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Making Your Renovation Experience Enjoyable

DESIGNfirst Builders Blog Near Chicago, Illinois

Remodeling? 3 Ways to Increase Natural Light

If you want to create a more efficient home in your upcoming remodel, you have all sorts of options, from choosing more energy-efficient appliances to adding new siding that prevents energy transfer. But don’t overlook one of the best ways to improve your home’s efficiency and boost your overall mood: natural light.

When you increase your home’s natural light, you both decrease the amount of money you spend on artificial light and on heating — though you do need to invest in good window treatments to keep the home from heating too much in the summer.

Not sure how to go about adding natural light to your space? Learn about three ways you can add natural light to your home when you remodel.

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Building an In-Law Apartment? 4 Problems to Avoid

Do you take care of a senior relative who has trouble living on their own? Do you wish that you could combine households to make caretaking easier? If so, you’re not alone. The number of multi-generational households has been on the rise for years, and now many homeowners live with their senior relatives.


The process of building an in-law apartment and combining households with a senior relative can come with problems if the apartment is not planned properly. If you’re a homeowner who would like to have a senior relative live in your home, here’s what you need to do to avoid issues that can arise when constructing an in-law apartment.

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Tips for Making Space in Small Kitchens

Today’s kitchens are the meeting hubs of homes; they’re dynamic spaces that tend to evolve with the needs and lifestyles of homeowners. If your kitchen space is small, it’s important to remember that it doesn’t have to be limiting. Plus, a good kitchen remodel could potentially increase the selling price of your home by as much as $50,000. Consider the following 3 tips on how to maximize space in your kitchen.

Create a Work Triangle That Works for You

Work triangles are formed between the three most important parts of the kitchen: the stove, the sink, and the refrigerator. According to classic theory, the legs of the triangle should be no less than four and no greater than nine feet each, and the total distance of the triangle should be between 13 and 26 feet. Moving between the legs of the triangle should feel natural to you. You may even consider more than one triangle if space permits.

Add Savvy Shelving and Storage

Opt for shelving that’s unique to your kitchen and makes the best use of natural lighting. Consider shelving that can be accessed from both sides or a creative unit that’s custom built into a wall or above your counter space. Create functional storage, such as high cabinets for rarely used gadgets or a crockery drawer for various sized dishes.

Choose the Right Cabinet Hardware

When working with limited space, be sure to choose the right cabinet hardware. Heavy knobs or pulls will negatively affect the visual feel of the space, as streamlined cabinets are crucial in smaller spaces where the wrong pulls will catch your clothes. Consider inset troughs or slim pulls that follow the line of your doors.


Contact DESIGNfirst

DESIGNfirst offers creative ideas and solutions to finish your dream kitchen with sophistication and style, as well as form and function. Contact us today.

4 Things to Consider When Doing an Attic Remodel

When you are summer cleaning, you may want to assess any unused space to renovate to improve your home’s value. Instead of the basement, as is usually the case, you may want to renovate the attic. Bringing new life to your attic presents its own unique set of challenges that you should keep in mind before and during the process.


Why Remodel an Attic?

An attic could potentially become a bedroom, a more functional storage room, or even a home office depending on the ceiling height and layout. There is vast potential when it comes to attic renovation, but ultimately you must work with the available space in your home and make the most of it.

attic remodel

Issues to Consider With an Attic Renovation

Attic renovations are more complex than other home remodeling projects and you may face some unique and challenging problems.


  • You must ensure your attic still complies with all applicable safety codes in your area. Depending on local laws, you may face limitations in your options for an attic remodeling project.
  • Most home attics are not designed with regular use in mind, so you may need to quiet the floor of your attic if you intend to turn it into a functional space you will use on a consistent basis.
  • Some attics may have staircases while others are only accessible via pull-down staircases from the ceiling of the upper floor. Assess the current entryway to your attic and determine if you can reconfigure it for easier access to your new attic.
  • Your existing attic may have exposed insulation or other features that make it unsuitable for regular use. Consult with your contractor about how to make the space functional and safe for you and your family.


Attics provide unique opportunities for improving home functionality and a solid remodeling project can also boost property value. If you’re thinking about renovating your home this summer, consider the possibilities for your attic and work with an experienced contractor to get the job done right.

Why You Should Build a Dedicated Home Office Space During Your Spring Cleaning

If you work from home, particularly if you’re starting out, you understand the numerous difficulties that come with that career lifestyle, such as balancing time between home and work, or getting rid of distractions. If you add a dedicated office space to your home, whether by remodeling an attic or basement, or as a home addition, you can improve your work output and even gain other advantages. Your spring cleaning is the perfect time to transform one of your empty spaces into a home office.


Why Spring?

Spring is when the weather turns warmer in most of the country, and while it may be rainy during the spring months it is still a great time for a home remodeling project because demand for builders and contractors usually spikes during the summer. You can also plan your remodeling project before the hot weather so you can work comfortably during the summer.


The Value of Dedicated Office Space

Some people who work from home may be perfectly comfortable with a laptop on the couch, but others may find the lack of dedicated work space to be a distraction. You may be one of those people who need much more than just a computer to do their jobs, and dedicated office space helps ensure productivity throughout the year.

Tips for a Home Office

Everyone who works from home will have unique issues when it comes to office space. First, determine where you want your office in your home. Next, think of structural changes you need to make the space more inviting and comfortable. You may need to install a door or reconfigure the heating and air system in your home for your new office.


Ask your contractor for recommendations to take advantage of the floor space and structure of your home. Consider going green and investing in eco-friendly appliances and building materials, if possible. This may not only lead to savings on your energy bills but potentially tax benefits as well.

The Beginning of the Beginning: What to Know About Home Remodeling

People buy homes based on location, and that’s especially true in the Chicagoland area. If the perfect house is in the wrong location, it’s not the perfect house. Many people will sacrifice what they truly want in a home in exchange for the perfect location. You shouldn’t have to settle or make your home simply “work.” You can remodel your home to suit you perfectly, and the right contracting team can help you bring your vision to life and make the process seamless and enjoyable.

Beginning new construction or an extensive home remodel should be exciting, not challenging. You have many decisions to make, and when you plan your remodel with a design in mind, your transformed home is built around that aesthetic. If it’s your first time building a home or tackling a remodeling project, here are a few things to know to prepare for the next stage and your new home.

Understand the Relationship Between Form and Function

Whether sewing clothes or building a new house, designers often face a common dilemma regarding their plans: Should they follow form or should they follow function? Traditional wisdom says that form should follow function. This means the look of something – its form – is secondary to its use – its function.

We believe in a balance between these two, and that any home can be built without sacrificing the homeowner’s vision. Here are some tips for marrying form and function during a remodel.

  • Ask questions. Our architects and designers are experts. If you like the way a design looks but are having trouble with how it may affect your daily life, explain why the design might be a challenge and ask about options.


  • Look beyond the floor model. When you find something you like, be it a chair or counter-top, don’t assume that what you see is what you’ll get. If you like the way a chair sits but the fabric is itchy, find a fabric that can suit the chair – both for its look and its texture.


  • Decide what makes you happy. Our builders know what works and our design team knows how to make it look great, but you’re the customer. Your happiness in your home is more important than meeting the latest trends. Learn what you like before your remodel, and we can work to make form and function work together.


Remember that you can enjoy all the beauty of form and all the ease of function, and that design can lead the way.

Recognize the Benefits of an All-in-One Experience

Most remodels require balancing a group of various companies to achieve the outcome you want. An architectural firm, an interior designer, and a construction company are typically involved. During a remodel, you have to locate these companies and ensure they are a fit for you. The most challenging part is making sure they work together to transform your home in the most efficient way possible, and communication is a common complaint during the typical process.

One way to avoid headaches and eliminate inefficiency is to use an all-inclusive team. Having an all-inclusive contracting, building, and design team will make the process much simpler for you as you’ll enjoy the following benefits:

  • Seamless communication. Designers, architects, and planners should be team players – they should know each other and shouldn’t have to chase another business to schedule and make plans for your home.


  • Streamlined processes. When you work with various contractors and designers, each one has a different process for completing your remodel. With all-inclusive building and design companies, the schedule is set from the top down – and everyone is on the same page from the beginning.


  • A better product. When your contractors and design/architecture team all work together, your remodel will benefit from open communication and a clear timeline. It’s bound to produce a product you are happier with because you’ve been part of the communication process all along.


With a team like DESIGNfirst, you don’t have to balance the schedules of various businesses or worry about whether one of them has communicated your ideas clearly to the next one.

Know What to Expect From a Remodel or New Construction

The home renovation process should be smooth and enjoyable. You start with a vision and then depend on the company you work with to guide you through the experience. Look for a company that provides:

  • Personalized care. The best companies assign a team to each customer. Your assigned team should help you select from the many options and finishes that your project involves. They should help you choose the right colors, pieces, and accessories that fit your overall design. That kind of care may not be an option for all businesses, but you should expect individualized attention to your unique needs. At DESIGNfirst, we assign a team to each customer.


  • Talent and experience. Anyone investing in a remodel or a new build should look at the reviews of other clients. You should also ask about experience in the trade. Not every customer review will be perfect, but there should be enough to give you an idea of how they treat their customers and how much experience they have.


  • Responsive communication. You should expect streamlined communication and prompt attention. If you don’t hear from your contractor, architect, or designer in a timely fashion, it could be a sign that they will be less communicative once your project starts.

Work With a Unique, All-Inclusive Design and Build Firm

At DESIGNfirst, we do more than build homes; we build relationships. Once we understand who you are and what you’re looking for in a remodel or custom build, we will help you achieve your vision no matter where you live in Chicago. We are innovators in home construction and remodeling, and we want to put our innovation to work for you.

3 Spring Remodeling and Addition Projects to Consider

Spring is on its way, and with it comes a rebirth of nature from the previous winter. You might have the urge to start anew with your home as well by planning a home remodeling or addition project. If spring cleaning inspires you to invest in some remodeling this spring, there are several additions and upgrades you can make for aesthetic, comfort, and practical reasons.


Your Kitchen

The kitchen is the heart and gathering place of the home, so why not focus your attention on remodeling one of the most-used areas of your home? Virtually any kitchen offers vast potential for upgrades and remodeling. Take time to consult with a contractor you trust about functional improvements you can make to capitalize on your floor plan and available square footage. You can also invest in green appliances or install modern appliances for greater energy efficiency.


Add New Rooms

An addition to your home can dramatically increase property value and increase the overall comfort of your home. Perhaps you want to add an extra bedroom or knock out a few walls for a more open floor plan. Whatever your ideas may be, an addition on your home is a major investment that can lead to significant rewards if you take time to consider your options and plan carefully.

Wine Cellars

Wine is more popular than ever in the U.S., and many homeowners are starting their own wine collections at home. Adding a small wine cellar to your home can be easier than you might expect. Some clever homeowners have made use of crawlspaces and existing pantries to create stunning wine cellars, and wine lovers should consider how much space their wine collection needs and plan their remodeling accordingly.


These are just a few ways you can make functional improvements to your home this spring. Remodeling not only breathes new life into your home, but also increases the home’s property value and can offer other practical benefits like savings on your energy bills with more eco-friendly appliances and greater comfort all year round. Contacts us if you want to improve your homes value!

Turn Your Kitchen into an Entertainment Center for Your Spring Parties

Springtime is here, and many homeowners are beginning to plan for gatherings with the better weather. Even though the living room or the guest room are the areas you expect to entertain your guests, have you ever noticed that everyone gathers around the kitchen? If you are worried that your kitchen is not sleek or fancy enough to keep your guests entertained and satisfied, you can always remodel it to your needs.

Invest in Entertainment Fixtures

The kitchen is the natural gathering place in the home, and installing a television may be a great way to make the room more inviting while waiting for meals or unwinding with a snack after a tough day at work. Televisions are lighter and slimmer than ever before, so the space constraints you may have faced in previous years rarely present an issue now. You may also have the chance to install a nice sound system to enjoy your favorite music while cooking.

Create a More Open Space

springA large kitchen is inviting and comfortable, and you may be able to take more advantage of your available floor space with a remodel. Consider how you could rearrange cabinets and other fixtures for more space efficiency. If you currently have an island in your kitchen, determine how much you use it and if you could rearrange that space elsewhere to create a more open space. You could also reconfigure an existing kitchen island into additional seating space.

Warming Drawers

One functional improvement to consider with a kitchen remodel is the installation of a warming drawer. If you entertain guests on a regular basis, a warming drawer can significantly cut down on meal prep time and help you keep dishes prepared in advance warm until you’re ready to serve. This will ultimately help with entertaining purposes as you can prepare large meals and several dishes without having to worry much about timing your prep and cooking.


Ultimately any kitchen has the potential to be an entertainment hub of a home. Since most people naturally gravitate toward the kitchen to socialize during gatherings, investing in some functional comforts can enhance the comfort and welcoming atmosphere of any home kitchen.

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