Monday, April 30, 2007

Model Home Spectacular

Out to Cibolo Canyons, these Models were exquisite. Three builders: Meritage, Highland Homes and Newmark Homes each displayed two models.

The layouts and features were way beyond ordinary homes. All were two stories. The rooms were large and there were many of them.

This was euphoria for a Model Home Addict. Obviously the homes are extremely well built with top quality materials. But I'm talking about decorating... I absolutely loved walking through these models.

Innovative layouts, color schemes, features (like the mirrored wall covered with wooden framing), special rooms (like the "black room" movie theater).

There was one feature I thought a little over the top. One home had several "alcoves" - though they looked good in the decorating style of the model, especially with the contrast painting. I'm just wondering if you don't have the perfect vase or similar item - what are they good for?

There was just too much to take in on one visit. (And I forgot my camera) so I will have to make a trip back to see these again.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Model Homes - Day 2

On this day's venture I just drove along and the next development I came to was Fox Grove by KB Home. These were larger than the previous group - but not the same quality. All but one model were two story homes.

They were all either brick or stone (sometimes a combination of the two).

I noticed that none had basements (which is almost always standard in NJ) and was told that due to soil conditions it is cost prohibitive and unwise to attempt it here.

Consequently, all the areas that a basement could provide for, such as: laundry room, recreation/ game room, workshop, storage - need to be provided above ground in the main living areas. Therefore, there is a very large garage, laundry and pantry. (I didn't think there were enough closets in the smaller models)

The floor plans were pretty much standard (for Texas) - but the homes were on a hillside and the views were spectacular. Each model had a different look and "feel".

The one story was not very impressive. It had light colored wood floor in entry and kitchen. The cabinets and counter top used did not provide enough contrast or interest. It had a common, low priced look. Colors used in decorating were red and black against white which sounds a lot more vibrant that it actually was.

The next model (a two story)was decorated with a Western Rustic decor. Very well done. The colors were browns, muted orange and gold, and muted green. The color combinations, as well as the quality of the flooring, appliances, cabinets and counter tops gave this home a rich, warm, but casual "feel".
The master bedroom was decorated in dark muted green. In addition to being large enough for a sitting area, had a huge master bath with two sink vanities facing each other but separated by a wall - one side had a walk in shower - the other had a large tub. Each side also had it's own very large walk-in closet. (This I liked)

The third model had a more crisp, clean look. The background was soft, muted and cool. The dark wood furniture, with its straight lines made a great contrast. The kitchen had a bump out nook for a seating, surrounded by windows that a terrific view. The models had gorgeous decks, leading to large back yards. [ the decks, as well as, many of the features shown in the models are upgrades of course - but that's why I enjoy touring models. You get to see many possibilities for the "basic box"]

The fourth model was the largest. It had beautiful arched doorways, that drew you into the huge family room. The Southwest colors, furniture and fabric prints made you feel immediately "at home". This home was large enough to have a formal living and dining area, as well as the huge family room and bump out eating nook in the kitchen. Extremely spacious. In addition there was a very large game room upstairs.

The one item I did not particularly care for was a "den" next to the family room. It was open, except for a half partition. Although it was decorated beautifully as an office, my preference would be to have it more secluded, knowing that when you are trying to do "work" it's better to be away from the "activity" area.

Well made - Good value for the price - But nothing new or startling in the layout or decor.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Back to Model Homes

After moving to Texas a few months ago, I was too busy to fit in my favorite past time - which is visiting Model Homes. Getting moved and organized and keeping up my Bookkeeping/Tax Service filled up most of my time. Family members filled up the rest of my time. Now that the urgency of Tax Season is over, I was able to indulge in something really enjoyable.

It seems that Texas is experiencing a huge population growth - [similar to what had been happening in New Jersey (my previous home)]

Housing developments are sprouting up all around the city and surrounding area- with "Model Homes"..... "Paradise!"

So my search for New Homes was easy with dozens of choices. The first I decided to "Tour" was Roseheart by Sitterle Homes - these are Garden homes in a gated community. Immediately upon entering the "Feeling" was one of quality and exquisite taste.

The front door - with artistic glass - opened to a beautifully tiled foyer.

The decorating style used was "Dark," rich and elegant. The kitchen and bathroom cabinets were dark wood, with dark counter tops and built-ins . One of the kitchen built-ins - a "pantry" cabinet had sections that rolled out exposing more sections . An efficient, compact yet attractive way to store a great deal of "stuff". [As opposed to cabinets with big deep shelves - where stuff gets pushed to the back and lost = cluttered, messy and annoying. ]

Another practical feature was the lighting under the cabinets - where you need it when working in the kitchen. There were three models to look at - all one story with the "great room" at the center. The actual layouts and sizes varied only slightly. The decorator chose all dark woods, dark upholstered furniture and accessories. (nothing flashy or glitzy)

The walls were painted a light neutral, (some had a faux finish- for a softer look) there were plenty of windows and good lighting so the dark rich colors produced a comfortable, intimate feeling.

A clever feature was the "atrium" down one side of the house. Since these are Garden Homes and therefore close together, the atrium allowed for windows to provide light, yet maintained privacy.

Trees and shrubs surrounded the house. and the many large windows along the back made it seem like the Garden was part of the Home.

These Models scored high on my list - for both:

the Quality Building- with clever, useful features
the Fabulous Decorating - showing an elegant, yet inviting, comfortable lifestyle.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Is Contemporary Style Decorating for you?

Contemporary = It's Modern - It's Current - It's Now!

Contemporary style decorating is using a strong color contrast- against a neutral, black

and white background, geometric shapes and clean, sparse but impactful adornments. It

should not be a cold, empty look but it is definitely not lace, flowers and ruffles.


Unlike "Period" decorating styles for instance "Louis XIV" - which can be identified by its

extremely ornate French furniture and specific colors scheme-
and which has the same "Look" using it today as when it was used twenty or thirty years


Contemporary design is always changing.

What was the Contemporary "Look" in the 70's =

Shag carpeting in vivid contrasting colors of blue/green or orange/brown or

Avocado Green appliances
Modular furniture in bold patterns
Egg shaped Chairs

Was not "The Look" in the 80's, 90's and certainly not today.

Well, actually the "egg" shaped chairs are still being used in the modern contemporary

furniture, and you can still see shag carpet, but it is now a neutral colored area rug.
Today you see more floors of wood or laminate, ceramic or marble tile.
with area rugs that have large geometric shapes, stripes or imitation zebra.

Choose Furniture with clean lines in solid colors usually black, white - sometimes a

textured fabric in a solid neutral can be used.
(Skip the ruffles, trim, skirts) Adding a chair in a bold color gives the room some "Wow".

Another way to achieve that would be to paint a section of wall, or an architectural

feature (if you have one) in that bold color.

Windows are often left "naked" but blinds or neutral, textured neutral, light colored fabric

drapes may be used to cut down on glare or weather extremes.

Accessories should be few but big and bold, (none of those cutesy little figurine

collections)and well lit for dramatic effect. This could be a sculpture, a large plant or even

an artistic lamp.

Glass, metal or stone tables and fireplaces. If wood is used, it would have straight lines -

no curves, trims or fancy handles.

Clutter, though never encouraged may be tolerated with some decorating styles but would

be an absolute no - no in the Modern/Contemporary room.

Recessed or track lighting works well with this type of look - well placed to provide light

without glare.

If the area is multi level, stairways are usually open, "hanging"- sometimes painted to be

an accent.

Walking into a well designed Contemporary room should give you a "Feeling" of "Clean,

Blended Comfort" - with perhaps one or two "Wow" accents.

If you enjoy the topic of decorating as much as I do, visit my website

Friday, April 20, 2007

Round and Round we Go

As I was shopping for a Washer and Dryer recently I had a flash of deja vu.

It stuck me how fashion goes round and round. Way back in the 40's and 50's appliances were White. Since having "real" appliances - replacing the "Ice Box" or "Coal Stove" was enough of a treat - no one was concerned about color.

But awhile later, (in the 60's ) it was not enough just to have appliances. You had to get the new fashionable colored appliances. All the new homes came with Coppertone, Avocado Green, or Harvest Gold - no one would want "Old Fashioned White".

Then a little time passed and the "New" color was "Almond" and you no longer saw any Coppertone, Green or Gold.

Well, shortly thereafter the "New" look was - of all things "White". To give you a choice there was also Black or Stainless Steel, but for the most part all the appliances were back to White.

So I was surprised and amused to find that there are "New" "Hot" colors - Cherry Red and Blueberry. And not only are there NEW colors, the machines have "Features" that are so high tech, you may need to attend a class to understand how to use them.

There was a setting that would sterilize your clothes in the event of a Cholera outbreak. And the dryer would continue to recirculate your clothes and buzz every few minutes to prevent wrinkling. Until you give in (or return home) and remove them.

Since the main function of these machines [which are usually kept behind closed doors] is to get your clothes clean and dry, I think the logic of spending thousands of dollars to get these extraordinary features and colors was wasted on me. If I'm going to pay a premium, the feature I want is to have the clothes put back neatly folded or hung up in my closet.

This post may not have as much to do with Home Decorating as it does airing my views on the absurdity of having "Fashion Colors" and "High Tech" in an area that should be "Sturdy, Functional and Out of Sight".

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

OK so now You have a "Box"

After touring the Model Homes, I'd inevitably be tempted to buy one. I could definitely see myself living there.

Clean, organized, all new appliances and furnishings. Everything matching and creating a "Total Look" - "A Feeling" that was an illusion of the "Perfect Home"

There would be a Price Sheet showing the cost for each Model. OK
Cleverly they would break it down to an estimated monthly payment. OK

then comes the kicker....

You want those cabinets? Well that's an extra $$$
That flooring? Well that's an extra $$$
Those appliances are an upgrade $$$
The skylight $$$
The fireplace $$$

Well now the amount has increased considerably. Assuming you can still afford to buy it....

What do you have when you move in?? An empty "BOX" - now you need window treatments, furniture, linens, accessories, etc.

And after paying the mortgage payment, the utility payments, and all the household expenses, You can't afford a Decorator.

Wow, what a come down... This house doesn't look anything like that Model!! - by the way, if you are at this point and want some inexpensive help- go to:

Sometimes you have some furniture or household items from a previous home. So you bring that in and fill in around them. Again it's not the "Model Home" that enticed you to buy.

Well at least that's the way I felt.....

Monday, April 9, 2007

Model Homes - Revisited

When I first began Touring Model Homes, there were four basic house types. Each builder might have a slight variation of these.

The first was the "Ranch" (bearing no resemblance to an actual "ranch" - since it was set on a piece of property slightly larger than the house itself) This type was the single story model. Usually the bedrooms were at one end and the living area was at the other end. The shape could be straight across, L-shaped or U-shaped.

The second was the "Colonial". This type was a two story which had the main living area = kitchen, living room and dining room on the main floor and the second story had the bedrooms. There would be a bathroom on one or both levels.

The third was the "Split Level". This type had a ground level with an attached garage. On this level there would be a Family Room -perhaps a bathroom and an additional room that could be a bedroom.
There would be a few steps and a partial level that had the kitchen and "Living Room"(which was a more formal seating area ) and a Dining Room.
Then up a few more steps would be the bedrooms and bathroom(s).

The fourth type was a variation of the Split called a "Raised Ranch" (In my opinion the ugliest - and most annoying type). The garage would be below the actual entrance to the house. It would appear that the house was on a hill. You would have to go up a flight of steps to get to the front door. Upon entering, you walked into another stairway. You could go down to the lower level - which was again a Family Room - One or more Bedrooms and a Bathroom.
If you went up the stairs - that would lead to the Kitchen, Living Room, Dining Room and more Bedrooms and Bathrooms.
My biggest dislike of this model -is that you cannot get to the main area of the house without climbing stairs (whether you enter from the front door or the garage)

For many years, these were the types used - Of course there were variations on exterior finishes, interior finishes, flooring choices, the number of bedrooms, maybe a "Breakfast Nook", fireplace, patio, and several other "Extras". But the same four types was used over and over.

Then a few years ago Builders starting mass producing what would have to be classified as "Mini Mansions". They were always two Main Stories (and in New Jersey where I lived a Basement Level Finished - with separate rooms, carpet, bathroom, appliances - that could itself house a small village of refugees)

These "Homes" would have : huge entry areas, extra high ceilings, extra large rooms, Extra Rooms such as a Library, a Guest Bedroom w/Bath, a Garden Room, a Game Room, at lease four normal sized bedrooms, a Master Suite which was the master bedroom with a sitting room, a huge walk-in closet perhaps a his and her bath.
Because of the enormous size - it would be necessary to have an intercom installed to communicate with the family members in the various locations in the "Home".

These were an absolute JOY to tour (as long as you took a map with you). Because in addition to being large and having different layouts, they were Creatively decorated - with exquisite accessories, colors, furniture and finishes. Wow! There were many I didn't want to leave. I would continue to walk through looking and admiring until either my companion would drag me out or the guard would "politely" tell me they were closing.

I have taken many pictures of Model Homes I liked and if I can figure out how to get them onto my Blog, I will include them.

Enough for now....

Friday, April 6, 2007

First Secret of Decorating

First Secret of Decorating:

Before starting any decorating project


Having the correct measurements will save you TIME, MONEY and DISAPPOINTMENT.

Nothing is worse than getting into a project and finding you didn't get enough of the materials (paint, carpet, fabric, etc) to complete the job and having to stop and get more - or WORSE finding out it's been discontinued or out of stock!

Or the stuff doesn't fit the place you're putting it, or you can't open or close a door, or it blocks the only window in the room, or you can't get it into the room. Are you getting the idea?

It only takes a few minutes and an inexpensive measuring tape to avoid those and other problems.

When measuring, there are a few things to remember:

  • Get accurate numbers - For large areas, have someone help by holding one end of the measuring tape
  • Take note of any door openings. You have to allow for clearance of door swings
  • Take note of window heights. measure from floor to window bottom .
  • If there are any furniture items already in the room, measure them.
  • Measure floor to ceiling - as well as corner to corner for projects involving painting or wallpapering.
  • In addition to writing down the measurements, it helps to sketch the area, noting any architectural items: windows, doors, built-ins.
  • When measuring for window treatments, Measure the inside window opening and the whole window including the surrounding molding.
  • Note the doorway opening (height and width) to be sure large or odd shaped items can be brought in.

Good luck with your project!
Rosemarie Zera
The Model Home Addict

If you'd like to learn more about Decorating and make your Home look really WOW! Check out:
"The Secrets to Home Decorating Success"

Confessions of a Model Home Addict

It started about 30 years ago. There was a development of new houses being built and "Model Homes" were advertised. I went to look - being newly married and on a limited budget they were out of my price range but it was FREE to LOOK.

Well I got hooked. Walking through the rooms with new furniture and appliances, expertly decorated - I could pretend I lived there - at least for a little while.

But then I had to go back to my small, old house - what a come down.

But then the following week, I'd go again . I'd watch for ads for new Models in other areas. I thought that was the greatest past time. It was amazing how the different combinations of furniture and accessories and colors could totally change the "feel" of an otherwise humdrum "box"(my terminology for the stripped down empty house).

Sometimes I'd copy the decorating ideas I'd seen. Of course a much more limited version.

I'd try to hook my family members into going "model home shopping" but they didn't seem to find it enjoyable and often rebelled. But I was addicted. I could not stand to see a "Model Home" sign without feeling the urge to go and look.

Even today, so many years later, I still salivate at the sight of a "Model Home" sign and I'll even stoop to lying that I'm interested in buying one and giving a false name and address when asked - just to get to LOOK!!

Rosemarie Zera
The Model Home Addict