There’s no denying it. Climate change is here. And as the reality of larger and more intense storms sinks in, smart homeowners, particularly those along the southern coast, are looking for ways to make their homes more secure when the inevitable hits. One of the best solutions is also the simplest — impact windows — boasting the ability to stand up to anything Hurricanes Arthur, Sandy, Tom, Dick or Harry, can dish out.
Here’s a quick primer on what impact windows are, and how they can be an essential measure to protecting your home if you happen to live in a hurricane zone:
What are impact windows?
Impact windows (sometimes referred to as “hurricane windows”) are made with “impact resistant glass” comprised of two glass sheets sandwiching an exceptionally strong polymer interior layer. This “interlayer” means the glass won’t break into dangerous shards when hit. Instead, the glass, even if cracked, stays together, eliminating the need for protective storm shutters. (A huge time saver for anyone who has spent hours mounting storm shutters or boarding up windows). Impact resistant glass can withstand the equivalent impact of a 2×4 travelling at 50 feet per second, which also means it’s great protection against your neighbor’s rock-throwing kids!
Do impact windows have benefits beyond storms?
Yes! This type of window helps prevent forced entry in a home as the inner layer is not easily penetrated, even if the glass is shattered. It can be a great option for those who are concerned with home security but who don’t want to mount unsightly bars. In addition, many brands of impact windows are designed with energy efficiency in mind. The double pane insulates the inside temperature from the outside, reducing harmful UV rays, external noise, and your air-conditioning bill. You can’t ask more than that from a couple of sheets of glass. Another fantastic benefit of impact windows is the added value to your property, and a possible reduction in hefty insurance premiums.
What about style?
Like orthopedic shoes and compression hosiery, you’d imagine that anything so practical would also have to be ugly. That’s another great feature of impact windows. It can be just as beautiful and elegant as any other type of window. Check out these beauties from Vico Windows Inc, based in South Florida.
Impact windows can be ordered in any finish or architectural style you desire. They come not only as windows, but as doors. The door below was also done by Vico Windows.
So if you’re a coastal dweller and concerned about increasing storm activity, it makes all the sense in the world to check into impact windows. While they cannot completely remove the danger and damage from the next tropical storm or hurricane, they can help minimize potential damage and help you breathe a little easier. And between storms, you’ll enjoy UV resistant glass that provides enough insulation to keep your home cooler during hot summers. Now that’s a bargain.
Can small space living — let’s say less than 600 square feet — ever avoid that “little box” feeling? We think we’ve found a small condo that does just that. Instead of feeling like a sterile hotel room, this apartment in San Francisco’s Buena Vista Park area manages to have all the eclectic interest of a grand Victorian, in just a fraction of the space. The condo is in what used to be a 215-bed hospital which was converted to condominiums in 1986. Interior designer Robert Holgate moved into the one bedroom space with his little dog, Buddy and transformed a tiny space that might have felt confining if it had been left too minimalistic. Instead the designer opted for a rich, layered, well-traveled look that gives viewers plenty to look at and explore. Take a look:
Above, Holgate removed the wall between the kitchen and the living room, adding an eat-in bar between the spaces. The room feels vibrant and alive, thanks to some mid-century modern furniture pieces mixed with patterned tribal rugs from all over the world and striking, tasseled pendant lights.
The artwork is a major draw in this apartment, as are furniture pieces that are kept lightweight, to prevent an overstuffed, heavy look. Holgate says that flexibility was key to his choices. The demilune console unfolds to become a circular table and extra seating for dinner guests. The Knoll table and dining chairs, original Eon seats from Seattle’s Space Needle, are lightweight, low profile and easy to move.
Here are a couple of views of the kitchen, which combine vintage pieces with brand new cabinetry.
Here’s another kitchen view:
Here’s a bedroom view:
Another living room view:
And despite the tight spaces, everything has a place. Here the hallway has become a laundry room and closet, complete with shoe storage.
So what’s the key to this layered look which manages to add a surprising sense of depth to a very small space?
- Keep furniture, lightweight, low-profile and flexible.
- Mix furniture styles with freedom. The furniture should maintain a relationship by scale, but not necessarily period.
- Indulge in lots of artwork. Holgate was as free in mixing artwork (graphic works, with photography, vintage posters, wall sculpture and Asian prints) as he was in mixing furniture, which lends the room a sense of timelessness.
- Add area rugs. Patterned, tribal area rugs help make the space feel worldly and cozy.
- Get creative with lighting. Overhead lights and lamps are an opportunity to add drama and interest.
- Stay organized. Although this apartment has a lot of “stuff” in it, it never feels “overstuffed.” That’s because there is a sense of an edited collection in which objects are not allowed to pile up in corners. Curios and objects are given a place of honor on the bookshelf or on the wall in carefully composed gallery walls.
The lesson here is that small doesn’t have to mean temporary, sterile or boring. And an eclectic, layered look doesn’t have to look cluttered , either!
Travertine pavers are classic at poolside or on patios, where the stone’s textured surface provides a firm non-slip grip for those with wet feet. But what works outside also works inside, and increasingly homeowners are opting for travertine indoors, not only in places like bathrooms, where a textured tile comes in handy, but also in hallways, entryways, kitchens and dens. Why is travertine gaining popularity indoors? Simply, the stone exudes elegant timelessness. The color is warm and soft, the texture a bit rough, and the overall feeling is one of luxurious durability. Yes, marble is nice, but it’s overdone. Travertine, on the other hand, provides that same sense of opulence but in an understated —and unexpected —way.
Because of its connotation of affluence and refinement, many homeowners use travertine tile as a wall cladding, particularly in areas like bathrooms. Unlike marble, which is cool and smooth to the touch, travertine’s texture and creamy colors, suggest warmth. It’s rock hard permanence and soft coziness at one and the same time.
The bathroom below, like the one above, also utilizes travertine as a shower surround and floor. With any other material, a large shower stall like this might have felt clinical, but travertine has a way of softening the hard edges.
You’ll often see travertine used both as wall cladding and flooring in entryways, hallways and sometimes on staircases. There are two reasons for this. One, it is a hard-wearing stone that withstands foot traffic well. In fact, the stones were used in public spaces in ancient Rome. (And more than two thousand years later, they’re still in place, by the way.) But travertine also suggests sumptuous, refined splendor precisely because travertine tiles can be quite expensive. For that reason, they can be a great choice in very public areas of the home where it’s nice to show off a little. Below, the travertine tile wall cladding and flooring convey a sense of extravagant sophistication. These homeowners also might have opted for travertine stair treads, a perfect choice for a place where footing needs to be secure.
Travertine tiles are great for kitchens because they tend not to be as slippery as other types of stone. The creamy hues of the travertine in the kitchen below, really plays well with the cream tones of the cabinetry. This is a style of kitchen that will never go out of style.
But travertine, in a different color, can also hold its own in modern kitchens, as you can see below. A gray travertine looks just right in the sleek Eurostyle kitchen below.
If you opt for this stone, you’ll find that contractors love to work with the stuff, since it can easily be cut to fit into nooks and crannies, making it perfect for small and oddly-shaped spaces.
Below, another modern kitchen uses travertine successfully.
Are you interested in learning more about travertine for your next indoor remodeling project? Check out www.travertineinfo.com for information on installation, maintenance, design ideas, advice, as well as the pros and cons and history of this beautiful and elegant material.
An almost invisible house that seems to disappear into the sky represents an increasingly typical new Japanese design vernacular, building on ancient traditions.
This one is from mA-style Architects.
A courtyard entirely surrounds the house, distilling nature into a controlled artifice that plays out light and shadow on the surrounding walls.
The surrounding wall is suspended about two feet above ground.
Rough rocks transit under the surrounding suspended wall, blur the boundary from both sides.
Very controlled naturescapes are very engrained in Japanese architecture.
A long tradition of minimalist interiors have a peculiarly Japanese quality of calm.
Sliding panel doors to access nature are a traditional intervention moderating the transition between the indoors and outdoors.
But these new walled off courtyard houses update these Japanese traditions to find a way to bring composure in a frantic and congested modern world.
By surrounding the house with daylight inside its walled enclosure, composure is reached.
With daylight on both sides, the kitchen and living space feels abundant and livable.
Is the bathroom outdoors?
The lighting suggests so, as does the encounter with real, uncompromising nature in these large rocks extending further out than than the wall.
Large rocks continuing beneath the hanging wall create the sense that you are outdoors.
As does a glass roof above the sink – giving you the sense of leaving the main house roof.
Indeed, a closeup of the intriguing bathroom section shows that the sink is up against the perimeter wall.
Viewed from the minimal kitchen, it feels outside.
A table against the perimeter (right) off the tatami mat sleeping room – which gets rolled up during the day – is also a daytime study off the living room.
Although the design solution looks super modern, it actually builds on ancient Japanese traditions.
This new form of Japanese architecture increasingly takes account of the extremes of congested living, and finds resolution by retreating behind a blank wall.
But by suspending the wall, they emlarge the apparent space within, so instead of feeling claustrophobic, the walled space is quite pleasant.
Visit a few new kitchen remodels these days and you’ll quickly notice they have one thing in common: granite countertops. In fact, the look, which you’ll see everywhere from luxury model homes to modest rentals and mobile homes, has become so ubiquitous that it’s also become, frankly, boring. So if you’re about to remodel your kitchen and you’re looking for a look that is a little less run-of-the-mill, we’ve got a suggestion for you. Try glass!
Check out how great glass countertops look in two kitchens, above and below, by CGD Glass Countertops. The first glass countertop incorporates an opaque, frosted look. It is sleekly minimal, extremely elegant, and it makes a statement without looking desperate. The second glass kitchen countertop, below, uses more texture and sheen for a splashier look, suggestive of water. A glass backsplash lends added punch.
Glass has a lot of advantages compared to many other materials. It’s easy to maintain, is not porous, is hygenic, and stain resistant too! That means, unlike a porous stone like marble and granite that needs to be resealed from time to time, you’ll never have to worry about wine stains, tomato sauce or water marks. And though you might think of glass as a delicate material prone to cracks, chips and breaking, it turns out that glass is highly durable, equivalent to the strength of marble and granite. And if, by chance, you should accidentally sit a hot pan on your counter, you won’t have to worry about scorching, burning, or melting. The only other product that compares in durability is quartz. And here’s another major plus: glass kitchen countertops are easy to customize. For example, CGD Glass Countertops allows you to choose between glass types (aqua clear glass or ultra clear glass) as well as nearly a dozen types of texture (sandstorm, pixel, linear, to name a few) and nearly 50 different colors. You can often get a more varied look with glass than you could get with stone. Below, see two examples. The first appears to be “Sky Blue” in a “Melting Ice” finish, which is backlit for a little more drama.
The second look is a very smooth and polished and appears to be back painted Dark Beige, with nearly a metallic look:
The amount of variation in looks is pretty amazing, isn’t it? And just because we’ve only looked at kitchens so far, don’t think that glass countertops are limited to the kitchen. You can use them on any counter, from kitchen islands, bars and tables, to bathrooms. Below are two bathroom looks. The first, a textured green glass is suggestive of a refreshing dip in Caribbean waters, not a bad way to be greeted every morning!
And below, the turquoise blue of this glass bathroom countertop is like taking a dip in a pool!
Finally, there’s another major advantage to glass: Unlike granite and marble, which involves carving a limited resource out of the earth, glass is a recyclable, sustainable material. If you should ever change your countertop, you can take satisfaction in knowing that it will not be headed to a landfill. So not only will a glass countertop help you stand out from the crowd, but you can also feel good about doing your part for the planet. That makes glass a “clear” winner!