This is an interesting series of photos that can inform our use of reflection in designed spaces. We usually think of mirrors, as this title suggests, as something having to do with vanity. That is a reflection of ourselves and placed over a vanity cabinet. But mirrors reflect a great deal other than people. They can accentuate shapes and play a big part in lighting design. They can make a shall room feel larger and a dark room appear lighter.
Spring is here in College Station and Bryan and summer is just around the corner. Everyone already wants to spend more time enjoying the outdoors! It’s a perfect time to start planning and building your outdoor kitchen.
A great outdoor kitchen is at least a couple of notches above a nice patio furniture set and your portable barbecue grill. We all love that picnic feel, but if you are going to spend your evenings entertaining or just relaxing and enjoying the cooler evening temperatures outside, you may want more amenities. Plus, an outdoor kitchen is a great way to keep your home cooler by avoiding the use of your oven and other appliances inside.
You can start your unique outdoor kitchen by placing a grill into stonework and creating custom-built counter-tops on either side. This gives you easy-to-navigate areas for food preparation, cooking, and serving.
Next, you can add lights so that you won’t be limited to enjoying your outdoor kitchen during daylight hours. You may either choose to run electricity or install battery- or solar-powered lights. Since you want to enjoy the natural light as much as possible, you really just need enough light to be able to prepare, cook and serve safely. If you choose to run electricity to your outdoor kitchen, you can also add a small refrigerator to keep your favorite beverages and condiments handy.
Here are a few other ideas:
For shade during the summer, you can build your kitchen under an existing covered porch, add a pergola, or buy a large patio umbrella.
Adding a water line to your outdoor kitchen will allow you to install a small sink for food preparation and clean up.
Add a fireplace or portable fire pit if you want to keep using your great outdoor space when the weather turns cold or just to add a little ambiance for the adults and a way to make s’mores with the kids!
A gas line will allow you the option of barbeque fuels and adding a small cook top or oven can stretch your outdoor culinary choices even further.
The possibilities for your outdoor kitchen are numerous and really depend on the frequency that you intend to use your kitchen and your budget. You can always start small, building around your existing home’s features and your existing barbecue, and add on next year.
The key is to make it cool, keep it classy, and enjoy our wonderful spring and summer climate here in Bryan and College Station.
We also love Screened in Porches
There are many options when considering an ADA size specific, roll-in shower remodel. Although the primary need may be for wheelchair accessibility, a roll-in shower can also provide style and beauty to any bathroom.
As you can see, the aesthetic flow of the bathroom was not interrupted by converting the existing shower into one that is more accessible.
The modern look of these showers also give your bathroom a sense of high-end, spa-like luxury that is completely functional.
For more information on bathroom remodeling contact Stearns Design-Build.
In a previous post we spoke about the importance of using thermal mass on the inside of a home in a hot humid climate like that in Bryan and College Station. This time we will talk about home design ideas that will help achieve this.
Most homes in the Brazos valley are built on monolithic slab foundations. Not only is this probably the largest structure in your home, it is also tied to the earth; which actually provides geothermal heating and cooling. Though a floor may be cool to bare feet in the winter, most of the time it is much warmer than the outside temperature. Most builders use a great deal of carpet as a means of keeping the cost per square foot low. Although this is an effective way to reduce the upfront cost of a home, it covers and minimizes a large and expensive asset.
Maintaining the thermal mass of the foundation is a great way to reduce energy costs. This can be accomplished by staining the concrete or, more commonly, by using a stone or tile on the floor. For those cold winter feet, use area rugs in high traffic areas. This allows enough exposure of large areas of thermal mass to be of benefit.
While most fireplaces are a large source of energy loss, using rock or brick around them can add beauty and thermal mass. In your home design, consider extending this outcrop of hard surface. However, be mindful of the connection of this thermal mass to the outside where it will conduct outside temperatures into the house.
In our custom designed homes, we usually incorporate rock or brick walls where possible. This is especially effective at entryways where a visual connection to the outside material can help create continuity. Thermal mass walls can add contrast and texture to tall walls. An especially beautiful wall can be created with a process called rammed earth; which is exactly what it sounds like. A precise combination of sand and clay is used to create a manufactured sandstone using pressure to form the structure.
These are not features commonly found in tract homes as they add to the cost per square foot but they add beauty, grandeur, elegance and energy efficiency which makes them a great consideration for custom homes. These can be considered practices for green homes but they are smart and beautiful practices for any home.