Deprecated: Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /home/itectus/public_html/arch/wp-settings.php on line 512

Deprecated: Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /home/itectus/public_html/arch/wp-settings.php on line 527

Deprecated: Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /home/itectus/public_html/arch/wp-settings.php on line 534

Deprecated: Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /home/itectus/public_html/arch/wp-settings.php on line 570

Strict Standards: Declaration of Walker_Page::start_lvl() should be compatible with Walker::start_lvl(&$output) in /home/itectus/public_html/arch/wp-includes/classes.php on line 1199

Strict Standards: Declaration of Walker_Page::end_lvl() should be compatible with Walker::end_lvl(&$output) in /home/itectus/public_html/arch/wp-includes/classes.php on line 1199

Strict Standards: Declaration of Walker_Page::start_el() should be compatible with Walker::start_el(&$output) in /home/itectus/public_html/arch/wp-includes/classes.php on line 1199

Strict Standards: Declaration of Walker_Page::end_el() should be compatible with Walker::end_el(&$output) in /home/itectus/public_html/arch/wp-includes/classes.php on line 1199

Strict Standards: Declaration of Walker_PageDropdown::start_el() should be compatible with Walker::start_el(&$output) in /home/itectus/public_html/arch/wp-includes/classes.php on line 1244

Strict Standards: Declaration of Walker_Category::start_lvl() should be compatible with Walker::start_lvl(&$output) in /home/itectus/public_html/arch/wp-includes/classes.php on line 1391

Strict Standards: Declaration of Walker_Category::end_lvl() should be compatible with Walker::end_lvl(&$output) in /home/itectus/public_html/arch/wp-includes/classes.php on line 1391

Strict Standards: Declaration of Walker_Category::start_el() should be compatible with Walker::start_el(&$output) in /home/itectus/public_html/arch/wp-includes/classes.php on line 1391

Strict Standards: Declaration of Walker_Category::end_el() should be compatible with Walker::end_el(&$output) in /home/itectus/public_html/arch/wp-includes/classes.php on line 1391

Strict Standards: Declaration of Walker_CategoryDropdown::start_el() should be compatible with Walker::start_el(&$output) in /home/itectus/public_html/arch/wp-includes/classes.php on line 1442

Strict Standards: Redefining already defined constructor for class wpdb in /home/itectus/public_html/arch/wp-includes/wp-db.php on line 306

Deprecated: Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /home/itectus/public_html/arch/wp-includes/cache.php on line 103

Strict Standards: Redefining already defined constructor for class WP_Object_Cache in /home/itectus/public_html/arch/wp-includes/cache.php on line 431

Deprecated: Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /home/itectus/public_html/arch/wp-includes/query.php on line 61

Deprecated: Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /home/itectus/public_html/arch/wp-includes/theme.php on line 1109

Strict Standards: Declaration of Walker_Comment::start_lvl() should be compatible with Walker::start_lvl(&$output) in /home/itectus/public_html/arch/wp-includes/comment-template.php on line 1266

Strict Standards: Declaration of Walker_Comment::end_lvl() should be compatible with Walker::end_lvl(&$output) in /home/itectus/public_html/arch/wp-includes/comment-template.php on line 1266

Strict Standards: Declaration of Walker_Comment::start_el() should be compatible with Walker::start_el(&$output) in /home/itectus/public_html/arch/wp-includes/comment-template.php on line 1266

Strict Standards: Declaration of Walker_Comment::end_el() should be compatible with Walker::end_el(&$output) in /home/itectus/public_html/arch/wp-includes/comment-template.php on line 1266

Strict Standards: Redefining already defined constructor for class WP_Dependencies in /home/itectus/public_html/arch/wp-includes/class.wp-dependencies.php on line 31

Strict Standards: Redefining already defined constructor for class WP_Http in /home/itectus/public_html/arch/wp-includes/http.php on line 61

Deprecated: Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /home/itectus/public_html/arch/wp-content/plugins/feedwordpress/feedwordpress.php on line 204

Deprecated: Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /home/itectus/public_html/arch/wp-content/plugins/feedwordpress/feedwordpress.php on line 342

Deprecated: Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /home/itectus/public_html/arch/wp-content/plugins/feedwordpress/feedwordpress.php on line 551

Deprecated: Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /home/itectus/public_html/arch/wp-content/plugins/feedwordpress/feedwordpress.php on line 2273

Deprecated: Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /home/itectus/public_html/arch/wp-content/plugins/feedwordpress/feedwordpress.php on line 2495

Deprecated: Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /home/itectus/public_html/arch/wp-content/plugins/feedwordpress/feedwordpress.php on line 2559

Deprecated: Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /home/itectus/public_html/arch/wp-content/plugins/feedwordpress/compatability.php on line 134

Strict Standards: Non-static method FeedWordPress::needs_upgrade() should not be called statically in /home/itectus/public_html/arch/wp-content/plugins/feedwordpress/feedwordpress.php on line 135

Warning: session_start(): open(/tmp/sess_ld3ms8ps17b2kerbot0228n167, O_RDWR) failed: Disk quota exceeded (122) in /home/itectus/public_html/arch/wp-content/plugins/wordpress-automatic-upgrade/wordpress-automatic-upgrade.php on line 121

Warning: session_start(): Cannot send session cookie - headers already sent by (output started at /home/itectus/public_html/arch/wp-includes/comment-template.php:1266) in /home/itectus/public_html/arch/wp-content/plugins/wordpress-automatic-upgrade/wordpress-automatic-upgrade.php on line 121

Warning: session_start(): Cannot send session cache limiter - headers already sent (output started at /home/itectus/public_html/arch/wp-includes/comment-template.php:1266) in /home/itectus/public_html/arch/wp-content/plugins/wordpress-automatic-upgrade/wordpress-automatic-upgrade.php on line 121

Strict Standards: Redefining already defined constructor for class ftp_base in /home/itectus/public_html/arch/wp-content/plugins/wordpress-automatic-upgrade/lib/ftp_class.php on line 56

Strict Standards: Redefining already defined constructor for class ftp in /home/itectus/public_html/arch/wp-content/plugins/wordpress-automatic-upgrade/lib/ftp_class_sockets.php on line 8

Strict Standards: Non-static method FeedWordPress::stale() should not be called statically in /home/itectus/public_html/arch/wp-content/plugins/feedwordpress/feedwordpress.php on line 203

Strict Standards: Non-static method FeedWordPress::update_requested() should not be called statically in /home/itectus/public_html/arch/wp-content/plugins/feedwordpress/feedwordpress.php on line 208
Arch.itect.us: architecture from the edge….

How to Decide Between Hiring an Architect or a Designer

modern mountain home wood stone

While both these professions (architect and designer) revolve around home and building design, there remain some skills that necessitate the hiring of one over the other. Image Source: Tahoe Architect

The big question is: What’s the difference? You want a new home from top to bottom, so who do you hire— An architect? An interior designer? Or both?

Few people realize that many designers have some knowledge and training in architecture, similarly, many architects have knowledge and training in design. While both these professions revolve around home and building design, there remain some skills that necessitate the hiring of one over the other.

Here we will outline all you need to know, helping you decide whether it’s a designer or architect that you need to call.

kitchen island stools tile floor

Here we will outline all you need to know, helping you decide whether it’s a designer or architect that you need to call. Image Source: Siberian Floors

 What Do Architects Do?

The best way to know who to hire is to first know what each professional does.  Here is an outline of the key tasks and job responsibilities of an architect (see below for Interior Designers):

  • Architects design ALL types of buildings—not just homes. Hospitals, hotels, churches, commuter stations etc. are commonly on an architects to-do list
  • After communication with all those involved, the architect(s) will draw up plans for your design, usually with a computer-aided model
  • They then closely supervise as a construction firm takes over to build said design
  • Their designs incorporate function, form, safety and needs of the future owners
  • Their designs incorporate both beauty and functionality
  • Architects have strong mathematical and logical thinking, ensuring a stable, sound structure

Architects are very unique-minded individuals; inside their mind lay of a myriad of numbers, lines and angles, along with creative possibilities that most could never dream of. Let’s see how this skill-set compares to that of an interior designer.

exterior landscape one story home

Architects are very unique-minded individuals; inside their mind lay of a myriad of numbers, lines and angles, along with creative possibilities that most could never dream of. Image Source: Weber Design Group

 What Do Interior Designers Do?

While many people believe interior designers have a single-minded skill-set that revolves around making things pretty—they are sorely wrong. Here is an outline of the key roles that interior designers play:

  • Interior designers are professionally trained in space planning for ALL types of buildings including, hotels, homes, office spaces, hospitals etc.
  • After consultation with the client(s), they create renderings/drawings of designs that are both functional and aesthetic for the interior space
  • Once design is approved by the client, the designer then creates the space.
  • Sometimes the space can be created through simple allocation of fabrics, paints and furnishings while other times it may require a more intensive remodel whereby construction contractors are hired
  • Their designs incorporate both beauty and functionality, while maintaining safety through adherence and knowledge of building codes and safety
  • Interior designers have strong spatial skills along with a myriad of aesthetic design skills

Interior designers are certainly the ones to hire if you crave a beautiful space, but their skills go way beyond beauty—with most having received training in the fields of architecture, design, construction, building codes and sustainability.

grey paint club chairs side table

Interior designers are certainly the ones to hire if you crave a beautiful space, but their skills go way beyond beauty. Image Source: Urban Home Magazine

What’s the Difference Between the Architect and the Designer?

Now that we have laid out all of the key job responsibilities—what’s the difference? Both professions seem to hold skills that simultaneously beautify and build; both seem to have the skills of designing an aesthetically appealing home while maintaining safety.

Here is the big difference between these two professions: Architects design the interior and exterior spaces of our built environment, designing how spatial relationships within a building are laid out. While interior designers, hence the name, work within the already established interior spatial platform, using their skills to add aesthetic value. While some interior designers are more than willing to help with exterior color choice or selection of details such as windows, doors etc. their main responsibilities lie within the building. And while architects may be able to help with interior designs, their key responsibilities lie on the exterior or shell of the building.

This creates a relationship of sorts; one where cohabitation between a designer and an architect may be required; one where a designer does the interior work of the architect’s exterior work. So who do you hire? Perhaps both.

open floor plan aqua blue kitchen island

Here is the big difference between these two professions: Architects usually design the structure or shell of a building, while interior designers, hence the name, design the interior within the shell. Image Source: Phi Home Designs

 How to Choose Who To Hire?

As we outlined for you above, architects and interior designers seem to rely on one another to get to the end result—a well-designed building inside and out. Both bring to the table a set of skills that are intrinsic to a proper design.

So, who do you hire? Well, we suggest it depends on your individual scenario. If you already have a structure built and are looking for interior design help, then in most cases you require the help of an interior designer. And if you need a home built from scratch, then we say hire the architect —and possibly the interior designer if you need help on the inside of the home.

These above-mentioned scenarios are pretty clear-cut, but what about an interior remodel or rebuild where walls will be coming down and the structure will be changed? Then who do you hire—the architect or the designer?  In these cases, we suggest hiring both an architect to draw up the plans of the new structure and an interior designer to help ensure the new structure will be aesthetically pleasing and functional for your personal needs.  Some may argue with this and say that an interior designer is skilled enough to help with both aspects of a remodel (the structural and aesthetic) and they would be right to argue that, but we say be safe by hiring both professions, giving you the best of both design worlds.

blue mosaic bathroom tile shower

Architects and interior designers seem to rely on one another to get to the end result—a well-designed building inside and out. Image Source: Ed Kopel

Architects and interior designers are both interesting, creative creatures who bring much-needed skill-sets to the table of home design.  As we have shown here, there is a marriage of skills that are needed when it comes to home design—with the architect offering exterior design skills and the interior designer offering interior skills.  Look at your individual project to decide whose skills best fit your needs.

What do you think? Would you prefer to hire both the architect and the designer? 

The post How to Decide Between Hiring an Architect or a Designer appeared first on Freshome.com.

Extravagant Fabric Design Made of Geometric Sequins: Eprisma

Eprisma extravagant fabric by Création Baumann

Extravagant fabric design can stop you in your way. Whether it decorates a window you walk by or you simply see a photo of this modern fabric, the Eprisma extravagant fabric by Création Baumann looks and feels like a piece of art. Imagine a dull space being adorned with this magical-looking modern fabric and you will understand its power to inspire and amaze.

Eprisma’s sophistication resides in the material’s capacity to bounce light of its texture. More a sculpture then a functional decor item, the Eprisma curtain is available in three colors: white, bronze or black. Made out of 100% Polyester, the sleek 3D fabric is made of geometric sequins that shape an unforgettable design. The semi-transparent curtain fabric will definitely become the focal point in any room.

Eprisma extravagant fabric by Création Baumann (1)

According to its designer, “an abundance of gleaming pyramid like triangles in sequin foil compete to outdo each other at the window. The curtain “Eprisma” from the Spring Collection 2015 by Création Baumann transmutes into a striking sculptureThe glistening triangles are appliquéd on the semi-transparent fabric adjacent to each other, in a closely packed strict geometric arrangement. The three-dimensional foil has been moulded and top stitched – an elaborate process. The result is something to behold. The three dimensionality generates depth, the multifaceted light display changes with the angle of incoming sun light.”

This sculptural textile is a semi-transparent three-dimensional fabric reminding us of these innovative wooden textiles from designer Elisa Strozyk. Where do you imagine these two fantastic products displayed your own home?

Eprisma extravagant fabric by Création Baumann (2) Eprisma extravagant fabric by Création Baumann (3) Eprisma extravagant fabric by Création Baumann (4) Eprisma extravagant fabric by Création Baumann (5) Eprisma extravagant fabric by Création Baumann (6) Eprisma extravagant fabric by Création Baumann (7)

The post Extravagant Fabric Design Made of Geometric Sequins: Eprisma appeared first on Freshome.com.

Smart Shelter in Spain Evoking A Breathable Lifestyle

El Refugio Inteligente by NOEM

When time spent with family and friends becomes a priority, you also take into account the place you would like that to happen. This is where the smart refuge comes in. El Refugio Inteligente was imagined by NOEM as a functional space easily and automatically controlled from the owner’s mobile device. The blessed owners having been dreaming to build a small refuge in the ​​Serra Espadà mountains of Spain. Working with Spanish studio NOEM ( the name comes from “No Emission”) opened their eyes to the possibility of enjoying an energy efficient leisure home where everyone they love is welcomed.

El Refugio Inteligente by NOEM (1)

Using prefabricated wooden modules to erect the refuge fast and efficient was key. Adding the swimming pool, barbecue and toilet extends the versatility and encourages a natural, conscious lifestyle. According to the architects, “Its S-SE orientation maximizes thermal comfort in winter and the abundance of sunscreens also ensures summer enjoyment. The architectural design stands out for its simplicity and for a metal frame which marks out the covered areas and provides the appropriate level of design. It is an area defined to cater for all the customs and habits of the occupants,with maximum accessibility and with openings which permit a privileged view.


Photos by Meritxell Arjalaguer show the interiors and surroundings, both during and after construction. For a time lapse of the construction, check the video below. It would be amazing if you let us know what you think about this smart shelter or if you’ve seen anything better you’d like to share.

El Refugio Inteligente by NOEM (2) El Refugio Inteligente by NOEM (3) El Refugio Inteligente by NOEM (4) El Refugio Inteligente by NOEM (5) El Refugio Inteligente by NOEM (6) El Refugio Inteligente by NOEM (7) El Refugio Inteligente by NOEM (8) El Refugio Inteligente by NOEM (9) El Refugio Inteligente by NOEM (10) El Refugio Inteligente by NOEM (11) El Refugio Inteligente by NOEM (12) El Refugio Inteligente by NOEM (13) El Refugio Inteligente by NOEM (14) El Refugio Inteligente by NOEM (15) El Refugio Inteligente by NOEM (16) El Refugio Inteligente by NOEM (17) El Refugio Inteligente by NOEM (18) El Refugio Inteligente by NOEM (19) El Refugio Inteligente by NOEM (20) El Refugio Inteligente by NOEM (21)

El Refugi – Time Lapse – NOEM Go from NOEM on Vimeo.

The post Smart Shelter in Spain Evoking A Breathable Lifestyle appeared first on Freshome.com.

Writer’s Cave-Like Retreat Surrounded by Raw Nature in Brazil

architecture modern retreat
With a total surface of only 31 square meters, this solitary writer’s retreat in Itaipava, Petrópolis, Brazil displays a cave-inspired design. According to the creative team at Architectare, the symbolism of the cave is very broad and diverse: “It suggests shelter, self-knowledge, return to basics, reflection, pregnancy, growth, freedom through thought and many other meanings that can be found in ancient people´s mythologies and suggest the use of this building as much as a shelter as an ideas’s instigator.” The newly build writer’s retreat accommodates a bedroom, a bathroom and a small pantry.
design modern retreat
The dwelling is built in steel frame, clad with stones found on the lot, covered in metal roofing and partially encircled by aluminum and glass frames.  Despite its small size, comfort is the defining asset of this retreat: “Once the writer is in it, he is cozy and protected. He has everything he needs, as in a womb. He is secure enough to get in touch with all his most inner thoughts, demons and illusions, so when he gets out of it, he feels fresh and full of new ideas.” Have a look at the photos and tell us what you think! [Photography: Leonardo Finotti]
modern retreat (1) modern retreat (2) modern retreat (3) modern retreat (5) modern retreat (7) modern retreat (8) modern retreat (9) modern retreat (10) modern retreat (11) modern retreat (12) modern retreat (13)

The post Writer’s Cave-Like Retreat Surrounded by Raw Nature in Brazil appeared first on Freshome.com.

Home Extension Heaven: Outfitting Your Home For Leisurely Living

Modern home extension by MCK Architects

Australian studio MCK Architects were asked to transform a modest bungalow into a dreamy home where the garden would naturally flow inside. The result is magnificent, breaking our mental boxes enough to see this home extension bud and flower under the Australian sun. “On first visiting the site we were met with a modest bungalow perched on a hill overlooking Vaucluse House. The clients were equally modest, simply needing more space for their family with better connection to the garden, sunlight and air.” Needles to say the owners got more than their bargained for.

Modern home extension by MCK Architects (1)

The award-winning architects based in Sydney, Australia, imagined a home inviting to socialization and laughter both indoors and out. They worked in close collaboration with Sydney-based Spirit Level Design in creating a home environment sprinkled with panoramic views of the surrounding garden. This modern bungalow turned dream home conveys a feeling of freedom matched with sophistication and freshness:

The garden was very important, and it became intrinsic to the design. A large rock that sat in the hill to the rear of the house became our focal and pivotal natural element in the new architectural composition. With the underlying philosophy of relative modesty, the new form is setback, maintaining existing amenity enjoyed by neighbours.

The first floor is concealed in the black roof form, providing a recessive appearance from the street, nestling into the landscape. Resting on two legs at opposite corners allowed the possibility of a clear opening to the garden at ground and main living level. Opening like an eye to the sky and trees it folds along the perimeter of the plan. When describing to the client the experience one might feel standing in the lounge room looking out, the analogy of a skirt was used and then stuck, hence skirt and rock.”

Modern home extension by MCK Architects (2)

Photographs by photographer Richard Glover reveal details that uniquely embed this home in its surroundings. Seeing more of the architect’s portfolio offers you a glimpse into their vision. Their work includes a 1960’s house in Sydney replaced with an intriguingly modern version of itself – the Flipped House – and the delightfully renovated and enhanced North Bondi House that sacrifices space in order to bring in more light.

Fresh inspiration is everywhere, just keep an open heart!

Modern home extension by MCK Architects (3) Modern house extension by MCK Architects (4) Modern house extension by MCK Architects (5) Modern home extension by MCK Architects (6) Modern house extension by MCK Architects (7) Modern home extension by MCK Architects (8) Modern home extension by MCK Architects (9) Modern house extension by MCK Architects (10) Modern home extension by MCK Architects (11) Modern home extension by MCK Architects (12) Modern home extension by MCK Architects (13) Modern home extension by MCK Architects (14) Modern home extension by MCK Architects (15) Modern home extension by MCK Architects (16) Modern home extension by MCK Architects (17) Modern home extension by MCK Architects (18) Modern home extension by MCK Architects (19)

The post Home Extension Heaven: Outfitting Your Home For Leisurely Living appeared first on Freshome.com.

Perfectly Balancing Rural and Urban Lifestyles: House JA in Portugal

design modern residenceLocated on the north-center of Portugal, House JA by Filipe Pina and Maria Ines Costa was envisioned to combine a rural and urban lifestyle. The lot is surrounded by different types of constructions, consequence of the informal settlements, characteristics of most Portuguese city neighborhoods. The existent stone ruins, vestige of a traditional house and the configuration of the lot were the main aspects for the new project. The first principle was to separate the new and the old construction, even if they are connected inside. A stone volume represents the existent building; a concrete volume the new one.architecture modern residenceThe second principle was to introduce light in the middle of the house. Two different empty spaces were generated: the entrance, and the heart of the house – the courtyard. The courtyard and the stairs are the center of the house and its living. These are the key elements for the spatial relationships between the different parts of the house, the interior and the exterior. The program was divided in two levels: the living room, the kitchen and the garage were positioned on the ground floor; the bedrooms and the library at the first floor.

The suite was placed in a privileged point – the memory of the old house. The scale and the site identity were always present on the construction details and material choices: stone, concrete, steel and oak wood. Inside the white and the wood comfort. Outside a granitic and a new concrete mass were sculpted on the same way. [Information provided via e-mail by Filipe Pina and Maria Ines Costa; Photography: Joao Morgado]

exterior modern residence modern residence (2) modern residence (3) modern residence (12) modern residence (14) modern residence (16) modern residence (17) modern residence (18) modern residence (19) the interior (1) the interior (2) the interior (3) the interior (4) the interior (5) the interior (6) the interior (7) the interior (8)

The post Perfectly Balancing Rural and Urban Lifestyles: House JA in Portugal appeared first on Freshome.com.

Top 5 Tested DIY Home Security Systems

You love Freshome for bringing you modern architecture and inspiring homes, but have you ever thought of how to secure those wonderful dwellings? As we all sit safe and sound in our homes, we feel guarded and protected from the rest of the big, bad world—but are we really as safe as we think? Despite the staggering $34.5 billion dollars we are projected to spend worldwide on home security by 2017, we may still lack the proper home security system—and even if you have a proper system, are you paying an arm and a leg for it?

Not all security systems are created equal, and with the plethora of choices at our disposal we have lots of decisions to make. Since $1.5 billion dollars is projected to be spent on the more modern breed of (do-it-yourself) DIY home security systems (thank our cell phones and tablets for that increasing statistic), we decided to focus solely on the DIY systems.

Here, we have done all the work for you; We tested 5 of the top DIY home security systems on the market–-Piper, Scout Alarm, Simplisafe, Viper Home, and iSmartAlarm. And we will take you step-by-step through installations, ease of use, monitoring methods and cost, in an attempt to help you choose the best security system for your current living situation. Now all you need to do is read this article and decide what to buy.

 Piper: Stream-Lined Security

With a 105-decibel alarm, Piper certainly doesn’t chirp like a bird. We purchased the 3-piece Piper set for $299 on Amazon. It came with an HD security camera, and 2 Z-Wave compatible accessories: a smart switch for lights and a door/window sensor. Piper’s camera has a black or white color option, but the other accessories seem to only be available in white. The camera design is sleek, compact and elegant, and the other accessories are small and unobtrusive; it also comes with a sturdy, yet stream-lined, silver stand.

Set-up took approximately 20 minutes thanks to the easy-to-follow quick-start guide, and soon a femme-fatale robotic voice filled the room saying, “Piper is ready”. We downloaded the Piper App on our iPhone 6 (there is also an android app), and after entering some basic information, Piper connected to our network, and checked for and installed updates on its own. The only hiccup was the installation of the Smart Outlet, which took a few tries until we realized that the button you need to push is deceptively inside the sensor casing.

Then we put Piper to work. We loved how when Piper detected a loud sound or motion she would notify us via call, text and email. We could also view Piper’s video feed through the app and track our home’s temperature, humidity, noise and activity levels. There was, however, a 10-second lag from when Piper’s alarm was tripped to when we received notifications. While Piper’s 1080p video is not the clearest, it works and its hard to hide from the wide angle, 180-degree lens (we tried). In addition, we had trouble installing the window sensors and had to fidget with them for a bit to get Piper to recognize them.

Overall, despite a few install hiccups, we think Piper does a great job streamlining DIY home security without sacrificing function. We love how Piper can support other Z-wave devices and we also love that there are no hidden fees or monitoring costs. Piper is currently available in the USA, Canada and EU countries.

Piper

With a 105-decibel alarm, Piper certainly doesn’t chirp like a bird.

 Scout Alarm: Balancing Modern With Traditional

Does Scout Alarm scout your house for criminal activity like a hound dog? Let’s see. We purchased a 7-piece set $319.00 on Amazon. It came with an alarm hub that connects to a router, a motion detector, a door sensor, 2 access sensors, and 2 keychains that can arm and disarm the system via the door panel. Our design choice was white with black trim, but it is also available in black with white trim and walnut with white trim. We appreciated the modern color options and the clean lines with rounded edges; however, the door panels and access sensors were quite bulky.

Set-up took almost an hour. You have to connect Scout’s hub to your internet router via an included ethernet cable. The sensors were very easy to install and worked despite the fact that we couldn’t get them to line up evenly thanks to our window trim style. Scout is one of the few systems that is professionally monitored with a monthly fee ranging from $9.99 to $19.99. Now it was time to test out the system.

Again, we downloaded the app to our iPhone (there is no android app), but Scout can also be controlled via an online dashboard. We loved how Scout simultaneously texted, called and emailed when the alarm was tripped, but there was a significant lag after disarming before the alarm actually went off. But here’s the thing: the alarm was not really that loud. Scout says it is 106-decibels, but it didn’t seem that to us— reminding us more of a smoke detector chirp or alarm clock instead of an alarm that was meant to alert trouble.

Our conclusion: Scout is straddling the line between DIY and traditional home security due to its professional monitoring. While you can skip the professional monitoring, you still have to pay a minimum of $9.99 per month for services like remote texting, email notification, etc. Aside from being the most costly of the alarms we tested, the biggest draw back was the quietness of the alarm. Scout is currently only available in the USA.

Scout

Does Scout Alarm scout your house for criminal activity like a hound dog?

 SimpliSafe: Customizable Security

Just like its name, SimpliSafe is simple, yet offers a lot of bang for your buck. We purchased an 8-piece Simplisafe2 wireless system for $259.95 on Amazon, but there were a lot of other packages that were available for multiple price points up to $539.85. Even better, Simplisafe is completely customizable, allowing you to build your own system from scratch. Ours came with: base station and siren, control keypad, keychain remote, motion sensor, and 4 entry sensors. However, take note that Simplisafe’s design leaves much to the imagination as it is rather bland and utilitarian looking. The design is essentially one of a traditional security system, looking outdated and cheap compared to the other systems we tried.

Set up was pretty simple and seamless; it didn’t require internet connection and we simply had to plug in the base and get started. The main drawback was the app— it lets you arm and disarm the system (and view any events), but it doesn’t let you adjust your system setting, you need to go to the online dashboard to do that. We also had to call customer service to iron out a cell signal issue, but they were friendly and got us back on track quickly.

The online dashboard has a multitude of setting options and even allows you to set a PIN for trusted friends and a safe word for alarm triggers when the dispatchers call. Yes, Simplisafe is one of our monitored DIY systems with price points from $14.99-$24.99 per month (but no lengthy contract to sign, allowing you to go month-to-month). The siren is not super loud but loud enough to scare off intruders and can run for as long as 8 minutes if you want.

Bottom line? Simplisafe certainly offers a lot of accessories with many at lower price points than competitors; it is close to a traditional system with its monthly monitoring costs; it is quite customizable; and it doesn’t depend on an internet connection. So, we like it for people who want to customize to their personal needs and who want to avoid internet dependance. Simplisafe is currently only available in the USA.

SimpliSafe

Just like its name, SimpliSafe is simple, yet offers a lot of bang for your buck.

 Viper Home: Integrated Security Products

The Viper Home system was full of surprises—some more welcome than others. We purchased a 4-piece set for $159.99 on Amazon; it included a smart hub, motion detector, and a window and door sensor. Upon set-up we got our first surprise—there is no siren included in the kit; we had to buy one separately for $50. We would have preferred paying more for the initial kit instead of making another purchase after the fact. Viper’s design was very pleasing to eye with its compact, modern appearance; Its glossy white accessories were the smallest of the systems we tested, with a motion detector the size of a computer mouse.

Following the quick-start guide, we inserted a provided backup battery in the hub and then connected the hub to the Internet router via a provided Ethernet cable. Then we simply went to the website to set the system preferences. Here was our second surprise— despite their website advertising no fees, we had to pay a required monthly fee of $9.99 to use the system. The rest of the set-up remained simple and easy.

Now we tested the system. Here was our next surprise— When we pressed the panic button, we expected the siren to go off—nope, instead it sends notifications to contacts we designated in case of emergency. Well, it was supposed to do that, but it didn’t even send the notifications as the App kept crashing before they were sent. We did receive push notifications right away when the system was breached, but the email notifications came some 15 hours after the breach—not exactly helpful in the case of an emergency.

Our conclusion? While there are a lot of cons as mentioned above; there are some good points to Viper, as well. The alarm is super loud when it does go off; the motion detector has tamper alerts and its range of 40- feet outclassed all the other systems we tested; and the app allows Z-wave compatibility and integrates with their line of car security products. Bottom line, Viper has possibilities but needs some work before we would buy. Viper is the only system we tested that was available world-wide.

Viper

The Viper Home system was full of surprises—some more welcome than others.

 iSmartAlarm: Smart and Seamless Security

Just like its name, the iSmartAlarm reminded us of Apple’s iPod with its gleamy white, streamlined appearance. The cube-shaped hub reminded us of a throwback to an iPod speaker doc. Essentially, the design will blend well in a tech-savvy home. We purchased an 8-piece set for $189 on Amazon; it came with an alarm hub, 2 window sensors, 2 door sensors, a motion sensor and 2 keychain remotes. There is the option of buying a premium package for $349 which includes a security camera, and they are currently rolling out an HD camera with audio and motion detection for $149.

Set up was quite seamless despite one glitch. We downloaded the app to our iPhone 6 (there is also an Android app), then we plugged in the hub and connected it to our wireless router. Once we launched the app our phone immediately recognized the hub and after some updates it recognized the motion detector, but nothing else— we had to take out the remote and sensors’ batteries and re-insert them in order to get the app to recognize them.

Then it was time to put it to the test. We liked how we could control everything via the app or the keychain; we liked the way we could customize our settings; and we liked that the app tracks all events. The only con was that we could not customize what happened after the alarm was triggered—we were simultaneously notified via text, email and phone, but there was no way to choose one preferred method as the other systems allowed us to do. Although, that is not a super big drawback. The bigger drawback was the fact that there is no battery back-up—if the power goes out, then so does your safety.

Bottom line: iSmartAlarm is a good system for the price and doesn’t require any additional monthly fees. But if you want professional monitoring , then you are out of luck as this system does not offer that feature. iSmartAlarm is currently available in the USA, Canada and the EU countries.

iSmart

Just like its name, the iSmartAlarm reminded us of Apple’s iPod with its gleamy white, streamlined appearance.

So that’s it. What do you think? Depending on your budget, your ability to use smart technology, etc…which system may prove right for your home? We’d love to hear your comments, and please tell us if this information was helpful.

Before making your final buying decision, we suggest that you check out each of these systems online and weigh the pros and cons that we have listed here. If you don’t mind monthly fees and need professional monitoring, then ScoutAlarm, Simplisafe or Viper may be your best options. While if you want to monitor the system yourself and want to avoid monthly fees, then Piper or iSmart may be your best options.

The post Top 5 Tested DIY Home Security Systems appeared first on Freshome.com.

Modern Family Home Tastefully Decorated With Natural Light

 Modern Family Home Casa en Cassà by Ricard Galiana and Yago Oliva

Rising in a new neighborhood in Cassà de la Selva, Girona, Spain, this modern family home is known as “Casa en Cassà”. From outside, its bold architectural language hints towards the carefully manicured interiors. Architects Ricard Galiana and Yago Oliva imagined an impressive space, where light creates geometric games at different times of day and sunshine accompanied meals, time spent with family and friendly encounters.

Balancing the concrete appearance presented on the facade, main social areas are bright and comfortable. This mixture of raw concrete, glass and the Mangas Rug and Pouff designed by Patricia Urquiola make the double-height living room a perfect place for both entertaining and relaxing.

Casa en Cassà by Ricard Galiana and Yago Oliva (1) Modern Family Home

Spreading over 580 square meters, interiors designed by Georgina Figueras attract attention with a high degree of transparency. Natural light floods the spaces, creating a permanent connection to the beauty of the ever-changing outdoors. Photographs by Nani Pujol surprise the home from different angles, making it easy to observe the slightly sloped terrain shaping the architecture. Working with 1 million Euros as a budget, architects imagined a modern family home on two levels facing south, where the family would feel at home.

According to the architects, “the main rooms are distributed along a single floor divided in two concrete blocks –“night and day areas”– , with a double-height living room and a mezzanine creating a transparent space connecting both blocks. The two blocks offer the needed degree of privacy to each space while taking into consideration the private views, the street, the forest and the solar orientation. The northern backyard provides a pedestrian access in contact with the forest. The south porch-terrace faces the swimming pool.”

Upstairs spaces were reserved for main social areas, private quarters and the alluring swimming pool where entertainment and panoramic views converge. Underneath, the garden and parking areas create the lower level. Let’s take a short tour of the modern family home to observe details like the mezzanine level with glass railings drawing light deep inside or the scarcity of furniture making the space appear aired and cozy.

Casa en Cassà by Ricard Galiana and Yago Oliva (2) Casa en Cassà by Ricard Galiana and Yago Oliva (3) Casa en Cassà by Ricard Galiana and Yago Oliva (4) Casa en Cassà by Ricard Galiana and Yago Oliva (5) Casa en Cassà by Ricard Galiana and Yago Oliva (6) Casa en Cassà by Ricard Galiana and Yago Oliva (7) Casa en Cassà by Ricard Galiana and Yago Oliva (8) Casa en Cassà by Ricard Galiana and Yago Oliva (9) Casa en Cassà by Ricard Galiana and Yago Oliva (10) Casa en Cassà by Ricard Galiana and Yago Oliva (11) Casa en Cassà by Ricard Galiana and Yago Oliva (12) Casa en Cassà by Ricard Galiana and Yago Oliva (13) Casa en Cassà by Ricard Galiana and Yago Oliva (14) Casa en Cassà by Ricard Galiana and Yago Oliva (15)

The post Modern Family Home Tastefully Decorated With Natural Light appeared first on Freshome.com.

Residence in Norway Embedding Innovative Sustainable Features: ZEB Pilot House

architecture modern residence
Completed by Snøhetta, in collaboration with ZEB (The Research Center on Zero Emission Buildings) and Optimera, ZEB Pilot House is a innovative architecture project embedding a variety of sustainable solutions. The building in Larvik, Norway has everything a single family house needs, yet it is intended as a show-home for various groundbreaking energy-efficient systems. But we can’t help feeling intrigued by its original exterior, with an oblique dominant black volume and sloping roof clad in solar panels. Have a look at the last photo of this post for a better understanding of the project and its features!
deign modern residence
According to the architects, focus on carbon emissions associated with building materials represents a new direction in the vital drive toward a sustainable construction industry: “To achieve ZEB-OM classification the project is required to document and verify a minimum of 100% CO2 offsetting. Renewable energy production via photovoltaic and solar-thermal panels integrated in the building envelope enables offsetting of carbon emissions generated by the burning of fossil fuels in power stations. By offsetting in this manner we reduce emission of other greenhouse gasses simultaneously.” ZEB Pilot House in Norway is an inspiring example of how architecture and sustainable technology combine in raising living standards, as well as environmental consciousness. [Photos by: Bruce Damonte]
exterior modern residence modern residence (2) modern residence (3) modern residence (4) modern residence (5) modern residence (6) modern residence (7) modern residence (8) modern residence (9) modern residence (10) modern residence (11) modern residence (14)

The post Residence in Norway Embedding Innovative Sustainable Features: ZEB Pilot House appeared first on Freshome.com.

How To Identify Toxins In Your Home

It's only natural to want to protect your home against toxins. Image Via: Skyring Architects

It’s only natural to want to protect your home against toxins. Image Via: Skyring Architects

The idea of identifying toxins in your home can be scary. Especially with all the media hype that seems to occur around so-called “toxic materials” that may cause cancer our other illnesses.

It only makes sense that you would want to keep your family safe and healthy. Luckily, there are a few things you can do to prepare for finding potentially toxic material at some point during the course of your homeownership.

We’ve outlined some of the most common causes of toxins that occur in residential properties, as well as how to find them and remediate them. Give this article a read and keep it somewhere easily accessible. You never know when you may want to refer back to it in the future.

A keen eye and a little research can do wonders for remedying toxins. Image Via: Amanda Alligood

A keen eye and a little research can do wonders for remedying toxins. Image Via: Amanda Alligood

Look Out For Mold

Mold is the most common toxin found in residential homes. It’s a fungus that is caused when moisture repeatedly comes into contact with the building components of your property and, if left untreated, can cause health problems and structural damage.

The easiest way to identify mold is to use your senses. Keep an eye out for black, white, or green growths, especially in areas where there are visible leaks and/or water droplets. Mold is also associated with a persistent damp smell, so you may be able to sniff it out.

Small amounts of mold can be banished with home remedies. Scrub the spot with bleach until it’s gone and immediately set about fixing the leak. However, extensive patches or toxic mold, which can be difficult to differentiate but often has a slimy appearance, needs to be treated by a professional.

Seal sources of moisture to protect against mold. Image Via: Slifer Designs

Seal sources of moisture to protect against mold. Image Via: Slifer Designs

Test for Radon

Radon is an orderless invisible gas that has been proven to cause lung cancer. It’s particularly dangerous because since you can’t see, smell or taste it, it’s possible that you and your family could breathe it in for an extended time without knowing. New buyers should definitely ask for the test in their inspection contingencies and even homeowners could benefit from having one done every few years.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), it’s caused by a natural yet radioactive breakdown of uranium in soil, rock and water. As the uranium breaks down, it seeps into the air.

Luckily, radon can be easily tested for by professionals. If your test results show a rating of  4 pCi/L or higher, you’ll need to treat it by having a radon reduction system installed in your home.

Radon can settle in both older and newer homes. Image Via: Brian Watford ID

Radon can settle in both older and newer homes. Image Via: Brian Watford ID

Learn About Asbestos

You’ve probably heard horror stories about asbestos, but in the interest of covering basics, the term refers to a flame-retardant form of insulation that was almost exclusively used in homes from the 1920’s – 1970’s. However, we now know that prolonged exposure to the fibers can lead to lung cancer.

If you’re in the market for an older home, there may likely be asbestos present in the household materials, especially around HV/AC ducts, siding, and certain types of linoleum flooring. Thankfully, sellers are required to disclose its existence, but don’t hesitate to ask questions.

It’s important to note that you should never attempt to remove asbestos on your own. Intact insolation is usually non-toxic, but once thee fibers are damaged, hazardous materials will be introduced to the air. Hire a professional who knows how to handle a removal properly.

Don't hesitate to test for radon before buying a new property. Image Via: Jessica Helgerson Interior Design

Don’t hesitate to test for radon before buying a new property. Image Via: Jessica Helgerson Interior Design

Protect Against Toxic Sources

Though the three toxins listed above are the main ones that every homeowner needs to be aware of, they are certainly not the only ones in existence. Luckily, there are a few things that you can do to keep your home healthy.

Since many toxins are transported through the air, air quality is a huge factor in protecting your home against Sick Building Syndrome (SBS). Especially if your loved ones are prone to allergies, it may be worth it to invest in an air filter to help keep things purified.

The products that you buy for your home are also important in creating a healthy home. Whenever possible, it’s best to buy natural products that are made without harsh chemicals. If price is also a concern, feel free to look into sites like Pinrest for tutorials on how to make your own all-natural products for a fraction of the cost.

Cleaning your home with natural products will also help reduce toxic risk. Image Via: Homes by Avi

Cleaning your home with natural products will also help reduce toxic risk. Image Via: Homes by Avi

Since toxic materials have been linked to instances of cancer and other illnesses, it’s important to protect ourselves against exposure. Fortunately, by doing a little research and keeping a close eye on your home, it’s possible to identify toxins and treat them before they become a larger issue. We’ve listed some of the most common types of toxins found in residential homes. Feel free to use this article as a resource for now and well into the future.

Do you have any questions about toxins that you’d like for us to answer? Have you ever encountered toxic materials in your home? Let us know in the comments below.

The post How To Identify Toxins In Your Home appeared first on Freshome.com.


Warning: Unknown: open(/tmp/sess_ld3ms8ps17b2kerbot0228n167, O_RDWR) failed: Disk quota exceeded (122) in Unknown on line 0

Warning: Unknown: Failed to write session data (files). Please verify that the current setting of session.save_path is correct () in Unknown on line 0