Construction Floor Plans

Home Remodeling 101: Part 1 of 4

The month of May is typically associated with Cinco de Mayo, the start of summer and warm months ahead, but what you probably didn’t know was that May is also National Home Remodeling Month. That’s right, a whole month dedicated to the trade of remodeling and construction.

Our team may be biased, but we particularly favor this month because it gives construction professionals like ourselves, the chance to enlighten homeowners on the industry as a whole.

Throughout the month of May, we will be sharing four valuable insights that we hope will assist you in making a confident decision regarding your remodeling project.

First things first, ALWAYS hire a licensed contractor. Think about it this way; you wouldn’t hire just anyone to do LASIK surgery on your eyes, so why hire just anyone to reconstruct your home? The same thought process should be applied if you want the job done right, the first time.

There are three different construction licenses, which are designated with three letters before the actual license number.

  1. CBC– Certified Building Contractor
  2. CRC– Certified Residential Contractor
  3. CGC- Certified General Contractor

To verify a construction license, you can do the following:

    1. Ask for their license number. An authentic license will always start with three letters (CBC, CRC or CGC).
    2. Call the Florida Department of Business Professional Regulation at 850-487-1395 or visit them online at www.myfloridalicense.com

If the person or company you are hiring has one of the three licenses, you can ensure that you are in good hands.

As for us, our team is dedicated to educating our community, which is why we offer free seminars throughout the year. Our next seminar, “The Secrets to Remodeling Your Kitchen or Bath,” will be on Saturday, June 13th at our design center. Seats are limited so we ask that you RSVP. Additional details can be found here.

Custom Kitchen Remodel

Today’s Remodeling Trends

Spacious kitchens and bathrooms are near the top of the list

Bigger is better when it comes to kitchen and bathroom remodels. That’s the main trend sweeping the country, according to owners of DreamMaker Bath & Kitchen remodeling franchises nationwide.

Franchisees are witnessing growing demand for big, open kitchens with large center islands, more refined use of granite and other custom stone countertops, and higher ceilings. Many homeowners are also asking for computer workstations in the kitchen.

Master bathrooms are undergoing similar design changes to make them larger — even if that means absorbing adjacent small rooms. Soaking tubs are being replaced, if necessary, by large and luxurious walk-in showers, either open or frameless, with multiple shower heads or more versatile single heads. In most instances, there is an increased demand for more ambient lighting, including large skylights, with standard lighting fixtures, especially fluorescents, quickly becoming history.

Shower seats, safety grab-bars and low- or zero-barrier walk-in showers also are becoming more popular as aging Baby Boomers look to the future.

Room to breathe

This kitchen remodel by DreamMaker Bath & Kitchen of Manasota makes the room beautiful, and it also makes it a gathering place where friends and family can chat while preparing meals.

Jennifer Strohl of the DreamMaker Bath & Kitchen franchise in Bradenton, Florida, says that while most new homes are built with very open floor plans, they still see many homes and condos where the kitchen has a small pass-thru window or is cut off from the other areas of the home.

“The biggest trend we’re seeing in the kitchen is really opening up the space to the living and dining areas, maybe because of Florida’s beautiful views, and providing a place for guests and family to gather near the cook. We remove a lot of the old drop ceilings, soffits, terrible lighting and full or partial walls to make the space feel completely different.”

In terms of style, there is a very wide range in tastes and preferences, she continues.

“We have many projects more traditional in style, with raised-panel doors, granite countertops and tumbled marble backsplashes, but we are also increasingly seeing a demand for a slab or Shaker door style with sleek hardware, quartz countertops, glass tiles and chrome accents. The same goes for bathrooms in terms of finishes. Large-format tiles, river rock pebbles and wood-looking tiles are all very popular with clients wanting a soothing, spa-like bathroom.”

Re-imagining living spaces

This before-and-after from DreamMaker of St. Louis Park, Minnesota, shows how a part of his-and-her bathrooms were combined to create a spa-like remodel.

On the West Coast, Patty Gray, co-owner of the DreamMaker Bath and Kitchen franchise in Bakersfield, California, says color schemes are changing, too.

“The creamy whites are definitely a big pick in our area. Our area is more conservative than Northern or Southern California, so traditional design still reigns, but gray tones are also catching on.”

Clients also are opening up their living spaces, especially kitchens, she notes, so that cooks can be included in conversations with family and guests. Large islands or a large amount of peninsula counter space is a must for homeowners. Cambria quartz countertops are also becoming a favorite because they do not require the maintenance of granite.

She also sees the trend of master bathroom tub/shower enclosures being routinely replaced with large walk-in showers.

“Boomers are more and more concerned about aging in their homes and want the peace of mind with a barrier-free shower. Seating and safety bars are not as taboo as they once were, and clients are asking for them, while frameless shower doors are also a big request to finish off the room with fewer lines and a fluid look.”

Bringing the kitchen into the rest of the home

This remodel from DreamMaker of Bakersfield demonstrates one of the biggest trends in kitchen remodeling — opening the kitchen up to the rest of the living space.

In Minnesota, DreamMaker’s Lynn Monson of St. Louis Park says he is receiving more and more requests to open up kitchens to the rest of the living areas and to make the resulting open space more multi-use.

“Specialized centers such as breakfast stations, beverage bars and technology stations are popular. Kitchens are less showy and more transitional or contemporary in styling. Classic white-painted cabinets are still favored, but we are also seeing shades of gray, usually a warm gray or taupe, which work well with other colors. Stainless steel is still the norm for appliances, although we have been specifying black appliances for smaller budgets and appliance panels to match the cabinets for larger budgets. The artful and functional mixing of materials for cabinets and countertops is a continued trend.”

Clients are asking for larger bathrooms by borrowing space from other areas of the home, especially for the master bath.

“Like the kitchen, it has become less showy and more transitional or contemporary in styling, with comfort and relaxation at top of mind. We have fewer requests for jetted tubs (unless prescribed for therapeutic use) and more for freestanding soaking tubs, but, if space is at a premium, the tub is abandoned altogether in favor of a larger shower.”

Heated floors and computerized controls are common requests, he says, as is more natural light in the form of obscured glass windows, skylights or Solatubes — special high-performance “tubular skylights” that bring daylight into interior spaces where traditional skylights and windows cannot reach.

When it comes to designs, aging-in-place should be considered by clients even if they are healthy and fit in their 50s and 60s.

“Today’s remodel should suit your needs today, but it should also anticipate your needs 20 years from now,” DreamMaker Bath & Kitchen President Doug Dwyer says. “A great remodel can enhance lives, and that’s what we work hard to deliver for our customers.”

This article was originally found here.

Worthy Upgrades for Your Home

You’ve just moved into a new house. Congratulations! Does it look and function exactly as you want, or are you planning on making some improvements?

If you’re going to stay in the house for at least 15 years, you don’t need to worry about getting a return on investment or ROI. But if you know you’ll move in the next two to five years, you should know that some projects pay off more than others.

And don’t plan to wait until you’re about to sell to make improvements. “Upgrade and live with the benefits,” recommends Len McAdams, owner of McAdams Remodeling and Design outside Seattle. “Doing nothing is not an option. The penalty for doing nothing is very high when it comes to your sales price.”

Can-do kitchens

One of your biggest investments should be in everyone’s favorite room: the kitchen.

According to the 2015 Cost Vs. Value Survey prepared annually by Remodeling, a trade publication, and the National Association of Realtors, a mid-range, minor kitchen remodel that costs, on average $19,226, will bring 80.6 percent of your investment back to you.

A major kitchen remodel with mid-range finishes and products comes in at $56,768 and brings a 67.8 percent ROI.

“Kitchens are so important (at resale),” says Mike Gaughan, a broker-owner for REMAX in Nashville, Tenn. “You should put about 60 percent of the costs of your fix-ups into the kitchen.”

There’s plenty you can do on your own, says Kate Albrecht, aka “Mr. Kate,” an interior and jewelry designer and DIY guru.

Refresh cabinetry with paint. Keep the kitchen a neutral color and change cabinet knobs. Other, lower-cost fixes include retiling the backsplash or refinishing wood floors — but you may need professional help with these, cautions Albrecht.

First impressions

Truly the biggest bang for your buck comes from fixing up the outside of your home. In fact, nine of the top-10 remodeling projects in the Cost vs. Value survey are exterior projects. Think entryways, garage doors, siding, window replacements and decks.

The project with the highest ROI? Installing a mid-range 20-gauge steel entry door (117.6 percent ROI). While the door may cost about $1,200, you can install it yourself to save money.

If the front entry sees high traffic, think about storage — as in a mudroom. And, although it’s not as sexy as purchasing a granite counter top, vinyl siding brings a great return at resale.

Finally, spend some time out back fixing up your deck. You can probably DIY this at a low cost, and the resale value is worth it, especially in regions with outdoor enthusiasts or a temperate climate. “A deck in poor condition is a real negative,” says McAdams.

To figure out what works for you, consider your market. You don’t necessarily have to keep up with the Joneses, but you need to be comfortably in range with your neighborhood.

That advice goes for any of your updates: “If you have a $3 million home in Beverly Hills and it doesn’t have a master suite then you should add it,” says Coldwell Banker realtor Pat Vredevoogd Combs of Grand Rapids, Mich. “But if you have a $250,000 home in Grand Rapids and it has no master suite, well, then, that’s just it.”

This article was originally featured on USAToday.com.

Transformation Tuesday: The Red Kitchen

If you think you have the most outdated kitchen, think again. We took what was originally a very old and dark kitchen, and transformed it to feel bigger and brighter.

In addition to the cosmetic changes, which included removing all existing cabinetry, countertops and appliances, we also removed the old drop ceiling with plastic grid lighting and added recessed can lighting.

DreamMaker Bath & Kitchen Remodel

What do you think of this kitchen remodel? Leave your comments below.

Best of Houzz 2015 Awards

Best of Houzz 2015

Did you hear the news? We are happy to announce that we received the “Best Of Houzz” award for Customer Satisfaction! Without our extremely loyal clients, this would not have been possible and for that, we thank you.

If you are not familiar with Houzz, it is an online platform for home remodeling and design, bringing homeowners and home professionals together.

The Best Of Houzz award is given in two categories: Design and Customer Satisfaction. Customer Satisfaction honors are determined by a variety of factors, including the number and quality of client reviews received in 2014.

A big thank you to the 25 million monthly unique users that comprise the Houzz community, for our nomination and award.

If you’re not yet ready to create your own Houzz profile, feel free to browse ours in the meantime.

Bradenton Mayor, Wayne Poston and Ernest Gilbert

It’s Official, We’re Open for Business

Many of you reading this have probably visited our design center within the last few months and are thinking to yourselves, “I’ve seen them around for years!” The good news is that you’re not losing your mind. While we have been open at our 816 Manatee Ave. location for about a year now, our design center has been a work in progress. Because we are very proud of our new state of the art facility, we wanted to host a special evening to show off all of its bells and whistles.

If you weren’t able to share in our special night, here are a few highlights:

1. Bradenton Mayor, Wayne Poston, stopped by to show his support and help Ernest Gilbert, DreamMaker President, cut the official grand opening ribbon.

2. DreamMaker family friend and Bradenton community member, Pastor Mark Mateer of Bayside Community Church, was gracious enough to lead us in prayer and bless the new space.

3. We had some great giveaways, thanks to our generous friends at Ferguson. Prizes included massage gift certificates, Starbucks gift cards and even a Bluetooth shower head!

At the end of the day, our team is very satisfied with the turnout of our event. The unconditional support from our local community is greatly appreciated and we look forward to fulfilling many more bath and kitchen dreams.

If you haven’t had a chance to visit our design center yet, we’re here Monday through Friday, so stop on by and let us show you around!

Kitchen and Bath: What’s Trending for 2015?

Stacey Free looks at what clients will be asking for in kitchen and bath design in 2015.

It takes a long time for trends to pass through the system. In kitchen and bath design there are so many moving parts—from style and shape, to color and product choice—that manufacturers can’t possibly keep up with frequent shifts in taste.

But as clients share hundreds of Houzz and Pinterest photos, remodelers might do well to ask, “What’s driving trends?” says Richard Landon, a Seattle-based certified master kitchen and bath designer who teaches “Customized Design” for NKBA University. Getting at that answer will help remodelers understand their clients and can lead to better design solutions.

Landon believes that “personalization” is driving all home design trends. “We have personalized screen savers; we order personalized drinks at the coffee shop,” he says. It’s not enough for remodelers to want to do things in a cost-effective way. “They need to do them in a personal way, which involves a different mindset. Clients are getting used to controlling the world and having [things done] their way.”

How can a remodeler sort the enormous amount of information when a client shows them photos and says, ‘Here are the things I like’? Landon suggests asking “what-about” questions rather than “why-do-you-like-this” questions. “That’s an endless loop that goes nowhere. ‘What about’ opens the door to deeper understanding of what [a space/design] feels like.”

What follows are 14 (and a half) trends that will be speaking to clients’ design sensibilities in the coming year—and likely beyond.

1. Mix & Match

Style is all about what makes homeowners feel good—the third leg of Landon’s life triangle for design, which he acknowledges is inspired by the book Emotional Design: “It should look great, work well, and feel right.”

Mostly that seems to be through a mix of contemporary and traditional—in other words, transitional. Maria Stapperfenne, president of the National Kitchen and Bath Association and a certified kitchen and bath designer with Tewksbury Kitchen and Bath in Whitehouse Station, N.J., sees “transitional as the number one style with its clean, simple lines.” The Research Institute for Cooking and Kitchen Intelligence, reported that 47 percent of designers surveyed chose transitional as the top style.

For example, says George Edwards, COO of A&C Kitchens & Baths in Chester Township, Pa., “The farmhouse sink is popular here; it gives an old-fashioned look. Homeowners are pairing that with more contemporary cabinets.”

“One of my clients summed it up perfectly,” says Justin Hamilton co-owner of Hamilton Stern in Pittsford, N.Y., “when he asked for a ‘rustic farmhouse kitchen with modern undertones.’” Hamilton sees this trend connected with wider concepts in the “craft movement and in microbrews and things with an organic feel.” People want to move away from mass production and “pull from popular trends and make things their own.”

2. Open Says Everyone

The dining room, living room and kitchen are one for all and all for one. DreamMaker Bath and Kitchen remodeling franchise owners across the United States see a growing demand for “big, open kitchens with large center islands.” Jennifer Strohl, a DreamMaker interior designer in Bradenton Fla., reports that her company is removing “a lot of the old drop ceilings, soffits, terrible lighting, and full or partial walls in order to make the space feel completely different.”

This floor plan has driven product trends because the kitchen is now part of the living room. “It’s the social space of the home … and we’re seeing more furniture-like treatments there,” Landon says. Islands and cabinets with legs—whether with or without toe-kicks—are one example.

Transitional Trends: At left, an open floor plan, interesting ceiling element, and large central island with seating give the illusion of space. Island cabinets and floor tile color and textures contrast with the wood cabinets and flooring. Below, a more traditional design shares similar elements, including the beadboard ceiling treatment and two-tone cabinets. The metal farmhouse sink and pendants mix rustic with modern. 

The open floor plan joins this kitchen with the living room, transforming the island cabinets into a piece of furniture. Open shelving above wall cabinets are popular among homeowners who want to display pottery, fine china, or wine glasses. The subway tile backsplash, smooth granite counters, and natural stone behind the stove mix color and texture.

The open floor plan joins this kitchen with the living room, transforming the island cabinets into a piece of furniture. Open shelving above wall cabinets are popular among homeowners who want to display pottery, fine china, or wine glasses. The subway-tile backsplash, smooth granite counters, and natural stone behind the stove mix color and texture.

3. Two Tone

It’s all about contrasts. Dark and light. Rough and smooth. Shiny and matte. In cabinets, for example, designers are specifying different faces. “Upper cabinets are getting painted while base cabinets are stained,” says Sarah Reep, director of designer relations and education for Masco Cabinetry based in Ann Arbor, Mich. “The island may be painted one color in contrast to a dark wood floor. There’s a good mix of white and wood. Clients value wood flooring and that’s driving an interest in paint.” Hamilton says he sees “a lot of two tone–painted perimeter cabinets with either an antique finish on the island or a stained island.”

“There’s something grounded and rooted about texture,” and floors and backsplashes are a good place to establish texture, says Paula Kennedy, a certified master kitchen and bath designer and owner of Seattle’s Timeless Kitchen Design. And although it “hasn’t come to the Northwest yet,” she says more designers are using wallpaper to add texture.

4. Background Color

In December, Pantone proclaimed marsala its Color of the Year. Described as an “earthy wine red,” it has hints of brown. “Sometimes Pantone colors come into the home, but they start in fashion,” Kennedy says. Last year’s “radiant orchid” didn’t create a big in-home craze, and it remains to be seen if marsala will make its way out of the wine bottle or off the runway and into the kitchen, but both Kennedy and Stapperfenne say clients are asking for dark espresso and rich saddle brown stains.

Making a bigger impact in 2015 will be gray, which Kennedy, who teaches a color course for NKBA University, calls a “true neutral, way more than beige is.” She admits that she didn’t think the gray trend would last long but “it has stuck around.” Reep says “gray is very strong and very successful on the West Coast—especially among younger consumers.”

Clients are opting for adding more eye-catching color in their décor—rugs, pillows, and draperies. “What clients are asking for is a great judge of where we’re heading. More people are asking for color. They’re not afraid of it and that’s usually a sign they’re more optimistic,” Kennedy says.

5. Show Your Metal

It’s back. Just when manufacturers were about to lay it to rest, polished chrome has returned. At 2014’s Euro Cucina, “polished chrome was the number one finish, and it’s popular all over Europe. It will completely reinvent itself,” Stapperfenne says. “Miele introduced its iced white series and used polished chrome and not stainless.” (But Brenda Bryan, executive director of RICKI, says designers are reporting pushback from families who say polished chrome shows too many fingerprints.)

There are still plenty of homeowners who want cabinet hardware to match faucets, appliances, pendant lights, and range hoods. Matching the faucet and the appliances “feels right to clients and not risky, but with a little bit of flash,” says Reep.

All the designers interviewed here agree that different metals, like hammered copper and bronze, are making their mark, too. Says Bryan, “We still see bronze as an interesting finish for faucets, especially in kitchens that are Shaker or farm style.”

6. Counter Attack

Natural stone—whether quartz or granite—is still the top choice for countertops. These homeowners chose quartzite countertops in a “Mother of Pearl” color and pattern. The dramatic backsplash is sculpted limestone tile.

Granite and quartz are still dueling it out for kitchen counters and bath vanities, but quartz may edge out granite in the coming year. “When we talk to kitchen designers, they say that they see quartz trending up,” Bryan says. Just as granite’s popularity filtered down to the mainstream from higher-end kitchens, “We’ll see the same thing with quartz. Granite is kind of past and we know quartz will make its way to mainstream America.”

DreamMaker reports that “Cambria quartz countertops are becoming a favorite because they do not require the maintenance of granite.” Edwards also says he’s seeing a quartz trend. “It’s a more sealed product and the color is more consistent.” No surprise, he’s specifying a lot of quartz in whites and grays.

7. Look Down

With the trend toward the open kitchen as part of the main living area, clients want wood floors, which can extend into the great room, and living and dining rooms. Wood adds texture and warmth to the kitchen’s hard, metal, and shiny surfaces, and can echo the cabinetry. In Seattle, “where 99 percent of homes have hardwood floors, we went through a phase of beautiful but dark espresso-almost black stained floors. Moving forward that’s going to lighten up a bit but will still add warmth,” Kennedy says. She’s specifying a lot of hand-hewn floors. “People like that rustic, weathered driftwood feel,” she says.

Even in the bathroom, people are asking for wood or a porcelain tile that looks like wood, Kennedy says.

8. Look Up

Houzz recently reported that in 2015 we’ll see new emphasis on ceilings. Landon agrees. “People will pay more attention to ceilings, creating bulkheads, coffering, adding embellishments.” He sees it as part of the personalized space trend. “People are treating the kitchen as part of the living room and they’re creating spaces for themselves to express their personality.”

9. Put That Away

Shallow storage space for cleaning supplies, backpacks, or keys fits inconspicuously into a tall cabinet at the end of a run or next to a refrigerator. 

From banquettes with hinged tops to toe kick drawers under cabinetry, storage is at a premium, especially with a push toward fewer upper cabinets. Landon says the “scullery is an emerging trend”; remodeler Gary Rochman, owner of Rochman Design-Build in Ann Arbor, Mich., points to the popularity of mudrooms; Stapperfenne says homeowners want deep drawers and pantries. She often adds a tall, slim cabinet to the end of a cabinet run or along the side of a refrigerator to use as a broom closet or for backpack, and key storage.

In bathrooms, too, the trend is toward creating storage for linens, medications, and laundry. “In every bathroom I’m doing, people are requesting linen storage and built-in hampers,” Stapperfenne says.

“People want to use aromatherapy and they want vitamin storage as well as a place to plug in electronics,” Kennedy says. “People are asking for more storage, slightly deeper medicine cabinets, even some brands that have the ability to keep medications chilled.”

10. Ah, Sanctuary

The bathroom as oasis trend continues. DreamMaker franchises report that clients are asking for larger bathrooms, especially for the master bath. “But no matter what size the bathroom is, it’s a place to get away and of rejuvenation,” Kennedy says.

Homeowners are looking for cool, sleek lines, which gives the illusion of an uncluttered and clean space. This is what’s driving the product and material trends.

11. Stand By

While floating vanities are trending for high-end and more contemporary projects—they were everywhere at Euro Cucina—that same idea is manifesting itself in more transitional style homes as a vanity with legs. Like the kitchen island, the vanity is a piece of furniture that can be personalized and easily replaced without remodeling the entire room. And the legs leave the floor open for the illusion of additional space.

12. Sit Awhile

The same drives for uncluttered space and peaceful sanctuary are behind the free-standing tub trend. Americans still prefer showers over baths, but don’t want to give up the tub. “We have fewer request for whirlpools—unless prescribed for therapeutic use—and more for freestanding soaking tubs,” reports DreamMaker’s Lynn Monson in St. Louis Park.

13. Walk Right In

If space is a premium, Monson says, “The tub is abandoned altogether in favor of a larger shower.” The biggest trend in showers is in zero-threshold styles with lots of bells and whistles. DreamMaker reports that “rainshower fixtures are often paired with handhelds, and frameless clear glass shower doors are now the norm.”

All those fancy showerheads make your shower into a “standing bath,” observes Stapperfenne, who’s also specifying deep zero-threshold showers without doors. Kennedy notes that the rise of new drain products have made the zero-threshold shower style easier to install and, ultimately, less expensive.

14. E-Everything

The popularity of apps that can control just about anything is driving the trend for electronics in the bathroom and kitchen, says Ed Webb, president of Koncerted, a “digital concierge” company. Webb, who has been automating super high-end homes for 23 years, says, “It’s much more affordable now.”

The top trend is heated floors. “I haven’t seen a home in two years that doesn’t have heat in the bathroom floor using either electric or forced hot water,” he says. He’s also installing a lot of one-way mirrors that mask a TV set. “When it’s off you see the mirror; when it’s on you see the TV. They’re small and flat, don’t generate a lot of heat, and you can build them into the wall.” Other trends include motorized shades, NEST thermostats, lighting controls, and LED lights. Webb is replacing light switches with a key pad.

14½. Universal Design


If there’s enough space, homeowners prefer freestanding soaking tubs over jetted or tub/shower units. The open space beneath a table-like vanity creates the illusion of space and eases access for wheelchair users.
The zero-barrier shower and comfort height toilets making their way from ADA’s compliance list and into the mainstream is why Universal Design—design for all ages and stages—is a half-trend. R. L. Mace began the UD conversation more than 50 years ago; now UD is going to bypass trend status on its way to becoming the norm. And calling it a half-trend won’t stop UD’s forward motion.

Touch pads for lighting? They’re UD. Varied height and movable counters? Also, UD. Leggy vanities you can fit a wheelchair under? Contrasts in color and texture on countertops and flooring? Motorized shades? All are UD.

Every day, 10,000 Baby Boomers turn 65. With their empty nests, discretionary incomes, and the means to personalize their surroundings, Boomers will drive trends that have more manufacturers creating products that will make Boomers’ lives—and everyone else’s—easier. “Boomers are more concerned about aging in their homes and want the peace of mind with a barrier-free shower. Seating and safety bars are not as taboo as they once were, and clients are asking for them,” says Patty K. Gray, co-owner of the DreamMaker Bath and Kitchen franchise in Bakersfield, Calif.

This article was originally featured on ProRemodeler.com.