The Manuel Builders Blog

Category: Lifestyle

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.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Entertain with Ease in the Summer Heat

Categories: Lifestyle | Posted: July 7, 2018

Whenever summer is mentioned, most people think about relaxing somewhere by a pool, having a backyard BBQ or heading out on a family vacation.

Living in the south during the middle of summer is sometimes a different story. If we don’t have access to a pool or boat, we try to think of ways we can stay inside during the days in an attempt to avoid the unbearably hot weather, not to mention the pesky mosquitos, too.

Nevertheless, we need the Vitamin D right?! It’s hard to stay cooped up inside all summer, so here’s a few ways to help you entertain with ease outdoors in the south this summer!

Timing is Everything!

Be strategic when planning events outside during the summer months. Schedule your outdoor gatherings to start early morning like a Beach Bum Brunch or later in the evening, starting an hour or so before sunset to avoid heat exhaustion. If you decide to host a party while the sun is out in full force, it’s a good idea to have water activities available, as well as  plenty of seating such as hammocks, swings & rocking chairs for your guests to rest and hydrate.

 

Party Prepping

Prep your outdoor area for pests beforehand.  Bugs love high grass! Get the yard mowed a day or so before the party starts to not only keep the bugs at bay, but to give your yard some time to be rid of the loose grass that can track inside your home or in unwanted areas. To control the mosquitos, try tiki table torches with the tiki bitefighter fuel for a stylish option on your patio or all around the area where your guests will be

You may also want to think about installing a screened in porch or an outdoor roller blind.  These will not only help reduce the temperature, but will also keep the flies and mosquitoes from taking over your party.

Find these adorable tiki table torches here.

 

Keep cool

Install a portable tent or canopy for additional shaded areas in your yard for guests to enjoy.  Almost everyone knows to use outdoor fans to help cool off, but installing an outdoor misting system to an open patio would be the icing on the cake! They are affordable, easy to install and, of course, very enjoyable for a summer day in the south!  If you do have outdoor ceiling fans, remember to switch them to rotate counterclockwise in the summer so that the air is blowing downwards, giving you the cool breeze you need.

Get that extra cool breeze on your patio here.

 

Relief Stations

A beverage station can only go so far in the middle of summer, so instead set up a “Relief Station” for you and your guests.  You can include things such as portable fans, bug spray or bug bands, sunscreen, frozen towels, lots of snacks (individually wrapped to keep bugs at bay), and of course a bucket or cooler with lots of ice and drinks to stay hydrated. This can completely change the vibe of your party, as your guests will have all the essentials they need to keep their “party mode” on, especially since these are items that your guests wouldn’t think to bring with them but will surely be appreciated when the heat begins to get to them! And most of all, remember to have fun this summer! Keep some waterproof speakers on hand, too, for good jams that your guests will enjoy.


 

-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.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3 Ways to Make a Small Space Feel Bigger

Categories: Home Design, Lifestyle | Posted: April 21, 2018

With the rise of tiny homes and even vans being refurbished into homes on wheels, it’s no wonder that people are looking for ways to make smaller spaces feel bigger. Although some of our homes may not be as palatial as we’d wish, there are ways to make it feel and look more spacious. Let’s explore just a few of these simple options below.

  • Go Light. Lighter colors on the walls are a major way you can give the room an open and airy feel.  When it comes down to the science of it, darker colors absorb rather than reflect light. This is what gives rooms with darker colors on the walls a cozier atmosphere. If you’re looking to make a room feel fresher, brighter and bigger, start with the walls.
  • Say Hello Again to Reflections. Remember how in older apartments there would be a full mirrored wall or mirrored closets? I know what you’re thinking and no, I’m not trying to bring back mirrored closets or vertical blinds for that matter. However, they were onto something. Mirrors expand the space and once again reflect light giving the room the illusion of being more spacious. A beautiful mirror strategically placed can do much more than dress up a bare wall.
  • Forget the drapes. This will add more depth to a small space and also let in more natural light to create a softer and lighter look. If drapes are a must then choose something sheer or a close shade to your wall color to get a similar effect. The window treatments you select, like many other décor choices, will make a drastic impact on the overall theme of your home so choose wisely!

 

– 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.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Affordable Ways to Enhance Your Curb Appeal!

Categories: Home Design, Lifestyle, Other | Posted: March 23, 2018

We can only make one first impression, and this definitely holds true when looking at a home for the first time.  Whether you are updating your home to sell or wanting a fresh look for spring, curb appeal is essential to the overall appearance of your home and can be easier than you think to achieve!

Here are a few simple and inexpensive tips to boost your curb appeal instantly:

Hide the Unattractive Stuff

Find creative ways to disguise any outdoor eyesore items such as trash cans, utility boxes and AC units.  Find an inexpensive privacy screen or install fence boards to help hide these items.

There are so many ways you can camouflage a water hose or any other items that you may have laying around your yard.


Dress It Up

To make a significant change in appearance, be sure and pay attention to the details or the “jewelry” of your home.

Start with the focal point of your home…your front door.  Make a statement by painting it a bold color that contrasts nicely with the rest of your home’s exterior (and don’t forget to update the door hardware).

Other ways to make your entrance shine is by adding appealing house numbers that are easily seen from the road and light fixtures that reflect the style of your home.

Add charm to your home with a window box filled with your favorite flowers or add oversized planters on either side of your front door for more of a dramatic affect. Even replacing your old mailbox can make a difference, so be sure and pay attention to the details.


Get Creative with Landscape

A clean, well-manicured landscape is a must when improving curb appeal!  You want to create flower beds that direct the eye to the front entrance of a home and adds value to the overall appearance. Start by adding a crisp curved border defining the edge of the bed, softening the look of the landscape.

Get creative by incorporating things such as colorful potted plants, a simple stone or brick path walkway or vibrant mulch to help richen the feel of the yard. And always remember “less is more” to keep a clutter free curb!


Light It Up

Don’t let nightfall hide all your hard work!  Adding landscape lighting can make a world of difference to the appearance of your home at night and can also add security.

Accent important architectural features of your home or showcase your beautiful landscape and trees.  Make sure things such as steps and pathways are well lit as well.

 


 

– 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.”

 

 

 

 

 

Mixing Metals: Gold & Silver CAN Be Friends!

Categories: Home Design, Lifestyle | Posted: February 25, 2018

..Is it ok to mix bronze and brushed nickel through out my home?

Mixing metals adds intrigue and dimension. In the world of interior design, there used to be the idea (you know, back in the 1980s) that it was practically a decor sin to “mix your metals.” Well, I’m excited to say, it’s time to erase that outdated advice! Mixing metals is the perfect strategy for adding visual interest and depth to any room, and it’s an easy way to make pieces in your home look like they’ve been collected over the years and are placed there not only for style, but also for personality and comfort. The trick is to make sure you’re mixing your metals so that they complement each other in a way that emphasizes their individuality but doesn’t cross the line into the land of the “too mismatched” or distracting.

Here’s a few tips when using mixed metals:

Choose a Dominant Metal
All metals are NOT to be used equally… instead of going for a balance of two metals, think of one as a base metal and one as an accent metal. The base metal will help ensure a sense of harmony throughout your home, while the accent metal will act like the perfect jewelry with a classy outfit… pleasing to the eye without “trying too hard.”


Blend Warm and Cool Tones
Stainless and brushed nickel are both considered cool metals so by adding deep hammered gold, copper, black iron or bronze to the mix, you can bring warmth and interest into any space. A beautiful look in central family rooms (i.e. kitchens, living area, etc.) is the combining of warm and cool metals of the same “family,” such as deep bronzes and brushed golds – even bright coppers – for a more cohesive, but still exquisite look.


Take into Consideration the Palettes You are Using
Make sure your color palette compliments the metals in your space… particularly to when selecting the dominant metal. More traditional metals like bronze, brass, iron black and gold work well with warmer palettes (like reds and browns), while more contemporary metals like satin nickel and chrome work well with cooler color palettes (like blues and greens). Truly neutral palettes, though… well, they’re so popular in new homes for a reason! Warm it up, cool it down… create a fascinating, relaxing space filled with your own personal flair.


Use Lots of Texture
Metals and materials all have texture! Don’t just think about matching the colors, mix up the feel of your finishes. Polished copper pendant lights, a hammered copper or bronze apron front kitchen sink, antique copper cabinet hardware… all of these bring texture into the kitchen. The question is: which kind of texture fits you best?! These pieces will bring your custom home style to life!


Keep it Understated
Follow the golden rule: less is more! One metal finish is cohesive. Two is complimentary. Three… do it well and it can be stunning. Four? That’s just going a little overboard. Don’t bring in too many metal finishes into one space and be sure the ones you bring together complement each other!


Finally, the more important thing to remember is that your home should reflect you and the things you love. Have fun when decorating and designing your spaces! Make it personal and a place that you love coming home to!

 

-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.”

 

Finding the Perfect Rug

Categories: Home Design, Lifestyle, Other | Posted: January 12, 2018

If you are planning for the big move, you may have already begun shopping for furnishings to go into your new living space. Choosing a rug can be an arduous task. Here are a few tips that may help you to select the perfect one.

  • Construction: If you have pets and children, try to choose wool. Wool rugs are by far the most durable and the easiest to clean. This material is naturally stain resistant. Stay away from cotton construction, especially light-colored cotton rugs in high traffic areas.
  • Size: You should have at least a 2’ band of flooring around the perimeter of the rug. This is not an exact science as there are various shapes and sizes of rooms and rugs, just a general rule of thumb

Room Size                                              Recommended Maximum Rug Size

5’ x 7’                                                                  3’ x 5’

7’ x 10’                                                                5’ x 8’

10’ x 12’                                                              8’ x 10’

11’ x 14’                                                               9’ x 12’

14’ x 17’                                                              12’ x 15’

  • Furniture Placement: All on, or half on. Furniture should be placed where at least the front feet are on the rug. The rug is not large enough if you have to place the furniture beyond the perimeter of the rug. Rugs are traditionally used to tie the room together and create warmth in a room.

 

  • — Written by our Building Consultant, Wendi Ritz

“When she’s not figuring out how to make the master closet bigger or if she can get that oversized tub to work in your layout, she’s chasing her trio of Ritz athletes from baseball to football to volleyball practice or hot gluing together whatever school project is due next week . . . occasionally burning a few fingers in the process!”

 

 

 

4 Ways to Get Your Home Ready for the New Year

Categories: Home Design, Lifestyle | Posted: December 27, 2017

 

Say goodbye to 2017 and hello to 2018! There’s something about the New Year that inspires people to make changes in their lives. Things like starting a new fitness routine, trying out a new look or picking up a new hobby are always popular resolutions. Why not start your “New year, new me” mantra from inside your home. No, I’m not talking about the newest DVD workout craze but sprucing up your home just in time for the New Year. Here are some simple ways to make your home feel new and fresh!

Clean Out Your Closet

If you’re anything like me, closets are the first place to get cluttered!  Take some time to declutter your closet. Don’t just reorganize the mess but really take stock of what you have versus what you really need. If you haven’t used it in the past year, toss it or give it away.

Update Your Décor

Small changes can make a huge difference. Things like throw pillows, lamps, mirrors and curtains can make a world of difference in the overall feel of a room. A few changes in these areas can give an old, drab room a mini makeover.

Replace Your Bedding

The easiest way to spruce up a bedroom is to change the bedding. A new bedspread or comforter can give your bedroom an entirely new look. Whether you choose something colorful and fun or something light and airy, the possibilities are endless!

Change Your Hardware

By replacing drawer pulls and cabinet knobs, you can give your kitchen or bathrooms the update that they need. Visit a hardware store to get some ideas so you can achieve a look you will love!

 

  • 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.”

 

 

 

 

 

5 Holiday Decor Trends

Categories: Lifestyle | Posted: December 17, 2017

Christmas time is officially here! We know you’re in full decorating mode and getting ready for family and friends to join in on the festivities, but before you finish decking the halls, take a look at some of this year’s holiday trends to help give your space some fresh love!

Go Natural

Dress up your dining table with wood charger plates and lush garland to create a whimsical, woodsy feel. Go for eucalyptus in your greenery for a new, on-trend look. Need a new idea for place cards? Place a mini wreath on each person’s plate with their name or a season’s greeting on a paper and tie it to the wreath. Can’t get enough greenery? Hang garland on your staircase, around windows or doors to bring the outdoors into your home. If you’ve got a fireplace in your living area, bring in some fresh chopped wood to display around the hearth. You can place them in a wire basket and tie a red or burlap bow on it to add to your decorations.

Wish Upon a Star

Celestial décor is all the rage, according to Etsy, from wall hangings to mugs and geometric star ornaments for your tree! Not even just stars, moons and galaxy themes are also all over the 2017 Holiday Décor scene. Place gold geometric stars and moons around your home, then incorporate fairy lights into your garland and inside lanterns for decoration to create a trendy celestial theme. Get the kids involved and create origami paper stars, tie them together, and make a garland to go around the Christmas tree!

Stylish Stockings

Give your mantle a new, updated look with fun and modern stockings. It’s time to switch out your traditional red & white stockings for ones that truly speak to your own style. You can find many different kinds of holiday stockings to fill with goodies! From thick sweater knit, burlap, faux fur, and even jungle print. Speaking of individuality, give your mantle a break from holding your stockings this year and hang them along your staircase’s handrail or even place them strategically on a wooden ladder for more rustic approach.

Chalk It Up!

With chalk boards and a little imagination, you can easily bring the holiday spirit into your home with little effort! From small place cards for the dining table to a giant framed chalk board in your kitchen, the opportunities for what you can do with them are endless! Place a beautifully scripted “Merry Christmas” sign on your mantle, use a free-standing chalkboard at your front door to welcome your guests with a cheery holiday greeting, or get the family involved and give each of your kids a medium sized board to do decorate how they see fit!

Moody Undertones

If your interior is mostly white, warm accents and rich colors will flatter your décor. Dark dinner plates (like matte black or dark green) against a white dining table, or deep green wreaths against a neutral background creates contrasting colors that are pleasing to the eye. Set the mood by lighting candles, turning on warm lighted lanterns, lighting the fireplace or turning on the Christmas tree lights then turn off all the main overhead lights to set a cozy and relaxed atmosphere. Sit by the fire with a warm drink in hand and loved ones around you to truly enjoy this holiday season!

Whether you use one or all of these trendy tips and ideas, remember that it’s best to make any decorating ideas your own by incorporating them your way! So, kick your feet up, grab your hot chocolate and enjoy your beautiful handy-work with your family and friends. Now, that’s what we call the true holiday feeling.

Hosting the Perfect Autumn Gathering

Categories: Lifestyle, Other | Posted: October 24, 2017

 

When you’re planning to host a gathering with your friends, there are a few things to keep in mind in order to create the perfect atmosphere and set the mood for the evening. Use these simple tricks to leave your guests saying “WOW!” when they visit this fall season.

 

Color Me Happy

Decorating your home for the season is the perfect place to start! Did you know that certain colors in your home can promote different moods in you and your guests? Encourage a happy mood with green and yellow colors. Jewel tones such as red or deep purples/violet promote liveliness & energy whereas blue colors promote calmness. Use this to your advantage in your living room by incorporating these colors through velvet throw pillows, footstools or even an accent chair. Also, to make your guests more comfortable – we recommend hanging your favorite blankets on a rustic ladder in-reach from the couch – It’s a good way to store your cozy fall throws while still giving your room style a cohesive look.

Social Hour

When your guests begin to arrive, greet them at the door with a smile and lead them to the living room where a small appetizer is displayed on a coffee table – We suggest a cheese platter featuring different kinds of cheeses, crackers, pepper jelly, prosciutto, salami, olives, and fresh fruit. Easy, simple, and delicious plus this dish pairs quite nicely with wine. Don’t hesitate to move furniture around in a way that encourages conversation amongst the group, creating more Feng shui in the space. This takes the main focus away from the fireplace or television.

Dining with Purpose

Prep your dining table with the perfect fall centerpiece by setting a few different heighted candles then placing a green garland around them. Choose to accent the centerpiece with different fall items like autumn leaves, pinecones or even apples and pears, if you wish. Another nice touch would be to set the table with mini pumpkins on each place setting, tying burlap string around the stem with their name card and a nicely scripted menu for the evening’s dinner.

Take It Outdoors

If the Louisiana weather permits, plan to take your friends outside for dessert to cap off the night. Have a s’mores platter ready to take out after dinner, complete with graham crackers, marshmallows, chocolate and a few unexpected treats like peanut butter or even pumpkin spice Kisses or marshmallows as a way to say “Cheers” to the season! Arrange chairs around a fire pit, warm blankets within reach, and string lights over-head for an extra touch.

Fall time is all about family and friends! Take advantage of this season to open your home for an eventful gathering. Use this article as inspiration, but make it your own with your personal touches!