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Creating A Home You Never Want to Leave

Featured in the October 2012 edition of Traditional Homes magazine is a custom home I designed for a great client, who owned a lot in midtown Tulsa.  I think Traditional Homes is one of the better shelter magazines that highlights home design and I often have my clients look through it to for inspiration.

When designing a client’s home, it is very important for me to listen to what they want in a home so I can make sure they’ll get the home they want to stay in forever.  Some clients have mentioned that they don’t even want to go to a 5-star hotel because it won’t equal what they have at their own house.  I feel very proud of the detailing and the thought that we put into our plans and making sure the client is happy.

Designing this client’s home was no different.  I wanted to give them a home that they enjoyed so much that they would have absolutely never want to leave.

This is the main entrance to the home.  The doors are surrounded by English Ivy opening into a courtyard leading to the front door. In the photo you can also see our European Copper chimney pots that I designed that are multi-purpose in that they definitely to the overall look of the home and in addition is the safest product you can put on a fireplace.

I formed an entry within an entry, which is reminiscent of some of my signature architectural work.


The great room is a large open area with vaulted ceilings and beams with a dining and living room.

A set of beautiful antiqued mirrored pocket doors divides the kitchen from the great room allowing the homeowner to entertain without the distractions from the kitchen.

For the master bedroom suite, I like to create a private retreat for my client that allows them to have many of the conveniences in an entire home in one area.  Once you get into the master bedroom suite we usually offer a morning bar, which would be a place to store refrigerated drinks, coffee, possibly a microwave.  There might even be a separate washer and dryer for that end of the house.  This particular house has a his and her bathroom and closets.

The master suite includes a small sitting room/study area with vaulted ceilings, a fireplace, and windows on all three sides. This is characteristic of my houses as I like a lot of natural light and connection to the outside.

The serene master bedroom off of the master suite study/library.

As you make your way outside, you enter a peaceful space with beautiful landscaping resembling their very own resort right in the backyard.   Diane Cagle was the landscape architect for this project and helped the client with the landscaping and pool layout.  The building in the back is a guest house and a cabana showing our chimney pots.  Not shown in the photo is a cooking area off the cabana which is covered with an arbor.

The Chandler’s house, cabana, and outdoor room is U-shaped surrounding the pool.


The outdoor room with a fireplace is directly off of the kitchen. This outdoor room is designed to allow people to be a part of the pool activities while being protected from the elements. Outdoor rooms are becoming more and more popular and several clients request this entertaining area while coming up with design ideas for their homes.

Click the link below to read the complete article “Easy Elegance” from Traditional Homes magazine.  Written and Produced by Jenny Bradley &
Photography by Werner Straube.









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Wine cooler favorite addition in house remodel

A couple purchased a home that I originally designed for another family years ago. While it’s a spectacular house, they asked me to make some changes to meet the needs of their busy family. They added a dedicated game room and an office for the husband’s business, among other changes. But I have to say the one feature that probably draws the most admirers is the new wine cooler. This is built into a gallery wall off the great room, and it’s a showpiece–holding hundreds of bottles of refrigerated wine in a discreet steel rack cantilevered off a rock wall. The four steel doors provide access and a nice architectural element as well. I’ve done wine coolers for other clients, but I think this one may be the largest to date. I look forward to showing more images of this house in the near future–it’s been a great project.

It's tough to get a good photo of it with the glare–hopefully soon I'll get a more professional shot taken. For now this gives you the idea.

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What to consider when selecting a lot for your home.

I often assist clients with selecting a lot, or at least giving them feedback on a lot they are considering. Location, size and price are obviously first and foremost in the decision process. The shape of a lot can also impact the eventual design of the home–both good and bad. Topography is something you can’t afford to overlook, as it can really impact the cost of a project. Grading, shaping, retaining walls all add to the expense. I want to know where the clients are with their lifestyle, if they like to entertain outdoors, etc. I typically do not put an outdoor area where it will be hit by scorching western sun in the evening. Trees are another consideration. My philosophy is that we save them when we can, but often the stress of construction will kill it in the long run. I like to make sure trees are 10-12 feet from the house. The photos below are ones that two clients are currently thinking about. Both of these clients wanted a location in the older, established part of town. We reviewed where the utilities are located as this will dictate some of the design elements. One of the items clients forget is setbacks.  Most of the time we cannot build over easements.  Whenever a client purchases a lot they should clearly understand what the building envelope is, as well as covenants for the neighborhood.  Some developments have requirements on everything from the type of mailbox, fencing, and over all height of a dwelling.  While some clients come to me with a lot already purchased (and therefore we have to work with what they have), having an architect’s input before buying the lot can save many headaches in the long run.

One client is looking at this lot in an established neighborhood. Location was a big factor for them when considering where to build. This is a fantastic neighborhood.

A lot of trees on this lot for another client. Again in a very highly sought after established neighborhood.

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Advantages of letting the architect design your pool.

As the heat in my city remains locked at above 105 degrees, it’s tough not to think about how much a pool alleviates the dog days of summer. Right now I am working with three clients on how to incorporate their pool into the overall design of their home and back yard space. Working with the architect on pool design allows homeowners to create a cohesive outdoor area that ties all the elements (outdoor room, pots, paving, furniture) together. And because a pool is such a dominant feature, you want it to feel like it fits with the style and materials used elsewhere on the property. Some of my clients prefer a formal, small pool that includes a water feature for sound. Blue stone is a great paving materials around this type of pool, but keep in mind it’s pricey and gets pretty hot. Another client prefers a more free form pool, and the other client has lots of space to create almost two pools (one a lap pool, the other a pool with a spa area) connected by steps. All three of these pools use materials that coordinate well with the home, and all of them have a dark interior (which I prefer because not only does it look more natural, it doesn’t create a glare). No matter what pool features you desire, let your team of professionals work together to create an aesthetically pleasing design that seamlessly blends with the overall look of your home.

Here's a photo of the outdoor room and pool at my home. A French Country feel that is warm and welcoming--my grandkids love this pool!

This simple yet formal fountain adds a nice relaxing sound element to my backyard as it flows into the pool.

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The One-Story Wonder

One couple’s obsession with Jack Arnold design leads them to their Dream Home.

Some people just know what they want, and won’t settle for anything less. For one couple, only a Jack Arnold home would suffice as their forever home after 24 years of marriage.

Not just any Jack Arnold home would fit the bill, however. They had their hearts set on Jack Arnold’s “Dream Home,” a one-story plan sold through Arnold’s Homes of Elegance company. And they went to great lengths to find it.

“We first saw a Dream Home that was a builder’s residence in Tennessee,” he recalls. “It was in a really wonderful sub-division with beautifully constructed homes. When the builder told us it was a plan called the Dream Home designed by Jack Arnold, we knew we’d remember that name and find one for ourselves when we were ready to put down permanent roots.”

What drew them to the Dream Home was the level of detail, luxury and amenities in a one-story home.

“A 5,000 square-foot home isn’t something we needed or wanted for just the two of us,” she says. “And you don’t often find the beams, rounded corners and thoughtful planning in, say, a 3,800 square-foot house. But that’s what the Dream Home plan offers.”

Moving every few years for the husband’s job meant that the couple was waiting to build their dream home when the timing was just right. That didn’t keep them from searching the internet for “Jack Arnold Homes” in every city where they resided.

While living in Rogers, Arkansas, the wife turned up a treasure while searching online. The original Dream Home, built on several acres in northeastern Oklahoma, was for sale. They decided that it was time to put down the roots they’d always longed for in the home they’d always envisioned.

“Every day we wake up and find something else we just love about this home,” says the wife. “The courtyards give us so many views of the property–and there’s something to look at outside every window. We’re planning new landscaping with Jack’s landscape architect–we want all the details to be as Jack would want them, and we don’t want to mess anything up!”

“It’s a home that fits both the country and a neighborhood equally well,” he adds. “We go out to the courtyards to have breakfast and just love it. After living in Europe for four years, we know what that lifestyle is like, what that architecture is like.

“And this is as close as it gets.”

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Florida beach house big on style, small on size

I wanted to share with you some photos of a beach house I designed for a family who wanted a vacation place on the Florida Gulf coast. This is near Seaside and Rosemary Beach, if you’re familiar with that area. While the home is only around 2,000 square feet, my wife Susan (interior designer) and I were able to create an elegant and livable home that welcomes guests all through the year.

This is the street view of the beach house--the pergola you see is over their driveway, which makes a nice entrace to the home.

Here you can see the home from the beach side--the verandas give it Southern charm yet with a bit of European elegance.

A View from further down on the beach.

Here's the small but efficient kitchen.

And the elegant and cozy living room. Susan is a master interior designer.

Here you can see the fireplace on the other side of the room.

And al fresco dining on the lovely veranda. I wish you could see the view from up here--I'll need to find a day shot of this!

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This couple finds their “Dream Home.”

Talking to homeowners and potential clients is one of the best parts of my work. I recently received a call from a couple who, after years of research, planning and dreaming, had just purchased one of my homes. After many years of relocating for the husband’s job, they decided to put down roots near Tulsa when they learned that our original “Dream Home” was on the market. They first learned about this plan many years ago in Tennessee, when they came across a builder’s home they loved. What drew them to it was the detail and amenities rarely found in a one-story home. The beams, the rounded corners, the trim work and flooring–all of which added up to 3,500 square feet–and was much more manageable for the two of them (and their two dogs!). I met with this couple recently to discuss their plans of adding a garage (they need a 4-car garage) as well as another closet in the master. They also wanted my input on a master landscaping plan. I can tell you that they are a dream client, as some homeowners choose to alter our plans (or one of my existing homes they purchased), without our input. The results is always “almost, but not quite,” as the changes rarely fit in well with the rest of the home’s design. So I’m thrilled that, after years of looking at our Dream Home plan, this couple has made living in one a reality.

A photo from the gallery in The Dream Home. I use galleries often in my designs as a nice way to transition or connect various rooms.

Here's a sample page from our Dream Home portfolio. You can purchase this book on my website here: http://www.jackarnold.com/pp_lp_dhp.html.

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Put roof material selection at the top of your priority list.

I wrote about the importance of roof material selection on this blog a few years ago–but we’ve all slept since then and this important topic bears repeating. I just can’t emphasize enough how critical it is to get this part of your home right. Your roof is one of the largest architectural features on the outside of your home, and it sets the stage for the look and feel. For example, shake shingles convey a more casual, rustic and almost cottagey feel, while a thin, sawn shingle is more refined and conveys elegance. If you’re selecting slate or tile, color choice is important. When I choose slate for a home, I typically select gray, black or taupe, but have also chosen multicolor slate for certain homes. Barrel tile is typically some shade of red, and it’s just about the only suitable choice for an Italian or Mediterranean style home. One home I’m designing for an acreage is going to have a metal roof, and this will be in a dark brown shade. There are many manufactured roofing products on the market that resemble wood and slate–they’re popular because they cost less than natural materials and they’re not combustible. While cost is a factor for most any homeowner, I encourage my clients to go the route of natural roofing materials. In the long run, the more authentic look wins out (in my opinion) and is worth the extra expense.

You can see how the roofing materials add to the home’s overall look. From top, tile, slate, sawn shingle, shake shingle.

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When you love the lot, but not the house. Remodel or build new?

It’s a dilemma many of my clients have encountered. They love their lot, the street, the neighborhood. The home is close to their schools, favorite shops and their friends. But the house just isn’t working. Two clients in particular faced significant drainage problems due to the topography of their site. After years of battling it, one client realized (with my help) that a remodel on their existing house would still leave them with the drainage issues they’d come to dread. Their solution? Tear down the family home and rebuild on the lot. This home was a custom Mediterranean design I did that took full advantage of their lot and allowed us to change the topography, thereby eliminating the water problems. A radical option and not for everyone, but it was ultimately the right choice for them. My other client had a sloping backyard that ran down right to the enormous family room on the first floor. For decades heavy rains brought water in by the bucketful, but it took a lot of convincing on my part that the backyard topography was the culprit. The family was deeply attached to the yard for many sentimental reasons, and changing that was a tough sell. The client finally agreed, and we are now in the midst of construction in which not only will grading make the yard more level, we will enhance it with a water feature and significant landscaping. I am confident this approach truly saved their home by making it much more livable and also more valuable. I often help my clients through these decisions, weighing whether or not the neighborhood values can support a new home on the lot, or if the cost of an extensive remodel can be justified versus building new. While the site largely dictates what is feasible, the homeowner’s emotional connections to the property, and how they want to live in the home, are major factors in what is often a tough decision.

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Add a screen porch for more outdoor living flexibility.

Lately I’ve had more and more clients asking about including a screen porch in their new home. They are especially desirable in parts of the U.S. where insects are a big problem (mosquitoes and flies in the South and Southeast, bees in some mountain states). I’ve even had a client in Florida who wanted to cover his entire yard and pool with a screen! While that is certainly on the extreme end, I do love the flexibility that screen porches give homeowners for outdoor living. One of my favorite products for this are Phantom Screens (http://www.phantomscreens.com), an electric retractable screen that rolls up (electronically) vertically or (manually) horizontally on a track with an almost imperceptible frame. The nylon-coated screen and aluminum frame are virtually maintenance free, making it a great choice if you can afford the price tag. I don’t recommend screens on wood frames just for the issue of added maintenance, and I caution my clients that a screen porch attached to their home will make the adjoining room quite a bit darker (the need for an enclosed roof on the porch blocks most of the room’s natural light). Other must-haves for a screen porch include ceiling fans (for both air circulation and to deter bugs), radiant heat floors or radiant space heaters (even outdoor fireplaces may need supplemental heat sources), and often an insect repellant system (new products mist a fine spray of eucalyptus or lavender that are pleasant and eco-friendly). With a bit of planning and foresight, you can create an outdoor haven your family will enjoy practically year ‘round.

Retractable screens like these from Phantom Screens give your screened porch or outdoor room even more flexibility.

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Jack Arnold, AIA