Steam Baths & Sauna Rooms

Hot spring bath

What was once just a room designed for the simple purpose of toiletries and necessity has grown into one of the most planned out rooms of any new custom home.  Bathrooms have changed so much over the years and we now almost have a sense of entitlement when it comes to creating the relaxing bath space.

In addition to separate tubs and showers, with added water or airstream jets to aide in the relaxation process to extra features like heated bathroom floors, multiple sets of lighting to enhance the mood you are in, while bathing or decorative features like waterfall walls, electric fireplace accents or added plant shelves, the bathroom really can become your space for ultimate relaxation.

Custom homes are typically designed with more custom accents throughout. For many people these custom features may be upgraded trim work or a customized kitchen with professional grade appliances, but for the bath enthusiast these custom selections might include Steam Baths and Sauna Rooms.

In addition to adding these relaxing features, Saunas are known to provide increased circulation, sometimes assisting with lowering blood pressure, improving lung health and provides better muscle relaxation for the entire body.

When it comes to adding these custom features within your home, you have several options.  If you want a unit that will provide the luxury of a jetted bath with the option of having a steam shower unit you can install a fully integrated system that has a variety of panel options, including body spraying systems, steam generators and tempered glass, while still giving you the option of massaging jets as you relax in a heated bath.

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Companies like Finnleo provide several options including traditional style sauna rooms to incorporate within your home as well as Infrared Sauna rooms.  With so many options and features you can truly design the perfect sauna room or steam bath area within your at home spa.

The initial expense of adding a custom feature like these can be well appreciated within a few years of use, knowing that you can enjoy the benefits of a spa environment within the comfort of your own home.  Taking time to consider all custom possibilities when it comes to designing and planning your home can be a fun process, and if you haven’t thought of items like these contact us at AmericasHomePlace.com to learn more about other options you may want to incorporate within your home.

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Homesteading

The house is in the field

The hustle and bustle of everyday life has driven many people to rethink what they consider to be their normal lifestyle and as a result there is a growing population leaning towards selling their everyday items and moving out to a rural area and begin homesteading.  While the idea of living on a farm and growing your own food, while raising a family of farm animals does have a sense of more “living” and less hustle and bustle, there are things you want to consider to make your homesteading venture a successful one.

The first thing to consider when making this leap is to make sure your home still offers you the comforts you may be used to, without throwing you for a spin along the way.  A lot of people think of homesteading as living off the grid and creating a home environment off the land.  While there is a wide variety of homesteading methods, finding your comfort level is the first place to start.  Understand what homesteading means to you and create your custom home around your expectations.

You can design a custom home that has features like custom bathrooms and large living areas, while adding small features like larger wood burning fireplaces and wood burning stoves, allowing you to pull off the grid or still live comfortably during a winter power outage.

The young cow and the pig

Having an area where your farm animals are comfortable and out of harm’s way is an important factor.  Living on a hobby farm is a lot different than fully homesteading a larger piece of property and both come with a lot of extra daily activities like mending fences and making sure your animals have daily food and water.  Creating barns and feeding stations that incorporate your outdoor living spaces can make for a more easily manageable daily routine.  Make sure your driveway and access to your barn locations are easily accessible and will not be damaged too badly during torrential weather.

Another area to consider is your garden.  You want to make sure you place your garden in proper lighting and in close proximity to water access.  If you consider the full layout for your property, the goals you have in mind when it comes to your homesteading plan and your daily routines, you can create an environment you and your family are sure to enjoy for many years to come. Planning your homesteading venture can begin small and grow each year, but putting your plan on paper will help you work through some of the design issues and create a workable space to live and prosper.  For more information on designing a custom plan for your homesteading lifestyle visit us at AmericasHomePlace.com

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Skipping the Starter Home

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There was a day, not too long ago, when people went by a certain progression as it related to home ownership.  The idea was that we were intended to be in a home, which fit our current and immediate needs as a family.  We would get married and buy our first home, which typically meant a couple of bedrooms and a bathroom.  This size house would easily accommodate a married couple, and a young child if one should come along within the first few years.

Once we started planning for child number two, and maybe the family dog, we would start looking for a house with an additional bedroom, and maybe a fenced backyard so we would have a place to play, and get outdoors without having to take a drive.  This was also good for those weekend cookouts, and for the quick picnic for the kids on days that were a little more on the boring side.

If we decided to expand the family to a third child, we would have an option to consider.  We would allow two of the children to share a bedroom, and stay in the house we are in, or we would have to expand to an additional bedroom, and definitely an additional bathroom.  Home ownership was more about the needs of the family, and the most economical decisions avoiding unnecessary debt.

Today, home ownership is more about moving into something that will work indefinitely, so a move isn’t necessary if the family should expand, or it is about making a smart investment decision that will offer better security for the future.  In other words, the mindset is more about down-sizing if the need should come up in the future, than it is about up-sizing as the need arises in the early days.

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We also have a new dynamic factoring into the new home buyer formula.  We have interest rates lower than ever, which means sales prices can increase.  Most people are more interested in the monthly payment, than the total price of the home.  Today things are more about our budget, than the amount of debt we collect.  As long as we can manage our monthly payments, it wouldn’t be out of the ordinary to own a million-dollar home….as long as the monthly payment fit our budget model.

The largest risk for people today would be maximizing their debt to income ration, and then having something happen to their income.  Based on this we have money managers to help define an “acceptable” debt to income ratio, helping to ensure people have some amount of protection and savings in case their income should change.  For most people, it is worth the risk for the possibility of not just achieving home ownership, but achieving what they perceive as the “American Dream” …. the largest and best house on the block.

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We still have the need for the “starter” home today, but the customer is a lot different.  Many millennials are purchasing their first home in their late 20s or early 30s.  Because of this, many of the starter type homes are requiring more custom features than the starter home 30 or 40 years ago.  Based on this the definition of starter home has also changed.  In the past a “starter” home meant small, and inexpensive.  Today a “starter” home means small, but usually includes some nice interior features, like granite countertops, or tiled showers and custom home offices. 

Creating a home that works best for you and your family is going to be dictated by the style and function you need, based on your specific lifestyle, desires and budget.  To learn more about creating your custom starter home visit us at AmericasHomePlace.com

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Home Paneling & Partitions

beautiful house, interior, view of the kitchen.

Back in the 60’s and 70’s wall paneling was one of the go to wall finishes.  There was a period in time where drywall wasn’t an option, or perhaps there were not many drywall companies to handle the work load.  During this time home options would be an exposed lath system, a plastered lath system, wood plank, or wood paneling.  Plaster was a popular option during this time period but was sometimes cost prohibitive.  Wood paneling was a solid option for a while because it was economical, and also gave a wood finished look, which became a popular solution for many homes.

Once drywall became more popular, many builders switched from paneling to drywall to save money, and to offer a new look for new homes.  Eventually drywall was about the only wall finish being installed within the home building market.  People really liked the drywall because it had a nice clean look, was paint friendly, and proved to be easy to repair if it was damaged.  After some time, different types of finishes re-entered the equation so there would be other options to choose from, in addition to standard drywall.  These drywall finishes include textured (orange peel) finishes, knock down finishes, patterned finished, splatter finishes, etc.  

We are now at a point in home design, where wood paneling is making a comeback.  The difference this time is the installation of various wood accents on walls, not just the wood-look panels. Many people like to mix the wood paneling and drywall finishes for unique accents in different rooms of the home.  Much of the paneling looks the same as it did years ago, but there are some new options to choose from as well.  There are different patterns and styles, both options available as paintable and stainable.  Some panel materials are made to look like a tongue and groove wood, and some look distressed or like a sun bleached wood.  

Partitions have gone through many of the same changes over the years, and have grown into an industry of its own.  You can find panelized partitions, or you can choose to custom build the partitions in your home to match the wall types and trim finishes used throughout the home.  

Many plans are designed now using lower partition walls between areas allowing natural light to flow through parts of the home without the need for additional windows in some applications.  We can add a plant ledge to the tops of these partitions and have a focal accent wall in an area that otherwise may be a little plain.

Home wall paneling and interior partitions are definitely a couple of areas to display creative flair and make your home look more custom.  Consider adding a wall of reclaimed barnwood with a diagonal pattern as a wall feature within a living room or bring in horizontal planked wood or partitioned wall sections to add a decorative touch to small areas like bathrooms and laundry rooms.  Think about the places you could use these accents, and see how creative you can get.  There are many ways to customize a home, and even with tight budgets, you can still incorporate designs within your home to create a unique masterpiece.  For more information on different types of wall options, paneling or partitions feel free to visit us AmericasHomePlace.com.

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Gas Lamps

Antique Lantern

Gas lamps are becoming more popular with many builds and remodels these days. With an increased appreciation for this artistic flair, homeowners now have a large assortment of lamps that are available. Adding gas lamps is a great way to add decorative lighting with function instead of just design. Many people look to upgrade their lighting so their house is more unique, and more reflective of their individual style and taste.  Light fixtures are a great way to customize your home, and with the proper forward thinking, you may consider a wide variety of “different” lighting options. Electric and gas are the two go to options. Choosing a nice gas lamp as an accent piece somewhere in the home, or even for your exterior bracket fixtures, makes for a unique addition to your new home.

Gas lighting was fairly common at one time because of the limited resources of electricity to outlying areas. This lighting was usually in the form of a propane or oil lantern. The gas light, with the natural flickering appeal brings about an old world feel to contemporary farm houses or rustic décor. This light source brings about a unique feature while providing ample lighting.

Artificial lighting (electric lighting) can sometimes be too bright, or too soft, or maybe give some kind of tint to the room because of the type of bulb, etc. It is difficult to achieve the proper light quality in some applications. If you have an area of your home, where properly lighting this area is not giving you the look you are going for, consider a gas lamp for this area. This may not solve the problem, but will likely be more visually satisfying simply because it is a more natural option.

If there is no option to add a gas lamp to the interior of the home, there is always the option to add a gas lamp or gas light pole to the outside of the home. There is something nice about seeing a gas lamp post in someone’s yard, or gas lamps accenting a landscape area along a walkway or gated entrance. Gas coach lights at a front door automatically associate the house as being a more custom home. So as you consider all of the possible options to customize your new home, consider placement and gas lighting options in areas like dining rooms, a home library or customized hallway featuring artwork, or along the exterior of the home.

There is a wide variety of fixtures with gas options, so any home style can include this custom feature. For more information about Gas Lamps and lighting and how it pertains to your new custom home feel free to contact us at AmericasHomePlace.com

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Stairs: Spindles, Posts & Columns

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Many people have completed a home remodeling project, or have even had a new home built, and had an afterthought when it was all done that it could have looked much better with a different type of stair and spindle, or a different column on the front porch.

These items often get overlooked in the selection process and we end up just simply inserting something that works, and looks ok, based on the fact that we are already over budget in a few areas.

When you are reviewing your home plan you may want to consider placing these items higher on the list of importance when it comes to your selection and design process.  These simple items can make a huge difference with the look of your home, and can sometimes even make the different between “normal looking” and “extraordinary looking”.  

Think about our interior stair units and balcony areas.  The huge difference between a half wall and a wooden spindle can make all the difference in a foyer, allowing a more open feel.  Now just by adding a metal accent spindle or a twist and basket spindle with a couple of decorative newels adds an even more custom look.

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The stairs in your house can be carpeted, tiled, painted or have a more custom look with stained wooden stair treads.  There are many types of wood to choose from, but Red Oak is fairly typical.  You may want to consider using an Oak tread and a painted riser to give the stair a little dimension.  You can even add inlaid carpeting down the stairs for the rich look of wood and the warmth of carpet.  All of these different options make a big difference in the overall look of your home.

The same idea is true with porch columns and exterior posts.  Many times people fall back on the safe 8” box column or treated 6” post.  These definitely do the job most of the time, but just imagine the difference a craftsman style column or cedar wrapped post could make with the appearance of your home.  Another option may include using a decorative fiberglass column tapered from top to bottom.  The style of your home will dictate the proper types of columns, however sometimes you should think outside of the box and create your home utilizing design elements that you truly love.  Transforming the Architecture style of your home, inside and out, can begin with some minor changes such as columns and interior stair and spindle accents.

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By making the right decisions on these items you will easily add the “Wow effect” in many areas of your home, with a minimum amount of cost when compared to the overall cost of the project.  

For more information on options for stair spindles, posts and columns throughout your new custom home, visit us at AmericasHomePlace.com

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Wood Accents – More Than Just Flooring

Warm floor - the concept of floor heating and wooden panels.

Wood is becoming more and more abundant in our homes.  We have moved into an era where many new homes include a good bit of hardwood flooring, and maybe even wooden stair treads.  In many cases, this is where people think the addition of wood accents ends.  For those people who understand there are other wood accents available, many times these options aren’t selected due to the uncertainty and fear of doing something that just may not look as nice as we hope.  There are safe ways to implement more wood accents without taking a big risk, and worrying about wasting money if it just doesn’t work out.

One way to bring in more wood would be through the normal trim installed within the house.  Rather than installing a paintable wood material for your crown mold, or window casing, consider using a clear fir, or some other solid wood material.  Pine isn’t too expensive and looks nice when it is stained with the right colors.  By using these options for normal trim materials, the worse case scenario if you don’t like the look is to paint over it!  Many farmhouse designs and cabins incorporate these stained wood accents throughout the home.

Another way to implement wood accents without adding a lot of cost would be to install a tongue and grove wood material on porch ceilings.   Most porches aren’t too large, which means the cost wouldn’t be too great, but the impact would be huge.  The overall appearance of a wooden porch really adds a custom feel to the exterior of the home.  As far as the color of the ceiling, it can fall into the same category as the trim.  If the stain works, then let it stay.  If it doesn’t give you that “wow effect” than put a coat of paint over it.  At that point it is just painted wood, which is still a lot nicer than some of the other porch ceiling materials used in home construction.

Other ways to implement some nice wood accents without taking a big risk would be with cased openings in the home, fireplace mantles, built-in cabinets/shelves, etc.  The best way to add these accents would be to look at the project as a whole and to make sure all these wooden accents complement each other.  Wooden cased openings would look nice with wooden window trim.  Wooden crown molding would be nice with a nice wooden chair rail and Judges Paneling in a dining room.  A wooden porch ceiling would look nice with wooden columns, a stained front door and maybe some wooden Craftsman style shutters on the front of the home.

There are plenty of areas to add wooden accents within any home.  This is becoming more and more popular again, and you can get as creative as possible. Search through Pinterest or other online applications to look at the many ideas people incorporate into their home designs.   When you are ready to learn more about implementing these unique wood accent options into your new custom home, visit us at AmericasHomePlace.com

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Painting Ideas

Living room interior design

When you decide to build a custom home you know once the home is built, you will eventually have to make selections for paint colors, as well as other material selections that will eventually be incorporated into the home.  When it comes to paint, you have so many options in addition to just color.  We have touched on the different types of paint finishes in another blog, where you can learn more about Satin, Egg Shell, Flat, Matte and Semi-gloss paint.  In addition to all of these types of paints, you also have many other ideas you can consider when it comes to customizing your home with paint applications.

Accent walls have been a huge hit within the home design phase of construction for many years now and although this is a nice addition to most rooms, you may want to consider adding a mural or textured wall as a focal point or to help create a more customized look within your home.

Faux finishes, like a linen finish or leather-look can give a more lavish feel to a small half bath or foyer.  You always have the option of utilizing different types of building materials like bricks, vigas, wood paneling or decorative trim to create an accent you may like and have it painted to bring about the look you are going for.

Other popular options include floral or wave pattern wall textures, which can be painted to match the wall color you have chosen for any particular room, they also look great in contemporary style homes when left painted white.  If you choose to install wall accents like rustic barn wood, you can always paint them to have a bleached look, which is perfect for the coastal themed room or add more bold colors for a lively addition to any space.

Murals, which were once very popular, have made a comeback over the years and are being incorporated into many kids rooms.  Even simple murals, using cds and rulers to create a painted style headboard or free-handing a zebra accent wall within a room is sure to bring your finishing touch to the most epic design within your home.

As you design your home, visit sites like Pinterest and Houzz.com to visualize even more painting ideas and options you may want to incorporate within your home.  Visit us at AmericasHomePlace.com for more information on available painting options as you look for the home you want to build.

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Fire Safety & Home Protection

Electricity short circuit

It is always hard to hear a news story about a fire, or even loss of life because of a fire.  The sad truth is that fires will happen from time to time for many reasons ranging from faulty wiring to someone falling asleep while smoking a cigarette.  With time, maybe ways to help avoid these fire-starters will occur, but for now keep yourselves as safe as possible.

It is bad enough if a fire occurs at a detached residence, but even worse when a fire occurs at a multi-family structure like an apartment building.  The best chance of survival comes with early warning systems to help give plenty of time to escape the structure before the fire becomes too intense.  There are a few things that may make this situation better and safer.

First of all ensure you have adequate coverage with smoke detectors.  Smoke detectors should be located in hallways, and near all of your bedrooms. It is recommended to have smoke detectors on every level of your home, including basements and attics.  It is also recommended that the smoke detectors are wired together so one alarm triggers all of the alarms to sound if smoke is detected.  This helps to ensure everyone in the home hears the alarm if one detects smoke.

The bad habits we have sometimes can put us in danger.  When an alarm starts beeping to make us aware of a low battery, many people just remove the battery to avoid hearing the annoying beep.  This is a bad solution.  Without batteries, homes and lives are more at danger by removing the fire alarms.  The best way to avoid this possibility would be to replace your smoke detector batteries annually on a certain day, like New Years, or maybe Labor Day.

Another way to help protect against fire and fire damage would be to ensure there is a working fire-extinguisher somewhere easily accessible within the home.  This way you have the ability to help put out a small fire, possibly avoiding the chance of it spreading to a larger, more dangerous situation.   Since electrical or grease fires are sometimes involved it isn’t recommended to use water, as this could cause electrical shock, or even cause the fire to spread more rapidly.  A fire-extinguisher usually consists of  safer chemicals designed for these types of fires.  Along with having a fire-extinguisher, making sure it is inspected and working properly is an important step to fire safety.  This ensures they work, if needed, and also makes sure you don’t have a false sense of security if a fire starts.

After discussing early detection, and proper maintenance, understand some of the steps you can take to avoid the problem all together.  Be wise and make a decision to not smoke in your home.  You will want to make sure all of your heaters are maintained and function properly.  You can have your chimneys inspected regularly to make sure there is no opportunity for a chimney fire.  If you notice any electrical issues within your home you should have it inspected and corrected immediately by a licensed electrician.  You also want to make sure to always shut off appliances when not being used.  It is not advised to place flammable materials near water heaters, or any other devices with a pilot light.  These are just a few things to consider when helping to reduce the chance of a home fire.

For more information on installing the proper fire safety or other home protection devices within your new home, visit us at AmericasHomePlace.com

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Creating Themed Rooms

Spacious travel-themed bedroom

We all know that design is really in the details.  You could have five people build the exact same floor plan and set them loose to design the home décor around their tastes and styles and each of the homes will inevitably have a different feel about it. Some homes just feel more comfortable, while others are just simply lived in and not much thought goes into the color schemes, art combinations and layout and textures of the furniture, etc.

Creating themed rooms within your home décor can be a fun experience and truly create an inviting space for you to enjoy week after week.  It can also be a great bonding experience with your teenage child, helping them to uncover some of who they are and creating a comfortable space for them to engage in time with friends or school work.

So where do you begin?  Grab a notebook and jot down some of your favorite colors, hobbies, things you enjoy gazing at or consider locations that offer a relaxing feel.  Think about the Grand Canyon, the open spaces, vast colors complimenting each other, the geometric shapes formed by years of erosion and now consider bringing these natural elements and colors into your themed living room décor. You can start by finding a neutral color, like Sherwin Williams Malabar and pair it up with an accent wall using Sherwin Williams color Rojo dust.  This will immediately bring in some of the deep clay and natural colors into your living space where you can then add in a rustic leather couch, a throw rug, accent tables adorned with live succulents like jade plants or various cactus and classic art to dress up the walls.  If you are sticking with the southwestern theme, you may enjoy artwork like those of JH Sharp, Georgia O’Keeffe, Amando Pena or RC Gorman.

Astrology themed bedroom for kid

Nautical themed bathroom with a blue bath tub, 3d render.

Stylish gallery themed day room

For others, a more relaxing themed room may include Coastal themed colors with relaxing hues, white or light colored furniture, accents like driftwood, led candles and photographs of your family vacations at the beach hanging on the wall.

Feel free to explore and have fun with creating different themed rooms throughout your house and you are sure to enjoy the space you create.  A home should be enjoyed and lived in, but is also a place of peace and relaxation, somewhere to unwind and regroup. 

For more information on creating a home plan designed to match up with your vision of themed rooms, visit us at AmericasHomePlace.com

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