable or herb garden.
Daylight savings time will bring with it the chance to do spend more time doing many outdoor activities, but if you plan on using a porch or patio during the spring and summer, a few simple tasks can make your outdoor space much more enjoyable and create an outdoor oasis from the second the clocks spring forward on Sunday March 10th at 2 a.m.
A kitchen counter is a space that is used for more than just cooking. It’s where kids do their homework and eat breakfast, and it is no surprise that they will probably take a lot of abuse during their lifetime. In recent years, quartz countertops have been on the rise. If you are thinking of the crystals that you would use during your high school experiments, think again. The quartz countertops found on the market today are stylish and fresh, and have their own benefits when it comes to making a smart choice for your kitchen counters.
Since your kitchen counters are bound to be a surface that will take a lot of abuse, one of the most important decisions regarding selecting a counter is surface durability. Before you worry about limitations of style and color, let’s begin by saying that both quartz and granite are available in a wide variety of colors and styles, making it easy to adapt either into your kitchen house plan.
Granite is a very strong material that resists cracking and chipping but quartz rates higher on the hardness scale. Quartz is also non-porous, which means it resists common stains such as oil, coffee, and wine better and is very easy to clean. Granite on the other hand, is composed of a crystalline structure that is composed of several fissures that requires regular sealing. This maintenance needs to be done about once a year or you run the risk of staining your granite or letting bacteria fester inside. Quartz on the other hand offers superior protection against pathogens.
Cost is another factor in choosing your countertops. While both make excellent choices for kitchen counters, the cost of the materials can vary greatly. Granite tends to be the more expensive material, depending on style. Quartz countertops can vary widely, but given the ease in maintaining the countertop, you might find the higher cost to be more practical than unreasonable.
Overall, the choice of granite or quartz countertops is really a matter of preference, but one thing is certain. When it comes to installing your countertops, make sure it is done by a specialist. Hiring a specialist will reduce the risk of chipping, breaking or fissuring. Check out these fabulous kitchen collections for Direct from the Designers to start creating your dream kitchen house plan.
When it comes to flooring, there are your standard materials: carpet, hardwood and tile. In Garfield, Pennsylvania, however a woman decided to use a different building material, pennies.
Yes, that’s right, copper pennies. ABC News reported that Mel Angst, who runs a Pittsburgh-area tattoo parlor with her husband was looking for a unique way to tile her parlor, called Artisan Tattoo Shop. She picked up the pennies from a local bank and traded her services as a tattoo artist for manpower. The task took 300 hours and over three weeks to complete. The results was approximately 800 square feet in Lincoln profiles.
“My floor is made out of about 250,000 pennies,” Angst told ABC Pittsburgh affiliate WTAE. “Amazingly enough, it’s a lot cheaper to glue money to your floor than to actually buy tile. It’s about $3 a square foot.”
After the floor was laid down, Artisan had a gallery show where patrons could view the new floor, and anyone who logged 30 hours or more of penny tiling, would be promised a free penny tattoo.
What”s even more interesting is that this is apparently not the first time someone had the brilliant idea to use pennies to tile a floor. At New York”s Standard Hotel restaurant The Standard Grill the floor is literally tiled in thousands of copper pennies, adding a unique vibe to the interior decor.
Picking up a quarter million pennies might be as easy as going to your local bank, but if you aren’t interested in metallic, but like the look of rounded tiles there are a number of places that sell what are known as “penny rounds.” They are tiles, measuring about three quarters of an inch in diameter shaped like tiny circles. In short, they are about the size of a penny.
Your next question might be, where you should use these tiles. Tile flooring is common in kitchens and bathrooms, and pennyrounds can be used for either. Like other tiles, penny rounds can also be used for flooring or walls, even as accents over a countertop.
If you are enamored by the concept of rounded tiles then make sure to check out our collection of Fabulous Kitchen House Plans.
No matter what size or style home you have, adding a fireplace to your home design will create a warm and cozy living space. Traditional fireplaces are not the most energy efficient, but you can still enjoy the comfort and warmth of a fire without wasting energy by installing an electric fireplace or insert instead. Here are three beautiful built-in electric fireplaces that are also affordable to operate:
This Dimplex® Kendal electric fireplace is beautifully crafted and operates at a low cost. You get the look and feel of a fireplace without having to retrieve wood. The Kendal electric fireplace operates for pennies an hour, four cents with flame only and nine cents with the heat cycling at fifty percent. With high-efficiency and beautiful craftsmanship, this would make a beautiful centerpiece to any room.
The Home Fire series from Modern Flames® operates with a low energy LED flame. Unlike the Dimplex® model, this fireplace is sleeker with a more contemporary fit and finish. This fireplace can be used with or without heat, so the ambiance of a fire can be found enjoyed all year around.
The Lennox® Ravelle™ fireplace is a high-efficiency, furnace-rated fireplace. With everything from white to black arches to nickel, gold, and black inserts, this fireplace is a stylish fireplace that will meet high heating demands. This is perfect for anyone who wants lots of options and can””t quite find the perfect fireplace for their decor.
The charm of a fireplace is enthralling, but it doesn””””t have to be expensive. Consider an electric fireplace and make sure you get the most for the cost of your heating bill. These beautiful fireplaces are energy-efficient and perfect for your home and any style home. Take a look at any of Direct from the Designers”””” specialty collections and you are sure to find the right match for your vision.
October means more than pumpkin spice lattes and falling leaves, it is also the time for ghouls and goblins to come out and play for Halloween. If your new home is going to be in a neighbor full of children there are bound to be trick-or-treaters at your home, and a house with the right architecture can provide the perfect atmosphere for a frightening All Hallows Eve.
The Victorian era has some fantastic architecture, ranging from the simple to the elaborate. With details such as stonework and archways, these homes provide the base for a haunting Halloween display. A large veranda provides enough space to display jack-o-lanterns, ghosts, or even some antiquated bottles with distressed labeling.
The Villain’s Cottage
Perhaps your dream home is more in tune with the witch’s cottage that Hansel and Gretel happen upon. While gingerbread and other baked goods won””””””””t make for an easy to maintain home, you can still make the creepy cottage in the woods a reality with a home that features detailed millwork.
While homes like this have charm, they can easily be made into scary exhibits for Halloween with a few well placed decorations and jack-o-lanterns along the entryway. Dress as the wicked witch and you’ll have a façade that is sure to fright neighbors and friends alike.
If your dream is to live in that house on the hill that looks like it came out of a Shirley Jackson novel, then consider a large towering mini castle house plan. Homes with castle-like silhouettes will also provide a sturdy backdrop for Halloween displays.
Ideal for a home with a spacious yard, small castle house plans like this can be made into instant Halloween spectacles with very little effort. Put a few pumpkins on the porch, and light the windows artistically, and before you know it, your home will be the stuff of legends.
These detailed houses might seem a little off-beat for a modern home, but with the right styling they can be the envy of the block on Halloween. Whether you go for understated Victorian or out-right Gothic, if Halloween is your holiday, your ideal home exists somewhere in the Direct from the Designers library.
October is Adopt-A-Shelter-Dog month, and shelters all around the country are filled with dogs and puppies of all breeds who need a new home. If you already have one of these beautiful dogs or are thinking of adding one to your family after you build. Here are a few things to consider.
Keeping Pets In
A dog is active, and if you plan on letting them out to roam the yard, it would be wise to put a fence up. Yes, an invisible fence won’t obstruct curb appeal, but while it keeps your precious pet in, it can’t keep predators out. Your fence should also have a buried, inward, forward-facing section to keep your pets from tunneling.
Dealing with the Mess
There is also substantial mess involved in owning a dog. They are living beings and are as curious as a small child. There is definitely a chance that your dog might step in mud and track it through the house. For this, a mudroom is a nice addition to the house. Serving as a second entryway, it often helps to dirt from entering the house proper. Likewise, if your dog or puppy gets wet or muddy and feels the need to shake, it’s more likely the grime will end up on an easily washable wall, instead of some new furniture.
Decorating and Designing
When it comes to designing the particulars of a room, keep your flooring choices washable. Think of hardwood floors, semi-gloss paint, and easily washed area-rugs. Also, consider interior, dutch-doors. These two-piece doors will allow for easy control over which animals can enter each room and eliminate the need for awkward baby gates.
Owning a pet can be a rewarding experience, but to avoid regrets later on, it is essential to think about how the pets will be cared for in their new home. To prevent the loss of a four-legged friend and keep the humans of the house sane, a few stylish design additions will ensure a great quality of life for both humans and canines.