Saturday, March 29, 2014

Delight is in the Details

The home the Harmon team is wrapping up for retirees gave me my first opportunity to see a completely custom home in the completion stage. I keep returning to that sense of awe as the custom details were being installed--the vision behind the home coming alive before our eyes.

This compass mosaic in the entry is a nod to a career in the U.S. Navy.

Double sink custom maple cabinetry vanity with striking faucets in the owner's suite bathroom.
Mosaic glass detail in the owner's suite shower. The newly installed grab bar is visible on the right and adjustable height and hand held shower options are accessibility enhancements that can benefit anyone who may be having a bad day.

A wider view of shower details shows a built in bench. This is another accessibility accommodation that can benefit anyone. Often the same details once considered matters of ADA compliance make it easier to accommodate young children, thus the frequently heard term universal design.

We were there as sinks, counter tops, faucets, and fixtures were being installed--much of the icing on a cake for a custom home. It is true that everyone loves the frosting!

Friday, March 21, 2014

Retirement Home Design Details

The home the Harmon team is finishing up for soon-to-be retirees was especially interesting to see as the finishing details were beginning to go in. The culmination of the design choices was striking: a structure was magically becoming a home right before our eyes.

The homeowners took care to include elements that reference their experiences together, which makes for a wonderful celebration of their family life. The exterior gives a nod to the architectural history of Williamsburg, VA where they lived while attending school and began careers. Referencing a career as a Naval historian and professor at Annapolis, there are also some nautical design motifs. One (not pictured) is a compass rose mosaic in the entry hall.

Sink for the grandchildren's space in the basement bathroom; a whimsical blend of the nautical theme with youthful flair.

The team installing stone kitchen counter tops with custom cabinetry constructed in the Harmon Builders' cabinet workshop.  Not seen in this photo are nautical-style pendant lights (over bar).

My previous post called attention to the beautiful counter surfaces that color match with the adjacent cabinetry. The photo above allows you to better appreciate that. Search a little to find the lovely stone flooring peeking out of the cardboard protecting it. It pulls all the colors together and is gorgeous in its own right.

Built-in buffet and pair of hutches in the dining room.

The dining room I described (also in the post linked above) extends toward the back of the house and is sized to accommodate large family gatherings. This beautiful piece of custom cabinetry is crafted to make hosting adult children and young grandchildren easy to accomplish.

I look forward to sharing more about the home in an upcoming post. There are some energy efficient technologies in use in this home, as well as practical considerations that are determined by building codes, which have been both exciting and interesting to learn about.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Building a Dream Home for Retirement

I had a lovely morning seeing the Harmon team in action. My mother and father in-law, Anne and Jim, let me come along with them to see a stunning home that the Harmon Builders craftsmen are working on for homeowners who are retiring to the outskirts of Frederick. My in-laws are interested in finding or building a home that will allow them to live on one level, and the Harmons let us have a look at a project that incorporates many of the same needs they think will be priorities for their next home.

Besides offering single floor living, the home has ample space to accommodate large family gatherings. A long dining room will allow the whole family to be seated for Thanksgiving dinner, and a beautiful kitchen appointed with Paul's custom cabinetry opens into the living area. The open floor plan is great for those multi-generational celebrations. It also enhances accessibility if at any point a member of the family were to experience mobility limitations. The basement has guest rooms, a bath, and a common area to hang out in. The space includes a mini-fridge and small counter space to store snacks and breakfast items for visiting grandchildren.

Paul measuring to hang glass front doors for the stemware cabinets over the wine bar.
While we were there, counter tops were being installed all over the home. The owners have made some beautiful design decisions. We got to appreciate the wow factor of seeing the finishing touches go on. Most of the kitchen has natural, light-stained maple cabinetry. An island and wine bar are done in a lovely green that makes a beautiful contrast. The stone tops coordinate with the paint colors--a neutral stone paired with the stained cabinets and a green stone that perfectly matches the island and wine nook (above). The adjacent living and dining areas are painted in a creamy yellow.

We learned a lot about the considerations that Jim and Anne will want to think about as they decide what steps they will take moving forward. Thanks to the Harmons for taking the time to give us so much valuable information. It's always a pleasure to see what amazing things they are working on. I can't wait to see how this home turns out and share more about it.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Ceiling Fans for All Seasons

I can remember back in the days of watching Trading Spaces designers ripping out fans on nearly every show. Coming from Texas, I was always thinking, "There is no way these homeowners will stay sane and happy without that thing!" The truth is that the fan is your friend in any climate, and in all seasons. Yes, some of them are ugly, but many offer an opportunity to add style to a room. Add a light kit and you can find some even more unique combinations.

Obviously fans can save energy in the summer season. The trick is to be sure you raise your thermostat about 3 degrees and run the fan instead, to make the air feel cooler with the breeze created. This is more energy efficient than cooling the room with air conditioning alone. It can also mean more days of opening the windows and not needing the AC at all.

In winter, set the switch on the fan to a clockwise direction and run the fan on the lowest setting. This pulls air up in the center of the room so that it displaces the warm air that rises to the ceiling. This redistributes the heat around the room and minimizes the demand on your heating system.

Outdoor fans on your porch can make you more comfortable in the summer, and they are the best non-chemical way to keep the mosquitoes away.

Check out reviews with photos of a variety of styles on Top Ten Reviews. This blog post from Little Green Notebook addresses the compatibility of ceiling fans and style with some nice photography, as well.