Tag Archives: housing trends

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!

We Have What Consumers Want

What do consumers want in a new home?

According to a recent survey by Better Homes and Gardens, high-efficiency heating and cooling systems top the list of features consumers say they would like in their next home, with 89 percent of those polled making this a priority. Eighty-five percent want high-efficiency appliances; 84 percent, a deck or patio; 79 percent, a private backyard, and 78 percent desire nicer finishes, everything from wood flooring to granite countertops and fancy trim.

When it comes to living spaces, 81 percent want a separate laundry room; 79 percent, extra storage through dedicated storage spaces, larger closets or built-ins; 67 percent, a home office space or tech center, 67 percent, an outdoor living area; 65 percent, at least one additional bedroom with a private bath, and 64 percent wish for an everyday eating area close to the kitchen.

Although the size of the average new American home has been declining, four out of 10 consumers indicate that, should they purchase a new home, they want it to be slightly larger, not smaller. The median-sized home these buyers are looking for is 1,914 square feet, about 50 feet larger than the median size of their current homes. The average new American home built in 2010 was 2,377 square feet, compared to 2,438 in 2009.

The Cottages at Newport Cove, offered at our waterfront community on the Chain O’ Lakes near Antioch, IL, are on target with these consumer desires. Sized from 1,625 to 2,300 square feet, the coastal-styled Cottages have high-efficiency heating/cooling systems and appliances, decks or patios, small backyards and top-notch fnishes  (basements with nine-foot ceilings, concrete fiber siding, Pella windows, eight-foot-tall interior doors, standard oak flooring, upgraded kitchens and more). All Cottages come with laundry rooms, plenty of storage, tech centers (see photo), guest suites, plus eat-in kitchens. And, all have first-floor master suites – two of the floorplans are ranch style and two are story-and-a-half homes.

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.

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall. . .

This is a good article about how mirrors can make a smaller home feel larger.  We’ve used many of these ideas in our cottage homes atNewport Cove, our waterfront community on Bluff Lake in unincorporated Antioch, IL.


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?

A Housing Shortage? You Kidding Me??

Is a housing shortage coming? If you watch TV news or read newspapers, you would say, “Absolutely not!” Yet a few economists are beginning to predict a housing shortage in just a few years. Why? Here’s the story:

 According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, our country forms something north of one million new households each year. In other words, every year we need to add another one million-plus housing units – apartments, condos, single-family homes. During the height of the housing boom, the country was building more new homes than households being formed. (Small wonder there was a housing glut!) But, now, we are building far fewer. Recent housing statistics show that the country is adding around 500,000 units per year, less than half of what is needed.  And, this number does not take into account the obsolete housing units that are torn down annually.
Once the country burns through the excess inventory built in the 2005-2008 era, the supply of housing being produced will not begin to meet the demand. Because so many building material suppliers and construction companies have either cut back or disappeared, it will be difficult to construct the number of units needed. Thus, some economists are beginning to predict not only a housing shortage, but an accompanying increase in housing prices.

Not many people have the courage to buy in a down market. But, historically, smart investors run against the herd. They sell when everyone else is buying and buy when everyone else is selling. With interest rates at record lows and housing prices down from their lofty heights, now might be the best time in a lifetime to buy real estate.

Stairway Savvy

Ever trip going down the stairs to your basement? Here’s a safety tip from New American Homes, award-winning builder of Newport Cove, a planned waterfront community on the Chain O’ Lakes:

 In dark stairwells, vary the color of the stair treads. Shown here is the stairwell to the lower level in the LIFEhouse, a concept house featuring universal design and opening soon at Newport Cove. Note how the stair carpet color changes. Note the rope lighting routed into the stairrail. These are two inexpensive ideas to add a smart (and interesting) touch of safety to your home.

The Changing “Shape” of New Homes. . .

Home sizes in the U.S. are declining. Is it because of recession, energy conservation or an aging population that wants to spend less time caring for homes?

The average square footage for new homes in the United States dropped signficantly in 2009 for the first time in nearly 30 years, according to figures just released by the U.S. Census Bureau.

New homes in 2009 averaged 2,438 square feet, down from 2,519 square feet in 2008. The average peaked in 2007 at 2,521 square feet. American house sizes have been trending upward since averages were first calculated in 1973, when homes were an average of 1,660 square feet.

The Census figures show the trend in smaller homes visible in other ways. Only 36 percent of new homes in 2009 had four or more bedrooms, down from 40 percent the previous years and the lowest percentage since 1997. And, the number of single-story homes increased from 44 percent to 47 percent.

These trends seem to be confirmed at our Newport Cove waterfront community on the Chain O’ Lakes near Antioch where customer “hot buttons” are moving toward the quality rather than quantity of space, fewer bedrooms, ranch-style homes or – at minimum – first-floor masters, easy-care materials and energy-conserving construction.