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Tuscan Home Replaces Tear Down for Urban Curb Appeal

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

Villa Bimalina on Park Avenue in Winter Park, Florida built by Orlando Custom Home Builder Jorge Ulibarri www.imyourbuilder.com

Villa Bimalina, built by Orlando Custom Homebuilder Jorge Ulibarri,  is located in the historical and scenic city of Winter Park Florida on along its main street, Park Avenue, a brick-paved road under a canopy of 100-year-old oak trees.


The original home on Park Avenue just blocks from the shopping district. It was torn down to make way for Villa Bimalina.


The original home on the site was built in the 1950s and situated on a narrow lot that measures 70 feet wide and 150 feet deep but the buildable area was only 55 feet wide and 100 feet deep. The challenge was put 4,600 square feet of living space plus an outdoor living area, kitchen and pool on this narrow footprint. After tearing down the original 3,200 square foot home just blocks from the city’s pedestrian friendly shopping district, work began. The project presented unique challenges due to the city’s stringent building codes aimed at preserving its heritage dating back to the 1880s. Winter Park is characterized by a grid of brick and tree-lined streets that wind around a chain of lakes. Some of the construction challenges to overcome were working around oak canopy on the property and the stringent city of Winter Park building codes that required specialty features such pervious pavers and larger than typical setbacks.


Villa Bimalina on Park Avenue in Winter Park, Florida built by Orlando Custom Home Builder Jorge Ulibarri www.imyourbuilder.com

The client for Villa Bimalina is from Canada and wanted a second home in Florida. He visited a few of Jorge’s homes under construction and decided that he wanted a Tuscan style two-story home with a tower entrance and Old World interiors. The home’s floor plan had to fit the 55-foot wide buildable area so the house is deeper than it is wide with a rear entry garage.


rear entry garage of Villa Bimalina on Park Avenue in Winter Park, Florida built by Orlando Custom Home Builder Jorge Ulibarri www.imyourbuilder.com

“We wanted to create a house with curb appeal authentic to the area’s architectural character and physical ambiance. For the exterior, we used a balanced combination of stucco and stone with precast accents. We built the tower, the home’s two chimneys and covered patio in stone and added precast accents. One distinguishing signature of a Jorge Ulibarri home is the custom-crafted wrought iron and glass front door. Double-banded precast stone dramatically frames this one.


Tower entry of Villa Bimalina on Park Avenue in Winter Park, Florida built by Orlando Custom Home Builder Jorge Ulibarri www.imyourbuilder.com

The scene-stealer in the home is the groin vault ceiling in the formal living room. Craftsmen created the groin vault also known as a double barrel vault by intersecting at right angles two-barrel vaults. This stunning ceiling treatment requires a great deal of skill to carefully craft the geometric portions of the cross groins. It adds a Romanesque element to the home’s Old World interiors.


Formal living room of Villa Bimalina on Park Avenue in Winter Park, Florida built by Orlando Custom Home Builder Jorge Ulibarri www.imyourbuilder.com

Generous use of precast stone on the baseboards, crown moulding and windowsills are evident in every room, giving the home a gravitas associated with timeless architecture. Wrought iron accents throughout including chandeliers and stairway railings reference the art of ancient metalworks. Glass and stone mosaics embellish even the smallest details such as the step risers.


Upstairs of Villa Bimalina on Park Avenue in Winter Park, Florida built by Orlando Custom Home Builder Jorge Ulibarri www.imyourbuilder.com


The home’s Tuscan farmhouse kitchen features a precast range hood framed by a stone niche with rustic distressed wood cabinetry in walnut and ivory and patterned granite countertops and kitchen island. A wrought iron pantry door complements the matching chandelier hanging from a barrel ceiling that undulates with wood beams.


Kitchen of Villa Bimalina on Park Avenue in Winter Park, Florida built by Orlando Custom Home Builder Jorge Ulibarri www.imyourbuilder.com


Kitchen pantry of Villa Bimalina on Park Avenue in Winter Park, Florida built by Orlando Custom Home Builder Jorge Ulibarri www.imyourbuilder.com

Villa Bimalina’s main floor wraps around the pool and outdoor living room and kitchen. The kitchen opens up to the great room and both take advantage of abundant natural light from the sliding glass walls leading to the pool.


Great room of Villa Bimalina on Park Avenue in Winter Park, Florida built by Orlando Custom Home Builder Jorge Ulibarri www.imyourbuilder.com


The master bedroom creates warmth with wood plank floors framed by travertine tile. The beams and vaulted ceiling expand the sense of space and richly complement the stone niche framing the bed. The room is meant to feel as if you were sleeping in an ancient chamber.  The master bathroom makes heavy use of stone, this raw and dry material is counterbalanced with the glossy, reflective sheen of glass mosaic designs throughout.  Copper sink vessels and hardware give the space an aged patina.


master suite of Villa Bimalina on Park Avenue in Winter Park, Florida built by Orlando Custom Home Builder Jorge Ulibarri www.imyourbuilder.com


A winding travertine and wrought iron staircase leads to the second floor with a decorative niche framed in precast at the stairway landing for visual pause.


Tower Entry of Villa Bimalina on Park Avenue in Winter Park, Florida built by Orlando Custom Home Builder Jorge Ulibarri www.imyourbuilder.com

The entry tower carves out a circular room on the second floor that serves as a living room overlooking the street. The second floor features three bedrooms and three bathrooms and a media room.


master bath of Villa Bimalina on Park Avenue in Winter Park, Florida built by Orlando Custom Home Builder Jorge Ulibarri www.imyourbuilder.com




Sport and Resort Pool, The Latest Trend in Pool Design

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

The latest trend in pool design combines sport and resort for a pool that does triple duty as the home’s showpiece, social hub and gym.

A pool designed for exercise and entertainment can be a wise investment-increasing your home’s value and enhancing your quality of life. The latest trend in pool design is Resort and Sport. Florida Custom Home Builder Jorge Ulibarri says clients these days are asking for pools built for a workout and a party. “Clients no longer want the lagoon-style pool with its boulders , cascading waterfalls and meandering shapes. Although these pools are pretty to look at, they aren’t as functional as the more contemporary, sleek designs,” explains Jorge, who is building a Sport and Resort-style pool for one of his clients that embodies this latest trend.

“Today’s pool designs are more contemporary and polished looking with clean lines. From a cost perspective, this look is affordable depending on the types of finishes the homeowner chooses. The beauty comes with the pool’s contrasting colors and mosaics. The contemporary style lends itself to a lot of creativity as opposed to the lagoon-style pool and its limited design,” says Jorge.

The design of a pool is dictated by its function. The homeowner wants this 1000 sq. ft. pool to become part of his fitness routine so its design spans 80 feet long to accommodate swimming laps. (Note a 25-yard pool is considered standard lap pool.) As an added bonus, the pool’s length makes it visible from every window of the house giving it a resort look.

Also designed to entertain, the saltwater pool features several social spaces such as a swim-up table, shallow water lounging areas, sunken seating, stepping-stones and a spa. The pool gets its contemporary edge from ample use of cobalt blue mosaics and pebble stone bottom with contrasting ivory travertine coping (pool’s edge)

The saltwater pool integrates with the outdoor covered living room via the spa, where water gracefully spills over the sides and flows back to the pool. Bubbling fountains throughout contribute to the soothing, melodic ambiance.

The budget for this pool is on the higher-end but Florida Custom Builder Jorge Ulibarri says there are always opportunities to save. In our next blog posting, we’ll give you some money-saving tips on the latest trends in pool design. Check back and be sure and subscribe to our blog and video series Trade Secrets for more affordable design ideas.

Making Dollars and Sense of a Common Construction Misconception

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PressBoard Versus Plywood

Home under construction by Jorge Ulibarri that features OSB in the second-story exterior walls for superior structural integrity. www.imyourbuilder.com

It might not be pretty to look at, but its  performance in the walls of a home proves looks can be deceiving when it comes to superior structural integrity.

As a luxury custom home builder, Jorge Ulibarri says his clients expect the best products and materials in their new homes, which is why many question the wood product commonly known as Pressboard or OSB (oriented strand board). This wood structural panel looks like a collage of wood pieces glued together but despite appearances, OSB is far superior to plywood in strength, durability, and price.

A close up look at OSB or “pressboard” structural panels that are superior to plywood in residential construction

For Florida homes, OSB performs better than plywood in the climate’s high humidity and moisture. “I find that plywood has a tendency to delaminate or buckle in hot, humid climates,” says Jorge, who uses OSB for the second-story floors and exterior framed walls of his custom homes.

OSB panel used in the exterior wall as seen in the framing stage on home under construction by Orlando Custom Home Builder, Jorge Ulibarri, www.imyourbuilder.com

OSB also has fewer weak spots or gaps than plywood. As an added benefit, OSB is both stronger and less expensive than plywood.  An OSB panel costs $3-to $5 less than a sheet of plywood. According to PATH, a Public-Private Partnership for Advanced Housing Technology, OSB saves approximately $700 in a typical 2,400 square foot home.

How’s it Made?

So what exactly is this “pressboard” as consumers like to call it? OSB is made from wood ground into thin strands in cross-oriented layers, compressed, and glued together. Unlike OSB, plywood comes from thin sheets of wood laid perpendicular, compressed and glued.

Plywood is made from thin layers of wood glued together but has more weak spots than OSB (pressboard)

OSB has been around since 1978 and has evolved to become the leading wood panel material used in residential construction throughout North America. “Building in climates such as Florida, it is inevitable that the construction site will encounter rain. OSB will weather this exposure a lot better and preserve the integrity of the structure,” explains Jorge.  Whether to go with plywood or OSB is a critical decision in the building process. Jorge advises consumers to ask what type of wood and wood structural panels will go into their new home.

OSB Is Affordable and Durable

Price alone should never dictate key materials in a new home; however, OSB is that rare exception that offers affordability AND durability . For more design ideas and new construction tips, subscribe to the video series Trade Secrets by Jorge, available on YouTube. If you have any questions or comments, please write us below. As with all of our blog postings, neither  the writer nor Jorge Ulibarri, the builder, receive payment or  compensation  for the ideas, information and opinions expressed. The intention of this blog is to educate consumers on the homebuilding process.

The Mod-Mediterranean Home

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


Tips To Blend Old World and Contemporary Styles

Mediterranean architecture endures in Florida as a style perfectly in sync with its surroundings and history, but exterior curb appeal doesn’t have to dictate interior decor. Florida Custom Builder Jorge Ulibarri says most of his clients prefer some variation of Mediterranean architecture but their interior preferences often merge Old World and 21st Century styles.  “I have clients who want a home that looks from the outside like it has endured for generations, yet on the inside, the style is sleek and modern-a look commonly defined as contemporary.”

Jorge is building several homes featuring Tuscan architecture with contemporary interiors. It’s a trend that Wolfe-Rizor Interiors, based in Winter Park, Florida,  is seeing as well. Design Principals Hattie Wolfe and Abigail Rizor say clients no longer want heavy furniture, fabrics and decor. “There is a formality to that look and the younger generations are very informal. Mediterranean is here to stay but clients now want contemporary interiors,” explains Hattie, who co-founded the interior design firm with Abigail 17 years ago.   The mother-daughter design team of Wolfe-Rizor says interiors are becoming more casual in feel. “People want less fuss, a sleeker, easier look to match their lifestyle,” says Abigail.

This modern twist on the Mediterranean home eschews heavy, ornate detailing popular in the 90s and early 2000s in favor of sleeker, simple flourishes. Custom Builder Jorge Ulibarri been in business for more than a decade and says the dominant style in Florida remains Mediterranean for practical reasons.  “There are many practical reasons for Mediterranean exteriors in Florida. Stucco finishes protect the walls of a home from rain, sunlight and Florida’s hot, humid climate,” explains Jorge. Many of his homes draw inspiration from the Haciendas Jorge grew up with in his native Mexico. “The tile roofs seen on many Florida homes actually help cool the home and protect it from water intrusion and fire,” says Jorge who points to the roof tile’s ancient engineering.  “Spanish and Mexican missions used tile made of out clay pots and bricks to shed water easily. The air pocket in the half tube helped to keep air cool.”

Wolfe-Rizor Interiors terms this style “Italian-Modern,” a popular twist on Old World architecture. “Americans have fallen in love with that Tuscan look, which used to mean heavy ornate detailing. But truthfully, Italians are known for great contemporary. Sleek cabinetry, terrazzo flooring, chrome state-of-the-art faucets, just to name a few elements,” says Abigail.

She cites the kitchen as an example. “Contemporary kitchens are big now and go well with Mediterranean architecture. Instead of heavy stained cabinetry with corbels and mosaics, cabinets are now flat paneled. Countertops are sleeker with contemporary hardware,” says Abigail.

Contemporary style kitchen seamlessly blends with its Old World architecture and exterior

The floor plan of today’s Mediterranean home also has evolved. Jorge says many clients are opting to forgo the formal living room.  “I’m building for two clients who both decided not to have formal living rooms to optimize their square footage. Most people today entertain in the kitchen and family room as a large open, connected social space,” says Jorge.

Contemporary kitchen with off white color palette seamlessly integrates rustic beams to blend modern and old world styles, photo courtesy of Florida Custom Builder Jorge Ulibarri, imyourbuilder.com

Wolfe-Rizor is seeing the same preferences with their clients. “For a while the ceilings couldn’t get high enough and rooms couldn’t get big enough. People didn’t know what to do with all that space. The trend now is to get cozier, more realistic about space and not have all this empty volume you have to fill up,” explains Hattie.

No matter what the architectural style, a home’s interior serves as the palette for self-expression. “It should tell the homeowner’s story, personify their tastes and lifestyle,” says Jorge. Therein lies the challenge of contemporary decor: creating a home that is warm and not cold and impersonal. “Ideally, contemporary decor is counter balanced with personal touches.”

Contemporary interior designed by Wolfe-Rizor Interiors that seamlessly integrates with Old World architecture. Photo courtesy of Wolfe-Rizor Interiors

At Wolfe-Rizor Interiors, the aim is to help clients create a home that looks lived in.  “When you go into a home and everything is new and contemporary, it looks like you don’t have a connection. A lived-in home showcases items that you’ve acquired over the years,” explains Hattie.

With tastes trending towards a mixture of the Old Word and 21st Century styles, how can a homeowner successfully integrate two different looks?

Here are a few tips:

Use color to bring the outside inside even though the styles are different. Abigail cites an example: “Use a strong color accent on the exterior such as painted shutters then integrate that color indoors with decorative accents such as pillows, printed fabrics or painted cabinetry.”

Choose contemporary light fixtures for the interior to mix rustic elements with modern design.

Furnish the room with monochromatic pieces and accent with color. Elements like a traditional velvet sofa and a contemporary coffee table relate to Mediterranean architecture but are more today.

Incorporate stainless steel kitchen appliances to give the kitchen a clean, utilitarian look and instant gourmet status while complimenting more rustic accents.

Accent with personal effects such as a great piece of art, family photos or a family heirloom. Use objects that represent where you have come from, where you have been, and adventures ahead. Those things make a house a home,” explains Abigail.

Contemporary interiors designed by Wolfe-Rizor Interiors that mixes personal effects with sleek furniture and decor to create a room that can successfully compliments the home’s Old World architecture

Mediterranean architecture remains the gold standard of Florida home design. Whether it’s Spanish Mission, Tuscan, Spanish Colonial, Italian Renaissance or another variation, successfully integrating Old World architecture with 21st Century interiors can create a signature style for the homeowner.

For more design tips and ideas to add affordable luxury to your living space, check out the series Trade Secrets by Jorge available on YouTube.


3 Tips To Prevent Water Intrusion in Your Home

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

As Tropical Storm Isaac dumps heavy rains across the Southeast, it’s testing the ability of many homes to withstand water intrusion. In the excitement of building a home, owners typically focus on the home’s finishes and sometimes neglect to ask about critical products that aren’t visible but work behind the scenes to protect the home. Waterproofing is one of THE MOST important considerations, especially if you live in climates with storm seasons such as Florida.

Here Are 3 Must-Dos to Waterproof Your Home:

Waterproof Exterior Balconies with Flashing & Proper Underlayment:

Balcony built with Flashing installed to prevent water intrusion, by Orlando custom builder Jorge Ulibarri, imyourbuilder.com

Flashing is the L-shaped sheet metal that goes from the balcony deck, up the walls and into the house underneath the door threshold to keep the rain out. Underneath the flashing is a membrane over the entire deck that seals the structure from water intrusion.

Drawing showing how flashing should be properly installed on points of entry to prevent water intrusion

It’s important that a certified company install the flashing according to the manufacturer’s specs and that the materials are top quality.

Build Roof Coverage on All Exterior Doors:

Roof coverage should extend 2-3 feet over all exterior door entryways to prevent water intrusion. All exterior doors should open to the outside. Front door on home designed and built by Orlando custom builder Jorge Ulibarri, imyourbuilder.com

Exterior doors on a home should always open to the outside and have roof coverage over the entry point, at least 2 to 3 feet extending out over the entry point to deflect water and prevent it from entering. In Florida, when it rains, strong winds tend to blow the rain horizontally, which literally pushes water into the home.  If the home’s exterior doors don’t have roof coverings, you can add awnings.

Install a Roof Membrane:

installation of roof membrane to prevent water intrusion

When going over the specs of the home, make sure your builder uses a self-adhesive membrane as underlayment under the roof tile.  This acts as a barrier to prevent water leaks.

For more tips on getting the best buy for your dollar with new home construction, subscribe to the series Trade Secrets by Jorge, available on YouTube

3 Tips to Avoid Costly Mistakes in Your Lot Purchase

By | Custom Home Construction, Custom Home Design | 4 Comments


Custom Home under construction by Orlando Custom Builder Jorge Ulibarri requiring a stem wall footer foundation. www.imyourbuilder.com

If you are in the market looking for a lot to build your custom home, here’s an important lesson in building a solid foundation. It can save you money and avoid costly surprises in the building process.  There are two types of foundations in Florida for the construction of a home: stem wall footers and monolithic.

The existing grade (surface) and slope of the property determines the type of foundation. In Florida, most lots are flat or semi-flat. Monolithic would be the proper choice. Sloped or uneven terrain requires stem wall footers.

Stem wall footer foundation under construction on lot for custom home with Orlando Custom Home Builder Jorge Ulibarri, www.imyourbuilder.com

The difference between the two? Stem wall footers are buried two or three feet below the house to avoid erosion and to anchor the house deeper into the ground into harder soils.

Stem wall footers are buried 2 to 3 feet below deep into the hard soils to solidly anchor a custom home under construction by Orlando Custom Home Builder Jorge Ulibarri

In monolithic foundations, the footers are incorporated into the house slab and they don’t go as deep. Stem wall footers is the more expensive foundation of the two and takes longer to build because it’s a two-part process.

Here are three tips to avoid costly mistakes when selecting your lot:

Before purchasing the lot, consult your builder and have him walk the property.

Order a Topography Survey from your surveyor.

Call your county building department and get your finished floor elevation to determine the difference between the existing grade and the proposed finished floor elevation.

Together, these three key pieces of information will determine how much fill the lot requires to make it buildable (or in some instances how much fill needs to be removed).  Fill is an important price consideration when deciding on a lot because it can add tens of thousands of dollars to the cost of the lot. Just another money-saving Trade Secret and for much more, subscribe to our Trade Secrets blog and the Trade Secrets video series on you tube.


Trade Secret #3-To Add Luxury for Less

By | Custom Home Construction, Custom Home Design | 3 Comments

Floor Transitions and Focal Points

Here’s Another Affordable Idea to Enhance Your Living Space: Create floor transitions and focal points to visually define space and create architectural character.

Today’s cost-conscious consumers want easy and inexpensive ways to enhance their living spaces without breaking the bank. Florida Custom Homebuilder Jorge Ulibarri says anyone can add affordable architectural elements that give a home that custom look on a budget. One of Jorge’s most stunning and functional design ideas starts underfoot with floor transitions.

Floor transitions are subtle details that define and separate spaces while enhancing the floors.  It’s a design element or embellishment that visually marks a spatial boundary or highlights an architectural detail. Transitions are design details that are often overlooked but are the mark of a well- built, well-designed home.

The floor medallion is an inexpensive floor transition that carries high visual value.

Floor medallion made of wood inlays draws attention to high profile areas of the home and adds a luxurious touch, designed and built by Jorge Ulibarri, www.imyourbuilder.com

Installing  floor medallions to  high traffic areas of the home is an easy way to update an existing floor or customize a new one. Floor medallions serve as eye-catching focal points to define and highlight a space. Jorge uses two types of floor medallions in his homes: wood inlaid and travertine mosaic.

Floor medallion made of stonework is a highly visible and affordable accent to update or enhance your floor, designed and built by Jorge Ulibarri, www.imyourbuilder.com

Expect to pay approximately $500-$600 for a travertine mosaic floor medallion and $1200 for a wood inlaid medallion.  Floor medallions are  unique and elegant-something you don’t find in many custom homes and is sure to give any home a signature look.

Mosaic mats made of travertine or stone also visually delineate different rooms.

a travertine mosaic mat under the archway visually defines space as we transition from the hallway into the master suite, designed and built by Jorge Ulibarri, www.imyourbuilder.com

Jorge recommends travertine mosaics as an ideal choice for floor transitions because they are affordable, easy to install, and have a lot of design potential. These mosaic mats can serve as “rugs” to transition from room to room such as the hallway to the formal living room or kitchen to family room. Consider placing mosaic mats under the archways to separate the rooms in an open floor plan and to announce the boundaries from one room to the next.  This floor transition typically comes in 12-inch by 12-inch mats and cost approximately $10 per square foot. The installation runs around $120 a transition.

chiseled edge travertine frames a polished travertine floor in the formal living room to visually define space, designed and built by Jorge Ulibarri, www.imyourbuilder.com

Wood floor planks that frame a space are another option.

wood floor planks frame a polished travertine floor, designed and built by Jorge Ulibarri, www.imyourbuilder.com

Envision placing wood floor planks around the perimeter of a room and fill in the floor space with travertine or carpet. Wood floor planks  can pull from the beams and tongue and groove ceilings to create a lot of warmth and old world ambiance. For more affordable design ideas to add luxury to your living space, subscribe to the video series,  Trade Secrets by Jorge, available on YouTube

Trade Secret #2 to Add Luxury for Less

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

Stylize Small Spaces:

Strategically designed small spaces are the mark of a well-built home and can add a lot of character for minimal cost. Florida Custom Homebuilder Jorge Ulibarri  is always looking 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 leave no wasted space in a home. 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.

a winery created underneath the staircase with wrought-iron door and window is an artistic way to stylize a small space. Designed and built by Jorge Ulibarri, www.imyourbuilder.com

A winery is affordable and easy to create because you need a very small space, at least 18 inches. 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 Jorge Ulibarri’s homes, he 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.

inside the winery, half barrels serve as wine bottle storage. Designed and built by Jorge Ulibarri, www.imyourbuilder.com

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.

Built-in bar area in the recessed space adds character and functionality to the room. Designed and built by Jorge Ulibarri, www.imyourbuilder.com

Built-ins are another way to optimize square footage in a home. Look for existing walls of certain rooms where you 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.  Embellish the space with an arch or wood beam overhead to highlight the space.  Another functional space for built-ins is in the office. It’s an  ideal place to  create a built-in desk and cabinetry. In the media room or game room, consider a built-in bar area crafted out of the recessed space.  Small stylized spaces are functional and can serve as architectural focal points. For additional design tips and money saving ideas,  be sure and subscribe to the video series Trade Secrets by Jorge on YouTube.

Top 3 Trade Secrets for a Multi-Tasking Kitchen

By | Custom Home Construction, Custom Home Design, Kitchen Design | 5 Comments


Kitchen designed and built by Jorge Ulibarri www.imyourbuilder.com

The modern kitchen in today’s home must be a multi-tasker, able to handle more household duties than just the cooking. Custom Home Builder Jorge Ulibarri says his clients are asking for kitchens that take on tasks once reserved for single-use spaces. “Today’s kitchen comes stocked with amenities that handle household business such as computer niches, technology stations, and recycling centers all designed in an open floor plan that seamlessly integrates the kitchen with the great room (family room) and dining area.” Jorge has been in business for more than 12 years designing and building custom residences throughout Florida. Based on his observations of changing lifestyle needs in the function and design of the kitchen, he shares his top three trade secrets for creating a modern multi-tasking kitchen.

Create Work Stations:

Today’s kitchen has to handle all types of household business from paying bills to doing homework. The modern floor plan contains workstations and task-oriented cabinetry to facilitate daily life. Cabinetry design features accessibility and convenience with fewer overhead cabinets and more lift-up or sliding doors and pull out drawers at arm’s reach.  Work areas can include a baking station with tray drawers, the food prep area, the coffee bar, and custom storage compartments for appliances. “I design the kitchen to include architectural elements such as wall niches and bump-outs to store coffee machines and other appliances or to showcase dinnerware.”

A computer niche in the kitchen can serve as a satellite home office allowing members of the family to research recipes, do homework, pay bills, and shop online. “The kitchen computer niche is another feature that brings the family together in the heart of the home. It keeps the kids out of the formal office and allows supervision of their online activities.”

According to the American Institute of Architects’ recent design trends survey, 43 percent of architects polled saw an increase in demand for computer areas in the kitchen. “The last few years have seen kitchens take on new functions with dedicated computer areas and recharging stations,” says the AIA.

Although everything can be done wireless, Jorge says some clients want the option of a CAT 5 connection point in the kitchen.

Create an Entry Drop Zone:

The corridor leading from the garage to the kitchen is an ideal space to serve as a drop zone. Jorge designs this area with a bench and under seating storage for people to sit, remove and store shoes. The entrance corridor also features upper cabinets for sports gear and backpacks and wall pegs to hang jackets, umbrellas and other articles of clothing. A countertop serves as a technology docking area to recharge phones and other electronic devices. Underneath the countertop are   filing drawers to store household paperwork. The drop zone frees up the kitchen to focus on other tasks and prevents clutter. “I design this area to be just as architecturally relevant as the rest of the house even though its function is solely utilitarian.”

Jorge enhances the look of the drop zone by adding an arch or beam header to integrate wood elements. The bench base is accented in travertine or stone with cedar wood doors that open to storage compartments underneath. The upper cabinets feature distressed wood complimenting the beam and cedar doors below. The pegboard is an opportunity to introduce clever design elements such as antique hardware and family memorabilia.

Create Social Spaces:

A well-designed kitchen island is essential for entertaining in today’s kitchen. Jorge designs the kitchen island with a minimum of 42” clearance all the way around and a 36”-high bar top that is level with the island. “If you don’t have the space, make the island smaller or reconfigure the kitchen so it’s bigger. Don’t cramp the kitchen. You’ll regret it.”

Jorge recommends consulting with the supplier of the countertop surface during the design phase so there are no issues with the sizing and installation of the countertop with the base cabinetry. “This is a common and costly mistake people make. They build the kitchen cabinetry months before they look at their stone countertop options only to discover the pieces aren’t large enough. So, they end up with a seam in the middle of the island and pay for two slabs instead of one.” Countertop stone selection is a team effort with the kitchen designer, cabinet manufacturer, builder and homeowner.

A social kitchen is one where entertaining happens indoors and outdoors. The trend in home design is to merge the outdoor and indoor living space. The location of the kitchen is key to this successful integration. “People gravitate towards the kitchen. By locating the kitchen next to the outdoor living space, it will pull people outside. Essentially, the kitchen becomes part of an indoor-outdoor party room by adding sliding glass walls to create one space. The outdoor kitchen can handle the grilling while the indoor kitchen serves as the food prep area and a window over the sink can open up to pass through beverages.”

Today’s kitchen takes on many roles, designed to be the cook, the entertainer and the household manager. 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 -www.facebook.com/Jorge.Ulibarri.Luxury.Home.Builder


Cast Stone for Affordable Timeless Touches

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Another money-saving idea to add luxury to your living space

Cast stone range hood in a home designed and built by Florida Custom Builder Jorge Ulibarri

Cast stone range hood in a home designed and built by Florida Custom Builder Jorge Ulibarri

For centuries, cast stone has been used in some of the world’s most celebrated monuments and architectural works. Today, cast stone remains a popular architectural element for its cost and durability. In custom homes, cast stone is often the material of choice for a variety of ornamental details including the fireplace mantle, range hood, windowsills, columns, crown molding and even baseboard. Florida Custom Home Builder Jorge Ulibarri uses cast stone or architectural precast in most of his homes as an affordable architectural detail that gives the home character and its timeless appeal.

His latest example is a Tuscan-style home on Park Avenue in Winter Park, Florida. The home will feature cast stone details throughout including cast stone interior window stills. It’s an original architectural touch that creates a dramatic visual impact and adds to the home’s timeworn style.  “The cast stone window stills are considered an upgrade from the wood window sills that I typically include with my homes. The cost for the cast stone upgrade is approximately $40 dollars more per sill but far more affordable than real stone,” says Jorge.

What is Cast Stone or Architectural Precast?

According to the Architectural Precast Association (APA), cast stone and architectural precast are comprised of

Cast Stone windowsill and door surround on winery in a home designed and built by Florida Custom Builder Jorge Ulibarri

cement, sand, water, pigment and additives to achieve a finish that simulates natural stone. This cement aggregate is poured into a mold and cured to create a variety of shapes and structures. Cast stone products can look like a variety of natural building stones including but not limited to limestone, granite, slate, travertine or marble.

The APA calls the production of architectural cast stone an art form. “When done properly, this product provides the owner with a beautiful, lower cost structure that will maintain its aesthetic properties for many decades,” says Fred McGee, former executive director of the Architectural Precast Association.

The use of cast stone has a long and storied history. The APA says the earliest known use of cast stone dates about to the year 1138 and was seen at Carcassonne, France, the Cite, which contains the finest remains of medieval fortification in Europe. Cast stone was first used extensively in London in the year 1900 and gained widespread acceptance in America in 1920.

The Advantage of Cast Stone over Natural Stone

For ornamentation, Florida Custom Builder Jorge Ulibarri prefers cast stone to natural cut building stone for its affordability, durability, and its ability to simulate the look of natural stone.  “Cast stone weathers better than natural stone. It is structurally stronger when properly reinforced and it offers a consistent look for trim or ornamentation that natural cut stone does not.”

Ideas to Enhance Your Living Space with Cast Stone

Cast stone fireplace mantle in a home designed and built by Florida Custom Builder Jorge Ulibarri

Precast stone is a luxurious and timeless architectural detail that can enhance the style of any home. It’s affordable when used in high profile, small spaces. Some potential uses of precast stone include: columns, windowsills and door surrounds and entries, and cladding, fireplace mantles. For more affordable design tips, check out the series Trade Secrets by Jorge on YouTube and Vimeo.