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2017 Kitchen Trend: Incredible Shrinking Appliances

One of the newest trends for 2017 in home design isn’t about what you see, but what you can’t see. Hidden appliances that easily blend into design schemes while offering a greater degree of functionality are giving us an unexpected peek into the future of home design, and the way that homeowners want to use their kitchens.

Appliance design for the most-used room in the house has generally been about providing bigger, better and bolder choices by adding size, space, color and even new technology for each new line. Homeowners today, however, are shifting their priorities to reducing the size of their home while increasing the ease of use and functionality of each piece in the home.

With this demand for appliances that provide high performance in smaller, more versatile sizes, homeowners have new opportunities for transforming kitchens into high-functioning hotspots of the home that merge the best of design, technology, and old-fashioned warmth and appeal.

Microwaves, refrigerators and dishwashers can now be installed in homes where they look like drawers. Vertical freezers and dishwashers can be had that are taller, narrower, and have more than two racks. Undercounter beverage coolers, warming drawers and freezer drawers, and even mini fridges that are at children’s eye level are seen more and more in kitchen design. And manufacturers are paying attention.

Sub-Zero and Wolf appliances, known for giant refrigerators and red-knobbed ranges that span up to 60 inches, introduced late last year a line of 24-inches-or-less appliances for compact spaces “from luxury high-rises and city homes to beachfront bungalows and cozy mountain cabins,” according to its website. Several 15-inch “transitional multifunction modules” let users customize their small cooktops into a fryer, steamer or grill, among other functions. And for urban dwellers, the 24-inch Wolf oven is slim enough to fit in a small apartment.

Bosch last year also began rolling out more small options after noting rising demand in cities across the U.S. including Austin, Seattle, San Francisco, and Washington D.C. And on their blog, Lifestyle expert Danny Seo has addressed small space design and small kitchen functionality in several articles, showcasing Bosch’s small-space friendly options along the way. LG and Thermador as also designing for this trend, as small refrigerators are seen more and more outside the kitchen in places like bedrooms, libraries, offices, exercise rooms and home offices.

As Millennials are buying their first homes and Baby Boomers are downsizing for retirement, I’m predicting that this trend is here to stay. If you’re interested in the Arlington and surrounding Northern Virginia are for your next home – no matter what size – give me a call at 703-593-6320 and I’ll be happy to get you started. (email’s good too: mike@mikesellsvirginia.com)

Top Home Design Trends for 2017

If you’re renovating, redecorating, or even building a new home in the Arlington, Virginia area, I’ve gathered up a quick list of a few trends for 2017 that you can work into your plans, as well design ideas that have run their course. Don’t worry that you’ve got to throw everything out and start from scratch, though. A lot of what was popular last year is still fresh and worth keeping.

What’s New

Colors of the Year: The Pantone color “Greenery” was announced this week as the Pantone Color of the Year selection for 2017. According to their announcement, Greenery is “a fresh and zesty yellow-green shade that evokes the first days of spring when nature’s greens revive, restore, and renew.” Designers and retailers immediately started working this fresh springy color into home design and you’re sure to see it as a theme throughout next year, such as with this fun collection of Greenery-inspired home décor items curated by the Design Milk blog to celebrate Pantone’s announcement.

Don’t worry, your street won’t be going too green this year with a row of Kermit-colored homes, because Pantone also announced their home and interior color trend forecast for 2017 that includes rich floral hues, citrus paired with grays, nostalgic blues, and Native American pottery-inspired neutrals.

Terracotta: All-white kitchens and cool-colored tiles have enjoyed their time in the spotlight, according to design gurus, who are predicting that warm, rustic materials such as terracotta tiles will be coming back. Unlike the shiny orangey-brown floors of the 80’s, modern terracotta tiles with natural matte finishes will be used more as feature walls or to frame fireplaces to add character and warmth to interiors.

What’s Still Fresh

Nooks and crannies for technology, and for escaping from technology, are still popular and functional for the modern world we live in. No-tech Living Rooms where you can ditch the matrix and spend quality time with friends, family or pursuing other interests still holds true. But when you need to plug back in, Smart Spaces cleverly arranged throughout a home, such as in kitchens, entries, bedrooms and man caves are perfect for storing, charging and using smart phones, tablets, TVs and more.

Understated Luxury: Luxury is in, excess is out. That’s why décor and styling elements such as glamorous statement lighting, luxurious upholstered headboards, and statement furniture that anchors a room are a good way to treat yourself without going overboard.

What’s Out

Shiny Copper: As a material, copper will always be a classic. But the overuse of super-shiny copper in kitchens and bathrooms for everything from fixtures to appliances to décor is done. Instead, design pros say that we’ll see a turn toward either industrial (think black steel and burnished metals) or understated rustics.

Quote Artwork: After years of popularity and countless Etsy shops, consumers are finally moving away from using quote artworks as design elements throughout their homes. So “Keep calm and…” take a look at these trends and others as you plan for your next home design adventure. And remember, staying true to your personal aesthetics and functional needs is a trend that will never go away.

Easy, creative ways to make the most of small backyards

For many people living in popular urban or suburban neighborhoods, small outdoor spaces are often the norm. But just because you’ve got a small backyard, doesn’t mean you can’t get big enjoyment out of it. With just a little dash of creativity you can transform your small outdoor space into a beautiful and functional escape using these totally doable design ideas.

First things first. Having fewer square feet means you need to prioritize. Decide what’s most important for you to have in your back yard and focus on elements that will create a space that will give you the greatest enjoyment.

Gardeners and Green Thumbs

If you love to garden, you must have tools. And if you have tools, you need somewhere to store them. If your space is small, a compact shed is a must-have.  It’s cute, it’s practical, and it doesn’t take up much space. Check out this one pictured here from A Cultivated Nest. (you can click through for instructions to build your own).

Next, you’ll need some green. Full garden plots won’t work in a small space, but a few planters or pots can produce a bountiful harvest. Try using tiered planters stacked to maximize space and create more area to grow vegetables, herbs and flowers.

For an artistic twist, you can create visually beautiful living art with succulent wall gardens or wreaths. Or you could hang containers along a wall, using everything from Mason jars to interesting coffee cans, to create beautiful vertical gardens.

Outdoor Entertainers

If you love to entertain and would like to extend that to your back yard, first decide what kind of entertaining you would like to do most. Cooking/eating? Then you’ll want to create an outdoor kitchen area. Cocktails and comfortable chatting? Or maybe just more space for your family to hang out together? Then an outdoor living room is probably more your style. With the development of outdoor furniture, décor and technology, almost any room can be extended into your yard.

Comfortable, stylish furniture that would look right at home inside the house, is now built using sturdy, weather-resistant materials and featuring bright, stylish cushions and pillows that add a little flair. Outdoor rugs, as well, look just as good as their indoor cousins, yet are hearty enough to weather the elements beautifully while helping homeowners feel like they are still cozy in their family room. One more tip for making your yard seem larger than it is? Hang a few mirrors here and there to create the illusion of space.

If you want a space that will draw your guests and create a place to gather, a fireplace or fire pit is a great solution for small yards. You can have something custom made for the space, or there are a wide variety of good quality ready-to-go fire pits at local garden centers. And if you’ve dabbled in gardening, but want a way to transition to entertaining at will, here’s a solution: Be sure to use wheels on the bottom of planters and urns so you can wheel them away any time to create more space.

If you’re ready to buy, sell or learn more about the real estate market in the Arlington area (and look for a great backyard too!) I’m here to help! Give me a call at 703-593-6320 or email mike@mikesellsvirginia.com.

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8 Ways to Winterize Your Home

Sooner than you know, temperatures will be dropping here in Arlington, Virginia. Snow will start falling, and people will start looking forward to quiet evenings in front of their fireplaces with festive lights, hot cocoa and hot toddies. This all sounds warm and cozy, but add in just one clogged chimney, frozen pipe or broken window, and things can turn from cozy to chaotic in the drop of a hat (or a tree limb). To avoid winter’s little danger zones, here are eight ways to keep your home and family happy and safe throughout the season:

  1. Inspect the roof, gutters and downspouts. Before winter weather sets in, take a quick visual inspection around the exterior of your home. Note any loose or missing shingles, then schedule a professional inspection to see if repairs are needed. Downspouts and gutters also need a thorough check, clean out leaves and dirt, tighten loose fastenings.
  2. Trim your trees. No, not with lights and décor. Rather, check if there are any broken tree limbs or ones that have grown during the summer and need to be trimmed back. Check with a professional if you think you need extensive work.
  3. Dig out winter gear such as snow shovels, window scrapers, or snow blowers. Make sure they are serviced and ready to go at a moment’s notice.
  4. Seal windows and doors to keep cold where it belongs – outside. Loose seals and drafty areas can often be taken care of with simple window insulation kits from your local home improvement store.
  5. If you have a fireplace, schedule a professional chimney inspection or cleaning. Weather damage, creosote buildup, and other issues such as foundation settling can cause serious problems that won’t show up until you light your first fire and it’s too late.
  6. Service your heating, ventilation and air conditioning system (HVAC). Changing your filters is a good first step, but it’s also a good idea to hire a professional for a full-system inspection including pipe, wiring and thermostat tests.
  7. Make sure smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are working and have fresh batteries. (Many people use Daylight Savings Time as a reminder for this task).
  8. And finally, for both your home and your car (aka: many people’s second home!) create or restock a winter emergency supply kit. Storms, power outages, and other emergencies are more common this time of year. Make sure you have the right supplies on hand to weather any emergencies including blankets, candles, matches, flashlights, flares, first aid kits, water, nutrition bars, and necessary medications. For a list of recommendations, check out this page on The Department of Homeland Security and FEMA website.

Creating a home perfect for every stage of life

It used to be that adding features that adapt to lifestyle changes in your home meant you had to make do with design that looked less like a stylish, comfortable retreat, and more like a hospital room.

The good news is that contemporary universal design features have become much more aesthetically pleasing and adaptable to many different styles. In fact, a well-designed accessible space can be quite spa-like and luxurious due to creative design ideas and high-end finishes. Plus, the cost of universal design isn’t prohibitive anymore, often only adding a few hundred dollars to your original budget for features that last a lifetime.

According to AARP, older home owners overwhelmingly prefer to age in place, which means living in your home safely, independently and comfortably, regardless of age or ability level. In fact, this is so prevalent that the NAHB Remodelers of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) in collaboration with Home Innovation Research Labs, NAHB 50+ Housing Council, and AARP, developed the Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist (CAPS) program to address the growing number of consumers that seek these modifications. While most CAPS professionals are remodelers, an increasing number are general contractors, designers, architects, and health care consultants.

No matter what stage of life you are in, here are a few common-sense features perfect for creating living spaces that allow you to enjoy your home at any time of life:

  • Wall-mounted sinks: With no vanity cabinet or supporting legs underneath, wall-mounted sinks are a creative design choice with the added bonus of making cleaning floors a snap. They are also perfect for accommodating wheelchair footrests and walkers.
  • Slip-resistant tile: Slip-and-falls are a danger for any age, so slip-resistant tile is always a good idea. Ask your contractor for tile with a COF rating of .60 or above, which meets safety requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Plus it’s about the same cost as normal tiles.
  • Wider doors: Anytime a room is remodeled, widening the doors to 36 inches wide is considered universal access friendly.
  • Curbless showers: Head to your nearest spa and you’ll probably see curbless showers as part of their facilities. From a design standpoint, the minimalist lines fit seamlessly into a contemporary spa-style bathroom. Curbless showers have no lip at the floor and can be easily accessed by wheelchairs.
  • Lever-style door handles and faucets: Lever-type handles are easier to use than twist-type knobs or handles, and they’re especially convenient for kids or anyone with limited dexterity.
  • Touch faucets: While you’re looking at faucets, check out touch-sensitive faucets that turn off and on with a simple touch. These are great and extremely convenient for any age.
  • Tall toilets with no-slam seats and lids. Toilet seats with soft-close mechanisms are a dream for anyone who has ever been woken up late at night by the sharp bang of a falling lid. They are usually only slightly higher in cost than regular lids, and can be easily installed on your own.

The next time you schedule a remodel or upgrade in your home, stop and take a minute to think about adding a few features like these. With only a few changes you can have a stylish home sure to gracefully accommodate every life stage.

Got questions or ideas about living in Arlington, Virginia? I’m here to help. I’ve lived and worked in the area for more than 30 years and can help you find the right accommodations for your specific needs.  Please feel free to call or email me at 703-593-6320 or mike@mikesellsvirginia.com.

3 Simple Ways to Reduce Heating Costs

posted by: Mike in Home Owner Tips

Fuel prices are on the rise, and even in modern homes, winter can mean dramatic spikes in your utility bills. According to the Department of Energy, heating and cooling costs account for 56 percent of the energy use in an average American home.  Don’t stock up on wool socks just yet, though. There’s a lot more you can do than “put on a sweater” this winter to keep your bills down and your home toasty warm.

  1. Reverse ceiling fans

Ceiling fans aren’t just for summer. Typically, people think of ceiling fans as a way to cool down, but they can also be used for heat. When temperatures start to chill, set your fan to a low speed and use the button the fan to change the direction to clockwise. Warm air trapped at the ceiling will be pulled down to mix with cooler air and warm up the entire room. Do this, and you could see a 15 percent savings on your heating bill for the entire house.

  1. Use a programmable thermostat

If you have a manual thermostat, it’s time for an upgrade. If you already have one, but don’t know how to use it, time to dig out the manual. “Smart” thermostats don’t cost that much money and more than make up for it in the reduction of utility costs and sheer convenience. They can be programmed to automatically raise and lower temperatures depending on time of day or day of week. And with the proliferation of Wi-Fi in residential homes, many can be controlled via smart phone when you’re away from home.

  1. Prevent heat loss from your fireplace

Many homes here in the Arlington, VA area have at least one or more fireplaces throughout the residence. This may sound counter-intuitive, but fireplaces can be one of the worst culprits when it comes to heat loss. Yes, loss! If you keep the damper open when a fire is not burning, it’s like leaving a window wide open during the winter, warm air from inside the home escapes right up the chimney. Imagine little dollar bills floating out your chimney, that’s the best way to remember to close the damper each time after enjoying a toasty fire.

There are a lot of other ways to reduce heating and utility costs during the winter season, from investing in LED holiday lights to layering on those ugly holiday sweaters you bought for the last office party. These three simple tips are a great way to get started, though, without a lot of inconvenience or stress, and you’ll notice immediate savings that will go a long way toward a very happy holiday season.

Fire Safety Tips for a Happy, Safe Holiday Season

posted by: Mike in Home Owner Tips

Fire safety in the home is definitely a year-round concern, however as Fall approaches and families are gearing up for the holidays, homeowners need to be extra diligent in and around their homes. While the neighborhood kids would certainly love a visit from the firemen, I doubt it’s on your wish list.

A large number of residential fires are often the result of simple accidents or carelessness with electrical appliances and open flames. As the holidays approach and fun seasonal decorations go up, we find ourselves literally surrounded by an abundance of fire hazards when it comes to traditional decor.

All it takes, thankfully, is a little extra attention and maybe a few upgrades in the materials used for decorating. Here’s a few simple ideas you can incorporate into your family traditions for fire-free fun:

Upgrade decorative lighting: Indoor and outdoor lights are popular from Halloween through the New Year. Old-fashion lights, however, can burn extremely hot. And weathered wires easily spark and burn. When purchasing lights, make sure they have passed strict safety tests conducted by Underwriters Lab (UL) or another established testing facility. They will be marked with a holographic UL label. A red label means lights can be used indoors and out, while green means indoor-use only. Take advantage of pre-season sales to upgrade your lights and be sure to check out cool-to-the-touch LED lighting that gives you the same great festive look without the danger. Bonus: These lights also use less electricity and are great for keeping your utility bill under control.

Check your outlets: Be sure that the outlets you use for decorative lights are ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlets. These shut the circuit down if there is overcurrent, preventing hazardous sparks. If you don’t have a GFCI outlet, it’s worth the small investment to have a qualified electrician install one or two outdoors that will serve your for many holidays to come.

Candles: Did you know that candles can heat up to 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit? We know not to place candles near curtains, loose papers, or where children can get at them. But at that high temperature it’s possible for other materials to become flammable as well. Be sure tabletop centerpieces with decorative items such as berries, dried leaves, corn husks, or Styrofoam decorations are arranged so that flames aren’t too close. And when in doubt, replace open flame candles with modern electrical candles that so closely resemble the real thing no one will ever know.

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), an average of 5,000 people visit the emergency room each holiday season due to indoor and outdoor electrical decoration mishaps. Follow these tips and you’re sure to avoid any unplanned ER trips or visits from your local fire station. And still enjoy the season in style.

7 Rock-Solid Facts about Selling Your Home

I’m often asked what my best tips are for home sellers. You know, the really good stuff, the rock-solid facts that never change and will put them on the right path to a successful selling experience. Yes, selling a home can be complicated, but after helping people buy and sell homes in the Arlington, Virginia area for the last 30 years, I’ve learned that there are a few basic facts you can rely on.

  1. If the outside doesn’t look good, buyers will often not even look inside

You don’t need elaborate landscaping, but a clean, neat entrance and basic curb appeal is the first hurdle for getting potential buyers through the door. If the yard is scary, many will think the interior is probably the same and move on to the next. For ideas about easily sprucing up your home (and wowing potential buyers) be sure to check THIS ARTICLE.

  1. Overpricing your home doesn’t work

Yes, profit is good. But greed is a bad strategy that will lead to your home languishing on the market, while others sell all around you. Indeed, if you price your home too far above comps in your neighborhood, buyers won’t even look at it. And after it sits on the market for way too long, people start questioning what’s wrong with it. The best move is to listen to your Realtor who will help you set the right price for maximum sale potential as well as profit for you.

  1. Clean homes sell better

A clean, uncluttered home helps the sale. Dirty, messy homes – not so much. In fact, the state of your home can make a big difference in your final profit. Cluttered, dirty homes give buyers the perception that they will need to put more money into fixing up the house later, and therefore shaving money off their offers. Keeping your home clean for prospective buyers is one of the easiest things you can do to attract buyers and boost your profits.

  1. Repairs cost less before the sale – not after

All those little repairs you’ve been meaning to do will actually cost less if done BEFORE the sale. Once buyers notice that repairs are needed, or inspectors point them out in excruciating details, it can start causing issues. Buyers might wonder “what else needs fixing that we didn’t find?” They might wonder if the home has been maintained properly, and it could affect their offer. Or they could even request extensive repairs as part of the negotiation process that will cost much more than if you’d done the simple repair earlier on.

  1. Don’t haunt your open house

Some sellers like to hang around during their open houses, thinking they will pick up great tidbits from interested buyers. But that often backfires. Buyers will see this as a chance to pounce and ask sellers all sorts of questions that could hamper negotiations later on. Plus, potential buyers may not feel comfortable to wander the home, comment out loud, and imagine themselves living there with you present. They’ll leave frustrated and with a negative opinion, hurting potential offers.

  1. Bad smells can hurt the sale

Nothing is more off-putting than offensive odors from pets, smoking, cooking or damp. Scent sells, but stink can kill the sale, or at least really hurt your profit. If you have pets, past moisture issues, love to cook exotic foods, or even the hint that odors might be offensive to others, a thorough cleaning will go a long way to increasing the attractiveness of your home. For more ideas about how scent can help sell your home, check out THIS ARTICLE.

  1. Trying to hide a problem can come back and hurt you

If you know of a structural issue, or anything that is out of sight but should be addressed, honesty really is the best policy. Discuss it with your Realtor first to decide whether it’s an issue that needs to be made public. If buyers purchase your home, something goes wrong, and it was found out that you knew, you could be getting a call from an attorney.

While these truths are great to know and to follow when selling the home, the very best thing you can do is to trust a reputable, experienced professional who knows your area best. Selling your home can quickly get overwhelming if you don’t have the right person on your team. With more than 30 years as a licensed Realtor in the Arlington, Virginia area, you can rest easy knowing that I have the knowledge, experience and resources to help you with everything from establishing an asking price, to creating an effective marketing campaign, to positioning your property for the right exposure to the right people. If you’re ready to sell your property, call me at 703-593-6320, or email mike@mikesellsvirginia.com to get the support you need today!

Advice for first-time home buyers

House KeysWhen you finally make the decision to buy your first home, it can be exciting. However, things can turn from exciting to overwhelming pretty quickly without the right guidance. You need the right home, the right price, and the right location, but you’re not sure how to get started. I’ve worked with many first-time homeowners here in the Arlington, Virginia area, and put together this list of the top things you should think about when preparing for your first home.

  1. Know what you want: If you start looking at homes without any idea what you want, you’re going to get frustrated very quickly. Before contacting your Realtor, create a wish list of what you want – and don’t want. For instance, do you want a Colonial-style home, or Rambler? Are large entertaining kitchens most important? High-tech homes or old-world restorations? Remember, though, a wish list is great, but seeking perfection will frustrate you quickly. Know what you’re willing to compromise on. And share it all with your Realtor so they can narrow the search and help you get exactly what you want.
  1. Clean up your credit: If you haven’t done this in a while, check for errors on your credit reports (free at AnnualCreditReport.com) and get your FICO score; many credit cards offer this service for free. Know your credit score numbers, they will help you with the next step.
  1. Know your budget: Talk to your bank or a mortgage lender to get pre-approved for a home loan. This helps you to understand how much you can afford and how much they will lend you. Having pre-approval gives you more leverage as a buyer, and it helps keep you focused on homes that fit your budget. Be sure you understand how much you will put as a down payment, and figure in closing costs, an amount that is typically 1 ½ to 2 percent of the purchase price.
  1. Don’t stress about timing: Housing bubbles, sellers’ market, and buyers’ market; all of these things can make you wonder if there is ever a perfect time to buy a home. Don’t obsess about trying to time the market. The best time to buy your first home is when you are ready and when you find the home you want. Try to wait for the perfect time and you could risk missing out on the perfect home.
  1. Home inspections: If you love HGTV’s Rehab Addict and want to take on your own fixer-upper, don’t hesitate to ask about home inspections before you buy. This goes for newer homes, too. Better to spend a little up front on an inspector than to spend a fortune later on repairs you didn’t see coming.
  1. Get to know the neighborhood: If you’re in love with a certain neighborhood or community, let your Realtor know so that you can narrow your search. Once you find a home that you think is right, take a few days to really check out the immediate surroundings. Drive by at different times of day to see what’s happening on the street and nearby. Map out the course you would drive to work every day. See how far you are from the essentials such as food, entertainment, schools, and parks. All of this affects the value of both your home and happiness in a very big way.

*If you’re interested in moving to Arlington, Virginia, and want to learn more about the diverse mix of neighborhoods and which one might be right for you, be sure to check out the neighborhood pages on my site. Just go to the DC Area Living menu on my site to the Arlington page, and access each neighborhood from the menu on the right.

  1. Don’t go it alone: The key to success when buying a home is to have an expert on your side. A local Realtor who knows, lives and works in the communities you want to live in will be your best source for knowledge, insight and guidance to making the right choice.

If you’re ready to buy, sell or learn more about the real estate market in the Arlington and surrounding Northern Virginia communities, as a highly experienced Arlington Realtor, I’m here to help! I take the time to get to know what my clients want, what they need, what their vision, personal style, and practical needs are in order to make the process fun, stress-free and rewarding. Give me a call at 703-593-6320. Email is good, too: mike@mikesellsvirginia.com.

Screened Porches Make a Comeback

As homeowners look for new spaces to gather and enjoy the outdoors, without pesky insects or sun damage, screened porches are experiencing a surge in popularity. Air conditioning and the popularity of outdoor rooms pushed porches to the backseat of home design over the last few decades. This time around, though, as homeowners look for attractive and functional alternatives for creating special spaces in their own homes, porches are experiencing a big comeback.

The main attraction of a screened porch is the benefits of being outdoors, with all the convenience and protection of being indoors. Fresh breezes, comfortable seating, and a perfect place for connecting with family, friends and neighbors – without the danger of bugs, sun damage, rain or other situations that can damage the fun. Not to mention the sheer nostalgia that front porches bring of days gone by.

Porching gains in popularity

Here in Arlington, VA, we’re noticing a lot more porches as both additions and in new-home construction. The range of styles run from traditional to contemporary with a lot of room for customization in between. And the trend goes well beyond the Washington, D.C. area. Indeed, porches have become all the rage throughout the country, with “porching” taking over social media as it spotlights people’s activities and adoration of porch culture. (Do a quick search for porching on Pinterest – you’ll see what we mean!) Which all goes to show that no matter where people live, porches have a universal appeal.

Beyond nostalgia, comfort and community, porches also offer advantages that appeal to modern-day sensibilities. They serve as a buffer for the home, protecting windows from direct sun, keeping homes cool and A/C bills down. In areas that can experience harsh weather conditions they can also offset potential flooding, wind damage and other expensive issues.

Screened porches have come a long way from porch swings and rocking chairs. (Although, who doesn’t love those?) Outdoor furniture has become stylish, sophisticated and able to fit any budget. Outdoor rugs, fireplaces, portable heaters, and creative lighting are being used to customize porches to fit the home’s décor and create an atmosphere that fits homeowners’ tastes. In fact, chandeliers, framed artwork, and custom crafted screens are not uncommon in today’s porches.

As technology and modern conveniences can often pull friends and family into solitary activities, porches are providing an old-school solution that is easy to modernize and yet still provides the timeless benefits of comfort, nature and a place to gather, relax, recharge and just enjoy.