Universal Design

Universal Design: Safety & Convenience for All

More and more homeowners in Montgomery County and beyond are looking for ways to stay in their homes as long as possible. Additionally, we’re seeing a rising trend of multiple generations living together in one space. With so many family homes having small children, elderly adults, and everyone in between, including principles of Universal Design is becoming more of a priority.

Fortunately, the Custom Craft team has valued the ideas of aging-in-place and Universal Design for years. We’re passionate about designing for all stages of life and including adaptations for all ranges of abilities and sizes.

Wondering what Universal Design is and how it works? We sat down with Custom Craft’s Grace Arndt, a Universal Design—certified professional, to learn more about the principles of Universal Design and how she applied them to a recent North Wales bathroom remodel. Below are the 7 principals, what they mean, and examples of where you can find them around a thoughtfully designed home.

Universal Design Principle #1: Equitable Use

Equitable use means the design is useful, appealing, and provides the same level of function for all individuals. Grace’s bathroom remodel included a zero-threshold shower with a bench inside. With no tub or ledge to trip over, the shower is safer for kids and adults alike, and the bench is useful even when it isn’t a necessity. Besides being safe and convenient, the shower looks spa-like and inviting.

Universal Design Principle #2: Flexibility in Use

 Designing with flexibility in mind means providing options — multiple ways to use something based on preferences and needs. Common examples of this are items like right- or left-handed scissors or golf clubs.

The North Wales homeowners happen to be two very different heights, so having angled vanity mirrors that can easily tilt forward or backward ensures they both can actually see themselves while getting ready. It also allows mirror views for those using a wheelchair. Another example of flexibility here is in the shower, where users can choose the stationary or hand-held shower head.

Universal Design Principle #3: Simple and Intuitive Use

When a design is simple and intuitive, it is easy to understand and eliminates unnecessary complexity. Grace mentioned that over the years, faucets have become simpler and easier to use. Virtually all faucets available today meet this requirement — especially the single-handled models like in this recent project.

Universal Design Principle #4: Perceptible Information

 This principle considers whether the design communicates necessary information effectively to the user, regardless of ambient conditions (temperature, noise level, lighting, etc.) or the user’s sensory abilities.

Around the home, you’ll find examples of this with anything that uses pictures, sounds, or tactile methods to communicate essential information. A thermostat with both visual (display screen) and auditory (beeping) feedback informs users about the current temperature setting and changes made. Colors are useful here, as well; darker floors and contrasting light walls help those with visual impairments perceive the room’s dimensions more easily.

Universal Design Principle #5: Tolerance for Error

 In Universal Design, it’s important to minimize hazards and anticipate accidents or problems. Developing fail-safe features keeps everyone safe — from young children to older adults.

Our featured project includes an accessible vanity where a large space is cut out, allowing seated individuals (or a child on a stepstool) to get close to the sink and mirror. Where the plumbing would normally be exposed in this type of design, it has been carefully covered up. This not only looks cleaner but is also a safety precaution, preventing users’ legs from touching hot pipes and risking a burn. Similarly, Grace says there are options for anti-scald devices on faucets that stop water temperatures from reaching dangerous levels.

Universal Design Principle #6: Low Physical Effort

People should always be comfortable in their homes, and designing so that high-use items are easy to reach and natural to operate is important. Users should be able to maintain a neutral body position and minimize repetitive actions and sustained physical effort.  

In Grace’s North Wales project, the existing toilet was low to the ground. In order to make things more comfortable for one, very tall family member and future users with mobility issues, a raised toilet was installed in the new bathroom, making it much easier to get up and down.

Universal Design Principle #7:  Appropriate Size and Space

 The last Universal Design principle suggests the size and space of rooms and items in the home are easy to approach, reach, manipulate, and use regardless of the user’s body size, posture, or mobility.

When designing the bathroom, Grace made plans to remove a bump-out and install a smaller window to make room for an extra-wide shower. Large showers are ideal when there needs to be room for a second person who is assisting someone, and they also make it easy to move around without bumping into anything.

Have peace of mind knowing you won’t need to move unless you want to by designing your home to fit your family’s needs now and for years to come. Best of all, with a knowledgeable design-build company like Custom Craft, you won’t need to sacrifice great style to get there.

Contact us to get started implementing Universal Design into your home.

Bringing the Outdoors in: Refreshing Your Home Using Biophilic Design

With spring right around the corner, many Montgomery County homeowners long to get back outside, feel the sun’s warmth and reconnect with nature. Staying closed up inside all winter can make anyone feel weary and claustrophobic — after all, it’s in our DNA to feel calm and connected when we’re in the great outdoors.
But what if you didn’t need to wait until warmer months to experience the natural environment? What if you brought nature into your home to enjoy year-round? This idea is called biophilic design, a growing movement we’re excited to participate in. In this blog, we’ll explore this captivating design philosophy and its benefits, and unveil practical ways to incorporate it into your home.

What Is Biophilic Design?

Biophilic design aims to reconnect humans with nature indoors and is inspired by the innate human draw towards the natural world. Stemming from the Greek word “biophilia,” meaning love of nature, biophilic design aims to reconnect humans with nature in our modern buildings and cities. This could be as simple as bringing in more houseplants or as involved as adjusting the architecture of your home to incorporate more organic shapes.

Benefits of Biophilic Design

Biophilic design can be aesthetically pleasing and a good match for certain style preferences, but incorporating nature in your home goes beyond good looks. It can foster:

Better Health: Studies have shown that experiencing nature has several therapeutic effects, including reducing stress levels, lowering blood pressure, elevating mood, and balancing circadian rhythms.

Better Productivity: Biophilic design is not only embraced by homeowners but also by businesses and schools seeking to boost efficiency and innovation. Exposure to nature has been shown to improve attention span, creativity, cognitive performance, and employee satisfaction.

Better Sustainability: It’s no surprise that designing with nature in mind is also generally good for the environment. Materials in line with biophilic design tend to be more sustainable since they are often minimally processed and renewable, and opting for natural light reduces the use of electricity.

The Three Pillars of Biophilic Design

To create spaces that foster well-being, improve productivity, and promote a sense of tranquility, biophilic design relies on three fundamental pillars.

1: Nature in the Space

The first pillar of biophilic design involves incorporating tangible, real-life elements of nature into your home. You could use natural materials such as wood, stone, or glass, bring in a plethora of houseplants, or consider building out large or numerous windows to maximize natural light. Other ideas include:
  • Water features, like a trickling fountain
  • Minimally processed or raw materials that emphasize natural features like woodgrains
  • Indoor herb gardens or green walls Incorporating natural decorative items like shells, stones, or driftwood

2. Natural Analogues

The second pillar of biophilic design focuses on manufactured items that emulate patterns, textures, and colors found in nature. By mimicking natural elements such as sunlight, foliage, and organic shapes, homeowners can evoke a sense of calm and balance. Here are a few examples:

  • Neutral paint colors
  • Wallpaper, tile, or countertops with a nature theme or pattern
  • Natural fabrics and materials like cotton, hemp, linen, or wool
  • Circular or organically shaped furniture like tables, mirrors, rugs, and other decor

3. Nature of the Space

While the first two pillars focus on the materials, colors, and textures in your home, the last is more about how you set your home up — the layout, architecture, and orientation. The goal here is to design your home in a way that evokes a similar emotion that you might have while taking refuge in or exploring nature. Think of the excitement you had as a child escaping to a secret spot in the woods or climbing into a treehouse, or the peace you feel seeing and hearing ocean waves crashing to shore.
A nature-based retreat in your home could be a cozy reading nook by the fireplace, a well-designed bathroom with a spa-like, walk-in shower, or a fabulous sunroom streaming with natural light and filled with cozy furniture.

Ready to Bring the Outdoors In?

Incorporating biophilic design principles into your home remodeling project can be a wonderful way to freshen up your space, boost your mood, and stay environmentally conscious. By embracing nature and blurring the boundaries between indoor and outdoor spaces, you can create a sanctuary that nourishes the mind, body, and soul. Contact us to learn more about how we can bring biophilic design principles to life in your home.
level 1 bold kitchen

How Bold Can You Go?

Has your starter home become your forever home? Maybe you love your home’s location too much to move. Or, if you’re like many Montgomery County homeowners, limited inventory and rising interest rates may have stalled your plans to move somewhere bigger and better. As more families decide to stay where they are, a new trend has emerged to keep spaces fresh, interesting, and personalized — going bold.  Bold personalization happens when we make a home design decision that goes against the grain and steps away from staying safe or neutral. Some may be ready to dive into the deep end with a unique look in every room, others would rather just dip a toe in with one small space, and many homeowners fall somewhere in between. In this blog, we’ll explore options at each level so you can decide how bold you’d like to be.  

Level 1: Barely Bold

level 1 bold kitchen
There are many reasons why homeowners don’t like to take big risks in design choices — perhaps a louder dynamic doesn’t fit their personality, they don’t have the budget for drastic changes, or maybe they’d like to resell in the near future. If you find yourself in this category but still want to incorporate a few tastefully bold choices, here are some ideas for you:

Unique Lighting

Statement lighting pieces are a relatively easy way to impact the look and style of your home. Pictured above are fun, textured lights from a recent remodel in Doylestown. Aptly named “urchin” pendants, they bring a splash of fun and personality to the kitchen. Best of all, homeowners can easily swap them out if they want something different.

Statement Tile

Whether in the kitchen or the bathroom, many homeowners incorporate statement tiles in their design. It could be as subtle as a contrasting pattern in a shower niche or a vibrant, geometric work of art behind your stovetop. Whatever you choose, your wall tile could be the perfect opportunity to be (a little) bold.   

Welcoming Wallpaper

That’s right, wallpaper is back. If you miss playful patterns on your wall, wallpaper in a smaller space such as a powder room or home office could be the just-right touch of personality you’re looking for.  

Level 2: Fairly Bold

level 2 bold living room
This next level is for homeowners who are ready to make more of an investment in their design decisions. In this category are ideas that may involve small structural changes, could cost more, and are more difficult to change. If you’re feeling confident in your design style and are staying in your home for a while, these are for you:

Ceiling Treatments

Looking for some next-level bold options? Look up! Exposed beams, coffered or tray ceilings, or even a dark, bold paint color, as in this Plymouth Meeting remodel, draw eyes upward and create a sense of grandeur. 

Creative Countertops

Countertops with dramatic veining or unique patterns are strikingly beautiful and an investment you’ll keep for a good amount of time. We’re seeing a lot of sparkling gold veining, as well as fluted or waterfall styles that make islands truly eye-catching. 

Colored Cabinets

Tired of playing it safe with wood-stained cabinets? Go bold and paint them a rich, vibrant color. Your kitchen or bathroom will benefit from the visual interest and a unique touch of personality.

Level 3: Maximum Bold

Ready to be extreme? The last level in bold personalization gets into more extensive structural changes, design choices that could be controversial for future homeowners, and changes that usually require a large investment. These aren’t for everyone, but for some, they’re exactly what’s needed to make a home truly their own.  
bold kitchen

Nontraditional Fixtures & Features

Standard, safe fixtures and features will always be popular. After all, they’re popular for a reason: most people like them! Those willing to take a bolder approach, however, could opt for an oversized or curbless walk-in shower instead of a bathtub, indulge in their own personal sauna, or carve out space for a specially designed cigar room in their basement (all real-life elements from Custom Craft remodels!). 

Structural Statement Pieces

When your home’s focal point is part of a structural element and requires a construction crew, you know you’ve reached top-level bold. Structurally bold remodeling choices include raising your ceiling height, installing floor-to-ceiling windows, or even bringing in a larger-than-life or dramatic decorative range hood to capture your guests’ attention.  

All-of-the-Above

Part of what determines how bold design choices are is how many are in a single space. Take the above example of our steampunk kitchen project — any of these design choices by themselves may not have registered as extremely bold. But combining the stunning backsplash, dramatic granite countertop, cool copper piping and trim, tongue-and-groove wood ceiling, and unique lighting makes for a one-of-a-kind, ultimate bold look.  At the end of the day, your home should reflect your personality — especially when you know you’ll be there for a long time. If you need help deciding how bold to go, our team is here to help. Our knowledgeable designers spend lots of time asking questions and listening to clients, taking cues from the rest of your home, and factoring in your budget to come up with solutions that meet your needs. Contact us today to get started with a consultation! 
Trends

The Kitchen ‘In’ List for 2024

Happy 2024! As we begin the new year, homeowners in Montgomery County and beyond are wondering about the latest trends in home design. The good news? Many of the trends we’re seeing have stayed steady in recent years. This means that, unlike the fleeting, gnarly trends of the ’80s, when you upgrade your home with these elements in mind, you’re creating a timeless space you’ll be satisfied with for years to come. Here are the top kitchen trends we’re seeing and how they’re likely to evolve in 2024.

Beverage Center
  1. Better Beverage Centers 

Beverage centers continue to grow in popularity year after year. Our clients love the idea of a one-stop area where guests and family members alike can help themselves to a drink (or two!) without interfering in the high-traffic zones of the kitchen. In 2024, look out for stations that go beyond the typical wine and cocktail supplies and include high-end coffee items like Nespresso machines, specialty syrups, and grinders.

Warm Stained Wood

2. Warm, Stained Wood

Custom Craft Senior Designer Julie Novak Stafford often recommends incorporating stained wood to make kitchens feel warm and inviting — especially when the majority of the cabinets have a painted finish. Homeowners can incorporate stained wood within their center islands, in floating shelves, or even as a statement butcher block countertop.

Charging Drawer

3. Top-Notch Tech

In the era of smart homes, we’re placing a premium on tech integration. Designer Grace Arndt believes in the mindful placement of smart devices and seamless incorporation into the kitchen’s design — and it all starts with uncovering how clients live their lives and use their spaces. From smart refrigerators to intelligent lighting systems, high-tech innovations aren’t just convenient; they’re an integral, personal part of the modern kitchen experience.

Calm and Convenience

4. Calm & Convenience

During the pandemic, homeowners began to place great value on serenity and simplicity in their homes. Although most people are now back to their busy lives outside the home, the appreciation for a soothing, convenient environment is here to stay. Added storage, improved layouts, and innovative lighting are just some ways to make a home centered on tranquility and wellness.

Organic

5. Organic Design

Designer Brittany Murray sees bringing the outdoors in as another prevailing theme in 2024. Homeowners are opting for large windows that flood the kitchen with natural light, as well as organic finishes like stone and wood that create a harmonious connection to nature. Natural colors further enhance the kitchen’s organic appeal.

Textural Movement

6. Textural Movement

Brittany also notes that with warm, neutral colors trending, many homeowners are looking for ways to incorporate more visual interest and dimension into their homes. Textured design elements such as a geometric backsplash, veined countertop, or open shelving are all effective ways to use texture in the kitchen. 

 

Pendant Lighting

7. Pendant Lights

It’s safe to say that statement lighting in the kitchen will continue to trend in 2024 and beyond — particularly in the form of larger-than-life pendant lights. Oversized pendant lights add a touch of drama and elegance, turning the kitchen into a space where functionality meets artistry.

Decorative Hood

8. Decorative Range Hoods

Everyone needs a range hood to keep their kitchen air fresh and clean, so why not have fun with its design? In 2024, look for range hoods made from various materials, shapes, and sizes. Whether cleverly concealed to blend in with the cabinets or designed to be a fabulous focal point, range hoods will remain an essential part of kitchen design.

Multitasking Island

9. Multitasking Islands

 In the past, many kitchen islands were crafted like a bar, with seating on one side and the chef on the other. Going forward, we’re likely to see islands becoming more like (or even replacing!) the dining room table with seating all around. Islands have also evolved from simply a place to prep food to becoming the ultimate storage opportunity for a clutter-free kitchen. Best of all, homeowners don’t have to compromise on looks, as many islands sport furniture-style legs, waterfall countertops, and other stunning design elements.

Gold Finishes

10. Glamorous Gold Finishes     

Gold and bronze accents continue to make a bold statement in kitchen design. From hardware to sinks and pendant lights, gold finishes add a touch of glamour and sophistication, elevating the space’s overall aesthetic.

Looking to update your kitchen with some of these timeless trends? We can help. Contact us to learn more about bringing your kitchen into 2024 and beyond.

Dining Room

Easier Entertaining in 2024: The Top 5 Trends to Consider

Is entertaining more in the new year on your list of resolutions?

Whether your plans include casual backyard barbeques or sophisticated soirees, there are plenty of ways a remodel can make entertaining easier — and a lot more fun. Here are just a few remodeling trends set to make 2024 your best entertaining year yet!

Vanity in RelishPlayful Powder Rooms

 

Let’s kick things off with a small-yet-mighty room that’s often overlooked but can make a lasting impression on your guests — the powder room. As the smallest room in the house, the powder room is a great place to experiment with bold, unique, or playful elements. For example, we painted this furniture-style vanity a bright, cheerful “Relish” green to stand out as an eye-catching statement piece. You may also consider vibrant wallpaper, a striking mirror, or even a dramatic sink to give your powder room some pop. Adding a touch of luxury with high-quality fixtures and finishes will ensure that your guests leave the powder room with a smile.

Wet Bar in Dining RoomDining Room Wet Bars

Upgrade your dinner parties by introducing a wet bar into your dining room. Like a dry bar, this addition provides a convenient spot for drinks and adds a touch of sophistication to your space. The difference is in the plumbing — a wet bar can also house a mini/wine fridge, an ice maker, a sink, and even a dishwasher. Consider including glassware storage right at the wet bar so glasses can be washed and put away without being transported into the kitchen. Incorporate stylish cabinetry and elegant

countertops to create a convenient corner that seamlessly blends with your dining area. In this Harleysville remodel, we installed the same stunning tile backsplash from the kitchen in the dining room bar area to provide cohesion and a beautiful focal point. Now, homeowners can effortlessly transition from a cozy dinner to a lively gathering over drinks.

AfterLarge Kitchen Islands With Seating

As the heart of every home, the kitchen is also the hub of social activity. Take your kitchen to the next level by installing a large island with seating. This versatile feature serves as a practical food preparation station and convenient storage hub, while also providing a central gathering spot for guests. Imagine hosting a cookie-baking party where friends and family can enjoy each other’s company around the spacious island while mixing, rolling, and decorating! We’re guessing that’s exactly what the family in this Maple Glen home is doing — in fact, the island is large and functional enough that our clients decided they didn’t need a dining table anymore!

Outdoor LivingOutdoor Extended Living Spaces

Bring the party outdoors by creating an inviting outdoor entertaining space. Whether you’re hosting a summer barbecue or a cozy fall gathering, an expanded deck provides ample room for seating, dining, and additional amenities. Enhance the ambiance with outdoor lighting, comfortable furniture, and perhaps even a fireplace for those cooler evenings. Your deck will become an extension of your home, offering a perfect setting for any celebration. This partially covered deck was crafted just outside the homeowners’ kitchen, making outdoor dining a breeze.

Wet BarKitchen Beverage Centers

No entertainment space is complete without a well-equipped beverage center or bar. Create a dedicated area for mixing drinks, storing glassware, and showcasing your favorite spirits. Consider sleek shelving, a built-in wine cooler, and a statement backsplash to elevate the aesthetics of your bar space. Glass cabinetry with built-in lighting is the perfect way to display your stylish stemware while keeping it neatly stored away. A beverage center ensures that guests can easily access their favorite refreshments, keeping the party flowing seamlessly. As these Lafayette Hill homeowners discovered, it also makes the perfect spot for all your coffee or espresso-making accessories.

As you host your family and friends this holiday season, keep track of the elements in your home that could be improved to make your life easier. With a little help from Custom Craft, next year’s parties will be unforgettable. Contact us today to bring these trends to life and transform your house into the ultimate entertainment destination.

Bio Block

Green Home Remodeling: Transforming Your Space With Environmentally Friendly Updates

Sustainability is more than just a trend — it’s become a way of life and an important responsibility, prompting many homeowners in Montgomery County and beyond to seek ways to make their living spaces more eco-friendly.

Whether you’re motivated by a desire to reduce your carbon footprint, lower energy bills, or simply live in a healthier environment, there are numerous updates you can make to your home that are both aesthetically pleasing and environmentally responsible. As a forward-thinking home remodeling company, Custom Craft is here to guide you through some of the top environmentally-friendly updates you can consider for your next project, as well as practical advice to keep in mind on your journey to a greener home.

How to Build a Better Home

When we sat down with Custom Craft designer Grace Arndt to discuss Barbie Dreamhouse features available to those of us in the real world, she mentioned that sustainable design was at the top of her Dreamhouse wish list.  We loved this so much that for this month’s post, we asked for her take on what it means to build a green and healthy home. Here are some of her ideas:

Find the Right Fit

If sustainable remodeling is a priority, finding a home remodeler who shares your values is essential. When interviewing potential remodelers, ask about their eco-friendly efforts. These could be anything from the materials they have available to the ethical vendors they work with.

Bio Block

At Custom Craft, one of our cabinet suppliers is Kahle’s Kitchens — a company that goes above and beyond to ensure they strictly follow environmental protocols and implement waste-eliminating and recycling initiatives. According to General Manager Scott Fair, one procedure that distinguishes Kahle’s Kitchens from other suppliers is the reuse of leftover materials. Any scraps of wood and debris they have on hand are collected, ground up, and compressed into BioBricks — two-pound pellets that can be used in wood-burning stoves, fireplaces, or campfires instead of traditional cordwood. These BioBricks are used to heat the Kahle’s facility and are available to the community.

Once you’ve found a remodeler who can help you achieve your green goals, Grace also suggests communicating these goals to your designer because they “will put the extra effort into helping you reach them. Your achievements will be their achievements. It will be a team effort.”

Remember to Reuse

Before throwing anything away, reuse what you can. For example, an old vanity could be relocated to the garage or basement for a unique storage area. If you can’t reuse an item, try to find someone else who can. If your cabinets, doors, or existing furniture are in good shape but not working with your design, donate or sell them so they’ll be reused elsewhere. You never know when your unwanted items could be someone else’s treasure.   

Celebrate the Small Changes

Remember that small victories are victories nonetheless, and most of the time, little steps lead to big changes. It might not be in your budget to install solar panels on your roof, but upgrading your thermostat or swapping out that leaky basement sink could be much more attainable. Any step in the right direction should be valued and celebrated.

Sustainable Living Upgrades

With those ideas in mind, let’s dive into specific upgrades you can make that will go a long way to building a more efficient home:

Energy-Efficient Windows and Doors

One of the most effective ways to improve your home’s energy efficiency is by upgrading your windows and doors. Replacing old, drafty windows with energy-efficient models can significantly reduce heat and air conditioning costs. Look for windows and doors with ENERGY STAR certification to ensure they meet strict energy efficiency standards.

Smart Home Technology

Invest in smart home technology that allows you to monitor and control your home’s systems remotely. This can help optimize energy use, reduce waste, and create a more comfortable living space. Smart thermostats, lighting, and shower systems are just a few examples of how you can make your home smarter and greener.

U by Moen

Eco-Friendly Materials

To her earth-conscious clients, Grace suggests starting remodeling plans with environmentally-friendly materials and letting those items set the stage for the all-over look and style of the space. She also encourages her clients to invest in materials that are lasting and can be locally sourced, even if the price point is slightly higher. Some examples of eco-friendly materials include:

  • Bamboo, cork, reclaimed, or recycled flooring
  • Recycled glass, solid surface, or recycled quartz countertops
  • Low-VOC and zero-VOC (volatile organic compound) paints and finishes

Prioritizing sustainable materials like these in your home design sets the foundation for greener living and a healthier lifestyle overall.

Insulation Upgrades

Proper insulation is essential when maintaining a comfortable and energy-efficient home. Upgrading your insulation can reduce heat loss and gain, making your home more energy efficient. Living in an older home? The U.S. Department of Energy suggests getting an energy assessment that can tell you how well your house is insulated and where improvements can be made. If you need more insulation, look for materials made from recycled or renewable resources, like cellulose or spray foam. This improvement will likely pay for itself within a few years, even in newer homes.

LED Lighting

Switching to LED (light-emitting diode) lighting is a small change that can yield big results. LEDs are highly energy efficient and have a longer lifespan than traditional incandescent bulbs. They come in various styles and colors, allowing you to customize your lighting to match your home’s aesthetic.

Incorporating these environmentally-friendly updates into your home remodeling project will create a more sustainable and energy-efficient living space. Not only will you contribute to a greener future, but you’ll also enjoy the benefits of reduced energy bills, improved comfort, and increased property value.

Custom Craft is here to help you achieve your eco-friendly renovation goals. Contact us today to start your journey toward a greener, more environmentally responsible home. Together, we can make a positive impact on our planet, one remodel at a time.

Choosing A Remodeler

How to Choose a Home Remodeler: Setbacks & Solutions

Brown & White Kitchen

Thinking about upgrading your Montgomery County kitchen, bathroom, or basement? Your first step is to select a qualified remodeler to partner with you on your journey to a home you love. But how do you choose which remodeler is right for you?

They say an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and this is especially true with hiring home-building professionals. In fact, some of our clients come to us for help after having bad experiences with other remodelers and wish they had taken steps to prevent their mishaps in the first place. Here are three of the most common setbacks our clients have experienced with previous remodelers and what you can do to ensure they don’t happen to you.

THE SETBACK:  

Steak Dreams, Hamburger Budget

Remodeling involves a series of moving parts and professionals that all need to come together seamlessly. You’ll need a designer to understand your needs and help you plan your new space and a team of tradespeople ready, willing, and able to turn those plans into reality. Some homeowners hire an architectural firm to develop designs for their new space, then find a separate team for the actual construction.

Working with a separate design and build team can make it very difficult to line your dreams up with your budget. An architectural firm can make you incredible plans that look exactly like your dreams, but when priced out by a build team, those plans often cost much more than anyone can afford.

THE SOLUTION:

Remember to Research

Taking some time to look into the background, reviews, and work samples of different design and/or build teams will give you a good idea of their scope of services. Beautiful designs are great, but what do the finished products look like? What have their past clients said about how well their project followed their wishes and budget?

We might be a little biased, but this is also where hiring a design-build team like Custom Craft is a huge advantage. Our designers don’t just understand great form and function, they know how one small selection can make a $10,000 difference — and can suggest cost-effective alternatives early in the game. Then, when all professionals are working together as one unit, keeping within a budget from the beginning becomes much more manageable.

Need some guidelines on where to go and who to talk to when researching potential remodelers? There’s a blog for that! Check it out here.

THE SETBACK:

Clashing Visions

We all have our own personal styles, likes, and dislikes when it comes to the look of our home. Sometimes our preferences match current trends, and sometimes they don’t. Unfortunately, some professionals let their own opinions, rather than the homeowners, influence their designs. We’ve had several homeowners come to us after feeling unheard by previous remodelers, stating their goals were unmet.

THE SOLUTION:

Ask the Right Questions

You want your home designer to be a good listener, to guide without being pushy, and to have the experience and expertise to translate your wishes into a home that’s uniquely you. To make sure you get this, you’ll need to ask the right questions.

Part of your homework when choosing a remodeler will be to interview a few different firms. By asking questions about their process, mission, and values, you’ll get a good feel for how important client input is. If references are available, their past clients can tell you whether their home project was everything they hoped for.

It’s also helpful to take a look at their portfolio. Are there lots of different styles on display, or is it clear that a designer has a very specific style? The level of variation is often a good indicator of how well they’re listening to their clients.

Click here to learn the most important questions to ask your potential home remodeler.

THE SETBACK:

Failing to Follow-Through

We hear this one a lot. Homeowners put out calls to contractors that never get returned. Questions are answered dismissively or not at all. Or worse, the professional they found starts a job and doesn’t finish it, leaving them with a mess.

We understand how busy contractors are, and Custom Craft is no exception. Projects may not be finished as soon as clients would like, especially since we often cannot get started for several months after contracts are signed.

Some firms overpromise and underdeliver timelines to get the gig or overextend themselves so much that they can’t be good communicators. A quality home remodeler, however, will be upfront about timelines and quickly respond to inquiries.

THE SOLUTION:

Recognize Red Flags

Fortunately, with online reviews, professional organizations and communities like NARI and HOUZZ, and by asking those important questions we discussed earlier, you can tell a lot about a home remodeler’s reputation before wasting time and money. Spotting certain red flags like lack of communication, too-good-to-be-true prices, and others is crucial to getting your project done right the first time.

Curious about other red flags to look out for when choosing a home remodeler? Click here to learn more.

We want you to find the home remodeler that’s right for you. Could it be Custom Craft? Contact us to find out!

Workstation Sink

Our Top 6 Finds from KBIS 2023

It’s home show season, and this year’s Kitchen and Bath Industry Show in Las Vegas was insightful and exciting. If you’re considering a custom kitchen remodel in your Montgomery County home, here are our favorite features from KBIS to inspire your design:

 Workstation Sinks

Workstation Sink

No counter space? No problem. One of our top finds from the KBIS show is workstation sinks. These space-savvy sinks are huge this year, even appearing in a recent Custom Craft remodel!

Workstation sinks are a simple but seriously clever solution for small kitchens with little counter space. Companies like Moen and Ruvati had their latest models on display at KBIS, featuring deep basins and a built-in ledge where you can rest a cutting board, drying rack, or strainer right in the sink, freeing up your coveted counter space.

Fluted Surfaces

From tile to countertops and even faucet handles, fluted surfaces dominated KBIS. Homeowners can add exciting texture and a unique look in the kitchen with a fluted backsplash, cabinets, or even on their kitchen island backing.

Dramatic Stone Countertops

Homeowners are beginning to take a bold step away from all-white or solid-color countertops, opting for surfaces with dramatic veining, interesting textures, and bold strokes of color. Along with adding a strong focal point, these countertops offer a touch of luxury and sophistication to any kitchen.

Color

Heritage Colors

A new and daring trend is here to replace the neutral era, bright, 70’s influenced shades like orange, yellow, blue, green, red, and purple take center stage in the world of design. At the KBIS showroom, colorful sinks and toilets were showcased, while numerous kitchen appliances were also adorned with these vibrant hues, evoking a sense of nostalgia and retro charm.

Industrial Style

Colfax

No-nonsense, organic, industrial styling is big in 2023, especially in kitchen sinks. From power-boosting spring faucets to the steam-punk-inspired Pfister Colfax faucet collection, these fixtures are both extremely functional and striking.

Sustainability

Unsurprisingly, sustainability was an overarching theme in KBIS this year. We love earth-friendly appliances like Samsung’s Bespoke collection — a line of (customizable!) refrigerators, ranges, dishwashers, and microwaves that prioritize sustainability from distribution to disposal. Even kitchen countertops are going green, like Consentino’s Pietra Kode collection. This stunning Italian stone-inspired countertop drew a large crowd and is sure to look amazing in any home.  

 

If you’re looking to upgrade or expand your kitchen, the ideas presented at the KBIS show are a foolproof way to get started. Need help figuring out how to make them work in your home? That’s what we’re here for. Contact us to set up a consultation!

Kitchen RayTrace

Trade Secret: Chief Architect

Ever struggle to visualize something based solely on an explanation or highly technical information?

Us too!

Luckily, we won’t ask you just to use your imagination — or to learn how to read blueprints. Our team uses Chief Architect‘s home architectural software to bring home plans to life through precise 3D renderings. This software has amazing advantages for both our team members and our clients. Here are the top three.

Kitchen RayTrace

First-Class Visualization

It’s a challenge to imagine how your remodeled home will look, feel, and work as our talented designers reconfigure layouts, plan additions, combine rooms, and more. With Chief Architect, you don’t have to imagine — you’ll have access to 3D renderings and walkthroughs to help you see how each room will look from any angle. After taking a virtual tour, you’ll know what your living room looks like when you’re standing in the kitchen, how your foyer will appear as you walk through your front door, or how much bigger your dining room will feel with those extra windows.

With this clear visualization, you’ll feel confident with your choices. Or, if your design isn’t quite right, you can work with your designer to make it a better fit. Remodeling is an investment, after all, and you want to make sure you’re making the right decisions every step of the way.

Kitchen Rendering

Save Time — and Money

Blueprints are difficult to read, leading to miscommunications or confusion when sharing plans. When our clients look at a 3D rendering, the design is straightforward and clear. With fewer questions and less confusion, the design process goes smoother and faster. Furthermore, changes can be made instantly with just a few clicks of a mouse. For example, if you decide to swap your hardwood floors with vinyl tile, we can quickly show you what this will look like — without going back to the drawing board and well before it becomes a costly change order.

Just how close are the renderings to reality? See for yourself! Here’s a comparison of a Chief Architect rendering and a finished living room remodel.

Ray Trace
Fireplace

Communicate Clearly

Adjusting design plans over email conversations or phone calls can be risky, stressful, and time-consuming. Instead of trying to communicate these changes with words, Chief Architect’s visual tools allow homeowners to see how changes will actually look. Designers can even produce multiple looks for homeowners to choose from, allowing more influence on the design. The options layout below shows six versions of a bathroom our designers came up with for a recent client

Layout Options

In addition, designs created in Chief Architect can be quickly shared between family members and anyone else who may be involved in your project. You can take a family vote on drawer pulls, ask your artistic friend about paint colors, or get your mom’s stamp of approval on the layout of the new in-law suite. The design process doesn’t have to be something frustrating you trudge through – it can be an enjoyable experience you feel good about.

Chief Architect technology is just one advantage that sets us apart from other home designers. Want to learn more about the Custom Craft Difference? Contact us today!

Kitchen

3 Steps to Selecting Your Home Remodeler – The Series

Choosing the right remodeler is a big decision. Whether you’re remodeling your Ambler kitchen, updating your Lansdale bathroom, or modernizing your North Wales master bedroom, picking who will do the work is the difference between getting your dream house and your worst nightmare. But how do you know you’re choosing the right team? We’re here to help. Our upcoming blog series dives into the three steps to ensuring your remodel will be everything you want and need and one big misstep to avoid.  

Over the next few months, you’ll learn decision-making tips on:
  • Research: Google can only get you so far. Discover what specifically to look for (online and offline) to know you’ve found a quality remodeler.
  • Interviewing: Be prepared for your initial consultation with the right questions — and answers.
  • Red Flags: Learn the warning signs that a remodeler isn’t the right fit for you.
  • The one mistake many homeowners make — but all should avoid.
Kitchen

Get ready to discover all these ideas and more in our upcoming blog series. By the end, you’ll be a wiser consumer, feel more confident in your decisions, and have the tools you need to start transforming your house into your dream home. Stay tuned for step one coming soon!

Wondering if Custom Craft is the right remodeler for you? Let’s talk!

Group Photo 2021

Seasons Greetings!

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Decorations are up, shopping is underway, and Christmas parties are in full swing. The team at Custom Craft had a great time celebrating at our holiday gathering recently — a fun evening of good company, delicious food, and holiday cheer.

Group Photo 2021

December is a great opportunity to pause and reflect on the passing year. 2021 has certainly had its ups and downs, but we’re fortunate to say that it’s been very successful for us. We have our homeowners, friends, and exceptional group of team members to thank! We’re coming up on our 40th anniversary, and we know that the people of Custom Craft are the reason for our growth and longevity — from a one-man operation in Lansdale to a premier design-build service spanning several counties.

As you celebrate with friends and family, we hope your hearts and homes are filled with joy, laughter, and love. Take an extra moment to gaze at the lights, grasp that warm mug of hot cocoa, and watch the snowflakes fall softly outside. When the New Year arrives, we’ll be anxious to hear what projects we can help you with next.

Happy holidays from Custom Craft!

Lighted Post Caps

The Three Most Important Ideas for Your Next Remodel

Planning a remodel? Whether you’re getting started on a kitchen refresh, bathroom update, or even a whole-home remodel, the beginning stages can feel overwhelming. After all, a home remodel is a large investment in time and money, and you want it to be just right.

So do we.

That’s why we structure every phase of a home remodel against our three principles of design. Let’s take an in-depth look at these goals and how you can apply them in your Lansdale-area home remodeling plans:

  1. Strength & Solidity: Build to Last
Lighted Post Caps

Any structure added to your house needs to be strong enough to stand the test of time — even through heavy use and exposure to the elements. This gorgeous deck, for example, was crafted using TimberTech® polymer decking — a beautiful and low-maintenance material that’s much more resilient than wood. Whether you’re building an in-law suite addition, crafting an inviting deck, or restructuring your entryway, you’ll want to make sure you:

  • Choose quality materials
  • Protect against changes in temperature, water or moisture build-up, and other environmental factors
  • Hire knowledgeable, experienced tradespeople who work with precision, attention to detail, and know just what it takes to make sure everything they construct is built with integrity
  1. Functionality: Build to Fit
Kitchen

Many remodeling projects start with a problem. It may be that your kitchen feels dated, your dining room table isn’t cutting it as a home office, or there’s no place for your whole family to gather. This kitchen was feeling congested, and the homeowners wanted more room for entertaining. By removing the wall between the kitchen and dining room, their space is now much more open, with plenty of space for friends and family. Making your home function better and meet your needs could mean:

  • Rearranging for better flow
  • Repurposing rooms to make every space useful
  • Maximizing storage to stay organized
  • Expanding highly used rooms
  • Building an addition
  1. Appearance: Build for Beauty
Tub After

Form may follow function, but it’s equally important. You should love the way your new space looks, and it should reflect your personal style — a tailor-made retreat that you can’t wait to get back to at the end of the day. For example, these homeowners were looking to transform their master bathroom into a contemporary and clean spa-like getaway. We achieved this by installing an elegant soaking tub in front of a beautiful window and using a color scheme of warm white with grey undertones. Learning which design style or combination of styles suits you best will help you communicate with a knowledgeable designer. Some common design styles to consider include:

  • Traditional
  • Modern
  • Rustic
  • Transitional
  • Contemporary

No matter what kind of house you have, what your style is, or what type of project you’re planning, the principles of strength, function, and beauty will always be the heart of the design and structure of your remodel. With these ideas in mind, and a little help from a quality design-build firm like Custom Craft, you can construct your dream home. Ready to take the next step? Contact us today.  

Kitchen

The Design-Build Advantage

What is Design-Build?

If you follow Custom Craft on social media or keep up with our blogs and newsletters, you know we’re referred to as a “design-build” firm. But what does this actually mean?

A design-build remodeling company provides a streamlined, one-stop experience for homeowners. They have established connections with designers, architects, tradespeople, materials providers, and all the other professionals needed to complete a project. In most cases, all homeowners have to do is communicate their wants and needs, and a design-build company will handle the organization and details.

With design-bid-build, on the other hand, the homeowner independently selects a designer and a contractor and coordinates the project, scheduling, and all communication between them. It’s certainly not an impossible task, but it is time-consuming — and often labor intensive.

As a design-build remodeling firm, we’re able to offer Lansdale homeowners:

More Accurate & Efficient Timelines

Our design team works closely with our trade teams to ensure everyone is available and prepared at the right stages of the remodeling process. Our calendars have to fit together like Tetris pieces to be most efficient — coordinating everyone’s schedules is vital to an on-time and on-budget project.

Talented Teams, At-the-Ready

Your home is your sanctuary; you want everyone working on it to be tried, tested, and trusted. Unfortunately, the whole remodeling industry is experiencing significant labor shortages as demand grows.

Thankfully, design-build firms can offer the kind of consistent work that the most talented and highly sought-after tradespeople are looking for. We’ve selected the best, most professional teams around Montgomery County and beyond, and we treat them right — they’re with us for the long haul.

Endless Options

COVID-related supply chain disruptions and material delays are still plaguing the industry. Sometimes, a homeowner settles on a fixture, appliance, or product only to learn it won’t be available for weeks — or even months. This could cause a ripple effect in scheduling that can throw a remodel into serious delays.

Luckily, our in-house designers make great use of our in-house showroom. If a first selection isn’t available, they can recommend an alternative that the homeowner can see, touch, and test right in the showroom without having to travel back to multiple suppliers.

Ready to experience the design-build difference for yourself? Whether you’re updating your mudroom or planning an extensive kitchen remodel, contact us (or stop by the showroom!) to get started as soon as possible!

Kitchen

Tips for Creating a Houzz Ideabook to Share with Your Contractor

At Custom Craft Contractors, we are crazy about Houzz. If you haven’t discovered it yet, take some time to explore this online community dedicated to home improvement. Houzz has changed the way homeowners plan for a remodeling project. The Houzz website centers around a searchable database of project photos uploaded by remodeling professionals. To date, more than 5 million photos have been added. Similar to Pinterest, users of Houzz (also known as Houzzers) can search these photos for ideas and inspiration for their own homes. When they find images they like, they can add those photos to Ideabook folders in their account for future reference. Follow this link for some helpful tips from Houzz on how to create an Ideabook.

We like Ideabooks because they are a useful communication tool in the design process. For every room we work on, we ask our clients to prepare an Ideabook with specific types of images. Reviewing these photos together facilitates a productive dialogue about the styles and finishes our customers prefer.

If you are planning for a remodeling project in your home, here are some tips on the images you will want to include in your Ideabook:

  • Cabinetry style – For kitchens, this can include your primary cabinets and island.  For bathrooms, this would include the vanity and decorative storage cabinetry
  • Knobs & Pulls – The hardware on your cabinets can be more of an understated accent or a bold highlight. Be sure to include close-up shots with details of the style you prefer
  • Wall Tile – Whether it is the backsplash in a kitchen, or shower and tub surrounds for bathrooms, try to include photos that tie into the overall theme of the room
  • Flooring – There are many options for flooring. When adding photos to your Ideabook, try to be consistent with the material type and look, like natural wood tones, tile, or other material
  • Lighting – Lighting features can dress a room beautifully, so remember to include pictures of the type you would prefer, such as pendants, chandeliers, sconces, recessed, under cabinet, etc.
  • Plumbing fixtures – Faucets, sinks, tubs, and showers will play a role in the overall look and functionality you’re trying to achieve, so be sure to include images depicting the features you would like to see, from zero threshold shower stalls, to pot fillers over a cook top

By filling your Houzz Ideabooks with images of the features and finishes you would like in your home remodeling project, you will help your contractor develop the ideal design for your home. As always, if you have any questions about these tips, don’t hesitate to contact us at (610) 584-0665.

Gail

Please Support Team Dancer Strong

The Custom Craft team is proud to support Team Dancer Strong in Alzheimer’s Association Run to Remember!

GailAlzheimer’s disease doesn’t just affect the elderly – it can rob people of the best years of their lives. My wife Kristen’s beloved stepmother Gail, pictured here, was diagnosed at the age of 53. The devastating effects of this disease on Gail and our family have been swift and unrelenting.

Team Dancer Strong – comprised of Mike Dancer, Katie Osley, and Kristen Foering – are running in the Alzheimer’s Association Run to Remember Philadelphia Half Marathon in support of this amazing woman. They hope to raise awareness and some research money in hopes of finding a cure for this devastating disease.

Please consider supporting Team Dancer Strong by making a donation at http://act.alz.org/phillyr2r2014 – click “donate”, then “search for a team” and type in “dancer strong”. Or come on out and help cheer for them on November 23rd.

Team Dancer Strong thanks you for your support!

A Day in the Life at Custom Craft Contractors

If you have ever wondered what it was like to work at an award-winning remodeling company, keep reading. To gain this insight, we posed a series of questions to Matt Hill, one of our lead carpenters. Here is what Matt had to share about working at Custom Craft Contractors.

1. Describe a day in the life at Custom Craft Contractors

At Custom Craft, when we are not planning we are busy creating. Each day, I arrive on a job site with a checklist of tasks to be completed that day. As the day goes by, I am checking off the tasks that have been completed to make sure we stay on schedule. At the end of each day, I am planning for the following day. I also take time to speak with homeowners, to keep them updated on our progress and respond to any questions or concerns.

2. What is your favorite aspect of working at Custom Craft Contractors?

Presenting the homeowners with a finished project that goes beyond their expectations is my favorite part of my job. It feels great to see how much they appreciate the end result, especially when it is something I have dedicated so much time to over the course of several weeks or months.

3. If Custom Craft Contractors was a car, what make/model would it be and why?

I think we’re most like a Toyota Camry. The Camry is a well built, functional car that meets just about everyone’s needs. They last a long time and they’re reliable. They also come in a wide variety of styles, colors and options to meet everyone’s tastes. Similarly, Custom Craft Contractors is versatile. We can build anything from a bathroom, to a custom home. We also have high customer satisfaction ratings.

4. Complete this sentence, “When it comes to _______________, Custom Craft Contractors does it better than any other remodeling company around.”

Customer satisfaction. It’s one of our main focuses as a company. Our people all go above and beyond to make sure that goal is met. Everyone takes personal ownership to make sure that the customer has a high level of satisfaction with our work.

5. Tell us a little about the Custom Craft team

We have a good team. Everyone has a different construction background which makes for a good blend of skills and talents. We can meet a wide variety of needs. Our team members are all ethical and professional, which is important when you are working in other people’s homes. It makes for a happier work environment when your team members all understand how to interact appropriately on the job site.

6. Share one fun fact about yourself

I enjoy backpacking. In fact, just this past weekend I went to the “Grand Canyon” of Pennsylvania, the Pine Creek Gorge. Over the course of three days and two nights, I hiked 31 miles with a group of friends.

 

Read the 2013 Remodeling Cost vs. Value Report

Remodeling Magazine released the 26th annual Remodeling Cost vs. Value Report to the public this past January.  It contains localized data from the Philadelphia region and compares construction costs of 35 popular remodeling projects against the resale value that these projects could add to your home. The results of this report present the homeowner with an estimate of how much of their cost is recouped at resale.

Read the report by clicking on the image to the right:

In 2013, the top three remodeling projects with the highest return rate are projected to be 1) Entry Door Replacement (steel); 2) Garage Door Replacement; and 3) Deck Addition (wood).  As the cost of living continues to improve, the demand for housing will grow. The Remodeling Cost vs. Value report is a beneficial tool that can be utilized in your home-improvement decision-making to help you to determine the next best project for you and your home.

A Remodeling Cost vs. Value iPhone app is available for free download at the AppStore and has been updated with new data.  See what your home-improvement project could be worth!

Read the Spring Issues of The Craftsman

We recently introduced The Craftsman, a quarterly newsletter filled with helpful remodeling news and information. Download the latest issue. Our goal for this newsletter is to provide readers with remodeling ideas and inspiration, share details about products we love and to answer any questions they may have about home renovations.

The Craftsman is mailed quarterly to the homes of our clients, vendors and friends of the company. If you would like to be added to our mailing list, please click here or email your name and address to: info@customcraftcontractors.com