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Smart Use of Small Spaces

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Strategically designed small spaces are the mark of a well-built home and can add a lot of character for minimal cost. Custom Home Builder Jorge Ulibarri has designed and built many custom residences and in each one, he looks for ways to  maximize every inch of the home visually and functionally. “Small spaces hold tremendous architectural power when carefully crafted as wineries, niches, built-ins and  bar areas. These design elements assure that there is no wasted space in a home,” says Jorge, owner of Cornerstone Custom Construction, based in Heathrow, Florida.

Niche in Vestibule, an example of Smart Use of Small Space

Take a close look around your home, and perhaps you’ll discover that there are unused spaces with great potential. Here are a few ideas for turning those small spaces into beautiful features in your home. Consider a winery for your home. Jorge creates wineries in all of the homes that he designs and builds. A winery is affordable and easy to create because it requires a very small space, at least 18 inches.

a winery crafted from a recessed wall
a winery crafted from a recessed wall

There are several ways to find the right space for your winery. Consider an old closet or underneath the staircase or any room where you can bump out a wall to create an additional 18 inches of space. In one of his homes, Jorge created a winery from an oversized guest bath because it shared a wall with the formal living room. This made it easy to frame out the extra space in the guest bath and create access from the formal living room.  Once the 3-foot by 2-foot enclosure is framed and has drywall installed, you can embellish the winery with a wrought iron door.

Winery Featuring Barrel Holders for Bottles

Inside the winery, there are many options for wine racks including wood shelves, iron or wood racks, and wine barrels.  Finishes for the interior walls include options such as stone, brick or faux painting. Depending on the location of the winery, you can expect to pay anywhere from $4000 to $5000.

The niche is another great architectural use for small, unused spaces. There are many different finishes for the back wall of the niche including stone, tile or faux painting. Look for corners of the house that you can frame out or walls that you can thicken out to create a recessed niche. The cost is minimal, under $1000 to frame, finish, and embellish a niche. It’s a great investment that adds a lot of character to the house.

Formal Living Room Built-Ins
Formal Living Room Built-Ins
Built-ins are another way to optimize square footage in a home. When Jorge designs a home, he looks at existing walls of certain rooms where he can create a 24-inch recessed area. This recessed space has many uses depending on the room. For example, in a dining room, this 24-inch recessed space could be used for a built-in credenza with cabinetry.  Jorge typically creates an arch or wood beam overhead to highlight the space.  Another functional space for built-ins is in the office. In a 24-inch recessed space, Jorge creates a built-in desk and cabinetry. In several of his homes, Jorge has designed and built bar areas out of the recessed space.  These spaces are functional and can serve as architectural focal points. For additional design tips and money saving ideas, check out the videos series, Trade Secrets by Jorge, at www.imyourbuilder.com  For questions or comments, please post on to his Facebook page.

Faux Wood Beams for Affordable Architectural Details

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“Another Affordable Idea to Enhance Your Living Space”

Good taste can be affordable with smart design and strategic use of materials to add elegance and character. Luxury Homebuilder Jorge Ulibarri says faux beams are cost effective architectural elements that create a custom, old-world look on a budget.  “Faux wood beams are the best buy for your design dollar because they are dramatic but cost one-fifth the price of a real wood beam,” explains Jorge, who has designed and built custom homes for all budgets for more than a decade.

Faux Wood Beams in Formal Living Room

Jorge’s best money-saving advice is to plan ahead if it’s new construction. “The beams should be shown in the home’s drawings as with everything else that involves framing, so the framer includes them in the price of the framing package to avoid extra charges.” For homeowners thinking about adding faux wood beams to an existing home, the cost savings are still substantial. Homeowners should have an understanding of how these beams are made in order to hire the right person for the job. Here’s a “how-to” breakdown for creating faux wood beams.

Faux Wood Vaulted Beams in Family Room

Step one is to have a carpenter frame the skeleton of the beam with 2 by 4s. Let the drywall contractor wrap the beams in drywall as he does the rest of the house.

Faux Wood Beams Wrapped in Drywall

Step two is the distressing of the beams. The craftsman will age and season the drywall with special tools. He can get even more creative by adding termite holes or gouges.

Step three is the application of the first coat of paint. This will determine how light or dark the finished wood beam will be.  Next, the craftsman applies a gel stain. Jorge recommends using the color Chestnut for the gel stain for a more realistic finish.

Faux Wood Beams Primed and Ready for Painting

Step four is creating the beam details. Using a special tool, the craftsman creates the grain and the knots in the drywall beam. Once this is done, the beams will sit for 24 hours and then he will apply a light coat of the same gel stain to give it the final look.

The cost to create these faux wood beams depends on volume. For example, in a home where there are 30 to 40 beams, Jorge says the price to finish them can be as low as 60 to 70 dollars per beam. Now if you only do a handful of beams, you can expect to pay a hundred dollars per beam.

“The beams are a good example of what I tell homeowners: better to spend your money on rich architectural elements than on pricey overdone décor. A beautifully built home showcases itself.

For more home design and construction trade secrets and tips, check out the video series, “Trade Secrets by Jorge,” on YouTube at www.youtube.com/user/jorgeulibarri  You can also post your questions or comments to his Facebook page: www.facebook.com/Jorge.Ulibarri.Luxury.home.Builder.

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Designing the Details Above

By | Custom Home Construction, Custom Home Design | One Comment

“Another Affordable Idea to Enhance Your Living Space”

Ceilings in a home are an ideal canvas to add custom touches that define your home’s architectural style, from Tuscan to contemporary or any variation in between. Luxury Homebuilder Jorge Ulibarri suggests corbels and beams as another great design buy for your bucks. “They look like real wood but cost half the price,” says Jorge, who has more than a decade of experience designing and building custom homes in all price ranges.

The corbels and shutters that Jorge uses on his homes are made of foam but look like real wood. “I use these design features to accent my homes for that authentic old world look,” says Jorge.

Faux Wood Corbel Made of Foam

The foam corbels pictured in this article cost approximately $22 each and installation runs $5 each.  A set of foam shutters retails for $180 with installation at $40 a pair.

Faux Wood Shutters Made of Foam

These products are easy to maintain and come with a lifetime warranty. I buy them from the manufacturer, Ackue International at www.ackue.com

“These products work well on my homes because the textures and finishes are very realistic.”  Jorge uses corbels on the exterior and interior of his homes in high profile areas such as the tower entry. Here, the 24-foot-high ceiling features corbels surrounding rustic beams every two feet.

Tower Entry with Corbels and Beams

The effect is very affordable to create. Jorge explains that the rustic wood beams are actually framed lumber that is covered in drywall, faux painted, and distressed to look like real wood. “This is a great builder trade secret because I only pay $70 per beam.” Other costs associated with the faux wood beams are included in the packages for framing and drywall that get negotiated into the total price of house.

Beams with Barrel Ceiling

The barrel ceiling is another architectural feature that draws the eye upward. This type of ceiling gets its name because it looks like the inside half of a barrel. Again, it’s done affordably in the framing stage. Barrel ceilings lend themselves to many styles and finishes including faux painting, brick, travertine, or stone. “Travertine is a very good deal in sizes 4-inch by 4-inch or 6-inch by 4-inch. The cost of the material is $4 per square foot. The installation requires two craftsmen a day of labor, which runs approximately $400. “

To bring warm up a room, tongue and groove ceilings made of southern yellow pine wood can instantly upgrade a living space.

Tongue and Groove Ceiling

Jorge says the material to create tongue and groove ceilings runs approximately $3 per square foot and includes the wood staining. The labor is $2 per square foot.  “Think strategically about where you add in tongue and groove ceilings. It’s cost-effective to accent small, highly visible areas as opposed to larger areas to maximize the “wow” factor and your budget.”

For more home design and construction trade secrets and tips, check out the video series, Trade Secrets by Jorge, on YouTube at www.youtube.com/user/jorgeulibarri  Post your questions or comments to his Facebook page: www.facebook.com/Jorge.Ulibarri.Luxury.home.Builder.

Ceiling Details-Designing the Look Above

By | Custom Home Construction, Custom Home Design | No Comments

In this episode of Trade Secrets by Jorge, learn how to enhance your overhead living space with strategic architectural ceiling details. Luxury Custom HomeBuilder Jorge Ulibarri shows you various ceiling designs he uses in his homes and offers honest cost breakdowns and tips on how to create rooms that make you look up and go “Wow.” Also, for the latest tips, design finds and other useful information on home design, architecture and homebuilding, be sure and “like” his Facebook page at www.facebook.com/Jorge.Ulibarri.Luxury.Home.Builder and register to win a free custom made wrought iron winery door valued at $3000.


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