A Satisfied Customer

Paul Kronforst, WISN-AM 1130 and Proud Callen CustomerAs a customer and spokesperson for Callen more than 15 years, I have come to appreciate the quality installation of windows, a patio door, front door, Gutter Topper, roofing, and shutters, plus what it’s like to experience a major bathroom suite remodeling job.

I have never officially written a blog; I am a radio guy through and through, but I also know a thing or two about remodeling as host of “The Remodeling Show” on WISN-AM 1130 for over 25 years. In that time, I’ve learned a lot and gained a lot of respect for the guys in the field. So, this official first blog entry of mine will start with an overview of my experiences with Callen and also lay out what I believe will be a great series of blogs that will both inform and educate you about remodeling.

When Tom Callen and I met at my previous home in Saukville, it was for a smaller job: a gutter protection system called Gutter Topper. Callen had me – the personal service, the responsible phone call before to check up, and ultimately what matters the most, a quality install of the product I really needed at the time; yes, I lived on a heavily wooded lot! The relationship started with exterior jobs… Gutter Topper, windows, roofing, and vents. After we moved to Cedarburg more than 10 years ago after buying a 10-year-old home, I thought there wouldn’t be a whole lot of maintenance.

Was I wrong! This home, just like yours, requires regular upkeep and maintenance. A newer home does not equate to less upkeep. I would argue it requires just as much, if not more. Why? More on that in future blogs.

In the coming months, I will tell you my story with Callen. How new windows and doors were just a start. Not just making my home look much better, producing the “wow” factor we talk so much about, but how to make my home comfortable and more efficient! That’s not just sales talk; you will notice your home is much tighter, quieter, and overall more efficient – yes, that will save you dollars.

This blog will conclude with the current project Callen is completing on our home. The seal failed on the largest window in our home, meaning we need a new window due to rotting wood frames, which could cause serious trouble inside and outside the home. What did I do? I called Callen after once again visiting CallCallen.com!

In future blogs, I will explain our projects and what it meant to our house, what it meant to the overall “value” of our home. After all, your home is your castle, most likely your biggest investment and something you take tremendous pride in. Check back next month for my next Callen blog.

Paul Kronforst, WISN-AM 1130 and Proud Callen Customer




Scary Things That Can Be Uncovered During a Home Renovation

If you don’t know much about home improvements and remodeling, it can be easy to inadvertently damage your home. That’s why it’s best to leave major renovation work to a professional remodeling company like Callen Construction. However, if you’re set on doing some work yourself, first be aware of common problems and potential disasters you may come across, and ask yourself if you know what to do in these situations.

A Weak Foundation

There are several signs that could indicate that your home’s foundation has been compromised, such as warped ceilings, cracks in the walls, saggy floors, and noticeable fractures and cracks in the foundation. While foundation failure is often an expensive problem to fix, the expense will be much greater if you do nothing. Even small foundation problems will continue to grow in size and repair costs if left unaddressed.

Termite Damage

One of the worst sights a homeowner can see after ripping up old carpet or other flooring is termite damage, which can be extremely costly to fix. Termites cause such extensive damage, in fact, that they are considered the number one threat to homes in the United States. One colony can quickly branch off to form several more! There are signs to look for as you do your remodeling, but they are subtle and can be easily overlooked by the untrained eye.

Mold Problems

Many homeowners aren’t aware of the great importance of proper ventilation in the home. As a result, if you’re doing kitchen or bathroom remodeling, it’s not uncommon to come across mold behind old wallpaper, under flooring, behind walls, and around windows. These are the areas that are exposed to the highest levels of moisture and humidity. That’s why there must be an appropriate number of fans installed to ensure adequate ventilation. If not taken care of promptly, excessive mold growth can release spores into the air that will reduce the air quality of your home and may even cause serious illnesses.

Here at Callen Construction, our 30+ years of experience has taught us how to spot potential problems like mold growth and foundation and termite damage. We can see problems before we get too far in the renovation process and fix the issues. Just call us at 414-765-2585 to set up a free consultation for your next home renovation.

Scary Things That Can Be Uncovered During a Home Renovation




The 10 Rules of Thumb for Decorating the Entryway

The 10 Rules of Thumb for Decorating the EntrywayYour home’s entryway is a unique space; heavily trafficked, it needs to be tidy and functional for daily lives, yet beautiful and inviting for guests. “After all, it’s the first space guests see and a good first impression is imperative,” said Paulette Sodemann, designer with Callen. “Not all entryways are created equal, as some homes have small entrances, some have large foyers, others have entrances that immediately bring you into another room, like the living room, for example,” she added. Paulette explores the general rules of thumb for making the entryway a successful space, regardless of size.

First, if your home is lacking a defined entry, utilize furniture and furnishings to create the illusion of one. “Adding an entrance rug or changing the flooring is a perfect way to define a space,” she said. You can also arrange furniture to create the essence of a hallway. However, it may be helpful to use a double-sided bookshelf or a low sofa back to create the entrance, if you choose not to create a tall “hallway” from your furniture. For example, if your home opens into an open living room, you’ll want to face the back of the sofa towards the entry and place a sofa table along the back of the couch. This separates spaces, which helps create a defined entry, and serves as a place to put decorations and store belongings.

Next, no matter the type of entry, you’ll want to trap dirt. “The entryway endures chronic foot traffic and wherever you live, trapping leaves, mud, dust, sand, or snow can help save the rest of your flooring throughout the house,” said Paulette. She suggests using a durable rug designed for the entry and make sure it can be easily vacuumed, cleaned, or shaken out. Another option is placing a heavy-duty entrance mat outside the front door and have a second rug or mat inside the door.

“Sometimes you need to make necessary changes to your entryway that are beyond decorating. For example, you want to add a built-in closet, add lighting, or build a half-wall. Or perhaps you might have an entry closet that might look better without its doors,” Paulette said. “It’s imperative to get a professional opinion as to what is possible before walls are moved or flooring is replaced.”

Subsequently, you’ll want to add order. Often times if a home has one main entrance, it is likely that it is used as a staging ground, a natural place to leave items when entering and leaving the home. Before installing organizational items, carefully assess needs. If coats, backpacks, and bags are an issue, hang as many coat hooks or pegs as possible. If shoes are the culprit, get some bins or low shelving. Some families like to have individual organizers for each member – making it simple to put things away. Whatever works for your family, add pieces that will help you organize this space.

Next, be sure to maximize vertical space if the entryway has walls. Whether you choose to hang art, photos, family calendars, or shelves, using available wall space will not only keep the space organized, it will make it look bigger. Decorating the walls is the quickest way to add a sense of depth to a space and it’s a great way to interject style to your entrance.

“You may want to consider extending the entryway past the front door, if you have a small entrance,” she said. A covered porch or stoop is a good place to keep items that you don’t have room for. Umbrella stands, welcome mats, or decorative objects can easily live outside instead of inside. Some homes have a double-entrance in which a mudroom can serve as a catch-all for a variety of objects before a person actually enters the home. “This style of entrance works great in regions with low temperatures because the double set of doors helps keep heat inside the home while a person removes their coat and shoes,” she said.

Remember to add lighting because you’ll want the entrance well-lit for several reasons. Safety is a number one concern; as soon as you walk in the door you’ll want to make sure you can see inside the home. Also, you’ll want to see your belongings – especially if getting ready to leave means getting ready before the sun rises. Light fixtures help set off an entryway and help make the area appear more spacious. Consider table lamps if you can’t add overhead lighting and choose energy efficient bulbs because they have a longer lifespan.

If space is available, a bench can be a great spot for people to sit and put on or remove shoes or hold purses or other objects. For extra organization, consider adding a storage bench or a bench with a shelf.

Don’t forget to add personality. The entry to the home is the ideal place to embrace an owner’ style. “When guests arrive, you want them to immediately sense who you are and how they think of your home. It’s a great place to add your favorite colors, objects or collections,” Paulette said. What is added will depend greatly on available space. Larger entrances have room for a center table, piano seating, and other decorative objects. Other homes only have room to hang a few pictures. “You can experiment by moving objects around or playing with colors. You’ll want to make sure that the décor is in accordance with the style and colors of the surrounding rooms,” she said.

And finally, mirror or no mirror. The idea of hanging a mirror in the entrance is arguable. “If you lean towards a more traditional, American or European style, a mirror can help reflect light into the entrance and allow you to check your appearance before leaving the house,” Sodemann said.

“Following these 10 principles for decorating your entryway will ensure that your entrance is both functional and beautiful,” she concluded.

For more information or to arrange an initial showroom consultation, call Callen at 414-529-5509.



For Kitchen Designs, Stainless Steel Shines

“When it comes to color and style, stainless steel is neutral, yet versatile. Whether your kitchen is contemporary or country, there are numerous design techniques that allow you to mesh stainless with any style,” said Paulette Sodemann, designer with Callen. “Even those appliances that are not considered pro equipment can look clean and professional in stainless steel,” she added. Paulette explores this continuous trend of designing with or around stainless steel in kitchens and examine its growing popularity.

Although most commercial-grade appliances feature stainless steel, most designers agree that stainless steel is popular as a focal point or a fine enhancement as an accent, but should rarely be used to serve in both capacities. “A little goes a long way when you’re designing with stainless steel,” said Paulette. For instance, one could pair weathered, distressed cabinets with a tapered stainless stove hood, which would serve as the kitchen’s focal point, creating a European country style look.

Another option is to use stainless steel as a backsplash in your kitchen. This look could also be accomplished using metallic tiles. But remember, “stainless steel accents are beautiful, but less is more with metal in kitchen designs,” she said. In other words, you wouldn’t want stainless counters or small appliances in the same design with large pro line stainless pieces.

The use of granite and ceramic will soften the shine of stainless. For instance, in a traditional or contemporary kitchen design, cream-colored granite counters help offset the cold shine of stainless appliances. The mica in the stone especially helps to pick up the soft gray color in the stainless.

Another option would be to use textured ceramic tile to form a backsplash in back of a metallic cooktop or range. It’s a soft touch that works well in balancing the metallic sheen.

For Kitchen Designs, Stainless Steel ShinesWood is always a welcome contrast to stainless, particularly over pro-quality cooktops. “Paring the cooktop with a wood hood is a beautiful look and really warms the appearance of the stainless steel,” Paulette said. “Also, a stainless-steel range, wall oven, or cooktop can easily be incorporated into even the most conservative kitchens.”

When it comes to refrigerators and dishwashers, the use of stainless steel often depends on the size of the appliances. Using wood front panels for large refrigerators is becoming a common trend. As for dishwashers, they are virtually always under the counter and flanked by custom cabinetry, in a traditional kitchen design. So, visually, stainless steel on a dishwasher tends to break up what otherwise would be a smooth flow of a continuous line. A cabinet façade over the dishwasher, similar to the wood front panel on the refrigerator, can reduce this impact.

Finally, you will want to consider clearance and vents. The pro-quality cooking that powerful stainless ranges and cooktops offer creates a whole other level of design considerations. “The pro-line appliances produce much higher BTUs, so you need sufficient clearance and counter space on either side. The design must also provide for proper ventilation and a way to protect the back wall from getting scorched or catching fire, particularly when all six burners on that pro line cooktop are on,” Paulette said.

Given the demands placed on the ventilator for a high caliber stainless range, you may also need to provide a louvered vent to an adjacent space for “make up air” to replace the hot air circulated out. When you’re dealing with pro equipment like that, you should consult an HVAC specialist to see if you need to do anything special with the air.

“If you’re considering updating your kitchen and want to incorporate stainless steel into your design, you should consider these trends so you can make an informed decision and be completely satisfied with the end result,” she said.

For more information or to arrange an initial showroom consultation, call Callen at 414-529-5509.