Trends in Upscale Design

Last week I had the opportunity to visit some new construction sites in the Dove Mountain area, just northwest of Tucson, near Marana.

The home builders ranged from Mattamy Homes to Miramonte Homes, to Toll Brothers to The Residences at the Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain. The model homes provided a look at the newest trends in new home design in this area. Here are some photos of some of the details from my field trip.

Flooring tile placed in various configurations was a big feature in all of these homes that ranged in price from $437,995 to $1,595,000.

The use of tile patterns to show the shift from one room to another creates visual interest. as well as some visual confusion. The stripes in this home, below, seemed to cut through the space, perhaps to interrupt the vast expanse of floor.

Here are two entries that give cues about the use of the space and what lies beyond.

Ceiling details include brick and tile applications as well as curved portals, again to define the space.

Tile in the kitchen is the favored wall treatment. Here are a couple of kitchens that display possible tile designs. I especially like the small windows under the kitchen cabinets.

Other features of these homes included spacious and well-appointed baths, a kitchen with a custom attached banquette instead of dining table, and living rooms that opened fully to the exterior spaces through the use of movable glass walls.

These photos show the details of the tracks in the floor and ceiling for the movable glass walls. Some of the models also had “telescoping” sliding doors, so that they folded behind each other against the wall.

Many of these new homes have pools of various shapes, sizes, and uses. I especially enjoyed the infinity pool with water that flowed over the edge of the pool.

And finally, here are some other features that I found interesting. Most of the kitchens had pantries with glass doors, so one could see into the space. I don’t know that my pantry would be up to that kind of scrutiny! One of the pantries did have a frosted glass door – it could let in the light, but hide the mess! And one house had a viewing roof approached by a spiral stair from outside. Obviously this home was designed with younger owners in mind!

And these windows in a master bedroom I found interesting, as they provided some light and ambiance, along with some privacy.

IMG_20160317_094938 cropped

Blessings on Your House

In the office today I received a small gift for St. Patrick’s Day, one that is quite appropriate for a real estate office. It’s a traditional Irish blessing, and I send it out to you, with the hope your home offers all these things.


May you always have

Walls for the winds,

A roof for the rain,

Tea beside the fire,

laughter to cheer you,

Those you love near you,

And all your heart might desire!


A House is a House is a House?

According to Merriam Webster Collegiate Dictionary, 10th Edition (it’s old)
House (Noun): – A building that serves as living quarters for one or a few families.
Building (Noun): A roofed and walled structure built for permanent use


These are pretty basic definitions that offer no elaboration – no specific qualities or characteristics.

So what do people mean when they say they are “looking for a house”? Just three or four walls and a roof? In the past a cave would do.

These days it is a good thing to be very specific, unless the house you’re looking for is one you’ll “know when you see it”. My advice to house hunters is to be as clear and concise as possible about your needs and your wants, and within your budget (remember to qualify with a lender first!)

It seems that in the past each geographic location had its special kind of house design, based on the weather and ability to obtain building materials. Styles such as the salt box, Cape Cod, ranch, bungalow, cottage, “rambler”, Mediterranean, traditional, Santa Fe, and so forth, began to infiltrate into other places because the style was familiar, held special meaning from childhood, or was just preferred. So today across the United States most styles of houses are available, and not necessarily typical of the geographic area.

927 Mackall 1972 croppedThe house I grew up in was a small, one-story ranch style Sears floor plan. My father and his friends, not a developer, built it on an individual lot, purchased separately, not in a development. He and my mother held the American dream in building on this lot. My mother loved Early American/Colonial furniture but I prefer straight lines, modern, and eclectic furnishings.

624 N Shore Rd 2 croppedMy first house was one I had rented, and later bought – a story and a half Cape Cod style, in a cookie-cutter neighborhood. My purchase was based on affordability, and knowledge of the house – its structure and systems, and the condition it was in.

2_5822 Bighorn Dr croppedWhen I was older, with teenage children, I looked for a house that could provide enough space for the possessions, activities, and hobbies of four active family members, all adult size. One Memorial Day weekend we looked at 22 houses in a new (for us) community we were moving to 250 miles from our first house. The bottom line for the one we selected was that “it met our needs”. The price pushed our financial envelop, but we found we could afford it. It was big – we moved from 1200 square feet – two bedrooms in the half-story (attic) and 1 ½ baths to 2200 square feet, four bedrooms, three baths, and a full basement.

While the slick realty magazines show all the upscale houses for sale, and while the TV house design shows offer some interesting makeovers, with upscale materials, it’s a good idea for a home buyer to be realistic about their circumstances. If you can’t afford a stainless steel and granite kitchen, don’t look there! Some folks want and need a move-in ready home because their lifestyle requires it, and basically that’s what most homes for sale are these days.

Personally, I’ve been disappointed that today most homes on the market are “move-in ready” because I like to put my own stamp of ownership on my environment. What I suggest is to be open to a good deal that might be hidden by the wrong colors, flooring, and so forth. Be creative! Don’t be stuck on one style, one location, one price, and so forth. Be open!

That bigger house we moved into hadn’t had any improvements for the 20 years since it was built. I had the opportunity to make changes in a personal way, and to plant the trees, shrubs, and gardens that I wanted. It’s pretty rare to find something like that today. If you aren’t interested in a “do it yourself” home, that’s okay. There are plenty to look at that are ready for you!