The hardest- working room in your home often presents the most storage challenges, but also the most storage opportunities.
A Better Home
“A Better Home” articles feature great home tips in the Home & Living section of the Virginian Pilot Online. Look for new articles posted each month.
Ever since homes started getting smarter, “smart” has referred to rapidly evolving technological options for controlling virtually all of the systems in your home. Who thought, even five years ago, that we would be talking to an inanimate object named Alexa – and she would respond?
At its simplest, a “smart” product is one with an internet connection (in order to receive commands and software updates) that you can control with your phone or tablet or through a central hub (automation controller or bridge). These devices perform at least one of three functions: They sense, process and/or respond.
Building or remodeling a home is usually based on space needs and aesthetics. One of the most public decisions regarding appearance is surely your choice of siding material. But I encourage you to also consider other factors when choosing this all-important material, especially factors like protection, durability and, realistically, how willing you are to maintain it. Also, if you have a homeowners association, your selection may require its approval. Following are more specific considerations, alphabetized by type of material:
Proper insulation for our homes is an important cost, comfort and ecological consideration, regardless of the outdoor temperatures. But we tend to think more about insulation as the mercury starts to drop and frigid winds pick up. If you are building, remodeling or simply thinking of swapping out existing insulation in those areas of your home that are accessible, you will want to keep reading.
When we think of air conditioning, we think of cooling our home during our hot, humid summers here in Hampton Roads. It’s interesting to note that cooling has been around in one form or another for thousands of years. Early civilizations such as the Romans and others circulated water from their water sources within the walls of their buildings in addition to several other methods to help cool their buildings. Needless to say, modern air conditioning has been one of the major advances in science and technology that has allowed us to enjoy the comforts of living in our modern world.
The term mudroom is a bit of a misnomer nowadays because, while these hardworking entry spaces see a lot of action, mud is seldom part of the picture.
An attractive front entrance to your home creates a first impression not unlike a smile: It is welcoming and revealing of what’s inside.
Sometimes, small, DIY-type solutions are all that are needed to spiff up this focal point of your home’s facade, but sometimes a more involved, contractor-driven solution is desired. Here we offer a few tips on both, as well as considerations for the front door itself.
If you loved running through the sprinkler as a kid, the kid in you is likely to find the same pleasure in an outdoor shower. Or if you longingly associate showering outdoors with watching the sun set over the sound and savoring a book during an afternoon storm from the cocoon of a screened porch—in other words, vacation—we can help extend that off-duty relaxed feeling long after the sunburn fades.
Don’t have a pool or live at the beach? No worries? The chlorine-saturated and sand-coated no longer have exclusive rights. If you exercise outdoors, do lawn work, have dogs to bathe, or simply want to feel a little freer and more in touch with the natural world, alfresco showering may be perfect for you. And there is an outdoor shower for every budget and every style.
An outdoor shower can be as simple as a garden hose run between a spigot and a showerhead fixture. And there are plenty of DIY models on the market. But if your sights are set a bit higher, here are a few tips to keep in mind:
If warming weather has you fantasizing about the ultimate in backyard pools and spas, before you jump into the deep end, we have compiled a list of considerations to both help you make a splash and prevent you from getting soaked. Though any licensed pool contractor or landscape architect can help prospective pool owners wade through the design and installation process, we encourage you to inform yourself about some of the basics, both practical and aesthetic. As you wade in, just think “S-L-A-M,” as in your beautiful backyard retreat will be a slam dunk.
Read more »
Those of us who reside in Coastal Virginia are fortunate to enjoy three growing seasons, which translates to three seasons of cooking and dining outdoors. A grill and a prefabricated portable food prep station are just about all it takes. However, if you covet a more custom kitchen, there are at least seven S’s to consider.