Modern Home Connects with Nature Through Design

“From humble beginnings come great things.”

The original home on the site was nothing much to look at. The initial plan was to knock it down and start again. Why put time into renovating a small and simple home?

Fortunately, the architects at Connecticut-based firm Demetriades + Walker had the vision to expand this modest cabin in the rolling hills of Lakeville, Connecticut. The new design embraces the home’s lush setting while appealing to the owners’ modern design preferences.

Photo by Peter Peirce

While the cabin possessed a solid foundation, it was severely lacking in personality. Rather than demolish the structure and start from scratch, as originally proposed by the developers, architects Elizabeth Demetriades and Patrick Walker suggested a renovation of the existing space.

The result took form in an additional floor containing a master suite, bathroom, and dressing room, as well as significant upgrades to the existing rooms on the first floor of the home. Years later, the new homeowners re-enlisted the Demetriades + Walker team to continue improvements on the home, including further expansion of the first floor and the addition of a nearby pool house.

Photo by Peter Peirce

Reflecting and connecting with the home’s flourishing green surroundings remained a constant theme. Architects at Demetriades + Walker aimed to embrace and harmonize with this scenery through their design while still providing the owners with a sense of seclusion and privacy. A softly curved roof was incorporated to mirror the rolling hills that surround the home, while delicate edges and earth tones echo themes of organic modernism in the home’s design.

Photo by Peter Peirce

“The clients were looking to take advantage of the location’s stunning views and bring the feel of the outdoors into the interior living spaces. The living room is a voluminous space where the outdoors can be enjoyed all seasons.”
— Elizabeth Demetriades

Floor-to-ceiling glass walls created with JELD-WEN® Siteline® wood windows were used throughout the home to feature panoramic views of the adjacent greenery and promote an open-air feel. Oversized windows were strategically placed to emphasize the idyllic natural views, while standard-size windows were used when possible to reduce costs.

Photo by Peter Peirce

Clean lines and modern minimalism define the interior of the home, which makes use of natural wood, smooth stone, and soft neutrals. An occasional burst of color brings a sense of brightness and warmth to the décor.

Photo by Peter Peirce

Contemporary art and statement décor pieces reflect the owners’ polished design sensibility.

Photo by Peter Peirce

Architects selected low-maintenance and natural materials to harmonize with the landscape: native fieldstone, Western red cedar, and Galvalume® make up the home’s exterior.

Photo by Peter Peirce

Clerestory windows maintain a sense of privacy while allowing an influx of natural light. Stone elements against cherry flooring create a unique juxtaposition and rich contrast. Piles of cut lumber act as a functional accessory consistent with the rest of the home’s natural aesthetic.

Photo by Peter Peirce

A softly-lit outdoor sitting area that echoes the earthy neutrals of the home serves as an elegant and sophisticated space for entertaining and enjoying the scenery.

Photo by Peter Peirce

Demetriades + Walker designed the exterior of the pool house to mirror the modernist form of the main house, with a curved roof and red-cedar siding.

Photo by Peter Peirce

JELD-WEN sliding patio doors serve as a point of entry from the pool to the pool house. The black framing of the doors against the red-cedar siding of the exterior creates a compelling contrast while remaining consistent with the minimalist design seen throughout the home.

Photo by Peter Peirce

Large JELD-WEN Siteline wood windows in the pool house allow guests to bask in the majestic views of the landscape.

Photo by Peter Peirce

Coastal, light blue hues in the bedroom create a sense of calm that matches the serene ambiance of the pool house. The Murphy bed can be put up and hidden behind a sliding door, making the room an entertainment space.

Photo by Peter Peirce

Both structures are surrounded by magnificent views of hills covered in dense forestry — a tranquil, humbling environment that the architects embraced with their complementary design.

You’re Welcome: Be a Great Guest Around the World

Don’t put your elbows on the table. Do say “please” and “thank you.” Don’t talk with your mouth full. Do hold the door for the person behind you. And these days, put down your phone and enjoy the company you’re in! These are just a few etiquette rules that seem universal; no matter where you are, follow them and you can’t go wrong. Of course, every culture has customs that are unique, so take a quick trip around the globe with us to learn more about some of the interesting customs and etiquette rules you might encounter in your travels.

 

Denmark

Among the Danish, greetings are casual: First names are often used upon introduction, which typically includes a firm handshake, eye contact, and a smile. Danes shake hands upon arrival and departure, and always shake hands with women first. And don’t forget the little ones! In Danish culture, children are always included in such pleasantries, so be sure to extend a hand to everyone. However, avoid using the common American expression “How are you?” unless you have a true personal relationship with someone and sincerely want to know.

 

As a guest in a Danish home, be sure and ask if you should remove your shoes — after you arrive on time with a hostess gift of flowers or good quality chocolates or wine, of course. Toasting is an important part of social culture in Denmark. Don’t toast your hosts until they have toasted you, and never toast anyone senior to you in rank or age. The traditional toast “Skol” indicates it is time to eat. Dinners can be long and filled with conversation, so be prepared for a few hours of merriment. Be sure to try all of the different foods you’re offered, and expect to eat everything on your plate!

 

Japan

In Japan, people greet — and thank, apologize, or make a request — by bowing to one another. A bow can range from a small nod of the head to a deep bend at the waist. A deeper, longer bow indicates sincere respect while a small nod is more casual and informal. Most Japanese do not expect foreigners to know the proper bowing etiquette, so a combination of a bow and shaking hands is expected and accepted.

It is considered an honor to be invited to someone’s home in Japan. As a guest, remember that shoes are never worn in someone’s home. Your Japanese hosts don’t want the floor to be stained by soil, sand, or dust that may be attached to the soles. But don’t fret! There will always be a place to put your shoes, and you will be given slippers to wear. There are often different slippers for the bathroom, which should only be worn into the bathroom. Likewise, normal slippers mustn’t be worn in the bathroom.

The most important table etiquette in Japan is saying customary phrases before and after a meal. It is traditional for Japanese people to say “itadakimasu” — meaning “I humbly receive” or “let’s eat” — before a meal and “gochisousama” after a meal, an indication that it was a “feast” that was very enjoyable, as a way to show appreciation to the host. Making an effort to learn and speak these phrases is appreciated. Equally important is chopsticks etiquette. Never use chopsticks to pass food to someone else’s chopsticks, and don’t stab your chopsticks vertically into food, such as a bowl of rice. The vertical placement of the chopsticks is reminiscent of incense sticks that are placed vertically in sand as offerings to the dead. However, if you are enjoying a delicious bowl of noodles, don’t worry about being quiet — slurping is considered a sign that you are enjoying the meal!

 

Brazil

Brazilian people are open and friendly, a trait that is quickly noticeable in communication styles. Brazilian men shake hands and maintain steady eye contact while greeting each other, and often use both hands to add warmth and sincerity. Women generally kiss, starting with the left cheek and alternating. Among friends, hugging and backslapping are common, and women and children are likely to walk arm in arm. But if a woman wishes to shake hands with a man, she should extend her hand first.

If you are visiting a Brazilian home, keep in mind that it is perfectly acceptable to arrive 15 to 30 minutes after the intended start time for a dinner or party. Be sure to bring a hostess gift — flowers, particularly orchids, are an ideal choice, but avoid purple as this color is related to mourning. Sending flowers the day before or the day after a dinner or party is also fine.

 

France

Expect a more formal approach as a guest in France. While a handshake is a common greeting, first names are reserved for family and close friends, so wait until invited before using someone’s first name. Friends often greet each other with a light kiss on the cheek, alternating from left to right.

As a guest in a French home, arrive on time for dinner. Should you anticipate being more than 10 minutes late, you must call your host and let them know. For a large dinner party, particularly in Paris, send flowers on the morning of the event so that they may be displayed later that evening. However, be aware of the symbolism of some flowers: Avoid white lilies or chrysanthemums, as they are used at funerals; red carnations, which symbolize bad will; and white flowers in general, as they are used at weddings. Bouquets should have an odd number of flowers, but not 13, which is considered unlucky. French dinner parties often include a seating plan, so wait for the hostess to direct you to your assigned place at the table. Likewise, don’t start eating until you hear the classic phrase “Bon appetit!”

Six Ways to Increase Energy Efficiency This Winter

With winter just around the corner, our thoughts turn to chilly temperatures, snow, and keeping the family warm and cozy all season long. To ensure high utility bills don’t interfere with your winter wonderland, be proactive and make a few small changes to decrease your home’s energy usage. Your wallet — and the environment — will thank you.

First Things First: Perform a Home Energy Audit

Your first step toward energy efficiency should be conducting a full home energy audit, which will help you understand your current energy usage and identify potential areas for improvement.

Many state energy offices and local utilities offer this service for free or at a discounted rate. You can always hire a certified Home Energy Rater through the ENERGY STAR® national locator or complete a basic do-it-yourself energy audit.

Don’t Let Heat Slip Through the Cracks: Weatherize Your Home

Identify sources of cold air drafts by slowly moving a smoke stick or incense around your windows and door. Once you have identified areas of energy leakage, your next step is to properly seal them through caulking and weatherstripping. This simple improvement can shave around 10 to 15 percent off your energy bills.

Caulking is generally used for sealing spaces around stationary areas such as walls and floors, whereas weatherstripping is used to seal movable areas such as operable windows and doors. The Home Depot’s got you covered on what you need to know to do both.

Upgrade to Energy Efficient Windows and Attachments

Did you know that up to 30% of a home’s heating energy can be lost through its windows? ENERGY STAR certified products make a big difference in keeping your home warm and energy efficient. For example, windows or patio doors with low-E (low emissivity) insulating glass have an invisible metallic film that works to keep the heat inside during the winter. Low-E glass is available in many JELD-WEN® windows, such as our Premium™ Vinyl windows. Select windows may also be ordered with double or triple panes and an argon glass fill for maximum efficiency.

Saying goodbye to inefficient single-pane windows and hello to double-pane, triple-pane or other ENERGY STAR certified windows is a crucial step toward energy efficiency. In fact, depending on where you live, making this switch can result in savings of $101 to $583 a year and reduce your carbon footprint by 1,006 to 6,205 pounds of CO2 (the equivalent of 51 to 317 gallons of gasoline), according to ENERGY STAR.

Smart use of window treatments can also help keep the heat in and cold out in your home. In the winter months, the sun shines brightest on the south-facing side of the home. Make sure you keep the blinds in this area open during the day to benefit from the sun’s natural heat and closed at night to avoid heat loss. Look to the US Department of Energy for recommendations on which window treatments will help improve energy efficiency in your home.

Consider an Insulating Front Door

Your exterior door plays a role in maintaining the optimal temperature in your home. A door with a solid insulating core will provide a strong barrier between the cold and your home. According to the US Department of Energy, insulated fiberglass and steel doors are good choices for achieving maximum energy efficiency with your front door.

Fiberglass and steel doors with insulating cores provide an extra layer of protection from extreme temperatures outside the home. A fiberglass door has the benefit of looking and feeling like a real wood door while offering significantly more thermal protection. Steel doors often utilize magnetized weatherstripping, which further increases their energy efficiency.

Get Smart with Your Heating

Properly maintaining your heating system will help keep your home nice and toasty for a low price. For example, clean air filters help prevent dust and dirt buildup, which can lead to blockages and system failure. Plus, a blocked air system means you are paying for heat without benefiting from its warmth. According to ENERGY STAR, your air filters should be inspected once a month and changed at least every three months for maximum efficiency.

Turning your thermostat down while you are sleeping or away from the house can also significantly decrease energy usage. There’s no reason to keep the heat fully on while you are away at work and the kids are at school. This is where “smart” programmable thermostats come in. A programmable thermostat can save your household throughout the year, allow you to control your heat remotely, and automatically turn your heat off according to your usage patterns. Be sure to check out CNET’s smart thermostat roundup before making the switch.
Photo: Chris Monroe/CNET

Make Sure Your Home is Properly Insulated

Proper insulation is critical for controlling the temperature and energy usage in your home. Around 25 percent of heat is lost through the roof and attic, making this area of the home a great place to target for better insulation. Whether you are enlisting professional help or going at it yourself, this guide will provide you with some useful insulation insights.

Your floors are another important area for insulation and account for about 10 percent of heat loss in the home. The right flooring can make all the difference in keeping your home warm during the winter. Carpet is a classic for insulating floors, but some surprising materials, like stone, also possess warming properties when paired with an insulating underlayment or radiant heat system. An easy option for increasing the warmth of your floors would be simply adding a stylish area rug to your space. Check out this article from The Spruce for some guidance on keeping your floors warm.

 

Design a Harvest Table

Thanksgiving is the one holiday that is all about the table. Whether you’re hosting the entire extended family for football and a feast or all of your pals for Friendsgiving fun, everyone will gather together around a table (or two) to share a meal. Get inspired by the harvest season and create a beautiful, rustic table that your friends and family will enjoy lingering over for hours.

 

Set the foundation with a mix of materials and textures. A burlap runner is a simple, agrarian-inspired way to dress the table, and the pewter charger and silverware add a little luster, instantly elevating the tableau. Large metal hurricane lanterns anchor the runner, while their black finish brings balance to the color palette.

 

Let the table decor speak for itself: Keep place settings simple and unadorned with classic white or ivory plates, which are perfect for pairing with a metallic charger. The Apilco Tradition porcelain dinnerware collection is a timeless choice.

 

Find special ways to present even the basic elements, like a dinner napkin. An artificial stem of rose hips is delicately adorned with a pair of acorn charms and a handwritten tag that says, simply, “thankful.”

 

Whether you’re hosting five folks or 50, a name card is a fun touch for every table. We love this idea from a fall wedding — all you need is a humble pine cone and a handwritten tag for each guest. Use real pine cones, or combine with a pine cone-shaped candle and a little box of matches for a small gift for everyone to take home.

 

Candles are essential to a well-decorated dinner table, and you can never go wrong with plain votives. Specifically, clear glass votives with unscented white candles. Much like a pair of diamond earrings, these basic candles go with everything. The unscented wax won’t interfere with the heavenly aroma (and taste) of your food, and the glass votive itself is small but sturdy, making it a safer choice than tea lights.

 

They call them centerpieces for a reason, you know! Flowers are the finishing touch to every tablescape, and at the rustic Thanksgiving table, fall’s fiery hues inject a riot of color and take their rightful place as focal point. We’re getting major floral inspiration from this quartet of autumn arrangements from Bouqs. With marigolds, mini calla lilies, roses, ranunculus, pincushion flowers and lush foliage among them, these arrangements would look perfect in small clusters down the center of a long table.

Pretty in Black

Goth. Moody. Avant-garde. Early ’90s bachelor pad. When you first consider decorating with black, one or more of these words and phrases may come to mind. But let us offer a new one: Timeless. From obsidian and slate to charcoal and onyx, black trim and accents create an anchor for the eye in a bright white space. In contrast, a dark, inky space gives neutrals and metallics a beautiful backdrop against which they absolutely shine. Consider this your invitation to explore the endless style possibilities that decorating with black offers.

 

If you’re considering a makeover to introduce this versatile color into your décor, start with the surfaces around you — your walls. Don’t fret over choosing the wrong hue; brands like Sherwin-Williams offer apps that make visualizing your freshly painted space a … snap. Sherwin-Williams’ ColorSnap Visualizer is by far the most feature-heavy, offering a variety of pre-loaded room images to customize with any and every color in the Sherwin-Williams paint library. You can also upload your own photo.

We took the ColorSnap iPad app for a spin using Tricorn Black SW6258 — one of the brand’s top 50 paint colors. In the spa-worthy bath (top), we used the black on the room’s thick trim and molding, making the Moonmist SW9144 walls pop and maintaining the serenity of this soothing space. With its vaulted, shiplap-covered ceiling and dark polished wood floors, this modern farmhouse-style bedroom gets a Tricorn Black SW6258 accent wall, while the rest of the space is dressed in Ice Cube SW6252.

 

If pattern and texture are what you seek, you’ll be delighted to see what wallpaper has to offer. Thanks to modern designs, new materials, and easier application (really!), wallpaper is working harder than ever to infuse interiors with eye-catching style. From Magnolia Home by Joanna Gaines, this large buffalo check becomes light as air in a watercolor rendering of a time-honored classic, creating a new and fresh pattern for any space. The wallpaper can even be removed easily.

A brilliant combination of color and pattern, Graham & Brown’s grasscloth wallpaper in Midnight brings instant depth to a space with a natural texture that you just have to touch. Plus, Graham & Brown’s wallpapers are all sustainably sourced.

 

Like paint, wallpaper can make just as big of an impact on one small wall as it does covering an entire room. From York Wallcoverings, the menswear-inspired “Olann” wallpaper creates a sleek, pared-down backdrop, while “Headline News” offers a fun collage of throwback newspaper ads and stories — perfect for any creative’s workspace.

 

An accent wall — or small space such as a powder room — is just the place for a little bling. York’s “Chandelier Damask” boasts a subtle sheen throughout its classic chandelier pattern, while the “Chevron” features metallic foil that adds dimension and shine to create a pattern that is welcome in any décor style.

By now you’re convinced that introducing black into your décor is a must, right? JELD-WEN windows and doors are also an ideal way to showcase your personal style. Start here with Custom™ Wood windows.

The Organized Home: Designed with Storage in Mind

Tidy spaces not only look good but also bring you peace of mind. Conquer clutter and achieve organization in style with this roundup of storage system ideas that will bring maximum efficiency and a polished aesthetic into your home.
Laundry & Utility Rooms
This Seattle laundry room, designed to pamper pets with a bathing station and feeding area, boasts a charming wallpaper patterned with canine silhouettes. Base cabinets along the wall provide storage and plenty of workspace. The adjacent stacked washer and dryer set saves space and helps maximize efficiency.
Make the most of a long hallway laundry room by taking advantage of vertical space. These top cabinets add extra storage capacity by going all the way to the ceiling, while the base cabinets offer easy access to essentials as well as a utility sink and spacious countertop and folding area.
A luxe laundry room? Yes, please. Rich wood cabinets and earthy surfaces elevate the everyday, and a pair of large pendants illuminate the space and highlight the elegant utility sink. The centerpiece of this space, the console-style sink features an oversized basin and refined details like wall-mount faucets and tapered legs.
Red alert! This space has it all: a home office, a serious laundry center and tons of storage. The glossy red cabinets and stainless steel surfaces combine form and function for a modern space dedicated to efficiency and organization.

Garages & Outdoor Storage

These Motor Trend Garage Cabinets by Closet Factory will transform your garage into a showroom of organization! Full-size gray melamine cabinets offer storage for even the bulkiest items, while the open shelving puts everyday essentials within easy reach. With a focus on the gardener, this garage features steel shelves for heavy duty items like soil bags and pots, plus a slatwall to organize tools vertically.

 

Inspired by the timeless red sports car, this garage evokes a vintage service station, with a classic Craftsman storage system, rich wood-paneled walls, and hanging fluorescent lighting.
Not all garages have cars! This beautiful barn by Smith & Robertson, Inc. was designed by South Carolina architect Wayne Crocker, and it houses the machines and implements needed to maintain an estate. In addition to various workrooms, the barn features indoor and outdoor spaces created for rest and relaxation after a long workday.

Kitchens & Pantries

A bank of Shaker cabinets elevates a smart utility room in this Leicestershire, England, space. Painted in deVOL Kitchens’ own Pantry Blue, with a Carrara marble countertop and under-mount copper sink, the workspace has ample storage including spacious base cabinets that conceal a laundry bin and separate recycle and trash bins, and open shelving for stacking firewood.
To maximize storage in a small area, take full advantage of the vertical space! This bar nook has ample open shelving for easy access to glassware, coffee mugs, and upright bottle storage, plus plenty of counter space.
From the glass-front display cabinets with interior lighting to the Carrara marble countertops and wrought iron hardware, the butler’s pantry in this Bergen County, New Jersey, home is the epitome of elegance. The interiors of the cabinets are chocolate brown cherry wood. The exteriors feature custom French blue stained and glazed cherry.
This two-door wall pantry is all about smart storage. Open shelves put everything within easy reach, while baskets and bins help keep prep tools and pantry essentials organized. Additional wire shelving on the pantry doors is ideal for storing frequently used ingredients. The pair of recessed lights are a helpful addition.
This modern New Orleans home takes a streamlined approach to storage and organization. The long, narrow pantry has one full wall of open shelves that accommodate everything from paper towels to small appliances. The opposite side features a wall of cabinets and drawers punctuated by a spacious countertop for prep work.