Nestled on 20 acres of rolling countryside near Nashville, the 2023 Southern Living Idea House offers a distinct nod to its relaxed surroundings and roots, blending a cozy, welcoming vibe with contemporary and eclectic touches inside and out.
Architects at Lake + Land Studio sought a Modern Farmhouse look but with a feel that it was built over time and added onto in a thoughtful way, growing with the needs of the people who lived there while still working with the landscape. The high-vaulted ceilings of the great room are balanced by smaller adjacent gathering spaces, ample windows of varying sizes and heights bring in lots of light, and the multi-slide back door opens up views to the countryside and valley.
As with any true Southern home, seamlessly connected outdoor living spaces were crucial, anchored by a welcoming front porch and a cozy rear terrace with optional screening. An outdoor kitchen and a raised-bed garden expand the entertainment opportunities.
“Overall the house [has] deeper and exaggerated bracketed overhangs on the front and back porches, which allow you to enjoy those spaces a little bit longer when [the day] gets to the hot parts of the sun, but also helps shield you from the many rainy days that we deal with,” Luke Sippel, architect with Lake + Land Studio, told Southern Living.
With the emphasis on indoor-outdoor interplay, interior designer Laura Hodges and the architects worked together to choose the decking, opting for Zuri® Premium Decking from Westlake Royal Building Products™ in the Chestnut color. “We wanted to make sure the decking would work with the interior flooring,” says Hodges, owner of Laura Hodges Studio. “We chose the decking first, selecting a color that would work well with a white oak floor. For the interiors, we selected a darker floor stain on white oak, and we knew that the Zuri decking was going to live with it in a beautiful way.”
The indoor-outdoor connections are strengthened by a cohesiveness in color and texture. “We worked with the architects on the exterior color palette, selecting colors that reflected the landscape and would coordinate with the interior,” Hodges explains. “We carried the stone from the exterior onto the fireplace in the great room, which gives a great sense of continuity to the design.”
In addition, “Zuri was a beautiful and natural-looking complement to the paint colors and the stone finishes,” she says. “The decking color we chose has a warm undertone to it that works so well with the muted greens and grays of the exterior.”
Hodges followed similar principles for the interior. “We wanted to make sure the design of the interiors was a reflection of the natural surroundings,” she says. At the same time, “We wanted the house to reflect the lively music and arts scene in Nashville,” which can be seen in the original artwork and locally sourced rugs and vintage furniture.
With a more natural-feeling color palette, Hodges played with stronger textures, including linen, velvet, and leather, and added statement-making light fixtures with graceful silhouettes.
The use of vintage and antique pieces was part of Hodges’ sustainability approach that spans inside to out.
“We made intentionally sustainable design choices inside the house,” the designer says. “What’s nice about having the Zuri decking on the outside is the durability and the longevity of the product. Zuri decking feels and looks natural while holding up really well with low maintenance. Hopefully any new homeowners would keep it there even if the house changes hands and that speaks to the idea that good design is sustainable.”
To see how Zuri Premium Decking can help you create the perfect outdoor space, learn more here, try the deck visualizer, or order a sample.8 Recruiting Tips to Ease Labor Woes
It’s no secret that one of the biggest challenges that continues to plague the construction and construction supply industries is labor. Whether you’re seeking trained carpenters or an entry-level stocker, the market for reliable employees ready to commit to the industry is tight.
As a company, you’re not just competing for labor with other builders or dealers for staff, but with similar businesses and trades in your area. And that means even small missteps can make all the difference in losing a potentially great candidate.
We checked in with Rikka Brandon, a nationally recognized building industry recruiting and hiring expert and best-selling author, to gather a few easy-to-follow tips that can have an immediate impact on your labor and hiring game.
• Embrace and nurture your brand: Job seekers have an advantage, and that means they get to be picky and choose companies that create a good working environment and culture. Your company’s “talent brand”— the reputation it has in the market—has an impact on whether potential candidates apply for jobs or accept them. Not only do you have to tell the world who you are as a company, you have to show it in how you operate. Spell out your values and live them.
• Write a strong job ad: Your job ad should never be a reiteration or shorter version of a job description. A job ad should be a marketing tool to sell your brand to potential candidates. It should not only include what the job entails, but the “what’s in it for me” factor about why they should want to work for your company.
• Use multiple forms of advertising: You can’t post an ad on Craigslist and call it done. Go where the applicants are: Embrace, and invest in, tools like Indeed and LinkedIn, and boost posts on your company’s social media. And don’t ignore the power of networking—connect with people at local association events, let all of your contacts know about openings, and reach out to talent you’ve met in the past.
• Don’t drag out the hiring process: With tight competition, job candidates aren’t going to wait around for an offer because they likely are getting several. If your hiring process is four weeks long and involves six interviews, your candidate is going to lose interest and look elsewhere. And keep in mind that many candidates are having to take time off from their current job for interviews, so be respectful of their time and even consider video interviews or off-hour meetings when appropriate.
• Ensure your salary and benefits are up to par: With rising inflation, minimum wage salaries are not allowing young workers to keep up. To find loyal, committed employees, you need to pay them accordingly—let’s be honest, most people don’t work simply for pride or love of a company, they need to make money. Do your research on salaries in the area, both within the industry and outside of it, and make sure yours are keeping up.
• Stay flexible: Times have changed, and workers of all ages are seeking a work/life balance—and they’ll move to another company to get it. While many positions in construction and construction supply simply cannot have flexibility beyond a normal in-person 9-5, others can. Allowing workers to go to their children’s soccer games, removing guilt from calling in sick, providing extra PTO, and permitting remote work when it makes sense can go a long way to attracting and keeping staff members.
• Keep tabs on existing staff: Retention is as important as, or more important than, recruiting. Don’t neglect your current team. Conduct surveys and talk to workers about what they like and don’t like about working for your company, hear them out, and make adjustments accordingly. It’s a lot more expensive to find and train a new team member than to make small investments to keep great workers.
• Don’t keep bad managers: The saying goes, people don’t leave jobs, they leave bad managers. As part of surveying your employees, understand the relationships between staff and their supervisors. Are one team’s members leaving in droves? Are you hearing rumors? It may be worth investigating the management style of your supervisors. Include leadership training for your managers just as you provide installation training or sales training.
For more labor and hiring tips, check out Brandon’s blog and follow her on LinkedIn. And be sure to follow Westlake Royal Building Products on LinkedIn for product news and industry and business insights.
Want more industry insights? Subscribe to our enewsletter!Where and How to Use Beadboard
Whether to enhance the aesthetics of a home or give it a fresh look before selling, there are few things that offer an elevated look for a great price as well as beadboard.
While beadboard is most popular in Victorian and Craftsman styles (and those in between), it can be used to enhance just about any home as there’s a panel to fit most decors.
Beadboard is a paneling where each narrow plank is separated by a vertical groove and a small ridge or bump, also called a “bead.” Most commonly applied vertically on walls, the boards are typically trimmed out with horizontal molding to create a finished look. While people often use the term “wainscoting” and “beadboard” interchangeably, wainscoting refers broadly to decorative paneling, of which beadboard is just one type.
Historically, beadboard was made of wood. But advanced materials, like cellular PVC options from Royal® Trim & Mouldings, are becoming a preferred choice of contractors and homeowners looking for higher performance and low maintenance. For example, wood beadboard needs to be repainted every three to five years while acrylic paint on PVC beadboard can last upwards of 20 to 25 years; in addition, most cellular PVC trim comes manufactured in white, so it may not need to be painted at all depending on color preferences.
Beadboard can be installed on both the interior and exterior of the home. You’ll commonly see it in mudrooms, saunas, pool roofs, accent walls, and under porch ceilings and soffits.
On the interior, narrower beadboard is often used to add character to the space as an accent wall or by applying whole-room wainscoting. The resulting look evokes a higher-end, traditional feel.
Most commonly, panels are applied in 32” to 36” shorter segments, but taller 54” to 56” installations are becoming more popular as a way to create an even bigger wow factor.
The thinner the paneling and more beading you have on a wall, the more ornate it tends to appear. Narrower paneling is ideal for smaller spaces such as bathrooms, hallways, and stairways.
Beadboard paneling (or cladding with a similar appearance, such as nickel gap or shiplap) is an easy way to provide a more classic look in often overlooked areas of the exterior. Using a high-performance material, such as TruExterior, which is made with fly ash and polymers, delivers the look as well as resistance to warping, rotting, and insects.
Beadboard is most often found on porch ceilings to create a finished aesthetic as well as to hide leveling irregularities and in soffits with exposed rafters or enclosed built-up soffits.
Beadboard is fairly straightforward to install, but keep these considerations in mind:
To learn more, check out our idea gallery to see how others have used our panels in their homes.
Want more industry insights? Subscribe to our enewsletter!25 Years of Vinyl Siding Certification
The Vinyl Siding Institute recently marked the 25th anniversary of its Product Certification Program, an important tool for buyers and specifiers to identify siding materials that are code compliant and high quality. Products listed under VSI’s Product Certification Program are tested and validated by an independent ISO/IEC 17065 accredited third-party certification body to deliver superior protection and meet and exceed international code standards.
“The program’s goal was standardizing the industry as a whole so that all manufacturers were on a level playing field and that products were consistently produced and distributed to the standards established,” explained Sara Krompholz, VSI’s senior director of technical and certification. “The program was also designed to achieve greater consumer confidence.”
VSI Certified Products provide quick, at-a-glance verification of code compliance, eliminating the need for specifiers to research manufacturer documentation. The products also are tested and proven to stand up to harsh conditions. The program certifies traditional vinyl siding, insulated vinyl siding, and polypropylene siding.
According to VSI, the organization has continued to expand and refine the Certified Products Program as the market has required. This includes adding standards for color in 2006 and adding wind-load testing in 2008. And in 2021, VSI relaunched the program as an independent third-party program with ISO/IEC 17065 accreditation, with Intertek as the certification body. With this change, products in the program must carry a Product Certification Listing (PCL) declaring that it complies with recognized standard. An optional Product Evaluation Report (PER), which denotes that a product meets recognized standards and requirements for building codes, is also available.
VSI says it will continue to evaluate, refine, and adapt the Product Certification Program as it moves forward. “The sky’s the limit,” said Krompholz. “We are continuing to evolve and expand our scope as evidenced by the addition of backed siding. We are working on recognizing Canadian certification to the National Building Code of Canada (NBC). In the future, we might consider adding accessories and other PVC-related materials, and a scheme has been written to allow us to include expansion opportunities, which could also expand membership.”
Nearly all vinyl siding products from Westlake Royal Building Products are certified under VSI’s Product Certification Program. These include:
For more details on Certified Products, visit the VSI certified products listing and search “Westlake.”
To view products, browse idea galleries, and order samples, visit Westlake Royal Siding Solutions™.
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