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Stearns Storage Guide

Stearns Storage Guide

Storage can be tricky when designing a home and if it isn’t done correctly, you’ll end up with tons of wasted and unused space. It can pose an especially large challenge when you’re limited by small spaces.     

One of our goals as a company is to take our client’s challenges in their home to create custom rooms to fit their individual needs.  

Enter our tagline: “We Design and Build Happiness”.  Storage is a huge aspect of home customization, particularly in kitchens and bathrooms.    

Continue reading, as we invite you to unleash your home’s true storage potential!

The Entryway Storage

Let’s begin with the first destination in your home: the entryway. 

An entry table typically serves as a catch-all, but it can be so much more than a place to throw your keys. Small boxes and big baskets are so helpful in the entryway. 

A small decorative box is perfect for keys and using a small basket to store mail helps for an organized entryway.  

If your entryway has room, a bench of the correct size can not only provide storage but a place for guests to sit to remove shoes. Adding some upper cabinet storage gives you even more space and keeps your everyday items hidden from guests. You can also mount some door hooks for jackets, hats, and scarves.

Kitchen Storage

There are so many ways to get creative when it comes to kitchen storage. If you’re lacking kitchen storage space, let us give you a few space-saving solutions. You’ll just have to rethink those little nooks and you’ll discover the vacant resource of counter space.  

Here are some tips + tricks we find to be the most helpful: 

  • Open kitchen shelves  
  • A mix of open shelves + traditional upper cabinets  
  • More cabinet drawers with custom slides + pulls + inserts.   
  • Drawer organizers for utensils, cutlery, pots/pans, cookie sheets, foil/wrap,   
  • Pullouts for waste containers + cutting boards  
  • Pullouts for pantry items like spices, oils + vinegar, & canned goods  
  • Full-height cabinets for cleaning equipment such as mops + brooms  
  • Pullouts for tiered organizers to store cleaning products  
  • A wall rack mounted for kitchen utensils or pots + pans  
  • Utilize the space above the upper cabinets for plants or decor  
  • Customize your island and add drawers to store large kitchen appliances  

Bathroom Storage 

When it comes to organizing your bathroom, it can be overwhelming to tackle but this tedious task has a serious payoff. Out of all the rooms in the house, the bathroom needs to be very clean + sanitary, which can’t happen without proper storage. We’ve found that it always feels like bathrooms don’t have enough storage, but these tips will help!   

  • Door inserts for jewelry, belts, scarfs, ties  
  • Pullouts for hairdryer/curling iron with outlet and stainless-steel canisters  
  • Tiered organizers for grooming products  
  • Drawer organizers for makeup + grooming products  
  • If you don’t have cabinets, add shelves below the sink   
  • Add floating shelves in the smaller nooks  
  • Add a built-in shower caddy  
  • Decorative ladder to hang towels 
  • Small pieces of accent furniture to use for storage 

Living Room Storage

Storage space in the living room can be difficult, especially because it’s where you want to maintain a level of formality and comfort. Here are some tips to help you maximize your living room space.   

  • Built-in Bookshelves  
  • Use baskets for storing items such as remotes or throw blankets  
  • Add open shelving  
  • Get a coffee table with built-in hidden storage  
  • Add an accent piece that doubles as storage such as a small cabinet or storage ottoman  
  • Built-in Entertainment center with custom shelving (we accomplished this with a client earlier this year, including a hidden storage door – See below)

Let us note that regularly decluttering is a key step in maximizing your storage space. The best way to declutter your home is to go room-by-room. By decluttering and using our helpful tips and tricks, your home will feel brand new. 

Lose the clutter and have peace of mind. 

Would you like us to help you discover your home’s storage potential? Give us a call or sign up for a free consultation!

Want to read some more of our Happy Home Blog? Click the links below!

Exterior Siding 101: How to Choose the Best Siding For Your Home

Exterior Siding 101: How to Choose the Best Siding For Your Home

Throughout the south, brick + rock are a very popular choice for home exteriors. In fact, many neighborhoods require a large percentage of this on the exterior of their homes because it is seen as a higher status and more elite than other materials. 

This is actually counterintuitive due to the fact that rock + stone produces a thermal mass that acts as a significant solar collector that gathers heat and dissipates it to the home throughout our long summers. 

As we are all well aware, we do NOT need any sort of extra heat during our Texas summers. Our homes need to be a refuge from the heat, not a host for it. 

This is a shame because not only can siding be beautiful, it is also a much more energy-efficient choice for our climate. 

One of the likely reasons that neighborhoods tend to require extra masonry is because siding has so often been installed wrong and because some siding products are bad choices for building materials. 

Here is a look at a range of common siding choices in the Brazos Valley.

Vinyl Siding

Vinyl siding is a very common exterior siding material and we have to say, we’re not vinyl siding’s biggest fan at Stearns.  Generally speaking, vinyl is a poor choice in building material in most applications.  It is prone to have many problems and often lowers your home’s resale value. 

(There are a few exceptions to this such as Andersen 100 windows; which include fiber in the vinyl to help stabilize it.)

One of vinyl’s many issues is that it expands + contracts drastically with changes in temperature.  In fact, we have seen the reflection from nearby windows melt vinyl siding. We’ve always been told that the UV inhibitors in vinyl keep it from cracking. Nonetheless, we have seen large sections of wall rot behind vinyl siding that had cracked. 

When vinyl siding begins to crack; the cracks aren’t visible to the naked eye. In turn, the walls begin to deteriorate from the cracks subsequently leading to the siding falling off of the house.  

The most frequent malfunction we see with vinyl siding actually has nothing to do with the vinyl,  but with the aluminum trim that is applied on Fascia and other trim.  In most cases, water is able to get behind this metal and it cannot escape.  As a result, the rot cannot be seen and is not realized until it is too late.  

This also happens with aluminum siding. Typically, we don’t see that much aluminum siding in this area, so for this reason we’re excluding this from our list.

Hardboard Siding

This material is often referred to as Masonite, who was an early manufacturer of the product.  In 1996, the maker of Masonite Siding lost a large class-action suit because the material was unfit for exterior use.  Today, Masonite no longer makes siding. 

However, much of the same siding remains in place and there are other similar products on the market. A few years back, when more of this product was still used, we may have put this above vinyl as our least liked siding.

Engineered Siding 

Overall, engineered siding encompasses a vast group of products, including plywood and composite woods; such as Smart Siding.  Our hot, humid Texas climate is harsh on these products.  

More often than not, engineered siding issues are a result of poor installation.  We recommend hiring a professional when using this siding. 

Commonly, this siding is run closer to the ground than it should be because slab foundations are not built high enough to provide adequate protection from sprinklers and the water splashing from the roof runoff. In addition, they are often improperly flashed to protect them from water infiltration.

Wood Siding

This is tricky – here at Stearns, we love wood siding. It’s the real deal. Sadly there are several reasons it’s not the best choice for our hot and humid climate.  Over the years, as Americans have grown wood faster, it has lost a lot of the durability that it once had. But even well-cured, old-growth wood has a tough time in our climate.  

Nonetheless, for the well-informed and motivated client, it can be a great choice.  There is a lot that can be done that goes above and beyond a typical application to give the wood siding a fighting chance. 

This includes making sure that protective coating goes on every surface; especially end grain which is most vulnerable to rot and most often left unprotected. Though we almost never see it in our area, a rain channel behind the siding is also crucial to making wood siding durable.  Furthermore, proper window and trim details are also rare but important to maintaining wood siding.

Cement Fiber Siding

A GREAT siding choice for our climate is cement fiber siding. The material is not subject to rot or insect damage, it is fire resistant, and holds paint very well.

It’s durable, very low-maintenance, and because it is made from recyclable materials, it’s resource-efficient. 

Fiber cement comes the closest to recreating a natural wood grain and is virtually indistinguishable from some wood siding products. It is considered a premium product and tends to garner better resale value to your home. 

At Stearns Design Build, we specialize in wood and fiber cement sidings because we feel that they are the best choices for our climate, they are the most cost-efficient and durable for our client’s homes.  

Do you need guidance or help with your siding? 

Should We Stay Or Should We Go?

Should We Stay Or Should We Go?

Many people ask us, “Should we remodel our home or should we move?”  

Our answer is always, “Well, that depends.” There is no doubt that home remodeling is a larger out-of-pocket expense than buying an existing home that doesn’t need remodeling or even building new.  Either way, it’s an excellent question and the answer depends on a multitude of factors.

We’ve included a few questions below to help guide your decision-making process!

1. How long do you plan to stay in your home?

If you plan to move within two years, you will recoup less of your remodeling investment. HERE is a valuable resource for the return on investment for home remodeling projects.

2. What are you trying to achieve?

What kind of aesthetic + functional results are you exploring when remodeling your current home?  There are some limiting factors for remodeling projects—including lot dimensions and your home’s structural “bones”.

If one of the elements is the foundation, heating, plumbing, and electrical system, then these are more challenging to overcome-  no matter how creative and professional your contractor is.

3. How much do you love your home?

We believe that homeowners with a strong attachment to their current homes should factor that element into the decision-making process.

As you know, your home is the keeper of so many emotional and sentimental memories. 

4. How much do you value your lot?

Often times our clients’ motivation to NOT relocate is as much about their lot and property, as it is about their house.

You may not be able to replicate a corner lot with an ancient shade tree in the backyard even if you find a house with your dream kitchen. If you love the lot and property, it’s worth the expense of your home remodel.

5. How much do you love your neighborhood?

A desire to remain in a certain neighborhood is also a frequent motivating factor for remodeling. There is significant value in having neighbors you enjoy or even just know. You may also value the neighborhood’s amenities or its proximity to schools and stores.

6. What is your remodeling budget?

Be sure to run some numbers: if the amount you’re planning to spend is less than the cost of moving, then choosing to remodel rather than move is a no-brainer.

Even with a modest remodeling budget, you can begin to update and make your home more current and comfortable.

7. Where does your home’s value fall in your neighborhood?

If you own the most expensive home in the neighborhood, the return on your remodeling investment will be lower.

However, if you plan to stay in your home for an extended period of time, your decision may be more about maximizing enjoyment than finances.

8. How likely are you to find a home that you wouldn’t remodel?

It is not uncommon for us to have a client decide to move and then call us a year later for a remodeling project on the new home. Because homes are so personal, it is very difficult to find one that is just right. If you’ve already invested in a larger mortgage, it may be more difficult to afford a remodel.

9. How much do kids factor into your decision?

The quality of nearby schools is a major consideration for most families with school-age kids and may even be the reason you bought in your current neighborhood. Disrupting the children’s school and social lives may be another key consideration. Even if you have not made close friends on your block, the kids usually have made connections in the neighborhood and at school.

Deciding whether to move or remodel is a layered decision because it involves so many considerations outside of just the wood, wiring, and windows that make up the structure that houses your life. 

Remember that both remodeling and moving can be fresh and exciting or stressful and overwhelming. Taking the time + space upfront to evaluate all of the factors will help you weather the experience.

We would love to discuss your options for remodeling your home. Give us a call or click below & we can set up a free consultation!

Contemporary + Modern Home Renovation: Part 3

Contemporary + Modern Home Renovation: Part 3

Lastly, as we move from the kitchen in Part 2 to the master bathroom, we stayed with the same contemporary modern vibe from the rest of the home.

In the master bathroom, his and her sink vanities were nestled in opposite corners, separated by a large charcoal garden tub and small shower stall.

Removing the large, corner garden tub we relocated his sink vanity beside hers along the main wall.

Because two existing corner windows now occupied the space above his new sink vanity, the clients feared he would have to forego a mirror, because we didn’t want to sacrifice any natural light.

A custom, swivel mirror mounted inside the window casing was our solution, allowing both the mirror + window to coexist while also providing maneuverability when routine cleaning of the window was required. 

The pièce de résistance for this master bathroom makeover was undoubtedly the show-stopping walk-in shower.

Commanding the remaining half of the existing room footprint, a combination of gray and black large-format tiles adorn the floor and walls.

Centered on the shower entry opening, a full-size quartz slab takes center stage, highlighted by dimmable LED strip lighting from the floor to ceiling on each side.

Behind half-walls with ledges capped in matching quartz, are strategically placed shower controls that allow turning the water on to warm without getting wet in addition to custom wall niches with concealed, dimmable accent lighting.

Before this bathroom had a ton of wasted space with a bathtub that was never used. The clients had a certain style they wanted in mind and we were thrilled to help that vision come to life with this bathroom transformation.

Watch the video below to see all the before + after photos for this home renovation!

We’d love to have a meeting to hear about your goals, dreams, and the transformation you envision for your home. Are you ready? We can design your dream space today!


Call us today for a free consultation! We can’t wait to hear from you.

Contemporary + Modern Home Renovation: Part 2

Contemporary + Modern Home Renovation: Part 2

Moving on to Phase 2 of this home remodel, we journey into the transformed kitchen. As we saw in Phase 1, this 90’s home had slightly aged, honey-tone wood cabinets with black + charcoal granite counters and gray tile backsplashes.

As we moved from the den to the kitchen, black granite counters were replaced with quartz. This was selected for its creamy marbled background of neutral white with meandering gray-ashen veins dotted with veiled charcoal speckles.

The countertop & backsplash flow into one another for a seamless transition.

We painted the existing cabinets, with a mixture of black + white to stick with the theme for the rest of the house.

This set the stage for updating the existing honey-toned wood cabinetry with fresh, lightweight, luminous, and subtly sophisticated shades of white + black in the kitchen & other rooms throughout the home.

Right beyond the kitchen, is the laundry room, where we kept the same theme as the kitchen.

We used the same quartz slabs for the countertop + backsplash, replaced the sink, and painted the existing cabinets white.