Stearns Storage Guide

Stearns Storage Guide

Storage can be tricky when designing a home and if it isn’t done correctly, you’ll end up with tons of wasted and unused space. It can pose an especially large challenge when you’re limited by small spaces.     

One of our goals as a company is to take our client’s challenges in their home to create custom rooms to fit their individual needs.  

Enter our tagline: “We Design and Build Happiness”.  Storage is a huge aspect of home customization, particularly in kitchens and bathrooms.    

Continue reading, as we invite you to unleash your home’s true storage potential!

The Entryway Storage

Let’s begin with the first destination in your home: the entryway. 

An entry table typically serves as a catch-all, but it can be so much more than a place to throw your keys. Small boxes and big baskets are so helpful in the entryway. 

A small decorative box is perfect for keys and using a small basket to store mail helps for an organized entryway.  

If your entryway has room, a bench of the correct size can not only provide storage but a place for guests to sit to remove shoes. Adding some upper cabinet storage gives you even more space and keeps your everyday items hidden from guests. You can also mount some door hooks for jackets, hats, and scarves.

Kitchen Storage

There are so many ways to get creative when it comes to kitchen storage. If you’re lacking kitchen storage space, let us give you a few space-saving solutions. You’ll just have to rethink those little nooks and you’ll discover the vacant resource of counter space.  

Here are some tips + tricks we find to be the most helpful: 

  • Open kitchen shelves  
  • A mix of open shelves + traditional upper cabinets  
  • More cabinet drawers with custom slides + pulls + inserts.   
  • Drawer organizers for utensils, cutlery, pots/pans, cookie sheets, foil/wrap,   
  • Pullouts for waste containers + cutting boards  
  • Pullouts for pantry items like spices, oils + vinegar, & canned goods  
  • Full-height cabinets for cleaning equipment such as mops + brooms  
  • Pullouts for tiered organizers to store cleaning products  
  • A wall rack mounted for kitchen utensils or pots + pans  
  • Utilize the space above the upper cabinets for plants or decor  
  • Customize your island and add drawers to store large kitchen appliances  

Bathroom Storage 

When it comes to organizing your bathroom, it can be overwhelming to tackle but this tedious task has a serious payoff. Out of all the rooms in the house, the bathroom needs to be very clean + sanitary, which can’t happen without proper storage. We’ve found that it always feels like bathrooms don’t have enough storage, but these tips will help!   

  • Door inserts for jewelry, belts, scarfs, ties  
  • Pullouts for hairdryer/curling iron with outlet and stainless-steel canisters  
  • Tiered organizers for grooming products  
  • Drawer organizers for makeup + grooming products  
  • If you don’t have cabinets, add shelves below the sink   
  • Add floating shelves in the smaller nooks  
  • Add a built-in shower caddy  
  • Decorative ladder to hang towels 
  • Small pieces of accent furniture to use for storage 

Living Room Storage

Storage space in the living room can be difficult, especially because it’s where you want to maintain a level of formality and comfort. Here are some tips to help you maximize your living room space.   

  • Built-in Bookshelves  
  • Use baskets for storing items such as remotes or throw blankets  
  • Add open shelving  
  • Get a coffee table with built-in hidden storage  
  • Add an accent piece that doubles as storage such as a small cabinet or storage ottoman  
  • Built-in Entertainment center with custom shelving (we accomplished this with a client earlier this year, including a hidden storage door – See below)

Let us note that regularly decluttering is a key step in maximizing your storage space. The best way to declutter your home is to go room-by-room. By decluttering and using our helpful tips and tricks, your home will feel brand new. 

Lose the clutter and have peace of mind. 

Would you like us to help you discover your home’s storage potential? Give us a call or sign up for a free consultation!

Want to read some more of our Happy Home Blog? Click the links below!

Increasing Your Homes Value

Increasing Your Homes Value

When you decide to remodel your bathroom, you are breathing fresh life into your home. You begin your mornings in a bathroom you designed and love. This master bathroom was functional, well built, but very cramped and mundane.

We started with a brand-new vanity with a sleek design and raised it off the floor which makes it look more like a furniture piece and not a built-in.

The shower was too small, the tub was not used much, and the vanity simply wasn’t what the homeowner wanted. By removing the tub, we extended the shower, making it much more comfortable. By relocating the access into the shower, we eliminated the conflict with the door into the bathroom.

A bench in front of the shower provides ample space to get dressed. New hardware, mirrors, lights, and finishes completed the remodel to fit with the style that the homeowner had been wanting for years.

Brick and Other Exterior Masonry: Not a Great Choice for Our hot humid climate

 In this project, we used wood and brick siding to not only promote green building, but to also reduce the thermal mass of the house, to cool the temperature of the home.

In this project, we used wood and brick siding to not only promote green building, but to also reduce the thermal mass of the house, to cool the temperature of the home.

Don’t you love the look of Austin stone on a home? Many neighborhoods in Bryan and College Station require a high percentage of brick or other masonry products on the exterior of their homes. It is a great look but not a great approach, especially if you are interested in green building or even just reducing your utility bills.

Brick and other masonry products are known as thermal mass. Thermal mass is the ability of a material to absorb and store heat, in this case, your siding material’s ability to absorb that heat.  In other words brick heats up all day and disseminates that heat to the house.

But, you may be wondering, what about adobe? Adobe is used in hot dry climates, not hot humid climates. The difference is that in a dry climate, temperatures cool down at night. The heat absorbed by the adobe does not make it into the house before it is cooled by the night air.   Water in the air also serves as somewhat of a thermal mass, holding heat longer than dry air, which is what keeps or night time temperatures higher than in the desert. 

The vernacular architecture of hot humid climates usually feature siding for a reason. But, if you are stuck with neighborhood controls requiring a high percentage of masonry or if you just like the look of stone, there are some things that you can do mitigate the negative impact of a thermal mass. 

Perhaps the most effective thing to do is use a veneer stone which is much thinner than traditional stone. Also try to avoid masonry on the west side which tends to get more direct sunlight at the hottest part of the day.  Want to learn more about siding that we recommend. For even greater shading use larger than normal overhangs where possible. 

As always, use landscaping as a design element for beauty and function. Deciduous trees on the west provide crucial summer shading while allowing the sun through in the winter.  

Brick can also create moisture and potentially rot problems if a proper drainage pan is not created behind it. Of course any cladding can become a problem without proper moisture sealing. This is an area that you should question a builder about before hiring. There are no requirements in Texas for builders to have knowledge of building science and this is a place that lesser builders tend to get themselves into trouble.  



A connection to nature inspires happiness.  Simply having access to natural settings can create health and happiness. These seemingly subjective tree-hugging proclamations have a significant amount of science backing them up. Hospitals now focus on restorative landscapes because they know the power of these connections in the healing process. Cities focus on creating green spaces because they know the impact that nature has on improving quality of life.

One seminal study published in the early 80’s showed that patients recovering from gallbladder surgery who were in a room that looked out on trees faired far better than those in rooms that looked out on a brick wall.  These patients did better in immediate recovery time, had fewer post surgery complications and they needed far less pain medication. Since that study, there have been many others that have expanded on the theme.

When I was a student, I read about a student-conducted study that indicated that people who knew what time the sun rose and set or what phase the moon was in consistently reported a greater degree of happiness.  It occurred to me that by designing with these connections in mind, we could create happiness.

A corollary to our connection to nature is our connection to the built world. Recently “a sense of place” has become a popular topic, especially in the field of urban development.  But the acknowledgment that a sense of place is an important adhesive in building community is hardly a new idea.  The French Philosopher, Simone Weil said, “to be rooted is perhaps the most important but least understood need of the human soul.”  We are rooted by our connections to both nature and community.

Though these ideas are usually connected to the design of cities and large institutions of health, they can also be well employed in home design.  This is what our Transitions approach to design is about.  By creating transitions to natural and community settings, we seek to create the connections that create happiness.

So much of the thrust of modernity is isolating.  Nowhere is this truer than in the design of our homes.  Automobiles, air conditioning and multimedia have dramatically shifted our relationships to space.

Here in College Station and Bryan we have an excellent juxtaposition showing the impact of the automobile on urban design.  Bryan, incorporated in 1867, was designed with pedestrian traffic in mind.  The town was set up with a central downtown laid out on a grid of perfectly parallel and perpendicular streets. The residential community was just beyond the retail and other businesses of downtown.

College Station, by contrast, was incorporated in 1938 and developed in patterns governed by the automobile.  No grid for easy pedestrian access.   With the convenience of the car, there was no need for a central downtown, or close in neighborhoods.

Though, to be fair to the founders of College Station, its original layout was focused on Dexter (now Brison) Park on the south side of the campus and Thomas Park on the east side of the campus. But growth was inevitable and in the 70’s the city sprawled beyond these central points in the leapfrog patterns endemic of auto-centric development.  As long as people are willing to drive, it makes sense for developers to push out to the cheapest land beyond current development, leaving swaths of undeveloped land between.

The automobile allowed for the development of suburban neighborhoods, further from the center of town on larger lots. And the footprint of homes became much larger as we brought our cars into the covered space of the two-car garage. With the advent of the automatic garage door opener, we were able to push a button, drive into the house and have the door close behind us without having to encounter nature or our neighbors.

Even more disruptive of our relationship to neighbors and nature was the introduction of air conditioning.  How long has it been since you heard the slap of a screen door closing?  Our once airy houses with open windows to catch the breeze and large front porches on which to drink iced tea and visit with neighbors have become tightly closed boxes with veneer porches, no longer large enough to sit on.  In the south we should all be grateful for air conditioning but we are also wise to take note of the baby that went out with that hot sticky bathwater.

Shut off from our neighbors, inside with our cars and air conditioning, we were not quite isolated enough yet.  First television and then the devices of the Internet have helped build walls of separation within our well-isolated homes.

Our Transitions approach to design seeks to challenge some of the assumptions brought forth by modernity without suggesting a return to a more primitive lifestyle.  We can overcome isolation without giving up modern conveniences and comforts.  However, it does require reclaiming a certain amount of self-determination, to take back some of the autonomy previously relinquished to technology.

Who is to say that sidewalks cannot once again become a part of the suburban landscape as cities like College Station become more focused on walkability?  And what is it to keep large front porches from becoming an atavistic extension on the modern home?

When we recognize the importance of our connection to nature and community in the creation of happiness, we can rethink patterns that developed in the absence of such understanding.  That is why in the Transitions approach to design we speak about permeability.  These are visual and physical transitions to the spaces that connect us to nature, our neighbors and others in the home.

Ironically, in its quest for sustainability, green building has lent itself to some rather unsustainable perspectives.  Specifically, the strict focus of the relationship of the building to the environment over the relationship of the people in the building to their environments.  Don’t get me wrong, green building, and more directly building science, have made some dramatic improvements in the ways that we construct and manage buildings, just as car have had a great impact on our quality of life.  But in both cases we are wise to maintain control of the directions that innovation takes us.  While considering the energy that goes into building is vitally important, as consumers, our decisions are informed by the relationships we develop.  Like sustainability, happiness is largely a product of our connectedness to the web of existence we find ourselves in.