Invisible Screen Doors

Summer is here and out of the garage come the window screens. After looking through clear glass windows all winter, I bet you wish you didn’t have to look through those dirty old screens all summer long.

There is an option, for you. A roll away screen that disappears when you are not using it!
Invisible screen doors are the perfect solution for showing off your beautiful doors and enjoying your spectacular views. The Clear View Retractable Screen Doors are the only retractable screen door that doesn’t slam and are custom measured and built specifically for your doors. There are 11 colors to choose from plus custom colors to match any décor.meskell-down

How many times has the dog or the kids run through the patio door screen?

Does the track on your rolling screen fill with dirt and debris and the screen does not roll without a strenuous tug?

Keep the luxurious look of you French Doors with screens that retract themselves with a simple touch.
If the dog runs into the screen is it ruined? No way! It simply requires closing, and opening and it’s as good as new.
Want a screened porch or garage? Our automated screens will roll down into place, with the touch of a button!
One touch, screens down. One touch, screens roll up again! All automatic.

Now you see it, now you don’t

Retractable screens are easy maintenance, disappear when not being used and never need to be replaced. They are the perfect solution for beautiful doors and spectacular views.

Greenhouse Technology

There is no better way to extend your living space than by adding a greenhouse or conservatory to your home. While at the same price point as any other home addition, the value of having such an unusually beautiful, functional room makes the return on investment a no-brainer.

But the financial benefits are the least of it. Homeowners appreciate the way their conservatory has enhanced the quality of their lives – there really is nothing like enjoying the snowfall from a cozy sofa. Folks who live in the coldest parts of the country are growing organic fruits and vegetables all year round. Not too shabby…

The other reason why homeowners love a conservatory is that they are crafted exactly to specification; no two are alike. One may be built entirely of glass while others feature stone knee walls and custom woodwork. And with the trend in greenhouses and conservatories rising, technology is catching up, making them attractive alternatives in the home renovation market.
These tech-savvy plant enthusiasts are opting for automated greenhouses that have climate control systems for managing the light and heat inside the greenhouse despite the weather conditions outside. Automated greenhouses use sensors to automatically adjust features such as lighting, temperature, and humidity depending on the needs of the plants. The homeowner can even set it up so that the system can be controlled from a laptop or an iPad.
Some of these modern features include:

Water Irrigation Systems
Drip irrigation, polyethylene tubing, sprinkler systems and reservoir systems offer efficient watering of your plants.

Energy-Efficient Glass
Insulated glass has a special low-emissive (Low-E) coating to allow sunlight to pass through but reflect excess heat. Installing skylights, windows and doors with this premium material is a little more costly upfront, but it’s natural ability to keep the space cool in the heat cuts electrical costs considerably.

Roof Vents and Automated Skylights
Roof lanterns and skylights that incorporate mechanical windows allow hot air to escape from the top of the structure. Electric roof vents with climate control and rain sensors can be installed to operate automatically and maintain a comfortable room temperature set on the thermostat. Rain sensors will override the climate control and close the roof vents if it detects rain.
Automated Blinds and Shades
Window treatments not only add to the decor of a conservatory, they are also very efficient at retaining warmth during the cold winter and reflecting the sun’s heat in the summer. Retractable screens allow the cool breeze into your home while keeping insects and environmental elements out.
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Hydroponic Systems
Hydroponic plants are grown indoors and without soil. Instead, they require a water-based, nutrient-rich solution that is delivered directly to the roots of the plant. Growing hydroponically is one of the earliest methods of gardening, and also one of the easiest.

The advancement in technology has enabled greenhouses to be practical and esthetically pleasing at the same time. A state-of-the-art greenhouse not only offers more convenient features for the owner but does so without negatively impacting the environment.

Outdoor Living without Insects

Retractable Screens to the Rescue

Motorized power screens offer sun and shade protection at your fingertips. Our screens are unique in the industry, made in the USA, and offer a perfect solution for the garage, patio and oversize doors and entryways. Invisible retractable screens tuck out of sight when not in use and with 11 colors to choose from plus custom colors they will seamlessly blend into your home’s décor. Retractable screens are the perfect rainsolution for keeping out bugs with the added bonus of not covering up your beautiful doors and still being able to enjoy your spectacular views.

Adding power to your patio shades and bug screens are the ultimate in convenience and elegance, with custom sizes big enough for your garage, patio and oversized entryways and doors, they are truly unique in the industry.

Learn more on Retractable and motorized screens here.

Top 3 Sunroom Ceiling Fans on Houzz

Number 3 in our series of our Top of Houzz, this week we have our Top 3 Sunroom ceiling fans from some very clever architects that we think fit and enhance each space so seamlessly.

1. Industrial Ceiling Fan

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Traditional Porch by Cambridge Architects & Building Designers LDa Architecture & Interiors

2. Plantation Style Ceiling Fan

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Traditional Dining Room by Jamestown Architects & Building Designers Ellen McKenna Design

3. Architectural Ceiling Fan

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Beach Style Living Room by Lakeville Architects & Building Designers alley architecture + design, LLC

Top 5 Screened In Porches on Houzz

To celebrate Houzz selecting us for our 2015 Best of Houzz award, we are returning the favor. Conservatory Craftsmen are going to be doing a series of blogs featuring our some of favorites from Houzz.

We are kicking it off with our Top 5 Screened in Porches from some very talented architects and designers from across the country. Enjoy!

1. Farmhouse Porch

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Farmhouse Porch by Millbrook Architects & Building Designers Crisp Architects

2. Traditional Beach Front Porch

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Traditional Porch by San Francisco Architects & Building Designers Nick Noyes Architecture

3. Contemporary Porch

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Contemporary Exterior by Saxtons River Landscape Architects & Landscape Designers Julie Moir Messervy Design Studio (JMMDS)

4. Outdoor Fireplace Porch

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Traditional Porch by Johns Island Architects & Building Designers Christopher A Rose AIA, ASID

5. Eco-Friendly Porch

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Rustic Exterior by Chicago Architects & Building Designers Burns and Beyerl Architects

Blinds and Shades for Your Conservatory or Greenhouse

The appeal of a conservatory is the flood of natural light that sweeps over the room. No other home addition can offer a space where plants grow, humans live and the surrounding landscape is brought indoors.

But sometimes the heat from the sun can cause room temperatures to skyrocket, making the room feel like a sauna. Conservatory roof and side blinds reflect the sun’s rays with a unique aluminum backing to provide the ultimate in heat reflection, each pleated blind whisking away the heat. They also provide year long comfort, because the pleated fabric is also efficient at retaining warmth during the cold winter evenings.

Conservatory blinds offer different levels of translucency to give you a choice of shading options, and turns the harsh glare of the sun into a soft, dappled light. Custom-made to ensure the perfect fit and ease of operation, even in the most complex conservatory window shapes can be fitted. The wide versatility of all our pleated blinds are ideal for conservatories, bi-fold doors, skylights, roof windows and patio doors. They are available as free hanging or tensioned inside the window beading.
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Our pleated conservatory roof and side blinds are available in a wide choice of colors to meet every taste and match every décor scheme. Duette Pleated Blinds are similar in appearance to classic pleated blinds, but have a double-layered honeycomb construction that provides a stylish, yet functional window covering with high insulation properties. This fabric layer is designed to deflect excessive heat during the summer, and provide insulation during the winter with a 60-80% thermal barrier.

Conservatory Craftsmen also offers Alu-Pleat® blinds, which is specifically designed to reflect heat. In fact, Faber Maunsell, a leading international environmental consultancy, put our exclusive Alu-Pleat® climate control fabric to the test. The findings show that on a typically hot day in July, the temperature in the conservatory peaked at a stifling 109 degrees Fahrenheit when no conservatory roof or side blinds were installed. With Appeal’s roof and side conservatory blinds in place, the peak temperature was reduced to 90 degrees.
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For homeowners looking for a more natural look, Pinoleum is crafted from the lightest quality reed, which minimizes the need for support wires in the roof. Consequently, using fewer wires gives the blinds a neater and more uniform appearance without sagging, while specially developed polyester stitching and acrylic edging also promotes longevity. Pinoleum blinds are complemented by a variety of operating systems, including pole, cord or remote controlled, for convenience and ease of use.

Conservatory blinds and shades create a relaxing ambience all year round and protects your plants and furniture by effectively controlling the room temperature and greatly reducing the harmful effect of the sun’s UV rays.

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Wood, Aluminum and Glass: The Three Amigos Of Building A Greenhouse

Throughout my years of work on a variety of different kinds of structures, I have learned that there are three main materials used for building a greenhouse: mahogany or other types of wood, aluminum, and glass. Each of these three materials has a specific purpose for those who are building a greenhouse or conservatory.

Mahogany/Wood

Mahogany is the most common type of wood used in the building of greenhouses and conservatories because of its durability and density. A large amount of the world’s mahogany currently comes from the Caribbean as well as parts of South America, especially Peru. Today, ethical tree harvesters are frequently certified by various forest protection groups. These harvesters source mahogany using tactics like reforestation, which will help keep the ecosystem of the local area in order. Mahogany is mostly desirable as a building material for greenhouses and conservatories because of its aesthetic. It is usually sealed with a moisture-resistant paint or finish that helps protect it from water damage.

Aluminum

Aluminum is another popular material for those who are building a greenhouse or conservatory because of its durability. Aluminum also does not rust, which makes it a great option for protecting a greenhouse from the weather. Aluminum can be painted over before it is used on a conservatory or greenhouse, but it is not the easiest material to paint, which is one of its main drawbacks. Aluminum might be used over PVC or wood on a greenhouse project where the frame needs to be as strong as possible.
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Glass

Rounding out the top three materials used in greenhouses and conservatories, glass is something that comes to mind almost immediately when a person thinks about a greenhouse or conservatory. Today’s glass is much more sophisticated than glass used on buildings in decades past: you can choose various kinds of glass depending on your needs. Some glass is designed to block the sunlight to keep things inside the conservatory sufficiently shaded, while other glass is made to transmit as much heat and light as possible. Whether you decide to go with leaded glass, stained glass, or another kind, be sure to choose the type of glass that is appropriate for your application. You will usually use a different glass for a greenhouse than you would use for a pool enclosure.

Although these are the top three materials used in greenhouses and conservatories, each one has their own specific subtypes and characteristics. Make sure to do your homework about your materials so you can be sure they are in line with your goal for your conservatory or greenhouse.

Smart Home Automation

Today’s modern family loves to add space to the house in a manner that adds light to the house and does not reduce it like a standard room addition will. The conservatory in today’s world also allows families to grow healthy plants and crops for eating and seasoning.
However, it can be difficult to maintain the growing greenhouse conservatory in a busy life that takes mom and dad to work every day, kids to school, after school activities and soccer games on the weekend. Unfortunate, it only takes one bad day, and the plants in the greenhouse conservatory can be ruined by drought.
We have automated greenhouse conservatories for our customers so while they are at the soccer game, they can; open the windows, turn up the heat, water the plants, switch the lights on and close the blinds all from their smart phone or touch pad.

How does Smart Home Automation work?

Window Blinds. We offer comfy controls in all our window blinds that will raise and lower the blinds based on time of day, sun intensity or just plain want to show the neighbors! Smart home automation also allows us to watch this process on live video as it happens.

Windows. We automate the windows in your conservatory greenhouse by small 24 volt motors that open and close the windows on pre-set commands. Open when it’s sunny outside but hot in the room. Close again if it gets too chilly or if an air conditioner comes on. Even text or email the homeowner if the temperature gets too hot or too cold in the room.

Plants. A small solenoid valve turns on the water and small spaghetti-like tubes feed each plant individually. Worried that some plants get too much, others too little? Not a problem, small water emitters at the end of the tubing dictate .25 gallons per hour, all the way up to 2 gallons per hour.

Lighting. We have said before that winter gardening is not impossible, but some plants will require additional light. Many very low energy, highly efficient growing lights have come on the market thanks to the research and development done by manufacturers filling a market created by the marijuana industry. These lights will also be on timers and you can set them for maximum light, and an 8-hour dark period that all plants need each day. None of us do well without our 8 hours of sleep!

Hydroponics. Some of you may become a bit more adventurous and want to learn how to grow plants in hydroponics. Actually, you would be surprised to know that most of the marijuana grown for use in this country are grown without natural light. Hydroponic growth chambers fueled by artificial light are the norm. You may also be surprised to know that 21 million acres in the USA are now under a greenhouse growing your tomatoes, peppers, and herbs.

With all this to think about, don’t forget the core reasons you considered that conservatory in the first place, your ‘cave’ to sink into at the end of a hard day, a cup of tea or a glass of wine, music that calms and soothes. All good reasons to add a room to your home unlike no other. Learn More.

Conservatory Windows and Glass Efficiency

Over the years, I have made a point of visiting conservatories in every city and country to which I have had the privilege to travel. My fascination with green spaces under glass began as a child in St. Paul, MN where I would make frequent trips to Como Park (now Marjorie McNeely) Conservatory in St. Paul. Built about 100 years ago and a terrific specimen of Victorian conservatory design, it is far from ‘old’ in the world of conservatories.

Given the fact that people have long been fond of natural light during inclement weather, the smell of plants and soil, do you think this trend will come to a halt because we have developed more efficient ways to grow plants? Hardly.

Today’s conservatory is already the conservatory of the future. Designed and modeled after traditional conservatories built by craftsmen over the last 100 years, they are married with the implementation of new and exciting innovations to make them energy efficient and productive. Let’s explore ways in which this has happened.

Window Glass

Once the prize of any building, today’s glass is a technical achievement far beyond the expectation of our forefathers. Have you ever been to London and gazed at old buildings and noticed where windows may have been, to be bricked over with a none-too-well matching brick? Do you think this is the result of a remodeling project that changed the need for a window? Not likely. British homes are already dark enough.

At one time, when wood was needed in Great Britain to fashion boats and maintain world trade, glass makers were using wood to fire kilns and make glass. Hence, the government put a tax on glass (also known as the ‘Glass Tax’), and your property was taxed by the number of windows you had! Times changed and so did glass manufacturing. Remember ‘hauling coal to Newcastle’? When coal was discovered in abundance in England, glass manufacturing methods changed and the tax was eventually repealed.
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A celebration of glass took place. Designed by Sir Joseph Paxton, the Crystal Palace of 1848 had over 18 acres of glass. I have personally visited homes in Great Britain with conservatories over 150 years old. Glazing methods improved greatly over the years. Although most cities in the USA had public conservatories at one time, the structures had a bit too much wood that contacted poorly glazed glass and the structures failed. Cities faced with the high costs of restoring their conservatories simply took them down and scrapped the metal.

Modern Conservatory Windows

Today, conservatories are built with highly efficient glass. The insulated glass panel became popular in the 1960’s and has developed ever since. Our glass has highly efficient coatings and films that change the infrared and ultraviolet waves of light and produces incredibly efficient glass. Most glass today is more energy efficient that the walls of the home you grew up in.

Greenhouse Effect/Affect

Yes, we all talk about the greenhouse effect and it seems the news continues to be more and more dismal.

Today, let’s talk about greenhouse ‘affect’, the effect of living in a glass environment on your soul, your psyche, and your health.

We all know the long dark winter days we endure are hard on our spirit. It does not seem natural to be cooped up in the house for all those months without any sunshine.

Under glass, the advantages are many.

One is SAD, Seasonal Affective Disorder

In a recent article printed in Scientific America, the effects of too much darkness are documented:
“The association between darkness and depression is well established. Now a March 25 study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reveals for the first time the profound changes that light deprivation causes in the brain.

Light Deprivation Study

Neuroscientists at the University of Pennsylvania kept rats in the dark for six weeks. The animals not only exhibited depressive behavior but also suffered damage in brain regions known to be underactive in humans during depression. The researchers observed neurons that produce norepi­nephrine, dopamine, and serotonin—common neurotransmitters involved in emotion, pleasure and cognition—in the process of dying. This neuronal death, which was accompanied in some areas by compromised synaptic connections, may be the mechanism underlying the darkness-related blues of seasonal affective disorder.

Principal investigator Gary Aston-Jones, now at the Medical University of South Carolina, speculates that the induced darkness disrupts the body’s clock. “When the circadian system is not receiving normal light that, in turn, might lead to changes in brain systems that regulate mood” he says.

Treating the rats with an antidepressant significantly ameliorated brain damage and depressive behaviors. “Our study provides a new animal system for antidepressant development. Many existing animal models depend on stress. Our model is a stress-free means of producing a depression. It might be particularly relevant to seasonal affective disorder, but we think that it is relevant to depression overall,” Aston-Jones says.”

We obviously believe the conservatory is the cure for this. We have one client in Boston who said she always used to require winters in Florida to prevent depression, now she stays home in Boston, and spends her time in the conservatory. Of course, this may be bad news for the tourist business in Florida, but its great news for the family that gets mom home all winter.

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Your Greenhouse ‘Affect’ also comes from the enjoyment of being outside in the winter, without the boots and parka. We enjoy snow storms and blizzards in the conservatory and pretend we are inside a snow globe!

Consider fresh herbs, leafy vegetables, and flowers in your winter. Never stop gardening all year round. Would you not say your life has improved if you can enjoy the fruits of your labor, all winter long?

On sunny days in the winter, my conservatory will heat up to 85 degrees. I let bread dough rise in the sun. Grandkids take naps on the loveseat in the sun. Most of our winter days are sunny (when it’s not snowing), and the sun is a welcome benefit to a long dark winter.
The greenhouse effect can be good mental health, a place to read, a place to garden, or a place to soak in the hot tub. Without a doubt the effect on us all is positive.