Spring Remodelers Showcase

2018 Spring Remodelers Showcase
March 23rd – 25th, Noon to 6 pm
Remodel #12 – 13125 Highpoint Curve, Burnsville

The sun is shining, the snow is melting (and not coming back, we hope!), and Minnesotans are ready to emerge from their hibernation. Embracing the changing seasons is what Midwestern life it all about, right? However, this in-between time of year can be difficult. We’re all itching to get out of the house, but the weather isn’t quite cooperating yet.

Our activity suggestion for overcoming spring cabin fever? Visit us during the Spring Remodelers Showcase next weekend! If learning and dreaming about design is your idea of a day well spent, then next weekend the Twin Cities will be your paradise. Just think, countless area builders and remodelers will be on-site sharing their work and available to answer your questions.

J. Carsten’s owner Jason will be holding down the fort at this beautiful Burnsville home. Ironically, he met these homeowners when they toured his Fall Remodelers Showcase home! This retired couple was ready to give their kitchen a fresh look, and increase future resale value. Jason expanded the pantry, moved the microwave, and added a double oven and exposed range hood/fan.

The new cherry cabinets, redone wood floor, Cambria countertops, and black stainless steel appliances make the space feel trendier but timeless. We’re so proud of the finished project – and we can’t wait to give you a personal tour next weekend!


Remodeling Fun: Best Before Photos

It’s not the most glamorous part of the job, but one fascinating part of being a remodeler is the wide range of “before” spaces you encounter. Like some residential design anthropologist, we uncover all sorts of relics from earlier eras, from dated trends to built-in blenders.

Honestly, we may joke about the goofy things we find or 50’s bathroom trends (Hello, pink!), but our real passion is seeing transformations take place. There’s nothing like stepping into an inefficient, dark or dated space, and then helping people create something they’ll love. It’s the why of what we do – we want you to feel excited about your home again.

However, in the spirit of fun and curiosity, we thought we’d share some of our favorite, most memorable “before” project photos. Just sit back, pretend you’re watching HGTV, and relax in the knowledge that demo day and construction are someone else’s responsibility.

P.S. If your home has a “before” space that rivals our collection, then please, give us a call. Our team loves a new project and a good challenge!


Remodeling Q&A: Finding Your Style

It isn’t the case with everyone, but we find that the hardest part of the remodeling process for some of our clients is deciphering their unique style. While one subsect of people seem to be born with an innate sense of what they like and dislike, others get lost in a sea of colors, trends, and options.

If you find yourself in the latter category, rest easy. This blog is all about assisting you in discovering your specific style. In the paragraphs below, we’ll offer a few ideas, resources, and thinking prompts to get your design juices flowing. All you have to do is sit back and answer a few easy questions. Ready? Let’s go!

What word describes how you’d like your home to feel?

  • Elegant
  • Welcoming
  • Energizing
  • Peaceful
  • Playful

It may sound a little silly, but deciding the mood you hope to create is an excellent place to begin. For example, an elegant space probably has a very different feel than a playful room. A sophisticated interior will probably lean more towards traditional finishes and understated style. While a playful space might embrace more eclectic trends, bold patterns, and other design risks.

Imagine the place where you’re the most at home. What do you picture? Some examples might be:

  • Your family lake home
  • A favorite vacation spot or resort
  • Grandma and Grandpa’s place
  • The city
  • The countryside

Again, you might be wondering what this has to do with remodeling, but stick with us. There are reasons why your favorite place makes you feel relaxed. Maybe the natural beauty of the water calms you, or the cozy warmth of your grandma’s classic living room says home to you. There are ways to infuse your home with little pieces of the places that mean the most to you – you just need to know what they are.

Next, it’s time to gather inspiration! Look for pictures of kitchens, bathrooms, or living rooms you like in:

  • Home and design magazines
  • Houzz
  • Pinterest
  • Instagram

Bookmark and save magazine articles, take photos of finishes you want in your friend’s homes or public places, collect an idea gallery on Houzz or Pinterest – the point is to explore. Designers and contractors are usually pretty visual people. Providing them with a rich library of what interests you will get the conversation started and show them what you’re imagining.

After that, you might want to see some options in person – try visiting:

  • Design showrooms
  • The Parade of Homes
  • Design Expos
  • The Remodelers Showcase
  • Design stores

When it comes down to it, nothing beats seeing or feeling something in person. You might think you love a certain color, pattern or finish online, but it could look entirely different up close. Take advantage of the design resources in your area and see as many of your choices in person as you can; you won’t regret it!

Stay tuned in the coming weeks for more information about our spring Remodelers Showcase home – we hope you’ll visit and take a tour with Jason!


The Best Kitchen Storage Solutions

We remodel a lot of kitchens. It’s no wonder; few rooms have to handle such heavy lifting. So much of day to day family life takes place in the kitchen, which means it needs to be up to the task!

Often one of the greatest hindrances to creating a calm kitchen is a lack of organization. An inefficient layout or mismanaged storage can limit even the most visually appealing kitchen.

Want to know our opinions on the best kitchen storage solutions available? Take a look below to see the features we recommend most to our remodeling clients.

Appliance Garage
Countertop real estate is a precious commodity, especially in a smaller kitchen! Keep things open and clean with an accessible garage for frequently used appliances.

Spacious Island
One upgrade we’ll never tire of is an oversized center island. Well-designed islands are kitchen MVPs; they serve as the perfect spot for food prep, buffets, hosting, and gathering.

Baking-Centric Storage
From spices to baking sheets to specialized tools, serious bakers have a lot of accessories. If you’re a passionate baker, then why not create a kitchen that’s up to the task?

Hosting Fridge
These stylish mini fridges keep showing up in our client’s homes, and we love them! Whether in a built-in bar or as an extra feature for a family on-the-go, these little fridges are a great idea.

Pet Corner
If you share your home with one or more furry friends, you might consider adding a spot for them in your kitchen. After all, your dog or cat eats there each day too, right?

Command Center
A lot of papers, mail, and electronic devices seem to end up in the kitchen. Instead of fighting the clutter, we prefer building desk command centers to keep everything in order.

Cleaning Supplies Spot
Last but not least, many of us store a hefty stash of cleaning supplies in our kitchens. There are so many ingenious under the sink and pull out shelf storage solutions available these days.


Remodeling Questions: What Makes J. Carsten Different?

As the end of January nears, we’re thinking about those of you still deliberating about that 2018 remodel. We know how intimidating this first phase of the process can feel. Your mind is swirling with questions about what you want, who to work with, where to look for answers, what you can afford, and how to get the ball rolling…

We recently blogged our preliminary advice on preparing for your next remodel. This week we want to talk more about working with the right team. It goes without saying that we think our crew is the best in the business! Instead of just leaving it at that though, we wanted to share what makes the J. Carsten team different than other remodelers. Below are the hallmarks of a J. Carsten remodeling client experience.

Small Company, Big Experience
J. Carsten is an intentionally small business. We take the time to build relationships with each of our clients, and we treat your home like it’s our own. Our owner Jason isn’t just a figurehead; he’s on-site, managing projects, making decisions, and communicating with clients every day. However, our size doesn’t mean we don’t take our work seriously. Jason is a NARI certified kitchen & bath remodeler (CKBR) and former chapter President, a four-time NARI Contractor of the Year award-winner, a three-time NARI ACE award-winner, and multiple Houzz Badge recipient.

Detailed Plans, Clear Expectations
A good remodeling contractor is a good planner – the two go hand in hand. Frankly, if you meet a potential contractor and they show early signs of disorganization, (such as bad follow-through, poor time management, vague processes, or lacking references), then you should reconsider working together. We pride ourselves on being detail oriented remodelers. Our process is laid out on our website, and we provide every client with exhaustive schedules, clear expectations, and open communication if changes should arise.

On Budget, On Time
Another trademark of a solid contractor is the ability to maintain a budget and timeline. You can create the most beautiful spaces around, but if you can’t honor your client’s money and timing, then you’re still coming up short. Remodeling is all about balancing different plates at the same time and managing resources. Jason bends over backward to get things right for his clients while making the process easy and smooth. He personally oversees each project to ensure potential problems are addressed and that results are delivered in budget and on time.

Serious Work Ethic, Fun Attitude
Jason may have a detailed and practiced work ethic, but he also has a very lighthearted spirit. If you follow our blog or Facebook page regularly, then you know Jason doesn’t take himself too seriously. He’s always posting goofy photos of himself and trying to make life more fun. Choosing someone who will work in your home is a big deal. Jason has the skills and background to manage your project expertly, along with a positive demeanor to help lighten the stressful parts of remodeling. Bonus point? He also loves being around people’s furry friends!


Getting Ready for a 2018 Remodel

The new year has arrived, and you’ve decided it’s finally time to take on that long-desired remodeling project! Now that it’s time to get serious, you’re equal parts excited and overwhelmed. First of all; know that your reaction is normal. We have yet to meet a client that isn’t a mix of anxious anticipation and confusing lists of questions. An expert contractor expects this and will happily address your concerns and guide you through the process – it’s our job, after all.

So, how do you begin to prepare for your remodel? Read on below for our best preliminary advice and planning tips. And please, don’t be shy about getting in touch if you’re ready to get things rolling!

Research and Preferences
Hopefully, this will be the fun part. Simply put, the first steps of any remodel are discerning what you like and who to hire. Visit events like the Parade of Homes and Remodelers Showcase, collect your favorite spaces on Houzz and Pinterest, browse design showrooms, or save ideas from your favorite magazine inspiration. Take note of which colors, finishes, materials, trends, and styles you love (or can’t stand).

Budget the Possibilities
After you’ve started figuring out what interests you, it’s time to get practical and talk budgets. It’s wise to have realistic budget expectations and ideas in mind before you partner with a contractor or designer. However, preliminary design meetings with an experienced professional can also help you narrow down a more firm project budget.

Find a Professional
Once you have some initial ideas in mind, it’s time to find a contractor! We recommend asking friends and family for contacts or searching on NARI or Houzz for seasoned professionals with client reviews. At J. Carsten we begin any potential partnership with a simple phone call to discuss ideas and see if we’d be a good team. Next, Jason will set up a time to meet at your home to review your space and project goals.

Extra Advice
Lastly, a word of general advice, don’t be afraid to ask all of your questions. This is no time to be shy. The person you work with will be spending a lot of time in your home, communicating with you daily, and making massive changes to your greatest investment. Take the time to get to know them and feel comfortable – you should feel confident about the person remodeling your home.


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)!