Last Updated on September 25, 2014

Today’s savvy home buyers are opting for smaller houses that offer space which is efficient, flexible and allows for stress-free living. Here are some hot home improvement trends that can make your “home-sweet-home” a little sweeter.

Maintenance-free Exterior Siding – Fiber-cement siding is becoming one of the fastest-growing divisions of the siding market. Made from a combination of cement, sand and cellulosic fibers, it looks like wood – but will not rot, combust or give way to termites and other wood-boring insects. It is more expensive than paint-grade wood, vinyl and aluminum siding, but at $5 to $9 per square foot, it still returns 87% on your investment, which is the highest return of any upscale project (according to Remodeling Magazine’s Cost vs. Value Report). Cleaning and some caulking every spring is the only maintenance required for fiber-cement siding, and repainting is recommended every seven to 15 years (compared to wood, which requires repainting every four to seven years.

Fiber-cement & vinyl siding is a maintenance-free exterior siding option.

Convertible Spaces – Although some homeowners still opt for their formal living and dining spaces, the trend is to forego the “company only” rooms and transform them into convertible spaces that can adapt to our lifestyles. Foldaway walls can turn any room into a quick over-flow party space and Murphy beds concealed in an armoire-like wall unit can turn a spare room into a guest room. For open spaces, home design experts suggest using area rugs to define (or redefine) specific spaces.

For the Love of Laundry – Love it or hate, laundry is here to stay, so why not make the best of it by converting an unused space (like a mud room or spare bedroom) into a laundry room that you will actually love being in. With space that is big enough for the washer and dryer, a designated rack for hand-washables, a sink, and room to store detergent and related cleaning supplies –this may become your favorite room in the house. To make the conversion easier and save on plumbing costs, choose a space that has existing plumbing hookups or one that is adjacent to rooms with running water.

Convert an unused space into a laundry room for added value.

Keeping up with the Kitchen – Trends show houses getting smaller, but according to the American Institute of Architects’ Home Design Trends Survey, kitchens are actually getting bigger. Families are spending even more time in the kitchen, helping to prepare meals together or entertaining friends for casual get-togethers. Double-prep sinks have been replaced by dual-prep islands with expansive counter space and extra storage. Some homeowners are opening up their kitchen space by combining seldom-used dining rooms and incorporating recycling centers and recharging stations.

Kitchens are still the central point of the home, no matter the size.

Energy Overload – Some of us can’t seem to go even a few hours without checking our phones, tablets, blackberries or laptops for the latest message, email or social media update. It may be an understatement to say we are a culture that runs on “energy and information overload.” To keep our connections to the world in check, we must keep our devices powered up by using additional energy to keep them charged. Current trends are also showing homeowners who install LED fixtures and are setting their thermostats at more economical temperatures. So, are we staying ahead of the energy curve? Energy monitors are a great way to monitor, track and gauge electricity usage on individual devices. Whole house monitors are also available, and some even supply real-time feedback that can be viewed remotely and that graph by the second, minute, hour, day and month.

Storage Stow-Away – As the need to de-clutter our homes continues, homeowners are banishing storage baskets and discovering hidden and unlikely hideouts to stash their stuff. These options include under the stairs, over doors and even beneath the floors. Cozy niches and nooks are also losing their places as ‘museum corners,’ and are taking center stage for built-ins to show off collections and books, or even conform to precious storage for office supplies and kids toys.

This nook offers value by providing additional storage space and a place for homework, by Granite Transformations.

Home Office – Trends show an increasing number of us working from home in some capacity. Entrepreneurial passion, flexible work schedules and mobile communications have homeowners transforming spare bedrooms, family room niches and even basements and attics into office space. Despite wireless connections, having a designated office space is a great way to store and organize files and supplies and keep printers, fax machines and other office-related items.

As more people work from home, creating a home office is essential to optimizing the home for resale.

Feel free to share this blog post or include some trends you have seen in the comments below. Do not forget to rate the post.

Last Updated on January 7, 2020

Although the green movement and many Earth-friendly messages have made their presence known in the mainstream, there are still homeowners who are unaware of some easy energy and money saving changes they can make to combat both high utility bills and global warming. With a few minor adjustments to one’s home, the savings can really add up (not to mention the benefits of living on a healthier and happier planet). Reducing consumption and recycling are the best ways to be Earth-friendly and make an impact on being green and efficient. Here are 10 easy tips to green your home, put money in your pocket, and create a healthier environment for your family:

1) Appliance Compliance: Appliances that are over 10 years old could be raising your energy bill and draining your wallet. The Environmental Protection Agency suggests replacing any appliances that may be over 10 years old with energy-efficient models that bear their “Energy Star” logo. Compared to standard models, these Energy-Star qualified appliances typically use 10%-50% less energy and water. In an average home, appliance usage encompasses about 18% of the energy bill (with the refrigerator being one of the biggest energy gluttons). Ditching the old refrigerator in your garage could save you almost $150 a year!

Ditch the old refrigerator for a new Energy Star model and save yourself some cash.

2) Check your Temperature: Adjusting your thermostat or using a programmable thermostat can save 10% on your heating and cooling costs. Experts agree that setting your thermostat at 68 degrees during the winter months and 78 degrees in the summer is the best way to reduce energy and costs. During the winter, for each degree your thermostat is set below 68 degrees – you can save 3%-5% on heating costs. And, setting your thermostat at 78 degrees in warmer weather can help reduce your energy usage and increase savings.

3) In Hot Water: Lowering the temperature on your hot water heater down to 120 degrees is an easy way to save on your energy bill. Experts agree that using insulating jackets around the hot water heater and insulating the pipes are also easy ways to reduce cost.

4) Keep it Flowing: Installing low-flow showerheads and toilets and faucet aerators are great ways to cut water usage costs, without sacrificing water pressure. For an investment of about $15.00, the installation of a low-flow showerhead can save a family of four almost $285.00 per year.

Low-flow showerheads and faucet aerators cut water usage with no pressure loss.

5) Heating and Cooling Maintenance: Keeping your heating and cooling system tuned-up by a professional every two years is the best way to keep it running efficiently with a healthy flow of air circulating in your home. Replacing dirty filters every month will also help keep the unit running efficiently.

6) Light the Way: If you haven’t noticed already, incandescent light bulbs have been phased out and are being replaced by compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs.). Experts say that replacing the five most frequently used light bulbs in your home with CFL bulbs can save you $100.00 per year. (That’s 66% less energy used and CFLs can last up to 10 times longer.)

7) Paint Safety: Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) can be found in conventional paint, and levels can reach 1,000 times the healthy normal level after a room is painted. Solvents, toxic metals and VOCs can cause ozone pollution, smog, and reduced indoor air quality – which can have an adverse effect on the health of those who live in the house. Opt for low or no-VOC paints and finishes to reduce this health hazard. Be sure to look for the Green Seal.

8) Air Leaks: Plugging air leaks with weather stripping or caulk around windows, doors, electrical outlets, plumbing penetrations, and in the attic floor can be the easiest ways to fix expensive drafts and improve the comfort in your home. Experts agree that air leaks are the number one energy waster in the home.

9) Go Paperless: Save a tree and use less paper by purchasing tree-free 100% post-consumer recycled paper that can be found in items like greeting cards and toilet paper. Other easy ways to save a tree is by removing yourself or your household from junk mail lists. Direct Mail is a resource where this can be done online. According to the Native Forest Network, during the course of this year, every person will receive approximately 560 pieces of junk mail (which totals 4.5 million tons of paper, nationally). Buying unbleached paper products is a healthier alternative to products bleached with chlorine. Bleached products can create harmful by-products such as dioxins that over time can accumulate in the air, water and soil.

Granite Transformations is dedicated to eco-friendly remodeling practices and to making a difference in the way people think about green construction and remodeling. Our Earth-friendly certifications highlight our commitment to green construction. Granite Transformations has recycled glass countertops that are offered in a wide range of colors and styles that make a strong visual statement about our commitment.

Contact us for a free in-home consultation to complete your commitment to having an Earth-friendly home.

Last Updated on September 11, 2014

Devotion drives passion in the heart of Stephanie Jaffe Werner, a mixed media artist. Raised in New York and currently living in South Florida, Stephanie’s unique talent has earned her the respect of being selected by public juries and commissioned by private enterprises to design and construct numerous interior and exterior permanent installations across the state of Florida.

Last year, the town of Miami Lakes posted a call to artists to submit a design for a permanent iconic landmark sculpture to honor veterans from all five branches of the United States Armed Forces. The landmark was to be installed at the entrance of the new Town Hall. As part of a mandated Miami Dade County ordinance, 1.5% of funding by the town of Miami Lakes is allocated to a program called “Art in Public Places.” Stephanie’s design, “V is for Veterans,” was chosen among 40 applicants and four finalists.

“The letter ‘V’ represents victory and valor,” said Stephanie. The ‘V’ structure is made of formed concrete and covered in beautiful Trend Terrazo, which was purchased in a slab and cut to depict the American flag. Stephanie says she knows firsthand how difficult it is to find the perfect shade of red ceramic tile. “I knew immediately when I designed this structure that I would need the most beautiful colors and materials to make “V is for Veterans,” and that I could count on Trend to have the exact colors for my design,” said Stephanie.

The ‘V’ stands on a five-sided pentagonal base with each side representing the five branches of the United States Military. Arranged in clockwise order by date of establishment (beginning with the Army), each side is adorned with two plaques, one displaying the branch’s creed and the other plaque depicting its seal.

Stephanie says designing and constructing “V is for Veterans” involved hiring dedicated subcontractors to make it all possible. “Working closely with Trend representatives made the process seamless,” Stephanie said. “Not only are their products of the highest quality and stunningly beautiful, their team of experts were willing to go the extra mile for me and the veterans memorial.”

On September 4, the “V is for Veterans” memorial was publicly unveiled in front of the Miami Lakes Town Hall at a ceremony organized by the Town of Miami Lakes Veterans Committee. Stephanie credits the veterans for helping her every step of the way and guiding her in following the proper etiquette on flag design and wording of the branch creeds.

“I’m so grateful for the opportunity to work with the veterans,” Stephanie said. “As a woman living in America, it’s an amazing feeling to practice my art freely and honor my country.”


Last Updated on September 9, 2014

Today’s unsettled real estate market has prompted homeowners on the selling end to reevaluate the appeal of their property by tweaking some of the downsides and increase their home’s value. Here is a snapshot of what professionals say are the best ways to boost the value of your house and get the most return on your money:

1. Open up the Space
New buyers are looking for open floor plans with large spaces that are family-friendly. Knocking down a non-structural wall between the kitchen and den, for example, is one of the most popular ways to appeal to new homebuyers. For an investment of a few hundred dollars, you can transform the feel of your house and appeal to a wider range of buyers.

2. Spruce up the Yard
Pruning overgrown bushes and trimming trees can be the first step in eliminating obscured views of your home and increasing curb appeal. A well-landscaped yard presents the impression that you take pride and care in your home, and creates a positive mindset of what’s to come on the inside of the house. Experts say that landscaping is one of the top three investments that bring the highest return on your money. An initial investment of $400-$500 in landscaping can bring a return of up to four times that amount. For more tips about sprucing up your yard, check out our blog post, titled “Money-Saving DIY Landscaping Tips”

3. Let the Sunshine In
It’s no secret that light enhances moods and creates a positive environment. Installing sun tubes (also known as light pipes, sunscoops and tubular skylights), is a modern way to welcome natural light into your home without the hefty price tag of installing skylights. For interior lighting, dimmer switches are an easy and inexpensive way that allows you to set the mood in any room.

Tubular skylights are the modern way for welcoming natural light.

4. Go Green with Solar Panels
Installing solar panels to power your water heater could save you as much as 80% on your water heating bills. Today’s homeowners are more environmentally-sensitive and budget-conscious, which makes the creation of a home with solar panels more appealing. As a major incentive to homeowners, The Solar Federal Tax Credit, first enacted in 2009, allows homeowners to claim up to 30% of solar power costs for a new solar electric system from their Federal Taxes. Existing homes and new construction qualify, although rental properties do not. The Tax Rebate is scheduled to expire December 31, 2016.

5. Front Door Appeal
Experts say buyers make up their minds within the first seven seconds of entering a house. Welcoming your guests with a beautiful front door is key to making a stellar first impression. Make sure the doorbell has a pleasant tone and is in working order and that the entrance has some form of overhang (like an awning or portico) above the front door to shield you and your guests from the elements.

A beautiful, elegant front door makes a great first impression.

6. Don’t Forget the Floors
An estimated 94% of real estate professionals suggest that investing even a small amount of money in flooring can bring big returns when it comes to increasing the value of your home. Make sure to take care of small repairs first (such as eliminating squeaks, repairing broken tiles, patching damaged floor boards and ripping out wall-to-wall carpeting).

7. Quick Bathroom Makeover
Real estate professionals unanimously agree that upgrading kitchens and baths are a sure fire way to increase the value to your home. But renovations can be expensive. To spend as little as possible (while making the best impression), quick and easy upgrades in the bathroom can have a lasting impact. Try replacing frosted glass for clear glass, cleaning grout and removing any rust stains, replacing the toilet seat, applying fresh caulk, updating doorknobs and cabinet pulls, and replacing the faucet to a modern one. For an investment of about $500, you can have a more modern, tuned-up bathroom.

A quick bathroom makeover can make a world of difference in your home.

8. Keep the Walls Neutral
A fresh coat of paint can go a long way, but remember: keep your personal taste out of it and keep the color neutral if you’re trying to sell your house. You want to create a clean palette for the buyer to see their own taste and furniture in the house without confusing it with too much color. Avoid painting accent walls and remove all wall paper borders, because these are decorating trends that have seen their time come and are long gone.


Last Updated on January 2, 2020

Today’s homeowners are feeling confident about home remodeling after bouncing back from the recent recession by diving into a fresh set of design ideas that are trending in 2014. Industry experts weigh in on their predictions for the latest interior design and home remodeling trends.

A 2013 Hanley Wood survey revealed that remodeling sales are up 10 percent (when compared to 2012), and this number is expected to increase another 10 percent in 2014, according to 45 percent of remodelers who were surveyed. Among all rooms in a home, kitchen remodels scored highest and bathroom renovations came in a close second. Here are their top five remodeling trends for 2014:

More Modern Kitchens – Sleek and simple is the new look to today’s modern kitchen renovation. Where the warmer, rustic feel of the past was once the most popular décor, it is now all about white and grey cabinetry, simple countertops, glossy finishes and simplistic designs. Even appliances are being hidden away or blended into the design to create a more refined appearance.

This kitchen utilizes a simplistic design with a modern flare. Done by Granite Transformations.

Brass is Back – Brass is back (but not like you think). The highly polished, bright brass fixtures and lighting that we’ve all come to know have been replaced by a more elegant and rustic finish. Designers are incorporating this new look of dull and hammered brass into kitchen and bathroom hardware, as well as lighting and door hardware.

Resort-style Bathrooms – Vintage-style bathrooms are giving way to resort-style designs with amenities such as large walk-in showers with multiple showerheads, heated floors and towel racks and jetted bathtubs. Soothing neutral and cool colors (like Ash Gray, Light Blue and Off-White) are becoming more popular, as are glass tiles.

Resort Style Bathroom Design utilizes neutral colors, free standing tub and glass tiles. Done by Granite Transformations.

Turn up the Color – According to Pantone, the international authority on color, vibrant colors that include Green Flash, Lemon Zest, Nectarine and Rouge Red will be interior designers’ new color palette for accent walls, main paint colors and flooring in bedrooms and main living spaces throughout the house.

Vibrant colors will be the newest home improvement trends.

Staying Green – Energy-efficiency and the use of renewable and sustainable materials is expected in today’s home renovations. Experts agree that homeowners will see more renewable materials such as recycled glass counters and backsplashes, energy-efficient appliances and more creative designs incorporating local climate.

Here are some additional predictions for interior design and home remodeling trends for 2014 and beyond:

Free Standing Tubs – Are becoming more popular than tiled-in tubs, and they take up less space in the bathroom.

Floating Shelves – Open up spaces in the kitchen by eliminating long runs of cabinets by creating different sections.

Express Yourself – Homeowners will put it all out there when it comes to bold use of color or ornamentation. Some examples are the use of jeweled colors, gilded frames and layered textiles.

Multigenerational Living – Households that accommodate aging parents and boomerang kids are becoming more prevalent today, as homeowners are finding themselves designing bathrooms with features ranging from wall mounted sinks for wheelchairs, to walk-in bathtubs, to motion-sensing faucets that may make life easier for everyone in the family.

Urban Downsizing – As downsizing continues to be a trend among homeowners, moving closer to urban downtown areas in smaller spaces is becoming more popular than living in larger homes in the suburbs.

Whether you want a modern kitchen, resort-style bathroom or environmentally-friendly and sustainable materials to remodel your kitchen and bath, Granite Transformations has what you need to help your remodel go smoothly. Contact us for a free in-home design consultation, and get started on your home improvement project.