There are few projects that are more exciting and potentially more frustrating and stressful than a home remodeling project.  If you’re like most of us, you have a very personal connection to your home.  This is where you have probably lived for years, possibly raised children in, and created a life for yourself and your family.  When your home no longer really works for your needs or when you decide it just needs a few upgrades to make it more attractive and livable, it’s a big decision and one that should be properly planned out.  Home remodeling projects can entail months of work and thousands of dollars, so it’s important to do the right planning and work with the right people to help ensure that the end product is everything you wanted it to be.

Remodeling vs. Moving

–Remodeling your home allows you to customize it to your exact needs.  The only other, much more costly, option is to build your own home.

–Remodeling allows you to stay in your own home and close to schools, friends, jobs and neighbors that you have grown accustomed to.

–Remodeling eliminates the need for putting your home up for sale, holding open houses and going through the stressful process of trying to sell your home.

–Remodeling can be done little by little, as your budget allows.  Moving to a new home incurs many up-front costs (especially if you are upgrading to a much more expensive home), but you can do remodeling projects periodically depending on your available funding.  A roof repair can be done one year, a bathroom remodel next and an addition in the future once you’ve saved up the money to cover the cost.

Trends in Remodeling

Knowing what is popular and what others are doing in their own remodeling project can be helpful for your own as some of these ideas may be exactly what you’re looking for.  “In general we are seeing a lot more homeowners staying in their current home and fixing them up, compared to a couple of years ago when many were purchasing newer, larger homes, or doing only the necessary improvements,” says Michelle Christensen with Papillion Siding and Windows.  This is great news for those who do not want to leave their neighborhoods or leave the homes they have created so many memories in.  This trend means that people are willing to spend money on large improvements as they are not planning on moving any time soon.  One of those trends is three season rooms (often called sun rooms but either heated or cooled so they can be used during more seasons).  These rooms can make a huge difference in your home as they add to the livable space and can serve as another family or living room.  They can be a simple place to relax or an elaborate space to really impress your guests.  These are not inexpensive projects, so make sure you are speaking with a professional when considering adding on a three season room.

“Granite Transformations has been transforming kitchens and baths for more than eight years, and we’ve completed well over 4,000 projects since we’ve started,” states Penni Aschenbrener with Granite Transformations of Omaha.  “Some of the trends we are currently seeing are cleaner lines, lighter colors and the incorporation of post-consumer waste in the form of recycled glass for countertops, back splashes, showers and tub surrounds.

Our consumers have been doing their research when it comes to resurfacing and remodeling their homes.  What we’ve discovered is that most consumers are looking for little disruption in their home.  They have busy lives today, and don’t have time, nor energy, to have the heart of their homes out of commission for long periods of time.  They are looking for efficiency in their remodeling projects, which makes Granite Transformations an excellent fit.  Most projects are done in just one day!
We are also seeing engineered stones used for many areas of the home today – not just in the kitchen.  Bath vanities, showers, tub surrounds, outdoor kitchens and grill tables, fireplaces, tables – the area of the home that can utilize our surfaces are endless!  When consumers incorporate hard surfaces in their homes, such as Trend Stone or Trend Glass, they are adding beauty, value and durability.  Our surfaces are engineered for performance – they can withstand typical kitchen and bath activity without any special care or maintenance.  The homeowner has peace of mind when their surfaces can be used the way they were intended and still withstand the test of time.”

Project Ideas

Most of us already know what we want done to our homes.  If you walk into a room and hate everything about it, it’s probably a good indication that it needs some help.  In addition, you should always put the necessary projects first.  For example, it may not be the most exciting idea to get a new roof or heating/cooling unit, but if they need upgraded they should be at the top of your list.  Here are a few project ideas to get you started:

Window Upgrades

Including windows in your project is a good idea as it not only improves the look of your home, but can also have a huge effect on its efficiency.  “I am seeing people switch out from single hung and double hung windows to casement and fixed picture windows because they are more energy efficient and let in more light,” states Paul Vonderfecht with Enerlux Windows and Doors.  “I recommend installing the large fixed picture windows instead of multiple small windows.  Whenever a home owner walks into a new home we worked on, they all love the large picture windows.  In addition to looking great, a large fixed picture window is the lowest cost window per square foot and the most energy efficient.”

Paint and wallpaper

Repainting or adding wallpaper is probably one of the smallest projects you can do that has the largest effect.  “Paint is one of the most powerful decorating tools available,” states Leesa Kelley with Gerst Painting, Inc. “The color of the room sets the mood of the room. It can also expand and contract the perception of space in the area. Smart use of paint can give special accents to key parts of the space or make them seem to vanish altogether. The amount of change that can be made to a room with paint is limited only by the creativity of the one who holds the paint brush.”

“In addition, did you know that room paint colors have an effect on mood?” continues Leesa.  “Let’s look at yellow, blue and red: Studies show that yellow causes excitability in people.  Babies cry more often in yellow rooms, and people argue more in yellow
rooms. At the same time, it’s a cheerful color. Just don’t overdo it.  Blue rooms are calming, relaxing, and can even help weight lifters in gyms perform better. In the home, blue walls in the areas where food is prepared or eaten can lessen appetite, arguably because there are so few foods that are blue. Blue can also lead to the extreme of melancholy or a feeling of sadness, so keep that in mind. Red, on the other hand, is the opposite of blue. Red is passionate, incites action, and symbolizes some very powerful emotions. Red eating areas, unlike blue walls, tend to create more of an appetite. Trying to lose weight? You may want to first paint over those red walls in the dining room.”

Julie Gerst, Color Consultant with Gerst Painting, adds “We change our nail polish colors so it adapts to the mood we are in. Changing the colors in homes or rooms does the same thing!”

Heating and Cooling Equipment

Some projects may not seem all that exciting because they aren’t really changes that you will be able to see once they are completed.

However, they can have a huge effect on your enjoyment and the efficiency of your new home.  Upgrading heating and cooling equipment is a good example of a project like this.  “If you are doing any sort of addition, there may be a need for larger equipment,” explains Angie Timm with Complete Comfort Heating and Cooling.  “Also, construction and remodeling can get messy, so what better time to start fresh with a clean system?  In addition, not only are newer systems more efficient, but there are several options for equipment to make homes very comfortable.  In geothermal or traditional heating and cooling equipment, you can get variable speed and two stage equipment that will provide the maximum comfort level by controlling temperatures and humidity levels.”

Angie goes on to say, “Many homeowners are not aware that they can put a geothermal system into their existing home.  Most of the geothermal heat pumps that we do at Complete Comfort are retrofits into existing homes.  You would be amazed at the small amount of space that is needed to drill the loops.  Geothermal is the most affordable way to heat and cool your home, plus the systems quality for a 30% no cap tax credit.”

Concrete Areas

Another area of the home that can be fixed up quickly and neatly are your concrete areas.  “Custom Concrete Coating has polyaspartic and cement overly products that can turn an ordinary, dull piece of concrete into a durable, beautiful and long-lasting part of your home,” says Shawn MacDonald with Custom Concrete Coating. “Garage floors that have had damage from the numerous chemical solvents used on the roads or fluid leaking from vehicles can easily be taken care of with a quick, one-day installation.  We use Flexmar polyaspartics that create an impenetrable bond with your concrete surface.  No more stains or chipped concrete once the Flexmar polyaspartic is applied.  This offers years of lasting beauty for any concrete surface.  We can take care of areas like patios, basements, entry ways and pool decks.”


Don’t forget the outdoors when it comes to your remodeling project!  Developing the outdoors of our homes, including the lawn, the patio/deck area and any other place that we either spend time in or see on a regular basis, adds enjoyment, viewing pleasure and even extra space to your home.  Remember, the first thing you, your family and any guests see when pulling into your home is the landscaping.  How do you want to feel about your home when you pull into the driveway each evening?  What first impression do you want your guests to have of where you live?  In addition, when the weather is nice in Nebraska, it’s always good to spend some time outdoors.  Backyard barbeques, gathering with friends or just a quiet evening on the deck with your family are all things that are better enjoyed on a beautiful deck or patio overlooking a lush green lawn.

If your outdoor area needs some help, now is the time to work with a professional landscaping company that can help you develop some project ideas and install them in a timely manner so you can still enjoy them before it gets cold.  It’s also not too late to contract with a lawn service so that you don’t have to worry about spending your nights or weekends weeding, fertilizing, watering and mowing your yard to keep it looking great.

Who to Work with

Unless your project only includes a little bit of painting and replacing of furniture, it will require the help of professionals.  What types of professionals will you need to find?  Here are the basics.

–Contractors.  Contractors are normally used for larger projects, such as complete bathroom or kitchen remodels or deck building.  Using a contractor is a good idea because they take on liability for the project and they also probably have much more experience and knowledge than you do.  They will be able to tell you the correct way to go about your project, the best supplies to use and will produce a professional finished project.

–Interior Designer.  A designer will draw up detailed plans to help you get a sense of the final product.  We also help you with every selection on the project to make sure that all element works together.  No matter what your budget, it is our job to use our resources to make it look like a million bucks!

–Landscaper.  Don’t neglect the outside of your home when you’re making remodeling plans.  Not only does a beautiful landscape add to the curb appeal of your home, but it also adds to your family’s enjoyment of the outdoors.  Depending on the type of landscaper you work with, they can help with anything from keeping your lawn manicured and green to adding in decks or water features.

–Plumbers and Electricians.  Any plumbing or electrical work should be done by a professional. Trying to do these projects on your own can not only involve costly mistakes, but it can also be dangerous.  These are not areas to cut corners on, so make sure you choose your professionals in these areas carefully.

–Specialists.  The more specialized a business is, the more likely it is that they will be up to date on the latest trends, products and ideas in their industry.  Window specialists, drapery specialist, paint specialists and roofing specialists are all beneficial to connect with if your remodeling project includes these areas.


Coming up with projects to fix up our homes is exciting and dreaming about how your home will look when the projects are finished is even more so.  However, what isn’t so exciting is figuring out how you’re going to pay for it all.  While it would be nice if we just had the money sitting in the bank, most of us are not in this situation.  Does this mean your project needs to be put on hold until this does happen?  If you want to get your project done now, you should consider talking to your financial institution about a home equity loan.
Before securing a loan, it’s important to do some planning and budgeting.  Which projects really need to get done?  What monthly loan payment will you be able to comfortably afford?  It’s sometimes a good idea to come up with a wish list of projects you would like to accomplish and get some bids on what it will cost to complete each one.  Rank them from highest to lowest on what you want or need done the most to mere ‘if we had extra money I’d like to do this…’.  You can share this list with your loan professional so the two of you can develop a plan to get as much completed as possible within your budget.

Advice on Remodeling

“Always get 2-3 bids for a project,” Michelle Christensen with Papillion Siding and Windows suggests.  “That helps the home owner become more educated about the projects, pricing and options available.  You should also look for a company that can show you examples of similar projects and ask lots of questions about your project.”

“If you are considering a remodeling project, there are some steps to take,” says Penni Aschenbrener with Granite Transformations of Omaha.  “First, do your research!  Contractors working in your home should come highly recommended.  Ask for references, pictures of past projects and insurance information.  Make sure they can do the project for the cost quoted within the timeframe promised.

Second, make sure there is written contract outlining the scope of work to be completed.  Third – don’t hesitate to ask questions.  If there is something you are not quite sure about, ask for clarification –  don’t assume something will be taken care of if it’s not outlined in the scope of work.”

Your home is where you enjoy your family, recharge your energy after a long day of work and entertain on occasion.  It should be a place that is not only beautiful, but functional as well.