On Thursday, March 3rd, Linden Lab released the Newbrooke theme of Premium Membership Linden homes, which I’d previously previewed in December 2021, and took another quick look at the release just after it was announced.
As noted in the latter of the above two articles, the preview was very quickly withdrawn for “updates” – although I could (on the surface at least) see what was different between the release versions and those in the preview. Anyway, for only the third time since Bellisseria – the “home continent” for Linden Homes started rolling out, the new designs were enough to encourage me to make the move (I’ve previously held a houseboat – which I personally feel is still the best of the themes when it comes to making something of a unique mini-home in SL, as they offer the broadest opportunities for modding their interiors with additional walls, floors, etc., – and a Stilt Home.
The “good” points about these houses are the fact they are very light and airy – a lot of windows, and a good set of variants in overall style; the mix of houses sized for a 512sq m parcel sitting on a 1024 sq m parcel offers plenty of exterior scope – and some are already starting to take advantage of that. As well as the various house styles, these home come with there own contents pack, which includes a range of furnishings (indoor and out), all very basic and nothing to write home about; together with plants and planets and things like additional wall / fence panels for those who wish to either add a boundary to their land or do something else with them (patio walls, exterior dividers, etc.).
One thing that did strike me as new – although not having held a Chalet theme home and not being a regular on the SL forums, I’ve no idea if this is new to the Newbrooke Theme, or first surfaced with the Chalets – is the updated means of changing the colours of the interior walls directly through the use of RGB codes or the use of a colour picker HUD in addition to the usual selection of colour presets presented by a dialogue box.
As with the pre-sets, the custom colours option works on a per-room basis, and is accessed via the My Colors button in the dialogue displayed by the house controller panel. For those with Linden Homes who have not previously seen this, the image above provides an overview. The only addition is that when you click the Type <RGB> button, an input dialogue is displayed, requesting the desired RGB values.
Obtaining one of the homes also gave me a light bulb moment as to why these have been referred to as “container homes”. This is because as well as changing the exterior wall colours (as per other Linden Homes I’m familiar with through ownership) you can change the appearance to the finish of some of the wall elements – which I think is new with this release as an option. The three choices are: stucco (default on rezzing), wood, and metal (hence “container”).
I have to admit that while an interesting ability, I found both the wood and metal finishes a little two “bleah” for my tastes; to my eyes the panels of the forms looks to be too big and the materials finish overblown, and the metal just made the place look weird. As with all the exterior options – colour changing for the brickwork, etc., – these three options are available as presets on the house control dialogue menus.
After having spent the better part of a day trying to find the best “fit” with the Newbrooke styles (all eight of them), I settled on the Coniston, a 1024 sq m design as initially best suiting my needs – although I am also swayed towards the Heaton as well.
With its large central through-room, the Coniston offered me plenty of space for a living area, display cabinets and a fireplace – and one of my grand pianos. Similarly the second through-room provides a good amount of space for a kitchen and dining area. That said I have to admit to finding some of the rooms in most of the designs to being cramped.
Within the Coniston, for the example, the smallest room looks to make an ideal bathroom – except that when it came to furnishing it, I found myself hearing the imaginary voice of an estate agent (realtor) saying, “Now this is the bathroom. As you can see, there’s room for a toilet and either a vanity unit or a bath…” While I got things fitted, I did find myself wondering if part of the room size “problem” is down to camera positioning, and the difference between the official viewer’s default and the adjusted, over-the-shoulder views most seasoned users employ, and which can result in cameras ending up on the wrong side of walls in small rooms.
Another slight issue for me with these houses is the use of materials – not that I have anything against materials; it’s just that in places, these do seem overly pronounced – such as the floorboards, the individual planks of which struck my as looking either poorly laid or poorly finished. Of course, this is somewhat including with the “Contain homes” aspect of the theme – but it would have been nice to have something a little more – graceful – as an option. As it is, I opted to lay my own floors, which can be seen in the images here.
As is to be expected with a new release of Linden Homes, creators are already busy producing add-on kits for the various styles of Newbrooke homes – and doubtless more will be added in time. However, these are house than anyone with a modicum of building capability can have fun playing with.
But enough for now; suffice it to say, the Newbrooke homes do have a lot going for them, and I’ll likely retain mine for a while, and will likely have a play with at least the Heaton style as well!