Design Mistakes When Building a Home

As you walk in the door, you have a view of the wall that divides the mudroom from the hall. This was a design mistake.

I think design mistakes are unavoidable when building a house. There is just no way to foresee exactly  how all the pieces will come together. However, I hope by sharing my story I can help someone else avoid my challenges.

My husband’s family owned a modular home construction company, so it was always the plan that we would build a house. It was just a matter of time and finding land. When the time came, I created the floor plan – okay, full disclosure, I scratched out the design on a piece of 8.5×11 paper and the design department converted my scribbles... 

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Solar Alternatives Include this Light Catcher

solar alternatives include this light catcher

Building codes are changing at a rapid pace to respond to looming hikes in energy costs and environmental concerns. Solar panel adoption has accelerated in the US, as the cost of the photo voltaic cells used in solar panels (installation, operations and maintenance) has decreased by as much as 15 percent. Solar competition is growing from China and there are solar alternatives being introduced as this fledgling industry takes root.

As with many building materials, most are used first in government and commercial projects, and only 17 percent of today’s solar installations are for residential housing. California leads the adoption of... 

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Picking Low Maintenance Features When Building a House

pick your home's exterior finishes for low maintenance

Today’s home buyers understand that buying a new house gives them the opportunity to pick out their cabinets, appliances and many other finishes. What you might not realize is when buying a new house, you can also invest in low maintenance upgrades that will reduce your ongoing home operational and home maintenance costs.

So what exactly is low maintenance? Well many people seem to think it’s no maintenance … and that’s not really possible. My favorite example of low maintenance is recommending a new composite decking material, to eliminate the need to stain and seal a wood deck, on a regular... 

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Interior Trim: Fireplace Ideas to Pop Visually

fireplaces are the focal point of the room

Homeowners tend to come in two groups: Those who have a fireplace, and those who wish they did. Even if it’s old and completely out of commission, the hearth seems to have been the focal point in the living area, at least until super size televisions arrived. So it’s time to give your fireplace a little attention and we’ve rounded up some fireplace ideas to start you thinking about what you want.

Most fireplaces consist of a few visible elements, which you might call the anatomy of a fireplace. There’s the fire box itself, which might be a metal insert or... 

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Interior Trim: Elegant Staircases & Entryways

Have you always loved the elegant staircases you see in movies, maybe from when you first saw Cinderella? Sure, some of them just aren’t feasible in the average home. The dimensions of a Gone with the Wind style staircase won’t fit in most homes. But you can still enjoy these grand beauties and get inspiration for your own staircase. 

You don’t need a foyer the size of Montana to enjoy an elegant staircase that’s more impressive than the one you’ve got. Think about your home’s style and the scale you have to work with. Even if the space doesn’t allow a... 

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Shelving that’s Beautiful and Functional

adding shelving between wall studs offers more storage & display space

With so much tradition about the type of furniture to use in each room, it’s good that the new trend to reuse what’s old is helping us think outside the box. So before you start searching for new shelving, it’s worth shopping your home because the ideal solution might be right under your nose.

You don’t need to use prefabricated shelf units, book cases, or any other shelves that come in a box. With a little imagination, you can design and create something nicer, more interesting, and much sturdier than anything you could buy. And the more possessions you own, the more... 

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A Farmhouse, 2 Farmers, and a Family Garden

Answer: A farmhouse in Western Massachusetts with a beautiful family garden.

Question: What did the future hold for Gretchen, a veteran marketing professional?

When Gretchen turned 60, she started asking a lot of questions about her future. The answers came in the form of careful planning and patiently waiting for the pieces to fall into place. 


Planning for a Family Garden

When Gretchen and her partner Anne lived in a condo in Boston’s historic South End, they cultivated a small family garden in a rented plot in a community green. Gretchen reconnected with her passion for gardening, and she realized that when she retired,... 

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Glass Walls a Growing Trend

glass walls help blend indoors & outdoors


Glass walls are a growing trend if you’re spending any time looking at homes online. While you’re not surprised to see wide glass walls with ocean views, they’re popping up everywhere. I first saw them at the 2013 International Home Builder show, and this year the number of styles grew exponentially. You can find glass walls with fixed glass, with folding panels like bi-fold doors (shown here) and there are sliding glass panels that stack up one in front of the other (see below).

You might think they’re too expensive, and that might be true now. But keep watching... 

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Tips for Organizing Home Maintenance Projects

a checklist helps get your home maintenance projects done on a timely basis

You love your home and invested a lot of money. So it makes sense that you want to protect that money. Just like changing the oil in your car, your home needs ongoing maintenance. But there’s no light that goes on to remind you to change the filter in your furnace, nor is there a state mandated inspection to make sure your home is safe and running efficiently.

The simple truth is … home maintenance isn’t fun, sexy or easy, but it is necessary! With today’s busy lifestyles, it makes perfect sense that without reminders, you never get around to home maintenance. 


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Bathroom Remodel Ideas for a Busy School Year

bathroom remodel ideas for kids should include color & fun features like this mirror

School is in, and that means a lot of things. In busy families, it means several people sharing bathroom space, and that can make already busy mornings downright hectic. If this sounds like your family, a bathroom remodel could be one of the best ideas you’ve ever had. 

Remodeling doesn’t have to mean tearing out your existing bathroom down to the studs and building it back out again from scratch. Sometimes it just means upgrading some of the things you’ve got with others that work better. (Read: Signs a Bathroom Remodel is Coming to Your House Soon)

Efficiency on school mornings can... 

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