9 Ways to Bring the Outside In

Posted: April 22, 2016 at 8:52 am by: NewHomesGuide

As we re-emerge from the dark days of winter, our yearning for the sun is at its peak. There’s something about it that’s innate to our human sensibilities — we crave a connection to nature and thrive in spaces filled with light.

A strong relationship between indoor and outdoor spaces is a fundamental design concept that can be incorporated into homes of any size, style, and location. Whether you’re seeking greater flexibility for your entertaining capabilities, trying to expand the boundaries of a small footprint or salvaging an otherwise neglected corner — bridging the gap between the inside and outside will enhance the quality of your home (and probably make you really happy, too). Here are some suggestions for how to make it happen:

1. Make it reflective.

Reflective Bath_Home Jab

Photo Credit: Home Jab

Mirrors, light-colored ceilings and surfaces with sheen help draw light into a space. Even if the size and availability of openings is limited, a strategically placed reflection can make it appear as though there are more windows in the space and emphasize the views outside.

Master Bath with Designer Soaking Tub

Photo Credit: Thomas H. Field Photography

2. Free the corner!

Corner Windows_Maxine Schnitzer Photography

Photo Credit: Maxine Schnitzer Photography

Eliminate a traditional visual barrier and create an immersive experience by surrounding yourself in the view outside. This will make any room feel as though it’s grown immensely.

3. Operable openings are “FUN-ctional.”

Sliding Doors_Maxine Schnitzer Photography

Photo Credit: Maxine Schnitzer Photography

While views are nice, ventilation and circulation are necessary to a functional home. Operable openings provide an essential means to move and get air through your home. They can also be pleasant opportunities to enhance your hosting skills. Parties can expand beyond the limits of available indoor space and spill outside with just the push of a sliding glass door.

4. Maintain materials for smooth transitions.

Using consistent materials and patterns between indoor and outdoor spaces creates a seamless flow across them. Even if you can’t employ a resilient material like slate tile, which looks good and operates well in both domains, matching the orientation of hardwood and decking planks will strengthen the connection across the threshold.

5. Taller is better.

Limiting the vertical space above and below an opening will focus your vision more towards the view outside and less on the interior frame surrounding it. Add a transom, lower the sill height or just use a door in lieu of window to maintain a visual sightline to the ground outside from across the room.

6. When you can’t see, dig.

Study with Five-pane French Doors (lower level)

Photo Credit: Thomas H. Field Photography

Grade often makes it infeasible to look at or walk outside, so excavate the site to allow for a place where light can filter in and create a focal point of your own. This is definitely a case where even a little can go a long way! Your window wells can do double-duty if they open to a space connected to other interior rooms — these glass doors allow natural light to stretch into the center of a basement buried underground.

7. Give the best views to the spaces that warrant them.

Picture Window_Hoachlander Davis Photography

Photo Credit: Hoachlander Davis Photography

Frame openings around the views you enjoy most on your lot. Look to incorporate additional windows where you tend to linger for an extended period of time — like your desk, bathtub or sink, perhaps?

8. Plant a scene.

Planter Boxes_Thomas H. Field Photography

Photo Credit: Thomas H. Field Photography

Plants can provide a living, dynamic focal point. While growing them inside isn’t always feasible, it’s possible to minimize the interior/exterior separation by planting immediately adjacent to openings. Even upper-story windows can feel more connected to the earth with planter boxes nestled below the sills.

9. Be smart with solar orientation.

Use the sun’s path to your advantage. Connected living spaces along the southern side of your home will maximize the consistency and intensity of light throughout each day and across the year as a whole.

How important is the indoor/outdoor connection in your home? Share some creative ways you’ve brought the outside in by leaving us a comment below.

Guest blog courtesy of W.C. Ralston Architects, an architecture and planning firm that has built an enduring reputation for design excellence in homes, neighborhoods and communities across the Mid-Atlantic region. Learn more at www.wcralston.com.

Four Decades and This Handy Guide is Still as Valuable as Ever

Posted: April 15, 2016 at 9:00 am by: NewHomesGuide

image24

Technology has changed over the last four decades. And with the growth of so many online resources, so has home shopping.

But what hasn’t changed, according to a report from the National Association of Realtors, is the amount of time people spend looking for a new home. The study found that, even though homebuyers have access to more outlets of information, they still spend an average of 10 to 12 weeks looking for a new home and visit 10 to 12 homes in the process.

With homebuyers experiencing three months of home shopping and close to a dozen home tours, shouldn’t they have a comprehensive, time-tested resource by their side every step of the way?

That’s why New Homes Guide was conceived more than 40 years ago. We wanted to give homebuyers a powerful, portable tool that remains relevant through their entire home search. Whether homebuyers used one of our free print editions or accessed our online tools from their phone or computer, we wanted to ensure New Homes Guide would have the longest shelf life and provide the most reliable information to the region’s homeshoppers.

So whether you’re in the third month of your new home search or you’re just getting started, start with the Mid-Atlantic region’s only complete guide to every new home community in the area. Order your FREE copy of New Homes Guide today!

The Planned Community Lifestyle

Posted: April 13, 2016 at 10:46 am by: NewHomesGuide

 

Resort-style amenities and an all-inclusive lifestyle differentiate planned communities from other new home communities. Our area features a wide variety of these types of communities, each with its own personality and amenities to appeal to all types of homebuyers. Here’s a look at what kind of planned communities you can expect to find as you begin your search:

    • Urban-Style Communities
      Being able to walk to a downtown area with shops, restaurants, entertainment venues and even pocket parks is a big reason why a growing number of people are choosing communities that feature a town center. These communities provide the feeling of living in a city while offering the benefits of a suburban location.
    • Transit-Oriented Development
      Some planned communities focus on providing residents with access to Metro or other mass transit stations. On top of an impressive number of traditional amenities, these communities provide easier commutes for residents.
    • Farm-to-Table Communities
      Natural environments and healthy outdoor lifestyles come together in these communities, which feature extensive outdoor space, farmer’s markets and even community gardens or farms.
    • Waterfront Communities
      Residents living in planned communities that are centered on lakes, rivers or protected streams enjoy an increased number of amenities that other planned communities may not be able to offer. In addition to water views, canoeing, kayaking and fishing are just a few of the activities available to homeowners in these communities.
    • Equestrian Communities
      Easy access to riding facilities, stables and trails, along with other recreational amenities, make these communities ideal for those who have a passion for horses.
    • Golf Course Communities
      Golfers and nongolfers alike can enjoy the benefits of living in a home that’s close to a golf course because these communities make it easy to pursue a favorite sport or simply to enjoy the beautiful views.
    • Active Adult Communities
      For home shoppers looking to simplify their lives and make it less about maintaining a home and more about experiencing a new lifestyle, an age-restricted or multi-age active adult community provides the home designs and recreation-rich amenities that make that possible.
    • “Everything” Communities
      There are plenty of planned communities that have both open spaces and a town center, providing residents with a wide variety of sport and recreational opportunities, as well as the convenience of neighborhood schools, entertainment, shopping, offices and more.

If you’re looking to make your new home in a planned community, the D.C. region is home to more than 35 of these communities. You can find all of their profiles in the pages of our latest planned community supplement, part of your free New Homes Guide subscription. Make your search even easier by reserving your FREE copy today!

The First Step: Notes For a Textbook Front Porch

Posted: March 18, 2016 at 9:22 am by: NewHomesGuide

Spring is in the air! What better way to welcome the arrival of warm weather and longer days than to celebrate one of residential architecture’s most iconic outdoor elements? The front porch is more than a practical building component — it’s a cultural institution.

In many regions across the country and numerous architectural styles, it is a trademark piece of classical home design. The pace and use of technology in modern life have gradually reduced the prevalence of porches, but we keep building them for more than just nostalgia. The porch is a retreat from the elements, a relaxing vantage point for taking in surrounding scenery, and the perfect venue to welcome guests and entertain neighbors.

Here are some incentives and considerations for your front porch…

Tradition

The porch serves as the threshold between public and private — an arrival and transition point for your home. In this country, its lineage can be traced back to Southern architecture of the eighteenth century, with the most notable examples appearing in the Low Country and French Colonial styles of Charleston and Savannah. Here in the Mid-Atlantic, front porches that can accommodate indoor/outdoor living and capitalize on coastal breezes are characteristic of the Tidewater homes traditional to the region. As an integral part of the home’s exterior and entrance, it should be inviting to those visitors or passersby. A well-appointed brick or stone walkway, wide staircase and colonnade do well to greet your guests.

Photo

Scale

At their most fundamental core, porches serve a vital function of providing cover. The height and depth of the space will have a large impact on the amount of shade generated during the sunniest days. Generally, a ceiling height of 8 to 9 feet and a roof overhang of at least 1 foot is most suitable.

Photo

A porch is really a room of its own. It can be designed as a seamless extension of the interior or a distinct destination to relax and linger. While it should be proportional to the house as a whole, here are some good general guidelines for dimensions:

  • DEPTH — 5 feet at minimum; ideally 8 feet (from house to column)
    • Furniture will greatly impact the function of the space: Use individual chairs or a narrow bench for smaller spaces and save couches and tables for porches of a broader depth, like 10 to 12 feet. Preserve at least 3 feet for circulation and separate furniture from the path to the front door.
  • COLUMNS — Typically between 10- to 12-inches wide (both round and square)
    • Most stone or brick piers range between 18 and 24 inches but should relate to the style of the house (for example, Craftsman homes have much larger piers than Farmhouse) and not impede on the overall depth.
    • Two-story porches should have columns that are larger on the lower level than the upper level to preserve historically accurate proportions
  • ELEVATION — 8 inches minimum above grade (one step); ideally between 2 and 3 feet
    • This raised portion will provide a “perch” to look over the front yard and street — perfect for keeping an eye on young children and engaging with the neighbors as they pass by
    • Note that most building codes require a railing when the porch is more than 3 feet above grade
Photo

Materials

Porch details can vary substantially depending on the style, location, and scale of the home. Materials should be cohesive with the overall exterior and respond well the site. Consider the function of the space, too — brick, stone and concrete are much more resilient and easier to clean than wood. If the porch will see a lot of traffic and wear is a concern, it might make sense to err toward a masonry floor.

Photo

Ceilings should provide some accent to emphasize the entrance and visual appeal while relaxing (e.g., lounging on a swing or hammock). Since they are heavier, brick columns or piers will accentuate the feeling of enclosure, while Victorian wood spindles will give the porch a lighter appearance.

Photo

Do you have a porch you love or one you envy? If so, share it with us! Post a picture in the comments below with some notes about the features that appeal to you.

Guest blog courtesy of W.C. Ralston Architects, an architecture and planning firm that has built an enduring reputation for design excellence in homes, neighborhoods and communities across the Mid-Atlantic region. Learn more at www.wcralston.com.

Building Smart: A Guide to the Right-Sized Home

Posted: January 22, 2016 at 10:00 am by: NewHomesGuide

Building your new home is a significant investment. The financial cost, time commitment and environmental impact resonate with everyone. From young Millennials drawing upon their nest egg for the first time, to Boomers looking to retire in their idyllic abode, the decisions surrounding the scale of your home’s design warrant both practical and emotional considerations.

The average home size in the United States has nearly doubled in the last 60 years. Because of this, “big and bland” has become commonplace, and the end result is a largely generic home market that reflects very little of the lifestyle of today’s homebuyer.

This poses an essential question for those building a new home: “What’s right for me?”

While the answers to are (and should be) personal, there are some general principles you can use in the design process to ensure your home meets your needs and suits your sensibility.

Know Yourself.
“The best way to begin a new project is for you — the owner — to reflect on what you bring to it: knowledge, needs, desires, aspirations and personal opinions. You provide the resources to realize your expectations.” — David Haviland, American Institute of Architects

The first step to envisioning your right-sized home is a thoughtful look at what defines you. By asking yourself the following questions, you can begin shaping the spaces of your new home all on your own:

  • What is a typical day like in your current home?
  • Where do you feel the most comfortable?
  • When do you find that your needs exceed the capacity of your home? (e.g. holidays, dinner parties, sleepovers, etc.)
  • What is the one space, element or feature you cannot live without?

You should never be inhibited by the size of your home. Your physical characteristics are as important, if not more, to your design considerations. Your stature and mobility should be reflected in both the scale and layout. Consider consolidating the main rooms (owner’s suite, living room, laundry, etc.) on one floor — this is one element in ranch and cottage styles that are popular among older homebuyers. Ceiling heights should vary between rooms based on their use (think: cabinet access).

Stair runs and landings can be configured to provide a comfortable place to rest between floors. Photo Credit: Allen Kennedy Photography

Stair runs and landings can be configured to provide a comfortable place to rest between floors. Photo Credit: Allen Kennedy Photography

If You Don’t Use It, Lose It.
A quick way to hone in on the right size for your home is to eliminate spaces and design elements that are under-utilized and excessive. Is a two-story foyer, jacuzzi tub or formal living room really essential to your lifestyle? The ultimate goal should be to have no spaces that are unused, unwanted or unconsidered.

Combine. Integrate. Diversify.
No matter which word you use to describe it, finding multiple uses for everything in your home is a way to maximize functionality and character. Movable partitions, like sliding barn and pocket doors, can unify or compartmentalize spaces.

Hall Seating_Allen Kennedy Photography

Hallways are notoriously boring. Why not integrate bookshelves or bank seating to make that walk from your kitchen to your bedroom something you actually embrace? Photo Credit: Allen Kennedy Photography

Combine the functions of your office, laundry, mud room and craft room into a single space for the perfect creative and operational hub. Photo Credit: Mike Miriello Photography

Combine the functions of your office, laundry, mud room and craft room into a single space for the perfect creative and operational hub. Photo Credit: Mike Miriello Photography

Family Room Built-ins_Allen Kennedy Photography

There are also wonderful opportunities within the structure of your home to accommodate storage. Bench seating, stairs and built-ins can claim typically overlooked spaces to hold your daily essentials in a beautiful way. Photo Credit: Allen Kennedy Photography

“Right” Doesn’t Have to Mean “Small.”
While many of the design strategies for right-size living suggest consolidating, there are plenty of incentives that come from “going big” with certain elements in your home.

Sliding Doors_Maxine Schnitzer Photography

Large openings can bring the outside in, making these spaces dynamic with framed views, abundant light and natural ventilation. Photo Credit: Maxine Schnitzer Photography

For today’s homeowners, kitchens are often the epicenter of family life and social gatherings. A kitchen island that can accommodate seating, storage and meal preparation is going to be large! Photo Credit: Maxine Schnitzer Photography

For today’s homeowners, kitchens are often the epicenter of family life and social gatherings. A kitchen island that can accommodate seating, storage and meal preparation is going to be large! Photo Credit: Maxine Schnitzer Photography

Choose Wisely.
You know what you want, but designing a home often requires decisions you may not have considered. It is important that you find the right fit with your architect and builder — a team that will help guide you through the process and take care of you along the way. This will help you make sure your next home is one that you will not want to leave!

 

Guest blog courtesy of W.C. Ralston Architects, an architecture and planning firm that has built an enduring reputation for design excellence in homes, neighborhoods, and communities across the Mid-Atlantic region. Learn more at www.wcralston.com.

Get a Fantastic New Home Without the Wait. Don’t Miss Our Move-In-Now Supplement.

Posted: January 15, 2016 at 10:59 am by: NewHomesGuide

15Jan_BlogAre you looking for a brand new home, but you’re not looking forward to waiting through months of construction? Choosing a Move-In-Now Home means that you can get a thoughtfully upgraded, perfectly located new home in a fraction of the time it would take to build from the ground up.

Our new Move-In-Now supplement is available as part of your free New Homes Guide subscription and will help you find hundreds of immediate delivery homes from the region’s top homebuilders. With the help of the latest edition of New Homes Guide, complemented by this FREE supplement, you can see which homebuilders have immediate delivery homes available. Finding the right home that’s ready now at the right price, right location and in the right school district just got even easier.

The Move-In-Now supplement is part of the latest New Homes Guide issue, so order your FREE guide today and get moving sooner!

From Resolution to Reality: New Homes Guide Can Help You Find Your Dream Home in 2016

Posted: December 30, 2015 at 11:00 am by: NewHomesGuide

For many new home shoppers, the list of New Year’s resolutions includes finding a dream home in the upcoming year. But like most resolutions, figuring out how to accomplish this goal can be difficult.

Friends girls

Fortunately, New Homes Guide has all the resources you’ll need to find the perfect place to call home in 2016. Here are the best ways to get started:

  • Order New Homes Guide and Supplements — Reserve your FREE copy of New Homes Guide, and you’ll get access to the most comprehensive resource for your home search. Featuring listings for every new single family home, townhome and condominium community in the area, this is the guide that has helped shoppers find their dream homes for 40 years. Enhance your search by including additional supplements with your order!
  • Subscribe to eAlerts— Stay connected with New Homes Guide with both monthly and targeted email alerts. Our monthly newsletter keeps you updated on the latest trends and introduces you to new, upcoming communities. Targeted email alerts inform you about new communities in your area of interest, grand openings, planned events, special incentives and more.
  • Utilize Search Tools on NewHomesGuide.com — NewHomesGuide.com features a powerful search function that allows you to filter results by home style, community type, available amenities, price range and more.
  • Access Resources on Our Blog — Our blog provides you with important insight, advice and information to help guide you during your home search and buying process.
  • Like Us on Facebook — Get the Mid-Atlantic’s only complete resource to every new home community right on your Facebook News Feed. Say hello or just stay connected with us by following our official Facebook page!
  • Find a Copy of New Homes Guide at Local Stores — Add New Homes Guide to your grocery list! Print editions of the guide are available at 30 local Safeway stores and 40 local Harris Teeter stores.

For even more resources for your new home search, including photo galleries, videos and more, visit our website today!

 

Showcasing the Area’s Best with Our ‘12 Days of Model Homes’

Posted: December 11, 2015 at 11:00 am by: NewHomesGuide

Much like the carol that’s become a holiday favorite, our “12 Days of Model Homes” will be giving a look at one of the area’s most beautiful model homes each day for 12 days.

Beginning on Sunday, December 13, we’ll showcase a new model home from the region’s top homebuilders each day until December 24 on our Facebook page.

11Dec

The Oxfordshire model at Willowsford Greens in Aldie, VA built by K. Hovnanian Homes. Image courtesy of Maxine Schnitzer Photography.

Each model home will give you a chance to get inspired for your new home and give you a look at what’s possible with New Homes Guide and the builders that are dedicated to making your dream home a reality.

Don’t miss any of our “12 Days of Model Homes” — Like New Homes Guide on Facebook today.

 

Partner with the Perfect Homebuilder to Build the Perfect Home

Posted: December 10, 2015 at 11:00 am by: NewHomesGuide

In today’s market, smart consumers are just as concerned with which builder they buy from as they are with the new home they ultimately buy.

To help our readers to be the most informed new home shoppers in the area, we offer this special supplement — the Building Leaders of 2016.

It contains informative profiles on the companies behind the communities, and the people behind the companies. Special sections highlight some of the best new Planned Communities and Active Adult Communities to watch in 2016.

All of the companies and communities featured in Building Leaders of 2016 are advertisers in New Homes Guide, so be sure to look for their ads in your current issue.

Take a minute to learn more about the Building Leaders of 2016!

Van Metre Homes

Building Leaders 2016

Arcadia Communities — A family-owned company that focuses on including features in its homes that other homebuilders offer only as upgrades.

Brookfield Residential — Building with families in mind, Brookfield Residential is committed to creating the best places to call home, near great schools and amenities.

CarrHomes — An 85-year tradition of excellence in community location and planning combines with an emphasis on design, environmental and historical sensitivity, craftsmanship and customer service.

Caruso Homes — Building custom homes for people who are unwilling to settle for standard, Caruso Homes offers distinctive home designs throughout Maryland.

Centex — Making the homebuying process easy and affordable, Cantex builds homes that fit the way you live.

Comstock Homes — A company that’s committed to providing its homebuyers with unparalleled quality and value in its new home while maintaining its award-winning customer service.

Craftmark Homes — Dedicated to quality construction, energy-efficient design and affordable luxury, Craftmark Homes is a conscientious homebuilder with communities throughout Maryland and Virginia.

Dan Ryan Builders — Privately owned and locally focused, Dan Ryan Builders is a regional homebuilder operating in six states with a mission to provide the best value in homeownership.

Drees Homes — One of today’s most respected homebuilders, the family-owned and operated company offers award-winning floorplans and innovative home designs.

EYA — Since 1992, EYA has built more than 4,000 homes with a commitment to design and innovation in urban neighborhoods throughout the Washington metropolitan area.

Greentree Homes — Creating distinctive communities throughout the greater Washington region, Greentree Homes has earned a reputation for delivering great value, timeless designs and long-term customer satisfaction.

Hazel Homes — Quality of life, amenity-rich community design and customer service-driven management define Hazel Homes communities, which are home to more than 15,000 families.

The Hylton Group — Standing behind the quality of the home it builds, The Hylton Group offers extended warranties so homeowners can enjoy peace of mind.

Integrity Homes — Taking a hands-on approach with every home they build, Integrity Homes is known for its award-winning architecture and design.

K. Hovnanian Homes — Since 1959, this nationally recognized homebuilder has provided buyers with exciting home designs that suit their tastes, budgets and lifestyles.

Lennar Maryland & Lennar Virginia — Dedicated to building excellent homes in some of the most desirable cities across the nation, Lennar has been one of America’s leading homebuilders since 1954.

M/I Homes — Since 1976, M/I Homes has served more than 77,000 customers with the promise that their homes are built with uncompromising quality, superior design and enduring value.

Mid-Atlantic Builders — Taking inspiration from the world’s finest custom living concepts, Mid-Atlantic Builders empowers architects to continually innovate and improve upon their award-winning designs.

Miller & Smith — They’re a passionate team that’s dedicated to bringing new ideas to life and creating extraordinary homes and communities for people who demand something different.

Pulte Homes — With operations in 25 states, Pulte Homes is one of America’s largest homebuilders, and since 1950, the company has delivered more than 500,000 new homes.

Richmond American Homes — For more than 35 years, Richmond American has built new homes with a commitment to customer service from start to finish.

Ryan Homes — Over the past 60 years, Ryan Homes has built new homes with the promise of unparalleled customer service, innovative design, quality construction and an affordable price.

Stanley Martin Homes — Utilizing a nine-step process, Stanley Martin Homes puts an emphasis on keeping its customers actively involved in the homebuilding process.

Toll Brothers — An unwavering commitment to customers can be seen in the more than 82,000 luxury homes built by Toll Brothers in prestigious locations throughout 19 states.

Van Metre Homes — Since 1955, locally based and family-owned Van Metre Homes has developed some of the area’s most sought-after planned communities.

Want to learn even more about these homebuilders and the communities they’ve created? Reserve your FREE copy of New Homes Guide and be sure to add our free Building Leaders 2016 supplement to your order.

 

‘Choices Galore’ From the Region’s Finest Homebuilders, Planned and Active Adult Communities

Posted: November 24, 2015 at 11:00 am by: NewHomesGuide

The Washington, D.C., area is home to more homebuilders than almost any other large metropolitan area. That’s critical for homeshoppers because it translates to choices, lots and lots of choices, as you prepare to make one of the biggest purchases of your life.

24Nov_Blog

You’ll find builders and communities of every shape and size here. National homebuilders, regional builders, local and custom builders, each one offering something different for the diverse needs of today’s homebuyers. Some focus on price and square footage, and others on cutting-edge design and architecture. Some build 10 homes a year and others build 700 a year. You’ll find enclave communities with five homes and Master Planned Communities so expansive that they have their own schools and zip code. It’s all here for you – the right location, the right price, the right homestyle, the right lifestyle, the right community. Something for everyone.

To make sure you see all those choices, check out our annual supplement, Building Leaders of 2016 on page 241. It features profiles from the area’s finest Homebuilders, Planned and Active Adult Communities. Each profile lends insight into the building company’s mission or vision, awards won, charities they support, number of homes built, areas they build in, homestyles, prices, etc. You’ll also find beautiful photos of some of their best home designs, models and communities. Each homebuilder or developer featured has ads in this issue of New Homes Guide so you can shop and compare.

Building Leaders of 2016 – it’s our version of ‘The Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval’. It’s a ‘must read’ if you’re in the market for a new home in the DC metropolitan area.

Now, get out there and shop for a new home today. And don’t forget to tell the builders that the folks at New Homes Guide sent you!

 

24Nov_Blog_2

Leslie Strittmatter, Publisher

New Homes Guide / NewHomesGuide.com

leslie@newhomesguide.com

 

Older Posts »