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Tips for Choosing the Right Floor Plan

Categories: Blog | Posted: April 12, 2018

The process of choosing the design for building a new home is exciting but can also be overwhelming. There are lots of decisions to make that will have a lasting impact. As you browse the home designs, here are some tips for choosing the right floor plan.

Make sure it measures up. You might have a certain square footage figure in mind as you look at homes. However, some floor plans are smartly designed and can make better use of the space. You might be able to “live large” in a home that’s slightly smaller than you expected.

Follow the flow. When you’re looking at a floor plan, imagine yourself walking through the home. Go from the laundry room to putting the clothes away. Is it convenient? Does the flow of the kitchen to the dining area feel right? Will the bedrooms afford privacy for the occupants? When you’re coming in with an armload of groceries, will you have an easy path to the kitchen?

Level it out. How many levels will suit your lifestyle? Do you need a two-story home to accommodate everyone in your household, or is a single-level ranch more to your liking? A single-level home certainly fits the household that doesn’t want to deal with stairs. You can also integrate a first-floor owner’s suite if you need more space but want to do most of your living on the first floor.

Consider the wide, open spaces. Many floor plans feature the open concept. It’s a popular layout because the lack of walls between the kitchen, living room, and dining area allow for more socializing. The cook is no longer cut off from the activity outside the kitchen. As you look at the open floor plan in the home designs, think about how the rooms connect. It might be one big space—long, square, or rectangular—or an L-shape with the kitchen as the pivotal point. Do you prefer one style over the other? How will your furniture fit in the layout? With an open floor plan, you can create separate spaces, like a reading area or study space. Envision how you will use the main living area so you choose a floor plan that fits your family’s lifestyle.

Don’t underemphasize the functional places. Features like a mudroom and the design and placement of the laundry room might not seem as important in the big picture, but small details often spark a big change. The mudroom, for example, is a threshold that protects your home from the great outdoors and keeps the clutter under control, if you plan it that way. Cubbies or cabinets are a smart choice here. Establish a system for organizing shoes, backpacks, school stuff, leashes, and everything else that often gets lost when it’s allowed to meander into the main living area.

Some homeowners prefer to have the laundry room closer to the master suite, while others want it near the kitchen. Which location do you prefer?

Do you need more function for your laundry room, like storage or a utility sink? Maybe you’d like a space to bathe and groom the family pet. Or possibly you would like a laundry room with a countertop to fold laundry and cabinets to store more supplies.

Explore the undiscovered needs. As you browse the floor plans, think of alternative uses for rooms that might seem like a “bonus” right now. A formal dining room or living room could seem extraneous but you consider repurposing it for a playroom, hobby studio, game room, library, or other function. A bonus or flex room can work as a guest room or home office, too.

Ask a lot of questions—of yourself and your builder—when reviewing home designs to be sure you’re choosing the right floor plan!

Quick Tips to Help with Spring Cleaning

Categories: Blog | Posted: March 22, 2018

Winter is finally slipping away and we’re starting to feel refreshed, and ready for the change that spring brings. One of the most popular rites of spring is doing an overhaul of your home’s interior—cleaning, purging, reorganizing, and perhaps redecorating. But before you launch into a full-scale attack, here are some helpful spring cleaning tips for your home.

Make a plan. If you just dive into spring cleaning without a plan, you’ll waste time and probably miss certain areas that you’ll regret later—after your energy has been depleted. Decide where you need to purge—closets, attics, and basements are a great start. Determine how you’re going to approach each task. Set aside boxes or bags for “Keep”, “Donate”, and “Toss” in the area you’re purging so you don’t have to carry out piles.

Include the tiny places that seem to get ignored during normal housecleaning, like sliding door tracks, baseboards, door frames, behind the kitchen appliances, and cabinet doors.

Next, prioritize the spaces that need your attention. If you have a dreaded area, put it at the top of the list. Don’t procrastinate. Tackle it first. You’ll feel better about getting it out of the way.

Organize your supplies. Now that you have your spring cleaning plan all ready, gather up the supplies, like rags, paper towels, various solvents, sponges, brushes, squeegies, gloves, drawer liners, and replacement batteries and light bulbs. Sort them into categories. Make a bucket for window washing, use another container for dusting supplies, and so on. Then you can just grab the right bucket and head off to tackle the cleaning.

Make a checklist. Keep a clipboard with you and make notes of things you need to get, replace, clean, or fix as you move from room to room. Don’t stop during your cleaning frenzy to run to the home store because you’ve decided you need to change your cabinet hardware or bathroom accessories. The distraction will slow down your progress. Instead, at the end of the day, review your clipboard and make a shopping and errand list to tackle all at once.

Start at the top. In every area of your house, start your spring cleaning from the top. Sweep away cobwebs and dust the light fixtures. Then move to the windows and walls. All the dirt, dust, and debris will fall to the floor, to be cleaned away last.

Hand out the assignments. Spring cleaning should be a shared challenge for everyone in the household. Once you have your plan, share it with your “helpers” and decide who will do what and when (yes, make sure there are deadlines).

Plan to be tired. At the end of your spring cleaning day, reward your hard work by putting your feet up, letting someone else make or deliver dinner, and kicking back to enjoy your fully refreshed surroundings!

Tips for Working With Your Home Builder’s Design Center

Categories: Blog | Posted: March 8, 2018

Your new home plans are finalized, and now it’s time to choose the details—colors, flooring, countertops, cabinetry hardware, lighting, door knobs, and so much more. It can be a bit overwhelming if you’re unprepared, so follow these tips for working with your home builder’s design center to get the look you’re going to love for many years.

Set a budget for upgrades. You can select choices among the standard features that your home builder offers—type of color of flooring, wall colors, cabinets, lighting and plumbing fixtures, to name just a few. These are included in the price of your home. However, you will also be presented with choices for upgrades. Maybe you want granite or quartz countertops instead of a solid surface, or different doors for your kitchen cabinets. Before you walk into the design center where you will be tempted with shopping made so easy, determine how much you can afford for adding upgrades to your new home. Be sure your design center professional understands you have a limit and provides you with cost of each upgrade.

Determine your priorities. Along with coming to the builder’s design center with a budget, be clear about how you want to use those funds. Think in advance—before all those shiny choices are staring you in the face—what’s more important. For example, can you live with certain fixtures in your powder room in order to upgrade the light fixture in the foyer? Consider which details will deliver more satisfaction in the long run—and stick with that decision.

Bring pictures and swatches. You probably have ideas in mind for your interiors. Maybe you’ve pinned photos on Pinterest, torn pages out of magazines, and collected fabric and paint swatches. Bring everything you’ve gathered so you can share it with the designer. Snap photos of furniture you’ll have in your new home, with measurements, too. You’ll be able to better envision your new space when you have all these details together.

Describe your lifestyle. When you meet with your selections coordinator at the design center, talk about the way you’re going to live in your new home. Offer details like how often you entertain, the age of your children (and whether your home is the “fun place”), and where you like to eat your daily meals. Are there bottleneck places in your home, like the bathroom or kitchen? How often do you do laundry, and do you fold it in the laundry room? The more you share, the better this pro can guide you toward smart choices.

Take your time. The decisions you make at the design center will have a lasting impact on your new home. Don’t rush through them. It might be helpful to ponder some of the choices for a few days before you commit. Borrow the swatches and samples you need, look at them at different times of the day (bearing in mind it might be different in your new home), and then return to finalize the design details on your new home.

Tips for House-Hunting in the Winter

Categories: Blog | Posted: February 22, 2018

There’s no need to postpone the search for a new home just because it’s winter. While you’re hibernating, you could be missing out on the home of your dreams. You probably start your new home search online, browsing real estate listings in the warmth of your cozy home. Once you have narrowed down your list of homes to see, follow these tips for house-hunting in the winter.

Consider the accessibility. Seeing a home in the winter gives you valuable insight into features like the way the roads are maintained. Are the streets and driveway plowed well? Think about coming home here on a wintry night. Will you be able to access drive up your street and driveway to get home? As you walk to the front entry, do you find slippery spots?

Look at the curb appeal when it’s not pristine. When the garden, shrubs, and trees are in full bloom, you might not get the true picture of the home’s exterior. Without the leaves on the trees, will you have privacy here? How does the foundation look? Seeing the home in the dead of winter is like looking in the mirror first thing in the morning.

Check for leaks and drafts. You’ll feel the cold air seeping in from the outside a lot more in the winter than on a spring day when the windows or open or during the summer with the air conditioning running. As you walk through the home, place your hand on the window sills and frames, the door jamb, and wall outlets. Do you feel drafts? These issues are tips about the home’s maintenance as well as the leaks. If you find drafts, you should also look into frozen pipes, roof leaks, and the quality of the insulation.

Gauge the natural light. The days are shorter in the winter. By touring a new home during the afternoon, you will see how much sunlight streams into your home. Is it sun-drenched or dark and dreary? Sunlight provides vitamin D, which is essential to maintaining a happy mood through the short days. Will this home replenish you?

Sniff out odors. When a home is closed up, you’re more likely to notice odors, like mold and mildew or pet odors. If the home has carpet, take a deep breath.

Get an accurate figure for the heating bill. It’s easy to forget how much you paid to heat your home when you’re enjoying the low bills of summertime. During a winter viewing, those heating costs are fresh in the memory of the homeowner, so you’re more likely to gauge more correctly what it will cost to heat this home.

Ask for a spring inspection. You might need to check features like the sprinkler system and swimming pool for yourself, and it’s not possible during winter. If you have time to wait, make your purchase contingent on an inspection after the snow has melted and the ground has thawed. You can also ask for escrowed funds to cover possible repair of specific items that are unable to be inspected during the winter.

Give yourself a break from the winter doldrums and start looking for a new home during the winter, when there is less competition and motivated sellers.

Bathroom Vanity Design Trends for 2018

Categories: Blog | Posted: February 8, 2018

Are you thinking about updating your bathroom? The new year brings new design trends for every room in your home, from the colors to the fixtures to the style. Bathroom vanity design trends for 2018 can show you how to make a big difference here with the focal point of the room.

What will we see more of this year?

Quartz is replacing granite countertops. Granite has dominated the countertop industry for most of this century. It’s natural, durable, and available in so many colors and patterns that you can easily find one to match your taste. Quartz is an engineered stone, a combination of about 95 percent ground quartz stone and 5 percent polymer resin. Quartz looks and feels like stone, but, because it’s manufactured, you can order the pattern and color and get the consistency you want. Unlike granite, quartz doesn’t need to be resealed. Finally, quartz isn’t porous like granite, so bacteria isn’t absorbed, an important factor in a bathroom countertop!

Brass is back in the bathroom. Polished brass has returned from its exile. Designers are trending toward warmer metals, like brass, bronze, and copper. Even rose gold is making a play for bathroom presence. With trends toward richer colors in the bathroom—like navy blue and plum—the warmer hues of other metals will gain prominence in plumbing fixtures.

Sinks are taking a cue from nature. Homeowners have shifted toward natural looks throughout the home, and the bathroom is reflecting this preference. Stone sinks are popular choices, using granite, marble, and onyx that take advantage of the one-of-a-kind patterns created by nature. Wooden basins—like oak, cedar, teak, and bamboo (which is a grass but largely considered wood)—share the same natural beauty as stone.

The all-white bathroom is fading to black. Vanities are going to the dark side with designers moving away from light cabinetry in the bathroom, in favor of matte black and darker stains, like deep chestnut and espresso. The richness of these deeper hues creates a completely different look that transforms the room.

Bathroom storage gets smarter. Vanities are no longer about vanity. They have beauty, of course, but you should expect more. Manufacturers have recognized the way we use bathrooms and vanities today. Drawer organizers present a custom storage solution, along with a tall cabinet that separates the dual sinks. New vanities are incorporating electrical outlets inside drawers. Keep your hair dryer plugged in yet out of sight.

Sinks will have a splash of color. If you love color, you can get more of it in your bathroom. New ceramic and metal sinks reflect the trend toward vibrant statements, like orange and turquoise.

Every year brings more options to customize your home to the place and space you want it to be. Are you ready to make some changes?

Decorating Tips for Your Open Concept Design

Categories: Blog | Posted: January 26, 2018

An open concept is a desirable floor plan for today’s homeowners. Having rooms without walls enhances the spaciousness, but it also presents a design challenge. With less definition provided by walls and doorways, how do you create your spaces within this open space?

These decorating tips for your open concept designs can guide you in the right direction.

Consider the flow. The colors you choose and the placement of your furnishings must flow seamlessly throughout your family room, dining room, and kitchen. Look at the natural flow of movement from one space to the next, like the kitchen to the dining area. Do you need a small workspace adjacent to the kitchen or would it work better as part of your family room? How much space do you need to comfortably move around the furniture, like the dining table, kitchen island, and family room’s seating?

Use color consistently. Decide on one color palette to pull it all together. Start with your foyer, which is the entry to this open floor plan. Expand that color spectrum by incorporating a few shades of your chosen colors.

Plan the lighting. The lighting design for your open floor plan must take into account the wide array of uses in this space. Task lighting will be critical in the kitchen and any other work areas. Be sure to incorporate dimmers on every wall switch to give you control of the room’s overall ambience.

Define task areas. You don’t need walls to create rooms. Use your furniture and decorative accents to establish smaller purposeful spaces within the open floor plan. Make a reading nook by setting a comfortable chair, ottoman and occasional table near a window, with its own area rug. Set up a small workstation for managing bills, sorting mail, or doing homework by placing a small desk or console table near the breakfast nook. Be sure you have good lighting here. You can expand the workspace by adding a bookcase or wall-mounted organizer.

Use area rugs. Define nooks and gathering spaces with area rugs that complement one another with a consistent blend of colors and styles. They don’t have to match, but avoid drastically different designs, like bold contemporary with traditional.

Don’t “arrest” the room. Placing your furniture up against the wall leaves a tremendous gap in an open floor plan. Since you don’t have walls, add boundaries by using larger furnishings, like bookcases and sofas. Break up your seating by building a large section (maybe near the television) and a smaller, more intimate conversation space.

Complement with curves. If your open concept features angular lines, soften them with rounder shapes, like an oval or round dining table, rug, or occasional tables.

An open floor plan presents a creative challenge for decorating, but also gives you plenty of room to create the space that perfectly fits your lifestyle.

2018 Color Trends for Your Home

Categories: Blog | Posted: January 11, 2018

The new year is here, and it’s bringing a new look in home color trends. Look for colors that boost your spirit with palettes of vibrant color that might remind you of opening that box of 128 crayons.

In 2017, Pantone Color Institute declared “Greenery” as its Color of the Year. The invigorating color aligns with the desire to revitalize ourselves. This year, Pantone is focusing its attention on palettes of colors that reflect different types of energies. Many of these home color combinations feature vibrant shades, which is the direction that will be trending in 2018. “Playful”, for example, blends bright yellow and lime green. “Verdure” takes its cue from nature, with colors like Celery and berry-infused purples.

There’s still room for people who prefer their neutral colors for home décor. But you might find that neutrals are taking on a bit more commitment to color and metallic accents—currently being called “the new neutrals”.

Sherwin Williams has named “Oceanside”—a bold teal shade that the paint company describes as “deep and moody”. Oceanside blends well with the current “mermaids” obsession, but also presents a richness, particularly when paired with a bright white.

House Beautiful’s editor-in-chief Sophie Donelson describes this hue as “a cocoon color”.

“I love a color that’s also a state of mind — that’s what Oceanside feels like to me,” Donelson explains. “We often see similar hues chosen for libraries and studies, because its depth makes it comforting, but also bold and adventurous. It’s like watching a Nature channel deep-sea exploration from the comfort of your sofa!”

Benjamin Moore continues the shift toward bold color by announcing “Caliente” as its 2018 Color of the Year. The vibrant red reflects the royalty of a red-carpet event, “the assured backdrop for a book-lined library, a powerful first impression on a glossy front door The eye can’t help but follow its bold strokes. Harness the vitality,” says Ellen O’Neill of Benjamin Moore & Co.

Behr has jumped into home color trends and announced its first-ever color of the year. “In the Moment” is a soft shade of blue-green that the paint company describes as evoking “a sense of sanctuary and relaxation amid our always-on lives.”

Behr also presents 19 more color trends that range from the neutral “Wabi-Sabi” and “Soft Focus” to the bold “Spirit Warrior” and “Wide Sky” and the deep “Constellation Blue” and “Nocturne Shade”.

What will you do with your home décor in 2018? Do these trends in home colors inspire you?

New Year, New Home: Benefits of Building a New Home

Categories: Blog | Posted: January 3, 2018

 

Is one of your goals this year a new home?

As we ring in 2018 ready to tackle our new resolutions, it’s the perfect time to start thinking about where you see yourself living in the new year. If you’re dreaming of a home with a fresh vision and functional design, then a new home is for you. Read on to see the many benefits of building a new home instead of buying resale.

1. Living the Dream

You’ve worked hard for your dream home—so why live in someone else’s? With a new home, you can choose the home design, style, colors, appliances, upgrades, and more, so you can get everything on your wish list right from the start.

At Tuskes Homes, our state-of-the-art Design Studio makes the sky the limit for your new home. Our Design Consultants will work with you to build a home that matches your taste and budget. (And check out our list of the most popular home designs from 2017!)

2. Location, Location, Location

Love where you live—with a new home, you decide where you live, from the township, to the community, to the specific home site you pick out.

Want your home on a corner? Need a three-car garage? Looking for a backyard big enough for a pool? How about a walk-out basement? Our Community Specialists can show you the benefits of each home site in our communities so that you can choose the land that checks off everything on your wish list.

Our communities are designed to balance personal space with public and recreational areas, ensuring safety, privacy, and fun. Each community offers its own unique set of amenities, such as playgrounds, parks, and walking trails. We build communities in locations that are quiet, yet close to modern conveniences and all that the Lehigh Valley and Northeastern PA has to offer. We can also work with you to build a new home on your own lot anywhere in the Lehigh Valley and surrounding areas.

3. No Surprises

When you purchase a resale, you may be inheriting some problems that you didn’t expect. Even the most eagle-eyed home inspectors can’t guarantee that you won’t find issues in a resale home, and there’s no telling if the previous owner (or owners) kept up with the maintenance of the home while they lived there.

Just like a new car, a new home eliminates the worry of unexpected problems that may arise when purchasing a resale. Every Tuskes home includes a 12-year builder warranty that helps assure you’ll be taken care of should you have any issues with your new home.

4. Staying “Green”

New homes are built with more energy efficiency than homes that were built five, ten, or twenty years ago. In addition to being environmentally friendly, an energy-efficient home can help you save money on utility bills and maintenance down the road.

5. A Smarter Home

Older homes were not made for today’s technology-fueled lifestyle. Unless you want your home to be Extension Cord Central, consider buying a new home with updated technology that fits your needs. When you build with Tuskes, you can decide where to place your outlets, and what smart home technology you want to wire in your home.

Retrofitting an older home for today’s tech is costly and time-consuming. With recent improvements in technology in roofing, windows, and wiring appliances, a new home is the best way to ensure your home is smarter and more functional for modern-day use.

6. What You Want, When You Want It

A new home doesn’t have to mean a full six-month building process. Tuskes offers homes at every stage of the building process, from just the foundation to move-in ready. This allows you to move in as soon as you choose—whether you’re looking to close immediately, or you want to make a few selections before you move, or you want to design your home from the ground up.

The Tuskes Design Studio is the only one of its kind in the Lehigh Valley, and it’s where most of the fun will take place. Our Design Studio is filled with hundreds of selections of every color, style, and material imaginable. We can show you fun upgrades or just selections within your budget—you’re making some big decisions here, so you’re in charge!

7. Investing in Your Future

In addition to the increased value your new home will have thanks to updated technology and energy efficiency, new homes have a much longer life expectancy than existing homes, giving them a longer period of time to appreciate in value. The high-quality, low-maintenance materials we use when building our homes means that over the years, your new home will continue to hold value without much costly or time-consuming maintenance on your part.

8. A Builder You Can Trust

For three generations, Tuskes has been handcrafting homes for more than 5,000 families in and around the Lehigh Valley and Northeastern PA. We’re committed to exceptional customer service and building high-quality homes. We work with preferred lenders we trust to help make sure your dream home is obtainable, and use only quality building materials that we know are sure to last. We know building a new home can be stressful, but our experienced team of professionals will help you through every step of the way, from design to closing, and for many years after.

Still not sure if a new home is right for you? Ready to check “new home” off your resolutions list? Call or text Martha today at 484-626-1616 to start your new home journey and learn more about our available homes, floorplans, and communities.

Understanding home insulation

Categories: Blog | Posted: December 7, 2017

Every homeowner knows that insulating a home is important for comfort and energy efficiency. But it’s equally important to understand how home insulation works so you ensure you’re taking the right steps to effectively prevent the swap of interior and exterior temperatures.

Insulation provides resistance to heat flow. Heat flow is the movement of warm or hot air to cooler air. The flow continues until there is a balance of temperatures. For example, hot air will continue to flow into your home on a hot day until the inside temperature is equal to the outside. On a pleasant spring or fall day, you might open up the windows to take advantage of the ideal temperature. When the weather is more extreme, however, you need to manage the heat flow.

When you buy a new home, insulation is installed to slow down the movement of heat. Now, heat flow moves in three ways:

  • Conduction: Heat moves through a material, like a metal pot absorbing heat.
  • Convection: Heat circulates through liquids and gases, and since hot air is lighter, it rises above cold air.
  • Radiation: Heat travels along a straight path and absorbs energy from anything along that route.

So, your home insulation is installed in any place with exposure to heat flow: exterior walls, around the foundation, and in the roof, to name a few. Without insulation, the heat will move through the walls, floors, and ceilings—up from the basement, down from the attic, and in through the walls, doors, and windows. The goal of insulation is to produce resistant to the natural flow of heat.

R-value: The resistance factor

Home insulation products are rated for their thermal resistance factor, commonly known as R-value. This measurement is determined by the insulation type, thickness, and density. To determine how much home insulation you need, refer to a map that shows the R-value zones, rated on a scale from 1 to 7, with colder climates on the high end. Southern Florida and Hawaii score a 1 rating, while Alaska and northern Minnesota earn a 7.

You probably hear about radiant barriers. This reflective material doesn’t absorb heat, like insulation does. Instead, it reflects the heat. Radiant barriers are commonly installed on roofs to deflect the heat away from the roof (where it can be absorbed and potentially pass into the main part of the home). According to the U.S. Department of Energy, a radiant barrier on a home in a sunny climate (e.g., Zones 1-3) can reduce cooling costs by 5% to 10%.

Retrofitting an existing home with the correct amount of insulation could require a professional, depending on where and what type of insulation you need. New homes incorporate the standards for home insulation. They also improve the comfort and energy efficiency in a new home by installing moisture control and air sealing.

Spend a little time learning about your home’s insulation and you’ll spend much less later on the energy costs.

2017 Homeowner Holiday Decorating Contest

Categories: Blog | Posted: November 24, 2017

 

Homeowners, it’s time to turn it up this holiday season!

For the fourth straight year, we are hosting our annual Homeowner Holiday Lights Contest exclusively for Tuskes Homeowners! Join us as we spread joy around our communities and light up the Lehigh Valley and Sand Springs. By sharing photos of your decorated homes with us, you will be entered to win prizes, which will be given to the top three submissions:

  • First Place: Win a $250 Visa gift card!
  • Second Place: Win a $100 Visa gift card!
  • Third Place: Win a $50 Visa gift card!

If you’re already decorating, why not enter to win some great prizes while you’re at it? We are accepting submissions from now until December 31st! Send your submissions to alyssap@tuskeshomes.com, and the winner will be announced on Facebook in January. In your submission, please include your exterior photo, the community you live in, house number, name, and phone number.

And be sure to check out all of the amazing decorations around your community this holiday season!

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