Gallery Of Homes: Acorn Design Studio

The Acorn Design Studio is the place where Les designs homes and conduct live design sessions with his clients.  The studio is nested among the canopies of oak and magnolia trees which create a calm and peaceful environment with which to create fine custom home designs.

The interior is a living room, kitchen, and bath vignette showing all the features and design elements of a modern home.  Advanced home technology such as Lutron lighting, shade, and scene controls, home theater, concealed audio, home automation, vertical natural lighting, ICF construction, high performance energy efficient features, advanced heating, cooling, and indoor air quality systems, radiant floor heating, elevator, live design, and more are showcased here.


Japanese red maple in fall color.

The front porch is supported by stained cantilevered beams.

The railing has been cut out of 1/4" plate aluminum with a water jet cutter.  Golden tufts have been air brush blended onto the shapes to give them a coastal grass like appearance.  Railing by Kevin Marchetti, the Renaissance Man.

A master piece of architectural metal sculpture by Kevin Marchetti, the Renaissance Man

The stairs begin at the base of a large oak tree and wrap around a Japanese red leaf maple tree. Stairs by Kevin Marchetti, the Renaissance man.

The stair case railing simulates a tree so as to give the visitor the feeling of climbing a tree up into a tree house.

Living room

Living room.  You can see the custom projector housing in the upper right corner attached to the ceiling.

Living room

Living room.  You can see the slot in the ceiling for the motorized theater screen.  The wall mounted TV can serve as third computer monitor for presenting plans to the client.  Here is where I design homes in live design sessions with the client.

This is an adjustable height desk, the latest development in ergonomic work station design.  The legs adjust up and down via motorized actuators.  I had the desk top made from African mahogony shaped to fit the space and my work style.  The chair is the Herman Miller embody.  Very comfortable for long sits.

Kitchen with fruitwood stain on alderwood cabinets, sunflower granite tops by Superior Granite.

Kitchen has a Fisher Paykel dish drawer, Delta touch faucet, Miele touch screen radiant cook top, soft close doors and drawers, and hidden range hood vent.

A travertine framed mirror over shell reef granite vanity top next to sea fossil limestone shower create a beautiful natural stone ensemble.  The shell reef granite came from a quarry in Syria and has large shell fossils visible on the surface. Granite vanity top provided by Superior Granite.

Elevators have become a must have for 2 story homes where the owners are planning to age in place.  This one has an 8' tall cherry paneled cab.

Gerry puts the finishing touches on the wood entry floor.  We used wide plank heart pine flooring reclaimed from an Old Crow distillery provided by Authentic Pine Floors.

Scott and Will from Integrated Surroundings test the projection optics in search of the ideal mounting location for the theater projector.  Interesting test stand they have created.

We built a custom projector housing because that big black projector would have looked ugly as sin hanging from the ceiling.

Ben did an artful job cutting in a shadow box fence around this large heritage oak.

Bill installs the Rain Bird weather station which measures rainfall, temperature, and humidity.  The Rain Bird smart irrigation control system automatically adjusts run times based on the weather conditions, soils, shade, and season to optimize the health of your lawn and minimize cost of operation.  Learn more about it at Rain Bird.

Daniel and Jacob use a roll former to bend the hand rail for the circular stair case.  Kevin and his dad built this roll former.

Kevin, the Renaissance Man,  welds branches to the stair railing.

Jacob and Daniel weld leaves on the staircase.  Wow!  This is going to be an awesome climb.

The Master at Work.  Kevin welds leaves on the curved stair landing that will attached to the top of the stair case and turn into the porch.  See more of Kevin's work at the RenaissanceManInc.com

Kevin Marchetti, the Renaissance Man, creates the leaf shapes for the stair railing to be cut out of aluminum with a computer controlled plasma jet cutter.

Plasma jet cutting out the leaves for the stair case balusters.

Kevin places leaf shapes in a press mold to impress the leaves with veins.

Kevin uses a hydraulic press to impress veins in the leaves.

Kevin hammers some curvature into the leaves.  You can see more of his artistic metal work at the Renaissance Man.

Kevin sands the joints of a tree branch made of progressively smaller tubes.

Daniel drops leaves into a mixer that has used abrasive wheels rolling around in it.  This roughs up and textures the metal surface to help the leaves appear more realistic.

Kevin and crew installing the stair railing.  See more at the Renaissance Man.

The front porch railing with a first coat of paint.  The railing has been cut out of 1/4" plate aluminum with a water jet cutter.  Golden tufts have been paint blended onto the shapes to give them a coastal grass like appearance.  Railing by Kevin Marchetti, the Renaissance Man.

Will & Branden apply the first coat of sealoflex pink, a rubberized coating, over a fiberglass mesh applied to the plywood deck surface.  This creates a water tight seal that allows for movement.

Branden and Will apply a coat of UV inhibitor/sealer to the deck.

Darrin trowels on the first coat of coraflex wear layer.

Darin sprays the coraflex on with a hopper gun to create a textured wear surface.

Darrin trowels down the sprayed on texture to create a knock down finish texture to the deck.

Brandon and Will apply 2 coats of finish sealer coat.  This deck will never leak.

Gerry & Jasper install crown molding on the front porch.  I used the egg and dart profile to add a neoclassical touch to the front elevation.

Gerry routes a chamfered edge on the porch columns.  This softens the hard edges of the square columns just right.

Gerry installs trim around the front porch columns

Mike, Gerry, Chris, and Jasper haul a slab of granite up the ramp. I think this is how they built the pyramids.

Jasper uses a smoke generator to check for air leaks around the windows.

You can see the radiant floor heating grid underneath the tiles with an infrared camera.


50 watt halogen lamp in a 4" recessed fixture.  313 degrees!

35 watt halogen bulb fixture.  158 degrees.

8 watt LED lamp in a 4" recessed can fixture.  150 degrees.  Huge difference.

Eager Beaver tree surface provided wood chips from their tree pruning operations to spread around the yard.  I chose this ground covering for an inexpensive, maintenance free, and natural ground cover to create a park like setting for the studio.

The nature park ranger does a little pruning. 

Gufredo and Jairo screw off the metal standing seam roof.  The roof panels have striations in the flat part that prevents oil canning (buckling) when the panels expand and contract in the heat.

I'm installing the solar tube in the roof because the dealer doesn't do metal roof installs.  Some things I just have to do myself.  The solartube will bring natural light into the studio and has an electric butterfly valve which will allow me to regulate the amount of light admitted.

Kasey Carruthers dry fits a compound break facia metal cladding to the front gable.  This is one tough challenge to get all those breaks to fit just right on this multi step facia.

Gerry and Jasper install the gable vent.  They cut the siding with a roto zip to get a precise fit of the vent into place.

Andrew fastens the electric radiant floor heating grid to the kitchen floor.  You can see the outline of the cabinets.  The grid must stay 4" away from the cabinets.

Andrew lays tile over the radiant floor heating grid in the kitchen.  The electric grid extends into the bathroom and is controlled by a thermostat.

Shawn polishes the bullnose edges for the limestone shower tile.  The edges have been shaped with a cutting wheel then polished with 3 progressively finer wheels to make beautifully polished edges on the stone work in the shower.

Shawn applies red guard to the joints in the shower backer board.  This makes sure that no moisture will ever get behind the shower walls and damage the wood framing.

Brick has been completed, ready for siding.  I like to install the roof last to prevent damage from walking all over it while installing and painting the siding.

George with Apex Insulation sprays the bathroom walls with open cell foam insulation.  You can see where the studs have been caulked to seal them and create an airtight thermal envelope.

Pat uses a scarfing blade to trim the expanded foam flush with the studs.

George caulks every little gap in the wood framing.  This is what it takes to build an air tight home.

Cool tree house.

Windows and doors installed, ready for brick.

Hank checks the windows for plumb and level before screwing them off.  These eagle windows have natural alderwood interior frames and aluminum clad exterior frames with impact glass and low e coatings.  These widows are built like a tank but look like a cadillac.  Good thing there aren't too many windows in this building.  I used Jeld-Wen vinyl windows with impact glass in the garage.  I typically mix window grades and brands in order to spend more where it's needed and less where it's not needed to get better overall value.  It's always wise to spend more on higher quality doors where it would be cost prohibitive to maintain that spending level throughout the home.  In this case I used an eagle front door and fiberglass doors in the garage.

Will holds the window in place while Hank adjusts the shims inside.  Impact glass windows are pretty heavy.  You can see the suction cups on the glass which were used to lift the window in place.  These Eagle windows are the among the best quality windows made.

Gerry seals the window flanges to the ICF block with a rubberized coating impregnated fabric.

Kevin uses a hot iron to melt the foam to make room for switch and outlet boxes.

Travis cuts grooves in the foam with an electric chain saw to make channels for the wires.

Hank practices his high wire act, just in case the carpenter thing doesn't work out.  The roof has been "stick framed" to create usable attic storage space.

Robert pumps the ICF forms full of concrete.

Hank taps the walls to consolidate the concrete, eliminating voids, and preventing honey combing.

Mike is controlling the boom pump, Robert is placing the concrete, and Hank is operating the vibrator.  It takes a well coordinated team effort to work this part of the wall.  Mike did a great job maneuvering the boom to avoid damaging the trees.

Mike jumps in and operates the vibrator which helps the concrete flow to where it needs to go.  The walls are full of steel rebars and webbing which tends to block the flow of concrete.

Will finishes off the top of the walls.  You can see the anchor bolts and straps which will connect the roof framing to the walls.

Stephen pitches ICF blocks up to Will.  That kid's got an arm!

Will sets an ICF block across the top of a window opening.

Will sets two #5 rebars over the top of a window for extra reinforcement.

Carl & Hank brace off the front door opening to keep it plumb and square when the concrete is poured.  You can see the metal braces holding the ICF blocks in place.  These braces will keep the walls straight and plumb when the heavy concrete is poured down into ICF blocks.

Carl reinforces the window bucks to keep the foam ICF from bowing out when the concrete is poured into the walls.  The window bucks will be used to fasten the windows and doors to the walls after the concrete is poured.

I always wanted a tree fort.  Unfortunately, the cost has gone up since I was a kid.  I'm using CMU block in the garage because it will take the punishment and I don't need insulation down there.  ICF on the living floor because it's highly energy efficient and best off all, will block out the road noise.  Just me, the trees, and the birds.

Hank & Will install aluminum coated peal and seal around the deck joists.  Concrete will be poured around these joists so they need to be protected.  The deck joists are doubled up because they cantilever out with no support from below and will be supporting a roof load above.

Pumping the walls and garage door arches.

Block up and concrete arches formed.

Tammy and I are finally getting started on the new Acorn office.  It's about time we do something for ourselves.  I'm getting a little jealous of all the cool stuff we're doing for my customers.  Our turn now.  The building wraps around a majestic oak tree.  The views from within are going to be spectacular.  Surrounded by trees all around and a water view to the south.  Can't wait to move in.  Now I know what my clients are going through.

This is where I'll be doing my design work and meeting with clients soon.

Broad winged hawk

New Acorn Design Studio

This is the new design studio in Gulf Breeze where I work to produce fantastic homes for my clients.  It is nested within a circle of oak and magnolia trees so that there is a high canopy tree view from every window.  I chose ICF (insulated concrete form) construction for it's high energy efficiency, hurricane resistance, and exterior noise blocking properties.  My visitors will feel as if they are nested within the trees, surrounded by natural beauty, at one with nature, with no outside noise interfering with the tranquility and creativity such views will inspire.  The studio has all the latest audio and video presentation systems including a home theater so that our clients can view their homes in three dimensional CAD images to their best effect.  It also has advanced energy efficiency and home automation systems to demonstrate how they add value and convenience to the modern custom home.


Les White, Acorn Construction General Contractor, #RG0055853
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