For this this month’s Beyond the Build, we sat down for a conversation with Mark Verdova, Vice President of Payne & Payne, Custom Home Builder and Home Renovations, to learn about the design elements that go into building a dream home. Specifically, we take a look at their latest model home project, Augusta, set in Aurora, Ohio on Barrington Golf Club.

Tell us about Payne & Payne, your role, and the Augusta model home project.

Payne & Payne is a family-owned and -operated custom home design and build firm, based out of Chardon, Ohio. We have an architect and several designers on staff. We build new homes all over Northeast Ohio – these projects can be within subdivisions, on outlots, or even knocking down an existing home and building new in its place.

My role as Vice President is to oversee our Custom Division on the preconstruction side, which includes sales, project management, and design; essentially, everything to get a project ready for the field. Building or buying a home is one of the biggest and most personal investments people can make – its where their memories are made and families grow – and it’s so rewarding to be a part of that.

Our Augusta project is our latest model home that we designed and built in Aurora, Ohio in a subdivision called Barrington. It’s a gated golf course community with residential all around it. The model home is a beautiful 3,300 square-foot build with a first-floor master bedroom and clean-lined design that backs to the golf course. It serves to give inspiration to our customers for their own unique builds by exemplifying current trends, displaying a floor plan that works for various life stages, and incorporating what most people are asking for in their builds.

What was the inspiration behind the Augusta model homes?

Our architect Mike Caito had the vision – he wanted to do something a little more modern while still designing something a family could live in. This included creating an open space indoors with an inviting exterior living area that was ideal for entertaining. At the same time, he wanted to create some “away” spaces within the house, like the study and the lounge upstairs, so there could be some separation when desired. Many homes built in the last few years have such an open floor plan that privacy becomes an issue. This home is the best of both worlds.

What is the selection process for the materials and products used in your builds?

Payne & Payne has a design center in the office that people can come to and pick most of the items that go in their home with our in-house design team. We also partner with several local showrooms where we can send our clients if what we have in our design center isn’t a match.

When building a home, selecting the right materials and products is so important. Home buyers can often be intimated by the selection process, but we guide them through it and make suggestions based on what we know about their style and preferences. As decisions are made for one area, like cabinetry, for instance, it informs and eliminates other decisions in the kitchen design. Thus, making it easier to select the next item.

We always like to help give as much inspiration and guidance to our customers as they need. Houzz and Pinterest can be of great help, especially when coupled with a design concierge to help source the right choices for the build.

What are the elements that go into building and designing a “dream home”?

Building someone’s dream home is a huge undertaking, and one decision could be the difference between a huge success and a missed opportunity. First and foremost is finding the right team and company to make the buyer’s vision come to life. It’s so important to have people you trust working together. At Payne & Payne, we have our own in-house architect and designers which makes it easier for us to all be on the same page.

Next, it’s finding the right piece of land and designing something site-specific to take advantage of topography, views, and even position of the sun.

Equally as important is for the designers and builders to ask the right questions to find out what their customers are hoping to accomplish. It’s important to consider elements they love about their current home or living situation, and what they want to improve upon, streamline, accomplish or add to their new space. The beauty of custom home building is just that – inherently, it affords the opportunity to start from scratch to build the home of the buyer’s dreams.

Above all, it’s important that the homeowner has something that makes them happy about the space – something that excites them every day, or is just plain cool, whether that is funky green tile, trendy brass finishes, or a unique lighting fixture – a dream home is one that excites the homeowner for years to come. For home chefs, for example, top-of-the-line appliances like Thermador are a must.

The kitchen is often considered the most important room in a home build, and a key element to a dream home. Walk us through your process for the kitchens in this build.

We knew the kitchen was going to be the focus for our Augusta model home, and we had to come up with something fresh to give that WOW factor. Two important elements when we started our design were clean lines, and luxury, high-end appliances.

We always start with appliances, as those set the stage for sizing and layouts of the cabinetry. We have used and loved Thermador products in previous builds, we decided to pick a Thermador package from our appliance partner. The timeless yet modern look, coupled with unmatched performance, made choosing Thermador an obvious selection.

Next, we pick plumbing fixtures to confirm how many sinks or faucets will be in the design. From there, we get into the cabinet selection and layouts to map the space around the appliances and plumbing fixtures. Next, we select countertops – for this design specifically, we did an on-trend waterfall edge. Lastly, we select our tile backsplash to round out the design and choose lighting fixtures as the finishing touch.

Additionally, we decided that a built-in booth style informal eating area would add a unique element to the design, so we incorporated that in addition to the more conventional eating area between the kitchen and great room.

When creating a model home, what are three important factors that builders want to consider?

First, we consider who the target consumer group is. This includes people with a certain budget, demographic, lifestyle, region, etc. People who work with Payne & Payne are generally not first-time home buyers and are looking to upgrade their space. For Barrington specifically, the golf course and the lifestyle in the community is a huge attraction. That said, we designed the model home to exemplify something that would work for most people and their living situations.

Next, we take great pride in properly staging the home. Guests can be easily distracted by the staging, so it’s important that it doesn’t take away from the design and quality of the home.

Lastly, I like to see 3, 4, or 5 “anchors” in the house – meaning things that are memorable that guests leave saying “that was cool!” For the Augusta model home, this could mean the high-end Thermador appliances used in the kitchen, the extensive outdoor living space, the unique tilework used through the build, or even the use of unique, “extra” spaces throughout the house.

In the Augusta model home project, there seems to be an emphasis on the outdoor living space. How did your team balance the use of indoor and outdoor space?

Because of the pandemic, people have been home more and have tended to spend more time outside to get some fresh air. We decided that having large windows and doors to bring natural light in would be well received, as more activities like working and school, are done in the home.

The windows and doors encourage people to come in and out of the covered porch, and the fire pit and patio below makes for an easy transition. In Ohio, outdoor elements that increase the longevity you can enjoy outdoor spaces throughout the seasons are key.

My favorite part of the home is probably the second-floor deck. There are beautiful views of the golf course!

What is the #1 feature home buyers look for?

A wish list is different for everyone, but, I have yet to meet someone who doesn’t care about the kitchen. This space is important consistently, as it directly impacts the way people entertain, gather, and eat. It has evolved into being a central hub.

Most times, guests are sitting around the island having a drink or even eating while the homeowner is cooking and entertaining. Having showpiece top name brand appliances, like Thermador, cool cabinetry and counters, and a backsplash that pops is something that gets people excited to spend time and entertain in that space.

Anything else you’d like to share about this project?

The Augusta model home in Barrington is a project we are especially proud of. We’re proud to be a family-owned and -operated company, and our design team really worked well together and created something that has been well received because its fresh and functional. It incorporates trends in a way that isn’t too abstract, and could function as a home for just about anyone. I love the versatility of the home – how rooms can be interpreted for different uses, the variety of spaces for entertaining, and the unique yet livable design elements.