7 Off-the-Grid Homes That Will Make You Want to Unplug

Living sustainably doesn’t mean roughing it.

The chaos of modern life — with the constant stream of emails, multitude of devices and keeping pace with modern technology — can be exhausting. If you’ve ever thought about throwing away all your electronics, living sustainably or finally ditching life in the city, these seven off-the-grid homes may have just what you need.

Ambajejus Lake, ME

Moreair Is, Ambajejus Lake, ME
For sale: $389,600

Photo from Zillow listing.

Unplugging from smart phones and the internet wouldn’t be difficult at this ultra-private island property off Ambajejus Lake. In addition to the beautiful lake and Mount Katahdin views, it features two structures: one that is more insulated for winter stays, and a larger cabin that would be more comfortable during the summers. You can enjoy complete solitude with this property — your nearest neighbor would be approximately one mile away.

Find more homes near Lake Ambajejus.

Boise, ID

50 Yellow Pine Ln, Boise, ID
For sale: $725,000

Photo from Zillow listing.

This charming Idaho log cabin has floor-to-ceiling windows, a beautiful stone fireplace, a gourmet kitchen and a large bathroom with a clawfoot tub for soaking. The home comes with a large horse barn and complete-and-utter privacy on 40 acres of land. Hydro- and solar-powered, this home makes it very easy for you to enjoy a sustainable, off-the-grid lifestyle in the middle of the woods.

See more homes for sale in Boise.

Winthrop, WA

98 Sage Canyon Rd, Winthrop, MA
For sale: $497,000

Photo from Zillow listing.

This home, with views of the North Cascades National Park and Methow Valley, makes going off the grid look luxurious. The house is set on 97 acres, featuring protected meadows, wildflowers and a pine forest. Inside, the home boasts 3,600 square feet of custom craftsmanship, including a spiral staircase, large rec room and a spa-like master bathroom.

See more homes in Winthrop.

Sierraville, CA

804 Fiberboard Rd, Sierraville, CA
For sale: $988,000

Photo from Zillow listing.

With such close proximity to Lake Tahoe and Reno, NV, this home is the perfect getaway for those wishing to unplug. The interior of the home is rustic yet modern with a chef’s kitchen, two-story ceilings in the living area and a large stone fireplace. The property is perfect for snowmobiling in the winter and fishing in the summer, and even includes its own helipad.

Check out more homes for sale in Sierraville.

Albuquerque, NM

20 Canoncito Dr NE, Albuquerque, NM
For sale: $612,000

Photo from Zillow listing.

Steps from the Piedra Lisa and La Luz trailheads, this solar-powered home is made for exploring the high desert. It was also designed to bring the outdoors in with large windows, a deck spanning the width of the house and a cozy window seat.

See more Rio Rancho listings.

Wolcott, VT

1858 Town Hill Rd, Wolcott, VT
For sale: $399,000

Photo from Zillow listing.

Whether you’re craving a cozy spot to finally draft that novel, or you simply want to enjoy the privacy and tranquility of rural Vermont, this custom-built, modern home fits the bill. Completely self-sufficient with propane radiant-floor heat, it’s made for those harsh Northeastern winters. It also has an apple orchard and a permanent tree blind for a homeowner who wishes to hunt on the land.

Find more homes in Wolcott.

Black Mountain, NC

60 Bucks Walk, Black Mountain, NC
For sale: $949,000

Photo from Zillow listing.

Sweeping mountain and forest views, a custom-crafted interior and a separate, spacious guest cottage are just a few of this home’s selling points. Though the home has the capability to be completely off the grid with solar paneling, a diesel generator and cistern water storage, you won’t be roughing it with an updated kitchen, tranquil bathrooms and a library.

Posted by Jamie Birdwell-Branson on Zillow

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7 Homes That Bring The Curb Appeal

These homes with outstanding curb appeal could be yours — or they can inspire your next landscaping project.

You won’t need a second chance to make a first impression when you live in one of these homes for sale on Trulia.

Everyone hopes for love at first sight — though your first-look jaw dropper may come in the form of an early-1900s Colonial home in Richmond, VA. From a home’s landscaping to its color palette, even the smallest details can help set the look and feel of the rest of the home. You get only one chance to win the curb appeal game, and these picks from Trulia with stunning front yards are really bringing the heat.

Pomp and circumstance: $398,500, 701 Sugar Mill Road, Greer, SC 29650

The wide, brick stoop of this imposing Georgian-style beauty beckons, with lovely details like dormer windows and mature, tailored landscaping. The four-bedroom brick home’s charm isn’t limited to the front: A two-story back deck and screened-in porch overlook a parklike backyard.

Charmer in Chattanooga: $605,000, 704 Westwood Ave., Chattanooga, TN 37405

Flowers and greenery adorn the curb of this four-bedroom Chattanooga, TN, home, set back from the street. An inviting porch leads into a spacious great room that offers high ceilings and a spiral staircase. Rooms flow easily from living to dining spaces and into each impressive bed and bath — all the way out to the screened-in porch off the master suite.

California casual: $975,000, 4462 Pleasant Valley Court S, Oakland, CA 94611

A cozy front porch or a spacious back deck? It’s hard to choose where to spend your time in this 1916 craftsman-style home. A flowering vine creeps up the side of this three-bedroom, two-bath storybook-sweet home, while the large picture windows provide an inviting glow in the updated kitchen, modernized with white granite and stainless steel appliances.

Solar-powered in Phoenix: $999,900, 13208 S. 34th Way, Phoenix, AZ 85044

The stark desert landscape surrounding this Santa Fe, NM–style home fades into the background, letting the home really shine. The imposing adobe home, with solar power and more than 5,000 square feet, also includes a pool and Jacuzzi. Inside, an industrial-grade kitchen and high ceilings add to this six-bedroom home’s charm.

Old World meets New: $1,089,000, 501 NW A St., Bentonville, AR 72712 

Enjoy vintage charm and modern amenities in this Arkansas home. The 1891 Victorian design is still intact, with original stained glass, a detailed porch railing, and crown molding — but upgrades like commercial-grade appliances and custom built-ins make it feel as though you’re living in this century. Outdoor entertaining is a breeze with an old-school tree swing out front, plus a spacious yard and detached guesthouse — complete with a second kitchen. Toss in the updated bathrooms, refinished original wood floors, and a wood-burning fireplace, and just like that, you’ve found yourself a dream home.

Texas modern: $1,249,000, 6527 Anita St., Dallas, TX 75214

A unique twist on the traditional Texan landscape, a spacious rock bed holds a planter of succulents, making it the front-yard focal point of this custom home. The home blends a cottage feel with a modern aesthetic, with quirky light fixtures and finishes and an open floor plan in 4,216 square feet. Drop your clutter from the day in the home’s mudroom and relax on the fenced-in back patio, complete with a fireplace and grill (it’s even wired for a TV and sound). The fresh hardwoods glow from the natural light beaming into each room. Custom built-ins — from the closets and hallway shelving to the kitchen cabinets — give each room a unique and functional piece.

Miami vibes: $1,500,000, 555 NE 57th St., Miami, FL 33137

Miniature shrubs line the walkway of this bright and beachy Miami, FL, home. Let the palm trees greet you along with the roof’s Spanish tile and bright orange stucco, which all give the house a fresh, Floridian feel. The 3,500-square-foot smart home has a completely renovated interior, including high-end appliances in the kitchen and bath — even a steam room in the master suite! If four bedrooms aren’t enough, there’s also a guest cottage, just past the gated driveway and adjacent to the pool and grilling patio.

Posted by Catherine Currin on Trulia

 

Comparing Cultures: Homes from Around the World

Granite countertops, outdoor kitchens, remodeled bathrooms – we all know there’s a certain art to real estate. Just like here in America, a country’s culture directly affects the look, feel and styles of homes from all over the world. Even in locations such as Indonesia, Cameroon and the Artic, there are always cultural reasons behind the architecture and why homes are made in a particular fashion. For example, Tulou Houses from China were traditionally built in a circle formation to form a defensive village.

The following infographic from Able Skills compares homes like tipis and igloos to residences like the sukiya-zukuri in Japan and the inkajijik houses of Kenya. Take the fastest trip around the world with the information below:

Posted by Housecall

Everything You Need To Know About Cooling Your Home

Chilling out this summer will be a breeze with these tips for getting the most out of your air conditioner and fans.

Summer may be lazy and hazy, but in many areas of the country, it’s also a time of sweating and sweltering in scorching temperatures. To cope, homeowners employ a variety of methods to ensure a steady supply of cool, fresh air.

These cooling solutions include a wide variety of fans and in-home ventilation systems as well as some tried-and-true techniques from the days before air conditioning. Here’s how to keep your whole home cool this season.

The dog is cooling down with the fan while watching the yellow ribbons in motion. Depth of field in eyes line and center of the fan.; Shutterstock ID 211241179; PO: Cat Overman; Job: blog post

The dog is cooling down with the fan while watching the yellow ribbons in motion. Depth of field in eyes line and center of the fan.; Shutterstock ID 211241179; PO: Cat Overman; Job: blog post

The advent of air conditioners

By far the most common form of cooling in the United States is air conditioning, which can be found in more than 88 percent of new single-family homes constructed today. Keeping the house comfortable this way, however, can be a costly investment in terms of both equipment and energy use — we’re talking an average $400 household electric bill from June to August. So it makes good sense to carefully evaluate your home’s cooling options to select the right system to meet your needs.

Keeping comfortable and cost-friendly

No matter what unit or system you choose, how you adjust your thermostat determines your ultimate savings on your electric bill. Start by setting the temperature as high as is still comfortable, keeping the difference between indoor and outdoor temperatures as small as possible.

Take advantage of the “energy saver” mode on window units, and use programmable thermostats for multiroom or whole-house systems so your machines don’t do extra work to cool the place when nobody is home.

When you’re ready to cool down, don’t drop immediately to an extremely cold temperature — starting that low won’t speed up the cooling process, but it will make your machine work harder and expend more energy.

If you want to offer your machine — and your energy bills — a little relief, proper ventilation in your home can certainly aid your cool-down efforts. Ventilation improves indoor air quality, removes moisture and odors, and allows fresh, cool outside breezes to be exchanged for stuffy indoor air.

Start boosting your home’s natural ventilation simply by opening doors and windows, especially in the evenings. Encourage airflow by installing ceiling fans, window fans, and attic exhaust fans to push hot air outside and draw cooler air into your home.

In the summer months, ceiling fans should be set to run in a counterclockwise direction, drawing cooler air up from the floor. A whole-house attic exhaust fan will pull hot air into the attic, where attic vents can dissipate the heat. Even positioning a few portable fans near windows or a basement door at night can draw the cooler air from these areas into the home.

Regular maintenance for maximum cool down

With a variety of cooling practices in place, you’ll want to maximize the efficiency of your efforts by performing proper maintenance.

  • Seal the deal. Make sure you have adequate insulation in the walls and ceilings to keep hot air out and cool air in. Caulk leaking windows and doors, and use draft “snakes” to cover the gaps at the bottom of these entry points. Adding aluminum blinds,insulated curtains, or window tint film can block even more sunlight from entering your home and heating up the place during the day.
  • Change your filter. This quick and easy chore reduces the burden on your air conditioner, improves indoor air quality, and helps you — and your air conditioner — breathe easier. Check the filter once a month and clean out any dust particles that might clog the system, forcing it to work harder and waste energy.
  • Clean the coils. An air conditioner’s coils and fins on the outside of the unit should be kept unobstructed and cleaned regularly. Use a soft-bristle nylon brush to gently remove any debris, and hose off any leaves or caked-on dirt. Clean the inside coils using the soft brush attachment on your vacuum cleaner, or wipe down with a soft, damp cloth.
  • Call in a pro. Even though much of keeping your home cool can be considered do-it-yourself work, it is still important to call in a reputable HVAC contractor regularly. An annual system tune-up can help ensure that your air conditioning system is working efficiently and will go a long way toward prolonging the useful life of the components.

Posted by BobVila.com

 

Paradise Found: realtor.com’s Top 10 Dreamiest Homes of 2014

Every year brings an array of dream homes to the market—some old and some new, but all spectacular in their own right.

When you hear the words “dream home,” you might conjure up a vision of a place with fabulous views, a home with awesome architectural flourishes or a mansion where closet space is never a concern.

Realtor.com combed through the houses they’ve featured over the past year and found a mix of homes that cover all of the dream bases. To learn more about any of their Top 10, simply click on the pictures below.

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10. Henman House — Malibu, CA

Located high on a hill in the ultra-exclusive Malibu, the fascinating Henman House listed earlier this year for $9.2 million. Designed by architect Ed Niles, this one-of-a-kind home makes extensive use of glass to create an effect that brings the outdoors in. The home’s soaring ceilings and dramatic angles make the home look like the world’s coolest cathedral.

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9. Hyperbolic Paraboloid — New Canaan, CT

Just up the road from Philip Johnson’s revered Glass House, this New Canaan, CT, Mid-Century marvel shatters the mold of conventional rooflines.

Built in 1960 and described by architect James Evans as a “hyperbolic paraboloid,” the home’s distinctive shape is made up of straight lines fooling the eye into seeing a curvy, swooping space that looks as if it’s ready to take flight. If you love the Mid-Century look of this place, you’re in luck: The home is still available for a cool $2 million.

 

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8. Marc Bell Mansion — Boca Raton, FL

Back in May, we asked if you were looking for the “greatest nerd space on earth.” That question remains applicable to this still-available Boca Raton, FL, mansion. While the over the top opulence is visible throughout the $35 million home, the Star Trek-themed wet bar is what cements this mansion’s spot among the most unique homes of the year.

Other themed rooms in the sprawling 27,000-square-foot home include an fully stocked arcade, a Call of Duty-themed video game room and a home theater resembling the bridge from “Star Trek: Enterprise.”

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7. Collins House — Hopewell, NJ

Located in Hopewell, NJ, and designed by architect Philip Collins, this wide-open home with walls of windows also blends the indoors and outdoors—but with a twist: The home has no interior supporting walls, which means there’s total flexibility in terms of the home’s interior layout.

How did they do that? Well, it’s post and beam construction that relies on a series of a stone pillars that ring the outside of the home. The listing price has dropped a bit and is now sitting at $1.6 million. Not bad for a light-filled architectural marvel …

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6. Kentucky Castle — Versailles, KY

For fantasy fanatics, this 50-room castle would prove ideal for staging re-enactments of battles of yore. Used primarily as an event facility, this ode to medieval times is smack-dab in the unlikely locale of Versailles, KY. Listed for $30 million in April, the 16-bedroom home is currently off the market—perhaps it found a prince who couldn’t resist.

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5. Iowa’s Most Expensive Home — Urbandale, IA

Speaking of unlikely locales, this innovative Iowa mansion might seem more at home on the coasts, but its appeal is universal. Located on six wooded acres just outside Des Moines, it’s the most expensive residential listing in the state.

Still on the market for $4.9 million, the home’s interior woodwork and enormous outdoor decks have to be seen to be believed. And that’s not all: The home comes equipped with its own indoor greenhouse, indoor waterfall, built-in aquarium and private pond in the backyard.

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4. Casa de Las Palmas — Rancho Santa Fe, CA

In Rancho Santa Fe, CA, you’ll find the enchanting Casa de Las Palmas. Listed for $17.9 million, the sprawling estate offers the California dream on a large scale. The listing agent we spoke with in October said the Casa’s landscaping alone was worth millions of dollars.

The 16,006-square-foot home even comes with a unique buyer’s perk: a $250,000 gift card for private jet travel.

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3. Glencliff — Mount Kisco, NY

The stately brick mansion known as Glencliff listed for $23 million in October. Just 45 minutes from Manhattan, this Mount Kisco, NY, manor has been totally revamped inside while preserving the historical significance of the home.

Its blend of contemporary style inside with imposing old-school design outside works in spectacular fashion.

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2. Wit’s End — Pebble Beach, CA

Named Wit’s End, this stunning home sits right off the 13th hole of Pebble Beach Golf Course. Owned for years by billionaire mogul Richard Mellon Scaife, the marvelous Mediterranean estate listed in September for $31.25 million.

In unsurprising news, the home sold for its asking price just one month later. The stunning views from this Pebble Beach palace were too beautiful to linger on the market for an extended period.

 

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1. La Palais Royal — Hillsboro Beach, FL

And finally, the former title holder for most expensive listing in the U.S.

La Palais Royal listed in September for $139 million and the 11-bedroom, 17-bathroom mega mansion offers over 40,000 square feet of living space. And if you’re in the mood for a movie, it’s no mundane home theater for this palace. Of course, the home boasts its own IMAX screen.

Since surpassed by the $195 million Palazzo di Amore in Beverly Hills, CA, we still have a special place in our heart for this extravagant Florida palais.

This post was originally published by Erik Gunther on realtor.com.