There are certain things that we can find in almost every orth American home. In fact, there are specific trends that homeowners and builders follow when they design or decorate a home. Most of the time we follow these trends because we are familiar with them and not because they are the best design methods. Another reason why we follow these trends is because we haven’t learned about new design ideas.
There is always room for improvement when it comes to home design and home renovation. Sometimes we need to look to others for inspiration. It’s a good thing that our neighbors across the pond in Europe are world leaders in design innovation!
Interestingly enough, some of the most intuitive, simple, effective, and useful home building and décor design innovations are not new to European homeowners. They have been using them for decades.
These changes to home interior and building design bring benefits, which may save us time and energy, make our living spaces more comfortable, and keep our homes clean and safe.
Here are few unique home features that can be found across Europe. These home improvements master streamlined, comfortable living in innovative and simple ways.
Tilt and Turn Windows
Windows are an essential part of home design. Proper light and air flow improve our happiness and health. Luckily there are plenty of options to choose from on the market. Interestingly enough, one window style never caught on North America even though it provides some of the best light and airflow for the home.
Tilt and turn windows are the multi-functional window wonders of Europe. They have hinges on the sides as well as hinges on the bottom. This allows the homeowner to crack the window open at the top to let in a breeze, or open the window full swing from the side. Tilt and turn windows are usually large rectangular windows so they also let in a great deal of light. Most options on the market are soundproof as well.
On top of all of this, these windows are extremely easy to use. All you need to do is twist the handle. Twist down and you open the window a crack from the top. Twist up and you open the window full swing.
European homeowners prefer full-swing windows like these because they don’t have central air systems in their homes. This means that they use their windows and doors to air out their home and let in fresh air. This is a common practice in countries such as Germany and Italy. Although we do things a little differently, it’s undeniable that fresh air and light are nice to have!
It’s okay to forget your key and you leave the house in North America. Most of the time the door won’t lock behind you. This isn’t true in most European countries! A large proportion of the front doors to homes and apartments are self-locking. Most of these self-locking doors have deadbolts in them, which makes them secure options for the home, than the average door. They also tend to be sturdier than the average door as well because they are usually made out of steel, rather than wood.
The most interesting feature of these self-locking doors is that you need a key to open the door from the inside too. This is a burglar’s worst nightmare! They won’t be able to leave through the front door of the home making it difficult for them to take large items from your home.
It can be inconvenient to accidentally forget your key at home and lock yourself out, there is no doubt about that! However, there is something so simple about not worrying whether or not your front door is locked. Also, having a self-locking door can be a time saver too. It saves you time because you don’t need to look for your keys when you’re rushing out the door. It can easily save you 30 seconds a day—and that adds up!
Italian Combination Shutters
Window coverings are an essential component to home life. Most North American homeowners prefer internal window coverings, such as drapes and blinds. However, external window coverings bring their own set of advantages.
Italian window shutters are one of the most multi-functional shutters available today.
They are a combination shutter that takes elements from Bermuda Shutters and Plantation Shutters. These shutters come in pairs, and each shutter hinges at the head and side window jambs. This allows the shutters to swing open at the sides and prop open from the bottom as well. These shutters offer light control using blind rotation, privacy, and outside access.
Having the shutters prop out from the bottom also creates an excellent breezeway into the home. Italian Shutters are sure to please since they offer so many different experiences!
Light Kill Switch
If you travel to Europe then you may have some trouble with the light switches. They all seem to be differ from country to country! However, one thing remains: European light switches don’t look like North American ones and they also perform different functions than what we are used to.
Most European switches are push operated. There is usually a panel next to the entrance that operates several lighting groups in the home and there will also be a separate light kill switch.
The light kill switch is extremely useful as it will turn off all of the lighting in the home with the push of a button. It’s extremely convenient for anyone who forgets to shut the lights before they leave the house, or doesn’t want to go into each room to turn off all of the lights one by one. You need not take off your shoes to turn off a light when you can hit the kill switch and turn them all off.
Rolladen is a popular external window covering found across Germany—however, they can be found in other European countries as well.
Rolladen is rolling window shutters that provides home security, privacy, and light control. They roll down at the click of a button or by pulling a rope. Rolladen completely cover the window from the top of the window jamb to the very bottom. They can create a semi-darkened to pitch-black home interior depending on what setting you choose.
This type of window covering may be made from aluminum. There are some companies that offer Rolladen with a foam core to improve home insulation.
The rolling window shades are placed at the top of the window frame on the outside of the house. Rolladen can also be installed on door frames as well. The switch/lever to operate the Rolladen is located on the inside of the home at the side of the window. Some companies offer electric and remote Rolladen that allows the homeowner to activate the shutters all at once, from outside the home, or from any room in the home.
Rolladen provides excellent home security, sun and weather protection, and privacy.
Bidets are common in European countries (not to mention countries across Asia, South America, and the Middle East too!). For some reason, bidets are uncommon in North American bathrooms.
Bidets offer several advantages that traditional toilet paper does not provide.
First, they are much kinder on the environment. North Americans use billions of rolls of toilet paper a year, which wastes precious environmental resources such as trees and water. In addition to that, most toilet paper is bleached, which is a huge environmental strain.
Second, toilet paper is not hygienic as it doesn’t wash the skin. However, bidets offer a hygienic bathroom cleaning regime. In addition to this, homeowners can also buy antiseptic cleansers to use with the bidet for hygienic purposes.
Third, toilet paper can be a skin irritant and it can cause lesions and other health problems.
Although bidets are an uncommon bathroom hygiene regimen, they offer more comfort and sanitation options than the options that we are used to in North America!
Radiators seem conventional and outdated. However, they provide an unparalleled home heating experience. In fact, they are the home heating standard in Europe.
Forced air heating became increasingly popular in North American by the middle of the 20th century. It became a popular option because it was cheap to install and provided fast heating results. Forced air became popular because it also allowed for central air conditioning. Although air conditioning was considered to be a mid-century luxury it quickly gained momentum as demand sky-rocketed and prices lowered.
Although forced air is the go-to home heating choice in most North American homes, radiant heat is a more effective and efficient heating system. Radiant heating warms the home through convection, which creates a more sustainable and long-lasting warmth in comparison to forced air. Radiators actually heat the home furniture, surfaces, the body, and the air. Forced air simply blows warm air into a room and doesn’t heat the objects.
It takes radiators a little bit longer to heat a home than forced air does. However, the effects will be long lasting and more comfortable.
Finally, radiators can be more efficient than furnaces, which can help you save money on your energy bills! If you suffer from a dry home in the cooler months then you should consider copying those old-fashioned Europeans friends and install a steam, electric, or hot water radiator!