Echelon Awarded Best Kitchen Design at The Regal Awards

By Matty Adler, in Awards

R26 copyEchelon Custom Homes just had the honor of winning Best Kitchen for the seventh straight year at the Annual Delaware Regal Awards.  While we won many other awards this is the one that we have captured consecutively, something we take a lot of pride in.

This year’s winner was a project we recently completed in Kings Creek Country Club and was created to fit the design aesthetic of the entire home.
It starts with the main part of the kitchen which was done in Wellborn Cabinets, Sonoma door style in Glacier white.  The crisp white cabinets lends itself to the beach house style while offering a sharp contrast to the honed Absolute Black granite countertops.  The honed finish was chosen to mimic the look of soapstone while providing the durability of granite.   It’s white subway tile backsplash helps play off the contrast of the black countertops as well, while providing a backsplash that will still be in style over the years and never “date” this kitchen.  We finalized the contrasting finishes with black cabinet knobs and drawer cup pulls reminiscent of the cabinet hardware used in cottages for decades.
kitchen main faucetStainless steel sinks offer durability while the polished chrome plumbing fixtures finish off the crisp, clean look of this kitchen.  The main sink faucet and secondary sink faucets are from Kohler and the pot filler by Danze.  While all three are from different collections we were careful to choose fixtures with similar lines so they all tie together.  You don’t always have to pull everything from one line, just be sure to pick items with similar styling.
EDGE GRAIN WALNUTThe island which was also done in the Glacier White cabinets was topped with a Walnut, Edge grain wood top from Grothouse Lumber.  This wood top was done with a Durata finish, which is a marine-grade finish, and will withstand the abuse that a kitchen countertop can endure.  While more expensive than the granite perimeter the addition of the wood top adds warmth to the entire space.  The lifetime warranty on the top makes the investment a worthwhile one.  The island is finished off with beautiful, bronze pendant lighting from Rejuvenation.  The lights, which are finished off with large glass globes, adds the final touches to a large and functional island.
R29 copyOn the outer wall of the kitchen we designed a wall of pantry cabinets as well as an area to set up a coffee/drink station.  These cabinets were done in a rich Caramel Java finish to tie in to the finish of the walnut island top and add additional warmth to the space.  On one end we added an ice maker with a custom cabinet paneled front (an essential item for filling up those coolers for the beach) with an oversized appliance garage above.  This is a space for the client to set up a bar during functions but also a spot where guests can come and grab a cup of coffee without getting in the way of the person cooking in the kitchen.  The opposite end houses a broom closet for all those kitchen cleaning items.  In between is a wall of pantry storage.  It starts with oversized, deep drawers in the base and then is topped with 21” deep pantry cabinets for all the kitchen storage needs.   In order to get the cabinets to the ceiling we stacked cabinets above the pantry cabinets  for storage of items used on special occasions.  To access these items we added a rolling ladder for both function and a unique design aesthetic.
cooktopWhile the kitchen is beautiful, it was designed with a chef in mind.  With appliances from Viking, Sub Zero, Bosch and Scotsman, this space was meant to be used.  Anyone who knows there way around a kitchen would feel right at home whipping up culinary masterpieces in this space.R25

 

Wellborn Cabinets Trend Report

By Matty Adler, in product

wellborn headerI recently returned from a trip to Wellborn Cabinets in Ashland, Alabama.  With not much else to do in Ashland I understand why they put so much time and effort into building beautiful cabinets.  Wellborn Cabinets has just had its largest increase in new cabinets, door styles and finishes that it has had in many years.   These changes are being rolled out in 3 phases, the first happened in March with the rest being released in July and October of this year.  

antigua door styleFor cabinets they have added lots of new sizes including 48, 54 and 60” wall cabinets.  This is a great addition as it will allow us to install cabinets that will reach the ceiling of the spaces without having to add a lot of cost by stacking wall cabinets.  Their distinctive bath catalog now allows us to order bath vanities that feel more like pieces of furniture than standard bath cabinets.  This will give people the look of many of the high end Restoration Hardware and Pottery Barn vanity cabinets. For door styles they have many new options to choose from.  The new Antigua is a personal favorite.  It has the look of a louvered door which will screams “beach house” and is due out in July.  This and the New Haven door (shaker style door with a wider plank inset panel) are both welcome additions to our “coastal” style.  The new Bali door offers a bamboo looking inlay in the face frame of the cabinet door.  The new Charleston door is the sister to the Richmond, one of Wellborn’s more elaborate cabinet styles but has a recessed center panel, and it exudes elegance.  For clients who prefer a more clean-lined door but a lot of style, the new Chelsea, Napa and Winslow should be big hits.
drift finishThere are 3 new stained finishes and 1 new painted finish also rolling out this year.  Since grey is all the rage now, they have rolled out a softer grey called Dove to counter balance the darker Willow rolled out last year.  Blush (a redder stain finish), Cloud (a lighter white washed stain) and Drift (a browner, driftwood like stain) all of which are available with or without glazing options are all great additions to the finishes that Wellborn offers.  I expect Drift to be a very popular finish here at the beach.
Being at Wellborn was extremely informative as to new products releasing this year.  We also had a chance to tour their entire facility and see how all the lines of cabinets are made.  I was impressed by two things….one was how much of the product is built by hand vs machine and the care they put into each cabinet and second was how “green” Wellborn is.  In addition to planting many more trees than they cut down and using hearty growth species, they use every part of the tree with much of the scraps and sawdust being used to fuel their plant and reduce the amount of outside fuels they require.  They also use their own fleet of delivery drivers and trucks so ensure that the cabinets are handled with care through the delivery process.

While touring the plant with John Wellborn it was impressive to see how he knew the names and backgrounds of most of the people working in this huge facility.  It felt more like a family, which is what we strive for in our company.  It feels good doing business with a company who cares about its employees and the environment! We did manage a little fun while there including a late afternoon at Wellborn’s employee Skeet Shooting Range.  Our own Michael Whaley really impressed me with her shooting skills.  Those orange skeet never had a chance!  Trips like this reiterate the fact that we are using a quality product from a quality company…all in all, a very successful trip!matty-wellborn

No Housewrap – No Problem. The New Way of Weatherproofing Homes During Construction.

By Lance Manlove, in new homes

enviro-driWe build homes in a coastal environment very near the ocean which means wind and wind driven rain.  With the wind comes difficulties keeping the house wrap in place and in good condition during the framing and mechanical phases.

The typical tapes and fastening techniques used to hold down the weather resistance barrier are not very effective in cold weather and windy conditions.  This leaves the exterior vulnerable to future leaks, water intrusion, rot, and decreased thermal performance of the insulation due to air infiltration.  See picture of probable installations.  There are other products on the market that have the weather resistant barrier laminated to the OSB exterior sheathing.  This eliminates the poorly installed weather resistant barrier and the material getting ripped due to wind but the system is purely relying on a single layer of tape to prevent water from getting behind windows and doors.  Also, any nail holes through the sheathing in this system are not covered or sealed in any way.

I have been looking for quite some time and even did some R&D on a system that can be applied over sheathing either in roll or spray form.  At the IBS 2014, I found EnviroDri produced by Tremco.  We currently use Tremco Watch Dog as our foundation waterproofing system of choice so when the same company released a liquid applied WRB I was excited to give it a try.

What are the advantages of the EnviroDri product?

1.       It is liquid applied after the framing is complete and the sheathing is attached so all the nail holes are covered/sealed by the membrane
2.       The membrane at 20mils thick has a perm of about 12.  This allow for drying to the outside of the wall cavity in the event water ever reaches that point.
3.       All the horizontal and vertical seams of the sheathing are sealed with the membrane and taped with a tape mesh.  This is very similar to how drywall tape is sealed over the seams.
4.       The windows are liquid flashed in place to mitigate any water intrusion and a counter flashing is installed over the head flange for added redundancy of water protection.
5.       All penetrations and flashings are sealed and covered with the membrane even the sill plate.
6.       The house is being air sealed the same time it is being weather sealed.  This will reduce air infiltration and the air changes per hour which in turn will benefit the home owner with better energy bills.

The product was applied by either a spray system or roll on system – both worked equally as well.  If there is a breeze on the location the rolling may be a better option as this will reduce any chance for over spray.  It dries to the touch in about 30-40 mins depending on the temp and humidity when applied but the working time of the product was great.  Once it was cured overnight windows and doors can be set.  I really liked the application of the product and the first phase of weather protection on the house.

I will write part 2 of this blog once we have installed the windows and installed the membrane flashing. Stay tuned!

Hello

By Travis White, in culture

I’m Travis.

Echelon Custom Homes now at Bayside!

By Josh Hay, in Echelon Home Plans

Bayside headerMost of you are familiar with Echelon Custom Homes and how awesome and unique our homes at the beach are but many folks are not aware that Echelon has teamed up with one of the best communities in the area, Bayside!

Bayside is only 4 miles from the Fenwick Island beaches and has more amenities than you could wish for, seriously!  Beach Shuttle, 3 pools, 5 tennis courts (3 hard-tru), basketball court, volleyball, kayaks, paddle boards, fitness center, hot tubs, fire pits, tiki bar and grill, The Cove restaurant, private beach, fishing pier, walking trails throughout the conservation areas, a Jack Nicklaus signature golf course, lawn maintenance, whew, I’m running out of breath here!  And just when you think it doesn’t get any better, let me just tell you about the Freeman Stage which is located within the neighborhood.  The Freeman Stage hosts plays and concerts throughout the season.  They have everything from kid’s shows to orchestras to national acts like Darius Rucker, Cheryl Crow, Pat Benatar and more.  With the community being halfway completed it has a great social vibe.  I challenge you to find someone that lives here that doesn’t say “we LOVE it here.”

Where does Echelon come in to play at Bayside?  There are select home sites that bolster golf course and/or conservation area views that have been reserved for Echelon homes only.  Come in with a concept for your new home and we’ll bring it to life or choose from one of our semi-custom plans that have been approved already for the community.  There is no doubt in my mind you’ll love it here!

Feel free to give me a call (302.841.5705) if you would like to chat about the Echelon opportunities in Bayside.
With the sun shining it’s about that time where I sneak out a bit early to get 9 holes in ☺.

What to expect when building a custom home: Part 1 – Architectural Design

By Dion Lamb, in Echelon Home Plans

what-to-expect-headerThis is the first in a series of blogs that will follow the client experience on a fully custom home from start to finish. The goal is to provide a hopefully easy to read, and sometimes entertaining look at the Echelon Custom Home experience.
Stay tuned for another group of blogs on our Echelon Series Homes.

Part 1 – ARCHITECTURAL DESIGN
This is often the scariest part of the process. The first meeting is essentially a blind date with what you are hoping is your future spouse… Ok maybe not that scary but it is the first time you sit down with Tim Tice and discuss the overarching goals for your house.

The first meeting is a get to know each other meeting and an opportunity to identify critical components. Things that are critical include: lot dimensions, property location, exterior style, are we capturing views, how do you plan to live in the space, and your budget goals. There are also a lot of special considerations that are different for every project: I want to use my kitchen for big family gatherings, I really want the owner’s bedroom separated from the rest of the house, I would like an open floor plan, we have an elderly relative we need to accommodate, a rooftop deck is a must, I have always wanted a rock star bathroom! This list is pretty endless and open ended. It is critical to the success of the project and your long term happiness to get every idea on the table, so they can be discussed and integrated, modified, or discarded as necessary.
Once the initial meeting is complete our team does some heavy research on all of the regulating bodies that may affect what you are allowed to build. These could include: town, city, county, DNREC, and HOA to make sure we understand our limitations. Once we have this information, the team will put together concepts that do their best to maximize the usage of the property and meet all of the needs you discussed at the original meeting.

At the second meeting, which can be handled remotely through computer conferencing or in person, the design concepts are reviewed. As our lead designer says, this is where the true start of the design begins. Floor plans are reviewed and tweaked, sometimes heavily revised, prior to taking a look at exterior elevations.

Starting Elevation Finished ElevationSo as you can see in the examples above, it really is a blank canvas painted to your specifications. The only limits we have are the rules of the regulation bodies, and of course physics. ☺

Check back soon for the part two in the series, interior design and selections.

Kitchen Countertops: Alternatives To Granite

By Matty Adler, in new homes

countertops_header

The other day I had a client ask me…what can I do in my house other than granite? There are a wide variety of products available today besides granite for use in kitchens and other rooms of your house.  They range in price and durability so make sure to ask lots of questions when selecting your tops. 

We are all familiar with laminate countertops, in fact, most of us probably grew up with them.  Laminates have come a long way from my childhood.  Companies like Formica are pushing the limits on what they do with laminate including edges that mimic granite and patterns that replicate the look of metals, stones and even concrete.  They can vary greatly in price, but I can guarantee that you’ll be surprised by what you see.

Solid surfaces, like Corian have also made leaps and bounds from the uniform patterns they offered in its infancy.  Corian’s Burled Beach and Witch Hazel to name a few, offer movement and patterns that swirl through the slabs offering a more unique look to solid surfaces.  These products can be stain, unlike granite, but a light sanding can remove these and leave the product looking like new.  While prices vary depending on the line, they still remain at the lower end of the price scale.

Tile, another option can be inexpensive depending on the tile chosen, however most people do not want to deal with the cleaning of grout lines and this remains a less popular product, however, if you are going for a southwestern or retro look (we probably all remember the tiled countertops in our grandparents bathrooms), tile can still be a great option.

wooden countertopI am personally a big fan of wood countertops, but they do have their pluses and minuses.  Wood can scratch, doesn’t react well with water and can be very susceptible to stains and bacteria…but nothing can warm up a space like wood countertops.  We carry a line by Grothouse Lumber out of Pennsylvania, and they offer a wide variety of species, thicknesses and edges.  They also offer a Durata finish which is a marine grade finish that will protect your tops from the damages of water and help minimize bacteria.   You will still need to use trivets and I would recommend a cutting board if you want to maintain the pristine look, otherwise go with a food safe wood top and cut away.  Periotic oiling of the food safe wood tops will prolong the life and keep them looking good.  Prices can go from reasonable (maple or oak tops) to very expensive for looks like Mahogany or Tiger wood.

Quartz is the biggest star in countertops today, outselling granite in our design center.  It offers the ability to put hot items directly on the surface, can be cut on and is the best product for preventing the spread of bacteria.  Unlike granite, quartz does not even have to be sealed.  Quartz, which used to only offer consistent patterns, now offers options that have swirls like marble and lots of variation.  They are higher in price than low tier granite but these will be the last countertops you ever install.
bretagne blue vetrazzoNewer products are always emerging in the market.  Recycled glass products like Vetrazzo and Geos are making a strong foothold in the countertop market.  With vibrant color options they are a great alternative to granite.  They can withstand heat and bacteria (although I still use a hot pad under really hot items…guess I’m a little old school) and some, like Vetrazzo’s Bretagne Blue are a mix of brilliant turquoise glass, oyster shells and white, Georgia marble are a show stopper in any space.

Don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone by using something other than the same old granite.  Visit your local countertop fabricator and ask about the wide array of products available today and create a one of kind space in your own home.

First Island Series Home Under Construction At The Peninsula

By Gary Desch, in Echelon Home Plans

tortola

Echelon is so excited to be building the Tortola, one of our brand new Island Series homes we are offering at the Peninsula On The Indian River Bay.

This home is a beautiful 4 bedroom 4  1/2 baths home with a lot of beautiful windows and decks on the back of the home to take advantage of the views that the Peninsula has to offer. This customized Tortola features what most people are looking for nowadays with a first floor owner’s suite, large kitchen and dining area which open to the great room. The open floor plan is perfect for entertaining your guests when they visit you here at the beach.
When your friends and family come to visit you at the Peninsula they will be so impressed with the amenities.  This gated Jack Nicholas golf course community is a no maintenance resort-style community with amenities you only see when on vacation. The Peninsula offers a private beach, kayak launch, indoor pool, outdoor adult only pool, a wave pool, sauna, hot tubs, state of the art fitness center, tennis, beach volleyball, private restaurant and more.

Our customers who are building this beautiful home will be able to live the dream of being on a vacation every day. I can see a lot of memories made here with family and friends.Tortola-at-the-peninsula

News & Trends From The 2014 Builders’ Show

By Matty Adler, in Events

IBS2014

I just returned from Las Vegas, where for the first year ever,  the International Builders Show joined forces with the National Kitchen and Bath Show to create the largest home builders show in the world.  This year’s show has differed from shows of the past 5 years in that the overall mood was positive towards the growth in the building industry, something that is a sign of the upswing in new construction in our country compared to just a few years ago.  This was also evident in the number of new or returning vendors that participated in this year’s show.  It gave me an opportunity to see new product and new additions to current lines.  Here is just a sample of some of the exciting things found at this year’s show:

This year Woodmode and Brookhaven cabinets (Echelon is the authorized dealer for these in southern Delaware) has rolled out over a dozen new opaque painted colors for their cabinets ranging in colors from Plum to Caribbean Mist with many colors looking like they were designed with the beach in mind.  Many of these colors also come in a vintage technique allowing the buyer to see the glazing and brush strokes in the painted finish.  Two of these new finishes were sold to the first two clients I met with on my return, a real indication of just how popular these colors will be.

Dal Tile also had its largest roll out of new tiles that I have seen in years.  It is truly amazing what they can do with porcelain tiles these days.  Many are made to mimic natural stones but offer the durability of a porcelain tile.  New additions like their beveled subway tile will be a sure hit for those looking for a timeless backsplash with a clean and simple look.  Hardwood look-a-likes have been especially popular lately with the look getting so close to the real thing most people would be hard pressed to tell the difference!

moxie shower headKohler has added some new sinks and faucets to their lines including a new spray that mimics the shape of a broom and allows for better sweeping of debris  on dishes.  Between that and the offset drain offered in a few of their sinks, Kohler continues to push the boundaries in reinventing everyday plumbing fixtures.  Their Moxie shower head, introduced at last year’s show, continues to be a feature in their show displays, providing buyers with music in the shower that connects wirelessly with any blue tooth device.  It brings singing in the shower to a whole new level.

Quartz has emerged as the hottest thing in countertops today.  Many manufacturers were present to show off this product including Caesar Stone, Zodiaq and Silestone but my favorite is still Cambria.  With all its products made here in the US they seem to be leading the pack in new and innovative designs.  Its newest addition, called Galloway, has a white base with swirls of taupe and a bronze-like detail similar to that of their Minera quartz.  This also looks as though it was designed with the beach house buyer in mind.  I see this being a hot seller in 2014.

native trails concrete farm sinkNative Trails were showing their new sinks made from concrete with a Jute blend.  While being a more contemporary look, the addition of jute to the concrete mix creates a sink much lighter than its all-concrete counterparts while offering a stain resistance not found in most concrete sinks.  While priced for the higher end market, I am sure the price will come down on these over time as their popularity grows.  I hope to have the chance to use these in a future product as they will become the focal point in any bath.

The biggest change in the appliance world at this year’s show was with Viking Appliances.  Having recently been sold to a larger company they are working to reinvent their brand with three different levels of Viking to appeal to a wider variety of price points.  Their new induction cooktops (one of the hottest things in cooktops today) allow you to cook on almost any part of the cooktop.  They also had a prototype of a possible future venture to be built in Italy.  It is a La Cornue look-a-like and if they go to production with this range it will be show stopper in any kitchen.  Its price tag doesn’t make this an option for most, but at the top of the line, those who can afford it will have a range that is as much art as it is range.

One of my favorite things about the show is the chance to find unique, one a kind products that help set our homes apart from the rest.  As the strength of the building industry grows so will the future shows, something that really excites me as a designer.  I look forward to next year and the chance to find even more new products to share with all of our homeowners.

Echelon Awarded Best Custom Home 5 Years In A Row

By Echelon, in Awards

Print

On Friday, May 17th, the Home Builders Association of Delaware held the 21st annual Regal Awards ceremony to recognize the outstanding accomplishments of its builder and associate partners. The Regal Awards celebrate excellence in the home building industry honoring the best builders in Delaware.

Echelon Custom Homes took home an award for the Best Custom Home over $750,001 for the 5th year in a row. The winning Hawksnest residence features a luxurious master suite with a wet bar, three sided fireplace and seating area. Other features include a wrap around back porch that leads to an in-ground pool with a Jacuzzi accompanied with custom pool house with full bar. This residence is the ultimate entertainment home.

Other awards included Best Kitchen for Coco Bay residence, Best Bath for Hawksnest residence, Best Single Family Resort Home over $500,001 for Newcastle Street residence (designed by A.B.O.D.E.S., LLC) and Best Custom Home from $400,000 – $750,000 for Robinson Drive residence.

The Schell Brothers companies including Renew-Smart Renovations and Echelon Interiors – walked away with a total of 24 awards on the evening of the awards.