Doubling up in the kitchen

by Greg Dodge 28. January 2014 06:44
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Designing the perfect kitchen is a matter of personal style. Everything from your household size to meal preferences to how you like to entertain needs to be considered.  

 

 


If your new kitchen has sufficient cabinet space, many people are eliminating a base cabinet and adding a second dishwasher. You may be surprised how little the difference in price is. And for individuals who set the table right out of the dishwasher (hey, they're clean dishes!) it's almost like you didn't give up any storage!

 

 

Tags:

Design Trends | Destressing | Kitchen Design

Four Things You Can Do to Make Your Porch More Alluring

by Greg Dodge 24. July 2013 12:39
 

 

 

There are numerous benefits to having a front or back porch, and if you’re lucky enough to have both, that’s even all the better. A front porch gives you the advantage of curb appeal by highlighting your entryway. It can add an element of graceful style to your home, and it is one of the first things that a visitor or passerby will see. Back porches offer the bonus of a private space to relax or entertain, and will add to the beauty of your backyard. A nice front or back porch will increase the value of your home and any porch can be made more alluring with certain touch-ups or additions.

 

 

Add a Porch Covering:

Although a porch can be a nice feature on its own, if you don’t have a covering, it will be exposed to the sun and rain, and will be damaged over time. This also leaves you, your guests, and your entryway with no protection either. A covering is an investment that will save you from having to rebuild your porch prematurely, and will also make it a more enjoyable space for everyone.  

 

Install a Railing:

Having a railing on your porch can significantly impact its appearance and give it a finishing touch that complements the other design elements of your home. A railing provides privacy without obstructing your view and will give your porch a more secure feel. This is especially important if you are going to have children playing on or around the porch.

 

Change your Décor:

The furniture you use to decorate your porch has a large impact on its look and attractiveness. Since these accessories are kept outdoors, it is likely that they will need to be replaced more often than your other furniture. Adding a rug can make the space appear larger and give it a cozier experience. The seating that you choose will also greatly affect the feel of your porch and should be considered carefully. 

 

Add Finishing Touches:

Adding ceiling fans can keep you comfortable during warmer weather, and light fixtures or lamps, will provide both decorative and useful elements to your porch. Hanging plants, or sheer curtains, can add a nice touch to the space, and offer you more privacy without completely blocking t

he outside view and light. Finally, you will want to keep your yard maintained, especially around the porch as this reflects on the area as a whole.  

 

Looking for homes plans designed with great porches? Craftsman style homes are famous for their large beautiful front porches.

Tags:

Design Trends | Destressing | Patio | Porch

5 Best Places to Find Free Moving Boxes

by Paul Foresman 30. May 2013 14:46

Moving can be exciting. You get to start a new life in your new custom home, but it can also be stressful and sometimes even dreadful because you know what’s coming – packing. It’s inevitable. Packing up all your things before a move is a huge task, and what’s worse is that buying moving boxes can be an unwanted expense. Why pay for a box when you know it will just get thrown away?

 

 

Of course, you still need something to make sure all your possessions make it to the new location safe and sound. There are a few simple tricks when it comes to rounding up boxes that you can use to make sure your stuff is protected. There are many places you can go to score free moving boxes so you can save your money for that new couch you want for your family room. If you are facing a move in the near future, here are the best places to find free boxes.

 

Grocery Stores

Local grocery stores have many extra boxes from food coming in every day. They will gladly let you take them off their hands for free. You can either check at the customer service desk for boxes or you can call ahead and ask them to save any large boxes they use that day. Of course, if you end up with the ones that carried the bananas and apples, you might introduce some interesting aromas to your wardrobe. It’s okay to be a little picky about the boxes you get from here.

 

Craigslist

Online classifieds, like Craigslist, often have moving boxes people are giving away for free. Sure, you will have to drive and pick them up, but you’d have to do that anyway if you were purchasing new ones. If your local city has their own online classifieds be sure to check there, too. Many people would rather see someone else use their boxes than just throw them in the recycling bin.

 

U-Haul Box Exchange

U-Haul is concerned with all things moving. As a favor to what they hope will be potential customers, they have created an online message board to help you find moving boxes. You can search this message board for free boxes in your area. Although U-Haul is hoping you will use one of their trucks to move all your packed boxes, this message board is open to the public whether you are renting one of their trucks or not.

 

Retail Stores

In addition to grocery stores, there are a lot of other retail stores you can check for free moving boxes. Their inventory is shipped to them in nice, sturdy boxes which would normally just get thrown away. They are usually more than happy to give them to you if you just ask. Stores that have especially good free moving boxes include computer, office supply, book, shoe and liquor stores. These are the places where you'll find the strongest and cleanest moving boxes.

 

Freecycle

Freecycle is another great place to check online for free boxes. This is a website where people post a wide range of items they are giving away for free. The whole mission of this website is to help reuse as many items as possible. It helps the environment by eliminating waste because we can start consuming less. What a perfect place for moving boxes! Save a tree or two by using your own, new recycled boxes.

 

Happy packing!

 

Tags: , ,

Destressing | Organization | Storage

Preparing Your Patio or Backyard for Summer

by Paul Foresman 15. May 2013 10:42

Getting your patio and backyard ready for the warm summer months is about a lot more than restocking your Tiki torches and cleaning the grill (although that may very well be part of it). It’s about making your yard, patio, or deck ready for lots of summertime activities. It may take a little work to get everything in shape, but as you enjoy the beautiful yard and patio throughout the summer, you’ll realize that it was worth it.

 

Wash the Patio

First things first: get out the hose and start washing off the patio. A pressure washer is the most effective way to clear out the residue that builds up over the winter months, but just keep the pressure below 1,000 psi on wood surfaces to avoid causing any damage.

 

Check and Repair Patio Damage

If you have a cement or brick patio, check for cracks or crumbling areas. Cracks can be fixed with various patching compounds, and any broken bricks or tiles should be replaced. If you have a wood deck, you may notice splintering or rotting in some places which you can sand down. Be sure to hammer in any nails that have started to stick up and repair any beams or planks that have st

arted to split.

This may also be a good time to reseal the surface of your patio to prevent further weathering, abrasions, or moisture problems. Spring means a lot of rainfall in some areas, and this will help you extend the life of the patio.

 

Check and Wash the Furniture

All the snow and rain of the past few months has probably left a lot of unwanted dirt and residue on your patio furniture. Wipe everything down with warm, soapy water to clear away that dirt and clean any cushions or other coverings. Your furniture will see a lot more use if it doesn’t look like you have to dust everything off before taking a seat. You should also check for any rust buildup and make sure all the bolts and screws are still solidly in place and make any necessary repairs.


Treat the Yard for Weeds and Pests

Wh

en the weather turns warm, a lot of things start waking up and moving into your yard. Spring may be the time for flowers to bloom, but there are a lot of weeds and pests that want to stretch out and take advantage of the weather, too. Treat your yard for the local weeds and pests to make sure they don’t get the upper hand throughout the season.


Refresh the Lawn

Rake the lawn to remove excess thatch (decaying plant material) and let water and light reach the ground, and put down some fertilizer to give it a head start on the summer. You can also aerate the lawn for better oxygen and nutrient exchange. Now would also be a good time to reseed bare areas and make sure the sprinkler system is working correctly.


Trim the Trees and Bushes

Overgrown trees and bushes can crowd your patio and give everything a shabby appearance. Get out the trimmer/clippers/saw and cut back the overhanging branches and start shaping those bushes. Clear any pathways and find and remove any dead branches. Be careful how you cut, though, because you don’t want to lose the shade around your patio.


Take All Safety Precautions

Now that it’s warm and family and friends are running around your yard and enjoying the patio, make sure you’ve taken all the necessary precautions. Protect your children and guests by clearing out any poisonous or thorny plants and always put away any dangerous tools and landscaping implements. Check your fences to make sure they’re still secure so kids and pets can’t run out into the street, and keep toys and play equipment where no one will accidently trip on them.


Enjoy your summer and be safe!


Tags:

Backyard | Destressing | Patio

Splitting up can be good for your relationship

by Greg Dodge 23. April 2013 08:09

Whether we realize it or not, our bathrooms are very personal—which means if there are two of you using that bathroom, there’s a potential for misunderstanding and conflict.

 

Take the vanity and sinks.  Years ago designers recognized the preference for his and her sinks in the master bath.  That alleviated some of the schedule conflicts over who used the sink and when, but also led to more countertop clutter.  His mouthwash…her make-up…sometimes it’s so crowded you can hardly tell what the countertops look like!


Splitting a single vanity with two sinks into two separate vanities, each with their own sink, is desirable.

 

Last time we discussed how having two separate vanities provides highly prized personal space in the owner’s bathroom, particularly eliminating conflict over countertop clutter.  But what’s the most desirable layout for the two vanities?  We show four options below. 


50020 50001
   
42158 50031


Plan 50020illustrates the two vanities in-line, separated by a built-in dresser or linen cabinet.

                   

Plan 50001  has the sinks positioned opposite each other.  Some people really like the fact that when the two mirrors face each other, you can easily see how the back of your hair looks in the opposite mirror!

 

Plan 42158 staggers the two opposite-facing sinks, eliminating the likelihood of brushing up “cheek-to-cheek”.

 

And plan 50031 has the two sinks back-to-back, providing a true sense of “me” space. 


Which is best?  Only you can decide that!

 

 

Tags:

Bathroom Design | Design Trends | Destressing | Plannng

You can control unwanted noise in your new home

by Paul Foresman 26. March 2013 07:04

Not too long ago we discussed controlling unwanted noise in the home.  Your feedback confirmed this is a hot topic so we'll look deeper at reducing noise from within the home, starting with sounds that originate within an area.  

 

Ever walk into an empty house for sale?  Sounds echo as sound waves bounce back and forth against hard surfaces (flooring, walls, windows, ceilings).  Materials such as rugs, carpet and carpet pad, upholstered, padded furniture and soft, lined window coverings help absorb sound.

 

Noise also echoes in tall ceilings.  Design Basics lead designer Carl Cuozzo notes that even in big custom homes he's designing today, buyers are opting for 11-foot high ceilings rather than 2-story high spaces.  According to Cuozzo, "You still get the drama and taller doors and windows without so much echo and energy loss."

 

Soft close hinges for cabinet doors and drawers virtually eliminates the sound of these closing.  Similarly, soft-close toilet seats eliminate that "bang".  Having a dishwasher in a kitchen island introduces more noise than if the dishwasher backs up to a wall.  And of course quieter dishwashers, refrigerators, laundry pairs, exhaust fans, food waste disposers, and furnaces will reduce noise at its source.


Another source of unwanted noise in homes comes from sound traveling into one area from other areas.  Solid core doors block significantly more sound than hollow core doors.  For walls themselves, Quiet Rock® and SoundBreak® are special drywall products which absorb considerably more sound than standard drywall.   

 

QuietZone® Acoustic Sealant

QuietZone® Acoustic Sealant

George Auen at Fougner Engineered Sales suggests, "If you want the best sound isolation, use the acoustic drywall over sound isolation clips. The resulting sound transmission is so good you could swear you were deaf!  Auen also recommends using an acoustic caulk (like Owens Corning® Acoustic Sealant) around the perimeter of the walls, lid, and any gaps need to be addressed (like electrical boxes, pipes, etc.).  Thanks, George!

 

From the perspective of a home's layout, having a separate entertaining place for the kids when entertaining other adults is golden.  That way their Xbox games or even loud conversations don't have to disrupt the adults.


Acoustiblok®

Acoustiblok®

Finally, you can enjoy a more serene environment by minimizing sounds transmitted through the structure of the home by vibration.  Certain sound waves cause vibration which is amplified as it passes through walls.  When possible, locating items which create noise and vibration (i.e., big screen TV, clothes washer, dish washer) to exterior walls rather than adjoining interior walls will help.  


Here again, product choices can go a long way in minimizing noise and vibration.  An excellent example is your choice of garage door opener, especially if there is a room over the garage!  Then there's Acoustiblok®, an 1/8"-thick, flexible sound proofing mat that can be glued, stapled, nailed or screwed to floors and walls.  According to the manufacturer, Acoustiblok® actually transforms sound and vibration into inaudible friction energy.  So if your son's is a drummer...

 

 

RESOURCES

 

National Gypsum - Gold Bond® SoundBreak® XP® 5/8" Gypsum Board

Owens Corning - QuietZone® Acoustic Sealant

Acoustiblok® - Residential Soundproofing

 

 

Tags:

Destressing | Noise Reduction

2002 - 2012 the Decade of Change! Part II

by Greg Dodge 20. September 2012 14:18

 

2002 - 2012 the Decade of Change! Part II

 

In the last decade, home design has undergone amazing change and innovation. Vist Booth 1042 at the Sunbelt Builders Show,Just as you wouldn't get too excited over going to purchase a brand new car and being shown a new 2002 Pontiac Aztek, how excited should prospective buyers be touring a model home from a design that's 10 years old?


So what's different in home design today?

 

Example--Rear Foyers! As the most often used entrance into the home, coming in from the garage can no longer be viewed primarily as "utilitarian". The front entry foyer is designed to be something special, as much (or more!) attention should be paid to the rear foyer.

  • Storage. Beyond the expected coat closet, what about all the "stuff" you carry in with you? A "drop zone" is ideal for liberating your kitchen from such clutter! So what's a 'Drop Zone'?

  • Convenience. A seat or bench for removing shoes. Insignificant? Buyers don't think so!

  • Special amenities. Do you have pets - cats or dogs? Think about adding a pet zone to the rear foyer.

 

See examples of drop zones, pet centers, and rear entry foyers.  No longer should you bring people through the laundry room to get to your kitchen.  The rear entry foyer changes the experience when you bring family and friends in from the garage!

 

Tags:

Design Trends | Destressing | Plannng | Rear entry foyer | Storage

Design trends and things we get asked to inlude on our home plans

by Greg Dodge 28. March 2012 08:33

Every week we are asked about cool new design trends or about new features we are including on our home plans.  Today and in future posts I will explore some of the new design trends and features we see and are working into our new home plans.

 

One of the things we are often asked about is separate vanities in the owners / master suite bath.  Dual vanities or vanities separated by a stack of drawers or cubbies are very common.  The thing we hear is "I want my own space - separate and distinct.  An interesting design concept is to plan the two sink areas back to back. This provides a great sense of separation and can foster additional creativity in the bathroom's overall design.

 

 

Here's a couple of examples and a floor plans which incorporates the back-to-back vanities.

 

 contemporary bathroom design by phoenix interior designer Ownby Design 

 

 

Example Artwork Contemporary bathroom design by phoenix interior designer Ownby Design

 

 

   

 

    Example home plan -- 50031

Tags:

Design Trends | Destressing | Flexible Living Options