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Florida custom builder Archives - cornerstonecustomconstruction

Mediterranean Home With an Italian Flair

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

Every custom home that I design and build  is a reflection the owner. The home’s architectural style and details reference the personality and lifestyle of  the people who live in it.  One of my recent projects is for a couple who is deeply rooted in their Italian heritage. They wanted a home in sync architecturally with the main regional style, Mediterranean, but a home that also honored their Italian roots. Here’s a look at some of the interior details that tell the story of history, heritage and personal taste.

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This mural, made of painted travertine tiles,  depicts an Italian vineyard. The owner purchased it online and we installed it creating a trompe-l’œil as if looking out of the kitchen window at  the Italian countryside

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To create an old farmhouse Tuscan-style kitchen, we used a heavy patterned granite as the surface of this multi level island, built as both a dining and work space since the home does not have a formal dining room. The feeling of time-worn, sturdy, rich, heavy textures and materials extends to the pantry with a wrought-iron door accented with a precast band for the casing.

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In the master bedroom, I created a barrel ceiling with stained wood trim that adds elegant curves and breaks with the traditional barrel ceiling design. The faux painted ceiling is a nod to Renaissance structures and works well in a rectangular room. The eye goes upwards to the symmetrical design created with a 90-degree cross grid.

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How to Squeeze 6,000 Square Feet Into a 4,000 Square Foot Home

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

 

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A 4,000 square foot home designed and under construction by Orlando Custom Home Builder Jorge Ulibarri that has the spaces of a 6,000 square foot home

The sweet spot for today’s custom home hovers around 4,000 square feet but you can get the spaces of a larger home without the cost and waste.

In the last five years, the economic downturn has people right-sizing their homes. Gone are the trophy homes, replaced by smaller homes with smarter use of space. If you are thinking about building a new home, you can live large with less square footage. It’s all about the layout and use of your living space. In Central Florida, the sweet spot for custom home square footage tends to hover around 4,000 square feet. People want to feel like they are living in a spacious home without crossing over into McMansion territory.

Orlando Custom Home Builder Jorge Ulibarri just completed a 4,000 square-foot floor plan that combines a functional layout with very large spaces yet small square footage: in short, he squeezed a large home into a small footprint. This sounds counterintuitive, right? How can you have a home with large spaces yet small square footage?  Here’s the trick: by eliminating the formal spaces such as the formal living and dining rooms, Ulibarri was able to use that extra space for a grand foyer, great room and casual eating area. “This also gives the homeowner extra space for the kitchen to accommodate an oversized kitchen island that seats four to six people and takes the place of a breakfast nook,” says Ulibarri, who is building the home in Heathrow’s The Reserve neighborhood.

Floorplan of 4,000 square foot home designed and under construction by Orlando Custom Builder Jorge Ulibarri

Floorplan of 4,000 square foot home designed and under construction by Orlando Custom Builder Jorge Ulibarri

“For years, homes typically had three eating areas: the breakfast nook, kitchen island, and formal dining room- all within 20 feet of each other, which seems excessive given that you can only eat in one place at a time. In a lot of homes, these spaces were seldom used, collecting dust and wasting valuable square footage,” explains Ulibarri.

It’s this consumer mindset about new home construction that is echoed in a recent survey by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) which found that today’s homeowner would overwhelmingly choose a smaller home with high-quality products and amenities (63 percent) over a larger house with fewer amenities (37 percent). Clearly the focus is on quality over quantity. Here’s how you can do the same to squeeze more functional square footage out of your living space:

The Grand Room:

The grand room that flows seamlessly into the kitchen for a large open social space

The grand room that flows seamlessly into the kitchen for a large open social space

Turn the family room into a grand room. The 4,000 square foot home, designed by Custom Builder Jorge Ulibarri, creates a grand room in place of a smaller family room. As we all know, older floorplans tend to compartmentalize living space, splitting each area up into a boxed-in room. In dated floorplans, the family room is tucked all the way to the back in a corner isolated from the social center of the house, the kitchen. Ulibarri brought the family living space into center of the home creating a grand room. “We made a centralized sitting area with a floor-to-ceiling fireplace that hosts the TV in a niche. The fireplace dresses up the space for a bit of formality,” says Ulibarri.

 

An Open Kitchen:

An open kitchen that accomodates an oversized island that doubles as an eating area.

An open kitchen that accommodates an oversized island that doubles as an eating area.

One telltale sign of an outdated home is a closed off kitchen. The latest custom homes have large open kitchens but you don’t need tons of square footage to get the effect. By opening up the kitchen to the grand room in one seamless space, the line of sight and flow of conversation remains uninterrupted creating a true social heart of the home. The square footage gained by eliminating formal spaces enabled Ulibarri to design a kitchen open to the grand room and everyday dining area.

The Daily Dining Room:

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With the formal dining room eliminated, the 4,000-square-foot floor plan can accommodate a main dining room where the breakfast nook typically resides. The main dining area opens to a view of the pool. “In the past, most houses had dining rooms facing the street. Now you can enjoy the view from your main dining room and seat up to 12 people. By getting rid of the breakfast nook, I put some of that square footage into the dining room to accommodate 12 people so it can serve as daily eating area and entertainment area,” says Ulibarri.

A Grand Entrance:

Tower Entrance for the WOW factor and a fabulous first impression

Tower Entrance for the WOW factor and a fabulous first impression

In modern home design, the entrance gets top priority to create a fabulous first impression at the front door. To make this grand entrance, Ulibarri added square footage to “wow” people with a soaring ceiling and line of sight that extends through the home.

The floor plan pictured here gives the homeowner all the spaces typical of a 6,000 square foot home. It has five bedrooms: a master bedroom and guest bedroom downstairs and three upstairs; and four bathrooms. In addition, the home has a bonus room upstairs. For more money-saving design and new home construction tips, subscribe to our blog so you don’t miss a single post.

 

 

 

Saving Money with Smarter Thermostats

By | Building Green, Custom Home Construction, Custom Home Design | No Comments
The Nest Learning Thermostat

The Nest Learning Thermostat

As a custom homebuilder, I’m always eager to pass on money-saving tips and products to my clients. I recently discovered a Smart Thermostat that can save you up to 20 percent on your annual energy bill and it’s affordable. It’s called Nest Learning Thermostat, an intuitive system that learns your temperature preferences and thermostat habits and then tweaks them for energy savings. Based on your usage, Nest devises a schedule and programs itself to run your home’s heating and cooling more efficiently.

I’m installing Nest Learning Thermostats for a client who sees both their monetary and design value. The home is Mod-Mediterranean, a fusion of traditional and contemporary style, so the sleek design of Nest fits right in and looks great on the walls.

Custom home in the gated community of Magnolia Plantation  under construction that will feature the Nest Learning Thermostats

Custom home in the gated community of Magnolia Plantation under construction that will feature the Nest Learning Thermostats

According to the manufacturer, 89 percent of programmable thermostats waste energy, costing homeowners an extra $173 a year. Why? Because many homeowners find thermostats difficult to program or they simply don’t bother. It’s a known fact that the thermostat can be the biggest energy hog in a home. Replacing old, inefficient ones with Smart Thermostats can add up to significant savings.

Nest Learning Thermostat with leaf icon

Nest Learning Thermostat with leaf icon

The Nest also encourages energy-saving habits with a “leaf” reward system. A leaf icon on the thermostat appears when the user does something that saves energy. The homeowner can earn a leaf by adjusting the temperature for energy savings throughout the day. The Nest also comes with a mobile app for remote control of the thermostat from a smart device. There’s also an “Auto-Away” mode that turns to an energy-savings temperature, when the homeowner is gone.

For homeowners, Nest offers an affordable, easy-to-install option for upgrading thermostat intelligence in the home. The Nest retails for $249 a unit and $199 for the first installation and $25 for each additional installation. For more design ideas and money-saving tips, subscribe to my blog and video series.