Post details: A Passion for Detail - Part 3


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A Passion for Detail - Part 3

PlanningPersonal Planning

As a home designer, Joe Ahmann knows what it takes to plan a home, but that doesn't mean he was able to take shortcuts as he and his wife, Donna, worked through the details of their new French country cottage. "We spent three years planning this home," Joe says.

The couple's budget wasn't as large as some of Joe's clients', but they made it work through careful selections. The kitchen countertops, for example, are reasonably-priced plastic laminate with a granite-look. Appliances are high-end consumer-grade models. "Pro-style appliances would be great, but we don't cook enough to justify them," Joe says.

Some upgrades didn't add much expense. "The coffered ceiling in my study looks complicated, but it's just made with drywall beams and crown moldings," he says. "It looks great and was cheap and easy to build."

Although the footprint is a compact 63 x 68 feet, Joe found plenty of ways to give the cottage a manor attitude, starting with the dramatic see-through view from the foyer across the great room. He threw a curve into the European-style iron stairway.

PlanningCeilings are character-builders, he insists, so each is treated differently with soffits, trays, or heavy crown moldings. In the great-room, he combined decorative beams with a tray ceiling that slopes down from 12 feet.

Reproduction furnishings and lighting, such as the iron pendants with gold-leaf accents and frosted shades in the foyer and kitchen, wrap today's easygoing comfort in an old-house look. The Ahmanns also designed niches to flank the great-room fireplace for antiques and art someday. "I didn't think anything built-in was relevant to the period," Donna says. She and Joe aren't in a hurry to find perfect pieces to fill the spaces.

In all, the Ahmann's experience was similar to anyone else's -- when working with a good home designer. Comprehensive planning, give-and-take on the budget, and a willingness to be flexible during construction resulted in a home that reflects what the owner wanted. In this case, the owner just happened to be the designer, too.

Better Homes and Gardens



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