Luxury Housing Trends

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Sound Absorbant “Quiet Wood” Paneling

If you sneer at wood paneling as something that went out of fashion in the 70s, you might change your tune when you hear about QuietWood.

This line of wood paneling from Quiet Solution “significantly reduces unwanted noise and sounds entering from adjacent room sources.”

In other words, if you’re tired of listening to the kids zapping mutant invaders at top volume in the tv room, install this soundproof wood on the walls, and shut the door. The multi-layer, engineered, internally damped panels can be put into home theaters, home recording studios, on walls and ceilings separating condo units, and any other place you’d like to make the world a little quieter.



Cute Garden Shed with Windows and a Deck

Backyard storage and garden sheds sure have come a long way. Cute layouts, windows, decks… plop a hot tub down next to it, and I would happily live in this shed. At the very least, I’d hang out in it. I think it’s too nice to stick rakes and shovels in.

The cedar Santa Rosa garden shed from Outdoor Living Today comes as a kit you can assemble over the weekend. Features include functional windows with screens, a dutch door, decorative cedar shingle gables, a four-foot cedar deck, mahogany veneer on the interior panels, and a cedar roof with the shingles attached. You can also maximize storage by adding on a shelf kit for $148.



Home Addition Costs Lowered by Using Prefab Construction

Not only do home addition costs tend to be high but adding onto your house is a time-consuming process that seriously disrupts your life. You may like the end result, but getting there will probably be a real pain, since it involves opening up and building onto your current home, something that will doubtlessly take weeks–and probably months–even if there are no snafus.

Is there a way to lower the costs of adding a room or rooms onto your home? And is there a way to make the process go more quickly?

Well employing prefab construction may be a way for you to answer yes to both those questions. According to Prefabulous: The House of Your Dreams Delivered Fresh from the Factory, it’s possible to not only build a house from scratch using prefab, but you can also add onto your existing home.

With prefab construction, the main work is done in a factory, and then the pieces are assembled on your site, often in a manner of days instead of weeks or months. And just because a home is factory-built doesn’t mean it is of poor quality (actually, since the building environment is controlled, quality is often better than in stick-built homes erected fully on site), and it doesn’t mean there is any lack of variety. You can work with designers to have your home addition custom built to your specifications.

If you’re at all interested in prefab construction, you might want to pick up that book, as it’s got a lot of nice pictures and is a good reference piece:

Prefabulous: The House of Your Dreams Delivered Fresh from the Factory


Unique Patio Design Features Stone Mosaic and Flagstones

For a creative patio design, you might try mixing and matching elements. You don’t have to go with all brick, or all concrete, or all flagstone, and we’ve looked at some fun examples of patio designs in the past. Using different materials can create something interesting and attractive.

Here’s another patio design example: the folks who put this patio together laid a combination of flagstones and pebbles to create a wonderfully unique stone mosaic.

A mosaic is something you can design yourself, too, if you have a moderately artistic bent (I’m not sure I’d do my own patio… I might want to sell the house some day, and I’d want it to be marketable). Don’t worry, it’s okay to hire a pro too.

From Landscaping Wisconsin


Fireplace Mantel Does the Wave

Just about everyone wants a house that comes with a fireplace, even in warmer climates where fires aren’t usually necessary for heat, and it’s pretty common for houses to come with them these days. But when we move into a new place we don’t always get the surround and mantel that excites us. Fortunately, fireplaces can get face lifts, and you can create something more to your tastes.

We’ve peeped a few interesting mantels (for wine lovers there was the vineyard-inspired wooden mantel and for the modern enthusiasts the stainless steel mantel and fireplace surround), and here’s a fun option that doesn’t assume mantels must be straight and entirely horizontal.

The Wave mantel from Artisan Midlands LTD is available with their gas and electric fireplaces (though you could have something like this custom done for your existing fireplaces too) and is shown here with a cherry finish.


Living Glass Panels Make Those Other Glass Tiles Look Boring

Are you tired of those glass tiles that are just made out of… glass? It’s true that we have looked at some cool glass tiles (there were the recycled glass tiles that look like pebbles, the interesting glass flower tiles, and an old post on bathroom tiles ideas featured some fun ones from Ann Sacks). Well here’s something a bit new.

Whether you’re installing new windows, shower doors, a translucent room divider, or something else, glass can be a great material to use in your home. And these living glass panels could really add the wow factor.

Livinglass is the leading manufacturer of decorative transparent and translucent laminated glass panels, capturing an array of natural materials between sheets of real luminous glass. Livinglass is proud to offer ecologically responsible products which utilize recycled, recyclable and renewable resources.”

The “natural materials” can be a lot of things. They’ve got panels with rose petals, orchids, maple leaves, and the “Kyoto” tile shown here has some bamboo-looking twigs. There are all sorts of fun ways you could incorporate these glass panels into your home.


Mailbox Covers Dress up Your Front Yard

Does the mailman (or, as is true in my case, mailwoman) sigh with boredom upon reaching your house? Looking at the same scads of ho hum mailboxes every day must be tedious. Well here’s a way for you to brighten your mail person’s day and show off some of your personality.

Mailbox covers.

Whether you want to show off your patriotic spirit with your country’s flag, dress your yard with some cheerful flowers, or display something totally different, it’s pretty easy to do with magnetic mailbox covers.

You can find lots of merchants offering them, and you simply stick them to your mailbox to apply them. The bird design shown here is one of many you can find at House to Home Ideas.

Prices start around $16.50


Wall Tiles Need Not Be Confined to Kitchens and Bathrooms

When you think of wall tiles, your mind may go to bathrooms or perhaps kitchen backsplashes, but tiles can look great in other rooms of the house as well. You may not want to line all of your living room walls with floor-to-ceiling field tiles, but they can be used to add an interesting decorative element.

In the living area shown here, a combination of tiles from Meredith Art Tile acts as an alternative to wainscoting. The company features everything from Victorian and Arts and Craft to Harvest and Woodland scenes.

This “Clipped Rhombus & Tack” design was done with 3″ crown tiles, 2″ x 8″ “Hammered Hardware” and “Plain Pencil Liner.”


Doorbell Ringers Shaped Like Oak Leaves, Seashells, Golf Balls, and More

How’s your doorbell ringer button? A little boring? A little bland?

Maybe you need a ringer that reflects your personality and interests. An oak leaf button for a nature lover, perhaps. Or maybe a pineapple, the symbol of hospitality (so say the Hawaiians anyway). A shell for a beach cottage? Grapes for the wine lover? A dog paw for a pet person?

Well, all these doorbell ringers can be had from Michael Healy who specializes in artistic decorative hardware. Available finishes include brass and bronze, nickel silver, and oiled bronze for starters.

Now go find a doorbell ringer that matches you.


Gorgeous Fireplace Mantels from Reclaimed Wood

I’ve heard it said that fireplaces are naked without a mantel. I suppose there are exceptions, but I’ve always thought they look funny without something over the firebox. If your home came with a fireplace but not mantel (as mine did), it’s a relatively simple home improvement to add one.

When I did mine, I wasn’t thinking about using reclaimed wood, but I wish I had been. You can get all sorts of interesting fireplace mantels and surrounds, but I really like the look of the ones from Mendota Mantels.

They use reclaimed beams salvaged from old buildings, and the wood dates from 300-700 years old. You just can’t find the equivalent look from new growth harvested trees, and of course it’s eco-friendly to reuse something that was already cut down rather than cutting down new trees.

The unique green of this mantel caught my eye. The white pine was salvaged from the Globe Grain Elevator in Superior, WI, and is estimated at 300-600 years old.

Price: $950