Nothing beats a comfy porch

Summers in the mid-Atlantic region can be brutally hot and humid. It’s hard to remember what we did before air conditioning. But sometimes in the evening, or when there is a bit of a breeze, or even at the beginning of a thunderstorm, there is nothing better than relaxing on the porch. A ceiling fan on a porch is one of the best things ever, but once that is in place, there are a lot of decisions to be made. Comfy chairs, a hammock, a swing, somewhere to have a meal. Whatever your choice, nothing says summer like sitting on porch, watching the fireflies, hearing kids playing in the neighborhood, and having something cold to drink.

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Daydreaming about garden sheds

With the spring blooms behind us and the early summer blooms bursting out all over, it’s hard not to be thinking about gardens. And whether you are a real gardener, a wannabe, or merely a spectator, it’s also hard not to be enticed by a charming garden shed. They come in a million shapes and styles. Given their small size and the fact that they can be built with less care than a house (i.e., less expensively), garden sheds can be the perfect laboratory for exploring your design fantasies or expressing your personality.

When I think of garden sheds, I think of sheds that are not just little buildings set in a garden, but sheds that are actually used to support the act/hobby/art of gardening. But there are all kinds of other possible uses, wood shops, art studios, writing retreats, play houses, and the list goes on. I think I will leave those for future posts. Today I present garden sheds used for gardening–although some of these examples may in fact be used for other things.

This little Cape Cod beauty has me thinking about lemonade and Golden Retrievers.
This little Cape Cod beauty has me thinking about lemonade and Golden Retrievers.
No doubt about it, this is an actual garden shed with garden tools and a place for potting and planning all sorts of green things.  Modest in size but perfectly detailed. This one actually makes the garden itself more interesting.
This one is perhaps a little too studied and tidy to be a bona fide potting shed. it certainly could be. Just needs a bit more dirt. Modest in size but nicely detailed. This one actually makes the garden itself more interesting. 
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This one nestles so nicely into its surroundings. The vine, the bench, the lattice work fence, the shutters. I even like the way the limed brick gives way at the foundation to the natural brick color. I have a sneaking suspicion that this is not a potting shed.
What a beauty. I can't tell if those are stones set in mortar or discs of tree trunk.
What a beauty. I can’t tell if those are stones set in mortar or discs of tree trunk.
I particularly like sheds that use reclaimed and repurposed material.
I particularly like sheds that use reclaimed and repurposed material.
The steep pitch roof made of opaque corrugated material provides great natural lighting.
The steep pitch roof made of opaque corrugated material provides great natural lighting.
I love how this modern design uses old, reclaimed material to soften it up and make it feel more rustic.
I love how this modern design uses old, reclaimed material to soften it up and make it feel more rustic.
Do we think the boards are actually reclaimed or painted to look so? Either way, I like it.
Do we think the boards are actually reclaimed or painted to look so? Either way, I like it.
Given that this is a chicken house I probably shouldn't include it, but chickens can improve gardens by keeping nefarious bugs at bay.
Given that this is a chicken house I probably shouldn’t include it, but chickens can improve gardens by keeping nefarious bugs at bay.
No question that this is a potting shed. It's horizontal lines and corner window put me in mind of some of Frank Lloyd Wright's simpler designs.
No question that this is a potting shed. It’s horizontal lines and corner window put me in mind of some of Frank Lloyd Wright’s simpler designs.
This open air rustic hut looks like it could be a concession stand in The Hobbit.
This open air rustic hut looks like it could be a concession stand in The Hobbit.
Would you believe this fantastically designed shed is a kit? Looks wonderful. Can't vouch for the product but in case you want to look into it, it is from Pine Harbor Wood Products.
Would you believe this fantastically designed shed is a kit? Looks wonderful. Can’t vouch for the product but in case you want to look into it, it is from Pine Harbor Wood Products.

You don’t need to be a mom to want a Mom Pantry

When given the opportunity to start planning a kitchen from scratch most people opt to have some sort of pantry. Cabinet makers have come up with innovative ways to make it possible to fit pantry features in cabinets of all sizes, but I think the minimum requirement for a Mom Pantry is to have a full height cabinet from the floor all the way up to the top of the soffit or ceiling. But you can’t stop there. It should also have racks on the inside of doors or pull-out shelves, or some other set up that allows users to see easily what is inside without having to dig around.

Cabinet pantries can work really well for most of us to live happy and productive lives, but there is something so attractive about a full-on, walk-in pantry. You can see things easily, kid-friendly foods can be kept on lower shelves, and there is plenty of room for bulk purchases. I’ve even seen some with coffee making stations to keep all of that clutter off kitchen counters. The possibilities are endless.

Always like to start with a pretty picture. For those with picturesque foodstuffs, glass doors might be the approach for you. For the rest of us, maybe not.
Always like to start with a pretty picture. For those with picturesque foodstuffs, glass doors might be the approach for you. For the rest of us, maybe not.
This is a beautiful pantry but the solid door and frosted glass mean that you wouldn't have to worry about how things looked on the inside if you didn't want to.
This is a beautiful pantry but the solid door and frosted glass mean that you wouldn’t have to worry about how things looked on the inside if you didn’t want to.
This one is amazing, but it is almost like a second kitchen. Not sure how many of us would want something this elaborate. On the other hand, why not?
This one is amazing, but it is almost like a second kitchen. Not sure how many of us would want something this elaborate. On the other hand, why not?
This one is pretty and the natural light can be a help in finding things, but it can also make the room too hot or cold for keeping some food its freshest. I would also get rid of he shelves on the wall next to the window. I think it makes it too cramped for accessing the other shelves and it doesn't add that much additional storage space to make it worth it.
This one is pretty and the natural light can be a help in finding things, but it can also make the room too hot or cold for keeping some food its freshest. I would also get rid of he shelves on the wall next to the window. I think it makes it too cramped for accessing the other shelves and it doesn’t add that much additional storage space to make it worth it.
Lots of nice, solid, adjustable shelves. Plenty of flexibility.
Lots of nice, solid, adjustable shelves, so plenty of flexibility, but there are definitely some dark corners with hard to reach areas.
If you are going to have fixed shelves make sure you have some height variation to accommodate things of different sizes with the tallest shelves being toward the bottom.
If you are going to have fixed shelves make sure you have some height variation to accommodate things of different sizes with the tallest shelves being toward the bottom.
If you don't have a walk-in closet, you can definitely make do with something much shallower.
If you don’t have a walk-in closet, you can definitely make do with something much shallower.
A fairly wide closet pantry, but not a walk-in. Notice how the there is a place for everything but nothing is too specialized or custom. Allows for good flexibility.
A fairly wide closet pantry, but not a walk-in. Notice how there is a place for everything but nothing is too specialized or custom. Allows for good flexibility.
This pantry is pretty basic but also pretty awesome. Adjustable shelving, counter depth shelves at counter height offers a good flat service for setting things down.
This pantry is pretty basic but also pretty awesome. It makes me hungry. Adjustable shelving and counter-depth shelves at counter height which offers a good flat service for setting things down. Bins are used when helpful. Baskets are good for keeping smaller things organized. Everything is pretty visible and easily accessed.
I like how old fashioned this one looks, but I think the heavy glass canisters so high up make them less handy. Also small canned goods down low where you have to bend to see what is there. And I think baskets for things like boxed food doesn't make much sense. Instead of just grabbing something off the shelf, you have to pull out the basket and select your item and then put the basket back. It sounds pretty simple, but any storage solution that requires more than one step often means that people don't put things back where they go.
I like how old fashioned this one looks, but I think the heavy glass canisters so high up make them less handy. Also small canned goods down low where you have to bend to see what is there. And I think baskets for things like boxed food don’t make much sense. Instead of just grabbing something off the shelf, you have to pull out the basket and select your item and then put the basket back. It sounds pretty simple, but any storage solution that requires more than one step often means that people don’t put things back where they go.
I think equally problematic is this open pantry. It is beautiful for sure, but perhaps only for someone who wants to transfer every food item to a glass jar. Not sure it is very practical, but visually interesting for sure.
I think equally problematic is this open pantry. It is beautiful for sure, but perhaps only for someone who wants to transfer every food item to a glass jar. Not sure it is very practical, but visually interesting.
Not quite sure how this space relates to the kitchen and it looks good but the ladder is cumbersome and having things that high is not very practical. On the other hand the narrow shelves allow one to see everything without  having to move anything.
Not quite sure how this space relates to the kitchen, the ladder seems cumbersome, and having things that high is not very practical, but it sure looks nice. The shallow shelves allow one to see everything without having to move anything.

Don’t let rainy days get you down

We’ve been thinking a lot about rainy days recently, and not just because it seems like it may be a bit of a wet Spring. No, the real reason is that we have a few sets of permit drawings that have been passed back to our engineers with comments about meeting storm water runoff regulations. As various levels of government and regulatory agencies throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed step up their game to protect the Bay, storm water runoff regulations are starting to have a pronounced impact on how homeowners deal with their own runoff. Or at least it is for those homeowners who need a building permit.

We’ll have more to say about this some time in the near future, but for now we thought we’d leave you with one of the prettier ways to deal with storm water on your property: Conservation or Rain Gardens.

Before the pretty pictures, we’ll let this graphic tell the rain garden story.

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Note the built up edge on the storm water grate. That helps keep the rain in the garden and out of the sewer system. Unless there is too much water, then it just goes over the edge into the drain.
Note the built up edge on the storm water grate. That helps keep the rain in the garden and out of the sewer system. Unless there is too much water, then it just goes over the edge into the drain.

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Some rain gardens also include a dry creek which is usually a shallow rock creek that directs and slows down runoff.
Some rain gardens also include a dry creek which is usually a shallow rock creek that directs and slows down runoff.

Make yourself at home

Welcome to At Home with MK–a blog for those of us love everything about the world of home design. Although we build homes for a living (at MK Development) we can’t get enough of faucets and windows and doorknobs and paint colors and…well, you get the point. And being engineering geeks we even get excited about the technical stuff, from energy-efficient windows and green roofs to footings and foundations.

So stay for a while, look around, let us know what you think, and most importantly, make yourself at home.