Utilizing Multifunctional Rooms & Spaces in the Home

Whether you need to make the most of a small space or have a large room from which you want to get more use, designing rooms to be used for multiple purposes is a great way to maximize space and increase convenience. If your home would benefit by condensing some of your rooms, these ideas from Callen Construction, an experienced, knowledgeable remodeling company, can help you get started.

The Guest Room/Office

Rather than using that spare bedroom as an office, consider converting the room’s closet into a compact office workspace. Wide shelves can provide storage space as well as a desk surface, and a compact chair can be pushed in and hidden behind attractive curtains when not in use. Your guests will never even miss the closet space; a small dresser and a few hooks on the back of the door will more than meet their needs.

The Playroom/Guest Room

It’s always helpful to have an extra out-of-the-way place for kids to play, but it can sometimes be hard to find the space. By allowing your playroom to do double-duty as a guest room, you can keep your kids’ toys out of the main living area, and still have a cozy spot for overnight guests. A daybed with roomy storage drawers underneath will provide seating room during the day and a comfy bed at night, as well as a convenient spot to store toys when someone is staying over.

Utilizing Multifunctional Rooms & Spaces in the HomeThe Family Room/Entertainment Area

A finished basement is the perfect spot to create a multifunctional space that works for family downtime as well as entertaining. Create a home theater by building a custom entertainment center around your TV screen, with abundant shelving for storage and display purposes. Arrange furniture around an attractive area rug, and make sure there is ample seating to accommodate guests. Then, depending on your space, you can incorporate other areas that will best fit your needs, such as a bar, an exercise area, or a game room.

If you want to better utilize your basement space, call Callen for basement finishing.

We can also help with any other remodeling and design needs, so don’t hesitate to contact us today. A quick call to 414-765-2585 is all it takes to schedule your FREE design consultation.



Tips for Home Winterization

Winter weather will be coming to Wisconsin before too long, so now is the time for area homeowners to prepare their homes for what can be a harsh time of year. Homes can be winterized with these tips from Callen professionals.

Tips for Home WinterizationOutside

  • Homeowners should make sure they have the necessary tools for the season in good working order: shovels, ice melting salt, and a roof rake for removing snow from the roof to help reduce ice damming issues.
  • Checking windows and doors for air leaks should start with a visual inspection of the exterior. Where the old caulking has failed, there will be a gap between the window or doorframe and the home’s siding. If your home has single-paned windows, look for damaged glazing, which is the hard putty that holds the individual panes of glass in place.
  • Clean gutters of any debris, which could add to ice damming issues. Consider seamless aluminum gutters and larger aluminum downspouts to reduce the amount of ice build-up and the possibility of leaks and damage.
  • Water is the enemy to your exterior chimney. Water getting into the masonry, freezing, and then causing failure gets costly to fix. Make sure the concrete cap or crown on the chimney has an overhang and is not cracked.
  • Make sure the flue that vents your furnace and water heater has the proper size liner in it, and that it is in good condition.
  • When the ground freezes, animals that normally seek shelter and food underground may instead cause damage to trees and shrubs. Flowering crab trees and burning bushes are especially susceptible. Protect plants with either wire or netting across or around the plant.


  • Check your furnace filter and replace it needed. Now is also a good time to have the furnace inspected and tuned up.
  • Regarding the air conditioner, turn off the breaker for the A/C and clean it thoroughly and properly.
  • It is necessary to make sure the fireplace chimney is clean from soot before using it this season to prevent a chimney fire. Also, be sure you close your fireplace damper when not in use. Otherwise the heat you are paying for while running your furnace is going up the chimney.



Eco-Friendly Bathroom Remodeling

Eco-Friendly Bathroom Remodeling

You care about the environment, but you also happen to have a bathroom in desperate need of remodeling. How do you get the job done with minimal impact on both our planet and your budget? According to Callen designers, the expansion of the green building movement has produced an array of eco-friendly products and resources that allow you to create the water-saving, healthy, energy-wise bathroom you want. Here’s how to can save energy and conserve resources on your bathroom remodeling project.

First, it’s all about the water. Thinking about an eco-friendly bathroom means considering how you use water in terms of consumption and energy. According to the American Water Works Association, toilets account for 27% of your home’s water consumption. A smart and successful approach is the dual-flush toilet like the Kohler® Wellworth dual-flush toilet that combines water savings with powerful flush performance. A dual-flush toilet can save 17,000 gallons of water a year – about $50 off your water bill. If you wish to keep your old toilet (a very green decision), you can always retrofit it with a dual flush mechanism, which costs about $70.

Showers use 16% to 20% of your home’s water and most of it is heated. The flow rate of a typical showerhead is 2.5 gallons per minute. Switching it out with a low-flow head of 1.5 to 2 gallons per minute like Kohler’s® Exhale multi-function showerhead still offers adequate cleansing power with a substantial savings in water usage.

In addition to conserving water, you’ll want to examine the way your water is heated. Second only to the kitchen, the bathroom is your home’s most intensive energy user, with most of that energy going towards hot showers and baths. Saving energy can be as simple as adding an insulating blanket to your tank-type heater (reducing energy use by 4% to 9%) and insulating all accessible hot water pipes. Also, most water heaters are set to 140 degrees, but you can easily turn down the water heater temperature to 120 degrees and save up to $60 per year on energy costs.

If your old water heater is nearing the end of its 15-year life cycle and you’re considering investing in a new one, you can achieve considerable energy savings. One smart option is a condensing storage water heater. Using technology similar to that of high-efficiency furnaces, the condensing heater puts nearly every possible BTU (British thermal unit) into the water instead of sending it up the flue.

Another option is a tankless water heater, which heats water only as needed, avoiding the heat loss that occurs with a conventional tank. Your annual energy savings will be $70 a year. However, keep in mind that these units take some getting used to; expect a shot of cold water before the hot water kicks in.

Next, you have to move that air. A bathroom remodel is an excellent time to consider installing a new exhaust ventilator fan to remove odors, moisture, and mold spores. Many bathroom fans only vent to the space between ceiling joists, creating an environment for mold and dampness that can damage walls and ceilings. Make sure your new fan vents completely to the outside of your house.

Unfortunately, even properly installed fans that push the moist air outdoors can carry away a lot of heated air as well. A clever solution to this problem is a heat-exchange ventilator that uses outgoing air to warm the cold incoming air. Whatever fan you choose, try to avoid an on-off switch; it’s too easy to forget to turn it off. Replace it with a timer switch or, better yet, buy a new fan unit with a motion- or humidity-sensing switch.

A eco-friendly bathroom remodel does not mean that you have to skimp on style. For instance, classic ceramic tile comes in endless colors and patterns, and is a green choice due to its low maintenance, durability, and low toxicological impact. Additionally, some tiles have high-recycled content and recycled glass tiles are a lovely way to make the right ecological decision.

Additionally, LED illumination now produces pleasing light quality in fixtures that use only 2 to 15 watts, emit little heat, and have a life span of 15 to 20 years. Though they cost about three times as much as conventional fixtures, they use so little electricity that you will notice the payback in about one year.

Also, some paint and vinyl coverings have VOCs (volatile organic compounds) that threaten indoor air quality. So, look for building materials certified through Green Seal, a non-profit, independent organization that certifies products claiming to be environmentally friendly.

Finally, waste not. Most of our landfills consist of construction debris. Any steps that reduce landfill waste potentially reduce the chance of ground water pollution, odor, and unsightliness at local landfills, and in some cases the high cost of shipping waste elsewhere. Much of the debris that comes from a remodeling tear-out is not salvageable; however, old toilets, sinks, light fixtures, medicine cabinets, and vanities can be donated to an organization like Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore.

If you are considering remodeling your bathroom, but you are also mindful of the environmental impact of doing so, an eco-friendly remodel is a viable option for you that offers many benefits.



Bump Out Creates the Space We Wanted

To follow up on last month’s blog on our master bathroom remodel, the project was completed about four years ago.

Here’s the thing – it feels like we just remodeled it, that’s how new it still feels to us. I guess we picked the right tile, colors, fixtures, lighting and overall design, because (with the risk of sounding corny here!) I honestly feel like I am looking at a photo posted on Houzz every time I walk into our bath and walk in closet.

I mentioned the closet as a bump out addition to our bath project, but didn’t give details in last month’s blog about WHY we bumped it out and made our house bigger. We wanted too much, as our “wish list” included a glass surround walk in shower and a bigger closet. While Callen’s designers are fantastic, one thing they can’t create out of thin air is space.

The solution – a bump out suggested by Callen’s design team, an outside the box idea that I at first wasn’t too sure about. Am I glad I listened to Callen the experts! It was the only solution, as we achieved almost three additional feet of spaced, a window facing south that we never had and that much coveted glass shower that we all want. The outside of our home also looks bigger and better balanced.

But back to what I left off at in August – how to put the “WOW” in your home. This bathroom is now efficient, beautiful, and that WOW factor was added to the interior and exterior of our home.

As we’ve advanced as homeowners, we’ve learned that every home needs some pop, something that you should enjoy. Realtors often say sellers remodel to help sell their house, but then say “we wish we would have done this years ago, so we could have enjoyed it.” Don’t make that mistake. It’s your house and you live there. Be sure to make it what you want and enjoy it!

Paul Kronforst, WISN-AM 1130