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.
For many, outdoor decorations and lighting are as much a part of the winter holidays as gift giving and enjoying our favorite foods. With the rising cost in electricity, using LED (light emitting diode) lights can save you money without sacrificing your holiday display. LED holiday lights use 10 times less energy than mini bulbs and 100 times less than traditional holiday bulbs. For outdoor lighting, consider solar powered LED lights.
If you’re concerned about how holiday LED light strands compare to traditional incandescent lights, you’ll find you’re in for a wonderful treat. Here are some great, green reasons why making the switch to LED lights makes sense this holiday season.
LED lights are energy efficient. They can save up to 98% of the electricity needed to power incandescent light strands. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the amount of electricity consumed by just one 7-watt incandescent bulb could power 140 LEDs — enough to light two 24-foot strings.
The environmental benefits of using LED holiday lights are numerous. They use less electricity, are recyclable and don’t contain ultraviolet light or mercury.
Because they generate less heat, LED light bulbs are cool-to-the-touch. There’s also less risk of them overheating and catching fire.
The cost is surprisingly affordable if you’re a smart shopper. LED Holiday Light Exchange programs from your local utility company and government are making it easier for consumers to switch. Consult the website of your local utility, city or county for holiday light exchange or reduced-fee programs.
Unlike incandescent light bulbs, LEDs don’t have a filament that might break or burn out. They have epoxy lenses that are almost indestructible, which means you can drop them or step on them and they’ll keep on shining brightly. LED bulbs can last for more than 100,000 hours. That means you could potentially have your LED holiday light set around for several holiday seasons.
LED holiday light strings that have earned the U.S ENERGY STAR® rating last up to 10 times longer than traditional incandescent strands. They are also independently tested to meet strict lifetime and electrical requirements. Check for manufacturers that offer five-year warranties.
With LEDS you don’t have to worry about your lights burning out if one fails because holiday light strands have tiny built-in fuses. Be sure not mix incandescent and LED strands together.
Holiday LED lights come in vibrant colors, bright lights and a variety of shapes and styles. You also get the same special effects like blinking, dimming and color shifting but with new and more efficient technology.
Since they’re made of plastic and aren’t breakable, like their incandescent forefathers, they don’t require the extra cardboard, special slots and packing material that the old ones do. This makes them lighter and easier to store.
By using LEDS you are can still create a big holiday light display while being eco-friendly.
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.
Decorating your home for the fall months can be both an enjoyable time spent with family and relatively inexpensive. There are plenty of great things about this particular time of year like the return of cooler temperatures (gather round the fireplace), fall colors and nature changing before our eyes (take in the gorgeous foliage). Adding fall touches of décor to the interior and exterior of home will help you transition into a new and exciting season of holidays and family traditions. Here are some great ideas and tips to decorate your home for the fall from the leading designers and architects of American’s most popular house plans:
The warmth of this classic two-story Craftsman house plan starts at the front entry with wraparound porch and continues through the opening living space to the rear covered patio cozy breakfast nook. Curb appeal and efficiency is easily achieved with fiberglass doors, columns and trim from Therma-Tru® and Fypon®. View Direct from the Designers extensive collection of Craftsman House Plans.
Dress up your porch
You can easily give your front porch and entry fall inspiration by wrapping corn stalks, raffia or straw around your columns and railings. You can easily add rich colors to this theme by adding thick ribbons and placing mums on your front steps. If you have children, don’t forget the pumpkins. Pumpkins not only symbolize Halloween but fall harvest. The best thing about using pumpkins to decorate your porch or entryway is that you can turn them into Jack-o-lanterns for Halloween night, while snacking on homemade pumpkin seeds.
Light up your home’s exterior
Luminaries are not just for the winter holiday season, they are perfect for fall too as the sun starts to set earlier in the afternoon. Try some harvest string lights in fall colors, Maple leaf garland string lights and of course there’s a wide selection of Halloween themed lights. Battery powered candles placed inside paper bags with sand in the bottom, makes perfect luminaries for your walkway and front stairs.
Nature-inspired door wreath
Welcome visitors with a beautiful autumn wreath at your front entry door. You can use simple grapevine wreaths, which are gorgeous on their own. If you prefer more adornment consider adding pinecones, leaves, berries and corn husks to your wreath. If you have a lot of windows that face the front of your home, consider hanging similar wreaths from these windows as well.
Roll out the welcome mat
Accent your front entry with a fall themed doormat. Whether you’re searching for a harvest, football, school or any other fall theme, there’s a bounty of options to choose from. To help with visitors tracking in the elements, you should consider both an outdoor doormat and an indoor entrance mat.
Add autumn artwork to your walls
Display artwork that depicts fall themes and colors in your front foyer or on a predominate wall in your family room or dining room. Consider nature themes with fall colors like oranges, reds and golden yellows, which can alter the mood in your home. Wall candles will not only provide ambiance, but also bring the aroma of fall into your home with the scents of apple, cinnamon and pumpkin.
This is Direct from the Designers most popular selling house plan. It’s packed with amenities and lots of style. Enjoy additional images and the floor plan for L’attesa di Vita.
Use your fireplace mantel to showcase seasonal décor
Your fireplace mantel is a great place to showcase your seasonal décor. Simply by taking a walk in the woods or your own backyard you can find a treasure chest of pinecones, dried leaves, cattails and red berries to create a simple decoration. Adding small pumpkins, gourds, dried arrangements and rich colored candles will add appeal to your mantel.
Create cozy sitting areas
As the cooler temperatures begin, you’ll want to bring out the colorful throw blankets and cozy pillows so you can cuddle up with a good book or movie. There are so many variations in pillow and throw sizes, styles, prints and textures that you can give your living room a whole new look for the fall.
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