Future Homes and Neighborhoods Will Likely Be Compact, Greener, and Friendlier

American home and neighborhood designs change constantly. If you put yourself randomly in a 20th century neighborhood, chances are that you could tell the decade it was built, even after the avocado-green siding is replaced. We may be in for an even bigger than normal shift in the next decade. How will a 2015 neighborhood be different than a 2007 subdivision? Here are some recent trends:

Movement to smaller, greener and more livable homes

New homes are undoubtedly getting smaller. According to the National Association of Home Builders, the average size of a house under construction fell 7.3 percent in the July-September quarter of 2008. A January 2009 survey of builders reported that 90 percent are building smaller homes.

Until recently, homebuilders focused on grand houses that maximize square footage and feature high-end upgrades. Today, builders are more likely to highlight how their homes save money and energy. “As people value operating costs more, they start thinking more about these things,” said Roger Voisinet, noted EcoBroker and President of Cvilleproperties.com. “People are choosing solar and more energy-efficient heating and cooling.”

More attention is being paid to the quality of space rather than the quantity of space. “Time after time people leave the basement unfinished and put their money into good trim and quality elsewhere in the house.” said Voisinet. “People are also getting more creative with spaces.” He cited Belmont Lofts, which are popular condos in downtown Charlottesville where moveable, Shoji screen walls allow smaller rooms to be transformed into larger living spaces.

Economic fears are impacting design, suggests author and architectural psychologist Sally Fretwell. “People are now more simplistic in design and in building material. People are probably less showy,” said Fretwell, who also owns a paint store in Richmond, Virginia. Cost is more of a factor but by being more thoughtful, home purchasers focus on the details. “People are looking at things differently.” Said Fretwell, “They are a lot more creative. That’s wonderful”.

Migration to new urban centers with common greens and ready-built community

Besides moving into smaller homes, Americans are moving to communities with denser housing and “village” aspects that evoke neighborhoods of our great-grandparents.

Arthur C. Nelson, a leading housing expert who has studied housing trends for 20 years, expects that migration to denser living will bring sweeping changes to American society. According to Nelson, “Surveys indicate a growing preference for urban living. Roughly half of all households want the opportunity to live in neighborhoods and communities with higher density housing, a mix of housing types and household income levels, sidewalks, proximity to stores and restaurants, accessibility to transit options and other “smart growth” features associated with well-designed urban areas.”

Nelson predicts that there will be a surplus of between 3 million and 22 million homes on large lots (built on one-sixth of an acre or more) by 2025. He and other experts foresee these big homes in the exurbs eroding in value, with many of them being subdivided into multiple units.

Lifestyle has influenced people as much as economics in the growing taste for clustered, walkable neighborhoods. In an October 10, 2008 New York Times article, Kathleen Gerson, a professor of sociology at New York University describes the sense of well-being from being able to walk around and recognize your neighbors or even shopkeepers. Gerson said this sense of well-being is second only to being able to provide food and shelter for the family. “We know from studies that in close-knit urban communities, where private space is not as plentiful, public space becomes more central,” she said. Indeed, many families said they did not spend a lot of time at home. “There are always trade-offs in these choices. Families are resilient and find ways to adapt to whatever their circumstances.”

The community-oriented changes in where people choose to live coincides with new research on psychological studies of happiness. According to the Handbook of Psychology, by Irving Weiner and Donald Freedheim, “the strongest predictor of happiness [is] social connectedness. People who are relatively alone in the world are much less happy than people who have close connections with others. All other objective predictors of happiness, including money, education, health, and place of residence, are only weakly correlated with happiness.”

What might a neighborhood of 2015 look like?

A recent Chicago Tribune article summarizes the eight great real estate trends of 2009:

Smaller Houses
More apartments
Increase in attached housing
More rental units
New urban centers with homes close to shops and restaurants
Common green spaces for outdoor enjoyment of homeowners.
Creating Community – where the developer provides social features beyond land, bricks and mortar.
Online marketing of homes

Creating a Home Herb Garden

Growing herbs as been a popular activity throughout history dating back to the Bible. Producing herbs in ones home herb garden has always been a time tested method of assuring a constant supply on these fine flavorful plants.

This took a backdrop with the enduring popularity of convenient food stores and mass manufacturing of these ”products”, however, actually there is a strong resurgence of interest in the joy of creating and maintaining a personal home herb garden. The pleasure and excitement of growing herbs has been rediscovered and is even practiced in small apartments in urban areas.

Returning to this wonderful and practical hobby can be for many different reasons. The home herb garden can be cultivated for economical reasons, freshness and availability of the product, the scents and flavours associated with having herbs growing in your environment. There are many other reasons that can be attributed to this pastime if not simply for the sheer pleasure of seeing these beautiful plants come to life in your environment.

If you are among the newly initiated, you may have to do a little homework to start you off in the right direction. There is a large selection of different herbs to choose from when starting a herb garden project.

There are basically 73 different herbs recognized and are divided into 4 main categories classified for their individual usage. However, certain herb can be used for more than one purpose so can be classified in more than one category.

The list of herbs is quite extensive and can be classified in 4 main categories: aromatic, medicinal, ornamental and culinary. The gardener can choose which herbs he will be growing by defining the usage he plans to use them for once harvested. This is a brief review of the 4 main categories.

Culinary Usage

The many usage of herbs to enhance the taste of food has been mentioned repeatably through history. So many recipes have been created and savored by the perfect amount of a well balanced mix of herbs.

Most often a small garden can provide for a family very well so the amount of space needed depending on the variety you may wish to grow. Since herbs are used in small quantity, 1 or 2 plants can will be sufficient for a normal household. Among the most popular herbs grown are thyme, basil, sage, chives, oregano, mint, rosemary and savory.

Aromatic Usage

Aromatic herbs are in a class of their own. They offer great pleasure to the senses if not by their beauty then by the wonderful scent of the foliage and flowers.

If you choose to grow herbs with that intention, aromatic herbs can be a very interesting garden project. The enchanting fragrances come from their oils produced while growing and are used to produces various perfumes, toilet water and other lotions.

Once harvested and dried, you can enjoy the smell of the plants for many months. They can be used to freshen the air in rooms or spaces and even used to give a pleasant smell to clothes and linen.

Aromatic herbs that are popular; basil, marjoram, mint and rosemary.

Medicinal Usage

Before modern medicine, medicinal herbs has long been used to treat injuries and many levels of sickness. Many herbs are known and used even nowadays for their healing qualities. They play an important role in many products we by in a pharmacy, prescriptions and is used extensively with alternative natural medicine.

If you plan to grow herbs for medicinal usage, please research these herbs and capacities, They can be excellent when used in the right conditions but can be unpredictable if used randomly.

Medicinal herbs commonly used; Ginseng, Ephedra, Catnip, Dandelion and St. John’s Wort.

Ornamental Usage

Thought not always the first group of plants to be proposed when discussing landscaping, an wisely designed arrangement of ornamental herbs can be quite breathtaking by their brightly colored flowers and foliage. They can be combined with other plants or even other herbs to create an overall exotic layout. Among the ornamental herbs that are often used for this purpose are valerian that produces rich red blossoms, lavender and chive.

Having a basic idea of the 4 classifications of herbs is a good starting point to help decide which herbs we will be growing and how they will be used. The space available is equally a deciding factor to determine the variety of herbs that you wish to grow at a given time. Of course, you may choose to beginning your journey with a smaller garden and expand later on. Once you begin growing and using herbs for any of the ways we have classified above, it will surely a part of your daily life for a long time to come.

Yards And Gardens – Undeniable Selling Tools

Imagine, if you will; two identical homes for sale beside each other. One home has unkempt lawns, overgrown shrubbery and hedges, weedy gardens and so forth. The other home has well groomed lawns, trimmed shrubs and beautiful organized and colorful gardens. Which would you buy? The choice is pretty easy. This is why any Realtor or agent you ask will tell you that yards and gardens are an integral part of a home sale and will serve as a first impression on buyers, a first impression that a seller cannot afford to waste.

When getting a home ready for sale there are so many things to do so it’s best if you set aside time especially for the home’s exterior. Of course there is the option of hiring someone to do the work for you but landscapers are pretty expensive these days and it is really nothing you cannot do yourself, right? You should also consider the condition of the exterior of the home itself. If it needs a coat of paint or a cleaning to bring it up to par then by all means do so, then turn your attention to the lawns and gardens. Lawns can get out of control fairly easily. It does not take too long for weeds and whatnot to take hold of the lawn and then you are fighting an uphill battle to keep the crabgrass and dandelions at bay. Keeping the shrubs and hedges (if any) trimmed and neat adds a real note of symmetry to a yard and definitely makes a yard more presentable.

One major thing is that individually these elements are great but in order to present a home properly they all need to be considered together. How do these things work together to create the ideal curb appeal for a home? You must try to think ahead and plan in your own mind how things will look when the home is ready to show. Anything you miss is likely to be the first thing that buyers notice so always get a few opinions on what could use changing or fixing from neighbors and/or your agent. Take the time to create a truly unique first impression for buyers and the sale will definitely profit from the effort.

Tips From The Home And Garden Store

The home and the garden are, for many people, an extension of their persona. It is an expression of who they are and what they like. In the past, the opportunities for self-expression were limited as design and furnishing options were in short supply. These days, however, there is an explosion in the number of options for anyone who wants to populate their interiors and exteriors with funky, whimsical, striking or modern art decor.

Home furnishing:

As any professional interior decorator will tell you, each room within the house has a certain function and a certain character. It is necessary to recognize this innate character before one can go about furnishing the room appropriately. Indoor decor leans heavily on the right use of color, lighting and furnishing. For instance, the role of curtains, decorative rugs, objects of art and other decorative materials must be complimentary. Every object within the room must contribute seamlessly to the total effect.

Many homes these days, boast of stunning pieces of art that single handedly transform the look of the room. Funky, whimsical designs featuring themes and colorful artwork could well become the center of attraction of the room. When such pieces of art are combined cleverly with furnishing and color, the effect is breathtaking. A fitting example of such art is the Round Top Collection by Jeff Krause.

Thus, interior decor can be transformed from the staid and the predictable to glamorous and glitzy through the clever use of objects of art. Care should be taken, however, to choose quality over quantity. Hand crafted objects are more popular than machine made objects as the former contains unique objects that enjoy limited availability.

Garden furnishing:

The garden is typically the extension of the home. It is where we seek to establish an instant connect with nature. For many, it is the place dedicated to the pleasure of cultivation and abundant growth. Even homes in urban areas where garden space is limited make the effort to transform the garden into a haven of sorts.

The use of unusual, whimsical and colorful furniture and objects of art can transform the garden into something that is out of a fairytale book. For example, whimsically designed benches and tables are available in the most stunning colors. These pieces of furniture greatly add to the appeal of the garden. In addition to this, pieces of art may be strategically scattered around the garden to make it colorful and beautiful. By adding these pieces of art to your garden space, it is possible to achieve the perfect balance between beauty and utility that characterizes great outdoor spaces.

As you can see, a little imagination combined with oodles of observation can transform your home and garden space.

Personal Sanctuaries – Urban Home, Cultural Inspired Home, Tropical Setting, & Hideaways

Urban Home
One should be at peace with the environment. We mostly find this peace in whatever we do & where ever we go. Creating an urban home has to do with certain earthiness that we want to exude and being in that place has to practice tranquility. Using colors or layout or being filled with objects that would connote restfulness and peace. That once you step inside this urban home, the refreshing & invigorating smell of eucalyptus and green tea permeates the air, invading your senses and instantly putting you in a state of relaxation.

Cultural inspired home
Let me give you you a glimpse on how I imagine this kind of sanctuary.. A Modern Japanese scheme.. let me fascinate you with the foyer- coming in the house. From its doors made of wood, the interesting design of the floor achieved through the use of different materials. The right side of the foyer is a wall of housing Japanese dolls. The left side contains a fountain where water continuously falls through clear glass, ending in a stone-cladded pool. When stepping in the living area imbued with different neutral shades. Moving forward, one is refreshed by the equally zen like powder room with series of stone steps embedded of with white pebbles. The dining & kitchen area seem to be the most modern of all. The bedrooms are done in white with dark wood-toned furniture. The only difference are the colors of the beddings and accessories. Harmonizing modern & Japanese styles reflecting the sense & style of creating a culturally inspired home.

Tropical Setting home
If asking people where they want to live and most will say either on a mountaintop with a very spectacular view of the surrounding of the forest or by the beach, burying their feet in fine white sand while sipping their beverage of choice. An Oasis of green amidst the hustle & rush of the city we are welcomed by a front garden in a charming pond punctuated by the sound of trickling water, leading visitors to the foyer accented with big terracotta jars. The planting is composed of shrubs like silver dust, ficus, assorted tropical plants. The water feature combined with an appealing planting somehow gives idea of what to expect in this garden haven. Sunlight is filtered. The resulting scenery is a stunning visual display of color, scale & form. Seeing this kind of atmosphere prompted ne to reevaluate my preference for quiet, far flung locales set amidst swaying palm trees and nurturing surroundings. Being in the middle of everything doesn’t necessarily mean being far away from the things that make life worthwhile.

Hideaways…. A seaside treasure..
If you are a beach fanatic you would likewise think of a home resort. All related by the sea ambiance-getting tanned, enjoying the sea breeze, warming up near the campfire while eating barbecued marshmallows, sleeping on a hammock coconut trees. With clear skies and sunny weather to boot. Using raw indigenous materials blending with construction basics.

In keeping with something new & something old concept. A Vibrant color scheme plays a key role in the inviting atmosphere of this home using bright yellow on the exteriors blends a happy & sunny outlook. Some walls painted in red-violet and in blue, ceilings and floors are kept white. Whimsical images of animals to add a playful touch. Indeed this kind of sanctuary can simply define pure enjoyment of nature’s beauty and intimate family bonding perfect for hideaways.

Fences Provide Excellent Privacy for Home and Business

Fences are considered an essential part of urban and suburban landscapes, and they are even more prevalent in today’s rural communities. Privacy fences are popular because they serve more than one role. First, they disguise unpleasant outside views and noise that could otherwise disrupt the serenity of your home or business. Second, they provide isolation from your neighbors’ curious eyes. Not that you are attempting to obscure your actions from outsiders, but because most people prefer not to have all their activities be in public view. Even the best neighbors shouldn’t be obligated to wave hello or have a conversation each time they step foot outside their door. Robert Frost once said, “Good Fences make Good Neighbors.” This is more compelling today than ever.

When choosing fencing, consider the age and style of your home. While ornamental metal and wood fences match most homes, vinyl and composite fences often match new construction. Also factor in the purposes of the fence whether it is for privacy, protection, beauty, functionality, or noise reduction.

The benefits of building a fence on your property and its value can be numerous. Fences add security, delineate, enhance and add value in many ways to homes and businesses. Single-family homes, condominiums, apartments, estates, shopping centers, malls, and restaurants can benefit from the installation of a fence. In most cases, they are used to add security while delineating property lines. Schools, childcare facilities, wholesalers, construction contractors, correctional institutions, and military bases are all in need of the kind of security that is readily offered by fence installation.

Privacy fences can be built quickly, relative to the time it would take for trees and plants to grow if they were to be used as a natural barrier. Privacy fences can provide instant advantage and usefulness. Wooden Fences are also very durable and require little maintenance. Whereas, trees and plants require time to grow and need to be watered and weeded continually.

Wood fences are an unbeatable choice when it comes to privacy fencing. In terms of creating a noise barrier or a visual one – wooden privacy fences provide excellent isolation and freedom from disturbance. In addition, wood fences are possibly the most attractive option when it comes to building your landscape haven. Wood fence installation and design by a certified and professional Fence Company gives you and your family a solid visual barrier between your yard and your neighbors’, and provides almost complete privacy. Masonry and brick walls can accomplish the same result, but can cost significantly more than a wood fence installation.

Yards And Gardens – Undeniable Selling Tools

Urban wildlife cannot just overturn rubbish bins and damage plant and flower plantings, but can often be promising to humans and household pets. Raccoons for instance may look lovable with their black-ringed eyes and fuzzy tails, but raccoons are related to bears and have the claws to definitively prove it. Surprising a raccoon although it is dining on the contents of your trash can may lead to significant bodily injury.

Raccoons might also carry sicknesses like rabies. Because they are nighttime animals, home owners are often acquainted with their existence. Raccoons who live in an urban environment most frequently get most of their nutritive wishes met by helping themselves to the contents of rubbish cans. They are reasonably intelligent creatures who learn which cans offer premium pickings and which are best left alone. Making indubitably certain that rubbish can lids are resolutely secured will make sure that yours falls into the second class.

Hitching a bungee chord round the lid will supply maximum security. Sealing off possible entryways will also deter raccoons from making themselves at home in your house, as well make totally certain that pet food is not left out. One of the more modern strains of pests to blight the urban landscape are wild pigs. Like raccoons, they regularly consider ho use waste bins to be packed with flavorsome culinary delicacies. They’ve also got a bias to lose their fear of humans, after they have spent considerable time in urban locations and can become pushy when they understand that their food source nearby or their young are being threatened.

Another thing that wild pigs share in common with raccoons is they are essentially night animals and want to perform their naughtiness under the cover of night. Other examples of urban wildlife include certain migratory birds possums squirrels bees and the famous scourge of mice and rats. Coyotes have also submitted to the attraction of usually available feast s composed from household generated trash. Even foxes have started to get into the game. In some areas of the country deer and moose ramble the streets often pillaging urban plant gardens and dining on the landscaping. One man in port Alaska returned home from work one evening to get a young black bear in his loo that ha crawled through an open window.

Owners are nearly convinced to use controls that are not having legal permit in the communities in which they live but should understand that such actions may cause them more distress than the hairy bugs that are after their trash. Some types of migratory birds are also guarded by government al agencies. Because household trash is the prime ingredient in urban wildlife infestations numbers of pests can be serious y reduced just by putting a responsible rubbish manager’s system into place. If indoor space like a garage is available you must leave your trash in their till the morning of the pick-up day. If you do not have that option keeping trash secure from hairy claws is recommended. You could have to search out the aid of a professional urban wildlife removal company in extraordinary cases.