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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Why Tiny House Living Goes Beyond Being Trendy

They say good things come in small packages – tiny homes are no exception!  Perhaps one of the more obvious reasons tiny house living is the best is that everything costs less!  But there’s more!

Tiny homes range in size from as small as 9 sq. ft. (no kidding) to upwards of 800 sq. ft. and designs that range from ultra-modern to typically traditional. Designs can also incorporate off-the-grid features including setups for alternative power like solar or wind, harvesting rainwater, and composting toilets.

Tiny houses require a new way of thinking: Utilitarian.  Space is a premium and you’ll want to get the most functionality out of a tiny home that you can.  Think ladder, not stairs.  Think furniture that converts, like a dining table for eating and later converts to a desk for working or to a bed frame at night.  Think about furniture that folds flat or up against a wall or retracts.  Many amenities are stored vertically to maximize not only the floor space but the wall and ceiling space as well.  Think about how much you have and how much you’re willing to part with as it really is a commitment when you choose to live tiny.  And don’t forget to consider if you can live with cleaning that composting toilet!

Before you expect to save on utilities, taxes, maintenance, and remodeling, know that some tiny homes can surprisingly cost more per square foot to fabricate or outfit than a typical large house.  Custom designs are generally more complex therefore more expensive. Built-in furniture, multi-purpose furniture, and space that transforms to take advantage of every inch of space can require custom building and custom installation.  You can save money by designing and building your own tiny home or opt for kits or consider buying used.  Even though the tiny home may initially cost more “per square foot,” the good news is it will be far less than a typical large house.

Tiny house in Oregon.

Utility costs

Let’s face it, the costs associated with heating and cooling smaller spaces is much less.  While other factors like the size of the lot, the type of construction, the location, etc. can affect taxes and insurance, you can expect utilities to be a big source of savings in a smaller home.

Maintenance

Even normal big-ticket items like the roof, windows, and reapplication of exterior paint will now be significantly less time-consuming.  And if you are the primary person responsible for cleaning and maintaining the home then you know the time and energy it takes to keep it a home running at its peak.  So beyond saving money, you save loads of another one of your valuable resources – time.

Remodeling and Redecorating

Larger homes require you to buy more furniture and accessories in order to fill the space. With a small home there are already built-in limits and if you decide to remodel those costs are also lower too.  Less space means fewer materials and less labor.

Mortgage

Tiny homes are less expensive all-around so it’s not surprising the mortgage would be too. Unless the home is located on a unique lot or has some incredibly special features, you can expect a significantly smaller monthly payment.  That goes to taxes and insurance too!

Less Stress, Less Clutter and More Time

Less money required to buy and maintain your new home means less stress.  A smaller space means less clutter and less maintenance.  All this means there’s more time freed up for you and yours and who doesn’t want that?

Footprint

For the environmentally-savvy, you already know that a tiny home leaves a smaller carbon footprint.  In addition to using fewer utilities to maintain it, it demands even fewer resources to build it!

Tiny house in France.

Selling

A more affordable home is going to appeal to a larger audience.  The bigger and more expensive the home, the smaller the buying pool.  When it comes time to sell your tiny home, your price point will surely cast a wide net for potential buyers.  And you might reconsider selling your home when to relocate if your tiny home is able tow-ready.

Bonding

Families are physically close to each other in a tiny home.  Since everyone can’t scramble to different rooms at different ends of the house, families are literally forced to spend more time together.  In this day and age, that might very well be the best reason of all to opt for a smaller home.

A home that might be some people’s version of a walk-in closet is definitely not for the faint of heart!  If you like the idea of simplifying your life and reaping the benefits of less space (and less stress!), then you might just love making the transition to a tiny home.
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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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