Family in the kitchen

5 Ways to Prep Your Home for Back to School Time

As we enter back-to-school season, it’s important to focus on preparing your child for this year’s academic journey. It’s also important to ensure your home provides a supportive environment for their educational efforts. A new school year is a fresh start, and that can apply to areas of your home, too. With just a few adjustments, you can create an organized space that encourages learning, productivity, and overall well-being, at home and in the classroom. Take a look at 5 ways you can help prep your home, and family, for going back to school.

1. Set up a study space

A dedicated learning space will help your kids compartmentalize work versus play. This space will help them to keep their schoolwork more organized, and all in one spot. If pens, pencils, and schoolwork are kept at their desk, it’s less likely that assignments or supplies will wind up in places they shouldn’t be.

2. Establish a routine before school starts

During the last week of summer, have the whole household practice the way mornings and evenings will go during the school year. Prepare a backpack before bed, go to sleep at the same time every night, wake up at the time you will on a school day, pack lunches, etc.
Establishing a routine before school starts will help prevent a groggy, sleepy students on the first day of school.

3. Create a family calendar

Whether it’s a physical calendar on the wall or a shared calendar on your phones, a family calendar is a great way to keep track of your family’s busy schedule. From extracurriculars, to important projects, doctor’s appointments, etc, you will all be on the same page!

4. Organize the mud room

Have your children’s shoes, backpacks, and sports gear organized before school is in session, for a less hectic start to the year. Upgrade to newer baskets, add some extra hooks, or even a bench. Refresh the space for a fresh, new school year.

5. Encourage organization

Depending on the ages of your children, what they can manage on their own will vary, but it is never too early to help foster good organizational habits. Help younger children pick out their clothes for the week. Help older students organize their binders to manage their different classes. Creating spaces that will help them stay organized for the year is a big part of this, so make sure their study spaces and rooms are primed to keep everything in its place.

Should You Test Your Home’s Water Quality?

Some of our homeowners have asked if they should test their home’s water quality. While it may sound like a step you can skip, it is actually a very good idea. Ensuring good water quality, can help guarantee the longevity of your appliances, and the overall health of your family. Let’s look into a few of the most important reasons to test your water quality:

Health Benefits

Water can vary in its level of healthy minerals and unhealthy contaminants. Some water may contain bacteria, viruses, heavy metals, pesticides, or other chemicals. By testing your water quality, you can prevent contaminants that can cause illness, skin problems, or other health issues with a filtering system. Having the cleanest drinking water possible helps keep your family happy and healthy, for many years to come.

Protecting Your Plumbing and Appliances

Hard water, chlorine, and iron are some of the minerals and chemicals that can damage your plumbing and appliances over time. By testing your water, it allows you to be informed of any risks and gives you the chance to install the filtration system that best meets your needs.

Water Taste and Odor

If you are planning to drink tap water, you should definitely test your water quality. Beyond health concerns, certain bacteria or chemicals being present will lead to poor-tasting water. Sometimes water can be discolored or have an odor. Testing your water will help you identify the source of the poor taste or smell so you can nip the issue in the bud before you move in.

When the time comes to test your water, there are a couple of options to choose from. You can find a DIY test, available online or at most hardware stores, or you can call a local professional to get the most thorough and accurate testing.

It’s important to remember that periodic testing and maintenance of your home’s water quality is essential for the well-being of your entire household. By completing routine tests, you can easily address any concerns, enhance the taste and cleanliness of your water, and protect your plumbing and appliances from potential damage.

Home Features Designed for Summer Fun

Picture this, you wake up in your dream home on the beautiful coast of North Carolina every morning this summer. Do you enjoy a cup of coffee overlooking the water? Take a morning swim? Pull out a kayak? Or plan a cookout with loved ones?

Whatever your heart desires, take a look at some of these home features! Including them in your coastal home can make summertime that much sweeter.

A Dock

If you live on a beach or waterway, a dock is the perfect way to enjoy it every day! You can sit out with a good book in the morning or evening, plop a kayak into the water and take a quick lap, or enjoy a swim! If your dock is larger, you can even have family dinners on the water when the weather is nice. This is a fun feature you can enjoy most of the year.

An Outdoor Kitchen

Barbecues and family dinners on the menu? An outdoor kitchen makes summer entertainment easier and more inviting. Instead of trekking in and out of the house with things to put on the grill, an outdoor kitchen allows you to stay with your guests and enjoy the party while you prep and cook. You can even include your guests and designate them as sous-chefs! It’s inviting, entertaining, and smells delicious. This feature is great for the summer and can be enjoyed the rest of the year, too.

A Pool

You can still enjoy the water… even if you don’t live on the water! A pool is a coveted feature in any home. Become the envy of your neighborhood with a gorgeous in-ground pool, complete with all the most stylish and comfortable loungers, umbrellas, and more. Lounge or play with your family and guests all season long.

An Outdoor Shower

Coming out of the ocean, a river, or a pool, you’ll likely want to rinse off before heading inside. Instead of a garden hose, you can choose to have an outdoor shower included in your home plan! Make sure it’s well covered, and opt for a rain shower head for the ultimate luxury experience.

A Fire Pit

Gathering around a fire in the evening is always a nice way to decompress and catch up with your loved ones. Make s’mores and hot dogs in the summertime while watching the sunset, and cozy up during the fall and winter to stargaze. It’s sure to be a hit any season of the year.

Choosing Kitchen Cabinets

When choosing kitchen cabinets, there are several key factors to consider. You want to make the best selection for your space and your family. Here’s a checklist of key features to consider while choosing cabinets for your dream kitchen.


Shaker, flat, raised, made with glass panels… the style of cabinet doors can make a statement by being simple or very ornate. Consider timelessness, ease of cleaning, and, in the case of glass, your level of organization.

Color and Material

Cabinets come in every color of the rainbow and can come in a variety of woods with different stains and textures. There are a variety of materials to choose from, like classic wood, sleek laminate, and even shiny stainless steel — each of which comes with its own set of colors. Remember to choose your color and material with the bigger picture in mind. Don’t forget to pair your cabinet finish with your backsplash and countertops.


While hardware is certainly a style choice, it’s also a functional choice! Think about how easy it would be for a belt loop to snag on drawer cabinet pulls or for your baby to grab onto them. Choose a shape and finish keeping in mind how they will complement the cabinet color, overall kitchen design, and traffic flow for your family in the space.


Don’t forget to consider adjustable shelves, drawers, pull-out trays, and specialized storage solutions for pots, pans, spices, and utensils. You may opt for a trash can drawer or big drawers sturdy enough to hold your counter top appliances when not in use. These solutions can make your kitchen much more functional for everyday use.

Aside from choosing the style and features of the cabinets themselves, you’ll also keep durability and affordability in mind. Cabinets and hardware come in a wide range of colors, materials, finishes, styles and price points. You’ll be happy you spent the time selecting just the right cabinets for your dream home.

Benefits of Being a Homeowner

Happy National Homeowners Month and congratulations to every homeowner living in a Horizons East home! June is dedicated to celebrating the joys, benefits, and advantages of homeownership. It’s a chance to recognize the value that owning a home brings to individuals, families, and communities. In this article, we will explore a few of the many benefits of home ownership.

1. Stability

Rent prices, can be changed at will if neighborhoods become more popular or if the market shifts. Your mortgage will be more stable, varying slowly over time as insurance rates or property taxes change. You don’t have to worry about your landlord selling the building or a noisy upstairs neighbor. Your home is yours, and living in your own home is a great way to protect yourself financially over time.

2. Personalization

Owning your house gives you the freedom to do whatever you’d like, to make it feel like home for you and your family. Your decor, fixtures, and features can all be tailored to your
personal style! From paint colors to appliance choices, you call the shots instead of a landlord. You and your family can truly make it your dream home.

3. Investment and Equity

Owning a home is a long-term investment. Over time, as you pay down your mortgage and build equity, you are putting money into an asset that typically gains value. This can provide financial stability and serve as a source of wealth accumulation across the years.

4. Community

Owning a home fosters a sense of community and pride. When you own a home, you become part of a neighborhood, and part of your town or city. This sense of community provides stability for families, offering children an opportunity to grow up in a consistent environment, participate in local events, and get to know families who live nearby. If you’re taking the leap to become a homeowner, consider Horizons East to help you build your
dream home. Here’s what some of our homeowners have to say about us:

Jacksonville, NC Homeowner: 

“Custom built by Jennifer Morton at Horizons East and her great team, our vision of a home was brought to life by the skill of some great people after many years of dreaming and planning. It is not the materials we posses but the people that call this home that are the most valuable. It sure does feel good to have a place for our loved ones to gather together.”

Maysville, NC Homeowner:

“The house is AWESOME… All I want to do is stay home!!”

Stella, NC Homeowner:

“After walking through the same home you built in another location and after hearing our agent’s affirmation of your family and your skill as a builder, we were pretty confident. Upon our first meeting with you, we both knew you were our builder… We endorse you every chance we get and everyone that sees our home love it and asks who the builder is.. We tell people what we liked best about working with you was your very relaxed demeanor. If we suggested a change it was never a big deal and you would even expand on what we were going for. Would we do it again with you at the helm? Absolutely!”

Hubert, NC Homeowner:

“I currently have the Brookstone and I can’t speak highly enough about how much I love it!! I am always telling people what a great quality company you are and how you include all the additional personal touches that make it not just a house but a home… Thank you!!”

How to Maximize Natural Light

Natural light can make a big difference in the look of a room, and it can improve your mood significantly! While we don’t get very harsh winters in Coastal Carolina, the gray months of the year are still bleak, and sunlight is a sought-after commodity year-round.

How can you keep things naturally bright, any time of year?

1. Angle your house appropriately.

This may not work on every plot of land, but when planning your home build, explore the different angles that you can place your home. Find the direction that maximizes the natural light during the time of day you want it most. For example, if you’re an early riser, an east-facing house could boost your mood with the earliest rays lighting the house each day.

2. Hang mirrors.

Not only do mirrors reflect images — they reflect light! Reflective mirrors can bounce light around the room and help make the space brighter.

3. Use light or bright colors.

White or light-colored walls, furniture, and ceilings will all help to reflect light. This helps to
maximize the luminosity of a room during periods of lower light in early mornings, gray days, or when the sun goes down.

4. Open the blinds and curtains.

To instantly brighten up your home, make sure to crack the blinds or pull back the curtains
when you want to lighten the mood.

5. Keep windows clean.

Dirty windows can’t let in as much light! When washing your windows, don’t forget to clean the outside, too.

6. Get skylights or solar tubes.

While your dream home is being designed and built, check to see if there’s any opportunity to add a skylight or solar tube! These will let the natural light flow to areas of the home that may not get much otherwise.

7. Strategically use artificial light.

Not all light bulbs were created equal! Use artificial lighting to help supplement natural light with bright bulbs that are energy-efficient.

Enjoy the sunshine!

Featuring the Lincoln Floor Plan

The Lincoln floor plan is a beautiful two story home with 4 bedrooms, 2.5 baths, and a convenient two-car garage. This home’s 2044 total heated square feet are perfect for a growing family.

When you open the front door, you enter a beautifully lit foyer with a staircase that leads upstairs. To your right, there’s a spacious dining room with a view of the covered front porch. Taking a left from the formal dining space, you walk into a hallway that houses the pantry and a bathroom before reaching the spacious, open kitchen.


The kitchen is spacious and open; it spills into the breakfast nook and a cozy living room. With lots of natural light and space, the lower level is an ideal place to entertain the whole family for holiday dinners, game nights, and other occasions. There is also an optional covered back porch outside the breakfast area, the perfect place to enjoy a cup of coffee before you start your day.

Upstairs, the master suite is to the right. The bedroom is large enough for a king-sized bed, dresser, nightstands, and even a small sitting area if needed! The attached master bathroom comes with a his and hers vanity, bathtub, shower, and water closet. Through the bathroom is a walk-in closet, which features a window for natural light while you get ready for the day.

There are three additional bedrooms upstairs. The first bedroom is larger and has a walk-in closet, two others are ideal for younger children or office space. These three upstairs rooms share a full bath.

On the second story, you will also find the laundry room. This beautiful space will make you look forward to laundry day, rather than dreading it.

The Lincoln plan has plenty of space for the whole family, and is great for entertaining and letting your children play! Overall, the Lincoln floor plan is a great choice for those who value space, functionality, and flexibility in their dream home.

Home Features You’ll Love for Pets

Pets are an integral part of our families. We love them, so it’s natural to keep your fur-babies in mind when planning your dream home. Here are a few pet-friendly features to love when building and designing your new Horizons East home.


Doggy Door

Tired of letting the pups in and out every time they have to go outside? Wish they could let themselves out early on a chilly morning? A doggy door may be the solution for you! Ensure it opens to a fenced in yard or area to keep your neighbors happy and your pets protected.


Built-in Gates

Adding a removable barricade can be an inconvenience and an eyesore when you want to keep your pets out of certain areas. Instead, use built-in gates or a pocket door to contain your pets when needed. These can double as a baby-proofing addition, too!


Home Grooming Station

Dogs can get muddy and shed a lot, which may not be something you want to track into your bathtub or shower. A home grooming station keeps dog hair out of your luxurious human bath and can be built to meet the individual needs of your dog or cat. 


Pet-Proof Flooring 

Potty accidents happen, and claws can scratch hardwood floors over time. Make sure to consider your pets when choosing your flooring! A rule of thumb is to minimize carpet in high-traffic areas, and hard, impermeable materials are best, like tile, laminate, waterproof vinyl planks, cement, etc. 


Enclosed Patio 

Build the “catio” of your kitty’s dreams or add a screen so your fur babies can experience the often gorgeous weather in Coastal Carolina while still being “indoors” officially. 


Fenced in Yard 

Let your pups (and kids) run wild inside the safety fence around your yard. A good fence will help deter wild critters and will keep your pups and children from meandering out into streets, woods, or other areas where they might get lost or injured. 


Pet Bedroom 

Building a bedroom just for your pets isn’t as crazy as it may sound! Even if it’s just converting a closet under the stairs, your pets will have a private space of their own to escape to when you have lots of guests, a thunderstorm rolls into town, or when they’re tired and want a nap. You can also plan to include pet toy storage, easy leash access, and other pet-specific use needs.

What to Choose for Your Dream Dining Room

April is National Brunch Month. Brunch is a social meal which blends breakfast and lunch foods. It offers a unique opportunity for hosting, and the menu possibilities are almost endless. For a fabulous brunch, or another special event in your custom home, you’ll want a dining room setup fit for the occasion. Here are some items to include when designing your dream dining space.


A Top-Shelf Table

While it doesn’t have to be at a top-shelf price, find a table that is a show-stopper in the style you love. Your table is the focal point of the whole dining space. Round or rectangular, traditional or bar-height, your dining table is the centerpiece of community in your dining room. It’s where you can gather, celebrate, eat, work, and more.


Comfy Chairs

Chairs are another necessity. Test seats for both comfort and style. Make sure your choices will be comfortable for your whole family. Feeling bold? Don’t be afraid to pick something unique! Remember, you can also move these chairs to other spaces in the home when you need additional seating. 


A Beautiful Bench

Instead of opting for all traditional seating, consider adding a bench! Benches are a little more casual and can be great choices if space is a little tight, or when you need to seat several youngsters around the table. Some types of benches can also double as extra storage.


A Bountiful Buffet

A buffet is functional in two ways. It stores your favorite serving bowls, utensils, and dishes. It also is great for serving food when you have a larger gathering or a bountiful meal. It’s also a perfect place to add a bit of decor depending on the season or special occasion. If there’s space in your dining room, adding a buffet gives you quite a few options to enjoy.


Handy Hutch

If you’re not a fan of buffets, you may choose a hutch for a storage and display piece in your dining room. They’re typically built with some display space and some storage that’s not visible. They provide a handy way to showcase family heirlooms or unique pieces, while you can tuck away seasonal platters or items you use less often in the cabinetry. Built for making an impression, a hutch can be very practical as well.


Attractive Art

With your furniture selected, it’s time to turn to the artistic and decor touches that make your dining room “you.” Choosing art that is attractive and compliments your design style adds more personality to your gathering space. Add prints, paintings, or display items that fit your style. And you can never go wrong with framed family photos in this space.


Serving Wares

Ladles, spatulas, salad bowls, etc., are all essential to have on hand when hosting a brunch or holiday meal. Select key serving items for your dining room that coordinate with your colors, pattern, or style. From stainless steel to boho to bright, festive colors, have your serving utensils ready when you need them!


Luminous Lighting

Is a dining room really a dining room without a statement lighting fixture? Whether it’s a chandelier or a funky pendant light, let your lighting be a shining stand-out in the space. Dining rooms are also a perfect space to fill with soft mood lighting or candlelight! Find vintage candlestick holders to light up the room with a warm glow or explore dimmable LED lighting features that enhance a romantic evening or quiet family meal. 

How to Clean the Exterior of Your Home

Spring is the season for fresh starts. That’s the spirit behind “Spring Cleaning” efforts! The last week of March is National Cleaning Week, making it the prime time to get your spring cleaning started.

You know the drill for inside the house: sweep, mop, dust, declutter, disinfect. What about the exterior of your home? Here are some tips for cleaning your home’s exterior, depending on the type of siding you have.

Vinyl Siding

A pressure washer will clean vinyl siding quickly. However, to help extend the durability of the siding, try cleaning with a brush and cloth. Wipe it down from top to bottom, rinsing often. Use vinegar and water for routine cleaning, or if you’ve got more serious stains, use something a bit stronger, like bleach, in the mix.

Wood Siding

Siding made from wood is not as sturdy as vinyl, so it’s best not to use a pressure washer. A mixture of water and vinegar, or bleach and oxygen are highly recommended. After cleaning wood siding, it may be a good idea to use a sealant to protect it from weather. Check with a professional to see if your specific siding needs sealant.

Metal Siding

To clean metal siding, use a soft brush to remove heavy debris and dirt; be careful not to use anything too abrasive that may scratch the paint or metal. Use a mixture of water and laundry detergent to clean. If you want to use a pressure washer, make sure to use the lowest power setting. Be careful not to leave behind any cleaning solution because it may promote corrosion.

Fiber Cement Siding

Whenever you notice any stains or dirt on your cement siding, spot clean it with soap, water, and a cloth! Be careful when using any cleaning products as they can cause corrosion over time. For a gentle clean, use your garden hose to rinse. Aside from spot cleaning your cement siding, most siding can just be cleaned once a year! Add it to your annual spring cleaning checklist to make sure your exterior stays beautiful.