The Manuel Builders Blog

Category: Home Design

New Year, New Pantone Color

Categories: Home Design | Posted: January 21, 2020

The Pantone 2020 Color of the Year has been announced, and it looks like we will be singing the blues this year! Each year a color is chosen through the extensive process of examining current lifestyle, industry, and cultural trends. Pantone has named a ‘color of the year’ for over two decades, and this year’s color is Classic Blue. Classic Blue is described as a soft, velvety shade that is reminiscent of where the sky meets the sea. In this month’s blog, we’ll discuss some ways to incorporate this lush color into your home.

  • Statement Furniture – A richly hued sofa or chair is the perfect way to add interest to an otherwise neutral living room.
  • Kitchen Cabinets – A fresh coat of brilliant blue paint can spice up your cabinets by adding a pop of color to a kitchen that’s feeling a little bland.
  • Accent Walls – While using this bold shade as the primary color for a space could possibly feel a bit overpowering, it’s perfect as an eye-catching accent wall color. 
  • Small Décor Pieces – You don’t have to overhaul your home or break the bank to incorporate Classic Blue into your home. A simple and effortless option is to use pillows, vases, and kitchenware to brighten a room with this beautiful color. 

    -Written by our Building Coordinator, Suzanah Hajrula

Lighting Sizes for Your Space

Categories: Home Design | Posted: August 21, 2019

When planning for your new home, one feature that usually comes to mind are the lighting fixtures. It’s easy to spend hours scouring books and the web for inspiration. While the finishes and style of your lights are very important, something else to consider is the size of your lighting fixtures. You want your lighting choices to enhance the room not overshadow it or be overpowered by it. Below are two simple tips that will help you determine how to choose the correct size lights for your home. This will ensure your choices will not only beautifully complement the style of your home but also best serve the area they are in.


To determine the diameter of a light fixture that’s best for your space:

First, measure the length and width of the room in feet. Then, add the two lengths together. Next, you will swap that value in feet for inches (for example, 20 feet would become 20 inches). This is the ideal diameter for a light fixture in that room.


To determine the height of a light fixture that’s best for your space:

Start by measuring the height of the room (floor to ceiling) in feet. Next, multiply the height by 2.5 to 3 per foot. Just like you did above, you will once again swap that value for inches. This is the ideal height for a light fixture in that room.

– Written by our Building Coordinator, Suzanah Hajrula

Outdoor Living Options

Categories: Home Design | Posted: July 23, 2019

Summer is upon us and with it comes spending more time in the great outdoors. When designing your new home, you should consider how you and your family spend those summer nights. The best-designed outdoor spaces serve as extensions of our home, family, and lifestyle. Let’s explore a few outdoor living options below.

Outdoor Kitchen

If you’re all about cooking for the ones you love then an outdoor kitchen might be the option for you. This option is ideal for the reigning BBQ king or queen. With options like a built-in grill, outdoor cabinet space and a sink to avoid all those messy trips in and out of the house, your summer entertaining will be smooth sailing.

Screened-in Back Porch

A screened-in porch could be the right fit for you if you’d rather do your relaxing outdoors. You can enjoy the perks of outdoor living without the critters and weather that come along with it. Add in a rocking chair and a glass of iced tea or lemonade and you’re all set.

Outdoor Fireplace or Fire Pit

This outdoor feature may be associated more so with the fall and winter months but it does have its place in the summer months as well.  You may not be able to prepare a feast like you would with the outdoor kitchen but you can still feel that summer camp nostalgia while firing up some of your summertime favorites. Because what’s summer without s’mores?

– Written by our Building Coordinator, Suzanah Hajrula

Does an Open Floor Plan Suit Your Family’s Lifestyle?

Categories: Home Design | Posted: May 20, 2019

When choosing the floor plan best suited for you and your needs, there are many options to consider. As trends change, so do the options to choose from. Since the ’90s, open floor plans, whether achieved through new construction or remodeling, have become the trend. Open and airy floor plans are very popular and you’ll have a hard time finding a home built in recent years that isn’t an open concept floor plan.  That being said, it seems some homebuyers are having second thoughts on whether this is the ideal way to live and are considering going back to more traditional floor plans. Let’s explore the pros and cons of open concept plans below and why they may or may not work for you.


  • Spaces can be multifunctional.
    • With an open floor plan, each space can serve many purposes. It can be used for entertaining as well as a home office.
  • Easier accessibility.
    • Open concept plans are much more flexible when it comes to furniture layout, traffic flow, and room design. This accessibility is also advantageous to caregivers and parents of small children as their loved ones are always in their line of sight, which typically wouldn’t be the case in a more traditional floor plan.
  • Improved socialization.
    • Open floor plans make entertaining much easier by not breaking up rooms as a traditional floor plan would. When the holidays roll around, you can cook and socialize at the same time which makes playing host or hostess a breeze.


  • Lack of privacy.
    • While an open floor plan can be ideal for socializing, the lack of doors and walls can make quiet or private activities such as reading or studying more difficult due to poor sound control.
  • Spaces can appear cluttered.
    • Hiding clutter behind a closed door is simply not an option in an open floor plan. Homeowners with busy lives or small children may find the constant maintenance a little overwhelming.
  • Heating and cooling costs.
    • Although high ceilings and large windows are beautiful, they often contribute to higher bills due to the energy drains that may accompany those features.

– Written by our Building Coordinator, Suzanah Hajrula


Choosing an Exterior Veneer

Categories: Home Design | Posted: February 18, 2019

What’s in an exterior? Would brick by any other name smell as sweet? In this month’s blog, we’ll be discussing different exterior veneers. The material on the exterior of your home makes all the difference since it’s the first impression when it comes to curb appeal. When perusing not only our homes but pictures of homes in general, you’ll notice they feature a variety of exterior veneers such as brick, hardie, vinyl, stucco, and stone. There are definitely pros and cons to each veneer. Let’s delve a little deeper.

Brick Veneer

Brick is a great choice for a long lasting exterior veneer since it should last well over 100 years. Another perk is the variety of brick styles and colors you can choose from. These can range from your classic red to something more intricate and patterned.  As far as maintenance, using a garden hose with a spray nozzle once a year will typically suffice unless there is mildew. In that case, you would want to use a brush and bleach.

Hardie Board

This exterior siding product should provide protection for your home for a lifetime. Due to the fact that the hardie can be painted any exterior paint color, there are endless possibilities when it comes to color options. Keep in mind that this veneer does require some upkeep. It is recommended to pull out the garden hose and wash your hardie siding every 6-12 months to avoid mildew, grease and dirt build up. Similarly, you will likely have to repaint your siding after 10-12 years due to fading and paint chipping.


This material should last for over 100 years, however, it has the price tag to match. The grandeur of a stone exterior is hard to beat and you will see many homeowners choosing this veneer for larger homes. Stone veneer needs to be treated much more delicately than other veneers. Stone should be cleaned with water and mild soap twice a year. It’s very important to avoid harsh cleaning products and pressure washing. When cleaning this veneer twice a year, you’ll also want to take this time to inspect for loose stones so you can have them repointed as soon as possible.


You can expect a stucco finish to last for 50 or more years. Some sources estimate the material may complement your home for up to 100 years. Similar to how hardie gives you the option to really let your personal style shine, you will find your stucco paint color options to be overwhelmingly abundant. Due to its porous nature, stucco will collect dirt and absorb stains. Using a brush to scrub the area and then a moistened microfiber or cotton cloth should clear most stains and dirt. Another matter to take into consideration is repairing stucco. This can be very difficult and costly if not done in a timely matter.

Vinyl Siding

Vinyl siding will protect your home for 60-100 years. This non-porous material is easy to clean and dries quickly. Additionally, it is the most cost effective option for your home. Regarding upkeep, vinyl siding will be your most low maintenance option. Pressure washing your vinyl once a year is more than enough to keep it looking new.

With so many options on the market, there is no one veneer that will work for everyone. When making the choice for your home, you’ll want to take not just the points above into consideration but also what you want the overall feel and look of your home to be. You want your home to reflect you and your family so choose wisely.

– Written by our Building Coordinator, Suzanah Hajrula

“Serving at Manuel Builders for over 4 years now, Suzanah’s extensive product knowledge of every option in each of our Design Centers, combined with her exceptionally calm demeanor and ability to bring focus and clarity in the midst of a multitude of choices ensures that the homeowners she guides are able to select their finishes and styles with confidence and peace in knowing they’re cared for.   With a detailed comprehensive understanding of the entire pre-production process, she is well-versed in guiding her homeowners through the smoothest possible experience.”

New Year, New Updated Space

Categories: Home Design | Posted: January 18, 2019

With the new year in full swing, it’s the perfect time to refresh the look of your home! As time consuming and expensive as this could sound, below are 4 simple ways to transform your space without breaking your budget.

Tidy up à la Marie Kondo

The first step to freshening up your new home this year starts in the closets. If you haven’t used it in three or four years, chances are you won’t use it this year. I find that organizing the unseen spaces in my home, donating unwanted clothing and doing a little spring cleaning helps me to feel like I’m getting the year started off on the right foot.

Mix it up

Mix it up a little! Re-arrange the furniture in your bedrooms. This forces you to pull furniture away from the walls and discover the dust that you miss with everyday cleaning. You may even find that “other” sock or favorite long-lost sweater that you thought your (insert name) borrowed.

Fresh Paint, Fresh Home

A fresh coat of paint can go a long way in reinventing a room. Below are a few of my favorite neutral colors that will match any decor. Keep in mind, LED lighting can affect the way a color looks on your walls. If you are making a color change, paint a few sample spots on the wall before investing in a gallon. You may find that you don’t like the color as much on that wall as you did on the paint chip. When picking a paint finish, my preference is eggshell. It has decent clean-ability without the high sheen of a satin paint. Going neutral allows you to easily accessorize with colors. Below are a few of my favorites from Sherwin Williams and Benjamin Moore.

Colors with Slight Gray Undertones

Benjamin Moore Revere Pewter





Sherwin-Williams Agreeable Gray (7029)

Colors with Slight Warm Undertones

Benjamin Moore Manchester Tan





Sherwin-Williams Extra White (7006)


Light up Your Spaces

Finally, explore with accent lighting. You will be amazed how accent lighting can change a space. For kitchens, adding under cabinet lighting can dramatically change the space. Puck lights can be purchased at your local hardware store for under $100. Show off that backsplash! For living rooms, floor lamps are gaining popularity this year. Arc lamps that hover over your sofa not only dress up the space but create a perfect spot to read your favorite book or magazine.

Image via Amazon


– Written by our Building Consultant, Wendi Ritz

“With more than 13 years of experience in new home construction, Wendi is our most seasoned consultant.  She first began working with families to design and style their dream homes while living in Katy, Texas, but – after having three beautiful children – decided to move home to Louisiana to be closer to family.  She specializes in walking homeowners through their options and helping them weigh the pros and cons of each decision and plan customization. “

Tried-and-True Paint Colors

Categories: Home Design | Posted: October 15, 2018

One of the most common questions I hear from homeowners during selections is “How do I choose a neutral paint color that looks good with anything?”

The majority of homeowners simply want a neutral color palette that will complement their personal style.  So why is this so difficult?

Answer:  Color choices are endless and can be overwhelming for most people. However, there are a handful of colors that work well with just about anything, due to their undertones.
With the gray trend we are seeing right now, colors are a little more on the “cooler” side.  So how do you transition to the warmth that fall brings while staying on trend?

Answer:  By selecting great neutrals that have staying power and will last from season to season.  This can be difficult to do when your options are endless.

So I compiled a list of some of my favorite “no-fail” Sherwin Williams paint colors that you really can’t go wrong with.  Whether you want a crisp white palette, cool gray space or warmer beige feel… the versatility of these tried-and-true colors will compliment any style.

Favorite Main Color:

(These colors look great for walls, cabinets or as an accent color)

SW 0055 Light French Gray






SW 7015 Repose Gray






SW 7016 Mindful Gray






SW 7018 Dovetail






SW 7023 Requisite Gray






SW 7029 Agreeable Gray






SW 7036 Accessible Beige






SW 7064 Passive






SW 7043 Worldly Gray






SW 7650 Ellie Gray






SW 7642 Pavestone






SW 6204 Sea Salt






SW 6206 Oyster Bay






SW 6218 Tradewind






Favorite Whites:

(Typically used on Trim, Ceilings and/or Cabinets)

SW 7004 Snowbound






SW 7005 Pure White






SW 7008 Alabaster






Favorite Dark Accent Colors:

(Love these bold colors when used on a front door, cabinetry or even as an accent wall)

SW 6244 Naval






SW 7674 Peppercorn






SW 7019 Gauntlet Gray






SW 7048 Urbane Bronze






SW 7069 Iron Ore






SW 6258 Tricorn Black






SW 7592 Crabby Apple






SW 6034 Arresting Auburn






To see some of our favorite color combos used in past homeowners’ spaces, check out our Paint Color Tour video here.



-Written by our Design Coordinator, Kristin Tucker

“I absolutely love helping each homeowner translate their personal style into the home of their dreams.  I believe that details are an important factor in making your house a home.  One of my favorite ways to showcase this is by incorporating beautiful lighting that suits the style of the home and personality of the homeowner.”








What Flooring Should I Use in My Kitchen?

Categories: FAQs, Home Design | Posted: September 21, 2018

We get this question often from our homeowners, specifically regarding the use of laminate wood flooring in this part of the home.  The answer is yes, it can be used, but NO we do not recommend that you use laminate in the wet areas such as: the kitchen, bathrooms, and the utility room. Both laminate and luxury vinyl flooring provide the look of wood, but at a more affordable price.

Laminate vs. Luxury Vinyl Flooring:

Laminate is water resistant, but not water proof; therefore, it would not be recommended to lay down in areas that have a chance of getting wet. Excessive amounts of water have the potential to warp or permanently damage this type of flooring.

Laminate flooring is made from pressed wood core with a decorative and protective layer on top to give it the finished look. The protective top coat is durable and helps resist scratches and wear and tear, which is a benefit when using it in high traffic areas such as the entryway, the living room and bedrooms. Laminate flooring is also easy to clean.

Tips on cleaning laminate flooring:

  • Vacuum to pick up dirt, rocks, and grime
  • Dust the floor
  • A recommended cleaner for laminate flooring is Bona
  • Use a microfiber cloth when cleaning laminate floors


When our homeowners want to have the same floor throughout, luxury vinyl flooring is a great option to achieve this look. Vinyl flooring can be used in places that you would not normally put laminate flooring, such as a kitchen, laundry room or bathroom. Depending on the type, vinyl floor is durable, water resistant and many styles are completely waterproof, therefore if you have a leak in the kitchen, your floor will not get damaged.

Tips on cleaning luxury vinyl flooring:

  • Use a soft bristle broom to remove loose dirt
  • Damp mop as needed with clean water and a non-abrasive floor cleaner, like Bona





-Written by our Design Coordinator, Lisa Keeter

“Spending time and advising homeowners while they select all their colors and finishes to truly personalize their home is absolutely my favorite step in the in-house process.  I love helping them create their home from the ground up . . . we actually place a homeowner’s chosen flooring down and make the rest of their selections on top of that base.  It really helps coordinate the other elements in a home – from countertops and cabinets to backsplashes and faucet fixtures – with the colors flowing throughout the home.”

The Do’s and Don’ts of Granite Countertops

Categories: Home Design, Lifestyle | Posted: August 11, 2018

Imagine this: after all the months of planning, blood, sweat and tears, you’re finally moving into your new home. Your light fixtures are glowing, the fresh paint on your cabinets is glistening, and your granite is bringing your home to life with its unique veins flowing across your countertops. It’s a no-brainer that you will have to dust the light fixtures for them to glow and your cabinets will start to look dingy if you don’t wipe them down, but granite can be a little more daunting and tricky to clean. Let’s explore some simple do’s and don’ts to maintain your granite.

DO wipe up spills as soon as they happen.

DO wash your granite regularly with warm water and mild soap.

DO use a soft cloth or sponge when cleaning your granite.

DO place trivets or mats under hot plates or cookware.

DON’T use any acidic cleaners (vinegar, lemon, etc.).

DON’T use abrasive sponges or brushes on your granite.

DON’T use any products containing ammonia or bleach.

DON’T use your granite as a cutting board.

By using these simple tips, your granite should last well into the future and keep your home looking as beautiful as the day you moved in!




-Written by our Design Coordinator, Suzanah Hajrula

“The best part of the whole experience for me is getting to see it all come together through our homeowner’s eyes. There’s nothing quite like that feeling when all their beautiful selections and careful planning finally become real for them.”







“Wow” Moments in the Field

Categories: Building Process, Home Design, Lifestyle, Other | Posted: June 29, 2018

One of the benefits of being a project manager (PM) that oversees the construction of homes in the field is that I get to see the homeowner’s plans and dreams come to life day by day as the job progresses. This is great for me being a homeowner as well, because I get to experience first-hand how well an option works in a real space. There is nothing I love more than getting to the end of a project with a new option or different elevation that we are trying for the first time and being able to step back and say, “Wow, this really turned out great.” As a builder our end goal is to give our clients that same experience and to give them the opportunity to say, “This is JUST how I planned it!”

So that being said, I wanted to take a few minutes and share with you some of my favorite “Wow” moments from the last few years as a Project Manager for Manuel Builders.

It was impossible for me to pick just one feature about this home that I enjoyed building. There were several things about this particular build that were different and slightly more complicated than we had done before. As a PM for the “Build on Your Land” division of the company, this is the stuff we look forward to. It gives us the opportunity to stretch our skills and learn something new. There were a few question marks as to how some of these elements would come together structurally and aesthetically, but working with the trades in the field, we came up with a few ideas that really pulled off a clean look that both us and the homeowners would love.

The front porch has a massive feel to it that really balances and pulls together the rest of the exterior. I remember the homeowner saying at the site evaluation, “I want the front porch to be the first thing you see when you are driving up to my house.” We certainly delivered that vision to him. It’s impossible to overlook, but still doesn’t feel bulky or overdone.

The interior living room has 3 massive 24’ cedar beams that carry the front porch details inside. The homeowner also had a really specific vision for the fireplace and mantle. He wanted it to look like it was tied into the wall. At first we weren’t sure if it was possible due to the space available surrounding the fireplace. We worked with the trim carpenter to give the homeowner exactly the look he was wanting for the corner fireplace and mantle.

At the end of the day there were so many details about this house that came together and worked really well. It was fun to build and turned out to be a big hit on social media.

View the Josephine Home here.



This particular master bath was arranged a little differently than any Lasalle plan I had built before, and to me, while it had an efficient use of space, it still felt luxurious at the same time. The best thing that happened on this bath plan happened after we had already framed up the house and complete rough ins. The homeowner came to me and asked if it would be too late to change some of the details about her master shower. The original plan was to have a wall going all the way to the ceiling to cut off the shower from the vanity area. She was really hoping it wasn’t too late to remove the top half of the wall between the shower and vanity and flip the shower head to the opposite wall. This was something that we were able to make happen for her, and I really feel like it was a great call on her part. She ended up with a frameless glass wall on 2 sides of her shower that really allowed all the natural light to flood the bathroom and give it an open, airy feel. This really couldn’t have been experienced with a full floor to ceiling wall blocking off the light from the windows. It was definitely a win in the field, and I will never forget how much better that master bath looked and felt at the end of the job.

View the LaSalle-French Home here.


This is a detail that I really loved from a more recently completed job. Brick backsplash is a detail that contrasts the clean and straightforward elements of a modern kitchen with a rough texture that can’t be replicated any other way. It is not a design element that everyone will like or appreciate, but in this particular kitchen, it is one of the defining elements that make you say, “Man, that just looks like it belongs there.” The colors that the homeowner chose balanced the dark reds of the brick and tied everything together. It will definitely go down as one of my favorite kitchen designs that I’ve done to date!

View the LaSalle-Lodge Home here.





-Written by Our Project Manager in the Lake Charles Region, Ryan Cart