Consider the Benefits of Off-Season Home Improvements

There are considerable benefits to off-season home improvements.  Winter, especially after the holiday season has passed, seems more like a time to hunker down and get cozy. But the professionals who do home improvements and the suppliers who sell the materials are in business year-round. And during their off-seasons, these businesses will often lower prices to attract more customers. That means home owners may find that it’s not only easier to schedule these professionals, but also even get a break on the price.

Here are a few projects to consider during this winter season:

Get a new roof. Depending how severe your winter weather is, replacing your roof in the winter can make sense.  True, winter weather can get in the way of getting the job done quickly. But on the other hand a roofer with a light schedule will have the flexibility to work around the weather and make adjustments to get the job done right. 

Cold temperatures do present challenges. Materials, especially asphalt shingles, require special handling and in some cases alternative adhesives when it’s cold. Icy surfaces, sleet and snow make work out of the question. And some days may be just too cold. Roofers can work around each of these issues using different techniques and given enough leeway in scheduling the work.  

Replace windows. If your windows could use replacing, winter reminds you of it every day. Does the temperature drop when you get close to a window to take a look outside? Why not tackle it now? Window replacement companies frequently offer special pricing during the off-season and can schedule your job on shorter notice. 

Installers may take on windows one at a time, putting up barriers and shutting off rooms to minimize the cold air coming into the house. The process might take longer than it would if letting in outdoor air weren’t such a concern, but you’ll feel the results right away once the job is done.  

 

 

Paint a room. Spending more time indoors might draw your attention to dingy walls or make you wish for an updated room color. With dry winter air, a window open a crack, and maybe even an exhaust fan in the window, should be more than enough ventilation for a fresh new coat of today’s low volatile compound (VOC) paints. If you don’t want to do the painting yourself, you may find a choice of painting contractors with openings in their calendars.

Make sure walls are warm enough for paint to stick well. Paint cans will tell you the temperatures for best adhesion. Even though the room is warm, walls can be cooler. You may need to turn up the heat to be sure they present the best conditions for paint to stick. 

Refinish wood floors. As with painting, you’ll want to ventilate somewhat, but you can minimize the amount of time you’ll need to open a window or door. Finishes with low VOC ingredients don’t require so much airing out, and winter’s low humidity air speeds up the time it takes to dry. 

Especially if you plan to stay in your house during the project, check out refinishers who use sandless techniques. 

For more information on home repairs, view our online directory at ValleyBuilders.org or NAHB.org/forconsumers.

Resolutions for Your Home Ring in Lasting Satisfaction

If you’re like most people when it comes to New Year’s resolutions, you aim for self-improvement goal like exercising daily, getting organized, eating better, reducing personal debt. Things you’ve been putting off for a long time and that require diligence to succeed.

This year instead — or perhaps in addition — you can resolve to improve your home. A completed home improvement project, even a simple one, makes a noticeable difference that lasts the whole year — and beyond — without any further effort from you.

For example, you can resolve to:

Lay the groundwork

Is it all too obvious in your house just where people walk? Maybe it’s time to refinish your wood floors or replace carpet that has seen better days. A refreshed expanse underfoot brightens the whole room.

Throw on some color

Wake up a guest bathroom or a wall of your kitchen with a fresh new paint color, maybe a jewel tone or pastel shade. Add pizzazz with some bold wallpaper in the dining room or along a stairway.  Check out the color palettes from Benjamin Moore

Light it up 

Lower your utility bill and help the planet by replacing some fluorescent bulbs with LEDs. Or light up a shadowy span of countertop with a stick-on LED strip under a cabinet. Replace a dated fixture over your dining table or kitchen island with an engaging pendant light to add new visual charm. 

Lighten up

Clean out a storage space. Maybe start small by clearing off that table right inside the door where mail and papers collect. Empty the “you name it” drawer in the kitchen. Go through a linen closet and take frayed towels and sheets that are worn or no longer fit any bed you use and donate them to the animal shelter for bedding. Get three things out of the basement or garage and donate them to Goodwill, recycle or trash as appropriate. That will lighten your load a little, and might just jumpstart the next project. 

Look ahead

Think about what you’re going to want in the next five to ten years. Will your kids soon be teens? Maybe start fixing up a basement area where they can watch movies with friends. Are there changes you can start now that will make your home more age-friendly as you head toward retirement? It could be as simple as replacing round door knobs with levered handles. Or, more ambitious, re-do a first-floor bathroom with a beautifully tiled no-threshold shower.  

Whether a quick DIY project that takes a few hours or a larger full room renovation, whether you do it yourself or bring in a building professional —home improvements reward you with results you can enjoy all year while you challenge your willpower to keep up your New Year’s self-improvement goals.

Learn more about which improvements are best suited for your home by contacting local SVBA members.  Search our directory now.

Key Steps to Prepare Your Home for Winter

Prepare for colder temperatures. Severe winter storms can also knock out heat, power and other services to your home. That’s why it’s important to take a few steps now to prepare your home for the changing weather ahead.

Here are some tips from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to help you make sure your home is the best shelter possible for you and your family during the colder months ahead.

  • Ensure you are keeping out outside air and moisture. Insulate walls and attics, caulk and weather-strip doors and windows, and install storm windows.
  • Clear rain gutters so they don’t fill with water that could freeze and cause damage to the roof due to the added weight.
  • Trim tree branches that could potentially fall on your home during a storm. Hiring a professional is strongly advised, especially if any branches are near power lines.
  • Have your heating equipment and chimney cleaned and inspected every year. Ensure there are no openings in the chimney bricks or mortar or flashing.
  • Insulate water pipes with foam wrap or similar products to help prevent them from freezing.
  • Make sure all your fuel-burning equipment is vented to the outside, and the vent openings are clear of debris and snow.
  • Learn how to shut off your main water valve in case your pipes do freeze and burst.
  • Hire a contractor to check the structural integrity of your roof to sustain the weight of accumulated snow or water.

Important Safety Tips

During the winter, many people use alternate heating and power sources. But doing so can increase the risk of electric shock, house fire or carbon monoxide poisoning if the necessary safety precautions are not taken:

  • Keep fire extinguishers around the home, and make sure all family members know how to use them.
  • Never use a generator, grill, camp stove or other gasoline, propane, natural gas or charcoal burning device inside your home, garage, basement, crawl space or any partially enclosed area. And do not place the unit near a door, window or vent where carbon monoxide could seep indoors.
  • Space heaters should only be placed on a level surface and away from heavy foot traffic when in use, especially if pets or small children are nearby. It’s best to have space heaters that automatically turn off when a room reaches the desired temperature or in the event it is tipped over.

To learn more about routine maintenance, energy efficiency, safety and other tips to protect and properly prepare your home for cold or snowy conditions, contact the SVBA.  Also, we have a wide variety of contractors who can assist you with any home remodel or repair.  Visit our online directory of contractors.

Open Floor Plans Remain a Top Pick for Consumers

Open Floor Plans Remain a Top Pick for Consumers

Whether looking for a new home or revamping a current residence, home owners continue to be drawn to the feelings of spaciousness, easy flow and welcoming togetherness evoked by an open floor plan.

Pioneered in the early 20th century, open floor plans remain popular today, according to a recent survey from the National Association of Home Builders. The survey found that 70 percent of buyers want a kitchen-family room area that is either completely or partially open, with 32 percent wanting it completely open.

And owners of existing homes are choosing to open things up, too.  Remodelers reported that 40 percent of their projects involve opening existing homes’ main floors by removing interior walls entirely or by using countertops, cut-throughs or archways, rather than full walls, to define separate areas in a more open way.

Main floors with few or no interior walls between areas for cooking, eating, relaxing and entertaining allow cooks to chat with family members or guests, provide easy flow for entertaining and enable parents to keep an eye on children from different areas.

Open floor plans not only maximize space and flow, they optimize natural light. Windows serve more than their immediate area, illuminating the entire space.

With the increasing focus on accessible design, open floor plans meet another of today’s needs— with fewer doorways, they are easier to navigate in a wheelchair or with a stroller.

To find a builder or remodeler in Harrisonburg or Rockingham County , contact ValleyBuilders.org or visit nahb.org.

HBAV Installed 2019 Officers

Richmond, VA — The Home Builders Association of Virginia (HBAV) installed its 2019 officers in a ceremony June 23, 2018 at The LaPlaya Beach and Golf Resort in Naples, Florida. Robert “Rob” J. Frogale of the Top of Virginia Building Association succeeds Shawn Callahan of the Roanoke
Regional Home Builders Association, Inc., as president. The Home Builders Association of Virginia is a statewide trade association that represents the interest of the home building industry before state and federal lawmakers and regulators. The organization has more than 3,400-member firms.
HBAV’s 2019 senior officers are:

PRESIDENT – Robert J. Frogale has been elected to serve as HBAV President. He serves as President and co-owner of Annandale Millwork and Allied Systems Corporation in Winchester, VA. Frogale has been an active member of the Top of Virginia Builders Association, which is based in Winchester, VA, where he served as president in 2016; he has served as Associate Vice President and served as Membership Chairman from 2012-2015.  He has served as a 2016 HBAV Regional Vice President. Frogale served as the 2018 Chairman of the Membership Committee.

 

 

FIRST VICE PRESIDENT/TREASURER – Daniel T. Sandoval has been elected to serve as HBAV First Vice President/Treasurer. As President and Owner of Republic Home Builders based in Fredericksburg Virginia, Sandoval currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Fredericksburg Area Builders Association (FABA). He was FABA PAC Chairman. He served as President of FABA in 2015 and was named the Fredericksburg Area Builder of the Year in 2013. Sandoval has been a dedicated member of the association and has served on various committees at FABA for 16 years, including chairman of the Membership, Parade of Homes, and Legislative committees. Sandoval served the past three years as HBAV Regional Vice President, Second Vice President and has been a member of the HBAV Legislative Committee for four years. His enduring commitment to the association earned him the 2016 FABA President’s Award.

SECOND VICE PRESIDENT – David O. Owen has been elected to serve as HBAV Second Vice President. As President of Boone Homes in Richmond. David is a past President for the Home Building Association of Richmond (HBAR) and he Currently serves as HBAR’s PAC Chairman. David was named HBAV’s “Builder of the Year” in 2016. David and he has served as HBAV’s Legislative Chairman for the past four years.

 

 

 

ASSOCIATE VICE PRESIDENT/SECRETARY – Skip Eastman has been elected to serve as HBAV Associate Vice President/Secretary. He will serve as Vice Chairman of the Associate Members Committee. He is currently serving on the board of Southside Home Builders and is a member if several other local home building associations. He is a Territory Manager for, Trus Joist a Weyerhaeuser business.

 

 

 

ASSOCIATE VICE PRESIDENT – Ralph L. “Tripp” Costen, III has been elected to serve as HBAV Associate Vice President. He is a member and current trustee of the Home Builders Association of Richmond (HBAR). He is also a former two term member of the Executive Committee on the Board of Directors for HBAR. He was a 2017 Mayo recipient. He currently serves as the 3 rd generation President of Costen Floors, Inc.

 

 

 

Also installed were the seven regional vice presidents:
REGION I VICE PRESIDENT – Cat White (New River Valley) of Tyris Homes has been elected to serve as Region I vice president. He will represent the New River Valley Home Builders Association, the Roanoke Regional Home Builders Association, Inc., and the Home Builders
Association of Central Virginia.
REGION II VICE PRESIDENT – Jill McGlaughlin (Shenandoah Valley) has been elected to serve as Region II vice president. She will represent the Shenandoah Valley Builders Association and the Augusta Home Builders Association.
REGION III VICE PRESIDENT – Robin Newhouse (Blue Ridge) of Dominion Energy has been elected Region III vice president. She will represent the Blue Ridge Home Builders Association and the Piedmont Virginia Building Industry Association.
REGION IV VICE PRESIDENT – Mike Perry (Top of Virginia) of Perry Engineering has been elected Region IV vice president. He will represent the Northern Virginia Building Industry Association and the Top of Virginia Building Association.
REGION V VICE PRESIDENT – Mitchell Bode (Richmond) of Premier Insurance Agency, Ltd.,
has been elected Region V vice president. She will represent the Home Builders Association of Southside Virginia and the Home Building Association of Richmond.
REGION VI VICE PRESIDENT – Drew Ransone (Rappahannock) of Chesapeake Tree Services, LLC has been elected Region VI vice president. He will represent the Home Builders Association of Rappahannock and the Fredericksburg Area Builders Association.
REGION VII VICE PRESIDENT – Ricky Edgerton (Peninsula) of Edgerton Contracting, Inc. has been elected Region VII vice president. He will represent the Peninsula Housing & Builders Association and the Tidewater Builders Association.

AWARDS:
BUILDER OF THE YEAR – John C. Napolitano (Tidewater) of Napolitano Homes, of Virginia Beach, VA was selected as the 2018 Home Builders Association of Virginia “Builder of the Year.” This award is bestowed annually to the HBAV builder member who has offered exceptional service
and dedication to the state association.
ASSOCIATE OF THE YEAR – Jeanie T. Bode (Richmond) of Union First Bank of Henrico, VA was selected as the 2018 Home Builders Association of Virginia “Associate of the Year.” This award is presented annually to an associate member, as an individual or company, which has shown outstanding efforts at the state level of the home builders association.
EXECUTIVE OFFICER OF THE YEAR – Maria Moore (Fredericksburg) of the Fredericksburg Area Builders Association was selected as the 2018 Home Builders Association of Virginia “Executive Officer of the Year”. This award is bestowed annually to the Local HBA Executive Officer who has offered exceptional service and dedication to the local and state associations.

Add Value To Your Home With a Well-Tended Yard

yard Do you and your family have fun in your yard — or is it just unused space that means you have a long list of chores every weekend?

A well-planned yard gives you extra room to enjoy without adding a tremendous amount of upkeep. If your yard could use a little love, it’s time to make a master plan to add enjoyment and value to your home.

Step 1: Take Inventory

First, walk around your property. Note how your house sits on the lot, where your garage, tool shed, deck, pool or other structure is and what plants you have now.

Think about what you would like to have a year from now in your yard. Is it more trees for shade, more grass to play in, a flower or herb garden for cutting, or just reworking an area that takes too much time to maintain?

Once you know what you want, it’s time to start thinking about the plants you will need.

Step 2: Select the Right Plants

A healthy, lush and vibrant lawn or garden starts with your choice of plants. Choose trees, flowers, shrubs and other plants that grow well in your area. This may sound limiting, but by choosing plants that are native or tested to be tolerant of the weather in your area, your yard will require less work and give you better results.

Visit your local garden center, arboretum or botanical garden for advice and ideas. Look for sections that are like your yard, and choose plants that grow well there whether you want brilliant flowers, ground cover, shrubbery or herbs.

Step 3: Get to Know Your Yard

It is very important to monitor the cycles of light and moisture in your yard. Late summer is a good time to note where the sun is at different times of the day and to record how much water is available naturally. Watch for areas of day-long shade, and do not put sun-loving plants in those spots.

Likewise, don’t put shade plants where they get full sun all day. In addition, take a sample of the dirt in your yard to a county extension agent or garden center, and ask them to determine the pH and chemical composition of your soil. Your soil’s characteristics will have a significant impact on what you will be able to grow successfully.

While you are at the garden center or arboretum, listen for tips such as planting a low water-demand plant at higher elevation. Excess moisture from rain or watering will trickle down from the low water-demand plant to the thirstier plant nearby. In general, selecting disease-resistant, drought-tolerant plants makes sense no matter what you plan to do in your yard.

Step 4: Add Shape and Texture

Two key elements of a beautiful garden are shape and texture. Think of your landscape as a photograph or painting framed by plants. Larger trees and plants belong in the back of your yard, medium-sized shrubs and flowers go in the middle of the visual field and short, smaller plants go in the front.

To give shape to your garden, select a variety of plants with different shapes and sizes.

Texture comes from plants with a variety of leaves — shiny hosta, fuzzy herbs, dull azalea, prickly yucca or aloe. Also, keep architectural details in mind when you choose plants. Rough, textured plants will highlight stucco walls, but a picket fence will look better with soft flowers and gentle vines.

Don’t forget to look at your yard from all angles, including noticing what you’ll see when you look through the windows from inside your home.

By taking the time to think through what you want your yard to look like, and noting what your limitations are, you’ll have greater success with your efforts. In addition, you’ll spend more time enjoying your yard instead of working in it, and you’ll see an added benefit when you sell your home: A well-planned landscape adds value to any piece of property.

The landscape members of the SVBA can handle your every desire.  Scan the directory for a listing of qualified landscapers.

Air Conditioner Check-Up Time

Don’t wait until the first scorcher of summer hits to find out your air conditioner isn’t working. Here’s some advice to make sure your A/C stays in good working order and is ready for you when you need it.

Whether you have a central air conditioning system or room air conditioners, the maintenance is basically the same. If you have room air conditioners, unplug them before you start to clean and check them.

Vacuum Grills and Vents
First, vacuum the front grills, air registers and return air vents.

air conditioner vent

air conditioning filter in ceiling

Check Air Filters
Next, remove the grill on the main unit — and all window units — to check the air filter. Before removing the filter, notice how it is held in place so you can reinstall it correctly. Many filters simply slide in and out or are draped from prongs on the air conditioner body or the back of the grill. Be sure to read the filter packaging to see which side faces up.

Dirty filters are a common cause of air conditioner problems and inefficient operation. Filters should generally be cleaned or replaced every four to six weeks in the peak of the cooling season. To clean a washable filter, brush it free of lint, then wash it in warm soapy water. Squeeze and let the filter dry completely before reinstalling it.

Clean Fins and Coils
While the filter is out, check the condition of the evaporator fins or coils. These are normally exposed by removing the filter. Warm air drawn into the air conditioner passes through the filter and then over the fins or coil, where it is cooled and blown back into the room.

Vacuum the fins or coils carefully, using a soft brush attachment. Avoid bending the fins. If damaged, they may block the flow of air and cause the air conditioner to whistle. To straighten bent fins, insert a putty knife between them and pry gently.

Drain the Drip Pan
Beneath the fins or coils there is normally a small drain hole to channel condensed water to a drip pan in the rear of the air conditioner. Poke a wire or straightened paper clip through the drain hole to clear it, especially if you notice water. It should drain out right away. If a window unit doesn’t drain properly, use a carpenter’s level to check the mounting of the unit. It should slope at least a quarter of an inch downward toward the rear.

Does the unit smell musty? The smell is a sign of mold or bacteria growth in the water drip pan. If the smell persists after the drain hole has been cleared and the unit cleaned, professional servicing may be necessary.

Check Outdoor Surroundings
For maximum cooling, the outdoor part of an air conditioner should be shaded from the sun. Trees, shrubs or an awning can provide the shade, but they must be far enough away to allow warm air to escape. Foliage should be trimmed back at least two feet, and even more in corners where air is still.

Like any major appliance in your home, your cooling system should be checked and cleaned periodically by a professional. See your owner’s manual for the recommended frequency of this care.

The SVBA has HVAC contractors ready and willing to help you with your cooling needs.  Visit the directory to find the contractor closest to you.

9 Overlooked Spring Cleaning Jobs

Tackle those spring cleaning jobs now that winter is over!  It can be a lengthy process but it’s important that you don’t miss these often overlooked steps.

Exterior Jobs

Winter can be rough on the exterior of your home. So you should start on the exterior before the spring rains cause more problems.

Gutter Cleaning1. Clean out the gutters of any debris leftover from the winter storms and check to make sure your gutters are still securely fastened.

2. Cleaning away all the debris from your exterior drains is important. This will allow the heavy spring rains to properly flow and prevent back ups.

3. Check your windows for any cracking or splitting from the caulk. If so, clean off the mildew and replace the caulk.

4. The warming weather will inevitably lead to outdoor entertaining, so don’t forget to clean off your patio furniture using a mild soap and warm water. Gently scrub away any dirt that has collected over the winter. If you have wrought iron and rust has started forming, gently sand it off.

Now, wipe off your shoes and head inside.

Interior Jobs

5. Unplug your refrigerator, slide it away from the wall and vacuum the dust that has accumulated on the condenser coils. This task may seem small, but can greatly extend the life of your refrigerator

6. Vacuum out the dust that is sticking to your air vents. After the vents are clear of dust, apply a thin layer of car wax on all surfaces of the vent to prevent dust from sticking and to allow for easier airflow.

Call in the Pros

There are still a few things left that should be done by professionals.

7. If you built a lot of fires over the winter, have a CSIA-Certified chimney sweep inspect your chimney and fireplace. This should be done annually to prevent housefires. As a bonus tip, throw a handful of salt into a fire to prevent soot and add some color to the flame!

8. Have a contractor certified by National Roofing Contractors Association inspect your roof for any missing, warped or loose shingles and check for loose seals on your skylights.

9. Before the weather warms up too much, have your HVAC system inspected by a qualified technician and, if needed, replace your filters.

Now that you’ve checked these jobs off your list, you can start enjoying the spring!  For a great resource on contractors to assist you with these items visit our membership directory.

Exterior Home Painting Tips

If you’re thinking about painting the exterior of your home yourself, your first decision shouldn’t concern the color or sheen of the paint but, rather, who’s going to do the painting. Deciding whether to hire a contractor or do the work yourself has implications for your social calendar, your peace of mind and your pocketbook.

man holding paint roller to his forehead

With so much at stake, how do you make the right decision? This information from the Paint Quality Institute can help you make the right decision.

    • Do you have enough time to do the job? Repainting a home can take a full week or two. For many people, that translates into a lot of vacation days or weekends. Are you willing to make the sacrifice?
    • Do you have the patience to do the job correctly? While painting can be fun and psychologically rewarding, good surface preparation — essential to any successful paint job — can be tedious. Will you really take time to properly prepare the surface before yielding to the urge to paint? (Consider renting power-washing equipment to speed surface preparation.)
    • Can you afford to hire a contractor? By doing the job yourself, you can save a lot of money, however, having your home professionally painted will be faster and eliminates the need for you to buy equipment, prepare the surface, and do the actual painting.
    • Do you have the proper equipment? The highest quality acrylic latex paint costs more than $20 per gallon, but it takes more than paint and elbow grease to do the best job. You’ll also need ladders, scrapers, sandpaper, brushes or rollers and safety equipment. Do you have these items? Are you willing to invest in them?
    • Are you in good health and reasonably fit? Achieving professional-looking painting results is within the skill level of most do-it-yourselfers, but if you are out of shape, you may find the work somewhat taxing.
    • Do you enjoy physical work? From a psychological standpoint, many home owners get enormous satisfaction from completing a home improvement project. Along with the cost savings, this is one of the rewards that go to those who do their own painting.
    • Have you done exterior painting before? As with most home improvement projects, painting is easier “the second time around,” after you’ve mastered surface preparation and application techniques.
    • Are you afraid of heights? Look to the highest point of your house. Would you be nervous painting it from a ladder? If so, proceed to your telephone directory and check the listing for “Painting Contractors.”

If you ultimately decide to do your own exterior painting, proceed with confidence. Exterior painting is one of the top do-it-yourself projects (trailing only interior painting). Many home owners go it alone and get great results.

Whatever you decide here are a couple tips: Make sure the surface is properly prepared, and spend a few extra dollars for the best quality exterior paint. Properly-applied top quality acrylic latex paint can last up to ten years or more — so it will be a long time before you have to make this decision again.  Also, take time to consult our membership directory for a listing of paint suppliers and professionals.

Popular Trends in Remodeling

As result of the local real estate market having extremely low inventory again in 2018, the trends in remodeling kitchens and baths are what’s in vogue.  Low inventory and high demand means you may be ready and able to purchase a new home, but what you would like to purchase is not available or sells too quickly and for more than you may be willing to pay. So where does this leave you?  Remodeling what you currently have! We are seeing an increased amount of kitchen and bath remodeling because of clients deciding to stay in the home that they are currently living in and making it what they want. Whether your family has grown and you need more space or your homes interior has become overly used, here is what is trending in remodeling:

You can feel comfortable spending your money on cabinets, countertops and appliances. These items are used the most frequently and can simplify your life. No matter what the size of your kitchen or bathroom you are remodeling; the amount of storage you can create will ensure better use of your space, easier for you to find items and will reduce clutter. A few great ways to help create the most storage are simple and inexpensive. A trend that we see at Mossy Creek Cabinet Company is using drawers as much as possible in your base cabinets. Gone are the days of having to sit on your kitchen floor, pulling out every item in your lower cabinet just to get that one needed item in the very back of the cabinet.  With drawers as your base cabinets, just pull the drawer all the way out and everything in that drawer is readily available. A few other great cabinet accessories are pull out spice racks, pull out waste/recycle bins and organizers to keep your pots, pans and trays. It’s amazing how much more storage you really have with the basic cabinet organizers.

The most popular item to replace in the kitchen or bathroom is the countertop.  The countertop is what gets used most frequently and tends to catch the eye most, so make it a statement piece. Homeowners are picking out more intricate designs in countertops with more pattern and natural stone like veining.  While using a natural stone like granite, soapstone or marble is always in vogue, we are seeing more and more clients lean towards quartz.  Quartz is an engineered countertop made out of 95% ground natural quartz and 5% polymer resins, which makes quartz super hard and low maintenance. Quartz not only gives you the look of natural stone, it also has a wide array of colors and patterns to choose from which makes it a more popular choice to make a statement.

You finally sit down to catch your breath at the end of the day only to realize that you forgot to preheat the oven for dinner.  With a lot of the newest appliances having wi-fi capability you can now preheat your oven by your phone, so stay seated and catch your breath! Having your appliances hooked up to your wi-fi means they can be accessible from your phone anywhere outside of the house.  If you forget to grab your grocery list on the way out the door there is no need to run back home, just pull it up on your phone. Convenience is vital when doing any home renovation, especially in the kitchen. Adding items such as a touchless motion sense faucet and smudge-proof stainless steel appliances will help will add ease to your day.

Other important items to consider when remodeling are your flooring and adding more lighting.  The most popular flooring in most homes is wood. If you currently have hardwood floors, consider refinishing them. If you are looking for a new look use a porcelain floor with a natural stone or wood look. This will not only save you some money it will also be less maintenance.  When working on design ideas for clients we try to incorporate as much added lighting as possible. It is best to use a mixture of lighting in your kitchen. Task lighting for cooking and food prep are a safety essential. Adding lighting underneath your cabinets will brighten your food prep area by illuminating shadows. Recessed ceiling lighting works to illuminate the entire room and decorative lighting adds ambiance and helps fill visual voids. Lighting can help enhance any style you are looking to create.

Melanie Woodard, Interior Designer