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Our top 5 kitchen island design ideas

Kitchens are one of the most used rooms in our homes, with Americans spending upwards of 400 hours a year in this space. With the rise of open-plan living, this hotspot of the house has transformed from once an isolated room into a central hub. Today, kitchens are multi-use spaces, acting as dining, living, and utility room. And with the addition of the kitchen island, you provide this space an anchor for everything to revolve around.

Our G.J. Gardner Homes designers love kitchen islands for their versatility. Whether it’s a desk for homework, extra storage, or your breakfast table, a kitchen island can do it all. Through considered design, this kitchen accessory will enhance your kitchen’s functionality and feel. With various design styles available, you can customize your kitchen island design to suit your lifestyle and needs.

From aesthetics to practicality, kitchen islands are a staple to any high-performing and appealing kitchen. Here are G.J. Gardner Homes’ favorite design ideas to make the most of this kitchen essential.

What is a kitchen island?

The term kitchen island refers to the free-standing counter typically placed in the center of the kitchen. It’s stayed an essential part of home kitchens for centuries as a worktable, providing extra counter space for food preparation. With this additional worktable, you can avoid your main countertops from getting cluttered with appliances and products as you cook.

Although the kitchen island was first introduced for functionality, it also helps to create an inviting kitchen space. Without adding an island, it’s easy for our kitchens to sit against the wall and feel like an add-on to our living rooms rather than its own space. With a kitchen island, our wall-set cabinetry stays connected to the rest of the room and lets us enjoy a sense of cohesion. We might not expect it, but a kitchen island plays a vital role in creating visual balance by adding a focal point to the kitchen.

Through design choices, you can enjoy both the efficacy and aesthetic appeal of a kitchen island.

Our favorite kitchen island design ideas

When designing your kitchen, G.J. Gardner Homes’ wide range of customization options and homes lets every part of this space reflect your style and taste. As such a central part of the home, everything from details to finishes is an opportunity to increase not just your home’s practicality but its personality. With our design team, your kitchen island can be customized to complement your lifestyle and home goals to ensure it works for you.

Here are a few great ways to adapt this classic kitchen feature to make it align with your taste and needs.

Multi-level Islands: Perfect for families with kids, kitchen islands with multiple levels or varying heights have gained popularity for both their functionality and style when you’re cooking, dining, and entertaining. With multi-levels, you provide depth to your kitchen and dedicated spaces. One level could be at hip height to work as a dining area, while another could be higher to expand your cooking space. The multi-level style lets you embrace the multi-use aspect of your kitchen in an organized and unique way.

Unique Shapes and Sizes: You can modernize the kitchen island by reinventing its classic shape and opting for the luxury of a circular or hexagonal design. Through a custom design, you offer your kitchen a unique layout. With a circular design, you allow for more effortless movement around the space, which is perfect for smaller kitchens.

A uniquely-shaped island that fits the floor plan beautifully.

Built-in Appliances: Take the load off your main cabinetry set and incorporate some of your kitchen’s core features into the island unit. From cooktops to sinks and wine fridges, built-in appliances let you elevate your kitchen’s offering through effective use of space. This creates a more harmonious and well-connected kitchen for cooking while diversifying your kitchen’s amenities.

Bold Color Choices: With the kitchen island already such a focal point, bold and vibrant colors like emerald green, navy blue, or even black let it make even more of a statement. Our kitchens tend to stick to a classic neutral color palette, and with a unique kitchen island tone, you add visual interest and contrast. A bold color keeps your kitchen island’s functionality but makes it fun.

A dark island pairs perfectly with this stone countertop!

Seating and Dining: Keep your family connected by adding seating into this central kitchen unit. Perfect for eating or working, bar-style seating is a great design idea that makes this space more livable and flexible. By designing your kitchen island layout to include a row of bar stools, you can effectively set your kitchen up to act as the central hub of the home.

A kitchen island with space for dining.

How to find your perfect kitchen island

Finding the perfect kitchen island design for your family can be a challenge, and G.J. Gardner Homes’ team of expert designers and their decades of knowledge is here to help. If you want to build a customized home that lets you personalize these crucial details, contact our friendly team today.

A Guide to Changes to California’s ADU Laws (2023)

Why have the ADU Laws been changed?

Recently, changes were made to Californian ADU laws to incentivize property owners and developers to add these to their existing properties.

The California Legislature found that, among other things, ADUs and JADUs (junior accessory dwelling units) provide additional rental housing in areas that are perfect for single family and multifamily living.

As a result, they have been working to reduce the complexity of the process, encouraging the development of more ADUs to address the region’s evolving housing needs.

Through reducing the legal restrictions on ADUs and streamlining the approval process, homeowners and developers are encouraged to build more ADUs. This has the additional effect of providing more comparatively reasonably priced rentals for the residents of California.

Summary of Changes

The most recent round of changes came from several bills, all in the name of making ADUs more accessible to California residents. Here are some of the key changes for property owners and developers.

AB 345

The amendments to AB 345 have made it possible for ADUs to be sold separately from the home in some cases. Cases include when the ADU was built by a qualified not-for-profit, or is to be held as owner-occupied low-income housing for 45 years.

Note: this doesn’t apply to JADUs.

AB 3182

Amendments to AB 3182 address the approvals process and are designed to make the process more efficient from start to finish.

Primarily, if an ADU or JADU has not been approved by the local agency within 60 days, it will be deemed approved by default. You can now also gain approval for both an ADU and a JADU per lot, rather than needing to select one or the other. It also allows for the leasing or rental of ADUs or JADUs in common interest developments, and ensures 25% of these will be allocated as rentals.

AB 68, AB 881 and SB 13

Amendments to these bills are similarly intended to remove barriers that many people run into when looking to build ADUs.

Changes to these bills are more numerous and include:

  • removing minimum lot sizes for ADU builds,
  • clarifying that ADU requirements can be based on sewerage access, water access and impacts on traffic and public safety,
  • eliminating owner-occupancy requirements,
  • making it impossible for local agencies to enforce a maximum size of less than 850 square feet,
  • allowing converted ADUs (such as renovated garages or carports) to go without replacing on-street parking,
  • reduces the maximum approval wait time from 120 days to 60 days,
  • reduces impact fees,
  • allows JADUs to be constructed within the walls of an existing residence,
  • as well as explicitly clarifying some gray areas that caused confusion to some developers and builders.

AB 587, AB 670 and AB 671

Finally, the changes to the following bills are more related to Health & Safety law that sometimes prohibited the construction of accessory dwelling units.

The amendment to AB 587 creates an exception similar to AB 345, where some ADUs can be sold separately to the original dwelling so long as they adhere to ordinance that specifies the ADU is built by a non-profit for low-income housing.

AB 670 removes restrictions that would’ve unreasonably restricted ADU construction on a lot zoned for single family residential use.

Finally, revisions to AB 671 incentivizes the construction of ADUs for very-low through to moderate level income tenants, as well as pushing California’s HCD to collate resources to better facilitate the construction of these lower income ADUs.

At G.J. Gardner Homes, we’ve got years of experience in building ADUs. If any of the above is unclear, we can help you to work your way through the approvals process, ensuring all is above board and complies to local regulations.

Many areas in California now offer permit ready ADU plans, free for public use. We’ve collated some links below!

Contact us today if you’re interested in building an accessory dwelling unit on your lot.

How To: Maximize Storage in a Custom Home

When building a custom home, it’s easy to find yourself totally immersed in the design and style process while selecting your finishes; where you get to realize your dream and customize the home you’ve always wanted . However, there are some equally important but maybe less glamorous aspects to designing your home that should be considered that can have an impact on both how your home meets your needs while adding value to your investment. Namely, ensuring you have adequate storage.

So, how can you maximize your storage capacity? Hear more from the home building experts at G.J. Gardner Homes.

What Will Influence my Home’s Storage Capacity?

There are a few constraints that will have a marked impact on your storage capacity.


One of the most significant factors to influence a home build, your budget will ultimately determine a lot of the choices you make when designing a custom home. This includes your storage capacity.

Lot Size

It stands to reason that the more square footage you have available to build your custom home within, the more options for storage space you will have. If building on a smaller lot, you may need to get a little more creative!

Living Requirements

Your family size and living requirements will be a factor in overall storage capacity as well. More people often equates to more stuff, so big families may find themselves requiring more designated storage space.

Let’s dive into some recommendations specific to some key areas of the house.

Living Areas

Maximizing your storage space in family and dining rooms can be a big ask. These rooms serve the function of being a place to relax, connect and spend time with loved ones, which doesn’t always leave you with spare space for storage.

Our top living area storage tips:

  1. These rooms are largely multipurpose in nature, which gives you the unique opportunity to design storage in line with how you see yourself using them. For example, for a room with a fireplace centerpiece; consider adding recessed shelving and built-in cabinetry on both sides beside it to display your cherished memories, photographs and achievements, as well as being functional storage.
  2. Consider multi-purpose furniture, such as a storage ottoman. This gives you the best of both worlds!
An example of recessed cabinetry, used to display household decor.


We are completely aware of the fact that a home’s front door and entryways often accumulate household stuff – shoes, keys, bags; the list goes on. Instead of tripping over these late at night, we suggest getting a little smarter with your entryway, whether it be the front, back or garage entry.

Our top entryway storage tips:

  1. Where space permits, consider adding a mudroom that can serve as a storage hub. The benefits of having a mudroom stretches beyond just storage, but it’s hard to deny that this is a key part of their appeal. Add coat racks, a cabinet for shoes and a bench with underseat storage, all neatly tucked away in a separate room.
  2. Where a mudroom is not possible, a wall-mounted rack for shoes, coats and hats along with a storage bench can keep things off the floor and out of the way.

Bedrooms, offices and flex spaces

Well-considered bedrooms, office and flex spaces are absolutely key to having enough storage in a custom home. This is especially true for growing families as children inevitably grow up and require more storage space with time. While furniture will be a huge factor here, your custom home build should also be considerate of growing storage needs!

Our top bedroom, office and flex room storage tips:

  1. Lean on your inbuilt closets as your main storage space. They won’t take up valuable floor space which comes at a premium in a bedroom.
  2. If you have the room, a walk in closet will provide you with more space than any other option.
  3. If you’re still struggling, under-bed storage and other furniture with built-in storage could help you out of a tight spot!


The kitchen can be famously hard to maintain control over. Counter space often ends up in high demand once dinner prep has started, you‘ve added some new appliances and you’ve just prepared an afternoon snack for the kids.

Our top kitchen storage tips:

  1. Consider adding a butler’s pantry to your kitchen. A butler’s pantry is a walk-in pantry or recessed serving area which often includes additional bench space, the less-used kitchen appliances and can even include additional sinks. This additional space maximizes kitchen storage and allows your main kitchen to be a tidy communal space.
  2. Think creatively about whether you can use overhead storage. Whether this is through floor-to-ceiling cabinetry or through hanging pots and pans above you, it’s possible to take advantage of free space above you in this way.
Some well-considered overhead kitchen storage solutions.


Perhaps the worst candidate for attracting clutter, your garage can actually be a storage lifesaver if designed well. Key to this is the fact that garages are generally larger in size when compared to other internal rooms of the house, allowing you to stretch your space further in your custom build.

Our top garage storage tips:

  1. Make use of heavy-duty shelving that can be installed around the perimeter. With heavy-duty shelves you can store pretty much anything, you’re just limited by size rather than weight or aesthetics.
  2. Consider the height of your ceiling and whether that will be a missed opportunity. Detached garages or sheds may give you more scope to go upwards, with custom shelving that reaches up to the ceiling.
  3. Garages are extremely versatile spaces. If you have a double garage, consider moving one of your cars elsewhere to really maximize the free space inside!

With a custom home, the possibilities are endless. G.J. Gardner’s experience in custom home building and smart storage solutions gives us unique insight into how exciting and rewarding an experience they can be! Contact us today to hear more about our custom home expertise, and how we can help you to realize your dream home.

The Process of Building a Custom Home: Our 8-Step Guide

Person holds new house keys

There’s nothing quite like the feeling of coming home to a space that is yours and has been completely customized to your tastes. From selecting land to drawing up home plans and watching the build take shape, a custom home build is truly a rewarding process not everyone gets the joy of experiencing.

But for those lucky enough to be considering a custom home build, it’s important to fully understand the building process and the steps involved in making your dream a reality. In this article, our expert new home consultants delve into the general stages you can expect to encounter on your custom home-building journey. As these stages are meant to be a guide only, please ask your custom home builder if there are any additional items to be aware of.

Step One: Preparation is Key

As the saying goes, preparation is key and the same is applicable to the custom home-building process. Prior to contacting a home builder, it is important to break down your budget and building time frames to determine if this avenue of home building is suitable for you.

Types of custom home budget costs to consider include:

  • Land cost
  • Local taxes, permits and fees
  • Home builder and construction costs
  • Landscaping costs
  • Home furnishing costs
  • Mortgage and loan payments
  • Initial down payment
  • Padding (money set aside for unexpected costs during the build)

This budget breakdown can assist in determining the realistic size of your new home, locations and land you can afford. On top of this, you should determine the desired timeframe for your custom home build and if you have any restraints. This could include finding and buying your land, end of home leases, school, new family members and more.

If you are still researching the type of custom home build you are looking for, our Custom Home Designs page details the different levels of custom home builds and is a great guide for beginning your home build process. 

Step Two: Choosing A Custom Home Builder

Before deciding to embark on the custom home building journey and rushing into a decision, it is important to conduct research into home builders and find a reputable one that meets your needs. Whether you have an existing plot of land you’re building on or need help finding it, are looking to customize a standard plan or make some changes to an existing home design, different home builders offer different types of services.

Research online first by investigating the home builder’s experience, custom home expertise and previous completed projects to get a better idea of their capabilities and expected outcomes for your custom home build. This can set your expectations going into initial consultations with your chosen builder later and glean insight into the parameters for your custom build project.

For example, at G.J. Gardner Homes, our expert custom home builders and new home consultants are readily available in-house. This saves you the trouble of putting together a custom home-building team with a range of third-party contractors. Simply attend an initial consultation to determine the degree of customization required and the team can provide design plans, assist with permits and other building needs including helping you locate your land to build on.

Step Three: Design Your Dream Home

After selecting your home builder and securing your land, it is time to start drawing up your dream home design and future floorplan. For your first consultation with your home builder, it is important to bring to the meeting a list of wants and needs with a level of importance in mind.

Consider the following:

  • Number of bedrooms and bathrooms
  • Garage size
  • Room arrangements and preferred floor plan layouts
  • Overall size of the home
  • How many stories in the home
  • Budget
  • Architectural and interior design style
  • Negotiable inclusions (e.g. pool, covered patio, fireplaces, wine cellar, media room)

Alternatively, if you don’t want to start your home design from scratch, it is likely your builder will have existing home design plans to choose from and further customize.

Following this first meeting, the home builder will draw up your custom home design plans into a floor plan along with an estimated price of the complete custom home build called a purchase agreement. Upon review of these documents, you can provide feedback, edits and changes to the floorplan and materials used to reduce costs if needed, or alternatively, add new features to the home.

Step Four: Obtain Financing

Upon the completion of the home floor plan and cost estimations, it is time to consider how you will finance your home build. This could be through a construction loan, cash or a combination. It is recommended if you are planning to secure financing through a third party, you speak to your local lender or mortgage broker to explore the most suitable options available to you.

Step Five: Finishes & Fixtures

Arguably the best part of the design process, it’s now time to select your preferred finishes and fixtures. This includes countertops, flooring, hardware, lighting, windows, trim, cabinetry and more. Your new home consultant should walk you through the options available depending on the level of customization desired.

Step Six: Construction Starts

Once the final floor plan and purchase agreement is signed and settled, the construction and building phase can begin. While this tends to happen in stages, you can expect the following:

  • Site clearing and preparation
  • Foundations, framing and roof
  • Utility installation
  • Insulation and drywall
  • Flooring, lighting, paint and millwork
  • Fixtures and appliances
  • Finish work such as final paint, wall coverings, trim
  • Landscaping

This is such an exciting time in your custom home build journey as you can see your plans come to life in physical form!

Step Seven: Final Walk-Through

After the custom home build has been completed, you will do a final walk-through. This is an opportunity to inspect the home and ask questions before the official closing of the home. During this walk-through you will go through each room of the home and do a final check.

Step Eight: Closing The Home

Following your final walk-through and closing your home builder will hand over the keys to your new home and you will take possession of the property.

At G.J. Gardner Homes, we specialize in custom home builds with extensive and proven experience in creating tailored home solutions for customers across the country. If you are considering a custom home design build, whether it’s customizing an existing standard home plan, a house and land package you want to customize, a completely custom home design or a semi-custom home, our team is here to help and allow you to experience the joy of home building.

Want to learn more? Contact our home design experts today by visiting our website or call our team. 

How Much Does it Cost to Build a Custom Home?

Your home tends to become an extension of yourself, so why not build a home that’s been designed for you and you only?

Custom homes come with the luxury of hand-picked materials, layouts and styles and guarantees to match your taste and lifestyle. From floor plan edits to changes to finishes, custom homes give you the freedom to turn your dream home into a reality, and G.J. Gardner Homes is here to help.

Our packages offer home buyers across the country semi-custom and custom homes builds that let you get to decide how involved you want to be in the design process. G.J. Gardner Homes’ team of design experts and contractors offer a premier building experience. Customise our existing and world renowned home designs or start from scratch? It’s completely up to you.

G.J. Gardner Homes prides itself on transparency, no hidden extras and fixed budgets, so we’re here to answer the question on every home buyer’s mind: how much will that cost?

Here’s our guide to understanding the prices involved with custom home builds.

What does it cost to build a custom home?

Just like this category name suggests, the cost of a custom home is unique from build to build. According to the latest National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), the median price for a custom-built home is around $424,000, which is just mildly higher than the cost of buying a pre-existing home.

However, the final figure for a custom home will always be affected by multiple factors.

In comparison to standard plan designs, custom homes offer you multiple opportunities to make changes and choices that’ll influence the price. We want our clients to gain a complete understanding of custom home costs so you feel confident you’re making the right choices for your budget.

What impacts the price of custom homes?

The price of a custom home will come down to the extent of customization. More extensively customized homes with custom materials, expert craftsmanship and more time spent designing and building will cost more than easy changes to standard plans. Let’s break down the main factors that determine the price tag on personalizing.


Custom homes let our clients have the freedom to decide what materials will work best in their home. The price of these materials, such as flooring, finishes and structural elements, can vary majorly in the home building industry and cause final project prices to vary as well.

Finishes and features like marble, stonework and other rare raw materials will increase the costs. Not only are they high ticket purchases, they will likely require more care and expertise to perfectly install.

Your choice of materials is both an opportunity to keep costs down or increase them.


G.J. Gardner Homes’ standard plans and semi-custom builds have been designed through decades of experience. These years of building and working with suppliers, contractors and processes have made for a streamlined building journey and fixed timeline.

For custom builds, we’re creating a unique building journey solely for your home and specifications. A fully unique home will come with a specific building timeline that can be impacted by material sourcing, craftsmanship and a one-of-a-kind floor plan. With more time needed to customize your home, the final project may cost more to account for the labor involved.


The price of your home will simply reflect its size. Bigger homes require more materials and labor than a smaller home. The cost to build a custom home will depend on the number of bedrooms, bathrooms and living areas you’re looking to build and the overall square footage.


The price of everything varies dramatically across the country, and homes are no exception. The final cost will depend on your state, proximity to urban centres and access to materials and labor.

The range of factors that can impact the final price of a custom home just shows the endless possibilities you have when customizing. Whilst it may cost more, a custom home comes with ample benefits as well.

Why build a custom home with G.J. Gardner Homes

G.J. Gardner Homes are distinguished for their experience and expertise which make them the perfect collaborators for custom home builds.

With standard plans, semi-custom and fully custom packages on offer, you can find a home building journey that works with your preferences and goals.

Our homes are the product of hundreds of hours of professional input as we’re committed to creating spaces that are a joy to live in. The interactive 3D planning available during the design phase also lets you get to experience every detail before it’s built and feel certain in your decisions. With no detail missed, G.J. Gardner Homes are ready to make sure your custom home is everything you imagined.

Get in Touch

If you’re looking to discover more about the custom home building experience, our friendly G.J. Gardner Homes team is here to help. Whether you don’t even know where to start, have land already or are anywhere in between, our offices across the country are ready to work with you.

Things To Know When Building A House In A Flood Zone

Whether you’re looking to build your dream house on the coast, construct a home with picturesque lakeside views or have found an affordable plot of land in a low-elevation area, you may not have considered the added building regulations and insurance policies required for you to live out our American dream.

In the United States, it is estimated there are over 41 million people living in flood zones. But many homes in these high-risk areas and beyond are not insured and have not been built in a way that mitigates the residential building from flood damage.

Common Causes of Flooding

Across America, there are primarily three main causes of flooding: coastal flooding, riverine flooding, and pluvial flooding. Coastal flooding refers to flooding from tide or storm surges because of hurricanes, tropical storms or other extreme weather events. Whilst riverine flooding refers to flash flooding or overbank flooding that occurs when a body of water overflows its banks or when flood defenses fail.

Finally, pluvial flooding or surface flooding refers to flooding due to stormwater and rainfall flooding, along with areas experiencing tropical depression. This type of flooding has become a widespread issue within the U.S. this year with flash flooding and rainfall flooding impacting regions such as Florida, Missouri, Illinois, Virginia, Las Vegas, St. Louis, Arizona, Phoenix and California

But with the correct planning, paperwork and flood-proof home design, living in a flood-prone area doesn’t have to be doom and gloom. As home builders with decades of experience, in this article, our expert builders will detail some key considerations for building a home in flood-prone areas.

Understand The Risk & Requirements:

The first step when building a flood zone house design is to research and fully understand the risks and requirements associated with the project. In the United States, governing bodies such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) have mapped out all the regions and defined them in alignment with the level of flood risk. This is broken down into four main categories highlighted in the tables below.

Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHA)

Flood Risk TypeDescriptionRequirements
V ZoneThe most hazardous area with a high-risk for flooding with a 25% risk of floodingMandatory flood insurance
VE ZoneCoastal areas with 1% or more chance of flooding each yearMandatory flood insurance
A ZoneHigh risk for flooding located near waterMandatory flood insurance
AE Zone (previously A1-A30 zones)Base floodplainMandatory flood insurance
AH Zone1% chance of shallow flooding ranging from 1 feet to 3 feetMandatory flood insurance
AO Zone1% or more chance of shallow flooding located near a river or a streamMandatory flood insurance
AR ZoneTemporarily increase flood risk due to building or flood control restorationMandatory flood insurance
A99 Zone1% chance of flooding & protected by federal flood control systemsN/A

Moderate Flood Hazard Areas (MFHA)

X ZoneModerate risk of floodingInsurance is not mandatory
B ZoneModerate risk of floodingInsurance is not mandatory

Minimal Flood Hazard Areas

X ZoneMinimal risk of floodingInsurance is not mandatory
C ZoneMinimal risk of floodingInsurance is not mandatory

Undetermined Flood Hazard Areas (UFHA)

D ZoneRisk of flooding is unknownInsurance is not mandatory

To learn if your block of land is impacted by these flood hazard areas, head to the FEMA flood map service center to enter your address.

It is also important to consider the depth of flooding common within the area along with the overall risk of flooding, as this will impact the regulations and building materials required to construct your new home.

Elevated House Plans For Flood Zones

After assessing the level of flooding risk and whether insurance is mandatory for your home build, it is important to consider how your home design will be impacted and the necessary features required to minimize property damage and mitigate against flooding.

The base flood elevation (BFE) level should be considered here. This refers to the height at which the floodwater would rise during a base flood (the flood with a 1% chance of occurring in any given year). As mentioned above, this should be detailed for Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHA) by the FEMA flood maps for areas expected to have the most impact from flooding.

When building a new residential home in a flood-prone area, it is important to build above this base flood elevation line as this can reduce home flood insurance premiums and protect the home from damage.

You could also be eligible for the insurance premium to be waived to get the property removed from the flood floor plans if you can prove your property or home design is above the 100-year base flood elevation level. However, you will require a formal document from FEMA to do so. We recommend getting a land surveyor or civil engineer along with your home design consultant to work through the FEMA removal process on your behalf.

Home Building Considerations for Flood-Prone Areas

After considering structural elevation levels and flood zoning risk it is time to consider flood-safe building materials and design inclusions to ensure your home is built to stand the test of time. It is important to select home foundation types and building materials that withstand water damage or flowing water impacts.

Foundation Types:

Typically, for homes in flood-prone areas, the main home foundation types include slab-on-fill, perimeter walls, standing on piers, posts or columns and piles. However, the correct foundation type will depend on the state and city requirements for flood-prone foundations and flooding risk. When building your custom flood home design, be sure to speak with your builder about the correct solution for your future home.

Other Options:

Other building inclusions and home flood mitigation options include flood vents or foundation vents on lower levels of the home which ensure hydrostatic pressure does not build up to impact walls and home foundations. Another tactic includes placing service equipment and utilities above the base flood elevation level which can minimize the risk of water damage to these appliances causing damage to household members and the wider community if a flood were to occur.

These inclusions can be discussed with your home builder in the initial design and consulting phase to determine the relevancy and efficiency of these features in your new home.

Flood Zone House Designs

Once you have thought through these initial considerations and discussed them with your home builder, you should be able to mitigate flood risks and keep your home protected and prepared for flooding long into the future.

At G.J. Gardner Homes USA we offer a variety of homes for sale along with our classic home designs. We are also specialists in custom home designs, meaning we can tailor your home design to suit your personal preference and design choices (including flood protection).

If you’re looking to build in a flood-prone area but don’t know where to begin, contact our friendly team and enquire today to get started!

5 reasons to Build your Home in California

California is world-renowned for its laid back lifestyle, natural beauty and phenomenal weather. From the rugged coastline of Big Sur to the towering Redwoods of the North, California’s world famous landscapes have set the tone for life in the Golden State.

Just like its environment, California living is defined by an openness, peace and vibrancy while remaining an epicentre for tech., culture and industry. This ideal balance makes California home to the dream way of life. In fact, California’s sunny weather, pristine landscape and relaxed pace has made its residents some of the happiest people in the country.

If you’re looking to escape the hustle city life and extended winters without losing touch of opportunity and cosmopolitan living, California could be the place for you. Here’s the top 5 reasons we’ve fallen for Californian living.

Why We Love California Living

The Weather

California is celebrated for its truly perfect weather, with 278 days a year being sunny. What’s even better is that their lifestyle takes any opportunity to let the light in. From home design to outdoor activities, California living provides ample opportunity to soak up the sun.

More sunlight and warmer days is proven to boost your health and manage your stress. Without the inconvenience of bad weather, the California way of life lets you enjoy easier days for over half the year.

The great outdoors

From orange sand deserts to some of the country’s best beaches, California boasts a diverse range of different landscapes, all within one state. Find the perfect break along the 840 miles of coastline or summit exciting hikes in one of the state’s nine national parks.

The state’s best cities provide perfect proximity to these world class natural wonders. As outdoor enthusiasts, California home designs are committed to making the most out of the surrounding outdoors. With an emphasis on indoor-outdoor, windows and open plans, California living celebrates its landscape whether you’re outside or in.

Cost of living in California

While California living is reported as one of the ten most expensive states in the country, California offers an unmatched experience in comparison to the list’s other locations.

In comparison to other states with high costs of living, such as Hawaii, Masachusetts, Oregon, Maryland, Connecticut and Alaska, California offers both adventure and industry – rather than one or the other. Home to the country’s fastest growing tech center and agricultural market, California’s cost of living is better value than most.

The things to do in California

With so much on offer, you’re unlikely to ever get bored in this West Coast hub. California has something for everyone with plenty of fun for families, couples and singles to enjoy.

It’s home to some of the world’s most coveted weekend trips from Big Sur road trips up the beautiful coastline to camping on Lake Tahoe. You can even escape the outdoors and explore the museums and historical centres of San Francisco or the 60s glamour of Palm Springs. Brimming with bucket list items, California residents aren’t short of things to do.

Big Sur

Home Design

Californian homes celebrate natural materials like wood, stone, and glass to create a one-of-a-kind look. And due to the state’s vibrant cultural identity, many of these rustic elements have also been sourced from the state’s rich heritage. As an exciting hotspot of history, design and culture, Californian homes offer a beautiful feel and flair ranging from Spanish-inspired tile work to the organic shapes of Mexican adobe.

With organic materials, bohemian decor and minimal modernist features, Californian homes are designed to be spacious, classic and inviting. Under the influence of their open and relaxed identity, Californian living has seen most of today’s homes use an open plan to form its central living hub and lead effortlessly into the alfresco. Indoor-outdoor living encourages you to get outdoors more by making it more accessible and usable and with the perfect weather to enjoy it as well.

Best Places to Live in California

G.J. Gardner Homes is building across many of California’s leading communities and cities. From Sacramento to San Diego, our offices offer our clients access to some of the best places to live in California.

Explore our California home builders now and discover the best locations the state has to offer. 

How to Design a Stylish Laundry

Often neglected in the home design process, it’s so important to get your laundry design right, and make the most of this highly functional space.

Functional laundry design in a GJ Gardner display home

Your laundry space should allow room to manoeuvre with bulky items and cleaning supplies, to make sure your space is functional as well as stylish.

Many modern laundry designs also revive the concept of the “mudroom”, a secondary entry to your house that can be used to store footwear, outerwear and backpacks.

Take cues from the kitchen

If you have a keen interest in styling your laundry to be an asset to your home, a great place to start is to mirror the styling of your kitchen.

Your kitchen and laundry both hold a similar function in your home,  since they are both primarily a place for performing necessary household duties among other secondary functions. They have the job of housing many similar appliances, including washing machines and other appliances which are placed under benches or stacked. Their similar features can also include sinks, cupboards and shelving.

They are also often located relatively close by to one another, as a practical way of keeping plumbing foundations less complicated during construction. It is relatively easy to then draw parallels between the two and draw styling ideas accordingly.

The laundry in one of our display homes pairs the laundry styling with the kitchen by making use of similar oak timber features, tapware, crisp white benchtops, and dark black panelling. This ensemble makes for a dynamic and expressive laundry space, which echoes much of the features from the expertly designed kitchen area.

Other things to consider

To finish designing your stylish laundry, consider these tips:

  • Streamline your laundry by hiding the plumbing inside your cabinetry and choosing an inset sink
  • Add luxe elements like soap and a candle as a stylish finishing touch
  • Keep it fresh by adding plants and ensuring there is natural light through a skylight or doorway

How To Choose A Floor Plan That’s Right For You

If you are planning on building a new home, you will have likely come across a range of different options for floor plans. A home floor plan is a drawing that shows an overhead view of a house and highlights the relationships between the rooms and spaces.

When designing a new home, floor plans are an invaluable tool to help you visualize what your home will look like. So, what makes a good floor plan? And what do you need to consider when choosing a floor plan that is right for you?

Key Characteristics Of A Good Floor Plan

A good floor plan is the foundation for a well-designed home that is a joy to live in. Choosing wisely means there will be great solar gain (or shade in warmer climates), good flow between spaces, noise management, and it is likely to increase your home’s resale value.

A good floor plan should:

Be versatile and flexible

Versatility might not be something you consider when planning your dream home. However, choosing a floor plan with flexible spaces means that an office space could easily be converted into a bedroom or vice versa. This is particularly important if you are planning on selling in the future or if you change your mind on the layout of your home.

Have a highly-considered room configuration

For optimal flow and enjoyment, rooms should work together. Bedrooms should be far away from entertainment spaces, bathrooms should not face common areas such as a dining room and kitchens should open out to a dining or living room.

Consider size

Every area in your house should be considered carefully so that there is enough room to move around and complete desired activities. It sounds simple, however this is one of the main areas that people forget to take into account. This is one of the benefits of choosing a home from a proven catalogue of home designs — your rooms will be just the right size for your needs, and therefore highly functional.

Choosing The Right Floor Plan For Your Home 

When choosing or designing a floor plan for you, it is important that you also consider the following:

Lot layout 

Start by considering the size and layout of your land. The size of the lot may determine the size of the house you can build.

Restrictions & regulations 

Before proceeding with your floor plans, you may have to check with your local council and other relevant authorities about regulations and restrictions. Restrictions such as house heights, home sizes and environmental considerations may limit your options.

Determine house size 

In some situations, the size of the house will be dependent on the restrictions of the lot. For example, a sloping lot restricts the size of a house that can be built on it. A common house design for a sloping lot is a single-storey split level home. If you have more space to work with, you should consider the needs of your family and your lifestyle. This will help determine your floor plan size, and number of storeys.

Lifestyle considerations 

This means considering the layout of rooms, size of rooms and other specific requirements for your family. Don’t forget to think about your daily activities such as doing laundry and cleaning the house—do you really want to walk up two flights of stairs to hang your washing?

Future considerations 

Think about what your plans are for the future. Will you be staying in this home for a while? Are you planning to expand your family? Will your kids be moving out? Will you be selling in the future? These are all important questions to ask when thinking about designing your floor plan. As mentioned earlier, keeping rooms versatile is an important component for future planning.

For retirees, future accessibility should also be considered. Certain design features are much more cost effective to incorporate upfront when you first build, rather than through renovations later on. For example, you might consider:

  • A level front door transition
  • Larger kitchen and bathrooms
  • Wider halls

Make sure you know what you are looking at 

Finally, with multiple abbreviations and symbols, floor plans may appear overwhelming at first. Ask your building consultant or designer to help you understand and interpret these.

It is imperative you understand measurements in terms of flooring, wall heights and ceiling heights. You can always mock-up a room using measuring tapes to pace around and get a feel for it and visit display homes with similar dimensions to your floor plan to better visualize your spaces. If you are not clear on something or do not fully understand the plans, make sure you speak to your consultant or designer so your future home is exactly what you expect.

A Guide to Modern Farmhouse Style

For decades, the warm and familiar aesthetic of the farmhouses of old have stayed within the minds of American homebuilders – and there’s no sign of it slowing down! 

You guessed it, we’re talking about Modern Farmhouse style.

Maybe it’s the timeless sensibility, maybe it’s nostalgia, or maybe it’s the rustic charm.

Or perhaps it’s a combination of all three, with a convenient connection to the stereotypically homely farm lifestyle. A contemporary and sleek feeling often shines through, combining to create an effortlessly fresh but familiar living scenario.

Say hello to Modern Farmhouse

Traditionally, our interpretation of the Farmhouse style was typified using classically rustic materials. Think of the classic visual of exposed timber beams, and pair with the contemporary design principles of clean lines and well-considered proportions. They combine the desirable aesthetic and feel of farmhouses with the practical hallmarks of contemporary home designs.

Perhaps the most recognizable feature of modern farmhouses are their great rooms, which combine the roles of a shared family room, kitchen and eating area into one communal space. Modern Farmhouse homes also often include elements such as large back porches, garages that are large enough for multiple vehicles and hearty fireplaces large enough to warm communal spaces.

These large estates will also often embrace the farmhouse lifestyle with expansive and bright interiors. They feature clean lines, pitched roofs that stretch high into the sky, large windows and authentic fittings that complement the home. 

The Modern Farmhouse Color palette

Farmhouse style is earmarked by a color palette that isn’t afraid to embrace familiar, natural tones. They often heavily feature white with grey, and black  accents, which pairs well with lighter colors that are more commonly identified as part of modern home design. Modern Farmhouse homes aren’t afraid to call back to their roots, incorporating earthen elements and hardy fixtures with the clean and minimalist contemporary design standards. 

Modern Farmhouse Design: Dogwood 2702

Take the Dogwood 2702 design, available from G.J. Gardner. The facade of this home combines recognizable farmhouse textures like wooden framing, with contemporary colors. It’s also clear to see where farmhouse influences shine through, with the tall roof, expansive rooms, and great room with a fireplace that effortlessly adjoins with the back porch.

Modern Farmhouse Texture

Natural materials will always be a mainstay of Modern Farmhouse design – think wood, stone and steel. You can incorporate these textures in spades throughout the home, from the exterior to the interior including furniture, surfaces and finishes. A popular choice is the addition of stone or rock applied as a statement finish in places such as the chimney, the fireplace or support columns.

The Modern Farmhouse style typically includes some of these popular exterior elements:

  • Siding – White Board & Batten
  • Roof – Black or grey in metal or shingle style
  • Plan Footprint – usually simple square or rectangular shape
  • Lighting – contemporary, black or antique bronze
  • Windows – lots of windows throughout with black framing
  • Covered Porches – with oversized openings and space to relax
  • Gables & Roof Pitch – typically steeper pitched
  • Garage Doors – Carriage-Style in white, wood, or black

The Interior Design of Modern Farmhouse plans typically include: 

  • The design itself is simple, minimal and has large gathering spaces
  • The color palette is neutral with whites and greys
  • Lighting inside often is industrial style with black elements
  • Natural wood and architectural elements – barn doors, wood floors, ship lap/wood panelling, timer beams, polished concrete are few common elements
  • The kitchen truly is the heart of the home with large footprint and open to the living space – shaker-style cabinets, white marble or quartz counters, subway tile, oversized islands and open shelving are a few common elements

Finishing touches

The key to styling a Modern Farmhouse home is honoring the traditional approach using a contemporary and creative interpretation that befits modern life.

For example, you might love the idea of spending quality family time gathered in the great room, with a hearty fire crackling in the corner. Modernizing the space with comfortable furniture and minimalist fittings can help you to strike the perfect balance between farm living and the modern world.

Planning your Modern Farmhouse

Color, texture, and styling will get you 90% of the way there, but in order to really succeed you can’t consider these elements in isolation. You need to have a plan.

It sounds obvious, but taking the time to consider all the surfaces, finishes and inclusions across your home will help you achieve a cohesive Modern Farmhouse look.

Want to work with our design team to plan your dream home? Contact us.