The Rise of The Traditional Home

In an age of Houzz and Pinterest, an unprecedented online buzz on both contemporary and traditional home design has inspired an openness to merging two distinctly different styles.

Inevitably, savvy homeowners tend to think, “I like parts of both.”

Welcome to the transitional home.

This fast-growing movement pays homage to contemporary and traditional home styles. For a home builder, it means a bet placed on constructing either style is a winning one. A transitional-minded home buyer is apt to transform any home style with tasteful, restrained elements of whatever suits them, traditional or contemporary.

Beyond Interior Furnishings

The transitional concept goes just beyond furniture and décor. It also marries traditional and contemporary architecture, finishes, and materials.

For example, a contemporary home might be expected to showcase large glass expanses to convey a sleek, light-infused interior. A transitional home can be just likely to include big glass. But it might welcome nature with oversized double-hung windows instead of large casement or picture windows.

Broad Appeal

One person who has observed the transitional movement up-close is Christine Marvin. Marvin, director of corporate strategy for Marvin Windows and Doors, says the trend defies a generational bias. “It spans all age groups,” Marvin says. “A lot of homes I’m seeing might be someone’s second or their ‘forever’ home. One older couple I know loves Scandinavian design. But they also like wood and big glass with homey, rounded-corner furniture and traditional rugs. It’s what they like. It’s very simplistic, uncluttered, warm, and livable.

The Beauty of Choice

Marvin says the buzz and floor traffic surrounding big glass displays at this year’s International Builders’ Show (IBS) is another example of a surging trend. “We had a contemporary studio collection at IBS,” Marvin observes. “These windows are specified for transitional design because traditional furniture and décor softens the look. You pick what resonates. That’s the beauty of transitional design.”

The good news for home builders is transitional styling checks all the boxes. The builder is free to recommend the best elements of contemporary and transitional home styling without sacrificing project aesthetics, value, and quality.

As Marvin says, “Home buyers find inspiration everywhere. It’s a different conversation today.

For more information on the transitional home, visit our sources: Builder Online and Marvin Windows and Doors.

This Old House, Generation Next to Benefit mikeroweWORKS

In 2017 mikeroweWORKS is going to give away a lot of work ethic scholarships. We’re not sure how many yet, but so far they have raised over $500,000, and they think that there is a lot more on the horizon. Along with the generosity of the people on their page, their partnership with This Old House is turning out to be rather remarkable.

This Old House, a diabolically simple TV show that’s been on the air for nearly a hundred years, has determined – quite rightly, that America’s skills gap poses a clear and present danger to anyone addicted to solid foundations, straight walls, sturdy roofs, affordable electricity, smooth roads, and indoor plumbing.

To help close the gap, Norm Abram and the crew of This Old House have launched an initiative called Generation Next – a targeted effort to encourage more kids to explore careers in the construction trades. 

As a part of Generation Next, This Old House wanted to offer a scholarship program, funded in part by sponsors of their show. But then, they stumbled across mikeroweWORKS, and realized that they’ve been doing the very same thing since 2008. So, rather than do the same exact thing, the they decided to let mikeroweWORKS handle it.

Additionally, the actual house featured on this season of This Old House will be auctioned off at the end of the year, and mikeroweWORKS will receive those funds as well. 

So – Mark your calendars. Sometime in March, there will be an announcing existence of another large pile of money, specifically for those willing to learn a skill that’s actually in demand. 

For more about the project, and the project, visit our source: Mike Rowe

9 Easy Home Upgrades for March

Make Tax Time Easier

Pull receipts, interest statements, and other crucial docs now to avoid future stress.

Retire Storm Windows

Cover and label them so you know which goes where, and store them vertically.

Shovel Lingering Snow

Use a plastic shovel to clear any residual snow and ice from decks to prevent boards from becoming warped or split

Help Out Your Yard

Order seeds for microclover now, and spread them on the lawn once the soil is workable for a boost of green all summer.

Reseal Exterior Joints

Look for small gaps around window and door trim, then remove any old caulk before filling with weather-resistant polyurethane sealant.

Inspect the Furnace

Remove the access panels and filter, clear out dust and debris with a vacuum attachment, then install a new filter.

Clean Dryer Vents

This is one spring-cleaning task that’s a safety essential, since the National Fire Protection Association reports that about 15,520 home fires per year are associated with clothes dryers. Detach the duct from the back of the dryer and use a long snake-type brush to remove flammable lint from the vent’s entire length.

Keep Kids Safe

National Poision Prevention Week (March 20-26) is a good reminder to be careful with household and garden chemicals, which can be fatal if ingested. To protect children in your home, take extra care to stow chemicals and items that come in easy-to-open bags, such as fertilizer, in a locked cabinet or shed. Always keep household cleaners in their original containers to avoid misidentification.

Check for Roof Damage

Winter snow and ice storms can take a toll on your roof, so it’s a good idea to scope things out now. There’s no need to walk on the roof – it’s safer for you and better for your roofing to take a peek from your ladder. Look for buckling, curling, or blistering shingles and for wear around the chimneys and pipes. If you spot something questionable, call in a pro.

Source: This Old House

How to Build a Space-Saving Workshop

The Building where Stefani Bachetti, who does research for an industrial-design firm, used to work had housed a large shop outfitted with a table saw, an assembly bench, and a drill press. So Stefani decided if she could no longer go to that shop, she’d bring one to her by converting her brick-walled one-car garage into a workspace for building small-scale furniture projects.

Filling her garage with saws, clamps would have been easy, but because t has to pull double duty, storing tools and her car during the winter, the layout required some problem solving. that’s where Tom Silva stepped in.

The solution focused on mobility. “Stefani has a long, narrow space, so we made the big tools easy to move around, letting her squeeze her car in,” explains Tom. He added a folding stand to a table saw she had placed on a work bench under the window, where it was too high to use comfortably. Tom shifted the saw to one of the long walls and, in front of it, built a Murphy table that folds up and out of the way when not in use. “The new bench is lower, about 32 inches off the ground, making it more comfortable when sanding or using hand tools,” he says. “But it also works as an outfeed support that prevents plywood or long boards you’re cutting on the table saw from falling down.”

Create Efficient Storage

This shop is short on space, but Tom added a few details that a workspace of any size can benefit from. He and Stefani hung a 2-by-8-foot strip of pegboard that she had attached to a frame of 2x4s and leaned up against the wall. “It was tucked behind the workbench, so you couldn’t access the lower part of the pegboard”, says Tom. Mounting the pegboard to the wall with masonry screws though a frame of 2x4s is the most economical way to keep frequently used tools close at hand and off the floor.

Install Soft Flooring

Inexpensive 2-foot-square foam floor mats keep your feet and back happy during long shop sessions and prevent dropping tools from crashing onto the concrete floor. The price: about $1 per square foot for 3/4-inch-thick foam. The interlocking tiles are easy to remove to make room for a car.

Add Ventilation

Tom fitted the top of a metal box fan with two threaded hooks that attach to two more hooks screwed into a 2×4 stretcher that spans the window. This will allow Stefani to pull fresh air during warmer months and blow out sawdust and fumes when she’s working.

Build a Murphy Table: Make the Frame

Start by making the tabletop support and legs. Build a frame from 2x4s and deck screws; this one is 46 by 34 inches. Add a couple of 2x4s across its width for stability. Cut a pair of 2x4s to 31 1/2 inches for legs so the table’s height is just below the saw. Screw utility hinges to the legs and to blocking between the frame and first joist. 

Attach the Frame to the Wall

Add three evenly spaced hinges to the back of the frame, then screw the other leaves to a 2×4 cleat. Holding the frame 3/4 inch under the finished height, temporarily support the cleat and drill five pilot holes. Fasten with masonry screws.

Top with Plywood

Tom sized the frame to support a two-piece top made with easy-to-transport 2-by-4-foot sections of 3/4-inch plywood. Lay down the first piece, as shown, then pull it away from the wall to create a 6-inch overhang, which will provide a surface to clamp to.

Attach the first section

Countersink pilot holes in the first piece of plywood, to prevent the screw heads from damaging chisels or a circular-saw blade. Fasten through the top into the frame.

Add the second section

Measure the distance between the first piece of plywood and the wall, and use a circular or table saw to rip a second piece to width to fill the void. Position the second piece of plywood, and drill countersink holes; fasten with screws.

Secure the latch

Fold the table up and mount a gate latch’s striker arm to a wood spacer that extends just beyond the frame front; fasten the space to the top’s underside next to the frame. Slip the latch behind the arm, so it catches. Drill pilot holes, then fasten with masonry screws.

To save floor space, Tom suggested a sliding miter saw with an articulating arm, instead of rails that stick out in back. The saw’s design lets Stefani make crosscuts in boards up to 14 inches wide with the saw resting up against the wall. Its wheeled stand has outriggers to support long boards or lengths of molding, is easy to move around, and folds to store flat against the wall.

Source: This Old House

Ten Questions to Ask When Hiring a Contractor

Architectural Digest asked Steve Fanuka to describe what questions you should ask a contractor-and yourself-before selecting somebody for the job.

  1. Are they quick to respond? I always give 48 hours. If you don’t get a call within that period, it may be a sign that the contractor doesn’t have enough time to take on your project.
  2. Are they accommodating? Remember, this is a date. Are they on time? Are they in a rush to leave? Do you get along with them? Do you agree with their opinions? You want to know that your contractor is going to put what it takes into your job. These details can be valuable forecasters of how they will perform.
  3. How big is your company? You ask this because you want to know who’s going to be on the job. If the owner or project manager can’t make it one day, will someone else come in his place?
  4. Are you licensed? Contractors must be licensed to perform electrical and plumbing work.
  5. Are you insured, and if so, can I be a certificate holder? Along with Workers’ Compensation to protect any laborer injured while working on your home, make sure your contractor has insurance to cover any accidental damages to your property. You want to be a certificate holder on both of these policies so that if the insurance ever expires, you will be notified and can hold off on further work until it is renewed.
  6. Can we have weekly meetings? When I’m doing a job, I like to have a weekly meeting so we can update the client and get all their questions answered.
  7. What are your payment terms? I like to use the American Institute of Architects contract – a basic agreement available for a small download fee that lays out a payment structure and other terms that protect the client, homeowner, and contractor. Keep in mind that if your project costs less than $500, you don’t usually need a contract.
  8. Are you willing to put in writing how long the job is going to take? I usually include a one-week grace period.
  9. Will you give a time frame for fixing any mistakes or imperfections I notice? Even the best contractors can miss things – a light-switch plate is off; a towel bar is loose. How long is it going to take them to come back and get these things up to standard?
  10. Will you come back after the job is finished? If I’m willing to pay you, can you service the job you did? If the light burns out, will you replace it? Hiring a contractor is like finding a good doctor. You want someone who can keep your project in good health after the job is done.

Source: Architectural Digest

Securing Windows

Window shopping is a favorite past time for burglars. Inadequately protected windows are easy marks for intruders who have an arsenal of tricks or the quickest, easiest ways to force them. But safeguarding your home’s windows is neither difficult nor expensive.

Start by taking a quick survey of your windows – including those in the basement and the garage and any second-story windows that would be easy to reach from the ground. List each one on a sheet of paper, noting its type (such as double-hung or casement) and the kind of lock it now has.

If you’ve identified a few windows that you think are especially vulnerable, you may feel that even sturdy locks aren’t sufficient protection. In this case, consider replacing the standard glazing with impact-resistant acrylic or polycarbonate or with high-security glass. Or, where appearance isn’t of prime importance, install metal grille outside the window or a scissors-type security gate on the inside.

The ordinary sash latches on double-hung windows may help squeeze out drafts, but they offer little protection against break-ins. An intruder can simply insert a knife up between the sash and flip the latch open, or if he’s in a real hurry, force the lower sash and snap the latch of with very little effort.

  1. One of the easiest and least expensive ways to secure a double hung window is with key-operated lag screws, available in kits at most hardware stores. Pre-drill the sash, and insert the screws through their recessed washers. Tighten the screws with the special key provided. Drilling additional holes in the upper sash will let you keep the window locked in a partially open position for ventilation.
  2. Easier still is wedging the lower sash in its fully closed position with a length of scrap wood. Cut the strip to the exact size, fit it into the channel that operates the lower sash, and tack it in place. This solution is best served for windows you don’t open often; it’s not as tidy-looking as lag-screw locks, and it won’t let you secure the window in a partially open position.
  3. If you’d rather not drill extra holes in your sash but want the protection of a keyed window lock, replace the original sash latch with a key-operated lever. be sure to keep the key near enough for a quick emergency but out of reach of a prowler’s exploring hand.
  4. A keyed bolt-action lock has the added advantage of letting you lock the window in various open positions – just install additional brackets on the upper sash.

Casement windows are one of the most secure types you can own. A casement that’s strong and in good condition may not need a lock at all. If the window is large enough to admit an adult (and it opens to more than about 6-1/2 inches), simply consider removing the operator crank and keep it well out of window reach.

Install a chain lock (the same type used on doors) to limit the distance the window will open. For maximum security, fasten it to the sash and frame with the longest screws that the window will accommodate.

Like sliding glass doors, most sliding windows are all too easy to lift out of their tracks or jimmy open with a pry bar.

  1. to keep window sash securely in their tracks, drive sheet-metal screws partway into the upper tracks. Adjust the screws so the window barely clears them as it slides, with no wiggle room for maneuvering the sash up over the lower tracks.
  2. A simple metal clip will prevent a burglar from prying open the sash by snapping the brittle metal catch that holds the window closed. Bend the clip to fit your window channel, and install it in the lower track wedged against the closed inner sash.
  3. Key-operated locks are perhaps the most secure way to protect sliding windows, and they’ll work with vertical sliding windows, too. 

Basement windows (and, in older homes, unusual coal chutes) are potential points of entry that many home owners don’t think about until its too late.

  1. If your basement windows don’t have locks, drive long screws into the stop on each side at a height that will let you open the window only a few inches.
  2. A keyed sliding-bolt lock (or a sturdy hasp fitted with a keyed padlock) offers still more security and the opportunity to make a quick exit in an emergency. Keep the key nearby but beyond reach of someone outside the window.
  3. If you’re concerned about an intruder breaking glass to gain access, but you’d still like use of the window as an emergency exit, install a scissors-type gate with a keyed padlock. Again, keep the key handy and easy for family members to find.

For more tips and tricks about home window security, visit our source: Better Homes & Gardens

26 Tips for Tackling a Major Renovation

I certainly didn’t think I’d be sitting here 26 months after this old Victorian officially became our home and still have unfinished projects and still be surrounded by moving boxes instead of furniture. Ideal scenario, it most definitely is not. Am I starting to pull my hair out? Yes. Am I still happy I took on this whole crazy project? Absolutely.

Since it is still going to be awhile before I can fully reveal the house, and it’s been a 26 month journey to get this far, I thought I’d run with the theme and share my top 26 Renovation Revelations to kick off the week.

  1. In your architect you must trust. While I’ve wavered about a lot of design decision (cuz you have to make like 1,000) the floor plan designed by our genius architect from Porro Design is not one of them.
  2. Know your materials. What is the difference between marble and quartz? How will oak vs walnut look and perform? What’s the difference between ceramic and porcelain tile? These little choices will have a dramatic effect on both the performance and the cost of materials in your house.
  3. Understand construction timelines. Did you know you need to have all your light fixtures selected long before construction is complete because they all have to be roughed in when the walls are open?! Can you tell I didn’t know that? I was frantically picking lighting long before I’d actually given myself time to think about room design. Not ideal. This leads directly to point four.
  4. Have a vision going in. Design decisions can be very tough to make on the fly when you’re dealing the thousands you have to make, often all at once.
  5. The work is only as good as your subcontractors. You may love your architect or your general contractor but it everyone else who touches your house that will affect the details.
  6. Measure twice and cut once.
  7. Double check everything. Don’t assume the “experts” will get things right.
  8. Order things much further in advance than you think you need to. Then you’re not left waiting around when things ship late.
  9. Cabinets always take twice as long as they say they will.
  10. Order extras of things like door or cabinet hardware in case what you select is discontinued.
  11. Try to make at least one bold choice somewhere. You want to feel a little uncomfortable with your design!
  12. But stick to timeless choices for things that are expensive or hard to change later. A dramatic light fixture can always be swapped. A backsplash you’ll tire of in a year or two cannot.
  13. There are 5,000 versions of white paint – test at least 5-8 of them before you pick one. I picked Benjamin Moore White Wisp btw.
  14. Open boxes when things arrive – they might not always contain what you thought you ordered.
  15. Trades only like to work when they have everything on site (think tile, plumbing fixtures, appliances) so make sure you have everything at the right time.
  16. Grout lines should be about 3/16″ thick.
  17. Your chandelier should hang 34-36″ above your table.
  18. Kitchen pendants should hang 32-34″ above your counter.
  19. Scale matters. Scale matters perhaps most of all, so if you don’t know how to determine appropriate scale for things like light fixtures or tile, hire a designer who does. Trial and error will be more costly in the long run.
  20. Test paint colors on site to see what they’re going to look like in your space.
  21. Floors finished onsite can take as much as 3 weeks to complete(!)
  22. Don’t be afraid of black paint (spoiler alert!).
  23. Know that good home furnishings take a long time to make/arrive.
  24. Live in a house before you decide how to decorate it.
  25. Order big things you’ll want, like beds or sofas far in advance.
  26. Let your personality and style shine through your furnishings – they can evolve with your changing needs.

Source: APT. 34

6 Things Everyone Should Do When Moving Into a New House

When I bought my first house, my timing couldn’t have been better: The house closing was two weeks before the lease was up on my apartment. That meant I could take my time packing and moving and I could get to know the new place before moving in.

I recruited family and friends to help me move (in exchange for a beer-and-pizza picnic on the floor) and, as a bonus, I got to pick their brains about what first-time homeowners should know.

Their help was one of the best housewarming presents I could have gotten. And thanks to their expertise and a little Googling, here’s what I learned about what to do before moving in.

1. Change the Locks

You really don’t know who else has keys to your home, so change the locks. That ensures you’re the only person who has access. Install new deadbolts yourself for as little as $10 per lock, or call a locksmith – if you supply the new locks, they typically charge about $20 to $30 per lock for labor.

2. Check for Plumbing Leaks

Your home inspector should do this for you before closing, but it never hurts to double-check. I didn’t have any plumbing leaks to fix, but when checking my kitchen sink, I did discover the sink sprayer was broken. I replaced it for under $20.

Keep an eye out for dripping faucets and running toilets, and check your water heater for signs of a leak.

Here’s a neat trick: Check your water meter at the beginning and end of a two-hour window in which no water is being used in your house. If the reading is different, you have a leak.

3. Steam Clean Carpets

Do this before you move your furniture in, and your new home life will be off to a fresh start. You can pay a professional carpet cleaning service – you’ll pay around $50 per room; most services require a minimum of about $100 before they’ll come out – or you can rent a steam cleaner for about $30 per day and do the work yourself. I was able to save some money by borrowing a steam cleaner from a friend.

4. Wipe Out Your Cabinets

Another no-brainer before you move in your dishes and bathroom supplies. Make sure to wipe inside and out, preferably with a non-toxic cleaner, and replace contact paper if necessary.

5. Give Critters the Heave-Ho

That includes mice, rats, termites, roaches, and any other uninvited guests. There are any number of DIY ways to get rid of pests, but if you need to bring out the big guns, an initial visit from a pest removal service will run you about $100 to $300, followed by monthly or quarterly visits at around $50 each time.

For my mousy enemies, I strategically placed poison packets around the kitchen, and I haven’t found any carcasses or any more poop, so the droppings I found must have been old.

6. Introduce Yourself to Your Circuit Breaker Box and Main Water Valve

My first experience with electrical wiring was replacing a broken light fixture in a bathroom. After locating the breaker box, which is in my garage, I turned off the power to that room so I would electrocute myself.

It’s a good idea to figure out which fuses control what parts of your house and label them accordingly. This will take two people: One to stand in the room where the power is supposed to go off, the other to trip the fuses and yell, “Did that work? How about now?

You’ll want to know how to turn off your main water valve if you have a plumbing emergency, if a hurricane or tornado is headed your way, or if you’re going out of town. Just locate the valve – it could be inside or outside your house – and turn the knob until it’s off. Test it by turning on any faucet in the house; no water should come out.

Source: Houselogic

How to Stop Cold Air Leaks in Winter


  1. Install a door sweep along the bottom of exterior doors to block out cold air.
  2. Seal gaps between the door and side jambs with long pieces of weather stripping.
  3. Always engage the sash locks on double-hung windows to close the gap along the meeting rail. Consider installing two sash locks on wide windows.
  4. Stick a continuous length of adhesive-backed foam weather stripping to the top edge of the upper sash on double-hung windows. The soft foam will compress to fill air-leaking gaps.
  5. Use foam-rubber backer rod to fill large gaps where the lower sash meets the sill. Force the backer rod into the space between the sash and stool.
  6. For windows that you won’t open until spring, seal them shut with temporary caulking, which you can press into place, and easily peel off when winter is over.
  7. To block cold air from blowing in around an electrical outlet, remove the cover plate and press a soft-rubber gasket over the outlet. Replace the cover plate.
  8. Use minimal-expanding foam to fill the gaps around all wall penetrations, including holes for cables, vents and pipes.

To view the video, visit This Old House, where they show a step by step on how to save money and stay warm by plugging up holes and cracks.

Marvin Invites Architects to Enter its 2017 Architects Challenge Design Competition

Marvin Windows and Doors invites architects to enter its 2017 Architects Challenge, a competition awarding prizes to residential and commercial design projects that exhibit creativity and ingenuity using Marvin windows and doors. Entries should be submitted to by March 10, 2017.

Now in its ninth year, the 2017 Marvin Architects Challenge will recognize one outstanding design in each of five categories – Contemporary, Transitional, Traditional New Construction, Remodel/Addition and Commercial. An overall Best in Show prize will also be awarded. The entries will be evaluated by an independent panel of esteemed architects, including Robert Gurney, FAIA, Manny Gonzalaez, FAIA, NCARB, LEED AP, CAASH and Ted Flato, FAIA.

The Architects Challenge is an opportunity for Marvin to recognize architects who take creative advantage of the design flexibility we build into our products,” said Dondi Kazukewicz, senior manager of brand communications at Marvin Windows and Doors. “But it is also an opportunity for us to honor their vision and expertise. With each year’s submissions, we are inspired to refine our products and services to help meet the challenges they face.

Winning entries will be announced during an ARCHITECT Live event at the 2017 American Institute of Architects (AIA) Convention, April 27-29 in Orlando. Marvin will provide conference travel, lodging and registration for the winners.

For more information and to submit a project, visit