Tag Archives: home design


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


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.




Outdoor Living… Changing Styles


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  Outdated is the PVC furniture and vinyl strap seating.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.


The Home Office… More Than A Den


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. 


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!


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


Phoenix Area Turn-Around?


Distressed property sales accounted for more than half of all housing sales during the month of July 2009.  Distressed sales include bank owned/foreclosures or short sales, accounting for 69% of all residential sales in Maricopa County or the Phoenix metropolitan area.  These distressed sales are a major impact on the Phoenix area market.  July also saw a nearly 11% decrease in the number of pending sales, although this is still the 5th highest month of sales in the 36-month period from July 2006 until the present.  An unusual characteristic of this market is the list price for active listings has become the base price when making an offer on a home, primarily in house priced below $200,000.  The list price used to be considered a top, as offers came in less than the asking price, in today’s market that has changed.

Although the Phoenix housing market saw a decrease in pending sales, the good news is associated with the average sales price.  July saw an average sales price increase of over 2%, the fourth month in a row for increases in the average sales price.  Though this doesn’t mean the Phoenix real estate market has completely turned-around, it is nice to see the average sales price is the highest it has been since January 2009.  Continue reading


Custom Home Theatre Viewing Room

Custom Home Theatre Viewing Room

Custom Home Theatre
Custom Home Theatre











Including a Home Threatre in a Custom Home… Is it Worth the Expense?

Woodridge Custom Builders LLC

Is a home theatre worth the extra expense and space when building a custom home?  At Woodridge Custom Builders LLC, as custom homebuilders we have heard both sides of that debate and understand the various viewpoints. Let’s face it, there are some of us that just don’t; that is DON’T; go to movies or watch many movies at home.  For those people building a custom home, the home theatre is not considered as a useful option.  That’s not to say that an exercise room or a large game room is out of the question.  Each of our custom homebuyers designs the home of their choice and includes the features most important to them. 

For some custom homebuyers, especially in today’s market, a room dedicated to showing movies or watching television has been postponed to the next custom home.  In today’s market, custom homes are getting smaller with emphasis on the most important and frequently used spaces.  The home theatre is one of those rooms that have been eliminated by a few of our custom homebuyers.  Not only has the complete home theatre room been scrapped but also, the rarely use formal dining rooms and formal living rooms have been eliminated replaced by large great rooms and larger kitchens designed with family and entertaining in mind.  

For those custom homebuyers that are movie families, the families that adore going to movies and even more would enjoy the movie experience without ever leaving their home, the home theatre is in.  For these custom homebuyers, the ability to enjoy professional, cinema style presentations of movies or sporting events all in the comfort of their own home makes a home theater a valuable and useful amenity to them. 

 A home theatre, without a dedicated room, can be as simple as a large entertainment area within a family room or game room that delivers the ultimate in large screen display and a sound system that simulates the cinema experience. The home theatre can also be the ultimate in home entertainment with a dedicated room for movies, favorite television programs, and sporting events.  Theatre style chairs, lighting, temperature controls, black out shades, sound absorption or custom draperies, and the ultimate in state-of-the-art electronics systems can create the ultimate relaxing and entertaining cinema style experience.

 At Woodridge Custom Builders LLC, we have constructed dedicated rooms as home theatres for some of our custom homebuyers.  The rooms begin as any other room, yet at the rough electrical stage of construction we begin installation of the structured wiring necessary for the locating audio and video central control units and ancillary speakers throughout the room.  During the insulation stage of construction, we make a point to insulate these walls reducing transmitted noise.  The floor is elevated by several inches one or more times in the framing stage of construction for elevating theatre style seating allowing unobstructed views of the large screen.  In the finishing stages of construction the fine details of the audio and video electronics systems are worked out.  Finally, the entire system including lighting, temperature controls, draperies, sound and video are controlled by one centralized remote control.  When accessorizing or decorating such rooms, voluminous flowing curtains or other wall treatments may be added to absorb reverberated sound minimizing its transmission to the next rooms.   Accessorizing these rooms with theatre style chairs, colorful large print carpet, flowing draperies adding the elegance of an old theatre and popcorn machines add to the fun and relaxing atmosphere of these home theatre rooms. 

The cost of a home theatre varies by the size and complexity of the construction and electronic systems selected.  The structural and construction details of the room are similar to construction of other rooms, but the varying costs of a home theatre are totally dependent upon the type of audio and video and electronic systems selected.  There are generally packages available from home theatre electronics companies ranging from $6,000 to $30,000 per package. 

At Woodridge Custom Builders LLC, we recommend that if a home theatre is planned and designed for a custom home, to include the home theatre in the initial construction stage.  We have had some custom homebuyers reserve a third or fourth car garage-stall for a home theatre to be constructed later.  It’s been our experience, that it is actually more economical to install the home theatre with the initial custom home construction.  This makes sense for a couple of reasons, such as modifying a garage means partial demolition of the garage to replace with sound exterior walls and removing existing drywall and insulation for complete rewiring the room with the necessary structured wiring.  Then rebuilding the interior of the space.

As custom homebuilders we enjoy assisting our custom homebuyers decide if a home theatre is right for them.  If so, is a large screen television in a family room with a great audio system enough for them, or is an ultimate cinema-style home theatre better for their lifestyle?  Whatever our custom homebuyers choose, our network of architects, subcontractors and home theatre experts can help them to achieve the theatre of their dreams.

 This home theatre room highlights some of the features of a custom home theatre.  This home theatre room is located in the center of the home off a hallway. This room, located on the interior of the home, doesn’t have any windows for natural light.  All lighting is overhead or wall-mounted.  The speakers are inconspicuously flush with the walls.  Controls are mounted on either side of the screen enclosed within cabinetry.  The carpet selected by the homeowners is a large colorful print in movie reels and popcorn.  The theatre style chairs have been elevated permitting unobstructed views of the screen.  The arms of the theatre style chairs are flanked with drink holders adding to the cinema style experience.