Tips for Choosing & Working With a Builder

You may have heard horror stories about problems with builders, budgets spiraling out of control and sites left half-finished. But the reality is that the vast majority of builders are both professional and capable, and you can do a great deal to avoid bad experiences simply through the way you choose, manage and communicate with them. Here’s why it’s worth laying the foundations for a good relationship with your builder — and how to do it well.

Modern Living Room by Lynn Gaffney Architect, PLLC

Current Events for Traditional Kitchens

Breaking with tradition is a good thing for kitchens stuck in yesteryear. These 10 contemporary updates will help you leave the past behind.

Kitchens with a little country or old-school quirkiness can have loads of charm; however, their traditional aesthetic may at some point feel like it’s losing its relevance. If you’re wondering how to contemporize the style of your kitchen without damaging its traditional integrity, read on for 10 ideas.

Traditional Kitchen by Debra Campbell Design

Get out the paint. A country-style kitchen can feel instantly modern with new color. Paint the walls, cabinetry, ceiling beams — whatever you feel could use a little modern punch.

Special Thanks to  Houzz Contributor

A Decorating Book Celebrates Expert Style Mixing

Old-world classic, traditional and modern elements harmonize in Stephen Sills’ gift-worthy new decorating book

This collection of 16 projects by Stephen Sills will give your coffee table chic touch and teach you countless lessons on how to mix styles with careful editing. Sills is one of America’s premier interior decorators, and the book features his projects from Aspen to the Hamptons, as well as his personal labor of love and design laboratory: his own home in Bedford, New York.

While the book features homes where the sky seems to be the limit in terms of budget, there are many lessons to be learned from them. Plus, the gorgeous photographs, by François Halard, make the book a joy to pick up when you feel like doing some daydreaming.

7 Major Decorating Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Let the Wolford Built Homes Art of Design Team help you get solutions to the challenges that cause many homeowners to put off interior design projects

A huge reason many people don’t get around to tackling a decorating project is because they’re afraid to make a costly mistake. To give you the confidence to start your own dream design, and to help you get it right the first time, I’ve put together a list of seven major design mistakes that can affect your entire project. Now you’ll know what to look for and how to get back on course to decorating success.

Smart Homes: A Vision For the Future

One of the challenges of creating a truly smart home is that many of the products and systems don’t talk to one another. Tech companies are racing to find a solution. One firm, Intel Corp., is developing a platform to help make that connection. It has created an experimental “living lab” to test smart-home technologies and showcase what might be possible. The Santa Clara, California, company brought its “smart tiny home,” as it has dubbed the house, to San Francisco on November 2 to show it to the media and talk about what the firm is doing.





The tech company’s new platform is designed to link smart-home devices and sensors — along with older products that weren’t designed to be smart — so things such as security, lighting, appliances and HVAC could be controlled by a single interface.

“For the emerging smart-home market to succeed, it needs to conquer a lot of issues: connectivity, interoperability, user interaction, killer apps and security,” said Eric Free, vice president of Smart Homes and Buildings, in a statement. “Intel has the advantage of being able to work across this new connected universe, providing hardware, software and the power of the cloud to help transition our homes from ‘connected’ to ‘smart.’”

Intel’s Smart Home Development Acceleration Platform is due to be available to app developers in early 2016. New products would integrate the platform — which utilizes open standards such as the Open Interconnect Consortium — into their technology.

Above, Intel’s smart tiny home was temporarily displayed on a San Francisco property to demonstrate how some of the products might work.


Intel’s smart-tiny-home experience started at the front door, where a security camera tricked out with the company’s RealSense technology and True Key facial recognition software monitored comings and goings. Intel’s app was programmed to unlock the door for certain people and lock the door for everyone else. In your home, a smart-home app would send you an alert on your device when someone new was at the door; you could manually approve the person remotely.

Doors also could be locked and unlocked with voice commands. Martin Despain, director of Smart Home at Intel, demonstrated this at the San Francisco event, using the command, “Hey, computer, I’m leaving.” After a few seconds to allow for exiting the house, the deadbolt moved to secure the door.

Other security needs could be addressed with sound recognition technology as well. Intel’s demo app responded to the sound of breaking window glass with an alert.




On November 2, Intel also released the results of a survey it commissioned to study Americans’ attitudes about smart homes. It found that seven in 10 people expect smart homes to be as commonplace as smartphones in the next decade. Eight in 10 say integrated security is a priority and want a single sign-on portal where they can manage their home. A majority expect smart-home devices to be packaged with other services, such as cable and Internet (83 percent), and to be as easy to set up as cable TV (74 percent).


At Intel’s San Francisco demo, this tablet ran key features of Intel’s smart house. Using the app, Intel’s Despain controlled door locks, lighting, security and more.




Despain demonstrated how a smart home could detect water leaks in the home using this off-the-shelf moisture sensor. He placed the sensor in a plate of water, and an alert popped up on his tablet. The app provided a list of recommended plumbers, which could be let into the house remotely using the smart home’s camera and security system.



He also used voice recognition software to turn on and off smart lightbulbs from three makers — Philips Hue, Cree and Osram — which work together with the help of Intel’s software development kit. He showed how they also could be controlled with an app on the tablet.




Intel’s smart house also showcased some ideas for tiny-home design. Kyle Schuneman, who specializes in small-space design, put together the interiors. To make the most of the 210-square-foot space, he included versatile features that do double duty. Above, the dining table could work as both a kitchen island and a dining table, and the area under the banquette seat stores a water heater. In the previous photo, a home office sits on a platform that houses a queen-size trundle bed.



Organized From the Start: 8 Smart Systems for Your New House

When it comes to clutter and organizing, so often we start looking for solutions only once things have gotten completely out of hand. But if you’re moving into a new place, why not take this as an opportunity to do things right from the get-go? By putting these eight organizing systems in place at the beginning, it’ll be easier to keep things organized for the long term.

11 Reasons to paint your Ceiling Black

I grew up believing that ceilings had to be white — or, at the very least, a paler version of the wall color. Black ceilings? It sounded like something only a rebellious teenager would do.

But after perusing some of the ebony-colored ceilings on Houzz, I gotta confess that I’m a convert. Black ceilings can hide a multitude of sins, call attention to something you want to emphasize or instill a touch of drama. (Let’s see ol’ Navajo White try to pull off some of those tricks.)

If the little black dress is the ne plus ultra of fashion, then the little black ceiling is the enfant terrible of decor — a mischievous little devil that provokes instead of placates, and makes any room a little bit special.

Here are 11 reasons to consider painting your ceiling black.

So You Want to Build a New Home…..

Whether building new or renovating an existing structure, creating a new home is a journey of discovering who you are, what you want, how you want to live and where you want to be. It’s a chance for you to define your relationship to the world, to your family and to yourself. Creating a home is more than building “3 bedrooms, 2½ bathrooms.” It is so much more than the sum of a few parts.

As with any journey, you’ll want to do some research and plan your trip. You’ll want to have a sense of what the end result should be and how much it’ll cost. And while you’ll no doubt be able to go it alone, having a seasoned and experienced guide show you the way will likely mean a more enjoyable, more enriching and overall better journey.

Let’s look at the steps, in chronological order, involved in creating a home.

Try A Broken Plan

This modern spin on open-plan living offers greater privacy while retaining a sense of flow

Open-plan living has been one of the biggest trends in our homes in recent decades. Indeed, knocking down walls can create a sense of space, light, sociability and fluidity that many of us love. But open-plan layouts can reduce privacy and quiet spots, as well as useful walls against which to place furniture. You may also struggle to ignore that pile of dishes you see out of the corner of your eye during TV binges on the sofa (at least with a wall between you and the kitchen, you can pretend it isn’t there). Welcome, then, to a slow, steady move toward a compromise: broken-plan living. But what exactly is it?
Special Thanks to  Houzz Contributor

Work That Square Footage