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The Transitions Approach to Design: Health, Happiness, Nature + Space

The Transitions Approach to Design: Health, Happiness, Nature + Space

When we envisioned what kind of company Stearns Design would be, we focused on the matter at hand:  Designing and Building Happiness. While this is our company tagline, it means so much more than just a marketing slogan. Designing and building happiness is actually based on substantial and empirical evidence.

Studies show that individuals who follow the phase of the moon or know what time the sun rises and sets are significantly happier and more present.

In 1984 Roger Ulrich, now at Texas A&M, reviewed the medical records of patients recovering from gallbladder surgery. The patients were split into two rooms, half with a view of nature and half without. Dr. Ulrich was able to determine that recovery time for those who had a view of nature was one day quicker, they needed less pain medication and had fewer post-surgical complications. Since that study, the medical and business world has become very focused on the implications of connections to nature for health and productivity.

The benefits of spending time in nature are astounding: lowering stress, reducing blood pressure and heart rate and feeling better emotionally.

Our goal at Stearns is to ensure a seamless transition between nature and residential design. This is what the largest effect can be felt. Our homes are not only the place we spend most of our time but rather a sanctuary where we involuntarily seek refuge and restoration.

In order to better articulate this vital aspect and crossover of nature + space,  we decided to create our own design category and call it Transitions.

To us, Transitions in the design that coincides directly with the permeability of space. Ultimately, the physical and sensory Transitions to not only natural spaces but community space as well.

For many, the first step in designing a home is to look at floor plans. While this is an important step and incredibly common, we like to add another elemental + integrative piece to the journey of designing a home.

  • What will my windows face? 
  • What view will you see? OR, what view brings joy?
  • What is the orientation of the sun?
  • What kind of breeze will stream through during spring?

Our design journey includes making space to ask these questions. Blurring the lines, creating a relationship and partnership between the lines of a home + the natural surroundings.  Our Transitions approach can help guide + create this sacred space for you and your loved ones. 

Or ask yourself this: 

  • What is the value of a home placed with respect to the sun’s movement, views, and mindful transitions to spaces infused with nature??
  • Have you envisioned having your morning coffee on a screened-in porch?
  • The fragrance of your favorite flowers wafting in through the upstairs bedroom? 
  • The view of your favorite oak tree?
  • A  front porch that invites conversations with neighbors?

These are the Transitions that enrich our lives. 

When designing a new home, our goal is to meld these elements and to capture both physical and visual transitions into our beautiful native environment. The Transitions approach to design is an invitation to a lifestyle. A lifestyle that engages all the senses.

Whether you are considering the design of a new home or modifications to an existing home, this approach can make a difference in how happy, healthy, and fulfilled you are.

If you have a project in mind for your home in the Bryan/College Station area, let’s chat. We’ll love to hear from you!

Aging in Place

Aging in Place

Seniors are staying in their homes longer, otherwise known as aging in place. This is significantly affecting their quality of life, all while dealing with financial issues. 

Being at home allows seniors a higher level of independence, while also reducing the stress of individuals having to relocate. As you can imagine, a sense of connection to personal space becomes heightened as we all age. 

According to Census Bureau projections, the number of Americans ages 65 and older is projected to nearly double from 52 million in 2018 to 95 million by 2060. This, along with a nursing shortage, is causing the assisted living options to increase in price. Staying at home is just one way that seniors are alleviating their living costs.   

We would like to introduce Stearns Home Care, a subsidiary of Stearns Design Build, now provides an annual subscription service that provides regular home maintenance, concurrently allowing seniors to stay in their homes longer. Simultaneously, the service is also available to those who prefer not to do home maintenance themselves or simply don’t have the time.

Owner Hugh Stearns, said, “Over the years, we have noticed that many people move out of their family home and into assisted living because they can no longer maintain the home. This does not need to happen. Helping seniors stay in their home longer falls directly within our mission of providing quality of life in the home and providing environmentally friendly solutions.”

Stearns Home Care service includes a multitude of things such as cleaning gutters, maintaining fixtures and appliances, changing light bulbs and batteries, and checking and repairing weather stripping. A full spectrum of service is provided over six visits annually.

General manager Ben Herrington said, “It is incredibly gratifying to know that we are helping seniors stay in their homes longer. Each person and each home has its own set of stories.”

In addition to the maintenance service, Stearns Home Care is also available to provide aging in place modifications such as ramps and grab bar installation.

Stearns said, “While this service was created to assist people who want to stay in their family home as long as possible, it is also popular with busy people who want their home maintained but don’t have the time or desire to do what it takes. We find that the typical homeowner does only a small amount of the maintenance necessary to maintain a home’s full value and often a lack of maintenance leads to costly repairs and shortened durability.” 

Food For Thought

Food For Thought

Do you want value?  Of course, you do. Doesn’t everyone? 

But what does that mean?  Value is not a fixed point. It is an equation.  An often-used example in discussions of value is the fine Italian shoes that cost twice as much as a regular pair of shoes but last four times longer.  The Italian shoes are an excellent value… if you can afford them. 

Homes provide a much more complex equation than shoes. Just like shoes- durability, fashion, and design are key issues but with many more variables within each category. Additionally, the cost of maintenance and utilities are also part of this equation.

The single variable for home buying is cost per square foot, which throws all of these variables for value out the cheap, builder-grade window.  Unfortunately, the price per square foot is not a good benchmark for value but that is what sells homes. Typically, to get the price per square foot down, builders are encouraged to provide the most space possible for the lowest price possible.  This has given birth to a whole line of building products called “builder grade.”  This means that the builder will provide the lowest possible quality that will ensure getting through the short warranty period.

 The same opportunities to use cheap materials and cut corners on craftsmanship exist in remodeling. If fact, they are even more of an issue. This is because the spaces that are most frequently remodeled are those with the most finish in them: cabinets, tile, appliances, and fixtures.  For example, bathrooms and kitchens are rooms that sometimes lack the durability and quality that homeowners expect. This can be incredibly frustrating and inconvenient for the homeowner. This is due to many builders cutting corners in order to reduce the price per square foot. 

Just like you pay a mortgage payment every month, you also pay your utility bill every month. The difference is you never pay your utility bill off.

Unless you start generating your own energy you will continue to get a bill from the utility company, even after your mortgage is fully paid.

Here at Stearns, our crews are trained to NOT cut corners.  Nonetheless, we are happy to put our expertise to work for you! Even if you’re doing the work yourself, please don’t hesitate to email or call us. We’d love to help!

Beautiful Bathroom Remodel in Bryan, Texas

Beautiful Bathroom Remodel in Bryan, Texas

Before the remodel, this bathroom was not functional at all! It was a large space that felt very crowded, so our intention was to increase the size and maximize the space. 

Everything in this bathroom was cramped together and let’s not forget the awful phonebooth shower. (fingers crossed phonebooth showers stay in the past!)  Collectively, we set out to re-envision a bathroom that is functional and relaxing.  

In most cases, it’s difficult to accomplish everything on your wish list. By splitting up the double sinks and putting the shower in between the two, it made maneuvering around this bathroom much easier.  Before this bathroom had a ton of wasted space and while it was a challenge; we were thrilled with the final design and outcome.


Stunning Kitchen Renovation in Bryan, Texas.

Stunning Kitchen Renovation in Bryan, Texas.

What do you do when you move into a home that has a cozy kitchen that absolutely has nothing to do with your style and was designed for the previous owner? Well, you tear it out and make it your own.

This kitchen went from a farm-style to an Italian-style kitchen. Plenty of storage and an efficient work area.

Additionally, the island allows company in the kitchen, without getting in the way of the chef.