improve curb appeal

How can you make your home stand out?

improve curb appealWhy is curb appeal so hard to get right? Put simply, this elusive phenomenon is about far more than your house. True curb appeal comes from the way your home’s design interacts with and balances its natural surroundings–whether that’s a bright, busy street or a shady wooded lot.

The most luxurious, inviting homes are all designed on a few basic principles. Whether you’re building from scratch or making home improvements, you can use these simple tips to improve curb appeal–and maybe even make your neighbors jealous!

Follow These 4 Design Rules to Improve Your Home’s Curb Appeal

If you’re planning new construction or a custom addition, make sure you keep these two important principles in mind:

1. Treat your whole property as “designed” space. Now, that doesn’t mean that you should tear out everything on your property and start over! Instead, make sure that the new house or addition you’re planning complements the site. The most important rule to keep in mind is balance. If you want lots of square footage on a small lot, you’ll have to get creative to keep your home’s footprint from overwhelming the space around it. Try to think of the natural features of your property, whether it’s sloped or flat, large or small, as assets, and choose a home design that can bring out the best in your lot.

2. Pay special attention to first impressions. The best way to improve curb appeal and make your home inviting is to make your front door or front porch the focal point of building. This doesn’t have to be ostentatious–after all, there’s nothing more cozy than the front door of a cheery cottage. No matter what the size of your building project, ask yourself, “What’s the first thing people will notice about my house when they drive by?” If your answer was “The roof,” or, even worse, “The garage,” you may want to simplify your design to focus on the front door. After all, that’s the first thing your guests will be looking for!

But what if you aren’t building from scratch? If you’re remodeling or making improvements to your property,  the next two rules are for you:

3. Work with what you have . . . Nothing looks lonelier–or less inviting–than a house on a bare lot. Before you start tearing up your front yard in an effort to improve its curb appeal, take stock of the unique features of your property. Remember that large shade trees take many years to grow–cutting them down to make space for a new design could be an irreplaceable loss for your property. Make a list of everything you love about your front yard or the front of your house, and plan your new garden or front walk around them.

4. . . . But don’t be afraid to update when necessary. After all, the biggest reason why a home lacks curb appeal is poor maintenance. The best way to ensure that your home will continue to look cozy and inviting for years to come is to make sure the siding, paint, roof, and windows are all up to date. You might even want to add a garage or another building to your property to keep up with your family’s needs. Another important way to improve curb appeal is to use the best, most high-quality and durable materials and to keep your home well maintained. After that, the rest is a only matter of taste!

For design inspiration for your home, check out our gallery of completed projects. And for a free consultation, contact us at 484-841-8391 or nick@howbuildingservices.com.

Family Room Photos

Don’t let the dust gather on your precious memories: give them the visibility they deserve!

Family Room PhotosBetween school photos, sports team photos, and that obligatory family photo that Nana insists everyone take on Thanksgiving (you know, the one where everyone has the same glazed-over, stuffed-to-the-gills, I-never-want-to-see-a-turkey-again look), it’s hard to pick which photos to display and which photos to tuck into a shoebox and pray they never see the light of day again.

And then there’s the other problem with family room photos: the ones we think are adorable and proudly display to all our children’s cool college friends (look! It’s Jessica with braces and acne!) don’t always get as good of a reception as we might wish. Either they’re ignored, or they gather dust, or the frames start to take over every available flat surface.

Why not try something different? Give your family room photos the place of honor they deserve while maintaining design coherence with a gallery wall. You’ve probably seen them–beautiful, eclectic groupings of framed photos and prints. No two are the same, but therein lies the difficulty.

Let’s narrow down your options by discussing a few guiding principles to keep in mind while turning your old family room photos into an excellent family room photo gallery wall (Lauren Conrad goes more indepth with these concepts; you can visit her site for step-by-step instructions).

Questions To Ask Before Putting Together Your Family Room Photos

Symmetrical vs. Asymmetrical?

When you start putting together your gallery wall, you can do it one of two ways. Start with your largest piece, and then you can either 1) center it, and build out, or 2) put it slightly off-center. The first option is good for those who prefer symmetry or if you have a statement piece that clearly takes the cake. The second option is good for a more spread out, eclectic look, and makes it easier to balance frames of different shapes and sizes.

Fan or Frames?

You’ll want one unifying aspect to tie your gallery wall together. You can choose frames of similar styles and/or colors; or you can find a tie-in color; or, if you’re not opting to focus on family photos, you can choose a certain artist or art movement to tie your gallery together.

Permanent vs. Changeable

While the concept of a gallery wall might feel semi-permanent (unless you feel like knocking new holes in your wall every few months), there are several ways you can keep the gallery without committing. [Warning: this is more for those of you who rearrange your furniture on a seasonal basis–those with an inherent bent to continually design, create, and innovate.] You can use shelves, picture rails, or a corner nook to accomplish the same effect as a gallery wall, while leaving yourself the freedom to rearrange at will, rotate new and old pieces, or even change with the seasons or your moods.

Now that you’ve got the information you need to start your own gallery wall, what are you waiting for?! For more creative tips or information on creating the home of your dreams, visit our blog!

 

Related Tags: Family Room Photos | Gallery Wall

decorating plants

Winter is coming; fight back with some green!

decorating plantsFall is one of the most beautiful times of year: the leaves change color, and the weather cools. With the relief from the summer heat comes a new appreciation of the crisp autumn smells and the coziness to be found inside, around a warm fire or a well-laden table. It’s a pleasant time, but it’s not here to stay.

November will bring rain to strip the trees, and wind to numb our noses. It’s a pretty bleak outlook, but there are ways to keep the green inside! You probably already know that we’re big on going green and living sustainably, but it’s not just about having a small carbon footprint or being able to feel responsible: going green is also about the pleasure that we get from nature. RealSimple Magazine has some wonderful suggestions on how to display decorating plants. Let’s adventure into the beautiful world of interior decorating plants.

5 Practical Ways to Naturally Incorporate Nature By Decorating with Plants

  • Orchids in the Bathroom.
    Phalaenopsis Orchids love humidity and light, so a sunny bathroom is the perfect place for this queen of the plant world. They require minimal upkeep, and come in a wide variety of stunning colors to complement any color scheme.
  • Succulent Still Lifes.
    Still life. Vignette. Call it what you will. Succulents, or any other small cacti, are nearly indestructible (which is good for people like me, who find it nearly impossible to keep green plants alive). A group of succulents arranged on a shelf, table, or windowsill are whimsical and bring a touch of green without being ostentatious or necessitating extensive care. Besides, they’re pretty cute.
  • Topiary Walls
    Need a natural divider? Or did you recently go to Versailles, get inspired by the royal gardens, and now feel frustrated that you have neither the money nor the space to build entire mazes of box hedges and gazebos?Topiary is still an option! Muehlenbeckia are small, lollipop-shaped topiary that you can easily line up in a row to make a natural divider or serve as a classy centerpiece. It’s interior design with plants! Ivy or myrtle also work, but Muehlenbeckia have the advantage of being very low maintenance and not requiring direct sunlight (perfect for the winter months).
  • Need a Lamp? Put a Fern There!
    I once noticed that my mother had a small round table set in front of a windowsill, with two chairs on either side of it, and a lamp on top. But the lamp didn’t turn on! Only later did I find out that the lamp was merely decorative, and that–as there were no plugs in the vicinity–it was destined to stay that way.If you ever get that feeling like you need some kind of focal piece, whether it be on a card table, night-stand, or buffet, why not go with a fern? Ferns are lovely, low-maintenance decorating plants, and can be either stately or fantastic.
  • Trees on wheels
    Ficus trees get a bad rap as far as decorating plants go, so let’s call them by their other name: fig tree. A fig tree makes a lovely addition, fills up corners, and does an admirable job of refreshing the air in a given room (if it’s alive, and not fake). Problem: they can be inconveniently heavy. Solution? Put it on wheels! Not only does it elevate the fig tree, but by splurging on a lovely pot, you end up with a beautiful, practical take on an old classic.

Want more ideas on how to turn your home into the home of your dreams–a family oasis? Visit our blog!

 

Related Tags: Decorating Plants | Going Green

Sustainable Building Materials

Want to go green? The right building materials can make all the difference.

Sustainable Building MaterialsWhat’s the most important thing to consider when you start a home construction project? You might say it’s the design, or even the location. But when it comes to daily life in your home, there’s no question that the most important element is the construction materials themselves–from the foundation to the roof over your head.

A home construction project is one place where sustainable materials and practices can make a huge difference–keeping your family safe and reducing your home’s carbon footprint for years to come.

Today, it’s easy to go green with sustainable building materials that are not only eco-friendly, but safe and energy-efficient. Have you considered these options for your home construction project?

The Top 4 Types of Sustainable Building Materials

  1. Recycled or renewable materials. One of the best ways to make your home more sustainable is to use recycled or sustainable construction materials. Almost every construction material imaginable can be found in a recycled or renewable form today. Even concrete from demolished buildings is commonly recycled, which greatly reduces demolition waste (and, in some cases, even makes the recycled concrete stronger). 

    On the renewable side, look for woods and other products that are sustainably harvested. Sustainably harvested lumber for building can be certified by the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) or the SFI (Sustainable Forestry Initiative), both of which monitor for ecologically safe logging practices. When it comes to flooring and interior paneling, you can try fast-growing renewable options like bamboo and cork instead of non-renewable rainforest hardwoods.

  2. Non-toxic materials. One of the benefits of a green home is that it can reduce your family’s exposure to toxic chemicals that are commonly used in the construction. Ask about paints, finishes, siding, roofing, and flooring that are labeled “low-VOC,” or low in volatile organic compounds. You can also ask about recycled alternatives to fiberglass insulation, which is hazardous to touch or inhale, and which actually loses more heat than recycled materials.
  3. Locally sourced materials. The best sustainable building materials for homes are the ones closest to you. When you use locally sourced materials in your construction project, you’re cutting down on the cost and energy it takes to ship those materials to your building site–which, in the case of lumber or concrete, could be quite a lot! You’ll also be giving back to your home area by supporting the industries in your community or state.
  4. Energy-efficient utilities and appliances. It’s no surprise that up-to-date heating, lighting, and plumbing systems can dramatically reduce the amount of energy your home uses. But today, smart home technology can reduce that energy output even further by monitoring occupancy and shutting down systems when no one is at home, and making water heaters and heating systems more precise. Other basic principles of building design, such as maximizing natural light and preventing heat loss, can also make your home more sustainable for years to come.

Interested in building your own green home? Have more questions about construction with sustainable building materials? Contact How Building Services today at 484-841 -8391 or nick@howbuildingsevices.com for a free consultation!

 

 

perfect kitchen designs

Learn about some of the essentials for a perfect kitchen design.

Whether you are updating your current kitchen or starting from scratch, you probably are paying special attention to your layout and design. These days the kitchen is central to the American home. We ask a lot of our kitchens–we want them to be functional, beautiful, and have a good flow for entertaining. Too much emphasis on any one aspect tends to interfere with the others. Perfect kitchen designs manage to balance all of these factors to create the perfect space for the heart of the home. Here are some tips to obtaining that balance for your dream kitchen design.

 

5 Tips to Designing the Perfect Kitchen

Designing the kitchen of your dreams isn’t easy. Keep these tips in mind as you plan the perfect kitchen layout design.

  1. Remember the Triangle

    There are three basic essentials of basic kitchen function–the refrigerator, the stove, and the sink. There a number of different kitchen layout styles, but it is essential that the triangle be properly maintained. For the perfect kitchen layout the total distance between all three fixtures should never be less than 10 feet or more than 20 feet. Under 10 and working in the kitchen with other people will feel crowded and overwhelming. Over 20 and it will feel like a hike from one to the other. No matter how tempting it is to break of the triangle for aesthetics or convenience–this is not a mistake you want to make.

  2. Plan for Storage and Counter Space

    It is amazing the amount of stuff we cram in our kitchens. From fresh food to dry goods, from blenders to ice cream makers, those cupboards and counter spaces are critical. If you don’t plan sufficiently for storage and counter space, you are likely to find your cupboards jumbled and and your counters cramped. Take advantage of wasted spaces–for example, over the refrigerator is a perfect place to stow seasonal appliances like that beloved ice cream maker.

  3. Great Lighting

    After you put a lot of time, energy, planning, and resources into designing the perfect kitchen it would be a serious shame for it to have poor or insufficient lighting. You will want good lightening to show off your design efforts as well as to give it a pleasant environment. But most importantly, you will need good lighting to work with. You don’t want to be mincing carrots under a dim light or trying to read a recipe in the shadows. Make sure you have pleasant, adequate lighting–both natural and electric.

  4. The Backsplash

    The backsplash may seem like an aesthetic indulgence–and it does look nice–but it actually is functionally important. A lot of moisture, steam, and and messes happen in a kitchen. All of these have the potential to make a mess of the walls behind the sink and counters. A back splash not only protects the walls for a longer lasting investment, but it also makes everyday cleaning much easier. Wiping splatters off of a material like ceramic is much easier than trying to scrub it off of wallpaper or paint. And a back splash also gives an immediate extra bit of class to a kitchen and offers you a little bit more flexibility in design–colors, materials, patterns, etc.

  5. A Quality Ventilation System

    This is a factor which many people probably don’t give a lot of thought to when deciding on their perfect kitchen layout. Ventilation doesn’t really factor into the aesthetic appearance, or functionality, but it does affect the atmosphere. If you don’t want odors from last night’s meal, or the smoke from that burnt toast lingering in your new kitchen indefinitely, then invest in a good ventilation system. A quality ventilation system will actually remove those bad odors and replace them with fresh air. This way the scent of day old salmon and apple pie aren’t the first thing your guests smell when they step through the door.

For more perfect kitchen design ideas, or for help making your dream home a reality, contact How Building Services today for expert advice. Call 484-841-8391 today and make your perfect kitchen design a reality.

Farmhouse Style Decor

How the unique Pennsylvania farmhouse style can add to the beauty of your home.

Farmhouse Style DecorIf you’re passionate about the look and feel of your home, then you’re always on the lookout for different ways, big or small, to decorate. It’s rewarding to find that unique style or little addition that makes all the difference in the world. One of the best ways to add character to your home is to use farmhouse-style decor. Here are some reasons why you should consider using farmhouse-style decor to contribute to the aesthetics of your home:

4 Reasons to Use Farmhouse-Style Decor

Unique: Farmhouse home decorations are a fun and unique way to liven up your home. They are neither overused nor unusual. The farmhouse design style allows you to draw attention to your purposeful home decor.

Character: Farmhouse-style decor adds a lot of character to your place, providing a rustic feel that is bound to foster a wonderful and inviting ambience. It’s no coincidence that farmhouse style decorations provide your house with a unique sense of character. Farmers have a longstanding tradition of being people of honor and character, working tirelessly to produce crops and live up to the family name. Farmhouse decor is an embodiment of that venerable and inspiring mentality.

True-to-home: The best decorations are those that have a history. Not only do farmhouse-style decorations have a long, reputable history attached to them, but they also testify to your location. Farmers have called Pennsylvania home for centuries. The area has a rich history of farming that you can draw upon as you decorate your home.  You can continue this rich tradition with your own home, acknowledging the wonderful traditions that were established in your area.

Farmhouse style decor is not only beautiful and engaging, but historic. It’s a great tribute to farmers and to the area where so many farmhouse designs originated. Farmhouse style decorations make your home a great place to display your artistic excellence.

One of the best ways to utilize the Pennsylvania farmhouse design to complement your home is to build a custom home addition. How Building Services is a local company which builds beautiful, custom home additions. HBS personalizes all of its designs according to your unique preferences. HBS also  seeks to contribute to the unique architecture that has made Pennsylvania so enchanting. Feel free to contact How Building Services at (484) 483-1690.

west chester golf house

Whether it’s a patio or a pool house, quality, attractive pool area landscaping can improve property value and add multi-functional space

Summer is coming.

No, this isn’t the beginning of some type of Game Of Thrones spinoff–it’s actually true. As hard as that may be to believe after a long, drawn-out winter, spring cleaning can now gradually give way to summer projects.

And that means you can dust off those pool area landscaping plans you’ve been dreaming up during the winter months. It’s time to make them a reality.

 

Get Started Early

Once again, summer is drawing near–and having your pool area be occupied by early-stage construction probably isn’t an ideal situation for you. At the same time, you don’t want to have your pool area landscaping become a rush job; you’ll want to take your time to really work out the finer details. For that reason, we recommend beginning the active planning stage as soon as possible.

Consider Your Options

When it comes to poolside landscaping, there’s numerous options to consider. Are you building a new pool? Are you working around a pre-existing pool? Either way, there are numerous project options that you might want to consider for your pool area. Landscaping and hardscaping can dress up the pool area nicely, adding attractive flair and creating a more comfortable atmosphere for poolside relaxation. A patio, similarly, can give the pool area a sharper distinction from the rest of the yard. A detached pool house is yet another popular option, one that can give your pool area flexibility, comfort, and multi-purpose function.

Think Long-Term Value, Think Multi-Functional

One of the great benefits of a detached pool house is that it can supplement your property with not only poolside amenities but multi-functional qualities. A well-constructed pool house adds instant value to your home property and adds numerous functions that you might not immediately think of. These include guest housing, storage space, and entertainment system space, and many more–in addition to the common poolside uses (changing rooms, showers, spa).

Pool area landscaping can transform a drab pool area into an attractive, convenient gathering place for summertime activities, from parties to laid-back relaxation. Contact How Building Services today, and we’ll begin making your wintertime dreams a summertime reality.

Designer Dream Homes

Anyone can achieve the home of their dreams.

Designer Dream HomesMagazines and online media obsess over celebrity homes. These multi-million dollar luxurious mansions, with incredible views and sprawling grounds are beautiful, but seem totally unreachable for regular people. They are the homes of a modern day fairytale, designer dream homes that are reserved for the upper elite.

And at some point everyone imagines what their dream home would look like. As a kid it usually has an enormous pool or a giant game room. When you grow up the dream usually becomes a little more practical, like a house with a spacious kitchen or a luxurious bathroom.

Just because these dream homes seem to be exclusively in the realm of the rich and famous doesn’t mean you have to give up on having your designer dream home. How Building Services can help you combine luxury and practicality so that you can have a designer luxury home, just like the celebrities.

Achieve Your Designer Dream Home with HOW

There are a few staples of designer homes that you can add to your home design to make it the perfect dream home. You want it to be unique, spacious, and relaxing: the perfect place to both entertain guests and refresh after a long day at work. Here are three ways that How Building Services can transform your house into a designer dream home by making it unique, spacious, and relaxing.

Unique. Turn your kitchen into the fabulous gathering place you’ve always dreamed of by adding custom cabinetry, lighting, and countertops, transforming it from ordinary to extraordinary.

Spacious. Incorporate detached space, these spaces can solve your storage needs as well as offer fun entertainment places.

Relaxing. Design calming bathrooms. Your dream bathroom is a place to rest and rejuvenate, achieve this by adding radiant heating floors, soaking tubs, and rainfall showerheads.

Whatever you imagine your dream home to look like, these three design suggestions will help transform your home into your designer dream home. How Building Services will be with you throughout the process, from design through construction we’re there to guide you so that achieving your dream home is simple and stress free. Learn more about us here or call (484) 483-1690. You don’t need to be super rich and famous in order to have the home of your dreams.

 

Related Tags: Designer Dream Homes | Designer Dream Home

Decorating Plants

Bring the beauty of your garden into the cool of your home.

Decorating PlantsGardens are beautiful. They provide an opportunity to work with wonderful colors, interesting spaces, and fresh aromas. But the brilliance and beauty of a well-designed garden does not have to stay outside. In fact, you can add volumes to your decor by bringing decorating plants inside your home. Also, you can enjoy the great outdoors, without even walking outside!

Before you bring in some plants, it’s good to step back, and examine and visualize the design of your house and the decor that you enjoy. Take note of the spacing of your furniture, the color of your walls, the design of the rooms and the overall vibe that you want your house to have. In light of these factors, imagine what plants you would like and where you would like them. Ask yourself whether certain plants capture the ambience of your home and if they will complement your color scheme.

Sprucing up your home with decorating plants is addictive, so don’t let your love for green get out of hand! Make sure that you do not use so many plants that you overcrowd your home. Properly situate the decorating plants so that the space feels roomy and comfortable without appearing either barren or cluttered. The art of decorating your home with plants requires a delicate aesthetic touch.

Which Decorating Plants Should I Use?

Now that we’ve discussed the general guidelines for decorating with plants, let’s look at some specifics. A fun, unique way to use decorating plants in your home is to use hanging plants. While hanging plants may not be the best option, since they don’t always compliment a room, you can drape them over a wall to add texture to your surroundings. If hanging plants work well with the style and feel of your home, then they make for some staggeringly elegant decorations.

Palm trees and succulents can be wonderful additions, depending on the time of year. Palm trees are wonderful to have around during the winter, since they release moisture and are able to offset the cold dryness that is so prevalent during winter time. Succulents are nice in the summer since they absorb and retain water and, as a result, don’t contribute to the humidity of summer days.

Sometimes it’s best to go with something that’s understated and simple: vegetables. This one may be a surprise, since vegetables aren’t the first things that come to mind when brainstorming about indoor plants decoration ideas. But vegetables can provide a great color scheme and add a nice, earthy look to the room. And, unlike most decorations, they’re nutritious and tasty, as well.

If you are looking to make your home even more beautiful, then you might want to consider renovating, remodeling, or building additions to your home. If so, contact How Building Services for reliable and personalized services that cater to your needs and preferences at (484) 483-1690.

 

Related Tags: Decorating Plants | Plant Decorating

custom bath remodeling

Beauty and functionality seamlessly create the oasis of your dreams.

custom bath remodeling

Remember those commercials for small bath remodels? You’d see a nasty, moldy bathtub or shower being replaced with a large, white unit and ta-da! Just like that, the nasty bathroom was transformed into a beautiful one! Let’s be clear: that’s not what we’re talking about in this blog. In this blog, custom bath remodeling is all about updating with beauty and functionality; it’s about creating the oasis of your dreams.

Continue reading “Top 4 Must-Haves For Any Custom Bath Remodel” »