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New Year = New Home

New Year = New Home

Here we are, finally beginning a new year. 

The beginning of our new decade did not go according to plan. 

Let’s be honest – 2020 was rough. With all the challenges that happened last year, I think we can all agree and appreciate two things:

There are better times ahead in the New Year and we appreciate our homes more than ever before. 

There’s a newfound appreciation across the board- that our homes should reflect, embrace, and connect who we are as individuals and as families. 

We’ve returned to our love for nature, old hobbies we forgot about, and the place we call home. Additionally, all of our canceled vacations have allowed many of us to begin investing within our own four walls, transforming our homes into a more inspiring place to live, work, and play.

With this appreciation + new year, NOW is the time to reimagine your space and make it your own. So many of us make resolutions to change or adjust our habits and most importantly, re-envision the goals and dreams that we’d like to accomplish in this new year. 

But, how often do we sit down and make resolutions for our homes?

Is your working from home becoming a permanent situation? 

What if your home was the most organized and productive space it’s ever been in this new year? 

For example, after cooking at home more often in 2020, have you realized that your kitchen is not the most functional space?

 Do you have a storage issue that leaves your house feeling cluttered and messy all the time? 

Is your bathroom outdated or a potential safety hazard?

Perhaps you’ve left these “to do’s”  on the back burner; due to a multitude of things- busy lives, budget constraints, kids homeschooling,  etc. 

For many, we believe that this past year has highlighted the things we love and the things we’d love to change about our homes.

You can begin by making a list of spaces in your home that you’re most unhappy with or that could benefit from adjustment or change.

At Stearns Design Build, we are all about happiness. Our purpose is to design & build happiness, which is our tagline. 

For us, this is a well-studied pursuit with the science behind it. We use our building knowledge to help your home to become your happy place.

These days, this idea has never felt more relevant.

If you aren’t ready to make any major adjustments to your home, there are some inexpensive + easy adjustments that you can do right away to make your home feel better than it already does. 

Now, imagine how you and your family will feel when you start taking tiny steps to change the current spaces in your home and the pleasure + joy it will bring.

Try your best not to think too much into numbers + budget at this stage. The minute you begin envisioning and imagining your dream space; your creative juices will begin flowing. When you look at the world through creative eyes, whether it’s your home or other dreams and goals,  it invites in the potential transformation that you will experience. 

Doing this kind of dreaming will guide you in your decisions and goals for the year and throughout the next decade!

Did you know that all of our remodeling projects start with an energy assessment? 

Not only do we want to ensure that our company is a leader in the best practices of green building, but also we want to increase the return on investment of your home.

We’d love to sit down with you and hear about your goals, dreams, and the transformation you envision. Are you ready? Is this the year for you to begin the creation of your dream home?

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

Ready more of the Happy Home Blog!

Home for the Holidays

Home for the Holidays

Goodness, the holidays are a busy time! Decorating, shopping, entertaining, and family time. For many, it’s too busy of a season to even think about remodeling!

This isn’t typically a common time to think about remodeling, but maybe it should be.  Chances are that during the holidays with many guests, is when your house(and you) are under maximum stress.  What you might consider as negative parts of your home are under the spotlight when you have lots of visitors. They aren’t necessarily visible to the guests, but they are to you because it’s your home.

As many of our homes will be full of friends and family in the upcoming months; this is the perfect time to take a quick inventory of traffic patterns and places of congestion in your space. 

Have you noticed any restrictions as people enter the living room?  Sometimes it’s as simple as rearranging furniture to block obstructions. 

Do you think that more space would make a huge change at the front door? Opening narrow hallways, while concurrently creating more common space is a game-changing solution.

Would an additional guest bathroom and/or bedroom be helpful? It’s difficult to imagine adding a room just for hosting family & friends but you have options.

Here are a few home addition options:

Existing space remodel. The easiest + most cost-conscious method is to take an existing space in your home and remodel it into a bedroom. This typically works best with unfinished space in a basement or attic. It can also be beneficial when you have a home office or a “bonus” room that doesn’t get much use. 

Bump out addition. If you don’t have existing space for a remodel, think about a bump-out addition. This is where you choose an area of your home and push the wall out to create extra space. 

Detached addition. If there’s no practical way to create an additional bedroom, you might think about creating a detached addition that could serve as an in-law suite or small apartment. You could rent it out on Airbnb for parts of the year if you want to cover the cost. 

This is a detached addition we are currently working on for a client

Now, let’s imagine the kitchen & dining area. When there are extra hands, bodies, and cooks in the kitchen during the holidays, you’ll immediately notice and envision changes that could be helpful and free up space. We all love to congregate where the food is, so your kitchen and dining space need to be designed to flow & function for cooking and entertaining.

Home remodeling questions to think about when hosting:

Are guests in the way of cooking?

Do you have enough counter space, storage space, refrigeration?

Are the spices where they should be?

Are there too many steps between the fridge and the prep area?

Is there enough seating for guests?

This is the time to think about efficiency in your kitchen & dining room. If your kitchen is enclosed, it can be isolating to be stuck cooking in the kitchen while everyone is enjoying themselves in another room.

You might want to consider knocking a wall out and adding a kitchen island with bar stools so everyone is connected.

If you are taking out cabinet storage space with the wall, you can add more storage underneath the island to make up for it. That is a common request for many of our clients. 

When the cooking is complete and everyone is ready to eat, it’s stressful if you have a lack of seating. If you’re worried about your guests having a place to sit comfortably, it can consume your attention when you should be enjoying yourself.

Is there a protected screened in porch or patio for spillover space? Have you ever had a gathering and you plan for the guests to be in one room but then everyone ends up migrating somewhere else? Regardless of the room, you want your guests to be comfortable and cozy.

As we all know,  the holidays are a busy time and a season to enjoy family and friends. This is the ideal time to think about your home while envisioning improvements to make it even warmer and ultimately, a reflection of you

You can use any complications or concerns from holiday hosting to prioritize the most important projects. 

We would love to guide you through this process and make your home + holidays stress-free for years to come! Set up a free consultation today! Go here to read more of the Happy Home Blog.

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? 

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.