In our last post, we talked about the importance of maintaining the exterior of your home, and we shared a deck renovation project we completed. Here's another exterior house design to inspire you.
The Challenge: Remember, you want the entrance of your home to be inviting. It should welcome people and provide a sense of your style and design aesthetic. This house had a nondescript masonry front entry and a porch that looked like an afterthought with thin columns that fell inside the stone wall. Check out the shot below.
Here's a closeup view of the "porch."
The Solution: Hebert Design/Build removed the masonry and built a new wood porch with a well-defined entry that is inviting as well as more practical. The new design allows access from either the front or side of the porch. The bow window was replaced with a series of casement windows to allow more space on the porch.
Here's another view:
This is an example of a small project making a big difference in the overall design of the house.
Sure, we spend the majority of our time inside our homes, but that doesn't mean our homes' exteriors aren't important. The outside of our homes should be welcoming, structurally sound, and able to withstand whatever Mother Nature throws at it. And the exteriors should reflect what people can expect to find inside the house. In other words, your design aesthetic doesn't end once you step out your front door.
This is one of the reasons we enjoy doing whole house renovations, since we can make sure the exterior is just as impressive as the interior. Of course, not all of our clients come to us for complete home renovations. Some of them want to focus on a specific aspect of the exterior, so we thought we'd share a project that focuses on that.
Decks to Die For
This title should only be taken figuratively, not literally, although that wasn't the case with this particular project. The existing 20-year-old decks (pictured below) off the second floor bedrooms were poorly built and had deteriorated to an unsafe level.
Hebert Design/Build designed and built two radius decks supported by steel columns. The knee wall rail design helps to conceal the lower portion of the sliders leading into the bedrooms adding a little more privacy and ties the deck into the existing design of the house. Here's an after shot.
Here's a closeup of the columns, all prettied up with some white paint that matches the trim on the windows and the deck railing and ties the whole look together nicely.
But let's take a closer look at the decks themselves.
And here's a shot from the bedroom. You got to love the view!
Interested in talking to us about exertior house designs? Contact us today and let's chat.
In a recent blog post, we discussed what you need to think about when choosing a kitchen countertop. In today's post, we thought we'd delve a little deeper by taking a closer look at some popular countertop materials.
In July, Consumer Reports ranked quartz as the #1 kitchen countertop material. It had a ranking of 84 out of 100. Granite was a close second, with a ranking of 81. The rankings were based on the following:
Here's a list of the top five materials:
- Recycled Glass
So let's talk about the top two contenders: quartz and granite. What are the pros/cons of each, and what should you keep in mind when choosing between the two materials?
Care and maintenance. One of the biggest differences between the materials is that granite requires regular sealing, while quartz does not. This helps make quartz easier to care for.
Color consistency. What you see is what you get when you look at a sample of quartz. Not true with granite. Consumer Reports recommends going to the stone yard, finding a slab you like, and placing a deposit on it right then and there so that you can make sure you get exactly what you want.
Scratches, cuts, stains, and heat. According to Consumer Reports, both materials were scratch, cut, and heat resistant. Quartz is typically stain resistant. While granite tends to have a reputation for staining, Consumer Reports stated, "[w]hen properly sealed, polished and matte-finished granite resisted most stains."
Edges and corners. Both granite and quartz are prone to chipping. Both would need to be repaired by a professional.
Pricing. You'll find both materials are roughly in the same range of one another.
Do you have a preference when it comes to quartz vs. granite kitchen countertops? What type of material do you have in your home? Share in the comments.
You might think that the shower, tub, and tile are the "big" decisions when it comes to bathroom remodeling. And those decisions are certainly important. But don't forget--or underestimate--the power of the perfect sink.
Now when we say "perfect sink" we're not talking about one that's free and self-cleans, too (though wouldn't that be nice?). We're talking about different sink styles and how the right (or wrong) one can impact the look and feel of the room.
So let's review the different "types" of sinks you'll likely encounter as you begin your search.
Undermount sinks. What they are: Undermounted sinks are mounted beneath the countertop surface. Benefits: It creates one seamless look (since there are no exposed lips). Also, they're easier to keep clean compared to drop-in sinks since there's no raised lip to catch debris or for bacteria and mildew to grow. These types of sinks are especially popular with solid surface countertops where a fabricator custom makes a hole for the sink. They don't work as well with tile or laminate since these materials can have weak points that don't support the sink effectively.
Drop-in sinks (lip-mounted sinks). What they are: In these sinks, the sink's lip is raised above the countertop, so it's essentially sitting on top of the countertop surface instead of being mounted beneath it. Benefits: These tend to be more cost efficient than other sinks, and they're easy to plan for and use since they easily "drop in" to the hole in the countertop (and even if the hole isn't the exact right size, the sink can still work, thanks to the lip that can cover any gaps).
Pedestal sinks. What they are: The sink basin sits on top of a column (a pedestal). Benefits: Perfect for smaller baths since they take up less space. Here's a pic from one of our bathroom renovations. Downside? No storage underneath like you get with vanities.
Wall-mounted sinks. What they are: These are sink basins that are attached to the wall--no pedestal, no vanity. Benefits: Efficient and perfect for tight spaces. That said, they also can be used in larger bathrooms as well. You'll often find them in commercial settings (think of the sinks in movie theater restrooms). Today's materials and options can offer interesting flourishes (i.e. they don't need to be boring).
Vessel sinks. What they are: Essentially, the whole basin/bowl sits on top of the counter. Benefits: They can be styled in so many ways from modern to rustic, turn-of-the-century-farmhouse chic. Bonus? If they're part of a vanity, they free up space underneath the countertop. Here's a collection of vessel sinks on Houzz.
His and her sinks. What they are: you'd have two sinks in one bathroom (and the sink style could vary--they could be vessels, drop-ins, undermount, etc). The sinks could be part of the same vanity, as in the picture below from one of our bath renovations.
Or you could have separate vanities and separate sinks. See the picture below (again, another one of our bathroom renovations).
Benefits: No more fighting for tooth-brushing time (etc.), which works well for couples and households where a bunch of kids share a bathroom. From a design aesthetic, two sinks also add interesting symmetry to a room.
Farmhouse sinks. What they are: Picture a sink with an exposed front, one that juts out over the edge. These sinks tend to be extra deep and are typically used in kitchens, rather than the bath, although we've seen some cool farmhouse sinks in kids' bathrooms (the sinks are big enough for bathing babies and toddlers). Check out some pictures on Houzz here. Benefits: They give a room a charming, rustic flair...and they provide plenty of room (again, perfect for kitchens with lots of dishes to wash).
Floating vanities. OK, so this isn't technically a sink. But it's worth mentioning when talking about sinks. What it is: A floating vanity "hovers" or "floats" above the floor (meaning the floor beneath is exposed). The types of sinks that are used with floating vanities vary as well. It's yet another look to consider as you're pondering bathroom ideas. Houzz has a great article with plenty of eye candy here.
Those are the basic sink types, but what you need to keep in mind is that there are literally thousands of styles. Don't believe us? Check out this page from Houzz, which features over 11,000 sinks
. For example, your vessel sink can come in almost any color, material, and shape imaginable (who says it has to be an oval?). The "pedastal" portion on your pedastal sink can have subtle or loud flourishes, depending on the effect you're trying to achieve. The hardware that accompanies the sink--like the faucets--can affect the whole look and feel as well.
So when you're considering bathroom sinks, consider...
- Type. See the descriptions above. If you're using a design/build firm, this is something to discuss with your builder, since he or she will want to take the type of sink you're considering into the overall design.
- Materials. Marble, solid surface, stainless steel, etc.
- Colors. Who says it has to be white? Who says you can't have handpainted art on your sink?
What's your favorite type of bathroom sink? Share in the comments.
We just launched our profile on Zillow Digs. You've probably heard of Zillow, which describes itself as "Fast, free, thorough home search on America's most popular web portal, covering real estate, apartments, mortgages, school data, and home improvement."
Zillow Digs is an off-shoot of the main site, and it's all about improving and beautifying your new "digs." On Zillow Digs, you'll find plenty of gorgeous photos to browse--photos that can inspire your next home improvement project. You'll also find information for local contractors in your area, which brings us to Hebert Design/Build's brand-spanking new profile on Zillow Digs here. Check it out!
Zillow Digs also has a bunch of fun apps and widgets, and we've embedded a few below. Enjoy!
We're always keeping up with the latest kitchen design trends that people are talking about, and one we've been hearing about a lot lately is prep kitchens. So we thought we'd discuss them here by answering some FAQs.
What is a prep kitchen?
A prep kitchen is exactly as it sounds: it's an area where you cut, chop, filet, stir, roll, and complete all the other pre-cooking activities that gourmands typically do in the kitchen. But here's the thing that makes it special and so popular: it's hidden from the main kitchen.
What do you mean "hidden"?
A prep kitchen is typically hidden by a wall or door. It's actually a separate space, even though it often carries over the decor from the main kitchen area (e.g. countertop materials, flooring, cabinets).
Why are they gaining in popularity?
The main reason is because it separates the "work" side of the kitchen from the "entertainment" side. Because the kitchen is fast becoming the most popular room in the house, people want it to be welcoming at all times (read: neat and uncluttered). The prep kitchen lets you keep all the behind-the-scenes items in one area so that the main kitchen area can remain clear and in order. Lots of prep kitchens house items with cords, like toasters, coffee makers, and microwaves. Think of the prep kitchen like you do the kids' playroom or the "junk room" (admit it: you have one). When you have guests, you can close the door on all the messes and maintain some sanity in the main living room.
Depending on the size, some people might keep other large appliances in the prep kitchen like the washer/dryer units and even make space for a little desk with the computer. Like anything else, it comes down to budget, space, and what your goals are, but a prep kitchen can be a nice touch, especially if you see the house as your forever home and you do a lot of entertaining.
Are there other ways to get extra work space without having to create a separate room?
Sure. Some people opt for TWO islands in the kitchen. That doubles the work space (and storage underneath).
What do prep kitchens look like in reality?
They come in all shapes, styles, and sizes. If you click on the Houzz button to the right, we'll link you to a page on prep kitchens. You'll see everything from charming nooks to larger spaces that might rival lots of "main" kitchens. We like the ones with hidden doors so that people who aren't "in the know" might not even realize you have another area for all your stuff...they'll just think you're good housekeeper!
What do you think? Do you like the concept of prep kitchens? Share your thoughts in the comments.
You've dreamed about it. You've worked hard for it. And now you're ready--ready to embark on what you know will be the adventure of a lifetime: owning your own custom designed home, one that takes into account your design aesthetic, your needs, your vision for what a home should be.
Congratulations! At Hebert Design/Build, one of our premier services is designing and building custom homes, and it's one of our favorite types of projects to work on. Why? We love the challenges. We love the creativity. We love the relationships that develop with our clients. And most of all, we love the results.
Custom homes are special because the "product" is the result of a collaboration between the homeowner and the design/build firm. For us, it's a privilege to bring someone's dream home to life.
But before we go on waxing poetic, let's talk about some important things you should keep in mind as you start this journey.
1. Know your budget. This seems obvious, but sometimes the most basic things get overlooked...or looked over too quickly. Take the time to sit down and really consider your finances. Does the house you have pictured in your mind match the reality of your bank account? Have you carefully considered things like size, shape, site preparedness (is the land flat, or will it require some excavation)?
Have you thought beyond the cost of the physical home itself and budgeted for all the items that will make this place truly your own: from features like countertops and faucets to the artwork, furniture, and decor? For more direction, check out our free budget guide.
If you're in a fortunate position where money isn't a big concern, that's great, but you should still come to the table with a budget in mind, since that will serve as a starting point for the design/build firms you talk to.
2. Research design/build firms, even the ones who come "recommended." We can't stress this point enough. We certainly think a good place to start is by asking family and friends about the design/build firms they've used and loved. But from there, it's important to do your homework:
It's important to keep this in mind: you will not have a 100 percent perfect experience. That's impossible, because life happens and challenges do come up. The key is how a firm deals with challenges that are thrown its way. You want to work with a firm that's nimble and can make adjustments when necessary.
3. Be open. This has two meanings, actually. Be open with your builder about what you want, including "must-have" items and those that are more "nice to have" items. But also be open to their recommendations as well.
A design/build firm's job is to get a sense of what you're looking to achieve and then make recommendations that will not only achieve what you want to accomplish, but also transcend it. When they say things like, "Have you considered X,Y, Z?" or "This approach might make more sense because of A, B, C," resist the temptation to dismiss the suggestions out of hand. Carefully consider all options.
4. Think green. While we're certainly not here to make a political statement or get into debates about environmental issues, as green builders we believe it's important to consider green options whenever possible.
The great news is that because "going green" is more than a passing fad, green materials (everything from construction materials to paint to furniture) have taken on a new level of sophistication. If there's a certain style and look you're going for, it's quite possible--if not likely--that you'll be able to accomplish it while going green.
5. Think long term. For most people building custom designed homes, these are their "forever" homes. As such, it's important to consider not only the needs you have today, but also the ones you might have twenty, thirty, or even forty years from now. Learn more about the concept of universal design and how this might fit into your overall custom-home plan.
BONUS: Remember to enjoy the journey! It's easy to get caught up in every aspect of custom home construction and, as a result, to stress over every aspect as well. Let your builder shoulder the stress so that you can enjoy watching your dream come to life.
It's funny: when people first start talking about home renovations, we hear plenty of discussions on room layout and specific features like cabinets, countertops, and even flooring. But one thing we seldom hear people talk about--at least initially--is ceilings.
Like everything else in design/build, there are many options when it comes to ceilings, and the style you choose will have a profound impact on the overall look and feel of the home, which is why we thought we'd take this opportunity to define some different ceiling styles.
Cathedral ceilings. Known for their soaring height, these ceilings are named after the ones found in churches and cathedrals. Cathedral ceilings create an open and airy feeling and allow for lots of natural light, especially when lots of windows or skylights are involved. That said, this type of ceiling has its cons as well: If you don't have central air conditioning, you'll need to think about air circulation (ceiling fans can help). Ditto during colder months--your heating can be stretched thin in rooms with cathedral ceilings. Cleaning can be a challenge, too (and so can changing light bulbs!).
Vaulted ceilings. People often mix up cathedral and vaulted ceilings since they have this important thing in common: the ceiling is "pitched" rather than flat. We like the way the website Chief Architect defines it from there: "Cathedral ceilings are the same pitch as the roof and are typically produced by enclosing the bottoms of the roof rafters with a ceiling material. Vaulted ceilings, while similar, do not share the same pitch as the roof and are often framed using scissor trusses."
Dropped ceilings. It's exactly what the name suggests: with dropped ceilings, you have several inches of space separating it and the floor above it. This space can be used for things like piping or HVAC. (Trivia question: what's the inverse of a dropped ceiling? A raised floor.)
Barrel-vaulted ceilings. It's essentially an arched ceiling (picture yourself walking through a tube-shaped tunnel and look up...you'll get the idea). Houzz did a feature on a wide variety of barrel-vaulted ceilings, including ones used in the kitchen, dining room, and bathroom.
Coffered or lacunar ceilings. Picture a waffle. Now picture it on your ceiling. That's one effect, that is if the recessed parts are square. For a more formal definition, Wikipedia says, "A coffer (or coffering) in architecture is a sunken panel in the shape of a square, rectangle, or octagon in a ceiling, soffit or vault. A series of these sunken panels were used as decoration for a ceiling or a vault..."
These are only some ceiling types, but they're the ones you'll most likely encounter, at least during your initial discussions.
But there are plenty of other types, like tray ceilings, ceilings with exposed trusses, or a roof lantern, which is the design we used for this conservatory we built that's pictured to the right.
The thing to keep in mind is this: anything goes when it comes to ceilings these days. We're long past basic white (although we think that's perfectly acceptable if it's what you want).
Today, you can find a wide variety of styles and treatments. Just check out some of these features on Houzz:
What type of ceilings do you have in your home? If you could have any sort of ceiling in the world, what style would you opt for? Share in the comments.
At Hebert Design/Build, we're green builders whose philosophy is quite simple: a well-designed home is green from the very start.
That's why we make careful decisions when it comes to design and layout (e.g. good design minimizes energy use with a thoughtful arrangement of the rooms that promotes natural air flow) and the products we use. For example, we choose enerygy-efficient windows and advanced insulating materials that reduce undesirable gain and loss of heat with fewer air-born chemicals or allergens.
But going green goes much deeper than the building itself and its layout. The choices you make as a homeowner also have an impact on just how green your house is:
1. Use energy-efficient appliances: Choosing energy-efficient appliances can help conserve energy and water. We're talking more than just the fridge and dishwasher, too. Think thermostats, computers, light bulbs, and much, more. Check out the Energy Star website, which can help you find specific products. Need more incentive? Some products qualify for tax credits.
2. Use recycled and "upcycled" materials for your home's decor and furniture. What's the difference between the two terms? Recycling typically involves breaking down the original product to create a new one (think glass that's broken down and made into something else). Upcycling involves keeping the original product in tact (in other words, you don't destroy it), but then transforming it into something else.
Here's a company that we recently read about that upcycles: Oxgut Hose Co. "offers high-end indoor & outdoor furniture and accessories—all hand-made using retired fire hose salvaged from U.S. fire depts." (You can see some cool product pics on Oxgut Hose's Facebook page.)
3. Work with and buy from companies that support green initiatives and sustainable living. In the US, there's actually a certification that businesses can earn called Green America Certified Business. How do you find green businesses? You can browse the GreenPages publication (in paper or online - also available as an app for Android and iPhones).
4. Keep up with the latest news on green construction, environmental issues, and sustainable living. There are many, many resources online that you can check out. One that we like that has to do with design and architecture is Inhabitat, which describes itself as "your online guide to the best green design ideas, innovations and inspiration to build a cleaner, brighter, and better future."
How do you "go green" in your home? Share in the comments.
If you spend any time on places like Houzz, you'll find a wide variety of styles when it comes to home renovations and design. We thought it might make sense to define some of the different styles you'll encounter. For the purpose of this post, we're focusing on the labels used on Houzz.
Contemporary: If you think clean, sleek, simple lines when you hear the word "contemporary," you're definitely on the right track. A contemporary style is a type of modern design (more on this below) that's known for its simplicity, spaciousness (think open floor plans), and functionality (think universal design). Read more about contemporary design here.
Eclectic: As the name suggests, this style is known for being different and pushing the envelope...in everything from the physical design to the actual decorations and accents. Oftentimes, this style is marked by its inclusiveness: a room might include traditional accents, modern design elements, and touches of tropical, Mediterranean, you name it. The goal is to find a way to make the seemingly disparate parts work together to form a new "whole"--one that is unique to the room/home.
For example, the open floor plan (a sign of a contemporary space) might be filled with upcycled furniture, a classically ornate mirror, traditional hardwood floors, and perhaps a room divider made of bamboo (and thus producing an Asian-styled vibe). It's not a style for everyone, but those who love to play with different textures, colors, fabrics, and who have a thing for antiques and "found art" can have a lot of fun with this style. Read more about eclectic styles here.
Modern: It's easy to think that "modern" and "contemporary" mean the same thing, but a contemporary style actually falls under modern design. As Houzz points out, "...specific styles such as art deco, retro, minimalist, and contemporary can be considered modern." What's cool about modern design is that you can use classic elements as accents, but put them together in a way that creates a new, modern vibe. Read more about how Houzz defines modern design here.
Traditional: Also sometimes called "classic," Houzz notes that this umbrella term includes many of the styles we grew up with: think colonial, cape, and country. Houzz also notes that traditional remains the most popular style for homes in the US.
Mediterranean: In your mind's eye, picture a Spanish or Tuscan villa or a charming home on the Greek isles. What do you see? Rich ocean colors (blues, greens, whites), stucco walls, patterned tiles? Stone work? An open, airy breeziness to the whole layout? Yep, that's the Mediterranean influence at work.
Asian: Here's what Houzz has to say: "Asian style interior design takes its cue from Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Thai, Vietnamese and other Eastern cultures. Houzz goes on to say that a design might have Asian influences (for example, a Buddha statue or a bonsai tree used as decorative accents) but still fall under another category (like eclectic).
Tropical: Picture the Keys, the Caribbean, even Hawaii--what do you see? Large windows with breezy curtains that encourage air circulation? Lots of light, airy colors, like whites, creams, and pastels? Pops of bright color, perhaps even through nature (e.g. adding a bird of paradise plant in the corner of the room)? A tropical design gives off an easy, no worries, "you're on island time now" feel just like you experience during a beach vacation. Read more about tropical styles here.
At Hebert Design/Build, most of our work would be categorized as contemporary or traditional. Get a sense of the work we do by looking through our portfolio here and also on Houzz.
What design style do you favor for your home? Which is your least favorite? Which style might you be willing to try someday? Share your thoughts in the comments.