Joyce Crommett's Blog
1. With age comes wisdomOld homes are filled with history. From the people who built and lived in the home, down to the tiny architectural details, these houses will shed light upon what life was once like in your neighborhood. For those eager to learn about the history and culture of their neighborhood, it has never been easier to access historical data from internet archives or your local library. Aside from being historically significant, old homes are also aesthetically interesting. Depending on the architectural style and location of your home, it could have been built using any number of materials and techniques. Today, mass production has made home-building much more streamlined and efficient. Unfortunately, that has come at the cost of some originality in style.
2. CostIn many instances, old homes are cheaper to buy than new ones. One reason is that sellers assume that buyers will have to pour money into the home to keep it updated and adjust the asking price. Another is simply that your average homebuyer values new homes over old ones. If you enjoy older homes, that gives you a financial advantage. For those homebuyers interested in do-it-yourself repairs and upgrades, buying a "fixer upper" is a great way to save money. However, be aware that some repairs should be better left to the professionals, especially when dealing with hazardous materials like lead paint and asbestos.
3. LocationAmerica is a young country. So the oldest homes tend to be built in centralized and urban areas. That often means easy access to things like grocery stores, schools and highways. Aside from being convenient, old neighborhoods also tend to have developed communities and landscapes. The streets are probably lined with aged trees that provide plenty of shade, and there's a greater likelihood of having nearby parks or ponds.
4. Prime land picksOlder homes tend to have the best plots of land because, well... they got the first pick. As a home buyer, this could be a huge if you're looking for a larger backyard or one with great natural features like aged trees and natural bodies of water. When you're out hunting for new homes, don't look past the older homes. You might find that they have many benefits that are great for you and your family.
BasilNumber one on our list is sweet basil. Basil can be chopped up into sauces and salads, or it can be used whole on pizzas and sandwiches. For a great snack, toss some olive oil with chunks of tomato, mozzarella, and chopped basil. It's the perfect combination of tangy, sweet, and refreshing. Basil is also great for making tea and has a strong and pleasant aroma. If you start running low, you can start a new plant with clippings from an old one. As you pick from the plant, be sure to remove the leaf node (the stem part of the leaf) fully so your plant keeps producing more leaves.
ParsleyA good herb to pair with basil is parsley. It goes great with pasta dishes, sauce, pizza, or eggs. Like basil, parsley can be harvested as needed. Simply cut the outermost leaves for use and leave the inner leaves to mature. However, parsley is also easy to dry and store. To dry parsley, hang it up in a warm place that has plenty of shade and ventilation. Test it by seeing if it crumbles in your hand. Once it does, crumble the rest up and store it in an air tight jar.
ThymeArguably one of the the prettiest herbs on the list, thyme fills its long stems with small flowers and fills the air with a pleasant scent. Thyme goes well with many vegetables and types of seafood and is also common in many teas. If you live in a temperate climate, you could also try growing some thyme as an ornamental and aromatic shrub in your yard.
MintAs you would suspect, mint smells and tastes...minty. To impress everyone at your summer cookout, place some mint leaves from your garden into their ice cold drinks. Like many other items on the list, mint is also great in tea and can be paired up with basil, lavender, and many other herbs to make a great herbal tea concoction.
LavenderLavender is another pretty flowering herb. However, due to its size, it's best grown outdoors. You can make several homemade items from lavender including soaps, fragrance sprays, tea, and more. However, be sure to read up on caring for lavender plants as they require a lot of sunlight and well-drained soil. To make use of its size and aesthetics outside, you can plant lavender along walkways in your yard or garden.
The average American knows little about the origins of the architecture that surrounds them on a day-to-day basis. Yet one name that most Americans have heard is that of Frank Lloyd Wright, one of the most celebrated architects in American history.
Wright was known for the style of organic architecture, which attempted to find a sense of harmony between human dwellings and the nature that surrounded them. Wright designed the Fallingwater home in Pennsylvania, built atop a waterfall and surrounded by natural growth.
In New York, Wright designed the Guggenheim Museum over a period of sixteen years. This and many other works have solidified Wright as an architect of great repute who built large and illustrious structures. However, Wright had other pursuits that he would devote much of his time to.
Coming out of the Great Depression, there was a need in America for an affordable single-family home. When approached to design such a home in 1936, Wright jumped at the opportunity.
The style of Wright’s houses reflected a vision he held for the future of American neighborhoods, something he would call “Usonian” architecture.
Elements of Usonia
At its core, Usonian architecture was meant to be affordable, mass-produced, and in harmony with its surrounding natural elements. What many of us know to be “mid-century modern” architecture and “ranch” homes are both heavily influenced by Wright’s Usonian vision.
Wright’s designs were of small, single-story homes with a carport. There were no attics and no basements. Homes were designed with little ornamentation and had open floor plans. This openness, combined with large windows and natural lighting, gives Usonian homes a sense of spaciousness that even today’s large suburban homes can’t match.
The Usonian homes themselves were only part of Wright’s grand scheme. Ultimately, Wright’s vision for America (or “Usonia” as he thought it ought to be called), was one of the suburbs. Small, modular homes that coexist with their habitats on plots of land that were crossing into one another, rather than today’s square plots, were what Wright hoped the future would hold.
Late in life, Wright had begun work on such a neighborhood. In New York, just 30 miles north of Manhattan lies the town of Mount Pleasant. The neighborhood became known as Usonian Historic District and to this day is occupied by homes designed by Wright and his apprentices. In all, 43 buildings make up the district.
Wright’s continuing legacy in American home architecture
Though Wright’s vision for America has never been fully realized, much of his ideas are alive and well. The ranch home drew elements from Wright’s style, and ranch houses are now ubiquitous across the country.
With growing land costs and a culture shifting towards minimalism, many people today are opting to live in smaller dwellings. The “tiny house” movement has gained traction in the United States. In some places, neighborhoods of tiny houses are putting down roots and forming small communities centered on having a minimal environmental impact. Frank Lloyd Wright would likely see this as a net gain, though he might have a few pointers for the architects of today’s modular homes.