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The Great Outdoors: Five Ideas for Your Outdoor Kitchen

February 12th, 2010
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Posted in Design, Design and Build, Outdoor Living | Comments Off

OutdoorLivingWith spring just around the corner, many homeowners start daydreaming about backyard barbecues and garden parties … at least here in Southern California! We’re lucky to live in a place that allows for virtually year-round enjoyment of outdoor living. Is your home maximized to take advantage of our enviable climate? An outdoor kitchen is one of the best ways to appreciate and share the pleasures of outdoor living.

The term “outdoor kitchen” used to mean Dad making hamburgers on the grill. Well, no more! Outdoor kitchens have become just as multi-functional and attractive as their indoor counterparts. Here are five ideas to consider when designing your outdoor kitchen:

1. The Hot Zone: A grill – gas, charcoal, wood, electric or a hybrid of these cooking methods – often remains central to an outdoor kitchen design. The current deluxe built-in or free-standing grills are remarkably versatile, with options for custom griddles, side burners, roasting spits and more, transforming the traditional concept of backyard barbecuing. Another option is a wood-fired pizza oven, a food-lover’s choice for baking bread or roasting meat in addition to making authentic gourmet pizzas. Of course, heat in the outdoor kitchen isn’t just for cooking. Fireplaces or fire pits keep the elements from sending you and guests indoors after the sun goes down.

2. Practical Considerations: Think about how your indoor kitchen and outdoor kitchen will work together when you plan your space. Do you want to keep some tasks indoors? If so, the placement of your outdoor kitchen in proximity to your home will make a big difference in how much you enjoy using it. If you plan for an outdoor kitchen that is completely self-sufficient, then placement matters less and the appliances you choose matter more. The materials for an outdoor kitchen are essential. They must be durable and safe and should be compatible with their surroundings. Natural stone is a popular choice. Also, keep in mind that outdoor kitchens are subject to specific city planning codes. Be sure your contractor researches and follows the codes for your area.

3. A Natural Fit: Your outdoor kitchen should seem like a natural extension of your home, with compatible scale, elements and design. When you plan an outdoor kitchen in harmony with your home’s natural surroundings – considering landscaping, views and privacy – the result will be considerably more appealing.

4. Details Matter: Despite the longer days of spring and summer, it will eventually get dark outside – remember to plan lighting to accommodate both tasks and mood. Consider a water feature, such as a fountain or waterfall, to add an element of cool serenity to your backyard space. A thoughtfully placed stone walkway or wall in the landscaping brings additional texture and harmony to your environment.

5. Pictures and Sound: Adding video and audio options to your outdoor living area can make the space more welcoming, flexible and livable. Watch the big game or a classic movie, or listen to your favorite songs from an iPod docking station – just remember that the design should be carefully planned so that cables and wires don’t detract from the natural aesthetics of your space. When deciding where to place a television, study where the sun hits during the day to make sure your screen will be visible.

However you choose to customize your space, adding an outdoor kitchen to your home expands your living space and inspires new ideas for entertaining and outdoor living.

Place Your Vote to Win!

February 9th, 2010
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Posted in Awards and Contests, Uncategorized | Comments Off

VotetoWinExperience a thrilling adventure as you soar over San Diego in a hot air balloon or relish in the luxury of a limousine drive to Temecula Valley Wine Country. All you have to do is vote! JDR has a fun new television campaign airing and we want YOU to tell us which ad is your favorite.

Visit us here, view our three ads and place your vote to let us know which one you like best. You’ll automatically be entered into a drawing to win your choice of a Spectacular Balloon Ride over San Diego with you and a friend or a Luxurious Limousine Drive with five friends to Temecula Valley Wine Country ($500 Value).
 Place your vote to win today!

2010 Trends in Design: What’s on the Horizon?

January 31st, 2010
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Posted in Design, Design and Build | Comments Off

TrendsYour own instincts for comfort and style at home are best to use when remodeling … but design trends are fun to follow! This year, the emphasis is on eclectic individual expression. There are no “rules” – pick and choose your favorites and make them your own. Here’s what our professional designers see on the horizon:

Colors: Purple and turquoise are brightening spaces as accents and decorative elements. Pantone, the world’s color authority for 45 years, named turquoise 2010′s “Color of the Year.” Another trend is the emergence of gray as the new neutral. Gray replaces beige in this role, appearing in both warm and cool tones, sometimes paired with bold oranges, yellows or greens.

Fixtures: When it comes to fixtures for the bath, warm antique gold eclipses shiny chrome for 2010.

Countertops: Natural stone, polished and/or honed, is a popular new choice. Quartz is also a standout, as are “green” materials such as Vetrazzo, made from recycled glass. The use of tile has faded.

Cabinetry: Highly organized cabinetry with easy access to necessities is a trend in clean contemporary or transitional designs. White finishes are in vogue, as are mixed finishes with a variety of woods, including raw and textured.

Flooring: Natural stone and porcelain tile will be the flooring of choice for many homes in 2010.

Bathrooms: The trend for spa-like bathrooms deepens, with elements such as jetted, air bubble, or soaking tubs, multiple body spray showers and chromatherapy, all powered by smart technology that allows a change of atmosphere with the touch of a button.

Adapting trends to your own personality is what makes a home feel both fresh and timeless. When you’re considering a remodel, it’s always a good idea to do some research about the latest directions in design to see which feel right for you.

Feel Like Going to the Spa without Leaving Home? Remodel Your Bath.

January 25th, 2010
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Posted in Bathrooms, Design, Home Electronics | Comments Off

SpaBathThe days when the bathroom was just a functional space, almost an afterthought in home design, are long gone. Today’s baths compete with the finest luxury spas for atmosphere and amenities. San Diego bathroom designs are becoming increasingly more sophisticated as homeowners discover the many attractive benefits of visiting the local spa right down the hall.

So, what makes a bathroom a spa? Here are some aspects of bathroom design to consider:

1. Size and scale: In general, today’s baths are substantially larger per sq. foot than their predecessors. They’re designed to accommodate a more generous scale for bathtubs and showers and to provide ample room for expansive double sink vanities and organized storage. A feeling of uncluttered open space is essential to creating a spa-like atmosphere.

2. Multi-tasking Tubs and Showers: The tubs and showers being created today perform well beyond basic functionality. Bold, freestanding tubs are often the focal point of a bathroom, welcoming the homeowner with the promise of a lengthy retreat. Tubs outfitted with air bubbles or jets, or those inspired by Japanese soaking tubs, are a current trend in creating spa-like ambiance in the bathroom. Showers are smart sanctuaries, offering either relaxation or invigoration depending on mood. Luxurious body spray jets, multiple shower heads (some designed to mimic the effects of falling rain or waterfalls) and comfortable seating combine to create an individual, easily controlled experience for each shower.

3. Customized Ambiance: Technology plays a significant role in creating a spa-like atmosphere in the modern bath. At the touch of a button, lighting and music can be set to the desired mood to create a personal experience each time the bath is used. In the shower, electronic controls for volume, flow, temperature, body sprays and even a favorite song can be preset to make each shower efficient and satisfying. Chromatherapy, which emphasizes color and light for well being, adds an alternative dimension to customization. The lucky homeowner can bathe in a spectrum of color from soothing to energizing, all touch-controlled, while listening to music and relaxing in the lighting mode of choice.

4. The Right Lights: When it comes to lighting, the modern bath emphasizes diversity. Lighting is designed to support every need in the room, from bright lights for makeup application to dim lighting for a soothing bath. Controls can be programmed for instant adjustment.

5. Innovative Storage: Nothing ruins a spa-like mood more than clutter. Current storage options are highly organized to keep necessities hidden from view yet easily accessible. Built-in cabinets behind mirrors or slide out storage under the vanity make the bathroom functional yet streamlined.

The possibilities for creativity in bath design have expanded quite a bit in recent years. A spa-like retreat in the home is a welcome respite from the hectic pace and constant connectedness of modern life.

What’s Your Home’s IQ? Technology Makes Living Spaces Smarter.

January 14th, 2010
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Posted in Custom Homes, Design, Home Electronics | Comments Off

HomeTechnologyMany of us have come to rely on smart technology to stay connected and make our lives easier, more fun and more productive when we’re on the go. We can make calls, answer emails, search the internet, play music, watch movies, get directions, pay bills and much more … all from our laptops, mobile phones or other hand-held devices. Yet, we don’t always give this same attention to technology when it comes to thinking about how we live in our homes. Home automation can bring a lot of pleasure and convenience to everyday living. Here are some examples of how technology can increase your home’s IQ:

Music Sets a Mood
Feel like dancing? Or would you prefer meditating? An iPod docking station brings mood management to your home, making it easy to instantly select the music you’d like to hear, when you want to hear it. Add a custom-designed surround sound system and you can control the music in each room of your home for personal enjoyment, or while entertaining.

Home at the Movies
Home theaters are a wonderful way for families to spend quality time together and for movie lovers to share their passion for the cinema with groups of friends. Sure, you can watch movies on a giant flat screen, but there’s nothing like the experience of seeing your favorites in a luxurious setting with plush theater seating and all the lighting and sound that brings a film to life.

Safe and Sound
Adding cameras and an intercom to your entryway brings reassuring security to your family and can be convenient as well, making it easy to see who is at the front door when you’re on the third floor. For added peace of mind, you could also install lighting systems that automatically illuminate your garage, entryway, and all rooms leading to the center of your home as soon as you pull into the driveway, just by pressing a “hot button” on your visor.

Rooms that Recognize You
For instant ambiance, Lutron lighting controls set the desired mood in any area of your home at the touch of a button, with programmed settings for “entertaining mode” or “relaxation mode.” Some systems sense the presence of a person in the room and adjust the environment’s music, lighting and temperature according to programmed controls.

These are just a few ways that automation makes for smarter living spaces, bringing convenience, fun and safety to your home!

Traditional, Modern, or Transitional Design: Which is Right for You?

December 10th, 2009
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Posted in Design, Design and Build, Modern/Contemporary | Comments Off

JDR_AestheticsWhen planning your remodel, one of the first choices you will make is which design aesthetic is right for you and your lifestyle. A professional designer will guide you through this process, helping you discover how you want to live in your new space and which elements will support your vision and enhance your home. Here’s a quick review of three popular design styles. Which appeals most to you?

Traditional: Homes with traditional design typically favor formal environments with classical structure and ornate embellishments. The color palette is subtle and muted, complemented by the use of dark woods. Elements such as substantial furniture, copper ceilings, elegant lighting fixtures and elaborate floor, wall and window treatments bring depth of character and visual richness. With traditional design, the challenge is to practice restraint so that the many aspects of a room are beautifully revealed, rather than competing against each other.

Modern: A modern aesthetic emphasizes clean, simple lines and a careful selection of design elements. The focus is on open, uncomplicated spaces and decoration is kept to a minimum. In a modern home, balance is critical if you want to achieve a contemporary design that retains warmth and comfort.

Transitional: Transitional design embraces appealing elements of traditional and modern design to achieve an eclectic style. By simplifying traditional and softening contemporary, transitional design arrives at a very personal expression. Mix an ornate mirror or chandelier with a Barcelona chair, or weave warm colors and drapery into an otherwise contemporary room, and you see the results of transitional design. Transitional design requires an experienced hand to avoid a disorganized appearance.

When choosing a design aesthetic for your home, you’ll probably be happier if you find what feels right to you rather than following recent trends. Do some research, work with a professional designer and have fun discovering the ways you can express your personal style at home!

Top Five Reasons to Use a Professional Designer for Your Remodel

December 9th, 2009
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Posted in Design, Design and Build | Comments Off

JDR_DesignThere are many decisions to make when you are contemplating a whole home remodel, kitchen remodel, or any major remodel in your home. When considering the pluses and minuses of working with professional designers, it’s important to have a clear understanding about what constitutes “professional design” and how the choices you make will affect the outcome of your project.

Some contractors or small remodeling firms bill themselves as designers, when in fact their true expertise lies in construction. They may be great at adding or removing walls, or adding support to your roof, with “design” as a side activity, unsupported by staff or company structure. Sometimes it’s tempting to go with a company that has less design expertise, thinking you can “do it yourself” or act as an “assistant” and save money. Unless you are a professional remodeling designer, that path usually leads to delays, additional expenses and headaches. Here are some reasons why using a professional designer for your remodel is the smarter choice:

1. You’ll save time and money in the long run. While the upfront expenses are greater, when you work with a professional you can rely on that person throughout the course of your project. Trying the DIY approach, or working with a contractor without professional designers on staff, means you are operating with inexperience when it comes to space planning, selecting materials or scheduling installations. An experienced professional designer is savvy about handling large projects and working with all of the people involved in a successful remodel, assuring that everything runs smoothly and without delay.
2. A remodel that works for you instead of a cookie cutter solution. Who wants to spend thousands of dollars on a remodel, only to see the same room in another house? Contractors operating without professional designers on staff often have a limited set of design templates for your space. A professional designer is trained to work with you to arrive at the best, most personal design for your home.
3. Alleviate stress. A major remodel is challenging enough. Why add to the stress by training yourself “on the go” as a remodeling designer, or leaving your space design in the hands of untrained staff? Working with a designer, you’ll have the peace of mind that comes from knowing you have someone on your side, assuring that the process flows smoothly and the finished result of your remodel is successful.
4. Working with a professional designer is fun! Working together with a professional designer, you may discover ideas you hadn’t even thought of for your remodel. A good designer asks all the right questions to help you satisfy your needs and desires for your home. You’ll be guided through an array of choices for innovative space solutions, creative applications of texture and color, and interesting materials, all cognizant of adhering to space planning and zoning requirements.
5. Get the results you want. We’ve heard stories from people who went the DIY route, or worked without a professional designer, and the stories have not had happy endings! Space planning is one of the primary areas that can be compromised and is one of the hardest to correct after the fact. Projects can be delayed because of a lack of planning in the process of coordinating all the parties involved in a remodel. When you work with a professional designer on a design and build team, you have a partner that guides you through the process and helps you arrive at the space you dreamed of and beyond.

Does Your Historical Home Need a Kitchen Remodel? Make Sure the New Design Fits with the Character of Your Home.

November 25th, 2009
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Posted in Historical Homes, Kitchens | Comments Off

KitchenHistoricalLiving in a historical home offers benefits that can’t be duplicated in a newly built house. There’s a sense of continuity, a respect for the past, and an appreciation for old-world craftsmanship that comes from owning a home built before we were born. On the other hand, historical homes can involve some special challenges. Their scale is often quite smaller than we’re accustomed to these days, especially in areas that families use the most, such as the kitchen and bathrooms. The smaller scale means it’s harder to accommodate modern appliances that make life today more convenient. And then there’s the concern that if you remodel the kitchen, it might look out of place with the rest of your home. If you’ve decided it’s time for a kitchen remodel in your historical home, here are a few things to consider:

1. Be clear about what you love. Before beginning your remodel, think carefully about what makes you love your historical home and which aspects of its design and overall character are most important to you. These are the elements that cannot be compromised, and the characteristics you want to accentuate.

2. Now think about what you need. How would you like your kitchen remodel to work for your lifestyle today? Are there modern appliances you’ve been daydreaming about? Do you need more storage space? Think about how you use the kitchen now and how you would ideally like to use the room. Kitchens can be designed to thrill the gourmet cook, to provide a welcoming hub for a busy family, or to create a dramatic center of the home for people who like to entertain. Some kitchens do it all! The important thing is to give careful thought to how you and your family are most likely to use the kitchen after the remodel.

3. Work with a remodeling company that understands historical homes. Because of the delicate balance required in the design process, your contractor should have specific experience working with historical homes. You don’t want your new kitchen to look like it landed in your home from the future! Preserving the original character of your home, while adding modern convenience and scale, requires a high level of design skills, careful research and meticulous attention to detail. There are also legal requirements to consider for remodeling historic properties (such as those outlined in the Mills Act) that your contractor needs to be knowledgeable about … missing these details in the initial design process and then having to correct them later can be costly.

Above all, a kitchen remodel in a historical home should look like it has always been there. The successful remodel of a historic home honors its essential character, while adding new spirit and convenience.

Room Additions: The Answer to Aging in Place

November 10th, 2009
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Posted in Additions, Aging in Place | Comments Off

JDR_AginginPlaceIf you’re planning for the future for yourself or a relative, you’ve probably considered “aging in place.” If you haven’t yet started making plans, you’re not alone! Most Americans don’t. Keep in mind that the National Aging in Place Council suggests that people should start thinking about a plan to age in place before planning for retirement.

What is aging in place?
Aging in place
is the ability to stay in your own home independently, safely and comfortably for as long as you can while you age. A recent AARP study established that 89 percent of 50-plus Americans intend to remain in their own homes for as long as possible. If you or a relative fit this profile, then a room addition might be the right answer.

How room additions can help.
Sometimes a home layout just isn’t suitable for aging in place and room additions make the most sense. For instance, if all the bedrooms are upstairs, that can present a challenge to safe mobility. One floor living is generally considered the ideal option for aging seniors. A room addition could be as simple as a bedroom, or it could include an entire suite with a more expansive living area, a bathroom, even a small kitchenette. Any plans should include universal design elements that provide ease of use and safety. Room additions with easy access to the outdoors, such as ramps, are another way to enhance ongoing independence.

Plan early.
Living independently is the ideal for the majority of seniors, and room additions can be a good solution. If we wait too long to consider our options, circumstances can interfere which make it difficult to retain our independence. Planning for the future now is the smartest way to go!

Learn more about aging in place at the National Aging in Place Council.
Learn more about senior living at AARP.
See examples of San Diego room additions.

The Secrets of a Stress-free Whole Home Remodel

November 6th, 2009
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Posted in Custom Homes, Design, Design and Build, Whole Home Remodel | Comments Off

WholeHomeRemodelSo, you’ve made the big decision to undertake a whole home remodel. Chances are, you’ve been thinking about remodeling for a while now. Remodeling your home is an exciting prospect, but it can also feel daunting. It seems like everyone has a horror story to share about a whole home remodel gone bad. What can you do to make sure that your remodel is a success? 

Here are some secrets to a stress-free whole home remodel:

1. Choose Your Remodeler Wisely: The first step is to find a remodeler you can trust. The contractor should be properly licensed and insured, and should be able to provide several references for work similar in scale to what you need. How you feel about the people you meet with also matters quite a bit. Remember, especially with a whole home remodel, you will be working with these people in your home for several months.  You can learn more about what to look for in a contractor here.

2. What About Design and Build?: You may have heard the term “design and build” while researching your whole home remodel. A design and build firm is responsible for both the design and construction of your home. Instead of having to find an architect, a designer, and a construction contractor, you work with just one company. Especially when you are remodeling your entire home, this can be a wise choice that will bring peace of mind as your project progresses. There is plenty to think about and take care of during your whole home remodel – the last thing you want to be doing is handling multiple contacts and contracts.

3. Know What You Want: When you’re remodeling your whole home, it’s vital that the elements all work together, and fit with your existing structure. You probably have some ideas about how you want your new home to function and look. Get your thoughts down on paper, gather some examples from home magazines, and let your contractor know what you want before you get started. Working with a contractor who has a design team on staff can be very helpful in this area.

4. Understand How Much a Whole Home Remodel Costs: A whole home remodel is a major undertaking. This is not the time to shop on price alone – you’re looking for reliability and proven skills. But, you also want to get good value for your investment. If you are getting comparison bids and they vary significantly, ask questions and take a closer look. If the parameters have been established correctly, prices should not be that different. Make sure that the bid includes everything that will be required for your remodel – from start to finish – and ask questions about how the contractor will handle any unanticipated changes during the remodel.

5. Be Patient: There’s no avoiding the fact that a major project like a whole home remodel take time. Be prepared, and depending on the level of construction involved, think about the option of living somewhere else while your home is being remodeled.

6. Have Fun and Enjoy the Process! If you have chosen the right contractor and done your homework, the process of remodeling your home really can be stress-free and rewarding. Take time to be creative, enjoy the journey from vision to completion, and learn something new about remodeling along the way.