Tag Archives: custom home

THINKING OF A CUSTOM HOME? WHAT’S YOUR FIRST STEP?

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Many potential customers at Woodridge Custom Builders LLC often ask us how to get started when thinking of a custom home.  First, there is not really a right or wrong way to get started.  Some of our customers find us after they have purchased the land or lot for the home, others want our help in this area.  Some are referred to us by previous customers.  Some are referred to us through our network of architects and home designers as they work on their house plans.  Outlined below is an overview of the custom home building process.  Detailed construction steps are not included here.

Planning and Preparation:  At Woodridge Custom Builders LLC, we believe that each project is an investment for our customers therefore each home we build is a signature of our work.  A fantastic benefit of building custom homes is helping our customers realize your desires for your dream home.  Each one of our customers has unique lifestyle preferences and we take great pride working closely with you to create a home where you and your family can enjoy your personal lifestyle. 

Home Site Selection:  If you don’t already have a lot for your custom home, we can help you find the ideal location for your dream home.  We are familiar with many of the prominent custom home communities in Scottsdale, Fountain Hills, Chandler, Rio Verde, Cave Creek, Tempe, and Carefree.  We’ll need to find out if you want the natural beauty of our Arizona desert landscaping, the greens of a golf course or mountain views.  What size of a custom home would interest you?  What architectural style interests you?  Once we understand exactly where your interests lie, we can focus our attention on an ideal neighborhood for you and family.

Floor Plans and Illustrations:  When the lot is selected, we partner with you and your architect or home designer to help design a home that will fit your family’s unique needs.  We begin working on a set of house plans designed for your lot.  With your lot selected, we can design the house for maximum views, best layout for minimizing western exposures and maximizing north and south exposures.  The home designer will want to know what home style you prefer, Tuscan, Santa Barbara, Andalusian, Spanish Colonial, Hacienda, or contemporary.  This is the first time your vision is transferred to paper.  We encourage you to bring in a collection of photos, magazine clippings, preliminary designs, a rough floor plan and any other visual tool helping transfer your ideas to a floor plan, elevations, and illustrations. 

Materials:  While the floor plan is formalized, we can begin working on the home’s materials and details.  Exterior stone, exterior color, stain colors, gates, wrought iron accents, formal entry door, driveway materials, exterior fireplace and grill locations must be made.  Then we’ll ask you to make similar selections for the interior of the house including cabinet style, counter surfaces, flooring materials, door style, door hardware, plumbing fixtures and lighting fixtures among other selections. You will work with our suppliers and visit showrooms to make these selections.  For example, if you choose granite materials, you will actually walk the warehouse and select your own slabs of granite.   Once the floor plan, elevation and materials are selected, each can be submitted to your design review committee for approval.

Bidding Process:  When you have made the many selections for your home, we can begin the bidding process.  We bid competitively each and every project to get you the best possible price for your home.  Our tradesmen are proven and talented contractors that understand we bid each and every job.  We will discuss and contemplate the cost and efficiencies of different designs, structural features, and material selections.  We believe its better for you to take your time making material selections and receive an accurate bid based on these selections, than get a rough estimate up front.  When working with our suppliers and showroom professionals they can assist you with selections that keep your budget in mind.

Permitting:  During the design review committee approval process, all required documents are professionally gathered and submitted to the city for permitting.  The length of this permitting process varies per city but can take anywhere from two to eight weeks.   During this time we will walk through the plan together on paper and specifically review the materials you have selected and mark the specific location of these materials on the plan. 

Construction:  After proper planning, design review approval and city approval we can break ground.  There are various phases of construction beginning with site preparation, the foundation, the vertical stage, the roof dry-in phase, the rough mechanical and rough electrical phase, insulation, lathe, stucco, drywall and trim stage, interior finish stage, cabinets and interior trim detail, finish electrical, plumbing, and mechanical stage, flooring stage, and finally a finish and final clean phase. 

Progress:  During the construction process, you’re welcome to visit the jobsite and see the progress on your home.  During several phases of construction you’ll be asked to re-evaluate or confirm your selections for the location of telephone outlets, light switches, soap dishes, and other details that had only been done on paper before.  As much as possible we keep our jobsites as clean and free of debris as possible, yet during major construction activities this can be difficult, since your safety is our concern, we encourage you to walk the jobsite with the project manager.  If your having your home built while you live elsewhere, you can have private access within our website where photos and updates of your home’s construction will be posted.

Inspections:  Throughout the construction process, your home will go through various inspections by the city to assure that your home is built consistent with the required building codes.  At Woodridge Custom Builders LLC, we are proud to offer our customers additional inspections throughout the home building process by an independent inspector.  We are proud of our work and welcome an independent inspector on the job to keep our subcontractors as judicious in quality as we are.  Our customers appreciate the openness with which we encourage an independent inspector.

Final Approval:  Once the city has approved the completed project and issued a certificate of occupancy, you’re closer to moving in.  Before taking possession we will walk through the home and identify any items that need correction before moving day.  You will receive a warranty booklet and directions on maintenance of the new products in your home.  When all the punch list of items has been addressed, moving day has arrived.

Your Custom Home:  You deserve a custom-designed and built home that will bring your family years of enjoyment.  Your home is unique for your character and lifestyle preferences, it is a place to be proud of especially because or your own influences from the design and layout, to material selections, to the finishing touches.  It is your dream home!

CUSTOM HOMES… THE AT-HOME COFFEE BAR

Our Love for Coffee Hits the Master Suite

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In custom homes built by Woodridge Custom Builders LLC, a new trend is to include a coffee brewing area or ‘coffee bar’ in the master suite and/or kitchen.  For some coffee lovers, getting the coffee maker going in the morning is as important as starting the shower and grabbing the morning paper.  So for coffee lovers requiring that cup of Joe in the morning while getting roused, up and ready to face a great day, it makes sense to these coffee lovers to include a coffee bar in the master suite.  Placing a small coffee maker in the master suite minimizes the numerous trips to the kitchen to start the coffee, to get the cup of coffee, and possibly a refill. 

The photos below highlight, a coffee bar area was built into this master suite area.  The space was actually designed as one of two large master closets.  These custom home buyers decided one of the closets was too large and its particular large size of no use them.  So they reduced the size of one of the master closets and created this coffee bar.  The coffee bar is about four feet wide.  The area includes a 48” granite countertop that includes a wet bar sink for obtaining water for the coffee and an under-counter refrigerator for storing cream.  Since only one of the homeowners was a coffee drinker, the under-counter refrigerator also stores bottled water and bottled orange juice.  Upper cabinets provide storage for cups, filters, coffee and other supplies.  This area, although an afterthought to the original house plans, provides a functional and delightful use of the space.  Decorative wallpaper with a coffee theme and coffee accessories add to the charm of the coffee bar.   

Although these homeowners elected to use a coffee maker that rests on the counter, there are more and more built-in coffee makers designed for home use.  At Woodridge Custom Builders LLC, our custom home buyers visit with Andy Welemin of Westar Kitchen and Bath, Tempe, Arizona ( www.westar-sw.com) for assistance with appliances when making selections for a custom home.  Westar Kitchen and Bath represents a wide variety of appliance manufacturers, including those that produce terrific built-in coffee-makers and under-counter refrigerators.

 

MANY USES OF THE UNDER-COUNTER REFRIGERATOR IN CUSTOM HOMES!

Chilled to Perfection!

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Under-counter refrigerators seem to be showing up everywhere lately.  In the custom homes built by Woodridge Custom Builders LLC we have placed them in kitchens, wet bar areas, coffee bars, home offices, garages, and guesthouses.  Woodridge has also placed them in the master suite.

Popular brands for these refrigerators include U-line, Sub-Zero, GE, Viking, and Kitchen-Aid.  Some of these units have pull out drawers, and glass doors.  The glass doors can be switched to an endless number of alternatives from the standard appliance look to matching kitchen cabinets. Continue reading

BUILDING AN ARIZONA CUSTOM HOME… SHOULD IT INCLUDE RV STORAGE?

RV Storage at a Premium, Some Custom Home Buyers Build in Storage Space

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For owners of recreational vehicles, (RV) storage is an important issue.  For RV owners, storage is as important as its use.  Many Homeowners’ Associations (HOA) in place today prohibit RV storage on a homeowner’s property for more than a couple of days, unless enclosed in a garage.  A standard car garage isn’t remotely close to the size required by most recreational vehicles.  Storing an RV off-site becomes a necessity without a property large enough for enclosed storage in an HOA regulated area.  If  one is fortunate enough to live in an area that is not regulated by an HOA, you may be able to store the RV in the driveway or side yard area, but this doesn’t mean your neighbors like it.  Storing an RV off-site is typically an inconvenience when preparing for a trip, and unpacking from a trip.  Most RV owners would agree that the ease of loading and unloading for a vacation, camping trip, or other adventure is much more convenient when it can be done at home over a few days without rushing to get the RV off the property before the HOA jumps down your throat.  Storing an RV off-site at a local storage company may cost anywhere from $30 to $90 a month depending on where you live.

At Woodridge Custom Builders LLC, as custom home builders some of our customers have experienced these RV storage issues.   If at all possible, RV storage was constructed with their custom home if the lot was large enough and allowed by their HOA.  Aside from the difficulty with adequate RV storage space on the lot, incorporating such a large garage into the architecture of a house that meets with HOA approval is sometimes challenging.  In many custom homes subdivisions, all garages must have side-entries.  Difficult for a large RV, a lot must be extremely large to allow for any kind of side-entry.  RV garages must be higher than a standard car garage and this too can create an architectural challenge.  Most HOAs will not approve a custom home design and floor plan if the RV garage is an unsightly large box better fitting in an industrial park than a residential custom home neighborhood.  

For custom home buyers interested in incorporating RV storage with the construction of their custom home, a well-planned home design and floor plan can save time later with HOA and city code approvals.  Waiting to construct an RV storage garage until after the home is completed is not recommended unless it has been initially incorporated into the house plans.  In most municipalities, homes constructed on residential lots are permitted to cover a certain percentage of the lot.  Failing to let the architect know that an RV storage garage is planned for later, the architect may design the house and standard garages without leaving enough room for RV storage as required by designated zoning.  Exceeding lot coverage may require a variance by the municipality and approval by neighbors prior to construction.

At first glance it doesn’t seem as though the custom home in the photo below includes an RV storage area.  In fact, this large lot included RV storage in the back of the home.  As shown in the second photo, although large enough for a 36 foot RV, this garage is located in the back of the house and not overbearing and overpowering to the architecture of the house. 

 

CAN A CUSTOM HOME BE TOO CUSTOMIZED?

When is a Home Just the Way a Homeowner Wants it…  Stupid?

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At Woodridge Custom Builders LLC  we are pleased to say that most of the custom homes we have built have not been too customized.  Not to say it hasn’t happened on rare occasions. What does it mean to be too customized, one might ask?  Shouldn’t a custom home be exactly what the customers’ want, and shouldn’t they get what they want?  We believe, “yes”, custom home buyers should get the home constructed with the amenities and features they want.  Can those amenities or features sometimes be stupid or better said “unwise”?  The answer probably depends on whom you ask. 

In most situations, custom home buyers make very wise decisions regarding so many elements of the construction process, beginning with a terrific floor plan.  The selections made throughout the process for flooring, doors, door hardware, lighting fixtures, cabinets, counter tops, and similar decisions are usually very well done with or without the help of an interior designer.  Most of our suppliers assist custom home buyers with these selections and let buyers know what is popular, what is true to the style of their home, what is the most economical, and what is the priciest, etc.   The custom home buyer gets to make the ultimate decision, that is one of the fun parts about building a custom home.

Sometimes, however, custom home buyers make decisions that may affect resale value of the home.  A former neighbor that had their home constructed, had a videocassette collection.  Closets in all of the secondary bedrooms were designed and constructed to hold videocassettes.  Shelf after shelf after shelf of videocassettes filled those closets.  When the homeowners wanted to sell the home, they realized that the closets were not constructed deep enough to hang clothes on a regular clothes hanger.  Each closet had to be converted by an organizing professional to make the space usable by new homeowners. 

The closets in this home were just a little too customized.  It would have made sense to design traditional closets in this home that were deep enough for hanging clothes.  Then have those closets modified by a closet organizing professional to hold the videocassette collection.  The basic elements of a closet would have been built-in this way.  Alternatively, a large pantry type closet could have been designed in the house to hold the collection, and this closet would have been an additional storage area for the existing and all future homeowners.  Plenty of storage is almost always a desired feature in any home.

Another home in this neighborhood was constructed with two master suites, although this worked out perfectly for the unhappily married couple, the two master suites were the only bedrooms in the house.  This home did not resale well at all. Perhaps it would have in a retirement community, but not in this family oriented community.  Despite the two master suites, had the homeowners included even a third bedroom, it would have significantly helped resale value.

At Woodridge Custom Builders LLC, we are here to help our custom home buyers get the home of their dreams, it isn’t our home; it is their home.  We can make recommendations and offer guidance against unwise decisions, but ultimately the decisions are still theirs to make.

GLASS BLOCK… STILL A CLASSIC IN ARIZONA CUSTOM HOMES

Glass Block… Not as Popular as it Once Was, But Still Around

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In the early 1990’s, the rage for glass block began for us.  At Woodridge Custom Builders LLC, we began installing glass block windows, shower surrounds and lighted counter top accents.  Over the following ten years, it seemed as though every custom home constructed included some glass block element.  Though, not as popular in the homes we build today, glass block still carries a classic and timeless look. 

Glass block creates privacy yet allows for natural light.  In small shower areas, this natural light lends itself to create a less confining and restrictive feeling.  Stacking with white mortar assembles the glass blocks, similar to building a block fence wall, yet made of glass.   The sizes are variable, six by six inches, eight by eight inches, or twelve by twelve inches.  The most popular sizes that we have used were eight by eight inches.

Bubbles, ripples, and translucent are just several of the glass block choices, the most popular as shown in these photos is the ripple style of glass.  Glass blocks can improve energy efficiency.  When the two hollow glass block halves are fused together under heat, it traps air inside.  This trapped air inside increases the insulation level similar to a dual pane window. 

The shower enclosure in the first photo emphasizes the beauty and functionality of glass block.  The glass block allows for natural light to enter the shower enclosure, yet provides privacy from the adjacent master bathtub.  The second photo again emphasizes privacy as the glass block separates the toilet from the master tub area.  The glass block is also used as privacy glass in the window adjacent to the master tub in the final photo.

 

CREATING LUXURIOUS OUTDOOR LIVING AREAS…

Outdoor Living… Changing Styles

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Outdoor furniture has gone through a revolution in the past few years.  Outdated is the PVC furniture and vinyl strap seating.  Frosted glass patio tabletops now have a certain “retro” look. Not only has outdoor furniture changed in the past several years, outdoor spaces have evolved beyond dining patios and poolside lounging areas.  Welcome are seating arrangements that are not just designed for outside dining, but outside living.  Many popular outdoor furnishings include sofas, oversized chairs, end tables and cocktail tables designed for comfort and relaxation.  Add large potted plants, accent pillows, area rugs, and outdoor lighting and a patio suddenly becomes a true outdoor living area.

At Woodridge Custom Builders LLC, helping a customer design and build a custom home doesn’t end with the house and the interior elements.  The outside of the home, its courtyards, patios, yard and landscape are all design elements that pull the custom home project together in the end.  It is important to know how an outdoor space will be used.  Will the family primarily use the space for private family gatherings?  Will the patio be used to host barbecues and neighborhood gatherings?  How much dining area will be necessary for its intended purpose?  Is there an area where a luxurious seating arrangement can be established, covered and protected from the harsh Arizona sun and elements?  There are many other questions to ask regarding patio lighting, ceiling fans, music systems, and camera systems over the pool area, for example.  Whatever a custom home buyer selects for their patio, courtyard, backyard or outdoor living space, planning for the space is best done during the house plan and home design stage.  How wide should a patio extend from the house?  Should it be completely covered, or should some of the patio extend past the roofline of the house?  These are all questions a custom home buyer might ask in the planning phase of their custom home.  

Decisions made in the floor plan stage of a custom home truly pay off in the end.  Enjoying the family pool, lounging on an outdoor sofa, sitting back appreciating a mountain view, or sitting quietly reading the newspaper with a morning cup of joe; planning pays off. 

In the first set of photos, this custom home owner designed the back yard with kids in mind.  The pool area is great for pool parties.  The trampoline in the back of the yard has been built into the ground to minimize fall injuries.  Most fall injuries occur from falling from one level to another, in this case the trampoline is flush with the ground.  The yard is large enough for activities so when the kids are not in the pool, or on the trampoline, setting up the lacrosse cage for a little one-on-one, or a game of volleyball are always other options.

In the second set of photos, this custom homeowner designed the patio area as a relaxing outdoor living area.  Outdoor sofa, love seat, and a side chair just beckon one to settle in and relax.  The end tables and cocktail table accented with candles, plants and accessories further enhances the feel of outdoor living.  Cllick on each photo below to enlarge.

CUSTOM HOME AND THE HOME OFFICE

The Home Office… More Than A Den

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Most homes today have some type of space for the home office.  It may be a bedroom converted to an office or a dedicated space such as a den.  A specific place to pay the bills, work at the computer, do that extra work brought home from the office, or for those that work at home, space for everything a home office requires.  The needs of a person who works from home may be totally different from those that need an office area for paying the bills, making a grocery list or taking notes while talking on the phone.  Obviously, different people have different needs.  To some, a home office is a place to quietly work at a desk or computer.  To others, it is an absolute retreat, a place to work, quietly read, or watch television.  In a recent presentation on 2009 home trends conducted by Nancy Hugo, CKD, a certified kitchen designer in the Scottsdale area, http://www.nancyhugo.com/ a new home office trend has become to replace rented office space for working space at home.  According to Nancy, in these economic times, many people are asking themselves if it makes sense to rent office space in a business complex when they can work at home?  It is Nancy’s belief that as the economy turns around many people will remain working from home offices more than ever, even more reason to design and accent the home office to a customer’s specific needs. 

Office1

Photo 1

At Woodridge Custom Builders LLC, helping our custom home buyers create a great house plan and home design incorporating the features of their perfect home office pays dividends in the end.  The old saying, “failure to plan means planning to fail” is often true for the home office.  The home office shown in the photo 1 is a home office for custom home buyers that are retired.  The office has beautiful upper and lower cabinets with a built-out desk area.  Bottom drawers in the lower cabinets are designed to hold files.  The upper cabinets include exposed bookcases as well as closed cabinets.  The office is functional in design, not overly large, included a double door entry and located off the formal areas of the house.

The next two photos highlight a beautiful home office in a Tuscan style home.  The office includes two walls of floor to ceiling bookshelves with lower cabinets.  The lower cabinets include drawers for storing files as well closed storage areas.  This custom home buyer enjoyed reading classic literature and enjoyed displaying the book collection.  The desk designed to sit freely in this home office, required the electrical, CATV, and telephone outlets be placed in the floor before the concrete slab was completed.  This takes great planning since incorrect placement can put these outlets in a walking path rather than near the desk where they were intended.  At Woodridge Custom Builders LLC, we help our custom home buyers make these decisions before the house is completed and impacts furniture placement.  This office also included a wall-mounted television; again, placement of the television was pre-planned so the CATV outlets could be placed correctly.  The office included a sofa so the family could use this as a quiet reading area.  Since this office was designed as a home office, the architect included a full-size closet for storing business files, records, etc.  The dark stained alder wood cabinets, richness of the bookcases, classic furniture style mixed with contemporary pieces gives the look and feel of a very worldly office.  Adding to the worldly look are the multiple clocks displaying various times from around the world. 

Photo 2

Photo 2

Photo 3

Photo 3

The contractors at Woodridge Custom Builders LLC, enjoy working with customers to design and deliver the home office its custom home buyers are looking for.  Planning ahead adds to that success!

The Magic of COLOR… Example from One of Our Custom Homes

Bold Statements of Color Truly Personalize a Home!

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Less intimidated by color than ever before, more and more home owners are adding much more color to their homes.  In some cases, not just a painted entry foyer or bold powder room, at Woodridge Custom Builders LLC we have seen customers exhibit absolute fearlessness when it comes to color.

An easy and inexpensive way to add color is to use paint.  Besides its price and relative ease of use, colors can be easily erased and restored to basic neutrals as styles and tastes change.  Emotion, ambience and attitude can all be conveyed through the use of color. Many of us associate certain emotions or feelings with colors, blue is known for its calming effects, while greens may give us the feeling of nature and natural surroundings. 

The cost of painting is generally reasonable as opposed to plaster or faux finishes created by professionals.  Some of our custom homebuyers like to add finishing touches themselves after the home is completed while others prefer to have everything done prior to move-in.  Yet if a person is willing, a little bit of sweat equity and a $20 gallon of paint can make a bold colorful statement in a home.

In Arizona, the desert palette often serves as a starting point for the colors of a custom home.  The pale roses, yellows, and lavenders can be seen almost nightly in an Arizona sunset and offer ideas for a soft and light color scheme.  While the intense reds, oranges, and browns of the Red Mountains created the idea for the rich, passionate color this homeowner used on the kitchen hood of this custom home.  The hood now stands out for complete recognition against the neutral wall color.  Before the paint and faux finish, the same beautiful hood is barely visible against the neutral wall.  Whether it is the vivid persimmon and dazzling yellows of an Arizona sunrise, or the subtle greens of a desert sage, brittlebush, or a Palo Verde tree, the desert palette is a great starting place for interior and exterior colors.

If you’ve been thinking of adding color to your home, GO FOR IT!  Woodridge Custom Builders LLC has helped many of our custom home buyers with great color choices making visual impacts and personal statements in their homes. Hood After

CUSTOM HOME KITCHENS… WHAT’S HOT, WHAT’S NOT!

At Woodridge Custom Builders LLC, it’s our business to know what is popular for custom homes.  Some styles come and go quickly while other trends seem to have more staying power.  It is amazing how long the faux finishing craze has lasted, in fact, the finishes seem to get better and better the longer the style sticks around.  Current kitchen styles are particularly important since the kitchen is a predominant area of the house. To get it right it begins with a good set of house plans and home design.  Outlined below are features designed and built into some of the homes constructed by Woodridge Custom Builders LLC.  For the most part… by the lists below, anything goes!

 What’s Hot for the New Custom Home!

  • Kitchen islands rather than kitchen peninsulas
  • Cabinets and islands that look like stand-alone furniture
  • Cabinets made of a variety of materials from traditional stained cabinets to distressed, painted and glazed cabinets
  • Multiple cook kitchen designs
  • Mixing cabinet colors
  • Dark alder wood with a glaze-finished on cabinets
  • Granite countertops
  • French doors
  • Outdoor kitchens including a grill, sink and refrigerator
  • Kitchen-like spaces in the master bedroom for coffee-making areas and under-counter refrigerators for morning juices and bottled water
  • Wine storage, from shelving to niches to wine refrigerators
  • Stainless steel appliances
  • Commercial grade ranges
  • High kitchen ceilings
  • Large windows, no longer reserved for the space above the kitchen sink
  • Large islands.  Really large islands
  • Pendant lighting
  • White cabinets
  • Under counter icemakers
  • Useful pantries
  • Natural stone flooring
  • European Apron front sinks
  • Multiple ovens, sometimes a full-range and wall oven/microwave combination
  • Cabinets with corner posts and/or hand-carved corbels
  • Oversized range hoods, designed with mass and constructed with mantels, and niche
  • Stylish stone backsplashes with decorative elements scattered throughout
  • Hand painted scenes or still life tiles located behind the cook top or range
  • A fireplace in the kitchen or dining nook
  • Under counter refreshment refrigerators located on an island, just for bottled water, or sodas.  No need to open the full-size refrigerator just for water or have a water dispenser in the refrigerator door
  • Round kitchen tables
  • Soft under cabinet lighting
  • Two dishwashers
  • Sofa and chairs in the dining area so family and guests can comfortably hang out with the cook
  • Great kitchen lay-outs ergonomically designed with form and function in mind
  • Tuscan style kitchen themes
  • Modern style kitchen themes

 What You’re Not Likely to Find in a New Custom Home!

  • Whitewashed oak cabinets
  • Blond cabinets
  • White appliances
  • Cathedral arched cabinet doors
  • Laminated counter surfaces
  • Low ceilings
  • Soffits
  • Ceramic tile counter tops
  • Fluorescent lights
  • Sliding doors
  • Kitchen desk areas
  • Wallpaper borders
  • Dining chairs with wheels