Kitchen Design Mistakes You Don’t Want to Make


The kitchen is one of the most heavily used spaces in your home – and for many households the kitchen is also the heart of the home. The layout of your kitchen should maximize every inch of available space.

"Adequate prep space is a must for gourmet cooks and for everyday kitchen food prep."

Avoid the four common mistakes listed below to ensure that your kitchen meets the needs of everyone in your household.

No Kitchen Triangle

Interior designers refer to the refrigerator, stove, and sink as the “kitchen triangle.” Ideally, these three essential kitchen elements are arranged in a triangle with a total area of no less than 10 feet and no more than 25 feet to allow for adequate food prep space. It’s worth the expense to reroute plumbing for a poorly-placed sink to create a better kitchen triangle configuration.

Wasted Storage Space

Today’s kitchens often include gadgets, such as bread machines, food processors, and convection ovens, not to mention toasters and coffee makers. Without adequate storage space, these items either clutter up valuable countertop space or are stashed away in difficult to access pantries. Include extra cabinets, a pantry, or a kitchen island for additional storage.

Inadequate Countertop Space

Adequate prep space is a must for gourmet cooks and for everyday kitchen food prep. A kitchen island, breakfast bar, or peninsula is a smart addition for kitchens with enough space for them.

Poor Lighting and Ventilation

Poor lighting in a kitchen presents a real hazard. Plan for overall lighting, and extra task lighting in areas where food prep occurs. Likewise, inadequate ventilation can generate stale smells. A vent above the stovetop is a must to maintain air quality in the kitchen.

Trends in Landscaping


Curb appeal is important whether you’re just moving in, thinking about a change, or getting ready to sell.

"Your front yard is the first thing that visitors see – and your backyard is often the site for outdoor entertaining."

The five landscaping and gardening trends described below represent some of the freshest landscaping ideas. There’s probably at least one that is ideal for your home’s outdoor spaces!

Multipurpose Outdoor Spaces

Today’s outdoor spaces hardly resemble the cookie cutter lawns of 1950s suburbia. Lawns often include features such as pergolas, pools, and outdoor kitchens. With careful planning, even a small yard can be fitted out to serve multiple purposes.

Climate Resilient Landscaping


More frequent spells of severe weather are a growing reality for many areas of the country. Adaptive outdoor spaces represent a growing trend among homeowners. For instance, many homeowners located in places that receive little rain (like New Mexico) have moved toward xeriscaping, which is a method of landscaping that requires little or no watering. Other adaptive landscaping methods include planting wind resistant plants with flexible stems and leaves, or plants, such as chokeberry, that absorb large amounts of water in areas that are prone to flooding.

Gardens Imitating Nature

One of the biggest trends is the perfectly imperfect garden. The Japanese call this concept “wabi sabi.” Imperfect gardens include many natural elements, such as repurposed pieces of wood and stone, along with wildflowers and prairie grasses. The idea is to imitate nature’s beautiful imperfections.

Edible Landscaping

If you’re not up to planting a full-blown vegetable garden, consider adding edible landscaping to a lawn. Plants, such as sunflowers and Tuscan kale, are both beautiful and delicious. As a bonus, edible landscaping plants are also often hardy enough to stand up to cold temps.

Water Elements

Water elements are another popular trend. Bird baths, ponds, and fountains add a sense of calm and peace to your yard – without the maintenance of a full-sized pool.


Ready to create your dream home?

At John Mark Custom Homes, we’d love to show you how we can help.

Decorating with Mirrors

John Mark 9801 Eagle Rock132

You almost certainly have a mirror in your bathroom, and perhaps one above a dresser in your bedroom, but mirrors can make an appearance in nearly every room in your home. The five tips listed below demonstrate how the strategic use of mirrors can make a room look larger, more elegant, or just more practical.

"Hanging a group of vintage mirrors together as a group is another way to give your house an elegant designer look."

Propped against a Wall

Propping a tall mirror against the wall makes your room seem bigger, with the illusion of higher ceilings. As a bonus, a full-length mirror located in your bedroom can come in handy for that last-minute check of your outfit before you leave the house.

John Mark Custom Home Decorating with mirrors

On Kitchen Cabinets

Cut mirrors to fit the cabinet doors in a small kitchen, and suddenly the room seems bigger and brighter. This unusual look also lends a designer atmosphere to your kitchen, giving it an upscale look without breaking the bank.

On a Closet or Wardrobe Door

In small homes or apartments, space can be at a premium. Yet having a full-length mirror is a must for catching wardrobe malfunctions before you leave the house. Hanging a mirror on your closet or wardrobe door provides you with a much-needed full-length reflection without sacrificing even an inch of precious floor space.

Hung in a Group

Hanging a group of vintage mirrors together as a group is another way to give your house an elegant designer look. The mirrors need not be the same size or same shape. In fact, the grouping is more interesting if several different sizes and shapes are included.

John Mark Custom Home Decorating With mirrors Cluster

As Faux Windows

Every room should be blessed with an abundance of windows. For rooms that lack sufficient windows (or don’t have any windows at all), grouping four or six rectangular mirrors in a grid can give the appearance of a window where there is none. As a bonus, the mirrors will also reflect whatever light the room does receive, making the room seem brighter.

Overall, decorating with mirrors can really improve the space you have. At John Mark Custom Homes, we’d love to show you how we can help. Call us today.

Why Automate Your Home


In making the decision to purchase home security, you’ll hear the term "home automation" a lot. This designation refers to a home that lets you control everything going on inside it with the touch of a button. Things like regulating your home temperature, turning lights on or off, locking doors, and even controlling your security system become easy checkboxes. An automated home is one that thinks for you, one that leverages new technology and more readily available devices that are smart enough to save you time, effort, and money when it comes to protecting your home, your business, and your assets in general. In short, automating your home can be the ticket to peace of mind.

"With the touch of a button on your smartphone or device, you can keep an eye on your home or business."

The benefits to home automation technology include:

It’s safer. You can control lighting, meaning the lights come on when you get home, or when motion is detected. You can lock the doors, even when you’re already halfway to your destination. You also have the option to set up alerts for when visitors arrive.

It’s energy efficient. With a smart home, you can save energy and money by regulating your thermostat and setting lights to timers, so that they shut off when not in use.

It saves you money. Obviously, when your home operates more efficiently, you’ll save money in utilities, but you’ll also save on return trips home when you can’t remember if you locked the front door, or if you forgot to leave the lights on or off.

It’s convenient. With the touch of a button on your smartphone or device, you can keep an eye on your home or business. You won’t have to wonder about your assets while you’re away, and you don’t have to depend on neighbors to watch over it for you. Instead, everything you need to know is right at your fingertips.

It’s comfortable. Smart home technology learns to manage outdoor temperature spikes so that the inside of your house is always feeling just right.


Overall, you’re gaining peace of mind with home automation technology. At John Mark Custom Homes, we’d love to show you how we can help you make your home smarter, and help you live better. Call us today.

Create a Meaningful Home


Your home is more than four walls, a roof, and a floor - it is a reflection of you. Making your home a meaningful living space does not need to cost a fortune. Utilizing the three strategies listed below can help you create a home that truly represents your true nature.

"There is no law that prevents you from converting a formal dining space into a comfortable den."

Furnish to Fit Your Needs

It’s fine to take cues from professional decorators or home décor websites, but at the end of the day, it’s your home. You and your family are the ones who live there. Keep that fact in mind as you furnish your home. If you never have formal dinners but you have a large family that loves watching sports together, there is no law that prevents you from converting a formal dining space into a comfortable den or family room.

Choose Art from the Heart

Beautiful artwork is an enhancement to any home. But if you lack the budget (or the sensibilities) of a serious collector, that doesn’t mean settling for a house or apartment with no artwork on the walls. Photographs of places you’ve visited, or would like to see, along with drawings from your little ones, or portraits of family members and friends bring warmth and their own brand of beauty to your home.

Purge What Isn’t Essential

A lived-in look can make your home feel cozy and inviting. On the other hand, a house overrun with clutter is anything but comfortable. At the extreme, excess clutter presents a genuine hazard to your family’s health and well being. Take the time to periodically purge items that no longer fit with your lifestyle and your family’s needs. If you donate the items to charity, you’ll gain the extra bonus of knowing your unwanted items are available to another family or individual who may need or want them.


Your home may not be a castle, but it is certainly a reflection of you. Taking the time and effort to make your home reflect your values can ensure that your home is a place you want to be, as well as a place you’ll be proud to welcome friends and family.