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Dogtrot House Celebrates the Frugal Elegance of Australian Public Campsites

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A sublimely simple plan informs the Dog Trot House by Dunn & Hillam Architects.

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The brief: to design a holiday home for a family, that would have the informality of a campsite.

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They wanted everything they loved about camping except the need to pack up at the end of every holiday.

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The name comes from the design, houses divided into two free standing structures with an open passageway between to connect them.

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The idea is that the open, shaded passageway in the center is a place a dog can trot on days when it’s hot.

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The dogtrot passageway between the public and the private spaces is shaded by the overhanging roof.

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You can almost smell the hot dry air of the campsite perfumed by Pines and Eucalyptus.

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There is something of the public campsite’s great room in the anonymous materials and deadpan design.

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The simple but hardwearing materials palette includes locally sourced hardwood, fibre cement boards and concrete.

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The lean anonymity of these materials verges on the mundane.

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A no-nonsence big commercial kitchen seats ten easily.

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“The Dogtrot House is a permanent campsite,” say the architects. “It celebrates the frugality and elegance of shelter, it is a house for the carrying out of family life in the elements, it is a house that is everything you need and nothing you didn’t. It is humble, poetic and without pretence.”

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Design Dilemma: 5 Interior Renovations with a Big Payoff

contemporary living room how to tips advice

We’ve talked about exterior renovations that provide a big return on your investment. Replacing tired siding, drafty old windows, garage doors that have seen better days, are all relatively inexpensive ways to dramatically improve the look (and value) of your home.

So what are the best renovations to improve the value and look of the interior of your home? The answers may surprise you, as they do not involve major upscale kitchen remodels, or wiring your home for stereo in every room. Instead, simple very visible projects are the big winner here. Think easy renovations that change your first impression of a home. Because they don’t cost much money, you will easily recoup your cost, versus spending $100,000 on a kitchen remodel that no buyer is willing to pay for.

Quick tip: choose projects that are in keeping with the character of your home, and don’t over-improve far beyond what similar homes in your neighborhood offer. Although upgrading plumbing and electrical work may be essential to the functionality of your home, don’t expect buyers to reward you financially for all that effort. (They already expect the electricity and plumbing to work!) For them, the bonus comes in feeling good in a space, and knowing there is no need to spend any extra time or money on cosmetic work.

Here are 5 winning projects for upgrading your home’s value at a relatively low cost:

 

1). Upgrade the flooring. If you have worn and buckled hardwood floors, have the floors refinished for a big payback. If your home is outfitted with dirty and worn carpeting, consider installing hardwood or tile. If you can’t afford that, at least upgrade the carpeting.

traditional dining room how to tips advice

2. Replace kitchen cabinet fronts.

Believe it or not, a major upscale kitchen remodel is not necessarily a good investment. You’re better off improving the look of your kitchen in very simple ways, such as repainting chipped cabinets or replacing cabinet fronts altogether. Buyers may not be willing to pay for too fancy upgrades, such as wine coolers, or the fanciest, top of the line refrigerator. They will, however, appreciate clean and bright cabinetry that makes a kitchen feel fresh and new.

traditional kitchen how to tips advice

3. Paint the walls.

And speaking of fresh and new, a fresh coat of paint is one of the simplest, most inexpensive projects you can do, but it has a major impact on the look and feel of your home. What color should you choose? While designer colors go in and out of style, almost everyone appreciates a light, bright white.

 

farmhouse bedroom how to tips advice

4. Replace Kitchen Countertops.

No, you don’t have to do a top-to-bottom kitchen remodel. Sometimes, it’s enough to replaced dated or chipped countertops with something a little nicer for a big return on your investment!

contemporary kitchen how to tips advice

 

5. Install New Kitchen Appliances.

It’s one of the simplest things you can do in a kitchen, since it requires no actual work! Replacing old, dated appliances with something new is extremely attractive to home buyers, as it suggests at least a few years of worry-free use. And when new appliances are good-looking as well, they can help an older kitchen feel fresher.

farmhouse kitchen how to tips advice


So you see, renovating your home both for yourself, and profit, can actually be much simpler than you may have thought!

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Floating Pavilion Guest House Suggests Monet Painting

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Wirra Willa is a tiny pavilion guest house that seems to float on the lily pond, creating a scene straight from a Monet painting.

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The tranquil guest house was designed for his father by architect Mathew Woodward in New South Wales, Australia, on an 80-acre former citrus fruit orchard.

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It comprises simply a bedroom at one end, a living room at the other.

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On cold winter nights, the living room offers a toasty fire.

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But the living room floor can slide back and now it is a hot tub room that contrasts its heat with the cold lily pond outside.

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All of the glazing supporting the roof disappears, leaving just a bedroom curtain to appear as the major structural element.

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A breeze catching and gently swaying the curtain becomes part of the architectural design.

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During the day this curtain is slid to the central passageway between the bedroom and the living room over the pond.

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Woodward designed the space as an homage, echoing the Mies van der Rohe ‘floating’ Fansworth House.

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The style of the small structure complements the existing larger residence in place, but pared down to the essentials for peaceful living.

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A walk-in shower is little more than a passageway – that also overlooks the lily pond.

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A lovely space that encourages reflection and repose.

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Nautical Theme for a San Francisco Perch

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Translucent glass is all that comes between the eyes of passers-by and the master bathroom in the middle floor of this San Francisco home above Dolores Park by .

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It is an astonishing feat of privacy maintenance while fully opening a very urban home to the view.

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The translucent glass has a lovely turquoise wash, reflecting the nautical theme of the view.

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Other than the turquoise, the bathroom material palette is limited to a cool veined marble…

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… and a matte charcoal slate, the perfect foil for the white porcelain.

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A nautical theme plays out with circular porthole windows.

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On the top floor of the very citified townhouse, the architects spring a surprise.

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A private stairway up the side of the house leads to the clients’ very own rooftop beach shack!

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Here, simple materials are reminiscent of the rough weathered woods of driftwood and boardwalks.

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Nothing but glass between the lounger and the view!

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Up here, marble is married to a rather more earthy pine for a semi-outdoor barbecue kitchen overlooking a hot tub in the small garden in the back.

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And in the front, a living room perch from which to watch the San Francisco city lights.

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Design Dilemma: 5 Exterior Renovations with a Big Payback

eclectic porch how to tips advice

When many of us renovate our homes, we’re thinking beyond just an improvement in space, functionality and looks for ourselves. We’re also thinking that down the line, when it comes time to sell, there could be a financial payoff as well. Some of us, in fact, decide to spruce up a space, specifically for that reason.

So what are the best renovations if you hope to substantially increase the value of your home? A new pool? A big fancy kitchen? A complete overhaul of the electrical wiring or old plumbing?

The answers may surprise you. According to Realtors® in the 2015 Remodeling Cost vs. Value Report, smaller exterior projects are actually those that provide the best return on the investment. The report is compiled annually in collaboration with Hanley Wood’s Remodeling Magazine and compares changes in home improvement project costs with Realtors®’ perceptions of what those projects contribute to a home’s price at resale.

Here’s where you get the best return on your dollar:

modern entry how to tips advice

1) A Steel Entry Door.

Realtors® say a steel entry door replacement returns the most money, with an estimated 101.8 percent of costs recouped upon resale (compared to an estimated 96.6 percent recoup last year). The steel entry door replacement is consistently the least expensive project in the annual Cost vs. Value Report, costing little more than $1,200 on average and was the only project on this year’s list to recoup more than 100 percent of its cost at resale on a national level.

contemporary patio how to tips advice

2) Stone Veneer.
Manufactured stone veneer on the exterior is a great way to spiff up a home, and nearly always pays back —at 92.2 percent. Also in this category are fiber cement siding (84.3 percent) and vinyl siding replacement (80.7 percent).

Here’s what fiber cement siding looks like:

contemporary exterior how to tips advice

And here vinyl siding — we can see why clean new siding would enhance a home’s value!

traditional exterior how to tips advice

3. Garage Door Replacement.

Because garage doors are often the public “face” of homes in the United States, they make a big impact on curb appeal, as you can see below. A mid-range replacement brings an 88.5 percent return on investment, and an upscale replacement 82.5 percent:

contemporary exterior how to tips advice

And here:

craftsman garage and shed how to tips advice

And here:

modern garage and shed how to tips advice

4. A Wood Deck Addition.

The return on this investment is 80.5 percent, and it’s easy to understand why. A wood deck, in effect, provides a whole other “room” to be enjoyed in good weather. Barbecues, sunning, birthday parties, and dining al fresco all become possibilities.

midcentury deck how to tips advice

And here:

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5. Wood Window Replacement.
Cracking warped single pane windows are one of the most obvious replacement targets with a substantial payback at 78.8 percent. The best thing about this renovation is that it also reduces utility bills, so it’s double payback!

victorian exterior how to tips advice
contemporary dining room how to tips advice

So there you have it. Clearly, renovations with a big payback are those that provide clear curb appeal to your home. And these are not necessarily more expensive structural changes. Basically, anything that dramatically improves the aesthetics of your home is going to provide a huge payback, and not just for your wallet, but for your own enjoyment.