Making Your Home Special with Creativity & Character
Stir your creativity
It’s your home so dream big or dream small, but make it your own. That’s the beauty of planning a home project, you can let your imagination lead you. Your goal is to create a look & feel that makes your home unique and charming. To stir your creativity, visit new home models in your community or visit re-sale Open Houses in your neighborhood to see what others have done. Gather ideas from paint to décor.
Home projects gallery
View our Home Projects Gallery below. Whether you’re adding a room, painting, decorating, or building an outdoor patio for entertaining, it’s helpful to see a variety of photos to get some ideas. We've included multiple images, designs, colors, and architectural selections for you to browse. As you embark on your project just remember, it’s not a sprint it’s a marathon. Take your time and focus on quality.
How to proceed
Once you’ve gained vision for your project you should meet with several reputable contractors to review your plans. Listen to their suggestions and compare their bids before you proceed. You may choose to do some of the work yourself, or hire out the entire job, that’s up to you. If budget requires you to do some of the work, seek assistance from family pros. Make sure all contractors are licensed and insured.
Take your time and expect delays
Home projects seldom run on time, or on budget. You can reduce stress with proper planning and solid communication with all parties involved in your project. Get details in writing and review them in person if possible with the contractor or others you are depending on to complete the job. If you’re doing the work yourself, proceed with caution. There’s also less risk of injury when you pace yourself.
Review plans with city or county to obtain permits
Are permits required for your project? Are you required to obtain approval from a Home Owners Association? Check with all authorities, especially if you are adding on to your home. Most municipalities require a permit for work to ensure building codes and safety measures are addressed. Fines and penalties, or removal of the structures just added are never fun so ask before you task!
When you make improvements to your home, you’re making a significant investment. Carefully evaluate the costs to complete your home projects. Inquire with a Realtor or property appraiser to determine the estimated value of your home with improvements completed. If you’re within the value range of your neighborhood, great. If your projected value will be well above your neighborhood, limit improvements.
How to Get a Home Equity Loan
Home Projects Gallery
Improve Your Home's Value With An Outdoor Entertainment Area
Outdoor Entertainment areas now rank high on the American homeowners' wish list. Reasons range from healthful living and realizing the value of sunshine and Vitamin D, to exercise and outdoor activities, gardening, and growing great organic foods. And as always, outdoor areas are a wonderful place to unwind and relax with family or friends after a hectic day, or week at work.
The latest "Cost vs. Value" Report from Remodeling Magazine pegs an upscale outdoor deck addition as the third most popular redo with a return investment at 56.4 percent on the average improvement cost of $39,339. A slightly less expensive, mid-range deck averages $17,249 nationally and returns a higher 65.2 percent.
While watching family dollars and cents make sense, don't forget the "joy factor". The National Association of Realtors® places “joy” as equally important as investing and building equity. Every improvement isn't about resale values, but enjoying a home while you live there!
The key to planning an outdoor project is researching options and setting priorities. There are so many new designs and great new products to choose among. In addition, you may have a limited land area, as well as limited budget, so careful planning is important.
If your budget permits, consider hiring a design firm or landscape architect to help tackle your project. Sacramento, California-based landscape designer Michael Glassman, co-author of The Garden Bible: Designing your perfect outdoor space (Images Publishing), suggests that you consider spending 10 to 20 percent of the value of your home on outdoor entertainment improvements. Then, decide what will appeal most to you and your family. He starts with a master plan to see how changes relate to one another, the site and the home. Projects can be phased in over time to fit each family’s budget.
To get the biggest bang for your dollar on any improvement, Glassman suggests these following five areas, which many of his clients now request.
- The area should be large enough to accommodate seating and lounging.
- The three most popular floor materials are redwood, flagstone or textured or stained concrete.
- Consider the sun. You don't want it beating down on you all afternoon, so create covered or shaded areas. Options include a pergola with vines such as wisteria to cut glare and wind, or look into awning options, sail-shaped covers, or cabana designs.
- Outdoor kitchens have become more prevalent. However, the trend toward cloning the indoor kitchen and including everything from a barbecue grill to pizza oven, refrigerator, beer tap, running water in a sink, storage, counters, and more is fading.
- Site your outdoor kitchen near a back door to cut down on dual equipment. Check into new glass wall and door designs that open existing kitchen areas to outdoor entertaining areas.
- Feature what's most critical, Glassman says. Maybe, include one of the new hybrid grilles where you can use gas or charcoal and outdoor woks or a Hibachi, Kegerator or wine refrigerator.
- Like the whoosh of water, which is soothing? Less costly alternatives to a pond with waterfall and boulders are a bubbler or fountain that recirculate the water and can be a colorful, tall addition in your garden depending on the container. They also require far less maintenance.
- If working out is your goal and you have the space and funds, nothing beats a swimming pool. Know that the costs border around a minimum of $35,000 for an in-ground gunite design, depending on its size.
- A smaller variation of just a spa or hot tub can be constructed for about $19,000 and give you year-round enjoyment. Build it close enough to your back door so you'll venture out even when it's chilly, Glassman says.
- Another affordable alternative is to build a play pool, which is shallow on each end and deep in the center. This is a great way to play water volleyball or water polo.
- Know how much physical work you’re up for before you plant, as well as how much research you want to do. For example, you need to know what type of soil you have and if it needs amending with nutrients before you plant to be sure materials thrive.
- Also know what animals lurk nearby since they're apt to check out your veggies and fruits and devour results unless you build a tall deep fence.
- Not sure this is for you? Test your interest by planting tomatoes and other vegetables and fruits in pots or grapevines along a fence. If you do find being a farmer appeals and you want to go bigger, consider raised beds from redwood or slate or horse troughs that can be painted bright fun colors.
- Installing an outdoor water source near your garden eliminates the need to lug around a hose.
- Bocce ball courts have become one of the latest "in" additions with the court cost dependent on its size and surface material, whether masonry or wood.
- Landscape designer John Cowen likes to bring weatherproof ping-pong tables outdoors to his own and clients' homes for a fast, fun game.
- Landscape architect Steve Chepurny has installed putting greens for duffers to work on their short games in their own yard.
- Still another popular way to entertain is with a TV that's designed just for the great outdoors with its surround that’s water-resistant and a screen that cuts glare.
Final Benefit: Whatever way you go, outdoor entertainment is really all about being together with family and friends in your own special haven.
Emerging Products: Trendy Rustic Look the Easy Way
Rustic touches such as barn doors and reclaimed wood used in a variety of places are the trendy way to add warmth to a contemporary home, an office or a retail space. While builders can track down used wood to install in new construction, for homeowners and renters it can be more of a headache to try to source authentic material and install it or worse, try to move it.
Waddell Manufacturing, a family-owned and operated woodworking company based in Ohio for more than 100 years, found a solution to that issue and created Artis Wall, a system of removable, reusable reclaimed wood planks.
"I really liked the warm and rustic look of reclaimed wood combined with a modern living space and wanted to achieve that look in my Cleveland rental apartment," says Will Kimmerle, director of operations for Artis Wall. "However, all of the products available at the time used a permanent installation method which would destroy my walls upon removal. The last thing I wanted to do was lose my security deposit. I saw the opportunity to create a removable product which would be the only one on the market. It took about a year to figure out and patent."
A Kickstarter campaign launched to help start production reached its goal in less than one week, so Kimmerle isn’t the only one who wanted a removable yet authentic wood product.
"Artis Wall is the only removable reclaimed wood product on the market," says Kimmerle. "It can also be re-used and is the only reclaimed wood product which tells you the story behind the material."
The planks can be used as an accent wall, a headboard, as a kitchen backsplash and as artwork.
The wood for each plank comes from barns and buildings around the U.S., like other reclaimed wood, but one unusual feature of the planks is that buyers can learn specifics about the wood they buy. Each plank has a code stamped on the back. When consumers enter the code on the Artis Wall website, they can get the age, location and previous use of the structure where the planks come from. For example, when consumers click on this code (https://www.artiswall.com/code-052017/) they not only learn about the barn in Danville, Ohio where their wood came from, they see a photo of the barn and learn a little about the history of the area and the style of the barn – a nice conversation starter for visitors.
Installation made easy
While accent walls or headboards made of wood have been developed before, Artis Walls come with "Artis Installation Method" strips that make them easier to install. The planks come in various links and are thin and lightweight, which makes them simpler to handle than thicker, heavier pieces of wood.
The planks can be cut with a utility knife, which allows buyers to customize the reclaimed wood for almost any use.
The Artis Wall kits come in various sizes and are priced from $11.45 to $19.45 per square foot. Kimmerle says the average accent wall is 80 square feet, so at an average price of $13.95 per square foot the total would be $1,116.
"We like to explain that purchasing Artis Wall is like purchasing a piece of furniture," says Kimmerle. "It’s an investment in a nice piece of décor which moves with you from home to home, unlike most wall coverings which are left behind or demolished."
Emerging Trends: DIY an Organized Closet
Photos Courtesy of Closet Maid
If you open your clothes closet and want to groan in frustration at the tightly packed and sloppy space, you’re not alone. In a 2016 survey conducted by Closet Maid of 1,000 adult women between the ages of 18 and 55, 25 percent of respondents said their closet is disorganized and 10 percent got depressed when looking through their closet. Nearly half said they struggle to find something to wear to work and 57 percent said that having an organized closet would make it easier and faster to find what they want.
Numerous products are available for you to install yourself to enhance your closet space even if you’re on a budget. You can also hire someone to install closet organizers or hire a professional company to custom-create your closet.
Getting started on closet organizing
If you opt to do-it-yourself, start by breaking down the project and evaluating your needs. While it may take some time, it’s best to remove every item from your closet, including all clothes, shoes and accessories. Sorting those items is essential to determining the best possible arrangement for closet organizers.
Measuring and counting
Once you’ve donated or tossed some items, count how many pairs of shoes you have, how many shorter items you own such as blazers and blouses, how many dresses and how many long items you have. Next, measure the inside of your closet to see how much space you have to install shelves and possibly extra closet rods.
Think about whether you have doors that can be opened wide so you can use the back for hanging items or whether they are sliding or folding doors. A great first step is to figure out how you want to store your shoes to get them off the closet floor and yet visible and accessible. Shelves with clear boxes, hanging vertical organizers or pockets off the closet door are all options that are easy to DIY.
Splurging a little on a set of thin velvet-covered hangers can instantly add space to your hanging clothes. Specialized hangers can be used for scarves and belts. Baskets and bins can hold purses and other small items.
If you’d like to eliminate dresser drawers, see if you can add shelves to hold folded clothes in bins or baskets that slide in and out for easy access. Decide how you like to store your jeans and pants: hanging from clipped pants hangers or folded.
Once you’ve measured and decided whether you have the space to add double clothes rods or rows of shelves, you can start shopping for DIY products at home improvement stores.
Be careful when you put everything back in your closet to do a second check on every item to make sure you want it, that it doesn’t need repair and that it’s clean. Then organize your clothes to a system that works for you. Separate your clothes by season if you live in a four-season climate and then decide if you’d like to color-coordinate your clothes or put business attire in a separate section from casual clothing.
Maintaining your Zen-like closet is easier once you have the right configuration and products to maximize your space.
Emerging Trends: Screened Porches
Next Gen Makes Casual Living Space More Useful
The latest trends in home designs include bringing the outdoors in and these new designs have spurred a renewed interest in screened porches. The latest porch themes offer great amenities, allow home owners to view adjoining landscape designs or beautiful natural surroundings and provide protection from rain, over-exposure to sun and keep residents separated from insects.
In years past, screened porches were often camp-like rooms for casual living, which provided an escape from hot or cold air depending on the season. Now screened rooms are being designed as livable spaces that may reflect the style of the rest of a home. Architects and builders now devote greater attention to the building site and how to transition natural areas within the home's architecture, layout and livability – making the home stunning from either perspective, whether you’re “inside” or “outside” of the primary living area.
Here are a few things to consider about screened porches from Joe Levecchi, owner of Exterior Medics, a home remodeling company in Springfield, VA.
- What time of day will you use the space most often – in the morning when the sun is coming up or in the late afternoon or evening when the sun is going down?
- Would you prefer to expand the space off your kitchen, having a place where you enjoy morning coffee, or a place for an evening cocktail beyond the living room?
- Does your home site have natural areas for views, or have areas that provide shade?
- If the screened porch is meant to be a "getaway", consider building a freestanding structure within a short distance of the house.
- Consider how you’ll use the space. Plan for guests and allow adequate area for dining and entertaining. Determine how many people the space will accommodate.
- For a small number, a 4' x 6' room may be adequate. To seat four to six guests, a 5' x 12' area may work, and for more than six guests your space should be 15' x 20' or larger.
- Consider raising the ceiling in your screened room. A beamed or vaulted ceiling could add both a sense of open-air spaciousness and highlight your design themes.
Materials for walls, ceilings, and floors
- Consider composite or green materials that are weather resistant and require less maintenance.
- Natural materials like cedar, redwood, or stone offer a more authentic appearance, but require sealing or other ongoing maintenance.
- Your flooring may be slate, tile or luxury vinyl, or you can continue your indoor flooring material, if weather resistant, to make a seamless transition to your outdoor space.
- Finer screens keep bugs out, but confirm strength and durability of screens.
- Large frames or openings allow for better views, so consider minimum openings of 8' to 10' or more if possible.
- Some wall designs allow for glass to be added or removed from screened openings, if your climate is too cold or too hot. The added flexibility is ideal for extreme climates.
Levecchi says, "It's easier and cheaper to install heating, cooling, water or gas lines or other systems when pulling permits to build. Decide if heating or cooling is to be tied into a home's central system or be a separate unit, and if lighting will be recessed, attached to a fan, include a dimmer system, or come from table and floor lamps. Homeowners should also decide on the following":
- Do you want to include a fireplace, if local code allows and how it's going to be vented?
- Do you want a barbecue or grill, again if code allows and what kind of venting is needed?
- Will you want a built-in bar, a sink with running water, or a refrigerator or dishwasher?
- Are you going to leave furniture in the screened room all year rather than store it in a basement or elsewhere? If furniture will remain in areas subject to temperature and moisture extremes, weather-resistant products must be considered.
Emerging Trends: Kitchen Organization Tips
Whether you are building a new custom home, planning a major kitchen renovation or simply hope to make your cooking space more efficient, there are hundreds of options to maximize your storage. If a new kitchen is in your future, you may be more excited by the thought of shiny new appliances and gleaming counters, but for long-term satisfaction, smart organization is essential. While some of the suggestions here require new cabinet installations, others are simple DIY tricks that can increase your capacity for pots, pans, utensils and spices.
Think inside the cabinet. If you look closely at your cabinets, you can find a treasure trove of usable space that’s currently just dead air.
First, consider the simple step of putting in wire mesh shelves so you can stack more items without them tipping over. Stores such as The Container Store and Home Depot have numerous iterations of these shelves that you can use for more space for pans or dishes. Smaller versions can be used for pantry items so you can stack cans or other items all the way to the top of your cabinet and yet still be able to see and reach them.
Next, look at back of your cabinet doors. You can install a cork board or a series of hooks to hold measuring spoons and other gadgets.
You can also look for vertical storage space that you can customize like a filing cabinet for awkward items such as your cutting boards and cookie sheets.
Get symmetrical. One reason pantries and kitchen shelves can look so cluttered and disorganized is that products come in different sizes and shapes, some of which (like certain cereal boxes) are too tall for a standard cabinet. The fastest way to make sense of the mess is to buy a set of airtight containers that you can fill and label.
Smaller items that don’t merit an entire bin can be collected into a pull-out drawer or basket that you can take out as needed. For instance, put all your baking items such as cupcake tin liners, sprinkles, baking powder and tiny bottles of vanilla and almond extract into a container so they’re together when you need them.
Focus on your spices. Many cooks complain that their spices clutter up their space or are inaccessible. A quick look at The Container Store will prove the point: there are numerous products to solve this annoyance. Depending on your kitchen’s configuration, think about putting a Lazy Susan in a cabinet or buying an insert for a drawer with staggered, spice-bottle-sized shelves. Or just line them up in drawer and make sure you have the labels facing up where you can see them. You can also install a spice rack in unexpected places such as along the edge of your center island.
Try a slide. One popular way to make your kitchen items, especially heavy ones, more easily accessible is to add a pull-out cabinet. Over time, some homeowners have found that one weakness of pull-out base cabinets is that they can wiggle once they’re full and dislodge their contents. Look for a sturdy version such as the Hardware Resources No Wiggle Base Cabinet Pullout that’s designed to be sturdy and allow for smoother operation.
Some sliding shelves can also be added to existing cabinets to make it easier to pull out your heaviest pots and pans.
Look behind your door. If you have a door to your pantry or into your kitchen, look behind it for extra storage space. You can hang a shoe-organizer with pockets to hold kitchen gadgets, plastic wrap, napkins and clean sponges. If you have a few inches of depth on the wall, you can hang narrow shelves to fit canned goods or spices.
Taking a careful look at your kitchen storage not only gives you a chance to get more organized, but also an opportunity to be creative in your solutions. Hanging baskets, adding hooks and even repurposing small pieces of furniture from other rooms such as a narrow armoire can add space and some personality to your kitchen.