A Very Special Renovation: The Charlton School

While Schrader and Company is best known for the remodeling, renovation, and construction of private homes, we also relish the opportunity to work on public spaces. When that public space is used for the education and enrichment of children in our community, it certainly becomes a very special project, indeed.

In this Project Spotlight, we’ll go behind the scenes of our renovation of The Chapel of the Arts at The Charlton School, a local non-profit boarding school that offers a therapeutic approach to education, with the goal of giving their students the tools for success in all aspects of their lives.

The original goal going into the planning and design were to renovate the existing chapel to one that reflects the school’s design direction (based on a 20-year campus improvement plan) and improve the use of the building as an art classroom. The building started as a chapel back in the 1970’s, and over time was utilized for different functions. Prior to the renovations, it was being used for some of the arts programs, but not all. The building lacked bathroom facilities, space for the pottery program, and did not meet the needs of the school.

The interior had not been updated since the 1970’s. It was dark inside and lacked natural light or any adequate lighting. All the windows within the chapel were dark stained glass. Lighting is instrumental to art and art education, so we specified all new lighting fixtures and new windows to create a bright, welcoming interior. 

“The 20-year improvement plan is a modern farmhouse aesthetic, the goal being clean and timeless, while trying to respect the history of the campus,” says Project Planner Mark O’Lena.  “It was our mission to bring that style to the space.”

“It was great to be able to partner with our designer Brooke Weinert to re-imagine what this space could look like. We left some of the elements of the chapel to pay tribute to its roots and added design elements to keep with the desired aesthetic, while at the same time adding lighting and custom interior cabinetry by cabinet designer Robert Page, and specialized pieces that make the space modern and fun.”

The targeted design goals include providing an ADA compliant bathroom, dedicated kiln room, private counseling areas, display spaces, storage spaces, and function specific spaces (e.g. pottery and glass, photography, painting, cleanup, etc.). The existing heating was not very efficient, and cooling was non-existent. An updated high efficiency boiler, programmable thermostats, and zoning were added, along with large ceiling fans and “mini-splits” for cooling.

Experts were consulted to assist in the design of the kiln and glass room. We also utilized a stained glass specialist to assist in the removal and storage of the existing large stained glass panels. 

Scheduling the start of the project during the summer was a priority, so design and planning had to happen fairly quickly. Various COVID guidance restrictions were implemented during the planning and design phase (at both Schrader and Company and at the school) and continued through-out the construction phase. Project Manager Austin Sullivan did a great job managing and performing the renovation.

The entire renovation project relied heavily on community donations, the largest being a grant from The Sarah B. Foulke Charitable Fund.

The end result is a bright, open, cheerful space that functions beautifully for the needs of both students and educators, and invites creativity and imagination.

”We would not have accomplished this without the vision of the entire team at Schrader and Company,” said Alex Capo, LMHC, Executive Director of The Charlton School. 

It’s wonderful to think about the generation of students who will benefit from their time at The Charlton School, and their enriched arts education made better by these improvements to their learning space. 

We were delighted to be part of this important renovation project.

A Classic Never Goes Out of Style

A bathroom is one of those home improvement projects that you want and need to stand the test of time. Not only will it encounter heavy daily wear and tear, but it’s a room where the essential components are relatively permanent. Few of us would want to re-tile a shower or replumb a new bathtub every few years. 

That’s why it’s so important to make choices and selections that feel just right for your individual home, aesthetic, and lifestyle when undertaking a bathroom remodel. In this Project Spotlight, you’ll see an example of a bathroom renovation that really kept an eye to the classic hallmarks of timeless design, solid craftsmanship, and luxurious details. 

The goal of the project was to completely renovate a large bathroom. The homeowners felt that the existing built-in tub, shower, and vanities were dated. We removed everything: shower walls and floor, tile floor, tub and tub surround, vanities, all fixtures, mirrors, doors, and exhaust fan. The project also encompassed improvements to two closets just off the bath.

The desired aesthetic was a very traditional, yet stylish master bath. The clients worked with interior designer Brooke Weinert on selections to really capture the classic look and feel that they wanted. The outcome demonstrates just how dramatic the change to an existing space can be, when time is spent in the details. Walking into the room, the claw foot tub and designer tub filler capture your eye. The in-laid vanity doors with clear crystal knobs add a touch of nostalgia and class. The subtle addition of chrome in the plumbing and light fixtures adds to the classic feel.

Cabinet maker Robert Page worked with our clients to design and produce two truly one of a kind furniture style vanities, that while elegant, will stand the test of time both visually and functionally. The tile and marble work speak for itself—classic and elegant. The custom full glass shower opens up the space. We upgraded the heavy shower glass to Low Iron, which eliminates the greenish tint of standard shower glass, allowing the dazzling white of the Carrara Marble to show through. We also included an attic mount fan that allows for a more delicate vent and light than a standard ceiling mounted unit. 

“This renovation took place during the pandemic and under Covid safety restrictions and protocols,” says project planner Mark O’Lena. “We had to regroup, and change some of the ways we typically perform our mission. Essentially, adapt and overcome.”

“As a planner we have the opportunity to walk through the project with the client and see the expression on their face when we tour. I am always pleased when the client is pleased, and judging by the reaction, they were pleased. So much so that they have given us the opportunity to work for them again.”

 

 

Muddy Spring Weather Calls for the Perfect Mudroom

April showers bring May flowers…and mud.

Here in Upstate New York, we wait impatiently for the snow to finally melt and the sun to shine again, taking us out into our yards and gardens, ready to make the most of the spring. But with this return to the great outdoors comes the inevitable mess of nature. When it’s time to come back home from our outdoor revels, we track in grass, leaves, and mud, needing places to store our wet umbrellas and raincoats, boots and bags.

That’s why every home needs a good mudroom. A mudroom with ample storage provides a crucial stopping point for the mess of the outdoors before it can infiltrate your carpets and furniture. 

Families especially can benefit from these designated “in and out” stations, which offer homes for all the abundant “stuff” of childhood–lunch bags, sports equipment, backpacks, shoes, hats and gloves, and now, masks and hand sanitizer. 

A mudroom is a simple upgrade to your home that truly benefits everyday life. Take a look at some of these beautiful examples of mudrooms we have created for our clients, and give us a call if you’re ready to corral, organize, and streamline your home for better living.

 

 

An Award-Winning Historic Renovation

At Schrader and Company, we pride ourselves on the range of construction and renovation projects we happily undertake for our clients. But it’s safe to say that historic remodels hold a special place in our collective hearts. 

These types of renovations require a genuine appreciation for historic detail, a respect for the time and techniques used in the initial construction, and a keen design eye to make it all come together in one cohesive final result. The rewards for our team, and for the homeowner, are worth every minute of hard work.

In this Project Spotlight, we look behind the scenes of an extensive historic renovation that recently won the Capital Region Builders and Remodelers Association  “Best in Building” Award for Best Historic Remodel of 2020.

This renovation work involved the removal of some existing rooms and spaces that simply didn’t work for the homeowners, and the addition of several new spaces and targeted improvements to the original home.

We removed a free-standing, two car garage, a masonry side porch, family room with a large stone fireplace and chimney, the existing kitchen (with a small loft area above) and a first floor bathroom.

We added a new kitchen, a Jack & Jill bathroom, new windows, new siding and exterior trim, and new roofing shingles. Beautiful coffered ten foot ceilings create visual interest and amplify the spaciousness of the rooms. Cabinet Designer Robert Page created plentiful custom cabinetry for placement throughout the home.

The ultimate goal of the renovation was to improve both the aesthetics and functionality of the home while maintaining the historic feel of the structure’s original time period—the mid 1800s. 

Project Planner Brian Taber and Interior Designer Brooke Stollery worked with the clients to make decisions and selections that would achieve these goals, and preserve the historic charm while addressing some of the typical challenges that older homes can present. For example, the new basement floor level in the addition was much lower than the existing basement floor. This required some significant shoring work with steel reinforced concrete. Project Manager Mike Atwood and the field team worked tirelessly to bring the project to fruition.

The renovation also presented opportunities to maximize space and functionality. The mudroom shares a wall with the new great room, and a two-sided cabinet allows for wood to be passed directly from the mudroom through the cabinet to the great room, eliminating mess and making it easier for the homeowners to enjoy cozy nights by their woodstove.  

“These clients are great decision-makers with a true love for their home. They were a pleasure to work with from start to finish,” says Brian.

“They have expressed to us that they feel an incredible sense of peace in their newly renovated home. We couldn’t ask for more than that.”

 

Schrader and Company Picks Up Three 2020 “Best in Building” Awards

We are so pleased to share that we’ve been honored by the Capital Region Builders and Remodelers Association for their 2020  “Best in Building” Awards.

Schrader and Company picked up awards in three categories: Best Historic Remodel, Best Kitchen Remodel ($75,000 +), and Best Utility or Special Use Space.

The pandemic prevented us from gathering with our peers in the field in person to celebrate these accolades as we usually do, but the CRBRA put together some excellent videos showcasing personnel from each winning company explaining their projects.

Our Interior Designer, Brooke Weinert, did a wonderful job taking the viewer behind the scenes of our three award-winning projects.

We are honored by these awards and their recognition of our efforts to deliver the best in craftsmanship to our clients.

 

The Future Looks Bright: Meet the Young Talent on Our Team

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At some point in the last decade, you’ve probably read a think-piece or heard a news story about the downward trend of interest in careers in the trade industry. 

Fewer and fewer young people are picturing a future in the skilled trades, and that brings about serious questions about who exactly is going to build America’s homes, plumb the pipes, wire the electronics and HVAC units, and generally fix what gets broken in our country in the decades to come.

While the nation at large might wring their hands at the decreased interest in the trades industry, here at Schrader and Company, we see a crop of passionate, committed young people who strive to hone their craft to the highest of levels. These newest members of our team already demonstrate an elite level of skill, professionalism, and talent. We believe in encouraging the interest of young carpenters, and providing opportunity for them to grow, gain hands-on experience, and make a good living. 

We sat down with the newest and youngest members of Schrader and Company to ask them about how they got started in their chosen field, what they’ve learned on the journey so far, and what advice they might have for other young people just starting out.

Their thoughtful answers tell us something we all want to hear: the future of our company, and our entire industry, is safe in their capable, hard-working hands.

 

Austin S., Project Manager

I first became interested in  carpentry and building in high school. I took a lot of fine woodworking classes and a course called “Basic Principles of Construction”, where we built a few small things and then sheds at the end of the year. I ended up really enjoying it. 

I chose to pursue this career because of the enjoyment I get out of woodworking and crafting. I also knew that college wasn’t the right path for me.

Working with the Schrader team has taught me everything I needed to know to work my way up to project manager at 21. I’m still not done learning. There is much more to learn as this profession is always changing.

If you know college isn’t for you, never be afraid or ashamed of pursuing a skilled trades career. The knowledge that you take home every day will benefit you in the future guaranteed, and the skills you learn, you can use in every aspect of life.

 

Sean K., Project Manager

 My wife and I had purchased a house and started to do some large renovations to it. We hired out most of the work but I took on some of the smaller projects. Over the next couple of years I took on some larger scale remodeling projects and my passions switched from the work I was doing during my day job to the extracurricular projects I had at home.

I had graduated from college with a degree in economics and worked in the finance field for several years but I grew disenfranchised with the office atmosphere. I felt greater reward from working with my hands and problem solving on the renovation projects in my own home. I was tired of paying people to do the remodeling work I would rather be doing myself. With my wife’s support, I decided to make the jump and make a career change to learn carpentry and construction.

Working with the Schrader and Company team has put me in a great position to learn numerous aspects of the construction field.  I have been able to work on a variety of projects that have exposed me to different challenges and experiences. In a world that is going the way of mass produced kits geared to being assembled by anybody, it has been a privilege to be in a position to learn the industry from a company that still exemplifies craftsmanship.

The construction industry can be a very rewarding one. It allows for a full experience of being able to physically involve yourself in the work, but also to engage the mind when needing to find a solution to problems. There is also great enjoyment in being able to be a part of a project from beginning to end, and being able to physically see what you were a part of creating.

 

Nicco T., Apprentice Carpenter/College Student

Since I was a kid I was always building with LEGO, which led me to take several construction electives at Shenendehowa High School.

During my junior year of high school, my technology teacher  saw my interest and pointed me in the direction of the Hudson Valley Construction Tech program. Then during my senior year I was in a class to build a house with my teacher Mr. Verhagan, and I decided to apply for that Hudson Valley course. I am now starting my second semester there soon.

I could fill a page with the skills I have already learned being here at Schrader and Company for almost a year now, but I believe that the team has taught me that putting in hard work will pay off.

If this career path gives you satisfaction after looking at what you have completed after a day of work, then you should pursue this career.

 

Ryan C., Production Assistant/High School Student

I first learned of my love for carpentry and construction when I was thirteen years old building a workbench with my dad. Once I discovered working with my hands, I inherited some tools from my great grandfather and started to build things on my own, learning something new with every project.

 What made me want to pursue construction as a profession was working with and learning from my Uncle Marco, who is a very talented stone mason and an owner of Lazio Construction. He taught me about the different types of construction that I might be interested in and introduced me to Shrader and Company.

 Working with the Schrader and Company team has taught me that the area of construction that excites me the most is remodeling and new construction. I have discovered that working on site rebuilding a project or starting a new one, and doing it the right way, has taught me more about my passion for carpentry than I ever could have imagined.

For people who are interested in the trades, I strongly advise them to learn more about the many different paths in construction. Once they’ve found what excites them the most, they should get hands-on experience and they will soon discover that there is never a day or an age where you stop learning something new.

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.”

 

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.”

 

Adding Post and Beam Tools to Our Company Toolbox

At Schrader and Company, we believe that continuing education is a necessary part of maintaining the standards of excellence that define us. Whenever an opportunity arises for team members to learn valuable information that will enhance their craft, and therefore our clients’ projects, we are interested.

Two of our talented field team members recently attended a continuing education workshop that adds significant and specialized knowledge to their skill set. This past October, Mike Atwood and Jeff Peterman traveled to Baff, Maine to attend the week-long “Purely Post and Beam” course at the Shelter Institute.

The course is an intensive introduction to the skills necessary to design and build a 24 x 24-foot timber frame structure by hand, using post and beam construction techniques. The days are spent onsite designing, cutting, and raising a post and beam frame. The entire structure is created in the short time frame, and held together with only twelves screws. 

Fine-tuning their post and beam construction techniques was an enlightening experience for both Mike and Jeff.

“It was nice to step back from the speed of construction, work with wood, and create something from scratch,” says Mike. “We gained a better appreciation for taking time with layout, and meticulous technique. It absolutely applies to how we work at Schrader and Company. These post and beam skills can be applied to everything, from historic renovations to new builds.” 

“It’s great to have had the experience and come out with new tools to add to our repertoire and toolbox,” says Jeff.

We look forward to sharing with you how Jeff and Mike’s new knowledge can enhance our work for our clients and their homes.