exterior color samples

Your Color Selection Sherpa: We do the Heavy Lifting

Alex Custom Home Building, Home Design

Paint colors. For me with my own home, that was the hardest part. I find that many people going through the daunting process of building an entire home have one moment where it’s a little overwhelming. As usual, Charlie had a method and he stepped me through it. Color selection (paint, wood stain, exterior finishes) completes the vision you’ve had …

Elegant and comfy front porch

Concept to Creation: A Collaborative Process

Alex Custom Home Building, Home Design, Purchasing Property

Finding the right builder that fits your style, your unique needs, and even your working personality can be a challenge. You’re seeking a partner in designing the place you will rest your head, seek safety and inspiration, and spend precious time with your friends and family, and that’s personal! Ideally it’s a collaborative process: the builder is a catalyst to …

Middleburg 4-sided fireplace

Building In Unison

Alex Custom Home Building, Home Design, Purchasing Property

    Last year, our realtor friends brought us a couple from Chicago and asked if we could assist them in finding land in Loudoun. In our search, we found two adjoining parcels at 25 acres each that had the privacy and views they were looking for. The couple went back to Chicago after selecting the land and we designed …


Celebrating 20 Years of Building Homes

Cathy Custom Home Building

It was 1997: DiCaprio was slaying hearts, not only on the doomed Titanic but across the nation, the Spice Girls’ album “Spice” was hitting Number One. The Dow closed above 7,000 for the first time and Tiger Woods became the youngest golfer at 21 to win the Masters. Locally, AOL was expanding to eastern Loudoun establishing the “tech corridor” and …

custom design for pets

Custom Home Design for Pets

Cathy Custom Home Building, Home Design

We lived for a couple of years in a home with windows too high for Molly to see out of. So, she definitely put in her two cents when we designed our latest home. Now she can doze in front of the sliding French door in our first-floor master bedroom where she has a close-up view of the bird feeder …

home office

Five Trends in New Home Design

Cathy Home Design

What are our clients are asking for these days? Here’s a sampling – Lighting Incandescents are going the way of the dinosaurs. CFLs have mercury issues and are, frankly, weird looking. LED is here to stay and it’s getting better every day. We recommend recessed lights that are discreet, provide a choice of warm or cool lighting, are dimmable, and …

Frank Lloyd Wright art glass

Period-Piece Windows

Cathy Custom Home Building, Home Design

The most difficult part for me in this homebuilding process, is pulling the trigger. The recession delayed our building plans, and in the interim our house design has been tweaked and shuffled over and over again. When Charlie asked for my final blessing a few months ago, I panicked. What?! What if we forgot something? What if we change our …

When Do You Need a Home Inspector?

Cathy Custom Home Building, Home Design, Purchasing Property

When one thinks of an inspector, one might picture a private detective unearthing clues that lead to the scene of the crime.  When you hire a home inspector, you’re probably hoping that they will reveal any hidden “crimes” before you invest your money in that just-right home you finally found.  The home inspector cannot guarantee that they will find every …

Smart Home Technology

Cathy Home Design

Some of our favorite attractions at the Builders’ Show were the “smart” home displays. The capabilities they promise cause me to envision a house that the Jetson’s would be at home in – integrated control of lighting, heating, sound, security, etc. Add to that what the future will bring in terms of smart grid technology and green automation capabilities and …

The International Builders Show

Cathy Custom Home Building, Home Design

We’ve just returned from the International Builders’ Show in Orlando and we’re brimming with ideas, for both our clients at Fairhaven Homes as well as our own new home. It was my first time there and I received quite an education. It took us 2½ days to see all of the vendors we were interested in. The vast displays of …

Will the Furniture Fit?

Cathy Custom Home Building, Home Design

We were ready to add furniture to the CAD floor plan to see whether it would fit and how well the rooms would flow. Today, after a short lesson, I was off and running. I went around the house measuring the furniture I wanted, then sat in front of the computer and started plopping pieces into place. Chief Architect is …

Landscaping Thoughts

Cathy Landscaping

Now it’s time to start selecting plants from my current home that I want to take with me. I have many flowers that were given to me by friends and I want to be sure to take samples of each to continue the legacy. When we fixed up the rental we cleaned out and tilled some old flower beds (once …

Dreaming Up a Design

Cathy Custom Home Building, Home Design

It’s time to start devising a plan. We’ve looked at lots of stock plans to get ideas. When we built our current home we used a stock plan but expanded it and rearranged some rooms to better suit our needs. Oftentimes, builders will have a handful of models to choose from, which can also be modified and rearranged. Or, of …

Stone Study

Cathy Home Design, Landscaping

You have probably never had this experience: discussing something with your significant other and assuming that you’re both on the same page, then finding out you each have a very different picture in your head. It was time to build the waterfall for our pond and Charlie asked me what kind of rock I liked. I wanted something with greys, …

Winnowing the Wishlist

Cathy Home Design

We’re starting to consolidate all of our big, new-home ideas to see which ones are really going to work for us. It’s a lot of fun to wish for the moon but we all can’t live in the Biltmore. Time to start setting some reasonable parameters and implementing a little value engineering so we can get the biggest bang for …

A Pond Renovation

Cathy Landscaping

Along with renovating the rental house, we took on the challenge of renovating the aforementioned pond, which was in very bad health when we purchased our property. It didn’t look too bad in the winter but when the weather is warm it becomes thick with green, mucky algae. All the fish actually died last summer because it was so poorly …

A Good Diversion

Cathy Custom Home Building, Home Design

Well, Princess is now settled in her dorm and beginning her college adventure. I’m glad you can’t see tear stains on a computer screen. I’m also glad that I have a wise husband who encouraged me to immerse myself in building our next house in order to take my mind off this empty nest. So I will immerse myself into …

Diamond in the Rough

Cathy Custom Home Building, Purchasing Property

The reason our new property was such a bargain is that it’s hard at first glance to realize its value. There are numerous outbuildings of all shapes and sizes scattered about the property as well as an old split foyer rental home, not to mention a lot of trash and a sickly pond. The easements call for a road down …

The Property Hunt

Cathy Purchasing Property

So, how do we get started on this new endeavor? Well, we asked our realtor to provide us with property listings with the parameters we were looking for. We’re familiar with most of the available land in western Loudoun County so it was easy to winnow the list and to know what properties we might be interested in. We searched …

How Much Green?

Cathy Green Building

WHAT LEVEL OF GREEN DO YOU WANT TO BE? I recently attended a Green conference offered by one of my suppliers. The speakers ranged from environmental groups all the way to a lumber supplier trying to rebrand themselves as a renewable resource. One of the speakers was an architect out of Texas. He talked about the three levels of Green …