Exterior Remodeling to Reduce Maintenance

There’s a big difference in how you feel coming home to a well-kept older home vs. driving up to a home where aging siding, weather-beaten trim, and a cracked cement walkway all cry out for attention. That’s why exterior remodeling can make such a difference not only to the look of your home, but how you feel about it. Plus, with an eye toward new materials and construction options, exterior renovation can also reward you with lower maintenance.

Instead of just replacing a cracked cement walkway, for instance, you could consider exterior remodeling that changes the look of your home and eliminates worries that your new walkway will crack again. Brick or flagstone, for instance, not only give a richer look to your home’s exterior, they are set in sand or bluestone so they can “move” rather than crack like cement often can over time.

If your trim needs attention, replacing the wood and painting it is not your only option the exterior. Renovation could instead be done with products like Azec. From exterior fascias to trim for windows and doors, these products are easy for us to install, come in a variety of colors so we can get the right look for your home, and they never need painting.

If you have wooden siding – or siding that has been damaged or has just started to look old, you can replace it with new materials and even a whole new look. Today’s suite of low-maintenance exterior remodeling products includes everything from brick and stone to never-needs-painting siding. Cement board siding, for example, is not only a virtually maintenance-free exterior option, it also helps insulate your home to increase energy efficiency.

So, if you need to focus some attention on your home’s exterior, renovation options can help you enjoy a home that’s more attractive and easier to maintain for years to come.

Visit our site to find more information about our exterior remodeling services!

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Bathroom Remodels are Becoming Less Conventional

Ask a bathroom remodeling contractor to describe a “typical” bathroom renovation and we’ll tell you that there isn’t a typical one these days.  Like so many aspects of home remodeling today, bathroom remodeling has become all about personalization and possibilities.  Let me give you some examples.

First, I say “personalization” rather than customization.  For instance, we can personalize your bathroom remodel without using custom bathroom cabinets. Instead, we can work creatively with semi-custom cabinets to design bathroom surfaces and storage that’s personalized just for you.

A so-called typical bathroom remodel used to include a tub, shower, toilet and vanity. Now, even a luxurious master bath may not include a tub – some people don’t want to use the floor space since they don’t have the time or desire to take baths. Instead, they want their bathroom remodeling contractor to give them a larger shower enclosure. If tubs are on the wish list, they’re often free-standing ones with an airier feel than built in tubs.

In conventional bathrooms, toilets and vanities were mounted on the floor. Today, wall-mounted bathroom cabinets and toilets are increasingly popular elements of bathroom remodeling. The fact that they “float” makes even smaller bathrooms feel large and uncluttered.

As a bathroom remodeler, I see lots of lists of what’s in and what’s out. But even these lists don’t point to a typical, conventional bathroom. Remodeling’s supposed list of “outs” like vessel sinks or small, square ceramic tile might be on your own list of “must haves.” Back to the point I made about personalization: bathroom renovation is all about what you like, what you need and how you live. No two families are the same – and that’s why today’s bathroom remodeling is becoming far less conventional. Anything goes!

For some ideas on your own bathroom remodeling, start now with our photo gallery.

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A New Exterior: Remodeling Your Entryway

How is your home’s curb appeal? Sometimes, changing your entryway can give your home the feeling of an entire exterior renovation.   Plus, according to REMODELING magazine’s 2013 Cost vs. Value Report, exterior remodeling – particularly updating the entry — is among the most valuable home improvements you can invest in. In fact, installing a steel front entry door topped this year’s survey for value, letting homeowners recoup an estimated 85.6 percent of the cost at resale. But there’s a lot you can do to your entry that’s way more exciting than just installing a steel door!  Here are a few ideas to get you thinking:

  1. Raise the height of your existing exterior – remodeling options include installing a window directly over the door and framing it as a single unit.  This adds impact to the entire front of your home.
  2. Small, covered porches not only offer you and your guests protection from the elements, they can also visually and functionally extend your home’s foyer to the exterior. Renovation might give you the chance to build in a swing or covered patio with seating.
  3. Upgrade the materials and the scale. For example, many homes in our area have concrete walkways and steps leading to the front door. It’s a fairly easy exterior remodeling job to cap them with brick or flagstone. Or, for an even bigger impact for your home’s exterior, renovation might include starting fresh with a much wider, more gracious set of steps and replacing a straight, utilitarian walkway with a beautifully curved walk of brick, stone, slate or flagstone.

These are just a few ideas for upgrading your entry and giving a facelift to your home’s entire exterior. Renovation opens all kinds of possibilities!  For ideas, check out our exterior remodeling photo gallery.

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Home Remodeling: What ISN’T Changing

Home remodeling has certainly changed! Home construction is greener, home renovation includes all kinds of new products and gadgets, and from kitchens to whole house remodels, styles tend to be simpler and more streamlined. But here is one thing that hasn’t changed: people still love their books and still want a home remodel to include places where they can store, display and enjoy their treasured volumes.

You might not think that from browsing the pages of current shelter magazines that show such pared down interiors. But the truth is, that even in the age of iPads and Kindles, house remodeling contractors know how much people like to live with their books. Today, when we talk about home construction with clients, they often put built-in bookcases or a reading nook on their wishlist.

If you love living with favorite books, here are a few interesting ideas to consider in thinking about how to include them in your own upcoming home remodel:

  1. Try shelving books in unexpected places: you don’t have to do a whole house remodel to create a mini-library! As a house remodeling contractor, we can design and build interesting shelves to display books in almost any room. In the dining room, for example, books can be great for starting conversations.
  2. Carve out a bit of space for a reading nook: widening a landing, for example, can create a quiet, cozy place to read that’s away from the bustle of the family room or other busy areas of the home. Remodeling that includes a pretty window lets you enjoy sunshine and a lovely view as you read.
  3. Use doors on the front of bookshelves: With doors that slide, open or even roll up tambour-style,  even the most tattered – but beloved – book collection fits in with the sleekest, most minimalist interior design.

We can help you include books in your home – remodeling your kitchen, bedroom, bathroom or whole house to the perfect spaces for a few cherished books or hundreds! Want some ideas to get started? Just give us a call!

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Great New Sinks for Your Kitchen Remodel

When it comes to kitchen renovation, a lot of attention goes to kitchen cabinets, countertops and backsplashes. Appliances are also in the spotlight. But as a kitchen remodeling contractor, I think the sink is one of the most important choices you’ll make – because you’ll use it more frequently than any other part of your new kitchen.

Remodeling in the 1980s and 1990s often meant adding small, divided sinks in the kitchen. But if you do a lot of cooking, you’re going to have a hard time using a small sink to wash up large roasting pans and baking racks. And that’s the point – a custom kitchen remodel should be beautiful, but it should also be a beautiful solution for how you cook and how you use your kitchen.

At home shows, kitchen remodeling contractors get to see all the coolest new products, including sinks. From what we’ve seen lately, here are a few ideas to consider:

  1. What shape works best? Kitchen renovation lets you think outside the box, literally. There are, for example, very large, very deep sinks vs. shallower, trough-like sinks. One homeowner, chose a huge, keyhole-shaped sink that she said was the perfect shape for bathing a baby, washing a small dog and cleaning up her large serving platters.
  2. How tough does it need to be? If you’re not worried about juice stains, nicks and scratches, a porcelain sink might be perfect for your kitchen remodel. If, however, you want to be able to toss racks and pots into your sink and drain tomato sauce without doing instant sink scrubbing, a stainless steel sink might better fit your priorities. Kohler even makes stainless steel sinks that come with accessories like cutting boards and prep bowls.
  3. Is one sink enough? With a custom kitchen remodel, you can design in a main sink plus one or even two auxiliary sinks – perhaps one in a kitchen island to help with entertaining and one set off in a drink-bar area of the new kitchen. Contractors can work with you to use these extra sinks not just functionally, but as design elements. For example, a breakfast bar might be the perfect place to use a beautifully painted sink to add some “wow” without making the counters or backsplash look too busy.

For more ideas on sinks and other kitchen remodeling ideas, please visit our kitchen remodeling photo gallery.

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Should You Build a New Home or a New Home Addition?

Many times, our first job as a home addition contractor is to help clients see if building a room addition or even a second-story addition is the right answer.  In fact, sometimes even the best home addition won’t solve all the problems or provide all the “extras” a homeowner wants. In that case, it’s often better to look at selling the home and buying a new one.  How can you tell if building a home addition is right for you?  Here are a few starting points:

  1. How do costs compare? How big a home addition do you need? Obviously, if you simply want to expand your kitchen or do a room addition, the cost for doing this is going be dramatically less than moving. Sometimes, even building a major multi-story addition can cost less than moving to a new home, especially when you consider real estate commissions, moving expenses and other costs.
  2. How much do you love your existing home? If you love your location and neighborhood, and you love most things about your home, then calling a home addition contractor makes more sense.  With a new room addition or even adding a large in-law or master suite, you may find you can now love everything about your existing home.
  3. Will a home addition work with your particular house? As an experienced home contractor, we can usually find a way to make a home addition mesh with the rest of the house. If the yard is small, we can build up to give you a second-story addition or even a multi-story addition.  But sometimes there are limits that even our creativity as a room addition contractor can’t overcome. Zoning restrictions, for example, may mean you can’t add on the space you really need to make the home addition satisfy your needs. In that case, you may have to move to get that extra breathing room.  Additions, though, can be done quite creatively so don’t rule them out without talking to us!  In the meantime, take a look at our home additions photo gallery.
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Does a Home Addition Have to Start From Scratch?

You know you want a home addition, but what you might not know is that addition can begin with space you already have.

As a home addition contractor, I talk with so many homeowners who want to add more living space but who may not have the lot size or budget to “start from scratch.”  In these cases, we’re often able to pick a different starting point: space that already exists.

For example, if homeowners want to add on to the kitchen or to create a new family room, an underused screened-in porch might be a perfect “home addition in the making.” Chances are, it already has a foundation, so there’s a major cost-savings right there.  Even more important, however, is the creative thinking this extra square footage offers.  The porch itself could be transformed into the room addition. Even if the space is not located where the actual new living space is desired, integrating the porch into the home’s overall square footage creates space to shift existing rooms to open up interior space for a larger kitchen, dining room, family room or even a first-floor bedroom.

If you have a carport, you have a foundation just waiting to become a garage complete with a multi-story addition that’s perfect as an office, teenage retreat, or in-law suite. The space between your back door and a detached garage can be remodeled into more than a breezeway. It could become a full-fledged home addition with plenty of space for a mudroom, family room or big new kitchen.

We’ve been the home addition contractor for so many homeowners over the years.  Our experience helps us spot possibilities for adding space without always starting from scratch. If you’re thinking of a home addition, why not start by getting some inspiration from our photo gallery?

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The Biggest Fears in Doing a Kitchen Remodel

As a kitchen remodeling contractor, we talk with a lot of clients who have put off kitchen renovation for years – even when budget isn’t an issue.  Why? Well, apart from the challenge of having to “cook without a kitchen” for some period of time, the reasons fall into three categories:

  1. Fear of the kitchen getting outdated too soon. Homeowners often put off remodeling today because they keep waiting for the next new trend so their kitchen will stay fresh-looking longer. The trouble is that what’s “in” for kitchen remodels changes all the time – often quite quickly. One year painted kitchen cabinets are in, six months later cherry cabinets are what the kitchen remodeling magazines now say you must have. As an experienced kitchen remodeler, we know what’s in this month’s magazines. Even more important, we know what will stand the test of time in terms of materials and design that will retain their appeal, quality and good looks for a very long time.  We can also do your kitchen renovation with updates in mind – giving you a highly functional floor plan plus quality “bones” (cabinets, backsplashes, flooring). Whether your style is contemporary or traditional, this classic kitchen design can then be updated years from now with simple touches like new cabinet hardware or changing the wall color.
  2. Fear of missing out on something “cool” that’s on the market. Research, research and more research can often keep homeowners from being able to settle on a kitchen remodeling plan. They can’t commit because they are afraid that they’ve overlooked something wonderful – an ingenious cabinet organizing feature, new faucet technology, or a fabulous new option for flooring.  Well, as a kitchen remodeler, I go to the kitchen shows can I tell you that from counter-level fireplaces to hands-free faucets, there are a ton of cool products that can add pizzazz to kitchen renovation.  I can show you what’s out there and I can help you filter out things my experience tells me won’t live up to expectations.  I can also help you keep from being overwhelmed: instead of starting with all the new products, we’ll start by taking by looking at how you want your kitchen to look, feel and function. This helps us zero in on the “wow” products that will make the biggest difference.
  3. Fear of overlooking important functionality. The kitchen isn’t always just for cooking. It’s the family gathering place, often a homework zone, and often an entertaining area. Many times, those many roles can make homeowners reluctant for fear that they will go through the kitchen remodeling process only to find out that they’ve forgotten to think of something the kitchen needs to accommodate.  The way to address this concern is to visualize: imagine yourself cooking and entertaining. Imagine the kids coming home from school.  This careful visualization process helps you “live” through the floor plan and functionality before your kitchen renovation even begins and this helps avoid overlooking everything from where the recycling bins, kids’ backpacks and dogs’ water bowl will go to how much seating you’d really like to have when guests are sharing the kitchen.

We understand that it’s not always easy to commit to a kitchen renovation. Still, we have many, many clients who have gone through the kitchen remodeling process with us and are completely delighted with their new kitchen’s functionality, look, and “wow.” We’d be delighted to help you to finally have your own dream kitchen – just give us a call and let’s talk.

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A Tall(er) Order for Your Bathroom Remodel

As a bathroom remodeling contractor, one of the trends we’re seeing is that homeowners enjoy bathroom vanities that are higher than they used to be.

Today, the standard for bathroom renovation is still a 30”-high vanity. That’s 6” shorter than the standard for kitchen counters. For many people, that 36” height is also more comfortable for the counter in the bathroom. Remodeling contractors – including us – find that clients like a slightly taller vanity is easier on the back because they don’t have to bend down so far to use the sink.

That taller height, however, comes with both benefits and challenges. Children, for example, will have trouble using a taller vanity. So, if the bathroom remodel needs to accommodate children, we’ll need to design room for a stool.  We could design in space to stow an attractive stool. There are also bathroom-remodeler secrets like using the baseboard of the vanity cabinet to build in a slide-out step.

Six extra inches of height also means six extra inches of storage or stylish display. The possibilities are wonderful!

We’d love to show you the possibilities for your own bathroom remodel.  Just give us a call.  And in the meantime, we invite you to “shop” for some new bathroom renovation ideas in our Bathroom Remodeling photo gallery.

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“Kitchen of the Year” Isn’t New, Say Remodeling Contractors

Every year, kitchen remodeling contractors – including us – pore over awards programs and magazine features showcasing the “Kitchen of the Year.” It’s a great way to stay current about the freshest trends in appliances, cabinets, colors, flooring, countertops and kitchen space-savers. But frankly, the three most important features of a great “Kitchen of the Year” never change.

Layout, for example, is always critical. Even when remodeling a large kitchen, we advise homeowners to keep the actual “cooking triangle” – stove, sink, refrigerator – compact so it is efficient for the cook.

New appliances make it much easier to create this efficiency without “cramping” the look of the layout. For instance, under-counter refrigerator drawers can tuck in almost anywhere. So can new microwaves that can be built in right under the counters of an island or other working area. That gives our kitchen designer more freedom to create a highly efficient layout while still creating a clean, open look.

The need for storage is another “Kitchen of the Year” feature that never changes. The good news is that there are always wonderful new gadgets, space-savers and built-ins that can keep all that kitchenware neat and accessible. That’s getting more and more important today since many of our clients want space that would once have gone to upper cabinets kept free for windows, wall space for displaying artwork, or room for a flat screen TV. So, while it’s true that storage is always at the top of new-kitchen priorities, as contractors we are being challenged to be ever more creative in coming up with solutions.

Finally, maintenance has always been – and will always be –essential for a great kitchen. So yes, every kitchen should be fairly easy to keep clean without a lot of extra products or extraordinary care. From the finishes on cabinets to choices for flooring, a new kitchen should be carefully designed to stand up to the family’s lifestyle. Otherwise, that shiny new kitchen will quickly start to look tired and worn. That’s why an experienced kitchen remodeler always discusses materials and maintenance with homeowners to find the right fit not just for the design, but for the family’s lifestyle.

No matter what kind of fixtures and finishes you choose, if you pay careful attention to layout, storage and maintenance, the result is almost certain to get your own enthusiastic vote as “Kitchen of the Year!”

Visit our website to learn more about our kitchen remodeling services!

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