Archive for October, 2010

Oct 27 2010

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The House Plan Shop – Quality Lighting & Fixtures for your New Home

Pendant LightsIf you are building a new house, there is no doubt you’ll spend some time making decisions about the type of light and fixtures you’ll want both inside and outside your home. If you are buying pre-drawn house plans like those found at The House Plan Shop, be aware that MOST, but not ALL of these construction drawings will come with a basic electrical plan reflecting the locations of fixtures, outlets and switches. It will be up to the electrician to run the wiring and install the fixtures, outlets and switches according to local electrical codes. However, you are not limited to what the floor plan suggests or recommends. As the home owner, you will work out all lighting selections with your builder and electrician. Take some time to review the different types of lighting fixtures you may need to include in your new home.

 

Outdoor Lighting Fixtures: Proper outdoor lighting achieves two goals, safety and aesthetic beauty. Your choices and placement of outdoor lighting fixtures is the most important aspect in creating an outdoor lighting plan. They enhance safety and security, as well as, the outdoor appearance/nighttime curb appeal of your home. For safety and security, use lighting at all doorways including the garage doors, front and rear porches, sliding doors for the deck or walkout basement and any other service doors. Be sure to light pathways such as sidewalks, porches and patios. Some good choices include motion lights and dusk-to-dawn fixtures so you don’t have to remember to turn them on or off. They simply light the way when necessary. For aesthetic appeal, choose lighting fixtures that blend with the architectural style of your home. Strategically place the fixtures to illuminate special exterior features of your home such as the decorative detailing of the façade or a dramatic roofline.

 

Landscape Lighting Fixtures: Just like outdoor lighting, landscape lighting enhances the aesthetic beauty of the home and increases security, but it also highlights the surrounding plantings and shrubbery that dress up the home’s exterior and yard. It will have a major effect on the overall appearance of your home when used to highlight architectural features and scenery. Furthermore, with the growing trend of families entertaining outdoors, it sets the mood and adds to the atmosphere of your outdoor entertainment space from the deck or screened porch to the patio or lanai.

 

Interior Lighting Fixtures: Your interior lighting plan will cover a broad range of fixtures, styles and purposes. Certain rooms in your new house may require very specific types of lighting. For instance, in many homes the kitchen is a hub of activity handling everything from preparing meals and informal dining to serving as workspace, homework and computer center, and a place for casual conversation. Your kitchen lighting must reflect your lifestyle and the activities that take place in this multi-functional space. Consider task lighting positioned above major work areas such as the meal-prep island, sink and built-in computer desk. Use under-cabinet lighting to illuminate countertops. No matter how many different types of lighting fixtures you need, it is necessary to choose functional and safe lighting in the kitchen. The gathering places are another space that you’ll want to consider multiple types of lighting fixtures. Perhaps a fixture with a ceiling fan centered above the great room will illuminate the space and offer circulation. Consider lamps on end tables near the sofas or the recliner for reading. Choose a decorative fixture for illuminating artwork to highlight your favorite painting or the family portrait above the fireplace. There are a multitude of fixtures for illuminating an entire room such as the dining room while providing an elegant look. Consider a decorative chandelier large enough to light the entire room. Add a  dimmer switch here to set the mood for different occasions with various levels of light. Recessed lighting also works well for an entire room, plus it is usually easy to install. It can also be controlled with a dimmer switch depending on the occasion or need for lighting. Bathroom lighting requires a combination of fixtures used in the right places. It is necessary to achieve bright light for styling hair, applying make-up in shaving while not overdoing the brightness as to create a relaxing atmosphere for a soothing soak in the spa tub.  Be sure that pathways, entries and hallways have proper lighting, making it easy for the entire family to move about the home day or night with a sure step. Consider an overhead fixture centrally located in the bedrooms with a bedside lamp on the nightstand and maybe a desk lamp if the children do homework in their bedrooms. The garage, craft room, laundry room and workspaces such as a workshop require bright task lighting. Fluorescent lighting such as shop light fixtures are practical in these spaces. Recessed lighting can be used throughout the home. It creates a dramatic effect in many rooms while being versatile enough to satisfy a variety of needs. Finally, don’t forget mini nightlights in the kids’ rooms, the bathroom, staircases and hallways lighting dark rooms and spaces through the night and offering safety for everyone.

 

Before you begin buying light fixtures, take some time to talk with your builder and electrician. Come up with a comprehensive lighting plan that will accommodate your needs, provide safety and work well with your architectural style and decorating themes.

 

For more information, please review “Light It Up” in The House Plan Shop’s resource section.

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Oct 20 2010

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5 Recycled Home Building Materials – The House Plan Shop

Trex DeckingWith the big push toward green building these days, more and more manufacturers are coming up with ways to use recycled materials to create new building materials. Below are five such items. Talk to your builder about the possibility of incorporating these materials or others like them into the construction of your new home.

 

1.    Aluminum Panels: Not only do aluminum siding and roofing panels use recycled materials, but they can be recycled again at the end of their life cycle. For instance, in 2003, flat-rolled, construction grade aluminum manufactured in the US used 80-85% recycled content. Recycled aluminum requires 95% less energy than virgin metal and reduces water pollution by 97% and air emissions by 95%.

2.    Concrete: Coal burning power plants produce fly ash as a waste product. Typically, the wasted ends up in landfills. But, some earth-friendly concrete manufacturers have found a way to mix it with lime and water creating a usable mixture similar to Portland cement, a major component used in concrete driveways, sidewalks and foundations. This fly ash compound is a superior building material because the coal combustion creates tiny spherical particles that make the mixture smoother and reduce friction during mixing and pouring.

3.    Insulation: Insulation is available from a few different recycled materials. The most commonly known insulation made of recycled materials consists of recycled newspapers that are shredded. Denim, such as old blue jeans, has also been reused and transformed into insulation. Recycled paper insulation is more readily available because newspapers are produced and distributed in mass quantities making it easier to collect and reuse for insulation. 

4.    Trex: This compound is an ideal alternative to wood. It consists of a combination of recycled plastic and reclaimed wood. Plastic shopping bags are the main source of its plastic fibers while sawdust and used shipping pallets make up the wood portion. Trex’s unique combination of plastic and wood fibers creates a wood-like material that is more durable than standard wood. The plastic protects against any damage from moisture and insects. The role of the wood is to prevent UV damage that is common with plastic materials. Trex products include many of the things traditionally made from lumber such as fencing materials, railings, boards for decking and trim products.

5.    Salvaged Wood: Salvaged wood is becoming more popular in new home construction. Any wood taken from a pre-existing construction project, such as an older home or building that is being torn down, and is reused in a new construction project is considered salvaged wood. This can include anything from wooden beams, doors, flooring and decking.  Sometimes old wood, or salvaged wood, offers an advantage in new home construction. In some cases, new wood is not thoroughly dry, which means it may shrink overtime causing the new home or building to shift. Old wood is fully cured and dry. It will not shrink so there is no worry about the building shifting. Another advantage of old wood is its size. Trees used for lumber in the past were larger in girth meaning old trees and old wood have fewer knots. Salvaged wood and salvaged wood products are available through dealers that specialized in reclaimed wood and at some salvage yards.

 

For additional information on green building, check out The House Plan Shop’s resource section.

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Oct 15 2010

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2 Weeks Left for The House Plan Shop’s Facebook Shipping Promotion

Time is running out! Just 2 weeks left for The House Plans Shop’s special Facebook shipping promotion! Visit our Facebook Page and Like Us to find a special shipping promotion code for Facebook friends only.

 

Only until October 31st: The House Plan Shop is offering FREE Ground Shipping or $35.00 OFF Priority or Express Shipping on the initial sale of any blueprint package. Simply enter or mention the special promotional code you find on our Facebook page when you Like our page.

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Oct 13 2010

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Carriage House Plans & Studio Apartments: One-Room Homes

032G-0007 Carriage House PlanFor many, living in a limited space is tough, but most make do with the space they have. However, one-room living is the trickiest of all, and city dwellers, students and seniors face this challenge more often than anyone else. If you are considering a carriage house plan or studio apartment design from The House Plan Shop for a vacation home, rental property, guest suite or hunting retreat, these tips will help you make the most of your one-room living space.

 

Determine how you will use this living space and how you want it to function. Will it be used for everyday living or weekend getaways? Will more than one person live here at a time? Will you need a space for entertaining? Will you need a space for working?

 

Decide what items you will absolutely need in the studio apartment. Consider furniture pieces such as a bed, desk and sofa, as well as appliances and electronics like a computer, TV and microwave.

 

032G-0007 Floor PlanDevise a plan to divide the room into public and private spaces. Depending on how you plan to use the space will determine how much public and private space you will need. Try separating the common areas from the private space using a bookshelf or folding screen as a room divider.

 

Now consider the common space. Can part of the common space serve two purposes? Can the sitting/entertaining area serve as a dining space too? Create zones within the common space. The way you decorate and furnish the room can help designate each area within the common space. A nice light fixture above an area rug can define the entertaining space while a desk and bookshelf combination can designate an office or study area.

 

From this point, the rest is all in the way you arrange, furnish and organize your one-room living space. These pointers will help you finish your space with style, comfort and function.

 

  • Choose multi-functional furniture pieces such as a bench for seating with storage inside or a sleeper sofa for overnight guests.
  • Choose furniture on legs. Being able to see under each piece makes a room feel more open and spacious.032G-0007 Floor Plan
  • Consider space saving furniture pieces and accessories such as a flat screen TV that hangs on a wall or a small desk instead of a large bulky one.
  • Invest in a few big pieces of furniture. Too many small ones make a room feel cluttered.
  • Plan for company. Purchase a few movable seating pieces such as stools or an ottoman that can be moved near the sofa for conversation. And if a sleeper sofa is not in your budget, try an inflatable air mattress.
  • Select storage pieces that fit your lifestyle. Open storage only works if you’re neat and tidy person. Otherwise conceal small items in decorative bins, baskets and boxes and stack them under desks and end tables.
  • For extra storage, go vertical. Bookshelves and wall mounted cubes are essential.
  • Let the amount of space you have dictate how many belongings you own.
  • Keep a tight color palette. Decorate with one color and incorporate different textures through flooring, window treatments, furniture pieces and accents to achieve cohesion.

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Oct 07 2010

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Resources to Help you Create your Dream Man Cave – The House Plan Shop

Following up on last month’s blog post, “Ultimate Man Caves,” The House Plan Shop wants to share a list of resources to help you create your dream man cave. ChangeofAddress.com recently posted a list of 40 websites to help you design the ultimate “guy space” whether you need a quiet place to kick back and relax after a long day of work or a fun space where you can watch the game with the guys without disturbing the rest of the home. You can turn anything into your man cave from the garage or bonus room above it to a space in the basement. It is time to get started! Check out these interesting and fun man cave sites.

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