Walkways — published on March 25, 2008

Design Elements: Walkways

Follow natural access patterns when laying out walks. If you don’t, children or dogs will carve their own paths right through your prize petunias. A straight path, though less charming, is the shortest and least expensive, and sometimes the most sensible.

Use curves, jogs, or steps only where there is a reason, not just to meander. Combine practicality with visual appeal by making walks at least 36 inches wide. If scale permits, 42 to 54 inches is better so two people can walk together. For an illusion of greater or lesser distance, widen one end. Extra width at curves is pleasant.

Ideally, walks should slope 1 to 5 percent, never more than 10. If the entry is steeper, use curves, jogs, steps, or ramps. Let plants make the journey interesting.

Make walls, fences, or hedges near walks less than 2 feet so people can swing their arms or carry packages without feeling crowded. Between the walk and taller verticals, a buffer zone of ground cover, lawn, flowers, or mulch at least 2 feet wide gives more room for movement.

To add interest to walks, choose brick patterns or exposed-aggregate textures. If you have plain concrete walks, cover them with brick pavers, slate, or tile. Loose materials like tanbark or wood chips are fine for natural garden paths farther away from the house, but they result in too much tracking in if used for the front yard.

Colour — published on March 22, 2008

Colourful Curb Appeal …

Creates Lasting Impressions

Whether you’re putting your home on the market or simply remodeling for your own pleasure, nothing makes a stronger statement than the exterior of your home. Recent studies indicate that most homebuyers decide whether or not to view a home’s interior based on its curb appeal — the attractiveness of a home when viewed from the street. In fact, according to the National Association of Realtors (American), 80 percent of homebuyers now view a home for the first time on the Internet, making curb appeal an even more critical part of selling a home.

One sure-fire way to increase the curb appeal of your home is to incorporate more color in its exterior. The use of bold, high-definition colors can produce visually striking effects that make a home unique, and, with the growing variety of exterior color options today, you can pick a new hue for the roof and then find a vast selection of siding, trim, fence, deck and railing colors to coordinate.

Choosing the right exterior colours for your home is a difficult decision, but it is getting easier, thanks to the many companies that are broadening the color palette for everything from the roof on down to the deck, to provide homeowners more ways to customize a home and bring life to a neighbourhood.

For example, high-contrast colours have been added to composite decking now to include vibrant shades of chestnut, cedar and redwood. Colour options for cedar-style fencing now to include colours like clay and other natural tones that coordinate well with popular siding, window and trim colors to provide even more options in exterior design.

So while exterior remodeling can be a daunting task, it is the best home improvement investment that you can make.

Paint — published on March 18, 2008

Curb appeal can depend on colour

Is ho-hum paint chipping away your home’s curb appeal? Exterior colors can showcase a home’s best features – and welcome potential buyers – if chosen carefully.

Here are a few tips for selecting paint colors that complement your home’s style.

Consider the architectural style. While Victorian-style homes work well with four or five colors, other styles such as Georgian and colonial look best with just a main color and one or two accent colors for the trim, shutters or doors.

Consider the construction material. Wood, brick, masonry and aluminum siding go well with virtually any color. Vinyl siding, however, should be painted to match the original color, although some new paints, formulated to work on this surface, are available in a wider range of colors.

Complement “fixed” colors. Choose a shade that looks good with exterior materials: roof shingles, stone, wood accents or bricks.

Consider your neighbours. The color of your home shouldn’t be the exact shade as your neighbours’; nor should it clash. Don’t forget to take into account the colors and undertones of plants in your landscaping.

04: Components — published on March 9, 2008

Great curb appeal says “Lookin’ Good”

Enhancing your home’s ‘curb appeal’ will boost its value

Curb appeal is the impression a home’s exterior conveys. It should create the emotional desire to own the home and to live the lifestyle and status it represents. Adding curb appeal to your home will help you beat the competition and pad your bottom line when it’s time to sell.

A home has to appeal to all the senses. It has to look good. It has to feel good. But time is the currency of the day. When a house looks like it needs work, all buyers see is the hassle. They have the money to buy, but there are only 24 hours in the day.

More importantly, curb appeal makes you want to look inside — or not.

To give your home that curb appeal that makes it stand out on the block, you have to pay attention to the details.

New paint

There’s nothing like a fresh coat of paint to give your home that “newly built” look. Don’t rush the job, and choose a color scheme that sets your home apart from others on the block (but doesn’t clash with the neighborhood). Remove old built-up layers of paint before applying a new one. If you don’t need to remove existing paint, you do need to prepare the surface. Outside painted surfaces attract a layer of dirt and grime from dust and pollutants in the air. Grime will stop your new layers of paint from adhering properly and cause peeling.

New landscaping

Well-manicured landscaping helps frame curb appeal. You want tidy, simple, healthy landscaping installed in proportion with your home. It’s important to know how your landscaping will appear once its matured. From a practical sense, the plants and trees provide shade and passive cooling as they control erosion and pollution.
Trees also provide privacy, especially if you are in a single-level house surrounded by two story homes. Houses with mature trees fetch more money.

New roof

Some real estate agents advise against adding a new roof when sales are brisk, but a complete curb appeal remodeling job mandates a new roof, gutters and downspouts. A custom roof can turn a very bland builder home into something more appealing. Roofs can also add contrasting color and textures to your home’s look. Asphalt shingle roofs, available in multidimensional textures and decorator colors, are the most economical. For a unique look without the cost of slate, one of the most expensive roofing products, consider simulated slate shingles.

New paving and “hardscaping”

New sidewalks, driveways and other non-landscaped surfaces help pave the way to curb appeal. If you are about to sell your home, affordable concrete stamped with the impressions of cobblestones create a quality look. Or interlocking concrete paving bricks introduce color, durability and uniqueness. These materials are made using concrete with small aggregate. They come in a multitude of colors and patterns, are extremely durable and exhibit many of the same qualities of traditional stone paving bricks.

New doors, windows

Portals should make visitors feel welcome. New double doors, energy-efficient windows framed with shutters and garage doors with moon windows all add the final touches to curb appeal. What’s the thing people see first? The garage door. If you have to replace it, replace it with a a sectional garage door with some interesting windows.

Now you have coloured stamped concrete, a coordinating paint job and a new roof. Add the explosion of colour in your landscaping and you’ve got great curb appeal.

Paint — published on March 5, 2008

Choosing exterior paint colours

Give your home instant curb appeal and create a great – and lasting – first impression.

Your house is your public face; if you make a mistake when you paint the outside, the whole neighbourhood will know. Also, in terms of labour and cost, repainting the exterior is a far more involved proposition than doing an interior room. Fortunately, finding the perfect exterior colour scheme really just means doing a little extra homework first.

There are some rules of thumb and a number of new resources to get you started. Many designers offer colour consultations at a reasonable fee or even specialize in this art; check the Yellow Pages or local interior design associations, or ask at a paint store. And both Para Paints and General Paint have created software that allows you to scan in a photo of your home and “paint” it any colour the company offers. If you don’t want to buy the actual software, some General Paint stores offer their service for a fee.

Whether you choose to consult professionals or rely on your own eye, there’s a big difference between interiors and exteriors: in a word, it’s context. It’s not necessarily what you might like – it’s what goes with your neighbours’ houses.

Dos and don’ts

Do test colours on bristol board. Outside light changes during the day and seasonally, and can dramatically affect a colour’s appearance.

Do consider neighbouring houses; your home is part of the overall streetscape.

Don’t use white as trim on a house with unpainted brick; it’s outdated and artificial looking. Rich neutrals that complement the tone of the wall material enhance its natural beauty.

Do paint trim white on a house whose exterior is a neutral or rich colour – it gives a crisp, fresh look.

Don’t paint vinyl siding a much darker colour than its original shade – one or two shades darker is fine, but not more. Unlike metals and wood, which can accept any colour with the proper surface preparation and primer, the increased heat absorption of dark colours can cause vinyl to buckle or warp, ruining an expensive paint job.

Don’t paint your house yourself unless you’re experienced; a professional job is worth the investment.

Lighting — published on March 4, 2008

A few well-placed lights

Don’t make your home look like a landing strip.  A few well-placed lights can give any house a “quiet wow”. Installation of a small pot light to highlight the front door is a good example of quality exterior lighting. The idea is to highlight beauty without being garish.

04: Components — published on March 4, 2008

Outdoor lighting at its best

Tips to help illuminate your home (or sell it) this winter

1. Mix up your landscape lighting to include recessed, ground stakes and spotlights, instead of just one type.

2. Light everything around your house, not the house itself. Focus on plantings, trees, pathways and the lawn to create a soft and pretty layered atmosphere. It’s an instant way to make your yard look sophisticated.

3. Use motion-sensor spotlights at side or back entrances for safety.

4. Hang beautiful, functional fixtures by the front door. This is the only good spot for a direct down light. It doesn’t shine on the house and won’t cast bad shadows. Plus, it makes it easier (and safer) to rifle through your bag for your keys.

5. Plan ahead. Recessed lights are worth the investment (and add to your home’s resale value), but they should be installed by a professional.

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