Innovative new products beautify homes… inside out
At Oke Woodsmith, we go the extra mile to design and build homes that not only meet our clients’ needs, but also reflect their lifestyles.
We believe a keen grasp of how our clients live in their homes, paired with the talents of our in-house designer, are what set us apart from other design/build firms. Our ultimate goal is to create a living environment that will be visually outstanding and functionally relevant for years to come.
As specialists in new technologies, products and finishes, we are able to source hard-to-find items that can make a room more comfortable, more stylish or simply infuse it with knock-out appeal.
We encourage our clients to accompany us to an annual builders’ show in the U.S. where they’re able to view the latest American design elements. Innovative wine cellars and garage lifts are just a few of the ideas that have captured the imaginations of our clients, and which we have been able to adapt to their own living spaces.
We have also taken clients to Chicago to visit Merchandise Mart, the world’s largest design centre. With 700,000 square feet of space and 130 showrooms featuring more than 2,000 product lines, the centre offers an outstanding selection of home furnishings, wall and floor coverings, lighting and accessories – all under one roof.
We have even traveled to a quarry in Wisconsin in search of particular stone combinations for one-of-a-kind homes. While these trips inspire ideas, we try, as much as possible, to buy products locally. In the London area, we accompany clients to businesses to select such elements as staircases, windows, trim, flooring and cabinetry.
By providing this level of service, we expose clients to new products they may not have seen before. We believe this attention to detail will help them to make the best decisions possible.
Listed below are some of the latest (and we think greatest) products available to buyers of custom homes:
Ribbon fireplaces: In the last two years, modern design influences have led to an evolution in gas fireplaces. Fireplaces have moved far beyond a replica log-burning insert to a sleek, rectangular style that creates an architectural focal point in a room. Ribbon fireplaces emit gas flames that dance in a horizontal line along beach stones, glass stones or lava rock. Unlike gas inserts, ribbon fireplaces don’t overheat a room. A direct vent fireplace also operates without the need for a chimney or flue, which makes it easier to install.
Light tubes: The concept of using a light-emitting tube to illuminate a windowless area dates back to the ancient Egyptians, although the first commercial applications were marketed in 1991. A round tube lined with highly reflective material conveys light rays through a building from a dome situated on the roof or an outer wall. The dome collects and reflects as much sunlight as possible into the tube; at the end point, a diffuser spreads the light into a room. The technology has recently been improved and the tubes convey brighter, whiter light into dark areas and diffuse it more naturally than previous versions.
Self-cleaning windows: These are an attractive option for homeowners who don’t want the upkeep of cleaning large expanses of glass in hard-to-reach places. A self-cleaning surface breaks down organic dirt on windows using the sun’s ultraviolet rays, even on cloudy days. When it rains, the water is dispersed evenly over the surface of the glass. The rain then washes away the dirt, leaving minimal spotting or streaking.
Invisible screens: These window screens are virtually invisible, giving homeowners a crisp, clear view of the outdoors. From the exterior, the screens are nearly undetectable so they don’t detract from a home’s appearance. They also allow considerably more natural light into a home and offer improved airflow.
Motorized insect screens: These retractable screens effectively exclude insects from porches and patios, making dining al fresco much more pleasurable. The screens also reduce the glare of the sun without impeding the view of a sunset – an important consideration for lakefront properties where the sun sets at a low angle in the sky.
Concrete finishes: A new product, FossilCrete vertical stamping system, is a stamped concrete finish that can be used on floors, walls, and around windows and doors. Finishes include dry-laid stacked stone and rustic logs, as well as natural fossil prints and animal tracks. The product is ideal for a feature wall that won’t take the weight of natural stone; it’s lightweight, bonds to most surfaces, and is water resistant and durable.
In lower levels and garages, many homeowners are opting for concrete floors that have been etched in a particular pattern, such as a diamond shape or a navigational star, and stained. When used in hallways and living areas, the patterns create the effect of an oriental rug.
Rain chains: An Asian invention, rain chains act as a more attractive and functional alternative to the downspout component in a traditional rain gutter system. Rain chains consist of a series of metal cups, with a hole in the bottom of each, or vertical chain links. They funnel water from a rain gutter, down the length of the chain to a collection system, such as a rain barrel. The water can also be directed into a basin where the water slowly overflows, much as it would from a downspout. Alternatively, the water can be directed to the ground where drains carry it away.
Gas lanterns: Used as an architectural detail, gas lanterns emit a soft, flickering light that creates a romantic, Old World ambiance outside a home. Electronic ignition systems allow the lanterns to be controlled from an ordinary light switch. They can also be placed on a timer or a photocell so they operate only when needed. Gas lanterns are available in coach house designs, which are ideally suited to the exterior of a garage or a gate post.
Garage lifts: A motorized lift system increases the storage capacity of a garage by allowing homeowners to store lawn furniture, canoes, motorcycles and sports equipment on a secure platform in an overhead position. The concept can also be applied to vehicles. A two-bay garage, for example, can accommodate four cars when two are stored below ground or above two others.
Retractable awnings: Adapted from a South African design, ShadeTree retractable awnings give homeowners the flexibility of having sun or shade in specific areas of a deck or patio. An overhead track system that resembles a pergola supports awning fabric that rides on cross members. The members contain rollers that glide smoothly in the overhead tracks, allowing the awnings to be extended in seconds and retracted easily.
Prioritize, prioritize. . . Selecting some or all of these design elements can happen only after clients prioritize the rooms, features and finishes they want to incorporate in their homes. To accomplish that goal, we request that they:
- * Write down their ideas and arrange them into four lists. The first is an inventory, by floor, of the rooms they most desire.
- * The second is a must-have list with critical elements for each room, such as a sitting area in the master bedroom. We also ask our clients to make observations about the way in which they live in each room. Knowing whether they dress in their bedroom or in their ensuite bathroom helps us to design the most functional floor plan for them.
- The third list is comprised of five to 10 elements clients would love to have – such as a see-through fireplace – but which may not be financially possible.
- The fourth, and most important list, details features couples absolutely don’t want in their homes. This list allows us to eliminate certain possibilities and gain insights into their tastes.
We also ask couples to prioritize their top three rooms. These may vary drastically from one spouse to another. Although most people know what they want, many don’t understand how much it will cost to achieve it.
At Oke Woodsmith, we enjoy helping our clients transform their ideas into distinctive homes crafted specifically for their needs, tastes and budgets. Helping them define their own style, and source innovative items that will enhance their enjoyment of their home, remains the driving force behind our company.