Types of Outdoor Living Spaces – Brooklyn Berry Designs

outdoor living

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Many people consider their outdoor living spaces to be just as important as their indoor ones. In fact, some families spend more time outdoors grilling, hanging out by the pool or lounging on their decks than they do inside their homes. No matter what type of outdoor living space you want to create, there are plenty of types and features to choose from. Additionally, there are various companies, such as Softwoods Adelaide, available that can assist you with designing your spaces or provide you with the materials and tips that you need to do it yourself.

Pergolas

Pergolas give you the ability to create outdoor spaces that are private and protected. Usually, pergolas are custom-designed to fit your home. However, you may also purchase pre-manufactured ones and simply place them where you want them. Some people like to place their pergolas directly against their homes and connect them with decks, whereas others like to place them in a random location on their landscape. Where you want to place your pergola is all about personal preference, but pergolas certainly make charming additions to homes and landscapes.

Perhaps one of the most popular types of outdoor living spaces are decks. Many people have decks that connect to their homes and are accessible through sliding glass doors. Others have decks around swimming pool and spa areas. Still others have decks that are a combination of both and connect the swimming area with the home. Decks may be enclosed or uncovered, and they can be built in virtually any fashion that the homeowner desires. Decks allow you to expand your outdoor living space as much as you want it and get you up off the ground so that you can enjoy the conditions outside no matter what the weather, even when the ground is wet and soggy.

The type of outdoor living space that is best for a home is influenced, in part, by the homeowner’s personal sense of style as well as his or her budget. For instance, some more elaborate types of pergolas and decks can cost more than simpler models. Some people might simply prefer simpler designs. No matter what type of outdoor living space you choose to invest in, selecting one that complements your home’s design is essential to creating an advantageous space. For instance, if your home doesn’t feature any sliding glass doors, then you might need to consider creating a deck that accommodates a different type of access.

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Examining the Effects of Hardwood, Cork and Bamboo Flooring on the Environment

Hardwood Flooring

Ambient is proud to present this guest post by Cora Ballek, with additions by the Greener Living Blog Editorial Team.  Cora is the winner of the 2019 Ambient Bamboo Floors Essay Contest Scholarship.  Cora is an undergraduate student at the University of California, Davis.   

On October 8th, 2018, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change published a report spelling out worldwide disaster if global emissions are not significantly curtailed by 2030. With global temperatures continuing to rise and greenhouse gasses continuing to accumulate in our atmosphere, reducing humanity’s carbon footprint has become more important than ever. Though this responsibility falls largely on national governments and corporations, even average consumers now feel obligated to use their purchasing power to combat pollution and global warming. Products that are eco-friendly, organic, reusable, recyclable, renewable, sustainable, or in any way “green” continue to gain popularity, and producers have picked up on this: In many industries, companies now attempt to outdo each other in offering the “greenest” possible product. In few industries is this competition more prominent than in the building products industry. Between manufacturers, environmental review sites, and home improvement blogs, countless sources offer environmentally concerned homeowners important advice concerning environmental friendliness of one material or another.

What flooring is the most eco-friendly?

When talking about flooring, many advocate for hardwood, cork, linoleum, ceramic tiles, stone, eco-friendly carpet, even glass tiles – and, of course, for the king of them all: bamboo. Close behind are cork and hardwood. To find the most eco-friendly, begin with a close look at bamboo flooring.

Examining the environmental impacts of bamboo flooring

Due partly to its insanely rapid growth rate, bamboo is often considered one of the most sustainable materials in existence, and when first learning about it, it’s easy to see why. Taxonomically, bamboo is a grass, rejuvenating itself regularly from an underground rhizome stock. As such, it can be harvested bi-annually or even annually once the plant has reached maturity.

Notable Bamboo Properties:

  • Under good conditions, a bamboo plant will reach maturity in five to seven years.
  • The fastest-growing bamboos may grow up to 3.5 feet in a single day.
  • When well-managed, bamboo requires neither pesticides nor fertilizers preventing harmful runoff into rivers and lakes.

These properties make bamboo an ideal material when it comes to reducing humanity’s ecological footprint. However, determining the sustainability of the raw material is only the first step when evaluating any type of flooring for its contribution to the race to shrink our carbon footprint.

The video below shares more about building an environmentally friendly home with bamboo flooring and other sustainable materials.

Is bamboo flooring the most eco-friendly? Find out in this comparison with cork and hardwood flooring.

In order to find whether bamboo flooring truly helps to decrease humanity’s carbon footprint – and whether it does so better than other materials – it must be compared to its two main carbon-consuming competitors, hardwood and cork, along every stage of its production process.

When it comes to flooring, bamboo, hardwood, and cork are the best bets for addressing our carbon footprint for one simple reason: All three materials act as carbon sinks. Grown in large quantities on plantations, bamboo, hardwood trees, and cork oaks alike all absorb large amounts of CO2 from the air through photosynthesis and trap the carbon component within their biomass for extended periods of time in order to grow to their respective sizes.

The same cannot be said for ceramic tile, stone, or carpet. Linoleum, though produced using organic matter, similarly cannot be said to act as a carbon sink, since its primary ingredient, linseed oil, comes from flax, a plant of much smaller stature. To decisively determine which of these three main contenders stores carbon most effectively is somewhat difficult. Findings from different reports often differ in terms of precise values.

However, when observing these findings holistically, a general trend emerges. According to a report by the International Network for Bamboo and Rattan (INBAR), the carbon sequestering capabilities of Moso bamboo – the most common bamboo used in bamboo flooring and usually harvested at 5 years of age – measure up to those of a Chinese Fir, a fast-maturing tree that is generally harvested 30 years after planting, when compared over a time period of 60 years with two rotations of Firs.

A 2008 article published by Slate, by contrast, cites an estimate made by the World Wildlife Fund that “an acre of bamboo can store 6.88 metric tons of carbon per year, about 70 percent more than an acre of hardwoods”. To validate such a claim, some math is required: Given that a hardwood tree can absorb up to 48 pounds of CO2 in a year, which is equivalent to 21.77 kg, and given that a tree plantation with trees seeded 8 feet by 8 feet apart – a common layout – will contain about 680 trees per acre, this would mean that such a tree plantation could absorb around 14.8 metric tons of carbon dioxide in a year. But since carbon itself only makes up 27.3 percent of the weight of carbon dioxide, the amount of carbon absorbed by a tree plantation seeded 8×8 feet in a year is about 4.04 metric tons a year, exactly in line with the previous statistic.

“An acre of bamboo can store 6.88 metric tons of carbon per year, about 70 percent more than an acre of hardwoods.”

~Brendan Koerner, Slate Magazine

Further evidence can be found in the oft-touted fact that an acre of bamboo produces 35% more oxygen than an acre of hardwood. Though the oxygen levels in our atmosphere play no role in the climate crisis we currently face, a high oxygen production rate also indicates a high rate of photosynthesis, which in turn indicates a high rate of CO2 absorption. Through all of this, it can be concluded that bamboo is, at worst, equivalent to the average hardwood tree in terms of its carbon-sequestering capabilities, and significantly superior at best.

Comparing bamboo to cork, a similar conclusion can be reached. A 2010 article from the cork company Amorim states: “a well-managed cork oak forest can sequester 14.7 tons of CO2 per hectare and per year”. Moso bamboo, however, can store 250 tons of carbon in one hectare, according to a 2013 Ecology Global Network article by Tracy Li. Even with the high-end estimate that the hectare of bamboo in question took seven years to mature, this still equates to 35.7 tons of carbon per hectare per year, a statistic twice as high as the one for cork oaks. Based on these statistics, it is safe to say that among bamboo, hardwood, and cork, bamboo sequesters carbon most efficiently, establishing itself as the most effective carbon sink of the three.

Which flooring is most eco-friendly? The way flooring is processed and transported also impacts the environment.

Carbon sequestration is not the sole contributor to the carbon footprint of these materials, however. The term “carbon footprint” describes the full climate impact of a given object or entity, and for a product, this includes not just the raw materials used, but also the processing and transportation of the product. The processing methods of bamboo, hardwood, and cork flooring, as well as the distance and means of transportation, must therefore also be analyzed.

A quantitative comparison of the environmental impacts of processing methods used in these industries is virtually impossible. Emissions caused in this area mostly occur indirectly through the consumption of electricity which has been produced by burning fossil fuels, and how much of the electricity consumed was produced in this manner may vary widely based on the five locations at which processing occurs. The only way to make any kind of evaluation on this front is, therefore, to generalize that higher energy consumption equates to greater emissions. Furthermore, the amount of energy required for processing will vary by factory, and a lack of available data means that even ballpark estimates are impossible.

Judgments about energy consumption during processing for flooring production can only be qualitative, therefore. Nevertheless, a basic comparison between the energy required to process bamboo, hardwood, and cork can and should be made. According to Chris Magwood writing for Mother Earth News, “processing raw bamboo into flooring involves kiln drying, boiling (sometimes twice) and often steaming” in addition to cutting, gluing, and sealing. He continues that “given the need for two to four high-heat processes, the production of bamboo flooring likely uses more energy than that of wood floors”.

Though different types of hardwood flooring require different amounts of processing, with solid hardwood requiring less than engineered hardwood, neither type appears to require as much energy as bamboo. For solid hardwood floors, the only steps required are cutting and sealing, while engineered hardwood includes the extra step of gluing.

The video below shows a quick overview of how traditional solid hardwood flooring is made.

Cork, meanwhile, must be “ground up, compressed, and formed into sheets bonded with resins” to produce flooring, explains Joseph Lewitin in an article for The Spruce. This process, though certainly more energy-intensive than manufacturing solid hardwood floors, is likely also less energy-intensive than the production of bamboo flooring. The environmental impacts of transportation must similarly be judged qualitatively.

Most bamboo flooring is exported from China, as explained on Ambient’s own website Bamboo 6 Floor F.A.Q. – About Our Products and corroborated by an article on Home Stratosphere 11 Different Kinds of Flooring Explained (Definitive Guide). This means that bamboo flooring is transported to customers outside of China largely via cargo ships. The implications of this fact are often debated: While some argue that cargo ships are efficient due to their massive capacities, it is also established that they are major polluters, with the maritime shipping industry emitting three percent of the world’s CO2, the same portion as Germany.

Cork flooring, meanwhile, is produced around the Mediterranean in the native habitat of the cork oak, in Spain, southern France, Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, and most notably Portugal. It faces the same issue as bamboo: the product must be transported to customers elsewhere by cargo ship.

Hardwood flooring, by contrast, is produced in many different parts of the world. If purchased responsibly, this means smaller traveling distances for the product and you would think thus a smaller carbon footprint.

However, there are two problems here:

1) Purchasing hardwood produced in a local area may prove difficult for consumers: as Jamie Sturgeon explains in an article for Global News, “experts in the hardwood flooring retail business suggest as much as three quarters of all hardwood flooring sold [in Canada] through big-box renovation chains and other direct-to-public retailers now hails from Chinese producers.”

2) Most hardwood flooring is transported via freight truck from isolated inland forest to large metro areas (and the distances aren’t always so short).  While freight trucks may travel shorter distances than their ocean-going container steamship counterparts, they also emit much more CO2 per cubic meter of transported material – so it’s a bit of a trade-off.

There are many examples of limitations to sourcing real hardwood locally, for example, US-based company Real Wood Floors, which exports untreated hardwood to China for processing and then re-imports it to sell to US consumers. Emissions due to long-distance travel are avoidable by buying from flooring companies which source their wood locally (if you can find such a supplier), and which often control their entire chain of production in order to reduce travel distances and save on production costs.

In terms of emissions due to transportation, this places hardwood flooring in a favorable position compared to bamboo and cork flooring for consumers in about half of the world, but only when the hardwood floor can truly be sourced locally.  For consumers in Southeast Asia, however, bamboo flooring would entail the lowest transport emissions, and for consumers around the Mediterranean and in Europe, this distinction goes to cork flooring.

It should be noted, however, that while cork production will remain limited to the Mediterranean for the foreseeable future due to the specific environment which cork oaks require to grow, this is not the case for bamboo production. In fact, 20 African countries have already joined INBAR, which Zipporah Musau who writes for Africa Renewal says “INBAR is assisting them with bamboo information, technology transfer, capacity building, and policy formulation”.

In the US, meanwhile, bamboo farming is already underway in Alabama and other southern states, and CEO of Resource Fiber David Knight believes that bamboo farming in the US has the potential to become a billion-dollar industry.

A final comparison between bamboo, hardwood, and cork flooring.

There is a final comparison to be made between bamboo, hardwood, and cork flooring: the duration over which their respective carbon contents remain sequestered. Once installed in a home, bamboo floors retain their carbon content for approximately 80-100 years, while hardwood floors retain their carbon content for approximately the same period. It is unclear how long cork floors store carbon once installed – there appears to be no research on this front. However, it should be noted that cork contains a particularly high amount of suberin, a substance found in plant cell walls that plant biologist Joanne Chory has proposed could be used to augment other plants such as legumes to retain carbon for longer. In addition, because cork oaks are not harmed during the harvesting process, they live for up to 200 years, thus retaining carbon far longer than felled bamboo or felled hardwood.

Though the numbers indicate that bamboo may be slightly outclassed by hardwood and cork in terms of its long-term carbon retention, other factors must also be examined. Strand woven bamboo floors, being far more durable than most hardwood floors, require refinishing only every 30-40 years, while hardwood floors require it every 10-20 years.

As most floor coatings are harmful to both the human body and the environment, bamboo flooring allows consumers to avoid introducing additional pollutants into the air via frequent refinishing, balancing out its inferior long-term carbon retention capabilities.

When comparing the effects of bamboo, hardwood, and cork flooring on humanity’s carbon footprint, bamboo flooring has some disadvantages. Its production process consumes more energy than that of both hardwood and cork flooring, and its centralized production adds more emissions to its carbon footprint the farther from China it is purchased.

The question at hand cannot be viewed in a vacuum. It must be placed in the context of current events and projections. And with eleven years left for humanity to decrease its greenhouse gas emissions by 45% – as described by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s report – it is bamboo’s superior carbon sequestering capacity that takes precedence above anything else. Bamboo sequesters up to 70% more carbon per acre and per year than the average hardwood tree can, and over twice as much carbon per hectare and per year as cork oaks. This alone more than compensates for the disadvantages which bamboo flooring may suffer in later stages of its production and distribution, but additional steps can be taken to reduce the carbon footprint of bamboo flooring even further: Bamboo flooring companies might invest in renewable energy sources to offset the emissions from higher energy usage or market their products more heavily consumers in southeast Asia to minimize emissions from transportation.

Additionally, bamboo culms are harvested every 5 years, and the root systems are left intact, which prevents soil erosion and runoff.  Compared to the 40-80 years it takes for hardwoods to regrow, and there is simply no comparison.  Humanity’s carbon footprint must be decreased significantly and rapidly in order to contain the damage of global warming, and among flooring materials, and this is what makes bamboo king among eco-friendly materials.

How does bamboo help the environment?

The information above examines the environmental impact of bamboo, cork and hardwood flooring. Bamboo also helps the environment. It is used as a building material for many other uses than flooring, as a component in several sustainable products, and as a green solution for the environment.

Bamboo Waffle Roof

Bamboo Waffle Roof

As a building material, bamboo has many advantages including tensile strength, fire resistance, elasticity, and it’s lightweight. Below are a few ways bamboo is used as a building material:

  • Construction of scaffolding, bridges, structures, and houses
  • Structural frames
  • Floor, wall, and roof construction
  • Foundation construction
  • Fencing and other land and lawn design

Bamboo is also used in the construction of other sustainable household products.

Bamboo Blinds

Bamboo Blinds (picture from selectblinds.com)

  • Food
  • Clothing
  • Cutting boards
  • Bicycles
  • Blinds
  • Bedsheets
  • Paintbrushes
  • Matting
  • Instruments

As an environmental green solution, using bamboo helps our environment in a myriad of ways.

  • Provides soil protection, structuring, and reinforcement
  • Reduces rain runoff and soil erosion
  • Helps remove toxins such as heavy metal pollution in soils
  • An efficient plant for “Plytoremediation” – phosphates from factories and excess nitrates from livestock are eagerly slurped up by bamboo, which can, in turn, be harvested for other uses

If you are interested in learning more about the benefits of Bamboo flooring and its effect on the environment, read Eco-friendly Bamboo Flooring: Gorgeous floors that are good for earth.

The post Examining the Effects of Hardwood, Cork and Bamboo Flooring on the Environment appeared first on The Greener Living Blog.

This content was originally published here.

Majestic mountain home embraces indoor-outdoor living in Martis Camp

outdoor living

Walton Architecture + Engineering imagined the design of this stunning modern mountain home located in Martis Camp, a private Lake Tahoe community in Northern California. The residence exudes sleek, modern lines akin to an art gallery, yet with a welcoming atmosphere. It welcomes the sun, it welcomes the forests and views, and it welcomes the comfort of gathering.

Step inside this wonderful 8,473 square foot six-bedroom, six-and-a-half bathroom home and you will find a great room with a panoramic, modern fireplace that, on its flip side, warms the office and leads toward the master bedroom with expansive windows that face the morning sun. Beyond is a master bathroom whose windows glaze over to provide privacy and tranquility.

Project Team: Architect: Walton Architecture  + Engineering | Contractor: Crestwood Construction | Interiors/Furnishings: DKD Ltd. Interior Design

What We Love: This incredible mountain home was designed to feel completely open to nature with endless valley views. A series of indoor-outdoor living spaces provide this home’s inhabitants with plenty of space for family gathering and entertaining. There are so many unique details throughout this home, from the material palette to the stylish furnishings and fixtures. We would love to retreat to this mountain pad for the holidays!

Tell Us: What do you think of the overall design of this home? Would this be your idea of the perfect family getaway? Let us know why or why not in the Comments below!

Note: Have a look below for the “Related” tags for more inspiring home tours that we have featured here on One Kindesign from the portfolio of Walton Architecture + Engineering.

Above: Textured concrete walls course the home and blend with artistic windows and elegant floors. There’s a granite boulder protruding from the dining table and a room beside the kitchen with floor-to-ceiling windows and views of the Tom Fazio golf course.

Above: The goal to bring the outdoors in extends to ceilings designed to capture the natural light, a touch that brings a soft, consistent radiance to this home. An upstairs guest wing features two large bedrooms, each with stunning views. 

Above: The lower level features a sauna, a bedroom with patio, hot tub, fire pit and couches, and a media room with a widescreen television, kitchen, two game tables, and a deck that shares the hot tub and firepit. Off the media room are two bunk rooms, one with three full beds, three twins, three trundles, and one amazing view.

Above: Patios surround the home, many with covered dining alcoves, fire pits, gardens, a hot tub, and ample room to relax and relive the day.

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Recharge & Relax: Easy Lighting for your Outdoor Living Space

outdoor living

Spring is in full effect and the days are getting longer. With more sunlight there’s a greater opportunity to save energy and money on your outdoor lighting – and you don’t even need to lift a hand. Leave the burden of turning on/off lighting to outdoor controls, including dusk to dawn fixtures (with photocells), , solar lights and motion sensors. All of these options are simple to use and will put your mind at ease.

DUSK TO DAWN
Perhaps the most hands-off approach, dusk to dawn light fixtures use a photocell to control lighting fixtures. Photocells detect natural light to turn on and off when the sun sets and rises, respectively. This option is a big energy saver as there’s no unnecessary usage. They also account for seasonal shifts in daylight as they will automatically conform to longer days and shorter nights – unlike a timer that must be manually adjusted. Photocells can easily be added to most fixtures to convert them into dusk to dawn fixtures.

TIMERS
While do need to be manually adjusted based on differing daylight hours, they are still a fantastic tool to control your lighting – allowing you to set the timer to the exact minute you want your lights to be active. They are especially beneficial during the spring and summer when paired with outdoor string lights on your deck or patio.​

SOLAR LIGHTS
Solar lights are a “set it and forget it” type of lighting. They require little to no maintenance and typically use LED lights, making them even more energy efficient. Solar lights work by using a solar cell that converts sunlight into an electrical current. The sunlight is stored in the fixture during the day, then in the evening, a photoreceptor senses the darkness and turns on the light. The solar cell stops working and gets weaker and eventually turns the light off. The process of collecting sunlight then begins again the next morning.

MOTION DETECTOR
Do bumps in the night keep you on edge? You can relax and take comfort in knowing that your motion detector light fixtures will turn on when they sense movement nearby. Motion-activated fixtures have sensors that detect infrared waves, or heat waves that are emitted by moving objects. Install them on your garage, by entry ways or directed towards your driveway for peace of mind.

Whether you spend your spring and summer nights outside on the patio, or just want added home security, Lighting Supply will have the best outdoor lighting controls for your application. We carry hundreds of options and our Customer Service department is standing by to answer any questions. Give them a call Monday through Friday from 7:00 am – 6:00 pm ET or leave a comment below!

This content was originally published here.

1926 Josephine St, Pittsburgh (South Side), PA 15203 | South Side Real Estate

Hardwood Flooring

Property Description

Welcome to “Sky View Townhomes” , a modern and sleek new construction home conveniently located in the south side flats. Designed by renowned Pittsburgh architect Andrew Moss. The spacious, lit, and open floor plan makes this new construction a must see! High ceilings and views on all levels. Two car integral parking. Hardwood flooring throughout. Roof top deck with incredible 360 views of the Pittsburgh skyline. Urban elegance and modern features complete this beautiful home. Live just steps from restaurants, cafes, shops, & quick access to down town. But still located on a street that’s private enough for you to enjoy an intimate evening at home admiring the skyline views.

This content was originally published here.

Is Prefinished Hardwood Flooring Right for Your Home? | Bob Vila

Hardwood Flooring

Photo: istockphoto.com

Hardwood floors add natural warmth to any room, but the traditional method of putting in hardwood is time consuming, messy, and exposes the installer to toxic fumes from stains and sealants. No wonder even avid DIYers often opt to hire a pro for the job! Prefinished hardwood flooring—hardwood planks with stain and sealant already applied—offers an easier alternative to achieving the beauty of a real wood floor. Like all flooring materials, however, prefinished hardwood has pros and cons, so read on to learn about its benefits and drawbacks to decide if it’s the right material for your home.

Prefinished hardwood flooring offers a more durable finish.

During manufacturing, prefinished hardwood floors are treated with an aluminum oxide crystal sealant—one of the best hardwood floor finishes for an extremely rugged surface that can withstand heavy foot traffic, moving furniture, and other forms of wear and tear. Conversely, traditional hardwood floors are first nailed into place and then stained and sealed. Because neither DIYers nor flooring contractors have access to manufacture-grade sealants, traditional hardwood floors aren’t as durable as their prefinished counterparts and can begin to show scratches and surface dulling in as little as five to seven years. Prefinished flooring coated with superior chemical sealers can maintain its good looks for as long as 25 years without dulling or wearing thin.

Fewer design options are available with prefinished flooring products.

With traditional hardwood flooring, you can choose from dozens of wood species and then select from dozens more stain and sealant options. This allows you to get the exact wood grain look, color, and surface sheen you want. Not so with prefinished hardwood, which comes in a limited variety of wood types (such as red oak and maple), colors, and sealants.

The installation of prefinished flooring is quick.

There’s no denying the simplicity and speed of installing a prefinished wood product—a boon for homeowners living in the house during a renovation. Installing a traditional wood floor can take two weeks or longer, because it occurs in phases: installation of the planks, sanding the surface, staining the hardwood floors, and then applying two or more coats of a sealant that may need days to cure. Not only is the process lengthy, but it’s also messy and can produce toxic fumes. With prefinished flooring, there’s no downtime—as soon as the planks are installed, you can walk on the floor and start arranging your furniture.

Subfloor discrepancies can show through on a prefinished wood floor.

When installed on a level subfloor that has no dips and heaves, prefinished hardwood flooring will look just as smooth as a traditional hardwood floor. But unlike traditional flooring that can be sanded to remove lippage (slight inconsistencies in floor level where planks abut), prefinished planks cannot be sanded because the boards are already finished. If the subfloor floor is uneven in spots, this could cause some of the planks to raise slightly or result in visible gaps between the planks. The effect is usually minimal, but depending on the amount of subfloor unevenness, it could be noticeable.

Photo: istockphoto.com

Prefinished hardwood floors have visible seams.

In order to give the top of planks a smooth finish, the manufacturer creates bevels along the top edges of each plank, called “cambers.” These bevels are very small, just a tiny fraction of an inch, but when two planks are installed side by side, the bevels create a shallow “V” groove along every seam, creating visible lines. While some people like the look of the grooves, others prefer the perfectly flush look of a traditional wood floor that has been sanded smooth. The grooves may also serve as a spot for dust and debris to collect, making prefinished floors slightly harder to keep clean.

Prefinished hardwood planks can be refinished.

Install prefinished hardwood and it will stay looking new for decades. But if down the road you decide you’d like to change the stain, you can do so. A prefinished hardwood floor is still solid wood, after all, so the surface can be sanded and a new stain and sealer applied. Sanding the finish usually takes a little longer than it would with a traditional wood floor, however, because the sealant is harder.

Prefinished planks and traditional wood floors cost about the same.

While it takes much less labor to install prefinished hardwood planks, the planks themselves are costlier than traditional unfinished wood planks. What you’ll save in labor, you’ll most likely make up in the cost of the planks. Expect to pay between $5 and $10 per square foot, depending on the type of wood and quality of the finish, to have prefinished wood flooring professionally installed.

Installing prefinished hardwood planks is DIY-friendly.

If you’re planning to install your own hardwood floor, prefinished is by far the easier process. You’ll still have to nail each plank to the subfloor individually, but there’s no messy sanding and then cleaning to get the room dust-free, which is necessary before staining and sealing. Likewise, you won’t have to worry about inhaling harsh stain and sealant fumes. If you opt to go the DIY route, you can save $2 to $5 per square foot over the cost of professional installation.

Photo: istockphoto.com

Consider this when selecting the right prefinished hardwood for your flooring.

Should you decide prefinished hardwood is the right choice for your home, the following tips will help you choose the right planks for your project.

This content was originally published here.

Reinvent Your Outdoor Living Space | Heartfully Heather

outdoor living

Reinvent Your Outdoor Living Space

It has been several years since designing stylish, functional outdoor living spaces became the trendy thing to do. The size of decks and patios have increased to make them a more spacious outdoor entertainment area. The decorative details and comfort level of these outdoor living areas continues to rise to new heights.

If you’re among the many people who’ve added a deck or patio to your home, you’ve probably become very fond of the benefits that space offers. However, there’s also the possibility that you’re yearning for something more. That something more could be outdoor wicker club chairs but there are other things you can do to revitalize this space. If you have ample space to expand a deck or patio, that’s great. But, if expansion isn’t a possibility, reinvention of your present outdoor living space is certainly an option worth considering.

Screened Porch

When you begin looking for reinvention ideas, a photo gallery of ideas such as the one found at Archadeck Outdoor Living, is an excellent resource. To reinvent your current patio, you could transform it into a screen porch. By screening in the area, you’ll have an exterior room that you can use as a family room, dining room or combination of purposes. You don’t have to worry about annoying insects when you have a screened area. There’s also more privacy on a screened porch that there is on an open patio. You might want to leave a portion of your patio space as it is and reinvent a larger portion of it by screening it in.

A sunroom is a great way to reinvent a portion of your outdoor living space. You could enclose a patio area or add a sunroom above a basement walkout, if your home design permits that. It’s helpful to seek advice from design consultants when you’re planning to add a sunroom to your home. A professional in this field can help you design a sunroom that is an extension of your home. They can help you create a design that is compatible with the goals, intentions and usage plans you have for the room.

When you can no longer expand your outdoor living space, enclosing a patio or deck is a fantastic way to reinvent a space you’re bored with. If you’re just getting started on an outdoor living project, a deck or sunroom would be a great starting point that you could expand on in a variety of ways.

I’m a coffee addict wife, “work at home mom”, mother to two boys, blogging about the latest life hacks, recipes, DIY Projects and crazy “momisodes”.

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1370 Conway Street, Hempfield Twp, PA 15601 | Hempfield Twp Real Estate

Hardwood Flooring

Property Description

Two story four bedroom home with newer vinyl siding, Furnace and AC, slider-2016. Off street parking. Large level rear yard. Hardwood flooring under carpet main floor. Home originally had rear entry garage but prior Owner was making a game room on lower level, needs finished. Bring your decorating ideas and make this home yours.

This content was originally published here.

Ecological Certifications to Watch for in the Green Building Industry

Hardwood Flooring

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Certifications green builders should consider pursuing

Ecology is on everybody’s minds these days. Sustainability is becoming a priority in many industries, and it’s crucial for leaders to develop standards that help companies ensure they’re keeping to established best practices.

The emergent green building industry is proof of this. Shortsighted, business-as-usual construction methods yield high-rise fires, materials that don’t last, buildings that harm the land they stand on and structures that waste energy throughout their lifecycles. 

Consumers and builders are increasingly lending their voices and talents to sourcing and building methods featuring smaller ecological footprints. Property and business owners who want to take part in or become a part of green building methods should begin their search with the following ecological certifications.

International Green Construction Code for Low-Impact Buildings

The International Code Council designed the International Green Construction Code (IgCC) as a framework for code enforcement offices, governments at various levels, designers, contractors and manufacturers.

The IgCC covers new construction, additions or retrofits to existing structures, with the following criteria in mind:

  • Choosing building materials and techniques that prioritize healthy indoor environments
  • Building a structure that efficiently uses resources, including water and energy. Designing it in a way that minimizes disruption to the surrounding land and ecosystems.
  • Community development perspectives, such as walkability and what the IgCC calls “neighborhood connections.”

This framework and its mission sprang from the ICC’s understanding that the built environment accounts for 40 percent of CO2 emissions, 65 percent of generated waste, 70 percent of energy consumption and 12 percent of water usage globally.

Energy Star Certifications for Building Systems and Appliances

Energy Star has been a recognizable name among builders and property owners since the EPA established the program in 1992. In the years since, Energy Star has helped businesses and families slash 4 trillion kilowatt-hours from their energy budgets and eliminate some 3 billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions.

Specifically, Energy Star recognizes homes and business locations with energy-efficient lighting systems, electronics and appliances. Heating and cooling systems that reduce electricity consumption and emissions are also eligible for the Energy Star certification.

Forest Stewardship Council Certifications for Responsibly Sourced Wood

Hardwood flooring and other wood features will probably never go out of style — but the demand for sustainable wood building products has never been higher. Home and business owners are spending more time than ever searching for reclaimed wooden planks and beams. 

When that’s not an option, there’s wood certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. The main priorities of the FSC are responsible forest management, transparent supply chains, sustainable product choices and protecting land owned by indigenous peoples.

In fact, as of 2019, wood certified by the FSC is specified in more building projects per year than Energy Star. This is not post-consumer or reclaimed wood, but wood sourced and harvested sustainably. 

Cradle to Cradle Certifications for Structural Building Materials

The Cradle to Cradle program has several main objectives. Each one focuses on what the organization calls the “environmental and social performance” of various products. A Cradle to Cradle certification signifies meeting one or more of the following criteria:

  • The manufacturer designed the product with human health and safety in mind (no harsh or toxic additives, fair working conditions at the source, etc.).
  • The product was designed from the start to be recycled or reclaimed after its first implementation.
  • The manufacturing and distribution processes were conceived with low waste and efficient resource usage in mind, including energy and water conservation.

There is a wide variety of Cradle to Cradle-certified structural and building products available, including woods, paints and coatings, insulation, concrete, glass and more.

LEED Certifications for Sustainability and Lower Costs

Another major ecological certification worth mentioning is LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design). LEED certification indicates good ecological stewardship practices from the conception of a project through to its end-of-life date.

LEED-friendly architecture also stresses placing windows and ventilation in wise places and using thoughtful layout and space usage techniques — such as building orientation for passive solar benefits — for significant monetary and energy savings throughout the building’s lifetime. There is no detail too small to escape notice when it comes to environmentally friendly design.

As mentioned earlier, buildings represent a substantial amount of global energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions throughout the world. Moreover, construction and demolition generate twice as much material waste as the entire municipal waste collection system in the United States. It’s clear that now is the right time to take these challenges seriously.

Requiring builders and architects to prioritize the efficient use of labor and materials brings down costs throughout the project. That means there are financial savings in addition to the obvious environmental benefits.

Why Is This Important Right Now?

This is far from a complete list. And environmental organizations are issuing new green certifications for building materials at an impressive pace. Between 2009 and now, the number of products on the market claiming to be “green” rose by 73 percent. There are still some disingenuous greenwashing signs to watch for in the marketplace, but this is a positive development overall.

The market is responding to a higher demand for good ecological stewardship practices. And as more certifications are drawn up and companies recognize the cost-saving benefits match up nicely with the sustainability benefits, builders and owners will only have richer choices over time.

Written by: Holly Welles, BOSS Contributor

Holly Welles is a real estate writer who covers the latest market trends in everything from residential to commercial spaces. She is the editor behind her own blog, The Estate Update, and curates more advice on Twitter.

The post Ecological Certifications to Watch for in the Green Building Industry appeared first on BOSS Magazine.

This content was originally published here.

Homecrest Outdoor Living | July 2019

outdoor living

Energizing and relaxing are just a couple words that come to mind when you walk into this functional and beautiful outdoor space. Homecrest Outdoor Living is proud to have been selected to provide outdoor furniture for SailPoint Technologies—a company based in Austin, TX that deals with identity governance solutions and software. To put it more plainly, SailPoint provides software to help organizations manage who has permission to access their information, and to what extent. In an era where online security breaches and hacking are a daily nuisance for businesses and individuals alike, SailPoint provides necessary protection for an increasingly digitalized world.

A Space to Unwind

Since their beginning in 2005, SailPoint has grown exponentially. With offices and clients located around the globe, the SailPoint headquarters requires a large outdoor space for employee breaks, community events, team announcements and more. They were looking to furnish this space with products that created a relaxing environment, and Homecrest’s innovative design fit the bill. In addition to the appearance of our products, project managers for SailPoint were drawn by the price point for our high-quality and durable furniture. Homecrest was not only able to match the mood they were attempting to create, but also fit the budget and timeline in which they wanted to accomplish this project.

Our Collections

From mesh to modular, this project was primarily furnished with Allure. The Allure collection from Homecrest boasts strong and durable aluminum frames with modern, clean lines. The all-weather cushions of Allure’s modular line provide the perfect spot to unwind and take a break from the demands of the office. Whether chatting with coworkers or enjoying time alone, Allure modular creates a place for relaxation. Mesh and sling seating from Allure were used throughout the rest of the outdoor space. Positioned at tables with Timber tops, these seats provide comfortable yet functional areas for groups to converse and dine. Additionally, Homecrest provided tables from the Dockside collection. The all-aluminum construction of Dockside tables makes them particularly durable, and the clean lines add an air of sophistication to any space.

To contrast the sleek and contemporary look of Allure and Dockside, Timber table tops from Homecrest’s Natural Series were used. Each table top from the Timber collection is individually handcrafted and cast from reclaimed wood tables to create a realistic appearance. All of the Natural Series collections are formed with durable materials that can withstand unpredictable weather.

Project Significance

Homecrest was able to show what we are truly capable of through this project. It provides exposure for us to any affiliates and vendors who visit SailPoint, as well as to the Austin community as a whole.

“This project with SailPoint is a very high-profile project,” said Homecrest sales representative Sandy Sanguily. “We receive compliments from visiting parties on the ‘outdoor stuff’ frequently.”

Our products had the appearance SailPoint was going for, within their budget. Additionally, we were able to meet a tight project deadline and provide excellent customer service to ensure their satisfaction with our products. Finally, we provided a superior factory warranty for our high-quality, commercial-grade furniture, which was a large factor in securing the deal. We are excited to see where this new exposure takes us next, and we’re looking forward to even bigger projects in the future!

Additional Links

Check out this drone footage of the finished space!

Image/video credit: Infinity Canopy

Learn more about Sailpoint’s project in this article from the Austin Business Journal, and this video from CORE Office Interiors, the dealer for this project.

Visit our website to learn more about our current collections or to find a dealer near you!

Don’t forget to share this post with your family and friends, and stay tuned for more blog posts!

This content was originally published here.

Genius Minds are Born in Outdoor Living

outdoor living

It happens to us all: passing lights, blaring noises — your positive mood takes more effort because all of your energy resources are sapped. When exhaustion presents itself, cultural programming suggests you sit back and be entertained with Netflix and a bowl of ice-cream.

timber frame pavilion with windows

Going outside, breathing in living air and touching — genine, naked, noble — timber with its whole history of struggles against storms it has endured but continued indestructible —  this is where the mind finds rest and clarity. Outside is coming home.

Outdoor natural environments contain significant secrets that lift more than the clouds of your mind; it recharges your mitochondrial batteries —  and it can even make you smarter. Better yet, science says more than merely making you supersmart — it is the place of creativity —  where geniuses are born. 

Outdoor Living Raises Cognitive Aptitude

The first documented study of immersing people in an outdoor natural environment and testing for cognitive changes was conducted at the University of Kansas. Associate Professor of Cognitive and Clinical Psychology Ruth Ann Atchley and her colleagues wanted to know how the outdoors affects human creativity.

In a press release, Atchley said, “There’s a growing advantage over time to being in nature. We think that it peaks after about three days of really getting away.”

The results were not just about spending time in the outdoors. Atchley pointed out: the things they stepped away from, “turning off the cellphone, not hauling the iPad and not looking for internet coverage.”

Atchley explains, “It’s when you have an extended period of time surrounded by that softly fascinating environment that you start seeing all kinds of positive effects on how your mind works.”

The participants of the study were divided into groups across the United States. All of the participants were inexperienced hikers, 56 volunteers (with informed consent) ranging from 18-years-old into their 60’s with the average age of 24 to 28. They each had unlimited time to complete their tests. The test was measurable and real.

The first group was given a standard creativity test called the Remote Associates Test before they backpacked on a long nature trail.

The second group of hikers took the same test four days into their journey through nature and scored 50% higher than the first group did. Participants from the second group had a higher cognitive advantage in:

problem-solving,
switching tasks,
maintaining task goals,
and thinking creatively

after being exposed to stimuli of outdoors in nature for a longer period of time.

Since the dawn of the internet, the world has benefited in available knowledge and communication. And yet, many experts contend that this technology has negative effects on learning and social interactions. They contend we are more easily irritated, less sociable, and more distracted. We can’t blame weaknesses on our detachment from nature, but their research affirms there is some unraveling of psychological resilience. At times, we can all do better at paying attention to details, being more empathetic, and internally rooted. That’s where the experts say that a parade of wildflowers, a walk in the mountains, and digging in a garden can help.

Dream seekers gazebo in Georgia.

Geniuses Inspired by the Outdoors

Beethoven — a musical genius — often hugged his linden tree and insisted, “No one can love the country as much as I do.” His symphonies depict nature, storms, a downpour of rain, gentle raindrops, wind, and flashes of lightning and more. He was inspired by nature, and he dedicated music to landscapes. The thoughts of Beethoven were: For surely woods, trees, and the rocks give man the resonance he needs and the echo he desires to hear.

The one thing the world’s greatest minds have in common is endless curiosity. Curiosity is the key to unlock creativity.

Leonardo da Vinci excelled in a variety of interests which included: anatomy, architecture, astronomy, botany, cartography, engineering, geology, history, invention, literature, mathematics, mechanics, music, painting, physics, science, sculpture, weaponry, writing and more. Da Vinci even created accurate and doable designs for machines that would be created centuries later, such as the bicycle, helicopter, military tank, and a submarine.

Leonardo da Vinci was a man who was curious about so many things. He once entered a note to himself: Describe the tongue of the woodpecker.

“Our opinions are not in our own power;
they are formed and governed much by circumstances that are often
as inexplicable as they are irresistible.”
– Benjamin Franklin

Benjamin Franklin was a natural philosopher and a brilliant man. His success was driven by a constant desire to mentally and morally improve upon himself. Franklin was renowned for his inventions, diplomatic and political triumphs, as well as scientific achievements. Oh, and in his spare time, he helped to establish a new country.

Franklin composed and played numerous musical instruments, including the guitar, harp, and violin. He invented and built a musical instrument he called the Armonica, also known as the glass harmonica. Thousands of Armonicas were manufactured and sold. Famous composers began writing music for it including, Beethoven, Donizetti, Mozart, and Strauss. The queen of France, Marie Antonette also charmed by Benjamin Franklin’s mesmerizing instrument, took lessons to learn to play. He is notable for inventing bifocal eyeglasses, the lightning rod, and the wood-burning stove.

According to his own writings, in 1752, Franklin, with his son,  did his famous experiment of flying a kite with a key tied to it during a thunderstorm to prove that lightning was also a form of electricity. He never ceased to improve upon his mind.

Benjamin Franklin advocated we all have a mind that is extraordinarily fertile. We were born without knowledge, but we were all born with curiosity, capable of lifelong discovery, improving yourself and doing well by others.

The late radio news commentator Paul Harvey Aurandt, legendarily known as Paul Harvey – a broadcaster of news for the ABC Radio Networks, famous for his “Rest of the Story” segments – began his last speech to fellow professionals in the radio industry at the R&R Talk Radio Seminar, with these four words:

“Be still my heart.”

Paul Harvey explained he had a Jim Daly painting on his wall at home in which there was a note attached saying:

children listening to old time radio

“There is no way for me to express the pleasure I received from listening to the old radio programs. In my mind those wonderful heroes were magnificent. No movie, no television program, not even real life could have equated what my imagination could conjure up. Amazingly all of those heroes, he says, looked a bit like me. And all of those heroes he described looked a bit like me.”

Paul Harvey went on to say that, Special effects for all their sophistication are still not as effective as the human imagination.” And how fourth and fifth-grade elementary students were surveyed after seeing a Harry Potter movie. When they try to reread a Harry Potter book, they explained how their imagination was constricted and limited by what they had seen.

Geniuses are not conventional and do not rely on what they have been taught how to solve something. What makes a genius is being able to think productively, generating alternative approaches and possibilities in a unique way when confronted with a problem. They have a curiosity and a willingness to explore.

Let your heart resonant with nature and discover
the Beethoven, Leonardo da Vinci, or Benjamin Franklin genius in you.

“I have never seen a picture on television or anywhere else that compares to the phenomenal pictures my brain can paint. I think radio is the ultimate visual medium. There is nothing anybody can do on that flat two-dimensional screen – nothing – that compares to the phenomenal pictures that are painted by your mind’s eyes stimulated by our beautiful language.” – Paul Harvey

Continuing Paul Harvey’s address:

Quidditch was much more fun in our minds. So distinct is the disparity that the publishers of the books will use no scenes from the movies on the covers of those books. You trust me to paint. You trust me to paint pictures in the mirror of your mind.

And I will let you feel such agony and ecstasy,
such misery and such magnificence as
you would never be able to feel by looking at it.

Let me paint you a picture of your unrequited love in 17 words:

When the fire in me meets with the ice in you, what could remain but damp ashes?

Now, you tell me what picture in all of the film could you duplicate that poignancy? We court with the lights turned down. That’s to remain undistracted. We savor a fragrance or a kiss, or a foot massage with our eyes closed.

In some instances, Paul Harvey says, “a picture would ruin a story for you. . .

Meet Martha and Chris Gerson of Gering, Nebraska.

Every weekday afternoon at 2:00 Martha lowers the window shades;
disconnects the telephone;
and turns on the TV to watch the wrestling matches.
Martha admits that she loves to watch those big bruisers headbutt one another…

…and body slam one another – and then when she gets sufficiently worked up …
…she throws a step-over toe hold on her husband Chris.
And there on the floor in front of the TV set …
…they wrestle until one is able to pin the other.

Don’t you tell Martha Gerson that wrestling matches on TV are staged. She says if there is anything on TV that is staged it is soap operas. She says the wrestling matches, those are for real, including hers with Chris; which by the way she usually wins.

For the Rest of the Story…

Hover Over

Martha Gerson is 76-years-old.

Her husband Chris is 83.

Now, that picture that you have been imagining is infinitely more entertaining than any picture could be.

Andrew Newberg, M.D. and Mark Robert Waldman wrote a book called Words Can Change Your Brain. In the book, they write a single word has the power to influence the expression of genes that regulate physical and emotional stress.” Science has shown the power of language can literally alter your physical brain.

Your brain is the physical organ of your tangible, visible body associated with the mind. The mind is part of an invisible world of thoughts, beliefs, attitudes, feelings, and imagination. How well you feel in your body also affects your thinking.

timber frame pergola

Outdoors in nature have been a source that people —  from all walks of life — connect to, with their body and mind. Aristotle believed walking in the open-air clarified the mind. In Japan, touching wood is “medicine” to preserve health and treat illnesses. It is not only touching, but studies also claim all the senses in nature stimulate the immune system. Just the smell of the fresh earth acts as an anti-depressant.

The bacterium found in soil stimulates the production of serotonin helping the body to feel happier and more relaxed.

In 1989, David Strachan, a British scientist presented what he termed the “hygiene hypothesis.” In our modern, sterile environments many children are not getting exposed to the earth’s natural microorganisms found in the dirt to build and repair their immune systems. As a result, there are higher rates of allergies and asthma.

Penicillin was first developed from a soil fungus. Digging in dirt lifts your spirit. Microbes such as mycobacterium vaccae, a substance found in soil have an effect on the neurons of the brain similar to Prozac — but without potential chemical dependencies or no side effects. To get the full benefits is as easy as playing in the dirt.

Just the view of natural beauty elicits feelings of awe, another sure way to give you a mental boost. And speaking of view, research has also shown children have more protection against developing myopia — nearsightedness — by playing outside.

“I feel that nothing can befall me . . . which nature cannot repair.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

Many respectable scientists, sociologists, doctors, and mental health experts suggest that when people do not get out in the natural world and play, it doesn’t only affect their individual well being, it also affects society as a whole in how they interact and influence each other.

In America, it has become culturally acceptable to spend the majority of our time indoors, especially when the weather is cold. With many countries, going outdoors is ingrained in their culture. If you lived in Sweden nature waters the garden of the soul —and there is no such thing as bad weather.

Nature is a tool. Nature influences people and people who spend adequate time in nature can increase their ability to construct new ideas and produce happier thoughts. Being in God’s great outdoors improves judgment, increases confidence, and creates a sunnier disposition.

Again, the incredibly improved cognitive thinking results were not just about spending more time in the outdoors, as Associate Professor of Cognitive and Clinical Psychology Ruth Ann Atchley said, it is: turning off the cellphone, not hauling the iPad and not looking for internet coverage. What you do outside moves how you think and behave.

Go outside and bring out the genius in you.

pergola for pool side shade

Florence Nightingale: Fresh Air & Sunshine

Many old-time therapies suggest patients go outside or “breathe in the fresh sea air.” Take a look at Florence Nightingale’s lovely notes on nursing as she strongly advocates patients being exposed to fresh air and sunlight.

florence nightingale memorial

It is the unqualified result of all my experience with the sick, that second only to their need for fresh air is their need of light; that, after a close room, what hurts them most is a dark room. And that it is not only light but direct sun-light they want.

I had rather have the power of carrying my patient about after the sun, according to the aspect of the rooms, if circumstances permit than let him linger in a room when the sun is off. People think the effect is upon the spirits only. This is by no means the case. The sun is not only a painter but a sculptor. You admit that he does the photograph.

Without going into any scientific exposition we must admit that light has quite as real and tangible effects upon the human body. But this is not all. Who has not observed the purifying effect of light, and especially of direct sunlight, upon the air of a room?

Here is an observation within everybody’s experience. Go into a room where the shutters are always shut – in a sick room or a bedroom there should never be shutters shut – and though the room be uninhabited, though the air has never been polluted by the breathing of human beings, you will observe a close, musty smell of corrupt air, of air i.e. unpurified by the effect of the sun’s rays. The mustiness of dark rooms and corners, indeed, is proverbial.

The cheerfulness of a room, the usefulness of light in treating disease is all-important.

–  Florence Nightingale

This content was originally published here.

When Americans Bought the Illusion of ‘Indoor-Outdoor Living’

outdoor living

Think of postwar America, and what often comes to mind is a white, heterosexual family, pictured in a domestic suburban environment. You can tell this family lives in the suburbs because there is a lawn in the background, a tree framed in a picture window, a swimming pool glimmering behind a glass wall.

This almost-mythical family you are visualizing is drawn directly from a generation of magazine ads, commonplace during the mid-20th century, that portrayed so-called “indoor-outdoor living,” where the refinements of domesticity were combined with the restorative powers of nature. The indoor-outdoor look didn’t just sell things that suburban houses required or were improved by—like cars, construction materials, or domestic appliances. It also sold an illusion: Americans might imagine themselves living partly outdoors, but the ads ultimately promoted a life that took place inside all of the glass, metal, and wood that was being advertised.

As these idealized images of suburban life—indoor-outdoor living among them—took hold, Americans responded to the “allurement of open space,” as one film by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce called it. They moved away from cities, took out their wallets, and forged a consumer culture that largely depended on the ever-increasing material needs deriving from suburbanization. In doing so, millions of Americans bought the idea—as housewares manufacturer Revere Copper and Brass put it in a 1942 ad—that a home was “no mere space bounded by walls and divided into rooms,” but “a way of life to keep pace with your needs, to change with your tastes, to grow with your means.” In other words: a way of life that would keep you buying stuff.

After the end of World War II, real estate developers began planning and promoting open and spacious suburbs on a mass scale as an alternative to the unsanitary and overcrowded industrial city. This became possible for a number of reasons: first, farmland was relatively inexpensive, and often no longer needed for agriculture. Second, the war effort had led to the rise of new construction methods, based on standardization and prefabrication that considerably cut down building costs. Finally, the poor state of the existing housing stock and the growing population led the federal government to invest in new developments, especially by subsidizing mortgages for veterans and young couples, which underwrote “white flight,” as increasing numbers of white families moved from cities to suburbs.

To encourage this trend, advertisers decided to spotlight the suburbs’ desirability by capitalizing on their non-urban qualities, with a twist: they presented suburbia as a place where the comforts of civilization (that is, urban living) merged with the soothing embrace of the natural world. The suburban house was no homestead in the Great Plains; it was an outpost of modernity and convenience built on the frontier between the city and the wild. Advertisers dreamed up a seamless interpenetration of indoors and outdoors, homey interiors and sunlit exteriors, living room and back yard—visual evidence that it was possible to have the best of both worlds. They directed those images into millions of American homes through the pages of LIFE magazine, whose circulation peaked at more than eight million in the late 1960s.

The indoor-outdoor look didn’t just sell things that suburban houses required or were improved by—like cars, construction materials, or domestic appliances. It also sold an illusion: Americans might imagine themselves living partly outdoors, but the ads ultimately promoted a life that took place inside all of the glass, metal, and wood that was being advertised.

These indoor-outdoor viewscapes were in fact a downscaled rendition of the modernism of Frank Lloyd Wright’s organic designs, or the glass houses by Mies van der Rohe, Philip Johnson, and Richard Neutra, all of which revolutionized high-end domestic architecture in the U.S. In the eyes of architectural critic Sigfried Giedion, these modern American houses marked a new chapter in the history of world architecture. In his posthumous work Architecture and the Phenomena of Transition, Giedion wrote of an era in which the boundaries between inside and outside were no longer clearly defined because peace, wealth, and technology had enabled humans to stop seeking shelter from the outer world. This was an age in which “interior and exterior space continually interpenetrated one another, establishing new interrelationships.” It was a new form of architecture defined by “a simultaneous striving both for freedom and for order.”

Although most Americans were ready to join in Giedion’s appreciation of this new architectural style, they could not afford these homes with their walls of endless and prohibitively expensive glass plates. But popular ads presented the new middle-class suburban home as a standardized and mass-produced version of the same type, a domestic dream within anyone’s reach. Ads and magazines called it “indoor-outdoor architecture.”

The marketing surged. In some instances, companies exploited these visions of suburban heaven to sell commodities that were linked with outdoor living. Aluminum, for instance, had become the metal of choice to manufacture everything from lawn mowers, awnings, fences, and outdoor furniture to aluminum foil and kitchenware. It was just as useful inside the home as outside it, but not as easily marketable—so showcasing it as the perfect material for outdoor living, as the sector’s leading company, Reynolds, did, made it more appealing to shoppers seeking all kinds of products.

Windows were another case in point. They were an essential fixture to protect interiors from weather and unwanted intrusions—but in mid-century ads, they became a way to frame the outer world and transport it inside, as a beautiful picture. By installing extensive sheets of glass like the popular Andersen Windowalls, for instance, one could “furnish the outdoor fun.” If the outdoors was the perfect setting for leisure activity—barbecues, picnics, and parties—window frames and glass plates let these visions (and through them, leisure as a way of life) penetrate the domestic environment. Glass made a house almost immaterial, giving residents the impression of living on their lawn instead of under a roof—or so these ads seemed to suggest.

The charms of the outdoor world could enhance not only where people lived, but also where they worked and went to school. Companies relocating to suburban office parks could enfold employees in the peaceful arms of nature, making the dull monotony of work all the more bearable. Suburban schools could be a place where “young minds find more room to grow,” according to ad copy from Libbey-Owens-Ford, a major glass-plate provider.

Most industries banked on the suburban ideal because that was where most consumers lived. Indoor-outdoor architecture became a visual cliché for postwar advertising of all sorts of goods. Some indoor-outdoor images encouraged activities quite alien to what most think of as the purportedly outdoorsy suburban life—for example, watching TV. And yet, between 1962 and 1963 Motorola ran a series of ads in LIFE magazine that depicted this most domestic, indoor-oriented of all hobbies in suburban fantasy homes, each harmoniously integrated into the landscape. The implied message was that TV and radio could illusorily take viewers and listeners outside the limits of their domestic world, thus counteracting the potentially claustrophobic properties of these technologies. These fictional modern architectures were born out of the imaginative mind of illustrator Charles Schridde, and some were clearly reminiscent of actual examples, such as Mies van der Rohe’s Farnsworth House or Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West.

Driving was another essentially interior activity promoted with indoor-outdoor imagery. It was advertised as an outdoor activity in itself, because car owners had a world of unlimited adventures at their feet, or rather, wheels. And yet, drivers would mostly contemplate the beauty of the outdoors from a hermetically sealed capsule, and as suburbs sprawled further and further out, the hours spent behind the wheel grew exponentially. One could roll down the windows—but why, when the automobile interior was conveniently air-conditioned?

A suburban home, too, could be a controlled climate, but it took a dose of the indoor-outdoor mystique to win people over to the idea. Many postwar consumers resisted air conditioning because it required closing windows tight to function properly, and seemed to force people into a self-imposed domestic captivity. So creative directors on Madison Avenue hoping to push air conditioners had to suggest quite the opposite idea: that living in an air-conditioned house was like living outdoors all year round. Fresh air came to seem almost unnecessary, since one could artificially reach climatic nirvana inside one’s home.

Once again, the suburban house metaphorically dematerialized: it became “the great indoors,” as a Lennox air conditioning ad put it. In contrast to the images of advertising, ordinary life—the time people spent doing housework, playing, watching TV, driving a car to go to work or run one’s errands—took place indoors. The outdoors was transformed from a place to enjoy to an abstract concept. Postwar suburbanization ultimately put Americans into comfortable, all-encompassing interiors, allowing them to go from the living room to the garage to the car to the mall without ever coming into contact with fresh air.

The post When Americans Bought the Illusion of ‘Indoor-Outdoor Living’ appeared first on What It Means to Be American.

This content was originally published here.

Click Laminate Flooring – Hardwood Flooring

Hardwood Flooring

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4 ideas to add value to your home | AZ Big Media

Hardwood Flooring

If you are not sure about how to add value to your home, then don’t worry, we have got you covered. 2019 was all about home renovation, and remodeling and every homeowner have been looking for amazing ideas to take inspiration from. However, you need to put into consideration the fact that not every home improvement project adds value to the home. Below in this article, we’ve mentioned our top four. To learn about them, read this article till the end!

1. Update Your Kitchen

The kitchen is the center of every house, which is why you need to make it the best part of your home. Homeowners always find good reasons to remodel their kitchen area. Often, they undertake the whole remodeling project when they are selling their property. This is because an updated kitchen will appeal more to buyers than the boring one. But another one of the reasons that  can be behind kitchen renovation is energy savings. Many homeowners have started to add appliances and lights that save them money. For example, energy-efficient appliances and water heating units cut the electricity bill and don’t hurt the environment as well. Whatever the reason is, if you remodel, renovate, or update your kitchen, the idea will instantly add value to your house.

2. Remove Your Carpeting and Get Hardwood Flooring

Modern homebuyers don’t like the idea of putting carpets on floors, except for where they are required. Carpeting is so outdated, and if you really want to do something different and amazing, the look for flooring options. For example, you can choose hardwood flooring, which is a perfect alternative to floor carpeting. Hardwood flooring gives you the warmth and elegance you want in your home. Plus, this material makes the place appear luxurious and sophisticated, which definitely adds value to the home. If you think that this will be extremely expensive, then keep in mind it will probably last for years and years. You can choose from a wide range of colors and textures that you feel goes well with your whole place. If you are considering this option, then the Peek’s Flooring Co. offers quality and options at affordable rates.

3. Add another Bathroom

If you have only one bathroom in your home, then it is about time to get another one because one is definitely not enough. Though you have to invest a significant amount of money, it will be worth every penny you spent. When it comes to adding another bathroom, you can choose any extra room or underutilized spaces. For a full bath with a stand-up shower in, it will require over 30 square feet area. If you want to add a bathtub in your bathroom, then at least have a 35 square feet of area to work with. For a half-bath, 18 square feet would be enough, and for this, you can choose any empty closet or areas under the stairs. No matter what size your bathroom is going to be, be sure to check out some of the latest trends in bathroom design and remodeling.

4. Replace your Dated Garage Door

If you have old and outdated garage doors, then consider adding a new one if you are taking out your home improvement project. Fortunately, replacing a dated garage door is not a pricey investment at all, and doing so will make your house look much appealing and attractive than it was before. Therefore, if you have decided to get your garage door replaced, then be sure to get your hands on one that is appealing, provides safety, security, and properly insulated so that you can save on bills as well.

This content was originally published here.

The Advantages Of Choosing Solid Hardwood Flooring | Life of Creed

Hardwood Flooring

Benefits of Hardwood Flooring

Easy To Clean And Maintain

One of the key reasons to opt for these kinds of flooring is that it is very easy to maintain and is long-lasting. You can easily clean this flooring by sweeping or vacuuming. Moreover, such floors do not need to be cleaned very often. The floors will not harbor environmental hazards such as dust mites or pet dander. 

Wooden floors are more stain-resistant than tile floors or carpets. Spilling drinks or food will only need to be wiped up. So, it makes it much easier to maintain. 

Durability Matters

Flooring involves a huge sum of money so you would not want to end up having one which is not durable, here hardwood floorings come as a great solution These floorings are known for its ability to survive high traffic and retain its texture. The floor can last for decades if you take proper care of it.

A Classy Look For Your Home

Such floors add a touch of sophistication and warmth to your home. Some homeowners also feel like hardwood flooring makes space look bigger. The warmth factor of your home also depends on your décor but choosing wooden floors is a great way to make a solid impression.

More Lucrative During The Sale Of A House

If you are planning to sell your house or even give it on rent, then the smallest of things matter a lot, flooring is one of them. Having a good hardwood flooring installed at your place spruce-ups its look and thus, you can get good resale value of the property. Homebuyers are willing to pay a higher price for a house with wooden floors compared to one with tile or carpet. Most homebuyers do not prefer someone else’s carpet. They consider a used carpet similar to a petri dish which might aggravate their allergy symptoms. 

Since most home buyers plan on purchasing new carpets, they will pay more for a house with hardwood floors. It may also help sell your house faster since it is a sought-out feature.

A Cleaner Home Environment

Unlike carpets, hardwood flooring does not trap dirt, mites, pollen, dust or pet dander. So, the air quality of your home improves. Wooden floors are the preferred choice of people suffering from allergies. 

Wooden floors are a better alternative to laminate or tiles for indoor air quality. It is so because tiles and laminate have grout lines and embossing even though they may not have fibers like carpets. The grout lines and embossing are the perfect places for dust, pollen, and other allergens to settle. Also, these floorings are easy to clean, so you can keep the dust particles and grime at bay.

Blends With Any Decor

One of the best things about hardwood floorings is that it can easily blend with the interiors of the hose, if you have contemporary interiors or the vintage-styled, these floorings will easily blend with it and will amp up the look of the place. You can change furniture, mirrors, wall art, showpieces or other decors, but the hardwood floor will still go with your home décor. 

Conclusion– Real hardwood flooring comes in various shades, swirls, and grains that add character to your home décor. They last long and keep your cleaning and repair costs to a bare minimum. So, the long-lasting quality and low maintenance make hardwood flooring an affordable option, keeping the long term in mind.

So, think no further, and choose hardwood flooring and hire the best flooring company to get it installed at your place. 

This content was originally published here.

Outdoor Living in the Pacific Northwest: It’s not just for the summer months!

outdoor living

November 2019

Long-time residents of the Pacific Northwest know that, in spite of our rainy reputation, we have some of the best weather in the country any time of year and outdoor living here just can’t be beat. Our summers are not too hot or too humid, fall is typically a riot of color and sunshine, and our winters are fairly mild, especially when compared to the long deep freezes the East and Midwest tend to endure. Yes, we do get our fair share of cold, wind and rain, but not enough to keep us from enjoying the outdoors – even in the heart of winter – which is why outdoor living spaces are such a hot commodity and a main feature of so many homes in the Pacific Northwest.

We love designing and installing fantastic outdoor living spaces from the simple to the lavish, but we’ve been doing this long enough to know that all it takes to enjoy outdoor living year-round are really just a few essentials to keep you protected from the elements. Here are some of our top recommendations to make your outdoor space a year-round oasis.

Patios, decks, and paths clearly define outdoor spaces and create the footprint for your outdoor “rooms”, kind of like the foundation of your house. They are also the natural starting point for creating outdoor living spaces that can be used and enjoyed year-round.

Stamped concrete, pavers, flagstone, composite decking, even compacted gravel are all excellent choices for making your outdoor spaces more enjoyable in all weather conditions. Whether it’s an outdoor living room, kitchen or grilling station, quiet sitting area, patio or deck, or simply a path to get you from here to there, solid surfaces are a must. You need a strong stable surface that can withstand the elements and provide the support for whatever furniture, appliances or accessories you may be adding, and you don’t want to be walking about in the mud after one of our rainstorms. Nobody likes tracking in mud, and mud splashing up onto your patio furniture is no fun either, so let’s keep it to a minimum!

You know it rains here, and you know it can rain a lot, so it should go without saying that to enjoy your outdoor space all year long, you need a cover over your head just as much as you need a solid surface beneath your feet. From the simple to the grand, there are a plethora of options for covering a patio or deck, including adding a pergola, extending your roof, building a gazebo, or creating a ceiling under an existing balcony or deck. Each of these different types of covered structures have unique advantages and challenges, so our designers at Landscape East & West always provide a thorough consultation and review of a property before jumping into a custom design.

 

There’s nothing quite like enjoying long evenings spent outside chatting with family and friends, but all too often we head indoors once the sun goes down. Well, with a little planning and proper installation, adding light to your yard, walkways, covered patio or deck will make all the difference to set the stage for your extended outdoor evenings. With proper outdoor lighting, from custom overhead lighting, to wall-sconces, pathway markers, and landscape lights, your nighttime patio or yard can be transformed into a magical oasis in the dark, creating warmth and beauty throughout the seasons.

Besides the rain, the cold is more apt to drive us indoors than anything else. Luckily, there are a lot of options when it comes to heating up your outdoor space: fire pits, outdoor fireplaces, patio heaters. There are important considerations, though, and determining what will work best in your space should be based on not only the aesthetic you are after but also the type and source of fuel or power needed and what will be feasible in your given space. This is another area where an experienced landscape designer can help you sift through all the options and find the right solution for your space to give you all the warmth and ambiance you desire.

The addition of short retaining walls, seat walls or built in benches or planters around patios can help keep nature in check, while adding both form and function. Low walls will define a space and add cohesiveness to an overall design, plus provide a bit of a protective barrier between patio and yard. Built in seating can also expand your outdoor living space as less room may be needed for additional furniture. Low or half walls can also serve to provide additional privacy. You may even want to entirely close off the space with a gate to keep small animals in, or out!

Are you a grill master? Do you love cooking and entertaining outdoors? What about music or a big screen TV? Maybe a hot tub under your gazebo is the piece de resistance you’re after. The point is, you can have pretty much anything you want in your outdoor space – so why not have a little fun? We love getting creative with our clients and have enjoyed designing and building hundreds of outdoor spaces over the years, complete with wood-burning pizza ovens, gas ranges and grills, surround sound, water features and more.

With so many options, it’s easy to let your imagination run wild when you start dreaming about your outdoor space and creating that perfect year-round oasis. In the end though, the various elements you want to bring into your outdoor living space really comes down to two things: How you want to use the space, and the design aesthetic you are after. After that, it’s a matter of working out the details and an experienced designer will be your best friend to help you through the process.

We have been helping Pacific Northwesterners for more than three decades bring the indoors out and extend living spaces beyond the walls of their homes with custom designed spaces meant for year-round enjoyment. Winter is just around the corner and while it is a bit late in the year to have a new outdoor space in time for the coming season, it is the perfect time to begin planning for next year – before your landscape designer gets busy again next spring!

We love making dreams come true, so contact Landscape East & West today and let’s start dreaming about your perfect outdoor living space.

This content was originally published here.

Hardwood vs. Laminate Wood Flooring

Hardwood Flooring

The flooring of a home is one of its defining features. Wood flooring remains one of the most popular options, as it is a naturally inviting, beautiful and timeless material. While older, more traditional homes often have the original hardwood floors still in place, many newer homes are using laminate. It offers a natural look similar to wood but at a lower price.

When deciding between hardwood vs. laminate flooring, there are several pros and cons to consider. Sure, when comparing laminate vs hardwood cost, laminate is usually the more affordable option. But you also must look at durability, resale value, cleaning, installation and more. This article will compare some of the factors between hardwood vs laminate flooring and help you decide which is best for your home.

DIY Laminate Flooring

Image: Elnur/Shutterstock

Laminate vs. hardwood cost

The reality of flooring costs and what you can afford may be miles apart. Take into consideration the cost of laminate and hardwood flooring to determine what is best for you.

  • Hardwood: CONS – Hardwood flooring is made of harvested trees; pricing depends on the type of wood you choose. In general, hardwood is considerably higher to buy and to install.
  • Laminate: PROS – Laminate wood flooring is made from composite wood pressed together at high temperatures. The image of hardwood is then placed over the composite wood, covering it to form the laminate. Not only are the materials themselves cheaper, but laminate wood installation cost is, on average, 50 percent less than hardwood installation.

Laminate flooring can cost $3-$7 per square foot, including installation. Solid wood flooring can cost $5-$10 per square foot, including installation. Again, the exact prices will vary depending on the types of materials used and the size of your home.

Laminate vs. hardwood durability

Assess the traffic load and wear and tear on flooring in your home. A more durable surface is easier to maintain and will look great for years to come.

  • Hardwood: CONS – Hardwood is susceptible to scratching, can get damaged from excessive moisture and will show wear, especially in heavily trafficked areas. PROS – Hardwood is the real deal; it is gorgeous and, depending on the type of wood, can add considerable value to your home.
  • Laminate: PROS – Since laminate is made from pressed wood, it is more durable and resists scratches, moisture and wear and tear. Laminate flooring is also easier to clean. CONS – Even though laminate is more durable, it is not as visually appealing. Lower qualities of laminate may have artificial-looking wood grain textures.
flooring

Image: Breadmaker/Shutterstock

Laminate vs. hardwood repair

Your home’s flooring will typically need repairs at some point. From minor accidents to excessive wear and tear, laminate and hardwood have advantages and disadvantages.

  • Hardwood: PROS – Hardwood can be repaired by sanding imperfections and refinishing. This gives it the edge over laminate, in that it will last for years.
  • Laminate: CONS – Laminate flooring doesn’t repair easily. If you buy flooring that comes in individual pieces and snaps together, you may be able to replace individual boards — although, depending on sunlight and age, the new piece may not match properly.

Best places for hardwood vs. laminate flooring
In addition to price, durability and repair, you should also consider the best (and worst) places in the home for both types of flooring.

  • Hardwood: Hardwood flooring is both beautiful and fairly durable, especially in lower-traffic rooms like bedrooms and dining rooms. But, if you have pets or a lot of foot traffic, your hardwood floors might show the scratches and wear overtime. Basements and bathrooms with a lot of moisture are also not good places for hardwood flooring. On the other hand, continuous sunlight can fade your hardwood flooring overtime as well.
  • Laminate: Because laminate flooring is so durable, it’s less susceptible to wear and tear from pets and foot traffic. While it withstands moisture better than hardwood, it should not be in a regularly wet area of the home. Because of its top coat, laminate flooring typically does not fade from sunlight as quickly and noticeably as hardwood flooring and can be used safely in rooms with large windows.

Your home will benefit from the look of wood flooring; deciding between hardwood vs. laminate flooring is up to you. Review the pros and cons, and be realistic about your lifestyle; if you have pets, young kids or high traffic, that may influence your decision.

If you have a lot of sunlight in your home, hardwood can fade because it is a natural product, while laminate wood flooring has UV protection integrated into the surface. Consider all the factors — and enjoy how the warmth of wood will improve your home’s aesthetic appeal and value.

The post Hardwood vs. Laminate Wood Flooring appeared first on Freshome.com.

This content was originally published here.

Q & A : The Most Energy Efficient Windows

Replacement Windows

The average home spends 45% of their energy on heating their home. And another 9% on cooling it. If you don’t have energy efficient windows, most of that air is escaping. Make sure you get the most cost-effective energy improvements  by getting the most energy efficient windows.

woman installing window insert next to a window with a storm window for comparison of most energy efficient windows

Your windows alone may be responsible for up to 25% of your heating costs by letting heat escape. The same for cool air in hotter months. Enhance your comfort and health by insulating your home through window replacement or storm windows. But which provide the most energy efficient windows?

Are all old windows horrible at energy efficiency?

You’ve probably heard that if your windows are 30 years old you have to replace them. Old windows are leaky, rundown, and don’t have the modern technology that the new, best energy saving windows do. This isn’t necessarily true.

New vinyl windows can be cheap and no better (often worse) at insulation than old windows (especially when they are retrofitted). More expensive double-pane windows with inserted gas can help a great deal. But the gas leaks over time, and they will need to be replaced every 10 – 20 years, which is true of any replacement window. That’s why their warranties only last .

Older windows, retrofitted with storm windows, can perform as well as the most energy efficient windows on the market.

windows retrofitted with storm windows perform as well as the most energy efficient windows

Do new windows really save money?

Yes. New windows will save money on energy bills. The average household saves 12% a year on their energy bill by installing new Energy Star windows. This depends on where you live, your climate, and whether you’re replacing single-pane or double-pane windows.

And do storm windows save money? Storm windows can save as much or more on energy bills without the initial high cost of replacement. Indow window inserts save 20% a year on energy bills on average. According to the Department of Energy, “Storm windows will produce similar savings at a far lower initial cost.”

Are the best energy saving windows vinyl?

Window sellers will say that virgin vinyl is the best insulator, but old-growth wood with its denser rings makes the best energy saving windows. Old-growth wood frames are sturdier and expand and contract less with fluctuations in weather.

Vinyl windows are only good insulators until their seal is broken. Once the seal has failed, so will the window’s energy efficiency. A replacement window seal often fails within 10 years of installation and the warranty only covers non-glass parts for the first 10 years.

man replacing a window after a seal has broken and lost its energy efficiency

With an interior window insert, you can recreate the seal over and over again by removing and reinserting it. This only takes minutes and restores the seal. Indow window inserts are made of acrylic panels and silicone compression tubing. Acrylic is highly durable and silicone’s ability to retain elasticity makes it perfect for sealing conditioned air in and keeping drafts out.

Storm windows vs window replacement: which is better for energy efficiency?

The debate of whether to replace your windows for the sake of energy efficiency is a relatively new one. People used to just repair and retrofit as standard practice. Most energy and home repair experts agree, storm windows vs window replacement in the fight of most energy efficient windows, storm windows win.

Storm window installation is one of the most cost-effective solutions for upgrading energy inefficient existing windows. They’re easy to install and cost a fraction of replacement windows.” Department of Energy

scott sidler installing hardware on energy efficient windows

As for return on investment, Scott Sidler who has worked on homes professionally for 10 years wrote, “The payback period for the new windows is 40.5 years. The payback period for the storm window is 4.5 years.”

Older windows also have fewer moving parts that can break and are easier to maintain. If taken care of or restored, a 100 year old window can last another hundred years. Storm windows can prolong the life of the window and bring its energy efficiency up to that of a double-pane.

Find the best energy efficient windows for you

The most energy efficient windows for one home aren’t going to be the most energy efficient windows for another. Age of the home, climate, and what other insulation projects you’ve already completed all factor in.

Scott Sidler has a great storm window guide. The Department of Energy has many tips on energy savings through windows and other home improvements. You can also contact us if you’re interested in getting a quote for energy saving window inserts.

customer installing indow insert for the most energy efficient windows

The post Q & A : The Most Energy Efficient Windows appeared first on Indow Windows.

This content was originally published here.