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Movie Night

When thinking about a movie night most people imagine the smell of buttered popcorn, sticky floors, and fifteen minutes of previews. With Netflex, Hulu, and streaming services built right in to your tv, more people are staying in to watch movies and tv shows. Widely available technology is now affordable, making it easier to customize a dedicated space with HD televisions, surround sound and even an smart phone control panel.

Before beginning your theater, here are some components to consider:

  • Choosing the right room
    • Window locations, room shape, space large enough for desired furniture arrangement
  • List of all desired devices
  • Concealed wiring, receivers
  • Built-in components such as the display and speakers
  • Special theater-style seating
  • Remote controlled dimmable lighting and heating/air conditioning
  • Sound and light control
    • Wall materials: drywall is ok with the additions of drapes and room furniture
    • Additional sound absorbing wall panels 
    • Carpet instead of hard flooring
    • Darker paint color or black out curtains

The best advice we can offer is to visit your local tv and sound system supplier and listen and view the displays first hand. If it sounds and looks good, then it is the item for your home theater.

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Visualizing Floor Plans

Floor plans are an essential tool when designing and constructing a new home or renovation. House plans can appear confusing and intimidating if you have never encountered them before. While visualizing a finished space from floor plans takes practice, here are some tips to help you quickly visualize:

  1. Begin with the foyer. Try to relate the ceiling height to a room in your current home.
  2. Imagine entering through the front door. What is in your immediate field of vision? Can you see through to a window, dining room, or kitchen?
  3. Imagine sitting in the family room. What can you see from the sofa? Is there room for all your furniture (existing or planned)? How far away is the kitchen from here?
  4. Most often floor plans are drawn to scale that can deceptively effect a room dimension. A 1 foot grid overlaid on your floor plans can help you to easily read sizes of rooms. We can even provide an architectural scale or actual sized print of a specific room or detail to help you get a better sense of the space.

By imagining your views and comparing rooms sizes to a space you already know you can easily get a sense of a floor plan. While this procedure may seem tedious, it is meant to be a creative tool to transform your ideas into a document read and needed by architects, city offices, and tradesmen.

1st and 2nd Floor Plans

1st and 2nd Floor Plans



One version of a Floor Plan

One version of a Floor Plan

Light Bright

The lowly incandescent light bulb was once a household staple illuminating lamps, chandeliers, and fixtures. For a few dollars you could buy a light bulb suitable for any application that was guaranteed to glow as expected. As incandescent bulbs and their energy wasting filaments have been phased out, a new wave of light bulb types, styles, and lingo has erupted.

  1. Halogens
    1. Halogens are the incandescent’s brighter, hotter burning cousin still used for under-cabinet and can lighting, but quickly falling out of favor due to their inefficiency and price.
  2. Fluorescents
    1. These fragile tubes recall your old basement with their cold, blueish, humming light. They are still widely used to light up large spaces like garages or basements, yet new styles in warmer hues make fluorescents a good choice.
  3. CFLs
    1. Originally praised by all as the incandescent’s replacement, the CFL or Compact Fluorescent Bulb is a highly efficient light source easily recognized by its coil. Unlike its predecessor the fluorescent, the CFL lights up quickly, available in color-correct tones, and usable where you’d put an incandescent. However, the CFL contains mercury and should be carefully taken care of if broken and recycled when burnt out.
  4. LEDs
    1. LEDs or Light Emitting Diodes are long lasting and efficient bulbs that are perfect for task lighting. While LEDs provide direct light, they can be clustered for more dispersed lighting and even equipped with dimmable options. While they are higher in cost, they may be worth it depending on their application.

These four light bulb types comprise the basics of all lighting elements. But where do Edison bulbs come into play? These warm-white hued bulbs are popping up in new restaurants and homes verging on the point of over saturation, yet this is only increasing their desirability. With a vibrant glow reminiscent of early 20th-century lighting, Edison bulbs are a modern LED designed to appear antique.

We understand light and its spatial effects inside and outside of a home. It is essential we take extra care in laying out the electrical plan and selecting lighting elements to achieve the desired feel, while still providing enough task lighting.

When designing a new home or renovation, lighting can contribute as much to a space as architecture itself! 

Elegant Edison

Elegant Edison

Exposed and glowing filaments

Exposed and glowing filaments

Winter is Coming

You have just moved into the home of your dreams. An irrigation system and sod is laid down. The city has convinced you to landscape this late in the season, so a few bushes and flowers are planted around your front door and sidewalk, yet winter is coming.

How do you prepare your yard for the coming season?

  1. Take care of your lawn
    1. A common myth is that your lawn dies during the winter. While grasses go dormant during the winter months, it still requires watering or moisture throughout the year. Melting snow is usually enough to satisfy its needs.
    2. It is a good idea to fertilize or feed your lawn before winter as it will strengthen the roots as well as a cut your lawn short, aerate, de-weed, and rake your leaves so as grass receives enough light and air.
    3. Make sure to winterize your irrigation system!
  2.  Mulch!
    1. Fall mulching can help protect roots from frost and helps retain moisture during a cold and dry winter. However, avoid “free mulch” as it often contains remnants of diseased plants that can sicken your own.
  3. Remove the fallen
    1. Removing dead annuals, desiccated ornamental grasses and plants will not only improve the look of your yard during the winter, but also save you time in the spring.
  4. Protect delicate shrubs
    1. Early fall is a great time to plant trees and shrubs before the ground freezes as nurseries have to clear their shelves and cooler temperatures decrease the stress on young plants. It is easy to protect your new or existing shrubs (boxwoods) by surrounding them with fallen leaves, then wrapping them in burlap.


boxwoods and trees

boxwood path

Good Morning Sunshine

As we begin to design your home, we always start with a compass. By understanding the site orientation, we consider its relationship to the sun and sunlight. To maximize the natural light, we locate your most used rooms on south-southwest-west portions of the home.

Ideally, a room should have light from at least two sides. As expected, these rooms have the most glazing. Where light from a second side isn’t possible, we can provide light from above. Skylights, dormers, and clerestory windows are ways to sneak light in from above. These options bounce light around to dim corners creating a comfortable, bright living space.

Because our homes are built within Southeastern Michigan, it is to our advantage to make use of climate study. Not only does sunlight enhance your most used rooms, proper orientation of a new home allows you to take advantage of a powerful source of lower utility costs: passive solar energy. Orienting a building to accept the sun’s warmth in winter while avoiding excessive solar heat in summer is nothing new. Since you live in your home through Summer and Winter, we design it for the entire year. It is important to be comfortable all year long and not just for a single season.

sunpath Faux Skylight Stairwell Windows

Suite Dreams

As a current or future homeowner, the master bedroom is yours. It is your refuge after a long day, your own bed and breakfast, your place of rest. While a place to sleep is functional, a master suite offers the convenience and luxury of the most used home features close by.

A master suite can include not only a bedroom, but also a master closet, master bath, laundry room, home office or even a breakfast bar. The suite is best designed if the layout of the spaces matches your daily habits. For example, once waking up it should be easy to move from the bathroom and closet without having to reenter the bedroom and disturb a potentially still sleeping partner.

The master suite has evolved into a self-contained living area allowing for more privacy, comfort, and efficient use of a home’s features. However, it does not have to be overly large to be elegant, well-designed, and fully functional. A fireplace located in the master bedroom can add grandeur as well as romance or extra warmth on a winter night. A soaking tub when properly located near a window can provide a view outdoors, focal point in the bathroom as well as a serene retreat. A master suite should inspire sweet dreams!

Who needs a headboard with this wall paneling?

Who needs a headboard with this wall paneling?

An arched niche and ceiling

An arched niche and ceiling

A cozy fireplace bedroom

A cozy fireplace bedroom

A recessed ceiling adds timeless elegance

A recessed ceiling adds timeless elegance

Enough room for a sitting area

Enough room for a sitting area

No More Mud

Mud rooms are a secondary entryway intended as buffer zone before entering the main house. Often overlooked as a merely a storage space, a mud room serves to increase the cleanliness of the overall house. If designed correctly, a mud room can become the most organized and clean part of the house!

Instead of thinking of mudrooms as a cross between a utility room and a walk-in closet, they can become a space all their own. They are a place to stow outerwear, boots, sports gear and anything else you need before leaving home. In short, mudrooms bring order to the most used entry to your home. You can create a great mudroom even in a tight space — a well-designed corner inside a doorway can act as a “To-Go” space for keys, hats, gloves, and even reminder notes or calendar.

When we are designing a new home, we prefer to start the planning process by including a space for the mud room. The appearance, location, and layout can differ depending on whether a family of five or a couple are planning to use the space. In either case, storage “lockers” can make any mess of outerwear, backpacks, or purses appear neatly organized and allow each family member a space of their own. By tying in cabinetry or trim elements from the kitchen, the mud room will not need to be hidden behind a door, but a natural progression of your path to the garage or backyard.

To-Go counter

Mud Room “Lockers”

Mud Room built-in bench

Mud Room – arched cubbies

Space for Living

Living rooms were once a staple of residential spaces. Often defined by their formal furniture and desire to be rearranged, living rooms are a sticking point for many homeowners. Since “open floor plans” have become the norm for space planning, living rooms are no longer functional or necessary. With this space removed and reallocated, you will no longer be guilt ridden over not using your living room furniture!

When designing a new home or renovation, it is important to consider where you spend the most time in your house. Most likely this will be your kitchen and family room, guaranteed not to be your designated living room. With an open floor plan these living spaces (a dining room can also be included here) should be less defined by walls, but rather other elements. This flow of space differentiated by open arches, furniture, and/or cabinetry allows for more flexibility, further reducing the need for a separate formal living room.

In the plan below, you can see in pink “space for living” which includes in this case: morning room, kitchen, dining, and family room. This portion when combined is literally a Great Room.

Flowing light and space

View from the Kitchen into the Family Room

Stairway to Heaven

“Stairway to heaven”? Besides being the much loved rock song, it is also a key element in our floor planning strategy.

The first strategy we employ is a sight line out a window. For example, a hallway should never dead end. Rather, when looking down a hallway there should be either a direct view out a window or a door to a room with an aligned window. This near infatuation with sight lines and views from the interior through to the exterior, results in a more comfortable and spacious feeling home due to the orientation of the rooms to increase natural light.

Sight lines also apply to the following:

  1. Upon entering a house through the front door, the first thing you should see (preferably) is a view of out the dining room windows.
  2. Aligning archways in a hallway
  3. Doorways should align across a hallway
  4. Windows located on the front elevation should be aligned vertically or spaced so as to create a harmonious stacking effect.
  5. Elements within the main living space should be aligned: range, kitchen sink, family room sitting area, and fireplace. This creates the sense of a larger, flowing room.

Whenever possible we create axes that align rooms, doors, windows, and walls helping to organize a floor plan (without any additional cost, good design should be complimentary!). Without these directional center lines, a home can feel chaotic.

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Planning a Treasure Map

Floor plans are our primary tool used in designing your home. While merely two dimensional line drawings, floor plans are the treasure map that transform your ideas into built spaces you want to love in!

Floor plans require you to imagine line work to become exterior/interior walls, windows, stairs, and doors. Each type of line style and weight communicates both a spatial (location and dimension) and material component. Designing in this manner helps to eliminate mistakes and confusion while building. We at Hunter Roberts Homes strive to translate your vision into floor plans, then into inhabitable space.

While floor planning can feel tedious, all the glamorous images on Pinterest and Houzz began as drawings on paper. It can help to take a tape measure to your bathroom or bedroom to compare how dimensions feel. Another option is to use painters’ tape to mark off a section of floor to get a better sense of size. Inspiration images can also help you identify your personal style and help us to design those elements into the building.

Before designing a new floor plan, it is important to not overlook your current conditions. How does it feel when company comes over? Is your kitchen wide enough? Is there enough wall space for cabinetry and storage? Do you wish you had one more seat at your kitchen island or table? Do you love the location of your sink relative to the stove? Being aware of your likes and dislikes in an existing room can help direct the design process.

Stock floor plans are readily available and offer a starting a place for your home. However, you might find yourself making compromises without adapting the plan to your specific needs (remember how you felt about your current home). A “custom” home is more than a selling point; it is our concern for your future experiences in the home.

Hunter Roberts Homes alongside talented local architects, designers, and trades will follow you along your treasure map until “X marks the spot”.

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Hunter Roberts Homes and Wellington Chase Homes design and build new, remodel, or renovate homes in traditional, modern and contemporary styles. We offer architectural services including interior design as well as new home floor plans and conceptual facade elevations. We manage all phases of the construction and renovation work. We build throughout Oakland County adding timeless elegance to the neighborhood in the following cities: Birmingham, Berkley, Bloomfield Village, Bloomfield Hills, Bloomfield Township, Franklin, Sylvan Lake, Beverly Hills, Orchard Lake, Bingham Farms, Huntington Woods, Pleasant Ridge, Royal Oak, Ferndale, and Troy. Our work can be found in neighborhoods such Quarton Lake, Poppleton Park, Midvale, Holy Name, central and downtown Birmingham, and other fine areas.