What do you want your eating counter to look like?

what-do-you-want-your-eating-counter-to-look-likewWhen you’re planning your kitchen, take some time to determine whether you want to include an eating counter like this one. There are some decisions to make if you decide a counter is for you, so let’s take a look at the things you may want to consider.

Counter depth: Your Fulton design-center designer can show you examples of standard counter depths. Don’t short-change your counter. You may find that this space becomes more than a snack area. It may be the choice location for your kids to do their homework or your prime appetizer spot when you have people over for dinner.

Counter edge: If you will have people leaning over the counter, make sure the edge will be comfortable. Some of the edges are fun and interesting, but not as easy on the stomach over time as your kids bend over it while munching on breakfast or a snack.

Stool height: Counters and stools come in all sorts of heights. Make sure you know how high your counter will be so that you select stools that will fit your counter well. Too high or too low and your guests will not be comfortable.

Design features: This under-counter area coordinates with the cabinetry. Other islands may have tile under the counter. Think about whether you will have kicking kids sitting at the counter or more well-behaved adults when choosing your materials. This counter also adds a bit of splash with two columns, giving a bit of extra personality to the kitchen. Check with your designer to see all of your column and other kitchen counter options.

Merging Indoor and Outdoor Living

merging-indoor-and-outdoor-livingwLiving in Arizona, we’re lucky to be able to spend more time outside than in other parts of the country. That’s one reason why it’s nice to look for a home that allows you to merge indoor and outdoor living.

Whether you’re entertaining or just enjoying time with the family, it’s a pleasure to be able to move from inside to outside as you wish. It might be that your family enjoys breakfast outdoors once the temperatures drop enough to spend early mornings with doors and windows open. Some family members may just prefer to take their coffee and the morning paper outside.

If you have houseguests who come from the East, chances are they’ll take advantage of any time they get to spend out in the sun. How about a lunch of cheese and fruit on the patio? Or you could offer different cold cuts and potato salad or coleslaw. With this home it’s just a few steps from the kitchen to the back yard, so it’s easy for people to fill their plates and go back for seconds.

Maybe spending time outside gives some family members a chance to enjoy a little alone time, settling down in the yard with a good book or relaxing on a lounge chair for a nap. Have you considered putting up a hammock? It could become a popular feature in your yard.

With this generous sliding glass door that also includes two floor-to-ceiling windows, the outside is always calling and the inside is always near. So choose your spot. Going from one to the other is a breeze.

Plan Your Next Outdoor Event

Patio-fire-PitwIt’s fun to plan parties and get togethers for family and friends. This time of year it’s tempting to plan an outdoor event. This backyard, one of those visible at Fulton’s Cooley Station, makes entertaining especially inviting.

First, you have an interesting water feature along the back complete with sculptural pots and edges made for sitting. Then the elongated fire pit encourages guests to enjoy the flames, either cooking up marshmallows for s’more’s or just sitting along the edge and warming in the heat.

Outdoor areas make better party places when they offer various centers for attention so that different groups of people can enjoy either fun activities or quiet conversations. This space has a number of sections, allowing guests to self-select the group that suits their style and mood.

Notice also the comfy upholstered outdoor furniture. Having chairs with ottomans rather than one-piece loungers gives your guests more seating options and leads to flexibility as different pieces can be moved around the yard. The warm earth tones of the upholstery fit well with all of the stone hardscaping in place, and plants and fabric soften the feeling of the yard.

Finally, the table in the foreground – the dining chairs are just visible at the front of the photo – provides a place for appetizers and drinks. Consider adding a few side tables to enable guests to set their plates and drinks down as they wander around the yard. The potted geranium is a nice touch on the table, and you could also add fresh flowers and greens to the décor.

Just by incorporating food and drinks, this yard is ready for company. What do you need to change in your yard to set things up for your next event?

Inviting Open Kitchen

Inviting-open-kitchenwWhat makes a kitchen pleasant? Stylish cabinetry helps, along with lovely countertops and lighting that pushes the envelope like these pendants. It’s also fun to have your own walk-in pantry to make it easy to grab your ingredients as you need them.

Hard-core cooks really appreciate the advantages of a kitchen island. That wealth of counter space without any upper cabinets to block your view makes it easy to prep meals. There’s enough space with this island to throw two or three sous chefs around chopping up vegetables and fixing a salad of an evening.

For the non-cooks in your life, a comfortable stool or two on the other side of the island gives them just the perfect perch for chatting while you whip up a quick snack for everyone to munch on till dinner’s ready. And it’s only a step or two after the meal for them to help with clean-up, which is only fair if they didn’t pitch in before dinner!

Clean lines, luxurious appliances, good lighting and a smart layout – what else could you ask for in a kitchen? Well, it helps if it’s attached to a well-built Fulton Home. Come on out and take a look at this one and others at our Cooley Station community. Visit: http://www.fultonhomes.com/our-communities/cooley-station for more information.

Integrating Space in an Open Floor Plan

integrating-space-in-an-open-floor-planwLiving with an open floor plan has so many advantages.  The space works well for families and entertaining and arrangements can be modified to expand and contract living and dining areas to meet specific needs. However, open architecture does present decorating challenges. Here are some tips to make your open living space work well.

Define living areas: Use furniture, area rugs and artwork to define each living area. Without walls you can have the back of a sofa, a bookshelf, or a table set limits for a particular space.  Notice in this photo from the Cooley Station community how the sofa defines the end of the dining area and the start of the living area. Large pieces of furniture like sofas are some of the best tools for defining each space.

Create transitions: The plants on the kitchen counter and the floor and artwork make a softer natural transition between the kitchen and the dining area. Without these, the adjustment from one area to another can feel too abrupt. Having two larger houseplants in the dining area also helps define that space and keeps it connected.

Use lighting: Chandeliers such as the one over the dining table also help create a specific mood in one area of a large living space. Often the family room will have a ceiling fan. Our brains turn those light fixtures into room definitions.

Use color: Pulling the same accent colors throughout the space helps everything feel integrated. Throw pillows, area rugs, artwork and accessories in this room all use dark rust and peach tones to tie this living space together.