Lesson 10. Small luxuries make daily life a pleasure

A bathroom that's outfitted to make a homeowner feel like royalty really ups the relaxation and comfort factor. The Carlisle master bath has a deep spa tub, a large shower with a built-in limestone bench, limestone floors, handmade ceramic wall tiles, and big windows that flood it with natural light. There's even a TV hidden behind a two-way mirror over the vanity so you can catch those reruns — of, oh, maybe, This Old House — while having a soak.

Lesson 11. Great views belong in private spaces, too

It's usually the public rooms in a house that showcase a spectacular view, but a bedroom is also a terrific spot to build in sight lines to the outdoors. Rather than turn our master suite into a second-floor cocoon, we took a page from homeowners who prefer a first-floor master suite — that's more than half of you — and designed a ground-level bedroom that blurs the boundary between inside and out. Three floor-length corner window units take advantage of the room's location, facing the very private backyard. And a vaulted ceiling adds to the feeling of expansiveness.

Lesson 12. Modern materials can speed up construction

Every project has its delays, and Carlisle was no exception. After a septic-tank issue halted work for weeks, Tom and his crew had a lot of time to make up. Luckily they had already planned to build the new ell from precast foundation panels and prefab structural insulated panel (SIP) walls.

While the the foundation was being prepared and assembled (in all of one day), the walls were essentially being framed in the factory. It took less than a week to put them up, and the strong SIP walls easily supported the many large window openings that the project called for.

Materials

Limestone, ceramic tile: Walker Zanger
Windows: Andersen Windows
Foundation: Superior Walls of America
Structural Insulated Panels: Insulspan

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