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.



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.



The Essentials of Aging-in-Place Remodeling

The Essentials of Aging-in-Place Remodeling - Universal DesignIn recent years, the remodeling industry has seen a growing trend: aging-in-place remodeling. This trend has been driven by baby boomers (those born between 1946 and 1964). As this generation gets older, their desire to stay in the comfort of their own homes increases. According to a Cornell University study, an estimated 100,000 additional elderly persons could be living at home, if only they had a support network and the right accommodations.

Fortunately, with careful planning and – most commonly – kitchen and bathroom remodeling, virtually any home can be made to be aging-in-place compatible. Here are some of the basic renovations you should expect to do.

  • Wider doorways. One of most important changes that will need to be made in order to stay in your home is to widen doorways. There’s a strong possibility that at some point you will need a walker or wheelchair, so doorways must be at least 32 inches wide to accommodate them. As you remodel other rooms, keep maneuverability in mind – your nice new bathroom or kitchen won’t do you much good if there’s not enough room to maneuver a wheelchair or other assistive device.
  • First-floor laundry room. Lugging loaded laundry baskets up and down stairs is just not feasible for many older Americans. Not only does this get harder physically as we age, but the heavy loads can affect balance and increase the risk of a debilitating fall. If your laundry room isn’t on the main floor, consider building one, or perhaps converting an existing room on the main level.
  • Full bath with walk-in shower on the first floor. Easy access to a full bath with all the amenities is crucial as you grow older. When time is of the essence, you don’t want to have to navigate a set of stairs to get to the bathroom! Bathroom remodeling for those desiring to age in place would ideally include a curbless shower for wheelchair accessibility, a bench to sit on, and recessed shelves placed at a comfortable level. Grab bars to help with leverage are also important, in the shower as well as near the toilet.
  • Lever handles instead of knobs. In addition to arthritis, which is common in the elderly, the weakened grip strength that comes with aging makes gripping door knobs difficult and sometimes even painful. Lever-style door handles are much easier to operate, and most can even be opened with an elbow if your hands are full.

Even if you are still in your 30s or 40s, a little forward thinking can save you a lot of time and money in the future, and allow you to stay in the home you love. If you are ready to do some bathroom or kitchen remodeling, Call Callen at 414-765-2585. We will help you or your loved one achieve the level of safety and security necessary to comfortably age at home.



Roof Remodeling Tips

A roof is more than just the “hat” that finishes the look of your home. “The roof is arguably the most important component of your house; after all, it helps protect you from the elements,” said Lance Dahl, CR, exterior product specialist with Callen Construction in Muskego. “Before you make any decisions on potential roof replacement, make sure you understand all of the various components of this type of project.”

roof remodeling tips from callen constructionFirst, keep up appearances. In planning your next major remodeling project, don’t forget to reflect on the look and style of roofing materials. “When you consider that the average roof comprises 40 percent of a home’s visible exterior, you want it to look attractive,” he said.

Next, you’ll want to sneak-a-peak. In other words, inspect your roof from a safe vantage point using binoculars. “Specifically look for cracking, curling, and missing shingles, and if your roof is made of asphalt shingles, also look for areas that seem to lack granular covering,” Lance said. “You can examine your roof from the inside, too. Visit your attic space and use a flashlight to look for water stains that may indicate a growing roof leak.”

Check with your local municipal building department to see how many times you may re-cover an existing roof with another layer of similar materials. Some communities only allow two layers of roofing material, and require any additional layers to be torn off before more roofing can be installed.

Next, provide your contractor with a picture. “At Callen, we are able to use a digital photo of your home and show you a variety of options for the house featuring different roofing materials,” he said.

Regardless of the project size, all work to be done needs to be explained in writing. “You should be given a detailed proposal that describes the type of roofing material and color; other materials to be used; and the scope of work to be done,” Lance said. “It is important to specify whether the existing roofing will be removed or covered with a layer of new shingles, and to state who will be responsible for installing new flashing and vents. Most importantly, make sure the proposal indicates an approximate starting time and completion deadlines.”

According to the Asphalt Roofing Manufacturers Association, asphalt shingles are installed on approximately four out of every five residential roofs in the United States. Asphalt products are available in two types – organic and fiberglass – and in a wide variety of colors, styles, and visual textures. Organic shingles are made of cellulose fibers, such as recycled waste paper or wood fibers, while fiberglass shingles are made of glass fibers. “Both shingle types are covered with an asphalt coating and surfaced with weather-resistant mineral granules,” he said.

While asphalt shingles are by far the most popular option, consider the alternatives. “Do you love the appearance of cedar or redwood roofing, but worry about fire safety? There are fire-resistant wood shingles, or metal and synthetic products that mimic the look,” Lance said. “Such products can also match slate and tile roofs. Real clay or concrete tiles often appear in Southwest-style or Mission-style roofs. If you desire this look, you will need to make sure your home can adequately support the additional weight.”

Finally, it’s important to vent a little. “Attic ventilation ensures that your roof has a long and functional life,” he said. While ventilation requirements vary by region, the National Roofing Contractors Association generally recommends a minimum of one square foot of free vent area for each 150 square feet of attic floor.

Replacing a roof is a major investment, so make sure you stay as informed as possible and weigh each of your options carefully before making decisions,” Lance said. “In the end, your new roof should last at least 20 years, so it’s important that you’re happy with the products selected.”