On The Level - The Home Improvement Blog
About our bloggers
Contact our bloggers

Modern Designs for Modern Families

Chances are, if you are about to purchase a home, you have for the most part been viewing variations on the same traditional interior layout that has been used throughout the last half century. Unless you are buying or designing a custom home, you are most likely looking at a plan designed for the average American nuclear family: a living room, dining room, den, kitchen, 2-3 baths, one master bedroom and 2-3 additional bedrooms. This basic plan has served families well for many generations, but as we move solidly into the 21st century, these designs are being called into question by contemporary home builders.

American families have become more diverse and lifestyles have changed. People are living longer, having fewer or no children and an increasing number of men and women are choosing to remain single. With these shifts in lifestyle and concomitant needs comes a necessary rethinking of traditional building plans. The following trends in home designed presented on BuilderOnline.com both illustrate and reflect the changing lives of families all over the U.S.

The concept of two master suites is growing and it really is a simple way to add comfort and luxury to even the most modest home. It can be wonderfully practical for in-laws or aging parents joining the household and a generous offering to guests visiting from out of town. It can also be a must-have for two adult friends or relatives choosing to share a home. View details and plan.

Second or third marriages usually come with additional children - either living with or frequently visiting the home. Oftentimes there can be a wide range of ages and this can pose a challenge when it comes to privacy, comfort and functionality. One fabulous home, just under 3,000 sq. ft, features a third-story loft space (essentially a modern, finished attic). This space can act as a sanctuary or work area for older children who may be job-seeking or studying for academic exams. Alternately it can become a remote play area for younger children, keeping noise and clutter contained to a separate, private space. It also features bedrooms in close proximity to the master bedroom for those smaller children needing a closer eye.View details and plan.

A beautiful, one-bedroom Craftsman home like the one featured on Builderonline.com celebrates the child-free lifestyle with expansive, open space, large kitchens for entertaining and rooms built with libraries, offices or sanctuaries in mind. There is a "flex" room for when an extra bedroom is needed, but this 1778 sq. ft. house is more about raising a glass than raising a family. View details and plan.

These thoughtful designs should be considered when buying or renovating a home not only as an accommodation for your specific needs, but as a wise investment. The need for bold, unique alternatives to the status quo is rising and this could also mean adding significant resale value to your home should you choose to move in the future.

Dominant Design Trends for 2015 Honored

In June, the Gold Nugget Awards - the nations largest and most prestigious awards in the areas of design, planning and development - held its 52nd annual gala bash in San Diego, California. Builders, Architects and Land Planners from around the globe were recognized for their exceptional concepts, unique visions and flawless execution of design and development.

The folks that comprise the recognizing body of the Gold Nugget awards emphasize not only aesthetic talent and technical skill, but place high value on the ways in which these home and land designs positively impact our environment, our communities and ourselves.

This year, the awards within the U.S. leaned heavily toward the overall themes of efficiency, sustainability, ambiance and understated elegance. While our European counterparts favored opulence, the U.S. - especially in the west - was feeling a little more zen. With trends that bring outdoor spaces - and the transitional space between indoor and outdoor - into the forefront, it is clear that many Americans are embracing (arguably craving) the natural world like never before. Repurposed materials are becoming commonplace and energy efficiency and sustainability, almost a market mandate.

According to Builderonline.com - Gold Nugget's chief sponsor - the prominent trends of 2015 are:

• Integrated, open designs, unexpected materials, sophisticated lighting and striking, thoughtful details.

• Emphasizing and formalizing outdoor space while minimizing indoor space. Seamless, innovative transition areas like collapsible, floor-to-ceiling doors were the types of "space shifting" designs that were given great praise.

• Along a more practical vein, the trend of creating multi-functional spaces was recognized as a forward-thinking approach to not only solving a space crunch, but to help move folks away from designating spaces in the home that go largely unused. Outfitting a formal dining room to double as a home office solves the problem of working at the kitchen table or in the basement, but also puts to use a space that is perhaps only inhabited three or four times per year.

• Minimalism: Clean lines and single focal points within rooms (a bathtub, for example) were the indoor trends that caught the attention of the judges.

• Sustainability. It appears these days that no matter how innovative or captivating a home or land design may be, it is considered clumsy and irresponsible if not executed in an earth-friendly, efficient and sustainable way. That's very good news for the environment, but also good news for the homeowner. Soon will be gone, the days of energy-gouging appliances, inefficient heating/cooling systems and slipshod construction.

A wonderful slideshow of the winners is up for viewing on builderonline.com and a list of all the winners in all categories (single/multi-family, custom, mixed-use and commercial), can be found directly on the .

Shot of Casa Batllo facade. Photo credit Tim Weston.

A Trip to Casa Batllo

A friend of mine just got back from a few weeks of travel in Spain. Of the many sites he visited, Casa Batlló in Barcelona stood out as one of the most interesting and unusual.

Known locally as Casa dells osseous (House of Bones), the home was restored by designer Antoni Gaudí and designed to omit any straight lines whatsoever. The result is curvaceous, indeed.

It looks like the type of place a Dr. Seuss character might call home. There's a touch of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory to it, too.

Check out the official Casa Batlló website for more images of this fascinating structure.

Has anyone visited the home? What was the best part of the house in your opinion?

The Round House in all its glory.

Rotating Round House | Designer Homes

How would you like to live in a house that rotates?

An architectural beauty sited on four acres in Wilton, Connecticut, this "Round House" was designed by architect Richard T. Foster to "merge the open interior living space with the property's stunning environment." Mission accomplished, I'd say.

The best part about the Round House is the fact that it can rotate at the push of the button, giving the stationary (and patient) occupant a 360 view of the great outdoors.

Recent renovations upgraded the home's lighting system, floors, millwork and baths.

Take a look at the agent's website for more information. Or to make an offer on the $1,750,000 home.

You'll also want to take a look at this video which shows the rotating home in action.

Photo courtesy of Marcin Wichary.

This Old Narrow House

How much would you pay for a home 9 1/2 feet wide and 42 feet long? Well, the listing price is $2.7 million for a 990-square foot home billed as the narrowest house in New York City. We'll see if they get it. According to my rough calculation, that's over $2,700 per square foot.

The house does have some history, built in 1873, it has been the home of the anthropologist Margaret Mead and the poet Edna St. Vincent Millay. The original builder obviously had a sense of humor: The address is 75 1/2 Bedford Street.
Any takers?

The home also features an amazing view of the Newport Bridge. Photo courtesy of pshutterbug.

The Personal Price of a DIY

One thing I've learned over the years is remodeling a home can put a major strain on your marriage - the bigger the project, the bigger the strain. That's why it was no surprise to read that the owner of Clingstone Mansion in Jamestown, RI burned through two marriages in the course of remodeling the unique home since purchasing it in 1961.

The home, in its finished form, is spectacular. It sits on a narrow rock in Narragansett Bay, accessible only by boat and offering panoramic views of the water from its 65 windows (see the slideshow).

However, when Henry Wood, a Boston area architect purchased the home, it was a "roofless, windowless, floorless, powerless, waterless house." Through the hard work and effort of his family, friends, and volunteers, it is now a beautiful 23-room, three story eco-mansion that collects rainwater in a 3,000 gallon cistern, heats it with solar panels, and generates electricity with a wind turbine.

Although the finished product is magnificent, the upkeep is still a tremendous task. Maybe he should have read our article on Surviving Your Remodel. What do you think, is the home worth the personal cost? What's the biggest fight you've had with your spouse over remodeling?

Photo courtesy of Maison IDEKIT Home.

Shipping Containers Home

How would you like to live in shipping containers? Might sound crazy, but the house pictured is just that -- seven recycled steel shipping containers, recycled to create one eco-friendly home. Bernard Morin and Joyce Labelle, an architect and his wife in Ste. Adele, Quebec, built this 3,000 square foot home for only $175,000 -- saving them about $225,000. And now Morin hopes to make a business out of the design. The home, built in a Cubist style to accommodate the sloping setting, is resistant to rust, mold, termites and fire.
Is this the wave of the future? Would you buy one?

Next Page

About  | FAQ  | Contact  | Sitemap  | Privacy Policy  | Terms of Use  | Help

© 2017 Renovate Your World LLC