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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Brass is Back

Modern living room with sofa interior 3d rendering

Every few years within the home construction market, trends change.  From popular paint colors to choosing vinyl over tile, occasionally there is a shift in what the consumer is looking for when it comes to selecting the design elements within their new home.  This year Brass is back – If you can think back over a century ago, maybe even a few centuries, Brass was a popular choice when it came to lighting fixtures, door hardware and most of the metal trimmed products within the home.  A cycle of phasing out the brass and bringing in new finishes like satin nickel or brushed bronze became popular selections within the market a few decades ago and now, as a new generation is helping define the ins and outs of what constitutes comfort within new homes, brass is a returning factor.

Brass today comes in many different finishes and styles and it is making a comeback from tabletop décor, light fixtures, drawer pulls and more.  Today’s brass within the home may not have quite the shine as the previous trendy home accents.  Many people are reaching out to place brushed brass or true vintage fixtures within their home to bring in a certain old world feel to their farm house floor plan or just add some warmth to their new custom home.

Industrial Pendant Light

Some things never go out of style, and for the items that do – they typically come back into style at some point!  A great way to find vintage fixtures is to keep an eye out for people who are updating their homes built in the 40s, 50s and 60s.  A lot of Spanish brass light fixtures made it over to America after WWII and many people may not fully understand what that vintage brass light fixture may be worth.

Another place to look for these “come back” fixtures and décor items is through estate sales and possibly even making a visit to your grandparent’s house.  Brass was a big deal several decades ago and although some new styles of brass décor are being made available in the design world, you are sure to find some more heavy duty vintage looking pieces if you take the time to look.

Brass faucet vintage design on white wash basin

It’s a bit hard to believe that this once popular finish is making a comeback, but surely brass will warm up the interiors of our homes and once again we will enjoy a classic return of style. For a few options, check out wayfair.com or companies like fourteenthcolonylighting.com. where you are sure to find some nice brass additions for your new home.

To learn more about brass options you may want to incorporate into your new floor plan visit us at AmericasHomePlace.com

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Obstacles to Millennials Buying a Home (Affordability vs Inventory)

Young couple moving in a new house, jumping up high.

With a growing market of Millennials considering purchasing homes for the first time, there are a few obstacles in their way.  It is no surprise the economic recession, nearly a decade ago, impacted the housing market on a huge scale.  For several years construction halted, mortgage laws fluctuated, builders were put out of business and as a result the inventory of homes slowed down.

For the most part our country is currently in a healing phase and more construction is taking place to fill the needs of the next generation looking for home ownership. 

Within the group of millennials, more families are beginning and ready to search for their new custom homes, while there is also a large percentage of single millennials looking for homes, and because of inventory and other factors, in some cases it may prove more financially feasible to rent than to purchase a home.  The price of homes continues to rise and has been on an upswing for the past few years, this is resulting in many people looking for nice homes within good school districts they can rent and as a result many builders are moving away from building apartments and instead focusing on building homes or refurbishing homes to rent out.

In some areas of the country, neighborhoods designed to meet the needs of renters are popping up and companies like American Homes 4 Rent are setting the stage to fill the gaps for homeownership by developing full neighborhoods of rentable homes as an alternative to the apartment lifestyle. 

Because of the current proposed tax bill changes, mortgage interest deductions and property tax deductions are just a few ways that lives and the way they are maintained is being changed.  Homebuyers need to be aware of these new changes so they are protecting their investment while still able to maintain the lifestyle they choose to live.  The good news is that interest rates are still hovering below 5% and this helps with the overall monthly payments people are looking to fit within their budget. 

Home ownership is still the way to go for many single and millennial families and making sure your investment is protected in a market that is ever-changing is an important factor to consider when planning to build your custom home.  Understanding these obstacles and learning to maneuver around them to gain home ownership is achievable.

Discussing options with your builder to help you secure a piece of the American Dream and provide a home for you and your family to enjoy for years to come can start with a simple plan search, finding the perfect plan for your dreams.

To learn more about obstacles millennials are facing in today’s housing market and create a plan for homeownership, visit us at AmericasHomePlace.com

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Benefits of a Dehumidifier

Portable dehumidifier colect water from air

It’s quite common to find a dehumidifier within the home of someone who has allergies, but if you aren’t sure what a dehumidifier is and how it can benefit you within your home, let’s take a look.  In the simplest terms a dehumidifier is a device designed to remove excess moisture from the air.  Many people are sensitive to mold spores and dust mites and by reducing the humidity levels within the home the environment becomes less hospitable to allergens such as these.

Many designs are very quiet and do not interfere with your everyday home life. Simply place it within any area of your home, plug it in and enjoy the quality of air. Dehumidifiers are also good for reducing odors associated with mold or musty smells.  If you ever encounter a leak within your basement, or other area of your home, the first thing you may want to do is install a dehumidifier.  Many people with basements, both conditioned and unfinished, keep dehumidifiers running to avoid these pesky odors.

Allergens within the air can cause skin irritations or respiratory issues, especially for those who are more sensitive. Utilizing the dehumidifier should reduce these symptoms and allow for a more comfortable living environment.

Depending on the amount of moisture within the air of your home, you may notice items like cereals or breads and chips becoming stale quicker, this is another benefit to adding a dehumidifier to your home. We all want our food to last the shelf life or longer, so this is a good suggestion if you are experiencing these issues.

Besides the benefits we have already addressed, one of the most effective functions of a dehumidifier is how this system can actually allow your HVAC system to run more efficient.  There are plenty of High efficiency hvac systems available, however if the air within your home is more humid, the hvac system has to work overtime to try and reduce the temperature of the air in order to remove moisture, and this can overwork your air unit.  HVAC systems can be costly to repair, so if you notice a high level of humidity within your home, you may want to consider adding a dehumidifier to help with the longevity of your system.

There are plenty of reasons to consider adding a dehumidifier within your home and a great place to find the perfect one for you and your family may be consumerreports.org.  They offer extensive buyers guides to help you choose the right machine to add to your home.

For more information regarding incorporating dehumidifiers within your home or learning about other options you may benefit from when building your home, please visit AmericasHomePlace.com

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Financing a Home in 2018

The American Dream of homeownership is still alive and well for many people across the country. Each year a new group of potential homebuyers enter the market and the excitement of owning their own home begins to blossom. Understanding what it means to own a home, the finances involved and all of the added expenses that come along with home ownership can sometimes be surprising, and being prepared and budgeting for the right home is a great place to begin. Many people start looking for houses, then once they find the one they love, they will try to get approved.  It’s actually a better idea to get prequalified for a mortgage so you understand which houses will fit within your family budget.  Once you have the pre-qualification you will be able to look for a house or land where you can build a custom home.

Saleswoman talking with customers at office

Working with a mortgage banker, like those at Hamilton State Bank, will allow you the ability to know what will work with your budget, and they will also assist you with any information you may need to know about down payment requirements and match you with the best loan options available.  Some homebuyers will qualify for USDA or VA loans, which provide 100% financing with no down payments, and others may qualify for FHA loans, which may provide a better interest rate than conventional financing depending on your credit rating.  FHA loans are generally granted to those whose credit ratings are below 660.  An FHA loan may also offer you the option to pay a 3.5% down payment, and in some states grants and other down payment assistance may be available.

Although the average sales price of a home is on the rise, other fees including mortgage insurance rates have seen a reduction in the past couple of years.  With interest rates still hovering below 5%, new buyers have the advantage of lower payments and ultimately more buying power.  At times there are issues with credit repair that need to be addressed prior to being qualified for a mortgage and with new  regulations in place some lenders allow non-occupying co-buyers to assist during the qualification process, should it be necessary to secure your loan. 

Young woman signing contract with manager

If you already own your land, you may have other options available to assist you with the down payment.  The process and amount allowed varies among lenders, however in some cases you may be able to allow your land equity to qualify as your down payment, and no worries if the equity doesn’t cover the full down payment you can still use the portion it will qualify for, thus reducing the amount of out-of-pocket funds you will be required to provide at closing.

For more information about being pre-qualified or learning about your finance options, visit us at AmericasHomePlace.com

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