Friday, July 27, 2012

Our Jack Arnold Home Floor Plan: Old World Romantic Gascony Design

Hello everyone!  Hope you're having a fantastic day.

Due to a number of emails and comments; we want to share a little more about the home we will be building and sharing with you in future posts.

Up until about two years ago we had never heard of Jack Arnold. It was only because of a fellow blogger that we encountered photographs showing some of his homes.  When researching his work we found not only an experienced architect, but one that matched our architectural design style.

Here is a sneak preview of our Gascony floor plan designed by Jack Arnold.  While we would love to show you ever page, and there are a lot of them, this is all we can show from the actual prints.  Don't worry because we will share the entire home being built from start to finish here on our blog.

After we made the decision to build a Jack Arnold Home, the first step was ordering the Jack Arnold Homes of Elegance portfolio's.  They have four different style portfolios available for purchase. We purchased three :
  1. Old World Romantics
  2. French Country Classics
  3. Cottages

Each portfolio comes with a booklet discussing its architectural style.  It also shows photographs of homes built from their plans.  Each portfolio contains several sample floor plans with estimated room sizes.  All of the plans in each portfolio are amazing.  It was a little like the three bears though; some of the plans were just way to big and some of the plans (especially in the cottages) were way to small for our needs.

The portfolios really helped in identifying our style of home.  After discussing our ideas and concerns with Mr. Arnold's team, they emailed us several more floor plan concepts not included in the original portfolios.  What they sent hit the nail on the head.

After several conversations and a cross country trip to tour a home that Jack designed, we ordered our plans.  Two weeks later this box showed up on our doorstep!! We couldn't be happier with our customized Gascony floor plan.

Included were two full sets of prints, a mini set of prints that my husband carries at all time, and a vellum for reproduction. 

We have identified design changes to suit our needs, while our builder has also made his list of necessary changes to comply with Indiana building codes.  Once our list in finalized we will send it back to Jack's team for modifications.

There are many details to share in future posts, but again we wanted to give you a preview.  We hope that everyone will enjoy following our project.

If you want more information on Jack Arnold or his portfolio collection(s), you can visit his website HERE.

Please send us an EMAIL if you have questions on our experience with Jack Arnolds team.

Wishing everyone a great day!

- Tonya and Rob

Monday, July 23, 2012

Brick and Cobblestone Paver Driveways vs. Crushed Stone Driveways: Which is your Favorite?

Greetings!  Hope everyone is having a fantastic week.

We walk, park, and play on them everyday.  They come in all sizes, shapes, and colors.  They are our driveways and sidewalks.

In our area asphalt and concrete are by far the most frequently used materials when it comes to creating  a driveway or sidewalk.  They both are perfectly fine choices, but I feel they both lack the character seen in a brick paver driveway or crushed stone driveway.  Sure there is stamped concrete and stamped asphalt which do improve their appearance, but it's still not the same as seeing a beautiful authentic brick cobblestone or crushed stone driveway.

We have selected, but have not met with, the company that will be installing our driveway.  While there are sure to be more samples coming down the road, we thought we would go ahead and share some of the inspirational photographs we are taking with us to help them identify our style.

When selecting your driveway material, keep in mind the color of stone and brick on your home.  Selecting a contrasting color or shade can draw too much attention to one or the other.  For example, I think a dark brick driveway becomes too heavy when placed up against a light colored brick home.

Several good pictures today, so hopefully you enjoy.  As a side note, we have had some of these for several years and are unaware of all sources.  If ever you see something we should credit please let us know!

This European style home has great curb appeal from the black security gate to the lush landscape. It has several other elements that I have discussed in prior posts; The black arched french door, boxwood boarders, etc. Of course I am focusing on the driveway today.  The color and pattern combinations look great with the stucco and stone home.  The only thing I would change about this driveway is I would change the boarder stone to one that is a different color or shape to add some variation.

We really like this brick and limestone edged driveway.  The driveway edging really defines the space and makes it stand out.  Would be happy to have this leading up to our house.

This is probably our favorite driveway in today's post.  It just has that old world rustic look.  The stones are not uniform in size, and they are not perfectly aligned.  It's topped off with a great stone wall and driveway security gate.  I also really like the black light fixtures on top of the columns.  We hope to do something similar leading to a circular drive.  The plan is to use gas lanterns to add more of that old world charm.

Our other candidate is a crushed or decomposed stone driveway.  As many of you know, this is very popular in Europe.  There are only three things that concern me, so maybe some of you can chime in and give me your opinion.  1) I am worried about kids playing on this type of surface and 2) I am worried about rocks making their way into the garage all of the time on car tires, or through the front door via the shoes of guests.  3) Are weeds a problem?  Anyone have any thoughts??

This paver driveway has great color variations that do not overwhelm the space.  Really like the stone pattern and shape of edging.

Two more driveway paver patterns and colors we are considering.

We want to show this picture to say how important we feel it is to carry the pavers from the drive all the way up to the front door.  I was at a house last month that had asphalt coming up the drive, concrete leaving the garage, and stamped concrete for a sidewalk.  They all met at one point, and did not look good.  I say pick a material and carry it through everywhere.

This paver pattern is similar to some of the others from above, but I feel it lacks the "old world" look.  These stones are newer and more uniform in their sizing.  As you can see, this homeowner carried the same material from the front door out through the gate and into the driveway. 

Because we have been undecided on paver stones vs. crushed stone; we have considered this split design.  The entire drive is edged with pavers, which carries through to the other side.  The space in the middle is filled with decomposed granite.  I really like the variation of driveway textures.

Another good example of pavers with an old world feel.  The edging pavers are a different size and vary slightly in color to give just enough contrast.  Also like the little bridge and lions!

This herringbone paver driveway has some great color variations.  The driveway security gate and light fixtures also look great!

Well those are some of the driveway materials we are reviewing.  Again, there will be photographs of actual material options when we get to that point.  Some of our favorite stones, and a few of today's photographs, can also be found at .

House Update:  We are meeting with the builder next week to go over final plan revisions. We are slowly getting closer!
Wishing everyone a great day!

- Rob and Tonya

Monday, July 9, 2012

French Home Exteriors: French Doors and Exteriors on Chicago's "Most Expensive" Block

Good morning everyone!  Rob here posting this week as Tonya has been busy packing some non-essential items in preparation for the move.  You will see more regular posts from me as construction begins on our home in the coming months.  My posts will focus a great deal on architectural design and will feature many photographs and videos of the home being built from start to finish.  We anticipate this being a fantastic experience and look forward to sharing and learning with all of you.

One of my closest friend since childhood moved to Chicago after we both finished college.  We usually meet up with him during all of our visits to the city.  This past weekend he had a specific street he wanted to show us that is filled with inspiration for French style home exteriors.  In fact not only is this street French / European inspired, it has been called "The Most Expensive Block" in Chicago.  Most homes take up 2 or 3 Chicago lots with the crown jewel of the street taking up 7 city lots.

Today's photos take you for a walk down North Burling Street in Chicago. There is some great architecture here.

This home caught our eye right away with the black french doors and glass transoms.  The windows also trimmed in black, tie the entire look together.  Cast stone or limestone is something you see on many French and European style homes.  The black window boxes add a great touch to many of these homes, complete with automated watering.  Can't help but notice the two boxwood planters on both sides of the double staircase.

A boxwood boarder is not something you see often in Chicago.  For any of you that have walked around the city, the space between the sidewalk and street usually consists of grass that has been half killed off by our four legged friends.  To see manicured boxwood's with an irrigation system in this space is the exception and not the rule on the streets of Chicago.

While I am not a fan of glass around a door, I could live with this on the second story as it is shown.  The iron Romeo and Juliet balcony is very similar to one that will appear above the front door of our future home.  The interior has to be a great space with all of that natural light coming in from the sides and transom windows.

This home has more of an Italian feel than French.  For me it is the lack of iron railings in front of the doors and windows which has been replaced with cast stone spindle's.  It could, however, pass off for a French Riviera style home.  The red terracotta roof tiles really add a punch of character.

This doorway enters the patio space at the home above.  There are so many different things going on with this door I am not sure what to call it?  I think I will just stick with European because I feel some French, Italian, and Spanish influences here.  I think this is one of the most creative ways of installing a light fixture over an exterior door.  The cast columns are just amazing.
Now to the crown jewel of the street.  From what we have researched, this home is over 27,000 square feet covering four floors.  It sits on seven city lots and is estimated to have cost over $40M to build.  The land alone is worth over $10M.

This is the side garden view leading back to the iron gazebo.  I hope to find a similar one to place in our backyard (the gazebo not the house).  Thankfully the cameras didn't catch me reaching up over the iron fence to snap this shot.

The other side of what is perhaps one of Chicago's greatest mansions. Notice the second story patio space above what is the four car garage. I really like the shape of the black iron gate.  They also used crushed black stone for their driveway and courtyard.The entire space is trimmed with pavers.  Everything was executed well at this home.

The neighbors place is not to shabby either.  This home has a beautiful wood gate has been stained black.  I think it adds a touch of elegance.  The roof line of this home is also very French.  For those of you familiar with Chicago, the Waldorf Astoria (formerly the Elysian) in Chicago has the same style of roof line.  I bet that roof deck is a fun place to hang out in the summer!

I really like the limestone / cast stone on the front of this home.  It has a more Roman style arch (as one reader has pointed out) over the center french doors.  I am starting to find that I really like small round, oval, and square windows.  If you want to see a great small window, check out Tina's bathroom at .  These unique windows always get my attention.

Again, more great black trimmed french doors and windows.  This transom / door glass is a unique combination as the door has the 1/4 arch and the window is also arched to match the door, but also squares off at the top to match the windows above.  Really like this look.

Of course we had to get a shot of the two of us outside the streets main attraction.  Only wish we could see what it looked like on the inside.

House Update:  Our working plans from Jack Arnold should arrive tomorrow.  There are some additional changes that we already know need to be made, but we are getting closer.  We hope you sign up to follow along as we share our building experience with you.

Wishing everyone a great day!

-Rob (and Tonya)