It is a joy to open your home and welcome friends and family members for festive holiday celebrations. In order to keep stress levels down so you can enjoy the merriments, it is a good idea to begin cleaning your home ahead of time. You might want to delegate chores to other family members. Maybe the older kids can clean and tidy their own rooms, so you don’t need to even include those rooms on your to-do list. Even the smallest family members can put some toys in the toy box or storage containers! Adults can divide their tasks into two main categories – organizing and cleaning. Try tackling the largest jobs first and leave the little touch-ups until the last minute, just as guests ring the doorbell.

Go for a Streamlined Aesthetic

Guests love a streamlined aesthetic. So, get rid of the clutter on your kitchen and bathroom counters and remove any other unnecessary items – especially in rooms where they may be staying. Think functional but festive. You can always return items after the season is over, or you might find you enjoy life with less stuff.

The Major Clean

If you are super organized and have the time to dedicate an entire week to getting your home ready to host holiday guests, here is a plan for you. Once you have decluttered and organized your home, you will be amazed at how much faster it is to clean without having to move so much stuff around as you clean. Concentrate on three main areas – the entryway, the bathrooms and kitchen.

Entryway – This is the first impression your guests have when entering and you want to make it a good one. Make sure the floor is clear of debris and has been freshly swept or vacuumed. Any glass in your entry doors should be clear and free of smudges. There should be a designated area for guests to place coats and boots. And don’t forget to add some festive touches to your foyer.

Bathrooms – These should be stocked with plenty of extra paper goods and towels that are visible and easily accessible to guests. Counters should be clear and wiped clean. Also pay attention to the toilet, floor and tubs. The mirror should be clean and don’t forget to open your medicine cabinet to see if it passes the guest test.

Kitchen – You will probably be preparing and cooking several dishes when company comes. But before you dive into the recipe book, clean and deodorize the refrigerator, wipe down all your cabinets, and make sure your oven and stove top have been cleaned. The garbage disposal should be cleaned and deodorized and all trash should be removed from the kitchen. Any aromas that are left in your kitchen should be of the great-tasting food you are preparing.

You will want to do a whole-house vacuum and wipe-down of all surfaces. If you have pets, make sure there is no visible hair.

Get the Holiday Best Ready

If you are a formal entertainer who uses special holiday china and stemware, like the real silver and holiday trays, be sure to get the items out of their storage areas and make sure they are cleaned, polished, and ready for use. Make sure you have all the items you need for a bar set-up – alcohol, mixers, accessories and ice. Set your elegant table before going to bed and you will get to enjoy it all day as you cook and tidy-up the rest of the house.

Last Minute Christmas Clean-Up

Maybe you spent too much time at the shops looking for the perfect gifts, got stuck in traffic or made a big mess of your kitchen preparing your favorite holiday recipes. Whatever the reason that time has flown by, before you know it, guests will be arriving, and Santa will be on his way down the chimney! Have no fear – there is still hope in keeping yourself off the naughty list.

Concentrate your last-minute efforts on the entryway to your home, the kitchen and the bathrooms. Then, grab a multi-purpose cleaner and a microfiber cloth and wipe all visible surfaces.  If guests feel welcome as they enter, your bathrooms are clean, and the kitchen is picked up and full of enticing aromas – they won’t even notice the rest of the house!

Check out the large variety of floorplans offered in C.A. Jones homes. We have a home design that is sure to mesh with your lifestyle and your entertaining activities. Guests will feel welcome and comfortable, whether they are visiting your home over a few hours for a festive party or staying overnight during the holiday season. Our home designs include ample guest accommodations and dining spaces that make holiday entertaining easy. With over 1,600 designs and unique features including drop zones, hidden prep areas and kid zones, we have a housing option to fit every family. Our forward-thinking philosophy, business integrity and superior customer service make us the right choice to build your next home.

As we enter the winter season, making a few small adjustments to winterize your home can maximize its efficiency, ensure your heating system hums along, increase your comfort level and keep your utility bills in check.

Heating Systems and Hot Water

You will want to have your furnace checked to make sure it is in optimal running condition. Have all filters replaced to increase air flow and make sure the air going into your home is clean of debris. Turn ceiling fans to reverse position to move hot air that rises to the ceiling. Setting your hot water heater to 120 degrees will help reduce your water heating costs.

Monitor your thermostat and refrain from large temperature shifts that cause your heating system to work overtime and result in higher power bills. Set your thermostat to warmer settings during your peak family hours and keep it set lower during sleeping and when family members are away during long stretches at school and work.

Outside Actions

Take a walk around the yard and make sure any dead or hanging tree limbs that could hit and damage your home are trimmed and removed. Gutters should be clean to allow rain and snow to move freely so ice dams do not accumulate. Look your roof over to make sure there are no loose shingles that wind can flip up or where ice dams can gather.

Drafts

Check your windows and doors for any drafts that are entering the house, which drive up your utility bills and make your heating system work harder. A cloth draft-snake placed on a sill or under a door can save you up to 30 percent on your heating bill.

At C.A. Jones, our homes are energy-efficient and built to keep homeowners comfortable in all temperatures throughout the year; warm in the colder winter months and cool during the hot summers. Our forward thinking translates to saving money with less seasonal maintenance and more time to enjoy your home. Our forward-thinking philosophy, business integrity and superior customer service make us the right choice to build your next home.

Whether it is your first time hosting overnight guests or you have done it before, there are several tips and tricks sure to make your guests feel comfortable, as well as take some pressure off of yourself, that will result in a happy visit for everyone. The more prepared you are pre-visit, the smoother your time together will go. Before your guests arrive, spend some time or an evening in the room where they will stay so you can get a feel for any adjustments that need to be made or additions that could be added. Here are some ideas to help.

Think Comfort

You want your guests to be comfortable and not have to ask you for help. Spend time putting yourself in the space and thinking about what your needs would be and provide them.

  • Make sure your pillows and bedding are comfortable and there is an extra blanket accessible
  • Show them how to adjust the room temperature to their liking
  • Set out a few magazines or books they might like to read
  • Make sure they have fresh or bottled water available and a light snack
  • If you are comfortable, show them where they can get food and drinks and your kitchen
  • Get an idea of when they like to get up or go to sleep and invite them to keep to their schedule
  • Make sure there is a night light in case they get up in the night
  • Set out some paper and pens, along with pamphlets to local venues and tourist destinations
  • Provide a space where they can store their luggage and if possible, an extra set of drawers or closet space where the can keep their clothes
  • If they have children, put some books, stuffed animals and craft materials in the space

Bath Sense

If possible, providing a guest with their own bathroom gives them a sense of privacy and a place where they can relax. Consider adding amenities, as a hotel would.

  • Make sure there are plenty of accessible towels and washcloths
  • Extra supplies like toilet paper and tissues should be visible
  • Set out a tray or basket filled with some more indulgent toiletry items that will invite your guests to take a bubble bath or try a new shampoo or soap to create more of a luxury experience (and in case they forgot their own!)

Check out the diverse and spacious floor plans offered in C.A. Jones homes. We have a home design sure to fit your family and provide a comfortable room for guests. Whether family or friends are visiting during the holidays or during their vacation, our homes will provide space for everyone.

Launched in 1995 by Chris Jones, C.A. Jones is the only woman-centric builder in Southern Illinois. With roots in Southwestern Illinois in several communities in Madison County, we have expanded south to build “express homes” in new communities in St. Clair and Montgomery counties. Contact us today to learn what we have to offer. With over 1,600 designs and unique features including drop zones, hidden prep areas and kid zones, we have a housing option to fit every family. We are ranked among the top-15 largest home builders by St. Louis Business Journal. Our forward-thinking philosophy, business integrity and superior customer service make us the right choice to build your next home.

The Value of a Kitchen Island

Islands have become a breath of fresh air in the heart of many homes, the kitchen! They are extremely versatile, evolving over the decades stylistically to provide features unique to your family’s lifestyle. Practically, they provide a central workspace, loads of extra storage space, additional seating for casual family meals and add resale value to your home. The aesthetic options as an expression of personal style are virtually endless: pops of color, contrasting countertop, unique seating and stool options, or an artisan-made light fixture or impressive pot and pan holder – they can become the focal point of your entire kitchen.

Island Benefits

Not only do kitchen islands add function to your home, providing extra workspace, storage, and seating – they add beauty, reflecting whatever style you choose. Beyond these benefits though, they add resale value to your home – especially when they contain features like an extra sink, enhancing your “kitchen triangle.”

Reflecting Personal Style

Rustic, modern, farmhouse, sleek-industrial, eclectic-vintage – whatever your personal style, islands are a good place to reveal your tastes. Color, use of materials, seating, or stools all provide a way to add personal touches to your kitchen and the vibe it communicates.

Items you display also reflect your lifestyle. Whether it be a gorgeous vase full of fresh flowers, an overflowing fruit bowl providing healthy snack options for kids at an arm’s reach, or a collection of family photos, the island becomes the center of a family’s daily life!

Modern Storage Options

Vintage islands used to provide more storage via a continuation of the type of cabinets already in your kitchen. Today, cabinet designs included in an island are open to interpretation on how to best serve your family. Here are just a few ideas:

  • Pet feeding or resting nooks conveniently tucked under island countertops, so your pet can be comfortable near where the family spends time.
  • Open shelving that reflects the industrial type of shelving that has become popular.
  • Deep drawers instead of cabinets that are easier to access.
  • A place to tuck an extra food-prep sink (especially helpful when there is more than one cook).
  • Slide-out refrigerator drawers that provide easy access to beverages and kid snacks, or wine and cheese supplies for entertaining.
  • An under-counter shelf for a microwave or a cookbook nook.
  • Outfitted with extra outlets, they can become a comfy digital perch for your kids to do homework, where you can keep one another company as dinner is prepared.
  • Built-in but discreet recycling bins.
  • Appliance garages

Visit our online Idea Gallery for more ideas and inspiration on how to include an island in the kitchen design of your dream home!

Launched in 1995 by Chris Jones, C.A. Jones is the only woman-centric builder in Southern Illinois. With roots in Southwestern Illinois in several communities in Madison County, we have expanded south to build “express homes” in new communities in St. Clair and Montgomery counties. Contact us today to learn what we have to offer. With over 1,600 designs and unique features including drop zones, hidden prep areas and kid zones, we have a housing option to fit every family. We are ranked among the top-15 largest home builders by St. Louis Business Journal. Our forward-thinking philosophy, business integrity, and superior customer service make us the right choice to build your next home.

Creating a Welcoming Entryway

Whether you call it your entryway, vestibule or foyer – the place you land when you enter your home should be welcoming to visitors and provide a comforting “Welcome Home” message to your family when you arrive back home at your doorstep.

The First Impression

The entryway to your home is certainly your chance to make a good first impression. It sets the tone and should reflect your style and personality, as well as making visitors feel welcome. A statement light fixture hanging from the ceiling can be dramatic, along with a small rug to add texture.

Consider the Size

Modern entryways are often small. If that is the case in your home, you can hang a mirror to create the illusion of more space. You might want a narrow and long side table on which you can place essentials like keys in a bowl. A picture above the sideboard and a lamp can warm the space right up. A light can also be left on so your feel welcome when returning to your own home in the evening. Essentials like a coat rack (if there is no hall closet) or umbrella stand should be streamlined versus clunky.

If the space is on the smaller size, be mindful of the color of paint you choose, especially if there is no window to let natural light into the space. Visitors certainly won’t feel welcome if they enter into a small and dark space. Bringing a bit of nature in from outside, such as a plant or fresh flowers, can provide a nice transition from outdoors to indoors, and also add a level of comfort.

If there is space, you can include a place to sit for sorting mail or removing shoes. A single chair or a bench with a built-in mirror or even a trunk with a cushion can suffice.

If, on the other hand, you have a grand foyer – this is an opportunity to appoint it with larger statement pieces, a large mirror offset with light sconces and a larger carpet to scale. If you have a grand clock, this is the perfect spot for it.

Personal Eclectic

Small entries are wonderful for adding just the right mix of personal and quirky style. An eclectic vintage table, a fabric from a favorite culture and unique storage can create curiosity and show your sense of personal style in a fun way. Just don’t forget the mirror! Whatever the size of your entry, it’s the last chance to check yourself before entering the world!

A Family Entrance

If your family enters your home from a side or rear door, reserving the more formal front entry for visitors, you can certainly create a more informal and comfortable entrance, like a New England mud room, at the side or rear entrance. You can set out trays for winter boots and comfy slippers to change into, pegs for coats and cubbies for the kid’s backpacks.

When it’s time for an entryway of your own, consider a home by C.A. Jones. We offer a diverse variety of home layouts to please your style preferences. We also have custom design options available for those who want their home features to be uniquely personal.

Launched in 1995 by Chris Jones, C.A. Jones is the only woman-centric builder in Southern Illinois. Our roots are in Southwestern Illinois, in several communities in Madison County. We have expanded south to build “express homes” in new communities in St. Clair and Montgomery counties. Contact us today to learn what we have to offer. With over 1,600 designs and unique features including drop zones, hidden prep areas and kid zones, we have a housing option to fit every family. We are ranked among the Top 15 largest homebuilders by St. Louis Business Journal. Our forward-thinking philosophy, business integrity and superior customer service make us the right choice to build your next home.

How to Finish a Basement Like a Pro

Has your family expanded? Or do you work remotely? Perhaps you want to install a home gym, a fun play space for the kids, or some space for Mom or Dad to pursue a hobby and some quiet time. You may have a college graduate returning home for a while or an elderly parent who will be moving in with you. If your home is suddenly feeling a little smaller but there is no plan or budget to move, finishing your basement may be the perfect answer to adding more usable and livable space in your house.

Having a finished basement can add a lot to your home, but most are left untouched or not used to their full potential. Every family has a unique use for a finished basement space that can literally change the usable square footage of your home and your family’s lifestyle.

Before getting started, remember to plan any additional plumbing around the existing pipes, to save on installation costs, as well as leave the space around the water heater unfinished, in case of leaks. When it comes to design, basement spaces are most often left open-concept to give the impression of light and space, as there are generally not many windows and the space may be darker naturally.

Dos and Don’ts of Finishing a Basement

You will be building something from scratch and need to ensure it will remain dry. Good lighting, nice furniture, and some art can help people to forget they are even in a basement! Locate the more utilitarian functions of your home on the lower level. Designing an open-concept will help the space feel more spacious and provide for multi-functions.

  • Do master the art of open-concept
  • Do relocate the utilities (laundry, storage, and office) on the lower level
  • Don’t underestimate the depth of construction
  • Don’t forego the aesthetics

Oh, the Possibilities!

There are so many options for creating a whole new space in your home.

  • If you have a college graduate who needs to return to the nest while establishing a new career, or a parent or in-law who is advancing in years who you would like under your roof for easy access and care, building an apartment in the basement is easier and less costly than putting an addition on your house.
  • As your family grows, so do the toys and play products. Making a colorful, comfortable and fun playroom for your kids will make them feel special and take the stress off always having to clean up the toys in your upstairs family room.
  • More and more American workers are doing their jobs from home. A finished basement is a perfect location for a home office.
  • Maybe your family likes to entertain – building a bar in your basement can be the perfect adult playroom, while keeping the wear and tear of parties from the upstairs living areas. Or maybe Mom or Dad need a little independent hobby space – a man or woman cave may be just the serenity they desire.
  • Relocating your big-screens and music equipment to the lower level of your house will help keep the volume down upstairs, allow family members to enjoy their own genre of music without disturbing others, and make a fun family destination to enjoy a movie together.
  • Staying fit in a home gym could help you save you expensive gym memberships. And you won’t even have to commute or worry about traveling in inclement weather.

If you are interested in a new C.A. Jones home and the idea of having a beautifully finished basement appeals to you, call us today at (618) 530-8300 to take advantage of our special on a 300-square-foot free, basement finish offer.

Launched in 1995 by Chris Jones, C.A. Jones is the only woman-centric builder in Southern Illinois. Our roots are in Southwestern Illinois, in several communities in Madison County. We have expanded south to build “express homes” in new communities in St. Clair and Montgomery counties. Contact us today to learn what we have to offer. With over 1,600 designs and unique features including drop zones, hidden prep areas and kid zones, we have a housing option to fit every family. We are ranked among the Top 15 largest home builders by St. Louis Business Journal. Our forward-thinking philosophy, business integrity and superior customer service make us the right choice to build your next home.

The Keys to Community Living

Living close to your neighbors or in a tight community necessitates its own form of etiquette. There are some basic principles to neighborhood living that will ensure ease of transition if you’re new to communities or HOAs.

The most important consideration is, of course, noise. Being a good neighbor means being considerate, ruling out blasting music, throwing raucous parties or generally imposing an unreasonable decibel level on those around you (especially on a school night). Making sure to respect both physical and metaphorical boundaries is another important element. Good pet manners are important, as not everyone may be a fan of yours.

If your new neighborhood is part of a homeowners’ association, it is important to familiarize yourself with the rules and follow them. This will protect your reputation within the community, relationships with neighbors, and allow for the general smooth function of the neighborhood.

3 Big Rules for Good Neighbors

Whether you live in a city, suburb or the country, there are 3 cardinal rules for being a good neighbor. Respecting another’s space, lifestyle and property is crucial. Affording your neighbor, the same amount of quiet you desire is also a good rule of thumb. No heavy machinery operating too early or too late is a good place to start! Privacy is something everyone cherishes when in their homes, especially after a long day at work. Get to know your neighbors when you see them out and about, not by going up to their front door and encroaching on their personal time and space.

  1. Peace
  2. Quiet
  3. Privacy

Being neighborly is a good opportunity to follow the Golden Rule – of treating others as you would like them to treat you. Being friendly with your neighbors can help make you feel more secure when you go on vacation and know that someone has a watchful eye on your property. Cultivating neighbors as friends can lead to having a built-in social life right in your community. And if you have kids, there are friends right at their fingertips. Being deeply rooted in our communities makes for happier people who have a real sense of belonging in the world.

Holidays are a particularly good time to extend yourself to your neighbors with a homemade food item to show your care about them and wish them well.

Consider the diverse options we have available at C.A. Jones communities as you gear up for your next home. Our planned communities feature thoughtful layouts to naturally promote healthy, positive, neighborly living.

Launched in 1995 by Chris Jones, C.A. Jones is the only woman-centric builder in Southern Illinois. Our roots are in Southwestern Illinois, in several communities in Madison County. We have expanded south to build “express homes” in new communities in St. Clair and Montgomery counties. Contact us today to learn what we have to offer. With over 1,600 designs and unique features including drop zones, hidden prep areas and kid zones, we have a housing option to fit every family. We are ranked among the Top 15 largest home builders by St. Louis Business Journal. Our forward-thinking philosophy, business integrity and superior customer service make us the right choice to build your next home.

It’s a given that everyone is busy in our culture, from kindergartener’s who arrive home with homework in their backpacks, to teenagers focused on social media, to working parents who are expected to check email during their “family” time in the evenings. If your family struggles to connect, think about instituting family dinners. Taking a half hour or more to share not only a meal but also part of one another’s day can have a great impact on strengthening your bonds.

What You’ll Gain

According to the Family Dinner Project, your kids will reap major benefits from family meals including doing better in school, increased self-esteems, and a stronger feeling of stability. Gathering your tribe together has been shown to decrease several problems – including risk of substance abuse, teen pregnancy and depression. And becoming comfortable eating together helps lower the chance of your child developing an eating disorder or becoming obese.

A Columbia University study found that teens who participate in more frequent family dinners compared to those who dine together less than three times per week, are less likely to try drugs. Nearly three-quarters of the teens surveyed said family meals are important to them. And teens who share less frequent family meals are twice as likely to use tobacco and alcohol and 1.5 times more likely to use marijuana.

Food is Secondary

One thing you don’t want to do is stress about preparing a time-consuming meal. Keep it simple with basic recipes that are popular with your family. And on busy weeks, consider ordering takeout from a local restaurant. After all, the food is not the most important part of a family dinner – family is.

Engage your family in preparing the meal to expand your time together in an informal and relaxed way. This is also a good opportunity for your children to learn some cooking skills and tasks like how to set a proper table and participate in clean up.

Sharing a meal also gives family members an opportunity to talk about what is going on in their lives. Offering solutions informally, is a passive action that helps model for kids how they can communicate effectively and problem solve.

Dialing It In

If your family is particularly busy you might want to Skype missing members in or have them call in on speaker phone. Let technology be your family friend and bring you together, as opposed to creating obstacles between you. For those present, make phones off limits, or at least limit their use, during table time and focus on one another.

Food in the Spotlight

If you have the time, cooking a meal together will deepen your family connections. Homemade meals make it easier to instill portion control, make for better nutritional choices, give your kids an opportunity to discover new foods, and manage weight. Take your meal nights a step further and shop together at the food market. Allow your kids to choose what they want to eat and teach them how to shop for food. A side benefit will be saving money from less frequent meals being eaten in restaurants.

With over 1,600 designs and unique features, C.A. Jones has a housing option to fit every family. And our kitchen and dining configurations help provide an inviting place for your family to gather.

Launched in 1995 by Chris Jones, C.A. Jones is the only woman-centric builder in Southern Illinois. Our roots are in Southwestern Illinois, in several communities in Madison County. We have expanded south to build “express homes” in new communities in St. Clair and Montgomery counties. Contact us today to learn how we can design and build a kitchen for you that will increase family connections and enhance your family’s bond. We are ranked among the Top 15 largest home builders by St. Louis Business Journal. Our forward-thinking philosophy, business integrity and superior customer service make us the right choice to build your next home.

Crafting the Perfect Closet

Do you find yourself pausing a long time and looking yearningly at magazine features of a really great walk-in closet? Do they seem out of reach or something reserved for wealthy celebrities? They don’t need to be! Creating the perfect closet in your home does not have to break the budget. Starting your day getting dressed from an organized space will get your day off on the right foot. Knowing your belongings are valued and cared for will put your mind at ease. And knowing you have a favorite private space to retreat to at the end of the day, can be something to look forward to.

Getting the Right Aesthetic

A personal closet is just that, a personal space where you get to express your style. You get to create the perfect space just for you! You don’t have to worry about compromising or pleasing others – you’ve got this!

Storing and Organizing

Today’s options are limitless – whether you want techno-chic glass and steel, vintage warmth with baskets, or a closet that looks like a private boutique with your shoes and bags proudly on display – there are accessible choices for every taste. You get to decide if padded hangers or wood, or even color-coded hangers and clothes grouped by color, will fit your aesthetic.

You may decide to splurge on some custom built-ins or maximize the vertical space available with shelves and hooks. Whatever you choose, closet organization is key, and the options available to help achieve a decluttered, functional space where you can start and end your day are many. The most difficult choice you will have is deciding which options work best for your customized space.

Degrees of Luxury

Have you always dreamed of having a chaise longue? How about an old-fashioned vanity where you can apply your make-up? Maybe a delicate chandelier to provide some soft lighting? These are just a few splurge items you may include to up your closet game.

Don’t forget about your jewelry and lingerie – they need special attention.

Our homes are designed with women in mind, offering features that are important to women to have in their lifestyles. Things like ample closet space and luxury bath features that appeal to the modern female are choices that can be incorporated into your unique home.

Launched in 1995 by Chris Jones, C.A. Jones is the only woman-centric builder in Southern Illinois. Our roots are in Southwestern Illinois, in several communities in Madison County. We have expanded south to build “express homes” in new communities in St. Clair and Montgomery counties. Contact us today to learn what we have to offer. With over 1,600 designs and unique features including drop zones, hidden prep areas and kid zones, we have a housing option to fit every family. We are ranked among the Top 15 largest home builders by St. Louis Business Journal. Our forward-thinking philosophy, business integrity and superior customer service make us the right choice to build your next home.

How Home Makes You Happy

You know how owning a home is tied to the phrase “American Dream?” That’s because it is a measure of success on many levels. From a financial standpoint, it makes sense as each month you are working toward accumulating equity, with the ultimate goal of paying off your mortgage and owning your home outright. In our society, becoming a homeowner has traditionally been viewed as a mature, stable and responsible decision – a major mile marker in life. But owning a home brings emotional and psychological perks too. Where we live becomes a part of who we are, and when that place is stable, consistent and comfortable, it affects us internally, no matter our age.

Home is where many people say they feel the safest and secure. According to mental health professionals, being stable in your own home and knowing that you do not have to move – which is a major life change that can trigger upset for family members of all ages as adjustments to new jobs, different schools, and new communities are made – is worth its weight in gold for our psyches.

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