Are you a homeowner who is thinking about doing some projects around the house yet this summer or into the fall? It might be major renovations or a minor improvement, but odds are that many will answer “yes” to this question. Well, no time better than the present to get going, and for those who are looking for inspiration, direction, motivation, resources, or all of the above, here are a few tips and suggestions from the pros!
Interior Design Elements
Thanks to design, any space in your home can be elevated, aesthetically and functionally. Most often remodeling projects are done when both need to be updated, but as a rule of thumb, both should always be taken into consideration regardless of one or the other being the reason for the project. Each project will be unique to the home and the homeowners’ preferences, but there are some areas of the home that are much more common to renovate than others.
“Kitchen and bath remodels are popular projects for many reasons, the most obvious of which are return on investment, additional square footage, better use of space and function, the need or desire to update, and choice of enhanced design features,” advises Susan Stutheit of Sutter Place Interiors. “Although master bedrooms tend to fall further down the list, when working on a master bath it then becomes a natural progression to give that bedroom a makeover as well. The entire suite then becomes a sanctuary and place of peace and solitude, which is quite nice. Another popular project has been fireplace and fireplace wall updates with shelving to create a more pleasing and comfortable living space. In addition, outdoor spaces are becoming outdoor rooms, not only as a screened in porch or sunroom, but the great outdoors itself becomes an extension of one’s home and living pleasure!”
She also offers cautionary advice to homeowners, stating, “While the world of HGTV has brought much attention to home remodels, it has also given way to many false expectations. When perhaps a months-long process from start to completion is made to look like mere weeks, that is just not reality. And, if it indeed does take that length of time, what exactly ARE you getting? The saying ‘you get what you pay for’ certainly applies – what quality and craftsmanship are you expecting on a project with that pace?
Oftentimes homeowners do not always look at the big picture in many ways, and that’s where a professional designer can be immensely helpful. At the completion of a remodel you do not want there to be a disconnect with existing elements. Work done in one area affects the rest of the home and a long-range plan is something one must keep in mind. This is why it’s so beneficial and important to work with an interior designer and to develop a relationship with both your designer and remodeler! A designer will help guide you through the entire process, and has a keen eye for noticing and introducing things to you that others will not.”
In agreement that it’s wise to invest in design, Nate Bahm of Nate’s Custom Renovations also notes, “By investing in design, you will ensure that the project goes that much smoother once you get to production. With a great design in place, when it comes time to start both the homeowner and the contractor are on the same page; all parties will know the scope of work, cost, and timeline. These three are critical – I can assure you flying by the seat of your pants is not the way to go when it comes to home remodeling projects. Instead of being shortsighted, think about the finished product and focus on what you can do to get exactly what you want. By doing this, it will return dividends in the end with a stress-free, exciting and enjoyable experience and the home of your dreams that you’ll be able to enjoy well into the future.
Many people are not only more apt to consider the design today, but are also going away from shopping solely based on price, which is great to see. While the lower up-front cost can be really attractive, when you sacrifice quality, you’ll end up paying much more in the long run when you consider the actual monetary value and all of the headaches that will come along with it. While a commodity mindset largely prevails to this day, with many operating on the assumption that not much differs from one contractor to another, I can assure you that is not the case. There are many great ones and unfortunately, there are the not-so-great ones that give our industry a bad name altogether. Due diligence beforehand will ensure that you are working with someone who is equally as invested in the outcome of your remodeling endeavor.”
If you’re looking for cabinetry, countertops, granite, or even quartzite and quartz composite for an upcoming project, A1 Cabinet & Granite is another local resource that boasts an impressive showroom that’s well worth checking out. Displays span the 20,000-square-feet space, with several kitchen/bar setups, connected to a warehouse where the full inventory of cabinets and granite slabs are stocked.
At A1 Cabinet & Granite, all cabinets are available for wholesale and retail. The options for high-quality cabinets include Semi-Customization, Full Extension Drawers, Plywood Boxes, Maple Doors, Drawers and Frames, Dove-Tail and Soft Close Drawers, 6-Way Euro Hinges and Full Overlay Panels. Turnaround time for cabinet delivery is generally 1-2 weeks, and cabinet estimates usually take two to seven days depending on complexity, so make sure to plan for that lead time accordingly. Anyone is welcome to bring measurements in for a custom 3D drawing and estimate.
Logistically, flooring is generally one of the last items to get installed, although it will be planned for at the beginning in harmony with all of the other elements of the project. The flooring you choose will tie the other features in the space together, giving it the complete look and feel that you are trying to achieve. EMO Flooring is your local flooring expert, offering a wide variety of flooring options including carpet, tile, wood, laminate, and vinyl. You’ll also receive excellent customer service. For those who are not sure about the necessary quantities and supplies, in-home measurement is offered. With their many years of industry experience installing flooring, clients benefit from their expertise while also having peace of mind that the job will be done right the first time. Their in-house designers will work with you to create a space that expresses your taste and lifestyle, with the goal of making your house a uniquely beautiful home. Jacque Lee of EMO Flooring advises, “Especially regarding residential remodeling endeavors, we first determine the location of the project in the home, such as whether it is specific to the kitchen or bathroom. There are different factors that have likely already been at play prior to our involvement, such as the color and style of countertops, cabinetry, etc. so we build off of that information in order to get the perfect end result. For example, with new cabinets and hardwood, we need to know the wood type/color to contrast it, and the same holds true with granite. The goal is for all of the design elements to flow while contrasting nicely with the flooring. Equally important, based on what type of materials our clients choose, we always offer education on how to best care for them after installation. If the customer chooses a hardwood, it is essential to be aware that they will need a certain level of humidity year round and a humidifier will be crucial, and so on. At EMO Flooring, we pride ourselves in being able to provide our clients a wealth of information that is useful for just about any type of home remodeling project.”
While it’s easy to get caught up in all of the pretty materials and finishes, don’t forget about the lighting, which will showcase them nicely and can really transform the space. “Lighting is one of the best upgrades to consider with any home remodel project,” says Matt Collins of Oak Electric, Inc. “For example, if you are investing thousands of dollars into updating your kitchen, why not invest a little more to install under-cabinet lights to showcase your new kitchen? Same with bathrooms, you can install new lighting over the shower or bath area. Currently, the most popular trend in lighting is to replace old overhead light fixtures with strategically placed can lights. Furthermore, one should consider directional lighting to enhance artwork or photography hanging on their walls.
Lastly, lighting is equally important on the exterior of your home. Outside lighting provides safety after dark. It provides functionality to use your patio and/or deck later into the evening. It also gives your home greater curb appeal.
Before you start any remodel project, whether it’s a new addition, installing new appliances or a hot tub, etc., please have a licensed electrician evaluate your home’s electrical panel to ensure it can safely handle any and all upgrades. Also, when selecting your fixtures, we encourage you to choose a quality fixture over the bargain-priced option – you get what you pay for with lighting just as is commonly cautioned with your big ticket items. Oak Electric, Inc. also provides consulting services to assist with conceptual design.”
High-Tech Home Improvements
Given all of the amazing home technology that’s on the market today, chances are it’s on your radar for future upgrades.
If integration of home technology during a remodel is in the plans, Doug Dushan of Echo Systems points to the importance of infrastructure. “Whenever a remodel project is considered, we work to design wiring and technology infrastructure so that a homeowner can add features as their lifestyle evolves. We often find that people will start small but as the convenience of modern control systems is made more obvious, they often want to supplement their homes with advanced features. Having the right infrastructure in place makes that possible.
People renovate their homes in order to renew their relationship with their living space. This almost always includes aesthetic enhancements or upgrades. One of the more popular requests is suggestions on how to make a television more seamlessly integrate with the space. Whether it’s a mirror TV, an art lift TV or a TV that is motorized out of the ceiling or cabinetry, people are taking greater measures to hide video displays. More sophisticated technology is also merging with the increased demand for outdoor living. Extending wireless networks to cover an outdoor area is quite common. Streaming music to discreetly placed speakers throughout the landscaping or even outdoor TV’s and video projection systems are all becoming easier to attain. Home technology has made significant advances. We live in a world where you can access any movie ever made or any piece of music recorded in human history, and pull it to wherever you are, at any time! It’s pretty amazing.”
He adds, “One of my top recommendations to clients who plan to stay in their current residence for more than a couple years is to simplify operation of your technology by adding the right control system. Often people think that everything will be simpler if they don’t incorporate technology. The opposite is true. The absence of control technology results in multiple remotes on the coffee table and the requirement that one person in the home be the designated TV “turner on-er”, as one example to which we can all relate. Not ideal! Employing the right technology with a trained professional can make your access to Netflix binge-watching or streaming your favorite musician as easy as can be.”
Expanding on the possibilities for controlling your home’s systems, Pat Killeen of Engineered Controls and Control Depot further advises, “Every residential remodel project starts with a dream. Homeowners may enjoy their homes, but over time they would like things to be different. The home no longer reflects the owner’s taste or lifestyle. Maybe the family’s dynamics have changed or making the home more environmentally friendly is a priority. In order to turn those dreams into reality, detailed planning is required. Would you like to use the current space differently, or are you looking to add innovation and technology to your home? We offer a whole host of Honeywell products that will improve your home’s comfort and help you operate your home more efficiently. From the most state-of-the-art thermostats and zoning systems, to whole-house air cleaning systems, whole-house humidification and dehumidification systems, security and video systems; everything is geared to make homes more energy-efficient and secure.
An option like Total Connect by Honeywell’s innovative home control technology is an investment to your home that’s well worth considering. Total Connect allows homeowners to remotely monitor and control their homes at any time, from anywhere in the world. Through a personalized web portal with mobile apps, the homeowner can stay connected to their home’s heating and air conditioning system and security system from their smartphone, tablet or personal computer. Homeowners can receive alerts via emails, view live video and control and access their security system, control lighting, lock/unlock doors remotely, and more. Plus the simplicity and comfort that Honeywell’s wireless Prestige IAQ HVAC system provides offers a full-suite of wireless-enabled accessories that help you meet homeowners comfort and security needs. Items such as universal diagnostics, water sensor alarms, carbon monoxide alarms, and ventilation filtration alarms are just a few of the added benefits of owning such a home automation system. The system also provides customizable reminders for replacing the humidifier pad or UV lamp replacement reminders.
When starting a home remodeling project, think about how your lifestyle has changed and what you would like different. Are you simply looking to expand your kitchen or add new windows, or maybe replace your home’s central heating and cooling system? When planning to remodel your home, don’t overlook the importance of improving your home’s environmental control system. It will improve the air you are breathing, increase your HVAC equipment’s energy efficiency, increase your home’s comfort and offer peace-of-mind by increasing your home’s safety and security.”
He also notes, “Although most of today’s cutting-edge technology is wireless, there are going to be times when your remodeling contractor may need to add new equipment above ceilings or in the basement and run additional wiring that requires disrupting the existing walls and ceilings. When a contractor installs upgraded controls, the goal is usually for everything to be out of sight. By taking advantage of a home remodel project to upgrade your home’s technology infrastructure, adding new equipment at the same time is much easier.”
Whether it’s elements of your landscape or the exterior of the home itself that you’ve got your eye on improving, there are many different aspects of the property that could be the focus of a renovation project. With the addition or enhancement of outdoor living and entertaining areas continuing to be popular, there are so many options one could consider within just that area alone. Then there are the timeless items that will need replacement at some point, such as windows, doors, siding/gutters, roofing, walkways and driveway, garage, patio, etc. All told, there are many things to consider outside just as with the inside of the home, and some that will have a positive impact on both!
“Upgrading your home’s windows is an excellent remodeling project that will not only improve the aesthetic appeal of your home but also your home’s energy efficiency,” advises Jason Olberding, owner of J-Tech Construction and J-Tech Solar. “When you replace your windows, you are not just making a purchase, you are making an investment. It’s entirely possible to enjoy a beautiful new exterior look, and from the interior viewpoints as well, without breaking the bank. It’s not uncommon to see a 50% improvement in your home’s energy efficiency, or oftentimes more!
If you are searching for a project to compliment your new windows, I would recommend Seamless Metal Alloy siding. Just like replacing your windows, brand new siding can cut back on your energy costs as well as provide a beautiful new look to your home. Our Seamless Metal Alloy siding comes in a variety of colors and is manufactured on-site, so it’s custom fit your home. It’s a great way to give your home a ‘face-lift.’
Speaking of energy costs, although solar energy is not necessarily a new concept, it has definitely seen a spike in popularity in recent years. Due to a competitive manufacturing market and advancements in technology, the price for a homeowner to have solar installed has decreased substantially. If you were previously interested in solar energy but wrote it off as too high of an expense, I definitely recommend getting a new estimate. You will more than likely be very pleasantly surprised at how much the investment price has decreased.”
Olberding concludes with the following advice: “When you are ready to take on a new project, I suggest these three steps:
- Make a list of what is most important to you. Maybe you have a specific siding color in mind, or maybe you have a specific brand of shingles you want to use—whatever it might be, make sure your list is unique to your taste and vision.
- Before you get your estimates, plan your budget. What can you afford right now? Maybe you have a budget that allows you to replace a few windows a year. This will keep you from feeling overwhelmed when getting your estimates.
- After you get your estimates, make sure you do some homework on each of the companies that provided you with an estimate. Are they local? What is their rating with the Better Business Bureau? How about their rating on Google or Home Advisor? Getting answers to questions such as these can help you weed out any bad contractors.
Remodeling doesn’t always happen by choice; it can also come about out of necessity. Either way, we’re happy to help.”
A beneficial upgrade for windows, you may also want to consider 3M Window Films for a variety of good reasons. Keith May of The Tint Shop explains, “First, window film provides UV protection and blocks out about 99% of the UV rays. These rays can be damaging to furniture, carpet, and hardwood flooring, so incorporating them will offer protection and save you money in the long run. Furthermore, glare reduction will ensure that you won’t be surprised with an annoying sun glare that reflects off of your décor, most commonly your television. The darker the film of your window, the more glare you are going to stop. As far as privacy and safety, window films also ensure that the home’s occupants and valuables can’t be seen by passersby. With high heat rejection capabilities, there are films that will help to keep your home more comfortable and provide greater energy efficiency, which takes the load off of your home’s major systems and equipment, which in turn lowers utility bills.
The Tint Shop website, tintshoplincoln.com, is a great resource to utilize if you’re interested learning more about the benefits of window films for your home. Features include a Residential Window Film Simulator, which allows you to see how a certain window film will look and work in a room, a photo gallery, the ability to request an estimate, and a savings calculator. Or, give us a call at (402) 466-1355 and we’re happy to answer any questions.”
Ken Svoboda of Ray’s Lawn & Landscape also offers recommendations on outdoor projects for residential properties:
“I regularly meet with homeowners to discuss upgrades to their home; most generally the upgrades are meant to enhance the existing outdoor living spaces. It’s been widely studied that landscape and outdoor living space enhancements, if done professionally, can have a return on the original investment of 100-175%.
Sometimes the requests are as simple as trimming, pruning, or replacing old and tired shrubbery and trees with new colorful plants that have a variety of textures and feel. The addition of water features ranging from bubbler boulders or urns to full waterfalls with either pond-less or open water reservoirs all add a really nice touch. Similarly, outdoor lighting will enhance the night-time experience and curb-appeal. New LED lighting options are extremely energy efficient and nearly completely maintenance free.
Outdated, cracked and broken concrete patios can be replaced with new cobblestone or slate-like pavers. In fact, the creative expansion of available formed concrete materials has been nearly impossible to keep up with, which means there’s no shortage of options to consider. New concrete pavers designed to look like large slate tiles, ceramic wood planks or flagstone have made designing a new or enhanced outdoor living space that much easier. However, in turn, it tends to prolong the decision phase because there are so many possibilities. Add to that the online availability of endless ideas and the sky has literally become the limit.
Moving on past that, pergolas can be added to provide shade and create a more intimate and comfortable outdoor setting. Portable gas grills are replaced with built-in kitchens designed to have the feel and usefulness of any indoor kitchen. The designers of outdoor living products have taken a much-used approach from those that have been designing indoor kitchens. The concept of taking individual cabinet components in a variety of textures and sizes and arranging them to suit the needs of the customer is now a reality in the outdoor kitchen and living space market as well. You can design and install everything from simple drop-in gas grills to pizza ovens; from fire-pits to fireplaces; refrigerators to wine chillers and beer taps. It’s a great time to be in the design and installation market.”
Svoboda also offers general advice that applies to any project you’re considering on the property: “I always tell my customers to build to their needs not the needs of the next owner. It’s like putting plastic slipcovers over your living room furniture. Sure the fabric will look good forever but you’ll never enjoy the feel or beauty of the fabric. And when it comes time to sell that furniture the fabric is so far from current and outdated it has no value anyway.
Now is the time to remodel or enhance your outdoor living spaces. Interest rates are still low on home equity loans, the housing market is fast-paced currently with homes selling as quick as the same day, and the products available to bring indoor living outdoors is at an all-time high. In other words, think big, take advantage of the various markets and you’ll see your return on your investment accelerate with each passing year. But be careful. Fast-paced markets are more prone to scammers or individuals/companies with little experience in putting together a thoughtful and efficient design being hired due to the greater demand. It never fails; we see a few a year where we’re called into a recently completed project to repair or completely rebuild what was incorrectly installed due to lack of experience, short-sightedness or corner-cutting. Ask for references, check out their previous work, and check with the Better Business Bureau. With over 50 years of design and installation experience, Ray’s has grown their reputation and client list one satisfied client at a time. We pride ourselves on being one of Lincoln’s finest and most innovative landscape design specialists.
If you’re looking for a fall project, don’t wait. Contact a professional today. This time of year is extremely busy and it may take a few weeks to not only set an appointment but to get a design in place and agreed upon. But mostly have fun with the process.”
Focusing specifically on outdoor living areas, Bill Budler of Nebraska Outdoor Living Center adds, “Outdoor living is one of the fastest-growing areas of interest for homeowners. The idea of extending their indoors outdoors allows the homeowner to gain square footage without walls. Many buyers in today market list ‘outdoor living area’ on their must-have list when home shopping. When shade or weather protection is coupled with comfortable outdoor furniture, the homeowner can effectively extend their living area beyond the walls of their home.
During our 15 years of assisting homeowners with expanding, enhancing and improving their outdoor living areas, we have found that ‘livability’ and ‘comfort’ are the overwhelming goals of most clients. For many years builders have included basic patios and decks on new homes. Typically they tend to be on the smaller side size-wise, and seldom was any consideration given to making these areas actually useful. Without protection from the heat of the sun, the vast majority of decks and patios are seldom used. Proper exterior shades or pergolas open a whole new world of outdoor living for many.
In both new and existing homes, we’ve seen a growing trend in residential construction to include a covered deck or patio. The roofline of the home is extended out and is usually supported by columns or posts. This is a great way to cover an outdoor living area and really helps keep the deck or patio dry. Unfortunately, however, the late afternoon sun is still able to ruin your barbecue. As the sun sets the lower angle often blasts the entire area under the roof creating a very uncomfortable situation. The solution may be a retractable solar screen. These specialized screens are designed for exterior use. With the ability to be raised or lowered to help block the glare of the sun, these can reduce the ambient temperature by as much as 20 degrees! Because they are retractable you can have shade when you need it and sun when you want it. With a variety of colors and levels of concentration, clients can block the sun and not their view!
The biggest tip for anyone looking for outdoor living improvements is to plan ahead. All quality products are custom made and do take some time to design, produce and install. Naturally, late spring and summer are especially busy for us and our manufacturers. But with a little patience and the help of experienced professional outdoor living specialist you can transform your deck or patio into the coolest room of your home.”
Sometimes just taking a stroll through a studio, showroom, show home, or home & garden center that has a wide variety of products showcased will be just the thing to get you moving in the right direction. There are so many great finds out there just waiting to be rehomed on your property to add to its beauty and/or function.
For example, leading local landscape headquarters Outdoor Solutions has more than enough room to showcase its impressive assortment of decorative landscape rock, flagstones, boulders, mulches, topsoil, retaining wall, pavers and construction materials. It’s one of the largest landscape retail yards in the area. Then there’s the spacious storefront featuring outdoor pottery, bird baths, garden products, pond supplies, and much more. Just come out and pick the landscaping products you like and take them home with you! Loaders and employees are ready to assist you with whatever amount of material you need. Trailer rental is also available, and the equipment has a push-button system to making unloading fast and easy. Not only is the location convenient for us here in Lincoln, but with delivery available, your products can be brought right to your doorstep if that’s easiest.
“Whether your yard is getting an entire upgrade, or you simply need some new pottery for your home, Outdoor Solutions is your ideal stop,” says Teresa Hendricks of Outdoor Solutions. “We have anything and everything you’d need for a landscaping project or to improve your property – accessories, boulders, cobblestone, construction materials, dry stack walls, edging, landscape lighting, fire pits, flagstone, landscape fabric and rock, mulch, outdoor furniture and living accessories, pavers, and the list even goes on from there. Homeowners and contractors alike will enjoy the superior collection of products we have available. We are located at 10901 South 14th Street in Roca, NE, approximately 2.5 miles south of Pine Lake Road. Not sure what you’re looking for? Give us a call at (402) 420-1477 and we are happy to brainstorm with you!”
There are a lot of instances when brick would be used in the exterior features, as was previously touched on with respect to pavers. During remodeling projects where you’re adding on to existing features, it’s important to have a professional help you color match for the best results. Larry Epp of Yankee Hill Brick notes, “Brick is a timeless, classic building material. It evokes a sense of quality and durability that many homeowners desire. Homes built with brick never go out of style, and if you’re adding a feature to a brick home, matching can be a challenge. Oftentimes homeowners wish to match pavers too. We can help guide you on which materials to choose or what to look for to get the best results, and we’re well-known for our color blending capability, which is unsurpassed in the industry.”
The possibilities of what you can do to improve your home are exciting to think about, particularly when there’s so much out there to consider. They’re even more satisfying when completed and able to be fully enjoyed. While there are plenty of capable Do-It-Yourselfers out there, other instances call for a professional, whether it’s a necessity or you’d prefer to have someone else perform the task. For the latter, make sure you get on the books sooner than later, as the demand is particularly high this time of year. Otherwise, to keep things on track, a little guidance from the professionals never hurts, and they’re just a quick drop in or phone call away!