Are Window Walls Practical and Safe?

window wall

Modern homeowners are all about openness. We want open floor plans with sight lines from room to room and large entertaining spaces. And when it comes to windows, we want to let as much sunlight in as possible. A popular trend for remodeling projects and new builds is the installation of window walls.

Window walls are just what they sound like: exterior walls of your home made predominantly of glass. The result is a flood of natural light; however, the unique feature doesn’t come without some challenges. Below, we’ll outline the pros and cons of window walls.

Pro: Beauty

Window walls come in a variety of styles that can include metal and can fully retract to open into an outdoor space. Whether you go for a more industrial look or opt for full glass, window walls will maximize your view. Depending on where you live, you can take in staggering cityscapes, ocean waves or tree canopies.

Con: Cleaning

If you “don’t do windows,” a window wall might not be for you. While many of the windows used in window walls come treated to reduce water spots, they’ll still need to be cleaned more than traditional windows. And you’ll likely need professional help, which will be an added cost.

Pro: Durability

Because window walls are popular for beachfront properties, builders have had to work to make them durable enough to stand up to hurricane-force winds. But that doesn’t mean they’re safe from human error. Take special caution when mowing the lawn — a kicked up rock could mean a big repair bill.

Con: Cost

Because of the construction, materials and expert installation required with window walls, the cost of installation is significantly higher than traditional replacement windows or double-hung windows.

Pro: Efficiency

Window walls take advantage of the advancements made in window construction. Today’s window walls are extremely energy efficient and cut down on the amount of harmful UV light let into your home, so your upholstery won’t fade.

Con: Privacy

Unless you want to put on a show for your neighbors, you’re going to have to figure out a way to cover your window wall when needed. There are many options — including high-tech blinds that can be operated by your smartphone — but all will come at an added cost.

 

Consider the pros and cons of window walls. While they’re a wonderful option, make sure they’re the right choice for your home.

 

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6 Gorgeous Windows From Around the World

If you’re in the middle of a home renovation project, it can be hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel and a world where your microwave isn’t balancing precariously on a chair in your living room.

Take a break from picking paint colors, choosing finishes and living in a construction zone. Check out these seven beautiful windows we found from around the world and get a little inspiration for your home.

1. First up, check out this fun bistro window in Poland. While it’s probably not a look you’d like for home use, local restauranteurs should take note of this unique way to display a menu and add a bit of personality to your to-go window. (photo via Roman Emin)

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2. If we’re being perfectly honest, what makes this window in Northern Ireland so awesome is the view. But the rough board trim adds a rustic look that would be perfect in a cabin or shabby chic home. (photo via Tony Bowden)

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3. These blue shutters pop against this building in Malaysia, which almost looks like it was painted with watercolors. The pairing is a good reminder of the importance of finding a strong color scheme for your shutters and siding. (photo via Gavin Firkser)

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4. We love the thick casing and fun pop of color on this window in Australia. The eggplant would pair well with a neutral siding color such as beige or gray. (photo via Jocelyn Kinghorn)

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5. These ornate windows from Spain were just too beautiful not to share. The thick, white plaster casings pop against the building’s intricate pattern. While it might be a bit too busy for the average home, we would really enjoy drinking our morning coffee on that Juliette balcony. (photo via Jocelyn Kinghorn)

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6. This home in Slovenia is overflowing with old-world charm. The window combines both form and function with the wooden shutters and beam. We’re in love with the deep-set windows that have just enough space to house some herbs and flowers. (photo via Arun Katiyar)

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What are your favorite windows from around the world? What inspires your taste and style?

 

 

 

 

10 Easy Tips to Improve Curb Appeal

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Whether you have plans to sell soon or not, you never want to be “that house” in the neighborhood. You know, the house with peeling paint, dirty siding and an overgrown yard.

We get it. Life is busy, and it’s hard to spend your weekends weeding when you’d rather be relaxing poolside sipping on a drink with a tiny umbrella. But your neighbors and your property value would appreciate some TLC.

Here are ten easy tips to improve your home’s curb appeal so you can get back to kicking your feet up.

1. Break Out the Lawn Mower

When your yard is overgrown, your home instantly looks unkempt. The ideal height for grass is three inches, so mow accordingly.

2. Pave the Way

A dead giveaway to the age of your home is its driveway. If you have cracks, find a professional at a home improvement store to suggest the best crack filler for your asphalt.

3. A Powerful Wash

Rent a power washer from your local home improvement store to blast away years of dirt and grime from your siding, porch and driveway.

4. Go Green

Trim back overgrown hedges and plant pops of color in flowerbeds, window boxes and porch planters. Visit your local garden center to find blooms that will work best in your neck of the woods.

5. Bring the Indoors Out

Add a seating area to your front porch to make it seem more inviting. Add whimsical cushions and pillows to the outdoor furniture for a fun pop of color and comfort.

6. Add a Coat or Two

Spruce up your front door with a new coat of paint. A bright, bold color will make a statement and draw the eye to your home’s entrance.

7. Light the Way

Path lights and porch lights are an easy way to add some ambiance to your home and increase safety.

8. Wash Those Windows

Keep your windows sparkling, and your home will look clean and inviting.

9. Mailbox Update

If your mailbox has seen better days, it might be time for a new one. You can easily paint the mailbox or the post and add new numbers. They’ll be easily visible from the road.

10. Roll Out the Red Carpet

Look for a welcome mat that is both stylish and functional, so you can greet your guests upon their arrival.

Increasing your curb appeal doesn’t have to be time-consuming. Follow these tricks to get the job done!

 

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5 Foolproof Labor Day Party Tips

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Summer is winding down and the last long-weekend of the season is just around the corner. It’s time to fire up the grill and invite friends and family over for some much-needed relaxation. And don’t forget to relax a bit yourself — these five foolproof tips are designed to make party planning a breeze so you can kick back and join the fun.

1. Pick a Theme

We’re not talking about an ’80s dance party here, but it does help to have a theme to keep your party on track. You’ll be able to hone in on what you need to purchase and what you can go without. If you want to do a country-themed party, for example, you’ll need to gather mason jars, checkered table cloths and your favorite sweet tea recipe.

2. Design Your Menu

With your theme in mind, design an easy make-ahead menu so you’re not in the kitchen all day. Take advantage of in-season produce for simple kid-friendly snacks — like watermelon on a stick — and the adult fare. Aim for two appetizers, one main course, two side dishes and a dessert.

3. Save the Date

Labor Day weekend is often the last time folks steal away to the beach for the season or hit up the county fair. Let friends and family know what you’re planning ahead of time to maximize attendance.

4. Decorate

Luckily your backyard will be in full bloom this time of year. But it doesn’t hurt to add a few extra touches to make your guests feel at home. Incorporate your theme with small touches such as mason jars filled with fresh flowers on the tables. Hang a bunting banner on a fence, or string twinkling lights above the buffet area so guests can grab a snack after dark.

5. Entertainment

To keep your party structured, have a few activities ready. Have a tub of water balloons set up away from the food and seating areas for the kids, or organize a bracket for a beer pong tournament for the adults. Another fun option is to create your own photo booth using a sheet hanging on the clothes line and some inexpensive props.

No matter what theme you choose, a Labor Day party is the perfect way to celebrate summer!

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Should You Get Shutters for Your Home?

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Before modern windows came into play, shutters were a very functional part of a home. Originally, shutters were used to close off wall openings used for ventilation from the cold, rain and critters.

Today, shutters can also serve a functional purpose. While hurricane-proof glass is gaining in popularity, hurricane shutters still remain a vital part of storm preparedness in coastal cities in the U.S. Varying in permanency and price, hurricane shutters will protect homes from strong winds and rain.

With a lack of tropical storms in southcentral Pennsylvania, shutters are solely for aesthetics. Here are a few things to consider if you’re looking to dress up the exterior of your central PA home with shutters.

Think About Size

Your shutters should be in proportion to your windows. Think about shutter function even if they’re only for decoration. If you were to close the shutters, would they cover the windows with their width, height and shape?

Pay special attention to extra-wide windows or windows with decorative elements such as circle-tops. If the answer is no, don’t install shutters on that window.

Less Is More

Not every window on your home needs shutters. In fact, it’s more aesthetically-pleasing to only put shutters on the windows that make sense. That will be your traditional windows, never on double or triple windows. Windows with elaborate window casings can stand on their own without shutters.

Pay Attention to Detail

Shutter hardware can make your shutters look more functional. Hinges and S-hooks will give you the appearance of a usable shutter. The decorative hardware will also force you to install the shutter correctly instead of bolting it to your siding or brick. If hardware is not used, be sure to install shutters close to the window edge to give the appearance of function.

Weigh Your Options

Today’s shutters come in many styles. You can choose between louvered, paneled or board shutters depending on the style and location of your home. Vinyl and wood are two other options. Of course, there are a variety of paints and stains available to suit your taste. Work with a landscape designer to decide which options will work best for your home.

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7 Ways to Add ‘Old House’ Charm to Your New Home

stained windows

As the saying goes, what’s old is new again! While you invested in a newer home for the convenience, energy efficiency or peace of mind, you might be missing some of the character that comes with an older home.

These seven simple touches will make your new home more charming and allow you to have the best of both worlds.

1. Door Knob Swap

A quaint feature in homes from the early 1900s is the use of glass door knobs throughout the inside of the home. You can find reproduction glass knobs for around $15 a piece to add some sparkle to your doors.

2. Build It In

Many older homes combine style and function in the form of built-in storage, including bookcases, window seats or china cabinets. It’s never too late to add these features, and whether you enlist the help of a contractor is up to you. Search online for DIY ideas.

3. Stairway Show Stoppers

Old Victorian homes often feature ornate rugs on the stairs. You can mix old and new by installing a runner rug that fits your taste, but use runner rods instead of carpet nails to keep it in place. Dial up the charm by picking an oil rubbed bronze finish for the rods.

4. Stain Your Glass

Stained glass windows are always eye-catching in older homes. You can inexpensively add decorative window film to small windows in a stairwell or bathroom to recreate this classic look.

5. Bigger Is Better

The craftsmanship in older homes is often what sets them apart. Classic thick crown molding, high baseboards and wide door casings are all things that you can easily incorporate into your new home with a nail gun, some glue and a long weekend.

6. Make A Switch

Swap out builder-grade switch plates with something a bit ornate. Metal covers in polished brass or satin nickel will evoke an older feel and give your space a more personalized look.

7. Swatch Watch

Classic color pallets will give a nod to homes of the past and will stick around longer than Pantone’s Color of the Year. Opt for earthy hues including browns, yellows and greens, which were popular in the early 20th century.

We all want the best of both worlds, and we shouldn’t have to settle for a new home that’s missing classic “older home” charm. Swap out your doorknobs or choose earthy colors that were popular in the past to give your home the hint of character you’re looking for.

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6 Ways to Make Your Small Room Seem Bigger

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The biggest compromise you’ll have to make in your home search is choosing location over square footage. Just because you chose a neighborhood doesn’t mean that you have to suffer the consequences.

Even if your rooms are tiny, there are things you can do to make the space feel bigger. Here are six ideas to make the most of your small spaces.

1. Tailor Window Treatments

Choose drapery that can be pulled back to expose windows and let in as much natural light as possible. Measure carefully so the curtains fit your space. Find drapes that just skim your flooring to create a continuous space.

2. Think About Art

If you put too much on the walls in a tiny space, it can make the room seem even smaller. Instead, invest in a few large pieces and hang them on different walls in the room. This simple trick will force eyes to move around the space and make it appear larger.

3. Go Vertical

Does your space have high ceilings? If so, you’ve won the small-space lottery. Draw the eye upward with tall furniture, such as a four-poster bed, or bookshelves that go from the floor to the ceiling.

4. Create a Window Illusion

Even if you don’t have floor-to-ceiling windows, you can reap the benefits of vertical space. Hang your curtain rods a few feet above the top of your windows and invest in some long drapery to emphasize the height of your space instead of focusing on the lack of square footage.

5. Be Careful With Colors

While we might want our rooms to feel warm and cozy, choosing paints in warm hues can actually make your space feel even smaller. Go with cool hues, such as green or blue, to make your space feel larger. If you’re renting, you can use white walls to your advantage and decorate with shades of blue and gray to create an airy space that will feel large.

6. Be Bold

Another trick is to add pops of bold color and patterns throughout a space. Use them in moderation and eyes will be drawn to these accessories instead of looking at the room as a whole. The result? A sneaky way to make guests focus on your decorating style.

In the end, it won’t matter what size home you have. If you’re itching for some extra space, be creative and find ways to use detail and color to change the appearance of your room. Your space will feel bigger in no time!

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3 Steps to Stop Your Outdoor Paint From Peeling This Summer

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The hot, humid days of summer in southcentral Pennsylvania are here. And all that sunshine can take a toll on your shutters, window panes and doors.

When it comes to newer vinyl doors and windows, fading and peeling is just a cosmetic issue. But you don’t want your home’s first impression to be a bad one. Here are three steps to remedy the problem and boost your curb appeal.

  1. Clean the House

This might seem silly, but there’s a chance your vinyl surfaces aren’t actually faded, just dirty. The easiest way to tackle pollen and dirt buildup is using a power washer on the exterior of your home. However, it’s also extremely effective to remove the shutters and clean them by hand using water and detergent.

When your shutters are down, you should examine them for mold, which can become a problem in areas with excess moisture. Mold can be safely removed using a mixture of bleach and water.

If a thorough cleaning doesn’t do the trick to freshen up these surfaces, your next option is to paint.

  1. Choose Your Paint

It’s important to stay in the same color family when painting your outdoor vinyl surfaces. Don’t make any drastic changes, as going from light to dark could change the amount of sun your surfaces absorb. This could lead to unexpected expanding, twisting or warping.

Because these surfaces are exposed to direct sunlight and expand and contract, you’ll need to use 100% acrylic latex paint. A latex primer will help minimize peeling and help the paint stick to your vinyl surface.

If you have questions about what colors will work on your vinyl surfaces or what paints are safe to use on these outdoor areas, ask someone at the paint counter of your local home improvement store.

  1. Follow Painting 101

For best results when painting your outdoor vinyl shutters, windows and doors, avoid direct sunlight, high humidity and temperatures below 50 or above 90 degrees. Nylon or polyester brushes will work best with latex paint and vinyl surfaces.

Follow manufacturer’s directions and allow ample dry time before applying a second coat. Once dry, your shutters, windows and doors will look good as new for a summer of outdoor fun.

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How to Find the Right Curtains for Your Home

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One of the easiest ways to personalize your space is with window coverings. From a practical standpoint, curtains and drapes add an extra layer of protection against the elements and also keep the sun’s harsh UV rays from damaging your furniture.

But colors, fabrics and styles can also make a statement in your space.

Top It Off

If your goal is to add a pop of color to dress up your space, a valance might be a good place to start. Valances come in a variety of shapes and can be paired with matching curtains or a simple window shade. Valances can also hide unattractive curtain rods and window blinds hardware.

If you’re purchasing an inside-mounted valance, measure the space inside the frame and multiply by 1.5 to get some added fullness. If your valance is outside mounted, measure the width the window plus the moulding and add an additional two inches.

How Low Can You Go?

Google “how long should your curtains be” and you’ll find dozens of differing opinions. At the end of the day, it’s up to you to decide the best length for your room. Different lengths send different messages about the purpose of a space, so you should be aware of what you’re purchasing with a window treatment.

If you’re looking to evoke a more avant-garde look, consider breaking curtains. Measure the length you need to reach the floor from your rods, and buy curtains an inch or two longer so there will be a fold right above the hem. On the other hand, hovering curtains that fall less than half an inch above the floor will work best for casual, high-traffic areas.

Brushing curtains are a more traditional look. These might require the help of a professional, as exact measurements and special hardware will be needed to get the curtains to rest right on the floor. Pudding curtains leave a few extra inches of fabric at the bottom. Gauzy fabrics can make this look feel relaxed, while silk or velvet will produce a more opulent look. Either way, beware of tripping hazards.

When you’re deciding on the right curtains for your home, consider what you want to express as well as practical elements such as UV rays. Your curtains will make a statement in no time!

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Window Wisdom: How Many Panes Does Your Home Need?

windows panes

When shopping for windows, buyers are faced with three options: single-pane, double-pane and triple-pane glass. Not sure what’s right for your Harrisburg home and budget? Here’s a side-by-side comparison.

Single-Pane Windows

Single-pane windows are often what you’ll find in older homes. While you can still buy them second-hand, most major retailers don’t sell single-pained windows. They are typically inefficient at keeping the heat in and the cold out. And while single-pane windows might seem like a cheap replacement option, they’ll come at a price in your heating and cooling bills.

If you’re living in an older home and stuck with single-pane windows, you can use plastic shrink-wrapped to the window to help with your energy bills in the winter. Adding storm windows to your existing single-pane windows is also a good option to beef up their efficiency.

Double-Pane Windows

Double-pane windows will add an additional layer of insulation to your home. The two panes of glass are more energy efficient than one, so your heating and cooling costs will go down. Renewal by Anderson uses Low-E4 glass, which is 56 percent more energy efficient in the summer and 45 more efficient in the winter compared to normal double-pane windows.

The double-pane windows will also block more UV rays to cut down on sun damage to your home’s fabrics and furniture. Street noise can even be reduced with double-pane windows.

Triple-Pane Windows

Some companies are touting the benefits of triple-pane windows. The third layer of glass is said to increase soundproofing and can also make the window more secure. While it’s proven that triple-pane windows will shave about another 20 percent off your energy bills than double-pane windows, they’ll also cost you more to buy and install.

The biggest downside to triple-pane windows might be their weight. That extra layer of glass makes them heavy —  too heavy for many of the standard vinyl window casings that come standard in homes.

No matter what type of home or budget you have, you’ll find that a certain number of panes will work better than others. Compare all of the options, and decide which fit is the best for you!

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