April 17, 2013 castlebri

We’re back with more from Amy. Last time we met we talked about how she became a designer and what inspires her. Now let’s see what is going on this month for Amy…

So Amy, how many projects are you working on this month and what are they?

A: I have two projects in construction, two that are about to start construction, and I’m working on about five designs.

In construction: a full kitchen remodel along with flooring/trim/door replacement on most of the 1st floor and an exterior concrete/basement structural project.

About to start construction: a kitchen remodel and a very structurally involved remodel (moving stairs in the home, creating a nicer mudroom, removing the roof of the rear of the house and raising up part of the ceiling and installing a new roof structure, as well as replacing all roofing, some siding, a new window and exterior door, and basement structural work)

2 kitchens that are gut and remodels, 2 kitchen alterations/makeovers (a few new cabinets, countertops, venting the range hoods to the exterior, windows, etc.), 1 bath makeover (replacing a shower with a tub and redoing the plumbing in the bathroom from below). I am also working on quite a few kitchen conceptual design packages at the moment as well.

Designing in an existing space is one of my favorite challenges. I love coming up with different layouts that increase functionality without adding onto the home.

You seem to be keeping very busy this month. Do you have any tips for potential homeowners as they plan to remodel?

A: Make a list and categorize items as need, wants, nice to haves. It will save time and make sure that we don’t deviate too much from the main goal during design.

Create a budget. While I realize you don’t want to tell me your budget because you are worried I’ll spend all your money, I need to have some sort of an idea so that I can design and make recommendations accordingly. I’d at least like to know after I give you a rough ballpark estimate, so that I can help figure out ways to align the numbers (choose different products, do things in phases, have you do some of the work yourself, or scale back the scope).

Both of the above may change as you go through the process, but as with anything, it’s nice to set boundaries and talk about expectations.

Plan ahead. I realize there are going to be life changing events that may create an immediate need (a new baby or family member moving back into the home, a heath change or disability, etc.). But I find that both I and our clients will enjoy the process if we don’t feel rushed. So if you can, contact us months in advance of when you want to start the construction. The design process takes time there are usually revisions, and you need time to think, and we need time to get you on our schedule, and as much as I’d wish we could build things as fast as they do on the makeover TV shows, it’s typically not practical.

Along with planning ahead, think about how your family might change in the years to come and if you want to stay in this house forever or not.

Ask questions! If you need help deciding something, or I’m not giving you what you need, tell me! I really want to help you, and want to work hard for you to create a functional, beautiful, environmentally friendly space at a reasonable cost. If I don’t know the answer, I will find it.

Check out books from the library, look at images in magazines or online, take pictures at your friend or neighbor’s house, and have them ready at our meetings. It really is awesome when I have an example of things you typically like.

What great tips that hopefully homeowners can really apply to their future remodel planning. Once the project is complete do you have a favorite home décor shop you like to shop at to accessorize the space, whether it’s a client or a personal space?

A: My grandma’s house. I love the idea of incorporating used décor into a space, whether it is a family heirloom (I have chairs, a dining table, armoire, mirror, and dishes from my grandmas), or something from a store. I think some of the other designers might have mentioned this when they did their profile- but creating your own artwork really makes you feel accomplished and adds uniqueness too. I visited the many antique shops in Buffalo, MN this year and was pleasantly surprised. They have so much to choose from! The main things to consider if going there or to a similar local shop are that many of the stores are only open a certain weekend every month, they usually don’t take credit, you’ll need time to look thru them (even walk through twice because you might see something you missed the 1st time) and you need a big vehicle to bring your great finds home, haha! As far as chain store, my personal favorites are TJ Maxx Home Goods, Pier 1, Bed Bath & Beyond (for drapes and kitchen accessories), and Target.

One last question for you Amy before we wrap up this month – What would your dream home be if money wasn’t an issue?

A: That is too hard of a question! I actually haven’t thought about that until very recently-when I was asked by another designer what my style was. I think the home would be in a rural area, mostly brick, a two story, but not too big. I guess I am pretty traditional except a must for me would be an open 1st floor plan. We have quite a bit of room in our current home, and I’m realizing that I have always and still tend to spend 90% of my time in the living room. I would do homework there, watch TV, work out, read, entertain, etc.  So creating a light, large, welcoming, multi-purpose living room would be important. I also value mudrooms, since I like being outside and often come in dirty and like a space for the dog. If money is no object, a modest master suite would be nice as well. My dream kitchen includes dark blue lower cabinets, white uppers, Quartz countertops and maybe some butcher block, metal screening or insert grilles and glass in some doors. I really don’t have too many other specifics other than I would want to incorporate as many green choices as possible (energy efficient mechanical systems, insulation, windows, ventilation, natural lighting, natural and low VOC materials, geothermal, etc.; my husband would add a roof-top garden) and fill it with things that I love. I can say that walking into most rooms in my current home make me really happy. I wish that for everyone. A little paint and furnishing can make any place go a long way. 

Blue cabinets, although these are a little bright for me and I don’t want white countertops

I would probably go darker with the lower cabinets, and have hardwood floor, but I do like this one

I might still go darker on the cabinets and again no white countertops

Metal screening, and my dark blue cabinets, and my wood floors!


Next week we will talk about our house featured in the Minneapolis St. Paul Home Tour and then stay tuned for next month get ready as we meet with May’s Designer of the Month, Katie Jaydan!

Do you have a question for our designers? Submit your question today to Hannah: Hannah@castlebri.com

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