'Commercial' residential exteriors add security, save energy

Bonus features: they boost curb appeal and help generate sales. Photo: Wikiedia commons

MANILA, April 7, 2013 - There are certain exterior design characteristics that, at first glance, we mostly attribute to shop or commercial buildings. But little do we realize that these stylish building exteriors can also be used in our own homes, not only contributing decorative external embellishments but also adding security, shading, and other unexpected yet convenient features. 

Take a look at awnings for example. If you’re not that familiar with the word, it’s okay. The term is almost similar to the word “aglet.” Everyone knows what it is but it tends to slip our minds as to what it’s called. Take a walk down the street and you’ll surely come across awnings—they’re the fabrics covering shop and restaurant windows and entrances. Sometimes they act as a type of ad with the shops’ or restaurants’ name printed on them. But most of the time, they act as shade against the sun or the rain.


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Despite their widespread usage in commercial establishments, awnings can also be used in residences. With an extensive variety of designs ranging from sun or rain awnings to retractable patio awnings to metal awnings, almost every kind of awning can be used to brighten up the appearance of one’s home. They may look simple but their designs are as complicated as their uses. 

Commercial-style awnings can be incorporated into residential exterior designs, helping to save on cooling bills and adding to curb appeal. (Wikimedia)

Besides adding to the aesthetic value of a building or a house, awnings help regulate lighting and reduce heat in warmer weather or hotter climates. Modern awnings are designed to automatically roll down when it gets either too hot or too cold. There are also options that make them stand at a specific angle, depending on the preference of the owner. 

Old-fashioned though they might seem, awnings also play a key role in saving both energy and money. The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) suggests the use of awnings for natural shading and optimal ventilation in buildings of all kinds. In addition, a study conducted by the Center of Sustainable Building Research from the University of Minnesota shows that awnings improve energy efficiency at an average of 15-20%, depending on the climate and on the region. 


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The advantages of awnings are remarkable considering their minimalist and almost mundane design appeal. But they are once again a fashionable piece of exterior design, giving a home, a building, or a neighborhood the feeling that one is walking around a fashionable downtown locale and delighting in the sights of welcoming Italian restaurants or quaint cafes with their French vanillas.

Aside from the happy revival of awnings, home security measures are also taking a turn towards being fashionable. Usually seen only in stores and on the ground level of some apartments, roller shutters are now becoming more design oriented and are finding their way toward increasing installations in residences. 

The use of roller shutters is more predominant in houses in Europe. But American houses today are starting to use them as well. A popular variation on the roller shutter that fits homeowners’ tastes the best is the retractable security gate

Retractable security gates have embellished grilles that serve as both a security barrier and as a quirky, off-beat (in a way) interior design accent. They’re a useful way of protecting your homes when you’re not too keen on buying home alarm systems. There are also roller shutters that have been designed with a focus on child safety.

Retractable security gates add security and design elements while ensuring safety in urban residential areas. Unlike roller shutters, they also let in plenty of sunshine. (Wikimedia)

The primary function of security gates such as these is to provide protection, while at the same time allowing sunlight to shine in and brighten residential spaces. But, as with awnings, the ever changing needs and preferences of people today is resulting in newfound uses for everyday and seemingly dated or mundane objects, transforming them into original and highly flexible design elements that also have a practical purpose. 

Such architectural features as the two this column has examined today might seem insignificant or mere embellishments to most people at first glance. Yet they, too, hold a vital purpose. In today’s examples, awnings, gates, and roller shutters are also the intersections where the stylish meets the functional, where the attractive meets the practical. In the once-again growing real estate market of 2013, details like these make a property tend to stand out and catch the attention of prospective buyers. Awnings, in particular, bring a classic charm to a property and help make it more welcoming.

In addition, the global inclination toward energy efficiency and safety awareness has had an increasingly important effect on the real estate market. More buyers today take these details into consideration when making a decision as to where and what to buy when it comes to real estate. That’s why it’s important to take note of these current trends, because seemingly innocuous details like these can either make or break a deal.

 


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Jona Jone

Jona Miranda Jone brings her expertise to the Communities page as a financial writer who is also an expert on mortgages and other transactions concerning property ownership.  Jona now lives in the Philippines, where she works as a freelance writer.

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