Holiday Gratitude: Christmas & New Years Wishes

It’s the season when we all take a moment to count our blessings and reflect on our aspirations for the coming year. During this time of gratitude, we can’t help but feel profoundly thankful for all of you, our dear clients and friends.

Your support, interest (like reading these blogs!), and investment in J. Carsten Remodeling is no small thing. We know this company wouldn’t be here today without all of you. Thank you for trusting our team, recommending our services, and welcoming us into your homes.

We wish all of you a truly Merry Christmas and joy-filled New Year. Cheers to 2018; may it be a year of growth, fun, love, and adventure – we can’t wait to get started!


Q&A: Wrapping-Up Jason’s NARI Presidency

Posing with NARI’s next President, Jennifer McAlpin!


Over the past year, we’ve been updating you on Jason’s time spent serving as local NARI President. While never missing an opportunity to make Presidential jokes, it’s also been a pleasure to learn about everything Jason has discovered and experienced through this position. His term at the helm of NARI ended in November, but we couldn’t resist asking him a few more questions about the role. Read his favorite moments, lessons, and surprises below!

1. What was your favorite aspect of being NARI President?
I liked serving as the voice of NARI, and while I still get nervous before speaking in front of people, I enjoy it. (Seven years of ToastMasters paid off!)

2. What was your most memorable moment as President?
Having a speaking role at the COTY (Contractor of the Year) awards, NARI’s signature event. (J Carsten has won four COTY awards in years past.) I put together a seven-minute video that gave an overview of our activities throughout the year.

3. What was your role as President? Did you lead meetings? Or set a specific agenda?
The role as president was to lead and set a vision for the year. My Vision was the “Face of NARI”- redefining how NARI looks to contractors and homeowners. I was the leader of each monthly meeting. The agenda of the meetings was set more by our Executive Director, and I was the voice of NARI at each event.

4. Did anything surprise about the job or NARI?
Our Executive Director moved to a different non-profit in March. NARIs only staff member was our Executive Director at that time. We did have a management company that was in place as well. Our executive team worked to hire a new Executive Director by June. Running the organization and getting the new Executive Director up to speed was a lot of work for me, more than I expected!

5. What’s the most interesting thing you learned about NARI or being President?
You always have time for the things that matter to you. The future of the construction industry comes down to having good people; those who do the work, and those who lead and better it. The reason I agreed to be president, and why I’m involved with BATC Remodelers Council too, is to improve how consumers view contractors. There are a lot of good guys out there, but they’re always overshadowed by crooks who steal from homeowners.

6. What advice would you give your successor?
Don’t be afraid to make the position what you want it to be. I desired to speak about NARI and have fun doing it, hence the sash, cowboy hat, pictures in tubs. etc

7. Anyone you would like to thank?
Executive Director Beatrice Owen for taking on the new position and bringing a positive outlook to everything she works on, and Past President Ed Roskowinski (Vujovich Design Build), who helped me through the year of transitioning to a new Executive Director.

8. Anything else to share?
After my term at NARI is over, I am most likely taking over the chair position of the BATC Remodelers Council (However, I still have to be voted in)!


Customized Kitchens: From Bars to Workstations

One the most common spaces we renovate for our clients is the kitchen. Center of the home, kitchens are where families congregate and connect with each other. From sharing daily meals to hosting guests, modern kitchens need to transition seamlessly between many functions.

As an experienced residential remodeler, we’ve helped our clients create everything from custom bars to spacious island buffets to organized command centers. Our team loves finding innovative solutions to maximize and improve people’s homes.

If you’re just beginning to gather ideas and options for your next remodel, take a look at some of our favorite customized client kitchens below!

We love this kitchen’s comfy sitting room corner! It’s the perfect spot to chat with the chef as they cook, sip a glass of wine, or relax with a good book and warm cup of tea.

Who wouldn’t appreciate this vast buffet space for holiday meals? Especially paired with a separate fridge for stocking with beverages for guests!

One trend often requested by our clients is a bar/hutch hybrid like the image above. These areas are an elegant and practical way to get more storage and hosting features.

Another helpful kitchen add-on is a command center or dedicated workstation. Papers have a way of migrating to the kitchen anyway; you might as well create a place for them to live.

If entertaining is one of your passions, then a separate bar/lounge is an excellent idea for your home. This kitchen-adjacent wine bar is the perfect spot for pre-dinner cocktails or dessert and nightcaps!

This cozy corner booth not only adds considerable charm to this home, but it also doubles as storage space and seating for casual meals or busy parties.


Q&A: All About Pets!

Preparing for any remodel involves a lot of planning, schedules, and precautions. J. Carsten’s owner, Jason, prioritizes the safety and wellbeing of the people who call his job-sites home first and foremost. That includes accommodating his homeowner’s furry friends – they’re part of the family too after all!

Over the years, Jason has collected quite a few interesting stories and photos of different client pets. We decided to investigate how he manages to work in an animal’s domain and has earned the reputation as a pet-friendly remodeler. Read on below to hear all about how Jason plans around people’s four-legged friends and tames wild beasts (or mostly just pets puppies)!

How do you handle having pets around the job site?
I love them and squeeze them and hold them and pet them… just kidding! I ask the homeowners to arrange for pets to be locked up during remodels – especially cats. Usually, dogs can hang out if they can retreat to a fenced yard.

Are there any pets you can’t allow on the job site?
Giraffes, lions.

How do you get yourself in each pet’s “good graces”? 
Animals flock to me like Ace Ventura; mostly I pet them, and they like me from there.

Does your team of trade partners mind working around pets?
We do our best accommodate people’s animals. However, we never guarantee we won’t lose track of pets; we can’t watch them every moment and work efficiently.

Have you ever designed anything around a client’s pets?
Not specifically. Most people thought that sink below was for washing a dog, but the homeowner wanted it to clean off her young boys’ feet! For one kitchen remodel, we did take extra space into account to make room for large dogs that loved to snooze in the way of everything.

Are there any particular safety precautions you take to keep pets out of harm’s way?
Plastic barries on sites stop dogs from getting into trouble. However, nothing but a door stops a cat!

What’s your favorite aspect of working in homesites with pets? 
It feels like home. I have a dog and a cat, so I understand what homeowners go through with their pets.

Can you share a few of your favorite client pet stories?
I was doing work inside and outside of a home in Burnsville. I left to get some materials and came back to find the dog gone! I knew it tended to hide in the house, but after thirty minutes of looking frantically everywhere, I was having no luck. I finally called the homeowner to explain what happened. He said his mother had stopped by and grabbed the dog earlier. Whew – I was flooded with relief!

Below are a few more shots of the sweet pets Jason’s had the pleasure of meeting through his work!


Design Details: Why Lighting Matters

It’s not necessarily the top remodeling concern on any homeowner’s list. However, virtually no space is usable without the right lighting. Think about it a for a minute; lighting helps determine the mood of almost any area in your home. You might crave a softly lit master bathroom for unwinding, a bright and warm kitchen to welcome guests and prepare meals, or a mostly dim, but strategically lit media room for enjoying movies or the big game. The relationship with light sets the tone of each room listed above.

Moving past practicality, light fixtures are also an opportunity to make a statement about your style. The days of homes having identical dome lights in every room are long past! A glitzy chandelier might set an elegant formal dining room scene. Traditional sconces could create a classy and professional home office. And a bold and modern accent light may be the perfect touch to liven up a large entryway. Lighting is the icing on the cake; it’s the final touch that ties things together or the showstopper that makes an impression.

The best part is, no matter what your taste or design goals may be, there’s a fixture somewhere that will fit your vision. Fun and flashy accent lights is a trend that isn’t fading anytime soon! Plus, the beauty of the internet is that you can track down any unique piece or obscure style – you just need to do some hunting. In need of some serious lighting inspiration for your remodel? Browse through more of our favorite client fixture choices – we think you’ll find their picks illuminating!


Fall Remodelers Showcase Recap

What a whirlwind! The Twin Cities Fall Remodelers Showcase is already in the rearview mirror, and J. Carsten’s owner, Jason, is thankful for a busy weekend. Roughly 180 people in total stopped by his Lakeville kitchen remodel. Jason loved getting the chance to play tour guide and chat with as many visitors as possible!

In case you didn’t get the opportunity to explore or are curious about what a remodeler’s days look like during the tour, we asked Jason a few questions about how his weekend went. Scroll below to read his answers and learn his Showcase weekend snack of choice! (Necessary info, right?)

What question were you asked the most?
The most common question I received was, how do you transition from new wood cabinets to the existing (usually honey oak) millwork in the house? Answer: we will typically replace the millwork around the major windows and doors in the space (a kitchen sink window for example). But in almost all cases, it’s not feasible to replace all of the millwork in the house or area. In that situation, we will often butt the old millwork up to the new cabinets versus trying to match finishes exactly.

What element of the kitchen did visitors like the best?
People were most partial to the large porcelain floor tiles and the twelve-and-a-half foot long center island. (It does tend to make an impression!) 

What snacks did you eat? (Super serious question.)

Did anyone you know stop in to say hello? 
Yes. In fact, the past client (I redid their Lakeville bathroom) who referred me to the showcase homeowners came by to visit!

Did you enjoy acting as a tour guide?
Yes, however, it is tiring to be on your feet all day, every day for an entire weekend.

What was your favorite part of this event?
I expected to see a lot of younger people but was pleasantly surprised at the number of retired folks that came out to tour. It’s always fun to chat with more seasoned homeowners too!

Any other fun stories from the weekend?
Brenda, a friend of J. Carsten who was helping during the Showcase, opened the door to one of the upper cabinets to reveal a built-in spice rack and commented, “This is really well thought out!” My answer was, “Thanks, that is my job after all.”


Questions to Ask Remodeling Contractors at the Fall Remodelers Showcase

The Twin Cities Fall Parade of Homes has begun, but we’re still anxiously waiting for the Remodelers Showcase to start! Taking place from September 29 through October 1, the Remodelers Showcase is an ideal opportunity to meet respected local remodelers and tour their projects.

If you’re beginning a new remodeling project, we highly recommend taking advantage of this event! When else will you get the chance to meet builders and see their work with such minimal effort? Websites and social media are excellent for initially scouting out remodelers, but nothing compares to meeting someone, shaking their hand, and seeing their level of craftsmanship in person.

So let’s say you are visiting the Remodelers Showcase in hopes of finding your next contractor – what do you need to know? What questions should you be asking? After all, hiring the right team is the most important thing you can do to ensure your project’s success. To make things a little easier, we’ve compiled a list of the top questions you should ask a potential remodeler before signing any contracts or selecting samples!

Questions to Ask Remodeling Contractors
at the Fall Remodelers Showcase

  1. How long have you been in business?
  2. What is your educational and employment background?
  3. Do you collaborate with a professional designer on space planning and selecting materials?
  4. What insurance do you carry?
  5. Do you belong to any professional or industry associations – are you active with them?
  6. Where do you bank, and who is your contact person?
  7. How do you approach working with subcontractors? Do you prioritize consistency or receive bids for the lowest price?
  8. Will you provide a written timetable for project construction?
  9. Do you offer lien waivers? (A document that records payment for each trade, to avoid them filing lien rights against your home.)
  10. Who would be my daily contact person? What’s their preferred communication method?
  11. How often will my home be cleaned during the remodeling process?
  12. How many projects have you built that are similar to mine?
  13. On average, how much do your customers deviate from your budget allowances?
  14. What is your policy about order changes?
  15. What happens if you exceed our agreed upon completion date?
  16. Why should I work with your company – what sets you apart?

Want to talk remodeling with an experienced pro? Visit J. Carsten’s owner, Jason, during the Fall Remodelers Showcase – he’d love to connect and answer any of your burning construction questions!

2017 Fall Remodelers Showcase
September 29 – October 1, Noon to 6 pm
Remodel #30 – 16803 Hudson Circle, Lakeville


Fall Remodelers Showcase: Timeless Kitchen

2017 Fall Remodelers Showcase
September 29 – October 1, Noon to 6 pm
Remodel #30 – 16803 Hudson Circle, Lakeville

September is here, and arriving along with the cool weather and back to school routine is the annual Twin Cities Parade of Homes. Our favorite part of the Fall Parade? The Remodelers Showcase weekend, which is when our local remodeling industry shares the best of what we’ve been working on over the spring and summer. For the J. Carsten Remodeling team, that’s this elegant Lakeville kitchen transformation.

Ready to make significant changes, these decisive homeowners were fantastic to work with, they knew what they wanted from the start. Specifically, they were tired of their closed-off 90’s kitchen with its standard oak cabinets. We got down to work; our list included removing a wall separating the kitchen and living room, expanding the center island, and relocating the sink.

Giving the sink a new home turned out to be the greatest challenge of this project. We had to reroute all of its plumbing through the middle of the room, which meant negotiating with the heating system and completed media room located directly under the kitchen. In the end, all of the plumbing was carried out from above. To prevent the floor from flexing under the larger island, we also added 2×10 floor joists for extra reinforcement and support.

We hope you all visit us during the Remodelers Showcase and see this stunning home for yourself! The newly expanded kitchen is a host’s dream come true with its ample prep areas, serving space, and classy dry bar with double wine fridges. Can’t wait until the 29th? See more of the project in the photos below!

Cabinets: Dura Supreme in Cherry, Countertops: Cambria Quartz, Appliances: Samsung Black Stainless Steel, Fireplace: Heat-n-Glo, Floor Tile: Uni Natural