How to achieve the best views, whether you are looking out or in
The spectacular views of the outdoors often take our breath away, especially in the Lowcountry, where the views are often as beautiful as the homes.
But how can you best showcase that outside view from within your home? How about enhancing your home’s curb appeal or interior view? In the following pages, we will help answer those challenging issues. Whether it’s a window treatment that revitalizes your vista or landscaping improvements that give you an improved view worth showing the neighbors, here are some wonderful ways you can achieve the best view inside and out.
IMPROVING YOUR VIEW... FROM THE INSIDE OUT
Staging Your Home & Improving the Interior Home “staging,” as evidenced by the popularity of TV shows, has become quite the buzz word in the home industry and with good reason. The most inexpensive way to give yourself a better view of the outside is to change the inside of your house. Sometimes, just rearranging furniture can be a reasonable alternative to remodeling.
There are several techniques to create a focal point in a room:
- For example, a particular furniture position can draw the line of the room straight to the window and to your beautiful outside view.
- Re-decorating is another economical alternative to remodeling. For instance, just adding a new window treatment, best suited for the particular space, can dress up an entire area. Visiting a variety of Web sites, such as www.indooraccents.com, or speaking with one of your local professionals, is a great way to gather some ideas and look at potential decorative pieces. Some sites offer interior decorating ideas and online shopping for every room and every budget, but a qualified expert can give great ideas, take your budget into consideration and also draw on experience to help determine what may or may not work with your particular space.
- Painting is another indoor solution that can complement your outside views; a new color scheme can liven up your walls. Using certain colors can make a room appear larger or cozier – depending on your needs, and using an accent color inside a room can also draw attention to an interesting element outside. Again, paint professionals can recommend particular colors and finishes to help you achieve the best view for your rooms. These days, you can load a few home photos into your computer and, using software, test out various color schemes electronically.
- Add artwork. For a quick improvement to your room’s view, hang art that adds bold color or showcases stunning Lowcountry landscapes. Hilton Head, Bluffton and Beaufort offer many art galleries where you can browse and purchase artwork. Check out the South Carolina Information Highway at www.sciway.net to look up artists and galleries throughout the Lowcountry. You can also visit www.lowcountryarts.org for information regarding local artists.
- Decorative mouldings can also add architectural interest to your home. Crown mouldings have become the trim work of choice for many homeowners wanting to add a touch of class to their décor. This type of moulding is applied along the seam where the ceiling meets the wall. Chair rails are another effective approach to moulding. These ornamental bands go across the middle of the wall. Historically, chair rails were put in formal dining rooms to protect the walls from the chair backs, but today they are not limited to one room. Many homes also feature baseboard, or skirt, mouldings, which run along the floor of the home. Mouldings can be painted the same color as the walls, or in contrasting colors to attract attention to a particular part of the room. For example, in homes with high ceilings, placing the moulding about a foot from the ceiling draws a guest’s attention up to admire the height and giving a sense of more expansive space or view. Mouldings are also being used in standard height rooms, but in such rooms it is best to have the moulding only a few inches from the ceiling to avoid making the room appear smaller.
Many home improvement stores, such as Lowe’s and Home Depot, offer a dictionary of moulding terms, as well as do-it-yourself tips for installing moulding, on their Web sites, www.lowes.com and www.homedepot.com.
Keep in mind that sometimes it is best to leave such enhancements to the professionals as ill installed mouldings can really stand out and detract from the view.
A wonderful view isn’t just limited to what homeowners or guests see when they peer out the window. The flooring you choose can certainly make or break a room’s appearance. Even if your windows and window treatments are superb and lead to a spectacular view outdoors, unattractive or outof-date flooring can stop a viewer’s gaze in its tracks. But with so many styles from which to choose, how do you select the right flooring?
[This Tuscan-inspired home, designed by Group 3, combines grand style with cozy comforts. The corner sitting room captures magnificent views of the Wexford harbour from every angle. The high ceilings and windows let in abundant light, yet airy bamboo shades soften the space. Overstuffed chairs and ottoman, natural-colored sisal rug, and light wood furniture make this room as comfortable for sipping coffee and watching the sun rise or sipping wine and watching the sun set. Group 3 Architecture / Interior Design / Planning specializes in custom home and interior design. To learn more, visit www.group3arch.com or call (843) 689-9060.]
According to some flooring experts, vinyl and linoleum flooring are among the most resilient types of flooring. Although the two may look similar, they differ in that vinyl is a synthetic material and linoleum is natural, making it more resistant to bacteria. Not your grandmother’s linoleum or vinyl of yesteryear, today’s modern versions come in many attractive styles and colors.
Ceramic tile is another popular type of flooring previously avoided because of its chilly feel. Today, however, this problem can be remedied through floor heating, either by hydronic tubes or electric cable. With the hydronic method, water is circulated underneath the floors through tubes connected to a water heater or boiler; the floor absorbs the heat and radiates it through the home.
[Come in and browse our large selection of indoor casual furniture made of natural elements – rattan and wicker. Complement your coastal home with our many lamps, pictures and accessories. Call Marco Polo at (843) 681-7400.]
The second type of heated flooring, electric cable style, uses a similar method that employs electric heating elements rather than tubes of water. This method is reportedly less expensive because it is easier to install and maintain, and the electric component is easier to zone than water. If you’re only planning to heat the floors in a few rooms, the electric cable may be your heater of choice. Some area heating and air conditioning businesses offer heated flooring installation. Brand names to keep your eye on include Maxxon’s Therma-Floor and Therma Floor Heated.
For many homeowners, nothing enhances a room’s view more than beautifully crafted hardwood floors. Regardless of style, they seem to easily evoke warmth and elegance in any home and are becoming easier to obtain. Many homes that have original hardwood may experience squeaky floors caused by unsecured wood sub-flooring. However, in more modern homes, this problem can be easily avoided. The newest type of hardwood that manufacturers are offering involves easy-toinstall floorboards that snap into place. This can be a fun, doit-yourself job or, if you’re not so confident in your hardwood abilities, an installation best left to a professional – particularly, if you want to achieve a seamless, captivating view.
Recovered heart of pine and handscraped woods – whether custom or manufactured, can also create a very pleasant view. Some manufacturers also offer custom, mosaic style pieces featuring intricate patterns.
|Inspired by the natural beauty of island living, a refreshing simplicity is brought to any space with the clean, textured look of nature’s finest materials of seagrass and sisal. Ralph Lauren floorcovering is available exclusively at Rick Bent Flooring. Call them at (843) 689-9202.||Improve the view in your room, by enhancing the view of your floors! Abbey Floor Fashion is your local, expert floor source. From easyto-clean hardwood floors to carpets, rugs and sophisticated stone and tile - we have it all! Call Abbey Floor Fashion at (843) 681-3900.|
If you’re really interested in creating a particularly impressive view, you may wish to opt for travertine or marble flooring. Not only can these types of stone enhance your home through flooring, they can also be used for countertops, fireplaces, showers and walls. However, be careful as you choose where to install the stone and consider to what it will be exposed; for example, travertine is highly reactive to acidic solutions such as orange juice.
Colored concrete can be very artistic and is also very durable. Or you may consider a shimmery metal floor. Choosing the right flooring requires careful consideration of desired form and function. In addition to the aesthetic appeal, one must consider traffic issues, budget, and maintenance. Research carefully and consult an experienced professional knowledgeable about these materials.
WINDOWS & WINDOW TREATMENTS
To cover or not to cover? That is the question for many uncertain homeowners when it comes to windows. Some experts consider the relationship between windows and window treatments to be similar to that of artwork and frames. You may have a beautiful view outside, but who will know it if your windows and treatments don’t do it justice? Choosing window and window treatment styles is very important and can greatly impact the view, looking outside or in, you are hoping to achieve. Is the window the room’s main focal point? If you have a stunning view of the outdoors available, are your windows of adequate size to showcase it? Do you require privacy or live in a remote area with little traffic? These are important issues to consider when determining your selection of windows, shades, blinds or shutters.
|Bring the outside in with large windows in the kitchen and formaldehyde-free cabinetry. Custom cabinetry can be built using eco-friendly building products such as formaldehyde-free wood. Call Wilmington Cabinet Company at (843) 815-9222.||Using a wooden view camera, the photographic art of Ben Ham offers a unique view of the Lowcountry from someone who has been exploring the creeks, marshes and backroads of the South Carolina coast for over 30 years. Images by Ben Ham, (843) 842-4163.|
If you’re opting for shades, today’s most popular types, such as roman, pleated and energy efficient honeycomb come in so many different colors, materials and styles, it is fairly easy to create a beautiful and unique look. Vertical blinds are an effective treatment for large windows and doors, come in numerous shades and can be customized to fit windows or just about any shape and size, including round and oval – absolutely stunning when done professionally.
Some manufacturers also offer blinds built into the window. Nestled between the panes, this style is very maintenance friendly. Some high-tech models feature easy open/close control with a simple push of a button, eliminating the need for cords, which can sometimes be dangerous or unsightly.
Pella Windows, for example, offers the futuristic blinds in between the window panes that snap in and are easy to change. Pella’s Web site, www.pella.com, offers a feature that allows consumers to design their own window.
Shutters offer simplicity and clean lines, whether you choose traditional, plantation or café shutters. A popular trend today is to use shutters to enhance a view or add interest to a room.
Palm Beach vinyl shutters, for example, are a solution ideal for windows exposed to high heat, humidity and other extreme climate conditions. Today’s manufacturers offer a wide selection of textures and colors and their products have come a long way since the days of plain roller shades. If you have a great view you want to bring inside perhaps you should consider installing new windows.
It may be time to replace them for safety or energy efficiency reasons. Building codes have changed over the years and, whether you know it or not, your windows may be in violation. To be sure your windows are up to code visit the national safety council Web site, http://www.nsc.org/aware/window/checklst.htm, or consult a local professional.
Today’s windows offer many new features, such as child safety locks that provide peace of mind, yet are not unattractive. Also, you might want to consider double paned windows, which can effectively buffer noise, as well as regulate heat and cold. Other advantages of the double pane include ease of cleaning, as well as the ability to protect items in your home from sun damage.
It is good to be familiar with the different types of windows available when purchasing. Some common varieties include: casement, which are hinged at the sides; awning windows, which open outward; hoppers, which open inward; single and double hung, which slide vertically; and fixed windows, which do not open at all.
And if you’re seriously considering investing in new windows, you may also want to think about expanding the window space, or exposure area, especially if there are sizable views to enjoy or you’d like to introduce more light into your home. Installing more expansive windows may be more costly than merely working with your existing space, but a great view can add a lot of value to your home.
Well-designed and well-placed skylights can really add a “wow factor” to any home. They can be used simply for decorating or accenting, lighting, or ventilation purposes. When used to improve or introduce additional lighting, they really cut down on electric costs because they eliminate the need for power required for artificial lighting. Even if the ceiling of your bathroom, for example, does not offer direct access to the outdoors, some models incorporate reflectors, or mirrors, to draw natural light in. There are several different types of skylights and it is typically recommended that they be professionally installed.
ENHANCING YOUR EXTERIOR
How does the area outside your home appear? When you drive up to your home, is the view appealing or does it leave much to be desired? If you’re not sure, take a minute to go outside and walk the perimeter, examining it from all angles – pay particular attention to your curb appeal and areas visible from windows. When attempting to enhance the curb appeal of your house it is also good to ask yourself, what is the best outdoor feature of my home? There are many ways to improve your home’s views by addressing some of the following items.
LANDSCAPING IN NEED OF A LIFT?
Trees may be very beautiful and can enhance a property, which is particularly true in the Lowcountry. But sometimes they can detract from your views, especially if they are mangy looking or diseased. Some can also pose a hazard, if they have large limbs extending over the roof line or near power lines. It may be best to remove some that are merely cluttering up what could be a functional and pretty space. Or, sometimes just removing a few limbs in front of your windows can improve your view and freshen your home’s appearance. It is typically best to call in professionals, when considering such projects, and always a good idea to check out local regulations and ordinances before attempting removal of trees or branches.
And while shrubs can offer privacy, those that are not well maintained, and not thriving, can really detract from a home’s curb appeal. Plus, too much ill-placed blockage prevents positive energy flow – according to Feng Shui philosophy! Planting some new flowers or adding a decorative fountain or bench can add tons of curb appeal and give you a pleasant outdoor living area, not to mention give you something more pleasant to admire when looking out from the indoors! It is important to do your research regarding what types of plants are indigenous to your area. Some plants will not live in certain areas and many plants cannot live around plants, some do better in shade versus sun, some are easy to care for and others require more TLC. For these reasons it is a good idea to consider talking to a professional regarding doing any extensive gardening. If you want to go all out and create a stunning and elaborate outdoor area featuring waterfalls, ponds and fountains, contacting a landscape architecture company may be a good idea.
Once you determine your outdoor area’s problems and strengths, and decide what you’d like to achieve, you can learn how to best enhance your views.
Exterior lighting not only offers illumination, but, through carefully selected light products, can add aesthetically pleasing elements to your home. From artistic lanterns and lampposts, to hidden motion sensor lights and solar powered lights designed to look like walkway bricks, options abound. Today’s homeowners can add outdoor sconces and even install lights, which look like landscape boulders or rocks.
Outdoor lighting, whether it is for security reasons or curb appeal, can be an inexpensive way to enhance the look of any home. Not only will lighting show off your beautiful landscapes, it is also a great safety feature to light dark walkways and areas. Lampposts are a classic way to add elegance and class to your home, while
showing off your property. Spot lights are a popular choice when showcasing a particular favorite aspect of the yard. For example, spotlights are often used to display a fountain or water feature. Solar lights are charged by the sun during the day and then shine bright at night. This is also an economical advantage for homeowners because it is not wasting electricity. www.buzzerz.com/has new solar lights that look like rocks so they blend nicely with their surroundings, they are both inexpensive and easy to install.
TIME TO REMODEL?
For those who feel there is no easy solution to their problem, remodeling should be considered. Perhaps great views are available, but they happen to be available on the wrong side of the house. This often happens in cases regarding placement of the master bedroom or kitchen. Many homeowners would like to see the ocean from their bedroom window, or be able to view the river from their kitchen, for example. While a more costly endeavor, it is possible to move the location of rooms, either by expanding the space or switching the space with another room in the house. The expense may be more worthwhile to you if you intend to spend more time in some rooms versus others.
If you’re really looking to break your home out of the box, changing the ceilings might be the option for you. Cathedral and vaulted ceilings are really taking over the real estate market and are a great way to make an impressive change to your home. However, while these changes can improve the look of your home, they can also be more difficult or costly to heat and cool, so you should plan carefully before making any major decisions.
There are several different types of ceilings from which to choose, that will all add value to your home. For example, cathedral ceilings, modeled after churches, are high, open, and usually pointed or slanted. A vaulted ceiling is one that angles upward to create volume in a room. Tray ceilings are also becoming more common. These are the individual sections that are raised higher than the rest of the ceiling. Lights or patterns can be placed inside the raised area to create a variety of desired effects.
According to many reports, the most frequently remodeled room in the house is the kitchen; this is because it has the most effect on the home when changed. It is well known that the kitchen and living rooms are the most used rooms in the house, and by remodeling your kitchen you can add tons of value, as well as appeal, to your home.
Stucco is a popular look for many local homes and is an easy way to drastically change the exterior look of your house. Stucco can even be applied over brick to give your home, what some might consider, a more modern look. There are so many ways to enhance your views, whether you are outdoors looking in or indoors looking out, and many qualified professionals in the Lowcountry available to help you achieve the home of your dreams. Take a look around your home, then think about what you’d like to see and give your home a better view!
The Right Bulb, in the RIGHT PLACE
Outdoor lighting has long been considered a great way to make the outside of your house more secure, but outdoor lighting is also a great way to add drama and curb appeal to your home. Strategically placed fixtures, with state-of-the-art outdoor bulbs, can create beautiful focal points and highlight areas of interest within your outdoor landscape.
The same principles of layering light that apply to the interior of your home can be translated to the outdoors, according to the lighting experts at GE. Ambient light, which provides overall illumination, includes yard lights and porch lights. Task lighting consists of low-voltage lights along sidewalks and paths – it can even include lights that keep insects at bay. Accent lighting includes spotlights and other forms of special-interest lighting to dramatize water features, outdoor sculptures or art.
Some bulbs, such as GE outdoor bulbs, for example, reportedly have unique all-weather construction, which is designed to withstand harsh weather conditions. For a full, balanced effect, use a variety of subtle lighting techniques with multiple levels of brightness.
Uplighting is the perfect way to add depth and drama to trees, landscape features and architectural elements. Uplighting is achieved by placing lights at an angle and lighting objects from below. For heavy-duty, all-weather bulbs that will stand the test of time, GE halogen floodlights may be recommended. They produce broad beams of light for creating dramatic effects. Backlighting creates beautiful silhouettes by placing objects of interest in front of a lit surface. Instead of directly lighting a tree, shrub or a statue, angle the light against a wall or fence behind the object. GE’s outdoor halogen spotlights, for example, are a great choice for this eye-catching effect.
Use accent lighting to enhance the beauty of your home. For a bright, white light that’s long lasting and designed to make your home look its best, consumers can try GE halogen postlights.
Purchase lighting fixtures that are UL-listed and designed for outdoor use. Light decks, patios, porches and other outdoor living spaces well, especially steps. These areas can be prime tripping hazards for those unfamiliar with the landscape.
Use motion-sensing fixtures with GE floodlights and get light only when you need it. Check the motion sensor regularly to ensure it isn’t being triggered by moving pets, wildlife, gates, tree limbs or plants.
To save on energy costs, energy saving bulbs, such as the ENERGY STAR qualified GE Energy Smart Compact Fluorescent Lamps, for example, are recommended for outdoor use and are available in a variety of shapes and styles. These lamps use up to 75 percent less energy and last 8 to 10 times longer than ordinary incandescent bulbs. Outdoor timers, paired with incandescent or halogen bulbs, will also help you save energy by turning the lights off even if you forget to flip the switch. Motion sensors also conserve energy since they are only activated by movement.
To ensure that you are getting the maximum benefit and effect from your outdoor lighting, clean exposed bulbs several times during the season. Dirt and pollen can build up on bulbs, causing a light loss of up to 40 percent. For more information visit www.GELighting.com and click on the new “Design With Light” section for helpful lighting tips throughout your house. (Bulb information courtesy General Electric, Family Features).