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Friday, September 27, 2013

Follow Me On... | Social Media in the Remodeling Industry

According to a recent factoid in Remodeling Magazine, social media use has caught on among remodelers, however it appears not all social media/sharing sites are created equal. It's no surprise that Facebook is on top, with 80% of those surveyed using the social media platform, as the site boasts 1.15 billion active users as of March 2013.  And in what seems like a tremendous gap, 30% are Houzz users followed closely by LinkedIn at 28%. But considering the relative newness of the Houzz (launched in 2009) in comparison to LinkedIn (launched in 2003), such an established base of users this early in the game could predict a very bright future for the newcomer.  And not to be forgotten in the list, Twitter, YouTube and Pinterest bring up the rear at 21%, 20% and 14% of remodelers surveyed using these sites respectively. 

So what does this tell us about the remodeling industry? That remodelers have way too much time on our hands, so we've decided to start 'liking' and 'pinning' the day away. Ha, hardly. Perhaps what we can learn from these statistics is that we've entered an entirely new age of marketing, communication, and interaction. Consumers now have the freedom to explore and learn about products, services, and businesses with the ease of a mouse click. So be mindful of what's put out there using your brand or imagery, because someone will find/click/share/post it. And embrace the opportunity to entertain, enlighten, and engage with your clients, and possibly reach an entirely new audience in the process. 
Happy sharing/liking/pinning/posting/tweeting!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Repainting | Where to put that fantastic new hue

Thinking of repainting as part of your next remodel or home update? Comparatively speaking, painting can be one of the less expensive and most impactful ways to update a space. But before you break out the brushes and throw on the overalls, there are some decisions that must be made. The first step is almost always choosing the color. Do you go with a bright yellow, fiery red or serene blue? But once the color scheme of your room is settled upon, there is still one BIG decision to make- exactly where to put that fantastic new hue.

 All Walls

Obvious, right? The most common choice is to paint all the walls with your selected color, leaving the ceiling, moldings, and trim a classic white. 

This is a great option if you want a dramatic result that can radically change the feel of the entire room. Depending on your color choice, a newly painted space can take your mood to an energized and uplifted high or relax you into a state of utter tranquility. With the right hue surrounding you, it will be easy to enjoy your new space. 

Another benefit to this color placement is that architectural moldings and details will really pop in bright white against a bold new color.

Right: Benjamin Moore Winter Lake 2129-50, Eggshell Finish

Feature Wall

Custom Blend: SW Chinese Red , P&L Grenedier Red
BM Classic Brown 2109-10, Eggshell Finish

A great way to integrate color, especially one that may be considered too dark or vibrant for an entire room, is by painting just one wall or area. By keeping the remainder of the painted palette relatively neutral, the focal wall will draw your eye in like a giant bulls-eye  A focal wall can be utilized to highlight the recurring accent color throughout the space or to introduce a unique color that compliments the other furnishings and fixtures throughout. 


Ceiling: Sherwin Williams Copper Harbor 6634, Walls: SW Posy 6630
Another alternative is to feature the color on the ceiling. This option is a great way to add bold colors without totally overwhelming a space. And depending on the color chosen, you can either visually expand the space, or bring it in for more comfort.

"Warm colors tend to advance, and cool colors recede, so if you are looking to visually raise your ceiling height, stick to cooler hues. On the other hand, if you have high ceilings and wish to make them feel lower — for a more intimate vibe — use a warm hue, such as red, orange or yellow."         - Houzz Contributor Jennifer Ott

A Blank Canvas

Okay, so you're probably wondering why white walls would even be included in a write up about placement of color. By painting your walls, ceiling, and trim a crisp clean white, you're allowing the other finishes, furnishings and artwork to take center stage and really stand out against a clean backdrop. 

Ignoring the technicality that there are about 1,000 shades of 'white' that you could agonize over, and given enough time and concentration, you may even begin to be able to discern the difference between Super White and Ultra White (though I doubt it), white is the perfect choice for a modern and sophisticated feel in any space. 

One word of warning- having all white walls, especially with minimal molding and architectural details, requires that you have SUPERB craftsmanship from the tradespeople chosen to execute your pale palette. Because an all white palette is so light reflective, the slightest imperfections in your wall finish will stand out like a giant sore thumbs down. So find someone that's willing to take the time to no only do it, but do it right.

So whether you're looking to add a daring 'statement' color or simply revitalize your space, keep in mind that it's not just which hue you choose, but how you display it that will have a significant impact on the end result.

For more tips on selecting the best paint for your buck, check out this Houzz Article!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Simple Steps to Prep your Fireplace for Fall

It may not feel like it yet, but fall is just around the corner (Sept 22nd to be exact). And even though we don't have chilly winds or the need to worry about heating our homes just yet, there are a few steps that can be taken now to prep for fall. Below are a few suggestions to get your home ready for cooler weather.

1. Give it a good clean

Make sure the fireplace is free of ash, debris and all creosote (unburned fuel) that could contribute to unwanted fires. A good cleaning also reduces the risk of Carbon Monoxide build up in your home. 

2. Inspect the exterior

Check the exterior for limbs, debris, and bird or wildlife communities. The chimney cap should be securely in place and in good working condition. Check for signs of moisture on the inside, which could indicate a faulty chimney cap. 

3. Don't forget the flue

With a flashlight, inspect the interior flue to see that it is in proper working condition and seals correctly. The flue should also get a good polish and scrub to ensure it is free of creosote and debris. 

4. Check your gas log components

If you have gas logs, which tend to burn cleaner than traditional wood burning fireplaces, don't think you're off the hook. The ignition should be tested and the system checked for clogged burner holes at least annually.

5. Call a Pro

Even if you're the most conscientious DIY homeowner, it's still a good idea to have the chimney, venting and furnace system inspected by a pro.  Wondering where to find a Chimney Sweep? Try the Chimney Safety Institute of America - - where you can find a CSIA Certified Pro in your area.

Bonus Tip:

Reverse your ceiling fans- so that they rotate in a clockwise manner- to help push hot air down from ceiling. This is especially effective in areas with high ceilings and may help reduce your overall heating costs for the coming winter. 

Friday, September 6, 2013

4 Tips for Choosing a Remodeler or Builder

1. Contact your local builder or remodeler association.

NAHB - National Association of Home Builders
NARI - National Association of the Remodeling Industry
Local HBA- Local Home Builders Association such as Dallas Builders Association

These associations can provide you with a list of member builders and remodelers that are certified and established in their feild, usually as easily as clicking a link on their website. Members are screened and voluntarily abide by a strict code of ethics, ensuring you that your home renovations are in the hands of a true professional.  

While it may not ease your mind as much as a direct recommendation from a trusted and long-time friend or family member, these groups are dedicated to providing knowledge and peace of mind to homeowners by cultivating a list of the highest caliber members.

2. Review typical projects and an overall portfolio of work.

These are generally available through a company website, online profiles such as Houzz or even a print portfolio that can be brought to the initial meeting. 

The purpose of this is two-fold- 

* to assess the quality of craftsmanship and aesthetic of their work (is the quality and overall style right for your home)

* to determine the scale and scope of typical projects (if they only do baths, no matter how beautiful, this might not be the best professional to renovate your entire home). 

3. Search out established businesses.

According to the NAHB, it usually takes 3-5 years to establish a financially sound business, and you want someone that will be around to handle warranty issues long after the construction is complete. 

So look for businesses with a permanent address. No 'fly-by-night work from the back of  a van' operations will do when constructing or renovating your dream home. And while many contractors do work from vehicles and in the field a large portion of the time, any reputable business owner will still have a base of operations from which to conduct general accounting, marketing and day-to-day operations. 

Check the rating and status of any complaints with the Better Business Bureau. Higher ratings come from businesses that have no complaints, or that resolve complaints in a timely fashion and to the consumer's satisfaction, as well as the number of years in business. [See how we stack up- Our BBB Rating]

4. Get a feel for the company and it's people- face to face.

While recommendations, reviews and photos can help you get an idea of whether or not a company is the right one for your scale and style of project, no amount of 'likes' or five-star ratings can replace that gut reaction when you meet someone in person. 

And even with increases in technology and the ease of communication in the digital age, interaction in-person is critical to establishing a good homeowner/remodeler relationship. 

This is the individual (or group of people) that you are going to trust with your privacy, your belongings and see on a very regular (and early in the morning) basis. If you feel at ease and can picture yourself communicating and interacting with this person without any reservations, then you've found the right contractor for you!

Considering a remodel soon? Download this checklist from the NAHB to help guide you though the selection process-

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Finding the Perfect Kitchen Counter

There is no other surface in your kitchen that attracts as much attention as the countertop. It gets used (and abused) on a daily basis, serving as the genesis of culinary masterpieces, a resting place for wayward glassware and a collaboration table for homework or craft projects. Therefore there are many things to consider when selecting the perfect countertop for your dream kitchen to ensure you have a space that is not only beautiful but functional for years to come. 

Crema Marfil Okite 

The material itself

You have the layout for your cabinets and counters arranged perfectly- sink inset here, cooktop there. Now what is that surface actually going to be made of? 

Natural stone, solid surface/composite, stainless steel, concrete, recycled material...

The possibilities are becoming increasingly endless, which can result in decision fatigue. So an easy way to narrow down the pool is by deciding what functions you will perform most often and ruling out materials that don't offer the durability, flexibility or performance that you require. One benefit of solid surface and stainless steel as opposed to natural stone and concrete is durability and cleanliness. Materials such as Okite, which is composed of up to 93% natural quartz, are non-porous, durable, highly heat and scratch resistant and less likely to stain or  develop water rings.

Stainless Steel & White Okite 

Why stick to just 1?

Having trouble deciding on just one style, function and/or material? 

If you see yourself cooking a large meal with Iron Chef flair while friends and family gather round to enjoy the show, why not include space for both.  

You can easily integrate a counter height eating/seating area into an industrial chef's galley by clearly defining each function by a different material- like durable stainless steel for cooking and luxurious quartz composite for entertaining. 

Dual material counters offer flexibility of design as well as function, allowing you to juxtapose contrasting colors and textures within the same space. 

Seafoam Granite

Color, color, color 

Once the material palette is chosen, there comes the all important decision of color. While solid surface and composite counters can often offer a wider range of color choices, nothing beats the earthy tones and unique variations of natural stone. 

A well chosen granite slab can introduce a much needed breath of life into a space, without overwhelming the eye with a flat expanse of color because of the material's natural variegation. 

The ever popular Seafoam granite slab coordinates just as easily with a mulit-colored mosaic glass tile backsplash as it does with a stone or ceramic tile. And in our example to the left, the green hues of the counter enhance the warmth of hardwood floors and setting the tone for the kitchen as a whole. Granted, counter color choices are a big commitment, as they're not as easily changed as paint color. But don't be afraid to choose a vibrant or bold color for your counters! 

Color coordination

While the counter color is a huge decision, perhaps most important thing to consider is how the counter interacts with the cabinetry. 

If you intend to integrate color through cabinets, paint or other accents, it is key to select a versatile countertop that ties the entire palette together.

Absolute Black Granite (polished shown in both photos) is a fantastic example of a classic and flexible material, that feels just as at home atop dark wood or stainless steel cabinets as it does with crisp painted white cabinetry. 

To View a great Houzz article with 5 suggestions for pairing the perfect granite counters with cabinets for your Kitchen, click HERE