When we chatter about design, it's usually about furnishings, accessories, wall coverings and that sassy little cabbage rose-patterned fabric.
But there's another side to design, and it's every bit as important as looking good from chair rails to the bathroom towels. I'm talking about designing your home so it's safe from intruders. I don't care how good your house looks. If you're constantly feeling threatened by what's lurking on the outside, no amount of Laura Ashley or Martha Stewart is going to set your mind at ease.
Following these tips offered by the folks at AT&T; Security Systems should help secure your house.
Make sure that all hedges are trimmed so that decks, patios, porches, windows and doors can be easily seen from the street.
Make sure that all screens and windows lock from the inside. On the first floor, consider installing window locks that operate with a key. This will prevent burglars from breaking the glass and reaching in to unlatch a standard lock. Bolt down in-window air conditioners to prevent their removal from the outside.
Intruders might try to get into your house by removing exterior door hinges. So you should think about securing those hinges. For example, screws can be replaced with a non-retractable variety.
Check to make sure that all outdoor lights are working. Then install additional fixtures to make sure that your home is adequately lighted on all sides.
Be sure there is a light near your house number for easy identification by police or the fire department.
You also might want to look at timers with a photoelectric eye on lights in several rooms to give the impression that somebody is at home when you're away. If your front door doesn't have a window, it might not be a bad idea to install a wide-angle peephole or an intercom.
It's also important to reinforce the areas around locks on doors. Reinforce or replace any flimsy doors.
Take time to get to know your neighbors. Building good relationships with neighbors can help create a network of people who can watch out for your house.
(Gary Krino covers home design for the Orange County Register. Write to him at Home & Garden, The Orange County Register, P.O. Box 11626, Santa Ana, Calif. 92711.)