Inexpensive Projects That Instantly Add Value to a Home

Callen Blog Photo- Inexpensive Projects That Add Value to a Home 020816Whether you’re looking to get your home ready to sell or just want to spruce it up for your own enjoyment, here are some inexpensive projects that will add instant value to your home.

Refresh the Kitchen

Potential buyers consider the kitchen one of the most important rooms. Although completely remodeling the kitchen may be a big investment, for a more reasonable price, homeowners can replace the kitchen faucet, add new cabinet door handles, and refresh the paint in a neutral color.

Replacing one or two corner cabinet doors with glass provides a more spacious look. Consider new lighting fixtures and add undercabinet lighting. If you don’t have a backsplash, install one in a complementary or neutral color.

Give Appliances a Facelift

If your kitchen appliances don’t match, order new doors or face panels for them. But if they are very old and worn looking, replacing them may be a better option. Plus, newer appliances – and they don’t have to be top of the line – are more energy efficient than those of even 10 years ago. Besides, a clean, cohesive look, you will be saving money in the long run, as well as adding value to your home. Even if you are not preparing for sale, a well-appointed kitchen makes it a more pleasant place to work and gather.

Boost the Bathroom

Next to the kitchen, bathrooms are what buyers consider when purchasing a house. One of the most important things is to make that room sparkle. Clean the grout (or re-grout) and replace chipped tiles. Replacing the sink and countertop, along with new faucets will make a big impact. Your toilet may be fine, but don’t overlook replacing the seat. If cleaning doesn’t help the look of your tub, consider re-glazing. Hopefully there is no carpeting in the bathroom, but if there is, rip it up and replace with a one piece vinyl or ceramic tiles.

Increase Storage

Old houses generally do not have as much closet space as newer houses. If your house has cramped storage areas, try adding closet systems to bedrooms and pantries. Enhancing storage space can help make your home more customized to potential buyers when you are ready to sell.

Consider the Floors

Carpeting should be clean and spotless. Invest in a steam cleaner or have it professionally done. If you are prepping the house for sale, and you know there is hardwood under the carpeting, you may want to pull it out to show the buyers the potential. Is the hardwood scuffed? There are many products that can bring back luster to those wood floors. Don’t ignore the grout on stone floors. Dingy grout can be more easily cleaned if you attach a revolving brush to a power drill, reducing time and effort.

If you need assistance with any of your home remodeling projects, Callen Construction can help. Our highly-trained designers and skilled craftsmen collaborate to provide individual attention for all your remodeling needs. Call us today at 414-765-2585 for a free consultation.



Interior Remodeling Trends: More Clean Lines & Simplicity

It seems that every day you hear about another design style, and often it’s something bigger and brighter. Fortunately, a new trend has come along that will make life a little more relaxing for everyone. Its focus is on clean lines to make homes – and lives – simpler. The best way to achieve this look and feel is through the use of low-maintenance materials, neutral color palettes, and geometric shapes to create natural flow within your rooms.

Callen Blog Photo - Interior Trends-Simplicity 020116Simplicity equals cleanliness. One way to make cleaning easier is to choose materials and colors that make it easier to spot dirt. Choose smooth materials such as wood, metal, glass, or stone for your hard surfaces. These will be a breeze to clean and will also give you the crisp, straight lines that you desire. Select solid, neutral colors over busy patterns to bring harmony to your space. Leather is another stylish option that meets these criteria.

Focus on function. Choose a few attractive pieces of furniture with clean lines and specific functions to complement your taste. Avoid big, bulky items such as entertainment centers or large multi-purpose sectionals. The use of flat-panel TVs will take up less space and give your room a more streamlined look. Lightweight furniture is easy to move and rearrange and takes up less visual space in a room.

Don’t go overboard. While it is important to minimize clutter by decreasing the amount of items in your space, there is no need to go overboard with downsizing. Comfort is important too. Whether you decide to start with one room or become a dedicated minimalist, go with what works for you and makes you feel comfortable.

Get Inspired with Callen

Would you like to open up your rooms to create cleaner lines and better flow? Call Callen Construction, the leading remodeling company in Brookfield, for inspiration on how to get started with bathroom and kitchen remodeling in Milwaukee.



Home Issues You Shouldn’t Ignore

Callen Blog Photo - Home Issues You Should Not Ignore 012516Water in the basement after a rain, cracks in the foundation or scary sounds from your HVAC are some red-flag problems you shouldn’t ignore. Here are some other home issues that you should address before they become an even bigger problem.


Seeing ants on the kitchen countertops or finding mouse droppings in cabinets are signs that you have openings in your house that need to be closed. Check exhaust vents, condensate lines, pipes, ducts, utility access panels, and garage doors. Look for obvious gaps, signs of nesting or chewing, ripped screening, and seal and repair. Lay traps for your uninvited house guests, but if that makes you queasy, a pest-control professional may be needed.


Mold can occasionally occur in wet spots in the kitchen and the bathroom, especially after an undetected faucet leak. These areas can generally be cleaned by yourself with a bleach/water solution, and taking precautions such as using rubber gloves, wearing safety glasses, a respirator mask, and keeping the area well ventilated. However, when mold shows up on the living room wall, ceiling, or baseboards, that is a larger problem. If not remediated, mold can do extensive damage to your home and make you very sick. According to the EPA, all mold has the potential to cause ill health. The best solution is to call a professional for evaluation and clean-up.

As with all contractors, check for certifications and references.

A Sagging or Warped Floor

A warped floorboard may be the result of natural settling, but you shouldn’t assume that it is harmless without having a look in your basement or crawlspace. Warping and sagging can be signs of structural damage. Call a home inspector or engineer for advice and assistance.

Missing or Damaged Roof Shingles

When you see signs of damage to your roof, you should tackle them right away. If moisture reaches the wood sheathing underneath the shingles, it can cause the roof to structure to rot. Extra moisture also encourages mildew and rot in walls, ceilings, insulation and electrical systems. Replacing a shingle or two may be a temporary fix. Other factors can impact the roof’s quality as well, including proper ventilation, flashing, gutters and drainage, and the impact of surrounding trees. Your best option may be to call a professional roofer for a complete inspection.

Smelly or Gurgling Drains

Gurgling may be caused by a blockage you can remove with a snake or plunger. If a sink is smelly and you do not use it frequently it may be due to the fact that the water in the U-shaped pipe underneath may have dried out, allowing methane gas into the room. This can be fixed by pouring water down the drain and airing out the room. If a smell or noise persists, call a plumber to investigate your vent pipes.

Dripping Faucets

A leaky faucet may seem like a minor problem, but it can waste a shocking amount of water. Don’t wait until you hear or see a drip, but actively check the cabinets under your sinks to make sure nothing is leaking.

Shaky Stair Railings

Wobbly stair railings should not be ignored, especially if there are children or elderly residents. A stair railing should resist a force of about 200 pounds, so if your staircase moves more than a little just by touching it, tighten the railing’s attachment to the wall.

Peeling Paint

If paint is peeling on the outside of the house, sun and water can damage the wood underneath. If paint is peeling in rough squares on the inside of the house, that is usually a sign that a lead-based paint is underneath. Removing lead is a safety hazard and should only be done by a lead-certified professional.

For assistance with any interior or exterior improvement projects, call Callen today at 414-765-2585 for a FREE inspection and estimate. We’re the exterior remodeling company Milwaukee homeowners have trusted since 1986!



Five Common Kitchen Design Mistakes

When designing a kitchen, aesthetic appeal and functional design are equally important. Since the kitchen is the center of the home, paying attention to basic kitchen design is crucial. Here are five common kitchen design mistakes to avoid when remodeling.

Ignoring the kitchen triangle

Creating a work triangle in the kitchen consists of designing the layout so that the sink, stove, and refrigerator are all within close proximity. A rule of thumb is the area should be no less than four feet and no larger than nine feet. In larger kitchens, prep sinks can be part of the work triangle, closer to the stove, with a second prep area by the main sink farther away. A good idea is to place the fridge between the eating space and the kitchen because you are moving items, such as condiments and beverages, to the table.

Forgetting function

It is easy for people to get too focused on finishes without making sure everything functions the way it should. If you have two cabinets that can’t both open at the same time, then you have made a mistake. The same goes for the fridge that opens away from the center of the kitchen or a dishwasher that prevents you from being able to stand at the sink.

Designing for others

Resist the urge to meet the expectations of others. For example, marble may look stunning in some applications, but quartz, which is no less beautiful, may be a better option for a busy kitchen. If cooking is not your thing, you probably don’t need a professional gas range; a four-burner stove or cooktop will suffice. Rather than focusing on other people’s designs, make sure you are able to communicate with your designer a kitchen that fits your specific needs and lifestyle.

Not having enough lighting

For optimal function, kitchens should have three types of lighting: recessed overhead (for general illumination), spot (for lighting up specific tasks), and accent (for drawing attention to design elements). When kitchens miss the latter two, they typically look sterile and overly fluorescent. In addition to overhead lighting, illuminate prep areas with pendant or track lighting. Another layer of light can be achieved through undercabinet lighting. Ambient lighting for atmosphere can be added through rope lighting above the cabinets or under toe kicks.

Not using a professional

TV shows make it look easy to gut and restore a kitchen, but there are so many variables that go into a successful design plan. Plumbing pipes, HVAC runs, and overall space available can present many challenges to what you imagine your dream kitchen to be. A professional designer is attuned to the nuances of balance and flow and can help you reach your goals with a realistic plan within your budget.

If you’re looking to remodel your kitchen, the experts at Callen can help. Whether your project includes simple replacement of countertops, sink, and backsplash or more comprehensive remodeling involving moving walls, installing new plumbing or relocating windows, Callen’s designers and craftsmen will walk you through the entire process to ensure a truly stunning kitchen makeover.

Call us today at 414-765-2585 or to schedule a no-obligation consultation with the best Milwaukee kitchen remodeling company.