Seamless Updates to a Historic Charmer

Schrader and Company is a construction firm comprised of history lovers. We take pleasure in the beautiful details of older homes, and relish in the challenge of updating them for our clients in a way that makes modern living more effective and enjoyable, while paying homage to the aesthetics of yesteryear.

In this Project Spotlight, we return to a gorgeous 200 year-old home owned by repeat clients for an extensive, multi-room renovation. 

Last time, we renovated an upstairs bathroom to better suit our clients’  lifestyle and modern needs. 

For this project, we removed a large deck, removed the old mud room, and took off two exterior walls and framing for the back part of the house. We then built a new mudroom, enlarged and renovated the kitchen, and opened the connections to the rest of the house. On the second floor, we enlarged the hall, added a second story laundry closet, and replaced the small existing craft room with a large, light-filled room to be used as a craft room, guestroom, and office.

The goal was to add onto the home in thoughtful ways that would enhance our clients’ lifestyle. We created a larger kitchen so that the whole family could be involved in their daily meal time activities. The spacious and organized mudroom replaces an unheated porch, providing designated space for boots and backpacks, and more comfortable comings and goings for people and pets. The new screened porch allows the homeowners to more easily enjoy their property, and entertain. The craft room updates enhance a needed at-home work space, and provides a comfortable space for guests as well.

As with any historic renovation, attention must be paid to the smallest of details to create a cohesive look between the original parts of the house, and the new. Choices like wide plank wood flooring and porcelain, brick tiles help achieve this goal, as do many of the other thoughtful design selections.

At the end of this extensive project, we were able to design, specify, and build an addition to this historic home that looks as though it was a part of the original build, and it is as functional as it is beautiful.

Our clients had this to say about their newly-renovated home:

“From the structural design down to the smallest details of cabinetry and trim, our Schrader team took time and care to do their best work at each step. We chose them for our project because it was clear that they understood the construction in our 200-year-old home, and our project planner excelled at looking at both the big picture goals and the smallest details during the planning phase. What we learned through the construction process is that the whole Schrader team is not only hardworking and talented, they are also kind, trustworthy, and easy to be around, which makes a huge difference when you have people coming in and out of your home every day. At the end of a months-long project, we are left with a new section of our home that is beautiful, functional, and will last for generations. We are also left with positive feelings about the process and the people. It is clear that the Schrader crew keeps their motto at the core of their business. It was a pleasure and a privilege to work with a talented team and know that we were getting the very best for our home and our family, both in terms of product and process.” 

Beauty in the Chaos

When the COVID-19 pandemic first arrived, we had no concept of how it might change our lives and our industry. As information began to circulate, we at Schrader and Company followed the safety protocols and guidelines set forth by the scientific and medical experts to keep our clients and employees as safe as possible.

While this curveball was one we never could have anticipated, we are so proud of the way our team rose to the challenge. This particular Project Spotlight is the perfect example of how we pivoted during the crisis, without sacrificing any of the quality or craftsmanship upon which we stake our reputation.

This extensive first floor renovation was a highly anticipated project for returning clients with whom we had already had a wonderful experience. This project began before COVID-19 hit our region and was completed during the pandemic, teaching us so much about how to effectively operate in this strange new normal.

Project Planner Brian Taber and Project Manager Jeremiah Mills and Interior Designer Brooke Weinert led the team in multiple room renovations, including a kitchen, keeping room, and mudroom. New insulation for better energy efficiency was installed, a wall was removed between the kitchen and dining areas for a more open flow, and improved views made possible through room design and new window placement. Custom cabinetry by Shop Production Manager Robert Page makes the most of storage opportunities, particularly in the kitchen and mudroom. French doors, a new vaulted ceiling over the keeping room, and a more open floor plan make it easier for the clients to live in and entertain in their space.

All of these changes greatly enhanced the functionality of the first floor of the home, and the aesthetic choices, state of the art appliances, and finishing design touches guided by Brooke take the result to new heights. This is a stunning transformation, and one that the entire team remembers with pride.

Much of this work took place under COVID-19 safety protocols, which meant that Jeremiah was the lone man on site for part of the project. He did a phenomenal job managing such an extensive renovation in extraordinary circumstances. New best practices with regards to cleaning and sanitation were also employed to ensure maximum client and team safety.

For his part, Brian is especially pleased with how much the clients love the renovations to their home. 

“On every job, I can envision the end result, but sometimes the outcome is even more beautiful than I could have anticipated,” he said. “This is one of those projects, and I’m thrilled that these clients, with whom we love to work, are as happy as they are with their home.”

Surviving and Thriving During a Kitchen Renovation

Deciding to undertake a home renovation is an exciting moment.  Finally—after dreaming, saving, planning, and finding the right remodeler and the right time—the work can begin! But it’s important to carefully consider the realities of a project before the first hammer leaves the toolbox. All construction work results in some amount of disruption to the usual rhythms of daily life, and one of the most involved renovations (that benefits the most from some forethought) is a kitchen remodel.

We sat down with two different clients whose own extensive Schrader and Company kitchen renovations meant that their usual cooking workspace needed to be relocated and rethought for the duration of their project. 

Their inventive solutions and creative workarounds will benefit anyone who finds themselves in a similar situation. Their experiences prove that with a little flexibility, the right equipment, and a positive outlook, the construction phase needn’t be a painful one.

Without further ado, here’s a list of some of our clients’ best tips for surviving and thriving during a kitchen remodel:

 

Tip One: Creating a Mock Kitchen 

  • Set up a cohesive space in a different part of your home (dining room, living room, basement, garage) that works as a small galley with a miniature version of a typical kitchen. 
  • Consider a good location—if possible, near a utility sink, bathroom sink or tub.
  •  It’s also helpful not to have to move your temp kitchen around. Consider where it can stay for the duration of the project.
  • Think about stations for typical kitchen use, like a surface area for food prep, an area for food storage, an area for washing dishes, and a place to deal with food scraps and trash.
  • One client used a jelly cupboard to keep dishes, glasses, and some mixing and serving bowls handy.
  • Make a space for tea and coffee prep if that’s part of your daily routine. 
  • Big plastic tubs work well for pantry/food storage and keep pets and pests out. 

 

Tip Two: Creative Cooking Workarounds

  • Our clients all agree that grilling (if the weather works) is a great tip. They also recommend an outdoor camp stove, a countertop toaster oven, a crock pot or instant pot, and a panini press or griddle. 
  • Often the existing refrigerator and existing microwave can be set up for use during the project.

 

Tip Three: Don’t Forget About Clean-Up

  • You’ll need a spot to put your trash and recycling, a spot to scrape dishes (trash, toilet, or helpful dogs are all good options when you’re washing dishes in a space without a disposal). 
  • Consider purchasing a cheap plastic utility sink for a shower. One client put a water-resistant folding table next to their utility sink for a dish drying rack, and installed a hand sprayer in the shower to help with washing dishes. 
  • Buy a strainer for the drain where you are washing dishes for small food scraps so you don’t clog your drain. 

 

Tip Four: Budget for Reality

  • It’s a good idea to keep a little discretionary food fund for the duration of the renovation. Realistically, you might opt for more takeout or dining out while your dream kitchen is being created, and even time savers like pre-chopped produce cost a little extra. It’s all about balance.

 

Tip Five: Keep Perspective

  • Good things take time. We’ll just quote one client directly who had this to say about her extensive kitchen renovation process:

“The two most important things to me for this time have been a sense of humor and a sense of perspective and gratitude. Yes, it can be frustrating. Things take longer. Messes are plentiful, and harder to clean up. But my little galley is nicer than many apartment kitchens, and nobody is going to cue the violins for me because I don’t have a dishwasher while I’m waiting for my Schrader kitchen. We are lucky to be doing this, and are living like this temporarily, for an excellent reason. We are grateful to be able to go through this process and look forward to the end product, and that gratitude allows me to keep the temporary inconvenience in perspective.”

 

Good Things Come to Those Who Wait

They say good things come to those who wait. When it comes to big home projects, sometimes patience is an excellent virtue.

In this Project Spotlight, we’ll take you behind the scenes of a major kitchen renovation that the homeowners undertook at just the right time for them, and in doing so, achieved the exact result they were hoping for, with no compromises.

We all wish we could snap our fingers and make improvements to our homes whenever the mood strikes, but in reality, home renovations require careful thought, budgeting, and flexibility. 

These clients knew their kitchen needed a major overhaul for several years before they committed to a remodeling project. But rather than do things piecemeal or have to make budgetary concessions, they elected to wait, save funds for their project for a longer period of time, and begin work at a time when an interior renovation would be less disruptive to their lifestyle.

These clients had done a mudroom and laundry renovation project with us years before. The kitchen renovation was next on their list, to completely overhaul the core areas of their first floor living space. 

While the kitchen layout stayed roughly the same, the wall between the family room and kitchen was widened greatly, to create the open cooking/gathering area that so many homeowners desire. Now when family meals are being prepared or guests come over, there’s no sense of being isolated from one another in separate spaces. 

In addition to new cabinets and countertops, upgraded lighting and refinished floors, new appliances and a spacious kitchen island were added. They also chose a new stainless steel Kohler Prolific sink with built in compartments for cooking accessories and drying racks for maximum efficiency. Now the clients can cook and entertain with ease. 

The homeowners were able to undertake this project when it worked best for their own timeline, and the renovation took place over the winter, when interior projects are often scheduled.

For the clients, their patience in waiting to renovate their kitchen has paid off. Rather than having to make sacrifices in budget or timing in order to have it done fast, they were able to achieve their dream result by doing their major renovation just once, at just the right time for them.

They are loving the new connected feel of their kitchen, and being able to make everyday memories together in their home.

 

 

Long Distance Renovation

While many of our clients are also our full-time neighbors right here in the Capital Region, it has also been our privilege to work with long distance clients over the years, helping to build or remodel seasonal and second homes.

This was the case in this particular Project Spotlight, in which we helped to transform a property into the ideal lakeside retreat. 

Working with clients in a long distance capacity of course presents logistical challenges, but we pride ourselves on the strength of our planning process and clear, reliable communication to surmount any obstacles.

These clients wanted to improve the aesthetics and functionality of the three bathrooms and kitchen in their newly purchased lakeside home.

Project Planner Brian Taber worked with the clients to create major upgrades, including renovations of three bathrooms, and expansion of the first floor half bathroom into a full bathroom. Radiant heat and new windows were added to the home. The kitchen boasts beautiful custom Schrader cabinetry and ample storage. To make the most of the gorgeous lake view from the kitchen window, the counters were extended out and paired with a new counter-height window. 

Understandably, our clients were hoping to make use of their lake-front home in the summer, so a tight deadline needed to be met. With strong communication and the many talents of the entire Schrader and Company team including Project Manager Jeremiah Mills, Interior Designer Brooke Stollery, and Cabinet Maker Robert Page, the goal was achieved, much to everyone’s joy. 

“I’m thrilled that we were able to satisfy clients with high standards and a clear vision,” says Brian. “The project came out beautifully and really makes the most of the location.”

 

 Lighter, Brighter, and Better

One of the most desired features in any home is good light. We all want to feel the sense of spaciousness and brightness that lots of natural light can afford.

In this Project Spotlight, a kitchen underwent a dramatic renovation that not only improved the functionality and aesthetic of the space, but opened it up to more natural light. The result is a fresh, cheerful, polished room, perfect for both cooking and entertaining. 

Our client did not feel that her original kitchen matched her individual style or the overall theme of her home. She is a baker and likes to entertain and was looking for increased functionality as well as a more beautiful kitchen that would reflect her personal tastes. 

Project Planner Mark O’Lena, Interior Designer Brooke Stollery and Cabinet Designer/Shop Manager Robert Page worked as a team to increase the functionality of the kitchen in a number of ways—utilizing pull-outs, larger pantry units, custom cabinets and island, innovative appliances, and a relocated microwave.  

Additionally, the existing short casement window over the sink did not work well with the tall cabinets and ceiling. We put a taller Andersen 400 Series single casement in to let in more light, and improve the view by eliminating the center mullion. We also incorporated an Andersen short fractional grill with a simulated check rail.  This allowed use of a single unit that duplicated the look of the existing transom windows located in the adjacent breakfast area.

Robert created a beautiful custom island in the Schrader and Company cabinet shop that matches the new custom cabinets. The result resembles a furniture piece, and helps complement the new openness of the kitchen design.

To save more valuable counter space, we incorporated a Sharp R1214T under-cabinet microwave. It provides a wide range of options for placement, works with standard cabinet sizes and does not require a built-in kit or shelf, allowing for easy installation, and it comes with under cabinet task lighting. Additionally (and specifically useful for our client when baking) we incorporated Moen’s Arbor faucet in spot resistant stainless steel. This innovative faucet has Moen’s patented hands free MotionSense and Reflex pull-down spray, and its transitional look works well with this kitchen.

The end result is a vibrant, bright space with ample storage that works perfectly for our client’s lifestyle.

The client was so fun to work with,” says Mark. “She was trusting in both our planning and design, and is very happy with the end results. This project was one of those in which everything fell into place incredibly well. The time from start to finish was amazing, and was a real testament to the benefits of a well-planned out project.”

 

You Don’t Need to Go Bigger to Get Better

When clients come to us with hopes to remodel their existing home, we know they are doing so because they want to remain in the house that they love while improving the functionality of their space. One might think this necessarily means making rooms larger–adding square footage or knocking down walls. But sometimes all that is needed is imagination, innovation, and thoughtful design.

In this Project Spotlight, a kitchen is remodeled to improve the function and design for two avid home cooks. And with careful planning and some inspiring design elements, no changes needed to be made to the kitchen’s original size and footprint.

The work began with some structural basics. The kitchen was actually part of a previous home addition, and the floors had not been perfectly leveled to the original structure. Once the Schrader team rectified that and improved insulation to exterior walls for energy efficiency, the design improvements could begin.

The kitchen already featured a lovely hexagonal, windowed eating area and a kitchen island with seating. The island was completely reconstructed with new countertops and a wider work surface area, and by re-orienting the seating at the island, the flow of the room was improved and more space for cooking was created.

This project also posed a unique venting challenge. These skilled home cooks have an induction stove top, but a skylight was positioned directly above it. To work around this venting issue, a pop-up vent was installed, which rises out of the counter and then slides back down at the bush of a button–an exciting technological innovation that also works with the room’s streamlined aesthetic.

For added storage and functionality, Aventos by Blum soft-function lift-systems were added, to house small appliances and whatever else the homeowners might need.

The final look of the complete kitchen is light, bright, and modern. The clients were enthusiastic participants throughout the renovation, researching ideas and products and collaborating with Project Planner Brian Taber and Schrader cabinet craftsman Robert Page closely on all aspects of the work. Project Manager Val DeCesare oversaw the work to its successful and beautiful completion.

“This particular project is a perfect example of how to increase functionality without increasing space,” says Brian. “The homeowners love cooking and entertaining in their new kitchen and that’s the most rewarding thing for us.”

 

 

Breaking Down the Barriers to Your Dream Layout

One of the things that makes home remodeling and renovation so rewarding and exciting is that it enables a homeowner to stay in the home that they already love, while opening up all of the possibilities to the home of their dreams.

Sometimes renovation entails the modernization of a space to keep up with the times, or the expansion of a space to grow as a family’s needs might. And sometimes renovation means completely changing the flow and layout of a home to better suit the desires of the homeowner and the way they wish to live. This was the case in this Project Spotlight, in which we took down the walls that defined many smaller rooms to create an open, airy flow. The results are incredible, and if you didn’t know the before and after photos were the same residence, it would be hard to imagine.

These clients came to us with hopes for a much more open floor plan for their home. They are avid cooks, so creating a flow from the kitchen to other rooms that could be used for entertaining, dining and food storage was paramount. Walls were taken down to achieve this goal, and a new pantry, mudroom, bathroom and sunroom were renovated in addition to a fully updated kitchen.

The remodeled space boasts may cool features, including two kinds of countertops–a solid surface stone on the curved kitchen island (a notable feature in and of itself) and walnut underneath a row of custom cabinetry. The new cabinets are a shaker-style, constructed in our cabinet shop. There’s a beautiful bead board backsplash in the kitchen as well as a sleek hood over the range which does not obstruct the view to the sunroom, and adds to the open feel of the space.

Even though this was a large-scale renovation, we were committed to minimizing the inconvenience to our clients, as is always our priority. We were thrilled that they reported to us that the experience was low-impact during the construction, and they were able to go about their lives, and even work from home as the renovation progressed.

The results speak for themselves, and the transformation of this home is one we are always proud to share with prospective clients to illustrate just how much change is possible with the right design plan in place, and the best of skilled tradesman at work.

Take a look at the stunning before and after gallery below and give us a call if you’re ready to open up your home to some fresh possibilities!

 

Project Spotlight: A Budget Friendly, Open and Airy Kitchen Renovation

Kitchen Renovation before & after

Glossy magazines and countless home design websites are filled with galleries of incredible kitchen remodeling project, all aimed to inspire and excite, to remind us that when it comes to remodeling the rooms in which we live our lives, the possibilities are endless.

But behind every transformation lies a great deal of thoughtful planning and hard work. Over the past four decades, Schrader and Company Construction Services has helped homeowners turn their varied home renovation dreams into livable realities.

In this blog series, we’ll take an in-depth look at some standout home remodeling projects, all of which are notable not just for the remarkable improvements made to a space, but for the way inherent obstacles were overcome, innovative techniques and materials were used, and the skills of the Schrader and Company team of professionals brought the desired result to fruition.

Before
Before

Every renovation comes with its own particular set of challenges, and often one of those challenges is budget. But with the right team and tools, a stunning transformation can also be cost-effective.

For this kitchen renovation, the goal was to open the space, create more storage, and keep costs down.

The homeowner and Project Planner John Hudson identified the existing island as being problematic, both agreed it was an obstruction to working in the space. Its removal opened up the flow of the room, and at no detriment to storage, which was created by the addition of more cabinetry.

The custom cabinet choice also afforded an opportunity for style and function to merge perfectly. “The simple elegance of the white Shaker cabinetry is not only timeless, but fits in perfectly with the original Craftsman styling of the home,” said Hudson.

madson-after
After

The windows and doors, much of the interior trim work, a large portion of the wall coverings, and plumbing locations were all able to remain, keeping costs at an acceptable level. Other budget friendly improvements to the space included resilient vinyl flooring, LED light bars as under cabinet lighting, and bead board panels as a backsplash in lieu of tile.

The light, bright, and airy final results speak for themselves. What was once a tight space with limited functionality is now a Pinterest-worthy “after”, achieved through thoughtful design & planning, consideration for the client’s budgetary needs and seamless execution.