When it comes to homes, the Mowrys have experienced it all. Dianne, a seasoned interior designer, owns Yellow Door Interiors, while Chris helms Long Meadows, Inc. a full-service general construction firm. They enjoy a dual marriage of interior design and general construction merged with their real-life marital partnership. This all translates into a warm, functional and very real family home. This is their unique perspective.
After eleven years in the residential and commercial design industry, Dianne opened Yellow Door Interiors in 2010. “My dad was a builder, so I was always interested in architecture and art. I chose interior design to combine those two interests,” she says. “I have a love for textiles, and I really enjoy meeting people, establishing a relationship with them and translating their wants and needs into reality.”
Chris has guided Long Meadows Inc through the cyclical challenges of residential construction since 1996. Even with tight budgets, he still keeps his clients’ products fresh and relevant while pushing the envelope from energy efficient practices to the latest woodworking trends “Long Meadows was founded during a deep recession so our philosophy has always been to build lasting value into every project.”
The two agree that the perfect home should be organized, practical and efficient—and both firmly believe that the more classic and basic things are, the better.
“Organization is the best innovation for a home,” Dianne says. “Personally, I think most families should have some sort of mudroom—a place where they can come inside and settle their lives. A place for things that they use on a daily basis. Kids can have baskets for their shoes, hooks for their backpacks, a charging station for iPods and iPads. An organized mudroom is key, especially for busy families.”
Good: tile flooring, cubbies, hooks, shoe storage, labeled bins, key rack and a utility sink
Better: add a washer/dryer, indoor retractable clothesline/drying rack and a built-in ironing board
Best:all that plus a pet feeding station where everything is tucked away behind closed doors
“An efficient kitchen,” Dianne says, “needs to be properly laid out and have sufficient storage space. There are so many things you can do in a kitchen; but one thing I enjoy having is a built-in trashcan and recycling bin.”
Dianne and Chris agree that there is not one universal kitchen layout that fits all households.
“Figuring out the best use of a space requires focusing on what a particular family needs,” Dianne says. “If you have children, for example, you might want to include a small beverage refrigerator that kids can pop open during snack time—or store snacks in drawers instead of up high in a cabinet.”
Chris urges caution to homeowners who want a trendy, over-the-top kitchen. A kitchen is the epicenter of a home and one of the most long-lasting home projects you will undertake. You want to get it right the first time.
“Simpler is better,” Chris says. “It seems like the trend is going toward strange instead of functional. You can easily overdo it. Stick with things that will never go out of style such as nice hard surface countertops, wood or painted cabinets, built-in pantries and a big accessible island.”
Good: built-in pantry, built-in trash/recycling bins and a hidden spice rack
Better: add a storage-packed island with open shelving and a mail/family message center
Best: all that plus a bar cart, a beverage-only refrigerator and a built-in wine cooler
Dianne said, “It’s great to have a space for kids to enjoy the outdoors, but also a space for entertaining or for quiet time for yourself. I think outdoor fireplaces add a lot of value and appeal to a home and create a real sense of peace in a ‘room’ even when there are no walls.”
Chris agrees that their gas outdoor fireplace housed under their large covered rear porch is his favorite feature that they added to their home.
“Creating a simple, effective outdoor space is an inexpensive way to add more living area to your home. Our entire deck has a roof over it and we’ve got a framed-in gas fireplace with stacked stone surrounding it. We can sit out there on a cold night and still be warm around the fire. We often enjoy dinner there for a nice change of pace.”
Good: Covered patio or porch, comfy seating with plush pillows, tables and a ceiling fan
Better: add an outdoor fireplace with stacked stone surround and ambient lighting
Best: all that plus an outdoor stove/kitchen area and a resort-like bar with barstools
When it comes to creating more space in your home, Chris says adding a guest suite in the basement is probably the most valuable change you can make.
“Finished basements are a cost-effective way to get more square footage, and you can customize it to suit your needs. I think it’s a smart way to really make the most of your home. Adding a bedroom, bathroom and kitchenette is very handy in giving houseguests their own space. Guests can stay for an extended period of time and they won’t feel like they’re in your way.” Basement bedroom suites can also become home to an aging parent or even provide rental income from a graduate student or young professional just starting out.
Not interested in a guest suite? There are other options available when it comes to finishing your basement. “Maybe you have teens, you can add a bathroom and game room where they can hang out and interact with friends,” Chris says. “Or, it can become an entertaining space for adults with a wet bar and a pool table.”
Dianne says that designing the perfect space begins by defining your needs and the best use of that space. “You really need to pinpoint what is best for you,” she says. “It’s all about what your needs are, where your family is in life, etc. It’s so important to really zero-in on what your family enjoys, what you like and what you need. It’s great to have fun with trendy things, but they go out of style, so stick to what’s basic and simple.”