Designing the Perfect Mudroom

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Nowhere do aesthetics and functionality need to come together as in the mudroom for the modern family. As a daily entry point into the home, the right mudroom should be a welcoming haven. Milton’s clients seek beautifully designed spaces providing convenience and ease, and the flexibility to grow with a family’s needs over time.

This month we share the floor plans for a new mudroom in a custom built Milton home for the Zinzi family, which will include smart features like a washroom with a shower for easy clean-up of kids, sports equipment, swimmers and dogs.

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Lauren Zinzi with children Olive & Samuel

When designing a mudroom, think first and foremost about storage and providing a designated space for everything. This is where the right cubbies and receptacles come into play – you will want a careful balance of both open storage to grab on the go and concealed storage to hide clutter. Concealed storage should be easy to access – Milton makes these custom cubby baskets on wheels that do the trick nicely.

Maximize the amount of space at your fingertips with creative solutions to keep everything within reach. We like this built-in ladder that provides access at all heights.

photo from houzz.com

The right flooring materials set the stage for both beauty and practicality. Milton loves the classic and natural look of slate floors, which are more durable than many people think. Slate tends to wear well and doesn’t show dirt; consider matching the color of the grout to the slate for a seamless look and even less maintenance.

Milton custom colonial on Woody Lane

Not to be forgotten are accessories that facilitate organization on the go like a conveniently located charging station and a bulletin board. Or think chalkboards, which are both practical and a great way to keep the kids creatively entertained while trying to get everyone out the door. For a built-in look, try chalkboard paint.

What works for your family? We’d love to hear from you on Facebook!

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11 Blue Ribbon Drive, Westport

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This month Milton is showcasing 11 Blue Ribbon Drive, a stunning new 5 bedroom home in Westport, CT with a striking and sophisticated kitchen.

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The modern kitchen has become a central hub for activity and a smartly designed kitchen has become a critical differentiator for the discerning home buyer. We focus on the kitchen this month because with kids back in school and the lazy days of summer behind us, many of us are busy reclaiming this favorite room as a haven for culinary inspiration and the strategic nourishment of our families.

Milton ImageToday’s family kitchen tends to serve as one part short order restaurant and one part household planning station, so it’s important to carve out the right space for both. Careful spacing between sink, counter and stove streamline activities for the chef. Meanwhile, a well placed desk station, bulletin board or organization corner can serve as command central for any busy family.

Make the most of your own space by thinking about your household’s unique needs first and then developing an environment to serve them. Lots of kids and lots of activities? Find a beautiful bulletin board and post a color-coordinated calendar. Drowning in school and community paperwork? Add color coordinated folders (make sure to pick colors that make you happy!) and place them within easy access. Inspired by more recipes than you have real time to tackle? Bookmark your favorites, then set up an in-kitchen ipad station so your technology is ready to work for you on a moment’s notice. Or reclaim an underutilized corner by creating a niche for your laptop and daily paperwork.

Two of our favorite finds this month:

Maximize your leverage of technology in the kitchen with this iPad stand that lends itself nicely to any recipe:

Charge and connect in a snap with these easy to adapt power/USB outlets:

Creating Beautiful Spaces for Your Children within Your Home

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A child’s room can be one of the most challenging, and yet the most enjoyable rooms in the house to design, plan and decorate. Create a beautiful space for your child, where he or she can indulge in their creative spirits and play for hours, while still expressing your personal style.

There are many ways to personalize each space designated for children using patterns, themes and colors in everything from the furniture to bedding, fixtures and lighting, and even architectural design. The possibilities are endless!Kids Spaces

Playrooms serve to be the most magical havens, where kids dream, learn, imagine and grow. Treat your children to a sanctuary that’s all their own, with kid-sized playroom furniture including a mini-kitchen, table and chair sets, a Victorian dollhouse, sofa and love seats, rockers and a puppet theater. Add inspiring toys, stimulating wall colors and décor to accent your overall theme that will truly bring out your child’s personality. And, just because it’s a child’s playroom doesn’t mean it has to be a mess. Playroom storage options range from custom toy bins and toy chests shaped like castles and trucks, to storage benches that provide pretty seating as well.

Every parent wants their children to have a space where he or she can rest, learn, play and most importantly be themselves. Create a special bedroom for your child using calming colors accented with plush pillows and blankets. Personalize the space with your child’s name, initials or monogram by adding wooden or framed wall letters, one of the most popular décor addition’s to nurseries and kids’ rooms. Finish off the space with the perfect lighting, a feature that can be both decorative and functional. Family Basement

Not ready to give up your entire basement to the kids? Share the space by creating a relaxing atmosphere that’s suitable for both your children and the adults. Shown in the picture above, a family from Long Island designed a huge couch where everyone in the family could lounge and even nap together, and added two TV’s on opposite walls so the whole family could play at the same time.

Dividing the basement into several designated spaces allows everyone in the family to take advantage and enjoy the area. Designate one space for the kids, adding colorful cubbies with low enough spaces for even the youngest child to store his or her toys; and a short, long desk where they can draw and work on arts and crafts. Leave the rest of the space for the adults, whether it is an in-home gym (seen in the picture below), wine cellar or entertainment area. Using one color palate will help unify the spaces, keeping a flow throughout the basement.

Outdoor Spaces as True Extensions of The Home – 3 Tips on What Makes a Great Outdoor Entertaining Area

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At MILTON we believe that outdoor spaces are quickly moving in a popular direction, popping up as true extensions of the home, providing a comfortable, inviting and functional entertainment retreat. We were recently reading one of our favorite websites, houzz.com, and discovered a great article by Sandy Koepke.  If you’re in the midst of planning your patio, deck or yard for lots of festivities this summer, here are three tips on what makes a great outdoor entertaining area.

  1. Consider the Infrastructure: this is especially important if you’re planning on creating an outdoor kitchen area or family room. Introduce a gas line, water, or electrical work before anything else.
  2. Aim for Accessibility: when it comes to making an outside area work as an extension of the home, Sandy recommends upping the accessibility – make it easy to get outdoors and work towards good flow by using lots of windows and doors. Access to the outside should look and feel completely effortless.
  3. Create an Enclosed Space: An enclosure, whether it be a pergola, walls or salvaged windows and doors, gives a sense of place without taking away the fact that you are outdoors.

We incorporated the outdoor living on the third floor of our new home on Buena Vista we are building a spacious outdoor deck with a fireplace, so the homeowners can enjoy a outdoor retreat year round.  For more information on Buena Vista please CLICK HERE.

What will your outdoor retreat be used for this summer? Let us know on the Milton Development Facebook Wall, linked HERE.

Interview With Master Organizer, Jeffrey Phillip

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We caught up with professional organizer, Jeffrey Phillip to get some insight on keeping your home organized. It can be hard to get things in order, especially when moving into a new home. See Jeffrey’s tips on how to get started.

What is your top must-have organizational product or tip?

There’s so many that I use all the time! The most widely used thing that I have is my label maker. I hate to say that because it sounds so trite but it really is! It identifies things and gives them a home so clients are able to remember and understand where each item goes. If you have an item and it doesn’t have a specific place to go, you’re often going to put it wherever there’s open space. When something is labeled, clients are usually more inclined to put things back where they should be.

What tips can you give families to keep kids rooms organized?

One of the big things you want to consider is not putting things in closed containers. When things have open containers, children are much more apt to put their items away. If there are lids that go on bins and they’re stacked, it makes it more difficult for children to clean up. Consider open shelving and open baskets that go in the shelving so everything is easily accessible and easy to put away. Labeling isn’t really practical for children because they can’t read yet. Using visual labels is something that I like to use. It’s easier for the kids to identify what goes where. There will be a bin with pictures of trucks for their toy trucks, a picture of blocks for their blocks and so on.

Organizing an entire home can be a daunting task. Where do you recommend starting and how to you prioritize what to tackle first?

Where I usually start is the kitchen. It’s where you go back to every single day and helps you get out the door, it’s where you function from. The next spot I jump to is the closets. Master closets or whichever need the most help. We’ll work with whatever the clients needs are. In order to approach it, you really need to look at it as one tiny project at a time. If you look at the overall task, it can be overwhelming. It’s really about looking at small, tiny projects and taking those baby steps to get everything done.

You talk a lot about the importance of de-cluttering, especially when moving into a new home. How do you decide what to keep and what to toss?

There are lots of rules that have been published like if you haven’t worn it in a year, get rid of it. While I use those as guidelines, I don’t believe they are rules that everyone needs to abide by. There are certain things that you may not have worn in a year, but they’re still classic items, they’re still in style and they still fit you. Many things have to be taken into consideration when you’re de-cluttering so I don’t really have a specific formula for telling someone what to keep. It’s really a personal thing that I work with my clients on. It depends on their lifestyle, what they want and need.

Even after spending lots of time organizing, it’s easy to let your old messy habits come back to the forefront. How do you maintain an organized lifestyle long-term?

Scheduling time for maintenance and discipline. I always tell my clients that I can come in and organize but if you don’t have discipline or some sort of maintenance program on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis, it’s just going to continue to unravel. It can be as simple as 10 minutes in the morning, ten minutes minutes at night to run through the house and clean up. Even if you get to the point where it gets out of hand, you put the time in on the weekend and get it all back in check. It’s one of the most important things you can do – schedule time for maintenance and stick to it so you have everything you need for the next day or the next week.

To learn more about Jeffrey Phillip’s services, please visit http://www.jeffreyphillip.com.

And stay tuned for part two of our interview with Jeffrey!

Design Philosophies From Lauren Zinzi

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How would you characterize your design values and preferences?

I’m a designer myself, a graphic designer. I worked for an ad agency for years but I also like interior design, so I really notice and pay attention to all the custom detail that they put into their homes. I see a lot of these cookie cutter houses builders put up. For me, I really like the process of custom building because I can get what I want and really work with Marybeth and with Ashley and Gina.

So it’s really the little details for you?

Big time. It’s so lucky that Marybeth and I are working together and Gina said this to me before I had even met her. She said ‘You two are going to just click.” And it’s so true, the minute I started working with her we just got each other. When we work it just flows.

What do you think your home says about your lifestyle?

Easy, practical, modern but classic. I have my second child on the way so as much as I’d love for it to be like a museum, it can’t be because it has to be livable. I tried to create a combo. I want it to be as beautiful as possible but also be practical and live up to people and kids. I’d say it’s classic, modern, clean, simple…

What are some of the unique functionalities of your future home?

A steam shower in our master bath. My husband is thrilled about that. Heated floors in the master bathroom, which I wasn’t sure about at first. Now that I’m up here and see how cold it is again, I think it’s going to be great. We have a warming drawer in our kitchen. I can keep things warm if my husband is running late or if my son isn’t ready to sit at the table and I’ve already cooked. I’m excited to have a big closet. I miss having that since we’re in an apartment right now. We’re putting in a gym. We’re doing the rubber mats, the mirrors on the walls. We’re going to put a TV up too. So on the days when we’re snowed in, or my son is sick and I can’t get to the gym, or for whatever reason – I can just go downstairs and exercise. I’m really excited for the lower level, the basement. We didn’t have that in Charleston. They don’t have basements because it’s below sea level there and it floods when it rains. I’m looking forward to having that space for a playroom, a TV room, a gym…it’s going to be great. And the kids can have their own area.

What do you love about Westport, CT?

We lived here years ago. When my husband and I first started dating, we got our first place in Westport and got married up here. We moved away for about six years and then we came back. It’s very convenient for my husband. He works in the city and commutes every day. It’s 5 minutes to the train and he’s in the city in an hour. You also have the beach. you have really cute, great shops.  There’s just something about Westport; it’s that kind of eclectic group of people. It has an artsiness that I really like about it too. I definitely think it’s very different from other surrounding towns for sure. And the school systems are amazing here too which we have to think about with our kids.

Building A Custom Home With MILTON

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When building a custom home, choosing the right team to help you through the process is imperative. We recently caught up with Lauren Zinzi, a current client, to get her take on building a custom home with MILTON.

How did you decide to work with MILTON over other builders?

We moved here from Charleston, South Carolina and when we were moving, I was browsing the internet looking for rentals to get us by until we figured out what we were going to do once we were up here. I just happened to stumble upon their website. As soon as I saw it, I said to my husband, ‘These are the people that are building my house.’ It was our taste and our vibe – everything we really like in the look of a house. So my husband ended up calling Gina. She said ‘If you are in town, stop in.’ We weren’t even thinking about building yet. This was still so premature. We came in and met with her. She said, ‘Once you get settled here, let’s talk. We can drive around, tell us what you’re looking for, what kinds of roads you’re looking for.’ And we just kind of went from there. We did meet other buliders to get a taste of what else was out there. It just didn’t compare to MILTON – the way Nick and I connected with Ashley and Gina, the feeling we got, the trust we got. Even though I felt like I needed to go and look elsewhere to compare, it just wasn’t the same. My husband knew too. It was just about finding the right people and the right time. It just worked out.

How is the building process going with MILTON and would you change anything?

It’s going really great. There’s nothing I can honestly say that’s bad or that I can complain about. It’s gone very smoothly. Because of Marybeth and how she’s ahead of the game on things, we’re ahead of schedule. It’s good for me because I have a baby on the way and once the baby comes, I’d like everything to be picked out for the most part. Working with Marybeth has been amazing. She keeps you on your toes and she’ll say, ‘This is coming up so we need to decide on this, what do you think of this’… she’s great. There’s honestly nothing that I can say I would change.

Building a custom home is a huge undertaking. What made you decide that custom is the way to go for you? 

It is a huge undertaking. I can say it’s been different this time because of the team they have here. I didn’t have that last time when I built my house in Charleston. I had one woman who was sort of the designer but it doesn’t compare to this. I’m not doing all the work myself picking everything out. I have guidance and I have help here. When we moved up here and started looking at houses that were older and already built, we would think, it’s nice but we would still need to change this and the kitchen needed renovation and the bathroom needed renovation. By the time you did all that, we felt that we could build from scratch and have everything the way we want it. Now that we’re up here, it’s going to be for a while. I’m hoping that we’re going to be in this house until the kids are in college.

Besides Marybeth, who has been helping you with all your selections? Would you say this process has been easy or difficult? 

I would never call it difficult. I would say sometimes it can be challenging but it’s fun. I love this process. This is the fun part for me. Gina has helped a great deal. I feel I can easily go to her and say, ‘Should I do this or should I do that?’ and she’ll give me her honest opinion. Ashley has been been a great help too. I’d say the three of them have been the most help.

Stay tuned for part 2 of our interview with Lauren Zinzi!

Interview With Architect & Decorator, Marybeth Woods

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At MILTON, we believe that having the right talent is essential to building exceptional homes. Our Architect/Decorator, Marybeth Woods, is truly a wonderful talent. With over 15 years of experience in residential design, Marybeth takes traditional elements and fuses them with modern details to create crisp, elegant spaces. The result is homes that are functional, livable and enduring.

We sat down with Marybeth to discuss architecture, innovation and her own unique aesthetic.

What does architectural design mean to you? 

Architectural design to me means an integration of form and function, basically taking the needs of someone, their program and creating a unified composition that is pleasing to the eye.

How do you ensure that client requests are met and that your unique design is preserved?

I think that most good architecture is a marriage of several things. Usually there is a site or the house, then there is the client and then there is me. And I don’t think that anything is really successful unless you combine those three elements. So I think that everyone gets some of what they want. And that the total is greater than either individual piece. I think that their needs are met and my needs are met but then there is the site, the home that also dictates a lot. It’s a collaboration and combination.

How did you decide to form a partnership with MILTON and how are your approaches complementary? 

I think that the partnership was just mutually beneficial. I think that we were at a point of time when design was starting to change. I think that MILTON saw that. The cookie cutter colonial McMansions were on their way out. A cleaner aesthetic was coming in. In this area, Fairfield County, we have a lot of young New York clients coming in that have a little more of a young, modern aesthetic. I think that MILTON saw that. I was looking to pursue that myself so it was a nice collaborating point.

What does brand integrity mean to you? And how do you protect your brand?

I don’t know how you protect it. I don’t worry about it. I just keep evolving and changing. And so what I do is constantly fresh and new. If you are on the cutting edge, then there is nothing to protect. People can imitate you and that’s fine (laughs) but I don’t really know how you protect it.

How would you define innovation?

Evolving, changing. For me, truly innovative design at this time is combining old and new. How do you take traditional colonial architectural forms and mesh them with contemporary clean lines that a lot of people want to see, and create something beautiful. And that’s innovation… take two things and you bring them together, integrate them and make something new.

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