Tuesday, May 29, 2012

French Inspired House Design: Exterior Shutters

Happy Tuesday morning!  I hope that everyone had an enjoyable holiday weekend of visiting with friends and family.  Here in Indiana, we had the greatest racing event of the year; the Indianapolis 500.

As mentioned in earlier posts, our future home is in its final planning stages.  Once we begin building we will focus mainly on the architectural design, the construction process, and the materials.  We plan to have daily construction updates along with regular interviews from the craftsmen building the home.

Until then…..we will continue to share photos from our inspiration file. Today is SHUTTERS. 

Shutters make such an impact on the exterior of a home.  I am not talking about shutters that are screwed into the house and serve no purpose.  I am talking about shutters that open and close, latch, and sway.  I am talking about real shutters that protect the windows and let in a cool summer breeze while keeping the suns rays away.  I am talking about shutters with hardware that compliments the windows and exterior of the home.  Shutters, in a way, are our homes jewelry.

This shutter makes a great statement with its bright red on an otherwise dull gray building.

I just love these windows!  The overlapping gives such character.

Terrific shutters for a heavy window.  The shutters too are bulky and were left natural.

I am told that the blue / lavender color is more commonly used in France as it is thought to keep bugs away from the windows during the summer months.

Very traditional shutters.  The darker color looks great against the wall.

This shows you that your home does not need to be French country to host some shutters.

Again, love the bright blue color on this shutter.  They also brought the color down onto the rail.  Others bring the color onto the window trim .

Well I hope you have enjoyed todays photographs on shutters. Our plan is to have shutters that are hand hewed and while not written in stone, will most likely be the blue / lavender color seen above.  We will show photos and videos of the process when we get to that point.

If you like this post or some of our others, please follow along so that you can stay updated as we build our French Inspired Home.

Have a great day!

Monday, May 21, 2012

French Style Home Design: Exterior Materials

I want to briefly touch on the subject of exterior construction materials for a French style home. I bring this up because my wife and I were sitting out on the patio of a local restaurant this weekend when we noticed how much we liked the brick and stone combination on the outside of the building. This again brought up the conversation of what material(s) we plan to use on our home.

Originally we planned to use stucco, a common material used in French style homes. Our problem has been identifying a local craftsman that is skilled in applying this material properly. It also appears that none of the builders in our area have faith in the material itself. Indiana has very mild winters in comparison to other areas of the country, with average temperatures ranging in the mid to low 30's. Because we hover right at freezing, we go through many freeze / thaw cycles, which we are told long term is not good for stucco.

The material recommended as a substitute is Dryvit, a "synthetic" stucco if you will. Unfortunately we do not have faith in the material or process. For those of you who are not familiar, Dryvit is essentially a thick piece of insulation that is covered with a thin coat of stucco-like material. It eliminates several steps used in traditional stucco and minimizes the risk of wear over time.

So we turn now to brick and stone. There appears to be no end to the combinations that brick masons can perform. There are so many patterns and types that it can leave one overwhelmed of which to choose while also making them afraid that the wrong decision was made.

Our goal is to create a home with old world French charm. A home that looks one or two hundred years old and makes you smile when you pull up the driveway each evening. So here are a few samples of old world style brick and stone, with one stucco just in case we change our minds the next time we eat dinner outside.

This old world style stone was found at HGTV. We love the variation is both size and color of the stone. Brick was used as an accent above and below the window to break up the solid stone wall.

Is this entry just not great? Limestone was used under the windows, while the stone was arched above several of the doorways and windows.

We really enjoy this brick size and color.  To break it up a little, there was a soilders row placed at the top, and bricks were turn on end around the window.

It adds so much character when the bricks are uneven. (Great lanterns too!)

This image comes from decorpad.com.  I am sure many of you have seen it before, but I just had to add it also.  It is a great example of a Gascony style home also using stone.

We took this picture while touring a home a few weeks ago.  It has a great stucco exterior with a rough finish.  I can look at this image and just picture the mason swaying his arm as the finish was applied.

Taken by my wife at the restaurant

We welcome your comments on using the materials discussed in todays post. Also, please join our blog so that you can follow along as we build our French inspired home.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Home Inspiration from Gascony, France

Happy Monday morning!  I hope that everyone had a great weekend.  It was college graduation weekend here in Indiana, and with the addition of Mothers Day there was not much time left for blogging.  I will do my best to record the videos I promised last week that show how we water all of our potted plants without ever picking up a watering can all summer long!

For today, I want to share where we got the inspiration for the exterior architecture of our future home.  For those of you that have been to Gascony, France; we are jealous.  We really never set out searching for a Gascony style design, but rather started looking for French influenced homes in books and online.  After about a year my wife and I noticed that many of the homes we liked gravitated towards the same style of architecture.  By chance, we stumbled upon a French real estate website that had their listings divided up by regions of France.  After thumbing through Gascony we determined that this was the region that gave influence to the style of homes that captured our interest. 

Today’s photographs are of homes in the Gascony region of France.  It’s so beautiful that some days we think we should just pack it all up and move there instead of recreating it here!  Please share your thoughts or email us photographs if you have a great Gascony inspired home.

Great combination of color on this home.  The touches of blue on the shutters and potted plants make the exterior of this home come alive. 

Gascony homes tend to have lots of arches and exterior doors.  Functional shutters are also one of the staple design elements. I point out functional because that seems to be overlooked in the USA.

Again, more shutters, arches, and exterior doors.

This photograph reinforces our last post on the use of potted plants in French landscape. Trees look wonderful in pots, especially ornimental.  Bring a pop of pink cherry blossoms to your front door in the spring with potted trees. 

This home is very much a traditional Gascony home design.  Centrally located front door with symetrical windows flanking both sides.  A Romeo and Juliet balcony just above the front entry adds character to the front eleveation.

This is the back of the home featured above.

The back of this home has a great pool.  Many of the homes in the region appear to have pools.  This courtyard would be great for entertaining (and keeping potted plants as you can see).

Another Gascony home.

This last home actually came from Normandy but has great elements also found in Gascony.  We kept this picture in our inspiration file because the exterior materials change from stucco to brick.  Changing materials gives the appearance of age through a home addition even though it may be new construction.  A great way to change up the exterior of the home and add more character.

Hope you all enjoyed the photographs!


Tuesday, May 8, 2012

French Style Landscaping: Potted Plants

As we said before, this blog will follow along with the construction of our French inspired home and all of the decisions from start to finish.  While some of the initial planning is still being decided, we will go ahead and start posting about some of the things we have been learning the last few years.  On occasion, we will probably throw in a great recipe or something unique (and at a great price) that we bought for the house.
Today we want to talk about potted plants.  It’s funny because several other blogs have also discussed potted plants and urns this week.  I guess spring fever is taking over and we are all ready to start getting our hands dirty and our yards back into bloom.

Keeping with the French style, we love to use pots / urns; terra cotta, glazed, concrete, it doesn’t matter.  There is nothing that accents a French style home better than a nicely organized arrangement or a simple hydrangea or boxwood.  What we love is that they are mobile!  Did your hydrangea not like where it was last year?  Okay, get a dolly and move that pot to another location. It’s so easy because you don’t need to dig it up and replant.  Trust me we learned the hard way.  I think half of the plantings in our landscape were planted two or three times over just because we played with their location.  Also, if you have an atrium then you can just wheel those plants right into the protection of the sun filled room and enjoy them a little longer, if not all year.

I tend to favor terra cotta pots made in Italy.  There may be no science to it, but these pots seem to grow more beautiful as they get older.  The plantings also seem to do better than those planted in terra cotta made elsewhere (sorry USA).

Love this Courtyard.  You could change the landscape just by rearranging the pots !
(Also great for when you move - take the landscape with you!)

The classic american boxwood.  These are courtesy of Southern Living. 

The Meyer Lemon Tree; a must for any serious home cook, plus they look great in the kitchen in front of a large open window.

Any flower looks great in Terra Cotta pots.

Tomorrow I will post some videos showing how we keep our outdoor pots watered all summer long while never touching a watering can.  Till then, happy planting!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Choosing A French Home Design: Jack Arnold Kitchen

A few years ago my wife and I decided that we would begin to plan the house of our dreams. 

Has anyone ever had difficulty designing or identifying the home they want to build?  I think for about a year and a half we found plans that were good, but nothing that ever made us say “THAT is THE one”.

One day, we were searching for kitchen designs on Google images (a great resource).  I have always wanted our stove to look like it was part of an old fireplace.  I find the design reminiscent of cooking fireplaces that were once the staple of every kitchen.
After a great deal of searching, we found “THE” kitchen that made us stop in our tracks.  It was a design created by Jack Arnold, the renowned architect known for his European influenced designs.  Right in front of us was exactly what we were looking for in a kitchen.  The cabinets themselves also appear to be designed by Jack Arnold for Bentwood Kitchens.  Check out both sites for more information.  What do you think of the inspiration kitchen??

I love how this kitchen captures the feeling of an actual fireplace!

Love the copper pots hanging above the stove!

The simple white jars on the mantle look so classy.

 Being early in the process, we had never heard of Jack Arnold.  The one thing we did want to know was if his kitchens look this good, what did the whole house look like???  A few minutes on his website and we knew we found the team that would design our home. So this is where it all begins, an inspiration kitchen photo from Jack Arnold. Now, which one to choose and build???  Please join our blog and follow along to see the entire process from design to construction to decor.