Call Now! 206.557.6400
email phone

The Blog

Smart home technology: 2016 and beyond

Categories: Home Owner Tips | Posted: June 16, 2016

Sci-fi movies have been filled with cool gadgets that put just about anything at your fingertips, with the push of a button. From George Jetson to James Bond, fictional characters have had all the fun.

Now, it’s our turn.

Smart home technology is automating everything in the home, from opening the doors and turning on the lights to tracking your sleep patterns and watering your plants. Today’s smart home technology lets you keep an eye on your dog when you’re away from home, alert you when your dinner is done, and warn you of leaky pipes.

In 2017, the GSMA expects we will spend $44 billion dollars on connected home technology, more than four times the projected sales of $10 billion this year.

In the kitchen, appliances like the smart refrigerator seem to be capable of doing everything except preparing meals. The touchscreen lets you listen to music or watch your favorite cooking show. Using LG’s HomeChat app, you can find out what’s in your fridge, perfect for when you’re at the grocery store without a list—as well as check on your other smart appliances.

Even your bathtub has become smarter. The Kohler VibrAcoustic Bath, for example, pumps sound waves through the water for a gentle massage, or acts as your bathroom sound system with your own playlist, whether the tub is empty or fill. When you get out of the tub, use the Oral-B smart toothbrush to make sure you’re brushing properly. Check your weight, body mass index, and heart rate on the Withings Smart Body Analyzer—and get the local weather forecast while you’re on this smart scale.

Dim the lights, lock the door, start your coffeemaker, adjust the thermostat, manage your smoke detector, turn on your sprinkler system, open your garage door, and even light your way in the dark. It’s all possible with the connected home and smart technology.

If you don’t want to coordinate all these functions, bring Amazon Echo home. This voice-activated home automation controller can operate your smart home technology with just a command. Ask it to play your favorite music, turn down the lights, and give you the latest news and weather update.

Are you keeping up with your home’s intelligence? Your life could be a lot easier if you do.

Sammamish Showcase Home Tour June 11-12

Categories: American Classic News, New Homes, Sammamish Homes | Posted: June 9, 2016

Sammamish Tour 2016Join us for the 1st Annual Sammamish Showcase Home Tour on Saturday, June 11 – Sunday, June 12. This tour will feature a professionally decorated and designed Islander home plan in Sammamish. Grab your friends and enjoy viewing this beautiful homes!

 

The Decorated Home location is

2201 239th Place SE, Sammamish WA 98075

Hours:

Saturday, June 11: 12:00 pm – 4:00 pm

Sunday, June 12: 12:00 pm – 4:00 pm

 

View a map of the location, or for additional information contact Summer at Summer@AmericanClassicHomes.com or 206.557.6385

Save

Save

Save

Get the beach look in your home

Categories: Home Owner Tips | Posted: June 2, 2016

You don’t have to live in an oceanfront cottage to treat yourself to the experience. The beach is a calming place, with its soft sand under your feet, the relaxing sound of waves rushing to the shore, and sunshine beaming down on your face. If you don’t have a seaside view, here are some ways to achieve the beach look in your home.

Color me beachy. Think about the colors of the shore. They’re soft and natural. Create a palette of colors to reflect this environment. Crisp white should be used amply. Contrast it with your preferred shade of blue: nautical, Aegean, cobalt, seafoam, or turquoise. Add the softness of buttery yellow or the peachy pink of a conch shell, or go vibrant with coral or sunny yellow.

Rough it up. The beach look reflects the textures of driftwood, coarse sand, shells, starfish, and sand dollars. Bring that tactile feeling into your home décor with rough-hewn accents or wooden furniture. Avoid the highly polished look. You want weathered wood complemented with natural materials, like cotton linen, seagrass, jute, and hemp.

Bring the outdoors in. Your interior décor should feel like you’re enjoying life on the beach. Incorporate decorative accents from outdoor living, like an outdoor rug, wicker rocker, and a basket of driftwood, mixed with shells and sea glass.

Don’t overdo it. Once you dive into the beach them for your home, you’ll discover a bounty of treasures that match your vision of coastal living. Restrain yourself. Your home décor should reflect the beach theme, not scream it through a bullhorn. Aim for subtle consistency. Don’t pack your space with clutter. That creates chaos of the mind. Choose a few perfect shells. Display one or two ships, not an entire fleet. Leave space around your décor. Less is more. Remember, at the beach, you revel in the breathing room, the open space that allows your mind to drift.

A beach theme can take you from a porch-front sitting in Nantucket to a tropical getaway. Decide what “beach” means to you, and then bring it home.

Tips to prepare your home for the summer

Categories: Home Owner Tips | Posted: May 19, 2016

Do you feel it? That sudden urge to throw open the windows and escape from your winter hibernation? Summer is coming soon. You’re ready for months of sunshine, cookouts, and entertainment, but is your home?

Before the temperature climbs much higher, prepare your home for the summer season by doing these important chores.

Prevent water damage. Spring and summer bring their share of rain. Make sure your home is protected. Clean the gutters so the water can flow freely and direct the water away from the house, where it can pool and cause damage. Look for cracks and breaks in the gutters and downspouts. Also, inspect your foundation for cracks that could allow water to leak into your home.

Check the caulking around your doors and windows. If there are any cracks, replace the caulk so that those leaks don’t cause mold or wood rot.

Clean the driveway and walkways. Pressure wash these surfaces and then inspect them for damage. Replace broken pavers. Repair cracks or holes in your driveway to prevent them from getting worse.

Check the deck. Your deck might have taken a beating over the winter, from the cold temperatures, snow, and ice. Before you start your deck inspection. clean it. Use a brush with low pressure—a pressure washer can damage the wood’s fibers. Next, inspect the wood for cracks and splinters, including along the joists, posts, and railing. Make sure the attachment of the deck to the house is secure. Although decking material is treated to resist ants and termites, the wood on your home isn’t. Look at the hardware to see if any is missing or needs replacement. Then apply deck sealant or wood stain.

Touch up the greenery. Trim the shrubs to spark healthy growth. Cut branches that could cause damage, either by scraping your home or low-hanging limbs that might hurt a passerby. Rake out your garden beds and lawn. Fertilize the lawn early in the season and seed any areas that have become bare. While you’re doing your yardwork, be sure to scrub the bird baths and any empty containers or pots, to ensure no bacteria or bugs survived over the winter.

Get ready for watering. Bring out your hoses (assuming you stashed them safely in the garage and not under the snow). Make sure there are no cracks or leaks in the hoses and nozzles. Replace any faulty ones. Walk around the yard and check the sprinkler heads to make sure they’re intact and ready to water your lawn.

Inspect the HVAC. You’ll probably rely on your air conditioning shortly. Before you’re battling the heat inside your home, check the HVAC. Clear away any debris on or around the compressor outside. Make sure the condenser unit is level, so that it doesn’t work harder than it should. Clean or replace the air filters (which should be done monthly).

Prep for outdoor living. Clean your outdoor furniture. If the cushions were left out during the winter, consider replacing them. Clean the grill and make sure the propane tanks are full, or you have a supply of charcoal.

By investing a little time now, you can enjoy many months of comfortable summer fun.

Tub trends: What’s new in bathtub styles?

Categories: Home Owner Tips | Posted: May 5, 2016

The bathroom has evolved from a purely functional space to a spa-like retreat. Cabinetry looks like fine furniture. Vessel sinks paired with cascading waterfall faucet create a gentle, Zen appeal. Bathroom lighting ranges from simple lines to elegant chandeliers. Showers are now more spacious, elegant, and pampering with rainfall shower heads and body jets.

Recently, we’re seeing more creativity in bathtub styles. And not just the look of the tub but the placement. With high design hitting the long-ignored tub, bathroom designers are making this fixture a focal point that doesn’t need to be tucked in a corner any more.

“Bathrooms are often the only place where people regularly have time to themselves,” explains Australian interior designer Sarah Davison. Bathroom design, she says, should “create a refuge of serenity and personal luxury.”

Freestanding bathtubs are leading the list of tub trends. The National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA) released its 2016 report on design trends, and 67 percent of the designers surveyed are specifying freestanding tubs; 39 percent of them said they expect to do more with these bathtubs in 2016.

You can find a freestanding tub to fit any décor, from rustic to contemporary. Choose your desired shapes—oval or rectangular, or something more artsy. Then customize it with a faucet that reflects your style. You can even place a freestanding tub within a shower if you’re short on space.

The familiar clawfoot bathtub has made a big comeback. Manufacturers have driven this bathroom design trend by refining and redefining the clawfoot tub’s shape, color, and material—like acrylic, cast iron, and copper.

Another popular tub trend is the Japanese soaking tub. The NKBA survey showed that 61 percent of the designers used a soaking tub in 2015, and 36 percent plan to use them more often in 2016. A soaking tub is designed for relaxation—a long, leisurely soak. A Japanese soaking tub takes up less space. They tend towards being more narrow and round, but deeper than a conventional bathtub. This soaking tub features a built-in seat, much like a hot tub, but without the jets. They reflect the Japanese custom of ritually cleansing the body and soul. In a soaking tub, you can submerge yourself comfortably up to your neck, because of the tub’s depth. Also known as “Ofuro” (Japanese for “bath”), this bathtub style is available in a wide variety of styles that allow it to fit well into your bathroom design.

For a truly unique bathroom design, consider an infinity bathtub. Picture that time you left the bathtub faucet running, and the water overflowed the edges—except in this case, you don’t need to panic! There’s a channel that collects the overflow and a pump that recirculates the water. If your bathroom has a window with a view, the infinity tub allows you to enjoy your soak while feeling like you’re outdoors in a stream. Your infinity tub can be elevated, like many bathtubs, or level with the floor, giving you the feeling of stepping into a lake.

With today’s bathtub styles, you forget about that tub hidden behind a shower curtain. Treat yourself to the joy of relaxing in a tub after a stressful day.

Small back yard, big ideas

Categories: Home Owner Tips | Posted: April 21, 2016

Big ideas for a small back yard

Just because you don’t have a sprawling landscape behind your home doesn’t mean you have to limit your vision for back yard fun. With a little creativity, you can apply some big ideas for a small back yard and turn it into your outdoor oasis.

Go up against the wall.

Use the wall space to hang planters, rather than take up ground space. Attach pots or mason jars, upcycle a colander and hang it from a hook or tree branch. Put up shelves to display your colorful pots and plants.

Do double-duty.

Choose furniture that provides storage as well as seating, like an ottoman with a lift-off cushion for keeping games or extra pillows. Add a coffee table where you can stash candles, paper plates, linens, and other items for outdoor entertaining.

Focus.

Create one focal point in your back yard, like a small water feature, container garden, or sculpture. A small memory garden makes a great focal point.

Scale it down.

Large outdoor furniture will dwarf a small back yard. Choose a bistro set with two chairs, or a table that can be expanded, as needed, for entertaining. And, while those big comfy cushioned chairs are attractive, they’ll make your space look crammed. Opt for simple lines and smaller sizes.

Don’t shut me out.

While you certainly want some shade to escape the heat, avoid the temptation to provide too much cover, either with greenery, pergola, or canopy. Open up your outdoor living space to let the sun shine in so you’re not closing in your back yard.

Simplify your colors.

A varied color palette can overpower a small back yard. Limit your color choices for your furnishings, and carry it over to your accents. Use the burst of colors in nature’s beauty, like the flowers in your garden, to add the splash you want.

Table your heat.

Don’t have room for a fire pit? Place a fire bowl on your table. You’ll get the cozy feel of the outdoor fireplace without taking up space.

When you’re working with limited outdoor living space, you’re only real limit is your creativity. Think simple and cozy—for size, color, and volume—and you’ll make the most of a small back yard.

Feng Shui for American Homes

Categories: Interior Design | Posted: April 18, 2016

Do you ever enter a room and just feel “off”? It’s hard to put your finger on it, but you perceive that something isn’t aligned well. Some rooms can inexplicably make you feel anxious, uneasy, or even angry, while others do the exact opposite. They instantly put you at ease, calm you, and nourish your energy.

Room design is an artform that’s informed by the ancient tradition of Feng Shui. While it was developed over the years for use in Eastern homes, its principals can also be applied to American homes as well. With these insights, you’ll be able to make your home relaxed yet energizing, while setting yourself up for prosperity.

Ensure that there is no line-of-sight from the front door to the back door.

If you can see out the back door from the front door, that means the chi in your house is flowing straight out of your home. Instead, make sure the chi has an opportunity to remain in the home.

American Classic Homes Feng Shui Line of SightKeep the path to your front door clean.

If the immediate path from your front door is obstructed by furniture, clutter, or trash, then incoming chi could be slowed down or even stopped. To prevent this from happening, make sure the path from your front door into your home is clear of any potential interference.

American Classic Homes Feng Shui Path to Front Door

Keep your house clear of clutter.

As the chi enters your home, you want it to remain fresh and not become stagnant. Keeping your house free of unnecessary clutter will help keep your home light and open.

American Classic Homes Feng Shui Keep Clean Clutter

Maximize natural light, with open windows and mirrors.

Natural light is essential in bringing in positive energy into your home. With ample light and plenty of mirrors, your home can be a warm, welcoming, energetic place to be.

American Classic Homes Feng Shui Maximize Natural Light

Make sure the stove is not across from the sink.

The stove is a source of the fire element. Placing it across from the sink all but ensures the fire energy will be drained from your home almost immediately.

American Classic Homes Feng Shui Stove Sink

Don’t point the stairway toward the front door.

As the chi flows into your home from the front door, it needs to have the chance to remain on the ground floor. If your stairway points toward the front door, all of the chi will flow upward, to your upstairs rooms.

American Classic Homes Feng Shui Stairway Front Door

Ensure your home contains a proportional amount of the five elements: Earth, Wood, Fire, Water, and Metal.

Striking a balance in feng shui is essential. If your home has a sufficient amount of each element, it will remain in harmony.

American Classic Homes Feng Shui Proportional Elements

Remove negative symbolism.

While certain decorations or wall art may appear harmless at first glance, they can foster a negative energy in your home. Remove all mounted weapons, scenes of war, and other negative outcomes to ensure your home fosters a positive energy.

American Classic Homes Feng Shui Negative Symbolism

 

Country life or city dwelling: Which lifestyle works for you?

Categories: Home Owner Tips | Posted: April 15, 2016

Country life or city dwelling: Which lifestyle works for you?

You could fit the entire population of Vermont in the city of Las Vegas, with plenty of room to spare. Of course, most Vermonters would run screaming from the city. And city dwellers would probably feel restless in a rural setting for an extended period of time.

Each environment—urban and rural—offers its own unique pros and cons. Your life situation—single, married, parent or no kids—has a big impact on your choice of living in the city or the country.

So, which lifestyle works for you? Let’s look at the pros and cons of urban versus rural.

City life: So much choice packed into tight space.

People who like living in the city enjoy the energy that pulsates there. You can live car-free and walk or take public transportation to everything you need—shopping, dining, entertainment, school, and work. In one block, you can choose from a variety of restaurant choices, from your favorite café to the pizza place that delivers. On any weekend, you can take your pick of things to do—movies, theatre, art galleries, comedy clubs, museums, street festivals, and more. You’re never far from fun.

That’s also a con. You’re in the midst of all this charged-up activity. Stress levels are higher in the city. Privacy is less. Your home is separated from your neighbor’s by a wall, not a yard. If you choose to own a car, parking can be hard to find, or expensive. Crime is more prevalent in the city, which makes sense when you consider there are so many more people there.

Most cities aren’t far from a rural area, so when you feel the need to escape, you can rent a car or hop on a bus for a country retreat.

Country life: Take it slow and easy.

People who choose to live in rural areas prefer the open space that is afforded outside the confines of a city. They are less enchanted by the choices afforded to city dwellers and prefer the simple pleasures. A hammock in the back yard. A vegetable or flower garden. Farmer’s markets with locally grown produce. Paddling down a river or hiking through the woods.

Country dwellers aren’t as enamored with designer labels—from the clothes they wear to the kitchen cookware. They prefer a casual lifestyle that’s uncomplicated. The choices are fewer than the city offers, but they don’t care.

With today’s technology, country dwellers aren’t as isolated as they used to be. The Internet, Wi-Fi hot spots, digital and cable television, and cell phone towers have spread to the outer confines of our society. So, moving to the country doesn’t mean you have to forego your favorite cable television series or rely on a (shudder!) land line for calling people.

Suburbia: The comfortable compromise

The suburbs surround the outskirts of cities, a cushion between those hubs and the rural areas beyond. They offer easy access, via highways and public transportation to all of the action in the city, but residents can escape the bustle to their peaceful homes. Suburbanites like the blend of urban conveniences with rural solitude. Although the yards are small, they at least create a small boundary between neighbors, and a place for kids to play and their parents to entertain.

As more city dwellers move outward from the city, the suburbs grow deeper into the outlying areas. As one suburb fills up (and prices rise accordingly), homeowners look for the next “up and coming” community. The commute to the city becomes a bit longer, along with the distance to the desired amenities. But that’s the trade-off for compromise.

Which lifestyle is most appealing to you? And why?

Redecorating before a holiday? It’s all about the details!

Categories: Home Owner Tips | Posted: March 31, 2016

Sometimes you want to spruce things up before your visitors arrive for a big holiday (like the one THIS weekend!). You’ve finished redecorating a room—or, at least you think so. Something still isn’t right. The feng is missing the shui.

Sometimes, the little things that punctuate your room makeover with an exclamation mark. When you’re redecorating, don’t miss these room design details.

Trim color. I looked through the home decorating manual and I couldn’t find any hard and fast rule that says you have to have white trim in your home. Go for colorful contrast to your walls, or a soft complement, if you’re not quite so bold.

Decorative molding. From tall baseboards to wainscoting to crown molding, you can enhance the impact of your walls by adding or changing the trim. A chair rail allows you to break up the wall and use two different colors, or a combination of color and a pattern or texture (or both).

Wall accents. Rethink your idea of what you can hang on your walls. Go for more dimension in your home décor with pottery, vases, creative shelving, and even your favorite books or album covers centered within an open frame. Apply wall decals, which are easily removable when you change your mind or mood.

Lampshades. Just because the lamp you purchased came with a particular lamp shade doesn’t mean it’s the right one for your space. A simple change (try it seasonally) can make a big difference in the decorative impact.

Dimmers. This is perhaps the simplest and least expensive lighting makeover you can do. Replace your switch with a dimmer and you suddenly create mood lighting.

Switchplates. Boring. Paint them to blend or contrast with the walls. Decoupage your switchplates with fabric, wallpaper, giftwrap, book pages, or anything else that you can stick to it.

Natural touches. Fresh flowers, plants, and even twigs bring the outdoors into your room and boosts the energy. Treat yourself to a fresh bouquet each week.

Before you stamp your room makeover as complete, focus on the little details. You’ll be amazed at the power of these finishing touches.

Newcomer’s guide to the new home construction process

Categories: Home Owner Tips | Posted: March 24, 2016

If you’re considering have a new home built rather than opting to purchase a resale, congratulations. It’s a smart move! A new home delivers a wealth of benefits, including peace of mind from knowing that your home is protected by a builder’s warranty.

Before you start, let’s walk through the steps involved, so you’re clear on what to expect and when. Here’s a step by step, newcomer’s guide to the new home construction process.

Step 1: Site prep

The crew clears the site of trees, large rocks, and debris to prepare the property for building. If your new home will include a basement, they dig the hole for the foundation.

The footings are put in place. Concrete is poured for the foundation, and once it’s cured, waterproofing is applied. The crew then installs the basement and first-floor plumbing connections, including drains, sewer, and water taps.

The surrounding soil is backfilled to the outside of the foundation, filling in the moat-like gap around it.

Step 2: 1st Inspection

The building inspector checks the foundation to ensure it’s up to code.

Step 3: Framing

The frame of the house (wall, floor, and roof systems) are constructed and then wrapped in protective sheathing. This cover protects the frame from water seepage into the wood itself, which could lead to wood rot or mold, while providing a means for vapor to escape. The roof is added, sealing the home before the interior works is begun.

Step 4: Plumbing, electrical, and HVAC

When the framing is done, the rough plumbing, electrical, and HVAC contractors get to work, setting up the infrastructure for these systems. Vents and water supply and sewer lines are installed. HVAC installs the ductwork, heating, ventilation, and air conditioning vents and pipework. The plumbers and electricians run pipes and wire through the home’s interior walls, floors, and ceilings.

Step 5: 2nd inspection

The building inspector examines the framing, electrical, plumbing, and mechanical systems at this point. You might have different inspectors—one for the frame, another for the other systems.

Step 6: Insulation

Exterior walls, floors, and ceilings are insulated.

Step 7: Drywall

Drywall (also known as “sheetrock”) is hung. Seams are taped so they’re hidden. A primer coat is applied in preparation for finishing.

Step 8: Exterior finish

Your new home’s exterior is applied—e.g., siding, stucco, stone, or brick.

Step 9: Interior trim

The window and door trim, casings, moldings, mantels, railings, and other interior trim are installed and painted. The walls are painted or wallpapered, depending on your choice.

Step 10: Exterior walkways

The walkways, driveway, and patio are constructed at this point, after the heavy equipment use is finished. The grading is added to drain water away from the home.

Step 11: Flooring and countertops

The hard surface flooring (tile, wood, laminate) and all countertops (including vanities) are installed.

Step 12: Lighting fixtures and mechanical trims

Your light fixtures are installed, along with the outlets and switches. The electrical panel is installed. Plumbing fixtures (toilets, sinks, and faucets) are added. HVAC is finished.

Step 13: Finishing

The interior finishes are addressed in this step This includes installing carpet, and hanging mirrors, and shower doors.

Outside, the lawn and landscaping are completed.

Step 14: 3rd inspection

The building inspector completes one more assessment to ensure your new home meets all building codes. When approved, a certificate of occupancy (CO) is issued. If any concerns are identified, the inspector provides a written list, and the home will require another inspection before the CO is awarded.

Step 15: The walkthrough

Before the closing, you will do a final walkthrough with your builder and real estate agent. This is your opportunity to learn how everything works—e.g., which light switch to flick, how your HVAC works, how to open and close the windows. You also need to observe details. If there’s a nick in a door or wall, a scratch on a floor, a cracked tile, or a dent in an appliance, point it out during this walkthrough so that you can show the damage was done before you occupied the home.

Your builder will make a list of all repairs the must be completed. Determine the time frame for having all corrections completed, and get it in writing.

With good communication between you and your home builder, the new home construction process is exciting. You get to watch your home emerging from a vision to a reality!

Page 5 of 16« First...34567...10...Last »