Category Archives: Home Improvement Tips

Living Room and Master Suite Expansion

This is the second major project Renovations has engaged for this client. The first was a very successful kitchen redesign and build. The clients wanted to expand their living room and master suite by claiming the space in the garage. The main home entry was relocated; the garage reclaimed for living space and a new garage is being constructed.  Watch how this transforms.


Style and Design: Materials

Along with the layout of a room, the actually materials used are a crucial aspect of an remodel or new design work. There are quite literally thousands of available options in terms of colors, appliances, flooring, and every other design aspect of a room, be it a kitchen, bathroom, or bedroom.

It’s important to choose options that not only look great, but are a practical as well. A home with small children will need a durable, scratch resistant with rounded corners on counter tops, while a home without kids may opt for decorative touches and less child-friendly features.

It can be wise to research materials, fixtures, and cabinet styles in order to familiarize yourself with trending styles, innovative products, and available options. Along with the Internet, local showrooms can be great resources, as we often bring clients there to help brainstorm and create a plan that finds a common ground between functional and elegant.

Style and Design In Your Home: Photos

At some point, every one of us has stood in a friends home or eaten at a restaurant and thought, “Wow, I really like how they used ________ to give this room a ________ look.”


Whether it be a minute detail of a kitchen sink, or the entire layout of a kitchen, remembering what you appreciated about particular design aspects is important. It’s easy to become quickly overwhelmed by the Internet and the dozens of design magazines available, so taking your own photos can be crucial.

Snapping a quick photo on your smartphone or cutting out a magazine photo can not only speed up the design process, but help ensure your room looks exactly as you had envisioned when it’s finally completed.  Having photos to use as inspiration and provide to your designer can be the defining factor between a cookie cutter room, or a custom and inventive space.

Style and Design in your Home: Goals

As with anything you want done right, having clearly defined goals before undertaking a remodel can be the difference between a shoddy project and a professional job. Not only does style and design change over time, but so do our preferences and needs during different stages of life.


Likely you already have a fairly clear and well thought out idea of how your current kitchen, bathroom, or bedroom could be improved, but meeting with a professional remodeler can provide invaluable insight prior to commencing any work on your home.  With years of experience under our belts, the Renovations team can help make any dream remodel a reality by combining yours ideas with our practical knowledge and background.

Be it a more open floor plan in your kitchen with more counter space, or a second sink in the bathroom for your spouse, we can assist you from concept to completion in any of your remodel dreams.

What Will You Remodel First? The Kitchen or the Bath?

Arizona Republic
Rosie on the House
Feb. 15, 2014

 What Will You Remodel First? The Kitchen or the Bath?RosieLogo_web
By Rosie Romero
Special to The Arizona Republic

OK, yesterday was Valentine’s Day; maybe you bought your husband, wife or best friend something special like golf clubs or jewelry. But maybe you promised them that this year you would have the bathroom or kitchen remodeled.

If you did, you’re not alone because remodelers tell us that after doing almost nothing to renovate their homes since 2008, homeowners feel good enough about their finances to start remodeling.

The only problem is that you have let it go so long that everything needs a facelift. The kitchen looks worn and outdated from top to bottom, and so does the bathroom. So what to do first? And how much or how little can you spend?

The first issue to tackle is whether you plan to stay in your house a while or not. You don’t want to invest $20,000 or more in your house when you might not stay and enjoy the improvements. Will you be there at least five to 10 years?  Even if you are leaving, remodeling kitchen and/or bath can be a great selling point for your house. But you may not recover more than about 70 to 80 percent of what you have invested.

If you’re staying a while, money might still be an issue. Generally, it is less expensive to do the master bath than the kitchen, but $5,000 to $7,000 won’t get you very far even in the bath; generally it’s more like $15,000 to have any impact.

Remodeling Magazine says that a current bathroom remodel in the Phoenix area is likely to cost about $15,600 for a moderate remodel, including a new tub; new shower controls; a new toilet; a new vanity countertop; and a ceramic tile floor.  An upscale remodel would cost $50,600 including a new shower with ceramic tile walls and luxury fixtures; a custom bathtub; stone countertop with two sinks; ceramic tile floor; and custom cabinets.

What do you need to change to keep up with the rest of your neighborhood? Remodelers and architects tell us that homeowners are fanatical about removing all the cultured marble from their bathrooms. That includes those one-piece cultured marble countertops with the built-in sinks. They’re replacing them with granite – the most popular – or solid surfaces like quartz.

They’re taking out cultured-marble garden tubs and putting in two-person, walk-in showers with frameless glass walls and showerheads glitzy enough for a $400 a night hotel. If you’re thinking about that, remember to keep at least one bathtub in your house because everybody needs a tub once in a while, especially little kids and dogs. If you do keep a tub in the master bath, put in a sleek standalone tub that takes up less space.
Olsen_Bath_1 O_Bath_2 In total bathroom remodels, says a recent survey, there is an increasing desire, especially among those over 35, to put the toilet in a separate enclosure or behind a partition. The same survey indicated that only 35 percent of those polled have double sinks in the bath; but more than half want them.

The height of bathroom cabinets has become an issue as well, according to John Reuter of Assurance Builders in Tucson. Many subdivision homes in the past 15 years were built with bathroom vanity cabinets 30 inches high; now they’re being replaced with 36-inch high models. Homeowners are also getting rid of over-sized, wall to wall mirrors and using some of the freed-up wall space for storage cabinets to house towels plus electric toothbrushes, hair dryers, extra bottles of shampoo and conditioner, and wrinkle removers.

Reuter suggests that if cost is an issue, pare all your ideas down to just replacing that cultured-marble shower enclosure or changing counter-tops if your cabinets are in great shape. Update the faucets and shower fixtures and replace the toilet, and you’ll probably feel a lot better about the bathroom.

Other lower cost changes for the bath: Repaint in new colors, including the cabinets; add a new larger medicine cabinet; change from one giant mirror to two smaller ones and then add more lighting on the walls above sinks; and finally replace knobs on cabinets.

In the kitchen, homeowners continue to want to open up the room to adjoining rooms, according to Tom Reilly of Renovations in Northern Arizona. That same survey mentioned before says that 77 percent of those surveyed want a kitchen that flows into dining and living spaces. Stainless steel remains the most popular option, along with neutral colors and a tile back splash.

Homeowners also want granite or quartz countertops, cabinets with pull-out drawers, and unique storage options like wine racks, according to Reilly.

They also want islands where guests can gather while the cook puts dinner together or family members can have a casual meal. There’s a new emphasis on lighting fixtures including pendant lights and under-cabinet LED lighting.
Olsen_Kitchen_2In the kitchen, builders tell us you need $35,000 to $45,000 to make a real impact by just changing all the surfaces and replacing at least some appliances. But a major upscale kitchen remodel can cost almost $108,000 in Phoenix, according to a recent study by Remodeling Magazine. That luxury remodel would include such features as custom cabinets, stone countertops with ceramic or glass tile backsplash, a commercial grade range, built-in refrigerator, built-in microwave, under-mount sink with designer faucets and new lighting and floors.

Even if that’s too much for your budget, you might fund a few improvements:

Put in a backsplash to add more personality; reface or repaint your cabinets; change the knobs on your cabinets; put glass fronts on a few of your cabinet doors; change the faucets; take out the soffits above the cabinets to add more storage space.

If you’ve decided to move, however, instead of making a major remodel, you still have to clean up some problems and fix a few eyesores in your home, according to Realtors. Next week, we’ll talk about spiffing up your house to sell it.

For more do-it-yourself tips, go to An Arizona home building and remodeling industry expert for 25 years, Rosie Romero is the host of the syndicated Saturday morning Rosie on the House radio program heard locally in Phoenix on KTAR-FM (92.3) from 8-11 a.m. Consult our Web site for other listings. Call 888-767-4348.

Outdoor Living

Outdoor living in good ol’ Prescott, Arizona.  Here outdoor living is a year round experience.DSC-005-WHole_House_800w

And there are so many ways to make it happen. Outdoor living when I grew up was on the patio, uncovered, with a picnic table my Dad made, and then we augmented this with lawn chairs. Our picnic table didn’t have an umbrella so no relief from the sun or protection from the rain. Hot sun or even the slightest rain drove the whole outfit indoors.  Cold evenings were another challenge. Once the BBQ coals faded, the evening was over. The last roasted marshmallow was eaten, and the smores were done, if it was warm out we would linger, cool we went inside.

Fast forward to today and we are seeing all manner of outdoor living solutions in all manner of housing types. Urban, suburban, rural, all present unique opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors at home.

Urban dwellings such as apartments, condos, and townhomes usually have a patch of ground for a BBQ and some outdoor furniture. This may be associated with a yard area, deck, or a veranda. I refer to a veranda as a covered space. These spaces are usually a pre-determined size and offer the more urban dweller a daily dose of that wonderful out-of-doors.

100_0962The suburban dwelling, usually a lot smaller than one acre, has more options. Now-a-days, the patio is usually covered. Often the outdoor living space has a fire pit, a gas fire ring (some very cool options here), and even a fireplace. Sitting outside on a warm summer morning with coffee just before engaging your day can set the tone for your outlook on the day’s tasks ahead. This setting can be gracefully achieved with an elegantly designed post and beam covering that is solid, keeping the rain off of you, or a ramada style that is open to keep the rain off, but designed to shade the sitting or gathering area.

Decks for homes in our mountainous terrain are very popular. We have completed several. Most frequently and quite recently, we have covered outdoor decks built 15 years ago or so. This brings new life to many homes. When originally constructed, scant consideration was given to the deck’s orientation to the sun and wind. Usually, these were constructed based on access from a kitchen or living space and with little consideration given to the impact our environment can have. Often these decks were constructed with wood, and rarely the correct type of wood, therefore requiring tons of maintenance. Because of this, they very often fall into disrepair. Or are rarely used. New owners see the possibilities and want to restore these spaces as a useful and pleasant addition to indoor living.

Replacement decking is usually a composite product made from recycled plastic and wood particles. When installed correctly, these products last a long time and require little or no maintenance. Often these products come in a variety of colors that will complement your existing home’s color scheme.

When we design and build new decks, we almost always use these products. While initial cost is higher than a cedar deck, the lack of maintenance over the years allows you to quickly recover that investment.

Rural outdoor living (on parcels greater than one acre and usually up to 35 acres), have a different perspective to living the outdoor lifestyle. From separate casitas, to small pavilions, and all manner of spaces mentioned above, the outdoor lifestyle is often a strong component on the larger lots. We have seen some wonderful spaces created adjacent to barns, with small kitchens and areas for entertaining likeminded friends. The barn for some folks is as popular a place as the kitchen for gathering and enjoying the rural lifestyle.

Whether you live in the city, subdivision, or a small ranch, outdoor living can be a wonderfully restorative respite. This is the time of year to begin that outdoor planning process. In a few months you could be living your dream.

Listen to our radio ad on Rosie on the House. 

Preparing Your House for Winter – Step 3: Proper Roof Insulation

Though often overlooked, no pun intended, the roof can accountable for nearly 25% of the heat lost through a home, and it doesn’t take a professional to recognize whether or not you have a problem. Next time it is cold enough to leave frost or snow on the rooftops in your neighborhood, take a step outside before it melts.

If your roof is melting quicker than your surrounding neighbors, it’s a sure sign that your house is losing heat quicker than theirs. Also look to see if you can see lines where the roof supports would be, if you can see outlines of each board, the insulation may not be adequate enough.

Having quality insulation can mean cheaper heating and cooling bills and in turn prevent water from leaking through the shingles and damaging the roof.

If you re-insulated your roof with approved insulation before December 31st, 2013, make sure you receive your tax rebate credit through the federal government. The rebate is for up to 10% of the materials cost if the insulation qualifies, though it does not include installation fees. Typical insulation products such as such as batts, rolls, blow-in fibers, rigid boards, expanding spray, and pour-in-place all qualify for the rebate.

Remodeling Your Home for Your Golden Years

Design for Adaptability: Remodeling for Your Golden Years
by Super User

We all have to face it—we’re growing older. Now, while aging is inevitable, it’s not inevitable that we will be forced out of our homes when we become less active. With some careful planning, we can create a home that will continue to work well for us throughout our lives.

A home that’s user-friendly for the elderly and the disabled doesn’t have to look like a hospital. More and more products designed for disabled people have broken the “utilitarian” design mold and are now quite attractive. Plus, the simple structural modifications won’t even be noticed. Here are some things to think about.

Make Things Easier to Reach
· Raise electrical outlets and phone jacks from 12 to 18 inches above the floor; people in wheelchairs will find this height more accessible.
· Lower electrical switches and thermostats from 48 to 42 inches from the floor; again, this provides easier access for people seated in wheelchairs.
· Move the bathroom medicine cabinet to the side of the bathroom vanity. Cabinets over the sink aren’t practical.
· Have multiple light switches installed; for example- at the top and botttom of the stairs.
· Lower racks, shelves, and poles in closets to make them more accessible.

Make Moving Around Easier
· Widen doors from the standard 30 inches to 36 inches to accommodate a wheelchair.
· Install chair lifts or elevators if necessary to provide access to other levels of the house.
· Make sure the flooring in the kitchen and bath is made of a non-slip finish, and is in a matte tone to diminish the glare of overhead lighting.

Make Things Easier to Use  Floor_modification
· Replace standard door knobs with levers that are easier to maneuver with arthritic or disabled hands.
· Consider replacing double-hung or slider windows with crank-style casement windows.
· Install grab bars and railings (consider textured ones for a better grip) near the toilet and in the bath or shower stall.
· Use single-lever faucets with balled tips for the sink. These allow people to control the temperature with one lever.
· Make work areas easily distinguishable by using contrasting colors; this is especially important in the kitchen. This makes it easier for eyes that don’t see quite as well. Install kitchen cabinets that feature roll-out drawers and easy-to-grip “C” or “D” handles.
· A flat glass-top stove is easy to clean, and makes it easier to remove pots and pans; make sure all appliance knobs are in the front.
· Don’t overlook the world that remote controls have introduced. VCRs, CD players, garage door openers, touch-command lighting systems, ceiling fans, and even microwave ovens place the pleasures of everyday life at anyone’s fingertips! And, a whole new world can be opened with the installation of voice-activated machinery.

Want more information on how to adapt your home?
Give RENOVATIONS a call today! 928-445-8502

How to Give Your Bathroom a Facelift



Nothing dates a house more quickly than a bathroom that time has forgotten.Yet drab or outdated bathrooms can be dramatically revitalized. Bath products abound that can give you as lavish a bathroom as you could possibly want. Many homeowners want their bathrooms to be totally utilitarian, but others want rooms in which to pamper themselves. How about you? Bathroom_Facelift

Your answer, and your budget, will determine the best way to remodel. Do you want to work within the existing space of your current bathroom? Do you want to expand by taking room from somewhere else? Would you rather build an addition to accommodate your new bath? These are are just a few options which vary greatly in cost.

Renovating your current space is usually the least complicated and least expensive option. While the layout of your existing bathroom can be altered to some extent, moving major plumbing fixtures is the most costly aspect of a remodel. Local building codes require minimum clearances between, beside, and in front of fixtures to allow for use, cleaning, and repair.

If you have an extra bedroom, you could move the bathroom to this space or expand a current bath into a portion of it. This will mean moving the plumbing but it will also add a modern, spacious bathroom to your home which will increase the resale value. An addition or even a small bump-out could be the solution. This requires the largest investment but will give you just what you want.

If you’ve decided to remodel, start with an analysis of your existing bathroom:

· What is the condition of the sink, toilet, and tub/shower? If it’s an older, wall-hanging toilet, you might update the look, perhaps with a low-water consumption style. If your tub is basically sound, consider re-glazing it. However, many homeowners are moving up to whirlpool style tubs.

· Does the sink have a vanity for storage? If it does, but you just don’t like it, consider replacing it with a one of the many beautiful varieties that are available today.

· Does the sink have independent faucets? If so, you know how inconvenient this can be. Why not switch to a single operating lever which is easier to use and gives a better mix of temperatures?

· Does your tub include a shower? One can easily be added with a combination tub-shower valve.

· Think about reinforcing the walls, adding grab bars, and widening doors for visitors with physical disabilities or for your later years.

· Is your medicine cabinet small and outdated? Consider the various styles of newer cabinets, perhaps with recessed or decorative lighting.

· How is the tile? If it is chipped and cracked and matching tile is not available, replacement or re-glazing may be your best option.

· If a wooden window is suffering the effects of humidity, it may be best to replace it and older metal windows with new vinyl windows. Deco glass block has made a comeback and is a good option for adding light and design flair to a bathroom.

· Many older bathrooms don’t have adequate ventilation. You may want to add a fan to avoid moisture build-up which can deteriorate materials and promote the growth of mold and mildew.

· Are electrical outlets a problem? Face it, the number of electrical appliances we use in our daily rituals has multiplied since the time many houses were built. That means that you probably want more outlets. New and replacement ones should be protected ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlets that are made to shut off automatically when they sense water.

Today’s bathroom can be all you want it to be. Enjoy the opportunity to explore the variety of materials, styles, and colors available to you. In the end, you’ll have a well-designed bathroom that functions as beautifully as it looks.

Call us or emails us any questions.  We are always happy to assist you.

Preparing Your House for Winter – Step 2: Clean Gutters

Whens the last time you stood on top of your roof and checked to make sure the gutters were free from leaves, critters, and branches? Whether you’ve simply forgotten to or are not physically able to, having a professional gutter cleaner can prevent structural damage to your house from leaks.

Though gutter screens and other prevention methods can stop some obstructions, it is still recommended to have them thoroughly cleaned biannually. A clogged gutter that is not directing water away from the foundation and walls of the house can lead to two major issues.

One, it can quickly lead to a leaky basement, as the water will overflow and pool around the basement when it rains or snow begins to melt. This pooled water can frequently crack foundation cement and find its way into the basement.

The other main problem is weakening of the framing and fascia near the perimeter of the roof. Soaked wood can quickly begin to break down, and many homeowners have spent thousands of dollars replacing rotting wood due to broken or clogged gutters.

While you are outdoors checking your gutters, also pay special attention to any exterior pipes that are not insulated. As soon as the temps dip, any residual water will quickly freeze and expand, leading to cracked or broken pipes.

Save money by insulating them yourself with prefabricated insulation from your local hardware store. Unless you know for certain you have a frost free hose bib (the faucet you connect garden hoses to on the outside of your house) wrap and insulate it.