At ElkStone, we are very particular with the trades that we partner with. We strive to partner with companies that share a similar attention to detail at every aspect of the job. Today, I’d like to introduce you to another one of our Preferred ElkStone Designers. While our estimators do a great job of helping you keep the flow of your home, adding a designer into the process can up the level of that flow.
INTRODUCING ELKSTONE PREFERRED DESIGNER:
What kind of degree did you earn?
I studied to be an occupational therapist, but my true passion has always been decorating. After I stopped working as an occupational therapist and my children went to school full-time, I decided to pursue being an interior decorator and became certified in design and decorating.
What is your signature style?
Overall, I’d say my style is transitional, which is a mix of modern and traditional. I do gravitate towards mid-century modern pieces as the bones of a given space, and then I like to add layers of texture through the use of natural woods (such as baskets), and different textiles (like throw pillows and blankets). For depth and interest, I enjoy mixing woods and metals so the space doesn’t look too “match-y,” and throw in a couple sculptural objects. For warmth and to bring natural color to a space, I always inject some sort of greenery, whether a group of succulents, a tall floor tree, or a vase of colorful, floral stems.
Where do you find inspiration, and do you stay up to date with current trends?
I’m always on the lookout for new ideas, whether at the mall, researching the latest styles through magazines and social media, or watching HGTV. A couple of my favorite interior designers at the moment are Studio McGee and Erin Gates. I love the bright, clean aesthetics of Studio McGee’s designs, and admire Erin Gates’s elegant mixing of traditional and modern and patterns and prints, as well as her ingenious use of color.
What is your feeling on trendy design?
I realize trends come and go. The key is knowing which trends will stick and become classics!
Ultimately, my goal is to create a space that will please the client for years to come and accommodate their changing needs. For instance, open shelving in kitchens has become a popular trend in recent years, as it helps a room feel more airy while providing storage for everyday essentials. However, they have the potential to make a space look too busy and even unattractive, if there is an overabundance of items crowding the shelves or if one is not accustomed to styling open shelving. My job, then, would be to honor my client’s aesthetic desires while choosing pieces that are likely to remain stylish over time.
Why should one hire an interior decorator?
Hiring an interior decorator is a smart move for those who have invested a good bit of money in their home, and want to be able to showcase it at its best. I can help clients personalize their home décor by tackling decorating, furnishing, and spacing issues. My aim is help people create a beautiful space that will prove equally functional for their family’s lifestyle. A good decorator will accomplish this while remaining true to both the client’s personality and budget. As an added incentive, I can save my customers money on furnishings and decorative accessories with my designer’s discount. Depending on the scope of the project, you may be able to get some or all of the interior decorator’s services for free due to the money saved utilizing my discount!
How do you, as a decorator, help people identify and communicate their unique style to you?
Thank goodness for Pinterest! Whether clients are honed in on exactly what they want stylistically, or they have a difficult time figuring out or expressing their preferences, I ask them to browse through Pinterest and create an idea board by pinning pictures of rooms and furniture that appeal to them. This allows me to see what they are drawn to, and helps them communicate their style to me, as a designer. It will also be a source for inspiration for me when designing the space.
How does the design process flow?
The design process will vary depending on the type of service my client chooses. For instance, the E-Design package is ideal for those who want assistance picking out furnishings, but are confident styling the room themselves with limited guidance once their selections arrive. In addition to providing a layout of furniture placement, I will customize two different design boards, complete with suggested furniture and decorative accessories. Another package I offer is the Hands-On package which is designed for those who want more hands-on decorating assistance. In addition to services offered in the E-Design package, I can make trips to stores and the client’s home, at which time I will repurpose their existing furnishings and decorative accessories, and incorporate the new. I will pull the room together with the finishing touches, making sure the space is arranged to suit my client.
How much time does an average basement project take once the construction is finished?
Again, this will depend on the scope of the project and the type of service one chooses. I have some clients who have no idea where to begin to re-decorate their home, and some who have an idea, but need help tying pieces together. Then there are some who simply lack the time to decorate their dream home. Another determining factor is how quickly a client makes decisions. Overall, though, most projects are completed within 4-8 weeks.
How do you manage the project budget?
The mission of my company is to blend high-end investment pieces with budget-friendly items to create an aesthetically pleasing space. As a decorator, it is imperative that I know the overall budget for the project, because this will serve as my compass while searching for ideal furnishings. If a client has their heart set on a high-end item, we may be able to find ways to save in other areas, in order to facilitate the purchase.
What is your communication style?
I try to accommodate my client’s communication preferences, whether that be via phone, text, email, or face-to-face. In order for the project to run smoothly and for the client to enjoy their new space as soon as possible, maintaining good communication is vital. To achieve this, I always respond within 24 hours of receiving questions, and in return, I ask the client to get back to me in a timely manner with feedback.
How do you document and share your work?
I am in the midst of getting my website up and running. In the meantime, you can find me on Instagram at hilodecorjulie and on Facebook at HiLo Decor. Prospective clients can view some of my completed projects through these social media.
When ElkStone Finished this Thornton Basement, not only did it increase the value of this home, but it added much needed space this family will be able to use for many years to come. The attention to detail and the contrast between the woods and stone make this a stand out finish for our ElkStone Team. Here are some of the not to miss features:
OPERABLE BOOK SHELF
WALK IN WINE STORAGE
FEATURE TV WALL
BUILT IN BEER KEG SPIGOTS
(and chalkboard to label what is on tap!)
Check out the Gallery Below to see the rest of this outstanding basement.
If you have an unfinished basement space, ElkStone’s team of Designer | Estimators can make your dreams into reality. Give us a call today to set up a free estimate.
Homeowner’s Buying Guide to Finishing the Basement
You can use the following questions to qualify the basement builders that you’re receiving bids from. ElkStone’s answers are included below…
Question 1 – “On what day does trim carpentry start?”
Answer – For ElkStone it’s always the third Wednesday after we start. We know this because we have a standard schedule for every job. In fact, we can tell you what’s happening every single day – who’s going to be there and what they’ll be doing. This question gets after the builder’s schedule: Do they have one? A schedule window like “8-10 weeks” is really not a schedule – it’s a guess. I know because I used to do this myself! Typically in this practice they’ll call their subs just prior to starting in hopes they’ll be available. With ElkStone, all our workers know weeks ahead of time what day they need to start your job, what day they need to finish your job, and exactly what to bring to complete your job. This is one of the reasons ElkStone consistently completes quality basements in less than four weeks with happy customers. ElkStone has been doing this since January 2008 so we’re really good at it. Cutting the completion time by 66% makes a huge impact towards a very pleasant construction experience. Just think, you can be enjoying your new space, watching the movie on the big screen and getting drinks from the bar – but with other contractors you’d have two more months of noise & dust.
ElkStone consistently completes quality basements in less than four weeks with happy customers.
Question 2 – “How many studs are you planning to use to frame my basement and long are they?”
Answer – This question gets after how detailed is the builder’s estimate. ElkStone will give you an answer something like 323 studs 92-5/8” long. We calculate exactly what it takes to build your basement. We can even tell you how many sheets of drywall and linear feet of baseboard we’ll need specifically for your project. ElkStone measures the wall length from the plan and inputs that data into our worksheet, which uses a formula to calculate exactly how many studs are required. This means two things:
We won’t charging too much or too little for the materials
We won’t cover our mistakes with change/add orders or cutting corners. If the builder doesn’t estimate your job correctly, you become a liability and they’ll prioritize other jobs over yours or compromise the quality and service of your project.
Question 3 – “Will my basement receive the attention it deserves during construction?”
Answer – This question will allow you to get an idea of how experienced your builder is and what resources they’ll allocate for your job. ElkStone has a full-time Project Manager who is assigned to your job and runs your basement from start to finish. Our Project Managers are pros at their job and critical to our operation. Kind of like an orchestra conductor, our Managers keep the work site humming and makes sure you’re in-the-know and satisfied. With our proprietary scheduling timeline we are able to stagger our start dates which allow us to build your basement in 5 weeks and still give you and your basement all the attention they deserve.
Question 4 – “How long have you been working with your dry waller & electrician?”
Answer – This question gets at the relationship with trade partners. Our answer is 12 & 13 years respectively. Our relationships mean everything to us. Our philosophy is that once we find a trade partner who shares our values in terms of service, quality and reliability, we hold onto them! And because we pay fairly and promptly (every Friday) they demonstrate extreme loyalty to ElkStone.
Question 5 – “How much tile do I need to purchase, where do I purchase it, how much will it cost, and when do I need it by?”
Answer – This question addresses what we call the ‘Project List’. This is a document we generate specifically for your project and it includes everything you need to know as it relates to items you are personally responsible for selecting such as tile, carpet, & electric/plumbing fixtures. We provide you with three tile vendors with seven locations throughout the metro area that we recommend. We also let you know what quantity to purchase for each area being tiled, who provides ElkStone discounts, how much you can expect to spend on your tile, and the date you need to have it purchased. We do this not only for tile but every item you need to purchase.
Question 6 – “What is your pay schedule?”
Answer – We require no money down, no money to start, no money to schedule, and no design fee. In fact, the first invoice isn’t due until three days after we start. ElkStone has a very equitable pay schedule because neither you nor ElkStone is too extended at any one point in time. Our pay schedule is based on progress payments:
1st payment: Due three days after we start, so you know we’re committed to the job and we’ve allocated all our resources in terms of materials, labor & scheduling.
2nd payment: Due after drywall completion.
3rd and final payment: Imagine walking into your basement and you smell the fragrance of new carpet and Pine Sol cleaner. The windows are almost invisible because they’ve been Windexed and the whole basement looks and feels like a brand new model home. It’s only at this point when we’re totally complete and you’re completely satisfied that final payment is due. So I would think twice about paying a contractor before work has begun and settling up before your basement complete.
Question 7 – “How many basements did you finish last year?”
Answer – ElkStone finished exactly 200 basements 2015. This question addresses a company’s serviceability and reputation. ElkStone has a lot of satisfied customers because we deliver what we promise. We don’t charge extra for the benefit to move into your basement two months early, but that feature is unique to ElkStone and is a significant value to you. One of our company core values is: ‘All of our customers refer us always’and this is only possible because your satisfaction is our number one goal.
Question 8 – “Have you finished every job you’ve started?”
Answer – Yes! ElkStone is proud of our reputation and we take it very seriously because it means to world to us. Not only have we finished every job we’ve started, but ElkStone also has paid out in full to all our subs and vendors. In fact, we pay our subs in full every Friday.
Question 9 – “Will you be on time and promptly return my calls?”
Answer – Keep in mind, the other contractors bidding on your basement are on their best behavior trying to make a good impression. If they’re slow in getting back to you now, how are they going to act after they deposit your first check? I always ask my clients if they’ve already received other bids and I can’t tell you how many times their answer is, “I’ve left messages, but you’re the first one I’ve talked to.” ElkStone’s responsiveness up front is indicative of our service throughout the project. It’s our way of life evident in our work.
To finish, or, not to finish? This IS the question many homeowners are asking these days.
Life doesn’t come with an itinerary and so the home that you bought ten years ago, when it was just the two of you lovebirds, was more than enough room.
But now you have acquired 2.5 kids and a dog named Spot and it seems as though you are all living right on top of one another. You need more space so obviously the first thought that comes to mind is: MOVING.
I know, it makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up. People enjoy moving about as much as they enjoy root canals. Instead of moving, have you ever considered renovating that dreary, useless stuff-filled, space below your house? Some people refer to them as dungeons or “storage” but it’s really a basement, and it can be used for so much more than hiding old, embarrassing family photos and the sweaters grandma sends in the mail every Christmas!
So now that you are seriously pondering this, here are some really good reasons to finish your basement INSTEAD of moving into a new home.
1. Money, money, money. Depending on what you want to do with your unfinished basement space, renovations could cost considerably less than relocating your life entirely. The current average cost for a basic basement renovation is around $35 per square foot. So this would equate to about $35,000. Obviously the more amenities you include the more your price will increase, but it will still cost less than a new home.
2. Again, with the money. Finished basement areas are a desirable feature to prospective homebuyers. If you decide to finish your basement and create a useable and versatile space, this could mean a decent return on your investment if or when you decide to sell your home. The key is to make your basement functional and somewhat neutral. Obviously, if you decide to create a floor-to-ceiling replica of the moon landing in your basement, this might not appeal to many buyers, if any. Just try to think ahead!
3. Wait, you mean there’s MORE money? As lonely as an empty nest can be, every parent can find a reason to enjoy an empty home. The question is; what to do with all of that space? Well, why not make money off of it? That’s right. Many homeowners rent out their unused basement space and, according to Remodel Magazine, many basements can be rented out at anywhere between 50-75% of the monthly mortgage cost if zoned for multi-tenant use.
4. SPACE. That is what you are looking for, right? Think about all of the amazing things you could do with it! A well-constructed basement space can be used for so many things. Obviously the most popular choice is a space for the kids. Whether it is a movie room, a play room or a room or a room used specifically for arts and crafts, you will finally be able to reclaim your living room! Or, you could go the other direction and create a LARGER family room in your basement and save the space on the main level for grown-up entertainment. The options really are limitless!
5. Designed space. Yes, there is a difference. Most basement spaces in homes do come equipped with the necessary plumbing and electrical outlets to create additional living space. So, if you are thinking about expanding your family, whether you’re thinking of a brand new addition or a comfy space for your mother-in-law, if you have the space then you definitely have the option of creating more bedrooms and bathrooms.
6. Yard sale! A basement renovation will finally give you an excuse to clean it out! How much storage do you really need? Your home should be a LIVING space not a storage space. If you find yourself in a position where you need space to accommodate inanimate objects in place of people or family, then you should consider adjusting your priorities.
7. An unused space is a haven for unwanted guests! A dark, damp and unoccupied basement is precisely the type of environment in which insects, rodents and mold thrive. And if you’re never down there, with your vast amounts of stuff, then how would you know you even had these unwanted guests? No, you are not in any mortal danger from suffering a spider bite or a run-in with a mouse, but these creatures aren’t exactly pleasant. Some can cause mild illnesses and if you get an infestation, they can be costly to remove as well.
8. And lastly… MONEY. According to the 2010 U.S. Employment Census the average, annual income for a “full-service” mover is about $60,000. There is a reason for that and it is because moving is a loathsome and stressful experience. Oh, not to mention, EXPENSIVE. After acquiring three different estimates it was discovered that the average cost for a full service move, for a 2,100 square foot, 4 bedroom home, with 4 occupants, is about $7,000-$10,000. So, if you add up the cost of moving expenses (which doesn’t include your preparation expenses), mortgage and loan fees, closing costs and realtor fees, you could be close to spending the same amount on a move to a new location that you would on a basement renovation.
Convinced yet? If this has sparked your interest and you want to take a basement addition or renovation into consideration, contact us to start your free estimate. You might just be surprised how much basement you can get for your buck!
This is a guest post from a fan of ElkStone Basements!
While browsing the internet for basement finish ideas, I happened to stumble upon an article describing the recent completion of a basement remodel. This remodel was done for a rather wealthy individual (whose name will be omitted to protect the innocent and rich!), who had decided that a simple wine cellar was just not enough to compliment his extensive collection. Instead, he added what appeared to be a medieval dungeon. The space was wall-to-wall cobblestones! They had even made the cobblestones appear as if they were damp and water stained, although the walls were dry to the touch. The basement was like a maze and around each corner you could find nooks and crannies with outrageously expensive wine, conspicuously placed. In total, this renovation cost the lucky homeowner just a little bit more than $600,000.00!
For those of us who don’t quite get to enjoy the lifestyles of the rich and famous, do not despair! There are still some amazing, and definitely more affordable, options for your unused basement space.
The most common idea for a finished basement space is to make it kid friendly and parent approved. If you are finding it difficult to keep your children and their hoards of toys contained, then perhaps you should think about investing in a play area. Basements are usually well insulated even when unfinished. Add some more insulation, a few walls and some plush carpet and you have yourself a quiet and well-built abode in which your kids can play the day away.
For instance, check out the finished space below. This room is one of two that were built during this particular basement renovation. If you opt for creating more than one room, the additional space could be used for anything! Notice anything different? The paint used on these walls dries as and maintains the consistency of a traditional chalkboard! For the first time ever, kids can draw on their walls and you get a hassle-free clean up!
Kid Basement with Chalkboard Walls
Kid Friendly Basement
The great thing about having a space that is a bit more subdued is that it is versatile. For the time being, a space like this serves well as a kid friendly, play area. The built-in shelving units provide an excellent storage space without taking away from the open floor plan. But, as we all know, kids do not stay kids forever! With a few minor changes, this space could be transformed into a home theater, a home gym or just a quiet place to relax and read!
Not every homeowner has children, so the above ideas may not be of use to everyone looking to finish their basement. But, even if you don’t have kids, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you don’t enjoy entertainment, right? A finished basement is an ideal space for those who like to entertain! Take a look at this gorgeous space:
The picture really doesn’t do the space justice because what you can’t see all of the details. Not only is this type of space perfect for entertaining guests, but it is also ideal for prolonged house guests as well. This type of renovation has the potential to increase the overall value of your property!
Whatever your motivation may be for finishing or renovating your basement, there is a contractor who can help you realize your vision. Rarely is there a job too big or too small!