Hot or Not

According to Realtor Magazine online, a survey of NAHB builders reveals that Media Rooms are on the way out. On the way in are Laundry Rooms.

Tub Trends

According to Realtor Magazine online, whirlpool tubs are on the way out as free standing tubs gain popularity.

Technology Fun or Frustration

We sometimes see homeowners spending large sums on technology systems that some in the home find too complicated to use. Not saying don’t go large, but plan on instructing users more than once so frustration doesn’t ruin the fun.

Fire Plan

Wilmington has a wonderful group of local historians. Read any of their accounts of our architectural history, and it is clear that the foremost element of destruction to dwellings is fire. At the very minimum, there are 3 critical steps to fire risk management. First, GET OUT. Have a plan. Practice nighttime and daytime evacuation drills with your family. Establish where you will meet up outside. Second, have an adequate smoke detection system and keep it healthy. Third, keep an A-B-C rated fire extinguisher on every floor. The kitchen and garage each need their own, even if on the same level. If you can safely use an extinguisher when a fire first begins, do so; otherwise, use those critical seconds to GET OUT. For an explanation of types of extinguishers (A-B-C etc.) visit OSHA’s fire safety page .

Home Security Essestials

Basic home security essentials include:  Confirm all doors AND windows are locked (upper floors too).  Set your alarm.  Use a separate code for any service personnel or sitters when allowing them access to your system.  Receive email alerts regarding access if that is a feature of your system.

Aging In Place

Sometimes people think of Aging-In-Place or Universal Design as elements that are not needed unless one has mobility issues.  But wider doorways,  wide hallways, good lighting, and bathroom wall bracing for grab bars, etc., are all elements for living well now, and into the future.  For a list of ideas to consider for your new home or remodeling project, visit and type “aging in place” into the search box.

Home Trends Fun

This blog is supposed to be about info our clients and other home lovers may find useful.  I admit to watching HGTV, looking at design magazines, and basically multiple sources to see what is trending, just for fun.  In preparing for today’s post, I Bing’d “home trends” and accepted the first link to a Zillow article.  The info was interesting, but the resulting comments were a riot–literally, I think it was a riot in words.  Every few posts, someone tried to return the conversation to civility, but as I stopped reading, and laughing, it was still “trending” negative and not at all homey, and yet I feel good.  Ah, the laughter drug.  Caron

Passive Design Home

On May 24, 2013, Jim Farlow and Tim Shellhammer of The Farlow Group attended a review of a passive energy designed home under construction in the Old Military Road area. The site seminar was sponsored by the Cape Fear Green Building Alliance and conducted by homeowner and contractor Lucien Ellison, and design consultant for the project, architect Kevin Pfirman. Also presenting information on the home’s precast concrete walls construction was subcontractor Joe Del Guercio of Ideal Building Systems. The passive design concept strives to reduce energy loss from thermal transfer and air infiltration by integrating all exterior components into a virtually air tight envelope. In the case of this home, that involves insulated concrete walls, triple paned insulated casement and awning windows, spray foam insulation, and a minimally sloped roof using structurally insulated panels without open attic space. Resulting R values are R-50 for the roof, R-35 for exterior walls and R-20 for the floor. In order to meet passive solar criteria, a structure has to be oriented within 15 degrees of due South to achieve ideal solar gain management over the seasons. Shading from extended roof overhangs minimizes summer heat gain in the 5700 square foot home. As a result of the synergy of design and components, the home can be heated and cooled when necessary with only a 2 ton unit. The home is presently dried in, with interior finishes due next. This will be a fun project to follow, including its performance over time.

Cabinet trend: more drawers

The past few years have seen a trend toward using more drawers in kitchen base cabinet designs, in place of doors. Drawers can be quite large when intended for sizeable items such as cookware. Interiors may be designed to hold items such as plates or other tableware, supplies, or groceries in various containers. Drawers make reaching items toward the back easier than bending down to access cabinet shelves. Contents can be viewed more easily as well. Costs for drawers are higher than open space with doors because of the extra labor, materials and hardware needed, but many cooks and their helpers consider the convenience to be worthwhile. The photo is of a kitchen at Figure Eight Island designed by Wilmington architect Virginia C. Woodruff.

Home Technology Considerations

There was a recent television show about the newest generation of our aircraft carriers. There is empty space on the bridge for the future installation of new technologies that are under development, or even yet to be envisioned. Given the way every millimeter is typically planned for on a vessel, one can see how the concept of ever-innovative technologies is expected to be critical to the function of the ship, and must therefore be incorporated in the design. Planning for changes in home technology can be equally difficult to anticipate in designing our spaces for longevity. In the 1980’s, installing phone outlets in every room was considered wise. In the 1990’s, extra electrical outlets were added under cabinets and along countertops to accommodate an explosion of plug-in electronics and appliances. In the 2000’s things started moving so fast that electronics were again concentrated in family areas and media rooms, with bedrooms receiving less focus. Currently, wireless and portable rule the waves for electronics and our devices of 10 years ago are already collector junk. The current interest in remote viewing and management of lighting, temperature, and security in homes still involves wiring for devices themselves, with control available via the internet using a computer or smart phone. We have also become accustomed to expecting that our systems will need to be upgraded in just a few years time. Home builders have to keep up with evolving technologies, and there are many subcontractors providing quality design and installation services. As with any service vendor, it is important to research the qualifications of firms you are considering to perform work in your home. This is especially true if your project is small and you work with vendors directly, […]