SPECIAL PROMOTIONAL: The power of all things great and small in home design

It's the little details that can make home design

Color schemes, stand-out accents and unique accessories both inside and outside a home can help create the effect you desire–whether that is sublime or striking, restful or arresting. Your home’s appearance can be a reflection of your personality and yet be practical, environmentally sustainable and true to the design of the house itself. Three Madison-area professionals offer insight into what’s new and what’s timeless in home design.

From the ground up

Locally owned FLOOR360, with showrooms on Verona Road and in Delafield, offers residential and commercial flooring as well as design services and other products, including tiled showers and backsplashes, fireplaces, and custom-crafted window treatments by Hunter Douglas. In addition to its broad and unique product offerings, FLOOR360 is committed to quality design and superior installation standards.

Angela Skalitzky, Vice President of Retail Sales and Design at FLOOR360, says that flooring is, of course, the foundation of any space. “It can be bold and set a tone for the room, or it can make a soft suggestion of color and set a canvas for patterned area rugs or accent furniture,” she says. “Flooring should be selected early in the design process, since it can be the inspiration for other items in the room, from the base trim to the window treatments or wall color.”

Wood flooring, she says, can have many different characteristics that affect the overall look and feel of a room. “From smooth or hand-scraped, to wire-brushing or a natural oil finish, the sheen and overall texture of the floor can dramatically affect the final look and appeal of the space.”SPECIAL PROMOTIONAL: The power of all things great and small in home designOther flooring options, including carpet and tile, allow homeowners to consider a variety of colors. “The color palette that has been the most popular these last few years has gravitated toward grey and white,” says Skalitzky, “and the general tone of flooring tile lately has been slowly turning toward a hue that we refer to as ‘greige,’ a grey/beige mix that allows homeowners to easily incorporate both grey and beige into their design without feeling stuck in one color palette.”

FLOOR360 takes pride in offering Hunter Douglas window treatments, which combine beauty and technology. “When it comes to window treatments, it’s all about power motorization and being able to control your shades with your phone or iPad,” Skalitzky says. “You don’t even have to get up; just touch a button. Or you can preprogram your shades to open or close at certain times of day when you know that the sun will be streaming in, or when you want more privacy.”

Through membership in the International Design Guild, FLOOR360 gains access to exclusive stylings of products at competitive prices. The guild also supports Design for a Difference, a community-driven project that brings together designers, showrooms, businesses and other volunteers to provide a free office or facility makeover for a local non-profit organization. “Having just completed the 2017 makeover at Centro Hispano that was over a $600,000 value, we are so excited to see what 2018 will bring,” says Skalitzky. At press time, DFAD Madison participants were awaiting the announcement of 2018’s design makeover recipient.

Kitchen makeovers, step by step

Remodeling a kitchen can be exciting but also daunting. How will you know which colors and materials are best? Will the choices that look great on paper also look good in reality? A professional designer can help with all these questions and more, says Jerry Schmidt of DreamHouse DreamKitchens. “When we walk into a client’s home, they usually have a list and perhaps some pictures. They’re all great ideas, but the project really shines when you have a designer sit down and lay it out with an eye to your work flow and how you’re going to function in the space” he says.

DreamHouse provides complete design, build and remodel services to transform any room in a home, but is particularly known for its DreamKitchens. Schmidt offers an overview of how the design and remodel process for a kitchen typically works.

The design process generally begins with a phone call. “At this stage, they’re interviewing us and we’re interviewing them and their project to make sure it’s a good fit for everyone,” Schmidt says. Next comes a meeting at the client’s home and a conversation about what is and isn’t working in the present space. “We talk about colors and construction, take measurements.” Often, the homeowners have seen something that they simply must have, such as “a white cabinet, a certain countertop or paint color,” says Schmidt. “You identify the thing that the homeowner really loves, and then branch out from there.”

Three or four weeks later, customers are invited to the store for a 3D presentation of the full project scope. They’ll see designs in three different color renderings, shown on a TV screen along with the pricing that correlates with each design. This is usually the meeting in which the project’s scope and pricing are agreed upon. “After that it’s all fun,” Schmidt says.

Next come selection meetings, in which the designer guides the homeowner through choices of cabinetry, light fixtures, counters and backsplashes, flooring and all other details of the project. The process is not as overwhelming as it sounds, says Schmidt. “By this time, we’ve been to the house, we’ve had a few meetings and gotten the vibe of what they’re going for.” Thus, the designer can narrow the choices and present the client with a more manageable four or five choices.

Schmidt is reluctant to single out specific color schemes or design features as being new or popular because, as he says, “Every house is different and every homeowner is different. Especially at Dream, we treat every project on a case-by-case basis.”

It’s natural to want some unusual accents that reflect the owner’s individuality, but Schmidt advises that where built-in items are concerned, less is more. “You might want one or two things, like a funky light fixture or an intricate mosaic on a backsplash,” he says. “But you want to look 15 or 20 years down the road. Are you still going to love it? Is it timeless?”

All products are selected and ordered before the actual remodeling work begins. DreamHome has its own demolition crews, electricians and carpenters, which means the project flows smoothly and stays on schedule. Once the work is complete, a walk-through ensures that everything has been done to the owner’s satisfaction.

“We do a good job of making it a one-stop shop,” says Schmidt. “We take the customer by the hand and walk them through the process.”

Don’t forget exterior design

Decor concepts of color, design and accents do not apply only to rooms inside a home. Careful attention to important design elements also affects what you see even before you walk in the front door. The locally owned Ganser Company provides exterior
and remodeling services and helps homeowners in Madison and surrounding areas design the part of the home that creates the first impression.

Marc Ganser notes that innovative products and materials can combine with the creative use of color to help achieve a goal common to every homeowner: an attractive exterior that’s durable and low maintenance and will stand the test of time.

Windows and doors are two places where a dash of unusual color can have a big impact. Ganser points to Infinity Fiberglass Windows by Marvin, which are available in a variety of exterior colors, including ebony. Ganser says that he loves the look of windows where frames and sash are surrounded by trim of a different, but complementary, color. “The ebony really gives it a ‘pop’ from the curbside,” he says.

Front doors, too, can bring their own flair to a home’s exterior. “Driving around, you sometimes see a home with a wood door in a color like bright red or blue,” Ganser says. “The color is no place else on the house, but it looks awesome.” Color accents like these, he notes, can reflect the personality of the people living in the home.

In addition, interesting colors need not be confined to windows and doors. “We’re heading toward more bold and enriched colors on exteriors,” says Ganser. “Where it used to be baby blue, grey and white, now we often see richer colors–darker reds–for example, or navy blue.”

These and other colors can be easily incorporated through use of a new siding material that can be purchased in a wide variety of colors or customized. LP Smartside, manufactured in Wisconsin by Louisiana Pacific Corporation, is an engineered wood product made of wood particles and fibers. The product is durable: its dimensional stability means it won’t expand and contract in the face of Wisconsin’s climate, and the materials resist mold and decay. The siding is formaldehyde-free and low-VOC and has a non-toxic exterior resin. “It looks good, too,” says Ganser. “It has a wood texture that gives the impression of rough-sawn cedar that’s been freshly painted.”

All of a home’s exterior design elements–siding, windows, doors and roof–come together as the designer marries the colors and the accents to develop a theme that in keeping with the home’s architecture. “The result can be quite exciting and timeless,” Ganser says. “Sometimes it’s easy to get swept up in the ‘now’ with color choices. We want to use colors that the homeowner loves, but we also want to keep it on the timeless color wheel. You can do a lot of things that befit the homeowner’s personality, while also creating a gorgeous impression that will last.”

What sets Ganser Company apart is that in addition to the products and construction involved in the development of a project, there’s a design behind it, says Ganser. It’s not every company that understands design, and that’s where many homeowners need help. “As a business that’s nearly 80 years old, we’ve seen things come and go,” says Ganser, “and so we have that perspective on timeless design.”