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DreamMaker Remodeling Tips

May: National Home Improvement Month


Spring has sprung! Hopefully you’ve completed all that dreaded, but necessary, spring cleaning. Now, it’s time to have some fun! In addition to being National Barbeque Month (which we should all participate), May is also National Home Improvement Month. The sunshine and pleasant weather create the perfect time of year to work on both those interior and exterior projects you’ve been meaning to cross off your checklist.

planning remodel

This year, the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) ranks bathrooms and kitchens as the top two remodeling projects of 2015. Everything from refacing cabinets and resurfacing countertops to reconfiguring a space altogether make many homeowners’ wish lists. If your wish list is all in your head, grab a pen and paper and start writing them out. It may be overwhelming at first, but mapping out your projects is a great way to visualize all that you want to do. Take care of the DIY nuisances, like changing the lightbulbs and touching up the marks on the walls. Knock out the small projects – they will add up and make you feel significantly better about your home!

Next, take a look at the bigger projects you may have been avoiding, maybe the ones you promised you’d tackle in the new year, but haven’t quite gotten around to? There’s no time like the present, especially when it’s National Home Improvement Month!

If you’re remodeling, repairing, constructing or landscaping, remember to prioritize your tasks according to safety. If the projects you’ve been putting off pose a risk to your family, visitors or pets, consider completing those first. The best way to ensure safe improvements is to seek assistance from a professional. If you are planning on any large-scale renovations, always consult an expert before attempting to do it yourself.

new house

National Home Improvement Month is about improving the quality of you home. In addition to safety, look to make economically and ecologically sound upgrades. Energy-saving fixtures and appliances reduce your energy use and reduce your monthly bills. Discuss with a remodeler about ways to invest now to save yourself from costly repairs down the road.

Spend some time thinking about the functionality of your kitchen, bathroom, or bedroom and decide where you can make a difference, small or large, to better your home for the upcoming summer. Again, experts like DreamMaker remodelers and designers can help by asking the right questions about what you want and need in your kitchen or bathroom.

Whether it’s something from your “honey-do” list or your must-do list, follow the trend and celebrate National Home Improvement Month this year!

Kitchens Designed with Nature in Mind

Four bedrooms, attached garage, home office…. the list goes on. When creating the perfect home, we begin the list of “must haves.” A staple with many homeowners is the ‘open concept’ kitchen. Open layouts seamlessly connect the kitchen with living and dining areas. They create the illusion of a bigger space, and are practical for families and frequent entertainers alike. The open concept serves as a central activity location, as the kitchen expands into other areas of the home. What’s more, the expansion continues.

couple outsideJust when you thought the open concept couldn’t be any more open, the kitchen has embraced yet another aspect of the home: the backyard. No longer confined to the four walls of the home, “inside-outside” kitchens have created a new opportunity to change the open illusion to an open reality.

Whether your home opens to a field, farm, forest, or fenced-in yard, indoor-outdoor kitchens are functional anywhere. With the use of windows, doors and patios, the kitchen has been redesigned with nature in mind.

Windows and doors are powerful metaphors about access to new opportunities. The opportunity to experience the exterior beauty of your home is even more impressive. Filling walls with glass windows and doors provide a panoramic view of the outdoors, city and country alike. These windows and doors come in many shapes and sizes. Large bay windows optically and physically expand living spaces to the surround yard. When opened, they welcome the beautiful weather and when closed, they provide a picturesque experience to the falling rain or snow. For more interactive kitchens, wall-length accordion glass doors allow customizable exposure to the yard. Doors can be opened, partially or completely, to let sun rays in and let family members come and go as they please.

family outside

When weather conditions are good, but not great, patios are more equipped to accommodate guests. With coverings, outdoor heat lamps, ceiling fans and water misters, outdoor kitchens are proving more useful in months other than May. In some homes, kitchen counters extend from the interior to the exterior without a change in style or countertop. These extended countertops project onto the patio and provide seating and serving space for gatherings and camaraderie.

The open plan layout is accessible, hospitable and practical for many. As homeowners look to remodel older homes into more communal living spaces, keep in mind the additional access that an inside-outside kitchen can provide.


Creating a Fabulous & Functional Mudroom


As the adage goes, April showers bring May flowers. They also bring mud, and lots of it. The kids, the dog, and even you can’t help tracking in the muck. If only you had a nifty space to shed the muddy boots and keep your newly spring-cleaned home tidy. Luckily for you, mudrooms are making a comeback. These adorable nooks are a Pinterest staple, but they also serve a very practical purpose.

Some homes have laundry rooms or washrooms as intermediates between the inside and outside of the home. For the home that doesn’t have this convenient feature, a mudroom is a simple and space-conscious solution with many great features.

cubby 2

One perk of the mudroom is it doesn’t have to be a physical ‘room.’ Mudrooms can be crafted from hall closets, crevices and cabinets. They conform to the space you allow, whether it is a floor-to-ceiling wall space or an entire walk-in closet. The size and scope of your mudroom is up to you!

If you’re just looking for a small space, several hooks along the wall will hang a few coats and backpacks with ease.

For more spacious spaces, include benches, bins, cubbies and sinks. A sturdy bench serves as a seat for taking off shoes, and also works as a place to set grocery bags while removing shoes. Benches are available in many materials that match with the interior of your home.


Bins can be stowed beneath benches or on added shelves above. Bins can store extra coats, sports equipment, shoes, umbrellas, gloves and mittens, just to name a few.

Be as creative as you like, but don’t forget the functionality. Tile your mudroom with sturdy tile that is also an easy clean – what’s a mudroom without a little mud? Take a look at your entryways, the extra wall space or underused hall closet, and imagine a stylish yet practical space for a mudroom.


Live Where You Love Long After You Thought

DreamMaker Bath & Kitchen Remodeling Allows for “Aging in Place”

Staying independent

This chair lift helps one maintain independence in their own home.

You have heard the pitter-patter of little feet upstairs after bed time. It’s the place you raised your beautiful children. Within these four walls, your boys became men, your girls became women, and your dreams became realities. Now that your children are moving out and starting families of their own, you’ve thought about downsizing, but you just can’t. This is where you want to live the rest of your lives. The place where your grandchildren will come and visit, the place that will continue to host holidays, celebrations, and everyday triumphs. It’s more than just a house. It’s a home. It’s your home.

It’s not time to move. It’s time to remodel!

Aging in Place, or AIP, is an increasing trend among retired adults. It is a style of living that allows for individuals to remain in the same homes with consideration to changing circumstances such as accessibility and mobility. Remodeling living spaces with the addition of products that allow for assisted maneuverability can maintain a comfortable and independent lifestyle for years to come.

The National Association of Home Builders Remodelers partnered with AARP to establish the Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist (CAPS) program. These professionals have earned certification through training in construction and design of accessible, yet aesthetic, homes. CAPS professionals vow an ethics code and are required to further their knowledge periodically through educational programs.

With the assistance of CAPS professionals, preparing for the future is easier and more attainable than ever. Many of our DreamMaker Bath & Kitchen franchisees are certified Aging-In-Place Specialists. Our franchisees offer remodeling services to do just that.

In addition to standard full-service home remodeling, DreamMaker Bath & Kitchen specializes in an AIP service, which they have named “Independence by Design.” DreamMaker says, “allowing you to perform everyday tasks independently and safely, our home improvements also are adaptable as your needs change, delivering value that truly exceeds the investment.”

Some common Safety and Mobility remodeling projects include:

Entrances and doorways:

  • Minimal steps and inclines.
  • Wider door frames.
  • Keypad locks.


  • Wide steps.
  • Durable hand rails.
  • Chair lifts.


  • Grab bars.
  • Zero-barrier walk-in showers.
  • Easily accessible counter tops and cabinets.

For more information on DreamMaker’s aging in place products and services, visit the Safety and Mobility website here.

DreamMaker Remodeling Franchise Designer Wins National Award

National Kitchen and Bath Association names DreamMaker remodeling franchise designer Emily Alt to list of young industry leaders

The National Kitchen and Bath Association has named Emily Alt, a designer for the DreamMaker remodeling franchise in Grand Rapids, Michigan, one of the top young professionals in the kitchen and bath industry.

Emily Alt

Emily, 25, works with DreamMaker franchise owners Bill and Jane Wolf. She joined the business after graduating from Adrian College in 2012 with an interior design degree, and she says DreamMaker has given her the opportunity to learn and be part of a team that communicates and works well together.

“It’s a great atmosphere. We all work as a team, and I have been able to learn a lot by working with the carpenters and seeing projects all the way from conception to completion,” Emily says. “It’s not just showing people some nice cabinets and fixtures, selling them and sending them on their way with a ‘good luck!’ We take care of everything for clients, which makes a huge difference.”

The NKBA 30 Under 30 winner says she has grown quite a bit in the two years she has worked with DreamMaker. She has added sales skills to her design background and has embraced opportunities to learn about broad industry trends. The Wolfs sent Emily to Las Vegas in 2014 for the Kitchen Show to learn about new products and remodeling techniques. Emily is going to the show again this year — this time as a presenter — thanks to the 30 Under 30 recognition.

“DreamMaker gives me a lot of tools to be able to pull off interesting designs,” she says. “We have access to products and learning opportunities that really set us apart. DreamMaker is so versatile.”

Remodeling franchise offers creative outlet

Emily says she owes her love of design to her parents and their house projects. When she was little, her father invited her to help decorate a pole barn that he built as a man cave. For decor, she turned a motorcycle wheel into a mirror. It was a fun project, and she was hooked.

When she got to college in 2008, the housing market had just dropped. Some tried to dissuade her from studying interior design and tying her future to real estate and renovation. She knew, however, that four years was a long time and that the housing industry had plenty of time to recover. Four years later, she joined DreamMaker Bath & Kitchen of Grand Rapids as a major remodeling industry rebound started to take hold.

Before and after: A kitchen designed by Emily Alt of DreamMaker Bath & Kitchen of Grand Rapids, Michigan.

She enjoys working with a variety of clients — some who are open to all kinds of options, and others who have very specific visions for their homes. “I get to help people discover new styles and make their visions into reality.”

She encourages those who are interested in interior design to consider businesses like the DreamMaker remodeling franchise, which helps customers from the beginning of the design process all the way through the completion of the project.

“It’s a completely different experience for the customer and the designer,” Emily says.

Franchise Times Profiles DreamMaker Remodeling Franchise

How does a two-time Franchisee of the Year spend his down time?

Dale Ressler is a drag racer, a chaplain, a two-time Franchisee of the Year, and a business coach who helps new DreamMaker franchisees learn the ropes.

Dale Ressler’s DreamMaker dragster.

One of the great things about being part of a franchise system like DreamMaker is you join a team of people working together to build a strong brand and strong businesses. You also get to meet some pretty interesting people along the way.

Franchise Times recently shined a light on DreamMaker remodeling franchise owner Dale Ressler, a two-time DreamMaker Franchisee of the Year who has a surprisingly high-octane hobby.

From the Franchise Times profile of Dale:

Dale Ressler drives fast cars, preaches about God at the racetrack, remodels homes and is a former paramedic. He’s been DreamMaker Remodeling’s franchisee of the year twice and has won numerous awards. “I probably like awards more than I like to admit,” he says, adding, “That’s being prideful.”


But Ressler has a lot to be proud of. He’s been able to do what most of us wish we could: weave several seemingly unrelated careers into a lifestyle that hits on all cylinders.

“I’ve always been a motorhead,” he says. It was 1989 when he raced his street car in a drag race. “I lost in the first round. It wasn’t one of those Cinderella stories where I raced the first time and won,” he says. “But it excited me.” Drag racing involves driving a quarter of a mile as fast as you can. Speeds get up to 160 mph, which means one “round” can take as little as eight seconds. Winning rounds means you keep advancing; losing means you’ve had your eight seconds of fun for the day — although there are several qualifiers before single-elimination starts.

Ressler, who attended Bible college while working as a carpenter and paramedic, was ordained in 2004. He became the pastor for the drag-racing safety team when they found out he was also a paramedic, and from there he took on the pastoral role for the out-of-town events. Preaching at a race track is no different than when a church sends missionaries to Africa, he says. It’s just that his congregation is weekend daredevils. The job has its highs and lows. He’s married racers, presided over funerals and sat with families at hospital bedsides after accidents. “What we do at the race track is much more how God intended church to be than sitting in a pew looking at the back of someone’s head,” he says.

He’s passionate about his race life, and that devotion has spilled over into his work life, as well. “I love DreamMaker,” he says.

Dale joined DreamMaker in 2006 after having owned an independent remodeling business since 1990. According to DreamMaker CEO Doug Dwyer, Dale has excelled at providing excellent customer service and maintaining strong margins. That’s why, in addition to owning his own franchise in Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania, we have tapped Dale as a franchise coach to help other DreamMaker franchisees grow and improve their businesses.

“Dale has the leadership skills, remodeling expertise and business acumen to help launch new franchisees and to support existing franchisees,” DreamMaker CEO Doug Dwyer says.

Editor’s Note: Read an earlier post about Dale and his wife, Bobbi.

6 Keys to Warm Up a Cold Basement

‘Tis the season to stay warm — even in your basement. Although the thought of a basement often brings to mind damp, cool, dimly lit rooms where you try to spend the least amount of time possible, that doesn’t have to be the case. With a few mindful choices during construction or a remodel, you can create a warm, radiant basement where people will gather happily. And during this time of year when your home is full of extra guests, that extra space can go a long way to bring “peace on earth” and “joy to the world.”

A welcoming basement includes these six conscious choices.

  1. Address any water issues.

Before you do any work in your basement, you need to make sure you’ve noted — and corrected — any water issues.

Poor-draining soil can cause dampness in your basement, but this can generally be controlled with a good humidifier. If you are in the construction stage, damp-proofing the home’s exterior of the foundation and basement slab also helps prevent this.

Make Your Basement Cozy

Warm Up Your Basement with radiant heat.

“If the dampness is more episodic, like after rain, or wet areas regularly appear along walls or floor cracks, there’s probably significant water pressure against your basement walls,” advises The Family Handyman. “Since grading and adding downspouts hasn’t worked, installing a drainage system under your concrete slab may be the most effective long-term solution.”

Just a warning, this is usually expensive and typically requires professional installation, as it involves digging along the outside of the walls all the way down to the footing of your home. “Expect to pay at least $25 to $35 per foot of tile,” he adds.

  1. Install TWO sump pumps.

Most basements are inherently subject to flooding, and even the best-laid plans cannot eliminate the chance of flooding completely. However, you can reduce the impact of any water in your basement by installing a sump pump — and a backup sump pump.

“Even if your basement is properly waterproofed and has a good working sump pump, without a battery-operated backup sump pump, you are at risk for a basement flood,” explains Total Basement Finishing in “Top Six Mistakes People Make in Basement Remodeling Projects.” “Keep in mind that the same storms that have the potential to flood your basement can also cause power outages. No power, no pump! Battery backups are also useful in case of a primary pump failure or other electrical malfunction.”

  1. Choose inorganic materials

In addition to sump pumps, choosing materials that can handle moisture and getting wet is key to the longevity of your basement construction or remodel.

By choosing your flooring carefully, and leaning toward organic versus inorganic materials whenever possible, you’ll reduce your risk.

Here’s the bottom line according to Bob Vila: “If you install any flooring that includes organic material adversely affected by water, you risk having to tear out the floor in the wake of a flood. You also risk the unseen buildup of mold beneath the flooring — a considerable risk to the air quality of your home.”

Your basement finishing materials should be completely inorganic so that even if water gets in, your floor, walls and ceiling will not be ruined.

When you use organic materials in your basement, they will be susceptible to mold, mildew, rot, and even damage from dust mites and other critters. These products can decay and start to release moldy, musty odors into the air. It’s not pleasant. Instead, ensure your contractor uses quality, inorganic materials with a written warranty.

“If you finish the area with the best basement finishing products the first time, you can have a remodeled basement that comes with a written warranty assuring that your basement will look beautiful for a long, long time,” says Total Basement Finishing.

  1. Capitalize on radiant heat.
    With a dry basement and the right materials on hand, you can cozy up a cool basement with the radiant heating options offered by WarmlyYours Radiant Heating. Heat rises in your home, and because basements are generally underground, those floors are often the coldest place in the house. But you can expand your living space with in-floor heating. In-floor heating eliminates the chill in your basement and creates a center of warmth that radiates up through your home.
  2. Use decorative concrete to your advantage.

Cement floors are so stereotypical in basements. Gray, boring, beat up and uninviting. But your basement concrete floor doesn’t have to be. Search “stamped concrete” on Houzz.com for inspiring photos that will help you upgrade your expectations. Decorative concrete is a perfect base for WarmlyYours concrete heating cables and mats. The radiant heating is available in cable form for maximum flexibility or mat form, which allows for quick and easy installation under concrete slab floors. Either form creates warm, functional concrete floors for your basement. This is one of the most powerful changes you can make to banish cold and gloom from your basement forever.

  1. Put up radiant panels.

If for any reason in-floor radiant heating doesn’t make sense for your basement, you can still utilize the power of radiant panels, which can be easily mounted on the walls to add extra warmth to your basement in a stylish way.

With heated floors and radiant panels, you’ll never look at the basement as a cold, uninviting, uncomfortable area again. If you’re looking for a great way to expand your living space, increase the resale value of your home, or even just save money on your overall heating costs, radiant heating is a great way to do all of that.

Whether utilizing in-floor heating or radiant panels, create heat and warmth from the bottom of your home to the very top with WarmlyYours.

WarmlyYours is proud to offer radiant solutions designed to improve everyday living in every room — including your basement!

Used by permission WarmlyYours.com

Create Your Own Warm Oasis

Instead of dreaming of a white Christmas, why not envision your own spa-like bathroom and enjoy warmth all over?

It doesn’t have to be just a dream. Smart homes are becoming smarter and warmer. Radiant floor heating can help provide a relaxing oasis right in your own home. Imagine shutting out a hectic day with a warm bath or steam shower. Step onto heated floors and grab a warm towel off the special warming rack will soon melt the cares away.

warm floors, cozy toes

Radiant flooring warms up any bathroom.

Warmly Yours, an electric radiant heating products business, offers smart solutions for your bath and home. Bathrooms are getting bigger, according to remodeling trends, so why not add functionality and luxury as well? According to Warmly Yours, 70 percent of their customers who buy radiant floor heating install it underneath their bathroom floors. Heated floor systems help give your new bathroom a comfortable and luxurious feel. No more stepping on cold tile in the mornings.

Companies such as Warmly Yours also is offering “smarter” products, enabling you to use your smartphone or tablet to control towel warmers from any location. If you’re traveling home from business and cannot wait to slip into a warm tub or steam shower, warm towels will await you. All you have to do is tell them when to start warming. Guests arriving before you get home? Welcome them to your spa-like bathroom with warm towels and floors.

To learn more about installing radiant floors, contact your nearest DreamMaker Bath & Kitchen remodeler.

Take a Holiday Break, and Think About Adding Color to Your Home

Why wait for spring to spruce up your home? While winter skies are gray and overcast, paint a little color into your home.

Whether you hire a professional or do it yourself, the first step is selecting a color. Use one the tools available online to visualize how your room will look. Glidden offers a Room Visualizer that you can actually take a photo of your room, upload it, select areas to paint and then see what the finished room would look like. You also can use sample photos.

Marsala paint color of year

Marsala is Pantone’s Color of the Year for 2015.

This is the time of the year, Pantone Color Institute and other paint companies choose their Color of the Year for 2015. Pantone recently released “Marsala” as its 2015 Color of the Year. Marsala is, according to Pantone, “a naturally robust and earthy wine red.”

Other companies will soon follow, and these “Colors of the Year” will be reflected in fashion, home décor and graphic and industrial design trends. As you stroll through your favorite stores, it’s easy to pick up current popular colors.

Popular is one thing, but be careful, though! You don’t want to select colors or patterns that are too trendy. One only has to reflect back on the flocked wallpaper and the psychedelic colors of the ‘60s and ‘70s to steer clear of popular trends like chevron. Back to the painting.

Today’s technology allows you to take a sample color to any reputable paint dealer and ask them to match the color. Where you once had to stick to one paint brand to get the exact match, now you can quickly get a match in the paint of your choice.

paint-sheen-infographicOnce you select the color, decide what kind of paint sheen you want and for which surfaces. High gloss and semi-gloss make cleaning a wall or trim easy while you may want a matte finish for ceilings or low-traffic areas. Yes, ceilings. Treat your ceiling like another wall. Use an accent color, a contrast color or even paint it the same color. Try your online visualizer to see what looks best.

Satin works great in high-traffic areas, but know that it reveals application flaws, such as roller or brush strokes. There is also eggshell that is between the satin and flat on sheen and durability. It gets its name from being a flat, no-shine finish with little luster. Eggshell covers wall imperfections well.

Proper preparation is essential for a good paint job.

Proper preparation is essential for a good paint job.

A good paint job done by yourself or a professional requires wall preparation. Filling in holes, mudding and taping and then sanding and texturing should be done before any paint is applied. Avoid getting paint on any fixtures or outlet covers by removing them.

It’s amazing the transformation a little (or a lot) of paint makes. There is no limit to what your imagination can dream up.

DreamMaker Carpenter Skilled with a Pencil, too

Artist at DreamMaker Bath & Kitchen

Ryan Jahr

Meet Ryan Jahr. Ryan joined the DreamMaker of Ann Arbor team five years ago. He now serves as lead carpenter, but has an exceptional talent for graphite drawing.

When Lead Carpenter Ryan Jahr isn’t using his hands for a remodeling project, he is constructing masterpieces of his own. Ryan is a skilled artist with a knack for pencil sketches.

Ryan’s artistic journey began he was a young boy. His mother would bring home various art contest applications and give them to Ryan to do for fun.

“I guess I just wanted to win,” Ryan laughed.

Such contests revealed Ryan had a genuine talent for art. As he continued drawing, Ryan’s work started gaining recognition from others. When he was just 8 years old, people would accuse Ryan of tracing his pictures or having his father do them for him. Despite that, Ryan continued doing what he enjoyed.

Owners of DreamMaker Bath & Kitchen of Ann Arbor

This Ryan Jahr drawing depicts the owners of DreamMaker Bath & Kitchen of Ann Arbor, Lee Willwerth (left) and Bob Ender.

Nowadays, most of Ryan’s art is done with graphite – drawn only with pencils and paper. He enjoys capturing fine details and making them “as real as possible.” Ryan sketches sports and people because of the realistic elements and attention to detail they require. One such drawing hangs in the office at DreamMaker Bath & Kitchen of Ann Arbor. The illustration is of co-owners Bob Ender and Lee Willwerth. The staff loves the portrait, but Ryan chuckles about it.

“I don’t know what I was thinking,” Ryan said, “I just did it.”

In Memory of Michigan Coach Bo Shembechler

In Memory of Michigan Coach Bo Shembechler

Inspiration comes to Ryan in the form of current events – what is happening around him and what is popular. For example, Ryan’s favorite drawing he created is of Bo Shembechler, a former head football coach at the University of Michigan. Ryan sketched the illustration as a tribute to Shembechler after he died in 2006.

Ryan has an eye for accuracy, both at the drawing table and on the job.

“The way I work in the field – very organized, neat and precise, that’s how my drawings have always been,” said Ryan.

When Ryan isn’t on a DreamMaker job, he enjoys taking his career home and working on his own house. Ryan is also an avid golfer and enjoys spending time with his two sons.

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National Association of Home Builders
National Kitchen & Bath Association
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