Johnson County

Houzz Your Project Design Going?

As we meet with new potential clients, one of the things we always talk about is design and ideas. It doesn't matter what project they are looking to take on, kitchen remodel, home addition, basement finish, master bathroom, mudroom, everyone tends to have at least some idea of what they would like to see. Of course there are a few occasions where that's not the case.

So what options do you have if you don't know what you want your project to look like. I've got your place to start. You may have guessed it based on the name of this post and the picture it started with. Houzz.com. So what is Houzz? Houzz is a website and online community about architecture, interior design, interior decorating, landscape design and home improvement. Almost everyone knows about pinterest. Well Houzz is pinterest on steroids but dedicated specifically to the things mentioned above and that's it.

A remodeled sitting room idea, picture from houzz.com.

So you see, Houzz is the perfect place to go when you don't know where to start. If you don't know what "your style" is. If you're not sure what's trending in design. If you just want to see some really great remodeled or new rooms. If you want to be sucked in, blink once and wonder where several hours of your day just went...happens to me all the time, it's totally worth it.

We would encourage you to check out Houzz. While you're there setting up your free profile, make sure to swing by our profile and click that Follow button! We are always updating our completed projects, uploading before and after pictures. You can also collaborate with us using an Ideabook for your project.

Oh that thing? Yeah, the Houzz community voted and we won this award. 

 

The ideas are limitless, so don't limit yourself. See yourself in a new space and don't settle for DIY ideas on other websites. Let us help make your home show room perfect! PS, that sitting room picture attached above from Houzz? Yeah, that was us. 

Tax Dollars Wisely Spent?

We are by no means Realtors, this we know. That said, we work with a lot of them and do a fair bit of consultation with several in Kansas City. One of the questions they get asked alot, and us too, is what remodel will help your home gain resale value...which remodel can I get the best return on investment? We would still defer to the professionals in the real estate business, but here's what we hear the most from them.

Kitchen remodels, bathroom updates and additions and adding usable square footage such as a basement finish, or converting attic space.

If your kitchen is similar to the picture above you either love honey oak or you are living in a house built likely in the 80's to mid/late 90's. There's nothing wrong with that, but our market is loaded with kitchen's just. Like. Yours. A kitchen remodel is the most intrusive remodel that a homeowner can live through, it's also likely one of the most expensive remodels you can tackle in your home beyond a basement finish. All of that being said, according to experts, a kitchen remodel can often times bring nearly a complete return on investment in most situations. It's also one of the most obvious and "splashy" remodels you can do to any home, where families spend a vast majority of time.

Hopefully none of you are rocking the master bathroom pictured above. Sadly, some of you are. Sweet flower wallpaper, plastic faucet fixtures, there's that awesome honey oak again, not pictured but definitely there...the brass "Hollywood" light bar. Let's not glance past the carpet in the bathroom. Once again, nothing seriously wrong with this master bathroom, but in terms of resale or a place to wisely spend money on an update, this is your space. Fortunately, compared to the kitchen, the master bathroom remodel is an inconvenience for many, rather than a full on trip driving the struggle bus. An updated master bathroom is another spot that gets a lot of attention on the sale market and a good return on investment.

I previous mentioned bathroom addition. If you live in a house with only 1 bathroom and everyone around you has 2, then you're the low home on the totem pole. Finding space to add a bathroom would bring you up to equal of the rest of the homes in your area. Being equal may not sound that exciting, but in terms of resale valve and "comps" as the pros call them, you'll be doing yourself a long term favor.

One thing to keep in mind. Not everyone has the same budget or space for a particular remodel. Having a dream kitchen remodel is great, having an understanding of what it would cost to make that dream a reality is another thing all together. The above kitchen looks amazing to me, but when I look at it I see a lot of custom work. Custom work doesn't always bring a return on investment. Work with your contractor and talk with them about design and their understanding of the what they are seeing in remodeling of a particular space right now. In the end the final decision is yours, it's your home! Don't discount the experience and trends your contractor is seeing currently, long term, it could earn you money...

KC Home Solutions - 2015 Review and 2016 Resolutions

Picture credit www.visitkc.com

So today is the last day of 2015 and it's been a GREAT year for us...and we hope much of the Kansas City area! We thought it would be good to review a few things and make some 2016 resolutions. So here we go.

2015:

First and foremost, the Royals won the World Series! The Chiefs are in the NFL Playoffs and it's the first time they both have made the postseason the same year...EVER. 

We (KC Home Solutions) had our BEST year ever, setting records for total volume business...thanks to all of you! So what did we end up doing?

5 Kitchen remodels, 30+ master bathroom, basement and guest bathroom remodels, 22 basement finishes and 5 home additions and house builds! 

We also won the 2015 Angie's List Super Service Award in the categories of Basement Remodeling, Kitchen & Bathroom Remodeling and General Remodeling. That marks our 2nd year in a row to win those awards. Now we know what it feels like to be the Royals (they have won back-to-back American League Championships) it's the same, right? Enh, close. The boss probably won't buy us cool rings (bummer).

Can't wait to see the World Series Championship ring...we loved the 2014 AL Championship rings for the Royals!

Thanks to all our subcontractors and all of the people who work behind the scenes that you may never notice. That includes (in no particular order) All Dimensions Flooring, Central States Tile, KC Wood, Kitchen & Bath by Briggs, McCray Lumber, Petty Products, Stillwell Heating & Cooling, DWG Drywall, Teague Electric, HP Tile, LRW Plumbing, Ferguson Plumbing Supplies and everyone involved with all these great companies.

2016:

Well I HOPE to be writing about a Chiefs Super Bowl Championship this time next year...another Royals World Series would be great too!

We have some lofty goals for our company starting TOMORROW. We are hoping to continue to double our totals (we've done it every year we've been in business). Not saying that we will but that's what a goal is for, right? 

We are going to continue to work hard to improve our processes and keep giving everyone quality results. We really feel that our attention to detail, treating everyone respectfully and not rushing projects is the best way to do business. Speed in projects (like on TV shows) is great, but there's a lot to be said about making sure it's done right the first time.

We want to continue to set ourselves apart from the other contractors out there. Whether that's through design, attention to detail (big and small), or providing information to people who need help. We may not be the lowest bid you'll get but if you have a question you need help with, even if you did not choose us, don't be afraid to ask. 

Check out our booth at the Johnson County Home + Garden Show in January 22-24 as we go for back-to-back awards for "Best Use of a Small Space". Happy New Year! We hope to work with all of you in 2016! 

What Would We Do Wednesday - Open a Movie Theatre*

We have been working with a client on design for their home theater set-up in their basement. Framing is scheduled to start very soon. As you can imagine, we have been discussing alot of design options and details. Because of that I have been researching and checking on many ideas that the homeowner has sent my way. I thought it would be fun to go over a few of the things we have discussed.

The picture above shows many great ideas that can help a basement have much more depth. Take a look at all of the levels in the ceiling. The various wall depths on the TV wall, and if you look close enough you'll see recessed surround sound speakers as well. Another few design ideas that are great is the use of at least two flooring options and the fireplace. A very modern basement.

Of course we can't all have 2000 sq ft unfinished basements with unlimited funds to use. The picture above is showing a way to utilize a great design in a small space. I really like the built-in mantle underneath the wall mounted TV. The cool built-in shelves in the corner and the space saver bar with the glass see-through doors to help bring more depth to the space. The ceiling has been dropped and finished, likely to hide HVAC runs or i-beams and potentially water lines.

The picture above basement is cool for a few other reasons. In some ways you can say that there is a touch of simplicity in the design. The fur down boxed ceiling allows the projector to hide some inside the box. Different paint colors add levels to the room. There is a ton of natural light coming in the space, which could be a challenge with the TV during day time or if you have a bright neighborhood. You can see the recessed surround sound and can lights on both ceiling levels. A cool addition to this design would be recessed LED rope lighting hidden inside the box in the main TV area.

So to sum this up. Installing a 150" projection screen TV in your basement? That's a fantastic idea! Multiple ceiling levels, surround sound, custom built-in cabinets. Check, check and check. We are ready to help you open up your movie theater *in your basement, just let us know what you would like to see!

 

What Would We Do Wednesday - If you (*we) build it...

Surely you read the title of this post in a soft whisper voice, right? I know that I've read it a couple of time and it always sounds the same in my head. I thought today it would be fun to let you guys know what we are up to right now. What projects are going on currently? How about a list?

  • 7 complete basement finish projects
  • 4 kitchen projects
  • 4 master bathroom projects
  • 3 projects that have multiple action items
  • 2 home additions
  • 1 full home build

The answer to the picture is yes! I felt like I could see your face while reading that list. So is it bragging? Maybe. But we are proud of the work we are accomplishing, and we hope that you are proud of us as well. As you know, we are a small company. We take pride in the work that we do. When our guys do a great job we have no problem bragging on them. The volume of work completed is growing monthly and that excites us as well.

Over the next few weeks I'm going to do my best to start updating the 'Projects' tab on our website. We are going to do our best to swing by completed projects and take pictures and upload them for you all to see. So if we've recently completed a project for you, be looking for a call or email so that we can swing by.

So? If you (*we) build it...he will come? That he would be me (I would imagine the rest of your friends and family as well). I'm excited to see the completed projects and excited to share your finished space with everyone. Thank you in advance, this is going to be fun!

Fire It Up! What Would We Do Wednesday

I guess when people get hot in the midwest their thoughts turn to fire. At least it appears that way to us! In the last week we have had requests for, wait for it, fireplace options. Yeah, probably the last thing most of us would think about too. Clearly a few people in the Kansas City area can't wait for it to get cold, can't blame them for that I guess.

So on this week's WWWDW article we are going to take on fireplace remodeling! It may not be as daunting of a task as you would think.

Does that look familiar?

Or maybe this one?

Chances are, unless your home is only 10 or so years old, you may have one of these relics in your living, den or basement. I would imagine that most people simply deal with it and think that it's just too much work and too expensive to change. Well guess what? It may not be, it just depends on what you want to do with the space. So what are your options?

Easiest option is to paint the brick. It's gonna take a lot of paint, but it's do-able. Of course you don't need us for that now do you?

Another option? Remove the brick. Now you might want to give us a call for this task. It's gonna get really dusty and messy. Generally speaking these set-ups are not one piece full front to back brick and mortar structures. Meaning you can remove levels of brick and find a substructure of some kind, but you never know. The older the home the more likely it will be a full structure.

Another option? Covering the brick with something else. Stone, metal and tile are the three most common cover options. In some cases you can attach directly on to the brick, with some stone and most tile options. In others you may need to frame the brick and basically build a box around it, attach a backer board and then affix the product.

Painted brick example

Resurfacing example, laying stone directly on the brick.

Modern stainless steel electric fireplace with mounted TV and great accent pieces

There are a variety of ways to spruce up your dated fireplace. Don't sit there another night looking at that fire smoke burnt nasty thing. You don't have to just deal with it. Change it! Call us if you want some ideas or some help.

Get Dirty - What Would We Do Wednesday

Some people have the extra space, others don't, but a mudroom is a really cool space that most people aren't taking advantage of. This concept isn't new but the extra design and customization certainly is. Most home in the past had a simple bench, maybe a built in box-bench that you could put some things in. Now, well having extra full size storage is the trend, and it is a great trend in our opinion.

Of course, generally speaking, the main household is going to be the only one's utilizing the mud-room entrance but they are being built near the front of houses too now. Gone is the day that the front entry is reserved for a grandiose open space. 

Maybe it's the athlete in me, but I really enjoy the above picture. It looks like a rustic old locker room set up, almost country club golf-ish in a way. The extra light coming from the outside and the soft wall color and white trim balance the rich wood stain very well.

The mudroom/laundry room is also gaining steam in the design world. The tile floor allows for easy cleaning and dumping snowy shoes or muddy boots. Having the washer and dryer right there makes for easy access and convenience. 

Don't limit your home to traditional use. Be creative, see the possibilities and give us a chance to help bring your vision to life. So, who's ready to get dirty?!

Flip the Switch with KC Home Solutions

We have been excited at KC Home Solutions over the last few months. There have been a lot of calls and requests for us to provide estimates and we have been extremely busy. It looks like all the talking that you are doing about us is paying off (we appreciate the kind words and referrals!) Recently we have been in discussion with a few people and a couple of companies that are looking for ideas and opportunities for us to help with flipping homes. So what's the deal with that, how does it work?

Here are a few suggestions and things to keep in mind when looking for a contractor to work for you on a house flip. In no particular order.

Have a realistic timeline based on your project. Keep in mind that the shows you see on TV, while real, are also staged. Some of the timelines and completion dates are simply not feasible in a "normal" setting. Basically, good luck finding a contractor who will work 20 hour days and weekends.

Drastic transformations, like the fire damaged "gut-job" pictured above are neither quick nor particularly cheap. The TV shows do a great job giving figures on transformations that sound too good to be true and they likely may be. Some shows have a lot of donated products and the production companies may sometimes pay for some labor expenses rather than passing it along to a homeowner. HGTV for example has several great shows but some of the pricing they talk about makes US question how the contractors stay in business. An entirely new kitchen with appliances for $8,000? We want that pricing too!

Finally, communication is key. You don't have to have your contractor on speed-dial, but if you have a question or concern make it known. Don't ever assume that you were 100% clear when talking about something. From our end, we would rather you call or email us twice and feel like you are annoying us than end up doing a job wrong. Just like the old adage says, measure twice, cut once!

Looking for a general contractor to help with your full house remodel? Give us an opportunity to earn your business, we love a good challenge!

WWWDW - Tile in Style

We aren't going to say that we couldn't do the above tile for you in your house, but we also are not going to lie and say our tile guys would love to do it either. Although we are fairly certain that they would like the challenge.

Tile can be one of the quickest ways to really change a room. Most people think of tile and automatically go to a backsplash in the kitchen or something in a bathroom. But more and more tile is being incorporated in other locations throughout the home. Don't get cornered in to the idea that you can only use tile where you'll be getting something wet. 

Stainless steel tile is trending on the popular side of decorating and design in homes currently. Pictured above 3x6 brushed stainless long grain metal tile in an alternating pattern. It's a very sleek and modern accent to just about any space, not just a kitchen as you see in this application.

The brushed stainless and polished glass accent in the picture above could look absolutely stunning as a trim piece or stand alone in several applications. Could you imagine trimming an accent window or running this in a 6 inch border though a shower or around a soaker tub?

Contemporary large tile floor and wall options are also trending up in design currently. As you can see above, minimizing the grout line and going with large gray's and dark colors on floors in living rooms is popular. The design is sleek and relatively easy to maintain for a long time.

The key is finding a color, design and pattern that you will be able to live with an enjoy every day. Keep in mind that carpet can be easy to pull up and replace, tile, while not permanent, is typically more expensive to install  but with the right care will last a long time. We love bringing your new ideas to our tile crew and our tile supplier as seems to have the newest trends and options.

Big Box It Up...

Let's start by saying that we are not completely against those big box stores out there. They have their advantages from time to time. We will do our best to not mention a specific store but we can't imagine that any of you have never been in to one of them in your life.

Here's the deal, we aren't big fans of purchasing a lot of items for a remodel in those big stores. Beyond the pricing, it's the things you do not see that may be your downfall. For example, you can certainly find a great price on a good looking kitchen faucet in one of the two largest home improvement stores in the country. But you are paying for something that is loaded up with a lot of plastic "guts" and won't last as long as it should or could, even if you take great care of it. Now, with that said, the big stores do have some options with the great high-quality insides, but those items are going to be priced similar to specialty stores and they may not have the largest selection. They tend to make more margin on the lower priced items that the high-end ones.

Not how this particular product is designed to work.

Not how this particular product is designed to work.

So how are you to know if you are getting a good product? First, read the back of the packaging. Look for plastic fittings, or do an online search about it. Don't go looking for the least expensive option. Saving money is great but long term it may come up to bite you on a costly repair or simply having to replace the product again. Another option? Go to one of your local specialty stores that deal with just one product like kitchen faucets or bathroom remodeling items, etc. Stick to the nails, lumber, screws and tools at the big box stores, don't skimp on the plumbing.