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Wednesday, June 26, 2013

3 Ways to Integrate the Outdoors into your Home

According to Builder Online, of the 15 top trends in design for single-family living, 20% involve the outdoors. Homeowners are tending to desire private and usable outdoor living spaces that encourage entertaining while providing all the comforts of their indoor counterparts. These spaces act as  a link between the indoors and out through larger, more expansive views, creative doorways and innovations in screening and weather protection. If you're contemplating a renovation or addition to better integrate the outdoors into your home, consider the following factors and how they can have a major impact on the experience within your spaces. 

The View: 

An easy (and generally less expensive) way to integrate nature into your home's interior is by increasing visibility from indoor to out. Consider using floor to ceiling windows as a way to remove the visual barriers, bring in natural light and make a dramatic statement within any space. Corner windows are a great alternative as they allow you to enjoy a more panoramic view of your landscaping and create a perfect niche for built in seating. More traditional sunrooms or enclosed porches create an extension of the interior space into the footprint of the exterior, giving you the experience of being surrounded by the outdoors while keeping you fully sheltered at the same time.  

The Doorway: 

When selecting doors to transition between interior and exterior living spaces, the desired aesthetic, visibility, and functionality all come into play. Traditionally sliding glass doors have provided the necessary partition and ease of use while allowing light to pass into interior spaces. An increasing number of vendors such as Jeld-Wen and NanaWall are offering a unique alternative in multi-fold or accordion doors that can be customized to provide as much or as little transparency as desired. This innovative door style provides the flexibility of varying degrees of enclosure, from partially enclosed indoor spaces to entire walls that fold up and open to the space beyond. Such flexibility results in a greater fluidity between the in- and out-door spaces, encouraging  an increased use of both for special events & entertaining or just everyday enjoyment.

The Safe Haven: 

Whether your outdoor oasis is in the form of a poolside cabana or a covered patio, it has to be a welcoming space that allows you to comfortably experience the splendor of nature. Overhead coverage is a necessity for protection from the elements and allows for the customization of outdoor living areas with creature comforts previously reserved for the indoors. Functional kitchens and entertainment areas with integrated media are increasing in popularity. With the inclusion of climate control elements like Built-In Heaters and Large Scale Fans, these outdoor spaces can be enjoyed even longer throughout the year.

A rise in awareness of insect-borne illness has resulted in homeowners, especially here in Texas, requesting the integration of anti-pest measures. One major upgrade from a Citronella centerpiece on the patio table is to install repellent misting systems. These systems are integrated into the landscape design and periodically spray a fine mist of repellent from misters strategically placed around the perimeter of the property, helping to create a bug-free zone. And to ensure an extra level of safety, retractable screens like the ones shown below by Phantom Screens can be discreetly installed in a variety of outdoor areas. They remain hidden until needed and are easy to engage with the touch of a button. 

Outdoor Oasis status achieved!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Dallas Remodel: Outdoor Kitchen & Living Area

 Finishing up just in time for summer...

In just a few months a great amount of progress has occurred to get this Dallas Remodel ready for summertime festivities! The usable poolside space has doubled with increased covered area that will provide greater flexibility for outdoor cooking and dining. By extending the master bedroom and reworking the landscape surrounding the pool, previously disjointed zones are unified allowing for much larger and interactive gatherings.

One great challenge with exterior additions is integrating the addition into the home so that it appears to have always existed as part of the original structure.  Roof lines can be especially tricky to integrate if the additional space will have vaulted ceilings or unique layouts. Matching the exact shingle color and stucco texture may also present a challenge, even with a home constructed as recently as a few years ago. Choosing the perfect material supplier and tradesperson are key to achieve a seamless look. 

Once the additional structures are completed, the process of adding finish materials, cabinetry and countertops, appliances, fixtures and landscaping begins. The space is made habitable during Texas summers thanks to fans from the Haiku line of Big Ass Fans and, though they will not be used for a great many months, ceiling mounted heaters for the chillier times of the year.

With the completion of this outdoor living addition, hopefully our clients will be able to enjoy poolside family gatherings for years to come. Photos of the finished product coming soon!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Remodeling & Home Improvements | Fireplaces: A Feature Buyers Will Pay More For

According to a recent Market Watch survey and data from the National Association of Realtors, fireplaces are one of eleven most popular home improvements that homeowners are willing to pay more for. Approximately 40% of recent home buyers that do not currently have a fireplace are willing to pay an average of $1,400 more for this amenity.  The president of speculated that this could be due in part to the trend of reduced television watching and increased tablet/e-reader use. Perhaps it's not the Rockwell-ian vision of the future, but families curling up in front of a warm fire with an e-book or handy app is at least slightly better than being hypnotized into a stupor by the LED flashes and noise pollution of the boob tube. Over the years, Key Residential projects have featured a wide range of  fireplaces that have each added a sense of warmth (no, not just literally) to the spaces and below are a sampling of different styles and why we think the homeowners love them.

Textural Stonework

Both the Caruth Master Bedroom Fireplace (left) and the Southcrest Family Room Fireplace (right) boast unique, textural stonework. Whether smooth, rounded Creek Rock or rugged stacked Ledgestones, both beg to be touched adding visual interest to the space. Consider not only the type, but the scale, shape and color variation of the stone for your fireplace surround as modifying any one or a combination of these factors can have dramatic results.  And with the materiality making such a statement in these fireplaces, the mantels are smaller and simpler, acting as support for a statement art piece. 

Sleek Integrated Electronics

Let's face it, regardless of the advances in modern technology, most people are not going to chuck the tele out the window. So the challenge arises to integrate electronics into our spaces. Both the Greenbrier  (left) and Edmondson (right) Family Rooms  have TVs that are recessed to be flush with the wall above their respective fireplaces. The  fireplaces are kept simple and sleek with Absolute Black Granite and painted wood molding (lt) full Basaltina Stone (rt) surrounds. And whether gas or wood burning, remember to consider potential heat gain when determining the placement and distance of your electronics from the heat source.

A  Hefty Wood Mantel

From traditional to contemporary, one of the most common materials for fireplace mantels is wood. The Caruth Study remodel features the original stone fireplace surround capped by a hand-carved wooden mantel with various wood inlays highlighted by a distressed paint technique. The Sitting area adjacent to the kitchen includes a new brick fireplace topped with a faux-beam, created from real hardwood and manufactured to resemble a structural framing member, with custom corbels added. Whether old or new, solid or manufactured, these wood mantels pay homage to the craftsman traditions of yore.

See- Through Fireboxes

Besides just plain looking cool, see through fireplaces offer many benefits. They area a great way to connect adjacent spaces and maximize the visibility of your showpiece. You get double the fireplace without doubling the cost by allowing you to experience the heat from both sides. The Joyce Way Formal Living (lt) has a traditional framed see-through fireplace that connects to an adjacent Sunroom while the Hollow Way Den (rt) shares a raised gas insert with the adjacent informal Dining Room. See-through fireplaces are available in a wide range of styles, vented or non, and wood burning or gas, offering tremendous flexibility to achieve your dream design. 

A Grand Focal Point

Finally, the most obvious way to integrate a fireplace is to make it magnificent! The Brookridge Grand Salon features a Rumford Fireplace that extends to the full height of the double-volume space and is enclosed by a Sapele wood surround with a high-gloss Piano Finish.  As compared to it's predecessors,  the Rumford is much more shallow with angled walls to increase radiation with a streamlined throat and restricted chimney orifice to increase updraft and prevent unnecessary heat loss. Traditionally, they are known for their heating efficiency and elegant height, something this fireplace has in spades. Following the overall architectural aesthetic of the home, the fireplace makes stunning use of materials to create a simple and elegant focal point for this open plan living space.

Check out the original article featuring 10 more popular home improvement trends: