What You Need to Ask When Planning Your Porch

“If you are thinking about adding a porch to your home, you’ll want to consider everything from how you want it to look to how you plan to use the space,” said Brad Flannigan, exterior product specialist with Callen. “You want to maximize the use of your porch and make sure the location flows with the rest of your property.” Ask yourself these five crucial questions as you plan the porch of your dreams.

What You Need to Ask When Planning Your PorchFirst, how do you want to use the porch? The answer to this question will help determine the depth and length of your porch. For instance, a porch with a small café table and two chairs will have different size specifications, than a porch suited for dining and entertaining. “You need to incorporate room for circulation; it helps to think of a porch as a small-scale house with a foundation, roof and walls,” Brad said.

When do you want to use your porch? Due to Wisconsin’s often cool climate, you may want to include details that will make your porch usable throughout the year. A fireplace, insulation in the ceiling, and screens to keep out bugs are just a few options to consider.

Third, is your porch user-friendly? Consider the best entry to and from your porch into your home, to make the space easily accessible and encourage good traffic flow. “Large patio or French doors can offer easy access to side and back porches and be an excellent source of natural light for your home,” explained Brad.

Do you want a porch made for entertaining? If you have the space, make your porch a destination for guests by creating separate seating and dining areas. A seating area with all-weather furniture and an indoor/outdoor rug gives visitors a spot to enjoy cocktails and conversation. You can make a separate dining area inviting by including a table and chairs with comfortable outdoor pillows and cushions.

And lastly, do you know how you want your porch to look? “The best porches are designed with scale and proportion in mind,” he said. For inspiration, talk to a professional designer, go online, cut pages out of magazines, and get ideas from your own neighborhood. Once you have a solid concept for how you plan to use the porch, have a rough drawing of the basic floor plan created. Be sure to note all existing windows, doors, and obstructions. You can even trace a photo of your home and add the details you would like to see on your porch. This will help when you explain your ideas to a design professional.



Hot Landscaping Trends for 2017

Landscaping entails a lot more than just mowing, trimming weeds, and maintaining flowers, trees and shrubs. The best landscape designers also incorporate other features of interest into the landscape. Each year certain trends stand out as the most popular, and top landscapers believe that the following trends will continue to grow in popularity in 2017.

“Green” Landscapes

As in many other areas, homeowners are starting to look for ways to make their landscapes more sustainable. This could mean reducing the use of chemicals by looking for more natural methods to control weeds and insects, planting native plants and grasses that require less water, and designing their landscapes in such a way that they provide natural habitats for insects, birds, and small animals. These types of landscapes are better for the environment, more economical for the homeowner, and require less maintenance.

Water Features

Water features were usually added after other exterior remodeling projects were completed, but this is no longer the case. Now homeowners are realizing the positives that come with integrating natural rock waterfalls, small ponds, freestanding fountains, and water walls into their landscapes from the beginning. They provide balance and ambience, help block unwanted outside noise, and benefit local wildlife.

Outdoor Living Areas

Outdoor kitchens, fire pits, patios, and decks – you name it and homeowners are building it. This trend of bringing the comforts of home outdoors is predicted to continue in 2017. People are starting to see the benefit of investing in their own properties, which can be enjoyed for many years to come, instead of spending thousands on one-time experiences that are soon nothing more than memories.

Landscape Lighting Hot Landscaping Trends for 2017

Since the development of LED bulbs, landscape lighting has gained in popularity. LEDs use much less energy and last much longer than traditional lighting, so you won’t constantly be changing burned-out bulbs. LEDs are a great choice to illuminate outdoor seating areas, walkways, and architectural features, plus you can even use lighting timers so you don’t have to turn them on and off.

Now that you are up-to-speed on some of 2017’s hot landscaping trends, why not look into what’s trending in home exterior remodeling? Callen knows all the latest designs and styles, so just give us a call at 414-765-2585 to find out more.



Installation of Energy Efficient Windows Continues to be a Popular Home Improvement

Does your home seem cool in the winter and warm in the summer? If so, it may be worth your while to investigate this inconvenience, rather than ignore it. Chances are, the culprits of your discomfort are outdated windows.

Older windows often leak air between your house and the outdoors, which makes your heating and cooling systems work overtime. “Replacing your home’s old windows with properly sealed, energy efficient replacement windows is a step in the right direction,” said Christopher Wittmann, CR, an exterior product specialist with Callen. “Installing energy-efficient windows will not only lower energy bills, but also improve your comfort and reduce condensation,” Christopher said.

Faulty windows are one of the primary sources of energy drain in an average home. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, traditional windows can waste up to 30% of energy used to heat or cool a building. “If you don’t want your energy dollars to seep through the cracks, it’s important to replace your out-of-date windows with Energy Star rated windows,” Christopher said.

Installation of Energy Efficient Windows Continues to be a Popular Home ImprovementThere are two main ways in which new windows can increase home energy efficiency and comfort. First, they eliminate air exchange. When windows are sealed improperly, there is an exchange between the warm and cool air in your home and the outdoors. “Every time your home loses air, your heating and cooling systems have to work overtime to replace it and maintain the optimum temperature,” he said. “Properly sealed windows will eliminate these leaks and seal any drafts.”

Second, they provide proper insulation. Even with storm windows installed, single paned windows allow radiant energy to leave your home, while newer windows with insulated double-paned Energy Star rated glass provides a proper insulating seal around your home.

“The window replacement process is enjoyable and hassle-free at Callen,” Christopher said. “We offer a one-stop shopping experience, with knowledgeable guidance from your first visit all the way through installation. Whether it be a vinyl, wood or the more prevalent fiberglass products, Callen offers all the popular energy efficient patio door and window styles – double-hung, casement, glider, awning, bow, and bay.”

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



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.