Natelli Homes Blog

altHaving handmade, custom cherry bookshelves in your home would tend to draw someone to the home office just for the ambiance they create.  Design elements of bookshelves can be beautiful, functional and intriguing.  With a little creativity and some master carpentry, we found a way to have a secret passage in our homes.  Bookshelves can be placed anywhere; in an office, a hallway, or outside a bedroom perhaps.  The fun part is making a functional door through the cabinets that is not apparent but can provide some utility and mystery in the home. 

altIn this case, the cabinets are installed at the top of a cantilevered, custom, handmade walnut staircase, but are also accessible to another room through a hidden doorway designed into the bookshelves.  The bookshelf design features floor to ceiling columns,  full caps and bases with adjustable shelves that are certain to be filled. 

On one side of the hidden door you see the bookshelves.  On the other side, the door face will match the design of the solid core doors used throughout the home. 

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Arlington, Virginia is such a great location for anyone in the metro DC area.  Quick access to downtown Washington, great neighborhoods, interesting regional restaurants and an abundance of good schools make this one of the most desired places to live in D.C.  Unfortunately the age of the housing stock makes it more difficult for a family to find exactly the right fit for a home.

One of the many strengths of Natelli Homes is the ability to provide exceptional value without sacrificing quality.  Builders have many way to cut costs during construction, but our standards are not going to change whether we are building a custom home for millions of dollars or a home for a client with lower budget.  In fact, many of the vendors and subcontractors used on projects at both ends of the price spectrum are often the same.

altEspecially in Arlington and Bethesda, we work with clients to evaluate the potential to renovate verses the possibility of tearing down an existing home and building new.  Building new does not mean building expensive; one just has to be smart about making the right choices.

altThis home will have  engineered floor systems spaced at 16" on center, not 24" on center just to meet the minimum code requirements, clad aluminum windows with Low-E high performance glass, hot water recirculating water lines and many other features that are always included in a Natelli home.  The home even incorporates a split zone heating and air conditioning system to address the needs of particular rooms when needed, not just blast air throughout the home when the fan comes on.

We will keep you posted about the progress and features of this fine new home in future posts.  Feel free to contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit our website at www.NatelliHomes.com

Faced with the task of heating and cooling a home of any size, geothermal systems make an incredible contribution to energy efficiency and practical applications.  Not only will they save money over time but they significantly reduce the demand on the electrical grid and the gas services in a community.   Given the energy issues in our world, its good to know that there are ways to make tremendous reductions in the carbon footprint of any new home or renovation.

In this project five wells were drilled to provide the heat exchangers with a water inflow that is roughly constant in temperature, about 50 degrees F.   Heat pumps work like a reversible refrigerator, sending the heat from ground water to the home in winter and swapping the heat from home back to the ground water in summer.alt Boilers work to boost the temperature of water. One of the wells prior to being connected to the home appears in the adjacent photo.

The following photos depict the installation of radiant heating systems that, by concept, date back to the Roman Empire.  When combined with geothermal systems, and today’s technology, radiant systems can drastically improve the comfort of modern living areas at a much lower energy cost.  Small tubing filled with heated water is recessed into prefabricated panels. altThe panels are mounted on the subflooring and contain an aluminum backing that radiates the heat of the water upwards.  The rooms will warm from the floor to the ceiling, heating the entire space. This will allow the owners to be comfortable at lower thermostat settings on the primary heating system.  This installation also helps eliminate cold feet syndrome – that malady that occurs when your body is warm, but your feet are freezing.alt

This system is installed in the kitchen and dining area, spaces where families and friends often congregate.  These flooring elements should be carefully coordinated with the cabinets, floor supply ducts and even flooring patterns in the tile and wood.

A great link that explains the physics behind geothermal: http://smart-nrg.com/geothermal.php Not only is this the "green" thing to do but it saves a lot of money in the long run.  You might check with your tax advisor about the incentives available for these installations.

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We have all been in homes in winter months, perhaps our own, when we feel a bit colder than the temperature seems to indicate.  The wood joints have opened up in the mouldings, doors, cabinets and furniture.  Interior doors and cabinet doors don't quite close or lock as they did a few months ago. We generally shock one-another or objects when we touch them.  Our skin gets rough and itchy, our eyes are irritated and our throats and noses are dry.  Those homes are begging for more humidity.  Winter dries everything out in a home because the relative humidity is low and our furnaces are blasting hot air needing a healthy dose of water vapor.

A given volume of air can contain a fixed amount of water, but when that same volume of air is heated up it can contain a greater amount of water.  So when our furnaces crank out heat in the winter, the potential amount of water contained in the air is increased.  If we don't add water vapor to the heated air the relative humidity goes down and we feel cold.  Our bodies are very sensitive to relative humidity.  A temperature with only 10% relative humidity feels colder to us that the same temperature with 45% relative humidity.  For example a heat index table tells us that a 70 degree temperature with 10% relative humidity feel like 65 degrees, but if we increase the relative humidity to 40% it feels like 68 degrees.  That is a 3 degree increase in comfort by just adding water to the air!

With that in mind, we need to ensure we give our homes the ability to add humidity properly.  One should carefully evaluate whole-house humidifiers in a new home or renovation.  altHumidification is not always one of the top boxes to check in a home project but one should know the benefits and work diligently to include the proper equipment.   A typical evaporative humidifier is attached to the ductwork near the furnace as shown in the adjacent photo on the right.  These humidifiers are effective but require periodic maintenance because they remove particulates and minerals from the water.  These evaporative humidifiers are used in the vast majority of homes in the Washington, DC area, and perhaps nationwide, but there are other cost-effective options.

altI prefer a steam humidifier (shown in the photo on the left and installed by Tri-State Home Services) which is dedicated to a zone or individual furnace in a home.  These steam humidifiers are incredibly effective and have the ablity to increase the relative humidity measurably in a home.

Steam humidifiers , as opposed to units that operate by evaporation, have several advantages including lower water consumption, much higher capacity, and increased flexibility in installation.  While a typical humidifier might have a capacity of 8-12 gallons per day, depending on how much the furnace runs, Residential Steam Humidifiers can have capacities of as much as 50 gallons per day, independent of the furnace operation.

Steam Humidifiers operate by heating a container of water causing steam to be formed, which is then distributed into the home. Most units can be mounted directly onto the ducting like standard humidifiers, and in the case of units like the Honeywell TrueSTEAM or the GeneralAire Elite Series they can be mounted remotely with the steam delivered to the forced air duct system via a hose, with a nozzle installed in the duct system.

Humidity is important to your home and your health in the winter months.  Make sure you consult with your building professional or your trusted Heating and Air Conditioning contractor.  I have several that I recommend - feel free to contact me.

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