4 Things to Know Before Finishing a Basement

4 Things to Know Before Finishing a BasementIf your home has an unfinished basement, you have a great potential space in which to build a home theater, game room, exercise room, or home office – the possibilities are endless! But before you begin the process of finishing your basement, first read these tips from Callen Construction to ensure that your basement finishing in Greenfield, WI goes smoothly.

Check for Moisture

Basements are notorious for having moisture problems. Before you begin planning your basement upgrade, first look for drips or pools of water that may be coming in through below-grade walls. Check the exterior of your home as well to make sure the ground is graded correctly, meaning it slopes away from your foundation. Then examine the foundation for cracks and arrange repairs if necessary.

Put Up Vapor Barriers

Even if there are no noticeable moisture problems in your basement, it can still become damp without the right barriers. It is essential to damp-proof the walls and floors before framing and finishing by adding vapor barriers. These will help keep your basement dry by preventing moisture from diffusing through the walls and floors.

Get the Right Fasteners

Basement floors and walls are usually made of cement or some other type of masonry, so a good old hammer and nail isn’t going to work when attaching framing. Before you begin work, make sure you have the right kind of fasteners and anchors for your type of wall. A shotgun fastener, which uses charges to fire fasteners into concrete, is a good choice that can be rented at your local home improvement store.

Warm Things Up with Insulation

Basements can be chilly places, so make sure you put in the right kind and amount of insulation to keep in the warmth and help with temperature control. It can also work as a sound barrier to muffle outside noises, as well as provide an extra layer of moisture control, so choose one that has a vapor barrier on both sides.

For top-notch basement finishing by the best remodeling company in Milwaukee, call Callen at 414-765-2585. No matter what you choose to do with the space, we will make your basement retreat a comfortable and attractive addition to your home.



Siding Options and How to Choose Siding Colors

Siding allows you to add definition and color to your home. Nowadays, there are numerous options to help you create your desired look, and a great deal of consideration goes in to making an informed choice.

“While aesthetics are important, you will also want to consider durability, maintenance, and energy efficiency,” said Christopher Wittmann, CR, a NARI Certified Remodeler, Senior Sales Representative, and Exterior Product Specialist with Callen. “From a functional standpoint, siding offers protection. From an architectural standpoint, it is common to utilize an array of materials to highlight particular features on a home.” Keeping this in mind, Christopher provides an overview of the six most popular types of siding available today.

“Insulated and non-insulated vinyl siding has become the most popular choice for homeowners in the United States,” said Christopher. Available in horizontal, vertical, and shake-styles, vinyl can either retain certain architectural elements of a house or dramatically change the overall appearance. “Although the ‘plastic look’ of certain vinyl siding products deters some design professionals and homeowners, the wide selection of colors and styles and its low investment price explains the siding’s status. If energy efficiency is desired as part of the upgrade, insulated vinyl siding reduces ‘thermal bridging’ where energies can transfer through the siding and framing materials, reducing the thermal insulation properties of the building.”

Fiber-cement siding offers the natural look of wood, stucco, or shake. In addition, it’s fairly low-maintenance, non-flammable, termite and woodpecker-resistant, and typically lasts at least 25 years or more. “Available in a range of styles and textures, factory painting or finishes are highly recommended,” he said. “Since fiber-cement siding can experience moisture-related issues if not installed properly, special care is needed for certain areas on the house to ensure the materials remain sustainable.”

Engineered, composite wood siding has gained popularity through the years. Like fiber-cement, this product also shares some of the same characteristics. One of the benefits of composite wood siding is that it is more impact resistant than fiber cement and vinyl. It’s also light-weight and easy to install, which can lower labor costs.

“While more costly than vinyl or composite siding products both initially and long-term, wood siding offers a rich look and is quite durable when maintained properly,” said Christopher. When contemplating this option, note that it does require regular maintenance (painting or staining to prevent weather damage) and can be susceptible to insect and rodent attacks. Depending on maintenance, wood siding has a varying life expectancy, lasting anywhere from 10 to sometimes 100 years. “Wood siding comes in clapboard as well as shakes and shingles. Western red cedar and redwood are known for being attractive and durable and are considered the best choices if real wood is desired,” added Wittmann.

Callen Blog - Siding Options and Color 011617The final option is brick, stone, and stone-veneer siding. “Homeowners who prefer siding that adds texture and visual interest to their home are drawn to the natural beauty and durability of brick or stone,” said Christopher. Because brick or stone requires certain installation requirements and is more labor intensive, cost concerns should be taken into account. Brick or stone-veneer siding is more lightweight and less expensive than natural brick and stone and is available in both natural and synthetic materials. There are several styles available to help enhance a home’s curb appeal. If properly maintained, these options can last a home’s lifetime.

In terms of siding color, “Changing the color not only has the ability to affect how a person views their home, but it can impact the home’s value as well,” he said. If unsure about what siding colors to choose, Wittmann suggests contemplating the following questions to help in the decision making process:

  1. 1.  What is the neighborhood like? Although you may want to put your stamp on your own unique siding color scheme, you also want to consider your home’s location when making a selection.
  2. 2.  What is the home’s architecture style? The type of home can offer visual cues, but don’t feel restricted to these when it comes to siding color selection. “For example, although Colonial homes are notably painted in a single color (usually white), unusual accents can offer a subtle, yet modern twist to a classic scheme. If you live in a cottage or country style home, you may have more freedoms when it comes to siding color,” said Wittmann.
  3. 3.  How big is the house? A dark color may look diverse and rich, but when painted on the exterior of a mid- to large-scale home, it could seem gloomy and overbearing. On the opposite spectrum, colors that are too light may cause a smaller home to blend in to its surrounding landscape, preventing it from standing out. “Keep this in mind: lighter colors neutralize features that you wish to de-emphasize, while darker colors draw attention to places you want to highlight,” said Wittmann.
  4. 4.  What color is the roof? Although siding colors have a varying lifespan, a roof will probably last from 20 to 30 years. As a result, roof color should be an element considered when choosing siding colors. “If your roofing material is dark, you may want to utilize a lighter color scheme for your siding,” Wittmann said. “If you have a more neutral roof hue, this may give you a broader selection of color schemes from which to choose.”
  5. 5.  What landscaping style is in place or is planned? A contemporary landscape combined with a candy-colored exterior color scheme may not be the most complementary choice, especially in a conservative neighborhood. It’s just one instance of how landscape plays an important role when determining siding colors.
  6. 6.  What is the climate? The look of a particular siding color can change based on the weather. For instance, a siding color may look different on a sunny day than it does on a snowy afternoon. It’s considered a rule of thumb that the intense sunlight during the summertime makes colors feel brighter.
  7. 7.  How do favorite paint colors look at different times of the day? Apply sample swatches of the desired siding colors on different sides of the home and look at them closely in the morning, afternoon, and evening. Be sure to paint the swatches close to items on your home that won’t change color, such as brick foundations.
  8. 8.  Have you considered complementary colors? One siding color does not constitute a color scheme. A main hue requires lighter or darker accents. Choose two or three shades to update window trim, doors, and railings. “If you’re unsure, pick one complementary color that offers a bright focal point and one hue that’s a shade or two lighter or darker than your main siding color,” said Wittmann.


“Once you understand all the siding materials and color options and you’ve weighed the pros and cons of each, you are sure to make an informed decision that you can be confident in and proud of,” said Christopher.

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





Tips for Perfect Kitchen Appliances Layout

Choosing the layout and appliance location is an essential step in every kitchen remodel. Paulette Sodemann, a designer with Callen, provides tips to help you determine the layout that works best for your kitchen.

Tips for Perfect Kitchen Appliances LayoutTraditionally, kitchens were designed with the work triangle. “The work triangle connects the three main work areas in a kitchen: the refrigerator, stove, and sink,” said Paulette. While this is good to keep in mind while planning, this style has evolved into a more practical “work zone” concept, which fits into a variety of layouts.

Galley: A galley kitchen has two parallel countertops with a walkway in between them. Typically, the sink is on one side and the range is on the other. “Galley kitchens are great because they make the best use of every inch of space and you don’t have to worry about troublesome corner cabinets to configure,” Paulette said. These types of kitchens are especially ideal for smaller spaces and one-cook kitchens.

L-Shape: An L-shape kitchen consists of two perpendicular countertops that come together and form an L. This layout, which adds a dining space and multiple work zones, is great for entertaining purposes because the cook is able to be near the guests and guests can eat without feeling like they’re in the way. “These kitchens provide a lot of space and you never have to worry about traffic, making it perfect for kitchens that are often busy with family and guests,” said Sodemann.

Horseshoe: The horseshoe (or U-shape) kitchen layout has three walls of cabinets and appliances. “This layout works well for multiple cooks to be able to easily work and move throughout the kitchen,” she said. Not only does this design maximize space, it also creates separation between the kitchen and dining areas.

Island: Island kitchens add extra storage, provide a place to eat, have an extra place to prepare food, and can house appliances. “Islands are incredibly functional and can add a lot to a kitchen, but make sure your kitchen has enough clearance space before adding one,” said Paulette.

“The most important thing about kitchen design is workflow,” she said. “Make sure whatever layout you choose works for your lifestyle and fits the amount of space you have.”

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




Top 10 Interior Design & Home Remodeling Trends for 2017

The New Year has arrived and with it comes the latest interior design and home remodeling trends. “Generally speaking, kitchens and bathrooms are the most remodeled parts of single-family homes,” said Marie Owens, designer with Callen. Keeping these universal trends in mind, Marie offers insight on the top ten interior design trends consumers can expect to see in the coming year.

10 interior design trends for 2017The first trend for 2017 involves using LED lights as accent lighting under cabinets. “When used correctly, this technique actually gives the illusion that everything in the kitchen is floating,” said Marie. “Plus, not only have LED lights become more affordable, but their lifespan is substantially longer than traditional incandescent bulbs.”

Next, is remodeling for accessibility. It is becoming more common for people to continue to stay in their own homes as they grow older and a concept called Universal Design allows them to do this comfortably. “Remodeling for accessibility means making choices such as eliminating trip hazards, transitions between rooms, for example, and stairs in favor of open designs that maximize mobility,” Marie said. “Common updates in bathrooms include removing the bathtub, installing lower curb showers, using higher seat toilets, and placing grab bars in the shower.”

The make-it-your-own trend continues, giving homeowners the freedom to mix design styles in a way that’s pleasing to them. “For some, personalization means a mix-and-match approach,” Marie said. “For instance, a traditional home can have contemporary elements, which offers a nice blend of styles and provides more visual interest.”

At one time, metal was mainly used as an accent, but now the use of metal, especially in bathrooms and kitchens, has become a focus element. “Blending different color metals is a good way to ad texture and visual interest to a space in a trend-forward way,” said Marie.

“Smart homes” and “connected homes” are becoming more popular, as technological advances is a trend that offers homeowners flexibility, convenience, and even affordability (such as using your device to turn the lights on and off). There are a countless number of options, especially when it comes to wireless technology, such as refrigerators that send you reminders to buy milk, lighting ambience controlled remotely, and smoke alarms that alert when batteries are low.

Just a few years ago, combination tub and shower set ups defined the floor plan of a bathroom. But now, a larger more elaborate showering space is key to a trend forward bathroom. “Stand-alone showers often include multiple sprays and jets, as well as a bench for sitting,” said Marie.

Storage-filled basements and dark corners are long gone. Today’s remodeling trends include basements that serve as escapes, whether for visiting guests, work-at-home parents, or devoted hobbyists. “It’s a way for homeowners to remodel without an addition,” said Marie. “Lighting becomes a very important element in lower levels, as it’s important to look for ways to brighten this space to lessen the underground feeling. This can be accomplished by adding an egress window, white-painted ceilings, light trim, and wood floors.

“In addition, many designers would simply place recessed lights in the center of the rooms. This approach is not only uninteresting, it also adds a lot of glare to seating and ‘relaxing’ areas,” she continued. “A more interesting approach is to add what is called a wall-washing effect by placing recessed lights approximately 18” from the perimeter walls in an interesting pattern. This will create a coned pattern on the walls while giving a feeling of expanding the area and possibly highlighting some artwork at the same time.”

For a long time, wood has been a popular element in many homes, both traditional and contemporary. However, even in design trends of just a few years ago, it was typically limited in use and restricted to one surface, often the floor. Today’s remodeling trends include a combination of types, styles, and stains of wood in all forms – on the floor, on the wall, and in furniture. “The key to this trend is to abandon any thought of matching in favor of a mixture of grains and colors to add visual interest,” she said.

A connection between kitchen, eating, and living space continues to influence both new home construction and remodels. Advantages such as a connected family and a cook that is not isolated are why open kitchens have maintained their popularity. “Another way to enhance this connection is by incorporating an island with connected table-type seating,” Marie said. “This keeps family and guests out of the workspace, but close to the action of what the cook is preparing.”

Finally, an attic getaway is the remaining trend on the list. Similar to the basement, the attic offers a way for homeowners to remodel an existing space, instead of constructing an addition. “Attics offer precious square feet for guest bedrooms or even family getaways. The focus is less on what’s missing, such as ceiling height, and more on design tricks and aesthetic choices to make the space comfortable, bright, and personalized as much as possible,” said Marie.

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