5 Must-Have Apps to Help Plan Your Next Home Remodeling Project

Planning your next project? Chances are, you are spending much of your free-time combing through inspirational design blogs, analyzing digital paint swatches, and typing nearly every remodeling question that comes to mind into the all-knowing Google. There are so many resources available, but if you're just using your laptop or PC, you may be missing out on a lot of amazing apps that can help push you in the right direction with your remodeling goals.  Check out our favorite tools (some are actually free) to help get you started. 

  • Benjamin Moore Color Capture puts paint palettes directly in your pocket.  The paint color app takes the paper trail out of picking paint colors and allows you to save and share your favorite colors and palettes digitally to make paint buying a little easier - for you or your contractor. You can take photos of inspirational rooms and places using the app in order to pinpoint the best fit color by Benjamin Moore.
  • Houzz is the quintessential app for researching exterior and interior home decor and remodeling ideas.  You can browse boundless photos of rooms and homes, using filters to whittle down the hundreds of thousands of images - by room and by style. By creating a username and password, you can save and store your favorite images in an Ideabook and upload your personal home renovation photos into an area of the Ideabook called “Projects”.  Houzz even offers discussion forums where you can engage with both homeowners and designer alike to get advice on your next project. You can always go to houzz.com and access the same great features, but the Houzz app is especially intuitive and the high resolution design and decor photos are even more fun to flip through on an iPad.
  • I.D. Wood helps you make sense of all the boundless types of wood available for your next project, from the basics of Balsa to the more complex Eucalyptus.  Not only is I.D. Wood a general encyclopedia of a wide variety of wood species (yes, the app includes botanical names) but it also gives guidance on common uses for wood types (e.g. cabinetry, instruments, etc.) and how to optimize the use of certain woods. You can save your favorites and keep stock of your favorite wood samples as inspiration for your next cabinetry or hardwood flooring project.  
  • MagicPlan is a highly intelligent app that lets you take photos of the interior of your home and easily create a floor plan in minutes, whether you are mapping one room or your whole house. Once your floor plan is created, you can export the floor plan to a variety of computer friendly formats. Not only does this app provide a practical benefit, it’s also fun to use. Try it - it’s magic!
  • Pinterest is a tool that allows you to collect, store and share your favorite images from the web.  Pinterest allows you to create collections of photos and save those photos to online pinboards, essentially digital bulletin boards. Pinterest is full of millions of images related to home decor - you can find these images and repin them using the app or you can pin images from your favorite home, design, architecture, and garden websites. We encourage you to sign-up for a Pinterest account now since there is a waiting list to get a login. Once you are approved, start pinning! Your pinboards are a great way to collage your favorite home ideas and get prepared for your next home remodeling project. 

Houzz for iPhone

Houzz for iPhone

I.D Wood for iPhone

I.D Wood for iPhone

Pinterest for iPhone

Pinterest for iPhone

DIY: Time to Perform an Exterior Maintenance Check

Spring is quietly rolling in this April and there is no better time than these warmer months to get a leg up on exterior home maintenance.  The exterior of your home not only serves as the face of your home to your community, but it is also a key indicator of the overall health of your home.  There are several areas you should check on a regular basis to ensure you are taking the right, small steps year-to-year, rather than discovering a major issue that requires a lot of maintenance down the road.  

On the next warm day, grab a pen and paper (or your iPad), take a trip outside, and follow our basic exterior checklist.

  1. Checkpoint 1: Siding - If you have wood siding or trim, you want to do a thorough job of checking for rotting wood.  Rotting wood is typically indicated by dark spots or concentrated areas of peeling paint. A small spot can actually continue to spread and affect the siding around it, so it is important to tackle rot immediately. All areas affected by rot and moisture will need to be treated to ensure the integrity of your boards.  Any visible rot at the bottom of exterior doors is particularly concerning and if left unaddressed, could contribute to degrading sill plates and rim joists.
  2. Checkpoint 2: Windows - Since windows are inset on the exterior of your home, they are more likely to attract dirt and grime which builds up over time.  Periodically vacuum and clean any accessible dirt from window sills and channels to prevent sticky windows. Your windows are a critical component to the health of your home and if left neglected, can lead to water damage and energy loss.
  3. Checkpoint 3: Roof & Gutters - Inspect the roof and gutters as best you can from the ground, or by looking out a window that overlooks a roof area.  Check for cracking or peeling shingles, and if you find any bits of broken shingles around the yard, it is a good indicator it might be time for a new roof.  Also, make sure gutters are draining properly and that leaves and dirt are not collecting in the valleys and corners of your roof, such as against a chimney or dormer.
  4. Checkpoint 4: Landscaping & Decks - No, the actual landscaping around your house is not 100% critical to the integrity of your home, but you want to check for vegetation growing close to or on your home. Organic material such as dirt, mulch, or leaves left in long-term contact with siding and trim will accelerate rot.  Also, check all patios, porches and decks.  Make sure decks and porches are regularly sealed to prevent rot.

If you suspect any trouble spots, you can find many DIY articles and videos online to empower you to repair independently.  If the job is too much of an undertaking, let us know how we can help.

4 Tips for Remodeling a Dormered Bathroom

The New England Cape is a popular style of home found abundantly in New Hampshire and Massachusetts, oftentimes characterized by a steep roof, gabled windows, and a simplistic exterior. Although the Cape has adapted architecturally to support modern day conveniences, many homes still retain some of the same characteristics as those first built many years ago.  As a result, the Cape structure can pose some remodeling and design considerations for the modern household. 

Photo Credit Houzz.com

Photo Credit Houzz.com

Dormers, for example, are a common feature of many modern-day Capes, typically found on the second-story of the structure.  While dormers can add more light and ventilation to an otherwise high-sloped roof, they can pose some design challenges, particularly when the dormer shelters a small upstairs bathroom, which is common to many Cape homes.  Check out our 4 tips for approaching your next bathroom remodeling project when dealing with dormers:

  1. Behold the power of paint. Use paint colors to your advantage.  As a general rule, you should use lighter colors for small spaces and for the dormer, since dark or bright dormer paint can look eerie from the outside of your home at night. If the window creates a lot of light, make sure you opt for a flat or eggshell finish, rather than a satin or high-gloss finish. To make the room feel more open, keep the paint color consistent between the bathroom and the dormer.
  2. Optimize lighting with windows and fixtures.  Take advantage of the light coming through the dormer window.  If you have big plans for your bathroom, work with a contractor to discuss potentially expanding the size of the window to optimize the flow of light. If your budget is smaller, think about using window treatments to highlight the window and the light. Even if your bathroom gets a lot of natural light, small bathrooms with dormers generate many small shadows, so make sure your bathroom lighting fixtures are bright enough to flood light throughout the bathroom. Soft light can make the room feel smaller. Use mirrors to help create reflections of light which will brighten the room even more.
  3. Be deliberate with your design choices. There are some great options for optimizing a small, dormered bathroom.  You can use the dormer to encapsulate your shower or tub and find great fixtures and materials to meet the demands of the space. For example, if your shower is under the dormer and features slanted walls, you can find a special shower head fixture to best suit the space.  Also, opt for a glass shower door and enclosure to keep the room open (standard shower curtains add too much weight to the room and can make it feel smaller).  You can also opt to use the space under the dormer for your tub. Claw foot tubs work great in small nooks and can help create a cozy space to take a bath. This approach also preserves precious space in the remaining bathroom.
  4. Install a built-in below the dormer.  Depending on your space and budget, you may not be able to find a useful function for the area under the dormer. Rather than struggle with your design plans, consider optimizing the space below the dormer by installing built-in storage. You can create built-in shelves to hold bathroom supplies like towels, soap and toilet paper. Built-in cabinets take a bit more work, but can create a nice storage solution, as well as creating interest as you can decorate the natural shelf on top of the drawers.

Photo Credit Benjamin Moore

Photo Credit Benjamin Moore

Photo Credit: Benjamin Moore

Photo Credit: Benjamin Moore

Photo Credit Houzz.com

Photo Credit Houzz.com