Doubling up in the kitchen

by Greg Dodge 28. January 2014 06:44
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Designing the perfect kitchen is a matter of personal style. Everything from your household size to meal preferences to how you like to entertain needs to be considered.  



If your new kitchen has sufficient cabinet space, many people are eliminating a base cabinet and adding a second dishwasher. You may be surprised how little the difference in price is. And for individuals who set the table right out of the dishwasher (hey, they're clean dishes!) it's almost like you didn't give up any storage!




Design Trends | Destressing | Kitchen Design

The Kitchen Pantry is Evolving

by Greg Dodge 6. January 2014 16:46
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Pantries got bigger reflecting our appetite for prepared foods. Then they got bigger again as we filled them with mixers, crock pots and small appliances. Now many pantries are being designed as food prep areas.  Women challenged and inspired our designers to create a food prep area separate from the kitchen to keep the kitchen's aesthetic appeal during entertaining. Practical considerations meant it had to be  close to the kitchen with easy access to everything you need. We dubbed the solution the "work-in" pantry! Pantries have not only gotten larger, they're often becoming more discrete. Increasingly popular are kitchen pantry designs where the storage is not visually open to the kitchen. The layout may have a door from the kitchen with storage around the corner, or locate the pantry door itself around the corner from the kitchen. The pantry may even have dual access, with a door from the rear foyer meaning groceries can be stored in the pantry without having to first unload them in the kitchen before putting them away!

Example Floor Plans




Design Trends | Kitchen Design | Storage

HER Home Thought of the Day - Best of 2013

by Greg Dodge 30. December 2013 07:40
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Published Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, HER Home’s Thought of the Day is derived from our audience feedback as well as real-life experiences of the Her Home staff. This email series is designed to answer the question -- "I wish I had known about that!" This Monday, Wednesday, Friday email places in your inbox, solutions to common home building questions, design ideas, and insights into products to put into your new home or remodel project.


We had some great responses to our topics in 2013.  Here is the 'Best of" for 2013.  


Enjoy.  Be safe. See you in 2014.


Subscribe to HER Home at Thought of the Day here

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Decade of Change | Design Trends | General

It's all about the view!

by Paul Foresman 3. December 2013 10:49

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A man and woman walk in the front door to a model home.

What do they see?

Most men will focus on a singular, long focal point (such as a wall of windows at the back of the great room.)  Most women will see much more, with women's heightened peripheral vision.  From the flooring to the ceiling details, colors, textures and other amenities, she takes it all in.

As a general rule, for men think "spotlight".  For women, think "floodlight".

The view from the front entry foyer sets expectations for the entire home.  That's why so much emphasis is placed upon creating interesting entry views.

Take, for example, Design Basics' Kenneth plan.  Though just 2351 square feet in size, the home presents a spacious entry foyer leading to a stunning see-thru stone fireplace and great room with cathedral ceiling and dramatic windows!  

Upon entry, your home can visually say it is something truly special!

View Kenneth home plan.  

The Many Great Benefits of Rear-Entry Foyers

by Paul Foresman 23. October 2013 10:39


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Decade of Change | Design Trends | infographic | Organization | Rear entry foyer

The Top Seven Apps for Home Builders

by Greg Dodge 26. September 2013 12:36



There seems to be an app for pretty much anything these days, and the home building industry is certainly no exception. New apps for home builders are constantly being released, and home builders across the nation are finding their jobs can be so much easier and more productive with the right apps for their business. Here is a look at seven of the most popular and useful apps for home builders right now.



This is a construction project management powerhouse, and even better is the fact that it is free. You can access the projects you have created and have the ability to manage and share data with others. One of the more helpful aspects of the app is that you can enter some daily log notes to help you track your progress. You can also view, share, and save photos of your projects right in the app so that you have everything together, right where you need it. A directory in Procore can store all of your contact data too. Create punch list items for all the projects you have going as well as keep all of your time card entries stored here.  This handy app can really help you get and stay organized.


Get or read more about this app


iQuick Contract Maker<empty>iQuick Contract Maker

While this app may not be free, it is worth the $2.99 it costs because of how much easier it can make your life. Contracts of all kinds can be made with this app, and when you’re ready, you can easily email them out to everyone involved in the transaction.


Get or read more about this app


OnSite PlanRoom<empty>OnSite PlanRoom

Tired of toting around paper home plans under your arm? Carry them around in your phone or tablet instead with this plan library. You can easily view PDF plans and construction documents here as well

as preview specs, correspondence, and other related items. Share documents, exchange comments, and more with others with the image and document sharing capabilities of this great app.


Get or read more about this app


Carpenter's Helper<empty>Carpenter's Helper

Even though math is important for someone that builds homes, you don’t necessarily have to a math genius with the help of this app. Use a standard calculator to run equations and convert units. Easily input triangular measurements so that you can calculate roof pitch, rafter lengths, stair lengths, and more.  The app only needs two basic measurements inputted in to automatically calculate the remaining numbers for you.


Get or read more about this app





Graphisoft SE created this free app specifically for 3D purposes. Any device you put this on instantly transforms into a 3D communication and presentation tool. After users upload one of these drawings, it is easy to explore architectural design in a building modeling environment.


Get or read more about this app


Home Builder Pro Calcs<empty>Home Builder Pro Calcs

If you need quick, easy calculations done, this is the app for you. This is especially true if you specifically need to do cost estimates, hours, and take-off quantities. More than 270 home-improvement calculations and unit conversions are in the app all there ready to use.


Get or read more about this app


Home Inspection<empty>Home Inspection

One thing that can really be a pain for a contractor is dealing with the home inspection. This app helps to make it easier as it provides users with an organized, step-by-step and room-by-room visual inspection of single-family homes. The app helps to identify visible flaws and defects so that they are taken care of before closing.


Get or read more about this app


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Software Apps | home builders

What do the Colors on your Walls Say about You?

by Paul Foresman 13. August 2013 07:19




The color you choose to put on the walls of your new custom home can speak volumes about your personality. Certain colors can portray different feelings, and visitors and residents can quickly pick up on these clues when they step into the room. If you are going to repaint or are moving to a new home, give the new colors some extra thought and decide what they say about you.


The color you choose to put on the walls of your new custom home can speak volumes about your personality.

Your favorite color may speak to your personality, but it can also help you create a specific feeling or atmosphere. Here is a guide to help you pick your color scheme and create the feeling and mood you desire for your home.


Yellow and Orange


If yellow is your first choice, it shows that you enjoy learning and sharing knowledge. You tend to live on the happier side of the spectrum, and have a lot of sunshine to share. If you choose a warm color in the yellow and orange family, you will create a welcoming feeling. These are the colors of sunshine. They are bright and happy. The brightness is inviting and makes people feel welcome in the space.


Cool Blues


Blue tones are for people how are reliable, sensitive, and strive for harmony. You tend to think of others and prefer things neat and tidy. It is easy to make the comparison of a cool blue with the blue sky. The colors you use are often associated with where they can be found in nature, which is why the comparison of a cool blue paint to the blue sky easily creates a calm, tranquil feeling. The space feels open and often larger.




Brown is the color of earth, and it shows that you are a good friend and work hard to be reliable and dependable. You’re not terribly interested in glittering, glowing things in life, and prefer the simple, direct route. Browns are also a warm tone which can provide a calming effect on you and your visitors.




Black can be a bold and stark color and can instantly add drama and elegance to a room. A lot of people are scared to paint black because of its’ boldness, but when done right, it creates an elegant and formal look. People who choose black are also very artistic and sensitive. They are commonly a little more closed off than others, but will share personal details when they’re asked.



This is the color we most associate with passion and other intense feelings. People who choose red tend to be very active and like to live for the moment. They can be very determined or very stubborn, depending on how you look at it. This is also not an easy color to use in a room, but with care it can be very attractive.




White is a difficult color. It can say a couple things about you. First, it might say that you are very organized and logical. You don’t care for clutter in your life and prefer a clean appearance. On the other hand, it may just say that you haven’t gotten around to personalizing you home yet and are fine with the stock color. Be careful with this one and make sure you are sending the right message.


It doesn’t matter if you are building a small home or luxury home.  The right color of paint can really set the mood of your home.





Design Trends

The fallacy of comparing “cost per square foot” when evaluating potential builders for your new home.

by Greg Dodge 5. August 2013 15:05



It may come as a surprise to you that there is no universal method for calculating a home’s square footage.  Discrepancies occur when including (or omitting) porches and screened-in decks, lower levels, attic spaces and garages.  Should the square footage occupied by a staircase be counted once or twice, since it occupies space on both levels? 

Then there’s the question of where the measurement is taken from.  Some homes may only include the space inside the walls.  More often, the calculation is based on taking measurements from outside of the exterior wall framing (which adds the square footage represented in the wall thickness.)  Further increasing square footage calculations, some homes are measured from outside of exterior finish materials.  If the home has brick siding, for example, measuring to the outside of the brick may add 50 or even 100 square feet to the home’s overall size.  This is one reason homes should not be compared solely on the basis of cost-per-square-foot.

Different builders calculate square footage differently.  Homesite costs differ.  The quality of materials used differs by builder, as does the costs charged by the builders’ sub-contractors such as electricians, plumbers and painters.

Design also has a huge bearing on cost.  These 2 homes have exactly the same floorplan, and square footage, but the cost to build is very different.


Design Basics home plan #43055 Design Basics home plan #43056
1719 sq. ft., 3-bedroom 1719 sq. ft., 3-bedroom


Finally, what’s included in one builder’s bid will vary from what’s included in another builder’s bid.  It’s virtually impossible to get an “apples for apples” comparison between two builders, and even if you could control most variables by having the home design finalized and all products selected, there’s still differences in quality and customer service to be considered.

Beware of comparing two homes solely on the basis of cost per square foot!

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Four Things You Can Do to Make Your Porch More Alluring

by Greg Dodge 24. July 2013 12:39



There are numerous benefits to having a front or back porch, and if you’re lucky enough to have both, that’s even all the better. A front porch gives you the advantage of curb appeal by highlighting your entryway. It can add an element of graceful style to your home, and it is one of the first things that a visitor or passerby will see. Back porches offer the bonus of a private space to relax or entertain, and will add to the beauty of your backyard. A nice front or back porch will increase the value of your home and any porch can be made more alluring with certain touch-ups or additions.



Add a Porch Covering:

Although a porch can be a nice feature on its own, if you don’t have a covering, it will be exposed to the sun and rain, and will be damaged over time. This also leaves you, your guests, and your entryway with no protection either. A covering is an investment that will save you from having to rebuild your porch prematurely, and will also make it a more enjoyable space for everyone.  


Install a Railing:

Having a railing on your porch can significantly impact its appearance and give it a finishing touch that complements the other design elements of your home. A railing provides privacy without obstructing your view and will give your porch a more secure feel. This is especially important if you are going to have children playing on or around the porch.


Change your Décor:

The furniture you use to decorate your porch has a large impact on its look and attractiveness. Since these accessories are kept outdoors, it is likely that they will need to be replaced more often than your other furniture. Adding a rug can make the space appear larger and give it a cozier experience. The seating that you choose will also greatly affect the feel of your porch and should be considered carefully. 


Add Finishing Touches:

Adding ceiling fans can keep you comfortable during warmer weather, and light fixtures or lamps, will provide both decorative and useful elements to your porch. Hanging plants, or sheer curtains, can add a nice touch to the space, and offer you more privacy without completely blocking t

he outside view and light. Finally, you will want to keep your yard maintained, especially around the porch as this reflects on the area as a whole.  


Looking for homes plans designed with great porches? Craftsman style homes are famous for their large beautiful front porches.


Design Trends | Destressing | Patio | Porch

Driveways That Dazzle

by Greg Dodge 5. July 2013 08:09

Driveways That Dazzle

There are many aspects to a house that are important to really plan when you are making your house plans. However, most people don’t really consider the driveway and the overall feel it will give to a house. When trying to make a great first impression, the overall appearance of the home is what makes it, and that includes the driveway. Here are some things that will help liven up your driveway or help you to think of what you would like to do when building your home.


There are several ways that plants of many varieties can be utilized in improving the overall appeal of the driveway. For instance, many people like to line the entire pathway with plants including rosebushes, tall or topiary bushes, and even trees. These can add the perfect accents to make a great pathway leading up to the home.

Another way to add plants is right down the middle of the driveway

so that the tire tracks are made out of cement but there is still variety and color down the middle. These types of plants are usually a lot smaller because there shouldn’t be any scraping against the bottom of the car when driving over this area.

Back To Basics

The best way to dazzle up a driveway is to build it out of a material other than concrete. There are cobblestone pavers and even concrete pavers that can add a different look with the textures and colors that can be added. This will also give a classier feel to the entire driveway.

The Difference In The Details

Great driveway design is mostly based on the experience at arriving. Whether your drive way is long or short, you can wind around and make it look longer and more artistic. Even if it is a shorter driveway, you can always have a small bend that will make it look longer.

A short landscaping wall is another way to really add an interesting look to the landscaping. This is because the wall provides a look of differing depths, making it more interesting to look at. Adding plants on top of the fence makes the entire presentation even more impressive.

The thing that makes the best impression on an entrance to a driveway or property in general is fences and gates. A fancy gate really makes an impression when someone pulls up to your property.

A fence also makes a great impression to those just driving past your home.


During the winter, many homeowners are familiar with the act of shoveling off snow and clearing it in order to pull in and out. Technology has advanced enough that people are finding effective ways to lay heating systems under and inside the driveway in order to make this chore easier. Instead of breaking your back you can go ahead and just flip a switch. This will result in more time in the mornings as well as a perfectly cleared driveway. This way you can show off that driveway you’ve put so much thought into.

For more information on how you can design your custom home with the perfect driveway, contact us today.