Happy Homeowners: The Randolph Family

This new “Happy Homeowners Interview” features Gary and Cheryl Randolph, who recently built their new home in Charlotte.  Read below to hear about Randolphs’ homebuilding journey with M/I Homes!

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M/I Homes: Is this your first M/I home? What convinced you to choose M/I Homes over another builder?

Cheryl and Gary: Yes, this is our first M/I home. We had our realtor take us around to see existing homes, but there was nothing that met our price/feature preferences. We soon noticed that some builders stuck houses wherever they saw a spot of land and had no thought of an overall community design. One place actually had someone’s front door opening out to the side of their neighbor’s home.

Once we started looking at new builds, we saw many different neighborhoods. Driving along Poplar Tent Road, we saw three developments in a row and we checked out each one. It was sort a Goldilocks experience. The first place we looked at was nice, but you were given a very limited floor plan selection, and there was no ranch style. The second place we looked at was M/I Homes. We fell in love with the neighborhood and the quality of the homes, but we did not think we could afford a home in this area. So, we went to the third development. Styles were limited, but not as much as the first neighborhood we saw. Prices seemed doable and we were willing to settle for a house that was not exactly what we wanted – no ranch style available there either though.

A couple of months later, we visited Charlotte again (we’re from Buffalo, NY). We had eliminated most of the developments we had visited earlier and had pretty much settled on the development on Poplar Tent. We actually picked out a home and the options we wanted, and were almost finalizing the buy on the last day of our visit.

We had three hours before we needed to be at the airport to return to Buffalo. What the hey, let’s just stop and talk to Wendy (M/I Homes) one more time before we fly home. We gave Wendy our budget and told her that we loved the Cambridge model but we don’t need the second floor. Wendy worked with us to see which (of the many) options we really wanted. Two and a half hours later, we were $9,000 over our budget. The thing is, we loved what we had drawn up much more than we disliked the $9,000 overage. The difference between what we would settle for and what we loved was huge. At this point it was a no-brainer. Wendy became our best friend.randolph-family1-1

M/I: Are you happy with how your home turned out?

C/G: Oh yeah, very happy. To save money, we decided to go with the standard lighting fixtures, no garage door openers or ceiling fans, so we were pretty busy picking those things out online and installing them. We did save a lot of money, and the electricians’ prewire work did make the installs very straight-forward. Our home is everything we had hoped for.

M/I: What is the name of your floorplan, and what features of your home do you especially love?

C/G: Our floorplan is the Cambridge without the second floor. Our favorite room is the bedroom. That bay window extension is beautiful.

M/I: Overall, how was your experience with M/I Homes?  Did you get to pick out your homesite and the floorplan you wanted to build, or had the home already been started?

C/G: We have worked with at least three other builders on previous homes. This has been our best experience in home building. And yes, we picked out everything. Having lots of choices is both a blessing and a curse, but we wouldn’t have it any other way.

M/I: Do you have any fun memories from the buying / building process?

C/G: Well, working with Wendy was fun. But our day at the Design Center was the most challenging. We picked out exterior colors, brick, fireplace stone, cabinets, countertops, toilets, kitchen upgrades, and so much more. We loved that Kelly was an expert at her job. She knew the colors of each neighbor’s home and guided us in picking out colors that would look great alongside them. Kelly was very skilled at helping us think about various aspects of each feature as we made our choices. Helping us think is much more beneficial than stating an opinion. She knew that.

Soon after the design center visit, we met John, the person supervising the construction of our new home. John made us feel comfortable when construction began but he was still an unknown to us at that point. As time went on, we realized that John really did mean it when he said that he builds each home as though he will own it. He kept things moving, kept us informed, and would not accept poor quality work. I guess that’s not really a fun memory, but it makes us really happy now.

M/I: What do you like about your neighborhood / community?

C/G: We like that it was clearly planned. We also love that it has curbs. That may sound silly, but our previous neighborhood had no curbs and there were always tire tracks on the lawns, unless the snow plows had completely destroyed the lawns. Then there were tire tracks in the mud.

M/I: Anything you would recommend to someone looking for a new home?

C/G: That depends on where the person is in their life. A young couple wants a starter home. We are at the opposite end of that. We wanted our last home. We wanted to get exactly what we wanted, so we would say now “don’t settle for something.”

M/I: What is your favorite space in your new home?  Do you have any pictures of that space you would like to share?

C/G: We could not pick just one because we are so happy with the layout. It has a large, well-planned kitchen space, the master bedroom with the extension looking out on the woods is so romantic and cozy, and the family room with stone fireplace is also our favorite!

M/I: What was something that surprised you the most with building / moving into a new home?

C/G: Wendy, John, and Kelly really listened to us, and really understood what would make us happy. They over-delivered and made this a home even better than our dreams. The upgrades, the wooded lot, the attention to our timeline, our budget needs – everything came together in our dream home.

M/I: Any suggestions you would give to someone building a new home with M/I Homes?

C/G: Take advantage of the opportunity to look at online pictures of other homes going up in the neighborhood! You can see how your neighbors put together different options to help you determine what you like and don’t like before heading to the Design Center. I know of no other builder who provides this view of their homes as they are being built. It was invaluable, especially because we were building our home in North Carolina while still living in New York.

** Recently retired, Gary and Cheryl Randolph moved from Buffalo, NY to Charlotte, NC in order to be near their grandkids and enjoy a moderate climate. Their retirement is an active one as they both love to bike and run. Cheryl has run a marathon and Gary completed a full Ironman (Lake Placid) at the age of 60.

Convert Your Garage Into a Bedroom – 12 Creative Ways

In the hope of making every space in your home valuable, garage conversions have become pretty common. Many homeowners convert unused garages to usable spaces like offices or bedrooms.

If you want more living spaces in your home, you might want to toy around with the idea of converting your garage into a bedroom. This bedroom can be a good spare room for guests or a new room for a new member of the family.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

  1. Install large windows. The usual mistake made by homeowners converting their garages is keeping the garage look in their new bedroom. To remedy this, install big windows. This gives a roomy and livable kind of feel to your newly converted garage.

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  1. Transform it to a tropical paradise. Your original garage might look dry and sad, but your new bedroom does not have to suffer that same fate! Make your new space sunnier by adding tropical details. Go for pillows with palm trees and furniture that mimics tropical resorts. Wooden and rattan chairs make your space look classy and vacation-esque.

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  1. Turn it into a comfortable guest room. An extra bedroom in your house can be a comfortable guest room if you frequently have family or friends over at home. You can even put two beds to accommodate more people.

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  1. Insulation. This is an absolute necessary if you are converting a garage to a living space. Normally, garages don’t have adequate insulation. Installing insulation during conversion is an absolute necessity to keep guests or your family comfortable during the cold winters or hot summers.

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  1. Add a homey vintage feel. If you are already starting to decorate your new space, you might want to stay away from the old feel of your garage. Create a homey feel to your new living space by utilizing vintage pieces.

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  1. Go for colors. Ditch the dreary colors of your old garage by adding pops of colors all throughout your space. The easiest way to incorporate color in the bedroom is choosing bright sheets and pillowcases. If you are feeling adventurous and want to be bold, a brightly colored wall can add flair as well!

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  1. Change up the door opening. Nothing shouts “I’m an old garage” more than having the usual garage door still in place. When converting your garage, make it a point to replace the doors. You can experiment and go for interesting ones. Large sliding doors can make your bedroom look classy and more spacious. Depending on the look of your home, you can change up your door to match its architecture and design.

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  1. Keep it simple. After doing all the necessary steps in converting your home, the key to finishing it off is keeping things simple. You don’t need to go overboard with your bedroom (save your money for structural changes like larger windows, insulation, and changing your door). Just purchase the basic needs in a bedroom. Make sure you have a bed, mattress, dresser, and a bedside table. Once you get the basic needs covered, you can build on from there.

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  1. Go modular. If you had a small garage and you want to make every inch matter, you can go modular. Incorporate storage spaces under the bed and create multiple uses for some furniture. This ensures that you have everything that you need in one small space.

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  1. Turn it into a master bedroom. Large garages can be great for a master bedroom, especially if you need more space than what your home is already providing you. Transform it into a comfortable haven complete with a king-size bed and a nice dresser.

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  1. Incorporate modern pieces. One way to make your room look like it wasn’t even a garage is to add modern furniture. Industrial and contemporary decorations can make the room feel more current instead of drab.

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  1. Add rooftop elements. If you have money to spend, some rooftop design elements can make a huge difference in your garage conversion. You can add a roof deck or a simple dormer window to really mimic a livable space. This can be a fun addition to your home that your family will enjoy.

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** Written by Kristy Jones,the blog author of A Click Away Remotes – Garage Door Opener and Remotes Blog.

Wood Floors: Light vs. Dark

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Choosing the color and finish of the wood—whether on the floors or furniture—is one of the most important considerations in designing a new space. More so than the many species of wood available, the color of wood alone can make a huge impact. Read on to see some of the pros and cons of both light and dark wood to help you decide between these two stylish options.

Light Wood.

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A breath of fresh air in terms of flooring options, light wood offers airiness and ease with its upbeat and modern look. Some of the reasons to use light wood include:

  • It’s stylish. A simple but important point. Light wood is a chic alternative to other flooring, as it offers a modern, uptown loft feel to a space. It pairs well with several modern fixtures and furnishings.
  • Master of disguise. Contrary to popular belief, light wood flooring is very forgiving. For those with pets or small children, light flooring masks smalls scratches and scuffs. Forgot to sweep last week? That’s alright—light wood takes one for the team by hiding dust bunnies and debris in its light and bright layout.
  • The contemporary option. As mentioned above, light flooring is incredibly attractive in contemporary or modern spaces. It pairs beautifully with most modern design details and gives any room an instantly refreshed look.
  • It adds contrast as needed. One of light wood flooring’s most redeeming qualities is its ability to contrast well with nearly all finishes, especially darker ones. If you’re going for a moody tone, light flooring adds just the right amount of balance to make your space feel inviting but totally masculine.
  • Let the light in. Do you have floor-to-ceiling windows? Lots of natural light? Then light wood flooring might be your best bet. Perfectly accented by floods of light, blonde woods help create added visual interest when paired with dramatic windows.

While there are many reasons to love light wood, buyers should still be cautious of a few points:

  • Hard to choose. A good light wood can be difficult to find if you don’t know what you’re looking for. Our advice? Select a style that doesn’t have any sort of red, orange or yellow undertone for the most refreshed look.
  • Living with it. While this may seem like an obvious point, it’s especially pertinent when it comes to a light wood floor. Unlike dark wood flooring, you will see every grain and rivet clearly, so it’s important that you really love your selection.

Dark Wood.

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A favorite among designers and homeowners everywhere, dark wood is the go-to selection for nearly every home of every style. Most appreciated in a transitional or traditional space, dark wood flooring is sophisticated and timeless. Some of our favorite aspects of dark wood flooring include:

  • Lots of variety. When you think of a dark wood floor, you don’t necessarily think of all of the different options you have. Between all of the types of wood, the grain of the wood, and the coloration, you have plenty of variety to select the perfect shade for your home.
  • It adds dimension. One of our favorite features of dark wood is its ability to create dimension wherever it’s installed. Pair it with a dark wood ceiling or one with beautiful exposed beams and you’ve got yourself a winning design.
  • Easy to match. Have we mentioned how easy it is to work with dark wood flooring? If you aren’t convinced, you should know that dark wood is very easy to match to your existing furniture. Nearly any finish—natural wood, metal, acrylic, glass—looks great atop a dark wood floor.

As you can tell, we’re big fans of dark wood. Some things to keep in mind:

  • You’ll see the mess. Unlike light wood, dark wood is not so forgiving. If sweeping escapes you, you and your guests will be able to notice quickly. This is also true for tiny hand prints or puppy paw prints.
  • Casts a shadow. If light is your problem, don’t go dark. Dark wood tends to make the area around it a bit moodier, and that can be a problem if you love your emerald green walls. If you’re looking to add a touch of brightness, look for medium or light wood tones instead.

Have you installed wood flooring recently? Which team are you on: light wood or dark wood?

**Hardwood flooring is a favorite design element for Kerrie Kelly, who heads up Kerrie Kelly Design Lab in Sacramento, Ca. Kerrie writes on her interior design ideas for The Home Depot. To research both the dark and light wood flooring discussed by Kerrie, you can visit Home Depot’s website.

Why Should Homeowners Care About Conserving Energy?

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Have you heard the buzz about going green? Homeowners across the country have started to embrace a greener lifestyle, but what’s in it for them? Here are just a few of the reasons why homeowners should be concerned with energy conservation!

Improves your quality of life.

Everyone wants to feel comfortable in his or her home, and energy efficiency can help homeowners reach a new level of comfort. Do you have to snuggle up under blankets to stay warm or turn on a ceiling fan for extra cooling? Do you have to wear socks around the house because of icy cold floors? These problems can easily be fixed with insulation, which will reduce your energy use and make you more comfortable. This is just one way energy efficiency can improve the quality of your life. The opportunities to make your home more comfortable are endless, which is why so many homeowners love tackling green home improvement projects.

Saves you money.

Perhaps the main reason why homeowners start to conserve energy is to save money. Most homeowners spend around $2,000 a year on home energy bills, but this can be reduced by 20-30% if you make energy efficient upgrades in the home. The less energy you consume, the less you will have to spend on water and electric bills every month. This means you will have more money in your pocket to allocate towards your mortgage, savings, or paying down student loan debt.

Helps the environment.

The less energy that is consumed by homeowners, the more society can save valuable natural resources. Energy conservation can also reduce air pollution. Everything from cars to power plants contribute to air pollution, so the less you rely on these things, the more you can help keep the air clean.

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Improves the economy.

Besides the benefits it can bring to you personally, becoming more energy efficient at home can also help the economy. Energy efficient projects, such as installing solar panels on the roof of a building for example, can build jobs. In fact, in 2010 alone, there were over 800,000 jobs in America related to energy efficiency. As more homeowners begin to conserve energy, manufacturers are forced to adjust to this new type of consumer demand, thus conserving energy sparks innovation. If every homeowner made an effort to be more energy efficient, the results would be huge and far-reaching.

Now that you know why you should care about conserving energy, are you ready to start living green? Here are a few easy ways you can get started:

  • Switch to energy efficient light bulbs, which use 25-80% less energy than traditional bulbs.
  • Install a power strip. Leaving devices on can waste energy, but did you know that devices plugged directly into the wall can still waste energy while they’re off? Plug as many devices as you can into a power strip, and then turn the entire strip off when it’s not in use to cut energy off at the source.
  • Install a programmable thermostat, which can help you make sure you are not unnecessarily heating or cooling your home and wasting energy when no one is there.

As you can see, it doesn’t take much to start conserving energy in your home, so why not start today?

M/I Homes takes many steps to ensure that your new home is energy efficient. We build all of our homes to our Whole Home Building Standards, and always work to make sure that our homes are up to the best energy ratings.

** Uma Campbell is a green loving yoga instructor and freelance writer. She currently lives in Southern California where she enjoys writing about natural living, health, and home design.@Umajcampbell www.umajcampbell.wordpress.com

Happy Homeowners: The Van Dusen Family

Our newest “Happy Homeowners” blog brings us to Scott and Donna Van Dusen, who recently built their new home in Tampa. Scott and Donna began their journey by choosing their lot and plan, and have shared with us their experience of the whole building process and living in their new M/I home.

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M/I Homes: Is this your first M/I Home and what convinced you to choose M/I Homes over another builder?

Scott and DonnaThis is our first M/I home.  When we moved to Tampa, FL, we knew we had certain things we were looking for in the home we plan to retire in.  Our list wasn’t extensive, but we knew the specifics we had as requirements for our home.  With all of the builders we visited and all of the floorplans we looked at, M/I Homes was the only one that didn’t require any compromise with our needs and wants.  Right down to the lot we chose.

M/I: Are you happy about how your home turned out?

S/D: Yes!!!  Our home is everything we dreamed of.  After 6 months of living in our home, we both look around in disbelief that it is really ours. M/I was able to make this our dream home.

M/I: What is your floorplan called and what features of your home do you especially love?

S/D: The Artilla.  The kitchen is everything we wanted, and the addition of the Butler’s Pantry was a really nice touch.  For me, the shower room was a big seller, and for my wife the bathtub.  The beautiful bay window in the breakfast nook overlooking our lake is picturesque.  I could list every item in our home and tell you it is something we especially love.

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M/I: Overall, how was your experience with M/I Homes. Did you pick your lot and floor plan to build the home, or was the home already started for you?

S/D: We had a fantastic experience with M/I Homes, and the experience started with Vicki.  She helped us picture every part of our home, right down to the view from the previously mentioned bay window. She helped us visualize what our home would become. Everything from the view to the endless possibilities we could have in our home. Vicki helped us not only detail all of the things we desired, but helped us discover some of the extras we now can’t live without.  Although she hoped we would buy one of the inventory homes, she led us to the perfect lot, and guided us through the design process, listening to all of the things we knew we wanted in our dream home.

M/I: Do you have any fun memories from building process?

S/D: Coming to the lot every weekend to see the progress of the week. Seeing all of our plans coming together, and imagining what would be when it was complete.  Of course, stopping by to see Vicki was fun as well.  Many laughs and long chats.

M/I: Was there something about your home that made you immediately know you wanted to move in?

S/D: The Artilla met all of our requirements in a home.  Not a single compromise, which was a first in our search.  The things swaying us the most was the lake front lot, the beautiful bay window in the breakfast nook overlooking the lake, and the shower in the Master Bathroom.

M/I: What do you like about your neighborhood / community?

S/D: Our home is in Estates at South Cove, a small gated community with just 47 homes and no CDD. All very important things we liked about our neighborhood.

M/IAnything you would recommend to someone looking for a new home?

S/D: Look at several builders, and make sure M/I is one of the builders you look at.  In our experience, no other builder compared.

M/I: What is your favorite memory in your new home thus far?

S/D: Our favorite memory was sharing the excitement of moving in with our parents.  All of their help with the move, and their love of our new home was a special memory for us.  They were so proud and happy for us and the home we chose.

M/I: What is your favorite space in your new home?  Do you have any pictures of that space that you would like to share?

S/D: Our favorite space is the lanai and the pool.  We watch all of the wildlife on the lake, cool off in the pool, and watch beautiful sunsets.

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M/I: What was something that surprised you the most with building a new home?

S/D: We were most surprised by how involved we could be with the construction and how reactive Vicki and our Construction Superintendent, Charlie, were to our ideas.  They were happy to work with us to make these details part of the build.  They made some great suggestions too, making our home even more fantastic.

M/I: Any suggestions you would give for someone building a new home with M/I Homes?

S/D: Make a list of everything you want and expect in your home.  For us, M/I offered the only floorplan with no compromises.  If your list is anything like ours and our neighbors’, chances are M/I will have everything you want in a home.

M/I: Anything else you would like to add?

S/D: We thank Vicki, Charlie, and M/I Homes with heartfelt sincerity.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.  This has been a great experience building our dream home, and we now have some great new friends.

** Scott and Donna live in the Tampa area. They love to take in their pool and to watch the beautiful sunsets from the backyard of their new M/I home.

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