American Colonial architecture
Not only is the American Colonial style of architecture the most popular home style in the United States, its direct influences are found in homes styles throughout the country.
The colonial style evolved from the European influences of immigrants, dating back to the 1600s and maintains a lasting influence even today. It brought the styles, techniques and traditions of early American settlers from England and throughout Europe, and settled in what we now refer to as Colonial America. Using what materials were available, the colonists built homes to meet the year-round demands of the climate.
Over time, the colonial style became distinct in different regions of the United States. While it flourished mainly in two regions – the Northeast and the South – builders began to tweak the styles to give birth to several other recognized regional housing styles that express the original colonial influences. These distinct styles evolved into New England Colonial, German Colonial, Spanish Colonial, Dutch Colonial, Georgian Colonial, French Colonial and Cape Cod, which you can read about in more detail here.
The colonial style is mostly traced back to the influence of architects during the reconstruction of England following the fire of 1666 and was based partly on Roman and Greek ruins. Several architects – like the Italian Andrea Palladino – influenced British architects like Christopher Wren, James Gibbs and Robert Adam during the rebuilding of London.
Because of those influences, colonial-style homes share several characteristics. The most common are based on square floor plans and the use of symmetry. The other traits include a central entry door and interior stairs, rooms branching off of a central hallway, and straight rows of windows on both the first (often two on each side of the door) and second floors. Other characteristics include columns, paired chimneys, and steeply-pitched roofs. You can view examples of these characteristics here on Houzz.com.
While the colonial style of architecture is somewhat ubiquitous across the United States, it has also left a continuous influence on many other types and subtypes of homes.
Eco-friendly Home Furnishings
Home decorating is an enjoyable project for many, and a great way to express your creativity and design sense. But have you ever thought about going green the next time you decorate?
There are still lingering stigmas about eco-friendly home furnishings falling into the categories of crunchy, bland, and uncomfortable. But times are seriously changing. There are many options for eco-friendly furniture, including high-end designer pieces that can give your room a boost while also supporting the environment.
Eco-friendly home furnishings can be made from recycled materials (such as metals or plastics), sustainable materials (including bamboo, reclaimed wood and hemp) or by simply re-purposing materials and items. Eco-friendly furniture also brings several benefits beyond just diminishing your carbon footprint. Choosing green furniture decreases your exposure to harmful fumes and volatile organic compounds from paints, finishes, and glues that can cause a series of health problems. About.com takes a look at how to buy green furniture.
Here are six examples of eco-friendly furniture that are easy on the eyes and the environment:
Recycled Coffee Stirrer Chandelier
This chandelier looks like something it’s not, because it’s made from thousands of used coffee stirrers. Instead of millions of stirrers going into the landfill, they have found a new purpose as eco-friendly lighting.
Recycled Cork Chaise Lounge
While cork can be made into almost anything, Cortica designed this chaise lounge that blends modern living with a sustainable green design.
This unique handcrafted dining table by Scrapile was formed from nontoxic, water-soluble glue and local wood-shop scraps to make innovative furniture at its finest.
Zelfo Australia Peanut Chair
This unique chair is made from Zelfo, a strong, light, and pliable material formed from natural fibers, recycled paper, and other raw cellulose materials.
Oil Drum Furniture
The Pangaea Collection uses recycled oil drums to create furniture like these tables, which make a strong statement in any room.
Wood Crate Furniture
Reusing existing items is an important part of eco-friendly design, and wood crates and wine boxes can be used almost anywhere around the home for shelving and furniture, like these examples on Pinterest.
More than 50 million Americans today live in condominiums, homeowner associations, cooperatives and other planned communities. Being part of a community association offers homeowners many benefits and amenities, but is something to consider before buying a home or estate within a gated community.
A Homeowners Association (HOA), is a legal entity created to maintain common areas. These are often the most affordable way to own a home, especially for first-time homebuyers. When deciding whether to enter into one of these "gated communities" you should make the following considerations.
1. The first thing to ask is whether the home that catching your eye is part of a community association. If so, your real estate agent will obtain copies of the governing documents Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CC&R), for you to read through carefully.
2. Recognize that member homeowners agree to comply with all governing documents. In tangible terms, these rules apply to architectural guidelines like additions, decks and paint colors, landscaping, maintenance, satellite dishes, fences, parking, pets and more.
3. Get a visual of how these rules and restrictions are actualized within the community by taking a stroll through the neighborhood. Pay attention to how the common grounds are maintained, what parking is like, and what conditions the homes are in.
4. Ask to talk to a member of the elected board or the president of the association. They will be able to give you reasoning behind the governing documents and answer any questions about how they would apply to you. Also talk to people who live in the community. Find out how they feel about abiding by their community's rules and restrictions.
5. Examine the association budget carefully. This budget sets the level of assessments and services available to the entire community. Understand that these assessments are mandatory homeowner dues that must be paid or you risk legal action taken against your property. Look for a reserve fund within the budget that will cover major expenditures, like roof replacements or the resurfacing of private roads. If there is not a reserve fund, then the association will likely impose special assessments on member households - a potentially expensive, unanticipated expense.
6. After examining the CC&R and budget, make sure the home you are looking to buy is not already out of compliance with HOA rules. Failing to do so can result in larger, more expensive issues down the road.
7. If you are environmentally conscious, assess the environmental practices stated in the CC&R. Some communities require the use of fertilizers, pesticides, sprinkler systems and other tools to keep your property in line with community standards.
8. Ultimately, be realistic. Homeowner associations have many benefits and advantages, such as well maintained public spaces and stronger communities. However these associations face the difficult task of pleasing all participating members. This includes potentially controversial community issues, which ultimately requires judgement and decision-making by the elected officials. Ask yourself how you will react when given rules that you do not particularly like or enjoy.
Three common home seller mistakes
If you are preparing to sell your home or have already started the process, it’s important to understand you can learn from other’s mistakes. And there are three time-honored mistakes that stand out above the rest that many sellers make.
There can be a lot of work involved in selling your home. But avoiding these pitfalls – the biggest mistakes a seller can make – will help you get top dollar for your home as quickly as possible.
If there is one rule to remember, it’s this: Your home is only worth what the market is willing to pay you for it. Overpricing is the biggest single mistake a seller can make, and many are tempted to list their homes for sale based on what they paid, or outdated prices, instead of the current market conditions. Your agent should know the market, inventory and current prices as well as the current and past comparables in a market analysis. If you set the price too high, it will sit, and a long stay on the market will bring about questions from wary buyers, and inevitably a reduction in your asking price. Don’t invite the opportunity for buyers to negotiate. There is a number that will get your home sold, and sold quickly.
The appearance and condition of your home are the first, and most important, impressions on a buyer. Most owners do not want to invest in a home that they plan to sell, but the condition impacts both appeal and price. Ask yourself this: Do you want to sell your home quickly at the highest possible price? Good, then confer with your agent for suggestions. Don’t neglect to fix simple things that are broken, because it’s a red flag to buyers about what they can’t see. Walk through your home like you’re a buyer, and remember small things matter.
Simply put, don’t skimp on marketing because you think it’s not important. The best way to guarantee you will sell your house is to exhaust every marketing opportunity available to you, ensuring it reaches the most people buyers possible. It’s a numbers game: The more buyers (and agents) who see your house, the better your chances are of selling it. Give your agent time for a proper marketing plan, which should include professional photos. Cast a wide net, and understand the impact of social media and online marketing – 90 percent of buyers use the Internet to search for a home, according to the National Association of Realtors.
For many, shabby chic is the style and design of choice inside your home. But did you know you can find your look without the expense, and support the environment while you’re at it?
You don’t need to pay high-end retail prices for a shabby chic look. In fact, you can create a great shabby chic look for basically no cost at all. When you repurpose older items, utilize items made from reclaimed wood, use sustainable products like bamboo or cork, or finding a new home for older fabrics or eco-friendly fabrics (like linen, wool, hemp or cashmere) you’re really reducing the eco footprint of your home.
Shabby chic can be a perfect t blend of old and new, and you can create the ultimate home décor that stays true to its shabby roots while also staying true to the spirit of eco-friendly living.
Here are seven ideas for creating an eco-friendly Shabby Chic look inside your home:
Old fabrics, new home – There are many uses for older fabrics you can find on eBay, Etsy, or even by reusing thrift store sweaters. You can reupholster dining room chairs like this example from Wholeliving.com, make decorative pillows and throws like these examples on Pinterest or take old scarves or sweaters to make a quilt.
Glass vases – There are many uses for old glass bottles, jars and bowls around the home to create a Shabby Chic look. Use repurposed glass as vases or create a unique centerpiece with a collection of mixed glass like this example.
Repurposed glass lighting – Old wine bottles, mason jars and even glass vases can be repurposed in various forms as pendant lighting, even by using an old glass bowl. Wine bottles are popular forchandeliers and pendant lights.
Wall decorations – Nothing says Shabby Chic like repurposing frames, shutters, or even old doors as art on windowless walls. Shutters can help frame other art or occupy big spaces, while there are limitless uses for old window frames.
New-ish Napkins – Get rid of paper products in your home and instead use old handkerchiefs or vintage cloth napkins. Try reusing old button-down cotton shirts by cutting them into dishcloths or napkins. Vinegar can be used along with a natural detergent to get rid of germs and also acts as a natural fabric softener.
Shabby chandelier – Get creative by repurposing items to create unique chandelier lighting. Repurposing vintage silverware is popular for chandeliers, but many other items can be reused, like clothes pins, mason jars and even plastics, like coffee stirrers.
Ideas for reclaimed wood – Using sustainable materials (like bamboo or cork) or reclaimed wood is a great way to be eco-friendly inside the home, whether you buy it or create it yourself. Simply repurposing older items in new ways is an option. But two of the more simple DIY projects to utilize reclaimed wood are to create side tables by attaching any type of base, or using individual pieces of reclaimed wood to create wall shelves. Take it an eco-step further by reusing metal piping or scrap metal as the shelf support.
Loft Style of Architecture
When it comes to architecture and design, the term “loft” can ultimately hold several different meanings. Sometimes it depends who you ask.
But the most common connotation for many is that of industrial warehouses and commercial structures that have been converted into loft living spaces. They are most often associated with urban living, especially on the East Coast, but in truth loft spaces exist anywhere there are buildings with an industrial past. In truth, lofts can be found in major cities across the country.
Some of the oldest lofts are indeed found in Manhattan, where many of the manufacturing buildings of the industrial age were abandoned when the narrow streets could handle the changes in transportation and the advent of large vehicles. These abandoned spaces became popular during the 1960s when artists needed big spaces and found it in unoccupied industrial buildings.
The loft-style of architecture (as seen here on Pinterest) generally describes large, open spaces with exposed industrial features. Here are some key elements:
Open space. The traditional “hard” lofts feature completely open floor plans and usually have a minimum of 1,600 square feet with few interior walls, creating flexible, utilitarian space.
Exposed features. Traditional lofts leave features such as air conditioning ducts, sprinkler lines, columns and structural beams out in the open, showing their roots as industrial-use buildings.
High ceilings. Most “hard” lofts include ceilings that are 10 feet or higher.
Authentic materials. The use of turn-of-the-century materials – such as concrete or hardwood floors, tin ceilings, wood beams, original timber and brick or thick plaster walls – is common.
Lots of light. Built before the advent of electric light, old industrial buildings and factories utilized huge windows – often floor-to-ceiling – to let in as much daylight as possible.