Parade of Homes- A great time to look at new designs

The Parade of Homes has started. And spring is coming soon- depsite the fresh coating of snow we have received in the great white north. The Parade is great opportunity to get OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAout there and get ideas for a new space in your home, regardless if you are looking for a new home or just a new kitchen. Below are a couple of ideas to making the most out of the Parade.

Determine your need

Figure out what you want and need. Even the best remodeler can’t provide solutions when you haven’t figured out the problem.

  • Examine your family’s lifestyle. Determine what fits how you live in your current home, and what doesn’t. Make a list and then prioritize it into a wish list and break down the list into 1) must have, 2) nice to have, 3) nice to have, but could live without
  • Take a good look at your home, your lot, your neighborhood. What needs to be updated or repaired? Do you have room to expand outwards? Will property values in the neighborhood support your planned improvements?
  • Figure out how much you are willing to spend.
  • Keep a scrapbook of pictures and articles from magazines and books to get ideas about style and features you like.

Homes to look at

When you start looking at which homes to look at, error toward the more expensive ones.  If you only look at homes that are in the same price category as your own homes, you are less likely to get new ideas. More expensive homes may have been constructed with the use of an interior designer or architect, which may give you ideas that you may not have thought of.

Take notes

While most homes will not allow you to take pictures, you can take notes on spaces that imagesworked well. Some builders may also have pictures of their models online so that you can capture their work for a scrap book.

Dates

The Parade of Homes runs from March 2-24 with the Remodeler’s Showcase running March 22-24. http://www.paradeofhomes.org/

Good Luck

Jason

J Carsten Remodeling

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J Carsten Remodeling earns CKBR certification

J Carsten is pleased to earn the CKBR certification from the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI).

CKBRs (Certified Kitchen and Bath Remodelers) provide remodeling services specific to kitchens and bathrooms. To become a CKBR, candidates must possess skills and knowledge focused on the requirement of materials, layout, and installation of kitchens and bathrooms.

To qualify for the CKBR designation, applicants must meet all of the following:

  • Be employed by or own a firm engaged in remodeling kitchens and bathrooms
  • Adhere to NARI’s Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics
  • Have a minimum of five years continuous experience in the remodeling industry
  • Have completed 4 kitchens and/or bathrooms per year
  • Completed 16 hours of continuing education
  • Successfully completed a comprehensive application that details their background and experience
  • Successfully complete a one-day written examination on business, construction, and remodeling practices related to kitchen and bathrooms
  • Submit all required application materials and fees

What is NARI?

NARI is a not-for-profit trade association representing the largest network of professional remodelers in the United States, with over 7,500 members nationwide and 60 local NARI Memberchapters.

As the only national association dedicated solely to the remodeling industry, NARI brings together leading trade professionals from all over the country. NARI promotes ethical and sound business practices for the benefit of America’s homeowners as well as for the industry.

NARI was founded in March of 1983 with the merger of the National Remodelers Association (NSA) and the National Home Improvement Council (NHIC).

NARI Mission:

To develop and sustain programs that expand and unite the industry, and that ensure its continued growth and security.

NARI Vision:

To become the primary remodeling resource for homeowners and professional members alike by providing information, education, and mentorship to the community at large.

Good Luck

Jason- J Carsten Remodeling

Cabinets- A bit more about options

Last time I talked about the different types of cabinets. Now let’s talk about when is the best time to use them and the types of finishing.

Box Cabinets– J Carsten Remodeling will recommend box cabinets in economy situations where the customer is looking for a good quality cabinet on a smaller budget. Box Box cabinetscabinets come pre-finished (finished at the factory) and lead times are typically 4-6 weeks. Planning ahead of time is a must with box cabinets in order to ensure that cabinets are available for installation at just the right time. Typically, we will want the cabinets on the job site or at a minimum, delivered to the lumber company, before we will start demo.

Customizable Box/ Manufactured Custom Cabinets– We seldom use customizable box cabinets or manufactured custom cabinets. The main reason is the cost of these cabinets is comparable to local custom cabinets even when the cost of finishing is included.

Local Custom Cabinets- This is, by far, the cabinet type we install most often. J Carsten Remodeling has a relationship with a local custom cabinet shop where lead times are typically two weeks. In addition to shorter lead times, if errors or defects are found, we can usually get the problem resolved in 24-48 hours. That would not be possible with any type of manufactured cabinet.

Finishing on Custom Cabinets– For most installations, the local custom cabinets we install site finished cabinetwill be unfinished and then finished on site. This is preferred for two main reasons:

  1. Any handling or installation damage/ scratches can be fixed prior to finishing
  2. Nail holes in moldings (crown molding, etc) can be filled and make the nail hole virtually disappear. This is especially important with enameled cabinets.

There are occasions, though, where pre-finishing the cabinets is done.

  1. In a condominium situation where the association by-laws state that no cabinet finishing can be done on site. Then, we do not have a choice.pre-finished cabinet
  2. In a cabinet & countertop replacement only. In order to minimize the kitchen down time, the cabinets will be installed pre-finished. The kitchen is usable right after installation (waiting for countertops of course)

Good Luck

Jason- J Carsten Remodeling

Box Cabinets or Custom Cabinets- Just some facts.

J Carsten Remodeling has installed both box cabinets and full custom cabinets. Here are some differences:

Box Cabinets

Box cabinets, called so because the cabinet comes in a box, come in certain sizes (usually 3″ increments from 9″ to 48″ in width). They are usually made ahead of time and stocked by a distributor, in a box, on a shelf, ready for sale. Box cabinets are also usually made of Box cabinets.ashxthinner components to make them less expensive. Thus they often need “center stiles” (a divider that divides the middle of double-door cabinets to strengthen and support the overall box and shelves). Box cabinets also typically use less expensive hinges and drawer slides.

Customizable Box Cabinets

Customizable box cabinets are essentially box cabinets that can be ordered cut down in depth from the standard depths available at an extra charge. They are typically made to order. But in some cases they are essentially stock cabinets, where only the customized pieces in the order are made to order. Customizable product lines also typically encompass a greater variety of cabinets and some double-door cabinets available with no center stile (for roll-out shelves and other accessories). They might also make a few standard angled and/or radiused cabinets for use on the end of a run, where conditions are tight.

Manufactured Custom

Custom manufactured cabinets can be ordered to any dimensions as long as they do not exceed the limits the manufacturer lists in their catalog, typically 48″ wide, and 96″ Custom cabinetshigh. Maximum depths vary, depending on the type of cabinet involved. Designers can also order changes in the sizes and heights of doors and drawers, as well as customizing the mounting heights of ovens and other built-in appliances to suit the buyer. They typically use only the highest quality hardware and are made of thicker materials. So they are sturdier.

All customizations in manufactured cabinets carry an up-charge, and manufacturers typically base their standard offerings on basic cabinets very similar to stock cabinet catalogs. However custom manufacturers also offer many MORE cabinet types and accessories than box cabinets.

Local Custom

There the cabinets are designed and made in a local cabinet shop. There are fewer Custom Cabinetslimitations on sizes with local custom. The only definite ones are limitations on the sizes of materials, like sheets of plywood and sizes of the raw wood boards. Cabinetmakers can also do things like matching boards for pattern and color consistency that manufacturers find difficult. They are also free to use both thinner and thicker components, and more or less expensive hardware to meet a budget.

Cabinetmakers also routinely build their cabinets in what they call “runs“. This is building what may be an entire wall of base or wall cabinets as one long cabinet. This cuts the cost of face frame material a bit and makes the spaces between doors consistent.

Applications

Box- Typically the cheapest upfront cost and thus are typically installed in lower budget situations. The best applications are for straight forward areas without tricky areas or angles that might require special cabinets. These cabinets are usually factory finished.

Customizable Box– Used in kitchens when the homeowner wants to maximize space in tricky areas or angled spaces. Typically the installation will involve a combination of custom and stock sizes. These cabinets are usually factory finished.

Manufactured Custom– Used in middle to high end kitchens. The cabinets are built to fit the specific area and may include special moldings, space for specialty appliances, or other customizable areas. These cabinets are usually factory finished.

Local Custom– Custom cabinets used to cost more than the box cabinets in nearly all cases. But lately, custom cabinets are closer in price than you might expect. Thus, you will see custom cabinets in all budget ranges. They are also used in applications where the cabinets are to be finished on site. They can be finished ahead of time in a local paint shop before installation.

Next time, I’ll go over which I prefer depending on the situation.

Good Luck

Jason

J Carsten Remodeling

What’s in the kitchen- Red Pepper Spaetzle in Mustard Cream Sauce

So first off, what’s a spaetzle? Literally translated from German as “little sparrow,” spaetzle is a dish of tiny noodles or dumplings made with flour, eggs, water or milk, and salt. I first saw this made as part of the final episode of Worst Cooks in America on Food Network. The recipe is courtesy of Robert Irvine.

I have made this dish now three times. The first two with German sausage and the last time we grilled pork loins instead. It is a medium difficulty and I made a big mess the first time (lots of pots).

 The Spaetzle:  In a food processor, combine and puree until smooth.

  • ½ cup jarred roasted red peppers
  • 2 tablespoons goat cheese
  • 4 tablesppons chicken stock

In a large pot, boil 4 quarts water to boil. While the water is heating, in a bowl stir the pepper puree with the following:

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh parsley
  • ½ cup cold water
  • ½ teaspoon salt.

Stir until just well mixed. The dough will be fairly sticky.

Once the water comes to a boil, reduce the heat to medium. Squeeze or press the dough through a spaetzle maker or a large hole colander. I don’t have spaetzle maker. I used a colander and a rubber spatula. WARNING: Forcing the dough through the colander is physically taxing- It would be highly recommended to have someone hold the colander while the other pushes the dough through the colander. This pressing needs to be completed in a quick manner thus allowing the dough to cook evenly. (I did it in two bathches.) Once the spaetzle has been dropped in the water, cook 2-3 minutes, stirring throughout the cooking time.

Once cooked, remove from the heat and drain thoroughly.

 The Sauce: In a large sauce pan over medium heat add 2 tablespoons unsalted butter and 1 minced shallot, cooking until shallots are light brown. Deglaze the pan with 3 tablespoons white wine or chicken stock. Once deglazed add:

  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Reduce the heat to low and continue to cook until the cream has thickened, about 5-6 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in 2 tablespoons grated Gruyere cheese.

Note: I double the sauce recipe in order to cover the amount of spaetzle made.

Presentation: I mix the spaetzle and cream sauce before serving, only mixing enough spaetzle as the sauce will cover.

Enjoy.

Good Luck.

Jason Myrlie- J Carsten Homes & Remodeling

What’s in the kitchen- Cedar Plank Salmon

This is a favorite of our family and friends. It’s really easy to do and it tastes fantastic for all ages.

The recipe actually starts in the shop, well at least for me. As the title reveals, we are going to need cedar planks. Byerly’s sells 4 medium sized planks for about $16. And if you don’t have the resources, buying the cedar planks is your best option. But I’ve got a few resources at my disposal, so I make my own.

Cedar Planks

Since I’ve done my share of decks, I always have left over cedar in the shop. I keep the bigger scraps to use in my fire pit and for occasions just like this. I use a cedar 6×6 and my table saw. I set the width at around 3/8” and take 2 passes to cut all the way through. (Note: a band saw would be much easier to use if you have one. Also, take care not to overheat your table saw. This type of cutting puts a lot of strain on even the best table saw.) After ripping to width, I trim the planks to fit the fish and to fit my grill. Once the planks are ready, soak the planks in water for at least an hour prior to use, the longer the better.

The Sauce

The sauce recipe is courtesy Guy Fieri & Food Network with a couple of modifications:

  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 2 jalapenos, cut into rings
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
  • ½ cup white wine
  • 3 tablespoons whole-grain mustard
  • 1 cup apricot preserves
  • (4) 6-ounce salmon fillets
  • Salt & pepper to taste

I have made this recipe at least five times and have used varying preserves/ jams: Orange marmalade, raspberry, blackberry, jalapeno marmalade, apricot. To be honest, there is not a discernible difference in the finished product, so use what ever you have in your pantry. I also use jarred jalapenos because I like more of a heat kick to my sauce.

In a small pan over medium heat, heat the oil. When hot, add jalapenos and saute until caramelized. Add garlic and before it begins to brown, deglaze pan with white wine. Next, add mustard and preserves and bring to a simmer. Simmer on low heat for 20 minutes and let completely cool before using.

Grilling

Prep your grill of choice to hot. I use charcoal, but this will work on a gas grill nicely as well.  Remove the planks from soaking in water. The Food Network recipe calls for skinned salmon fillets. I prefer to use skin on fillets for two reasons: 1) The skin adds a layer of flavor; 2) the skin acts as a buffer to the cedar plank. The skin will stick to the plank making it really easy to serve the fish skin free. Salt & pepper the salmon to taste.

Place the fish on the planks, trimming off any salmon that will be hanging over the edge. (I use the trimmings on another plank and serve as a little appetizer.) Liberally apply the cooled sauce to the fish. Any extra sauce can be used as additional sauce during cooking or at table. Just be sure not to cross-contaminate the raw fish into the cooled sauce.

Place the planks on the grill grate, directly over hot coals. The first couple minutes of cooking will be fairly smoky as you are burning wet wood. The planks themselves will be very scorched on the bottom and on the top edges up to the fish. Cooking time will depend on the grill temperature, thickness of the fillet, and desired doneness. Typically, I cook mine for 20-25 minutes. I find that it would take a lot to over cook the fish using this method. The moisture in the cedar plank, in a addition to the skin keep the fish moist.

Presentation

I leave the fish on the burnt plank and put that directly on the table. It’s quite a nice presentation just like that. I use a spatula to skim just above the skin and cleanly pull off the fillet, leaving the skin stuck to the plank. Serve with a side of lemon wedges.

Enjoy.

Good Luck.

Jason Myrlie- J Carsten Homes & Remodeling

Ten Tips for Remodeling your Kitchen

Here are ten tips for remodeling your kitchen, whether you are doing it yourself or hiring a professional (like ME!).

1. Assess the situation ahead of time and get a lot of opinions.
Let professionals come over and give their opinions. Also, talk with friends who have done remodeling in the past. They will let you know what they would change and their likes/ dislikes. Eventually you’ll start to get a feel for what is necessary, what you could do without and who you want to work with.

2. Find a creative Remodeler.
While the estimate was important in your decision, finding someone who has creative solutions is an important thing in the long run. A good remodeler will suggest things that make your kitchen look more custom and high end but won’t cost an arm and a leg. Most homeowners don’t always know what can be done, so having a professional opinion is invaluable.

3. Take your time in the planning stage.
You may be super anxious to get going, but spend time looking at magazine photos for inspiration, thinking creatively and drawing up sketches to show your remodeler. You may find solutions to what could have been very expensive fixes simply by taking the time to solve them creatively.

4. Do at least some of the prep work yourselves.
A lot of homeowners aren’t particularly handy with tools or building things. But, simple things can be done by homeowners to say some costs like removing the cabinets and flooring yourself, or doing the prep work on an old cabinet or millwork that will be refinished.

5. Details, details, details.
The key to a custom looking kitchen is in the details. That doesn’t mean fancy pants hand carved marble corbels either. You can choose things that look unique and special, or you can chose something that is plain and non-descript. It is the little details that will give your room the “ooh and ahh” factor so be unique and add some special features.

6. Don’t be afraid to speak up.
It may drive your remodeler crazy sometimes (not me though) because you want everything to be just right. But if something doesn’t look right or if you are second guessing your selection, speak up. And the sooner the better. It will cost less to fix it now than it will after everything is done.

7. Mix things up.
Don’t be boring when you can be special! Mix things up! Yes, you can use more than one style of hardware and more than one cabinet finish. We have done several kitchens where the island is finished with a different color or countertop choice. Adding glass to cabinet doors is an easy addition that adds some wow to the kitchen.

8. Drawers are better than doors.
Genereally speaking of course (you won’t be putting drawers in the upper cabinets). Save a step and use a drawer versus having cabinet doors to open and then the pullout. I like to pull out a drawer and see what is in it right away. No standing on my head to see in a deep dark cupboard and no fancy maneuvers to pull out a drawer within a cabinet.

9. Creative concealment.
Don’t spend big money to rip things out if you don’t have to. Have an ugly window? The cost to replace that with beauty? It could be $20,000 because it would involve remodeling the whole corner of your house.  Instead, a good coat of primer and paint and a little trim work can disguise what used to be ugly.

10. Work with what you have.
Keep the basic footprint of our kitchen intact. You will be able to keep plumbing and electrical costs to a minimum, as well as avoid replacing flooring by simply leaving your floorplan the same.

This list adapted from: http://www.divinecaroline.com/33666/79747-top-ten-kitchen-remodeling-tips

Good Luck

Jason Myrlie- J Carsten Homes & Remodeling