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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.

Bathroom Design + Trends

Bathroom Design + Trends

At Stearns Design Build, we believe that our homes should be more than our happy place; rather they should be a collection of happy places. There should be a place within your home carefully crafted for every mood and activity. 

This includes your bathroom. 

Whether you’re considering some quick +  simple upgrades OR diving into a full renovation, these tips will help you reach your goal. Keep reading to create a spa-like oasis for ultimate relaxation in your bathroom!

Freestanding Bathtubs 

This is a classic bathroom style that is here to stay. For the freestanding bathtubs, there are so many to choose from. You can go with the classic clawfoot tub, a more modern soaker tub, or a timeless minimalist tub. Many designers are framing the bathtubs with tiling to make it stand out and fit your unique style. 

These bathtubs tend to be pricier than others,  but they will increase the value of your home + retain their value through the test of time. 

Double Sinks + Vanity

A practical + popular decor choice in many bathrooms are double sinks. Two sinks are better than one. Have you ever tried to share a sink with your partner while running late for work? 

*Insert small argument here* 

With a double vanity set up, two people can easily get ready for the day, while using the same bathroom without any space issues, as there is ample space for both them. 

Another new trend is a trough sink; which are larger single basin sinks, which accommodate 2+ wash stations with multiple faucets.

These types of sinks are directly influenced by troughs: long slender vessels that are hollowed out on top and filled with water, which have historically been used for farm animals. Oh, how far troughs have come! 

Bathroom Accent Walls

An accent wall is a centralized location in your bathroom, becoming your focal point by visually highlighting your vanity or your bathtub. Typically, a different material or color is used to contrast the rest of the bathroom. As we mentioned earlier, many use this with a colorful tile to highlight their new freestanding bathtub, which in turn makes your bathroom more visually appealing. An additional bonus is that it can also protect the wall from moisture. 

Other popular choices are marble, brick, natural stone, and even wood in many cases! As always, the choice is up to you,  as plastic and paper are still quite commonly used. You can paint your wall black and it will function just the same or perhaps consider implementing a wall mural! 

Freestanding Vanities

A top priority for homeowners in recent years is really personalizing your space. 

This includes the bathroom!

 “The recent trend in freestanding vanities follows a trend that we see across the building and remodeling market towards personalization,” says Kate Bailey, director of showrooms at Ferguson, a bath, kitchens, and lighting gallery. “The home is highly personal and homeowners want customizable fixtures to make their spaces reflect their personality and lifestyle.”

Many bathrooms feature horizontal vanities with one section of cabinetry. These vanities are efficiently streamlined and take full advantage of available storage and counter space. They also ensure clean lines +  streamlined bathroom design.

If you don’t need storage space and are seeking a minimalist design, you can forgo cabinetry and simply install a wall-mounted countertop.

Bold Colors

If your current budget + schedule doesn’t allow a bathroom remodel, you can spruce it up with new paint color to really give your space a brand new look and feel.

When choosing a color, it’s important that you pick something that makes you feel good and brings you joy by looking at it. 

Think Happy Place!

For example, yellow is a bright and cheery color that can bring instant feelings of happiness to your space. Another option is light blue’s + greens which are common bathroom color choices. These colors tend to instill a nautical + calming vibe.

Whatever you decide on, make sure it will bring you happiness in your bathroom. Experiment with color swatches prior to painting and see what appeals to you. 

New Light Fixtures

An easy + inexpensive way to upgrade your bathroom or any space is adding light fixtures. Even installing a small sconce near your bathroom mirror can completely change the mood and overall feeling in your space.

Some other popular choices are small chandeliers or hanging bulbs which can completely re-envision the space. 

Waterfall Shower

Transforming your bathroom into a spa has been a goal of many homeowners, but waterfall showers definitely turn that dream into a reality.

The fixture provides a small waterfall in your shower which, when paired with a matching accent such as LED white light, natural stone, quartz slab, and when coupled with a freestanding tub gives the appearance of a natural waterfall as the accent only helps to highlight the waterfall effect. TLC was wrong about chasing waterfalls

Toilet Upgrade

Bidets are growing in popularity in 2020 with our massive shortage of toilet paper. (Thank you, Covid-19)

You can get an inexpensive bidet for as low as  $40 to attach to your current toilet. Or, you can really splurge and purchase the luxury bidet. This includes an endless warm water spray, heated seat, warm air dryer, nozzle oscillation, replaceable deodorizer, and a cool blue illuminating night light. 

Your life will be forever changed with this upgrade. On the subject of splurging, you can always add heated flooring to the bathroom so your feet can be as warm as your fanny all year long. 

Plants 

For the bathrooms that contain stone, tile, and steel; sometimes a somber effect can come into play.  For an easy fix, you can easily throw in a touch of hunter or forest green to make it more appealing. A small plant on the countertop can make the area more vibrant + alive instantly!

In addition to upgrading the view in your bathroom, many plants actually flourish in bathrooms due to the lower light, high humidity, and general warmth that a bathroom typically has. An orchid in the bathroom is always a beautiful touch or maybe some pothos to add air-purifying strength to your bathroom.

Our goal at Stearns is to ensure a seamless transition between nature and residential design. This is what the largest effect can be felt. Our homes are not only the place we spend most of our time but rather a sanctuary where we involuntarily seek refuge and restoration. We encouraged you to bring outside elements into your space, such as plants and natural light.

Hidden Storage

A very desired trend with practical applications as space + storage is always a premium in any bathroom. Take an existing item in your bathroom, ie, your cabinets, vanities, shelves, and then apply another storage area within it. You can easily add pullouts for hair accessories, tiered organizers for grooming products, drawer organizers, a built-in shower caddy, etc. 

Open concept 

An ever sought after bathroom trend is an open concept, which provides both privacy and wide-open space, depending on your preference. 

Getting rid of restrictive barriers and walls and having just your bathroom exist as a large open area for your own needs provides a liberating feeling that will continue as a desired trend throughout 2020. 

We hope that this can help you make your bathroom relaxing and happy.  If you need additional help with your bathroom or decide to go for a full bathroom renovation, give us a call. We’d LOVE to personalize it for you and your bathroom needs!

Read more of the Happy Home Blog here!

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.

Time To Renovate!

Time To Renovate!

We can all agree, life has thrown us some curveballs this year.  We have been home for a few weeks due to COVID-19 and it is making us a little stir-crazy.

At Stearns Design Build, we are all about happiness. Our purpose is to design and 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.

Many of us have used this time to tackle small projects in our home, such as organizing, rearranging some furniture, & cleaning projects. As you make your space comfortable, you might realize there are larger projects to tackle in order to make it your happy place.

Do you have a storage issue that leaves your house feeling cluttered all the time? Is your bathroom outdated or a safety hazard? You’ve left this on the back burner, due to a multitude of things- busy lives, budget constraints, etc.

Now is the time to start thinking seriously about future renovations. You can even begin the design process to figure out how to create your dream space that fits all your needs.

This is the year to improve + renovate your home.

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. 

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. 

Typical Goals for home remodeling:

  • Adding space: The family room you always wanted
  • Repurposing an existing room: guest bedroom, mudroom
  • Creating a new room: hobby room, office
  • Creating outdoor space: kitchen, porch
  • Updating for style + energy efficiency.

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

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