5 Top Home Design Plans for 2014

Several home design trends are hitting 2014 with full force. The concern over green materials and building practices seem to be fueling a major trend for more efficient and smart homes this year. Families are also looking for rooms which serve more than one purpose and are flexible in their design. Some families may also need room for aging relatives that give both the family and mom or dad privacy. Today’s homes are also places to relax and unwind. All of these factors influence this year’s design trends. Here are the top five home design trends.
Energy Efficient Homes
With energy costs on the rise homeowners are looking for ways to incorporate energy savings into their new home design. Lot orientation to take advantage of solar energy, or to minimize exposure to the hot sun are now issues designers are discussing while planning new home builds. A passive home design is also an upcoming trend. This type of home design utilizes construction and insulation methods which help to hold heat in during the colder months, and dissipate heat during summer months. This is done through an air tight envelope around the home, and ventilation systems with a 75 percent heat recovery capability.
Haven for Relaxation
Today’s families are on the go and exposed to an enormous amount of information during their day. Homeowners today need a haven to relax and unwind after a hard day. One of the biggest trends this year is the addition of a whirlpool tub in the bathroom. Bathrooms are becoming mini-spas in many homes as owners focus on the benefits of relaxation and rejuvenation. Steam showers, multiple shower heads, bathtubs with televisions, and other amenities are making today’s bathrooms a place to unwind and relax.
Multiple Use Rooms
Flex rooms are very popular in new home design this year. These rooms give homeowners the option to use them for more than one purpose, and to change the room’s purpose down the road. Aging parents, income restrictions, and changing lifestyles are the driving forces behind this trend. Flex rooms give families the option to use the spaces in their homes for what they need, not what is traditional. These rooms are well organized and make use of every inch. They can be tailored to give an aging relative privacy from the rest of the family, or these rooms can also have a more interactive function for the entire family.
Prefabricated Homes
These aren’t the old mobile homes you see in retirement communities. New prefabricated homes and buildings are cost and energy efficient. You may have already seen prefabricated homes and not even realized what they were. Today’s designs are much more sophisticated and cost much less to build than homes built from the foundation up on site.
Center Stage Kitchens
Kitchens are now taking center stage in new home designs. No longer is the kitchen stuck back behind a wall and partitioned off from the rest of the home. Today’s kitchens are areas to cook, eat, meet, plan, and play. Families are gathering more and more in the kitchen space and home designers are meeting this need with larger more organized and functional kitchen design. The kitchen area may house a small office, game area, eating area, and of course a well-appointed cooking facility.
These are some of the top design trends for houses in 2014. Which ones would you like to see incorporated into your next home? Today’s home is vastly different than the homes most people grew up in, and today’s home plan designers must keep up with trends so that they can meet their client’s expectations.

Kathryn McDowell is a freelance writer specializing in home design trends. She enjoys researching new trends in house plans and reporting them for her readers.

Image: http://freshome.com/2014/03/07/10-hottest-fresh-architecture-trends-2014/

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Why Is Wool Such An Amazing Material?

Wool is grown by sheep to regulate their body temperature during the seasons; this ability of wool to regulate the body temperature of the animal is one reason why people have used wool for centuries. But, it is only now, in the 21st century with advanced science that we are truly beginning to appreciate what wool can offer us humans…

Breathable

Although we like to be warm – in fact, we need to be warm to survive – our bodies also need to be able to breathe; lack of ventilation produces sweat, simple because we become too hot. In some instances, such as working outdoors in very cold weather, sweating actually decreases our body temperature too much and so wool is the perfect breathable, insulating layer.

A wicking layer

Those people used to climbing, walking or working in cold or hot temperatures will tell you the additional comfort a wicking layer can bring. Used on race horses too, when the body sweats to lessen the chance of becoming too cold, the moisture on the skin needs to be ‘wicked’ away and wool is a material that has this ability.

The fibres of wool naturally lifts moisture away from the skin and this one of the reasons why wool duvets provide the most amazing regulation of body temperature, so that you get a restful night’s sleep.

Repels moisture

But is naturally has a quality that repels moisture too; wool socks in wet wellingtons will mean less cold feeling feet, as well as drier than in other socks.

Just from these two qualities alone means that everyone from sailors fishing in the coldest waters to the Everest climber George Mallory in his woollen tweed jacket understand how wool can perform for them. Modern day ski-iers, adventurers and sportsmen opt for base layers made from wool and is why more and more people are opting for wool bedding too.

Top of the eco-credentials chart

If you are trying to live your life more environmentally friendly, then wool must surely be top of the list. Sheep grazing the hills and rolling dales of Britain, sheared in a way that causes them no pain or distress, the wool spun and treated using minimal chemical treatments and then crafted, by talented crafts people into all manner of things – cosy blankets to duvets, mattress toppers and pillows. Sustainability at its very best!

Practical and easy to clean

Wool is naturally stain-repellent and so dirt tends to sit on its surface, as a result it needs very little cleaning and, it is natural flame-retardant too. Not only that, those who suffer from allergies find that wool bedding is a great way to have a great sleep – no itchy skin, nice and cool as well as dust-mite free.

British wool is widely regarded as one of the best in the world and for good reasons; High quality sheep grazing high quality, green pastures, creating great products from the wool. Wool bedding is slowly beginning to gather popularity with the consumer with many amazed at the brilliance of the product. Take another look…

Divk Beijen is our guest author and harbors a passion for wool, having built his business Devon Duvets from his own flock of sheep. Dick likes to share his passion and knowledge through blogging.

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Baby Boomers and Build Design for Homes

Many older Americans choose to downsize after their children leave the nest and they begin to approach retirement age. According to the Administration on Aging (AoA) the population of Americans over the age of 65 is predicted to reach 56 million by the year 2020. The AoA also reports that in 2011 81 percent of people over the age of 65 were homeowners. These numbers indicate that aging Baby Boomers have the potential to greatly affect the future of home build design.
Accessibility Considerations in Home Design
Another consideration with the growing population of older Americans is accessibility. Many older Americans face mobility challenges and their homes must accommodate this fact. Doors and entryways which are wide enough to accommodate wheelchairs and power chairs some of the design elements architects may have to take into consideration when drawing up new home plans for older buyers.
If the homeowner chooses a multi-level home plan, stairways which are at the right grade and width to accommodate a stair lift may be an option to consider. Ramps at the entrances may also be needed in addition to traditional stairs. With some planning and creativity almost any build design can be altered to fit older homeowner’s needs.
Specific Room Alterations
Designers may also have to make alterations to specific rooms such as kitchens and baths. Walk in tubs, roll-in showers, handrails in the tub and shower, hand rails near toilets for ease of use, roll under sinks in the kitchen and bathroom, as well as easy to grasp hardware on cabinets and doors are a few of the examples of adaptations needed for older homebuyers.
Changing Zip Codes
According to the report, Housing Trends Among Baby Boomers, by Gary V. Engelhardt, there is a growing trend for older homeowners to move out of the suburbs and into a more urban environment. This trend may be fueled by the fact their children are grown and they no longer need close access to schools and the other family amenities located in the suburbs.
Another trend among older homeowners is to move into gated communities. Once thought to be just for the rich, gated communities are being developed all over the country that provide safety, security, and convenience for homeowners. As an older homeowner a gated community may be an attractive choice to build a new home.
As the demographic of America changes and the population ages home designers need to recognize the needs and tastes of these older homeowners. Accessibility and location are two prime concerns for older Americans. Build design and floor plans must reflect these trends in order to attract Baby Boomer buyers.
build, design

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Appliances can be energy hogs and drive your electric bill through the roof unless you choose the most energy efficient models. When you are planning your new home it is important to know your options and pick the best appliances for your family. Here are some tips to help you get the most for your money, and save money on your monthly electric bill.

Refrigerators – the Great Energy Hogs

Refrigerators can be energy hogs and use up to 15 percent of your entire home’s electric consumption. Look for refrigerators with an Energy Star label, and visit their website to compare the ratings for various models. Size does matter and if you choose one that is too small for your family’s needs it will have to work harder to cool your food, and this will make it use more energy. Most families do not need refrigerators larger than 25 cubic feet.

According to Consumer Reports top freezer models have the most usable space, about 80 percent. Bottom freezers have 67 percent usable space, and side-by-side models have an average of 63 percent usable space. Side-by-side refrigerators may be popular, but Consumer Reports found they use about 20 percent more electricity than other models.  Also choosing models with ice-makers and water dispensers increased their electric consumption by 10 to 15 percent.

Gas or Electric Ranges?

Some cooks swear by gas, while others prefer electric. Beyond cooking preferences each type of fuel has its pros and cons. Electric ranges have the option to be powered by solar panels and this may help reduce your electric bill. Electricity is generated by fuels which can pollute the environment and about 70 percent of electric power is lost in the lines running to your home.

Natural gas powered ranges have the benefit of running on a relatively clean source of fuel. But poor indoor air quality in newer homes is a concern. Even though a good exhaust fan removes about 70 percent of the carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, and formaldehyde which can be produced by natural gas appliances some of these gases may still be present in your home. Concerns about fracking to release natural gas have been expressed by environmental groups. Fracking is thought to pollute groundwater and may present serious environmental threats.

Magnetic induction cooktops have become a very popular and energy efficient option. Unlike gas and electric which heats the air beneath the pot, magnetic induction heats the pot itself using a high tech magnetic technology which uses less energy.

Economic Ovens

The choices in ovens are much the same as the ones for ranges. Electricity and natural gas are both used in today’s ovens. To get the most efficient model choose an oven that is the right size for you needs. Models with a convection fan also increase energy efficiency. If you need a large oven you may want to opt for two smaller ovens since you won’t need all of that room every time you bake something. Look for Energy Star ratings on ovens to make the best choice.

Save Money Doing the Dishes

Dishwashers are also one of the appliances which can really eat up electricity. Visit the Energy Star site to compare models and look for models which offer “no heat drying” and several wash cycle options. There will be times when you only need to run a small load, and if your dishwasher offers you a “light wash” cycle this will save time and energy.

Use these tips when choosing you appliances for your new home. Drawing up house plans is fun and exciting, and one of the most fun parts about the process is picking out your new kitchen appliances. Start on the right foot and choose energy efficient models and start saving on your electric bill right away.

Author Bio

Kathryn McDowell is a freelance writer who specializes in home design and construction. She enjoys researching ways to save money when contracting new house plans, and she hopes her tips save her readers time and money.

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Home Safety Tips for Senior Citizens

 

 

Senior citizens today have many options with regards to health, safety and security. Small changes in your lifestyle can make a huge difference in how you live your daily life. There are certain things that can cause injury more as we grow older but taking the time to make just a few small changes can ensure that you have many years of life ahead of you.

 

First and foremost, it is important that you guard your general health. Things like lifting too much, not taking medication properly and other risk potential actions can put you at a higher risk for injury or illness. You should speak with your doctor about things that you can do to help you avoid falls at home, help to lower your risk for certain types of illnesses and diseases and what you can do to get fit.

 

At home, it is important that you keep yourself safe as well. Things like leaving the doors unlocked at night and answering the door to strangers should be avoided. If you have not already, invest in a home security system. A good system will not only keep you protected from intruders, it could save your life in the event of a house fire. Home security systems that have monitoring services are also very beneficial in the event that you fall or become very ill when no one else is at home. You can contact the service who will be able to send the proper authorities to your side within minutes.

 

It is also important that you learn how to spot a scam so that you can avoid becoming victim to one. There are a number of scam artists that will target senior citizens simply because they assume seniors will have money put away for a rainy day. These scam artists may prey on the elderly as well because they feel that they are less protected by family and therefore a much easier target. These scams range from telemarketing schemes which can lead you to believe that you have won something such as a huge vacation for a significant discount to people pretending to be collecting money for charity. If you are not completely sure of the offer you are being presented, it is best to avoid it completely. And remember that you should never, ever give away any personal information such as a bank account or credit card number, unless you know the person with whom you are speaking.

 

A relatively new scam targeting senior citizens involves medical equipment. Scam artists will contact seniors and offer free equipment. The scam artists then charge the insurance company of the senior for that very same equipment and thus gain access to insurance and Medicare numbers.

 

Senior citizens are not the only people that fall victim to scams nor are they the only ones targeted for home invasions. It is important however to take the time to protect yourself and your home from potential risks. Learning more about scams that are currently posing a risk, protecting yourself with a home security system and keeping in touch with your doctor about your general health are the best ways for you to enjoy your golden years without worries.

 

 

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