Mt. Airy Entertainment Room and Home Theater

mtairy-3We are entering the home stretch of our Mt. Airy basement renovation, a previously underutilized space in our clients’ home that is being beautifully transformed into a theater and entertainment room. The walls have been painted in deep, rich colors, and we worked with our homeowners to select new carpet, draperies, and light fixtures to pull the entire room together. While we are waiting for some of these “soft design” materials to arrive, our A/V pros are setting up the TV and audio and tweaking the home’s wireless router system to ensure that all of the elements work together seamlessly. This is all very technical stuff, and the technology changes quickly, so we are pleased that our A/V specialists could provide some money-saving, long-term solutions that are also visually beautiful.

We wonder what flick will be the first to be viewed in this “new” room of the house?

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Adding a Shed: The New “It” Project

Saltbox Shed and Chicken RunBuilding a shed at our home has been on our “Honey Do List” for some time now, so we were happy when we were able to find some time last week to tackle this project.

Sheds are all the rage right now, it seems. We’re seeing them used as micro offices, creative studio spaces, children’s play rooms, adult meditation areas, pool cabanas, and teen hangouts. Personally, I love the idea of a small, quiet space to remove myself to — a place where I can reflect and ponder a bit. But the purpose of our shed is to store gardening supplies and house our flock of hens. We wanted to make space in our garage, so moving the garden tools and supplies out to a shed was a good first step. And while the hens were comfortable and warm in their existing small hen house, its small size made it hard for us to get in to collect eggs and clean.

This shed will have a human-sized door and hen space we can walk into, and we’ve built them a new run that is also tall enough for us to stand in. (L-to-R) Pumpkin, Electra, and Blackie It’s a saltbox-style building measuring 8′ x 8′ with an 8’ tall ridge beam and long, sloping roofline that was designed to face the main source of the wind. The framing is standard 2×4, and the siding is CDX plywood with some ripped #2 pine for trim and batons. The door and windows are stock items from the home center. Because this shed is so small and unfinished, we opted for piers instead of a cement foundation.

Sheds are a nice way to add useable space to your property, and they can be as finished or simple, and as serious or playful as you like, depending on your needs. Call us for more details on completing a shed project for your own home.

Diane Menke, VP/Operations Manager
Myers Constructs Inc.

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Shopping with the Myers Constructs Design Team

1504211017_CM_exterior_Work was recently finished on this Cape May shore cottage for a developer with which we worked, that had purchased it in foreclosure on spec and was preparing it for resale. We had some input into the design choices made. Many layers of carpets, vinyl flooring, and cheap cover ups were torn out, to reveal a really charming 1910s four-square Sears and Roebuck Arts & Crafts style kit house. The goal was to maintain and enhance the charm and comfortable character of the home. We thought you might enjoy a little “peek behind the curtain” to see the finishes and furnishings selected for this remodel.

1504211020_bar.area_Because the rooms are modestly sized in this quaint cottage, cluttering them with large furniture or ceiling fans was to be avoided. The developer also avoided the common Victorian heavy rose-colored or floral layering décor commonly found in Cape May beach homes. The finish concept was built around our Myers Made™ custom cabinetry.

1504211021_chairs_The developer then selected sleek early- and mid-century and Danish furniture that lends strong character, but maintains a light feeling in the rooms.

1504211022_light_ 1504211023_chand_Quality lighting and fixtures — mostly from Restoration Hardware — were selected to add a little glitter to each room. Nine- and 12-inch Turner® Flush Mount ceiling fixtures gave a nod to the nautical environment — without adding kitsch.

1504211025_kitch.fauc_ 1504211027_bath.fauc_Finally, the developer selected all of the water fixtures in polished chrome from the Kohler Artifacts® line, and added a deep Kohler Archer® tub.

See how all of these selections came together in the completed home, recently listed for sale. It’s quite lovely!

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In Praise of Multi-Purpose Spaces

cafe.areaWe find that most of our clients lead busy lives, wearing many hats and juggling multiple tasks daily — and they need their homes to fit that lifestyle. For that reason, we like to think about spaces creatively to imagine how they can serve multiple purposes.

Case in point: When we remodeled our own kitchen, we created a little “cafe area” that sits off to the side. In this space, we eat lots of meals, relax with a glass of wine, and sometimes catch up on bills and correspondence. We find that it’s a nice place to pause during the day or relax together while cooking dinner at night. It could also easily work as a game area, arts and crafts space, or small office-on-the-go.

It’s hard to imagine, but this cafe area was once the original entryway to our house. It consisted of a 4’x16′ broken concrete pad along the front center of the home that led to a front door with a side light and a small entryway closet. Next to this were some tiny windows and a doorway to the kitchen. The front door didn’t function anymore because the slope of the broken pad caused the door to be pinched. Instead, everyone used what was the breezeway between the house and the garage to enter the home. We decided to make this the true entryway, finishing the breezeway off as a foyer/mudroom. We removed the old front wall, door, windows, hall closet, and kitchen walls to create an open plan kitchen and family room. In the process, we added about 50 square feet of floor space. That doesn’t sound like much, but it had a huge effect on the space of the kitchen and the entire first floor.

To keep the cafe area from feeling cramped, we were careful to select light-feeling furnishings, including two art deco chrome chairs we had recovered in white leather and a small, marble-topped Saarinen table. The side tables/benches are storage boxes I built many years ago with a simple combed painted finish, which do double-duty as additional seating. We finished the area simply with a painting I created in the 1990s, and clean-lined roller shades.

Diane Menke
Diane Menke, VP/Operations Manager

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What Happens in Vegas Won’t Stay in Vegas

Tamara visited Las Vegas last week to attend the second annual Design & Construction Week, which hosted 125,000 of the most well-respected industry professionals and members of the media, while showcasing the largest homebuilding and design industry shows, including:

  • Kitchen & Bath Industry Show (KBIS)
  • International Builders Show (IBS)
  • International Window Coverings Expo (IWCE): VISION
  • International Surface Event (ISE): SURFACES

Tam spent the bulk of her week with the KBIS group gathering information and ideas for our clients from companies that were introducing their newest product lines and design innovations. She also participated at many other levels, attending opening ceremonies, perusing the various trade show floors, speaking to vendors, and attending educational presentations called Voices From the Industry. Tam attends events like this to help our clients make informed decisions and provide them with the most contemporary design solutions — plus, we just love sorting through the “candy store” for them!

Connect with us on Facebook to see more great photos from Tam’s trip.

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That’s a Wrap! Fairmount Major Renovation – Phase 1


In the next couple of weeks, we’ll be wrapping up Phase 1 of a comprehensive renovation of a 19th Century twin home in Philadelphia’s Fairmount neighborhood. As you may recall, this project started with the restoration of a storm-damaged cupola, then grew to encompass a kitchen and breakfast room remodel/addition, laundry room redesign, new windows and lighting, exterior paint, and a reconfigured outdoor patio space. We are currently completing painting, tile, and other finishes, disassembling scaffolding, and removing the wraps from the beautiful new light fixtures. The homeowners, who have been living off-site during this project, are anxious to see the finished results of Phase 1, and they’re also eager to dive right into Phase 2, which will involve renovating the third floor, adding a small deck, and building a large dormer that provides access to the deck. We will also address some some window, roof, and ceiling issues in the first-floor living room. Beyond that, there are some HVAC and other mechanical issues that may need our attention.

After the unveiling of Phase 1, the homeowners will not only have beautiful and functional new kitchen and breakfast areas, they will also have meeting space that serves as “Ground Zero” for planning the remainder of their whole-home renovation. This is a big house with lots of projects happening at the same time. While this may be a daunting undertaking for some homeowners, breaking it into distinct phases has helped to keep it very manageable for our clients. We simply came up with a viable plan that fit their lifestyle and budget.

Stay tuned to our website and Facebook page — we’ll soon be posting Phase 1 “after” shots!

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A New Year, A Changing Home-Improvement Paradigm


I recently kicked off the new year with a meeting with our stone suppliers. An important topic came up during this meeting that we often ponder: What is new in this business, and how are we adapting?

The answer, we all agreed, was good service, project management, and quality control. Buyers always claim to want these attributes, and service providers always claim to supply them — but the opposite often proves to be true. Since the 2008 recession, many suppliers have cut inventory levels and expensive experienced staff in favor of cheaper, less skilled, or temporary workers. But better service providers have remained committed to their quality offerings, and they set their prices accordingly. This is true even on a small project like a modest-sized bathroom or kitchen facelift project.

Thanks to a slew of “reality” home-improvement shows, the buying public has been conditioned to think of home remodeling as a simple series of tasks that anyone can tackle in a weekend. They overlook the fact that the cast of their favorite show has decades of experience and back office staff to make sure the right experts and products are coming through the project pipeline at the right time and in the right condition. If something is missing or broken, which happens a lot, they make sure the fixes are made quickly so the project keeps rolling — all of which happens “behind the scenes,” with the beautiful room revealed at the end of a 30-minute episode. The reality is that even a seemingly simple process, like ordering a single faucet, has a multitude of places where things can go wrong. Can you save a few bucks ordering it online yourself? Maybe. But the risk is there is no one there to fix the order if it comes in wrong or incomplete. You may not understand how this item fits into the complex puzzle of your home, and often there is no one on the order-taking end to ask you the right questions.

In our industry, there is a stratification between providers who really do — and those who do not — provide great service, project management, and quality control. GCs, subcontractors, and vendors in our industry have had to decide where they want to be in that pecking order. If they want to sell higher end products, services, and projects, they have to stick to their values and business models. In 2015, it is more true than ever that you really do get what you pay for.

Diane Menke
VP/Operations Manager

Image: Vero Villa

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Big Reveal: The Crown Jewel of Our Fairmount Project

Looking upward at the ceiling of the cupola.
Looking upward at the ceiling of the cupola.

This week, the gorgeous historic reproduction stained glass clerestory windows were installed in the cupola of this 19th Century twin home in Philadelphia’s Fairmount neighborhood, and we couldn’t be more pleased with the results.

The view you see here is the interior of what is essentially a “folly” that is original to the building, and cantilevers out from the side of the house over the side yard. On the exterior, these new windows are surrounded by a new copper tile roof, and they look like little jewels against the wonderful sage green paint color chosen for the outside of the structure. Stay tuned for updates as this room gets interior paint and a fancy new light fixture, and we bring closure to the large-scale renovation of this beautiful historic home.

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Experience: The Best Solution for Unexpected Renovation Issues

Before & After

We recently began a full-scale renovation of this Flourtown kitchen. At the outset of the project, the homeowner explained to us that the existing space had been renovated about 10 years earlier, but it didn’t retain its value and hadn’t worn well during that time. What began as a relatively straightforward kitchen replacement project, however, soon became complicated by some unforeseen issues that we found once we opened up the walls. Luckily, our experience has equipped us with a few solutions to most problems we come across, so we were able to identify and correct the issues to bring them into compliance while keeping costs under control. What’s more, this customer is very knowledgeable about the systems in her home, so she understood that these were important fixes, and she could visualize how the multiple steps would come together.

What we found:

Problem #1 – The second-story bathroom drain pipe was too high within the framing of the kitchen floor below. The framing didn’t allow room for that drain pipe, which requires a certain amount of height to maintain the pitch of the drain. This was caused by poor pre-planning when the structures were originally built. A higher floor framing member would have provided enough room.

Solution #1 – Working around that pipe, we packed up the subfloor, installed a new hardwood floor, and instructed the cabinet installer to cut out some space in the back of the cabinet toe kick to accommodate the pipe.

Problem #2 – The walls and ceiling contained some unsafe wiring. In addition, because there were a number of circuits in the kitchen, a sub-panel was required, but the existing one in the kitchen was an eyesore.

Solution #2 – We worked with our electrician to relocate the sub-panel to the utility area of the basement and to clean up unsafe wiring and junction boxes with new wiring to code.

Stay tuned for updates on this project as it unfolds…

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Tamara Myers on The Value of Adaptive Reuse

Concrete Windows
Concrete Windows!

This past week, I was honored to visit The Mercer Museum in Doylestown, PA, to present a speech on Adaptive Reuse to the Mid-Atlantic Chapter of the National Kitchen and Bath Association. The museum, which houses an enormous collection of tools and products from pre-Industrial Revolution American artisans, provided the perfect venue for this event. Henry Mercer — a true “maker” — was an early pioneer of sustainable practices who conceived of and built that museum for the LONG term! Unusual for its time, the building is made entirely of concrete, including not only the foundation and walls, but also the roof and windows. As a window expert, I just had to smile when I saw those concrete windows again.

Myers Constructs was founded upon the philosophy that renovating existing structures helps folks raise the quality of their lives in their homes, businesses, or institutions. Over the years, we have worked on scores of adaptive reuse projects that include church renovations, transforming a former Catholic convent into a home, and an award-winning major window renovation and repair project at The Fleisher Art Memorial , a historic Philadelphia-based art institution. We have always understood that good design is critical to sustainability. It’s a simple equation: good design, coupled with well chosen materials and methods, will net a successful renovation that will be used for the long term. Renovations with poor layouts, poorly considered or inferior materials, and ignoring underlying space issues can easily trigger the need for another renovation within a short time. As stewards of the environment, we want to use our resources wisely and look to create renovations that will last for generations to come.

Mercer certainly embraced that philosophy. We’re thankful for a long and loyal list of clients who do, as well.

Wishing you a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday on behalf of the Myers Constructs Team,

Tamara Myers

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