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.

What’s in Your Barbie Dreamhouse — And Could It Be Reality?

Barbie’s Dreamhouse may be a  bit  over the top. Or is it?

Thanks to new materials, reduced pricing, and designers’ creativity, our clients are already living in the dream house — although perhaps a little less pink. From slides for stairs to outdoor kitchens and in-home elevators, the Dreamhouse’s fabulous features are becoming a reality for more and more people. We sat down with Custom Craft’s newest designer, Grace Arndt, to get her take on the dreamiest items Bucks and Montgomery County homeowners are asking for in their newly designed homes.

Basement Remodels: Entertainment Central

If Barbie had a basement, it would surely be all about entertainment. It’s no different for our clients. For many homeowners, dream basements include full bars, big-screen TVs, and theater rooms with specialty lighting and luxurious seating. These homeowners in Schwenksville have the ultimate entertainment setup behind their bar, with open shelving, LED lighting, and even an embedded sound system perfect for choreographed dance parties. If Skipper ever gets tired of staying in her treehouse, we’re sure Barbie would also include a bedroom for guests to stay overnight, with a convenient full bathroom nearby.

Kitchen Remodels: Culinary Creativity

Chef Barbie would definitely dream of specialty features many Custom Craft clients already have in their space. Topping Grace’s list are functional items that are discreetly hidden yet easily accessible, like hidden pantries, built-in microwaves, and downdraft range hoods that come up from the countertop when needed. Oversized sinks with double faucets or even a second sink for a drink station may once have been luxurious but are now more popular. Of course, Barbie would settle for nothing less than top-of-the-line appliances like a smart refrigerator with a built-in TV or a large, professional-grade range and cooktop.

Bathroom Remodels: Luxe Retreats

What would Barbie have in her Dreamhouse bathroom? Grace is guessing a spacious zero-threshold shower, a deep free-standing tub, or maybe both. She’d also need a vanity table with great lighting to put on her makeup, heated floors, and a smart shower system so she could control the water temperature right on her phone. All of these features are common asks for Custom Craft projects.

Bedroom Remodels: Where Dreams Begin

While Barbie’s magical wardrobe may never become a reality, a well-designed walk-in closet with custom shelving (including plenty of shoe cubbies, of course!) comes close. Today’s homeowners enjoy large beds, lots of windows and natural lighting, and unique touches like exposed beams or pitched ceilings in their bedrooms. To make things extra dreamy, Grace suggests including an attached space such as an office or even a sitting area with a coffee bar to ease into your day.

Bonus Spaces

The bonus spaces in Barbie’s Dreamhouse, like the pool or party room, are what make it so special and are some of the most memorable spaces for our clients as well. Grace has loved designing:

  • Video game rooms with specialty seating, large TVs, and beverage refrigerators
  • Amazing offices with floor-to-ceiling shelving
  • Home libraries with rolling ladders
  • Laundry rooms with dog washing stations and gorgeous farmhouse sinks

And, although no one has requested a giant pink slide from the second floor to the pool (yet!), Custom Craft has built some fantastic outdoor areas like this covered deck that Barbie would be sure to approve of.

Every day, homeowners are discovering that dreamhouses aren’t just for Barbie — and that features they thought were out of reach are surprisingly obtainable. So don’t put your dreams off any longer. Contact us, and see how we can help!

Marble Floor

Designing for Tomorrow: Aging-In-Place Tips for Your Next Kitchen & Bathroom Remodel

Many homes are not well suited for older folks or people with disabilities — that’s why requests for universal design or aging-in-place remodels have become increasingly common. Whether you are welcoming a family member with different accessibility needs or planning for your own future, there are several ways to make a home safer and more comfortable for everyone — without compromising on style.

If you’re not sure where to begin, don’t worry. We did the hard work for you and sat down with former occupational therapist and home logistics expert Dawn Heiderscheidt of Aurora Independence to get her insights on the best aging-in-place and universal design elements to include in your next kitchen and bathroom remodel.

Marble Floor

Risk-Free Restrooms

The primary/master bathroom is often the first room that comes to mind when considering safely aging in place. We spend a lot of time in these small rooms, engaging in daily tasks that require more maneuvering than you might think. While Dawn says that every person and project is unique with very individual needs, she recommends a few staples regularly.

Safer Showers

Showers designed with safety in mind will need grab bars and a stable shower seat at a minimum. But Dawn cautions against built-in benches, which can be slippery or placed in an inconvenient spot or at a bad angle, making slips and falls more likely.

As far as shower heads go, a hand-held model is ideal. Furthermore, you may want to consider having two shower heads in case of a height discrepancy between family members, or if one person prefers to sit while another prefers to stand.

Just as important as what goes in your shower is what’s around your shower and on the floor. For example, large tiles have less grout and require less strenuous cleaning. Dawn also suggests thinking twice about sliding glass doors, as they can be very difficult to navigate around — they may not offer the clearance one needs to move from the shower chair to a wheelchair, walker, or other mobility device. Curtains are also a better option since they’re much easier to open and close. Investing in a zero-threshold, doorless shower is even less intrusive.

Clever Commodes

The most accessible toilets are high up and in an open area without a lot of walls. Although some people prefer to conceal their commodes in a water closet, these extra obstacles can cause many problems for someone with mobility issues. Dawn recommends keeping as open a floor plan as possible in the bathroom and considering a bidet for the ultimate cleaning convenience.

Sinks & Lighting

Motion sensor sinks are a great investment in the bathroom. Instead of reaching for a handle, users simply bring their hands up to the faucet, and the water turns on automatically — no fine motor movements required.

The only thing worse than needing to use the bathroom in the middle of the night is being blinded by the harsh lights when your eyes are used to the dark. Dawn suggests using baseboard lighting around the bathroom’s perimeter to avoid this. Not only is this easier on your eyes, but it also illuminates potential obstacles, and the soft glow adds a pleasing aesthetic to any space.

Kitchen - Cover Photo

Clever Kitchens

A close runner-up to the primary bathroom, the kitchen is another important area to remodel or update with universal design in mind.

Cabinets & Countertops

Just as multiple showerheads accommodate different needs in the bathroom, multilevel countertops cover all your bases in the kitchen. Ensure everyone has a safe space to eat and prepare food by providing countertops of different heights.

Regarding storage, deep drawers are much easier to rummage through than cabinets, and many people find D-ring pulls simpler to grab than a knob. Additionally, appliance lifts are a must-have to access ultra-heavy appliances like stand mixers.


Everything AND the Kitchen Sink


When choosing your kitchen sink, Dawn recommends smart faucets you can control with your voice, a wave, or a tap. These can even be programmed to fill a certain amount at a time, avoiding spills and wasted water. In addition, tall or gooseneck faucets make life a lot easier since the user can wash at the right angle, while sitting or standing, without water running down their arms while they wash.


Like bathroom lighting, kickplate lighting is a gentler way to grab a midnight snack or glass of water without hurting your eyes. LED lighting can also be used under cabinets and is as lovely as it is functional.


Other Tips

Besides kitchen and bathroom accommodations, Dawn has some excellent aging-in-place tips for other spots around the house, too:

  • If you can, avoid having any steps at all at your home’s entryway. Even a single step can be difficult for someone with mobility issues.
  • If you do have a step (yes, even just one!), make sure there are sturdy handrails to grab onto.
  • The bare minimum width for doorways is 32 inches, but to be safe, Dawn recommends going as wide as 36 inches.
  • Pocket doors are a great space-saving feature, but keep in mind their small hardware can be difficult to open and close.
  • Barn doors could be another great alternative to a swinging door that takes up valuable floor space, but they’re not ideal. They offer little to no soundproofing, which can feel awkward and intrusive.
  • It’s best to keep the owner’s suite on the first floor if possible. If not, chair lifts are a surprisingly affordable option.

With all these safety measures in place, is there any room for appealing design? Absolutely. After all, no one wants their home to feel like a utilitarian hospital. In fact, Dawn says she enjoys working with home remodelers like Custom Craft so she can collaborate with designers to create a space that represents the homeowners’ style. Our designers specialize in hiding accommodations in plain sight. In fact, many look more like style choices than safety precautions — by design.

Interested in a safe but stylish renovation with aging in place in mind? We’d love to help. Contact us for a consultation!   

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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!

Kitchen Island with Seating

Bringing Down Walls: The Modern Open-Concept Home

What’s your home’s story — and how has it changed through the years? Home design trends vary significantly from generation to generation (and not just the décor). Modified open-concept spaces tend to be the gold standard today, but how did we get there? Let’s take a look back through history to learn more.

How It Started

Function has always dictated the layout of homes, and a lot of evolving trends were (and still are) the result of how American families chose to entertain and spend time together. For example, prior to 1950, most home gatherings were very formal. Kitchens were off-limits to guests and tended to be at the back of the home, serving as purely functional spaces. A formal dining room was typically used for all meals.

Kitchen Island with Seating

Post-WWII and the dawn of the baby-boomer era saw trends leaning toward a more casual way of living. Open floor plans began to emerge, along with the original mid-century design style. Walls with a fireplace spanning both sides and centrally located kitchens were more commonplace, paving the way to a more open house.

The ’80s and ’90s saw an increase in the size of homes and luxurious features such as whirlpool baths, high ceilings, and home offices. Half-walls were a popular way to divide rooms with a hint of openness. Eat-in kitchens were preferred over formal dining rooms, and the trend of the kitchen, dining, and living room area as one space began to pick up speed.

How It’s Going

From the 2000s through today, we see open-concept layouts not only trending but expected. It’s easy to see why. Better flow, multifunctional rooms, natural lighting, and endless entertainment possibilities are just some benefits of an open floorplan. The kitchen is now a central gathering location, where guests can sit and chat and even enjoy a meal at gorgeous center islands. Smaller homes are in demand as people search for efficient and eco-friendly living options, and open-concept spaces prevent homeowners from feeling cramped and crowded.

While open spaces are a top priority, modern homes feel more comfortable and less cavernous. We’ve heard many homeowners request open-concept layouts with distinct areas. Careful placement of furniture, flooring changes, varied color palettes, light fixtures, and ceiling accents such as beams and bulkheads define spaces without walls.

Blue Kitchen Island

Whether you’re opening up a compartmentalized 1980s bi-level or dividing up a too-open millennium mansion, we’re here to help you create a fresh layout that preserves your home’s character — so your home can still tell its story. Contact us today to get started.

Basement wet bar

Winning Wet Bars: Exploring Custom Features and Uses

Convenient, classy, and completely customizable, wet bars are trending in more and more Montgomery County homes. Like dry bars, they provide the perfect place to grab a beverage, are excellent for entertaining, and add class and elegance to any room — with the added bonus of a sink.
Let’s explore how to incorporate a wet bar into your next remodeling project, including some fun ways to customize it to your unique style:

Wet Bar

Classy in the Kitchen

A kitchen wet bar is the perfect place for a beverage or coffee station. These homeowners opted for both, including everything they need for the perfect morning brew and happy hour cocktail. A deep, 10” bar sink keeps the area splash-free, and glass doors on the cabinets allow for the attractive display of glassware.

Separate Wet Bar

This wet bar serves as a seamless extension to the main part of the kitchen, making it easy for two people to cook and serve guests simultaneously. A beverage fridge is discreetly concealed with a panel that matches the cabinets. The same backsplash found in the kitchen was used in this space to tie the look together.

Wet Bar in Dining Room

Accessibility in the Dining Room

It happens without fail — at parties, everyone ends up in the kitchen, making it difficult for the person cooking to move around. These homeowners cleverly solved this problem by bringing their wet bar into the dining room. Now, guests can refill their drinks and socialize while keeping the kitchen clear. This elegant area also features a custom accent tile backsplash and glass door upper cabinets with built-in lighting.

Basement wet bar

These homeowners crafted the ultimate entertaining area in their basement. Their full wet bar has a beverage fridge, kegerator, wine fridge, and lots of storage space. Gorgeous bar stools ensure a comfortable spot for every guest.

Convenience in the Mudroom

Wet bars can be for more than entertaining. These homeowners have a passion for gardening, but coming back into the house with dirty hands and tools was becoming a problem. Forgoing the traditional, unattractive utility sink, they chose an elegant wet bar complete with a champagne bronze faucet and hardware and a marble-look quartz countertop. Now, they have a beautiful area right in their mudroom to clean up or grab a drink of water.

Wondering how a wet bar would work in your space? We can help. Contact us to get started planning your perfect beverage bar, entertainment spot, or elegant washing station.

While you’re on our website, don’t forget to check out our home remodel cost estimator that breaks down how much you can expect to spend on different types of projects.

Remote Work Might Be Here to Stay for Many Companies. Here’s How to Build or Upgrade Your Home Office to Maximize Productivity

Even when social distancing ends, remote work will likely remain intact for many people in the coming months, as we continue dealing with the unknowns of the coronavirus and its impact on our personal and professional lives. Some have even predicted that this is the end of the office as we know it, as many companies have realized employees can do their jobs just as well from home. A new study from the Institute for Corporate Productivity found that more than half of companies surveyed plan to expand or increase flexible work arrangements on a more permanent basis. Additionally, The New York Times reported that the president of Global Workplace Analytics expects more than 25 percent of employees will continue working from home multiple days a week, which is up from fewer than four percent who did so before the pandemic.

As the workforce plans for this potential “new normal,” many will look to upgrade their work from home office setup, or build one if they haven’t already. In either case, we’ve pulled together some recommendations on creating a space that will make you feel focused, productive, and inspired.

Strategize the location and size of the space
If you don’t already have a dedicated space for an office, ask yourself the following questions. Your answers should help you determine the amount of space you’ll need and the ideal location:

  • Is there an underutilized space in your home that you could transform into an office? 
  • Do you need complete quiet? Do you take phone or video calls often? 
  • If you’re a working parent who often needs to multi-task, would it be better to set up your office near particular rooms in the house? Or closer to a common area?
  • Do you need a strong Internet connection?
  • Will you ever host clients or colleagues in the long-term future?
  • How much storage will you need?
  • Which spaces in your home have natural lighting?

Ideally, you’ll want a more secluded space to optimize your focus, but we know that may not be realistic depending on the existing structure of your home as well as other day-to-day responsibilities you have.

Choose the right lighting
Natural light is ideal. Without it, you may experience eyestrain, decreased energy, and migraines, which will inhibit your productivity and overall health. If you already have a home office that lacks windows, check out these tips to “fake” natural light. Additionally, determine the right task lighting you’ll need, depending on the nature of your work (i.e. desk lamps, light fixtures, etc.)

Decorate and personalize your space

Choose home office color schemes that will make you more productive or feel inspired. If there are certain things you like to have surrounding you – whether its photos of family, artwork, or plants – be sure to include those. If you have the space, you might also consider creating a separate spot, like lounge seating, for brainstorming or completing other tasks.

Optimize with shelving and storage
Once you’ve identified your remote work necessities, you’ll be able to determine how much storage you’ll need, whether you need to file paperwork, organize office supplies, store books, create space for a printer, etc.

Optimize for both function & ergonomics
Do you like to stand while you work, or do you prefer to be seated? Do you do most of your work on the computer or do you need space for writing/reviewing paperwork? Which materials/supplies should be within easy reach? The answers to these questions will help you determine which kind of desk you should have (there are various kinds!) and how to organize your shelving/storage. Whatever your needs are, we recommend designing your space in a way that will enable efficiency. If you spend a lot of time on a computer, select a desk and chair that will minimize neck, back, and eye strain, and position the height of your monitor properly

Prioritize according to your budget
You don’t have to perfectly outfit your office from the start; you can continue to add to the space based on your budget (and time!). Prioritize the must-haves or mission-critical elements first. For example, if you like the option to stand while working, perhaps you prioritize a standing desk over setting up a separate area for brainstorming. 

If you’re looking for more home office inspiration or seeking a home office contractor, please contact us for a virtual consultation! We can help you create a space that makes you feel inspired and excited for work. We’re also available for any general inquiries about home remodeling. We’re open and have strict protocols in place in light of the coronavirus. 

House Renovation During the Coronavirus: Plan Now, Build Later!

Before the coronavirus outbreak, did you have thoughts of starting a new house renovation project? If so, did you decide to put it on hold because of social distancing? We’d love to help you keep your design dreams moving! Although we’ve temporarily stopped active construction and closed our in-person Design Center, we can still work together virtually on project planning and design and development. 

At Custom Craft, we have a thorough preparation process that precedes production. Thoughtful design is at the heart of everything we do and ensures that we create a space that is tailored to your wants and needs, and is executed with care, high-quality craftsmanship, and efficiency. By planning now, you will: 

  • Get ahead of other prospective customers and avoid a crowded market. When the pandemic ends, many people will start requesting renovation projects at once. By getting started now, you’re far less likely to experience construction delays down the line. We’ll hit the ground running right away.
  • Focus on perfecting the details. Many homeowners get excited when they kick off a renovation project and want to rush right into construction. We’re just as excited as you are, but we encourage the opposite approach. Rushing may result in an end product that doesn’t match your vision. Since you’re spending far more time at home right now – and given that we can’t even begin construction – it’s likely you’ll be more engaged in our planning process by starting now. This will help us produce the highest-quality outcome that exceeds your expectations.

We do recognize the economic impact that the coronavirus has had on families in our community and that financially, a home renovation may not be a feasible project to take on right now. However, for those who do feel positioned to consider it, we encourage you to read on to learn more about our virtual design process and how to get started.

Phase 1: Virtual Introductions & Project Planning

Over the course of a few virtual meetings, we will:

  • Discuss your goals and objectives for the renovation and potential challenges
  • Take a virtual tour of the impacted areas in your home
  • Review and align on an initial design proposal
  • Review a preliminary scope of work (including timing and budget)

Ultimately, we consider this a partnership, so our goal in this phase is to determine whether Custom Craft is the right fit for you, and that you’re the right fit for us!

Phase 2: Virtual Design and Development Process

Once we’ve agreed to move forward, we’ll dig deeper into the project (virtually) with one of our designers. We call this your “At-Home Design Center.” We will:

  • Present a schematic drawing of your new space and a palette of finishes so you can see how the materials look side-by-side.
  • Package all of our recommended finishes and materials, which we can drop off on your doorstep, or you can pick up curbside.
  • Create a 3D rendering based on the finishes you select. This will help you visualize the new space.

Once we’ve aligned on design and budget, we’ll prep for production! We’ll create a tentative schedule, contingent upon us receiving formal approval from the government to resume construction. Important to note, even when the quarantine ends, we will continue to provide a safe environment for you and our staff, and will follow all guidelines from the CDC. Read more on our precautions here.

So, are you feeling inspired to start planning your next project? Or perhaps you just want to brainstorm some preliminary ideas? Please contact us. We’d love to hear from you!

Wishing you and your families lasting health and safety as we navigate this difficult time together.

home office with built-in cabinetry

Built-ins Provide Both Form and Function

Built-in Cabinetry and Shelving Add Form and Function

home office with built-in cabinetryWhen we meet with homeowners to assess their remodeling needs, lack of storage is a frequent complaint we hear. One of the ways we help our clients resolve these challenges is through the creative use of built-in cabinetry and shelving. Beyond providing storage, built-ins offer a host of benefits. Adding these features to any room of the home will improve the functionality, aesthetics, and organization of the space as well.

Are built-ins the solution for your home? Take this quiz and find out.

  1. Does your home lack storage space?
  2. Are your countertops frequently cluttered with mail and other papers?
  3. Do shoes and miscellaneous gear litter entry areas?
  4. Are there sufficient locations for handheld electronic devices to be charged near a counter?
  5. Do you have an underutilized area of your home, while the rest of the space feels cramped?

If you were able to answer “yes” to any of these questions, then a renovation featuring built-in cabinetry and shelving may be the solution for you. For ideas and inspiration, check out this Houzz Ideabook I prepared. It highlights many clever and subtle ways built-ins can be used throughout the home.

How We Can Help

Whether you need a well-designed kitchen pantry, mudroom, laundry room, or home office like the one featured above, Custom Craft Contractors has the expertise to design and build the right solution for your needs. We have been designing and installing built-in cabinetry for clients for more than 30 years. Our talented team stays current on the latest trends and product innovations. We will help you select the right door styles, finishes, mouldings, and features to create a stylish and functional space that will stand the test of time.

Questions About Built-ins?

If you have questions about how built-ins can enhance your home, I invite you to contact me directly at (610) 584-0665, or feel free to email your questions to me.

fireplace renovation

Fabulous Fireplace Ideas

fireplace renovationWhen it comes to adding warmth to a home, nothing does it quite so well as a fireplace–both literally and figuratively. Fireplaces are the focal point of any room and offer a wide variety of benefits including:

  • Versatility! A fireplace can be installed anywhere in a home, from family rooms to outdoor living areas
  • Fireplaces can reflect any style, from traditional to modern
  • They offer a cozy place to congregate with family and friends
  • Gas fireplaces offer a cleaner heat source than their traditional wood-burning counterparts and can be used to create heat efficiency in strategic areas of the home

On the downside, old fireplaces are often a significant source of heat loss. When we perform energy audits in homes, we frequently find that fireplaces are a major source of drafts. The good news is that they can easily be updated to be more energy efficient and attractive.

I’ve pulled together some of my favorite fireplace photos in a Houzz Ideabook for you. Check it out for some design inspiration. If you have any questions about updating your fireplace, feel free to give us a call at (610) 584-0665.

Make a Stylish Statement with a Tile Backsplash

backsplash with subway tileWhen I renovated my kitchen last year I wanted to be classic in style. I was tired of my current backsplash and this time around wanted something timeless. I have white cabinets with dark granite countertops so I ended up choosing Grecian white marble 3” x 6” subway tiles. There’s so much interest in the each piece of marble and I love the way it looks in the simple brick pattern. I capped of the ends with vertical marble pencils.

Tile backsplashes can truly make a statement in a kitchen whether you go with a simple classic design or a more dramatic look. It is a way to bring all of the other materials together such as the countertops, cabinetry and flooring. There are many options to choose from as far as shape, size, type of material and color. If you go with a simple subway tile in a brick or herringbone design for example, there are many types of materials to choose from such as marble, travertine, glass, and ceramic.

When you peruse through our Pinterest Kitchen Backsplash Ideas Board, you will see a trend toward subway tiles in many materials. It is a great way to go whether your taste is classic, contemporary, transitional or traditional. A framed accent can be used above the cooktop to add more detail if desired.

For those of you who like color and something a little different, there are ideas using Arabesque and patterned tiles. A tile backsplash does more than simply protect your walls from splashed and stains, it is a way to make your design unique and express your personal style.


Basement Finishing Basics

basementsIf you are interested in adding an exercise room, entertainment area, or playroom to your home, the perfect space may be beneath your feet. If your home has an unfinished basement, remodeling the basement might be the most cost-effective way to incorporate these features.

When considering a basement remodel, start by using a piece of grid paper to make a rough floor plan, marking the locations of major appliances, like your furnace, washer and dryer, and water heater. Next, you will want to note any of the following:

  • Interior and exterior access points
  • Existing plumbing locations, which are important to know about in case you want to include an additional bathroom, or wet bar
  • Location of vertical support columns
  • Locations of windows and doors
  • Floor, ceiling, and wall materials

Given their location underground, basements are vulnerable to dampness, which makes basement remodeling a bit more challenging than first meets the eye. But, with the right materials in place, your basement will be protected from moisture, as well as the mold and mildew that can come with an improperly finished underground space.

Most basements have low ceilings and few windows, which can create a dark and cramped feeling if not addressed properly. Fortunately, there are many creative ways to make your basement light and airy.

Here are some tricks-of-the-trade for transforming your basement:

  • Stay away from dark wood paneling and instead consider drywall painted in light tones to make the room brighter. Semi-gloss paint will gently reflect even more light into the room.
  • Open up the visual space. Consider glass double doors, a rounded archway, or a pass-through area between rooms to create smooth transitions from one area to another.
  • Check to see if existing windows can be enlarged. Or, consider installing a small boxed window for a mini-garden to grow herbs or start plant seedlings.
  • Add depth with built-in bookcases and entertainment units. Light them strategically with interior lights, or from the top, to cast light downwards.
  • Disguise vertical support beams and horizontal ceiling pipes or floor joists by covering them. Alternatively, you can use pipes and beams as interesting accents by painting them with bold colors for added flair.

Unfinished basements are much like a diamond in the rough—unexplored splendor awaiting your discovery.

Considerations for Creating a Home Office

Creating a work space at home can be as simple as arranging a kitchen ‘command’ center with space for mail, a calendar, and other household documents.  If greater functionality and privacy are required, designating a separate area of the home as an office is generally a better solution. Whatever the need, there are a few considerations that should be addressed when integrating a workspace into the home.

One of the first questions we ask our clients is: How will the space be used?  Understanding who will be using the space and for what purpose can help identify an appropriate location in the home.  A homework area for the kids and small household tasks like bill paying might be appropriately integrated into a family space like the kitchen.  This way the parent can provide assistance or keep tabs on the family as needed. If more privacy is required for a home-based business, then a dedicated room or outbuilding may be necessary.

Once an area for the workspace is identified, it’s important to make sure the area is functional for users.  This means making sure there is adequate desk area for a computer – we recommend a desk about 24” to 30” deep, 30” high, with at least 36” of work area.  Also making sure there is plenty of room for storage with file drawers, bookshelves, and closed storage for supplies.
Adequate lighting is integral to the functionality and comfort of the space.  To some extent, the amount and type of light depends on the work but we recommend maximizing natural light to the space whenever possible.  The ambient lighting in the room can often be accommodated through a combination of recessed ceiling fixtures and table lamps.  A smaller desk lamp with a multi-directional head can be adjusted based on the specific task.

With all the electronic equipment that we use today, managing the power to the space becomes important.  For a home office room, typically a 20 Amp dedicated circuit at 120 V is adequate for power needs.  Putting the office on a dedicated circuit minimizes the chances that someone in an adjacent room will overload a shared circuit resulting in a power loss.  Locating outlets based on power needs and managing cords also helps to maintain an organized workspace. Surge protectors are another important feature of a home office and should be included to protect the electronic devices kept in this room, from computers to printers.

Whatever your needs are, a functional workspace at home starts with a well thought out design. If you need assistance designing and building your new home office, please contact us at (610) 762-1632. Click here to view photos of a home office renovation we recently completed for one of our clients.