Inside the Residences at 66 High Street with Designer Maryellen Sullivan

It was an easy decision.

Four years ago, Interior Designer Maryellen Sullivan was asked to help design units at The Residences at 66 High Street. The development would break ground around the corner from her own home, and she immediately knew she wanted to assist in creating a community as distinct as the town of Guilford. 

“When I got involved, I felt it was important to help make it the best that it can be. I want the level and quality of it to be something that can be maintained throughout the years,” Maryellen explained. 

During those initial stages, Maryellen worked with us at The Horton Group to select materials and elements to attract people and remain timeless over the years. 

She continues to move forward with this vision in every unit she completes.

The Old and The New

The Residences at 66 High Street masterfully blend historical features of the town with brand new luxury design. The Mill Building was the first to be renovated. Initially built in 1884, the Mill once made everything from lollipops to torpedo switches. 

The Mill at the Residences at 66 High Street

Many of the original features, including antique brick, steel, exposed beams, mill trusses, and refurbished factory lighting remain in the units. These unique features allowed Maryellen to be creative when designing each residence, pairing the industrial elements of the building with luxury finishes to create functional living spaces.

“As a designer, I’m seeing things years ahead,” Maryellen stated. “No matter the style, there is still a range of what will be relevant in five years.” 

In every unit she completes, Maryellen selects home finishes that have staying power. With the rustic elements inside the Mill Building, it was essential to highlight the uniqueness of each living space, while ensuring the finished product would outlast a trend. 

The Leete, The Whitfield, and The Chittenden (currently being constructed) are new buildings with an entirely different style than The Mill. These modern luxury units feature thoughtfully laid-out open floor plans, high ceilings, crown molding, and high-end finishes. 

The Leete at the Residences at 66 High Street

The beautiful architectural features and an abundance of windows allow the incredible views of the marsh and Long Island Sound to be a central feature. In these units, Maryellen works to ensure the living space is laid out seamlessly, so residents feel like they are part of the exquisite landscape. 

Up next: Unit 27

As one of the two residences left in The Whitfield Building, Unit 27 is Maryellen’s current project. With each new space, her goal is to create a unique unit that fits with the rest of the building.  

How is Whitfield unit 27 going to stand out among the already completed units?

It begins with the floor plan. All residences have the highly desired open floor plan in the main living areas. In unit 27, Maryellen is working to create more defined spaces that naturally flow from one area to the next.

“I wanted to design a floor plan that is unique to itself yet as dynamic as the other units,” explained Maryellen.

Inspiration for Unit 27

For materials, Maryellen is mixing elements to create a fresh look. Classic mahogany instead of rustic wood used in The Mill, brass and gold fixtures, and the contrast in flooring and cabinet colors are creating a unique kitchen. 

The unit also has incredible geometric fixtures that give it great style. 

“In my mind’s eye, it looks awesome,” Maryellen says. “I hope when people walk in, they will see the qualities that highlight it as fresh.”

Working at 66 High Street

While Maryellen is continually inspired by the features and views at 66 High Street, she is most impressed with the community. 

Having lived in Guilford for more than 20 years, Maryellen feels a deep connection to the town. As new residents move into 66 High Street, she watches at how fascinated they become – not just of the luxury development, but of how special the shoreline town is. 

In turn, the people who live in the Residences are uplifting downtown Guilford in new ways. 

“66 has built a community that is changing the town. It is breathing a new energy: it’s a refreshing outcome to see how it is branching out into the community and the town center,” she said. 

What is an HVAC Zoning System ?

Have you ever been so cold in one room of your house that you jack the heat up, only to realize the rest of the rooms are now too hot? Or is one person in your family continually turning the AC on high and freezing out everyone else?

HVAC systems heat and cool an entire house, but a single thermostat can make it challenging to maintain a comfortable temperature for every room in the house.  HVAC systems controlled by one thermostat have just that – one thermostat. This means that it only reads the temperature in the room it is located. If the thermostat is in the main living areas, it can lead to the upstairs being too warm, or a room next to the garage too cold. 

In a home with varying degrees throughout the house, a zoning system may help to solve the heating and cooling issues. 

How an HVAC Zoning System Works

An HVAC zoning system uses multiple thermostats, a control panel, and dampers in the ductwork to regulate airflow. The thermostats read the temperature for different areas of the house, and the control panel takes those temperatures and signals the dampers. From there, the dampers either open or close, depending on if that room needs heating or cooling. 

Comfort at Home

In the heat of the summer and during winter’s freezing temperatures, it can be difficult to find a temperature where everyone in the household is comfortable from all areas of the house. Some people like it warm, while others prefer cooler temperatures. With a zoning system, each person’s preferences can be accommodated for different areas of the house. 

For houses with multiple levels, large windows, or rooms that you prefer to be cooler (like a workshop or home gym), zoning reads and maintains the appropriate temperature for each area. 

Sustainable Energy

There are usually areas in the house that are used less frequently than in other areas. With three to four different zones, you can avoid overheating or overcooling rooms that are not in use. The efficiency of zoned HVAC helps to lower your monthly bills, lengthen the life of your system, and decrease the amount of energy used in your home. 

The added comfort and energy savings you can achieve by installing a zoning system is worth considering, especially if you have already taken care of any air leaks and insulation issues. To determine if HVAC zoning is a good fit for your home, work with a certified HVAC contractor. 

 

Advantages to Finishing a Basement

Basements are excellent for storage. But that doesn’t mean basements need to remain dark and dingy. Remodeling the lower level of your home increases living space, can add value to your property, and is energy efficient. 

More Living Space

If you love your house but feel cramped, or you want another area where you can get some privacy, a remodeled basement provides more living space. The best part of refinishing a basement is that you can be as creative as you want. Since the essential rooms are already on the upper levels of the home, you can utilize this extra space to create a dream room.

A dream basement might be a playroom for children, so you don’t have to look at toys in the main living room. It could include a fitness area, game room, home theater, or a home office that is secluded from the rest of the house. Whatever you wish you had the room for upstairs can become part of a finished basement. 

Potential to Add Value to Your Property

You may already know that kitchen and bathroom renovations generally have the best return on investment. But a finished basement can also add value to your property. By setting a budget, and working with a contractor who knows zoning laws and regulations for your area, you can create a space that adds value to your house. 

A finished basement may add value if it includes:

  • An additional bedroom. In smaller homes, a third or fourth bedroom in the basement may attract more buyers.
  • Additional bathroom. If your house has just one bathroom, adding another one can be a good return on investment. If the basement provides the space for an additional bathroom, it is a good idea to include in your renovations.
  • Income unit. An in-law suite or rental unit could also be designed for a basement remodel. This would need to follow zoning and safety regulations, so check with your contractor to ensure it is possible for your home. 

Energy Efficiency

Cold air can leak in through the basement, making a house feel drafty. Energy Star recommends sealing air leaks in both the basement and the attic in order to decrease this cold airflow and save on energy bills. When renovating a basement, check to make sure there are no gaps around pipes or electrical lines. This is also the time to make sure the basement is insulated properly. 

When thoughtfully designed, remodeling a basement has many benefits. What does your dream basement include?

 

What are energy efficient windows?

Energy efficiency is overwhelmingly important to homeowners, which was made clear in a 2019 study conducted by the National Association of Home Builders. 

For homeowners, installing energy efficient windows is one of the easiest ways to reduce energy consumption.  Consequently, lower energy consumption means lower monthly heating and cooling bills. 

What are energy efficient windows?

Energy efficient windows work with the seasons. In the winter, they keep heat inside the home, while in the summer, they keep the cool air in. The climate zone where you live determines the type of window that is qualified for your location. 

The easiest way to determine if a window is energy efficient is to select ENERGY STAR rated products. ENERGY STAR rated windows are manufactured by an ENERGY STAR partner, tested and certified by the National Fenestration Rating Council, and meet strict energy efficiency guidelines set by the US Environmental Protection Agency.

Features of an Energy Efficient Window

For windows to be considered energy efficient, they must meet specific criteria. These include:

 

  • Low-E Glass. A special coating on the windows helps to reflect infrared light and ultraviolet light. This not only increases the insulation, but helps to protect carpet and furniture against fading from the sun.
  • Panes of Glass. Energy efficient windows contain at least two panes of glass, but can have three or more panes for more insulation. 
  • Warm Edge Spacers. Edge spacers keep the panes of glass secure at an equal distance apart. Warm edge spacers are non-metallic, helping to reduce the loss of heat around the edges of the window.
  • Gas Fill. In between the panes of glass, non-toxic, odorless, and colorless gases can be added. These gases help increase insulation. 

 

 

Framing Options

In addition to creating the aesthetic style of the window, window frames are as important as glass when it comes to energy efficiency. There are numerous options for ENERGY STAR rated window frames. All of these framing options are designed to provide optimal insulation:

 

  • Wood 
  • Fiberglass
  • Vinyl
  • Aluminum 
  • Combination: Made of different materials, used separately throughout the frame (such as a wood interior and fiberglass exterior). 
  • Composite: Manufactured with blended materials. 

 

 

We know how important it is to both reduce energy usage and keep the home comfortable. Selecting windows that are energy efficient is an easy way to accomplish both.

More than Location: Why 66 High Street Feels like Home

“Our feeling for Guilford was that is was warm, accessible; and it’s only been reinforced by the people that we’ve experienced here at 66 High Street,” says Tom Conforti, who now lives at The Residences at 66 High Street. 

First drawn to the location of Guilford, after settling into 66 High Street, Tom has noticed it is more than the setting that makes the Residences feel like home. 

Warm and Friendly

A coastal town, Guilford has historical roots and prides itself on community. Residents of 66 High Street can walk to the Guilford Green, where a community event is usually taking place, or pop into one of the shops or restaurants downtown. 

Back home at 66 High Street, people feel engulfed in a beautiful, secluded landscape, with views of the marsh and Long Island Sound. The scenic setting is perfect for quiet evenings on the balcony or when gathering with loved ones. 

In addition to the beautiful landscape and coastal living downtown, the people at 66 High Street have made Tom feel welcome in his new home. Everybody is friendly and willing to help each other out. 

“We’ve been struck at how engaging the embrace was from current residents of 66 High Street,” said Tom. 

Luxury Accommodations

With the beautiful scenery and close proximity to downtown Guilford, The Horton Group knew luxury living was the only option when planning the residences. 

Like the Horton Group, Tom shared the same vision for his next home.

 “We wanted luxury accommodations in a scenic setting; and of course we were able to design the house according to our specifications,” he stated.

The Horton Group works with each resident to make sure their home is ideally situated to their tastes. Each unit begins with top-of-the-line features and attributes, and can be altered to fit the taste of the homeowners. 

Easy Maintenance and Worry-Free Travel

In addition to superior craftsmanship, the Residences at 66 High Street are secure and hassle-free. Whether residents travel for a couple of weeks, or spend months away at a second dwelling, there is nothing to worry about when away from home. 

“When we leave to return to New Jersey,” Tom explained, “we realize we are leaving behind a home that’s secure, easy to maintain for us.”

Security provides peace of mind that cannot be measured. Knowing that when you return home, you will come back to a fully maintained home and property eliminates the stress of travel. 

“We would have not purchased a home that didn’t provide us this level of luxury, convenience, and accessibility like 66 High Street does,” Tom said. 

 

Most (and Least) Wanted Features in a Home

We’ve all thought about our dream home: the features, design, and amenities we would select if there were no limiting factors. 

In What Home Buyers Really Want (2019 Edition), a study conducted by the National Association of Home Builders, close to 4,000 home buyers were surveyed to determine the most desirable features when looking for a home.

The survey found that the most desirable features are all about practicality. 

Most Wanted Features

In the survey, participants ranked each feature as Essential, Desirable, Indifferent, or Do Not Want. These were the top ten features buyers look for in a home, according to the survey:

Feature Percentage of People who Rated the Feature ‘Essential’ or ‘Desirable’
Laundry Room 91%
ENERGY STAR rated windows 89%
Patio 87%
ENERGY STAR rated appliances 86%
Ceiling Fan 85%
Garage Storage 85%
Exterior Lighting 85%
Walk-in Pantry 83%
Hardwood Flooring 83%
Double Kitchen Sink 81%

 

A laundry room came in as the most desired feature in a home, with 91% noting this was important in their home search. Having a laundry room in the primary residence is convenient and saves our most valued asset: time. 

The remaining top ten features focus heavily on sensible and sustainable features. Two spots in the top ten show that ENERGY STAR ratings are essential to today’s buyers.

In addition to ENERGY STAR windows and appliances in the top ten, ENERGY STAR for the entire home came in at number 11, with 81% of buyers stating it was essential or desirable in a home. Green construction is important to consider when moving into a new home, and ENERGY STAR features are one of the easiest ways to implement a sustainable lifestyle. 

Storage is another factor homebuyers seriously consider, with both garage storage and a walk-in pantry making the top ten features. 

Least Wanted Features

As far as what buyers are not looking for, here are the most unwanted features in a home:

Feature Percentage of People who Rated the Feature ‘Do Not Want’
Elevator 66%
Wine Cellar 57%
Day Care Center 50%
Plant Covered Roof 50%
Pet Washing Station 49%
Dual Toilets in Master Bath 48%
Cork Flooring 47%
Golf Course Community 47%
Two Story Family Room 47%
High Density Development 46%

 

The top two unwanted features in a home were an elevator, with 66% of home buyers stating they did not want one in a home, and a wine cellar, with 57% of participants stating they do not want one.

Other features that are unwanted by home buyers are focused on community amenities. Ones that made the ‘do not want’ list include a daycare center, plant-covered roof, pet washing station, and golf course community. 

What are your most desired features in a home?

4 Benefits of One-Level Living

One-level living does not mean cramped living quarters. In fact, a one-level floor plan lends to an open flow, high ceilings, and can easily provide space for all of your needs – without the need to go up and down the stairs. 

Accessibility

Accessibility is the most significant benefit to one-level living. With everything on one floor, the struggle of ascending and descending the stairs is eliminated. Whether you have a toddler in the house, elderly in-laws staying with you, or plan to retire in the home, one level is easier and safer to navigate. 

At The Residences at 66 High Street, The Whitfield and The Leete feature one-level units, with elevators that go from the parking garage or lobby up to each floor. 

Open Floor Plan Options

Open floor plans continue to be the most sought after design in homes. An open flow between the most used areas of the home – the kitchen, dining area, and living room – creates a feeling of connection. This holds true whether you are hosting a party or preparing a meal for your family.

With everything on one level, designing an open floor plan comes naturally. There is no family room in the basement or loft on the second level that becomes the gathering space. 

Increased Energy Efficiency

Single story homes usually have a floor plan that air naturally flows through. The HVAC system required for a one-level residence is more sustainable and generally less expensive than what is needed to heat and cool multiple levels properly. 

Easy to Maintain

Both the interior and exterior of single-level houses are easier to keep clean and maintain. Inside, your cleaning supplies and laundry room are on the same floor, which means you do not have to carry items up and down the stairs while cleaning. The exterior is also easier to maintain, whether you are power washing the siding, cleaning the windows, or clearing out gutters. 

With more people aging in place and staying in their homes throughout retirement, one-level living is becoming more sought after. Are you considering moving to a one-story residence? Contact us to discuss floor plan options. 

How to Make Any Size Bathroom Feel Luxurious

Hearing the phrase “spa-like bathroom,” we envision a spacious bathroom, complete with a soaking tub, separate walk-in shower, double vanity, and space for lounging.

If you are building a custom home or completely renovating a house, you can create space for a large bathroom. But, if you are doing a remodel, in most cases you need to stick to the size that you have.

Luxury can be incorporated into any bathroom – large or small – by paying attention to the details. So even if you can’t have a large tub and a separate shower, you can still feel like you just stepped into a spa.

Christina Fay, Bathroom Designer for Bender Showroom, shares tips on how to make any bathroom feel luxurious.

Organization and Color

A well-organized space with a clear direction for the flow of traffic can open up a small space. A floating vanity allows you to see the floor all the way to the wall, while a glass panel shower opens up every bit of square footage.

“Coming from the paint industry, I can tell you that the fastest way to feel a change is to change the colors involved. A new feel, a new energy, and a new start for a room starts with a change in colors,” said Christina.

For smaller bathrooms, white or neutral colors help to make a room feel airy. Light and bright colors are reflective and can mimic the effect of natural light, making the room feel larger.

Custom Cabinetry

To upgrade a bathroom, custom cabinets with slow closing drawers offer sophistication. Bender worked on the cabinetry in the kitchens and bathrooms at The Residences at 66 High Street, providing each unit with high-quality cabinets. Adding in mixed metals by selecting pewter, graphite, gunmetal, or chrome hardware creates the industrial look that is now trending in bathrooms. In order to ensure the bathroom invites in warmth, Bender recommends mixing metals by adding in traditional finishes, such as antique brass.

Temperature Control

No one likes stepping out of the shower onto a cold tile floor. Towel warmers and heated floors evoke spa-like comfort. You can opt for a portion of the floor to be heated, such as space right in front of the shower, or the entire floor.

Connectivity

Advanced technology is seeping into every room of the house, and bathrooms are not excluded.

“Connectivity has become the demand for luxury for those willing to invest in it,” explained Christina.

Popular options included vanity mirrors with options like illumination, defogging glass, Bluetooth speakers. Personalized controls for the shower, body jets, rain head, a waterfall panel in the ceiling, times steam generators, Chromatherapy (colored lighting for mood setting) and aromatherapy controls are all possibilities for a dream bathroom.

“The sky is the limit when you can build a package of systems all linked to one digital interface,” Christina said.

Bathrooms can instill a sense of peace and relaxation. No matter what size your bathroom is, you have endless options for creating a space that is both luxurious and practical.

 

Kitchen Renovations: Where to Splurge

A well-designed kitchen can make an entire house feel more luxurious. The heart of the home, the kitchen is where families and friends gather to prepare food, discuss their days, enjoy meals, and unwind with a drink.

The Horton Group knows how important the kitchen is to most people, which is why we incorporate the best quality and design into the homes we build. For the luxury condominium units at The Residences at 66 High Street, we called on Bender to design the kitchen cabinetry with designer Daryl Zorn.

Bender has six Connecticut locations, with national recognition for their award-winning showrooms. For the model units of the Whitfield and Leete buildings, Zorn worked closely with our interior designer and Nicole White from One + Company Real Estate, the listing company for 66 High Street, to make selections.

“The rest were custom units where I worked directly with the buyers and got a feel of the styling they liked. The styles range from traditional to somewhat farmhouse with distressed cabinets to transitional,” Zorn said.

Kitchens continue to be the most desired room to renovate. The average kitchen renovation costs over $20,000, according to Home Advisor, and can easily go much higher. Because Bender focuses on function, budget, and innovative design, we reached out to them to determine which items are worth the splurge in the kitchen.

1. Cabinet Box Construction

A quality-built cabinet is essential for new kitchens. Pay attention to both the material of the cabinet box and the way it is built. Some manufacturers claim all plywood construction, but with poor assembly. Paying more for the build of the cabinets will go a long way in your kitchen.

2. Qualified Contractor or Installer

Spending money on the quality of the cabinets will go to waste if not installed correctly, and it is not the best time to try out your DIY skills. Find a contractor or installer who is an expert with cabinetry. They know what screws to use, how to level cabinetry, and how to adjust drawers and hinges. A quality installation job will last a lifetime and makes it easier for other contractors in your kitchen, including plumbers, electricians, and countertop installers.

3. Appliances

High-quality appliances not only add to the design of your kitchen but, more importantly, better your cooking experience and the food you eat. With advanced technology, high-end appliances give you more control over how you cook and make cleanup easier.

4. Cabinet Hardware

Hardware allows for endless customization options in the kitchen. Mixed metals, including brushed brass, chrome, and matte black, are trending in kitchen designs. Bender recommends choosing two or three metals that complement each other and play off of one another in cabinet hardware, light fixtures, and faucets. The “jewelry” of the kitchen, cabinet knobs and pulls can make the difference between a nice kitchen and a fabulous kitchen.

No matter what you decide to spend your budget on in the kitchen, you cannot go wrong with quality products installed by a professional.

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