Q and A: Checking in With Myers Constructs

As the busy fall home-renovation season kicks off, Myers Constructs co-owner Diane Menke sits down for a chat about breaking traditional design build paradigms, finding paths for growth in a difficult economy, and the surprising places where her team finds design inspiration.

Q: Tell us about your design to build philosophy.

DM: Generally speaking, design build is a model in which the design and construction phases of a renovation project are done in a streamlined fashion — often by having design and construction professionals team up in order to save time and money. Our approach is a different take on this concept. We do both design and construction in house, using a very tight system of steps we have developed over the years. We call it Design to Build™ because we only design projects to build them. We don’t spend a client’s financial resources on exploration of ideas that won’t be built. Our system uses proprietary designing and budgeting tools to ensure the design and construction phases of a project are developed with efficient precision, as well as with great style.

My business partner, Tamara Myers, and I developed this approach after dozens of frustrated homeowners started calling on us with their architect- and designer-driven designs that they couldn’t afford to buid. We both come from backgrounds in fine arts and crafts. While studying for our respective BFA degrees, we were expected to explore and understand departments outside of our major. This philosophy mirrored Germany’s Bauhaus Movement, in which artists were expected to understand all of the arts — craft media, 3D, 2D, color theory, architecture — because they are so interrelated. In addition, we were taught the history of these various media. That exploration helped explain world history, and how various media and styles of architecture, literature, music or crafts arrived in places around the world. If I had to use one phrase to describe this kind of education, it would be “stay curious.” This is how we approach the many disciplines of home renovation at our company. And it’s this curiosity that made it possible to develop a logical system to address the design and construction needs of the homeowners, but keep control of the budgets for them.

Q: What motivated you to break the traditional design build mold?

DM: We really wanted to form a strong, lasting business to take care of customers and employees really well, long term.

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New Space for Outdoor Enthusiasts: Adventure Rooms

Do you love spending time in the great outdoors? Are you more likely to hit the trails than the malls on the weekends? If so, then you probably understand the logistical challenges that come along with your favorite hobbies: trying to store gear such as bikes, helmets, skis, poles, golf clubs, kayaks, surfboards, fishing poles, and so on. Lacking a better option, most people tend to force these items into closets, front porches and already overstuffed garages — creating stress and chaos in their homes in the process.

A fun and logical solution? Create an “adventure room” that is dedicated to your enjoyment of these activities. This can be done in any underutilized area of your home that has easy access to the outside: a large mudroom, basement storage area, or a double garage that can be partitioned off for this use. And the finished space can offer more than just attractive equipment-storage solutions; it can also feature items like a television, comfortable seating, a beverage chiller, exercise equipment, and memorabilia from outdoor events. The possibilities are virtually limitless.

Aside from providing a place for keeping your gear safe and protected from dirt and damage, adventure rooms are also a great home base for enjoying “staycations,” as many people will spend the coming summer holiday close to home due to the dual challenges of a still-sluggish economy and the skyrocketing cost of gas.

Image: Rick McCharles.

Wants vs. Needs: A Look at Prioritizing Home Renovations

Our clients, Robin and James,* have lived in their large, 90-year-old stone single home for 20+ years. They are now in their 40s, and have raised two active boys. James runs daily in the neighboring wooded parkland. The kids are active in hockey, tennis, and do well in school. In fact, they are preparing to head off to college in the next few years. The college fund is paid up, and it’s time for Robin and James to plan ahead for their own needs and enjoyment.

Part of that planning includes renovating their home to maintain or enhance its value. It’s a very well built, handsome home so they want to renovate carefully.

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A New Life for Their Space, A Better Life for Them

John and Judy* live in a three-story row home. They both commute to their city office jobs on bicycles. They bought their home when it was just the two of them. Now they have two children and a dog.

When their kids aren’t studying after grade-school classes, they are on their bicycles, playing ball or walking the dogs. All of this activity means this family now has a lot to store away in their compact, urban home. It’s a happy clutter, but this couple still wanted ideas about how to get it more organized, so books, bicycles, toys, sports equipment wouldn’t be laying around the small foyer area any more.

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