Why You Should Stay Put and Improve the Home You Have

In “Staying Put,” architect and writer Duo Dickinson has assembled a terrific and practical guide to help us make real improvements to our homes. Dickinson, an advocate of well-designed and affordable homes for all, has specialized in residential design for more than three decades.

This is not your typical architect’s book about design. There’s no obscure language nor design-for-design’s-sake ideas. It is a practical, down-to-earth guide that walks anyone through the rational process of how to remodel your house to get the home you want, from how to think about your house and overcoming hurdles to a list of “Duo’s Do’s and Don’ts” for the homeowner. Along the way, there’s plenty of nice before-and-after photos to help explain the points. Do read the book. You’ll be glad you did.

The Taunton Press Inc, original photo on Houzz

The cover says it all. The ubiquitous photo of a gorgeous, award-winning home that’s beyond most of us is replaced with images of a saw, cup of morning joe and a to-do list.

Are you staying put yourself? Read on for 8 of Dickinson’s suggestions.

 

Mick Hales, original photo on Houzz

Consider the compass points. The tips and illustrated examples are wonderfully straightforward. For example, we see a house that gets overheated, the siding degrades and the front door bakes in the sun because it all faces south.

Dickinson’s common-sense advice: Rework the front of the house with a new wide porch that shades the front door and some smaller, yet well-sized windows to create a lot more curb appeal while reducing maintenance and energy consumption. It’s a triple win: more beauty and comfort with less cost.

Avoid gutters. Statements such as “gutters and leaders are devout to be avoided” may sound like heresy to many but certainly are the truth. Proving his point, Dickinson illustrates how a properly-built roof overhang can shed all the water it must without the complications, such as ice dams, caused by gutters.

Embrace small moves. Dickinson provides a wealth of simple solutions illustrated with before-and-after photos. He shows how to use small moves for big dividends, such as taking out a wall between a kitchen and a hallway to make room for more kitchen storage.

Mick Hales, original photo on Houzz

Enhance curb appeal. The book offers solutions to common problems with a particular style, such as how to improve and enhance an entrance into a split-level home.

Open up to the outside. Dickinson provides some excellent examples of how we can use modern windows and doors to strengthen the connection between inside and outside. Our homes, says Dickinson, no longer need be “later-day caves.”

Find your home. Learning more about the style of the house you have will help you avoid obstacles in remodeling and recognize the best opportunities for improving your particular home.

Mick Hales, original photo on Houzz

Open up the inside. Snippets of advice sprinkled throughout the book are like refreshing raindrops that clear the cobwebs away. One such snippet: “If you walk through a room to get to a room, something is wrong.” You know — it’s when that new great room gets added to a modest house, and the result is some kind of dyslexic creature that’s really two houses rather than one.

So rather than even building an addition, Dickinson suggests you make the most of what you already have. In this example, widening the opening between rooms strengthens this room’s connection with the rest of the home, increasing its utility and spaciousness.

The Taunton Press Inc, original photo on Houzz

Work with what you’ve got (before): Keeping the kitchen size the same while vaulting the ceiling dramatically increases the overall spaciousness of the room, as you’ll see in the next photo.

 

Mick Hales, original photo on Houzz

Work with what you’ve got (after): Walls, doors, appliances and even the skylight and kitchen sink were all left where they were. This all avoided costly plumbing, electrical and mechanical work and rework.

The Taunton Press Inc, original photo on Houzz

Working with what you’ve got (plans): Dickinson has included before-and-after floor plans for many of the examples. These plans help provide that much more context, allowing the reader to better understand what they may be able to do with the home they already have.

Posted on June 28, 2018 at 5:00 am
Fort Collins | Category: Blog, Buyers & Sellers, First Time Home Buyer, For Buyers, For Sellers | Tagged , , , ,

What You Should Know About Load Codes for Your Home Project

Anyone who has built, designed or remodeled a home has heard the term “built to code” and people saying, “The code requires it to be like that.” And when we hear things like this, we tend to think we’re getting a house designed and built to the highest standard.

But that’s not necessarily so. What the building codes do is establish an absolute minimum standard. This minimum may not be what you need in your home. You could, in fact, easily have needs that require the design and construction of your home to exceed code.

Load Codes 1: Wanda Ely Architect Inc, original photo on Houzz

This is especially the case when it comes to structural items. While the code mandates that structural systems be designed to support certain minimum loads, and to do so within certain tolerances, these minimums and tolerances may not be what you actually need. Who wants to live in a house where the floors are so bouncy that you feel like you’re walking on a trampoline? And what happens when you decide to move a water bed into the bedroom next to that stack of heavy books you cherish? Will you need to have your floor joists doubled up under that big soaking tub you are planning?

It’s wise to think about particular situations like this and look at the code mandates as a starting place, not the finish.

Load Codes 2: Bud Dietrich AIA, original photo on Houzz

Weight Loads

Building codes establish many project requirements, not the least of which is the project’s structure. This holds true no matter what material the house will be built of. And a key to designing a structural system is to determine what loads, or weights, will be imposed.

So we first have to look at what the house will be made of (wood, concrete, steel, masonry etc.) to determine the dead load — the weight of materials used in the permanent construction of the house. Note that it doesn’t include items like furniture, people, toys, books, television sets etc. and will vary only a little bit over the lifetime of the house.

Next we use the governing building code to determine what the minimum live load — the impact of movable objects such as furniture and people — will be. For example, per code, the main living areas of a house have to be able to accommodate a uniform live load of 40 pounds per square foot. Bedrooms have a code requirement of 30 pounds per square foot, and roof structures have a varying live load, depending on climate (more snow equals more weight) and roof pitch (steeper roofs will shed snow faster).

Load Codes 3: Bud Dietrich AIA, original photo on Houzz

But the code-mandated uniform loading may not accommodate all of your furniture and books, that large cast iron soaking tub, your water bed etc. So you’ll want to identify any items that this code-mandated requirement won’t accommodate and design the structure accordingly. Otherwise, the extra weight of these items can cause the structure to fail.

When we say a structure has failed, we don’t necessarily mean the house has collapsed. Failure can simply mean a part of the structure has failed so there’s too much deflection. This will result in uneven floors, gaps between walls and floors, and so on.

Load Codes 4: Bud Dietrich AIA, original photo on Houzz

Deflection

Deflection is the distance that a structural member (say, a floor joist) will bend when a load is placed on it. The greater the distance, the more the deflection and the less level the floor.

In addition to holding up a certain load, a structure has to stay rigid and keep its shape. But that’s nearly impossible, as any structure will start to deflect the moment any load is placed on it.

The code requires that this deflection be limited to L/360, where L is the length of the unsupported span. This means that for a floor structure that spans 18 feet (not uncommon in newer homes with open floor plans), the maximum allowable deflection is 0.6 inches.

In other words, a floor can sag more than a half inch and still be deemed OK. So some architects and engineers will use L/480 to calculate the allowable deflection. For an 18-foot span, using L/480 would limit the amount of deflection to 0.45 inches.

While the difference between 0.6 and 0.45 inches may seem insignificant, it really isn’t when it comes to a floor structure that gets walked on all the time.

Load Codes 5: LDa Architecture & Interiors, original photo on Houzz

If you’re designing or remodeling a house, have a conversation with your architect and builder about what you plan to put into your home and how the structure will accommodate it.

By Bud Dietrich AIA, Houzz

Posted on March 11, 2018 at 5:00 am
Fort Collins | Category: Blog, Home Builders | Tagged , ,

6 Foyers That Invite in Style

With a side entrance to your home, you can be a little more forgiving when it comes to messes. But with a front-door entry, through which you and your guests get a first impression of your home, you’ve got to be a little more on top of your style and storage game. The following are some of the most popular front-entry photos recently, as measured by the number of people who saved them to their Houzz ideabooks from January through March. Let us know which will inspire your next project.

Entryway 1Jackson and LeRoy, original photo on Houzz

6. A classic wooden bench offers a spot to take off and put on shoes in this farmhouse-style entryway in Utah.

Related: Wipe Your Shoes on a Durable Outdoor Rug

Entryway 2Nicole Benveniste Interior Design, original photo on Houzz

5. Benjamin Moore’s Plaster of Paris paint on the walls sets the soothing tone for this spacious San Francisco entry. A large painting featuring pale swaths of color hangs over a few well-chosen accessories atop a weathered wood table, starting this home off on the right foot.

Entryway 3Brian Paquette Interiors, original photo on Houzz

4. Here, a burl-wood-type table and vibrant abstract art create movement and excitement.

Related: Flower Vases for the Entryway

Entryway 4Tim Barber Ltd Architecture, original photo on Houzz

3. A rich wood built-in helps organize this Los Angeles entry. A frosted, ribbed glass window obscures the view into the living room.

Entryway 5NEST Interior Design Group, original photo on Houzz

2. An eclectic mix of art and accessories beckons guests into this Houston home. A table offers a spot for keys and wallets, while wire baskets below can handle shoes and bags.

Entryway 6Fluidesign Studio, original photo on Houzz

1. Creamy shiplap walls, rich wood floors and a wood console table establish a refreshing air in this Minneapolis home.

By Mitchell Parker, Houzz

Posted on March 2, 2018 at 5:00 am
Fort Collins | Category: Blog, Housing Trends | Tagged , , , ,

How to Decide Where to Put the Toilet in Your New Bathroom

From the beginning of your bathroom renovation, your plumbers and framers need to know where your toilet should go — whether it’ll be mounted on the floor or wall and where the water supply should be positioned. If that’s not complicated enough, wall paneling, tile installation, shower doors and baseboards will all factor into the equation for your toilet location, too.

Don’t feel overwhelmed — finding the right professional can help you get through the technical stuff, and having a handle on these tips and tricks can help you find a spot for your toilet that works for you and your bathroom’s design.

Toilet 1Enviable Designs Inc, original photo on Houzz

Take Note of Wall Panels and Baseboards

Most toilets are roughed-in 12 inches from the finished wall. This works well for most floor-mounted toilets.

Tip: Some toilets require floor anchoring clips — another limiting factor because it can interrupt radiant heating. Talk with your floor heating contractor before choosing this type of toilet to make sure that the anchors won’t mess with water lines or heating cables.

Toilet 2: kbcdevelopments, original photo on Houzz

What a classic bathroom — I love it. The look and feel of the toilet fits in with the baseboard and crown molding perfectly. I would guess the baseboard wraps behind the toilet for a seamless look.

Tip: It’s very hard to paint behind toilet tanks like this. I suggest painting the wall and installing the baseboard before putting the toilet in.

Plan Out Your Shower First

If you’re planning on having a barrier-free shower near your toilet, consider installing a wall-mount toilet to make waterproofing measures simpler for your contractor.

Toilet 3Beyond Beige Interior Design Inc, original photo on Houzz

Shower doors also play a role in your toilet’s location. To meet building codes, a shower door needs to open both in and out, so you’ll want to take the door swing into account when choosing your toilet spot.

Tip: Work with your contractor to play with different toilet and door locations when finalizing your shower’s size. Use a piece of string and a marker to draw an arc on the floor to show the door swing. This will help you visualize where a toilet can fit comfortably.

Decide on a Wall Mount or Floor Mount

Installing a wall-mount toilet is a chore. All of them require a wall carrier to support the toilet, and some have very exact water supply positions, which allows for little flexibility in location. However, the look is seamless and modern and has some functional benefits as well.

Tip: A standard toilet is 14 to 15 inches high from the finished floor to the top of the bowl (excluding the fold-down seat). Consider a higher measurement of 16 to 18 inches for your wall-mounted toilet if you plan on aging into your golden years. It may seem high now, but you’ll be thankful for the added height later.

 

Toilet 4kbcdevelopments, original photo on Houzz

Wall-mounted toilets are great for smaller spaces because the tank is inside the wall. In this installation, you can see that the builder brought the wall forward for this wall-mounted toilet’s water carrier to create a ledge above the sink and toilet for the flush activator. Usually these ledges are larger, and I love the smaller version here.

 

Toilet 5: Fixture Universe, original photo on Houzz

During installation, most toilets are dropped in over two bolts and the bolts are trimmed and capped to keep the toilet in place. Many clean line toilets (which are great for easy cleaning) have separate mounting blocks, and the toilet is screwed into place from the two sides. This Duravit toilet has those great clean lines, but the same easy installation as a regular toilet.

Tip: We have a 10-flush rule with any new toilet. After it’s installed but before using any silicone, we flush the toilet 10 times back to back to make sure everything’s functioning properly.

Note that floor-mounted and wall-mounted toilets come in regular and elongated versions. If you’re tight on space, look for a regular or smaller model.

 

Toilet 6Bill Fry Construction – Wm. H. Fry Const. Co., original photo on Houzz

Pay Attention to Any Recesses or Compartments

In this photo, the recessed shelves above the toilet allow for more headroom and save space. This clever use of space was no doubt made possible by good planning. Make sure your entire building crew knows about spaces like this ahead of time for a successful build.

Tip: Check that your builders spray paint the framing around these niche locations before any wires, pipes or insulation is installed.

If you are planning a toilet compartment, the NKBA recommends a space about 36 by 66 inches, with a 32-inch-wide doorway. The absolute minimum would be 30 by 60 inches, which leaves just 15 inches of space on either side of the toilet rough-in.

Tip: If you’re worried about the bottom of your toilet scratching your floor tile or hardwood during installation, consider using scraps of Kerdi waterproofing membrane on the bottom of the toilet. Anything that will stick to the toilet bottom — extra peel-‘n-stick tiles, scraps of linoleum, etc. — can work.

 

By JW, Houzz

Posted on February 28, 2018 at 5:00 am
Fort Collins | Category: Blog | Tagged , , , ,

11 Ways to Uncover Your Personal Color Palette

Where do you find the colors you love? And just because you love a hue, does that mean it’s right for your walls? Let’s take a closer look at color inspiration. Here you’ll find tips for how to get your creative juices flowing and zero in on the color palettes that speak to you.

 

Colors 1Lear & Mahoney Landscape Associates, original photo on Houzz

1. Be inspired by a landscape you love. Choosing your paint colors based on hues that occur together in nature takes some of the guesswork out of paint picking. The beach is the quintessential example of taking the landscape to a color scheme — the hues of sand, water and sky work beautifully as paint colors, as well as on furniture and accessories.

2. Snap pictures of colors that inspire you on walks and travels. Carry a camera and capture those little details that inspire you as you see them. Taking quick snapshots with your camera phone is fine — the point is more in the noticing than in the quality of your pictures. Sometimes the spirit of a place really shines through in the colors used there, so mine those old vacation photos for inspiration, too.

 

Colors 2Holly Marder, original photo on Houzz

 

3. Notice the subtle hues that move you. Not everyone is drawn to bold, clear colors; that is only one small slice of the spectrum. Pay attention to the subtle hues and particular shades that move you, as these can become great color palettes. Perhaps you are drawn to the rich browns of worn leather and old wood. If you love blue, is it midnight, pale aqua or French blue? Get specific.

4. Try doing a color-a-day experiment. This practice is a workout for your creativity and visual sense. Look for shades of one color to photograph each day, until you have covered them all. Keep your eyes peeled for pretty veggies in the produce bins, graffiti on a brick wall, a row of colorful binders in your office — nowhere is off-limits.

Related: Energize Your Home Office With Bold Color

Colors 3Envi Interior Design Studio, original photo on Houzz

5. Look to the branding of good restaurants, shops and other businesses. Shops are often great places for finding color schemes, since great care was taken to design them in an appealing way. The next time you walk into a shop or restaurant and find yourself really enjoying the atmosphere, stop and ask yourself why. Take a closer look at your surroundings — is it the paint color that makes you feel good? Try to begin naming what really works for you.

6. Pay attention to shop displays. When you’re inside a shop, pay special attention to beautiful displays of objects and flowers — especially color combinations that catch your eye. Notice which color was used in a larger swath and which color punctuates the arrangement. For instance, you may be drawn to a display of sunshine-yellow mugs, but upon further thought realize it’s the deep blue tile wall in the background that really makes it for you.

Colors 4Shannon Malone, original photo on Houzz

7. Consider the architecture of your home and the region you live in. What colors are typically used to play up the sort of house you have? Noticing doesn’t mean you have to follow suit, but it can help guide you in your process. Southwestern homes, for instance, tend to feature rich earth-tone colors, which complement the landscape beautifully.

8. Aim to complement what you already own. Look at what you already have in your home — do you tend to be drawn to bright, statement-y furniture with bold colors and patterns? If so, you may want to stick with neutral walls that won’t compete. If your furniture taste runs to white, white and more white, perhaps a subtle (but not white) neutral would add interest to your clean aesthetic. Assess the finishes in your home (floors, counters etc.) as well, since you can use them to find complementary wall colors.

Related: Find the Perfect Complementary Neutral Colors to Use Here

Colors 5: Eclectic Books, original photo on Houzz

9. Cast a wide net in what you read for inspiration. Decorating books are wonderful, of course, but also consider looking to graphic design, photography and garden books, and all sorts of magazines for inspiration. Save images that call out to you and begin a collection.

10. Experiment with inspiration boards. A board that works for another person may not work for you — so try out different methods until you hit on something that feels fun. Some may love the physical act of cutting and tacking up tear sheets to a board; others may find that fussy. Collect items in a tray or basket, create an ideabook on Houzz, slide your finds into a binder or stuff everything into a big folder.

Related: Store Paint Swatches in a Brand New File Cabinet

Colors 6Cynthia Lynn Photography, original photo on Houzz

11. Learn to translate what you see. Picking colors for your walls is a highly personal process. The best way to learn about what works for you is to start paying more attention to color … everywhere. Whether you are choosing colors on your own or working with a pro, this will hone your color sense and make picking paint a better experience all around.

By Laura Gaskill, Houzz

Posted on February 27, 2018 at 5:00 am
Fort Collins | Category: Blog | Tagged , , , ,

6 Extreme Interior Paint Makeovers

Today we’re looking at how paint has changed your rooms, from the kitchen to the bedroom, from the living room to the laundry room.

Makeover 1: Stephanie Van Dyke, original photo on Houzz

AFTER: Houzz user Stephanie Van Dyke’s newly dark living room walls.

Makeover 2: Before Photo, original photo on Houzz

BEFORE: Van Dyke wanted to switch up these light walls. The new colors are Ralph Lauren’s Smoked Glass and Tibetan Jasmine. “The Smoked Glass is a beautiful, dynamic color that changes throughout the day,” she says.

Makeover 3: Before Photo, original photo on Houzz

BEFORE: Houzz user and blogger c2marsha did not have much love for this pale green color in her bedroom. “The old pale green color just felt really stale and boring; we wanted something bolder but not bright or harsh,” she says.

Related: Add Style and Function With a New Bedroom Bench

Makeover 4: c2marsha, original photo on Houzz

AFTER: “We chose Behr Bitter Chocolate for our master bedroom, which sits on the second floor of our Dutch colonial in Minneapolis,” she says. “We didn’t want our room to feel too feminine or masculine, and we wanted it to feel like it fit us well, which made it very difficult to pick a color!”

The rich brown brought in a modern touch that works with their mix of vintage and traditional pieces.

Makeover 5: Before Photo, original photo on Houzz

BEFORE: Maple trees surrounding the house and the colors on the walls made Houzz user hellovijp’s home in Quebec City very dark inside.

Makeover 6: hellovijp, original photo on Houzz

AFTER: Because one room flows into the next and the spaces were lacking cohesion, hellovijp painted the entire floor the same color, SICO’s Portobello #6185-41. It really lightens things up while keeping the look warm.

Makeover 7: Before Photo, original photo on Houzz

BEFORE: Amanda Haytaian wanted a fresh look for her living room; pink walls and a dated fireplace were no longer working.

Makeover 8: Amanda Haytaian, original photo on Houzz

AFTER: She brought the pink into the room via smaller accents. A beautiful new coffered ceiling and marble fireplace surround freshen up the space. The walls are Benjamin Moore’s Etiquette in matte, and the trim is Benjamin Moore’s Steam in semigloss.

Makeover 9: Before Photo, original photo on Houzz

BEFORE: Becky, of the blog this is happiness, had been dreaming of a whiter kitchen.

Makeover 10: Becky, original photo on Houzz

AFTER: “It’s still a work in progress, but we took our very dark kitchen to a cheerful, bright white,” she says. Kwal acrylic paint in Pure Snow did the trick.

Tip: She recommends having the cabinets spray painted to avoid brushstrokes.

Makeover 11: Before Photo, original photo on Houzz

BEFORE: “This laundry room is a great example of white not making a poorly lit, windowless room light and airy; it just made it gray, dingy and scuff-marked,” says Cathy Zaeske.

Makeover 12: Cathy Zaeske, original photo on Houzz

AFTER: Going for an industrial chic look, she chose a new pendant light and Sherwin-Williams’ high-gloss 6076 Turkish Coffee. The new room is much better at inspiring the homeowners to want to do their laundry.

By Becky Harris, Houzz

Posted on February 26, 2018 at 6:13 am
Fort Collins | Category: Blog | Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Energize Your Home This Winter With Bright Hues

Bright hues are eye-catching, confident and cheering — so if winter’s got you feeling less than energized, why not tap into the power of bright colors to lift your spirits and your decor? Read on for 10 reasons to give bright, zesty hues a try in your home this winter.

Bright Hues 1Bronwyn Poole by Touch Interiors, original photo on Houzz

1. Bright hues help with the whole rising and shining thing. Zingy brights are like caffeine for your space. If you’ve been dragging on these dark winter mornings, perhaps a colorful bedroom makeover would help things along. Artwork, pillows and a throw can be easily swapped out now, and again when you feel like a change.

 

Bright Hues 2Bronwyn Poole by Touch Interiors, original photo on Houzz

2. Bright hues are playful. Lighten the mood at home with fun, colorful pieces, like the oversize geometric artwork and bright blue vintage rug shown in this space. Colors this bold are packed with personality and perfect in spaces where you host parties or play with your kids.

3. Bright hues are a winter palette cleanser. Been feeling oversaturated by red, green and woodsy decor? Acid brights can act as a refreshing palette cleanser. Clear away the holiday decor and start fresh with a clean, crisp pairing of white and brights.

Bright Hues 3Emma Blomfield, original photo on Houzz

4. Bright hues are mood boosters. Bright, bold colors are undeniably cheerful. Even if you typically shy away from bright hues, consider making an exception in the winter. The infusion of color can be a great pick-me-up!

5. Bright hues are gutsy. Claim your space and make a statement with a big decorating move, like bold wallpaper or a bright, graphic rug. Bright hues exude confidence — perfect when you are looking to make a fresh start in your life.

Bright Hues 4Tobi Fairley Interior Design, original photo on Houzz

6. Bright hues offer contrast to the gray outdoors. Dismal weather got you down? Cheer up your foyer with sunshine yellow. Spaces with large windows can also become a bit of a downer when the skies are cloudy — refresh a living room or kitchen with sunshiny hues to counteract the gloom.

7. Bright hues bring a dash of romance. From the shiny red of London buses to the bright turquoise of a zippy Italian scooter, the colors of a place are often one of the most memorable parts of traveling. Bring back a bit of the romance of your favorite destinations with a collection of colorful travel photos on the wall. Or pick up colors from your most cherished places in smaller doses — like bright buttons on a dapper gray armchair.

Bright Hues 550 Degrees North Architects, original photo on Houzz

8. Bright hues can help you feel more productive. Give your home workspace a jolt to keep yourself sharp and focused. Try a brightly hued desk chair or filing cabinet, or arrange your bookshelves in rainbow order. Even a vase of bright blooms and a new pen cup on the desk can do the trick!

Related: Outfit Your Workspace With Stylish Office Furniture

 

Bright Hues 6Reiko Feng Shui Design, original photo on Houzz

9. Bright hues wake up winter white. If your winter decorating scheme tends towards pure wintry whites and subtle glints of metallic hues, consider punching things up with a bright accent or two. In the space shown here, a cluster of pillows and a glamorous chandelier dripping in turquoise beads transforms a plain landing into a jaw-dropping one.

10. Bright hues give you a taste of spring when you need it most. Why wait for the first daffodils, when you can have a wonderfully bright yellow door right now? Stop trudging through winter waiting for spring, and treat yourself to springy colors today.

By Laura Gaskill, Houzz

Posted on February 25, 2018 at 5:00 am
Fort Collins | Category: Blog | Tagged , , ,

Keep Herbs Alive and Well in Winter With These 5 Tactics

Temperatures may be dropping, but that doesn’t mean we have to bid farewell to our herb gardens. Cold-hardy herbs, such as chives, mint, oregano, parsley, sage and thyme, can often survive cold-winter temperatures while continuing to produce flavorful foliage, as long as they are provided with some protection or grown indoors. Even herbs like rosemary that are more cold-sensitive can survive winter using additional methods of protection. Let’s explore different ways we can prolong the herb harvest and enjoy the fresh taste of our favorite herbs throughout the cold of winter.

 

Herbs 1Bachman’s Landscape Design – Tom Haugo, original photo on Houzz

 

Herbs 2Home & Garden Design, Atlanta – Danna Cain, ASLA, original photo on Houzz

A glass cloche protects plants in the center of this raised bed in Atlanta.

 

1. Protect herbs from the cold by placing them in a cold frame or cloche. Covering herbs helps trap the heat that rises from the soil, elevating the temperature inside by several degrees. This can extend the growing season in both fall and spring.

Cold frames are topped with glass panes that slope downward and are situated so they face south. This ensures that the most sunlight will reach the plants inside, creating an environment that is several degrees warmer than outside.

Cloches are a smaller and more portable way to protect plants from the cold. Traditional ones are bell-shaped and made from glass. They can be expensive, but you can make your own by cutting off the bottom of a 1-gallon plastic milk jug or other large plastic container. Place each one over individual herb plants and nestle the bottom inch or two of the cloche into the soil to anchor it.

 

Herbs 3The Room Illuminated, original photo on Houzz

 

2. Add a thick layer of coarse mulch over herbs. Many herbs can grow through the winter under the insulation provided from straw, shredded bark or other coarse mulch. In areas that experience moderate-winter cold, USDA Zone 6 and warmer, herbs will continue to produce some new growth despite some winter cold. Simply pull back the mulch and cut the herbs you need, then cover them back up. While they won’t produce as much new growth as they do in the warm season, you should be able to obtain a small harvest. Don’t worry if a layer of snow falls, as it will provide additional insulation for the herbs below. Once spring arrives, you can turn the mulch into the soil.

 

3. Pot up herbs and move them into a frost-free greenhouse or sun porch. If you’re growing herbs in the ground, you can transfer them to pots and move them to a protected spot. Select the herbs you want to keep growing over winter, such as chives, oregano, sage and thyme. Cut them back to 1 inch tall and, using a sharp shovel, divide them at their base, making sure to include the roots so each one will fit into the container. Use well-draining planting mix in the containers and plant each herb in a separate pot. They will grow back and you’ll be able to harvest their flavorful leaves until you transplant them back into the garden once spring arrives.

 

Related: Move Herbs to a Sunroom for Full Sun

 

Herbs 4J M Interiors, original photo on Houzz

 

4. Grow herbs in front of a sunny window. Herbs can be grown from seed or cuttings and make a great addition to a sunny kitchen window that gets at least six hours of sunlight. If using artificial lighting, 14 hours is usually sufficient. The temperature should range between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit, or 15.6 and 21.1 degrees Celsius, for best results. You can transplant herbs from the garden or begin from scratch by sowing seed.

The rewards of growing herbs indoors throughout the winter are great when the fresh flavor of summer is within arm’s reach. Chives, oregano, parsley and thyme are just a few of the easiest herbs to grow on a sunny windowsill. Use a well-draining planting mix in your container. Water deeply when the top inch of soil is almost completely dry.

 

Herbs 5Noelle Johnson Landscape Consulting, original photo on Houzz

 

5. Extend the life of fresh herbs by putting them in water. Herbs such as basil and mint grow quickly when placed in a container of water for a few weeks. Other herbs that work well in water are sage, oregano and thyme. When placed in water, they begin to produce roots and will grow new leaves. This is a useful way to prolong the harvest, whether you bring in cuttings from the garden or buy fresh herbs at the grocery store.

The process is easy. Simply cut the ends of each stem and put them in a small jar or cup filled with water. Be sure to remove any lower leaves so they won’t be submerged in the water. Place on a sunny windowsill.

The leaves produced indoors will be thinner and slightly less flavorful than those grown outdoors but will still add welcome flavor to your favorite dishes. Refill the water as needed and enjoy the prolonged harvest for several weeks to come.

By Noelle Johnson, Houzz

Posted on February 23, 2018 at 5:00 am
Fort Collins | Category: Blog | Tagged , , , , ,

Inspired by Love: Red home décor accents are not just for Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is here, the color red is seemingly everywhere, and you may have considered introducing red accents into your home décor to get into the spirit. The good news is that red isn’t just for holidays. In fact, the color red can actually add more energy to your interior regardless of the time of year. Here are eight ways that you can use red to spice up different living spaces.

Red bar stools look great in almost any color environment; from a vivid purple dining room, to a cool white-on-white kitchen.

Make your living room really stand out by adding an accent chair in a passionate shade of red. Pair it with neutral colors and make it the star of the room along with cool items, such as a black and white accent pieces.

In a black and white home, add a pop of red by choosing a Persian carpet in this wonderful color. The deep color grounds the living space and the intricate pattern masks spills.

There is nothing more fabulous than a dining area with a dreamy chandelier, but if you really want to make this room the star of your home, add a fancy red table.

This simple red cabinet becomes a statement piece by sticking to a monochromatic theme. A few white and off-color items on the shelves keeps monochromatic from becoming monotonous.

Where better than the bedroom to add the romantic color of red? Go modern with bold, textured pillows mixed with softer colors.

A glam red kitchen will bring romance into your home. This flirtatious and sweet kitchen will make you want to cook more with your loved one.

Red is the perfect color for your bathtub if you want to make your bathroom feel more romantic. Highlight it by using minimalist lighting fixtures and gorgeous vintage wallpaper.

Posted on February 14, 2018 at 10:00 am
Fort Collins | Category: Housing Trends | Tagged , ,

How Long Is Your Contractor Liable?

Constructing or remodeling a home is a complex, expensive endeavor. Ideally, everything goes as planned, and when the dust clears, the homeowner can settle in and enjoy the new home — and never think about the building process again.

But what happens when, nine months after the owner moves in, the floor develops a crack, the dishwasher begins to leak or the shower water won’t run hot? Or when these things happen three years later? It’s time to refer to an all-important piece of the contract: the warranty.

How to Hire a Contractor

Janet Paik, original photo on Houzz

What Is a Warranty?

The purpose of a warranty is to protect both the homeowner and the builder — homeowners from shoddy work with no recourse; builders from being liable for projects for the rest of their lives.

A warranty may be included in a contract, or it may not be since it’s not required. There is no standard length of time for one. Rather, a warranty is a negotiable portion of the overall agreement (contract) between a homeowner and a contractor.

The laws that relate to warranties are somewhat vague and vary by state, so the advantage of having one as part of the contract is that everything can be clearly spelled out. However, by agreeing to a particular warranty without understanding its finer points, owners may inadvertently limit the protections they would have otherwise had under the law.

“A warranty describes the problems and remedies for which the builder will be responsible after completion of the project, as well as the duration of the warranty and the mechanism for addressing disputes,” says David Jaffe, vice president of legal advocacy at the National Association of Home Builders.

At least in the ideal case.

Janet Paik, original photo on Houzz

The Law Governing Warranties

Before homeowners agree to a particular warranty as part of their contract, it’s important to understand what protections they already have under the law. In the U.S., we have a legal concept of an implied warranty — which is a warranty that does not have to be spelled out in the contract but is simply understood to exist thanks to the law. There are two important implied warranties when it comes to home construction.

The first is the implied warranty of good workmanship, which is the reasonable expectation that a home will be built in a workmanlike manner. The second is the implied warranty of habitability, which is the reasonable expectation that the home will be safe to inhabit.

The implied warranties, however, have limits in the form of statutes of limitation and statutes of repose, which essentially are time clocks that determine for how long a homeowner may sue a contractor.

Statutes of limitation in each state dictate how long an owner can invoke various types of legal claims — for example, a breach of contract claim.

Statutes of repose apply specifically to construction projects, and set the time for which builders and designers are liable for their product. These also vary by state. In California, the statute of repose is four years for most defects, but 10 years for latentdefects (those that aren’t observable right away, such as a faulty foundation). In Georgia, the statute of repose is eight years for all claims related to design or construction of the building.

Finally, most states also have a right to repair law, which means that before homeowners can sue a contractor, they need to notify the contractor of the problem and give him or her a chance to come see it and repair it.

To find out what the laws are in your state, simply do an online search for “statute of repose” and “right to repair” in your state.

Janet Paik, original photo on Houzz

The One-Year Warranty

The key thing to understand about warranties is that many builders offer their own warranty in lieu of the implied warranty. Additionally, many contracts specify that homeowners are giving up their rights to the implied warranty by agreeing to the builder’s express warranty. Also, builders will “often try to shorten statutes of limitation and statutes of repose. Some states allow you to do that. Others don’t,” says Anthony Lehman, an Atlanta attorney who advises homeowners.

Though there is no industry-wide standard, many residential contractors have adopted a one-year warranty for their contracts. The practice likely trickled down from commercial construction, where a callback warranty is typical. A callback warranty means that within one year, a building owner has the right to call back the contractor and expect him or her to repair work, Lehman says.

The downside for homeowners who agree to a one-year warranty is that they likely trade away their right to the implied warranty, and they may also agree to limit the time they have to discover a defect and sue. Obviously, this is a plus for builders because it limits their risk.

But there is no real reason a homeowner has to accept a one-year warranty simply because that’s the builder’s first offer. “It’s a negotiated point, and people can negotiate warranties that are broader — and they often do,” says Robert C. Procter, outside general counsel for the Wisconsin Builders Association. “If you don’t ask for more, you won’t get more.”

Janet Paik, original photo on Houzz

Pros and Cons of a Builder’s Warranty

Though a one-year warranty may seem like a poor deal for a homeowner, a contract with details spelled out does provide an upside: some degree of clarity in the process. Ideally, a warranty includes not only the time period that the warranty covers, but also the standards by which various materials will be evaluated, and the steps to follow when a problem arises.

In a minority of states, the legislature has codified what a warranty is and how long it lasts for a variety of materials, Jaffe says. They are California, Connecticut, Indiana, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas and Virginia. If you live in one of these states, you can refer to the state-set standards.

If you do not, one option is to refer to the NAHB’s publication Residential Construction Performance Guidelines. “It’s broken down by categories within the home: foundations, exterior, interior, roofing, plumbing,” Jaffe says. “If there’s an issue that comes up, you look in this publication, and it tells you what the observation is — what’s the problem.” The guide then spells out what the corrective measure — if any — should be.

If you decide to use this guide as the standards by which problems will be judged, be sure you read it first and are comfortable with its terms. Sometimes having the terms spelled out is simpler than relying on the implied warranty because the implied warranty is so vague.

“The implied warranty doesn’t have a fixed time; it’s a reasonable period of time,” says Jaffe, of the NAHB. “If you’re a homeowner, and you call your builder up in year five and say, ‘There’s a crack here, and I think you should come out and fix it because it’s a defect,’ well, at that point, it may or may not be related to something that the builder did or didn’t do. Is it a defect? Who is going to make that determination? What is the fix? Who is responsible for it?”

Relying on the implied warranty means that these sorts of questions would need to be resolved in court if the parties aren’t willing to, or can’t, come to an agreement on their own. Open for debate is whether an item is a warranty item, and for how long it’s covered. Having these issues determined in court can be an expensive, time-consuming headache for everyone involved.

Still, some attorneys say owners might be better off with the implied warranty than giving up their rights for a limited one provided by the builder. “You build a house, and you expect it to be there for a long time. The buildings in Europe have been there a long time. The pyramids have been there a long time. The question is how long is it reasonable for you to expect it to last,” says Susan Linden McGreevy, an attorney in Kansas City, Kansas, who specializes in commercial real estate work. “If it has to get before a jury, the contractor has lost already. What I mean is, the jury will always find in favor of a homeowner — unless they’re a real flake.”

TruexCullins Architecture + Interior Design, original photo on Houzz

Going Beyond Warranties

Despite all this talk of legalities, there is an important caveat: Many good builders will continue to be helpful even after their express warranty has passed. Anne Higuera, co-owner of Ventana Construction in Seattle, provides a one-year warranty to her clients. Nonetheless, Ventana has made repairs and fixes even years after the one-year warranty expired. Higuera says the company does so because the builders want good relationships with their customers, and because they feel as though it’s the right thing to do. “Warranty issues come up very rarely if you do things well in the first place,” Higuera says. “Just finding a contractor who does the right thing on the front end helps you avoid issues with warranty.”

More Ways to Protect Yourself

So what should homeowners do if a builder is offering only a one-year warranty? One option is to negotiate for a longer period of time. “You might want to say, ‘I’ll take a one-year warranty for everything except latent defects,’” McGreevey says. (Reminder: Those are the kind that take a long time to discover, such as foundation problems.)

Another option owners have is to ask builders about insurance products. Many builders offer products with an extended warranty — as long as 10 years — that are backed by insurance companies. These are typically paid for by the builder, with the cost passed on to the homeowner.

Third, homeowners would be wise to consult an attorney to make sure that they’re not giving up rights unknowingly. Given that owners are spending thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars on construction, paying for five to 10 hours of an attorney’s time (at $300 per hour, $1,500 to $3,000) to ensure that the contract is sound is probably a good investment. “Would you buy a car for $50,000 and not read any of the financing information?” says Lehman, the Atlanta attorney. “And then people do that for a home construction project.”

Finally, the most important thing is for both contractors and owners to screen each other carefully. “Ninety-eight percent of the homeowner-builder relationships, when there’s a disagreement, most parties reach a reasonable conclusion, even if they’re not 100 percent happy,” says Procter, the Wisconsin attorney. “The contracts matter more when someone is not being reasonable.”

By Erin Carlyle, Houzz

Posted on December 14, 2017 at 10:00 am
Fort Collins | Category: Housing Trends | Tagged , , , , ,