Making the decision to remodel your home can be very daunting. For many, it can take months or years to take that leap of faith and let people into your home, which is your safe space. Here at Stearns, we’ve spent years fine-tuning and meticulously planning to make it as painless as possible.
Let’s walk through our remodeling process to get a better understanding!
Your first meeting is with Hugh Stearns, the president of Stearns Design Build. This is an opportunity for us as a business to understand and reflect on the big picture of what you’ve been dreaming of changing, as well as your concerns. We hope you will leave this meeting with valuable information regardless of who you decide to hire.
We do require a design retainer fee after this point. Our design retainer isn’t an additional fee added to the cost of your job. In fact, your retainer is basically a payment for the job that gets applied like any other payment would. It does not add to your bill or change your budget estimate. It is just, in essence, a deposit and an investment into your home + future.
Initial Design Meeting
Welcome to the information gathering and analyzing step! The designer and production manager is coming to your home to take lots of measurements and pictures. In this meeting, we will talk more about the details of the project and how to make the space custom for you.
Our goal is to create a space for you that is exactly what you need, envision, and desire.
If you’re remodeling your kitchen, We want to know every dreamy detail you’ve ever imagined to make it the most efficient, beautiful, customized, and functional space for you and your family.
Design time! Ok, not yet but we’re getting close 🙂 We’ve taken the information you’ve given us to create budget expectations. Our goal is to make the scope of work meet the budget.
The feasibility evaluation prevents us from creating a design that is out of your budget or not creating a design as grand as you would like. With very little time spent, this large range allows us to start providing a sense of where the project budget is likely to fall.
For large projects, there may be more than one concept meeting. In this meeting, we are laying out the general concept of the project.
We will review the floor plan drawings and refined budgetary information.
Charrette is a fancy French word indicating an all-hands meeting. This often takes place at your home and we bring in various members of our team such as the job manager, plumber, and electrician to talk through the concept.
We get everyone’s input on what they will need to do their part of the job and to start the process of problem-solving so that we can avoid doing this during construction.
This is an element of Design Build that is very beneficial to anyone getting their home remodeled. Our production team is heavily involved during the design phase to make sure the cost of all aspects of the project are taken in to account early in the process so there are no surprises down the road. We are all in involved from start to finish which adds an inherent efficiency and effectiveness to the process.
It’s TIME! In this phase, we design feature elements such as stairs, cabinetry, fireplaces, and built-in furniture.
You get to pick your paint colors, selections, backsplash, and more! Our designer will help guide you through this process so it doesnt get overwhelming while making decisions.
This is the fun part: You are able to see the design of your future space come to life.
This includes complete design, short of construction documentation. It comes with a proposal and a construction contract.
You will see what your future space looks like and make sure it’s perfect for you.
Before we break ground, we will meet with you at your home to review the schedule and details such as where we will stack materials, where dust walls will be installed, and where the port-o-potty will go.
We will also talk about starting times and weekly meetings among other details.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Recent data shows that major home improvement and remodeling projects are happening more than ever during the global pandemic. It appears that sheltering in place inspires remodeling your space! Remodeling your home is a big project, whether it’s your entry room or the guest bathroom.
“In fact, nearly four in five homeowners reported that they are dreaming about changes that would help them to enjoy their home more, with outdoor, bathroom and kitchen projects topping wish lists. Of those with home improvement dreams, nine in ten plan to upgrade their homes following the pandemic.” Source: Houzz
Remodeling your home is not a small decision, just like buying a house. Many individuals have a definitive list when looking to purchase a home. Anything from the neighborhood, lot size, school district, number of bedrooms + bathrooms, etc.
If you want to find the right house for you, it is wise to hire a professional and licensed inspector to ensure the house doesn’t have water damage, structural problems: like a cracked foundation or damaged load-bearing walls, electrical issues, and HVAC problems.
Choosing a contractor should be no different.
The first step in remodeling is finding the contractor. Most homeowners think they are doing their due diligence and get multiple quotes from different contractors. SO many individuals look to reduce the cost of remodeling by choosing the contractor with the lowest bid. This is fraught with risk.
Here in our great state of Texas, you must have a license to sell a house or cut hair but not to build a house or remodel it.
Many times, the pretext to choosing the lowest bidder is that you’re receiving a great price. In actuality, the quote is intentionally inexpensive compared to others because of omissions, inferior materials, and deceptive wording giving the homeowner false expectations. In turn, this will end up costing you more time and money.
You always want to make sure your contractor’s standards are high, they are experienced, skilled, and knowledgeable in their profession. We recommend choosing your contractor based upon their capabilities, experience, honesty, and reputation within the community. This is also where the Design-Build aspect comes into financial planning with your remodeling project. Without getting the builder’s input during the design phase, the bid can’t be determined until the design phase is complete and the project has been sent out to bid. This is typically where the owner is shocked to find out that the project cannot be constructed within their budget. This can result in the project being discarded, or having to go back to the architect to redesign the project to bring it back into the budget. Once again, more time and money lost and lots of headaches for the owner. With design-build, everyone in each part of the process is involved to ensure the project is within the client’s budget.
A Stearns Story:
We had a previous client who unfortunately hired a contractor who gave her the lowest bid. The previous contractor had “remodeled her bathroom” a year prior and by the time she called us, mold had appeared on the walls, the paint was peeling and the cabinet drawers were difficult to open and shut. This was due to poor quality materials and craftsmanship.
In retrospect, this client had explored her options and thought she was taking the right steps before beginning the project. She solicited bids from three different remodeling contractors and chose the least expensive contractor, resulting in a complete redo of her bathroom one year later. To top it off, the contractor stopped taking her calls as soon as issues arose.
Your home is the keeper of so many precious memories. We recommend doing your research and asking for referrals from people you respect and trust. Learn more about our design-build process here or read more of our Happy Home Blog.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.