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Design Tips for a Yummy, Sunny Kitchen

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

Old World kitchen designed and built by Jorge Ulibarri, Custom Home Builder

People gravitate to the kitchen no matter what the design and layout of the home.  The gold standard in today’s kitchen design is the open concept with family room and eat-in breakfast nook co-existing as one large social center. Gone are the boxed-in spaces that isolate the cook in the kitchen away from the chatter and activity in the home’s social spaces.  If your kitchen doesn’t open up to the home, then there are a few strategic tweaks you can do to make it appear more inviting and accommodating.

New Tricks for an Old Kitchen-

Let the Sunshine In

The easiest way to open up a kitchen is to infuse natural light to create the illusion of space. Custom Home Builder Jorge Ulibarri says strategic use of natural light in a kitchen can create the perception of more square footage. He offers several tips for lighting up an older, outdated kitchen.

Open up a closed, small kitchen with plenty of natural light and windows

Add Windows and Open Up the View

If the kitchen has 12-foot ceilings, then it is easy to add windows above the cabinetry to infuse natural light. Jorge says depending on whether the walls are made of block or frame, the cost to add four windows that are 16-inch by 16-inch in size is approximately $2,000-$2,500 with labor and materials.  Another way to let the sunshine in is to enlarge existing windows that look out to a view.

For smaller kitchens, create the illusion of more space with a light colored backsplash

If the kitchen has a dark colored backsplash, Jorge suggests changing out the existing backsplash for one with lighter colors and textures. The backsplash offers an opportunity for a kitchen upgrade in architectural features. There are several affordable options including travertine mosaics, stone or granite.  Jorge says the cost is approximately $750 to $1000 for labor and materials to resurface a kitchen backsplash with quality materials.

Open Up a Wall with a Framed Arch

Open up a wall with a framed arch to create an open floor plan in the kitchen

An easy and affordable solution to a closed kitchen is to open up a wall adjacent to the family room or dining room to create an arched open space. “The framed arch adds character and light to the kitchen. However, one of the biggest challenges with this type of remodel is the loss of cabinet space. So, the homeowner has to weigh the benefits of opening the space with the loss of storage areas,” explains Jorge. He estimates the price to create an open arched wall is approximately $900 for labor and materials.

Creating the illusion of higher ceilings also works to lighten and open up the kitchen. Some older kitchens have soffits that tend to make the ceilings appear lower thus closing in the kitchen. Jorge suggests removing those soffits to add height and open up the area. “It’s a cost-effective fix to remove soffits and refinish the ceilings to add instant height to the kitchen. You can add beams or barrel ceilings during the renovation to update the space above as well.”  Jorge you can expect to pay at least $1000 for the removal of soffits.

Add beams, barrel ceilings and stone or brick to embellish the kitchen ceilings for a custom look

The kitchen has an energy of it’s own. Designing a functional kitchen filled with natural light that is comfortable, open and inviting will set the tone of a home’s lifestyle. A well-designed kitchen doesn’t have to be bigger to be better. It has to maximize space and natural light. For homeowners, the return on investment isn’t just monetary; it enriches their quality of life.

For more kitchen design tips check out “Trade Secrets by Jorge,” on YouTube and www.imyourbuilder.com

If you have questions or comments about your own kitchen design, post us a picture and write us on facebook

Check back for part two of this article as we discuss new kitchen design in our next installment of  Tips for Designing Yummy, Sunny Kitchens.

Smart Use of Small Spaces

By | Custom Home Design | No Comments

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

By | Custom Home Construction, Custom Home Design | 2 Comments

“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.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nnOCOGdooBo&w=560&h=315]

The Proper Fix for Cracks in the Floor Foundation

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

Another Home Construction Tip from Trade Secrets by Jorge

Cracks in the home’s foundation are a fact of life. Most homes experience cracks in the concrete slab as the home “settles” over time. Those concrete slab cracks can cause marble, tile, or stone floors to crack and it can be a very costly problem after the flooring warranty has expired. Custom Homebuilder Jorge Ulibarri has built homes of all sizes and for all budgets and says the key to preventing floor cracks is to properly repair the slab prior to the floor installation.

“Cracks in the slab do not compromise the floors if the contractor properly repairs and preps the slab with quality materials prior to the floor installation,” says Jorge.

Crack in the Concrete Floor Foundation that Needs Repair

Repairing the Foundation Cracks

After the concrete slab is cleaned and prepped, the contractor should apply an adhesive primer followed by the application of a membrane throughout each crack. Jorge advises homeowners to insist on a quality membrane because cheaper membranes won’t work.

Wire Mesh Adds an Extra Layer of Protection to Prevent Foundation Cracks

Add an Extra Layer of Protection to Prevent Floor Cracks

Jorge adds an extra layer of protection to ensure that the floors won’t crack. “I add a wire mesh between the membrane and the travertine, stone, or marble floors.  This wire mesh reinforces the slab and guarantees the floor will never crack.”

Unfortunately, if the floors already have cracked, you will have to remove the individual damaged tiles or stone and replace them. However, if the contractor has taken the extra protective measure to cover each crack with wire mesh for reinforcement, the homeowner should have no issue with the integrity of the finished floors.

For a step by step description of how to fix cracks in the concrete foundation, check out the latest episode of Trade Secrets by Jorge

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mk9CcPWFceY&w=560&h=315]

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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Home Design with Wrought Iron

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

In this episode of Trade Secrets by Jorge, Luxury Custom Homebuilder Jorge Ulibarri shares design ideas on the use of wrought iron doors and accents to customize your home. Learn money-saving tips on creating an old world custom look with strategic architectural touches using wrought iron. Jorge shows you various locations and uses for wrought iron including winery doors, window treatments and stairwells. For more information, go to www.imyourbuilder.com

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