Falling for fountains


Water makes a pretty sight and adds soothing sounds

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Fountains are bubbling up inside homes. Whether this water feature greets guests in the front foyer, or acts as a transition to outside spaces on a porch, fountains create Zen-like zones in homes.

More homeowners are falling for fountains, which not only complement a home’s architecture, but can also reflect personal style, says Amy Hansen, spokeswoman for Hayneedle, a decade-old online home store based in Omaha, Neb., with an entire site dedicated to fountains (www.SimplyFountains.com).

“A fountain becomes a statement piece in a home, and is a perfect way to bring the outdoors inside,” she says. “But, it’s not just how the fountain looks — the sound of water also has a calming and welcoming effect.”

Since ancient times, people have marveled at moving water and have tried to incorporate it into their home designs. Ceramic remains that date back to 4000 B.C. in present-day Iran suggest that ancient people incorporated fountains into their domestic surroundings. Traditional western fountains originated in ancient Greece, where archaeological remains indicate that Greek fountains simply diverted natural springs.

Today, there is a rise in popularity for contemporary design fountain forms with elements made from metal, natural stone or bamboo. “There’s a growing interest in the more simple, sleek, clean-lined fountains,” Hansen says, “although there are still some that want a traditional fountain, with a figure in its design.”

To make a big splash inside a home, choose the type of fountain that best fits your space and style:

•  Wall fountain: As an alternative to a large mirror or painting hung on the wall, this fountain adds life to a room when floor space is at a premium.

•  Pedestal fountain: This freestanding fountain is composed of a bowl, or series of bowls, and is supported by a central stem through which water is carried to the summit.

•  Cascade fountain: This type of fountain is made to intentionally mimic nature. A stream of water falls from an elevated height and creates a waterfall effect.

•  Tabletop fountain: Smaller, these fountains can be unexpected surprises on a bathroom vanity, family room sofa table or bedroom night stand, and can also be easily moved.

Hansen says indoor fountains sales continue to climb, as homeowners want to create a retreat-like setting in their own house. Popular spots for fountains include sunrooms/porches, meditation rooms and entryways, but buy the fountain that best fits the space you have in mind.

“The most popular fountains are those that are lighted, taller in scale and multitiered, which create a cascading effect and natural water sound,” Hansen says. “But this type of fountain doesn’t work in every space, and you have to be prepared for a ‘splash’ effect, so it’s probably not a good idea to put a large fountain next to your grandmother’s antique wooden buffet.”

Indoor fountains need special attention. After selecting a smooth, flat and — preferably — water- resistant surface on which to place the fountain, know that it needs to be refilled with distilled water every 24 to 48 hours. The purified water will prevent a calcium build-up in the fountain, while attention to the water level will ensure the fountain’s pump will not be exposed to air and burn out.

When buying, know there is a wide span in price points for fountains, ranging from tens for tabletop varieties to hundreds of dollars for freestanding ones. While natural materials, such as rock, metal and bamboo, can add to costs, manufacturers are now using synthetic mixtures of resin and fiberglass that are molded to emulate natural products, without the higher price tag.

Hansen says some people buy fountains based less on how they look, and more on how they sound while water is circulating through them. “A multitiered fountain has a desirable prolonged trickling sound,” she says. “Some fountains have chimes that sound when the water strikes the bottom basin, while others are very simple bubblers that sound only when water hits the stones at the bottom.”

Fountains are natural humidifiers and can also act as air purifiers, while providing relaxation inside the home and a tranquil focal point of a room.

“A fountain brings a certain peaceful energy into a home,” Hansen says. “It can help drown out the non-stop technology that bombards us and become a piece of living artwork in the home.”

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