We Didn’t Know What We Didn’t Know

November
20
2015

 

First off, now that I’m “back”, I want to thank you all for hanging in there.  (Although truthfully most of the emails I got are questions about our Katrina Cottage – a/k/a The Crab Shack.)  It’s been a while, I know – but I just didn’t feel like writing.  And here’s why…..

As you may remember, we moved down to Maryland a year ago – and we were moving along nicely for a while with our house plans.  Then our draftsman got sick, and we didn’t hear from him for months (and months and months)!  It was very annoying discouraging.  When we did finally get them back, of course, there was another change or two we wanted done, and that took another few weeks.

House Plans

Finally the day came!  The plans were all done and we were going to give them out to three builders.  Two local regular builders and one modular.  Believe it or not, that process took much longer than we anticipated also!  The two local builders had to come to the property a few times to check out the road, or measure something, and the modular builder (who I dealt with only online) hardly ever wrote and didn’t even acknowledge receiving our plans for two weeks!

I’d say it took at least another month before we were able to make an appointment with each of the builders to go over their proposals.  When we met with the first builder, we went over each and every page, with them practically reading each page in its entirety.  When we got to the last page, our jaws dropped – over a million dollars!!  Yep, you read that right.  I mean, how stupid were we?  We never thought it would have been that much!

Now yes, this was the highest bid, and we knew it would be.  The other local builder was somewhat less, coming in around the $840,000 range.  (Between us friends – this was the one we secretly figured we’d be going with.)  And as expected, the modular builder’s bid was the least – however, they did not have a lot of things included in their price that would still have to be added in, like wood floors throughout, and granite counter tops – among many other things.

OLD HOUSE PLANS 1st FloorAfter waiting ALL THAT TIME I was so disheartened.  And I’m not even just talking about waiting for the plans to be finished and the bids to come in.  I had been working on these plans for years!  I scoured probably a hundred house plan books in libraries and bookstores, I bought at least 10 of them, and looked at thousands of plans online to draw up what we wanted in our dream house.  Then we had the draftsman draw them up, and we changed them many, many times making these some of the most expensive plans you’ll ever see.  If we only knew then what we know now!   I was done.  I just couldn’t muster any enthusiasm to continue talking about house plans.  We told the builders the bad news, we were just going to shelf everything for a while and then see what we wanted to do.  John at first thought we’d start planning right away.  But I didn’t want to.  I didn’t have the enthusiasm for it.  It was our first full-time summer down here and I wanted to enjoy it, not only getting a break from all the house plan talk, but I also didn’t want people coming down to the property all the time checking on wetlands, and height requirements, and setbacks or anything else.

By the way, here is the best piece of advice I can give you…..if you are planning to build a house – buy plans that are already made up.  You can always find a draftsman or house designer or even an architect to change them.  But drawing up plans from scratch, and then making all the changes that will be necessary is unbelievably expensive. Trust me on this one.  And by the way, we have a full set of house plans for sale. :)

OLD HOUSE PLANS 2nd Floor

So we took a break.  And enjoyed the summer.  We fished, we went out in the kayak, we took sunset cruises, we toured around the area a little, we barbecued, we had company, and we relaxed.  It was heaven!  And then we decided to get back to business.

Come back next time to see what we’ve been up to.

 

Finally Moving Forward Again

April
16
2014

 

We will be heading to Maryland this weekend and will finally be moving forward with our plans once again.  As you know, the Metal Building took a long while, and we haven’t been down there for a couple of weeks.  Since then, however, Kyle has been fixing up the sides of the building inside as well as outside, and also fixing up the floor inside so we will be able to start bringing our stuff inside. He’s using some kind of composite made with asphalt so it will pack down and eventually become very strong like a road.  So we will bring in the boat trailers, the tractor, the ATV, the crab pots, etc. Then – next week hopefully – we will rent a truck and start moving out all the bins and boxes I’ve been packing up here.  And we have a lot!  It’ll be nice to clear out the garage up here at the house, as well as get part of my living room back.

What a mess!

What a mess!

Last week John had a business trip to Prague, so I went to VA to visit my daughter.  She wants to buy a townhouse soon, so we spent a lot of time looking at them.  I’ve said many times that DIY is for the young – and now I also think townhouses are for the young!  Those stairs!  I guess it’s good exercise but it got tiring going up and down three or four sets of stairs.  But we both love looking at houses, so we really enjoyed ourselves.  Plus, we got to enjoy ourselves eating dinner at Ozzie’s in Fairfax Corner!  Have you heard of them?  They are part of a chain, and yes, sometimes the food is fantastic and sometimes is it so-so.  But it’s a fun place, the wait staff and managers are very friendly, and we always enjoy ourselves there. Plus, they have Ozzie rolls!

Ozzie rolls! Yum!

Ozzie rolls! Yum!

And the perfect Margaritas!

Delicious!

Delicious!

Last year they started a new spring appetizer, hickory grilled artichokes with garlic lemon aioli, and it’s been such a hit they brought it back this year.  We had it last year and loved it, so of course when we heard it was on the menu again we were very, very happy.

Grilled artichokes with garlic aioli

Grilled artichokes with garlic aioli

And, in case you’re wondering what I had for dinner…..  short ribs, with garlic mashed potatoes, carrots and frizzled onions.  Not a dietic dinner I admit.  But yummy!

Short ribs

Short ribs

We will try and take a boat ride also this weekend, if the weather and water cooperate.  But it will mostly be a working weekend, and then we can truly say we are moving forward again, to designing and building our dream home! Stay tuned!

Keeping Things Cool

March
26
2014

 

This is the story of how crazy I’m making myself trying to decide on a refrigerator.  It’s just so difficult, especially for someone who likes to do a lot of research and comparisons.  And if you start reading the reviews….forget it!  There are as many negative reviews as there are positive for every single brand.

Jenn-Air

Jenn-Air either has the dispenser or the panel overlay, but not both in the 48″

There are a few things I have already decided.   Okay, I already know I want a built-in fridge, and I also know I want a side by side.  I know many people don’t like the side by side, and there are a lot of you who love the freezer on the bottom, what I consider “the new style.”  However, I have that style in the Crab Shack, and as I suspected, I don’t like it.  For me, I don’t like bending down and rummaging through what ultimately becomes a mess of items. My hands get too cold.   I like the entire side to be freezer, plus even though your argument against the side by side is the narrowness of the freezer, we will have a second (albeit cheaper) fridge in the garage for overflow, and that will probably have the old-fashioned freezer on the top.  Or we will have a small stand alone freezer like we have here in our basement and either option will solve that issue.

Dacor

Dacor also has either the panel-ready door or the water dispenser, not both

Okay, so two decisions down, easy, right?  Nope.  Still so much to decide!  You probably remember me saying I don’t like stainless.  And that’s really because of the fingerprints.  I hate looking at them, and I would hate having to clean that giant appliance all the time.  So it would have to be the smudge-proof stainless, and not too many are made in that size. So my number one choice would be to have a “panel ready” fridge that would match the cabinets.  Which is fine because I love that design.  I love it so much I have it now!  I have white cabinets and I have a white cabinet covered KitchenAid Refrigerator.  I’m happy with it, the problem is they don’t make the same one anymore with the front water dispenser.  I actually could live without the dispenser, you could count on one hand the amount of times I’ve used it in 20 years. (Not the same fridge we purchased 20 years ago, although yes, the same model.) But John likes it and uses it often.

KitchenAid

KitchenAid

This is the model KitchenAid has now.  The handles are completely different, mine go from top to bottom and are white, and match the cabinets.  That was a big disappointment.  Not that it would have been my first choice maybe.  I probably would have liked something different.  But at least, I figured, I could always go back to this one if I couldn’t find something else.

I ruled out the Viking right off the bat, it had many, many, many terrible reviews, which was surprising for such a high-end appliance. I did give them a peek a while back though, they have a model that has a glass front, and there was one in a Sea Glass color.  It was just beautiful but I see now they don’t even make that color anymore.

There was one I’ve never heard of before, a Marvel.  Then I saw it was made by AGA, and I have heard of them. They can accept the panel, but they don’t have the water and ice dispenser.

 

Marvel by AGA

Marvel by AGA

One that has come pretty highly recommended is the Sub Zero.  I know two people who own them, and although they have had to do  repairs, they still love them.  Also, this brand has the water dispenser and will accept the panel overlay. Of course, with the price tag (let say $10,000 to $12,000 range) I’ll have to skimp somewhere else to afford it!

Sub Zero

Sub Zero

The last one I think I will be considering is the GE Monogram.  This model does accept the panels, and has the dispenser, the main thing I don’t like about it is the handles.  I’d prefer the ones that go from top to bottom, or at least most of the way.  These are a little skimpy looking to me.

GE Monogram

GE Monogram

Okay then, the last feature I would like to have is the Energy Star rating.  We are going a little more green now that we are building, we have a wind turbine, we will incorporate some solar, and having Energy Star appliances fits right in, besides the fact that they will save us money.  The GE is Energy Star rated, but the Sub Zero in that configuration is not!

It looks like from my research, and from laying all the facts out here, the GE Monogram will be the way to go.  However, if you knew me, you’d know I’m not done looking.  I may just start looking at the 42 inch refrigerators now to see what I come up with. See how I drive myself crazy?

If you own any of these brands and want to weigh in, I’d love to hear what you like or dislike about them.  Have you ever had to repair it?  How was it dealing with the customer service department? Do you mind cleaning the stainless, or do you recommend the smudge-proof kind?  Save me from myself and send me some info!  I’d appreciate it!

Modular Construction Part 2

March
12
2014

 

We may, just may, be getting closer to getting our metal building built!  Hooray!  The “pad” is ready now, and a part of the building has been delivered.  They tried to deliver the whole thing, but the truck was too big to make the turn into our driveway and they had to take it back to the main store.  So now they have to deliver it in different loads, but hey, it’s progress!  We’ll be down there over the weekend, and we are hoping they’ll be able to start while we’re there.  We’re very optimistic people.

The "pad" for the metal building

The “pad” for the metal building

 

So, last time I talked about Modular Construction, I included an article explaining what it is, how it’s different from a “stick built” home, and the pros and cons.  You’d think I was working for a modular construction firm.  What I’m really trying to do is figure out of this is a viable alternative to building the entire house from scratch, or if we can incorporate at least “some” modular sections.

Now I’ve heard another term in addition to modular  -  panelized!  It’s similar to modular in that it is built off-site, but according to the National Association of Home Builders, it’s “a construction technique that uses advanced technology, quality materials and a controlled work environment to build floor, wall and roof systems to construct an energy-efficient home in less time.”

Picture from designbasics.com

Picture from designbasics.com

It sounds like the walls, and floors and the roof are built off-site, just like the modular homes, but instead of being trucked down in “modules” or whole components, it is trucked in “panels”. For now, it seems the most common use of these panelized firms is for the pre-building of floor and roof trusses.  Now that we realize the truck hauling the metal building couldn’t make it down our driveway, we might have to use a panelized construction firm instead of a modular one if we want to do part of our house this way!  I have yet to figure out, however, if they would be able to construct panels according to plans that I have, rather than having to use plans that they offer.  They do say they can customize the plans they offer, but we already have our plans.

Picture from designbasics.com

Picture from designbasics.com

There are panelized firms, according to Design Basics LLC. that will help you through the entire building process, but many whose involvement ends with the delivery of the materials.  Other manufacturers will provide a small crew and a crane to help your general contractor.

Picture from designbasics.com

Picture from designbasics.com

picture from designbasics.com

Picture from designbasics.com

Our previous builder, who, as you know, moved away and left us, would be able to find all this out, as he already dealt with a modular builder and incorporated even just parts of the house the modular way if you wanted.  He was very flexible and I guess he had a good relationship with that company, so he didn’t have to buy the “whole” house.  He would, I know, find out about these panel manufacturers and let us know if this was a viable way to go.  I wish he’d move back to Maryland.

Picture from designbasics.com

Picture from designbasics.com

I’ll be looking more into both these options and will report back.  In the meantime, if anyone has any experience with either the modular or panelized type of building, please let us know!  We’d love to hear anything about it from the consumer’s point of view!

Mistakes to Avoid When Building a House

March
5
2014

 

As you know, we are going to be building our dream home.  It’s also our retirement home.  We are not, however,  following the usual “guidelines” for a retirement home, mostly because it’s going to be bigger than any home we’ve ever lived in.  Most people downsize.  We’re going the other way.  But as you look at the property, you can understand why.  It’s a big piece of land, it’s actually more of a “compound” at this point since the buildings are so spread out.  Most of our family and friends won’t be living nearby, and when people visit they’ll be staying over.  And we wanted to prepare for that.  We also like to have a yearly Bocce Party.  And that includes many, many family members and friends.  So, believe it or not, we also wanted to prepare for that. Plus on holidays we’ll have company that will stay over.  There’s been a lot of planning, and designing, and changing of plans so far, and we haven’t even started on the house yet!

Here's our split level house

Here’s our split level house

I saw an interesting article a while ago on freshome.com.  Have you checked out their site yet?  It’s an amazing site for anyone interested in building, designing or renovating.  It talked about mistakes people make when building a house.  We all spend a lot of time figuring out what we want and need, but do we look at it from the other angle?  What we really don’t need?  Of course budget usually leads the way, the money dictates not only the size of the house, but how upgraded it can be.  So planning for what you need AND what you don’t need is very important.  Here are some examples:

1.  Don’t over build or under build your HVAC system.

You could wind up with moisture and mold growth! Also, if your system is too small it won’t perform properly and your house will be too cold in the winter, and too warm in the summer.  On the other hand, if your system is too large, you will utilize too much energy and waste money when you don’t need to.

This was our house in PA

This was our house in PA

2.  Poor Space Planning and Overall Planning

The design and space planning of a house is very, very important.  You need to look at how you really live. We all need storage space, so you want to have enough, but you don’t want to build in so much that you take away floor space that could be better utilized as living space. Will you primarily come in the back door?  Maybe that’s where the coat closets should be, instead of at the front door. Also, you need to take your lifestyle and habits into consideration.  Will you need safety features as you’re getting older.  Will you have grandchildren often in the house?  Do you need safety features in place for that?  How about stairs, bathrooms?  Will you have guests often?  Placement of bathrooms becomes very important when you think about it this way.

This is the house I grew up in, and the people changed it so much it looks NOTHING like it used to!

This is the house I grew up in, and the people changed it so much it looks NOTHING like it used to! And where did that fire hydrant come from?

3.  Poor lighting

There should be plenty of light fixtures and outlets.  And also plenty of windows!  Natural light should be the main source of light, but having a well-lit home, especially as we age, is also extremely important.

4.  Under utilized rooms

Having a game room or a home-theater room sounds like a fun idea.  But how often will you use it?  If you are buying a home that has a game room or a theater room already -  and we see these often on House Hunters on HGTV – that’s one thing.  But when you are building a home, especially a retirement home, every square foot counts.  And paying $150 to $200 a square foot brings you to the reality that these rooms would be used a few times a year and might not be worth what they cost.  Now maybe for some of you, it will be worth it.  But that’s what you have to decide ahead a time.  I was thinking I’d want an exercise room in our new home.  But the reality is with all the other spaces that I really wanted – a large pantry, a mudroom, a laundry room, an office for John and a separate one for me, and a craft room – the exercise room just became one room too many.

The house John grew up in.  Also looks completely different now.  Better than mine looks though!

The house John grew up in. Also looks completely different now. Better than mine looks though!

5. Placement of your Laundry Room, the Master Bedroom, the Kitchen and the Garage.

This may sound like a no-brainer, but in every house I’ve lived in these rooms were not strategically placed.  I’ve never had a “real” laundry room, and I usually have had to carry laundry up and down several sets of stairs to the basement.  I’m in a split-level right now, so it’s three sets of stairs!

Our bedroom – in the many homes we’ve lived in – has usually been upstairs like ours is right now.  It is also just above the garage, so it is not only frequently noisy if the garage is opened, but it is somewhat  very cold.  In our new home, of course, the master will be on the main floor, but we want to place it as far away from the noise and traffic as possible.

The kitchen/garage placement is extremely important.  These days I’ve mostly seen it placed correctly, the kitchen is off the mudroom and/or off the garage.  That’s how our new one will be.  But yet, there have been places we’ve lived where the kitchen was not near the garage, and carrying groceries in was not all that convenient   a real pain.

This house, by architect Dan Sater, is what we'd like our new house to resemble.

This house, by architect Dan Sater, is what we’d like our new house to resemble.

These are just a few ideas to think about when you are planning to build your dream home.  And while it’s very important to discuss all these issues with the professionals you hire as your “team” – it is more important for you to decide what YOU need and don’t need.

Modular Construction

January
30
2014

 

We are in the middle of construction here at our house in New Jersey.  We’re still shooting for an early May target date to put the house on the market and move to the Crab Shack while it is being shown.  We hope to have most of our belongings packed up and moved to the garage in Maryland, not to leave house empty, but to de-clutter and save ourselves all the packing and moving in a rush when the house is sold.

Then, in the middle of all this mess in the house, and having only one working bathroom, my daughter came home from VA for two days. She took off from work so we could go to “Media Day” on Tuesday and Super Bowl Boulevard on Wednesday!  Did I mention I’m not really a football fan?  But she and John are, and my son is somewhat of a fan, at least more than I am, but three of us are Peyton Manning fans.  (Jackson’s rooting for Seattle. Puh!)

So anyway, I want to start talking about modular construction.  This will probably take up a few posts, and I hope I will hear from you about it — if you have a modular home, or know someone who does,  know nothing about it, or even if you would never consider building this way. I’m very interested to hear all sides of this debate.

Icon Legacy Custom Modular Homes 222.iconlegacy.com

Icon Legacy Custom Modular Homes
www.iconlegacy.com

Here’s an article introducing you to the modular design, originally written on Fresh Home (freshome.com)

10 Basic Facts You Should Know About Modular Homes

What is a Modular Home?

A modular home is one that is built indoors in a factory-like setting. The finished products are covered and transported to their new locations where they will be assembled by a builder. A modular home is not a mobile home; it is simply a home that is built off-site as opposed to on-site. These homes are often called factory-built homes, system-built  or pre-fab homes.  Modular and Manufactured homes are NOT the same. Manufactured homes are not placed on permanent foundations. Manufactured homes, sometimes referred to as mobile homes, but are not always mobile homes, can be moved from one location to another. There are specific laws and regulations regarding these relocations.  Thanks to publications such as Dwell, the popularity of the modular home is growing.

Pinecrest Modular Homes www.pinecrestmodularhomes.com (Long Island Modular Homes)

Pinecrest Modular Homes
www.pinecrestmodularhomes.com
(Long Island Modular Homes)

How do Modular Homes Differ from Houses Built On-Site?

Because modular homes are built indoors they can be completed in a matter of a few weeks as opposed to months. These home constructions do not see the typical on-site delays that are predominantly caused by the weather. Modular homes must conform to specific rules, guidelines and building codes that often surpass those of traditional on-site homes. However, it is important to shop around. Not all companies that make factory-built homes are alike. There can be significant differences in quality, price and service.  As with purchasing or building any home, it is crucial to do your research.

Modular Home Facts

  • Modular homes appraise the same as their on-site built counterparts do. They do not depreciate in value.
  • Modular homes can be customized.
  • Most modular home companies have their own in-house engineering departments that utilize CAD (Computer Aided Design).
  • Modular home designs vary in style and size.
  • Modular construction can also be used for commercial applications including office buildings.
  • Modular homes are permanent structures – “real property.”
  • Modular homes can be built on the following on crawl spaces and basements.
  • Modular homes are considered a form of “Green Building.”
  • Modular homes are faster to build than a 100% site-built home.
  • Home loans for modular are the same as if buying a 100% site-built home.
  • Insuring your modular home is the same as a 100% site-built home.
  • Taxes on a modular home are the same as 100% site-built home.
  • Modular homes can be built to withstand 175 mph winds.
  • Modular homes can be built for accessible living and designed for future conveniences.

 

Do All Modular Homes Look Alike?

Contrary to popular misconception, modular homes do not all look alike. Modular homes have no design limitations. You can create any modular style home you wish from a traditional center hall colonial to one that is Mediterranean in style.  You can add any style window or architectural detail that you desire. Nearly all host plans can be turned into modular homes, and you can therefore create your “dream home.”

How is a Modular Home Assembled?

A factory-built home starts out as sections that have already been built in a climate controlled area. The finished sections are transported to the building site and then assembled with giant cranes. This process quite resembles a child building with Lego blocks. Modular homes cannot be moved after they have been placed and set on to their foundations. It is important to talk to your manufacturer as each manufacturer operates with a different set of guidelines. If you are designing your own home, it is important that you ask very specific questions. Modular homes offer hundreds of personalized features that include but are not limited to: ceramic floors, solid surface countertops, various cabinet styles and wood species, exterior finishes, plumbing fixtures, etc. You can, essentially, customize your own home.

Westchester Modular Homes of Greater Boston, Inc. info.greaterbostonmodulars.com

Westchester Modular Homes of Greater Boston, Inc.
info.greaterbostonmodulars.com

Are Modular Homes More or Less Expensive than Those Built On Site?

Pre-fab homes can typically save you quite a bit of money.  Because they are constructed in a factory they can be built fairly quickly, a matter of weeks as opposed to months, which can be quite significant. The reason for this is that there are no extreme weather delays. Furthermore all inspections are performed at the factories during each phase of construction by a third-party inspector, and are completed before the homes are transported to their new locations.

It is important to note, however, the more complex the design and specs, the more money your home will cost you. Other factors to consider such as electricity, plumbing, duct-work are often not factored into the initial pricing, so your final cost may be 20% more than what the builder is quoting you. You may need to install a septic system, install natural gas or a basement, these too will add to your bottom line.

Quality Crafted Homes (a division of Custom Modular Homes of Long Island) www.qualitycraftedhomesonline.com

Quality Crafted Homes
(a division of Custom Modular Homes of Long Island)
www.qualitycraftedhomesonline.com

What are the Benefits of Owning a Modular Home?

Modular homes can be more affordable. Their shorter build time will save you money on the overall construction. Home inspections are not needed as these are all done in factory. They are much more energy-efficient, therefore your monthly expenses will be substantially less. Modular homes are environmentally friendly due to their efficiency. There are a great variety of homes from which to choose, there are many top architects that specialize in designing modular homes. As with any home, modular homes can be built on to and expanded.

A homeowner must own the land onto which the home will reside. In many cases one may end up spending upwards of $100,000 just for the land. Unlike regular homes, the lots cannot be built on subdivisions. The initial fees can be cost prohibitive for some. When building a modular home the builder must be paid first, and in full, before the process has begun or has been completed. You will need to use your savings or get a special construction loan.

This loan is valid for one year and when the work is completed the dealer will pay the loan, then a traditional mortgage will be issued. It is therefore important that you know your budget and shop around. It is important that the rules I have mentioned here apply to US residents. If you live in Canada or in Europe you will need to check your country’s guidelines.

It’s all very interesting, I think, and definitely something to consider.  I’ll be back to this discussion again, and I hope I’ll hear from you whether you’d consider building this way or not.

 

Kitchen Backsplashes

January
23
2014

 

While there is still nothing going on metal building-wise (formal permit still not received)  – I’ve been thinking about designing my new kitchen.  This is one of my favorite things to do, especially since I do not make decisions quickly.  I like to think about it, make a “faux” decision, live with it for a while, then change my mind.  This method works for me, even if in the past it has sometimes driven John crazy.  He’s learned now, after 30 some years, that this is just the way I’m wired.  I mean really, this is something I’m going to have to live with for a long time.  I certainly don’t want to make the wrong decision.  And you might say there is no “wrong” decision because all the backsplashes that I’m looking at are pretty.  And yes, you would be right.  But I’d still hate to think, “I wish I picked the other one.”  So it’s good I have lots of time to decide. Here are some ideas:

This was the first one I fell in love with

This was the first one I fell in love with

I really like flowers, and I figured, since I can look out the window at a water scene, I’d go with flowers.  And blue hydrangeas are so pretty.  But I’m not really crazy about the basket.  I’m thinking now I’ll have a blue kitchen (with white cabinets) so this would go with it.  But then again…….   (this is the story of my life).

This one also has the basket, but a more neutral white flower:

Same basket though

Maybe not enough color

I do like the “raised” flower, it’s kind of interesting.  But then, will it be harder to clean?  You know how greasy it can get behind the cook top!

These are also pretty:

Backsplash picture5

I like these dogwoods, and it doesn’t have the basket but it is kind of small.  My cook top is going to be big, I’m thinking 48″, so this would look tiny behind it.

I like poppies, and these red flowers would be fun with a blue kitchen. It’s not a mosaic, but it’s not tiles either:

backsplash-Lobel2

It’s also kind of cute with the shutters on the sides.  I like this one a lot!  This one is a real contender.   There is also a picture of poppies in a field, you may have seen it on Pinterest or somewhere.  If I was going to have somebody custom make a backsplash, this might be nice:

231231762087645104_DX7UT8hw_c

I could go with a blue crab, Maryland is famous for them.  But I think I’d get tired of this pretty quickly.  They did a nice job with it though.

Blue crab

Blue crab

There are other flower types that I gave a little thought to, but I realize now when I look at them, I just don’t see myself choosing them.

backsplash-Fangman1

Backsplash picture3backsplash picture2Backsplash picture1

They are all very pretty, especially that last one, so I still go back and forth about it.

I did a mosaic of a blue heron once.  We have them in our cove occasionally and Jon and I really like them.  But the crab shack has a tile backsplash of herons (not mosaic) and I would need to get somebody to custom make it.  I don’t know how to make a backsplash.

Here's the picture I did

Here’s the picture I did

And here’s the one from the crab shack:

Little Choptank 2013  H August 2 to Sept 4 496

I don’t think I want to go with regular size tiles.  There are a lot more pictures to choose from in tiles though, that’s the plus side.  And truthfully, full size tiles would probably be easier to clean.  Now I’m talking myself into them.  You can see how I go back and forth!  Here’s another one with tile:

backsplash3

It’s kind of pretty, you see a lot of the Italian countryside done up with the regular tiles.  I don’t know if it really goes with a house on the water in Maryland though.

Then I found a picture of a boat on the water.  And like I said before, I do see the water out my window.  But it’s really pretty and if I was going to have to have someone make this, I could put our boat in the picture.  That would be interesting!

2012-07-11_1035

So many choices!  Too many!  It’s good I have a long time to make this decision because this is going to be a hard one to make.  What are your thoughts on this?  Do you have a decorative backsplash?  Tile?  Mosaic?  Is it easy or hard to clean and do you get tired of looking at the same picture all the time?  I’d love to hear your opinions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Baby Boomer Housing Trends

January
21
2014

Here’s a good article by the NAHB (National Association of Home Builders).  They say that baby boomers dominate new housing trends.  And if we are any indication – being both baby boomers, and on our way to building our retirement home, then what they are saying is very true!  See if you agree.

The largest American generation is either retired or quickly nearing retirement age. Baby boomers, the generation born between 1946 and 1964 and who count more than 76 million, may be getting older, but they are definitely not ready to head to an elder care facility! 

I love this design!

I love this design!

The boomer generation is more active than generations past, has a more sophisticated style and wants options and choices in their homes. Whether they are selling the homes where they raised their children and heading to sunnier pastures, or staying put and redesigning to accommodate their retired lifestyle, boomers are making an impact on new housing trends. Some features that home builders and re-modelers are seeing as they begin to cater to the boomers include:

Home Offices – Many, many boomers are continuing to work past the age of 65 either because they love their work, or because their retirement savings lost value in the recession. As they transition from a traditional 9-to-5 job, however, many want home offices for flexibility. A second career or part-time employment often eliminates the hassle of commuting while keeping them active and bringing in supplementary income.   

Technology – The tech-savvy boomer generation wants a home that will support all their personal technology. That can mean structured wiring that can drive a network of services that include lighting controls, a security system or a home media center. And they may want a wireless home network with broadband internet access for laptops, tablets and streaming movies.  

Wider Doors and Hallways – Designing a home that is livable now but can transition and be functional as the occupant ages is important in ensuring that the home will be a good long-term investment. Wider doors and hallways are useful for moving larger furniture today, and will allow the home owners to use mobility devices such as walkers and wheelchairs, should they become necessary.

Better Lighting/Bigger Windows – The need for more lighting increases as we grow older. To accommodate this, builders are adding more windows, making them larger to let in more natural light, and making them more energy-efficient as well. They are also adding more light fixtures in areas such as kitchens, bathrooms, and stairways, where dim light can lead to accidental injury. Switches at the top and bottom of a stairwell, and the use of dimmer controls to eliminate glare are other helpful options.

This one from Great Falls Construction is also beautiful!

This one from Great Falls Construction is also beautiful!

First-Floor Bedrooms and Bathrooms – NAHB data shows that 73 percent of buyers aged 55 and up don’t want a second-floor master suite. Boomers wishing to save their joints and avoid stairs have helped fuel this trend. Today’s bedrooms are also bigger, with larger walk-in closets and bathrooms that often have a separate tub and shower and dual sinks.

Easy to Maintain Exteriors/Landscaping Yard work, painting, and other landscaping chores may no longer be enjoyable to aging home owners. People who move to a new home when they retire may opt for a maintenance-free community. Those that choose to stay in their homes might make improvements to exterior surfaces such as installing stucco, brick or low-maintenance siding. Lawns are being replaced with outdoor rooms, decorative landscaping, or flower beds for gardening enthusiasts — either at ground level or raised for seated access.

Our new house will be similar to this design by Dan Sater.

Our new house will be similar to this design by Dan Sater.

Flex Space – Flexible space has become more prevalent in both new homes and remodeling. Flex spaces are rooms that serve the present home owner’s needs but can adjust to changes as they occur. What may have once started out as a child’s bedroom can be redecorated to serve as a hobby room, library or home office, and can be repurposed later for a bedroom for visiting grandchildren or for an in-home caregiver. This flexibility allows home owners to stay in their homes longer, meeting their needs throughout life’s stages.

We will actually be following all of these examples.  We plan on having two home offices, we’ll keep our master on the first floor,  our home will be more technologically advanced, the doorways will be wider, the lighting and amount of windows will be greater, and we plan on keeping the grounds as low maintenance as we possibly can.  I was also planning on adding closets to the room that will be dedicated to storage, qualifying as flex space because it could then be turned into a bedroom if needed one day.  We’ll be going against the tide in a way, since we will not be downsizing, but we will still be following what will be the norm for the baby boomer generation.  Will you be following these guidelines also?

December sky in the backyard.

December sky in the backyard.

Beautiful vs. Practical

November
6
2013

When I did my post on kitchen sinks, I actually was going to start writing about a post I read regarding a square sink.  The inside was totally squared off, and people were weighing in on whether it was worth it because it was such a pain to clean.  One person commented she would take beauty over easy any day.  And that got me thinking that I was probably the opposite.

Maybe it’s because after 30 some years of marriage and motherhood I’d rather take an easier route.  But if I want to be honest here, I think I was always that way.  I just think things should be practical.  Don’t get me wrong, I love beautiful also.  Both would be nice, but if I had to choose?  I think practical would win.  For instance, let’s go back to sinks for a minute.  There is a style of sink that is totally squared off inside.  It’s an interesting look, but I’ve read it is very difficult to clean in the corners.

square sink

square sink3

square sink2

This last picture actually shows (to me anyway) how it can get gunked up at the bottom.  Beautiful design? Yes.  Practical? No!

There are other applications that I also would choose the practical, like for instance the rope handrails.  As you know, we will be building a house on the water.  And yes, we love the beachy theme.  Rope handrails would fit right in as a design element.  But could you even use them as an actual handrail?  Can you lean on them to any extent?  Or, when you’ve just been through knee surgery and need to hold on for dear life going up and down the stairs, will a rope actually do the job?   Okay, that was me recently, but I digress.  Here are some examples:

rope stair rail

rope stair rail2

rope stair rail3

Again, beautiful, but I’ll stay with the normal a/k/a practical.

The next item, and this is something I have to admit I have never understood, is the “for show” towels in the bathroom.  I mean, really, what’s the point and how am I supposed to dry my hands?  Yes, sometimes people put out the little paper towel holders, we can each take our own little paper napkin so we don’t spread germs.  But here are gorgeous matching towels hanging on a beautiful towel rack, just asking to be used, and I can’t touch them for fear of messing them up.

towels2

Towelstowels3

I get it, I really do, and I’m only half serious.  I’m somewhat of a germaphobe myself, so I understand how useful it is that we all get our own little paper napkin.  But people don’t actually live like this with towels hanging just for show, do they?  Do you?  We don’t.  We have one big towel hanging for people to dry their hands on after they wash them.  The hands are clean at that point, right?  Do people live like that when company isn’t around?  I’ve always wondered that.

I also have issues with a product that, I have to admit, I have chosen the “beautiful” in the Crab Shack.  Glass shower doors.  In my present older home, we haven’t completely redone either bathroom, one has glass doors but it’s that old-fashioned patterned type of glass that doesn’t have to be wiped down every time, so not the same.  In the Crab Shack we wanted the clear glass that is shown all over now, and is truly beautiful.  But…. come on, you’ve got to agree with me here, it’s a total pain to squeegee it down all the time!  I try to get into the shower before John does sometimes just so I won’t have to do it!  (Don’t tell him.)

glass shower doors2

glass shower doors

We’re trying to come up with ideas for when we build the house.  We’ve tossed around the idea of glass blocks (John just loves these, me… not as much) or a curved type of tile wall with no actual door.  Do you have any ideas for us on this issue?   There are some frosted or patterned glass doors, maybe they wouldn’t show the water as much:

glass shower door frosted2

glass shower door frosted

But, yeah, they’re not the same.  I really haven’t come up with a solution to this yet, but I really, really, really don’t want to be cleaning those glass doors every morning!  I have better things to do, like go fishing, or kayaking, or reading, or cooking, or writing, or thinking or watching tv or having my teeth pulled.  Okay, not that.  But you get what I’m saying.

I’d go for the practical.  I’d love to hear your thoughts.  Am I the only one?

Thank you to “Houzz” for all the pictures.

 

Let’s Talk Kitchen Sinks

October
23
2013

 

 

I was browsing around the Houzz site the other day, when I saw a discussion about sinks.  I haven’t decided yet on what type of sink I want to install in the kitchen of our new house, (although I know I want just the one bowl, very large and deep) and I’d love to hear your opinions on what you have, and why you love it or hate it.

In the Crab Shack I have a stainless steel sink, and here at my present home I have a Corian sink, since we have Corian counters and I wanted a totally seamless design. (This kitchen was put in over 20 years ago, and Corian was a big upgrade.  I didn’t realize how much I would have loved granite!)  In other places we’ve lived I’ve also had stainless and clay, now updated to be called “fireclay.”  I suspect all of them have their good points and bad points.  There are some new materials I didn’t know about though, or didn’t realize were being used as sinks.   Here’s a rundown:

Stainless Steel: this is the most popular material for a sink by far.  Many people have it and love it. I have it in the Crab Shack because Lowe’s gave it to me free with the Granite counter top.  (Yes, we bought the counter top at Lowe’s.  It was the same one as in the kitchen store we were looking in, for about half the price.)  I’m going to admit something here because we’re buds and I know you won’t judge me too harshly….   I hate stainless steel.  There I said it.  And the ceiling didn’t fall in.  I just cannot stand the fingerprints.  It never looks clean, even after it’s just been cleaned. The sink has marks that look like scratches and constantly shows water spots. I want to love it, it looks so professional. But I just don’t want to spend that much time trying, without too much luck, to keep it shiny and finger-print free.  And no, my mind hasn’t really changed.  This will be an issue in my new kitchen.  I’ve already planned on getting the refrigerator with the panels that look like the cabinets (I have that now and love it!!) but I’ll probably be getting a stainless dishwasher, double oven and microwave.  But not a stainless sink, that’s for sure.

Stainless Steel

Stainless Apron

Composite Granite: These sinks are 80% granite and 20% acrylic resin.   They are supposed to be very durable and come in a variety of hues. They have been known to crack during shipment, so it must be inspected carefully when it arrives.  It’s only available in matte and the finish can dull over time, but people have noted that this adds to the personality of it, and it’s not a “bad” thing.  The dark colors seem to be the overwhelming favorite because they don’t show the spots. It’s been recommended to clean and dry it with a dishcloth every night, which seems like too much work, (the drying, not the cleaning)  but again, people have noted that it’s not that big a deal, and with the darker colors, this isn’t even necessary.  These sinks are very pretty, I’m adding it to my list of possibilities.

Composite Granite

 Fireclay:  These clay sinks are highly resistant to scratches but can stain and chip!  Cleanup, however, is easy.  If you want a white sink, this material comes highly recommended.  It is mostly seen in the “Farmhouse” or apron style sinks.  It doesn’t come in a large variety of sizes, although I wouldn’t think this would be an issue.  It is very heavy, and would need adequate support and it’s not “friendly” to dropped dishes.  I’m probably not going with this one.

Fireclay apron sink

Enameled Cast Iron:  This sink is smooth, glossy and shiny, which gives it some appeal.  It won’t crack or dent, but I don’t think most sinks would dent.  (Maybe stainless)  It would be a consideration if you know you want a white sparkly sink.  (Although other colors are available.) It is also very durable, but can chip, and show stains and nicks.  Some people have said it shows pot “scrapes” and it is very, very heavy!  This (like the clay sink) will not be one of my choices.

cast iron

Natural Stone:  There are a couple of different “stone” sinks on the market, I hadn’t heard about them before but they are beautiful.  Like all the other options however, they have pros and cons.

Soapstone -  This sink is non-porous and unaffected by heat, bacteria and stains. It’s a little “softer” than other materials so some care has to be taken with it because it could get scratched or nicked.   I’ve read it’s not easy to install, but compared to the heavy cast iron or clay sinks, how hard could it be?  Also, I’ve read it’s not cheap.  But who wants a cheap sink?  If you buy cheap, you get cheap, that’s my motto.  (Well, it is now.)  The one thing in its favor is it’s absolutely beautiful!  I’m going to have white cabinets and this sink would be just gorgeous!  I wasn’t thinking about getting soapstone counters though, I was thinking granite.  And with the veining in the granite, do I need a sink with veining also?  I’ll put it on my list as a possibility for now.

soapstone sink

Slate -  I did not even realize this was a sink material.  However, it is resistant to fading, burning and scratching.  And custom designs can be sand blasted into it to make a truly custom look.  This feature would only be helpful if you have having the apron type sink, which I am not leaning towards, but am still undecided about.  It is a material that will last forever, and people have written it keeps its beauty, and even if it got a nick or two, it’s hardly visible.  The etching on this one is adorable, especially since our house is on the water, and we love the “water” theme.

Slate Sink

slate

Quartz -  This sink is made from 70% quartz and 30% resin filler.  It is a step below the granite composite in terms of wear and durability, but still a good choice.  It is resistant to dings, dents and stains, but the darker ones tend to show scratches more than the lighter colors, on ones with more of a pattern.  It would be a good choice if you’re using quartz countertops and want a seemless look.

Quartz

 

 

quartz.2

 

Copper:  Copper comes in various thicknesses like stainless, and that will be reflected in the price.It’s easy to shape so can come in a wide variety of sizes.  It is anti microbial, which is good, but people have written they would be worried about the copper leaching into food, such as vegetables soaking in the sink.  The finish will almost certainly change over time, this could be either a pro or a con, depending on how you feel about that.  For me it’s a con, the copper is pretty when it’s brand new, but I don’t like the change.  The thinner variety can dent and scratch.  The hammered sink is very pretty, in my opinion, but I don’t think this is one product that I will consider.

CopperCopper.2

The last two sinks I looked into and have pictures of are tile and hand painted.  But these, along with glass sinks, are better left as a “show” sink in the powder room.  Yes, they are beautiful and different, but keeping them clean and free of dings would be difficult in the hard-working kitchen area.

Tile -

Tiletiled sink

Hand painted -

Hand Paintedpainted

 

Well, suffice it to say today we have many, many choices when it comes to kitchen sinks.  It’s overwhelming at times.  But by narrowing it down, and doing a little research, and by being honest about how much you are willing to clean, or live with in terms of water spots or nicks, you and I  will finally figure out which one is the best choice.  I hope.