It’s been a weird season of weather all across the country—the west is roasting, breaking heat records daily, wildfire smoke is blowing from coast to coast, and our home state of Massachusetts is pacing to hit the wettest July in history. This is uncharacteristic for summer, and especially here in New England, we’re holding out hope that August will bring more consistent sun. Warmth simply must be on the way, and we’re ready and waiting for its arrival. Below, four recommendations for comfortable living inside and out once summer splendor finally hits full swing.
Update with insulation and air conditioning
In an older home, the single greatest investment to make for summer comfort indoors relates to cooling and insulating. Air conditioning will not only cool the air, but will reduce humidity while lowering counts of pollen, mold, mildew, and other pollutants as well. While some vintage homes aren’t cut out for a traditional ducted HVAC system, newer high-velocity systems allow for the installation of air conditioning without destroying walls. Running flexible mini ducts through existing cavities in walls, ceilings, and floors that resolve in small round circular openings, high-velocity HVAC systems provide energy-efficient cooling for properties that may have previously been considered a challenge. In addition to installing air conditioning, insulation should be upgraded for additional energy efficiency, ongoing cost savings, and consistent comfort.
Explore automated shades
At a newer property that’s already efficiently insulated and cooled, additional steps can be taken to keep the home from heating up in the sun. Automated shades represent a tech-forward and effective way to keep rooms cool, especially when the sun is at its strongest. Leading brands including Hunter Douglas offer motorized and automated options that can be programmed via phone and voice-controlled with Alexa or Siri for the ultimate in efficiency and comfort. Homeowners might choose to lower shades in rooms that aren’t in use, maintaining cool interior temperatures without continually running the A/C. As this technology becomes more prevalent, expect to see offerings from many more manufacturers at a variety of price points.
Consider a water feature
Especially at a larger site, consider adding a water feature that will cool family, friends, and guests all season long. Space permitting, we explore pools and spas for summer and shoulder-season enjoyment, with patio surrounds and pool cabanas for robust programming. On a more petite parcel we might consider the Soake Pool, which is smaller in scale, yet allows for the enjoyment of an aquatic element in a similar fashion. Thanks to a myriad of customization options, the Soake pool can be configured to blend seamlessly with other outdoor features and thematically reference your home’s unique architecture.
Plant tomorrow’s canopy of green today
There is perhaps no better complement to our timeless homes than an exterior pergola covered in thriving climbing vines. As an added bonus, outdoor areas covered by a natural canopy do not count towards a home’s square footage and can provide very significant and very comfortable living space without zoning limitations. Vines take time and a green thumb to grow, and many will not flower in the first year. Some, like Virginia Creeper, grow quickly and turn colors with the changing seasons. Others like Star Jasmine will take years to establish but present magnificently fragranced flowers that will stop guests in their tracks. Popular Wisteria is incredibly fast-growing but needs care so it will not take over unwanted areas. Whatever your choice, the sooner it’s planted, the sooner you can enjoy a cool spot in the shade in your outdoor space.
If these ideas have you considering new programming of your own, we invite you to contact us to learn how we might approach your project. In the interim, we invite you to find inspiration in our portfolio.