The Harrell Remodeling Promise: Quality Work, A Strong Warranty & Proactive Follow-Up Process

At Harrell Remodeling, we pride ourselves on understanding and exceeding our clients’ lifestyle needs through exceptional design and quality construction. Once a project is complete, Harrell backs its work with a one-year warranty and a proactive follow-up process.

Before the warranty even begins, the team works collaboratively while the project is in production to identify and resolve issues upfront. This includes any feedback received from the homeowners along the way.

“Our ultimate goal is a zero-item punch list at our Celebration Walk-Through, which takes place just prior to turning the completed project back over to the clients. While not perfect, we strive to be as flawless as possible,” shares Assistant Project Manager Kelly Burnette, Harrell’s warranty program point person.

Considerable planning and communication go into achieving what Kelly calls a “clean job close.” While a project is in progress, an on-going project punch list is physically posted at the job site.

“This on-site list is a central repository designed to encourage homeowners and our Lead Carpenter working on the project to add items that they discover. This process allows our tradespeople to continuously resolve any issues rather than waiting until a job is nearly complete,” Kelly clarifies.

As the final inspection approaches, a small Harrell Team conducts a preliminary walk-through with “zero punch list” as the goal. During this comprehensive inspection, the project is viewed in its entirety, carefully inspecting each room and all its elements. The team ensures the resolution of outstanding items, identifies and manages new issues as they are discovered, and communicates this information to the homeowners.

A few weeks after the preliminary walk-through and shortly after the Final Inspection, the Harrell Team holds the Celebration Walk-Through. Attended by the homeowners, Designer, Lead Carpenter, Project Manager, and Kelly, this event showcases the finished project.

“Our goal as a Design + Build company is to present a pristine project during the Celebration Walk-through,” says Kelly enthusiastically.

During the Celebration Walk-Through, not only do the homeowners get to see and experience their newly designed home, but they touch and test everything. They turn on appliances and faucets, open doors and drawers, and look closely at every surface. This process helps uncover any issues that the on-going punch list and preliminary walk-throughs may have missed.

Once a project is complete, should any punch list items remain, Kelly tracks the progress, manages material backorders and the replacement of defective items, and schedules the work. She also routinely communicates status updates to the homeowners.

To guarantee homeowners are secure in knowing that any outstanding punch list items will be resolved, Harrell Remodeling has the client hold back a proportional amount of funds until these items are completed. The hold back amount isn’t due and payable until the punch list is complete and the client is satisfied.

After the project is completed, Harrell Remodeling’s robust one-year warranty goes into effect. The warranty covers National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) standards but often goes above and beyond.

The Harrell Warranty Program is outlined in writing, and every client receives a copy after the project conclusion, which also clearly states the warranty start date and duration. Every Design + Build client is presented with their warranty documentation in a binder that also includes product manuals, warranty cards, and final permits. The project file also includes a complete list of model #s, brands, finishes, paint colors, and custom materials along with care instructions, and a 24/7 Harrell emergency contact number.

The one-year coverage warrants against workmanship and defective materials of the following:

  • General warranty covering labor and materials
  • Plumbing and heating
  • Electrical system
  • Sheetrock
  • Masonry
  • Structural components

Clients are encouraged to reach out at any time with questions, concerns, or to report any problems they encounter. “We are here for our clients even after the project is complete. If they have a question or concern, the Harrell Team is always here to help.”

A month or so before the warranty’s expiration, a Harrell Designer reaches out to the homeowner to schedule a one-year warranty walk-through. This on-site visit includes basic maintenance, adjustments, and touch-ups to grout and paint. “We also want to find out if their remodel is living up to their expectations,” shares Kelly.

At Harrell Remodeling, Inc., our motto is, “We Never Forget It’s Your Home®.” We also understand that “building a good customer experience does not happen by accident. It happens by design.”

To learn more about the Harrell Remodeling Design + Build experience, we invite you to attend one of our complimentary workshops or meet with a Designer to explore your home remodel.

Woman Founded and 100% Employee-Owned, Harrell Remodeling, Inc. has created distinctive homes in Silicon Valley and on the mid-Peninsula since 1985. Our Design + Build Team is here to help you reimagine your home inside and out.

Quality: An Investment for the Long Haul

Your home is one of your most significant investments. Increasing its value and livability with a remodel is a worthwhile endeavor and a considerable undertaking. One of the most important decisions a homeowner must make before embarking upon their remodel journey is choosing which professionals to enlist.

So, how do you make that critical decision? To make a fully informed choice, homeowners should consider quality, expertise, and customer service says Harrell Remodeling Designer Barb Wingo, Allied ASID. And of course, cost is a factor.

Materials, Fixtures & Finishes

Barb emphasizes that when homeowners remodel, choosing materials and fixtures that stand the test of time and use is crucial. Materials like flooring, tile, and countertops receive heavy use. Homeowners should also consider frequently used items that perform their function multiple times a day like faucets, door and cabinet hardware, and light fixtures.

Although store-brand or brand-name products are available for a lower price at big box stores, they are often of reduced quality compared to those purchased from reliable vendors and showroom sources.

For example, faucets from big box stores may have plastic parts versus metal components; paint can provide less coverage and durability; flooring materials can be thinner and less durable. There are also fewer finish and function options, not to mention product warranties that are more limited in scope.

“The lower price point of these materials may be attractive initially, but they will not withstand high usage and will need replacing much sooner,” Barb warns.

Design Services

“There are many ways to approach the design of your remodel,” Barb explains. “There are in-house or complimentary retail design services, independent designers and architects, and firms that offer full-service design + build solutions.”

With in-house retail design services, the designers’ knowledge may be limited to the products they offer; they have a vested interest in selling homeowners the lines they carry such as certain cabinets, and plumbing fixtures for example. Working in interruption-driven environments, these designers are often unable to provide clients with the attention necessary to consider distinct needs and lifestyles, and to then create beautiful and functional solutions.

An independent designer or architect can create a design and the draft floor plans, elevations, and complete sets of build-ready drawings, but many designers and architects leave the permitting process to the homeowner, which can be extremely complicated if this is not your expertise. Additionally, once permits are obtained, homeowners must vet and select a contractor for the project’s construction phase.

Depending on the designer or architects’ experience, the project may go smoothly, or the client may experience unexpected problems implementing the design as construction evolves.

Barb explains, “Often, what appears to work well on paper may not work in reality.”

One approach is where the homeowners collaborate with a cohesive, dedicated team from conception to completion. The result is a design that merges function, aesthetics, and the unique requirements of the client. Design + build incorporates function into the design from the outset. Experienced designers dedicate time getting to know their clients, asking detailed questions about how they use each space in their home.

Barb says that asking clients specific questions helps formulate a solid design that encapsulates the homeowners’ requirements.

Examples include:

  • How do you use your kitchen: Is there one or multiple cooks at a time?
  • Do you entertain? How many people? Are they formal or informal gatherings? Where do you like to entertain or gather?
  • Do you want smart home technology and appliances?
  • How long do you plan to live in your home?
  • Do you have specific storage needs (sports, hobbies, display, etc.)?
  • Do you need a multi-function space for a desk or workstation?
  • Does anyone in your home have mobility needs?

This comprehensive and collaborative design and construction process ensures the newly remodeled home creates quality, workable solutions that reflect your needs, lifestyle, and aesthetic.


Whether a homeowner’s project is large or small, it should be built to last. As with the design phase of a project, there are several ways to have your project built. The craftsmanship and level of detail can vary dramatically depending upon the type of construction service chosen.

Big box stores may offer installation services, but they may not provide the best talent and craftsmanship. “And hiring a handyman may seem like a cost-effective choice, but you may wind up with someone who has limited knowledge and experience with certain aspects of your project,” explains Barb. Some handyman-type services will not work on projects that may or should require a permit.

Employing a licensed contractor is a good choice. Licensure provides safeguards for the work being performed. Typically, licensed contractors have a greater depth and breadth of experience on remodeling projects.

Hiring a design + build firm enables homeowners to benefit from an entire team of experts at each stage of the remodeling process.

These experts include a full “production” (construction) team whose job it is to keep all work on schedule. A comprehensive feasibility study is conducted before work begins, keeping the project within time and budget constraints. Design + build firms will also typically secure the required permits, and schedule/oversee all inspections.

Customer Service

The time, attention, and communication level offered by in-house retail design services is another essential aspect that can vary greatly. They work in a very interruption-driven environment, which can result in rendering distracted client service. With the design + build model, design and production professionals work together for you as a team, under one company and one contract.

Look for a company whose goal is to have transparent and collaborative communication throughout the entire planning and construction process. Ask if you will have 24/7 access to an online project calendar, ensuring that you know what tasks are happening at your home and know what is coming up next.

Upon completing each project, ask what length of warranty the contractor’s work will adhere to, and what is their proactive follow-up process.

Excellent design and construction take time, talent, dedication, and expertise. In the words of Aldo Gucci, “Quality is remembered long after price is forgotten.”  

To learn more about the Harrell Remodel Design + Build experience, we invite you to attend one of our complimentary workshops or talk with a Designer to explore your home remodel.

Woman Founded and 100% Employee-Owned, Harrell Remodeling, Inc. has created distinctive homes in Silicon Valley and on the mid-Peninsula since 1985. Our Design + Build Team is here to help you reimagine your home inside and out.

Turning Up the Heat with Indoor & Outdoor Fireplaces

There is something special about a fireplace. With the New Year upon us and winter settling in, the cozy, intimate ambiance of fire is alluring, beckoning people to gather around its welcoming glow.

Harrell Remodeling’s award-winning Senior Designer/Design Coordinator, Sara Jorgensen, AKBD, CID, says that a fireplace makes the wish list for most homeowners. During a remodel is one of the best times to modernize your fireplace and make the most of this inviting and visually appealing element.

In November 2016, the Bay Area disallowed the installation of new wood-burning fireplaces. Since then, gas fireplaces (sometimes called “appliances”) have taken center stage, with advances in efficiency, technology, versatility, and aesthetics.

Manufacturers like Heat & Glo, Regency, and Ortal offer homeowners a fantastic array of fireplace options.

“With today’s innovative and imaginative designs, the sky is the limit when it comes to integrating a fireplace into a home environment,” Sara enthuses.

“Although there are electric fireplaces available, they do have their disadvantages,” Sara explains. “For homeowners who desire the warmth and cozy atmosphere of a real flame, a gas fireplace is the best option. Electric fireplaces, though they are improving, don’t offer that distinct ambiance just yet.”

Types of Contemporary Fireplaces

The sizes, shapes, and styles of today’s gas fireplaces are seemingly endless. Below are six of the most common. Some manufacturers offer interior lighting for select styles, illuminating and showcasing the unit even when it’s not in use.


These built-in linear fireplaces integrate beautifully into walls and can be accented with a variety of architectural elements. Flank them with built-ins, surround them with stucco, stone, tile, or concrete, or create a contemporary hearth and mantle. Sizes range from 16 inches, perfect for a cozy space, to an impressive 8 feet in length.


In sizes from 19 to 99 inches in length, corner fireplaces have a front-facing glass panel along with a pane of glass on either the right or left side. Two-sided units are an architectural feature, it’s almost like having two units, one on each corner of a wall.


These fireplaces have panes of glass on the front and both sides, offering an unobstructed view of the flame from multiple vantage points. Sleek and modern, they are a stand-out architectural element in any space. As with other units, lengths vary from 20 inches to 8 feet.


Two-way fireplaces provide visibility and emit warmth from both sides. Enclosed in walls or columns, they are a modern way of dividing living spaces while creating a contemporary open concept that also serves as a focal point of separation. These are ideal for uniting kitchen and dining rooms, main bedrooms and the main bathroom, and, when placed on an exterior wall, can serve as a dual indoor-outdoor fireplace. With lengths from 16 to 96 inches, see-through units can fit into intimate or expansive spaces.


When integrated into an existing firebox, an insert offers the classic fireplace charm with a safer, contemporary design. Inserts are available in standard sizes to fit snuggly into existing wood-burning fireplaces. Inserts are also available for use in outdoor fireplaces.

Stand Alone

These freestanding units can sit directly on the floor or be mounted onto a wall and vented sideways to the outdoors, avoiding the need for considerable construction. Some are sleek and contemporary, others are more traditional, and others still are Mid-Century modern.

Design, Style and Media

Each style of fireplace can also be customized with a collection of striking interior design “media.” The “media” in the fireplace is the pebbles (glass or stone typically) that are placed in the unit.  Homeowners can also choose materials for the back wall or panel of the unit as well as elements that accent the base.


Ceramic river rock, pebbles, and powder stone in black, white, red, and gray are a few options. River rock and stone have mineral speckling to achieve a realistic appearance. Stones and pebbles blend the natural and contemporary. Another option is black and gray “cannonballs,” which can also be used as a “base” from which the flames emanate. Cannonballs have a rustic yet modern appeal.

Fire Glass

Small, polished bits of glass are an incredibly chic interior media element, reflecting and enhancing the flames. Clear, obsidian, blue, and amber are just a few of the color choices available. As a high-tech add-on, some fireplaces offer multi-colored LED lighting, making for quite the artistic effect when used with the transparent glass media.

For an artistic effect, illuminate clear glass using interior LED lighting, which comes in many colors to match any desired mood.

Logs & Branches

For those who appreciate a rustic appearance inside their fireplace, several types of artificial ceramic logs, branches, kindling, and embers can be mixed and matched. Pine, elm, and oak are popular for homeowners who desire a natural appearance. Logs and branches have realistic, cracks, bark, and charring. Branches fashioned from black iron offer a modern twist.

Bricks and Panels at Rear and Side Walls

Traditional or herringbone brick in red or gray create a classic fireplace appearance. A reflective black panel makes the flame look more prominent and creates a next-level ambiance especially desirable in large spaces.

Cool Wall Technology

Since the invention of flat-screen televisions, mounting a TV above the fireplace has been a trend. One of the biggest obstacles is the required non-combustible zone, the area needed to ensure the TV’s electrical systems aren’t damaged by heat.

This restriction results in many televisions being placed at a height that is too high for proper viewing. “That’s one of the reasons I love Ortal products,” Sara shares. “Their Cool Wall Technology ensures the walls that surround the unit remain cool. It completely opens up the design possibilities. Now, a television or a work of art can be placed directly above the fireplace without concern.”

Smart Technology

Many modern fireplaces can be controlled with a remote or a smartphone app when connected to WiFi. Other units can be integrated with a centralized home automation system.

Bringing the Warmth Outdoors

Having a comfortable, private outdoor space to enjoy has become incredibly important, especially this year. Thanks to our favorable California climate, we can enjoy the outdoors year-round, especially in Silicon Valley.

As a focal point, an outdoor fireplace can be just as significant to the overall look and feel of an outdoor room as its indoor counterpart. American Fyre is one of several manufacturers that feature glass fiber reinforced concrete (GFRC) units. These modular units are completely customizable to create an impressive look with a stylish surround or hearth, finished in stucco or stone to coordinate with the exterior of the home or other outdoor living amenities, such as an outdoor kitchen.

Also noteworthy is Isokern, manufactured in Virginia by Earthcore, which takes the outdoor fireplace to another level. Isokern products are made with volcanic materials from Iceland. They are lightweight and boast refractive properties not found in their GFRC counterparts.

Most manufacturers offer vent-free models, permitting an outdoor fireplace to be installed in a covered area.

While an outdoor fireplace creates a place to gather in front of, fire pits, fire bowls, and fire tables offer a place for everyone to sit around. These products, which are offered in both liquid propane and natural gas versions, add the allure of an open flame to backyard spaces.

Harrell Remodeling’s award-winning, certified landscape designer, Lisa Parramore, APLD (Association of Professional Landscape Designers), recommends outdoor fire bowls, pits, and tables from the following manufacturers.

Kindred offers a selection of pre-finished glass fiber reinforced concrete fire bowls, adding a “heightened level of design and elegance to any outdoor space.” Each unit has a powerful 65,000 BTU burner, a patent-pending burner system, and heavy-duty stainless steel construction. Backed by a 10-year warranty, Kindred’s fire pits, tables, and bowls produce brighter, taller flames using half the fuel.

“For homeowners who want a simple yet attractive solution, these are some of the best.” To enjoy the fire pit immediately, Lisa recommends choosing a unit that doesn’t require an additional finish, such as stucco or tile. She also suggests units with refillable/replaceable propane tanks. “The quality of burners is also essential, as they have a direct impact on the appearance of the flame.”

For homeowners who want a fire table or bowl that blends into the existing aesthetics of their yard, Warming Trends fire tables and fire pits are offered in a variety of shapes.

Warming Trends is also leading the industry with their precision-engineered CrossFire brass burner, a unique fire pit burner that “utilizes cutting-edge technology to produce a taller, brighter, fuller flame.”

Each of these units can be customized with different media, including ceramic and steel log sets, lava rock, and an array of colored fire glass. The exterior of the unit can be finished with stone, tile, or stucco.

Regardless of which type of outdoor fire feature you choose, you can enjoy a cozy gathering space for making smores, sipping a glass of wine, or staying warm while social distancing.

Inspired to update your fireplace, your home, or your outdoor living space? Schedule a complimentary consultation with a Harrell Remodeling Designer and let us ignite your imagination!

Woman Founded and 100% Employee-Owned, Harrell Remodeling Inc. has created distinctive homes in Silicon Valley and on the mid-Peninsula since 1985. Our Design + Build Team is here to help you reimagine your home inside and out.

Biophilic Design Brings the Beauty of Nature Indoors

People are innately drawn to form connections with nature. We seek natural surroundings and green spaces to help us relax and unwind. A large body of research has proven that being exposed to elements of, or viewing scenes of nature has a profoundly positive impact on our physical and emotional well-being. Nature offers a host of benefits for children and adults, including reducing stress, lowering blood pressure and heart rates, increasing immunity, and elevating our mood.

From this extensive research a trend called biophilic design has emerged. “Biophilic design is all about bringing the outdoors in,” says Harrell Remodeling Designer, Divya Vijayanandakumar, LEED AP ID+C, UDCP. “It is founded on scientific evidence and fused with aesthetics that draw upon our need to have a connection with nature and how that relationship benefits our health.”

Initially applied in commercial spaces such as offices (check out Amazon’s Seattle biosphere workspace) and health care, biophilic design has now entered the residential realm.

“Achieving indoor-outdoor flow has been a highly desirable trend for many homeowners,” Divya shares.

To make the most of these biophilic benefits, Divya recommends enlisting an experienced professional. “A designer will create a cohesive aesthetic that fits the homeowner’s unique lifestyle while properly applying natural elements.” Not all materials lend themselves to all uses and purposes. For example, certain natural stone is too porous for kitchen counters, while others are too slick for flooring.

Biophilic design incorporates various natural elements into our indoor spaces, encourages positive personal responses, and creates a direct connection with nature. These include:

  • Views of nature
  • Light and space
  • Airflow and air quality
  • Organic materials and textures
  • Colors and hues found in nature
  • Non-linear, curving shapes
  • Greenery

Views of Nature

Seeing panoramic landscapes, ocean or mountain views, or even a view into our front and backyards are essential biophilic tenets. Large picture windows that look onto attractive green spaces are soothing and invite nature in. Photographs, artwork, and wallpaper are other ways to introduce natural settings and scenery.

Light and Space

There is nothing quite like natural light to illuminate a home. Skylights, plentiful windows, and expansive glass doors imbue a home with this important component of nature. High ceilings and spacious, open floor plans and furniture placement provide an airiness to a home’s spaces.

Air Flow and Quality

Cross ventilation achieved from windows and door allows natural, fresh air to flow throughout a home. HVAC units provide high-quality air when natural ventilation isn’t possible. Houseplants also play a role, removing carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, and other airborne toxins, including VOCs.

Organic Materials and Textures

Wood, natural stone, materials, and fabrics such as sisal, jute, bamboo, wicker, cotton, and silk can be included in numerous ways. Wood is one of the most versatile materials, with both structural and aesthetic applications. The texture, aroma, and warmth of wood, along with its myriad of uses, make it an ideal finish for use in biophilic design. Beam ceilings, reclaimed wood accent walls, hardwood floors, live-edge shelves, wooden furnishings, and cabinetry are just a few of the ways in which wood can bring the beauty of nature into a home. Sisal and jute are highly textural materials often used in area rugs. Cotton, birch, silk, and bamboo are luxurious for bedding, bath towels, draperies and pillows. Wicker accessories and furniture lend yet another layer of textural appeal to a space. Unique and varying textures add another distinctive aesthetic element to this environmentally-based design.

Colors & Hues of Nature

Consider a sunrise or sunset. The array and depth of colors are astounding. “Just about every color can be found in nature, but some are more common and soothing,” shares Divya. “Selecting the appropriate tonality and hue to achieve the desired mood for the space is important. Nature offers an incredible collection of colors from which a homeowner can choose, ensuring their unique style shines through.”

Non-Linear, Curving Shapes

Straight lines aren’t found as frequently in nature as they are in human-made environments. Integration of flowing, non-linear shapes soften a space, figuratively “taking the edge off” and making it more pleasing and comfortable. Round, curving, and otherwise organic shapes can be incorporated in artwork, furnishings, wallpaper, and door hardware.


In all that research we mentioned it has also been shown that living, green plants in a home improve concentration and productivity along with elevating mood and reducing stress. According to a NASA study, they also help remove up to 87% of airborne toxins. Lush and verdant, colorful and textural, plants merge so many biophilic bonuses. Place them throughout your home, including your bedroom and home office, to reap the rewards. “There are houseplants that thrive best in different indoor environments, so be sure to ask an expert for advice,” Divya advises. A living wall can create an incredible focal point, especially in a two-story entryway. A living roof, though not inside, is another way to embrace biophilia.

Each room in a home is a canvas for biophilic design. For example, a bathroom can include a raised or flat pebble shower floor, a teak shower bench, natural stone countertops, plants that flourish in high-humidity, and luxurious organic cotton towels. A kitchen might have gleaming French doors overlooking an abundant backyard landscape, a small countertop herb garden, rich hardwood floors, a butcher block island, and marble counters.

Are you intrigued by the idea of biophilic design? Discover how this aesthetic based in science can beautify your home and benefit your health by connecting with one of Harrell Remodeling’s award-winning designers.

Woman Founded and 100% Employee-Owned, Harrell Remodeling Inc. has created distinctive homes in Silicon Valley and on the mid-Peninsula since 1985. Our Design + Build Team is here to help you reimagine your home inside and out.

Repurpose Interior Spaces to Meet Your Lifestyle

After almost six months of spending a lot of time in our homes, many of us have discovered that our interior spaces may not be fully functional. We could use a dedicated office, a quiet area for our children to do schoolwork, a place other than the kitchen table for our 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzles. You might want to repurpose interior spaces in your home to better meet your needs.

“Families normally don’t spend such an extended period in their homes,” shares Harrell Remodeling CEO and Senior Designer, Lisa Sten. “Now is the perfect time to walk through your home with a fresh perspective to determine how you can reimagine and repurpose interior spaces.”

Lisa highly recommends starting this “room reimagining” at the curb. “We are all feeling disconnected from everyone outside of our immediate household and are searching for ways to socialize safely. Having a connection to others and the outdoors is something many of us are seeking.” For many homeowners, that means people-watching or holding physically distanced gatherings in their front yard. Front yards are an underused space ripe for repurposing. (We will be exploring repurposing front yards in an upcoming blog!)

Once inside your home, look with fresh eyes and analyze every room, every niche, nook, and storage space. Think about your lifestyle needs: how could these various big and small spaces be reimagined to meet those needs? Maybe those lifestyle changes are short-term, like an area for children to attend school online, while others, like dedicated game rooms, might be ones that your family will enjoy for years to come.

Living rooms are an excellent example of an area that many families don’t utilize frequently. Consider dividing large rectangular rooms into two sections, such as a seating area and game or study space. Rearranging the layout or adding multi-functional pieces of furniture can result in a quick transformation. Get creative – clear off that sofa table and use it as a desk. If your family is all about game night, turn your living room into a “tricked out” game room with areas to work on puzzles, play and store board games, engage in a round of foosball, pool, or other favorites.

Many newly-constructed homes don’t have a formal dining room, but if you have one in your home, seriously consider how often you use it. Do you plan to entertain often, and, if so, are they sit down meals or more informal occasions that occur around a kitchen island or in the backyard? Formal dining rooms can easily be transformed into a game area, play or study space, or a hobby, craft or music room. Installing glass or barn doors is a simple way to provide a barrier against sound or create privacy.

There are many wellness services that we’ve been unable to enjoy over the past six months. Getting a haircut or massage, enjoying a workout at our favorite local fitness center, going to a spa for some self-care, all of these are wellness luxuries we’ve gone without for a while. If you’d like to have these personal care services close at hand, you could remodel your master bath to include a steam shower, soaking tub, sauna, or a dedicated hairstyling space. “Harrell has a longtime client who has a specially designed location in her home where she has her hair cut and styled,” Lisa shares. “Many others love creating a spa-like experience in their master bathrooms or designing a dedicated space for yoga, lifting weights, or cardio fitness.”

What spaces or locations in your home could be revitalized? Consider all areas, large and small.

  • Living rooms
  • Formal dining rooms
  • Guest bedrooms
  • Under-stair or other storage spaces
  • Walk-in or large closets
  • Landings
  • Lofts
  • Open niches or nooks
  • Flex spaces
  • Large entry or hallways
  • Great rooms
  • Backyard sheds

One client’s airy great room was reinvented simply by adding doors. “The open space was ideal for keeping an eye on her young children, but when they got older, everyone wanted more privacy. Dividing the great room with artful frosted glass doors created a sense of separation between the kitchen and seating areas without diminishing the home’s natural light or overall flow.” 

There are many ways to breathe new life into your home, meeting your entire family’s needs, hobbies, and lifestyle. Some creative spaces include:

  • Game room
  • Home theatre
  • Hobby or craft space
  • School/study space
  • Playroom
  • Home office
  • Home gym/yoga studio
  • Meditation room
  • Music room
  • Art studio
  • Home library
  • Wine room

There are many opportunities to recreate under-utilized areas in your home. An open landing may be just the right spot for playing board games or a reading nook, and a guest bedroom can double as a home gym. Under-stairway spaces can become wine cellars or quiet study areas for distance learning or fun, cozy play areas for younger children. Spacious walk-in closets may have enough room for clothes as well as a home office set-up.

When deciding on the new purpose of a room or space, Lisa recommends considering the room’s lighting, size, and shape, and the privacy required. How many people will use it? What type and size of furniture are needed? Is natural light a necessity, or will other light sources suffice? Do you need visual or sound privacy?

There are numerous ways to reinvent and reclaim your home and repurpose interior spaces. Rearranging furniture, flipping a room’s purpose, and reimagining a space can breathe new life into your lifestyle. If none of these ideas work for your residence, consider constructing an ADU, an addition, or remodel. The Harrell Remodeling Design + Build Team is always here to help you reimagine your Silicon Valley or mid-Peninsula home inside and out.

Woman Founded and 100% Employee-Owned, Harrell Remodeling Inc. has created distinctive homes in Silicon Valley and mid-Peninsula since 1985. We invite you to attend one of our virtual workshops or schedule a complimentary appointment with a Harrell Remodeling designer to learn more about how we can help you achieve your perfect lifestyle.

Green Building Explained

What is Green Building

According to the World Green Building Council, a green building is one that, “in its design, construction, or operation, minimizes or eliminates negative impacts and creates positive impacts on our climate and natural environment.” Green buildings preserve natural resources and improve our quality of life.

LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) provides a framework for efficient, healthy, and cost-effective green building. Spearheaded by the U.S. Green Building Council, LEED is the most widely recognized green building rating system in the world, LEED certified buildings are a symbol of the highest level of sustainability.

Any building can be green: a shopping center, an office complex, a school, hospital, library, and a residence, provided they include and meet specific requirements and features such as:

  • Efficient use of energy, water and other resources
  • Renewable energy (i.e. solar)
  • Reduction of pollution and waste along with recycling and re-use
  • Use of non-toxic, sustainable, and ethical materials
  • Improved indoor air quality
  • Consideration of the environment and the inhabitants in design, demolition, construction, and operation

Harrell Designer and Code Specialist, Rafael Gomez, explains that after World War II, housing was built very rapidly to meet demand. “These post-war homes were not necessarily healthy or durable. They used materials that not only stripped our planet’s natural resources but also could unknowingly expose residents to lead paint and other toxic chemicals. With the increased global awareness of the importance of environmentally sustainable practices, green building has emerged as an all-encompassing process with the mission of creating long-lasting structures that take the health of the Earth and humans into account.”

When building a home, or remodeling in California, there are green building guidelines that must be followed, as California has its own green building standards, called CALGreen. The first state-mandated green building code in the nation, CALGreen measures are applied to planning, design, operation, construction, use, and occupancy of all new construction as well as remodels and additions.

CALGreen addresses five areas of construction and remodeling:

  • Planning and design
  • Energy efficiency
  • Water efficiency and conservation
  • Material conservation and resource efficiency
  • Environmental quality

Every city must comply with CALGreen code standards and can also choose to enforce a higher level of green building requirements. “Palo Alto has been pioneering the green building movement in Silicon Valley for years,” says Rafael. These enhanced local city ordinances create “reach code” standards that go above and beyond those required by the state.

To encourage homeowners to upgrade to more energy efficient appliances or materials, many cities offer rebate incentive programs for installation of green alternatives such as solar panels, electric water heaters, and electric vehicle charging stations.

Palo Alto is spearheading California’s mission to have zero emission buildings by the year 2045. Many other cities and states are taking the same initiative, joining efforts with contractors and developers to make remarkable progress toward this mission of a carbon neutral future. Energy efficiency in new construction is exceeding the 2020 target of 33 percent.

“At Harrell Remodeling, we integrate the mandatory green building measures into each stage of a project,” states Rafael. “Depending upon the size and scope of the construction, there are also prescriptive measures we must take into account, such as roofing, insulation, and windows.”

Recycling construction material plays a significant part in green building. “Harrell Remodeling pays close attention to the recycling rules for all our projects,” Rafael explains. “It is our responsibility to meet the recycling requirements, and to salvage and repurpose materials for a second life.”

Rafael shares that some homeowners want to go even farther with making their residence environmentally friendly. Studies show that one in three Millennials want a home that is sustainable and eco-friendly. “Whether our clients simply want to meet the minimum green building standards, or want to make their homes as environmentally friendly as possible, Harrell Remodeling is here to help facilitate that.”

Myths about Green Building

There are a lot of misunderstandings and falsehoods surrounding green building. Below are just a few of the misconceptions and explanations dispelling those myths.

Green building is more expensive

According to Gina Rodda, principal owner of Gabel Energy, the upfront cost of an eco-friendly building is indeed more expensive but after year ten, the return on investment kicks in. The energy efficiency of a sustainable home results in considerable savings over time. And, because of the use of non-toxic materials and enhanced indoor air quality, the occupants enjoy better health and reduced medical costs.

Green building is not as efficient as traditional construction

Construction using green building is still a new process but when applied properly, which is where CALGreen and other code mandates come in, it can be exceptionally efficient in all phases.

Green building is just a fad

With our reliance on oil, escalating fuel costs, and the negative impacts we’ve made on our planet, we’ve reached a point where we need to pivot. And a large part of that pivot is the implementation of global green building practices. The green approach to construction is constantly evolving and requires diligence but this environmentally responsible and responsive process is here to stay. It saves resources, energy, and increases the health and wellbeing of occupants.

If a product has the Green label on it, it must be green

Unfortunately, this label isn’t an indicator of a product’s sustainability. It simply means the manufacturer complied with minimal criteria. Often, these are also less expensive options that lure consumers with the label and a lower price. To determine if a product is truly eco-friendly, ask a professional for advice.

If you are considering a remodel, addition, or construction of an ADU on your Silicon Valley or mid-Peninsula property, green building practices will come into play. Having been in the Design + Build industry since 1985, Harrell Remodeling understands the process and importance of these sustainable practices. We invite you to reach out and schedule an appointment with one of our award-winning designers to discover how we can make your home healthy and beautifully sustainable.

Beautify Your Backyard with Wood Grain Porcelain Pavers

The opportunity to add texture, dimension and color in your outdoor living design has greatly increased in the last decade as outdoor living has become a priority for homeowners. As options for driveway materials have expanded, this has influenced other hard surfaces in landscape design and outdoor living.

Originally designed as a much more appealing alternative to concrete slab or asphalt driveways, classic concrete interlocking pavers are small and thick, making them sturdy enough to withstand the weight of multiple vehicles. Since concrete interlocking pavers are laid individually over base rock, should one or more get damaged, they are easy to replace, giving them yet another advantage over the typical concrete slab driveway.

As the popularity of concrete interlocking pavers increased, manufacturers began creating them in more textures, colors, and finishes, including larger format interlocking pavers that mimic the veining and cleft of natural stone. Because larger format pavers are bigger in size (yet thinner in thickness), they should not be used as a driveway material, but they are ideal for backyard patios, outdoor spaces, and pathways. Coordinating styles and sizes of porcelain pavers allow for the creation of that highly desired indoor-outdoor flow.

Surfaces that include walkways, patios and pool decks (but not driveways, or where vehicles are parked) are seeing additional new flooring and outdoor surfaces come to market. One recent trend, according to Harrell Remodeling Designer, Lisa Parramore, is the emergence of wood grain porcelain pavers. “Wood-inspired porcelain tiles have gained significant foothold inside homes,” Lisa shares. “Once again, paver manufacturers are seizing an opportunity to take this interior design aesthetic outside by creating durable, low maintenance, and very attractive pavers that have the same wood-like appearance.”

Noon porcelain pavers by Belgard

Wood-inspired porcelain pavers come in variety of sizes from small to large. They also come in large format sizes, including a popular plank format, like a wood floor. Just as with the classic driveway pavers, the new wood-inspired porcelain pavers are placed over base rock. “Most true porcelain tile has to be adhered to a concrete slab to ensure its durability,” explains Lisa. “The need for a slab adds to the cost, as you are hiring a concrete specialist, as well as a tile installer. The same look can be achieved with wood-inspired porcelain pavers and costs from 25% to 40% less, specifically because a concrete slab isn’t necessary.”

“One of our vendors commented that this product is ‘flying off the shelves,’” Lisa recounts. And the installation of wood-inspired porcelain pavers or tile ensures that you have continuity in the look and feel of your flooring, if you have a wood flooring inside. This is a great way to extend your living space, blur the line between inside and outside, and create the outdoor room of your dreams.

Lisa, who holds her Association of Professional Landscape Designers (APLD) accreditation, is currently working on an exterior remodeling and landscaping project in Los Gatos in which the client wants to use wood grain pavers for their expansive pool deck. Proving that this product is a hot commodity, Lisa was able to find matching pool coping (the material above the water tile line that generally covers the top of the pool structure) from paver manufacturer Belgard, to create a continuous look.

Outdoor porcelain pavers in a variety of interpretations of wood planks can add a touch of the avant garde to your garden, backyard, or outdoor space. If you’d like to explore this contemporary look in your Silicon Valley or Peninsula yard, we invite you to schedule a complimentary consultation with one of our Harrell Remodeling Designers.

Innovative Interior Design Tech and Trends

Innovation and technology continue to forge a path into residential living, especially in kitchens and bathrooms. Emerging technologies are aesthetically designed, user-friendly, and can make your home more efficient! These interior design tech and trends allow homeowners the flexibility to customize their spaces to fit their distinct style and personality.

Technology, especially voice activated tech, is a major component of many evolving products, and Amazon’s Alexa is one technology of choice. Voice activated devices are often promoted as a luxury item, but they serve everyone with basic assistive needs.

“Being able to talk to a device is an amazing lifestyle accessibility tool,” offers Harrell Remodeling Designer, Divya Vijayanandakumar. “It is ideal for seniors, the sight impaired, and anyone with limited physical abilities, allowing them to perform multiple tasks in their home such as turning on and off lights, faucets, and setting appliances by simply making a verbal request. I envision it as a powerful aspect of Universal Design.”

 With the ubiquitous nature of WiFi, smart apps, and voice activation, kitchen technology is becoming the norm. Delta’s VoiceIQ system enables homeowners to “command their kitchen.” This VoiceIQ tech pairs with connected home faucet devices, offering features like metered water dispensing and custom container commands, as the faucet can be programmed to precisely fill uniquely sized containers. As an cooking aid, “smart ranges” can help you cook, range hoods can display videos showing how to prepare a recipe, and smart refrigerators inform the homeowner when they are running low on a food item.

Creating personalized “scenarios” is another leading-edge capability offered by voice activated technology. Saying, “Good morning Alexa,” could be the catalyst for a specific routine established by the homeowner that includes turning on the coffeemaker, turning on lights, pulling up window coverings, turning on the shower, and so on. These customized scenarios can be designed to fit specific needs throughout the day and they can be initiated by a trigger phrase.

Manufacturers incorporating this WiFi-enabled voice capability are aware that security is the weak link when it comes to this type of tech and they are working diligently to resolve this issue.

The Zip Hydro Tap dispenses filtered chilled, sparkling, and instant boiling water. Popular in Europe, these fantastic faucets are finally making their way across the pond. This top tech item does away with all those extra water bottles in your fridge and tea kettles on your countertop. The Hydro Tap comes in six styles and twelve colors, ensuring the perfect aesthetic for every home. Hydro Tap’s chilling and heating unit is compact enough to fit in a 24-inch cabinet, making it a great addition to an island or wet bar.

Another interior design tech product is Plum, an automated wine dispenser that chills to the ideal temperature for each varietal so that it can be served one glass at a time. Plum holds two bottles of wine at a time and uses argon gas to preserve the wines for up to 90 days. The smart device also currently recognizes 3,000 different types of wine and they are constantly adding new varietals to the database.

And since we are talking beverages, countertop glass rinsers such as the one offered by Delta are moving from taprooms and coffeeshops into residential kitchens. These “glass rinsers” quickly and thoroughly clean most standard drinkware and can be easily installed in place of a sink sprayer, soap dispenser – all you need is a hole in the countertop to accommodate one. This means no more hand washing wine glasses, travel mugs, and baby bottles or taking the risk of washing fragile glassware in your dishwasher.

A broader range of color is making a foray into faucets, (as mentioned above, the Hydro Zip comes in 12 colors) showerheads, and appliances as well as door and cabinet hardware.

For those who love using bold hues, the DacorMatch Color System allows homeowners to personalize kitchen appliances by creating interchangeable “skins” in any color imaginable. Rather than having to make a commitment to a single color, DacorMatch offers the flexibility to change colors on appliances seasonally, or whenever the mood strikes.

Another brilliant product is the DUW Wall recessed Linear Floor Drain, perfect for many showers. Inserted into the shower wall rather than placed on the floor, this almost invisible drain blends into its surroundings, creating a continuous flow of floor tile and letting your shower’s beauty shine. The custom and standard configurations are easy to install and maintain.

Innovation is making even more advances into the home. Smart appliances and devices are interconnected. Our voice or the touch of a button allows us to manage and run our residence. And for those who love to make a statement, color reigns supreme in kitchens and bathroom spaces.

Exploring a kitchen and bath remodel and wondering what interior design tech products would work well in your Silicon Valley or Peninsula home? Harrell Remodeling, Inc. has been on the cutting edge of Design + Build since we were founded in 1985. Join us for one of our webinars or in-person workshops, peruse our online portfolio, or give us a call at 650-230-2900 to set up a virtual or in-person complimentary meeting with one of our stellar designers.

The Power of Production in Design + Build

When embarking on a remodeling project, most homeowners are familiar with the traditional and separate design and construction processes. Historically, a homeowner would hire a Designer or Architect to work with them to plan the design and remodel of their home, and then once the plans are complete, would hire an independent Contractor to oversee the construction phase of the project. If all went well, the work of the Designer would translate seamlessly into the construction phase with the Contractor. If the project didn’t go well, the finger pointing between the Designer, Contractor, and homeowner would begin.

For the last several decades, a concept in remodeling has gained traction and acceptance as a successful remodeling approach: It’s referred to as Design + Build, where both aspects of remodeling, Design and Construction, are provided by one single source. With today’s Design + Build firms, you typically find a Certified Design Team and Licensed General Contractor in one company, commissioned under one contract, working together as a team. The goal of the Design + Build concept is to plan and execute a remodeling project with greater precision, a more predictable outcome, and collaboration along the way.

According to Harrell Remodeling, Inc.’s Production Manager, Gary Gray, the Production Team plays an integral role throughout every project, even in the design phase, and long before the permit is pulled or any ground is broken.

“Production’s goal is to create predictability and continuity for each remodeling project,” Gary describes. “We take the time to explore the project up front, collaborate with the entire Harrell Remodeling team, and plan the project to eliminate surprises, and to also maintain steady workflow.”

At Harrell Remodeling, the Production and Design Teams work hand-in-hand from the outset, and especially as the proposed design becomes more solidified. That’s when Gary and team begin to focus in earnest to explore feasibility, buildability, sequencing of work, coordination among trade specialists like structural engineers, electricians, plumbers, roofers, heating and air specialists, drywall installers, and they also factor in city inspections. During this pre-production phase, the team looks at everything necessary to anticipate and plan for a successful project outcome.

Gary explains the important role production plays before the very first hammer is swung. Gary emphasizes that, “Our Project Managers and Production Team play a pivotal role from the beginning of every project, from design through demo, and then continuing through the build, and even into the final punch-list phase.”

Exploration of the existing space is important to quantify the unknown. Visiting the client’s home to assess the site and existing conditions is vital to unearth and quantify as many potential issues as possible. The Production Team explores attics, basements, crawl spaces, and in some cases even looks inside the walls. We look at plumbing, electrical, potential structural issues as well as the existing overall condition of the areas where work will be performed. The goal: to identify and address issues that may come into play once the construction begins.

Once a thorough examination of the current home is complete, the Production Team, along with the Designer and Estimator, collaborate to present a range of possibilities and associated costs so clients can make informed decisions. “By conducting this initial investigative stage, we can usually uncover and plan for issues that would have been a surprise during construction. This keeps unexpected costs down, the project on budget, and the client feels informed and in charge,” Gary conveys. Gary notes that Harrell Remodeling’s “unknown conditions” change orders are a tenth of the national average and the company attributes that low percentage to the exploration that is done up front.

Gary explains that the production process is forward-thinking: planning for client’s anticipated needs, (such as the installation of an electric car charger, or knowing a client’s desire for additional square footage) are thoughtfully considered. Advanced planning can save time and money down the road.

Once design is complete and the build phase begins, the Production Team takes over the daily management of the project. With permits in hand, a Project or Site Manager deploys the team of trade specialists to make the plans a reality and make the client’s dream come to life.

Armed with all the details worked out in the design phase, the Production Team then creates a preliminary build calendar, which outlines the entire remodeling project from beginning to end. This calendar shows which trade specialists will be conducting work, when and for how long. It also takes into account holidays, client schedules, and necessary inspections. The sequencing of work is carefully considered and factored into the plans and schedule.

Clients can view this calendar at any time using a mobile app (or cloud-based website), ensuring they are aware of what tasks are happening at their home, and what is coming up next. The calendar is a working document, meaning it will be amended as the project progresses, but it is a vital collaborative tool used by the entire Harrell Remodeling team to keep the project on track, and on budget.

In addition to creating the build calendar, every remodeling project is assigned a dedicated Lead Carpenter, or Site Manager. This person is on the job site daily and manages the trade specialists, oversees the work, meets with inspectors, utility personnel and structural engineers, and addresses any issues that may arise in construction.

Once the project nears completion, the Production Team oversees the final inspection, and walks through the project with the client to create a “punch list” of any items that need fine-tuning. While Harrell strives to have no items on this punch list, when this list is cleared, the project is complete. Our Warranty Specialist manages the warranty phase and attends to and resolves any issues that come up after the completion of the job.

“The Production Team is part of the process all along the way. We do our best to leave nothing to chance. We explore, plan, schedule, collaborate, and communicate,” Gary states. “It’s all about keeping the work flowing, keeping a critical eye in all areas, maintaining the utmost quality, craftsmanship, and in the end, it is all about delivering on superior client satisfaction for which Harrell Remodeling is known.”

Are you considering an addition or remodel to your Silicon Valley or Peninsula home? We invite you to contact us to schedule a complimentary consultation and let the Design + Build team at Harrell Remodeling work with you to transform your home today.