8 Ways to Make Your Open Floor Plan Cozy

Is your open floor plan lacking…something? Are you wanting to ramp up the coziness during the cold winter months? Conventionally, creating defined areas in a home meant building walls and hallways. Today, the open concept trend can lack the intimacy that people prefer.  The good news is that with an open floor plan you have the refreshing feeling of a large space.  That freedom allows you to transform an open floor plan into as much coziness as you can handle.

You can create winter coziness by making architectural changes, but also in other ways such as using color, texture, textiles, rugs, lighting, furniture placement and accessories.

Color
Warm reds, yellows, oranges are the colors that instantly create warmth in a space… even outdoor spaces. Warm shades paired with earth-tone neutrals are a recipe for coziness.  Generally, the darker the color, the smaller a large space will appear.  You can create focus by just painting one wall a deep, warm shade.  And don’t think you need to limit color just to the paint.  Rich, warm, bold colors can be incorporated into your window treatments, upholstery, and rug choices as well.

Texture and Textiles
Layers of texture are a sure-fire way to add warmth and snuggle-ability to any large space.  Natural materials like exposed brick, reclaimed wood, natural grasses and reeds like sisal or rattan provide immediate warmth and a comfortable feel.  Accessories like personal comforters and throw pillows covered with satin, faux fur, velvet, silk or cashmere will be a welcome treat.  A small woven basket full of these luxurious friends should do the trick.

Layering textures can make any space seem cozy!

Rugs
Nothing divides or unifies a room quite as quickly as a rug.  It’s a perfect, quick and very affordable way to instantly define separate areas in an open floor plan with a living area, dining area, or conversation area.  When everything is placed, each newly separated area is immediately unified.  Cold, snowy days outside make area rugs a pleasure to relax on while you contemplate the glow emanating from your beautifully redesigned fireplace (more about that in a moment).

Lighting
After you have designed your spaces, your lighting choices will add another layer of warmth. Interiors will magically look cozier with dim, subdued lighting.  You and your friends will love it.  It gives everything a soft, warm glow and is largely flattering to the room and your guests.  Light from floor lamps or table lamps provides softer options than bright overhead light fixtures.  You could also opt for canned lighting that has a dimmer switch.  Soft lighting always makes large spaces appear warmer.  Try different levels or heights of lighting to add interest.

Adding layered lighting can make any open floor plan warmer.

Furniture Placement
Open floor plans give furniture the power to define a space and create zones.  It also offers the flexibility to change a room on a whim for every season, event, gathering or holiday.  Create a variety of intimate seating areas that call for people to enjoy personal conversations.  It will make the room that much more inviting.  Try changing it up from angling all your chairs and couches in the direction of the nearest television and instead towards each other.  The more areas you define, the cozier it will feel.  You can make these zones more functional by creating nook, personal library or a working area that houses a beautiful antique desk and chair.

Accessories

While open floor plans offer fewer walls, a well-thought-out grouping of your favorite paintings can also define areas, create conversation and add warmth.  If you have acquired more art than you have walls, rotate your favorites throughout the year.   So often people think of bringing beautiful fresh, aromatic flowers into the home during the summer but winter is also a perfect time.  They are an easy and affordable way to create intimacy and warmth and showcase the season’s surprising beauty.

Architecture
Have you thought of using wainscoting in your interior design to create texture, focus, charm, and warmth?  Not only is it beautiful, but it is a wonderful way to add both interest and elegance.  Paneled wood isn’t just beautiful, but functional.  It can disguise uneven walls and even increase insulation!

Revamping your fireplace with a natural stone veneer is another way to create an instant focal point without losing any of the natural ambiances.

Personal Touch

Lastly, integrate your interests.  Personal touches are a very thoughtful way of making your large space intimate and cozy.  Are you a reader? Nothing says cozy like stacks of well-read books. Are you a star watcher? Add a beautiful telescope for not only your own enjoyment but your guests as well.  If you’re a painter, you can create a small area for your beloved work in progress by leaving them on the easel (a definite conversation piece!).

Open concept homes give you the opportunity to have the best of both worlds.  They may initially present some decorating obstacles, but implementing a few of these tips and tricks can turn that open space into a cozy, warm and very inviting home to enjoy all winter long.
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Plumbing Upgrades to Save you Money

custom home construction, new bathroom

Looking to find ways to save money on a custom home build or even your current home? Have you thought of upgrading or replacing plumbing fixtures as a way to add immediate value to your home, save money, provide ease of use, keep the kitchen and bathroom more sanitary, and reduce your impact on the environment? The latest advances in water-saving technologies can do all of this and more.

There is no need to wait for Cal Tech’s award-winning solar-powered toilet design that can “turn human waste into hydrogen, water, and electricity” to come on the market before you can build your new home or retrofit your existing home with innovative plumbing designs that are available today including:

  • Hands-free technology
  • Tankless water heaters
  • Low flow toilets
  • High-efficiency faucets
  • Gray water systems

Hands-free technology
A healthy home can be accomplished in a variety of ways, especially with hands-free fixtures. Hands-free faucets are designed for both bathrooms and kitchens, significantly reduce germ contamination and are very well-loved by parents with children who’ve been known to get distracted while the water’s running.  In the bathroom, the installation of a touchless toilet kit enables the user to wave their hand above the toilet tank to flush it. With some kits, the toilet lid will automatically close without slamming shut.  You can round out your kitchen and bath décor with soap or lotion dispensers that are also hands-free.

Tankless Water Heaters

The Best of 2017: Tankless Water Heaters

More and more homeowners are replacing their hot water storage tanks with the newest tankless water heaters.  Tankless water heaters supply hot water on demand and save the homeowner both the time and expense of storing hot water and constantly reheating it.  Unlike a storage tank with a limited supply of available hot water, the heat exchanger technology can provide you with an endless supply of hot water no matter the number of tasks.

Low Flow Toilets
High-efficiency, low-flow toilets are one of the easiest ways to cut down on household water consumption.  All home improvement stores and plumbing suppliers stock these high-efficiency toilets.  If the toilets in your household were installed before 1994 or if they use more than 1.6 gallons of water with each flush, there are better options today with toilets using about 1.28 gallons per flush.  Dual Flush toilets using even less water for liquid waste!  A family of four could save more than 15,000 gallons of water per year by replacing an inefficient toilet with a 1.6 gpf (gallon per flush unit) and even more with a toilet rated 1.28 gpf.

High-Efficiency Faucets
To save the average family more than 700 gallons of water year, simply replace old fixtures for new high-efficiency WaterSense labeled fixtures.  High-efficiency faucets and showerheads not only reduce water use but save energy by reducing the demand for water heaters.  WaterSense labeled bathroom sink faucets and accessories reduce water use without reducing performance. They are not the low flow products of a generation ago.  Today’s high-efficiency showerheads combine water savings with high performance.

Gray Water Systems

Not everything requires potable water.  Being able to reuse water is important to not only the environment but your budget and since no one can recall the last time the cost of water ever decreased, reducing water use is even more important.  You can reduce your non-potable water use with the implementation of a gray water system.  The State of Colorado allows water from bathtubs, showers, washing machines, as well as water from bathroom and laundry room sinks to be harvested for gray water systems.   If you are considering a new home, please talk to your Builder about integrating a gray water system into your design and make the most of every drop of water.

What is WaterSense?

The Federal Government EPA’s WaterSense program labels plumbing fixtures for efficiency and performance.  The labels indicate whether low-flow fixtures perform as well or better than similar counterparts.   Their website has tools that allow you to search for WaterSense labeled products.  WaterSense labeled products are certified to meet EPA criteria for water efficiency and performance.  Ask your local plumber or homebuilder about WaterSense labeled products.

WaterSense logos will show up on certified WaterSense products.

Plumbing may not be the first thing that comes to mind when we think about technology and its impact but these innovations can immediately impact your home’s aesthetic and impact and your budget and comfort.  Talk to your local plumber or homebuilder today.  And best of all, updating your plumbing fixtures or building with the latest technology provides you the opportunity to take advantage of multiple rebates that may be available from your local utility companies and local and state government.

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Surviving Your Custom Home Build

Over the years, we’ve built many custom homes and know what a stressful time it is for our clients. Below we’ve compiled a “Do” and “Do Not” list to make surviving your custom home build a little easier. However, we’ve also found that time and again, the best tip is assembling your Dream Team!  Each professional on your Dream Team’s job is to bring their expertise to the table to make your dream of owning a custom-built home in beautiful Durango a gratifying reality.  Each professional is filled with their own tips and tricks specific to every part of your new labor of love.

Your Dream Team:

  • The Real Estate Agent
    If you don’t already have a specific property in mind, your Realtor will prove invaluable in your search for just the right location in and among the many beautiful and diverse areas Durango has to offer. Consider bringing your builder along to give you an idea of the real cost of turning that remote land into a buildable lot.
  • The Architect
    Your architect will show you where to place the house to best take advantage of Durango’s stellar views and the varying sunlight, shadows, natural landscape and more by working through the possibilities of the site. Sharing your budget for the house with your architect will make it easier to discuss whether specific features are worth considering for your price range. Most firms have extensive libraries of floorplans that may already be ideal for your taste, needs, budget, and location. Another option includes investing in a custom home plan uniquely created for you that can fully reflect your dream.
  • The Lawyer
    Get everything in writing! This applies to subcontractors, as well. Building a home is a major investment and a small lawyer fee up front could save you thousands of dollars down the line. An extremely detailed contract will be your best friend: there to protect you, speak for you and intercede on your behalf.  If you’ve talked about it, memorialize it in writing.
  • The Structural Engineer
    A structural engineer is a licensed engineering professional who performs design services and structural evaluations. They have extensive training and can provide a wealth of knowledge when it comes to building and designing. Your Structural Engineer’s job is to ensure a sturdy and stable structure and optimal design to prevent disastrous troubles later on.
  • The Banker/Accountant
    Your banker is a critical piece of the process that can save you thousands of dollars in the beginning as well as thousands of dollars of interest over the lifetime of your mortgage. Your Accountant should not only know that Congress has passed many laws recently that are favorable for homebuyers and homebuilders but they will also know about those tax credits for the new energy-efficient windows, insulation, low-flow toilets, geothermal units and more.
  • The Builder
    A well-established local builder should have plenty of nearby subcontractors, suppliers, and resources meaning no costly delays waiting for out-of-town crews and materials. Also, choose a builder that has enough buying strength to offer you the best prices for materials. Look for a builder that has a trustworthy warranty program. And always, always check references from local vendors and previous clients.

Do and Do Not Tips:

DO:

  • Build for Your Future: When planning your home’s layout, think not only about your current lifestyle but also plan for a few years down the road. Will you have children in the home, elderly parents, or special needs? What may be right for you now, may not be right for you in five or even ten years.  And while larger houses may appeal to you now, they are also more expensive and more time-consuming to upkeep, repair, clean and insure.
  • Check References, Licensing and Reputations: Talk to previous clients in detail about how their build went. Visit the final results if you can. Was the job completed on time? On budget?  Were the materials delivered and available for the subcontractors?  Is the homeowner delighted with the design?  Did the Architect meet their needs?  What about the Banker? Or Accountant?  Was the financing in place in time? Are they satisfied with the mortgage? Word-of-mouth references from reliable sources are a good way to measure your Dream Team’s reputations so make sure you ask around.
  • Visit the site … Frequently: Survey the site for progress and assure yourself that you like the way you see things developing. Make the effort to stop by several times each week, preferably daily, to help make decisions.

DO NOT:

  • Go with the Very Latest and Greatest: The very latest technology and state of the art amenities are fantastic but may also be obsolete by the next ‘Black Friday’ sale. Save money and buy products that have been on the market for at least a year or two. And avoid obvious trends. Nothing dates a home like a trend… Have you not forgotten avocado shag carpet and orange countertops?  Consider choosing design classics so that your home always looks current.
  • Don’t skimp on the planning process. This is worth repeating: Don’t skimp on the planning process! Anything on paper is easily changed including floor plans, materials, resources, and design elements. Once you start building, deviations can become extravagant especially once the framing begins. Don’t build before you’re ready!

Many people dream of designing and building their perfect home from the ground up and turning that dream into a reality to enjoy for decades.  Choosing the right professionals can make designing and building your dream home one of life’s greatest joys.

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Outdoor Kitchen Inspiration: Ideas for the Colder Climates

There is something so delightful about eating your food outside.  Why stop there?  Have you ever given much thought to bringing the whole kitchen experience outdoors?  You may remember we talked about how you can create a dynamic outdoor space, but an outdoor kitchen may be just what you need to live a more relaxed life outdoors.

If you live in a colder part of the country, you may have thought a grill was as close as you were ever going to get to an outdoor kitchen, but not so!  While outdoor kitchens are certainly more common in some parts of the country like Arizona, New Mexico, and California, you can certainly have your own right here in Colorado!  Yes, Durango has plenty of freezes and snow, but we also enjoy very desirable weather from April through October. We don’t know about you, but the 60-80-degree weather is just about perfect weather for preparing a meal outside.  Much more suitable than 100+ degree weather!

Simple or Complete Outdoor Kitchen?

To start, you must first decide whether a simple or complete kitchen is right for you.  Your needs, desires, available space, and budget are some things to be considered when making this decision.  If there are space or budget limitations, a simple kitchen may be for you. A simple grill and counter top may be enough for you to prepare and enjoy a meal outside.  If you want to maximize your time outdoors, consider a complete outdoor kitchen.  This means a space for meal prep, cooking, and eating.  This will allow you to interact with your guests outside while you prepare food!

Some unique ideas for your kitchen might include:

Flower/Wine Sink

The bonus compartment in the sink can serve as a vase for flowers or can double as an ice bucket to keep adult beverages cold!

Wood-fired Oven

Wood-fired ovens aren’t just for pizza.  You can cook practically anything in one!  The high heat allows food to cook more quickly and if you live in Durango, you know this is a requirement of high-altitude cooking anyway.  The open flame is also a great addition to the atmosphere of your outdoor kitchen and serves as a great source of heat on those cooler nights.

Outdoor Bar

An outdoor bar complements an outdoor kitchen perfectly.  The countertop and bar stools are a great way to add seating.  Add in some open shelves and some cocktails and you are ready to play bartender!  If you’re really ambitious, you can repurpose your bar into an ice bar once the snow starts flying!

Fire Pit

This is not essential for an outdoor kitchen, but makes a great addition to an outdoor Kitchen – especially one in Colorado!  A fire pit allows you to spend more time outdoors in the Winter and provides a great centerpiece for your kitchen!  Plus, who doesn’t love sitting around a campfire after dinner?

Choose a Location

Now that you have an idea of what you’d like your outdoor kitchen to look like, think about best locations to put it!  With colder climates, you may choose an area that has more sun exposure in the Winter so it stays warmer and snow is less likely to pile up.  Think about your roof and where snow falls off.  Consider whether you must combat prevailing winds, overhead powerlines, and trees.  Do you have enough privacy?  Is the soil stable?  Are there low-hanging trees that pose a higher risk for fire?  Also, consider how smoke from your new grill may affect your neighbor.

Other considerations: If your outdoor kitchen does not include a fridge or sink, you may want to place it near your indoor kitchen to provide easy access to the refrigerator and sink while cooking.

Coverings

Though coverings are not necessary for your outdoor kitchen, they may extend your kitchen’s use and allow you to cook outdoors year-round!  If you don’t already have an extended roof line or a semi-enclosed space dedicated to your kitchen, here’s some inspiration for you.

Louvered Roofs

It is amazing the technology that is available to us these days.  Picture a roof with the ability to keep out rain and snow, but also the ability to open like shutters on sunny days.  Amazing, isn’t it?

Pergolas

We know what you’re thinking – how can a pergola be a good choice for an area that gets snow?  When built tough, pergolas can withstand a heavy snow load.  Pergolas are not only beautiful, but they are great for providing shade in the Summer and allowing in light during Winter.  If you plan on using your outdoor kitchen during snow season, a canvas or tarp can be a good seasonal solution to keep out rain or snow.  A corrugated fiberglass top is also an option when you’re looking for a solution that still lets the light in.

Best Materials for an Outdoor Kitchen

You may already have the perfect spot in mind for your outdoor kitchen, but materials for the kitchen itself are usually last on everyone’s list.  Here are some suggestions to help you decide.

Plumbing

Plumbing, probably the least exciting thing you can talk about when designing your outdoor kitchen, but it can be one of the most problematic!  If you want your outdoor kitchen to survive more than a year in Durango, be sure to use stainless steel, plastic, or solid copper.  If it does not fall into one of these categories, be sure it is approved for outdoor use.

Countertops

You may not have given much thought to countertops and their ability to hold up in weather, but it’s so important!  Living in the mountains, we experience huge temperature fluctuations.  We must prioritize function over fashion.  That means ensuring the proper thickness and using a material that will withstand freezes and thaws.  And temperature changes are not even the half of it!  Given the sheer expense of countertops, consider using a material the holds up to UV rays, doesn’t absorb stains and odors (bears!), and cleans up well.  Some suggestions would be granite, stainless steel, glazed-ceramic tile and stain-resistant stone.

Cabinets

Don’t let your cabinet material be an after-thought.  Most are a large investment and if not chosen carefully and super susceptible to the elements.  Best cabinets for an outdoor kitchen would be stainless steel, reclaimed lumber, bamboo, and even waterproof polymer.

If not built properly, an outdoor kitchen can deteriorate quickly!  Outdoor kitchens are an investment so don’t let it go up in smoke!  Talk to us – we would be happy to build you one that will last!

 

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Everything You Need To Know About: Trusses

Marrying beauty and safety is no easy task. Rarely in our world are things that are intended for safety also appealing to look at. Luckily, trusses are both extremely safe in structure while also being able to bring a bold aesthetic to your custom home. Premanufactured trusses are often able to be installed in one day, which is a significant time gain over other traditional methods. This additional speed and convenience that comes with utilizing premanufactured trusses give you a winning combination for your custom build.

Recently having become very popular, trusses are steadily overcoming traditional framing, rafters, and joist in new home builds. Typically, trusses are wooden structures that are formed to create a series of triangles that will distribute the weight of your roof outwards to the walls, though they can incorporate steel and other structural shapes. Take advantage of the strong lines that trusses offer by leaving them exposed to create a powerful design element. The use of roof trusses will also allow for a more open design within your home as they are able to span greater distances than traditional framing, therefore, requiring fewer load bearing walls inside.

Many variations of roof truss designs exist, from straight-forward, simple designs to those that are more complex and ornate; all have their advantages and disadvantages. Here are a few styles to give you an idea of the wide array of truss designs available.

Custom trusses adorn this Durango mountain home by Buena Vista Builders
This combination of steel and wood bring a balance of traditional and modern to this custom Durango mountain home.

Simple Trusses

The simplest design, the King Post Truss, consists of one vertical center post with a triangle off each side. Great for smaller homes, as its reach is more limited than other trusses, the clean design of this truss provides an open, elegant feel. Adding two additional beams gives you the Queen Post Truss with slightly more form while maintaining that simple elegance. The Modified Queen Post Truss, Howe Truss, and Double Howe Truss are all based off the original center post design of the King Post Truss with their own unique arrangements of beams of triangles. The Howe Truss is particularly strong and able to span a great distance, anywhere from 6 – 30 meters.

The Fink Truss the Double Fink Truss and Fan Truss maintain the clean lines that the King Post Truss and its variants offer while abandoning the center post design which then lends an open, airy feel to the design.

Arched Trusses

The Bowstring Truss and Gambrel Truss allow the possibility of an arched roof while still benefiting from the aesthetic and strength of trusses. A vertical center beam provides the apex height in both of the designs with additional support beams to either side as they descend.

Single Slope

Truss designs for single sloped or flat roofs can be achieved in a few different ways. You could choose a structure of parallel beams joined and supported by a series of triangles, such as in the Flat Truss and Sloping Flat Truss designs. Other triangle based options include a right triangle that utilizes the descending side as the roof, as in the Monopitch Truss or an obtuse triangle like the Inverted Truss.

Extended Length Trusses

For those projects in which you need an extra-large open space, there are truss designs that can handle huge spans starting around 20 meters to those necessary for auditoriums and other huge buildings. North Light Roof Trusses will get you all the strength you need for those 20 – 30-meter projects, while those behemoth spaces can be accommodated by Quadrangle Roof Trusses.

There are many additional options in truss designs that you may find suitable to the space you envision in your custom home. Hopefully, this list has given you an idea of just how versatile trusses can be in a home and further inspire you to find just the right look and feel for you.

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