Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Design Ideas - Make Your Island Special!

This is the first in a new series that I will be starting called "Design Ideas". What I would like to do is illustrate little design ideas that can help to make your home special. So here goes.

The photo below is a Kitchen in a home that I designed at Ron Brenner Architects. This unique house plan - The Lakeland Cape Cod - is currently available for purchase at Simply Elegant Home Designs.
It is a pretty simple kitchen layout but a few things make it special.
  • The kitchen cabinetry composition beyond is kept simple and clean. A soffit with crown molding connects the upper cabinets to the ceiling.
  • A "mantle" was designed for the range, which serves as a counterpoint to the fireplace mantel on the other side of the room (not seen in photo).
  • Under cabinet lighting provides highlights for the tile back splash and counters.
  • An upper cabinet extends down to the counter and is fitted with glass to display the china.
  • A solid walnut butcher block on the island top adds warmth and richness. This contrasts with the honed granite kitchen counters beyond.
  • A special leg detail was designed for the island corners. The leg detail was also adapted for the stairway newel posts.
  • Unique eclectic light fixtures hang above the island; highlighting the wood and help to emphasize that the island is the focal point of the room.
All in all a very simple yet elegant kitchen design. This illustrates that attention to the details can make all the difference.

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Nice Space, Good House Design2

My better half (Kelley) loves everything that interior designer Candice Olson performs. I just ran across one more example of a family room she designed which I have included directly below.

It seems like all of her work combines architectural and decorating elements in a sophisticated and harmonious way. Here I love the texture of the fireplace wall, the comfortable mixing of old and new (furniture and accessories) and the attention to lighting.

Key point - lighting is one of the most important things that you should not overlook. In this room it highlights the texture in the wall, brings the warmth of the wood media cabinet out and creates subtle reflections on the metal storage boxes. The space would still be nice, but not nearly so dramatic without it.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Ipod Kitchen Faucet

For years I have been wondering when someone would come out with a kitchen faucet / ipod - and here it is!

OK - its not an IPOD, but a touch screen. The faucet is produced by Italian manufacturer Fima Carlo Frattini.

The "Nonos" faucet allows the user to adjust water quantity, pressure and temperature. It also alerts the user in case of any malfunction such as leakage. The faucet’s touch-screen and easy-to-read graphic icons help in controlling the flow and temperature of the water stream.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Nice Space, Good House Design

I ran across this photo of a nice modern bedroom space and thought I would pass it on along with a couple of thoughts.

  • Obviously the design is all about the connection with the outdoors. Floor to ceiling glass with a patio directly outside bleed the definition between outside and inside. If it was my design I might have extended the roof line outward to create a covered patio zone. This would have created a transitional space between inside and outside.
  • The room is nearly void of detail. Why distract from the view?
  • A very simple palette of material and color. The decorating takes a back seat to the outdoors.
So what's the moral to this story? If you have a beautiful yard take advantage of it. Spend more money on glass and patio / porch space and spend less by keeping the interiors more minimal.

Saturday, 17 July 2010

Custom Architect Designed House Plans for $10K?

So how much does good home design cost?

To have an Architect tailor a home design specifically for you and your building site it can cost quite a bit. Full service Architectural fees can cost anywhere from 8% to 15% of the construction cost of your home. As an example a $400,000 home could run from $32,000 to $60,000 in architectural fees.

Many clients however do not have the budget to accommodate those kinds of fees. So are there any alternatives to this approach?

  • You can spend countless hours searching through pre-designed house plans trying to find one that fits your needs.
  • You can try to find a residential designer that has lower rates (but you might sacrifice on design quality and creativity).
  • You can find a Residential Architect that has created a special package of services to provide a home design tailored for you and your site for around $10,000. This is exactly what we have done at Simply Elegant Home Designs.

We call this the $10k home design solution. We believe that anyone that is going to invest several hundred thousand dollars on a new home ought to have high quality design available to them; and that $10,000 is a reasonable investment that nearly everyone should be able to justify. Through our experiences working directly with many individual clients and builders we have identified the most important elements in the design process and what needs to be communicated in the drawings. We have taken our understanding of these most important elements and incorporated them (leaving out the fluff) into our $10K home design solution. Below is a brief summary of that package:

  • Program Review - This begins with a meeting where we discuss your building program in detail; your list of space needs, important adjacencies, interior and exterior aesthetic goals, views, site orientation and other site issues. Ideally we meet at your building site so we can get a feeling for the lay of the land together. Then we take what we learn and summarize it into our Building Program document. This serves as our guide for beginning the design of your home. For an example of a completed Building Program see the following link: Sample Building Program

  • Schematic Design - This is where we look at preliminary design solutions for your project. We will look at plan and exterior image sketches which describe possible options for the layout of your new home. After meeting with you to review the options we then refine them into one cohesive design that meets your needs. For an example of a completed schematic design see the following link: Sample Schematic Design

  • Construction Documents - This is where we put all the detailed pieces together which explains to the contractor the elements of the house so they can complete the bids and begin construction. As we prepare the construction documents we provide you with updated plans that are increasingly more detailed. This helps to ensure your complete understanding of the project. In the end we provide you with a concise set of plans, elevations, sections and specifications which together describe the project to your contractor. This is what they will build your home from. For an example of completed construction documents see the following link: Sample Construction Documents

The $10K Home Design Solution may not work for everyone. Because the fee is limited to this modest amount there are limits to building size and complexity of the design. To find out if this is the right solution for you give us a call at Simply Elegant Home Designs. Or call a good Residential Architect of your own choosing to see if they have a similar package available.

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Its Complicated House

Over the past year I have had several clients make reference to the movie "It's Complicated" starring Meryl Streep, Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin. They all love the house that Meryl lives in but cannot put into words exactly what it is that draws them. So I thought I would take a little closer look to see if I could discover the secret to this house.

The exterior of the home is very unassuming. Simple composition with handsome materials and elegant window patterns. The landscape is an important element to this homes exterior.

The foyer demonstrates the use of a simple material and color palette. Rustic wood and quarry tile floors, neutral plaster and painted trim. The dark windows add a level of sophistication. Also notice how the simple arches break down the length of the hallway.

A very simple but well proportioned composition of fireplace and bookcases. The wood beamed ceiling adds a coziness to a space that might otherwise feel too voluminous.

The kitchen is light, airy and very casual. Open shelving in lieu of cabinets. Wall mounted pot rack. Same earthy palette seen throughout the rest of the public areas.

The architecture of the bedroom remains neutral while the interior treatments liven up the space.

Subtle details add sophistication. The painted two toned wood floors and cabinets are unique.

To sum up this house I would say it has a very simple, yet sophisticated architectural theme both inside and out. Natural materials and color tones along with restrained decorating provide an overall soothing feeling. The home is at once casual and elegant - "casual elegance". It's a home that does not try to impress, but it does so anyway through it's subtleties. I can definitely see why people love this home.