Employee Ownership: Keeping Us Proudly Client-Focused

As a 100% employee-owned company, we feel a sense of accountability and responsibility for our individual roles, our company’s future, and as importantly, our client focused mission ensuring our clients, their desire to have their homes reimagined and redesigned, and our care of their homes always comes first!

Tony Mathews of the Beyster Institute wrote an interesting and compelling article about employee ownership and our 100% employee-owned company, and we thought it was a great read!

Read the article here.

Kitchen tile backsplash

Make A Splash With Backsplash Beauty

It’s impossible to know when or where the first backsplash was included in kitchen design, however the why behind the beauty of backsplashes isn’t hard to decipher. Backsplashes are generally found between the sink and the wall, preventing water, grease, and spaghetti sauce from being splashed against the walls. Pretty soon, simple tile backsplashes were used as the best solution for wall protection. During the 1970’s, white and yellow Formica countertops included a sort of built-in backsplash to avoid mixing materials and designs.

Today, interior designers like Harrell Remodeling’s Gloria Carlson, take the backsplash into an entirely different level, maximizing the utilitarian tool as a great opportunity to create a distinctive focal point for kitchens with multiple materials and patterns.

“You need to have some sort of backsplash purely for protection. Historically, people used a basic four-inch backsplash to provide minimum protection and to just catch spills. But over time, backsplashes have been used provide protection and add aesthetic interest,” explained Gloria.

According to Gloria, knowing how to highlight the backsplash can be tricky.

“The backsplash needs to become part of the whole story and the whole palette. For example, if you have a busy countertop material, you want to use a simple backsplash design so the two don’t compete. The backsplash in that case highlights the countertop. On the other had, you may want your backsplash to be the focal point, in which case you want your countertop to be simple and not compete with it,” said Gloria.

Using The Backsplash As A Central Theme For Kitchen Design

For example, one Bay Area family came to Harrell-Remodeling to redesign their kitchen to accommodate a steady docket of formal dinners and lively entertaining events. But more importantly, the family also wanted a gourmet, multi-use kitchen where entertaining and serious culinary skills could be employed without the interference of casual but valued guests. Gloria created a beautiful cooking area and a more social gathering area where people could mingle without bothering the cook. To accomplish this, she created a fun, socially focused fountain soda bar that also included a fully equipped bar gun with lots of soda flavors. Using the backsplash as a way to highlight the design, Gloria successfully punctuated the soda theme by using the backsplash as a conversation piece and created from vintage bottle caps. The hundreds of bottle caps were individually placed in the backsplash to resemble tile, and create a fun place for people to gather away from the prep and cooking area.

“The family entertained a lot, but they didn’t like when people could just walk into the middle of preparing a meal. So I used the backsplash as a focal point of my design. In this case, I a neutral, solid color for the counter top in order to make the backsplash a focal point to draw the attention of the eye,” said Gloria.

Consider Different Materials For Your Backsplash Beauty

Long gone are the days the four-inch Formica backsplash. Today, designers are taking the backsplash as a way to make a real design splash in kitchens. The boundaries for backsplash designs are being pushed to include modern materials and visionary shapes and sizes.

Today, Gloria includes materials that range from colored glass or tile to stone slabs. In addition, many homes now include backsplashes that run all the way up the wall to the bottom of the top cabinetry to provide maximum impact.

“Depending on what else is happening. You have other when you’ve got a whole kitchen with multiple materials: you’ve got a floor, you’ve got cabinets, you’ve got countertops, you’ve got all those things that you need to have cohesive. You want to make sure that you don’t have too much going on or too much competition and you don’t know where to look. The backsplash can be one of the opportunities within that palette to make a statement. Personally I love it when people aren’t too safe with the backsplash, because it can be so effective when you want to add something striking,” said Gloria.

Design Details: Bathroom Spa Trends

Do you envision slipping into a deep tub, or even stepping into a relaxing hot shower after a long and perhaps stressful day at work? Designing your bathroom to fit your lifestyle will give you the oasis you seek.

In a fairly short amount of time, the bathroom has gone from “utilitarian” to a space that is a relaxing respite. Bathrooms have evolved into a place to unwind or decompress after a long day, and/or a place to invigorate your morning routine, as you set off for the day ahead.

For some of us “oasis” might mean a walk-in curbless shower, a deep soaking tub or perhaps an infrared sauna. Many infrared saunas also come with Bluetooth capability, allowing you to stream your favorite Pandora station or iTunes. With proper planning and design, each of these can add a touch of luxury to your bathroom remodel and soon, to your morning or evening routine.

We all have a similar desire for the bathroom – a purely functional place at times; and a place to relax, decompress and simply get away from life’s hectic pace. All you need now is a fluffy robe and a candle or two.

Seasonal Tips for Your Home

With all this rain we thought this tip from our Production Team might be of help. Rain, and what it can tell you about your home’s performance.

The California rainy season creates an opportunity for you to see how your home performs in rainy conditions. Take advantage of this very telling opportunity, the heavier the rain the better! Put on a raincoat, grab an umbrella and walk around the outside of the house. No ladders required!

Stand at the sidewalk, looking toward your home. Start by looking at the top of the roof and work your way around and down as you walk closer.

  • What you do want to see:
  • Clear view of roof surface. (for a flat roof, this won’t be possible, but still take a look from the street)
  • Water running freely down the roof slope and into the gutters.
  • Water flowing out from the downspout/rain-chain and away from the foundation.

What you don’t want to see:

  • Tree branches touching or resting against the roof.
  • Debris on the roof, slowing the flow of water to the gutters.
  • Dripping water from the corners or underside of the gutters.
  • Rusty gutters or open seams.
  • Very slow or no water flow from your downspouts.
  • Rusty downspouts or open seams.
  • Water flowing out from the downspouts and back toward the foundation.
  • Water from the dripping gutters or downspouts splashing up onto the sides of the house.

If you find that the rain water is flowing off your roof, down your downspouts and away from your home, that’s great news.

If you don’t see this, then it’s time to call for an inspection of your roof and roof drainage system. Having a roof in working order should be at the top of every homeowners maintenance list.

Second, would be exterior paint, but let’s leave that for another day.

Adding some playfulness and functionality to your next home remodel!

Remodeling a whole house, kitchen or bathroom can be a serious job, but it can also be a great opportunity to add some fun and playfulness into your home. Whatever room you are remodeling, the Harrell Remodeling team of employee-owners are experts at creating modern residential designs, while also developing special spaces that reflect the personality and spirit of homeowners.

Creating unique and personalized kitchen and bathroom designs that infuse happiness and joy, may not be the first thing a homeowners thinks about when they start to consider a remodel. However, for those Bay Area residents who have found their dream home, and plan on staying in it for the foreseeable future, investing in creative designs that make a statement and stray from traditional motifs can be the perfect solution for adding a lifetime of happiness for both children and adults.

Gloria Carlson, one of our senior designers at Harrell-Remodeling, enjoys creating fun and innovative designs that reveal her clients’ unique personalities and passions:

The number one thing I do when I have a specialized design project is to establish a deep trust between myself and my client. Clients that want something different are very unique and special to us. They have to know that we care deeply for their home, and that I am really listening to them, illuminating their dreams. After that trust forms, we can do amazing things together.

Creating Enjoyment Through Better Organization

A family came to Harrell Remodeling to create a new kitchen system and design. Gloria spearheaded the project, starting the process by observing the owner’s kitchen “rhythm” and family flow. She immediately saw that the client cooked in special sections, throughout the kitchen, from baking bread to making espresso. So Gloria created a new, streamlined and contemporary layout that emphasized special zones and the following details:

Accentuated Special Kitchen Zones

  • A special baking section that included an appliance garage that held mixers, bowls, yeast risers, and other appliances (five in all), all hidden behind bi-fold laminated glass doors and pull down storage areas. This zone was situated directly next to the oven.
  • The coffee counter was designed with pull open cabinets that had laminated glass to hide coffee containers, filters, and boxes of teas. Gloria made sure the coffee and espresso machine were connected directly to a potfill faucet that is positioned perfectly for fast and easy brewing.

Carbonated, Filtered, and Chilled Beverage Zone

  • In the center of the kitchen, Gloria designed a floating island that served as a buffet serving area, prep zone, and gathering spot. To help contribute to the central gathering purpose of the island, Gloria added a built-in filtered water faucet that included a water chiller system below the sink. Then she included a state-of-the-art carbonated soda water faucet as part of the sink and countertop. An under-the-counter refrigerator and built-in liquor cabinet makes the island anything but a place of isolation.

Customized Planning Zone

  • A planning zone was created to add an additional function to the room, including organizer shelves, key hooks, and a cork and white board.
  • Lots of color was also incorporated into the kitchen to highlight the modern upgrades.

My clients still tell me how much they love what I did in their kitchen, said Gloria.

Rediscover Your Back Yard with Hardscape Features

Are you ready to spend more time outdoors without leaving the sanctuary of your home? Do you want to fall in love with your back yard again and add to your home’s useable footprint while enjoying the Bay Area’s world-renowned micro climates? There are many different hardscape features and ideas that will enhance the outdoor living experience in your home. Hardscapes are typically defined as the fixed objects in landscaping, such as brick and tile patios and pathways, pergolas, stone walls, wood decks and other similar structures.

Gazebos and Pergolas

Create a shaded seating area with a solid-roof gazebo. Furnish it with a small table and chairs, a swing or built-in benches. Pergolas provide filtered shade without blocking your view of the sky. Choose materials like cedar, steel, vinyl or aluminum to coordinate with other outdoor-living components in your yard.

Decks and Patios

Rediscover the outdoors with the installation of a deck or patio with wood planks, pavers, concrete, natural stone or brick. Add outdoor furniture, a hot tub, fire pit or a kitchen to create a space for relaxing with family, and entertaining guests.

Swimming Pools

Add some refreshing splash to your back yard. Instead of your typical pool of the blue-and-white rectangular variety, use instead, natural stone basins and borders. Add waterfalls, unusual shapes and graduated levels to your custom pool. Surround it with a brick patio or a multi-level deck with seating.

Stones and Boulders

Large stone sculptures or a thoughtfully-placed stone fountain can be a beautiful focal point for your back-yard. Large rocks built into a low wall along a pathway or perimeter, convey a touch of rustic elegance and can create a terrace effect. Consider granite, limestone or slate for a beautiful yet natural look.

If you’d like to create something extraordinary with the outdoor living spaces in your Bay Area home, the design-build professionals at Harrell Remodeling can help. Contact us for details.

Bathroom with skylight sun tunnel

Open Up Your World to Skylights and Sun Tunnels

Skylights and sun tunnels are two innovative ways to bring natural light into the interior rooms of your home. Skylights are windows or see-through panels located on the roof. In rooms with angled ceilings that match the angle of the roof, the skylight is mounted on the roof and light travels directly into the room. In rooms with flat ceilings that do not match the angle of the roof above, it is fairly typical to have a light well made of drywall built around the roof mounted skylight that connects the skylight to the room’s flat ceiling. This light well brings the light into the room. These applications work when a skylight can be placed directly above a room. Sun tunnels are often used when there are obstructions in the attic that prevent the installation of a skylight. Sun tunnels are similar to skylights, but rather than a light well, sun tunnels have a tube with a reflective interior lining that captures natural light from a roof mounted dome and channels the light indirectly into the room. This tunnel often travels at a slight angle through attic space. Sun tunnels can be installed in kitchens, living rooms, hallways and other areas of the home that may not have ample natural lighting.

Skylights

These ‘windows in the ceiling’ can increase natural lighting and make a room feel brighter and larger. When properly installed as part of a Bay Area home remodeling project, skylights can help homeowners cut costs on an electricity bill while enhancing the home’s level of sophistication. Skylights are available in a wide array of shapes and sizes with UV protected glass in a variety of tints. Skylights can be fixed, or operable. Operable skylights increase the fresh air flow and are often available with easy to use remote controls.

Sun Tunnels

Starting in sizes roughly a foot across and available in both round and square shapes, a sun tunnel diffuser panel sits on the ceiling level of a room. From there the connected sun tunnel extends through and across attic space to a roof mounted clear dome. The interior effect in the room’s ceiling appears similar to recessed lighting. Sun tunnels can be integrated into roof systems with slopes between 15 and 60 degrees. Choose a diffuser for the sun tunnel that limits both glare and bright spots.

Homeowners interested in improving their energy efficiency will like the eco-friendly impact of skylights and sun tunnels. They bring the illuminating properties of daylight into dark rooms. If you would like to learn more about skylights or sun tunnels and how they might be included in your remodel, please call or email us today for a complimentary discussion with one of our designers.

Two Simple Design Ideas to Ponder as You Start Your Design Journey!

Going Global

Feng Shui, Vástu Shástra, and other Eastern philosophies have been guiding builders since ancient times. Today these principles are gaining interest in the West , and inspire features such as  shoji doors,  Japanese “Ofuro” soaking tubs, bamboo or warm cherry woods with simple elegant lines, artistic fixtures and cabinet pulls.

Timeless Design

Frank Lloyd did it effectively and you can too!  Think neutral  colors – not beige necessarily, but the colors you might find in nature.  Choose finishes that are sustainable and low maintenance, free from excessive patterns or considered overly trendy. When it comes to style; modern, traditional, eclectic, or craftsman are always wise investment choices when it comes to your home and they will hold their appeal and value over many decades.

Laundry and Hobby Rooms: The New Family Center?

More and more home remodeling projects are including large open spaces with multiple uses instead of smaller rooms with a single use. Sometimes the need arises for a less formal space, a place where family members can spend quality time together in a relaxed atmosphere. A multi-purpose room has become the new family center. As a result, hobbies and laundry are ideal companion activities to share this space.

The space can be designed such that there is enough room for all family members to do their special activities, alone or together. For example, Mom or Dad can do the laundry while the kids are painting or building puzzles. There are several elements that are popular in hobby and laundry rooms which help make the space more functional. For example, add a TV or a sound system for enhanced usability.

Counter Space

Everyone needs room to work. Layouts for the room might include counters that that run along some or all of the walls. For extra room to work, tabletops or islands can be placed within the room, or perhaps pull out or fold down for convenience. Countertop materials range from wood to laminate to natural or engineered stone. Give some thought to scratch-resistant and stain-resistant surfaces that wear well and fit their purpose.

Shelves

Where there are activities, there are supplies. Ask your design build team to create cubbyholes, drawers and storage space above or below the countertops and workstations. This can help you minimize the clutter and keep it a pleasant place to spend time together. Cabinets can include a fold-down ironing board, a place to fold clothes and an area to store laundry supplies.

Flooring

Choose flooring that is smooth, moisture-resistant, durable and easy to clean while coordinating with the rest of the decor. Use area rugs to create extra comfort and a cozy feel to select parts of the room.

Lighting

Lighting is one of the most important features to the new hobby room and laundry room. Use natural light from large windows and put focused task lighting over specialized work spaces. Recessed lighting throughout the room can help illuminate even the largest spaces.

A Look at the Hottest Residential Solar Energy Options

There are several different alternatives available for homeowners hoping to become more energy efficient. Solar energy, in particular, can be an excellent choice for Bay Area homeowners, with options ranging from passive solar design to solar water heaters to photovoltaic panels. Here’s a look at some of the options that can be incorporated into your custom remodeling project.

Passive Solar Heating

One way to make your home more energy efficient is through passive solar heating and cooling techniques. Passive solar building design relies on the collection, storage and distribution of solar energy through the optimal placement and design of interior and exterior walls, windows and floors. For example, one can use reflective coatings on exterior walls and roofing. Overhangs, insulation and careful landscaping can all lower energy use. Deliberate placement of windows and effective ventilation are also important elements. For a whole-home remodeling approach centered around passive solar energy, it’s critical to make changes to the areas in your home that use or lose the most energy. Passive solar heating and cooling requires little maintenance and no mechanical system installation, but it’s important to plan early in your design and build process for best results.

Photovoltaic Systems

A photovoltaic solar system involves the installation of solar panels. They can be integrated into your building materials and roof shingles, or installed on top of the roof for a more traditional solar look. Some solar-powered items for your home remodel include a water heater, pool heater and flooring. The home can be partially or entirely powered with solar energy. If you choose to do a whole-home conversion, you can stay connected to the utility grid or go “off the grid” and provide your own collection, regulation, conversion and distribution. There are various federal and state incentives, rebates and tax credits available for different systems.

Outdoor Landscaping

If you’re looking for a smaller-scale use of solar power, try solar lighting outdoors for your garden, patio, front walk or pool area. This makes your outdoor living spaces safer and more inviting for parties and barbecues, as well as just spending time outdoors in solitude. Put solar lights in areas that receive a considerable amount of sunshine to maximize the strength of your lights. LED lighting is the most efficient form of outdoor lighting as compared to fluorescent and halogen lights. Some solar landscape lighting systems require battery replacement about every two years.

To learn more about the different methods and degrees of going solar, talk to our Harrell Remodeling design and build team. We can help you decide which option will work best for your Bay Area home.