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Five Home Building Trends That Benefit Homeowners

Change, while necessary, can cause conflict and take “us” out of our comfort zone; however, change is constantly taking shape in all facets of our life and being able to embrace change is a skill set and easily managed even if not initially welcomed. In the field of home building and design, change can be a good thing and definitely lead to benefits both for homeowners and the environment. Architecture and design change regularly; maybe not as quickly as other aspects affecting our lives but significant innovation, material technology and shifting demographics can influence the housing market and produce a trickle-down effect on many of our choices. And once you start looking at change as a positive thing, you will find amazing benefits designed to reinforce your values and beliefs when planning and building your home.

 

Incorporating change into the housing market and design choices allows society, at large, and you, personally, to cope with challenges that can alter the look and functionality of our homes. While it is always safe to assume that economic and demographic developments; an aging population, the continuing recovery of the housing collapse and job employment/security will likely determine many of our choices, we are able to effectively embrace change personally in regards to our family and lifestyle. Within this developing reconstruction and transformation, there are definite responses to key trends that will continue to benefit homeowners:

 

Clean, Healthy Living

Along with the obvious benefits of healthy home living – the environment, the community and those who build our homes – we, the homeowner, prosper both physically and emotionally when living in a home that provides durability, energy/water savings along with improved indoor air quality which results in ultimately, a safer and more comfortable home.

 

A durable home is a less expensive and time consuming home; there is simply more time to be spent outdoors or pursuing other activities instead of spending time on costly repairs and cleaning. The cornerstone of every healthy home is energy efficiency where monetary savings are realized in lower utility bills including energy consumption, water savings through low-flush toilets and showerheads, insulated hot water pipes and even efficient outdoor landscaping irrigation systems. Mold prevention through properly sealed and well-ventilated systems can significantly reduce health problems and restrict mold growth. Quality lighting continues to evolve and there are numerous products in the market place that provide low cost alternatives to traditional lighting sources; a new smart LED bulb is available that can change the color of the lighting to coincide with your body’s natural rhythm and sleep cycle. Emerging technologies continue to be increasingly important in design and construction as the tools and methods architects use are ever evolving. This increase in innovation, product materials and design trends increase efficiency in the building design process as well as the life cycle of the home.

7806-00003

House Plan 7806-00003

 

Sustainable Materials

As our natural resources dwindle, it becomes evident that our homes need to be well-designed and built with sustainable materials. New materials and construction methods are being continually refined and offer solutions to the challenges homeowners face today when wanting high-end, luxury materials and yet, their budget demands otherwise. Marble, granite and other hard stone surfaces continue to be choice materials when designing a home; however, there are many new products and design materials that feature lower costs and expanded colors, texture and sizes in prefabricated materials resulting in sturdy, practical and energy efficient alternatives.

 

Flooring choices are also becoming more flexible and varied with an eye on sustainability and choice. Reclaimed wood flooring is increasingly sought after for its beautiful patina, visual appeal and its ability to wear well while adding warmth and character to the home. Since not everyone is able to find and purchase reclaimed wood boards, there are engineered floors to be considered with white, gray and washed floors leading the way. Cork floors are also gaining in popularity for their ability to resist mold and mildew along with the fact that they are better on the feet and legs. Bamboo is also a popular alternative because it grows faster than wood and offers a luxurious, sustainable flooring choice.

1907-00035

House Plan 1907-00035

 

Technology

Home technology is a billion dollar plus industry and is expected to rise exponentially over time. Home theaters, home automation, structured in-home wiring, home offices – as a result of changing work patterns and telecommuting – and even the kitchen and bath are increasingly relying on technology advancements to improve the homeowner’s experience. Technology enhances efficiency, keeps family members home, reduces energy usage and integrates “smart” technology into homes. For homeowners, building a home and installing high tech products is a smart investment that seemingly offers endless benefits such as complete control of your home’s utilities, hi-tech entertainment areas along with increased value and a dramatically improved life.

5631-00024

House Plan 5631-00024

 

Kitchens

Kitchens remain the one place in the home that all homeowners want and need additional space. A modern kitchen with plenty of room is the foundation on which families thrive and gather daily. Homes with open floor plans have been gaining in popularity for over a decade; however, kitchens are the number one choice of additional space. Known as the “heart of the home” and generally the focus of household activities, kitchens are used for entertaining, meal planning, meal prepping and casual dining spaces. Once a luxury, but now often needed and desired, are large kitchen islands where “hanging out” and spending time with family and friends is great for socializing as well as a natural separation of space. The use of skylights, under counter task lighting and timer controlled lighting can greatly reduce the expense of traditional lighting sources. Continuing innovation and new techniques with regards to surface choices enhance the personality and popularity of kitchens by offering alternative choices to the more traditional options of granite, marble and other hard surfaces while reducing costs and incorporating unique design elements into the kitchen.

957-00014

House Plan 957-00014

 

Integration of the Indoor and Outdoor Spaces

Outdoor living spaces continue to gain in popularity and often line up with our collective values reflected in less formal, casual lifestyles. Reflecting this, many homes no longer have formal living and dining rooms, having replaced them with great rooms, dens and open floor layouts. Coming on the heels of a less formal lifestyle, outdoor spaces have come to represent this return to casual living and while initially these spaces may have been small, functional and practical, today’s outdoor spaces may feature extravagant outdoor kitchens, outdoor living spaces and plenty of room for pools, spas and other water features. While many homes have eliminated the more formal rooms of the home, still others have chosen to keep these rooms and have them function differently as a jumping off point to the outdoor spaces. Blurring this distinction between the indoors and outdoors, homes actually wind up with more living space and greater opportunities to bring family and friends together for socializing and family friendly activities. Homeowners have long recognized their backyards have been under-utilized and are now effectively valuing and recognizing that 100% of their interior/exterior space can be converted into usable space.

341-00274

House Plan 341-00274

 

These key takeaways of home building trends that benefit homeowners continue to develop and as with any other change, the outcome and product realization of these benefits will be influenced by ongoing and innovative technological advances and the individual commitment to family and lifestyle. Flexibility and comfort will also continue to guide homeowners, along with personal choices, as they maneuver their way through the myriad of updated and ever-changing advances made to enhance their homes and lifestyles in a way that makes economic and practical sense.



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The All-American Front Porch

Overwhelming sought after and culturally renowned in America’s architectural landscape, porches symbolize the spirit of America in much the same way as baseball and apple pie have for centuries. As an architectural structure, the porch has existed throughout much of man’s history; from rock overhangs and cave dwellings to modern times, the porch has structurally and culturally retained a prominent spot in history but the American front porch remains a cultural and social icon unlike any of its predecessors.

 

Country front porch
House Plan 7922-00198

 

The word “porch originally derived from Latin – “porta”; passage to “porticus”; colonnade

to Old French – “porche”

to Middle English – “porch”

 

The word “porch” has, during history, been synonymous with verandah, portico, loggia and piazza and until recently represented a small, covered entrance; oftentimes, in response to a place of worship, a public building or private gardens. The modern connotation of the word embodies it present meaning; a roofed, open space that is secured to the house and offers shelter, shade and outdoor living space to be enjoyed either as a solitary pursuit or one shared with family and friends. Certainly there are architectural records that indicate the frontrunners to the American front porch were perhaps, European or African in nature; however, early colonists didn’t employ the use of porches, instead, they were busy shaping the landscape of America through the use of elementary house structures where the need for sustenance was an almost greater need than shelter and certainly leisure forms of architecture had not become a part of the American terminology. Some of the first porches built in America began to “pop” up well into the 18th century and were heavily influenced by the climate of parts of North America and certainly the South, in particular They conveniently outlined the need for fresh, well ventilated air and breezes which were paramount to the personal comfort of homeowners and where they definitely offset the tropical and humid weather conditions. By the mid-19th century, industrialization and technological advances had created a leisure class free from “survival mode” who sought to enjoy their free time and thus, the creation of the front porch as we know it today; a spot to relax, enjoy other’s company and “pass the time of day.”

 

Rustic Porch
House Plan 1907-00005
 

 

Americans have had a long love affair with the large land mass that defines it, its accompanying wildlife and natural landscape along with the desire to tame them both. Americans soon became fascinated with the idea of their connection to nature in terms of personal enjoyment and spiritual growth. The presence of a front porch inevitably linked their house to nature as a cultural and societal symbol of Americana and from there, it was an easy transition to include front porches when building homes as it represented the American ideal of home, family and community.

 

Unfortunately, the post-World War II era, witnessed the decline of the American front porch as Americans began to either be enticed back indoors or to travel extensively by automobile. The proliferation of automobiles and a national road system replaced the need for outdoor recreation found in and around the home while spawning the beginning of leisurely travelling America. Along with the automobile, air conditioning soon found its way into the American home and from there, the need to step outside seeking comfort and a way to cool off became unnecessary and undesirable. The invention of the television soon followed and delivered a “death” blow to the front porch as now it was much cooler indoors and family life began to be centered around the television. With the decline of the front porch literally, culturally and societally, a new outdoor space emerged; the rear porch, a private space located away from neighbors that offered a sanctuary to enjoy one’s leisure time with family after a long day at work or a day spent indoors.

 

Bungalow Porch
House Plan 1070-00247

 

As is so often true in all context regarding the cyclical nature of life, front porches have re-emerged as a defining force in American architecture and lifestyle choice. This once beloved and revered status symbol where the simple pursuit of enjoying leisure and family time has once again found its way back into America’s hearts and homes. This “back to basics” concept has clearly come on the heels of an exhausted populace searching for the renewal of American traditional values of family, hearth and home. This, oftentimes, simply constructed bit of board and nails has woven a comprehensive tale of shared, collective memories; the promotion of family time, joyful and somber celebrations, hellos and goodbyes and a reconnection to our communities. This new, old-fashioned porch has come to express, not just a place, but a state of mind and hopefully we will continue to be a “front porch people” and experience a renewal of the American spirit in terms of living purposefully through our connections to people, nature and our values.

 

Bungalow House Plan
House Plan 1907-00031

 



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The Color of our Lives – Paint Your World

Color – a noun 1. – the quality of an object or substance with respect to light reflected by the object, usually determined visually by measurement of hue, saturation, and brightness of the reflected light; saturation or chroma; hue.

 

Color impacts all our lives on a daily basis; it “colors” our moods, our environments, our homes, can make or break our interactions with others and profoundly makes a difference in our homes. The single most daunting stressor when it comes to decorating our homes is the choice of color we use and yet, it comes at a nominal fee, can practically be changed at will and there is an endless supply of choices so why not enjoy selecting our home color choices?

Home Design

House Plan 5631-00049

 

Color has fascinated our world since the beginning of time as evidenced by many ancient cultures which produced dyes and pigments from natural resources up until today’s most recent technology. Famous works of art from the earliest cave drawings to the most modern masterpieces have used color to represent a wide range of human emotions and to tell stories. As every college freshman or art student can tell you, there has been a varying assortment of resources employed in the manufacture and use of paint color; milk, all types of oils, eggs etc. and with every new discovery have come superior variations, results and infinite ways to use them.

 

Color can make or break a space so it is a good idea to have the goals of the rooms in mind when decorating our homes. At the most basic level, you have warm and cool tones and from there, are a descending pyramid of color splashes. Warm tones generally include red, orange and yellow while cool tones tend towards the blue, green and purples with varying degrees. Paint on the walls of our homes and as decorative touches throughout the house will provide maximum impact for minimum expense all the while creating mood enhancers for the personality of our homes.

Color Wheel

The color wheel is the traditional choice for color representation and their corresponding relationship to one another. It can be a great tool for decision making when decorating any surface and is based on the work of Sir Isaac Newton and his knowledge of how light bends through a prism. This spectrum of color continues to influence our daily lives immensely so a little background on its use is helpful:

 

Complementary Colors – are colors that appear opposite each other on the color wheel with vibrant results.

Analogous Colors – are colors that are next to each other on the color wheel. Teaming analogous colors creates visual harmony.

Hue – The words color and hue are interchangeable.

Value -The lightness or darkness of a color.

Saturation – is the purity or brightness of a color.

Tone – is a pure color that has been modified by the addition of black or white. Dark tones, or shades, result from mixing a saturated color with gray or black. Light tones, or tints, are achieved by mixing a saturated color with white.

 

And the meaning assigned to colors are as follows:

 

Red is often associated with ambition, determination and leadership.

Pink is often associated with compassion, intimacy and unconditional love.

Blue is often associated with honesty, loyalty and trust.

Purple is often associated with awareness, creativity and imagination.

Orange is often associated with motivation and optimism.

Yellow is often associated with fun, happiness, hope and cheerfulness.

Green is often associated with energy, emotion, balance and stability.

 

Color is essential to interior design; influencing human emotion, evoking instant change and producing dramatic change to our interiors. By understanding color and the effect light has on it, you can effectively choose and create focal points within any space. Because color is affected not only by its surroundings but also by the light that falls on it, understanding how the light hits a space at different times of the day, you can choose a color palette that works throughout the day as well as the evening hours and successfully create any mood you desire within a given space.

House Plan 341-00274

House Plan 341-00274

 

There is a lot of information and interpretation for the many different uses of color; therefore, choosing a color scheme can be overwhelming. However, if you have a basic understanding of the myriad of ways color can influence and assign meaning in our culture and homes, you are on your way to creating beautiful spaces in your home. Ultimately, these color choices can come down to personal preference but it is also wise to have some type of solid information about color and what it means to your space and the way in which you live your life. A few timesavers may come in handy while approaching color choice in home décor:

  1. the size of your room and what you want to convey with it – generally warm colors give the appearance of smaller rooms while cool colors enlarge the space.
  2. how much sunlight does the room receive and at what times of the day is it most/least pronounced?
  3. how is the room used and how many hours a day are you or someone else in the space?
House Plan 110-00585

House Plan 110-00585

 

We, as humans make all sorts of color choices, daily, from color coding gender identify; pink and blue to recognizing the “golden arches”, traffic signals red(stop) and green(go) to the many marketing campaign colors businesses use. And still, in general, we balk at the prospect of choosing color schemes for the walls of our homes without panic.

 

Recently, several paint manufacturers have enlisted the help of online digital painting tools which are user friendly, cost effective and fun. These tools help explore the endless possibilities in choosing either interior or exterior paint colors from the comfort of your home. Here are few of the websites available for the use of virtual paint color choices:

 

http://www.sherwin-williams.com/homeowners/color/try-on-colors/

http://www.benjaminmoore.com/en-us/for-your-home/personal-color-viewer

http://www.glidden.com/Tools/Room-Visualizer

http://www.valsparpaint.com/en/explore-colors/painter



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House Trend Series 2016 – Outdoor Living Spaces

As homeowners transition into their new homes, one of the most exciting opportunities lie in the ability to seamlessly blend the indoor/outdoor spaces of their home for a casual and comfortable lifestyle that offers numerous benefits for families and friends. This latest foray into blending the indoor and outdoor spaces reflect a renewed sense of cohesiveness between people and their communities as well as people and their immediate environment. Fully customized outdoor living spaces have become an extension of living and entertaining spaces; with more homeowners entertaining at home, these outdoor rooms provide a generous amount of space in which to comfortably relax and enjoy gathering with family and friends. Transforming basic porches, decks and hardscape patios with outdoor kitchens, entire rooms of furniture for lounging and dining, as well as pools, fireplaces and fire pits for outdoor comfort have become “all the rage” and offer a personalized space for the way families live today.

 

With this new opportunity to highlight and use the exterior space of the home as expanded entertaining and family space, the need for new solutions to accentuate the space according to family needs, lifestyle and budget arise. Previously, the trend towards bringing the outdoors in has now transitioned to importing traditionally indoor comforts and materials to the outdoors. These new outdoor retreats can run the gamut from luxurious and expensive to simple and low budget. The charm is not necessarily in the money spent but in the planning and labor involved in creating a unique and creative space well suited to your family and now thanks to advances in all-weather materials, furnishings and accessories, you can highlight an outdoor living space in the same manner as your indoor space.

 

Outdoor Space

House Plan 341-00274

 

Outdoor Kitchens –

No longer just a grill and bag of charcoal, backyard cooking has decidedly become an Olympic sport. Entire kitchens featuring islands, refrigerators, wine coolers, top of the line grilling and barbecuing equipment along with sinks and counter space for easy prep and clean-up are popping up across America. This nod to the decidedly All-American obsession with outdoor cooking has been revitalized and even ramped up a notch to coincide with the redefining of homeowner’s outdoor space. Maximizing your space to include Olympian sized equipment may not be in budget nor entice everyone; in that case, a small area devoted to a simple grill, some type of counter/cabinet area to hold your grilling/barbecuing equipment and the addition of organized space to avoid all those trips in and out of the home may be all you want or need.

Rear Covered Porch

House Plan 699-00011

 

Furniture for Lounging and Dining –

Enjoying your outdoor space can be accomplished with something as simple as an area to lounge in, a space to read a book or quietly daydream in and perhaps even a spot to enjoy a meal. Many homeowners want to make their outdoor living spaces an extension of their personalities by designing “rooms” to synchronize with their interior design choices. In doing so, they may integrate outdoor rugs, cushions, pillows, blankets and even draperies into the space in an attempt to create another “room” of the house even though it is located outdoors. These comfort zones provide functional, well-defined outdoor spaces made specifically for family relaxing and/or entertaining family and friends. Going even further, add plants in interesting planters or containers along with colorful accessories for that truly “one-of-a-kind” space that everyone will enjoy and return to. Dining al fresco is a wonderful way to spend an evening with family and friends and it could not be easier outdoors; casual furniture, plenty of seating and good food is really all it takes to effortlessly enjoy meal time outdoors. If winter weather and climate regions dictate a more enclosed area, try screening in your space or adding a sunroom for a more insulated area. Although, there may be a few more restrictions to your outdoor space, it can then become a three or even four season additional room for family and friends to delight in.

 

Rear Covered Porch

House Plan 2559-00615

 

Warm and Cool –

A literal hot trend in today’s outdoor space is the inclusion of warming fireplaces, fire pits or incorporating warmth and comfort through the use of candles, citronella or otherwise, as well as the addition of warm lighting choices. As more people use their outdoor spaces, having an inviting and climate controlled space offers the ability to enjoy these spaces later into the year. True heat will be enjoyed through the use of fireplaces and fire pits while candles and twinkling lights offer ambience and coziness to the space. At the opposite end of the spectrum, pools and hot tubs are considered luxurious spaces that can be used and enjoyed year round in many locations and are a great way to fully enjoy the use of your home’s outdoor spaces.

 

Rear

House Plan 207-00012

 

More Leisure, Less Labor –

As homeowner have become more interested in their outdoor living rooms, industry technology has increased and now offers low maintenance options for decking, lighting, furniture and even fabric choices. Composite decking is a real bonus for your outdoor space as it is comparatively beautiful and there is little maintenance. Good lighting becomes necessary as the days shorten and people spend more time outdoors in the comfort of their own home. Path lighting, lights strung along the exterior and even torch lighting with citronella candles offer a bug free, safe and well-lit area free of annoyances and hazardous conditions.
Take the fun outdoors, enjoy your family and friends and refresh yourself in your new outdoor space. Savor good meals in the company of those you love, read an encouraging or well-loved novel underneath the stars or gather around the fire and appreciate the sounds of nature in the comfort of your own home.



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House Trend Series 2016 – Living Spaces

This period of transition in home design continues as we move out into the living spaces of the home. These spaces can be represented by living rooms, great rooms and hearth or gathering rooms, which are typically found adjacent in some manner to the kitchen area. The easy flow and contiguous space between family room and kitchen creates the heart of the home and is welcoming to all while offering plenty of room for family and friends to converge. Creating spaces where family and friends can gather in comfort have become an important part of life, especially in these common rooms as they are the most lived-in rooms in the house. Homeowners today are endeavoring to use their interior spaces efficiently and desire flexible spaces that can be customized for their family’s needs. As part of the design, homeowners enjoy having family and friends participate in the preparation and completion of meals while having the ability to seamlessly move between spaces in the home; hence, these “most lived” in spaces are typically found in and around the kitchen area. Trending as part of the overall design scheme of these common rooms is a tie-in with outdoor space to increase the ability to transition to the outdoors easily while entertaining effortlessly.

 

Designing your home with transitional style, which bridges contemporary and traditional design principles, can be easily accomplished with a blend of the two across all design lines – furniture, finishes, materials and fabrics. Simple, sophisticated furniture; graphic and geometric patterns and bold finishes will result in a classic, yet modern design. Increasingly, this transitional style prevails as a personal choice and reflection of the homeowner’s characteristic approach to their home’s interior design. Merging two or even three different individual style choices can forge an eclectic “stamp” on the home and produce an exciting blend of traditional and modern design fusion. As our lives become busier and busier, our homes increasingly become our sanctuary, a place of refuge and respite and our interior spaces can easily represent our breathing space; that one spot we embrace in order to reintroduce tranquility, simplicity and a sense of order back into our daily lives. This need to detox and simply step into our interior spaces will be reflected in warm, cooling colors balanced by natural, organic materials and textures.

 

As salt, a natural mineral, is found to enhance and flavor our life, so runs design elements and their influence on the mood and character of our homes. As you would expect, too much salt can ruin a dish and too little can underwhelm the dish; this rings true for the interiors of our homes as well and can be used as a cautionary tale when designing our spaces.

Living Room

Plan 1907-00035 Living Room

 

Color Palettes – flexibility is the key here with neutrals remaining a strong focal point. The transitional palette continues to rely on soft muted colors or even a lack of color to enhance the clean, tranquil atmosphere of today’s interiors. Of course, dark colors can be added to the neutral color scheme for depth and drama as well as metallic finishes. As in other areas of the home, metallics continue to dominate in small ways and can be added to almost any space in the home. With a neutral palette taking center stage, adding organic elements and greenery to the room creates a cozy and inviting environment while creating a natural extension onto the outdoor space. As part of the cleaner, greener and more environmentally friendly movement, a nod to recycling vintage and antique elements into the home adds visual drama and interest.

 

Patterns – mixing patterns is a natural way to add texture and visual interest to any room. To keep the space cohesive, use patterns from the same color family while simultaneously using various scale size. Textured throws and interesting pattern designs on dark woods and overstuffed furniture add a classic quality to the room. The addition of mirrors in assorted sizes and finishes throw light across the space and magnify an ethereal sense to the room. Warm wood ceiling beams against textured white walls ground the space; add linen drapes and a sense of history and elegant drama is infused into the room.

 

Furniture – flexible furniture with the ability to re-arrange the space according to entertaining needs is a great space and money saver. Leather chairs with adjacent textured and oversized ottomans paired with a patterned rug to anchor the space can tie the room together effortlessly. Side chairs covered in soft cottons, ultra-suedes and classic sofa designs are other solid choices for transitional spaces. On the opposite end of the spectrum, sectional sofas continue to trend and offer a different aspect to unify a room. Curved lines along with simple straight lines and scale are the key to modernizing today’s family spaces while adding an air of sophistication and simplicity to home interiors.

 

Plan 2559-00561

Plan 2559-00561

 

Walls and Windows – increase the illusion of space with taller ceilings by hanging drapes and art above eye level or consider the addition of vaulted and/or trey ceilings. These soaring vertical heights add depth and drama to the room while increasing the visual space. Glass is a beautiful way to open up a room, bring the outdoors inside and enhance any outdoor views you may be lucky enough to have.

 

House Plan 2559-00185

House Plan 2559-00185

 

An increased emphasis on varied materials, investing in solid, quality design elements and a heightened awareness of lifestyle choices have changed the way families live and interact with one another and created home environments that improve everyone’s well-being and happiness.



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House Trend Series 2016 – Bathrooms

As outlined in the first part of this design series, transitional styling features a blend of the welcome traditional designs existing side-by-side with modern conveniences without being restricted to one single style. Continuing the series and looking at transitional bathrooms, this blend of different eras produce exciting and new design opportunities for homeowners when styling one of the most important rooms of the home. Oftentimes, this change produces design elements from different eras that combine beautifully, resulting in a cohesive and welcoming space. An example of transitional styling could feature traditional fixtures such as a claw foot tub and pedestal sink with modern, angular cabinets and storage elements. Showcasing large ticket items such as a tub or shower, whether traditional or a more modern style, with contrasting style in cabinetry can be effective in incorporating a transitional style that is seamlessly traditional and modern at the same time.

 

Bathroom Design

Creating a budget and researching your design options will produce a clear vision of how you want your new transitional style to be incorporated into this all important space. Once you’ve determined the budget and your vision for your bathroom wish list, the below are some highlighted ideas of what you can expect to be trending in today’s bathroom designs.

 

Wood – this beautiful component offers an endless supply of design options, natural beauty and hardy material choices. Traditionally unsuitable for bathrooms because of their high humidity and propensity for damage, wood/timber choices now feature new purpose design products that ensure its ability to be used in these high moisture areas. While tile and other hard surfaces continue to enjoy the top spot as the material choice for bathrooms, with these new products, wood can also be enjoyed in this space. The feel, sound and light reflection of wood offers warmth and comfort to the typical cold and sterile environment of yesterday’s bathrooms. Floors, ceilings and even walls can be embellished with this beautiful material resulting in peaceful, calm spaces that create a sense of continuity. Using wood in the bathroom enables different materials and styles to coexist across the space and forge heightened visual interest and interesting contrast. Imagine a glass stand up shower united with wood floors or a large white porcelain soaking tub with dark wood running up its sides.

 

Tile – while tile continues to be a popular material choice in bathroom designs, the introduction of bold and creative designs will give new life to this stout, hardy material. Traditionally, tile was a utilitarian choice designed to prevent drywall from rotting; however, today’s tile choices use beautifully colored and patterned design components that make real statements in any space. Inlaid design patterns on the shower walls and even the floors offer exciting transitional spaces and “eye-catching” visual ingenuity. Contrast in textures can be achieved when tile is paired with unusual elements such as metallic fixtures which have enjoyed a huge surge in popularity as of late. Patterned and geometric tiles can be laid in unusual patterns creating timeless appeal and aesthetically pleasing surfaces and seem to be trending towards oversized tile patterns resulting in a two-fold bonus – less grout and clean-up along grout lines and a seamless integration of spatial illusion by expanding small spaces, minimizing large spaces or creating surprising visual interest.
5445-00077 - master bath

Color – cool and calming tones on the walls and accessories will dominate the color palettes for bathroom interiors. Whites continue to be a popular color choice and will show up on walls, tub and shower combinations and even flooring due to its powerful and polarizing contrast. As in the kitchen, gray, with its soft tone, will pair nicely with wood and hard surface materials. Blues and greens with varying shade tones will also be a popular color choice whether choosing soft, tranquil tones or bolder, more saturated color combinations. These pair nicely with the warmth of wood or the starkness of white, creating a personalized space that will produce a relaxing effect or an edgier, more sophisticated design.

 
Bathroom Home Design

Fixtures – the return of wood and other earthy materials such as stone and river rock will continue to influence bathroom design choices regarding the fixtures chosen for the bathroom. A kiln-fired ceramic or stone sink will add interest, texture and a tactile experience to the overall design scheme. Double shower heads or even better, a rain shower head and separate handset offers a luxurious and modern design edge and look for squares, almost-squares and angular shaped designs for interest. Metals are a glamorous contrast to the natural finishes that may be incorporated into the bath design and many options exist – matte, satin and brushed stainless steel along with brass, which is making a huge comeback, are popular finishes. Not necessarily considered a fixture, furniture-like cabinetry will be spotted in bathroom designs going forward whether for use in storage options or vanity components.
Bathroom Fixture

With less focus on utility and more on creating an atmosphere, today’s bathroom designs will offer a respite with the focus on relaxation and comfort, a place to escape to and ease the body, mind and spirit. With a little ingenuity, today’s bathrooms can showcase luxury, simplicity or streamlined personal design and offer a fun space to spotlight new and trending design options. So go ahead and single out these rooms for rich textures, visual appeal and even drama or glamour.



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House Trend Series 2016 – Kitchens

Look around and notice the buzzword “transitional” in home design trends; we all know what the word transition means –

  1. noun: the process or a period of changing from one state or condition to another.

        to segue, shift, switch, jump, leap, progress.

  1. verb: transition; undergo or cause to undergo a process or period of transition.

But, just what does this translate to in home design trends? Well, think of it as fluidity in design terms or transformable; a modern blend of the welcome traditional design principles in a happy marriage with modern conveniences without being confined to one single style. No single style or taste but a transitional space that offers balance, harmony and a personal approach to home design; this style is said to be transitioning, evolving or developing. People are often reminded of something familiar when they see it but they can’t quite place the feeling of what they are viewing. Highly flexible, these spaces offer a merger between styles in combination with immense design choices for the homeowners. You’re not straying too far from the familiar but it lends itself to being updated and refreshed easily so it ages well. Not just in the kitchen but throughout the home, transitional style is coming into its own as stated in a recent survey by the National Kitchen and Bath Association – “transitional design moved into the #1 spot for the first time, edging out the long-time champion, traditional.”

A transitional kitchen is one that incorporates elements that are both conventional and contemporary while offering a new type of tradition. Using traditional kitchens as a guide, transitional designs will embrace a more deliberate approach to simple design ideas incorporating more strategically placed textured details rather than fussy contrasting design.

Color Palettes

A flexible color palette will come into play; however, neutrals will remain strong with soft muted colors replacing more saturated, bold color schemes. White kitchens will continue to dominate the top spot of the color wheel; however, charcoal, gray and neutral pastels will follow closely in all aspects of kitchen design. The appeal of a black and white kitchen never seems to fade as it represents high contrast and highlights the tension between modern and a more traditional/country style. Grays and blues appear to be “all the rage” with gray positioned to perhaps top white as the number one kitchen color choice. A wide range of blues remain popular as well and they pair beautifully with white and other soft muted colors. Opting for a neutral kitchen palette presents an opportunity for the homeowner to completely personalize the space and keep it consistently updated. Along with the calm, neutral color patterns, metallic finishes will reign ever popular; last year saw a big surge in metallic finishes, whether copper, brass or bronze. Used in small doses such as faucets, pendant lights and drawer pulls, they can seamlessly incorporate this newer design finish in limited amounts but going bold with a metallic hood range adds instant contrast, texture and dominance in a muted color scheme.

Cabinets

Shaker style cabinets may be considered more traditional than modern but they share many common characteristics such as clean lines and subtle design elements making them a good fit within the transitional style. With this apparent lack of ostentation, Shaker style cabinets offer excellent form and function showcasing the natural beauty of the wood and white Shaker cabinets blend perfectly with clean modern kitchens as well. The recessed centers and lack of ornamentation allow these cabinets to work well in any style of kitchen, traditional, modern or transitional; a simple change of the hardware and instant transformation is easily achieved. Another choice, frameless European-Style kitchen cabinets are characterized by a lack of frame and easy accessibility making it a popular design choice as well. Horizontal oriented cabinets are on the rise and offer a challenge to the still preferred square and vertical rectangles most often desired as they are wider, feature easy access and add sophistication to the space.

Decluttering and defining your space continues to be a hot topic and is represented by the continuously updated lazy susan and working cabinets and drawers. These pull-out drawers and cabinets feature solid solutions for storage and organization while maintaining an orderly and clutter free kitchen. In support of a clutter free kitchen space, be on the lookout for areas that have hidden charging stations for phone and tablet devices so they are always at the ready.

 Countertops

A mainstay of the kitchen’s style and personality, countertops continue to define the kitchen. Granite countertops remain popular as an ideal surface topping solid surfaces, tile and laminates. Along with natural stone, the demand for quartz is surging due to its ability to resist stains and scratches while being non-porous and resistant to heat. This solid countertop choice, quartz, lends itself well to modern design with its subtle color gradation, durability and there continues to be updated color choices introduced into the market. Wood countertops, while not retaining a significant market share, are increasing as interest in butcher block rises due to its warmth and stunning grain as well as being easily maintained and its sustainability with rigorous use.

Flooring

Ceramic tile floors are easy to maintain and come in a wide variety of styles and colors while providing superior durability, resisting almost all dents, dings and scratches; however, they can become cracked and need replacing. Travertine features an elegant and sophisticated floor surface that is both gorgeous and can now be considered budget friendly with its use of special technology that duplicates stone surfaces and more importantly, it can be widely purchased in local big box home improvement stores. Laminate has come a long way and comes in a wide variety of beautiful styles, durability and affordable price points.

Hardwoods remain the top choice in floor design replacing all other options as they are considered to be warm, beautiful and full of character. A lighter, white washed color option may pair well with some of the transitional color palettes being seen in today’s kitchens. Although, espresso and other dark colors have been recently popularized and continue to maintain a solid flooring position, there is some concern over the need to constantly clean them and keep them dust free, especially around pets and small children. Recently, there has been a nod toward “color” hardwood flooring, especially grays to match its ever increasing popularity in kitchen cabinet design; however, take care not to embrace a trend or fad and think long term in choosing your flooring option.

Here is a collection of some of our best kitchen designs!

Kitchen Trends

Kitchen Photos

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Ceiling Styles and Choices

A ceiling is an overhead interior surface that covers the upper limits of a room and while generally considered to be of little importance, there are many ways to add drama and texture to the corresponding room by incorporating various architectural designs onto the ceiling. This finished surface can be plainly adorned, subtly incorporated into the design features of the room or alternatively add height, dimension and ornate qualities to the space. While generally thought of as boring and, largely the “vanilla” or “plain jane” feature of a room, many designers and homeowners can add visual interest and distinct design choices to create beautiful and unique ceiling features as a way to completely transform a room and set the tone for the entire space.

Conventional Ceilings

Usually 8’ high, conventional ceilings may be flat or textured and may be highlighted with molding to give a finished look to the room. Typically, moldings are one piece of wood that covers the top and bottom edges where the sheetrock meet either the ceiling or floor. There could also be more elaborate moldings consisting of multiple pieces of wood; oftentimes, quite wide, stacked one on the other for the desired look the homeowner is seeking. Conventional ceilings are easy to build, quite functional but largely uninspiring as a design feature. Larger and higher end homes may feature 9’ or higher ceiling heights lending a spacious quality to the room and America’s Best House Plans certainly offers a wide selection of ceiling designs incorporated into our plans.

Tray Ceilings

Tray ceilings add visual interest and drama to any room and have the appearance of an inverted or recessed tray. Breaking up the flat ceiling line, adding textural interest and a feeling of spaciousness, tray ceilings can be created by adding one or more different levels or steps of architectural interest to a room. Tray ceilings are often incorporated into large rooms or spaces with non-standard ceiling heights for a glamorous and elegant impact. Tray ceilings begin as a normal ceiling and then rise, generally in the center of the room where they then become an artistic blend of form and function. In order to add definition, some homeowners have chosen to paint the inner part a different color than the remaining ceiling. These multi-dimensional ceilings also usually highlight some type of lighting feature and commonly can be found in either dining rooms or master bedrooms for an impressive look and architectural elegance.

Tray Ceiling

Tray Ceiling

Beam Ceilings

This type of ceiling uses overhead exposed beams, typically made of wood, which can be laid across a conventional ceiling to add depth, dimension or visual interest to the room. Oftentimes, this type of ceiling effect is used in a mountain or lakefront home with the goal of applying rustic elements and décor to the home’s interior floor plan. Reclaimed wood from older homes and structures are quite popular today and offer a way to incorporate a sense of history and visual charm into a room or home.

Coffered Ceilings

A coffered ceiling is a layered and textured ceiling structure with a repeating pattern of indentions or recesses incorporated into the ceiling. Used for centuries, these ceilings add dimension and character to a plain, mostly unadorned room due to their busy pattern and style. These sunken panels in the shape of square or rectangles create a sophisticated grid of bold beams providing a twist on the idea of a beam-like effect. This indented checkerboard pattern across the ceiling is a beautiful choice to add drama and visual interest into a room where little else is “going on.” Typically, with this ceiling option, the main lighting source is centered at the interior midpoint of the room while recessed lighting will be featured throughout the other panels across the ceiling. This is a great ceiling choice to add height, depth and strength to the composition of a room.

Coffered Ceiling

Coffered Ceiling

 

Vaulted, Barrel Vault and Cathedral Ceilings

Centuries ago, vaulted, cathedral and barrel vault ceilings were an architectural choice used to increase the stature and composition of churches and basilicas that dotted the landscape of Europe. Resulting in airier, larger and definitely grander construction choices, these ceiling types allow an abundance of natural sunlight to flood the space or room they occupy. Oftentimes, as an added bonus, these ceiling types incorporate a series of taller windows to outline the room which results in even more natural light into the space. These ceiling choices are simply an arched form pushed into a third dimension and generally comprised of a ceiling height greater than  8’ to 10’. As a point of discussion, the difference between a vaulted and cathedral ceiling is that the vaulted ceiling has unequal sides meeting at a room’s high point whereas a cathedral ceiling has equal slopes and reach to the highest peak of the room where they attach to the roof trusses. A barrel vault ceiling resembles a barrel that has been cut in half and then attached to the ceiling. All of the above ceiling types provide a decorative transition between the vertical walls of a room and the horizontal ceiling which captures and frames voluminous, beautiful views of the room.

Vaulted Ceiling

Vaulted Ceiling

So in many ways, the ceiling structure, instead of being uninteresting, can add beauty and significance. It can also set the tone for an entire space within the homes interior which should clearly garner consideration and value when designing your dream home.

 



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Spring is Here

Winter lingers, yet, no matter the length, spring is sure to follow and with it the promise of longer days where the sun is warm, where flowers begin to bloom almost recklessly, where every field is clothed with grass and every tree burst forward with budding leaves. That magical time of year can also be captured in your home, even if it’s not quite spring in your “neck of the woods.” Little things in anticipation of warmer outdoor weather can be incorporated into your home while you anticipate the arrival of spring.

 

Now is the ideal time to spruce up your home to give it a fresh and updated look. After a long and oftentimes dreadful winter season, there is no better way to prepare for spring than to incorporate some light touches into your home décor. The color, sights and sounds of spring will help to transition your home and soul in preparation for a more carefree, lighter season. Be creative and incorporate some of these tips for Spring’s long awaited arrival.

 

Windows – clean those gorgeous channels of light and throw them open. ~ Spring – the music of open windows. Change your window treatments for something light, fun and bursting with color. Choose something inexpensive, whimsical and light hearted to match the season or even nothing at all.

Great window views for house plan 034-00097 

Plan 034-00097

 

Paint – do your walls need updating; if so, go ahead and paint them. Obviously, not everyone can change their wall color each season; however, if it’s been a while since the walls have gotten a fresh coat of paint, now’s the time to do it. Whether you paint just one accent wall or the entire room, one can of paint has the ability to completely transform an entire room and painting is the one of the most inexpensive solutions when you are looking to spruce up any room.

 

Accessories – match the season with your mood. Maybe removing some of the darker, heavier objects you have on display and incorporate lighter materials from your stash of flea market finds or travel items you came home and put up would be a good idea. Also, nature’s color palette is a true inspiration; use floral arrangements, fruits or other natural objects such as tree branches, pinecones and nuts. Floral arrangements can be purchased locally but don’t overlook nature’s tapestry. As you begin to go and stay outdoors for longer periods of time, look for blooming and non-blooming greens and little pockets of color to bring home with you. Not only do they look good, they smell good too, and that is an instant mood enhancer. Or plant an herb garden right in your kitchen; these mini gardens do double duty – awesome aroma and healthy side benefits.  Introduce large greenery into your home’s décor; great space fillers with width and height dimensions and a large variety of plants are naturally detoxifying. For complete sensory overload, scent your home with fresh fruit and citrus or light aromas.

 

Pops of color – adding pops of color can define everything you love about your home. Whether you add bold, saturated colors or lighter pastels, this one thing can immediately freshen your home’s décor. Pillows, accent rugs, inexpensive window coverings, a cute little planter, light colored throws; all these items can be purchased inexpensively and/or be handmade for little cost. Small price = big impact.

 

Bedding – one of the best ways to immediately refresh your bedroom is to swap out your bedding. There are a wide variety of inexpensive bed coverings to be had or mix and match for a bohemian feel; swap out an accent rug, buy light see-thru curtains and instantly transform where you spend a good portion of your day.

 

7922-00013

House Plan 7922-00013

 

Spring cleaning – it feels so good, so just do it. Clean that junk drawer out, go through your closet, clean those baseboards and molding, sweep, mop and vacuum under the beds, in the closets….everywhere. Have a yard sale or donate items you no longer want/need to your local thrift store. Throw those windows open, put on some good music; somehow, those two things can lighten the mood and spring cleaning becomes productive and fun and then spend the day outside with family.

 

House Plan 963-00135

House Plan 963-00135



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What is a keeping Room?

Just what exactly is a keeping room? A hearth room? A gathering room? – Are they one in the same, three different rooms in the house? What are you keeping? What is a hearth? Don’t we gather enough as a family?

 

As families seem to increasingly covet family time in our busy world, the keeping room has become one of the most beloved areas of the home. A great place to relax with your family and certainly a destressing factor in today’s hectic world, this room dates back to Colonial times where warmth was much desired and needed when the weather outside turned cold and frigid. Families would actually sleep in this room as it was closest in proximity to the kitchen and often provided the only heated space in the house. Today, the keeping room is called by many different monikers – a hearth room, gathering room, even a great room and many times, the naming of the room is dependent on your geographical location. While this is an old-fashioned concept, the keeping room provides modern day conveniences and a comfortable space to casually relax as a family in a world full of schedules, deadlines and endless tasks.

 

The fireplace continues to be the focal point in many of today’s keeping rooms helping to create a cozy environment in which to gather. There may also be a television, a desk area or plenty of flat space in which to play board games or help children with their homework. Oftentimes, a series of bookshelves or built-in cabinetry help to hold an assortment of family items to avoid cluttering the space. The keeping room is an integral part of many family homes and the ever popular open concept layout keeps all families members close by. Because the kitchen remains “the heart of the home” this adjacent space makes sense allowing you to multi-task and still remain part of the action by participating in conversations and keeping small children within eye sight.

Home Design with Keeping Room

Keeping Room Plan 699-00004

House Plan 699-00004

 

The open space concept of the room is popular with modern design trends and offers an opportunity for you to add casual comfort to your home and soften the hard lines often found in kitchens and the more formal rooms of the home. Often used, this room can function as multi-purpose space; a homework station, reading room, media room and/or a room to manage life’s daily chores such as paperwork, mail or even crafting items. Because this room is casual and used daily, the keeping room is typically one of the tidiest rooms in the house and that’s an important factor to consider when decorating the space. Keep it casual, simple and intentional with its furnishings and accessories where fabrics are stain resistant, curtains/draperies can be washed/cleaned easily and inexpensive throw rugs decorate the floor space allowing for peace of mind and the ultimate comfort station for family time.

Keeping Room Design

Plan 957-00021

House Plan 957-00021

 

As in Colonial times, keeping rooms are designed to bring families together, to have a space to multi-task, to offer a flexible and comfortable space for family and friends close to the kitchen and in general, a casual room to relax and unwind after a busy day.



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