Home Improvement in 2017

Custom WoodworkAs we wrap up 2016, the trend analysts are already looking at what changes homeowners are considering for 2017. The Leading Indicator of Remodeling Activity (LIRA) predicts continued growth in home renovation and repair spending for 2017 before tapering off near the end of the year. While popular trends are looked at based on what majorities of people are buying and changing in their homes, we here at Brunsell know that our clients have their own styles and desires and some even buck the trends. Despite that, here’s what analysts say 2017 will look like for home improvement. Continue reading

Built-Ins: Embracing Your Home’s Midwestern Heritage

The Midwest encompasses about a fifth of our nation—ten states full of farmlands and industry. People make a lot of generalizations about us, no matter how big our footprint. Mention Midwestern food, and people think of hot dishes, supper clubs, and the Friday night fish fry. Ask your non-Midwestern friends what the word Midwestern makes them think: Either they’ll bring up folk with funny accents and ear-flap hats, or they’re just being nice.

Photo Credit: The Daily Herald

Photo Credit: The Daily Herald

Many supposedly “Midwestern” things aren’t just Midwestern—tornadoes, casseroles… But Prairie Style architecture isn’t one of them. The style has been borrowed all over the place, but it was born right here on Midwestern soil. It’s decidedly ours. If you live here and don’t own a Prairie Style home, you probably know someone who does.

The Prairie Style home is near and dear to us at Brunsell, because original Prairie Style homes were built during the golden age of millwork. They were born amid a backlash against mass production, when people longed again for handcrafted work. Prairie Style homes also generally tended toward natural materials, which meant a lot of wood (floors, built-in cabinetry, wood casement windows, moldings, etc.).

We believe that a great way to upgrade a Prairie Style home while preserving its design integrity is to add built-ins—a bookcase under a stairway, for example, or a wall unit for your home media items. Built-ins are already a solid part of the established style. And, hey, the world didn’t have TVs, DVD players, and stereo systems at the turn of the 19th century, so it’s your job now to prairie-stylize the way you store and display these modern-day items!

Of course, it’s vitally important that your built-in be designed and crafted true to authentic Prairie Style, including details found carried over from the trim and the molding. No cowboying allowed because harmony of elements is a central idea to the Prairie Style. The minute you add a built-in that isn’t true to the style, you detract from the look and value of your home.

Speaking of which, built-ins done right can really appreciate your home’s value, because they stay with it and add functionality. They also reduce the amount of freestanding furniture needed, which creates an actual or perceived increase in usable square footage.

What would make your Prairie Style home more comfortable or functional? More multimedia storage? Better display space for your dishes? Come talk with us about how we can custom create for you a built-in based update that embraces your Midwestern home’s heritage!

Stairway to Heaven: Custom Stairways from Brunsell

Lucky you, if you have a home with more than one story. You get to have a stairway. And a stairway is one of very few large architectural elements in a home’s interior that adds as much beauty as it does functionality. It’s much more than a way to get from floor A to floor B.

Brunsell Lumber - Custom Stairways

A home’s stairway is kind of like a stage. It’s where the wedding-day photos are taken. It’s where the teenager descends, decked out in prom attire, against the backdrop of sweet portraits going back to kindergarten. It’s where little pajama-clad bodies appear way too early on Christmas morning, eager to check their stockings. Yes, there’s a lot of sentiment wrapped up in a good stairway.

So, what makes for a good stairway?

  • It’s safe and functional. Stairways designs can get pretty wild, often downright impractical. That quirky, gorgeous stairway you spotted on the Internet may make your heart go pitter-pat, but would it pass– with the building inspector? A good stairway is one that balances aesthetics with physical safety and functionality. But it’s not just the building inspector you need to consider. You must also think about the people that will be using the stairs in your home. Young children? Pets? Seniors? Some designs, such as those with open risers, might not be the best choice for these users.
  • It fits the style of the house. Some homeowners like the idea of mixing up styles: a little roaring ‘20s mixed with a little 1890s farmhouse, for example, can simply mean a crystal chandelier against a backdrop of reclaimed barn wood. Nice! Just don’t monkey around with a new style when it comes to a stairway. Stairways are an integral part of a home’s architecture, so they should be the same style as the rest of the architecture.
  • It adds character and interest. Keep in mind that it’s not just the stairs themselves that add interest. It’s also the space created around them. You can turn the space under the actual stairs into a manner of things. Cabinetry and shelving are both popular choices for this space. Or you could use it as a reading nook, a little bar, closet space, or…

Custom Stairways are one of the things our designers most enjoy designing. That’s because stairs offer seemingly endless ways to add pizzazz to a home while often presenting some mind-bending design challenges. We like a challenge! It’s gratifying to meet with a client and find the perfect intersection between aesthetics, home style, city building codes, geometry, and the laws of physics. When you work with us to create your home’s staircase, you can select from our large inventory of standard stair parts, or let us design a custom stairway that reflects your personal style. Check out some of our custom stairways here, and let us know when you’re ready to talk about the perfect stairs for your home!