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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Is your bathroom outdated or a potential safety hazard?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 Design Build’s Home Remodeling Process

Stearns Design Build’s Home Remodeling Process

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!

Complimentary Consultation

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. 

Feasibility Meeting

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.

Concept Meeting

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

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.

Design Development

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.

Proposal

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.

Pre-Construction Meeting

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.

This is your home and we want to make the process as comfortable for you as possible. By scheduling all this information, everyone is clear on the plan moving forward.

We also have weekly project meetings with the job manager to review changes and your happiness with how things are going!

Open Wall Meeting

This meeting takes place right before we start covering things up at your home. You can see where switches and lights will be. We will review the height of fixtures and the direction of door swings.

A time for last-minute changes with less impact on the budget.

Celebrating your project

Finally, the project is completed! Time to show it off. We provide a wine and cheese party for 12 of your closest friends and family.

We will be on hand to toast to your improved home and answer questions about the design and construction of your beautiful project.

Warranty + Continuing Care

We are always available to monitor and adjust our work as necessary. Additionally, we will call you periodically to make sure that everything is in good working order and to ask questions about the durability of the work we have done for you. Our goal is to build projects and relationships that will last for generations.

We are proud to be a part of the BCS community since 1993 and we want to continue to serve for years to come.

Read more of our 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!

Picking the Right Contractor: Why You Shouldn’t Choose the Cheapest Option

Picking the Right Contractor: Why You Shouldn’t Choose the Cheapest Option

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. 

Helpful hint:

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.