Tag Archives: Snow

Snow Day

Snow Day

In Like a Lion

You know the saying: in like a lion and out like a lamb. That is the unpredictable, unmistakable nature of March. As New Englanders, we are living through this first hand. And while many of us long for the warm, sun-drenched days of summer, there is something truly magical about a newly fallen blanket of snow. Our yards take on a sublime serenity. The trees that looked gray and barren days ago now possess a beautiful depth and texture. So this week, let’s take a moment to appreciate the grace and beauty our homes take on in the winter season. Let’s recognize what our own backyards can offer during this special time of year – and the ways in which we can prepare for Mother Nature’s surprises.

We talk to our clients a lot about the importance of indoor-outdoor living spaces. Understandably, most people associate this with warm weather living. But that’s not necessarily true. For example, some of our homeowners believe there is nothing better than heading out into the brisk, winter air to lace up a pair of ice skates. If property allows, some may even design a skating rink in their own back yard to enjoy throughout the season.

Some clients who have a pool and outdoor cabana may choose to use the cabana as a cozy warming hut for adventurous skaters. What better place to enjoy a cup of steaming hot cocoa? The very bold may even light the outdoor grill or fire pit. Just grab some chairs and heavy blankets and voila – an outdoor living space with multiple, season-round uses.

While there is something quintessentially New England about a home newly blanketed with snow, there are some practical considerations for winter storms as well. Snow and ice can make getting in and out of your house difficult – even dangerous. For that reason, when our clients are designing (or renovating) their driveways and walkways, we often recommend adding a heated walkway. Typically, this is a heating system embedded into the walking area with tubing that runs under the surface. Glycol runs through the tubing causing heat to radiate up to the pavement. This prevents snow and ice from accumulating and ensures safe passage after a storm. A heated walkway is a great alternative to heavy shoveling or plowing and eliminates the worry of slippery accidents. Alternately, having a reliable property management team to help clear the way is another meaningful option. One company we recommend for our Cape and South Shore clients is E.J. Jaxtimer Builder, who has excellent, dependable landscape and property management teams.

Another snowstorm essential is having an emergency generator on hand. The downside to a beautiful snowstorm is a potential power outage and a generator can provide temporary power – and peace of mind – in this circumstance. Typically, generators run on natural gas or propane and can either be small and portable, or large and permanent, remaining on standby in the event of a storm. Depending on our homeowner’s needs, we always recommend having a backup generator, particularly in rural areas.

Right now, many of our yards are covered in a sea of pristine white; the composition of our hedges and rooflines has transformed. Take it in – embrace the lighting and outdoor textures of your home on this winter day. Before you know it, March will be out like a lamb.

Decorating for Christmas

Decorating for Christmas: An Architect’s Point of View


New England holidays are notorious for their winter wonderland weather but also for their entrancingly decorated homes, often only seen in storybooks. A leisurely drive around the neighborhood to see the holiday decorations is a magical experience that can be enjoyed only two months in the year. We want to share with you Patrick Ahearn’s secret to decorating your New England home this holiday.

It doesn’t matter what time of the year, the arrival sequence from the street to your front door is a crucial moment that should incite anticipation and deliver a warm welcome. During the holidays, we are given the opportunity to further accentuate the sense of arrival with layers of lights, garland, and wreaths defining the path to the front door. Equally as important, decorations can be used to accentuate primary architectural features on the façade.


Here are our suggestions:

  1. Decorations can help define the edge of your property, making a romantic introduction. For example, a fence, mailbox, or post light can be beautifully decorated with a series of garland and ribbon.
  2. Adorn trees that act as signature pieces to your property with lights. A decorated tree after a recent snowfall is breathtaking.
  3. Set lights in the low foliage bordering your home to draw one’s attention from your property to your home.
  4. Wrap portico or porch columns in garland and lights to emphasize the transition from outdoors to indoors.
  5. Take advantage of the window boxes, which would typically house flowers in the summer, for Christmas greens to introduce life. Add lights in the window boxes to help animate their three dimensional quality.
  6. Put Christmas lights on trees flanking the entry way. Seasonal trees can be potted and used in the spring if your home doesn’t have this feature.
  7. To finish the arrival sequence, place a wreath on your front door with a dedicated low voltage spotlight.
  8. In addition, to temper the acute focus on the front door, softly light the façade in a symmetrical way.
  9. Lastly, many homes have multiple entrances; take the opportunity to highlight a significant architectural feature one may see from a second angle. For example, a wreath would look great centered on a stone chimney that is visible from a side entrance.


Follow these suggestions and your guests should be filled with warmth and excitement as they approach your home, eager with anticipation to see what you have done inside!

Good Luck & Happy Holidays from Patrick Ahearn Architect LLC