Jack Arnold
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Carmel project offers lesson in site usage.

My wife Susan and I recently returned from a long weekend trip to San Francisco and Carmel. As always, both the city and the countryside were breathtaking and the weather was ideal. One reason for our visit was to consult with long-standing clients who are building a home in the Carmel area. Their site is a dream–on a mountain cliff overlooking Pebble Beach and the Pacific Ocean. And their home-building story is not uncommon. They initially worked with another architect to create the design. However, once construction began, they realized that some aspects of the design did not take advantage of the spectacular views their lot afforded them. Our changes will bring those views to center stage, as we relocated the master suite to take in the view (previously was centered around the pool) and changed a patio area into an outdoor room for year-round use. These tweaks will make a big impact in how they’ll eventually enjoy this home, and it’s a great example in how important it is to consider the placement of the design on your specific lot. A side note: we stayed at the fabulous Bernardus Lodge (http://www.bernardus.com/) in Carmel. I cannot say enough about this fine resort (spa, golf and winery are also on the property). From the customer service to the landscaping, architecture and attention to detail, Bernardus will not disappoint you.

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This English Country home is turning out spectacular.

Here’s a recent photo of a custom home I designed a few years ago. Now, with mature landscaping, it is really looking terrific. This is a good example of how English Country design can look with a more streamlined approach, which is a great fit if you are leaning toward a more modern interior. More and more clients have fallen in love with European design, but they want the more streamlined, less fussy version of it. So much of actual European design falls into this category, so I am glad to see it embraced here in the U.S.  I also love how the ivy is covering the front, which is an entry to the interior courtyard.

This is an English Country home I designed for a couple here in Tulsa. Landscaping is looking especially good now.

More of the front elevation of this home. Our chimney pots also look great on this house.

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Our “Gascony” plan well done in Colorado

We often get photos from clients eager to show us their homes in various parts of the country. This is always exciting to see, especially when the builder has followed our specified details exactly. When our plans are followed so well, the homeowners’ result is a wonderful, authentic and luxurious home they can be extremely proud of. Such is the case of this home, which was featured in the April issue of Colorado Homes & Lifestyles. It’s the “Gascony” plan from our Old World Romantics portfolio. Between the builder doing such a nice job, and the client (also the interior designer on the home) working magic on the inside, the project is like a little slice of France transplanted into the heart of Denver. I’m also glad to see our European Copper chimney pots on there–another fine detail that adds so much to the overall look and feel. There’s a lot to like about this particular plan. Both grand and liveable in scale, it offers open layouts and cozy outdoor spaces any family would enjoy for many years.

Click the link below to download a PDF of the article.

Gascony article CHL

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A great example of a European Cottage.

I recently received this link from a client in Alabama who built our Armand plan (from our Cottages portfolio) and it really turned out wonderful. A great example of how we work long distance with a client to help them achieve the right fit for their property. The homeowners really love that this home feels deceptively small from the outside, and so there’s that element of surprise when you enter into a large space. Read more about it and view her photos in Attic Mag online: http://www.atticmag.com/2010/02/alabama-stone-cottage-house-tour/

Be sure to see the kitchen photos of this home at  http://www.atticmag.com/2008/11/french-gray-island-kitchen/


kit-frenchgray2

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Smaller houses that live big.

Homeowners everywhere are beginning to rethink McMansions and the “bigger is better” mindset. Recently my office received a call from a client who validates this shift in thinking with the story of his home.  A few years ago he built one of our plans, the La Maison Blanche with 3,522 square feet. We assured him that the 10 ft. ceilings and the open flow of the floor plan would make the home feel much larger than it was. He called just a couple weeks ago to say he’d had a party with 40-50 people recently and it didn’t feel crowded a bit! We were not at all surprised. This floorplan is in our Country French Classics portfolio and can be ordered online at jackarnold.com or at 800-824-3565. Below is the photo he sent, as well as a PDF of the floorplan on this home.

A photo the client sent of his "La Maison Blanche"

La Maison Blanche 3522

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Blending modern with European Country is all in the details.

Modern or contemporary furniture and home design is in vogue once again. The strong, simplified lines of this look have a lot to offer. I occasionally meet with clients who like a more modern feel, but they also love traditional European design and wonder how to marry the two looks. One couple I am working with want a home that is clearly European Country on the exterior, but want the interior to reflect a more streamlined aesthetic. To achieve this we simplified the outside by sticking to just one material (stucco) and keeping the roofline shapes the same (hip roofs). We also made interior details, such as trim work and paint, a more streamlined, simple palette. Sounds easy, but not always easy to achieve. The key is in keeping the detailing simple with less excessive trim work, maybe no mantel over the fireplace and simplified hardware and light fixtures. When these details are less pronounced, floor patterns and colors tend to take center stage. Changing flooring materials from one room to another can also lend to this effect. The fact is that true European Country lends itself extremely well to a more streamlined look—afterall, being in the country is all about relaxing and uncluttering oneself from hectic city life.

This is another home I did where the streamlined European Country approach lends itself well to modern furnishings.

The outdoor room for this same home--a sophisticated look that goes easily with a contemporary aesthetic.

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Find design inspiration on the big screen.

If you haven’t seen Nancy Meyers’ new movie It’s Complicated, you really need to. Even if you’re not a fan of Meryl Streep and Alec Baldwin, you should see it just for the sets. Like other Meyers films Something’s Gotta Give and The Holiday, the setting in this new flick is a feast for the eyes. The design of her home, her bakery and even her garden are so well done, it becomes a character almost unto itself. I routinely have clients that ask me to view certain movies or TV shows so that I can take in the backdrop, and these Meyers movies are some of the most referenced. Meyers, a home décor-junkie in her own right, gives so much attention to detail, sweating over whether or not a particular character might actually own a certain book on the bookshelf, what color a lampshade should be or whether to have marble or granite countertops in a character’s kitchen. And while some film critics bemoan her over-the-top approach to beautiful sets, the result is a wonderful reference for all who are looking for inspiration–whether for your entire house or just a room or two.

You'll love the design of the sets in this new movie.

This is a Spanish style ranch home set in Santa Barbara on a lush lot near the coast.

The kitchen Streep's character wants to remodel in the movie. A very French flair, as she plays a pastry chef who studied in Paris.

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A Traditional Home for your holiday reading

I’m proud to say that a home I designed for a client in Greenwich, Conn., is the cover story of the December Traditional Home. As you’ll see from the article, this home turned out beautifully, and it was a great partnership between me and the client (I mentioned this project in a previous post when I talked about working with an architect long distance). For this couple, finding an architect who could translate authentic French design into a home that works for today’s American lifestyle was a top priority. They had worked with another architect on a custom design but just couldn’t get there. After touring my home in Tulsa, they decided that was the look and feel they were after. This home turned out pretty large–yet it retains a cozy, livable atmosphere equally well suited for entertaining large groups or for small family gatherings. Probably my favorite aspect of this design is how it truly replicates the types of homes I have viewed in the French countryside, with extra-thick exterior walls, courtyards and lots of light coming in. hope you enjoy reading the article (the holiday decorating is lovely) and find some inspiration for your next decorating, remodel or new home project. Happy holidays to you and your family, and the very best to you in 2010.

Check out the December 2009 Traditional Home to see a project I designed for a client in Connecticut.

Check out the December 2009 Traditional Home to see a project I designed for a client in Connecticut.

The kitchen is connected to the great room, making entertaining elegant yet relaxed and enjoyable.

The kitchen is connected to the great room, making entertaining elegant yet relaxed and enjoyable.

This outdoor room is one of the client's favorite features.

This outdoor room is one of the client's favorite features.

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Great expectations: When a client’s dreams and budget don’t match.

Steel windows, like th ones shown here on this home, are impressive and will last forever. But clients who have these on their wish list need to prepare for the pricetag.

Steel windows, like th ones shown here on this home, are impressive and will last forever. But clients who have these on their wish list need to prepare for the pricetag.

We all have a dream home sketched out somewhere in our mind–or at least some key details and amenities are outlined on an imaginary list for that “someday” home. When new clients come to me with this dream home in mind, we begin to explore how those dreams might take shape. Of course they want it all–including heated floors, steel windows and a slate roof. Early on I try to assess such expensive features and present it to the client in an estimated cost-per-square-foot scenario. Such assessments can be tricky, since I don’t want to assume that a client can or cannot afford this dream home they are finally sketching out. The true reality check doesn’t come around until the job is bid by a general contractor, of course, at which time a client may look at me and wonder why I designed something they couldn’t afford? And at the same token I might wonder why they asked for it if they couldn’t afford it! For most clients there are compromises along the way that provide the cost savings they need while still giving way to  the dream home they’ve always imagined. I advise anyone looking to build or remodel their home to do some independent research early on to get a general feel for the price tag on what they want in a new home. After running the numbers, a pair of good slippers might be preferable to those heated floors.

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Personalize your home to make it one of a kind.

Today more than ever, my clients want a home that is customized for their specific needs. Details both large and small make a home more personal and thus more of a comforting retreat for every member of the family. Clients typically come to me with a scrapbook full of magazine clippings showcasing ideas they like. They’ll even ask me to watch a particular movie just to show a home they found inspiring. More than anything, clients want features that fit the way they live. For example, a family I worked for in Wisconsin needed indoor activities for their kids during the harsh winters there, and so we added an indoor basketball court, a media room and a golf simulator/ workout room all in the basement! One client who is an avid sportsman took his multiple-car garage to a whole new level, complete with gathering area for his friends (fireplace included), a bathroom, and storage areas for his golf, ski and hunting equipment. Travel provides another source of inspiration for clients. Whether it’s an outdoor shower they used while in Mexico or the spa-like bath at a luxury hotel, travel amenities play big into what clients can envision for their new home. If you’re planning a new home or a remodel in the future, keep a notebook of ideas to share with your architect. These visual aids will help him or her translate them into a home you will cherish.

A large-scale remodel I did a few years back, with some wonderful courtyards and outdoor areas on the rear elevation.

A large-scale remodel I did for a client in Virginia a few years back, with some wonderful courtyards and outdoor areas on the rear elevation.

Another view of the rear elevation. This home was truly transformed and the homeowner now enjoys great view of his backyard from the extensive decks.

Another photo of the rear elevation. This home was truly transformed and the homeowner now enjoys a great view of his backyard from the extensive decks.

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Jack Arnold, AIA