Tips from Your Luxury Custom Home Builder: The Best Bathroom Lighting for Your Master Bath

 

An Alford Homes master bath with sconce lights mounted on the mirrors at eye level.

An Alford Homes master bath with sconce lights mounted on the mirrors at eye level.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

Bathrooms are utilitarian, but are also a place to relax and unwind; therefore, when considering the lighting fixtures for the master bath in your luxury custom home, keep the dual role of bathroom lighting in mind.

Light vs. Dark Bathrooms. White or light-colored walls and ceilings reflect light, and dark colors absorb light. In a light-colored room, the light will bounce, and so diffuse ceiling lights are very effective, as they reflect light from area to area. Mirrors will intensify this effect. Indirect lighting also works well in pale baths, such as hidden lights behind a floating mirror. In a pale bathroom, you won’t need as much lighting as in a dark bath. Dark-colored walls and ceilings will absorb light, so light will only stay where it is directed. In a dark bath, vanity mirrors should have lighting fixtures that stand out from the mirror, as lighting behind a floating mirror won’t reflect in a dark colored bathroom.

Mirror lighting. Although we are all accustomed to lights above our bathroom mirrors, this may not be the best option. Lighting from above can cast unfavorable shadows, especially at the make-up or shaving mirror. Sconces add a pretty touch at your mirror, but should be installed at eye level to be most effective. Most sconces take 60 watts at most. The best lighting is 75 to 100 watts, so keep this in mind. Lighting all the way around your mirror, or light fixtures that are vertical and linear are ideal, and will provide even illumination to your face without casting shadows.

Ambient and Decorative lighting. Ambient lighting can add drama and mood to your master bath, and can even be used as a decorative touch. Floor lighting is flattering, which is why it is used to good effect on television! Warmly lit alcoves are pretty, and a unique pendant light in a corner will provide illumination by chasing away shadows and provide interest. Small up-lights can dramatically highlight a beautiful tub. Dimmer switches and motion activated lights are very useful, as well.

I hope this information is useful for planning the lighting in your luxury custom home master bath. If you are ready to build your dream home, give me a call at 972-429-1074 and visit my website. I have 34 years of experience building luxury custom homes. I am a Certified Green Professional and a Green Built Texas Builder. I build luxury custom homes in upscale Dallas neighborhoods, and am currently building two luxury homes in Normandy Estates in West Plano.

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Choosing the Best Front Door for Your Luxury Custom Home

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A pretty springtime doorway. Photo by Briget Murphy.

When it comes to making a fabulous first impression at your luxury custom home, a major component to consider is your front door. No matter what style of home Alford Homes builds for you, the front door sets the mood and expectations for you and your guests on approach and entry.

There are a number of elements to contemplate when designing your front door and nearby exterior space.

1. Material. Your front door will be battered by the elements, so whatever material you choose should be strong, tough and weather resistant.

2. Design. Will your door be smooth or have panels or other decorative details? Do you want a window transom or side panels? Would you like windows set into your front door, or a simple solid door? No answer is right and no answer is wrong – it all depends on the style of your house and our own personal taste. 3. Color. Do you want a door color that blends with the exterior of your house, or a bold color that makes a statement or evokes a mood?

3. Color. Do you want a door color that blends with the exterior of your house, or a bold color that makes a statement or evokes a mood?

4. Framing. Your door can be framed with stone, brick, wood, stucco or a combination. It can be simple framing or form a pattern – either simple or elaborate. Don’t let the framing overwhelm your door, though. Remember – framing your door is like framing a piece of art.

5. Hardware. Choose your hardware with care. Aside from givens like your door handle, knob or door lever, you may also choose to have a mail slot, and a door knocker installed on your door.

6. Balance: People find symmetry pleasing, so create balance around your front door with flower pots, urns, statuary, outdoor seating, columns and plantings.

Alford Homes has over 34 years of experience building luxury custom homes in the Dallas area, and together we can design a beautiful and unique front entrance for your dream home, that takes into consideration your personality and tastes. Alford Homes has been voted D Home Magazine’s – Best Builder 2005 – 2014. Call me today at 972-429-1074 and visit my website. I look forward to hearing from you!

 

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Textured Walls Add Dimension to Your Luxury Custom Home

Notice how this brick accent wall adds interest and warmth to this room.

Notice how this brick accent wall adds interest and warmth to this Alford Homes room.

Adding textured plaster and finishes to your walls lends depth and character to your luxury custom home. It give an air of lavishness and opulence to spaces that otherwise may appear bland. Let’s take a look at some of the ways that Alford Homes can customize and optimize your wall space:

  1. Textured stucco or drywall plaster-work. Stucco plaster contains sand for a gritty texture, while drywall plaster is smooth. Drywall plaster can be applied in numerous ways, from swirls and circular patterns to trowel/knife designs, horizontal or vertical lines, cross-hatching, or customized designs. Consider a smooth wall with a three dimensional design built up on it with plaster. The design can be of a person, creature, tree or anything your imagination desires.
  2. Stones and wood. Both stone and rough or reclaimed wood are natural materials, and as such provide a relaxing and warm ambience. For stone, depending on the look you want, consider smooth grey slate, round-edged river rock, cut stone, or rough stone. Although pieces are usually of average size, small pebbles can be embedded in your wall as well, and can even be arranged in designs. Rock colors range from yellows to whites and greys, and all shades of brown (and red) up to black.
  3. Tiling. Tiles come in a multitude of colors and designs, from Turkish to Mexican to Swedish and everything in between! Although normally reserved for the bathroom or kitchen, they can also be incorporated into a chair rail, around a fireplace or on the walls around a room, close to the ceiling, and as an accent.
  4. Brick. Brick colors range from golden yellow through reds and browns. An accent wall of brick is especially interesting. To add an “antique” feel, have Alford Homes create an “exposed brick look” with patches of plaster along with reclaimed old bricks.
  5. Metal and glass. These materials are usually used in ultra-modern luxury custom homes, but sometimes they can be incorporated into other styles of homes.
  6. Faux finishes. Venetian plaster finishes are especially popular right now, but there are many other beautiful finishes as well. Take a look at the photos at the end of this article for some unusual, fun and striking wall textures!

When you are ready to move into your luxury custom home built by Alford Homes, we hope you find these textured wall ideas helpful and inspiring. With many years of experience as one of Dallas’ top luxury green home builders, I use natural materials and environmentally friendly building practices whenever possible. Please visit my website or give me a call directly at 972-429-1074.

I look forward to working together to create the luxury custom home of your dreams.

 

Old wood texture.

Old wood texture. Photo by Foto Texture

Faux wood burlap.

Faux wood burlap. Photo by Lynda Giddens

textured walls dallas

Alhambra – notice how every surface is marvelously textured! Photo by Justus Hayes

Rough reclaimed wood paneling. Photo by Martin Sharman.

metal wall dallasRough reclaimed wood paneling (above). Photo by Martin Sharman Below, metal orb wall. Photo by Lain Cuthbertson

stucco finish

Stucco finish. Photo by Salva Barbera

Revoked blue plaster. Photo by Pulpolux !!!

Revoked blue plaster. Photo by Pulpolux !!!

venetian plaster dallas

Venetian plaster. Photo by michelle.irish

Glass wall. Photo by Carla

Glass wall. Photo by Carla

Faux Finish. Photo by Ezra Pucci.

Faux Finish. Photo by Ezra Pucci.

 

 

 

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Merry Christmas from Alford Homes!

nativity 2

Photo by Berit Watkin

Christmas to Alford Homes is a time of Hope, Peace and Joy that is found in the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ.  Christ IS the reason we celebrate Christmas.  While it is not recorded historically anywhere that Jesus’ birth was December 25th, this is the time that it is traditionally celebrated.  Our family enjoys celebrating Christmas by coming together Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and sharing gifts with one another similar to the way the Wisemen shared with Jesus.  It is because of HIS birth that there even is a Christmas.  

Luke 8-14 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying Glory to God in the highest heaven and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.

We at Alford Homes wish you all a very Merry Christmas and hope that you too will experience the Hope, Peace and Joy that this holiday is founded upon.

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Beautiful Billiards Rooms in Luxury Custom Homes

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A billiards room in a French mansion.

A standby in luxury custom homes, villas and mansions is the billiards room. Think of the classic movies where key scenes take place in a scrumptious, dark paneled billiards room set in a beautiful mansion. Many interesting conversations have been held, business deals have been clinched, and mysteries have been solved in the billiards room – both in the movies and in real life. More importantly, having a billiards room is great for just having a friendly, fun game of 8-ball with your guests and family.

When designing your billiards room, keep in mind the overall style of your home so that this room will blend with the rest of your home. The focal point of the room will be the billiards table. What color will the wool playing surface be? You can build the color scheme of the room around the color of the felt- which could be practically any color of the rainbow, including the standard green, purple, rust, red, brown, or black. What style of pool table do you want? The styles are almost limitless, running the gamut from ultra-modern sleek metal tables, art deco, baroque, rustic, gothic, and even unique cantilevered tables or custom tables. Lighting choices for over your pool table are also endless and should complement the room and the table.

Take a look at this video for some inspiring ideas.

You may decide you want the classic wood paneled billiards room, or something quite different!

When the time is right to build your luxury custom home, with or without a splendid billiards room, give me a call. Together we can build the magnificent home of your dreams. I have 34 years of experience building luxury custom homes, and as an environmentally conscious builder, I am a Certified Green Professional and a Green Built Texas Builder. I build luxury custom homes in upscale Dallas neighborhoods, and am currently building two luxury homes in Normandy Estates in West Plano. Give me a call at  972-429-1074 to discuss your new home plans or ask any questions.

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A Luxury Custom Home Builder: History of Plano

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The Shops of Legacy is a popular shopping and dining area close to Normandy Estates. Photo by Briget Murphy

As a custom home builder, I find it interesting to learn more about the history of an area or city and feel like that knowledge builds added value for my clients that want to build in a certain area. When new homeowners understand the history of their property, they feel a connectedness with it and their surroundings. This article will highlight some of what I have learned about Plano, Texas.

Plano, Texas is located was inhabited by nomadic Native Americans of the Wichita, Comanche, Caddo and Cherokee tribes. In 1844, an Indian attack in the Plano area killed an elderly man named McBain Jameson, and killed and kidnapped members of the Muncey family, who were settling on Rowlett Creek, about 5 miles away from where downtown Plano is now. Known as the Muncey Massacre, it was the last Indian attack in the area – probably carried out by the Comanche.

In 1846, a settler named William Foreman built a gristmill and sawmill about a half mile north of what later became known as Plano. Other settlers, mostly from Tennessee and Kentucky, were attracted to the land grants in the area and Foreman’s facilities. In 1872, the railroad came to Plano, linking the town to Dallas and Houston. The town began to grow, despite a fire that ravaged the commerce area and burned down all but one of the 51 wood buildings. The town rebuilt – using brick this time. In 1888, more rail lines intersected the town, providing transportation of goods and crops into and out of the town. Plano became a retail center for the surrounding area’s cattle ranchers and farmers.

By 1900, Plano’s population was 1,304. In 1960, the population reached 3,695. The town boomed, with rapid increases in population through the rest of the 1900′s. The population of Plano is currently over 269,000, and Plano is home to the headquarters of many major corporations. Plano has received much national recognition for its excellent public schools, healthy lifestyle, safety, “best city for families” and much more. Please see more of Plano’s recognition and accolades. The United States Census Bureau declared Plano the wealthiest city of 2008. Neighborhoodscout.com is a website that collects data on neighborhoods across the nation, ranks them in different areas, and breaks down the demographics. The zip code of Normandy Estates is 75024, in West Plano. This is what neighborhoodscout says about zip code 75024: Median real estate price is $632,899, which is more expensive than 99.0% of the neighborhoods in Texas and 95.3% of the neighborhoods in the U.S. and Also, the …neighborhood is considered a solid choice for executive lifestyles. NeighborhoodScout’s analysis ranks it as better than 94.2% of Texas neighborhoods for executive living, based on the wealthy, educated professionals, executives, and managers who choose to reside here, the spacious homes that are prominent features of the real estate in the neighborhood, and the high real estate appreciation rates found here relative to other neighborhoods in the state. In addition to being an excellent choice for highly educated executives, this neighborhood is also a very good choice for families with school-aged children and urban sophisticates.

If you are considering buying a new luxury home in a prestigious area of DFW, and if zip code 75024 in Plano sounds like a place you would like to live, please take a look at the spectacular French Country and Tudor homes under construction at Normandy Estates, or go to the Alford Homes website to learn more. I have 34 years of experience building luxury custom homes, and Alford Homes has been voted D Home Magazine’s – Best Builder 2005 – 2014. Call me today at 972-429-1074.

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Your Luxury Custom Home: Decorating Tips for Your Holiday Chandelier

Decorating your luxury custom home for the holidays is a beautiful and joyous tradition with many families. Turn on some Christmas music, scent your home with fragrant holiday aromas, light a fire in the fireplace and let the decorating begin! You are building wonderful memories to cherish.

One way in which to add a lovely seasonal touch to your home is to decorate your chandeliers. Watch this video to learn how to deck out your chandelier for Christmas with all white: white ribbons, white frosted-looking branches (from a craft store such as Michael’s) and white ornaments. For additional holiday chandelier ideas, check out this Pinterest board.

If you want to build your own luxury custom home, and would like to be living in it by next year’s holiday season, visit my website and give me a call at 972-429-1074. Together we can construct the home of your dreams, where you can begin to build wonderful new Christmas memories and traditions. I have 34 years of experience building luxury custom homes and I am a Certified Green Professional as well as a Green Built Texas Builder. I build luxury custom homes in Dallas area neighborhoods such as Preston Hollow, University Park and Highland Park, and I am currently building a luxury French Country home and a beautiful Tudor home in Normandy Estates in Plano.

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Alford Homes Gives Thanks

During the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln issued a Thanksgiving Proclamation. Although several Northern States had been celebrating their own Thanksgiving Day on different dates, Lincoln responded to a request from a 74 year old magazine editor named Sarah Josepha Hale, by proclaiming a national day of thanks-giving, In his proclamation, Lincoln reminded the nation that despite the war, God was lavishing gifts on us in the form of plentiful harvests, a growing nation, and freedom — with the promise of even greater freedom. He urged the nation to not take these gifts for granted.  

Speaking of our collective national blessings, Lincoln said, “They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God…It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.” 

This is what Thanksgiving should be for us — thanking God for His blessings. The Bible says, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father” (James 1:17) and “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever” (Psalm 106:1). I thank God for blessing me with a wonderful wifechildren and family, and gifting me the best of friends and relatives. Yes, I’m talking about you! Thank you for your support, love and friendship. We, as Alford Homes, are also thankful for the solid relationships we have with our top-notch, dedicated and professional subcontractors: foundation experts, heating and A/C, frame and carpenter, electrical, plumbing and landscape specialists. We would like to give a special “thank you” to the all the professionals that we work with on a regular basis. We appreciate you!

The Heavenly Father has blessed me with a successful custom home building business, doing work that I love and feel passionate about–and in the process, making new friends and building quality custom homes that exceed our homeowner’s and clients expectations.  What a blessing!  A wonderful Thanksgiving to all!

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Education Matters – A School System can be a Deciding Factor in Choosing Where to Live and Build your New Luxury Home

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Plano Schools Rank Top in the Nation:

As a luxury home builder, realtor and father, I know that the educational system and the specific public and private schools your children will attend can be a large part of choosing where to live.

We recently decided to build two new luxury custom homes in Normandy Estates, and I was pleased to know that the two lots (with homes under construction) would be in the highly acclaimed Plano Independent School District (Plano ISD). Why? Because, Plano ISD high schools have just been ranked as one of the very best school systems in Texas and in the nation. Plano West Senior High was ranked #2 in DFW and #5 in Texas and Plano Senior High was ranked #4 in the DFW area and #7 in Texas.

Twenty-three Plano ISD schools have received the coveted National Blue Ribbon Schools of Excellence Award, presented by the United States Department of Education. Concerning the award, Secretary of the US Department of Education said, “These great schools are fulfilling the promise of American education—that all students, no matter their name or zip code, can flourish when schools provide safe, creative, and challenging learning environments.”

Additionally:

  • 94% – of Plano ISD graduates pursue university and college degrees.
  • Plano ISD has been awarded “Best 100 Communities for Music Education in America
  • eSchool is offered at Plano ISD. With this program, students can take high school courses online in their own time.
  • A wide variety of Advanced Academics programs are offered at the Plano schools.

In 2014, Plano graduates outperformed the national average by a long-shot. Consider these ACT and SAT scores:

ACT:

  • English – average score of Plano ISD students was 25.2, and the national average is 20.
  • Math – average score of Plano ISD students was 26, and the national average is 20.9.
  • Reading – average score was 25.7 for Plano ISD students, and the national average is 21.3.
  • Science – average score for science reasoning of Plano ISD students was 25.3 and the national average is 20.

 SAT:

  • Math – SAT math average score was 595 for Plano ISD students, 501 is the national average.
  • Writing – SAT writing average score was 542 for Plano ISD students, 478 is the national average.

If you are looking for a special custom home in an outstanding community please take a look at the Tutor and French Country homes that we’re building in Normandy Estates in West Plano. I would be happy to share the details on both of these new homes that are under construction, please call me at 972-429-1074  Alford Homes is one of the Dallas’ leading luxury home builders, with over thirty years of experience.

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A Luxury Home Builder’s Perspective on Building in a New Community

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The Lake and Fishing Dock at Normandy Estates.

The Lake and Fishing Dock at Normandy Estates.

When looking at communities in which to build high-end speculative “spec” luxury homes, there are several factors that are important in order to meet my criterion for building in a new development. These requirements can also be helpful for prospective buyers and it shows how a builder evaluates new neighborhoods and communities. Some of these particulars are:

  1.  “Location location location!” What major highways are close to the development? What is the proximity to both airports? Are there upscale shopping, entertainment, fine dining and retail nearby? How are the public school rated? Are private schools close-by?
  2. What are the lot sizes and will they need improvements? Also, what does the topography and geographical landscape look like? Does the property have hills, greenbelts, mature trees, creeks and ponds? I need sufficient space to build a luxury estate home and want the homes to be ethically coordinated with the environment and landscape. Also, knowledge of the soil is required to know how to engineer the foundation.
  3. What are the community amenities? Is there security or a gatehouse? Other amenities could include a park, an outdoor area or community gathering place, outdoor grill, club house, work-out facility, hike and bike trails, water features, walled perimeter and a swimming pool with spa for the long hot Texas summers.
  4. What are the demographics of the area and city? I look at the demographics of the surrounding area and city with an investor’s eye, not only as a homebuilder. What is the median age of the area? How safe is the neighborhood?  Is the  quality of life good? How are the schools ranked? What are the nearby home values and affluence level.

Along with other developments and locations, I recently researched Normandy Estates in Plano – a community of European-style Villas and Estate Homes just 3 minutes from the North Dallas Tollway. The location is excellent with 25 minutes to either airport (Love Field or DFW Airport) in Dallas. The area has fantastic retail shopping and upscale restaurants. The Willow Bend Mall and the Shops of Legacy are close by, with their boutiques, eateries as well as the fabulous retail area at Preston and Park, and premier shopping at Stonebriar Mall. For nature lovers, the community features a large pond and a fishing dock, a wooded creek area, hike and bike trails and Arbor Hills Nature Preserve is only minutes away. The public schools boast one of the highest performances on college entrance exams in the United States. (More on the schools in an upcoming article.)

At Normandy Estates, there are 49 Villa lots and 55 Estate-sized lots located on 75 acres of gently rolling terrain. Estate lots start out on 3/4 of an acre. This provides ample room to accommodate different floor plans and designs.

Normandy Estates features a guard house, walking and jogging trails, a large pond with fountain along with several creeks and mature trees. At Normandy Estates there is an outdoor pavilion with grill for entertaining, state-of-the-art fitness center as well as an amenities center.

The city of Plano has an approximate population of 274,409 and has been designated as one of the best places to live in the Western United States by CNN Money magazine and also featured as the safest city in America by Forbes. According to the 2010 census, 42.0% of households have children under the age of 18. The population 65+ is 8.9%. Since the census, Plano has grown considerably, with West Plano (where Normandy Estates is located) being the most affluent area of the city. Plano is a thriving and economically booming city with a strong infrastructure.

Normandy Estates in Plano earns my approval for a new community in which to build new luxury custom homes. Alford Homes is planning on building a beautiful French Country estate home and a spectacular Tudor home in Normandy Estates. More information on the homes can be found on the Alford Homes website. Please call me at 972-429-1074 for more details. At Alford Homes, we are dedicated to providing the very best construction and quality craftsmanship for over thirty two years.

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