Turn Up the Heat with a Variety of Fireplace Designs for Your Home

Blustery cold or slight chill, you can find us cuddled up around the warm glow of a fireplace throughout the seasons. It appeals to our natural instinct to seek warmth and our social desire for a cozy place to gather. Seattle architect Betty R Torrell has written about the architectural history of the fireplace and describes its contribution to our homes as “emotionally sustaining”.
Often identified as a family room fixture, the appeal of a fireplace is now found throughout the home. We use intentional variety when designing and constructing elements that define a style statement for each one we build.  The mantel, hearth, surround, and type of firebox all contribute to the distinctive character. We invite you to browse through our fireplace compositions to find your own inspiration.1 image  3 Project2The centerpiece of an open floor plan, this fireplace is an indulgence in natural stone which was inspired by the view of weathered silos down the road. The central placement delineates a cozy living space and sets the mood for a home that is modern and organic in nature.
2 Image Project3A classic wood mantel respects tradition with refinement. Crafted with crown, dentil molding, and paneled legs, the appearance has a composed formality. The slip surrounding the actual firebox can further a formal or informal direction based on the type of non-combustible material. Here we use marble and stone to reflect the hearth and compliment the traditional direction.
3 image 1 blog Project1The see through fireplace unites two areas with a shared focus. This minimalist approach is accomplished with a streamlined firebox. Flush tiled surfaces and hearth encourage the eye to focus on the simplicity of shape while revealing an invitation to the hearth room beyond. Raising the firebox to seated eye level opens the view between rooms when not in use and adds to the enjoyment when a fire is burning.
4 image  Project2While some design purists are horrified, it is time to get over the whole TV vs Fireplace debate. The reality is that this arrangement just works. It is a clean fitted look and solves the problem of how to arrange furniture with comfortable seating in order to enjoy both views. Often this is an opportunity to add much needed storage without cluttering a room with heavy furnishings.
6 image master fireplace croppedThe direct vent gas or propane fireplace is energy efficient and streamline. It initiated the trend for clean linear ribbons of fire. Streamline units become a non imposing part of the wall. Here we maintain a restful horizontal landscape using stacked brick to present a relaxing retreat within the master bedroom. Often installed at eye level for greater appreciation, the surrounding wall can take on a variety of shapes.
7 image mclean IMG_1918The kitchen is the heart of many homes so the addition of a fireplace increases the draw while introducing the option to cook over a wood fire. Contrasting material creates warmth and emphasis while niches below provide convenient wood storage.
8 image 6 Project2Extend your time outdoors by including a fireplace as part of your outdoor living space. Here a see through fireplace is placed on the exterior wall of an indoor/outdoor room for shared enjoyment for both perspectives. The latest weatherproof options available for electronics even allow the TV to be a part of the experience.
Whether you are building or remodeling, the experts at Lowell can help you envision the perfect character for your fireplace.

Built In Storage Ideas for Every Room

Are you dreaming of a beautiful clutter free home? Is storage something you only think about when your pots are toppling over or when you’re frantically looking for your keys?
LOWELL thinks about storage in the early planning stages of every building or remodeling project. It can’t be an afterthought; otherwise you end up with cookie cutter solutions that don’t work for most families. Our first step is listening and understanding the unique lifestyle needs of every client.
The latest trend for home design responds to modern living with designated storage space in every room for frequently used items. The beauty and practicality of kitchen and bath storage is expanding to every room. Accommodations for connecting to technology and convenient charging stations are finding multiple locations throughout the home.
Important questions we ask, you can ask yourself when planning a home improvement project:

  • How do I use each room?
  • What activities take place in each room most often?
  • What household or personal items are used for each activity in the room?

Drop Zone Laundry Mud Room
Out the door convenience is at the top of every list. The grungy mud room is a thing of the past when storage is included in the plan. Referred to as the “drop zone” or “landing pad” everyone has a place to sort their on-the-go necessities. Benches, hooks, cubbies and charging stations keep everyone organized for grab and go convenience.
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Living Room, Family Room, Gathering Rooms, all need built in storage that contributes to the overall design aesthetic. The numerous electronic components and accessories need suitable housing. Storage for blankets, games and your pets squeaky toys should easily co-exist with decorative displays.
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Dining rooms delight with built-ins that provide convenient storage for bulky serving pieces as well as a buffet surface. Glass front cabinetry will highlight collections while drawers and doors keep dining china and flatware organized and at your fingertips.
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Window walls are an opportunity for storage in any room. A window seat with storage adds both seating with storage benefits. When wall space is generous a niche can be created for a window seat or vanity flanked by generous closet space. This solution can be a real space saver when space it tight. It also adds value when the need to purchase furniture for storage is eliminated.
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Personal items find a home in closets that perform far beyond the recommended  48” hanging space per person. Coveted personal collections like purses or shoes can be featured for your enjoyment in glass front cabinets instead of stored in boxes. Include a vanity for delicate items like jewelery and lingerie. A mirror and good lighting are essential for pulling yourself together and getting on with your day.
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To wrap up all of your storage dreams, the kitchen! The cabinets you know so well have evolved. This kitchen designed by Geneva Cabinet Company include specialized dividers and pull outs for ergonomic ease. We love a well thought out Kitchen Island for expanded storage. Drawers are another easy to reach storage solution for sorting kitchen necessities. Knowing your style of food prep from gourmet to short order cook will dictate your storage needs with no wasted space.
Consider this, having an organized home has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety! A study by Real Simple magazine shows that the average American spends 55 minutes a day looking for lost or misplaced items! There are a lot more pleasant things you could do with 55 minutes each day.

Home Color Trends for 2015

While fun to speculate about the “it” color for 2015, conflicting predictions from major color experts can be puzzling. Marsala, Coral Reef, Blue Paisley? How do you know which color to choose for a fresh new look for your home that will not feel dated in a few years?
We take away the color confusion with this easy guide. It is based on our analysis of the 2015 Color of the Year predictions by experts like Pantone, Benjamin Moore, Sherwin Williams and Color Marketing Group. Using the color expertise we bring to every home we build, we created 4 key palettes for you to reference. Rather than focusing on just one fashion color, let these color collections help you create your scheme. Simply select colors from the collection that speaks to the mood you love!

Color Whisper These chalky sheer colors will restore balance and promote a peaceful and restful environment.

COLOR WHISPER
These chalky sheer colors will restore balance and promote a peaceful and restful environment.


Modern Classics Stabilize your interior by referencing historic color palettes then tweaking them for an updated feel.

MODERN CLASSICS
Stabilize your interior by referencing historic color palettes then tweaking them for an updated feel.


Nature Preserve The infusion of earth elements and the colors they represent is a way of grounding and connecting with nature.

NATURE PRESERVE
The infusion of earth elements and the colors they represent is a way of grounding and connecting with nature.


Celebrating Home A sure way to brighten your day is to introduce a kaleidoscope of optimistic hues inspired by global images and lively floral gardens.

CELEBRATING HOME
A sure way to brighten your day is to introduce a kaleidoscope of optimistic hues inspired by global images and lively floral gardens.

For more ideas and examples of how we use color check out our Portfolio pages http://lowellmanagement.com/living.html

*Digital color swatches used to demonstrate trends are Benjamin Moore proprietary colors via Pintrest. When choosing colors you must selected from actual paint samples available at your local paint store.*

MARSALA Pantone’s Color of the Year 2015!

 
Who is Pantone and why should you care?
Well, they are actually the international color authority on trends and color messages. Their research has been guiding the colors we see in fashion, architecture and home décor for over 40 years. Now that this earthy hue has been identified as the emerging “it” color, companies can refer to the Pantone system to be sure they are speaking a consistent color language. This helps in the development of new products so colors will be complimentary across industries.
 
At Lowell we often use this full bodied hue to ground neutral color schemes without overwhelming them. It also has the ability to add warmth to cooler schemes that feature blues and greens.
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Watch for Marsala to act as a unifying element in 2015. It is a sophisticated and confident shade able to mix well with the existing colors you love. The nurturing aspect of this color makes it an ideal addition for kitchen and dining areas. We will see it featured prominently in new fabrics and tabletop items especially when floral patterns are featured. As new products are introduced the draw of Marsala is sure to intensify.
 

Secret Indulgence, True Luxury

 
Luxury isn’t about necessity; it’s about indulgence.  It’s about the wonderful privilege of making a choice between everyday and extraordinary.  For some this indulgence can be as simple as chocolate, for other it is a special place created for their personal pleasure.  Part of the fun is the secret status.  As custom builders we create beautiful homes with delightful secrets.
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To the casual observer, this is just an incredibly beautiful transition with finely detailed woodworking, gently curved bookcases, paneling, coffered ceiling and accent sconces. But wait, there’s more! A touch of the bookcase reveals the secret access to a private den to be shared only with a chosen few.
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The beauty of luxury is that you define it for yourself.   However, what women isn’t captivated with the idea of her very own Carrie Bradshaw closet?
 
 
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An under stair alcove presents the perfect opportunity for storage that displays a coveted collection.
 
hidden outdoor kitchen
Pay not attention to the gourmet kitchen behind the retractable stainless steel door!  Only revealed when culinary inspiration strikes, this outdoor kitchen will impress and entertain when its secret is shared.
 
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We cater to fantasies for all ages.  This imaginative child’s play space brings new meaning to the term “Man Cave”.
 
hidden bedroom
While luxury is often defined in economic terms, we feel luxury is an emotional state as well.  Loft spaces have inherent intrigue.  Here we add a bit of romance with a rustic and intimate bedroom suggesting a tree house view.
 
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Your “Happy Place” does not have to be limited to your imagination. Our expertise and creative ideas help you add a little mystery and fun to your home by tucking secretly indulgent spaces into the forgotten nooks and crannies.

True luxury is building a home that holds a few secrets. . . just for you!

Curb Appeal

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Curb appeal is that “wow factor” that begins with the design of every home.  One of the secrets to our success is the attention we give to details during every phase of design and construction.  We want to share some of those details we consider so you too can elevate your home to neighborhood celebrity status.
You will have them at “hello” with a stunning drive that paves the way to your entry.  The driveway material and configuration should compliment the overall character of your home.  Straight drives support formality while curved hardscaping encourages a relaxed atmosphere.  Pavers, stone and decorative concrete can all elevate an imposing necessity to captivating pathway.
Curb Appeal  Details come into focus Lowell Management Lake Geneva Wisonsing
After that initial Ahhh moment, your homes details will come into focus.  We are especially fond of interesting roof lines that engage the eye.  Doors, windows, and woodworking must all be true to a homes overall style.  While function is a priority, there is no need to ignore good principles of balance and proportion when placing architectural features.  The exterior material selections offer an opportunity to further your stunning impression with a tasteful blends of color and texture.
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The walkway should also support the general style of your home.  The same formality rules apply, along with an additional opportunity to include new statement materials.  Natural stone at this point will create a gentle transition for the eye as it moves from nature to the built environment.

The planted softscaping of shrubbery, lawn and flowers will strengthen that lasting impression.  The layout should help identify the path for visitors and lead them to your entry or entertainment destinations on the property. Plantings can intrigue as they allow the view to slowly unfold or present an instant Ta-DA moment.  Hearty plants are a wise choice near driveways to withstand winter clearing activities.

Features like columns, canopies, and porches all create points of reference and more opportunity to carry through on your homes period style.  Copulas, trellis and window boxes can be added in accordance with modern or traditional architecture.  When canopies or awnings are used to cover windows and doors there can be an energy saving bonus as they buffer sun and wind.

Curb appeal is enhanced at night with the tasteful illumination of architecture and landscape features.  Defining pathways and entry points with lighting is a safe and considerate way to welcome friends.  The added security is a noteworthy benefit for the entire neighborhood.
 
Finally we saved the most adaptable feature of every home for last.  The front door is the personality point to tell the world a little bit about who you are.  It can be a sneak peek at your homes interior style or a charming landmark for neighbors out on an evening stroll.
If you have a difficult time deciding on a door color, try this fun quiz for some guidance.
http://www.houzz.com/ideabooks/23794956/list/Houzz-Quiz–What-Color-Should-Your-Front-Door-Be-
 
Here at Lowell we are known for building beautiful homes that make memorable first impressions.   Our key to captivating curb appeal is a consistent vision and we are here to share that expertise with you when you are ready to build or remodel.
 

Architectural Millwork – Details Make the Difference

Details do count; they define a home and speak a subtle language that everyone understands as quality.  The most significant addition is often in the form of millwork.  Molding, casing, beams and wood paneling all play an influential role in the feel of a room.  These are the details that Lowell takes the time to craft specifically for the character and integrity of every home built.

Ceilings are an often missed opportunity to bring warmth and style to a room.  Attention to the space above will bring a room into livable proportions.  The addition of beams can be modern, rustic or refined.  This room uses natural timbers to contrast with the elegant furnishings, increasing the comfort level and working to balance the rooms spacious proportions.
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A stepped ceiling updates the classic tray and increases interest by introducing a variety of heights that can be further defined with inner moldings.  This beautiful detail can be configured to enhance the rooms shape, add a spacious feel create a centering focal point for lighting.
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The coffered ceiling adds even more dimension and introduces an element of geometry to a room.  A coffered layout can be as intricate or simplified as desired, and will be appreciated for its architectural contribution.
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Your windows to the world are an often overlooked opportunity to enhance your homes quality.  Attention to their structure is a must in order to enhance the overall impression of a home.  Artfully arranged muttons will define a homes period styling and further communicate the message of quality.
stairs to powder room
Hallways and stairwells are transitional spaces neglected in too many homes.  Ultimately these spaces are seen more often than any one room.  We like to detail these areas with well crafted wood panels and substantial moldings.  Not only will this attention add to the beauty, it will reduce wear and tear on high traffic areas.
We firmly believe that when planning  construction or remodeling, attention to the architectural details will enhance the value.

The Home Building Process

What to Know Before You Build

What to Know Before You Build


The process of remodeling or building your home is exciting, but can be stressful at times.  Your best strategy is to educate yourself and select a builder with experience and a stellar reputation.  The right builder will guide you through the process seamlessly and run interference before you are even aware of any problems.
A great place to become familiar with the homebuilding process is the  “Current Construction” section of our Portfolio where you will see our daily behind-the-scenes activities.   Here you can follow along as stunning custom homes take shape from the ground up.
Here to illustrate the earlier stages of building, is the stunning home featured in last month blog.
The Design Build Process

The Design Build Process


Having a builder with the patience to walk you through the building process is essential to your peace of mind.  Every design and construction detail must be worked out in advance.  The design process can take six months or more depending on the style and amenities you choose.  There will be multiple meetings between you, your builder, designer, and architect with everyone focused on creating your unique space. Some builders even have a complete team in-house for you.  Creating a stress-free experience for his homeowners is the main reason Scott Lowell assembled his team of experts at Lowell Management.  You can be certain that everyone is pulling together.  Their goal is to listen to homeowners and say yes to as many requests as possible.
Selecting the Perfect Site for Your New Home

Selecting the Perfect Site for Your New Home


What does going home look like to you?  The home site will influence the design of your home.  Equally important, your home’s architecture must be appropriate for the site and surrounding areas.  The right location will validate your investment and provide years of happiness.  An experienced builder will ensure the best combination suitable for your home site and style.  Major considerations when selecting a lot include:

  • Level of activity or seclusion you desired
  • Views from multiple perspectives
  • How the home will be oriented on the lot to maximize natural light and protective barriers
  • Technical considerations such as elevation, slope, soil type, depth of soil, water table, etc.

In addition to the expertise required to evaluate a lot you are considering, Lowell has secured a number of beautiful home sites in the most desirable areas of Lake Geneva.
http://lowellmanagement.com/properties.html

Customizing Your Home

Customizing Your Home


This is the reason you decide to build or remodel. The opportunity to have the exact home you’re dreaming of without compromise.  Every detail, interior to exterior, will be designed just for you. Each nuance will set your home apart from the ordinary.  Your preferences will come into play as your home design evolves.  Major decisions will include:

  • open vs divided spaces
  • flow and adjacency of rooms
  • plumbing, electrical and HVAC systems
  • insulation and energy efficient systems
  • window and door options
  • interior and exterior materials
  • cabinetry, lighting and plumbing fixtures

An experienced builder will guide you through all options and help you evaluate the cost/benefit of each.

Plan Ahead to Minimize Changes


Do your best to include everything you want at the very beginning.  Once construction is underway it may becomes difficult or costly to add to the plan.  An experienced builder will be tuned into all possibilities during the planning stages.  Keep an open mind and you are sure to benefit from a professionals experience.

Budget and Timeline Management


You want a builder with the ability to maintain ongoing open communication with you throughout the process.  A contract detailing cost and possible contingencies will be agreed to by all parties along with a timeline compatible with the size and features of your home.  You want a builder who understands what it takes to deliver your home on time and within budget.   You will play a major role by making selections according to a timeline created to keep construction on schedule.  Lowell maintains long term relationships with the most talented craftsmen and reliable suppliers who work together to avoid and efficiently resolve problems with the least amount of delay.

Exceptional Building Materials


You simply can not find the type of materials and finishes you see in dream homes at a big box home improvement store.  Access to statement making material is a result of continuous research over time.  Many exclusive sources will only work with the most reputable and established builders.      Many specialty products take longer to receive, so professional planning and scheduling is vital to timely availability on site when needed.

Constant Supervision to Ensure Quality


Supervision during the construction of you home is essential to quality.  Building codes and architectural specifications are fundamental to your health, safety and welfare at home.  The permit process and scheduled inspections are calculated into your timeline.  A professional builder respects the codes and will oversee every aspect of construction to make certain your well-being and investment are protected.

Builder Reputation is Everything


The perfect partner for your building or remodeling will have your best interests at heart.  You want to select a builder who develops lasting relationships with customers.  Reading what our customers say is a valuable lesson in the importance of trust and confidence.
http://lowellmanagement.com/testimonials.html
We wish you the best as you explore your options for building a new home or remodeling your space.  Your questions and inquiries are always welcome, please let us know if there is any way we can help.
 

Top 10 New Home Trends

The freshest ideas for your new home or remodeling project are inspired by classics and designed with ease.  Enjoy and be inspired as you create your personal vision of home.

Inviting Open Spaces

Inviting Open Spaces


Architectural features rather than walls define spaces today.   An open feel prevails with rooms radiating from an internal landmark feature like this dramatic stone fireplace.
Indulge in Architecture & Authentic Materials

Indulge in Architecture & Authentic Materials


Classic style with graceful lines emerges as the favorite when enhanced by a selection of authentic materials with integrity.   The time to splurge is during construction so your home has permanence with quality that will last for generations.
Energy Efficient Design & Materials

Energy Efficient Design & Materials


New homes have the advantage of building in the very latest technology with innovations that will maximize energy efficiency.   High performance windows and household systems all contribute to the effective operation of a home. The proper orientation of a home to its site will contribute by taking advantage of natural light and protection from the elements.
Artfully Mixed Elements

Artfully Mixed Elements


Style statements are not born from overly matched materials and finishes in the home.   The most stunning results emerge from a combination of contrasting colors and textures.   Salvaged, reclaimed and recycled materials compliment the newly manufactured to expand your opportunity for a unique look.
Command Center Kitchens

Command Center Kitchens


Not just the heart of the home, the kitchen has become the core of all activity.   The size is not as significant as the layout.   The commonplace island has evolved and now acts as a pivot point for operations as well as a style directive.
Space for Connecting

Space for Connecting


In order to add balance to everyday demands, a cozy gathering place ranks high on the list of “must haves”. Comfortable furniture, technology and entertainment systems complete this haven for families to reconnect.
Spa Luxury at Home

Spa Luxury at Home


The Master Bedroom Suite is becoming even more luxurious as the demand for in home retreats intensifies.   Multiple shower heads, free standing tubs, and dedicated grooming areas all contribute to the spa-like character of these personal sanctuaries.
Stop and Drop Organization

Stop and Drop Organization


Your homes entry points accumulate daily necessities that can evolve into chaos.   Point of use storage will assist in the organization and recovery of on-the-go essentials
Prized Possessions

Prized Possessions


You can take it with you. Homeowners are holding on to significant pieces they love from previous homes.   The beautiful antique doors in this entry were incorporated into their new home along with cherished memories.
Outdoor Living

Outdoor Living


The desire for outdoor living is stronger than ever.  Moving beyond relaxation and entertainment, outdoor kitchens, showers and sleeping spaces are inviting us to spend more time in the fresh air.   Visit last month’s blog post for important considerations when planning your outdoor  space.
 
 
 

Creating Attractive Outdoor Living Spaces

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“Spring is nature’s way of saying, ‘Let’s Party!'”      Robin Williams

Longer days and calmer temperatures signal a return to outdoor living.  Using nature as a backdrop, the open-air space surrounding your home can provide hours of delight and relaxation.  Multiple studies have shown that just looking outdoors will activate the part of the brain related to thoughts of balance and happiness.  Take advantage of natures feel-good with the creation of al fresco spaces that will also enhance the square footage and value of your home.

The most successful outdoor space will be an extension of your homes interior style while blending with the surroundings.  A perfect plan will provide appealing and useful outdoor “rooms” as well as beautiful scenes when you look out the window.

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Where do you start? 

  • Our recommendation is to first make a list of any daily activities that would be pleasurable if moved outdoors.  Often relaxation tops the list, with entertainment, cooking and play space following closely.from website 20180008
  • Take inventory of your property and the available options to create outdoor rooms.  Consider exposure to the elements, the direction of sunlight and your desire for privacy vs. neighborhood interaction.  This will guide the placement of your outdoor living space to the front, side or back yard of your home.

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  • Next evaluate your floor plan and the most logical points for moving from indoors out.  The more convenient this transition, the more you will use your outdoor areas.  When building or remodeling, we like to feature specialty Nano (folding) or French Doors to visually diminish the indoor/outdoor line and encourage fluid movement.

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  • An informal sketch of your property showing home placement will allow you to designate logical active and calm areas.  Allow for entertaining and family fun as well quiet activities like reading, napping and gardening.

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  • Consider ways to lengthen the time you can enjoy spring and summer months by including the protection of a covered porch or three season room.

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  • Connect your outdoor living areas with landscaping, walkways and privacy screening than integrates the outdoor space with the overall architecture of your home.

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  • Finally, remember that there are experts,  like those at Lowell Management,  with the expertise and ability to guide you in the planning and execution of your new home and remodeling projects.