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How to Create a Tactile Experience in Your New Home

Posted: November 18, 2017 at 12:47 pm by: NewHomesGuide

Humans are born with five natural senses, and the nervous system has a specific sensory organ dedicated to each one.

These senses connect us to the outside world, and although their primary purpose is to keep the body safe and healthy, our natural instincts also allow us to engage with both living and inanimate objects. In this article, we’re going to focus our natural sense of touch(scientifically known as somatosensation – but lucky for you, this is where the science lesson stops).

With the advent of iPhones, iPads, etc., the tactile experience that all consumers are drawn to is extremely limited, causing us to yearn for those materials that engage us on a textural level. This is why it is so important to create a tactile experience in your Model Home. It’ll spark an interest in homebuyers, and keep them engaged and present in the home longer, thus creating a lasting memory.


The New Castle II model by Van Metre Homes, designed by Builders Design.

Textural surface treatments are influencing all trends happening in regard to your walls, floors, and ceilings. I know what you’re thinking – Floors and ceilings, what happened to the standard hardwood floors and crown molding. To put it in Millennial terms, they are so 1990’s.

Floors and ceilings have become the new focal point of design, as walls are losing space to windows. Natural light is one of the best and most impactful ways to illuminate a space. Even the kitchen backsplash is being used as an opportunity to let the light in by adding a decorative window in lieu of a backsplash.

Architectural details are a great way to embellish the surfaces of your home. A recent trend is taking a classic trim treatment, such as wainscoting or shiplap, and simply modernizing it. Clean lines and painted surfaces will make a shiplap treatment feel fresher, and if wainscoting is simply extended to cover a majority of the walls surface, it’ll streamline the design style.

Trim treatments can also add depth through color. By painting the trim the same color as the walls surface, it creates a tone on tone effect, as seen in the Brookfield Residential – Renwick Model. Not only does the tone on tone trim provide the open floor plan with rich detail, but this popular gridded pattern on repeat elevates the space and creates visual energy.


The Renwick model by Brookfield Residential, designed by Builders Design.

Attention to ceiling detail was another emerging surface trend this year. Raising sightlines through an unexpected architectural detail on the ceiling creates the illusion of higher walls, as well as a greater perceived value on the home. Examples such as, coffered ceilings, curvilinear trim treatments, or even applying a piece of wood that extends over 3/4 of the ceiling, are just some ways to raise sightlines.Let’s just say if you get a Millennial to look up from their phone for more than 10 seconds, you’ve mastered the trend of ceilings statements.

If you’re looking for ways to add texture, but don’t want the commitment or cost of an architectural built in, wallpaper is a great alternative. Wallpaper not only has texturized options, but they can also give the illusion of texture. Looking into 2018, a specific trend we’re seeing in wallpaper is oversized motifs, especially florals, for added detail and drama.

Tired of tile? I hope not. Tile has always been a popular choice of surface material for its durability, low maintenance, and swoon-worthy designs. Tile design has become so detailed that it can mimic the look of wood, stone, or other natural materials and have most people fooled (outside of the design industry). In addition to graphic patterns and metallic finishes, we’re seeing cultural influences from all over the world in tile design. The New Castle II Model at Brambleton by Van Metre Homes has luxe Moroccan tiles surrounding the bathtub to create a strong memory point in the Master Suite.


The New Castle II model by Van Metre Homes, designed by Builders Design.

The best advice for decorating surfaces in 2017 and 2018, is to provide consumers with that tactile experience they’re yearning for. Designing with sensory elements will never fail to engage your homebuyers, because naturally we’re drawn to things that evoke our natural sense of, you guessed it, touch.

Marnee Duffus is a Sales and Marketing Specialist with Builders Design. Visit to learn more.

Design Trends from the DC Design House

Posted: November 14, 2017 at 2:56 pm by: NewHomesGuide


Photography by Angie Seckinger

When you purchase a newly built home, you have the joy and the challenge of transforming blank walls into a place that reflects your personality and the way you like to live. While you may want to replicate some of the finishes and décor choices you’ve seen in model homes and magazines or work with a professional at your builder’s design center, another resource is the DC Design House or similar events. An annual fundraiser for Children’s National Health System, this year’s Design House transformed a 27,000-square-foot Potomac, Maryland mansion into a showcase for 23 designers.

While each interior designer faced their own challenges working with a limited budget and the inability to change certain features, each placed their own stamp on their assigned space. Yet even with the variety of styles on display some themes emerged that can help you define your new rooms.

8 trends from the DC Design House

Don’t ignore your ceiling.

The Design House features rooms with dramatic light fixtures, high-gloss robin’s egg blue paint, ceilings that look like an abstract of the night sky and one, by designer Josh Hildreth, was painted to resemble light-stained wood. In a gallery with a double-barrel ceiling, designer Cindy Grossmueller McClure placed subtly sparkly wallpaper on the ceiling and lined the seams of the ceiling with nail studs for an edgy look. The large master bedroom, designed by Denise Guadeloupe Rojas, became a more intimate space with a darker gray ceiling. Changing the color of your ceiling can dramatically impact the feeling of space and light in the room.


Wallpaper is in again.

Wallpaper in neutrals and bright colors and textures can be used in every room in the house and in unexpected places such as the back of a bookcase to add color to shelves. Technology has improved wallpaper so you can now buy removable wallpaper that peels off without damaging the walls and allows you more freedom to change it on a whim.

Bright colors can be used more often than you think.

While neutral grey and white and beige are found everywhere, the most exciting room included mint, jade and black walls with orange and red fabric designed by Caryn Cramer that surprisingly worked well together. Royal blue velvet chairs made a dramatic statement in a study by designer Lorna Gross and was used for accent pieces in the library designed by Kelley Proxmire.


Creativity makes a home your own.

While not everyone has a flair for DIY crafts, one of the most eye-catching rooms in the house included a wall of framed colorful Hermes scarves. Designer Marika Meyer purchased them on eBay and placed them in inexpensive frames. Another room, by designer Romain Baty, featured hand-painted “columns” which were really just black paint on white walls to mimic columns. Baty also painted every other egg in the egg-and-dart molding black for a distinctive and yet easy-to-achieve pattern.

Decide on a mood for a room and decorate to create it.

Most designers choose a theme or a mood or an imaginary person and make every design choice in that context. For example, Kiera St. Claire-Bowery’s bedroom with layers of fur and velvet and rugs is a “modern professional’s retreat” that’s both polished and tranquil. The designer even gave her imaginary client the name “Sloane.” In Gross’ study, the room was lightened with a touch of metallic paint and features a few whimsical items to give a serious room a more playful vibe.


Convert a small space into a “retreat.”

Several small rooms and even closet-like spaces in the Design House were transformed with lighting and color into a space to relax. Now that so many homes have open floor plans where family members spend most of their time, it’s essential to have a reading nook or a quiet upstairs space to be alone.

Turn books into art.

Multiple designers stacked books on tables and in corners to add color and set the theme for a room. One even added a few books to a bar shelf to elevate a cut-glass carafe. Another designer painted old books in complementary shades of blue for a colorful library.

Design a functional and pretty laundry room.

Laundry rooms top the list of essential features buyers require, but at the Design House Paula Grace designed a laundry room that includes open shelving with baskets for each family member’s laundry, space for supplies, an elegant light fixture, a ceiling painted blue to mimic the sky and a speaker for music to liven up laundry day. While Grace didn’t need to add the appliances to the space, she was happy to discover a cool “drying cabinet” to use for hanging delicate clothes in addition to the traditional washer and dryer.


Incorporating the things you love into your new house can transform the space into a place that welcomes you home every day.

Choosing the Right Window Coverings

Posted: September 27, 2017 at 11:23 am by: NewHomesGuide


Fundamentally, blinds, shades, and shutters all serve the same purpose. They control sunlight or privacy — or both. Window coverings also play an important role in interior design. But which makes the most sense for you? Well, that is entirely dependent on a few key factors: personal preference, budget, and placement.


In terms of functionality, blinds tend to provide the greatest level of light control. These window coverings consist of slats or vanes that can be tilted at various angles to regulate light flow. The entire window treatment can also be raised or lowered, furthering light control and privacy.


Our Recommendation: Wood blinds are at home in almost any room, but are best suited for the dining room or living room, areas where light control and aesthetic appeal are most important. Faux wood blinds, made from vinyl, are also an excellent choice for the kitchens and bathrooms as they provide a superb simulation of real wood. The The vinyl material is better able to stand up to high moisture environments like kitchens and bathrooms.


The term “shades” refers to a wide range of stylish window coverings, such as roman shades, honeycomb shades (cellular shades), roller shades, and pleated shades. However, each operates is fundamentally the same manner – you raise or lower the window treatment to regulate light flow.


Our Recommendation: Shades tend to work best in rooms where privacy is the biggest concern – like the bedroom or bathroom. Honeycomb Shades are a favorite for bedrooms due to opacity options like room darkening and lift options like top down/top down bottom up. The Top down/ bottom up lift option lets in light without sacrificing privacy.  These window treatments allow more privacy by giving users a choice of opening window shades from the bottom up (the traditional method), or from the top down. The latter permits light to enter without giving up any privacy.


High-quality Hardwood Shutters are like furniture for your windows-especially when made by Next Day Blinds. From casual to elegant, traditional to contemporary, the style of almost any room can be enhanced with Shutters.

Our Recommendation: The truth is that shutters, whether wood or vinyl, work in just about every room. From wood shutters that seamlessly integrate with your millwork and window trim to vinyl shutters perfect for high-moisture areas.


About Next Day Blinds
Founded in 1993, Next Day Blinds is a local business devoted to providing premium-quality, fully custom window coverings. Our headquarters and state-of-the-art manufacturing facility are located in Jessup, MD, just about 25 miles from Washington, D.C., and 15 miles from Baltimore, MD. With our fully integrated, end-to-end business model, we are able to provide a more customer-focused experience. This level of integration is designed to ensure your ongoing happiness, and it helps us match our passion for high-quality products with an uncompromised dedication to customer service. These are the values that matter to you, and to us.

The Future is Here: Using Virtual Reality to Shop for Your New Home

Posted: September 22, 2017 at 9:58 am by: NewHomesGuide


If you have shopped for a new home recently, you probably started online looking at photos and floor plans and then transitioned into visiting physical model homes. But the way people shop for homes is starting to change. In fact, in a startling survey in May 2017, the Redfin real estate brokerage found that one-third of homebuyers purchased a home sight unseen. That’s a big jump compared to the 19 percent of buyers who bought a home before they visited it in 2016. Millennials are even more likely to make an offer on a home they haven’t seen at 41 percent of those surveyed.

Chances are, at least some of those buyers used virtual reality or augmented reality to preview their new home. Technology is rapidly advancing the way builders can showcase their homes to prospective buyers. Instead of looking at renderings or photos of a model home, you can look online at 3D images that allow you to click on rooms for a more accurate view of the space. Augmented reality also provides buyers with the opportunity to change the way a room looks with different furniture and finishes by superimposing changes onto photos of existing rooms.

Virtual reality refers to images of places that don’t actually exist, similar to what people see when playing video games. You can use a headset like Oculus or a cardboard headset to see images on a screen at a builder’s sales office or on an app on your smartphone.

Most buyers are open to the idea of virtual reality. A recent study by found that 89 percent of those surveyed thought virtual reality could be very helpful; 70 percent said they were somewhat or very likely to use virtual reality when buying a home.

Buyers who have already experienced virtual reality to play a game or watch a movie or to take a simulated bike ride or climb a mountain are likely to be comfortable touring a house with this technology. But even novices can quickly grasp the advantage of being able move around and see a kitchen from several different angles and to get a sense of the size of the family room windows and to check out the master bathroom.


Floor plan vs. a virtual walk-through

While most buyers like to visit a model home to see and touch the home in person, if you’re relocating or just want to save time by screening out some potential homes, virtual reality can give you a better experience than simply looking at a floor plan or a drawing. Many people have trouble visualizing the size of a room or the ceiling height from numbers on a floor plan and they can’t always get a sense of the flow of rooms or the light that can come into the space. Unlike watching a video, virtual reality mimics the experience of moving from room to room.

Long-distance buyers can benefit most from virtual reality since they can feel as if they have walked through a property even though they are thousands of miles away. Local buyers can use the technology to check out multiple model homes and choose the one they like even if it hasn’t been built in their area. In addition, they can avoid driving to multiple model homes at different communities.



Virtual reality provides moving 3D images so buyers can get a better feel for the proportions of a house.

How builders are using virtual reality

While the most common way to experience virtual reality is to look at a model home that hasn’t been built, builders can design entire communities and showcase planned amenities with virtual reality. Buyers can check out the tennis courts and look at the fitness room and the community center even before they are built. The technology can be so lifelike that you can see ripples in the surface of the swimming pool and rustling leaves in the trees.

Eventually, builders are likely to start using virtual reality when they want to apply for permits to develop a new community to make it easier for government staffers to visualize what the new neighborhood can look like.

Builders are already beginning to use virtual reality with focus groups to help them design and tweak their home designs. It’s much less costly for builders to develop several virtual models and ask potential buyers to compare them rather than to build actual models of every floor plan.

While most builders plan to continue building at least one model home to showcase the quality of their homes, virtual technology is anticipated to eventually allow them to produce multiple versions of model homes virtually.

Some builders who are using the technology now say it gives them the opportunity to pre-sell more homes while they prepare the site and begin construction on model homes.

Choosing options with the help of virtual reality

If you’ve sat in a design center or at home with paint chips, a small chunk of granite, a piece of tile and a tiny square of wood in your hand and wondered how they would all look together, you may be ready to embrace virtual reality. The ability to truly see what various combinations of finishes look like together can relieve the pressure of choosing options, particularly for people who have trouble narrowing their choices.

Many builders offer video walkthroughs of a kitchen that buyers can watch with the option of  changing cabinet colors, counters and flooring. Virtual technology takes that experience a step further to allow buyers to feel as if they are standing in their kitchen and looking at it from every direction.

While not all builders offer augmented or virtual reality yet, Toll Brothers recently announced a pilot program called Kitchen 360 that allows buyers to create millions of combinations when designing their kitchen. Buyers can start by personalizing features within their floor plan on a tablet and then put on an HTC Vive headset to walk through their kitchen to see what their choices look like, including appliances, cabinets, finishes, flooring, counter tops and paint colors.

Whether you want to virtually visit multiple model homes, experiment with options or buy a home sight unseen, virtual reality can give you even greater confidence that you know what you will get when you buy a new home.

Breaking Down the Exterior Evolution of New Homes

Posted: September 19, 2017 at 8:56 am by: NewHomesGuide


The Bradbury Model from Toll Brothers

Exterior elements and connection points are among the most popular interior design trends to date. Ironic, isn’t it? Homebuyers are yearning for simplicity more than ever as technology untethers us from traditional spaces, and our natural instincts draw us back to the serene outdoors.

Interior trends are influencing exterior design while exterior features are influencing interior design – Are you still following? Good. They’re essentially breaking down each other’s boundaries so that every square foot is tailored by an uninterrupted flow of design.


Let’s break down the interior walls and talk about the exterior evolution happening in home design:

  • Fit and finishes feature natural elements, but with a modern twist.
  • Interior refinement is moving outdoors with more elegant lighting and new dining hubs.
  • Flooring is breaking the boundaries and extending from the indoors to the outdoors in a seamless fashion.
  • Walls are losing space to windows to provide more natural light.
  • Movable walls are becoming increasingly popular.

Two of the four top macros inspiring home design is converged living and escapism needs. These are the driving factors that are making outdoor spaces so important to homebuyers. Master bedroom balconies, backyard porches, multiple entrances, side yard living and rooftop living are the most desired outdoor connection points according to new consumers.

No acreage? No problem. Rooftop/patio living is a great solution for townhomes and condominiums that have minimal land (As seen in the Bradbury Model by Toll Brothers).

Even more so then just the connection points, outdoor design makes a significant impact on a home buyers decision. These trends can not only make a visual impact but can also increase the overall value of a home:

Poolside Fireplace

What started as a trend in the multifamily industry has now moved to our very own backyard – quite literally. Pools are often the centerpiece of a backyard surrounded by lounge seating, grills, gardens and now fire features. The juxtaposition of fire and water brings a beautiful aesthetic to outdoor spaces and will keep your backyard feeling warm and cozy. Consider a linear style fireplace for a more modern outdoor design.


The Arlington model at Arundel Grove by Craftmark Homes. Designed by Builders Design.

Outdoor Kitchen

According to NAHB (National Association of Home Builders) outdoor kitchens are one of the ‘hottest housing trends’ in the industry and can increase the homes overall value. Much like the interior kitchen, an outdoor kitchen is an entertainment feature where family or friends could gather with guests. Don’t forget the finishing touches when creating your outdoor haven – Establish a living room that extends beyond the kitchen complete with comfortable seating. (As seen in Craftmark Homes, Arundel Mills Model, Design by Builders Design).

Additionally, to not interrupt the flow of design, create a symmetry between the indoor and outdoor kitchen. Use materials that are compatible with the home’s architecture and landscape, pending on their durability (Ask yourself: “Are highly resistant to grease stains? Can the material withstand high temperatures?”). And lastly, increase the function of an outdoor kitchen by incorporating heaters and rain protection to ensure year-around use.

Written by Marnee Duffus, a sales and marketing specialist with Builders Design, this story originally appeared in the September/October issue of New Homes Guide. Order your free copy of New Homes Guide for more tips, advice and trends.

New Home Design Details

Posted: August 15, 2017 at 11:23 am by: NewHomesGuide

When it comes to creating an eye-catching home design, the little details are the things that make a big difference. And these are the 11 design elements that are most definitely on trend in new homes right now.

Colorful Kitchen Cabinets


From two tone cabinets to bold colors, colorful cabinetry is trending in new kitchens and remodels. Homeowners are daring to go bold with vibrant colors, over traditional woods and neutral tones.


Tactile Textures in the Kitchen


In addition to the colorful cabinets, kitchens are a great place to play with different textures, finishes and colors. Countertops, backsplashes, hardware, appliances, plumbing, and flooring are just a few of the areas where different textures can create a fun, exciting, yet cohesive look.

Kitchens with Two Islands


Some kitchens just never seem to have enough counter space. Creating two islands in a kitchen allows ample room for prepping and entertainment space.


Whole Tiled Walls


Traditionally, backsplashes stop at the bottom of the upper cabinets. And in bathrooms, the tile stops half-way up the walls or about 18” from the ceiling. A new trend is taking the tile all the way up to the ceiling. This creates a dramatic statement in any room. You can create a clean look with subway tile or something a little more interesting with patterned tile.


Geometric Influences


Nature often influences design. The geometric aspects create a nice modern balance with the other design features while still creating contrast.




We all know how things make a comeback. Brass has made a comeback in a big way. It has influenced everything, included but not limited to: lighting, furniture, hardware, plumbing fixtures, décor accessories, even tile and backsplashes. It’s that little piece of flair that adds some bling to any space.


Voice-Activated Technology


Technology has found its way into the home scene. You can now use products such as the Amazon Echo and the Google Home to turn down the lights, or play your favorite song. “Smart” Homes are being built with this technology integrated into them. You can now also use your phone to turn down the lights, set the temperature, and even lock your doors.


Color Trends – Greenery


“Greenery” is Pantone’s 2017 color of the year. Pantone describes it as, “refreshing, revitalizing, fresh.” Pantone also says that the color “revives, restores, renews and reinvigorates.”


Splurging in Laundry Rooms


Laundry rooms are becoming more glamorous. They are no longer the corner in the basement with a utility sink plopped next to the washer and dryer. Laundry rooms are getting dressed up with upgraded cabinetry and countertops, backsplashes, wallpaper,chandeliers, and the list goes on.


Elaborating on Entryways


The entryway is the first impression people have of the inside of your home. Trends are showing people paying more attention to the entry way and creating a great first impression with the additions of decorative chandeliers, upgraded flooring, and even accented walls and ceilings.


Outdoor-Feeling Indoor Shower


We’ve all heard about the rainfall shower head, and if you haven’t, you’re missing out. Bringing the outdoor-feeling to the shower is trending in bathrooms.

Written by Abby Regis and Leslie Sargent of Design Works Interiors, this story originally appeared in the July/August edition of New Homes Guide. For more trends, stories, how-tos and advice, order your free copy of New Homes Guide today.

Moderated Modern: A New Design Trend Hitting The Market

Posted: July 14, 2017 at 9:31 am by: NewHomesGuide


Miller & Smith at One Loudoun

We start our topic of discussion with defining Modern. This term is everywhere, constantly confused with contemporary styling. But what does modern truly mean? In its most basic form, it is the design trend of today — what is now and in the moment. Today, this is seen as clean lines, simplicity of patterns and natural finishes. To moderate this creates a personal style that is the overwhelming wish of most buyers today. So to create a Moderated Modern model, you need only to define the feeling you want and embellish accordingly.


Toll Brothers at Avonlea Reserve

If you love antiques, if you love bold contemporary art, if you love mid-century, if you love industrial, if you love traditional elements — blend and mix any of these into the core of the modern trend. This is what it takes to show off the Moderated Modern style. The goal is to soften the stiff, hard lines of modern style and create an element of interest, comfort and a very personal statement.


Winchester Homes at Two Rivers (Photo: Maxine Schnitzer)

Expressing this style in demographic terms is interesting – generally, millennials love mixing mid-century, and your boomers mix antiques and traditional elements. So when looking for a style that embraces a broad market base, think about Moderated Modern.

Originally appearing in the July/August 2017 edition of New Homes Guide, this article was written by Phyllis Ryan of Interior Concepts, Inc. Interior Concepts, Inc. is a full-service design firm in Maryland. You can learn more about them by visiting their website.

Design Encyclopedia: Know Your Home’s Windows

Posted: June 29, 2017 at 2:53 pm by: NewHomesGuide


Photo Credit: Hoachlander Davis Photography

The commercial market, functional considerations, and aesthetic basis for your home’s windows can all be totally overwhelming. The countless number of choices available to buyers is a double-edged sword with unlimited capability to customize your selection, but a potential pitfall in making decisions relative to one another. To help you navigate this realm, we’ve compiled this guide to understand what’s what and what should matter to you in choosing windows for your home.


A brief vocabulary lesson is worthwhile to help orient you within the technical terms used in window production. Every window has four conventional parts: jamb, sill, head, and sash. Think of the former three terms as the edges, or frame, that hold the main part of the overall assembly (the sash) in place and provide the mechanisms for operating the window. Sashes can be further sub-divided into their own individual elements, including: stiles, rails, muntins (or mullions), and lites. These each describe the pieces of the assembly that hold and separate the glass.


Image Credit: W.C. Ralston Architects LLC


Windows are typically classified by how they open and close, each serving a specific function relative to their location and size. When you’re digesting the diagrams below, note that the dotted “arrow” over the window indicates the location of the hinge or direction it moves. Here’s a summary of the conventional types used in most homes:

Double-hung and single-hung

These are the most common models used in residential construction. They contain two individual sashes “hung” in the frame. The double and single labels refer to the number of sashes that are operable. For example, both sashes in a double-hung window can be slid up and down. For this reason, the screen is located on the outside face of the assembly to allow the sashes to move independently.


Image Credit: W.C. Ralston Architects LLC

These are best suited for traditional styles of architecture. Their historical association and complexity of individual pieces in the assembly tend to exude a more formal appearance. Different patterns of muntins and lites also contribute to the character of the home. As a basic rule of convention – the more divisions there are in the glass, the more traditional the window will look. These patterns are often given a label relative to the number of lites/muntins they have. The window above can be called a “6 over 6” because there are six individual “cells” in each sash.


Photo Credit: Allan Kennedy Photography


Casement windows have a single sash attached to the frame on side. They have a vertical hinge (or set of hinges) that allows the window to swing open just like a door. The screen is located on the inside face of the assembly to enable this movement.


Image Credit: W.C. Ralston Architects LLC

These can employed to convey both a traditional and contemporary aesthetic on a home. The same rule regarding the muntin pattern on individual windows applies with these as well, but you will find that they tend to be grouped in multiples of two or three to create larger spans of uninterrupted glass. This treatment errs on the more contemporary end of the spectrum. The crank hardware will be a distinctive element of the window, so be sure to consider the style and finish relative to the look you desire.


Sliding windows are the horizontal counterparts to double- and single-hung assemblies. With operable tracks on the head and sill, the sashes can move side-to-side within the frame. These are best suited for narrow height clearances such as basements and high-mounted locations like bathrooms.


Image Credit: W.C. Ralston Architects LLC

Awning and hopper

You can think of awning and hopper windows as the horizontal equivalents of casement windows. These also open in a single direction and have a hinge on the top or bottom of the frame. Awnings are top-hinged, making them an ideal application for rainy locations where you can block out falling water from above while still facilitating ventilation. Hoppers tend to be used most in contemporary applications as the bottom sash of a larger assembly – this allows fresh air from the outside to gently travel up and into the space.


Image Credit: W.C. Ralston Architects LLC


Photo Credit: Thomas H. Fields Photography

Fixed (inoperable)

Also called picture windows, these do not open or close and are used primarily to maximize the amount of light and view for a space. For this reason, they are typically manufactured in the largest dimensions of the conventional window types.


Image Credit: W.C. Ralston Architects LLC


Windows serve the primary function of bringing light and air into a home. As penetrations in the shell of the building, they also make it susceptible to the unwelcomed gain and loss of heat. This affects both your level of comfort and the operational costs to maintain that comfort. For these reasons, it is worthwhile to understand how windows derive their efficiency.

There are two measures to consider when determining the energy performance of a window: thermal insulation and visual transmittance. As a rule of thumb, more panes (number of layers of glass) provide more insulation and more efficiency. The small gaps of air between panes allow for a tighter seal, keeping the heat where you want it relative to your specific climate and comfort preferences. The transmittance is a factor of how much heat is allowed to penetrate the glass due to the intensity of light shining through it. Modern coatings applied to or manufactured within the glass can provide the ideal balance between maximum brightness and minimum heat transfer.


Photo Credit: TruPlace & Maxine Schnitzer Photography

Do you have questions about making the right window choice? If so, leave us a comment to get tips specific to your home!

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

Loving Life in an Active Adult Community

Posted: June 13, 2017 at 1:07 pm by: NewHomesGuide


How many times has this happened to you in your travels? You arrive at an exquisite location — quiet and beautifully maintained. The facilities and recreational opportunities are top-notch. And everyone there shares a love for the place. You just feel good being there. Naturally, you want to stay.

Until a decade or so ago, you could only feel this way at vacation resorts, tropical retreats, country clubs, and unique destinations. But now, builders are creating the resort and country club lifestyle you love in communities right here in the metro area.

Homes and communities like these are being created today specifically for active adults, that fast-growing demographic of Baby Boomers who are the largest-ever single age group to hit demographic charts. Just past 50, active adults tend to be healthier, wealthier, and more educated than any previous generation.

So spoil yourself!

Active adult-designed homes and amenities offer a full range of experiences, and locations near theaters, shopping, restaurants and the action of Washington, DC, and the Mid-Atlantic region. Some are gated with 24-hour security — offering additional peace of mind for singles and frequent travelers. Since friends are now almost as important as families, communities foster a strong social structure, with clubhouses, public areas, regular events and pedestrian-friendly living. Active adults may be empty nesters free of strollers and tricycles, but they may also form Harley-Davidson clubs, marathon-running groups and Tai Chi classes.


Homes can be single-family detached, attached, or villa-style condos. They can be in mid- or high-rise buildings, too, or in neighborhoods within larger planned communities. But all are dedicated to spoiling residents big time.

Floorplans are usually one-story, with some two-story designs offering bonus space for a spare bedroom and bath, hobby/recreation room, or extra storage. Buyers will spend on luxury and upgrades, and dual master suites, covered patios and porches, great rooms and granite countertops are commonly built in.

Active adults also stay busy lowering their golf handicaps and improving their tennis games. In fact, they’re more vital, physically fit and wellness conscious than any other age. That’s why communities deliver amenities you would find at a country club, such as golf, tennis, basketball courts and pools. Developers know buyers also want low maintenance, with none of the endless household chores.  Services for residents can include concierge, dry cleaning, handymen, lawn care and snow removal. It’s all covered under monthly homeowner fees.

Clubhouses are important as a center of community activity. They can come with meeting rooms, pottery studios, bocce courts, pool tables and computer labs. Open-air pavilions are great for three-season parties. Fitness centers offer aerobics and dance studios, paddle-tennis, workout equipment, pools with lap lanes, and spas. Biker/hiker paths are often built into communities.

heritage-shores-clubhouse1   toll-dominion-vall-cc-clubhouse   celebrate-fredericksburg-clubhouse   heritage-shores-overhead   trilogy-at-lake-frederick shenandoah-lodge
Copyright: E.W. Faircloth

Why Choose an Active Adult Community?

These communities have all the amenities a resort has to offer without having to travel, pay for a country club or health club, or take care of your own pool. There are a number of communities to choose from right here in the area, in delightful locations near water, green spaces, entertainment possibilities — and your friends and family. Plus, now you have the luxury of some time on your hands, to have fun, volunteer, travel and make new friends. These communities give you every opportunity.

Active adults have been working hard and raising children for several decades, and now they are rewarding themselves with travel and recreation. They have a lot of living left to do. Today, they can do it in a community with the feel of a luxury resort, close to the culture, convenience and fun of the entire Washington metro area and Mid-Atlantic region.

This story originally appeared in the May/June 2017 issue of New Homes Guide. Reserve your free copy of New Homes Guide today for additional stories, community spotlights, advice and more.

The Great Outdoors: Tips to Make the Most of Your Exterior Living Spaces

Posted: May 12, 2017 at 1:58 pm by: NewHomesGuide

The indoor-outdoor connection is one of the most vital and potentially unique aspects of your home’s design. As we’ve written about previously, your home’s relationship to its surroundings is shaped by the elements that bridge the gap, with the spaces outside often considered as an extension of those inside. Whether it’s for entertaining or relaxation, and regardless of scale, climate and location — there ways to harness the most of your home’s potential for outdoor living. Here are few ideas we’ve compiled for inspiration:


Photo Credit: Maxine Schnitzer Photography

Your view is a primary consideration for the design of your exterior space. Orienting openings and sightlines will ensure you’re looking at something pleasing or have the privacy you desire from views into the space. This home is nestled inside an opening within a dense collection of trees, giving a stellar backdrop to the extensive amounts of glazing on the rear side of the home. With no visible neighbors, this design works to capitalize on the views and natural light without making its owners feel exposed.

Image Credit: Maxine Schnitzer Photography & W.C. Ralston Architects LLC

Image Credit: Maxine Schnitzer Photography & W.C. Ralston Architects LLC

When your home is situated on a small lot or you have other adjacent homes in close proximity, the design calls for a different approach. A small recess is carved out of the home’s footprint to create this terrace. Although it’s not inside, surrounding this space with the walls of the home on three sides, this space feels like a true “room.” It also allows for views between distant, otherwise disconnected, corners of the house — making it feel larger and more open.

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