Sunday, March 23, 2014

Finished! A Classic Cottage

Last spring, we shared THIS POST about a new cottage we had in the works for an infill lot near downtown Greenville, South Carolina. Well, the finishing touches have been put on and it is now ready for it's new owners.
Here are a few photos:

The house has great curb appeal. The exposed rafter tails, "swoopy" roofline, and mix of materials are cues taken from the neighborhood the house is in.

The house sits on a corner lot, with a two car garage on the lower level, so it had to have two "fronts"

The foyer features a beautiful arch top mahogany front door, and an open rail staircase with a classic wooden newel post.
From the landing of the stair, a view of the fireplace beyond and more of the wrought iron railing above.
The Great room is light-filled, with traditional window stools, a fireplace surrounded by travertine, and warm oak hardwoods.

The bright kitchen has painted and glazed cabinetry, a tumbled travertine backsplash, and granite countertops.

One side of the kitchen features a handy built in desk, perfect for homework or paying the family bills.

The bright and fresh master bath has a contemporary flavor, with 12 x 24 striated tiles, a rectangular soaking tub, and clean lined glass shower.

The master bedroom is bright and spacious.
The hardwood floors extended into the powder room, where a colorful piece of art gives a punch of character.

The upper floor's bathroom has carerra marble countertops and a classic black and white tile, a feature that is found in many of the vintage homes in the surrounding neighborhood.
We hope you've enjoyed the tour of this traditional style cottage. Be sure to join us on Facebook to see more pictures and plans of the homes we design!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Small Space, Large Style

If you spend much time on Pinterest, or reading shelter magazines or blogs, you know that small space living is a big thing now. It's partially a reaction to the housing and economic downturn that we've been climbing out of, and it's partially driven by people who have had the big house, and are tired of cleaning it, maintaining it, and paying to keep the lights on in it. In my own work, more and more clients are coming to me wanting to downsize. They all want quality over quantity. They want beautiful cabinetry, high end finishes, but they don't want a bunch of rooms they'll never use or echoing great rooms that require a riding vacuum cleaner.

So, I've collected a number of pictures over the past year or so that highlight some great small spaces. They remind me of the kind of spaces you might find in a New York apartment (where even a mulit-million dollar budget means small space living), or aboard a beautifully crafted yacht. Then I took a handful of my favorite inspiration pins and brought them together into one beautifully crafted floor plan that is under 900 square feet.

First the inspiration photos:

This is a detail that I love in any size house...the bed set into a beautifully panelled niche.
Dresser as footboard! Genius! And makes the bed a cozy little cocoon.

Gorgeous but tiny kitchen.

Living room with generous built ins is small but very comfortable.

Who needs a huge guest room that only gets used a time or two each year? Here, a bed is built into an alcove. Great for guests, and a wonderful little reading nook the rest of the time!
So I decided to combine all of these inspiration shots into one house...and here is the result:

Here's the result. Hard to believe but its less than 900 square feet! In addition to the inspiration spaces, this little gem has a rotunda entrance, a skylit gallery leading to the sleeping spaces, two full baths, and a laundry area.
What do you think? Could you live here?
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Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Wrapped Up--A Downtown Cottage

Around this time last year, a repeat client of mine approached me to design two houses on the site of a single old residence that had burned down some years ago. The result was two charming designs that we hoped would feel as if they had always been part of the classic neighborhood they inhabit.

The first of the houses (you can see the floor plans HERE) is now finished, and I wanted to share some photos:

The front elevation. The slope of the lot meant tucking the garages below the houses. Brick arches, a swooping entrance roofline, and Tudor accents are typical of other houses in the neighborhood. Our hope is that once the landscape matures, one will be hard pressed to know if the house is new or a recently renovated house vintage to the street.

Elegant brick steps and wrought iron railing lead to the elevated front door.

Gorgeous arched front door with "speak easy" window.

Another arched door leads to the rear porch. These doors are a favorite feature of everyone who sees the house.

The cabinet doors are missing, but a wall of built ins and a traditional fireplace anchor the great room.

A porcelain tile mimics slate on the screened back porch.

The foyer showcases another arch--a theme repeated through the house.

The master bath has a soaker tub, a large shower, and warm slate tile.

Another arch frames the view into the kitchen and dining room. Distressed black cabinetry is dramatic and classic.

A view down the light filled stairway.

A secondary bathroom has a vintage inspired tile design and Carerra marble countertops.

The carpet is missing, but this cozy room tucked into the eaves will make a great home office!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Custom Home Design--Why It Makes Sense

With so many great "stock plans" available (including our own portfolio), people looking to build a new home sometimes struggle with whether the added time and expense of designing a one-of-a-kind house makes sense. Sometimes it doesn't. The number of pre-designed homes available means that there is probably one out there that comes pretty darn close to matching just about anyone's needs. Modifying a stock plan may very well take it from "almost perfect" to ideal. But there are a lot of reasons why completely custom makes sense.
Top of the list of reasons is the property the house is going on. A special view, challenging topography, or unusual shape mean that an "off the shelf" plan is probably not going to work. A custom design can shape itself to frame views, turn a difficult terrain into a positive feature, or work around challenging setbacks.

Many of the clients I meet who decide to go the custom route have lived in or built "almost perfect" houses before. Calling these places home have given these clients a list of "wish we hads", "if onlys", and "wouldn't it be nices." Examples: "We love our house, but wish the laundry room were closer to the bedrooms." "Our kitchen would be perfect if it were just two feet longer." or "We wish the family room had a better view of the backyard."

Such was the case for the clients I designed this house for. They had enjoyed their previous home for many years, and loved many things about it, but came with a wish list that reflected the things that were wrong about the previous house:
"We need somewhere to put the dog's crate. At our old house, it just sat in the corner of the sunroom."
"This sounds silly, but we want a place for the trash bins. I can't tell you how many times we hit it at the old house because it just stuck out into the garage!"
"We used the formal living room for the piano at the old house, but it would be nice to have that closer to where we spend all our time."

These specialized details, along with their desire to  have the master suite on the second floor (an increasing rarity in "stock" plans.) led them to design a one-of-a-kind house.

Let's take a look at some of the custom features.
The least glamorous part of the house is actually one of the parts that makes this new plan work so well for the clients. The garage (just a few feet larger in each direction than their old one) allows them to get out of their cars without the old "turn sideways and squeeze" maneuver they used to do to walk between them. A niche in one corner holds the trash bins til its time to take them to the curb, and a wall of built ins with a sink allows for gardening and projects. Just inside the house is a small mudroom with shoe racks and a place to put coats. ("At the old house, we had this awful pile of shoes that we were always tripping over right when you came in from the garage.") Straight ahead is a custom "drop zone" with places for mail, car keys, and electronics charging stations. ("It's a godsend! All the mail, receipts, change, etc. always wound up on the kitchen counter at our old place.) The laundry room is small (they send most things out to the cleaners), but has an open area for laundry baskets or ironing that was lacking in their previous one. The dog room, for the four-legged family member, is a much-loved feature. A split dutch door means they can see their pooch from the hall, and a doggy door leads to a small fenced area so he can go outside even when he is home alone. ("That one little thing has made such a difference! We don't feel like we HAVE to rush home at lunch or right after work to let the dog out.") Two large closets finish out this area--one is dedicated to cleaning supplies, and the other is a pantry dedicated to serving pieces, lesser used small appliances, and seasonal china patterns.

The main floor is designed to function for large parties but to be comfortable when just the two of them are home. Throughout the design, we made sure to provide places for important furniture, art, and rugs. The kitchen is laid out to allow comfortable flow for guests and plenty of workspace for cooking. Another pantry within the kitchen is dedicated to food storage. In the great room, a wet bar provides another spot for serving guests, and various other built ins allow for display of dishware, art, and books.

The piano room opens to the great room through a deep paneled archway. The piano is set between built in shelves, inspired by this picture the clients found online:
The "tea room" is a space inspired by their favorite room at the old house. "We had a nice sunroom on the back of the house where we loved to have our breakfast and coffee on weekends and just look out at the yard and watch the birds. We knew we had to have another little spot like that here."

The home office rounds out the other side of the main floor. The placement of this room was carefully considered. One of the clients works often from home, and wanted the ability to close the space off, but also wanted to be within earshot of the great room so he wasn't completely isolated when pulling those long hours. With built ins for organization, the space also provides future flexibility. The adjoining full bath (which doubles as the powder room) and a walk-in closet will allow it to serve as a bedroom if one is needed on the main floor.

A large screened porch, with enough room for dining and lounging, shares a double fireplace with the great room, and adjoins a grilling deck. Two other porches shade the great room from the afternoon sun, and act as an extension of the living space.

Upstairs, two nicely sized guest rooms share a nicely appointed bathroom. The clients weighed the option of giving each bedroom a private bath, but ultimately decided that the number of times both guest rooms would be occupied made it an unnecessary expense. The master suite is on the other side of the second floor, across a balcony that looks into the great room and foyer (a feature they enjoyed at their previous house.)

"Our other master bedroom was HUGE. 22 x 22. We deliberately made this one smaller, it feel so much more comfortable and was much easier to decorate than the old one."  The king sized bed fits into an arched niche with lovely trimwork and narrow built in bookshelves, a feature inspired by this photo the owners came across:

Double closets, one large enough to include an area for ironing, buffer the master bedroom from the bath, and a small morning kitchen between them means that weekend coffee or a midnight snack are just steps away. Double vanities, a private water closet, and a free standing tub are all memorable features of the master bath, but the true star of that room is the huge walk-in shower. "No glass door to scrub! And it's big enough that, with the multiple shower heads, we can get ready at the same time now."

By going the custom route, these clients got the details they wanted, the layout they needed, and a home that functions perfectly for the way they live.

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Sunday, November 24, 2013

Haint Blue Porch Ceilings

Anyone who has been to Charleston, SC has no doubt noticed the pale blue porch ceiling that is typical of the picturesque "South of Broad" houses there. There is no exact shade for this classic southern ranges from periwinkle to robins egg, but as far as many people in the south are concerned there is really no other color to be considered for a porch ceiling.

Why is it called "Haint Blue?" As a young transplant to the south, I saw the common robin's egg tint and thought "It hain't quite blue, and it hain't quite green." But a "haint" in Gullah culture is an evil spirit, and the blue ceiling is there to scare them away. (It's also rumored to keep mosquitoes off the porch, as they mistake it for the sky.)

Whether this ubiquitous southern touch serves any purpose other than looking gorgeous, I really don't know! Here are some pictures of classic "Haint Blue" ceilings to inspire you:
Double veranda with Haint blue ceilings

Up close of a Haint Blue Ceiling

Grand front porches. (Looks like a haint blue coffer on the first floor)

An unusual take on haint blue. Has a very island feel in this hue.

Crisp white siding, black shutters, red brick, and a haint blue ceiling. Doesn't get any more classic than this!

The rug on this lanai picks up the haint blue in the ceiling.

Subtle but effective...the haint blue compliments the stone floor of this large porch.

Massive columns on granite stone bases and a perfect blue ceiling. All that's missing here is the lemonade! (The window sashes look black, but I'd bet they are Charleston green!)

Monday, October 14, 2013

New Pre-Designed Plan: The Landfall

Here's a new plan we have in the works, the Landfall. With a rather formal, traditional facade, this house would blend perfectly into an older, established neighborhood.

The floor plan is up-to date and memorable. The front of the house is anchored by formal rooms that flank a foyer with a beautifully sweeping set of stairs. At the rear, a wide-open play of spaces includes a gourmet kitchen, huge great room, and an octagonal morning room which opens to a screened porch with fireplace and vaulted ceiling.

A three car garage provides storage for cars and more. And the workaholic in the family will love the library with adjoining office. The powder room features a shower, and a murphy bed in the library provides a spot for guests.

Upstairs, three bedroom suites round out the floor plan. Two smaller suites on the right side of the house each enjoy a full bath and walk-in closet, while the left side is home to the jaw dropping master suite.

An octagonal vestibule welcomes you into the master suite. Built-in niches display art, and a tray ceiling adds drama. The enormous bedroom with adjoining sitting room, features a romantic fireplace. Two enormous walk in closets, a morning kitchen, and a dramatic bathroom with free standing tub, glass walk in shower, and barrel vaulted ceiling complete the master suite. Imagine waking up every morning feeling like you've just spent a night in a fine hotel!

The Landfall encompasses right at 5,000 square feet. If you're interested in learning more, please feel free to contact us.

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Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Poochy Palaces

We got a dog. We had talked about it for a few years, and said that we would get one once the new back porch was finished. And once the back yard was fenced in. And once we had hardwoods everywhere downstairs.
It became clear that we would be old and gray before we had a dog if we waited for the "to do" list to  be finished, so we started looking for breeders, rescues, or friends with litters on the way. We wanted a small dog, a "hypoallergenic" breed, and really hoped to find one that was a bit out of the puppy stage.

Our first attempt at rescuing a year-old yorkie-poodle mix fell through when they accepted an applicant that lived closer. I sent in another application to a rescue that had a young litter of Maltipoo pups, but didn't hear anything for a few days.

To make a long story short, they did end up calling, and we drove two and a half hours to pick up this little guy:

Meet Cooper!
Cooper is five pounds of fur. The sweetest little pup you could hope to meet, even if he hasn't quite figured out that he needs to be outside before he relieves himself. (Maybe we should have waited til the hardwoods were in...) At any rate, with a dog comes "stuff." He has a big crate that he stays in during the day, a bunch of toys, a big ole bag of food, and of course, his bowls and treats. And there is simply no good place to put it all. His crate takes up way too much space in the morning room. His toys are always everywhere, and there is no good place to put his food. So many people have pets, but very few houses accomodate them.

So if we built a new house, I think we would need a dog room. A place with bins for toys, airtight storage for his food, a spot for  his crate and bowls, and a bathing spot. All with a hose down floor, naturally. I went online for some inspiration, and was not disappointed. Check out these wonderful designs for living with pets:

How cute! The space under the stairs has been turned into a doggie bedroom, complete with canine-inspired artwork!

A perfect doggy shower for larger pups. For my 5 pound bundle of joy, I'd lift this up to counter height, and have some storage beneath.

There are a lot of tables that double as dog crates available out there. What a great way to blend your pets "home" into yours.

Tucked into a corner, here's another integrated dog crate. Could be a great way to claim space under an air return or at the bottom of a linen closet.

A dog bed built into the cabinetry! Wouldn't this be perfect as part of a window seat?

Here, a spot for the bowls has been dedicated at the end of the island. And is it just me, or do those cabinet pulls look like bones?

Another dog house tucked under the stairs. I love that this one has a tiny window for the pooch to check out what's happening outside!

Which one was your favorite? How have you designed for your pet? We would love to  hear your ideas!
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