Tag Archives: architectural design

LIFEhouse Highlights Advantages of Universal Design

Kitchen offers many lighting levels

In our last post, we described some of the more common ways in which many Americans face daily physical difficulties. Now we’ll show you a few of the aspects of Universal Design that can make home living much easier for millions of people. Newport Cove’s LIFEhouse, located on our waterfront development on the Chain O’ Lakes and currently open for public viewing, contains dozens of features like these:- Multiple layers of light, especially in active areas like the kitchen. This means that, in addition to overhead lighting, there are lights under cabinets, shelves, etc., giving those with low vision better ability to see what they’re doing. The LIFEhouse has seven different kinds of lighting in its kitchen.

LIFEhouse kitchen and hearth room

- Another improvement on the visual aspect of a home, this time with regard to safety, is a combination of simple, common-sense improvements to stairways. Falling down the stairs is the most frequent household accident, and can be extremely dangerous. To help prevent falls, the undersides of stairway railings are equipped with small lights which are activated by motion sensors any time a person approaches. Additionally, the stair treads themselves are colored in two alternating tones, making it easier to distinguish each edge.

- What if going up or down stairs at all becomes difficult? The natural response for most people would be, “Install an elevator.” The LIFEhouse already has one.  But, elevators are expensive, and most houses aren’t built with the potential for such a major renovation in mind. Good planning solves that problem: When designing a home, stack closets on each floor directly above and below one another, so that a natural space for an elevator shaft already exists. Then, should the need arise, a system can be installed with little change to the structure of the building itself.
- Rather than installing traditional round doorknobs, levers are used instead, allowing those with muscle weakness, arthritis or a physically damaged hand to easily open doors.
- Wiring for audio systems that better distribute the sounds made by electronic equipment are built in for those with hearing difficulties.
Those are just a few of the ideas that go into Universal Design, turning a home into something that works with its owner. Visit the LIFEhouse at Newport Cove to see more. It is open noon to 4:30 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays or by appointment. Call 847.726.2727.

Universal Design House Makes Life Easier

Most houses are built for people who are healthy, people with good vision, great hearing and four working limbs. But how many of us in the course of our lives experience some sort of physical problem – a broken leg, bad eyesight or worse? A new trend in home building is addressing these issues, working to create homes that serve a greater number of people for a longer period of time. Architects have labeled this sort of planning Universal Design.

LIFEhouse kitchen and hearth room

 Newport Cove recently opened a home that is an example of Universal Design. The Newport Cove LIFEhouse offers a number of features which make a house more livable, yet do not detract from a pleasant, homelike environment.  The LIFEhouse is a collaboration between custom builder New American Homes and the Center for Inclusive Design and Environmental Access (IDeA Center), University at Buffalo – State University of New York.

When people think of living in “accessible” housing, images of wheelchairs and false limbs come to mind. But many of us suffer from physical impairments that are not as obvious. According to research that went into the Americans with Disabilities Act, several of the most common impairments are things that affect everyday life, even though they have little to no outward signs. Here are a few examples:- Bad vision, 2.8 percent of all ADA claims: At times this can mean nothing more than slightly blurry vision that’s easily corrected with glasses or contacts. But it can also mean poor peripheral vision, or a limited ability to see anything that’s dimly lit.

- Hearing impairment, 3 percent of all ADA claims: In addition to complete deafness, reduced hearing or imbalanced hearing, when one ear performs better than the other, is a problem for millions.
- Back/spinal injury, 19.1 percent of ADA claims: While paralysis is included in this category, so are many non-paralyzing injuries, including damage to the muscles of the back.
In our next post, we’ll show you some of the ways that Universal Design will revolutionize the way you live in your home.

Benjamin Moore “Affinity” Color: A Shade of Genius

Hve you ever spent hours trying to coordinate point colors?  We have!  But now, Benjami Moore has come up with a great idea: the Affinity Color Collectives.  It is a sophisticated palette of 144 harmonius hues. Every color in this full rainbow of colors, harmonizes with every other color. So, you can paintthe kitchen “terra bella” and the dining room”seedling” and the master bedroom “serenata” and know that they won’t clash.  Very cool.  Creative genius at work!

Many of the colors would look great in a cottage or coastal-style home, like the ones we are building at Newport Cove, our waterfront development overlooking Bluff Lake, one of the lakes in the Chain O’ Lakes.  Newport Cove combines a vacation lifestyle – boating, fishing, water sports - with a year-round or weekend home – your choice!

A Home For All Ages

New American Homes’ LIFEhouse™, opening soon in our waterfront development on the Chain O’ Lakes, is a home for the ages. Designed to be especially safe for those under six, over 60 and everywhere in between, the LIFEhouse™ offers features that make everyday living a little easier and accommodate more people for a longer time. We call it “a home for ALL of your life.”

A few photos illustrate what we mean:

The exterior of the LIFEhouse™ is a charming cottage. Tucked into the landscape and front porch design is an inobtrustive bricked ramp, ready to accommodate those who might have issues with steps. Another plus is that the ramp makes moving things in and out of the house easier. (The front door is 42 inches wide; there is no “step up” at this door.)

The kitchen is a contemporary, trendy design, yet it can be completely accessible. Note the easy-access appliances -  the dishwasher, oven, refrigerator (as well as the microwave and warming drawer) are all within reach whether a person is sitting or standing.  The space is exceptionally well-lit with over-cabinet, under-cabinet, ceiling, pendant and natural lighting.

The tech center, tucked into a hallway, is a great space for paying bills or playing computer games.  It’s an ideal spot for adults and children – away from the hustle and bustle, but in sight of the main living areas.

In a secondary bath, two vanity levels make life easier for children and adults, standing or sitting.  A “spa” bench next to the vanity is set across from the shower, so one can sit there to meditate or dry off!
Built in collaboration with the Center for Inclusive Design and Environmental Access (IDEA Center) at the State University of New York, the LIFEhouse™ is a living laboratory of a safer home that is more user-friendly to a wider range of people.
It makes sense to design “accessibility” into every home, but – too often – this means an institutional feel. The goal of theLIFEhouse™ is to provide an attractive, quiet, upbeat, yet easier-to-live-in home.

Some Colors Sell

If you want to change your lifestyle (maybe move to a boating community like Newport Cove, on the Chain O’ Lakes near Antioch, IL), you may need to sell the house you live in now.  Sales experts know that a fresh coat of paint and the right colors help sell a home.  According to an industry survey, the right paint job can sell your home faster and for a better price (more than the cost of the paint, if you do it yourself).  And, no, you should NOT paint the walls white. . .

To Get the “Look,” Avoid These Mistakes

Want a fresh look for your home, and want to do it yourself? Here are some decorating mistakes to avoid:1. Too many colors. Try to keep the paint colors in your home to a minimum – two or three at most. And, if possible, use one carpet throughout the entire house. A plethora of colors will make your home feel chopped up and stop the visual flow of your spaces.

2. Busy fabrics on large pieces.Think of your sofa and sectional as background. Select simple fabrics for them, preferably without much color or pattern variation. Think of these large furniture pieces as something akin to your “basic black” dress. You can dress them up or dress them down. Save the patterned fabrics for pillows or drapes.  Use accessories – like art, area rugs or throws – to bring the “punch” into your rooms.

3. Layout unbalanced. When arranging your furniture, be careful not to put all the heavy pieces on one side of the room. If you have something tall (like an armoire) on one wall, try to balance it with, for example, a large picture on the opposite wall.

4. Too much stuff. A good rule of thumb is this: Think of everything you want to put into a room, and then cut it in half.
5. No theme. The eclectic look is great, but – for it to be successful – it needs a theme, be it style, topic or color. In our Stillwatermodel home at Newport Cove, our waterfront development on the Chain O’ Lakes, the theme is nautical and color-centered, using a palette of white, blue and tan. This 2,215-square-foot home offers three bedrooms, 2.5 baths, a full basement with nine-foot walls and an optional bonus room over the 2.5-car garage. It is in the community’s Cottages neighborhood, an area where the homeowners’ association takes care of all landscaping maintenance and snow removal.

Should You Buy A House?

Is renting better than purchasing? As home values stagnate, many people seem to think so.
But, before you decide to sign that lease, consider these points:

1. Rent usually goes up. If you have a fixed price mortgage, your payment will be the same for 30 years and – at the end of that time – you will have no house payments whatsoever.

2. A home is an investment. When you pay rent, you are putting money in someone else’s pocket.When you pay a mortgage, part of that money is being invested in your property. Eventually you can own your home free and clear.

3. A lease is short-term. If you have a one- or two-year lease, at the end of the lease a landlord can decide to no longer rent the property. If you own a home, you can live there as long as you like (if you pay the mortgage and taxes).

4. You will pay less income tax. The interest you pay on your mortgage AND your real estate taxes are tax deductible on your federal and state income tax returns. Rent is NOT tax deductible.

5. Real estate tends to increase in value. That fact is difficult to believe in a down-trending market, but in the long term real estate prices have done nothing but go up.

6. Mortgage rates are at historic lows. Because of the low rates, today it is more cost effective to buy a house than to rent one of the same size.

 7. You become part of a community. Homeowners tend to be more invested in their communities, to stay longer in their residences.
8. You have more influence. Municipal officials, whether it is fair or not, tend to pay more attention to property owners than to renters.
Would your landlord like this color?
9. You can plant a garden. With a home usually comes a little land – a place for a garden plot or a swing set.
10. You can paint the walls RED. When you own your home, YOU are the landlord. You can paint, decorate, make the home your own.
Newport Cove, New American Homes’ waterfront community on the Chain O’ Lakes near Antioch, IL, has new homes available for immediate occupancy starting at $395,000.  Or, we can build you a new home starting from $325,000.

The Colors of Cottage

The colors of sand, sunshine, water and flower gardens – these are cottage colors. At Newport Cove, the award-winning waterfront community on the Chain O’ Lakes in suburban Antioch, builder New American Homes has some favorite paint colors for its coastal-style homes:

They include:

Behr’s “Clambake,” “Cottage White” and “Laurel Mist.” Benjamin Moore’s “Nantucket Breeze.” Restoration Hardware’s “Sand Dollar” (top), “Silver Sage” (middle) and “Seafoam” (bottom). Teamed with bright white trim, these colors say summer, lazy days and serenity. Psychologists have proved that color affects mood. Who could feel unhappy surrounded by these hues?

Trying to Sell Your Home? Be Ready with Selling Points

Do you have lifestyle selling points worth mentioning when trying to sell your home? Realtors may not list these assets along with wood floors and granite counter tops, but they may be worth discussing when potential buyers are wavering between your house and someone else’s. Here are some potential house selling points you may have overlooked.Do you pay someone to clean your house? Selling point:Professionally cleaned on a regular basis. This may influence asthma sufferers. The upkeep of a home tells potential buyers the owners care about the space they live in. If the cleaning products contain only natural ingredients be sure to mention that as well.

Raising a family in your house. Selling point: A family-friendly layout.Carol never used a baby monitor since she could hear what was going on from any room in the house. Anecdotal stories like these can turn into advantages.

Purchasing energy-saving appliances and good insulation. Selling point: Energy efficiency. If you remodeled your kitchen and installed energy-efficient appliances or added attic insulation, you may want to show your low utility bills to potential home buyers.

Being on a good site with well-positioned windows and no clutter. Selling point: A great view. Clutter makes a house look and feel smaller. Ted’s house had windows that offered views of the sunrise and sunset.

Another favorite selling point atNewport Cove, a custom home waterfront community on the Chain O’ Lakes in suburban Chicago, is the coastal-style architecture. Homes are built using durable, low-maintenance products such asHardieboard concrete fiber siding and shakes, long-lived Certainteedarchitectural roof shingles, and aluminum-clad Pella windows.