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The Curb Appeal Power of the Tower

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Tower Entry of Villa DiLusso, a home designed and built by Orlando Custom Builder Jorge Ulibarri

Tower Entry of Villa DiLusso, a home designed and built by Orlando Custom Builder Jorge Ulibarri

Eye-catching curb appeal, the kind neighbors rave about and passerby’s stop and admire, comes from a key focal point on the home’s exterior. The tower entry is a stunning visual anchor that goes with a variety of architectural styles and lends itself to almost any lot configuration and floor plan layout.

Tower Entry on a home on Park Ave in Winter Park, Florida designed and built by  Orlando Custom Builder Jorge Ulibarri

Tower Entry on a home on Park Ave in Winter Park, Florida designed and built by Orlando Custom Builder Jorge Ulibarri

It adds movement and character to a home’s elevation and creates a memorable first impression by making a grand entrance. Imagine entering into a lobby with a 24-foot high ceiling embellished with beams, a majestic chandelier and a spiral staircase that winds along the wall resting at a marble floor medallion. Such a grand entrance sets the tone of the home before anyone steps into the main living spaces.

Ceiling view of tower entry on home designed and built by Orlando Custom Builder Jorge Ulibarri

Ceiling view of tower entry on home designed and built by Orlando Custom Builder Jorge Ulibarri

In addition to its aesthetic value, the tower entrance is functional square footage when it accommodates the staircase. Without the staircase, the tower entry could be considered wasted, showy space adding a lot of square footage to the home with little function.

For Orlando Custom Homebuilder Jorge Ulibarri, the tower entrance is his signature trademark. Jorge says it’s the architectural ideal of form and function. “The tower entrance creates a dramatic lobby with high ceilings and provides the space for a spiral floating staircase so it optimizes square footage,” says Jorge. He adds this architectural feature to many styles including Mediterranean, Contemporary and variations in between.

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Tower Entry Front Facing on home designed and built by Orlando Custom Builder Jorge Ulibarri

Tower Entry Front Facing on home designed and built by Orlando Custom Builder Jorge Ulibarri

Tower Entrance Design Options:

There are two options with the placement of the tower entrance: the center or a corner of the home. The choice of where to place the tower entrance is a personal preference.

Center Tower Entrance:

Center Tower Entrance on home designed and built by Orlando Custom Builder Jorge Ulibarri

Center Tower Entrance on home designed and built by Orlando Custom Builder Jorge Ulibarri

When the tower is situated in the center of the home’s elevation, the design is limited to an entrance on a 45-degree angle. The front door cannot face the street because the spiral staircase won’t have enough distance from its starting point to provide clearance for people to pass underneath into the main living space.

Corner Tower Entrance:

Corner Tower Entrance on home designed and built by Orlando Custom Builder Jorge Ulibarri

Corner Tower Entrance on home designed and built by Orlando Custom Builder Jorge Ulibarri

The corner tower entrance is ideal because it is already situated on a 45-degree angle. This design allows the front door to face the street since it’s already an angle. A corner tower entrance provides enough space for the spiraling staircase to start either to the left or right of the front door, allowing enough clearance for people to pass through.

Center Tower Entrance on home designed and built by Orlando Custom Builder Jorge Ulibarri

Center Tower Entrance on home designed and built by Orlando Custom Builder Jorge Ulibarri

For more design ideas and money-saving new construction tips, subscribe to the video series, Trade Secrets, available on YouTube.

Trade Secret #3-To Add Luxury for Less

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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

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.

Defining Space with Floor Transitions and Arches

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“Another Affordable Idea to Enhance Your Living Space”

Today’s cost-conscious consumers want easy and inexpensive ways to enhance their living spaces without breaking the bank. Luxury Homebuilder Jorge Ulibarri builds million dollar homes and 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 and ends upwards with archways.

Mosaic transition and arches in the hallway define space

“There are many affordable ways to create and define space in a home with the strategic use of floor transitions and archways,” explains Jorge, who has more than a decade of experience designing and building custom homes for all budgets.  What is a design transition? A transition visually divides space. 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.” 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. “In an open floorplan, I place travertine mosaic mats under the archways to separate the rooms. This way, we maintain the open floorplan but we give each space a visual separation from the other. These mosaics come in 12-inch by 12-inch mats and they are roughly $10 per square foot. The installation runs around $120 a transition. I would use transitions sparingly and strategically in high profile areas of the home.”

Travertine Medallion in Tower Entry

Floor medallions also serve as eye-catching focal points to define and highlight a space, especially in high traffic areas of the home.  Jorge uses two types of floor medallions in his homes: wood inlaid and travertine mosaic.

Jorge says there are thousands of choices when it comes to floor medallions.  The example pictured with this article is in the tower entry of the home. It is a 36-inch medallion. “To save money, we enlarged it to 48 inches by adding 4 by 4 mosaics all the way around it to compliment the staircase risers, which also have the same mosaics.” The cost to add this travertine medallion is  $120 for materials and labor according to Jorge.

The wood inlaid floor medallion is another stunning option. The example pictured here is in the foyer of the home. “I typically put wood floor medallions in the entry way or foyer of a home. These hardwood inlay floor medallions are laser cut. I purchase them online from Atlanta Inlaid Floors www.atlantainlaidfloors.com  Installation is simple. Once the floor is completed, we do a template of the medallion. We trace it over the floor, cut out the travertine, apply liquid nails to the floor and insert the medallion. The key thing here is to make sure that the medallion is flush with the existing floor, not too low or too high.”

Wood Floor Medallion in high profile area

Wood floor materials also make artistic transitions from room to room. Another creative idea is to use wood floor planks to “frame” around stone or tile floors. The wood accents can pull from the beams or tongue and groove ceilings to create a lot of warmth and character.

Instead of blowing your budget on interior decorating, consider investing in visual enhancements to the bones of your home -the walls, floors, and ceilings. The return on investment will be much greater with a well-built home that showcases itself instead of a home that requires overdone decorating to “dress it up” and compensate for architectural shortcomings.

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.

Trade Secrets by Jorge- Floor Design Ideas

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http://youtu.be/YCeXhGjUdpc?hd=1

Custom Touches that Will Floor You

In this episode of Trade Secrets by Jorge, Luxury Homebuilder Jorge Ulibarri focuses on floor design. Jorge takes viewers on a tour of one of his homes that showcases a mixture of floor designs and materials. Jorge shares ways to create and define space with floor transitions and offers ideas to add affordable custom touches such as floor medallions, wood details, and mosaics to create that luxury look on a budget.
Watch the latest episode of Trade Secrets by Jorge for “Another Affordable Idea to Enhance Your Living Space”

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