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Before and After: Enclosed Porch

Before - Chester Springs Porch Retrofit
Before - Chester Springs Porch Retrofit

This porch was originally designed to have rails between the posts. Fortunately, before the contractor had a chance to build and install rails, the homeowner visited VixenHill.com and discovered the three-season Porch System alternative.

Using VixenHill’s interactive design module “Porch Systems”, the homeowner quickly retrofitted his porch and printed an actual quote. When the modular porch system arrived, it took less than a day to install.

Since a three season porch isn’t considered living space, no additional permits were needed. Now the homeowner has a bug-free environment for dining and the ability to replace the insect screens with tempered glass when Fall & Winter bring cold weather.

Wall panels, posts and architectural inserts are factory built of cedar. This helps eliminate concerns of rot and bug infestation. Factory paint & stain finishes are also available for those wanting a formal outside look and the warm feeling of wood inside.

After - Perfect place for relaxing, reading and entertaining.
After - Perfect place for relaxing, reading and entertaining.

The modular porch system shown cost around $ 5,000. Online quotes are free and fun to do online at VixenHill.com.

Design the porch of your dreams and make comfortable outdoor living a reality.

Arbors add curb appeal! Cedar is great for plantings!

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Vixen Hill offers classic arbors made of Western Red Cedar that add beauty and charm to gardens, backyards or entry points. Vixen Hill Arbors are crafted from the finest quality cedar available to endure a lifetime of use and their modular design allows for easy assembly in a day.

An arbor adds beautifully to the landscape of a home and it’s functional bench seating can be used for a place to relax or to meet. Climbing vines or trellis on a Vixen Hill Arbor also provide shade.

“Garden arbors by Vixen Hill create vertical design lines in the garden, adding essential height and offering a warm porous surface for climbing flowers and plants to flourish,” states Christopher Peeples, President and Founder of Vixen Hill. “Western Red Cedar provides a durable and beautiful material that’s perfect for arbors. It’s natural and highly durable. You can finish it with a stain or color to blend with other outdoor structures or let it age gracefully. It’s a stable structure as well that doesn’t need to be anchored with cement or iron and can be moved as needed. Plastic or metal structures may be more affordable, but they will not provide a good surface for growing plants and may need to be anchored firmly to the ground.”

The Vixen Hill Arbor is available in two styles as a meeting point arbor or an entrance arbor and can be tailored to fit the needs of the consumer. Vixen Hill offers a variety of options for each arbor and range from $2,015 – $2,775.

Spring Cleaning – Tips for cleaning screens

porch-interior-131Here’s a tip from Chris Peeples at Vixen Hill for cleaning Porch or Gazebo screens:

I’ve always used one of those soft bristle brushes on an extend-o-pole. They’re generally sold for washing windows. Dip the brush into a hot bucket of water spiced with a little dish detergent and lightly brush both sides. Then, hose out screens from the inside and mop up any excess over-spray.

Builder Tip: Making Homes “Porch Ready”

“Here’s a tip that builders and contractors love to hear,” advises Christopher Peeples, founder and president of Vixen Hill. “At no additional cost, they can make homes ‘porch-ready’ by using modified header beam – called a Dittmar Beam – in their open porch design. This makes a future three-season porch upgrade a snap. A three-piece header-beam may be marketed to the homebuyer as a free ‘porch-ready’ upgrade. Once the beam is in place, a modular Vixen Hill Porch System is easy to install… in just a few hours. It’s a great way to build additional post-market sales after the community has settled in,” concludes Peeples.
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About Dittmar Beams
The “Dittmar Beam” is a Vixen Hill proprietary variation of a header beam, designed to facilitate easy retrofit of three season porch panels. It is a simple “sandwich” of three 2 x X planks, that forming a U-channeled header beam for roof rafters on top and tenoned posts below, that seamlessly accepts Vixen Hill Porch Panels. Importantly, there’s no additional expense for these beams. Interested builders and contractors should call Vixen Hill for more details at 800-423-2766.

About Vixen Hill Porch Systems
The Vixen Hill Porch System allows three-season porch use while retaining the look and feel of a traditional porch. Unlike Florida and Four-Season glassed-in additions, a porch is not considered living space and code restrictions may not apply. Screens and tempered storm glass can be swapped from the inside while a wide variety of architectural inserts enhance the look from the outside. Whether historic, modern, new or retrofit, only Vixen Hill offers such versatility in a pre-engineered package that’s as enduring and beautiful as it is easy to install.

Interested builders should visit VixenHill.com to see this and other innovative outdoor products – all designed for turnkey installation and long-term customer satisfaction.

From Trash to Treasure. What to do with old Shutters.

Scanning the Internet, we found some fun decorative uses for old shutters:

1.    Lean behind plantings as a point of interest or among antiques like watering cans.
2.    Hinge together to make a screen to hide garden equipment.
3.    Make into bookshelves, CD racks or tables.
4.    Use as a valence.
5.    Use as a doorway or closet door cover.
6.    Paint and use as a wall decoration.
7.    Make into a bird house.

Thanks to GardenWeb.com, http://www.scavengerart.com and http://www.robomargo.com.

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Spring Cleaning Tips for Exterior Shutters

Mother Nature’s bugs, birds and weather can take a toll on the façade & exterior appointments on your home. The resulting unkempt look can diminish that good old home feeling. But, if you have shutters, there is something you can do about it. “Exposure to the elements is going to cause the exterior shutters to take a beating,” says Chris Peeples, president and founder of Vixen Hill. “Our shutters are made from the finest cedar wood to withstand years of weather abuse, but maintaining them properly will ensure they last even longer,” says Peeples.

Cleaning Enhances Curb Appeal and Lengthens Life of Shutter
Cleaning Enhances Curb Appeal and Lengthens Life of Shutter

Regular maintenance and upkeep are necessary to keep the shutters looking their best. “Leaves, nests, cobwebs and dirt accumulate on shutters can destroy the overall look of a house,” says Peeples. To refresh the look of the exterior shutters, the experts at Vixen Hill recommend cleaning the shutters every two to five years depending on exposure. If the shutters are easily accessible, this can easily be done without removing them.

Here are some cleaning tips:

  1. If the shutters need repair or are not easily accessible, remove them from the house. For difficult locations, this can sometimes be done from inside.
  2. Use a soft bristle brush and warm soapy water to scrub off accumulated debris on both sides of the shutter. Next, rinse them with a garden hose. If you use a pressure washer, take care that the pressure is not so high that it removes the paint.
  3. Only use water and a small amount of soap to clean the shutters.  Don’t use any harsh cleaning agents because they may affect the paint color.
  4. Allow the shutters to dry on both sides before restoring them to their open position.

“Cleaning the shutters regularly will help maintain their appearance, increase longevity, and  improve curb appeal,” Peeples adds.

Customers interested in changing the color of their shutters can easily have Vixen Hill do the work, but for those who are confident enough to repaint them at home, Vixen Hill offers the following guidelines when repainting or staining:

To repaint shutters:

  • After cleaning and thoroughly drying the shutters, a new top coat can be applied by brush or spraying. Two coats are generally required when applying a different color. Always allow the first coat to dry for twice the recommended drying time to prevent solvent out-gassing, the major cause of bubbling.
  • Spray painting is easier than brushing and doesn’t lease brush marks.
  • Allow fresh air circulation, preferably outdoors for best results.
  • Lightly sand any rough areas between coats with 200-grit sandpaper.

To re-stain shutters:

  • Use solid stain and apply with a sprayer or construct a bathing frame using 2 x 4  and a sheet of plastic.
  • Smooth and wipe off excess within 30 minutes after each application.

Notes:

  • Touch-up “reveal” lines after 6 months
  • All coatings should be thoroughly mixed because binding and drying agents can settle to the bottom of the container, especially when using five-gallon cans.

For more information, visit www.VixenHill.com.

GET GREEN AND SAVE GREEN WITH VIXEN HILL WINDOW BOXES

Cut down on the high cost of groceries and make your home beautiful inside and outside with a Vixen Hill window box. Homeowners can use a Vixen Hill window box inside during winter months to start herb gardens that can then beautify the exterior of the home come spring. VixenHill.com offers an interactive online program that lets homeowners customize and design their own window box in Western Red (an environmentally sensible choice that is durable and rot resistant) or in AZEK (a synthetic wood alternative). Window boxes are easy to install and instantly beautify the exterior of a home.

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“Window Boxes let you garden in a small space and can reside inside or outside – placed along stairways, on decks and of course, under windows,” states Christopher Peeples, Founder and President of Vixen Hill. “A deck or outside terrace lined with a window box garden becomes a fantastic getaway in the spring – plus a source of fresh, healthy herbs and vegetables.”

Window Box Planting Hints:
– Herbs need lots of sunlight so try and avoid shaded areas or north-facing windows.
– Make sure they are not too heavy after you fill it with soil. Use a soil mix that’s meant for gardening or a soil-less mix, as they are lighter and filled with nutrients.
– Put a mesh screen with stones or wood chips on bottom to help with drainage.
– Follow the seed packet instructions – typically placing them ¼ – ½ inches deep and six inches apart to start.
– Basil is a good choice if you have lots of sunlight most of the day. You can use the leaves and the plan re-grows.
– Coriander and dill do not re-grow after you harvest them – if you enjoy these annuals, you will have to harvest and re-grow them.
– Rosemary, sage, thyme and oregano are great indoor herbs because they are sturdy.
– If you have drafty windows inside, you may want to consider artificial lighting since herbs are sensitive to changes in temperature.

Window Box Design Tips:
– Don’t be afraid to venture beyond the classic white box. Add a splash of color or a natural cedar stain. Vixen Hill’s consultants can help.
– Window boxes look better when they are a bit wider than the window. Go about 3” past the window on each side for the best balance.
– Plant in a zigzag pattern and try to vary the plantings in size and texture. Taller plants in back, shorter and bushier plants in middle. Plant flowers with trailers in front.

Creating Old World Charm Easily by Electronically Customizing Exterior Shutters

The hottest design trend is customization – whether it’s a custom protector for an iPhone or the custom shutter for a historic house. Now Vixen Hill customers can personally design every feature of their exterior shutters at the company’s online website, www.vixenhill.com. With just a few clicks, customers have the power to choose from various shutter styles, limitless color options, as well as intricate details such as personalized motifs or cutouts along with multiple hardware preferences. “This is where old world meets new technology,” says Chris Peeples, President of Vixen Hill. “We want our customers to feel in control when purchasing their shutters. It’s a very individual decision, from the style, the color, the wood thickness to the hardware. Our clients are making a personal statement for their neighborhood and the world to see, so it’s important to get it right.” Peeples says. Unlike other websites that only offer an online catalog or simple tools to select color options, Vixen Hill’s website takes the process one step further. Along with the ability to select uniquely customized shutter characteristics, the website is equipped with a calculator that automatically tallies the price of each component while designing, so there are no hidden or surprise fees when purchasing the shutters.

Customize your shutters at VixenHill.com
Customize your shutters at VixenHill.com

“And if price is a concern, this feature allows our customers to know the cost up front,” says Peeples. In today’s economy when money is tight for major remodeling projects, homeowners can find that a simple and affordable way to update or transform the outside of their home is by replacing or adding exterior shutters. This decorative and aesthetically appealing detail adds elegance and personality to any building or house. Better than most vinyl or assembly line made shutters, Vixen Hill shutters are custom-made of durable, insect resistant wood, which stands up to the elements and looks more genuine than man-made materials.

Vixen Hill’s New Green Mudroom Makes $ense!

Vixen Hill, maker of fine outdoor products, announces the introduction of modular mudrooms. These practical, small additions save energy, help improve a home’s indoor air quality and provide much needed storage for every family member. Vixen Hill is the only manufacturer whose mudrooms can be customized for either new or existing structures. Best of all, the new mudrooms & vestibules are pre-engineered for one-day installation and can be designed online at VixenHill.com.

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“Mudrooms are a hot item for remodelers and builders,” states Christopher Peeples, founder and president of Vixen Hill. “Small renovation projects that are green and healthy are highly desirable. The Vixen Hill mudroom saves energy as it insulates the home from that cold blast of winter or hot summer air. The ideal mudroom has two doors – one exterior door and one interior door leading into the home – a perfect barrier to keep heating and cooling systems more efficient. In addition, the mudroom serves as a buffer zone – preventing contaminants like dust, dirt, mold and allergens from entering the home’s air.”

According to Kiplinger’s, the mudroom is the “new family command center” with storage lockers to hold coats, shoes, boots, backpacks and more. Built-in benches, key hooks and charging stations for phones, iPods and game systems are all popular interior features. Some mudrooms even offer a dog shower (Vixen Hill has an outdoor shower that can be incorporated as part of a mudroom design). A Vixen Hill mudroom can be as simple or as elaborate as the homeowner desires – a green, healthy improvement with storage space that makes $ense for their needs.

For more information and to design online, visit VixenHill.com.
Customized mudrooms start at about $4,179.