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Housing the Stars
Redeeming Our Work
The Root of Alabama's Football Program Began at a Gas Station
Meet Our Interior Designer...we call her The Compulsive Decorator
Top Ten Reasons to Live at Gramercy Lofts


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Homeward Bound

Housing the Stars

In the early summer of 2012, I met the producers for the upcoming movie, "August: Osage County." They wanted to see Gramercy Lofts. I said, "Sure!"  We toured the site even though it was only partially complete and construction still ongoing. They loved it and leased 11 units in the 2023 building and 2031 building. The entire top billing cast stayed here and they talk about their experience gathering at Meryl's place, 2023-5, where she would cook dishes like chicken stuffed with goat cheese making special trips to Tulsa to Whole Foods and watching the election debates together. So, if there are Oscar Awards to be had, maybe our community gets just a small assist. You can watch four of the cast talk about living and bonding here at Gramercy via this clip from the Hollywood Reporter. The cast:  Benedict Cumberbatch, Abigail Breslin, Ewan McGregor, Julia Roberts, Meryl Streep, Juliette Lewis, Dermot Mulroney, Margo Martindale, Sam Shepard, Chris Cooper, Julianne Nicholson

Redeeming Our Work

Here's an essay about work that I've posted on my personal blog. It's about the tension we maintain between our scarcity of time and our desire to create high quality work.

The Root of Alabama's Football Program Began at a Gas Station

Alabama football coach Nick Saban has guided the Crimson Tide to national championships in three of the previous four years. Mr. Saban is famously and professionally attentive to details. Jason Gay recently wrote in the Wall Street Journal about Coach Saban’s roots as a detail freak. Asked Sunday at a press conference about his father, Big Nick, and how he has influenced his life, Coach Saban answered the question by telling about working in his father’s West Virginia service station back when service stations were service stations...checking oil and tirepressure, cleaning windshields. He grew to hate black cars because of the difficulty in washing streaks and if Big Nick saw streaks, Nick Jr. would have to wash it again. Coach Saban went on to say that the foundation of the Alabama football program began with his parents providing a model of striving. doing your best and getting the details right.
So, let me get this straight. The premier college football program in the nation originated at a full service West Virginia gas station as an 11-year old Nick Jr. struggled to wipe streaks from black cars? Alright...I’ll buy that. But that’s just perseverance and tenacity. The greater challenge is to know when not to work hard. Or as my Grandpa Ross Taylor would say, “I don’t want to work hard, I want to work easy.” Which was a great line from someone who had become an expert at moving furniture while running a furniture store and working in the construction business. It doesn’t mean you are lazy. It simply means you’ve mastered the task and know the right and wrong way to move a Montana-sized leather sofa.
I’m also reminded of a story Robert Fulghum once told about taking a favorite pair of shoes to a local shoe cobbler to replace the soles. Fulghum dropped the shoes by the cobbler’s store and returned the next day to pick them up. What he picked up was a brown bag with his old shoes still in the bag unrepaired. Enclosed along with his worn shoes was a tasty chocolate chip cookie along with a note which read. “Anything not worth doing is worth not doing well.”
The shoes were past the point of worthwhile repair and the shoe cobbler still had the moxie to do what he did well...even when the right thing was nothing at all.
Sometimes doing things well and with attention to detail means working until our bones ache and our fingers bleed, but I’m praying for the wisdom to also “work easy” and to own the humble discretion of creative restraint that wields mouth-watering cookies and simple notes when nothing is the prescriptive choice.
Work hard. Work easy. Work not.
My guess? Coach Saban has mastered all three.

Meet Our Interior Designer...we call her The Compulsive Decorator

Tracie Compulsive Decorator
Hi, my name is Tracie Newcomb. I work for the Taylor Homes Group although I prefer to say that it's not a job but something I love to do.What I love to do is work with clients coordinating colors and décor. You might even say I'm compulsive…in a good way!
My goal is to make the process enjoyable and as stress free as possible. I began working at the Taylor Homes Group as a, not so desperate housewife, in search of a part-time job.
But before that, I was spending more time at home raising my two daughters, and I was easily transported into the world of home design and décor through the magical living spaces of HGTV, with folks like Lynette Jennings and who can forget Christopher Lowell! With two in diapers, it was my refuge and hobby. I am a magazine and decorating book junkie. No amount of therapy can cure this addiction! Come on, I know I'm not alone…you are just afraid to admit it. I've tested the patience of my husband on many occasions by tearing  things off walls and experimenting with paints and fabrics. Mike has come home and found paneling ripped off walls in places where whimsy and inspiration dictate the direction of work rather than male-oriented logic and budgets…and so…sometimes a girls gotta do what a girls gotta do to speed up the "honey-do-list".
Decorating is always on my mind…What can I do next? If I were to paint that house, what color would I paint it? What's on sale at Hobby Lobby this week? Apparently my addictions are obvious to others. A friend will call and say, I have a décor dilemma, "Can you meet me at Hobby Lobby?" And I say, "I'll be there in five, the laundry can wait." 
I started out working in reception and fumbled my way into the "building side" of the company. Thankfully, a friend of mine put in a word for me, and I was offered the opportunity to work with Taylor Homes Group clients and on THG production homes that are designed and put together in-house. It's something that I love to do and I enjoy helping our clients find their inner HGTV souls. Sometimes I stray a little from the conservative perspective that is familiar to most homebuilders and Brent escorts me back from HGTV land to reasonable cost land, but somehow I've found a happy medium of splashing color and style and personality while reconciling that with budgets and spreadsheets. It's always a challenge when your budget isn't Warren Buffet-like.
When I first meet customers, they often say, "I don't really know anything about colors or decorating." The truth is, you do know what you like and it is just a matter of putting it all together. So what's your style profile? If you don't know, we can figure it out together and before you know it, you will be packing and moving into your new THG home.   

Top Ten Reasons to Live at Gramercy Lofts

We are drawing near the opening of Gramercy Lofts. Two models featuring the Central Park plan and Gramercy Loft plan will be available to tour in late March 2012. In honor of that moment, we've listed below the top ten reasons to purchase a Loft in our Gramercy Lofts Community. 

Top Ten Reasons to Live at Gramercy Lofts
  • 1 Be the envy of your friends who own lawnmowers and hedge trimmers
  • 2 Saturday workouts or swimming just a short walk from your front door
  • 3 Complimentary Keurig coffee in the Club Room
  • 4 Great location near Pathfinder Parkway, Cherry Berry and Quicktrip
  • 5 Three story townhomes...lose the Stairmaster
  • 6 You can visit New York landmarks without leaving Oklahoma
  • 7 You can see Circle Mountain & Downtown skyline from third floor
  • 8 Choose your sauna: 1 person indoor or 2 person outdoor
  • 9 Putting green behind the Club House...really
  • 10 Three story townhomes...parents less likely to visit

Happy-Faced Predictions for 2012

It’s a brand new year and all things are new and fresh once again as we all turn inwardly assessing our personal and corporate souls along with our projected path forward in the year 2012. We eagerly anticipate an exciting year in the community of Bartlesville, Oklahoma and we truly believe it will be a great year to be in the business of homebuilding and community development. Throughout the past year I’ve pounded the lectern telling folks that it’s a great time to buy a home. Interest rates are at historically low levels. Home prices have remained flat for the past five years making purchase prices effectively lower since they haven’t risen with the cost of living. And yet many potential home buyers in Bartlesville remain on the sidelines waiting...for what you may ask? Lower rates...not happening. Lower prices...possible but unlikely given coming demand and job growth that is planned for 2012. So despite good price value, low rates and plenty of choices, most folks are still looking for the perfect buyer storm even given an incredibly enticing window of opportunity. I hope those who wait are rewarded, but I wonder. This past August I sat in the Harding University Benson Auditorium listening to the President of that institution of higher learning, Dr. David Burks, welcome incoming freshman. As Dr. Burks spoke of the virtues and the dignity of a college education I peered over the shoulder of a young college age student in the row in front of me. I wasn’t snooping intentionally but this young lady held her phone in such a way as to be directly in the line of sight of my eyes and Dr. Burks. So rather than glancing away I watched bemusedly as this young student finished a text...and then spent a full two minutes scrolling through all the happy face options looking to put an appropriate flourishing end to her text message. She settled on the “wink and a smile” and set her phone aside as Dr. Burks ended with a flourish of his own encouraging these young students to put their hearts and souls into the wonderful idea of learning and higher education for this would be the most exciting and adventurous time of their lives, all of which was lost on this young lady because she couldn’t decide how to end a text.
And so I’m reminded of this young lady when I think of some buyers today...looking for just the right happy face to put on a purchase...and perhaps missing the opportunity of a lifetime in terms of price point and rates and options. I’m also reminded of a banker by the name of Walter Allison, President of First National Bank some years ago. Walter used to say that, “...when rental houses and apartments were all full, then six months later the buy side of the market would boom.” At this very date, our organization manages and leases 120 houses, apartment units and duplexes. We have 120 current tenants for an unprecedented 100% occupancy rate. We’ll check back on June 30 to see if Mr. Allison was right.

Lucky Seven

We don't believe in advertising…at least not in the big budget Madison Avenue sense. We just do the basics, the ubiquitous Yellow Pages ad, and, you are reading from a web site blog so we must have paid our monthly hosting fee. But beyond those marketing methods, since 1958 we have adhered to the philosophy that our customers will tell our story for us and so we advertise every time we build a home. Friends will recommend to friends and neighbors to neighbors and business folk to business folk. And so the wheel of commerce turns whether or not we pay for fancy advertising on the radio or slick photographed brochures. Who would believe us anyway if we advertised that we've built seven unique homes for one customer since 1973.
Most folk would want to confirm that by going straight to the horses mouth or at least a man who once built and sold horse trailers. JackWheeler started out as a welder at Reda Pump, an oil field services manufacturer in Bartlesville, OK. Through his skill in welding, he learned how to fabricate horse trailers and that's how Jack made a living for many years. Jack is a stickler for details, he's demanding, expects a lot from those he hires and wants the best price he can get…all traits you learn around horse traders and trailer buyers. Jack and his wife, Dean Wheeler, live in a Taylor Homes Group home just off Highway 99 in Pawhuska, Oklahoma. It's their seventh Taylor home.  We hear they've referred a few customers to us while living in seven custom built THG homes during the past forty years.
 We built Jack and Dean Wheeler's first home west of Pawhuska in 1973 for $24,000. Their second home was in the Timber Hill area west of Pawhuska. Their third near the old drive in theater and fairgrounds in Pawhuska. Their fourth on the crest of a hill east of Pawhuska overlooking the rolling Osage hills. The fifth home…Willow Creek in Bartlesville, OK. Then they purchased twenty acres ten years ago and we built home six north of Dewey, Oklahoma. Yearning to return to their roots,we built them home seven, a classic three bedroom Taylor plan on acreage near highway 99 & Pawhuska in 2007 where they currently reside. Jack and Dean have entrusted their seven homebuilding projects from 1973-2007 to our homebuilding group. Looking back, Jack says he was originally referred to us by a car dealer named Doc Brown. After that, I guess the Wheeler's just came back on their own…self-referred as it were. Jack and Dean are retired and living a quiet pastoral life in home #7 near Pawhuska, Oklahoma. Give a wave sometime if you are traveling on highway 99. Their house is just off the highway next to a metal shop in which Jack still likes to tinker sometimes getting out the Lincoln arc welder and making sure the gooseneck on the trailer is stout…because that's how Jack likes things built. They seem content and settled in their Taylor home which is appropriate…after all…seven is Jack's lucky number.

Build a Better House and the World Will Beat a Path...

Build a better mousetrap, and the world will beat a path to your door is a phrase I first learned in a Harding University Marketing class. The phrase apparently originated with Ralph Waldo Emerson although Mr. Emerson's original statement was just a bit different. Here it is:
"If a man has good corn or wood, or boards, or pigs, to sell, or can make better chairs or knives, crucibles or church organs, than anybody else, you will find a broad hard-beaten road to his house, though it be in the woods."
In 1889 the modern mousetrap was created and patented and even though Emerson had died seven years previous, Emerson was quoted as saying: "If a man can write a better book, preach a better sermon, or make a better mousetrap than his neighbor..."
And so the catchy phrase has turned into a metaphor about the power of innovation and how people will buy something as long as it is attractive (form) and useful (function).
I recently read in Professional Builder magazine about how the "best companies have mastered the best form and function with an attainable consumer price. Many of these great companies do not represent the lowest price in their class. Apple is a model example of mastering this strategy. The company has flourished in a down economy, not by offering cheaper products, but by offering design and innovation that cannot be found elsewhere.
The same solutions apply in our business. In a recent survey by John Burns Real Estate Consulting the question was asked, "What would it take to get you off the fence and buy a home in the near future?"
The three factors most prevalent in responses:
1. Price  2. Location  3. Home Design
Most homebuyers today know that rates are at historic lows and pricing has gone about as low as it can go and that generally they know in theory that it is a great time to buy. What is keeping them from buying? The third piece of the puzzle…design.  Can consumers find better design today in locations they want and at prices they can afford? As Meatloaf once sang, "Two Out of Three Ain't Bad".
We want to go three out of three and find our path in the wood to our homes broad and hard-beaten. Design matters more today than it ever has…and so the Taylor Homes Group strives to innovate in ways that don't increase costs. We focus on the best form, function and price because we know that, "If you build it they will come", is a great movie line, but it doesn't always work in home design.

What is Gramercy Lofts?

Gramercy Lofts
As I meet and greet folks around town I've been asked often recently about our newest residential project. Just what is the concept? Where did the name originate? What will be unique about Gramercy Lofts? So here is some information that may address some of those questions. We are currently moving dirt and will be framing units beginning May 1st, 2011.
Gramercy Lofts will be a new residential living concept for Bartlesville and will offer a fresh market segment of choice for those looking to own their home, yet have the freedom that comes with a managed community. The addition of on-site fitness gym along with a dry sauna, pool and clubhouse gathering room will provide owners the sort of choices usually reserved for larger metropolitan areas. The interiors will be coordinated by our first class design staff and will include hardwood floors in selected 2nd floor living spaces, granite kitchen counters, granite bathroom vanity counters, Low E & argon windows, full-size washer and dryer room arrangements, covered 1st floor rear patios, covered 2nd floor front balconies in selected units, and a unique townhome exterior style that will give each owned unit a differentiated feel by blending exterior elements of columns, brick, stone and stucco. Residences will have a front covered entry doors alongside a front garage door. Gramercy Lofts will be located one block west of highway seventy five on Stonewall Drive .
The forty unit condominium community styled after the townhomes common in New York City 150 years ago are sometimes called Brownstones for the specific type of brown cut sandstone used on the exteriors. Our adaptation will be blended from local materials including brick, stone and stucco, but will still retain the side-by-side townhome style concept. There is actually a gated community in Manhattan called Gramercy Park, which derives it's name from the Dutch Krom Moerasje meaning "little crooked swamp". The private fenced 2 acre neighborhood is referred to in John B. Pine's 1921 book, The Story of Gramercy Park: ...Gramercy Park represents one of the earliest attempts in this country at city planning."
And so our concept borrows on the idea of the neighborhood belonging to the owners and being a unique, respected and well-maintained placed to live. We have designed eight units of varying size and amenities and named them for places in and around New York City. These units will be called Soho Flat, Brooklyn Flat, Brooklyn Loft, Hudson Square , Central Park, Gramercy Loft, Greenwich Village and Union Square . Each unit will be decorated in one of four color palettes to appeal to a variety of tastes and styles.
The first is called Weathered Urban, an eclectic blend of distressed black trim and doors along with dark stained alder cabinets and urban style brushed nickel hardware and light fixtures.
The second is called Cool Midwestern, which will be a relaxed, cool silver-toned wall color with crisp white moldings and doors and Spiced Walnut stained maple cabinets.
The third is called Clean Linen, featuring a modern twist with very light and bright walls, soft white painted moldings, stained knotty alder cabinets & chrome fixtures.
The fourth is called Old Town, which will feature oil rubbed bronze fixtures and hardware, creamy umber distressed moldings, stained alder or maple cabinets and warm, inviting  wall hues.
In addition unique design motifs, new owners will own a residence built by The Taylor Homes Group, a quality homebuilder in Bartlesville since 1958.  With our renewed commitment to energy efficiency, homeowners will experience the benefits of low utility costs. Here are some of those energy saving features: Low E; argon windows, foil-back reflective roof decking, dual unit heating and air for zoned temperature control, tankless hot water systems, bib wall insulation system, R-38 blown ceiling insulation. In addition to these great features, the nature of a stacked side-by-side townhome style home lends itself to low heating and cooling costs. Each unit will also be insulated from the adjacent unit by a double walled insulated 2 hour firewall which includes batted insulation and an air space for  sound control.
A Homeowners Association will be formed and established with deed to common areas including landscaping, lawn, pool & spa, fitness gym, parking and driveways and community clubhouse.
A Homeowner Association monthly fee will be established in the amount of $150 monthly.
This amount will fund the following: 1. water, sewer & trash  2. lawn & landscaping  3. snow removal & parking lot maintenance  4. management and maintenance of community building 
5. management and maintenance of fitness gym, spa, sauna and pool.
For more information about completion dates or for floorplan information, you can visit our offices at 3650 Camelot Drive in Bartlesville or call us at 918-333-3500.

Home Energy Hogs

This article caught my eye recently. It's about the small details of energy use that we may not be aware of in terms of all the energy required for all our 21st Century gadgets. I found it very useful and enlightening, especially understanding the small things we all can do to reduce our drain on the power grid which also reduces our energy costs which we all would find beneficial in a tough economic environment.
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