Life+Style

A Better Backyard

In the Atlanta-area this week, summer paid a visit. The warm air brought visions of poolside siestas, lake breezes, and ice cold margaritas on the deck. Or maybe you got a whiff of baking concrete, the feeling you need another shower by the time you arrive at work, or the listless feeling of laying on your couch waiting for your struggling A/C to keep up with the Georgia heat. A common theme emerges.

Honey-Do List

With Valentine's around the corner, you gents may be wondering what on earth to get for your sweetheart this year. Another dozen roses? Another night out for a candlelit dinner? So Hallmark. Of course, you don't want to make the mistake of going for the straight up home improvement gift like a trash compactor or vacuum cleaner. That speaks of a relationship grown a bit TOO comfortable. And perhaps a predictor of a few nights on the couch or worse yet, the doghouse. 

Cinema Themed Man-Cave

One of our 2016 projects began as a completely bare basement. We blogged about it here. A blank slate slowly being formed, framed, and filled in. In collaboration with Southern Cinema Design and our homeowner's collection of movie memorabilia, the project has gone from a blank slate to a space brimming with originality and style. In our homeowner Bill's own words, "this was my once in a lifetime project."

Georgia Tech Inspired Barn Door

Sometimes, our inspiration for a project comes from a client's own desires, and sometimes, the inspiration comes from the bones of the building or the material itself. In this case, a side project for our two story addition turned into a story of its very own, and it all began with a barn door. 

When Patrick and Allison met with us, they planned on having two barn doors opening from the master bedroom to the master bath and closet. The doors solved a space dilemma by eliminating door swings and maximizing the square footage inside the room.  The search for materials began, but took an abrupt turn when we came across these 150+year-old heart pine reclaimed floor joist from Tech Tower.  The Administration Building, also known as Tech Tower, was part of the original campus constructed 1888.

“Tech Tower is a historic landmark as well as a working building.”
— Linda Daniels, associate director, Capital Planning and Space Management

The heart pine wood and its history were such a draw, and a consultation with Allison made it apparent that this would be a perfect choice for their home. In fact, it would be a make the perfect surprise for her husband, ardent Tech fan and employee of the school as well.  Suddenly, this barn door became much more than a trend; it had a story, along with the perfect the perfect audience. 

As we worked with Allison to finalize the design details, our barn door craftsman came on board. He cut the lumber to spec, and then worked on preparing the wood without ruining it's century old character. A light sanding with 60 grit paper was sufficient to remove the raw edge, without taking away the original saw cuts or nails. 

Next step was deciding on hardware. To be true to period, a slotted screw from Blacksmith Bolt and Rivet in Oregon was chosen -- overnighted to be here on time. A coating of Danish Oil restored the wood to a beautiful natural lustre, and finally the doors were ready to hang with the horseshoe hardware from Delaney, Inc. 

 Bathroom & Closet doors covered by Georgia Tech Tower repurposed lumber. 

Bathroom & Closet doors covered by Georgia Tech Tower repurposed lumber. 

 Horseshoe hardware from Delaney, Inc. 

Horseshoe hardware from Delaney, Inc. 

While Patrick was at work, our team installed the pair of doors, a bit of Georgia Tech History preserved and repurposed, in time for a grand reveal! 

 ta-DA!

ta-DA!

This special project was a one of our favorites this year and perfectly showcases the Benjamin Andrew Construction touch - customized solutions with a craftsman's perspective, not just a bottom line, a spreadsheet or line item. 

Go Jackets!

Vendor Highlights:

Delaney Hardware, Inc. 

Blacksmith Bolt

Backyard Oasis

One of Benjamin Andrew Construction's core values is building relationships both with clients and across our industry with vendors, sub-contractors, and show rooms. This project was another collaborative effort with a forward thinking landscape design company, Ed Castro Landscape, to produce a backyard oasis in Buckhead -- one that bespeaks relaxation and peace, along with easy maintenance (no vast lawns for summer mowing!). 

Gone Farmhouse Yet?

This decorating, design, and even architectural style is in full swing -- a fresh take on a old idea. A fresh look at a traditional, nostalgic, yet simplified version of country. It's an update on the Craftsman look with a more neutral color palette, lots more grays, not so much the greens, and lots and lots of shiplap. Move over bead board. 

Old or New?

Ah, the age old question. In the word "renovation" is one opinion - new is better! Your old siding, windows, kitchen, bathroom--they have to go! "Out with the old and in with the new" is a time-worn slogan with reason. However, there is something comforting, familiar, and nostalgic about the old. This question creeps into every area of our modern existence. Do you prefer old books or new? Do you want old songs or new songs? Old-fashioned or new-fangled?

 

I think we can all agree that when old means falling apart, dangerous, deteriorated, and outdated, we should throw out the old! Rot or mold in your cladding? Rip it off! Hole in your roof? Get it fixed. However, sometimes old is a bit harder to define. An old kitchen might one that served your family faithfully years ago, but doesn't serve your current needs well. An old deck or patio could be one that served a smaller or less active family, but doesn't have enough space for you now. Now's a good time to evaluate, anything old around here that needs renewing? 

Another part of the old v. new conundrum is in the realm of style. Modern, industrial, avant garde and minimalism are all styles of the new. But in fashion, old does not have to be a bad word; it has been revitalized. Rustic, farmhouse, shabby chic, vintage, and country styles all pay homage to the way things used to be, sometimes using brand new products and sometimes, making use of the upcycled, recycled, or antique. 

Finding your balance is the key. In one of our favorite kitchen transformations, you'll find a perfect blend: a new space that uses and honors the old, while bringing in the new to craft a hard-working, efficient space right in the center of the home.

{new}

gas cooktop, granite countertops, custom cabinets

{old} a perfect blend of the old and the new made to feel vintage

farmhouse table, oriental rug, stained glass transom, farmhouse chandelier

{new}

minimalistic all-in-one faucet with pull down sprayer

{old}

blue & white plates, tin pendant with a pin-pricked shade

RENEWED

This project was just part of a larger remodeling project we did for our clients, which included a two-story addition that housed a kitchen & laundry room, along with a master bathroom. Our clients, together with the Benjamin Andrew Construction team created a cohesive project that combined elements of the old into this new addition on a log farmhouse for a perfectly balanced, livable, and beautiful space to enjoy. 

Want to get started on a renewing project at your house? Let's start a conversation--we'd love to help!

A Porch for All Seasons

As we enter the dog-days of summer, a few things remind us that the turn in seasons is coming. Yellow school buses, back-to-school shopping lists. It hardly seems possible that the cool fall breezes, crisp and sweet, are just around the corner. Fall is one of those seasons in Georgia that lures you back outside, no longer seeking refuge in the glorious a/c, but ready to entertain out of doors or just read a good book on the back deck. A great way to extend the use of your outdoor space throughout the seasons is by incorporating a screened porch into your outdoor area. Inspired by the Jones family remodel (PROJECT PHOTOS BELOW) - let's look at the top 5 reasons you should think about adding a screened porch to your outdoor living space. 

1. Versatility

Screen porches can be designed to enhance any style of home, from Craftsman to Farmhouse or even a Traditional home -- this porch features beautifully detailed columns and trim that echo the Greek Revivalist style of the home. This porch is low and connects beautiful to the backyard flagstone yardscaping. 

2. Protection

Screened (and covered porches) provide more protection and allow homeowners to create an outdoor living room with plush seating and space for dining. Furniture is protected from the elements, and homeowners are protected from bugs! A win-win situation. 

3. Extended Seasons

Ceiling fans help make summer evenings bearable, and a crackling fire in the outdoor fireplace can take your porch well into the fourth season. The fireplace is a beautiful centerpiece for your outdoor space and what can compare to making smores over your own backyard fire on a wintry evening? 

4. The View

If you have a room with a view, get a better look by extending your square footage with a view the easy way -- with a screened porch! Whether you have a home on the lake, or back up to a beautiful golf course, your own patch of woods, or even just the backyard pool, a screened porch is a great way to soak in the great outdoors from the comfort of your own home. 

5. Upgrades Aplenty

Already have a screen porch? There are so many ways to upgrade your porch. Use adjustable screens instead of fixed screens. Change up your flooring -- flagstone pavers perhaps? Already have a fireplace? Go the next step and add a television to your space for a the perfect tailgating space. In short, to infinity & beyond!

Our recent Jones Project included extending their deck & building a screen porch. Favorite detail? The skylights that still allow for plenty of natural light AND shade -- all in balance. 

Get inspired and give us a shout! We'd love to collaborate on "A Porch for All Seasons" at your house. 

 

Storage Solutions

The rooms in our home that we use for living, cooking, and cleaning receive the most attention in magazines, blogs, and perhaps in our thoughts. But what about the really hard-working parts of our home that house the appliances, tools, and memories from the past? The parts of your house that you always wish were bigger, but rarely receive the investment that a large master suite does or a new kitchen remodel might. Storage. It's not flashy, but the right amount of well organized storage areas in your home can make the difference between an episode of hoarders or an HGTV home decorating special. 

So, what can you do to impact the functional storage in your home? Here are 4 ways to revolutionize your storage solutions. 

1. Go vertical

Whether it is in your garage, unfinished space, pantry, kitchen, or laundry room - make sure you are using all of your available space by taking your storage vertical. 

Considering a redo or new kitchen? Take the cabinets all the way up to the ceiling. Get rid of the dust catching space and replace it with usable storage space. 

 Courtesy of Houzz

Courtesy of Houzz

These cabinets are no joke. They combine beauty with function and tons of square footage for storage. Check out hidden storage for the appliances & the trending cabinet color for 2016 - gray!

 Courtesy of Better Homes & Gardens

Courtesy of Better Homes & Gardens

This garage has great vertical storage and made use of the wall space all the way up to the ceiling. 

2. Hang It All

Don't have space for an actual shelving system or cabinets? Hang it! There are an infinite number of solutions for anything you might want to hang. The garage above pictured some great bike hanging storage. 

 Courtesy of Country Living Magazine

Courtesy of Country Living Magazine

This simple idea has a custom built chair rail with wood pegs that create hangers for anything from boots to pitchforks. Peg board is another favorite that can be brought from the garage into the pantry, school, or craft room to hold and organize the minutiae of life ready at a moment's notice. If you are really looking for something unique, try upcycling a shutter like this bright yellow pop of color. 

 Courtesy of C.R.A.F.T.

Courtesy of C.R.A.F.T.

Another great hanging tool are the now ever-present Command hooks. Need to hang up an apron in the kitchen or a potholder on the inside of your cabinets? Go for a hook that can easily be removed if you ever change your mind or need to repaint or refinish your cabinets. 

3. Divide It

Sometimes the problem isn't so much the space - it's usable space. Divide your space by using plate racks, pot racks, or even some vertical dividers for your cookie sheets!

 Courtesy of Houzz

Courtesy of Houzz

 Courtesy of Design Chic

Courtesy of Design Chic

 

4. Build it

Perhaps you have unearthed all of the storage possibilities in your home. You've demolished walls & uncovered hidden areas under your stairs. You have hung peg board in every room of your house and have boxes stacked up to the ceiling of your garage. Now, it's time to consider adding an outbuilding to make the most of your current property. 

 Courtesy of Hometalk

Courtesy of Hometalk

 Benjamin Andrew Construction

Benjamin Andrew Construction

Whether you add on a lean-to structure onto your existing home, or construct a detached shed to complement your home, you will have plenty of opportunity to go vertical, hang it, and divide your storage so that there can be a place for everything and everything in its place. 

Here are a few of our past projects that dramatically impacted our customer's storage potential. 

Interested in starting a building project? Let us contact you today.

Stay Cool : Guide to a Better Backyard

In the Atlanta-area this week, summer paid a visit. The warm air brought visions of poolside siestas, lake breezes, and ice cold margaritas on the deck. Or maybe you got a whiff of baking concrete, the feeling you need another shower by the time you arrive at work, or the listless feeling of laying on your couch waiting for your struggling A/C to keep up with the Georgia heat. A common theme emerges. Whether you despise summer weather or love it, everyone wants to stay cool in spite of it. 

Don't let that desire coop you up in the house -- create a space for your backyard where you can stay cool and enjoy the best that summer livin' has to offer. What your backyard needs is a pergola, or is it a gazebo? Maybe an arbor? Here are Benjamin Andrew Construction's top 5 Outdoor Living Guide to get you started. 

1. A TWO-STORY DECK 

deck - a platformlike structure, typically made of lumber and unroofed, attached to a house or other building. Originally referred to horizontal planking on a ship's deck.

Decks are pretty common in our area -- but yours does not have to be! Decks are the perfect way to bring the outdoors and extra living space closer to your living spaces. The landing and extra wide-staircase make transporting all of the fun back and forth to the pool easy and family friendly.

3. PERGOLA

per•go•la - an archway in a garden or park consisting of a framework covered with trained climbing or trailing plants.

Don't need a deck but desperately want to add some visual impact and shade to your backyard? A pergola is a perfect structure to add. They are perfect for adding some organic shade -- plant a Honeysuckle vine or Clematis. Or maybe the fast growing annual, Morning Glory, is more your style (and timeline). The firepit is a lower cost investment than an outdoor fireplace, but provides that cozy spot to gather during the cooler months.

3. GAZEBO

ga•ze•bo - a roofed structure that offers an open view of the surrounding area, typically used for relaxation or entertainment

This gazebo provides much needed shade for the walkway between the main structure and detached garage, but it does so much more than that. A vaulted ceiling, timber framing, ceiling fan, and wicker living room set make this transitional space into an extension of the home, a perfect stopping place for friends and family with drink in hand and bocce on the lawn. 

4. OUTDOOR KITCHEN

out•door kit•chen - An outdoor cooking area that features almost all or any of the capabilities of an indoor kitchen, centered on the grill.

This one is a bit counterintuitive -- how does adding an outdoor kitchen help you stay cool? Same reason we love to grill out in the summertime. It keeps the house cooler! The outdoor kitchen is perfect project for your grilling pro. The outdoor kitchen market is growing in the U.S.,  because "they expand a home’s livable square footage and their return on investment is comparable to an indoor kitchen remodel" says Michele SanFilippo of Casual Living MagazineGoing much further than just a space for a grill, outdoor kitchens can feature refrigerators, sinks, and plenty of prep space. 

5. CABANA

ca•ban•a - a cabin, hut, or shelter, especially one at a beach or swimming pool

This one has to be our all-time favorite Outdoor Living Project. This cabana has a classic design, with double columns, stone pediments, timber-lined ceiling and beautiful metal roof. Simple yet absolutely stunning-- it is the perfect spot to relax, read a book, keep an eye on the kids, or host an elegant cocktail party by the pool. 

We'd love to help you transform your backyard with one of these outdoor living projects. Let's talk!

Want to collaborate with Benjamin Andrew Construction on an ideabook for your next Outdoor Living Project? Start with our Houzz Ideabook.

Reclaimed Space

Usable space inside our homes is at a premium. Closets, storage, enough bedrooms for growing families, places for studying, entertaining, eating, cooking -- all important spaces in our homes. Is your home running low on space? Time to start the house hunting process, right?

Ask yourself:
”What would it take to reclaim that space?”

First, you may want to look around you and see if there are any pockets of unused space, and then ask yourself, what would it take to reclaim that space? An unused area under a stairway could be turned into storage or a study nook. Small unfinished spaces can be turned into hobby rooms or storage areas with a little sheetrock and some shelving. What about those vaulted spaces in your home? Those hard to reach (impossible to dust!) spots do not seem eminently usable. And nearly impossible to reclaim, right? 

Wrong. 

Check. This. Out. 

Ring the doorbell at many an Atlanta area home and as you step inside the home, look up--chances are, you will see a two-story foyer, empty space, really, with a lighting fixture dangling overhead. Where you see empty space floating above your head, Benjamin Andrew Construction sees potential. When owner, Ben Kitchen, needed a quiet space for his home office, he decided to remodel instead of add on or move. 

Step One: Joists

This step is where the magic happens. New floor joists go down and all of a sudden, the possibility of new floor, new ceiling is right in front of you.

Blog_Office_Before.JPG

Step Two: Subflooring & framing

The new walls is framed out & subflooring goes down. Love the lonely pendant still hanging. It has not realized that it's starring role in the foyer is coming to an end. This reclaimed space already had a window--a major plus for a small workspace. 

Step Three: New Ceiling

New drywall is nearly ready to go up on the ceiling. 

Blog_Office_During2.JPG

The first steps provide the structure, but it is the finishing touches that take these 60 square feet and make them into the customized, efficient, yet stylish home office.   

Step Four: Brick Flooring

This thin-brick product is right way to bring brick inside your home, whether you want a brick wall, back-splash or flooring. This flooring works incredibly well even in this small space. It has huge visual impact and a rugged, industrial feel -- perfect for this contractor's office. 

Step Five: Storage

Customized cabinetry that accommodates even oversized blueprints, a large desk with enough space to spread out, and more traditional storage solutions like file cabinets and open shelving complete the wall of built-ins. 

Step Six: Pocket Door

This sliding door was a perfect solution for this found space turned office. A traditional door would have taken up space at a critical intersection between two hallways, while the pocket door quickly and quietly slips out of sight. 

Step Seven: Accessories

Accessories such as chrome finishes on the ceiling fan, office chair, and laptop are the industrial balance to the more rugged details of the oil-rubbed bronze hardware choices, the dark stain on the desk surface, and the brick flooring. Pops of red provide just the right amount of color in this working room. 

The Final Product

What an amazing transformation from empty air with a pendant light fixture, to a simple, crafstman (with a nod to industrial stylings) home office that packs in a lot of user friendly details.

Interested in reclaiming some unused space in your home? Let's start a conversation today to open up some new possibilities. 

Vendor: Never the Rock Photography

Basements: Beyond the Blank Slate

Depending on your personality, the idea of a fresh blank space can be tantalizing or paralyzing. The blank slate, page or canvas--are they ready to hold new ideas or are they simply a huge empty spaces that you somehow have to fill? Do the possibilities inspire you or give you pause? What about an unfinished basement? Many home buyers and builders wisely choose these unfinished spaces as the cheapest square footage you can build, but now you have to decide what you want to do with it! 

Like most people, "unfinished" can also be code for "storage," "junk holder" or a catch-all for outdated furniture, boxes of out of season clothes, and toys you have yet to take to Goodwill.  

These large spaces beg for a new use, but they often become dumping grounds for all of life’s extras.
— Kenny Grono, "Contractor Tips: Finishing Your Basement the Right Way"

 

Our team is taking one family's catch-all into an intentional, beautiful space. As you can see, things are beginning to take shape.

Benjamin Andrew Construction At Work

What would you do with space like this in your basement? A few tips as you start to think about layout:

  1. Place living areas near the natural light in the basement - this will make the space more inviting for guests, and more usable during the daytime for the family. You may even consider adding windows!
  2. Capitalize on the basement's inherent design, and reserve those interior areas for a media or movie room - as a bonus - no glare on the tv screen!
  3.  Make sure to have an experienced contractor help you properly check and protect all of your home's infrastructure that already has its home in your basement. This might even be a perfect time to fix a few things (squeaks in your floor joists, anyone!) An experienced remodeler can also help you solve the problems posed by your HVAC system or a support beam. 

The ideas about what to do with your unfinished space range from basic (drywalls, a few outlets, and light fixtures) to over-the-top (Infected by March Madness? How about a basketball court in your basement?). 

Here are 6 stunning basement designs that tackle the usual basement problems (low ceilings, no natural light), with style, while creating beautiful spaces you want to enjoy.

1. Family Room

Details to notice -- uneven ceiling heights and a short wall are just opportunities for these Seattle designers. The flat screen, amazing floor to ceiling built-ins and the cozy yet accommodating sectional make this a perfect place for a family or friends to hang out. 

2. Game Room

This is not your teenager's game room, but an elegant place to entertain. A clever use of trim helps the ceilings feel spacious, instead of low and cramped. A good mixture of overhead lighting and wall sconces make this basement bright and airy, even without a wall of windows.  

3. Studio

This streamlined studio makes use of one wall of windows to bring in the light. The exposed brick and painted black ceiling give an edgier vibe, while the bead board and beautiful wood tones bring a more traditional feel. The blend is perfect. This kind of space could be used for a yoga studio or hobby room. 

4. Media Room

How about a media room even your wife would be proud of? This sleek, sophisticated room marries the best of a "media" room with all of the style elements from a "living room" -- projector+screen for movie nights, 2 couches and 2 recliners for the most comfortable seats in the house. 

5. Bar

Who leaves the basement to the kids these days? For a grown-up hang out space, consider a mini-pub in your basement. The custom cabinetry, incredible slate flooring, and use of trey ceilings are all smart design choices for this lower level gathering spot. 

6. All-in-one

And, if you can't decide -- incorporate all of the ideas into one gorgeous space. Hang out, watch movies, eat, and play games in a bright basement with polished concrete, clean white finishes that feel fresh, not spare. 

Ready to take on your blank slate? 

Starting a new project or just dreaming about one? We'd love to help you get started. Contact us today!

 

Barn Door Boom

What makes the trend in barn doors so hot right now? Are you afraid to jump on this trend because it may fade and be yesterday's brass fixture all too soon? The overall trend of incorporating rural design with city life is not new (remember those country style living rooms from the 90's?); it has merely changed and grown with time. 

Barn doors aren’t just for the farm anymore—they’re one of the most sought-after features for homes of all styles.
— Karen Ziga, This Old House

The good news is that barn doors have come a long way since people ripped them off of old barns and brought them into their houses. There are now a variety of finishes, colors, and styles to select from. Worried it won't blend in with your home?  Unsure of just where you might use such a bold design element? Take a sliding barn-door tour through the home for a few ideas and a better idea of the scope of today's barn door trend. 

Living Rooms

This door replaces a more traditional French door but carries a few advantages over it -- when open it is out of the way, when closed, it provides more privacy and sound barrier. Perhaps the biggest difference between them is that the barn door has any number of positions between open and closed that allow you to customize your needs for privacy, openness, and sound. Want to host a tapas party -- throw open the doors! Want to be in earshot while your daughter does her homework but give her enough quiet -- crack the doors halfway. Want your son to practice the piano -- slide those doors shut. 

Master Bath

In a master suite, the balance between privacy and connection are different than the public areas of the home. 

Again, this provides privacy when the occasion arises, but allows the master suite to be more connected to the room, making the frequent in and out of the morning rush easier.  No more swinging doors. This horizontal plank style is more rustic and the darker stain really pops in this neutral room. 

As a Pantry door

 Via John Hummel and Associates

Via John Hummel and Associates

What a statement in an overlooked (though useful) corner of the house! If your pantry is in a tight spot, a sliding door may even be helpful in eliminating that open door problem. 

In a hallway laundry room

This totally transforms the hallway. Gone are the tight fits with the laundry baskets or the constant squeeze around the open laundry room doors.

Vendor Highlight

At Benjamin Andrew Construction, we pride ourselves on choosing vendors that supply quality products and variety for our clients. We want you to have the ability to choose both quality, function, durability, and beauty in everything from fixtures to windows and even down to a small detail like hardware pulls. Artisan Hardware is one of our purveyors of Barn Doors along with the hardware and slides that make this style so unique.  Check out the Artisan Hardware site for more information about the barn doors they carry. 

Interested in our other vendors? Find a listing of our Vendors here

Can we install a barn door for you? Let us contact you today!

6 Ways to Make Any Room into a "Living" Room

How can you infuse that same sense of gathering and relaxation into other rooms in your home? 

Natural light, comfortable seating, and thoughtful spaces for family life to unfold, that make each room into a living room.

6 WAYS TO MAKE ANY ROOM

A LIVING ROOM

1. RAISE THE ROOF

2. INCORPORATE PLANTS (SUCCULENTS ARE A PERFECT FIT IN A BRIGHTLY LIT BEDROOM)

3. USE UNIQUE LIGHT FIXTURES -- A CHANDELIER ADDS JUST THE RIGHT TOUCH TO THIS FARMHOUSE BATH

6. INCLUDE MEDIA OUTSIDE YOUR MEDIA ROOM -- MUSIC AND MOVIES IN THE BATH, ANYONE?

Natural light, comfortable seating, and thoughtful spaces for family life to unfold — that makes every room into a living room.

4. LAYER A RUG TO DEFINE A HANGOUT SPOT

5. MAKE SPACE FOR READING AND BOOKS

There is no frigate like a book.
— Emily Dicksinon
 

6. USE COMFORTABLE SEATING (AND DITCH THE OFFICE CHAIRS!)

Want to make some changes in your home? Let us Contact You to start planning your project soon. 

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