Making Your Renovation Experience Enjoyable

DESIGNfirst Builders Blog Near Chicago, Illinois

3 Top Home Renovations for This Winter

Most people think of summer as the remodeling season, but winter offers a lot of advantages. Though it can be tough to do some renovation jobs in winter, for those you can do there are some distinct advantages.

Why You Should Remodel for the Winter

Even though winter isn’t a time you usually consider for remodeling, it does offer some valuable advantages over other seasonal remodels.

  • Off-season discounts and lower prices
  • Greater contractor availability due to lack of demand
  • Faster permit approvals because of low activity
  • Less inconveniences from work or school

Winter is the perfect time for certain renovations and remodels for your home.

Indoor Painting

Though you may not be able to repaint the outside of your house, you can always give your home’s interior walls a fresh coat of paint. With most people away from home, it’s the perfect time for indoor repainting. Plus, you can add some vibrant color to mitigate the winter blues. Just remember to keep your window open to keep the area well ventilated.

Replacing the Floor

Another renovation project that you can prioritize during the winter is replacing your floor. Do you seek the warmth of carpet? Do you prefer the convenience and flexibility of a hardwood floor? Use this low activity time to replace the floor at your convenience.

Bathroom and Kitchen

If your home will not receive as many visitors during this time, you can also tackle some of the bigger, more ambitious projects, such as bathroom and kitchen remodels. You will appreciate the work done on them when you’re indoors most of the time. If you do anticipate visitors or a scheduled event for the winter, make sure to schedule your professional remodeling crew long before the event.


If you are in the market to get some remodeling done during this winter season or any of the other three seasons, consider DESIGNFirst Builders. Our team is available for your renovation needs throughout the entire year. Contact us today for a free consultation.

Keeping Your Home Warm During Severe Winter

Winter may be getting closer to its end, but some of the coldest temperatures of the year are still ahead of us. During severe winter temperatures, your plumbing system is one of the most vulnerable areas of your home. Frozen pipes can burst and cause major damage to your home.  You can protect your home’s plumbing system from extreme winter conditions by following these tips.

Preventing Frozen Pipes

One of the most important tasks when preparing for extreme winter weather is keeping your plumbing system from freezing. Unprotected pipes may burst and result in water damage. The following tips will show you what you can do to prevent your pipes from freezing this winter.

  • Make sure that you keep a small amount of water running through the faucets. Prioritize faucets that run along the outside walls or connect to pipes that run through unprotected spaces.
  • Locate the pipes in your basement and your crawl spaces. Wrap them with heat tape or insulated sleeves or covers.
  • If your plumbing system has pipes located around your garage, remove all the snow and ice that gathers around your garage door. Make sure to keep the garage door shut tight.
  • During the severe weather, make sure to keep all doors, windows, and chimney flues shut as well. At the same time, allow your cabinet and pantry doors to remain open. This tactic allows warm air to spread around the kitchen and bathroom.
  • If your cupboards back up to an exterior wall, keep them open to allow the warm air to circulate.
  • If your furniture is blocking your heating vents, rearrange it. You want to have open heat flow. If you have wood floor vents, you can remove them to improve the heat flow.
  • Keep the thermostat temperature consistent as much as you can throughout the day. If you are leaving your home, hold the temperature to at least 55 degrees.
  • Find the water main shut off valve in your home. You might need to shut the valve off in case of emergency.
  • Shut off and disconnect your garden hoses, house bib, and all your outside faucets. If needed, drain the faucets by opening the valves. Cover the faucets by installing insulation covers on them.

Additional Heating Advice

The following tips will allow you to warm up not just your plumbing system, but your home as well.

  • Switch your thermostat from setback mode to hold.
  • If you want to bring in humidity and a warmer temperature, boil water and make food such as stews or foods. Avoid using the oven or a grill.
  • Make sure your boilers and radiators with outside pipes are clear from snow and ice. For instance, a 90% furnace or boiler has exhaust and intake pipes outside your home that you may need to clear.
  • Most home heating systems cannot handle temperatures between -20 and -30 degrees, even with functioning vents, furnaces, or boilers. The temperature drop at this rate is inevitable. Just make sure the system continues to operate and keep the thermostat at 70 degrees or more.

Dealing with Frozen Pipes

Despite your best efforts, sometimes your pipes will freeze. There are a few actions you can take to mitigate the damage if you are careful.

  • Find or estimate the area where the pipe was frozen. Pipes are more likely to freeze either where the water service enters your home, or anywhere along the outside walls.
  • Once you find the area, if you can, try to warm the section of the pipe where the frozen spot is located. You can do so via a portable space heater, a hair dryer, or heating pads. Do not try to directly warm the affected area, as the extreme temperature differences can weaken the pipe and cause it to break.
  • Keep the faucets open. If the pipe starts to warm up, water can start flowing. By running water through the pipe, you can help speed the ice melting process.
  • In the event your pipes burst, it is urgent that you locate the water main shut off valve and turn it off as soon as you can.

Increase the Function of Your Kitchen with a New Island

Kitchen islands add flexibility to your food preparation space. They offer more counter space, extra room for appliances, and even more seating options. They also act as focal points to tie the room together visually. Kitchen islands are one of the most requested items in remodels and new homes. If you are considering a kitchen remodel, consider the benefits of adding one to your design.


Decide the function of your kitchen island before you launch into the design process. Is it strictly for food preparation space or does it also need to seat your family and guests? The more functions you can include in the plan, the more versatile your island. Consider any appliances that will live in the island and how they will impact your preparation space. Countertops that are too thin or short quickly decrease your workspace. Once you know the function you need out of your island, you can create a plan that accommodates the flow.

Space Requirements

Think about the space you have available in your kitchen. The island needs to work with the current features of the kitchen. It can’t block walkways or impede access to your cabinets. The wrong measurements can hurt the resale value of your home down the road as well. While we know you want to squeeze every inch of counter space out of your island, it is important to make sure you will be able to work around the island’s design.

Key Features

All islands have different features built in. Too many features can make your island cluttered. You must find the balance between clutter and proper use of space. Some features you can put into a kitchen island include:

  • Cabinets
  • Sinks
  • Wine refrigerator storage
  • Extra refrigerator drawers
  • Multi-level surfaces
  • Specialized storage
  • Appliances like a microwave, steam oven, or stovetop

Choose the elements that best fit your lifestyle to add the most function to your new island. Talk with your designer to find out how to incorporate the features you want for best aesthetic effect. They will be able to help you figure out the best layout, providing you with maximum space with the most beauty.

Use the Space Above

Don’t forget about the space above the island. Now that you have this beautiful island in the middle of your kitchen, it provides you with the opportunity for even more storage. Add hanging racks to display your best pots and pans or your stemware. Consider interesting lighting fixtures above your island. The possibilities are endless.

If you are ready to start on your new kitchen island, we are ready to help. Our design team handles everything from start to finish. Visit our showroom to see all the options we have available and get a free consultation today.

What to Think About When Planning a Home Addition / Remodeling Project

Planning a home remodeling project is a challenge for many homeowners, especially when it’s a new addition. To ensure that your next home renovation or addition goes as smoothly as possible, refer to this guide to help you plan for all stages of the renovation process.

remodeling projectBudget Accordingly

Budgeting properly is crucial to the success of your home renovation or addition. Be sure to consider all aspects of the renovation when organizing your budget. Speak with your architect, renovation designer, or contractor to assist you in accounting for all components of your addition or renovation.

Make a List of Wants and Needs

While a home addition or renovation is an investment, you won’t be able to see an ROI unless you are confident in your ability to fund the successful completion of each step in the construction process. With this in mind, it’s crucial to make sure you have the means to finance all aspects of your project. Along with establishing a budget for your renovation, making a list of what you want and need from your home renovation helps ensure you don’t overspend. Be sure to prioritize the fundamental features of your renovation or addition before adding on any specialized extras to ensure you don’t drive up the costs.

Speak With Your Neighbors

Speaking with your neighbors well before you begin your home renovation or addition project is a good way to let them know your plans in advance to avoid any complaints or arguments emerging in the midst of construction.

Find a One-Stop Company

Renovations and remodeling require a lot of work. If you were to go about it on your own, you would have to worry about researching and choosing countless contractors, informing yourself on the latest industry trends, and gathering complicated legal documentation for permits. We suggest finding a company that offers the complete package and does all the work for you.

By talking to friends and looking up company reviews online, you can find a business with the best referrals and satisfaction rates that will cover every aspect of your project. Look for a company that will handle permits, design, construction, electrical contractors, client services, and more. Such types of companies are the only way to go when pursuing a renovation or remodel, unless you have the time and know-how to become a full-time construction expert yourself.


While planning for a home renovation or addition can be exciting, it’s crucial to be realistic with your budget, abilities, and basic needs. Strive to find a home design company that will fit all of your needs and take the most amount of work off your shoulders. Contact Design First today for all your renovation and remodeling needs.




Moving vs Remodeling: Which Should You Choose?

Every once in a while, you may think about moving vs. remodeling your current dwelling.

Families grow and needs change. Moving usually means more space and better functionality, but you may just be ready for a change; perhaps you’ve become bored of the same old fixtures, the same old rooms, and even the same old yard. During these periods, you get the urge to uproot your home and start fresh – but is moving the best option for you and your family?

When you move, you have to dismantle your surroundings and shift them to a new home. You have to change your utilities, your addresses, and your mortgages. You risk receiving a low offer on your current home and paying higher property taxes in a new neighborhood.

In addition, you have to go through serious social adjustments: your kids have to attend new schools, you have to get used to new neighbors and a new area, and you leave behind the friends you’ve made back home. This can cause a great deal of emotional stress for you and your family.

Moving vs. remodeling comparisonOn the other hand, remodeling your current home provides the same benefits of a new home without the moving costs. You get to stay in your own home, keep your friends and neighbors, and remain in the area you know and love. Through remodeling, you can even increase the value of your home when the time comes to sell!

Avoid the stress, costs, and risks of moving. Choose DESIGNfirst Builders for a stress-free, all-inclusive remodeling service for your Chicagoland home.

Looking for Answers?

Schedule a FREE consultation